● Orlando City SC Loses In New York

Despite a hat trick by rookie Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC Loses In New York to NYCFC 5-3 this afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

Dylan Butler, friend of The Benchwarmers, recaps the match here.

Orlando City SC Loses In New York

Orlando City is winless in their last four MLS matches (6-9-6), and fell from 6th to 8th place in the Eastern Conference standings. The top six teams from each conference advance to the playoffs when the regular season ends on Sunday, October 25th.

 

Orlando City SC Loses In New York, 5-3

 

● Red Sox Fan Embarrasses Himself

John Tomase is a sports columnist in New England. Perhaps he should consider writing for The Onion.

Embarrassing Moment For Red Sox Fan

“The Onion” – great source of true stories,
according to former FIFA executives

Three games into the 2015 season, Tomase put on his Red Sox cap in the wee hours of the morning and cranked out a pro-Red Sox, anti-Yankees op-ed column for the website of WEEI, the Red Sox flagship radio affiliate. Less than four months later, the article is so incredibly incorrect it defies logic that it was written by a professional.

Embarrassing Moment For Red Sox Fan

(W. Eugene Smith//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images)

Let’s read how the Red Sox Fan Embarrasses Himself paragraph by paragraph:

  • PHILADELPHIA — The Yankees can’t spend their way out of this one.
    …perhaps the only thing ACCURATE in this story is that Tomase might have been in Philadelphia when he wrote it.
  • Years of mismanagement and a blatant disregard for the future finally have caught up to the Bombers, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
    …after beginning the season 1-2, the Yankees had improved to 7-7 by April 21st. They are currently 53-41, 5-1/2 games in front of Toronto – first place in the AL East. 
  • The Red Sox open a series in New York on Friday, one day after the Yankees fell to 1-2 following a 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays.
    …ok, Tomase wrote TWO accurate things.
  • While the Red Sox bask in the glow of perhaps the best offense and minor league system in baseball, the Yankees are more bloated than a beached whale.
    Through yesterday’s results, the Yankees have scored 434 runs – the Red Sox 389. Down on the farm, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre leads the International League in both team batting average (.272) and runs scored (441). Pawtucket is dead LAST in both categories (.236 and 336).
  • Shortstop Didi Gregorius is the only regular in his 20s. Catcher Brian McCann and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury already look like potential free agent mistakes. Alex Rodriguez is a (bleep)-show unto himself. The rotation could be the best in the division, but is just as likely to lose Masahiro Tanaka to Tommy John and CC Sabathia to osteoporosis.
    …so far McCann has 15 HRs and is doing an incredible job with the Yankees pitching staff. Ellsbury, just back from the DL, is batting .308. A-Rod is having a “pretty good” year as the full-time DH. Tanaka has started 13 games, Sabathia 18.
  • The Yankees are built for the wrong era. Back when steroids coursed through the game like Alaskan crude, building around 30-somethings wasn’t just a worthy gamble, it was smart. Why bet on someone unproven when you could get an All-Star with the knowledge that his prime might stretch to 37?
    …using the ’96 playbook seems to be working out just fine so far (six innings for the starters, hand the ball to Mariano and Wetteland), with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller shortening the game this season. On the hitting side, 30-something Brett Gardner is having a career year so far.
  • Not anymore, though. The best teams recognize that it’s hard to win without at least a complement of 20-something regulars. Mixing them with veterans is fine, as long as your aging stars aren’t tripping on walkers en route to first base.
    …the “old men” are out-hitting the youngsters by a slim .002 margin. Luckily they can jog the bases with their sizable 123-to-87 HR advantage.
  • Just consider the respective lineups. The Red Sox start a pair of 22-year-olds in Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, as well as 28-year-old Pablo Sandoval. The catcher was supposed to be 24-year-old Christian Vazquez, but even with Vazquez done for the year, 23-year-old Blake Swihart waits in the wings should a need arise.
    Bogaerts is the only Boston starter hitting over .300 (.306). Betts is struggling at .267 with more strikeouts (49) than RBI (45). Sandoval has making headlines with his social media exploits and NOT with his bat (.260, 46Ks, 7HRs, .304 OBP). Swihart has played just two games in July, batting .237 in a three-way share for the catching duties.
  • Yes, there are guys in their 30s like Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino and, of course, David Ortiz, but the Red Sox can augment them with players such as Rusney Castillo, Deven Marrero and Garin Cecchini in the short term, and Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers and Manuel Margot down the road.
    …Pedroia (.287) is having an average year, but Napoli (.206, 11 HRs, 84 Ks), Ramirez (.263, 19 HRs, 55 Ks), Victorino (.247 in just 101 plate appearances), and Ortiz (.234, 17 HRs, 58 Ks) are having the steriods-era type season, not the Yankees. Castillo is platooning with Victorino in RF, but the rest have done nothing at the big-league level to pin anything but a “potential” moniker on.
  • The Yankees are built like a 2008 All-Star team, and that’s not a good thing. In addition to the aforementioned vets, they also start Carlos Beltran (37), Stephen Drew (32), Brett Gardner (31) and Chase Headley (31 shortly), a third baseman they signed to a four-year deal because they knew A-Rod was done there, despite being owed as much as $94 million.
