October 5, 2007 |
BOSTON -- On one coast, a superstar entered these playoffs with four hits in his last 41 postseason at-bats, and he's never allowed to forget it. On the other coast, a superstar entered these playoffs with nine hits in his last 50 postseason at-bats, and everyone seems to have forgotten about it.
October 4, 2007 |
BOSTON -- Six weeks ago, assigned to pitch the first game of a doubleheader here against the Boston Red Sox, John Lackey whined. He wanted the marquee second game. He wanted the Friday night lights. He wanted Josh Beckett. "I live for moments like that," he complained at the time. On Wednesday, finally given that moment, it buried him. He wanted the lights? They blinded him. He wanted the marquee? It crushed him. He wanted Josh Beckett?
September 30, 2007 |
SEATTLE -- Since the beginning of the Pete Carroll era, this has been a USC team that luxuriates in victory, lingering among its spoils to hug and howl long after the field has emptied. On a wet washcloth of a Saturday night, this was a USC team that couldn't disappear fast enough. Many of them ran off the soggy Husky Stadium turf before the final blow of the whistle. Some of them were underneath the stands before the final ticks of the clock.
September 23, 2007 |
This was not a game, it was a gasp. This wasn't a victory, it was a breath. A deep gasp, a huge breath, a reeling coach and his team bouncing off the ropes that threatened to strangle his job and their season. Seven days after the worst loss in Karl Dorrell's five autumns here, the UCLA Bruins slogged through a chilly Saturday night in Pasadena to hand him one of his most important wins. It was a lot of clutching and grabbing. It was more desperate than pretty.
September 19, 2007 |
It's punks growling from the carpool lane, grandmothers crooning from their couches, weary men banging on steering wheels and giggling teens cheering through blankets. It's Grady Little stinks, and Russell Martin rules, and, hey, if Frank McCourt's listening, Johnny from Upland just ate two soggy Dodger dogs and he's not real happy about it, OK? It's crazy, it's uncut, it's occasionally uncouth and always uncalculated. But it's a connection. It's our connection.
September 12, 2007 |
In his two-year USC career, Mario Danelo was probably on the field for less than two hours. The Trojans were about touchdowns, Danelo was the squiggly frosting on the edges of those touchdowns. The Trojans grandly kicked opponents between the teeth, then Danelo quietly kicked a football between the uprights. He was just a kicker, right? Who misses a kicker? Sitting in the Coliseum stands a couple of weeks ago, watching other parents' children play football, Joe and Emily Danelo learned.
August 31, 2007 |
Big Dad showed up at nearly every practice, stood on the sidelines near that sun-splashed part of the field where running backs work. While everyone else was tearing down Stafon Johnson, Big Dad came to hold him up. "He kept telling me I was better than what I was showing," Johnson said. "He never stopped believing in me." Big Dad showed up at nearly every game, climbing the Coliseum steps long after most of Johnson's Compton friends and neighbors were too furious to follow him.
August 29, 2007 |
SEATTLE -- Five to nothing. Where have Angels fans heard that before? Five to nothing. Haven't Angels fans felt that before? Five to nothing, rowdy deficit, dead dugout, little hope, hmmm. OK, OK, I won't do it. I won't go there. I absolutely will not jinx the remainder of this increasingly wondrous Angels season by reminding everyone that on the most important night in Angels history, they trailed, 5-0, in Game 6 of the 2002 World Series.
August 20, 2007 |
BOSTON -- Thirty-nine games left, Seattle grabbing at their stirrups, power flickering in their dugout, heads swiveling in their bullpen, massive expectations on their chests, and you know something? I'd give the ball to the guy with the sweaty palms. I'd give it to the guy who leads the league in rosin bag possession time, his papal mound presence marked by constant puffs of white smoke. I'd give it to the guy whose teammates say he prefers a fist pump to a handshake, and who can blame him?
August 17, 2007 |
The last time we saw the UCLA football team last season, it was losing to Florida State after giving up a fourth-down touchdown pass. The first time we see the Bruins this year, they are beating themselves with what seemed to be a botched reverse. Last winter, the villain was Bobby Bowden. This summer, it was recklessness. As Karl Dorrell knows now, both can leave you plenty embarrassed.