I hope everyone enjoyed their Saturday, one of the finest in recent sporting memory. Here’s a brief recap of the day’s offerings:
The 2015 NFL draft came to a close on Saturday, as teams make their choices in rounds 4 through 7. The Atlanta Falcons earned high marks with the late nabbing of tackle Jake Washington out of Eastern Montana, a “project” who nevertheless scores high in most scouting reports. The Green Bay Packers finally drafted a linebacker and Aaron Rodgers’s replacement at quarterback. The Bears drafted Free Safety Adrian Amos of Penn State, a rangy player also believed to be capable of playing cornerback. Davis Tull, outside linebacker from Tennessee-Chattanooga, has the honor of being one of the newest New Orleans Saints, and also the fifth confirmed tyrannosaurus rex drafted since 2009. Louisville tight end Gerald Christian had the honor of being Mr. Irrelevant.
Clippers Down Spurs
The Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs squared off in the NBA playoffs’ only game seven of the opening round, and true to the series both teams played well in a nail-biter. The Clippers hosted and won on a last-second bank shot by Chris Paul, who was playing despite a pulled hamstring. The final shot went over The Man, the Myth, the Legend Tim Duncan, who finished a strong series with a great performance, pouring in 27 points on 11 for 14 shooting, and grabbing 11 rebounds. Should Duncan decide to call it a career, he could have no shame in the way it ended. However, his counterpart, Blake Griffin, also finished the series strong, putting in 24 points, grabbing 14 rebounds, and nabbing 10 assists. For the series he averaged 24.1 ppg, 13.1 rpg, and 7.5 apg. Should he hold that pace, he would be the first to average 24-13-7 in the playoffs since Oscar Robertson.
Favorite American Pharaoh won the Kentucky Derby in an understated, yet impressive performance. “Pharaoh” was slightly interfered with coming out of the gate, knocking him from the already-disadvantageous 18th slot even further into the track. Nevertheless, he showed early speed moving just off the lead, where he stalked stablemate Dortmund until late in the final turn. When Firing Line, who joined the two Bob Baffert prodigies at the front of the pack, made his move, Pharaoh went with him. Pharaoh was forced wide around the final turn, but matched Firing Line stride for stride. Those two proved the class of the field, and battled down the stretch. Pharaoh ultimately wore down his opponent taking the top spot by a length. A fading Dortmund held on for third, and a game Frosted, who had torn from the back of the pack to the front, closed hard to finish fourth. On to the Preakness.
Those hoping to see the cocky Floyd Mayweather put in his place by the gracious Philippino, Manny Pacquiao, come away disappointed. Mayweather turned in a vintage performance in winning boxing’s biggest fight of at least a decade, following a familiar pattern. Through six rounds yours truly had the fight tied at 3 rounds to 3, as did HBO’s unofficial scorer and former judge Harold Lederman. But like so many of Mayweather’s opponents, Pacquiao was unable to maintain pace and lost the final six rounds of the fight in an easy decision for those ringside to score. Mayweather, who had appeared to be slowing as he advanced into his late 30s, looked as fast as ever. Pacquiao has never been the slower man in the ring, but he was on Saturday night. Replay and replay revealed that his punches simply were not finding a home as the longer Mayweather used distance, head movement, and footwork to stay out of reach. Meanwhile, he peppered Pacquiao with punches that, while lacking knockout power, were effective in slowing Pacquiao’s advances.
Mayweather has done this before, repeatedly, throughout his career. It is not unusual for a fight to start close only to have his opponents fade as they find it increasingly hard to place leather on Mayweather. The hope of many was that Pacquiao, an energizer bunny with fast hands and great feet, would prove the exception. He didn’t.