    …so far, Beltran, Gardner, and Headley are doing just fine. Red Sox fans already know that Drew is nothing more than a utility infielder, but this year’s Yankees can afford one batting stiff in the lineup and he’s it since the recent roster-move demotion of rookie Rob Refsnyer (wait, I thought the Yankees didn’t HAVE any rookie prospects?)
  • On the pitching side, the Yankees are your ultimate boom-or-bust group. In addition to Tanaka’s elbow and Sabathia’s body, there’s also the shoulder of big right-hander Michael Pineda. The Red Sox might not have an ace, but they’ve got depth. The Yankees’ hopes are hanging by a thread, though their bullpen is absolutely a weapon, particularly with the left-right tandem of Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances closing things out.
    …the only starter pitcher injured on either team so far is Buchholtz. Pineda is having a great comeback year (9-6, 113 Ks, 15 BBs) and would easily be Boston’s best pitcher. The return of Ivan Nova (2-3, 3.34) and the turnaround of Nathan Eovaldi (9-2) are also working out just fine.
  • But age and injury are just the start. Then there’s money. It turns out the Yankees have financial limits, and they’re up against them, thanks to some of the worst contracts in baseball. A-Rod is signed through 2017, when he’ll make $21 million at age 42 to complete a $275 million disaster. Ellsbury ($153 million) and Tanaka ($155 million) are signed through 2020. McCann and Headley are inked through 2018. Sabathia has a vesting option that could keep him in pinstripes through 2017. Beltran remains on the books through 2016.
    …the Red Sox have a team payroll of $166.6M, fifth highest in MLB and the highest team with a losing record. A-Rod makes $5M more this year than Big Papi, who is also on the books through 2017. 
  • In the days of Kevin Brown, Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi, the Yankees could live with such deals, because they knew the players would continue, um, producing. Now they’re anchors.
    …Sandoval has $19M/year  coming his way for five more seasons, Ramirez has $23M/yr coming his way for four. Porcello (5-10, 5.79, 18 HRs) will get $20M next year, so perhaps we should hold off on the comparisons just yet. 
  • The Red Sox figured this out, which is why they let Jon Lester walk, signed Ramirez for four years, and recently extended right-hander Rick Porcello for similar terms. They’re not going to let themselves land in a Yankees situation, where they’ve got little choice but to wait for their horrible contracts to expire before they can even begin to think about rebuilding.
    …it’s been a while since we’ve said something nice: Red Sox fans could have it worse – they could be rooting for the Phillies to turn it around.
  • Those deals have a secondary effect that’s just as onerous, however. Since many of the above players arrived via free agency, they cost the Yankees high draft picks. Twice in the past four drafts, the Yankees haven’t picked their first player until the 50s (though to be fair, they had three first-rounders in 2013). The players that should’ve restocked their system either didn’t sign (Gerrit Cole), didn’t produce (Slade Heathcott, anyone?) or may as well not have existed (their 2010 draft has delivered a combined WAR of minus-0.1). Their farm system generally ranks in the bottom third of the game, even after a $17 million spending spree in the international market last summer.
    …Heathcott batted .353 in his six-game stint with the Yankees earlier this year, so perhaps we can hold off on sending him down the Jackie Bradley (.113 in 14 games) “Bust Highway” just yet .
  • The Red Sox, meanwhile, boast one of the two or three deepest farm systems in the game. They’ve refused to deal their prospects, have done a better job developing them, and now boast potential big leaguers throughout the system. Third base alone is packed, for instance, with Sandoval blocking the path of Cecchini, Sean Coyle, Devers, former first-round pick Michael Chavis and maybe even Moncada down the road.
    …according to Baseball America, the Yankees have seen significant progress from their two top prospects—RHP Luis Severino and OF Aaron Judge—who each moved from Double-A to Triple-A. On the other hand, the Red Sox spent more than $130 million in bonuses and taxes to purchase the services of two Cuban players; 27 year-old Cuban OF Rusney Castillo – who has struggled so far this year at Pawtucket, and 20 year-old 2B Yoan Moncada – who returns to baseball after an 18 month defection hiatus.
  • They’ve also got a number of pitchers with potential, including lefties Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson, the last of whom tossed five shutout innings Thursday night in a season-opening win for Triple-A Pawtucket.
    …Brian Johnson looks to get “Back In Black” after he gave up four earned runs in five innings in his MLB debut, a loss. Rodriguez has given up 7 HRs in 54 innings so far with the Red Sox, and Owens is struggling at Pawtucket.
  • As crazy as it sounds, multiple evaluators consider the Yankees at least three years away. The Yanks need to turn over an aging core without succumbing to the allure of quick fixes in free agency, but also without upper-level prospects to fill the void.
    OR… perhaps they’ll win the AL East THIS year.
  • If they’re impatient, they could land in free agent jail, a lot closer to the Jets and Knicks among the Big Apple’s sporting woebegone than anyone would’ve imagined.
    …doesn’t seem likely. Just saying.
  • So when the Red Sox open on Friday, take a good look. This might be the closest the Yankees get to first place all season.
    At eight games under .500 and 12 games behind the first-place Yankees, THIS might be the closest the Red Sox get to first place for the rest of the 2015 season.
Red Sox Fan Embarrasses Himself

● Spieth Historic Run Ended By Photographer

There will be a playoff at the 2015 British Open, but Jordan Spieth will not be in it.

As Marc Leishman and Zach Johnson practiced on the putting green, Spieth prepared for his 102yd second shot on 18. Spieth needed to birdie the hole to join the playoff round – something Louis Oosthuizen would do one pairing later. As Spieth drew back to swing at his most important shot of the afternoon, a photographer with an itchy trigger finger suffered premature daguerreolation – stopping Spieth mid-shot and drawing the ire of caddy Michael Greller. Although Spieth tried desperately to regain his composure, his finally undisturbed second attempt to swing in peace was long. Spieth put everything into a final desperation putt, graciously attempted out of noise range of photographers, missed the cup by inches. Spieth finished his attempt at history one stroke behind the leaders at 14 under.

Spieth Historic Run Ended By PhotographerAs the three-player playoff got underway, Spieth was gracious; “We gave it a great effort. I didn’t think three guys would get to 15 under today.” Asked about his decision on 18 to go far left, Spieth stated, “I wanted to get a flat lie and it went  a little too left.”

And way too close to the peanut gallery of paparazzi, who instead of recording history would become part of a moment that would not be historical in any way.

Asked what made the shot tough for him, Spieth was to the point; “I was between clubs.”

After weeks of the added pressure, seagulls, sirens, bagpipes, and crazy weather conditions – it was one ill-timed shutter click that would break into Spieth’s otherwise flawless focus during the stretch. For Spieth, less than a week away from his 22nd birthday, the first thoughts in his mind after his putt fell short said it all:

“It was just tough.”

Spieth Historic Run Ended By Photographer

● Pro Surfer Survives Shark Attack

For the first time in surfing history, a surfer was attacked by a shark during competition.

Pro Surfer Survives Shark AttackIt happened at Jeffreys Bay, South Africa during the Final Heat of the World Surf League’s J-Bay Open. Australian Julian Wilson began the round with a 6.67 and defending champion Mick Fanning was in the surf waiting for his chance to compete.

And then it happened.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwQTMkJbXDo

Immediately after the attack Fanning told his rescuers, “It just kept pounding at my board and I was just like kicking and screaming – I punched it in the back!”

Cocoa Beach’s Kelly Slater, who Fanning defeated in the semifinals, had this to say immediately after the attack; “I’m halfway between crying and laughing because it’s like he got so lucky. We almost watched our friend just get eaten by a shark. I’m just blown away that there’s no damage at all.”

Fanning and Wilson agreed to each take equal second in rankings points and split the prize purse that was to be awarded to the winner. Adriano de Souza of Brazil, currently number one in the world, will retain the yellow jersey and the top spot heading into the Billabong Pro Tahiti set for August 14-15.

Fanning might not make the trip to French Polynesia. “I’m happy to not even compete ever again,” Fanning stated on the beach moments after the attack. “Seriously, to walk away from that I’m so stoked.”

Pro Surfer Survives Shark Attack

● FIFA Blatter To Be Emptied SOON

It appears that progress is being made towards the ACTUAL ouster of FIFA President.

Sepp BlatterThis coming Monday, the FIFA Executive Board will meet in Zurich for an “Extraordinary Meeting”. The official agenda has been posted on the FIFA website. Based on the agenda contents, it appears it will be an interesting as well as extraordinary meeting. After the normal salute the flag, pledge of allegiance stuff, there will be a report from Sepp Blatter, followed by discussion on  “reform of FIFA’s organizational structure”, and then “election of the FIFA president.”

Fans of football/soccer should NOT get their hopes up that the FIFA presidential hostage crisis will end on Day 48. The presidential discussion will likely only set a date for the election, which is rumored to have already been decided as December 16th. To clarify: December, 16th… 2015.

Monday’s extraordinary meeting will also be slightly less attended as was originally hoped, since yesterday Switzerland began the extradition to the United States of the seven FIFA officials arrested on May 27th.

FIFA Blatter To Be Emptied SOON

● Ronda Rousey Defeats Mayweather

Ronda Rousey rarely minces words – and Wednesday night’s ESPY awards were no exception.

Upon being awarded “Best Fighter”, Rousey had choice words for fellow award nominee Floyd Mayweather, Jr. As Cari Champion handed her the award on live television Rousey replied, “I wonder how Floyd feels being beaten by a woman for once.” Countering a claim Mayweather made in a 2014 interview that he had no idea who Rousey was – she added, “I’d like to see you pretend to not know who I am now.”

Ronda Rousey Defeats Floyd Mayweather

Rousey also accepted “Best Female Athlete” at the ESPY awards, as she took some time away from training for her defense of her UFC women’s bantamweight title against Bethe Correia in UFC 190 August 1st in Rio de Janeiro.

In a previous interview promoting UFC 190 Rousey stated, “This chick is not just getting beaten, she’s getting a learning. My Dad would call it a ‘Come To Jesus Meeting’, so I’m going all the way down to Brazil to have a ‘Come To Jesus Meeting’ with this chick. And no, I’m not going to end it quickly, but not because I can’t end it quickly – but because I choose to.”

When Rousey defeated Mayweather at the ESPY awards, she did so via quick approach.

Ronda Rousey defeats Mayweather

● Hezonja and Harvey Are Ready To Go

The Orlando Magic officially introduced Mario Hezonja and Tyler Harvey to the City Beautiful this afternoon. Hezonja and Harvey are ready to go, ready to be teammates in the Samsung NBA Summer League 2015.

Hezonja And Harvey Are Ready To GoAround the water cooler, you might hear that the Magic picked two nobodies in a draft full of somebodies. Since The Benchwarmers want you to be the smartest tool in the shed, here are the five things cool kids need to know about the Magic’s two draft picks:

Mario Hezonja

Hezonja And Harvey Are Ready To Go

  1. The 20-year-old first seriously thought about playing in the NBA three years ago. “When I finished (playing) with Croatia I was thinking really about the NBA already at that age, I was 17 turning 18.”
  2. He began playing basketball professionally at age 11.
  3. His move to Orlando marks just the second time Hezonja has been in the United States. The first was for the 2011 Jordan Brand Classic in Charlotte, NC – where he scored 15 points in the International Game.
  4. Having spent the last three seasons playing in Barcelona, Hezonja speaks fluent Spanish.
  5. He does not have a favorite NBA player, nor one particular player he looks up to. “There is no bad player in the NBA so you look up to everybody.”

Tyler HarveyHezonja And Harvey Are Ready To Go

  1. Received ZERO scholarship offers for college. He enrolled at Eastern Washington University and walked on to the team. Three years later, he led the nation in scoring at 23.1 ppg. “My story is a little different than everybody else’s, but it seemed to work out in the end.”
  2. His dad is Frank Harvey, who is a veteran NCAA D1 men’s basketball referee. Tyler credits his Dad with his exposure to hoops as a young child, “I’ve been watching the game since I was three or four years old, right there live, up close.”
  3. His Dad ran into his eventual college coach, Jim Hayford, in an airport on his way home from officiating a game. Dad gave the coach the sales pitch on his son and Hayford agreed to take a look at him. “He was so skinny,” Hayford said. “He looked like a long-distance runner for the Kenyan national team. He was awkward and needed to grow into his height.”
  4. Had five international teammates at Eastern Washington including one who is from Serbia.
  5. Studies Stephen Curry’s game, and has been compared to Curry and Reggie Miller. “My ability to shoot the ball is the key to my game. Working hard, that’s what I was taught at a young age .”

● Not Hip To Be Kristaps Porzingis

Those #Forzingis – supporters of the New York Knicks first-round draft pick – have legitimate reason to be concerned. It’s Not Hip To Be Kristaps Porzingis right now.

Kristaps PorzingisPorzingis’ older brother Janis appeared on the World Wide Leader’s New York City radio station on Monday with some not-so-great news. It seems that his little brother is dealing with hip tighness. The problems began during Porzingis’ preparation for his Las Vegas workout on June 12th, the first time most NBA executives had the chance to see him play live. Despite this limited exposure, the Knicks made him the fourth overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

Obviously we are ALL “Day-To-Day”, but when asked if little brother would be ready to play by June 11th in Las Vegas for the Samsung NBA Summer League Brother Janis had this to say; “I don’t know, I really don’t know.” The Knicks maintain that Porzingis is on schedule to play and is back working out after missing a few days.

Manute BolPorzingis blew up the internet with a video demonstrating his basketball capabilities. Unfortunately, the 14-minute video and a few others like it remain the majority of his playing “body of work.” Porzingis played sparingly for three not-livestreamed seasons in Spain’s LIGA ACB, last season for Baloncesto Sevilla. The 7’1″youngster is exactly one month shy of his 20th birthday and is officially listed by the Knicks at just 220lbs. The same weight that 7’7″ Manute Bol played at during his less-than-spectacular NBA career.

● With Magic Anything Is Possible

Orlando was abuzz yesterday when all of the super-cool NBA “insiders” started reporting across cable television, the social media universe, and the blogosphere that the Orlando Magic had offered a contract to Atlanta Hawks free agent forward Paul Millsap. The Hawks had the right to match the offer, did so, and Millsap agreed to stay in Atlanta.

Paul MillsapBut it was sure fun while it lasted – for many reasons.

For many Magic fans, it was a sign that Magic GM Rob Hennigan is serious about spending money to improve the roster, especially since most reports believed the Magic offered Millsap $80M over four years. The cadre of curmudgeons spanning the citrus region took a moment yesterday away from worrying about I-4 and the heat to complain that $80M was too much to spend on a player they had never heard of. Luckily for them, Millsap decided to stay in Atlanta for a matching offer that ACTUALLY was three years, $58M.

In case you’re wondering, that’s the SAME amount of money that the New York Knicks have reportedly offered… Arron Afflalo. In the NBA free agent market of 2015, that’s the price a team has to pay for a moderately-talented player. Or a shot at a really good one if you’re a savvy GM like Hennigan.

The Millsap offer brings another “issue” to the forefront. Just like the Magic’s draft selections last week, the Millsap courting came as a complete surprise to the Central Florida sports braintrust. It’s clear that Rob Hennigan and the Magic have a plan that they are executing at a level of stealth that is the envy of other professional sports teams. There appear to be no credible “sources close to the Magic” prematurely leaking their moves – which is totally OK if you’re a fan.

If you need MORE proof, consider this: the signing of Mario Hezonja was generally welcomed with silence by all of the really “smart” local media types. Moments after the pick was announced, the questions began – who was Hezonja, would the Magic be able to buy out his contract, would Hezonja agree to sign, would Hezonja actually play in 2015. This afternoon, less than six days after being selected, Hezonja is signed, sealed, and delivered – ready to see action in the Samsung NBA Summer League 2015 here in the City Beautiful.

So don’t be surprised if the Magic have some more moves to make in the next few weeks. Hennigan promised at today’s press conference, “We’ll continue to be aggressive.” One thing is for sure, you can’t blame them for not trying. And make no mistake, with Magic anything is possible.

● Solar Bears Name New Head Coach

The Orlando Solar Bears announced earlier today that they have named Anthony Noreen as their new head coach.

Anthony NoreenNoreen spent the last four seasons as Head Coach and General Manager of the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL. He was named USHL Coach of the Year in 2015 while leading the Phantoms to the Anderson Cup (most points in the regular season), and a 17-game winning streak – the longest in USHL history. The USHL is the country’s top junior hockey league in the United States, the only league in the country with a “Tier 1” rating.

Noreen helped develop Kyle Connor, who played his last three seasons in Youngstown before being drafted #17 overall by the Winnipeg Jets in last weekend’s NHL Draft. Noreen played collegiate hockey at University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and was named a ALL-NCHA Academic All-American while captaining the team during his junior and senior years.

The Solar Bears, ECHL affiliate of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and AHL’s Toronto Marlies, play all of their home games at the Amway Center.

Solar Bears name new head coach – Anthony Noreen.