There were some surprising headlines this week. The stories had been developing for a long time but shocking nonetheless when published in the venerable Las Vegas Review Journal. The one stunner that caught the Yard’s attention was the headline that Prostitutes face uncertain future when their brothel is closed. The Love Ranch in Pahrump was closed in early August after the owner Dennis Hof failed to renew his license on time for the establishment. There had been a long simmering debate in rural Nevada of the business value of legalized prostitution. That debate ended in Urban Nevada in 1951 when brothels were closed in Reno and Las Vegas for being public nuisances. The HOF is the Republican GOP assembly candidate for the county and owner of nine brothels. He irked the political establishment in the county with his assemblyman cum brothel owner run. One would question a man missing a license renewal date when everyone is hoping that you do so they can put you of business. We do not have an opinion on legalized whoring or Mr. Hof’s candidacy. We do feel that prostitutes have always faced an uncertain future and if the brothel closing tips over your cart, time to look for more certainty in life. Fortunately for the workers, a US District Judge ordered the Love Ranch open for business this week. Our judicial process at work.
The Little League World Series is one of the Yard’s favorite summer events. The Yardlets all played LL in the legendary Pasadena Southwest Little League. Legendary might a bit overstated for a league that has never had a single player make it to the majors. We are not sure if anyone ever made it to the minors either but it was a fun league for sure. The teams that go to Williamsport, PA are the All-star teams from each of the leagues across the country. It is much like the Electoral College where all states are not equal. PSWLL included many of the higher priced zip codes in Pasadena. Driven youth, struggling to make a better life for themselves is not the typical story in this bucolic, urban expanse. There was a talent and exciting seasons but we were no Hawaii or even Toms River. We are told the Hawaiian LL is run a bit differently for this island nation. That might explain why they have won three titles in four trips to the finals since 2005.
Las Vegas Little League is and has been a breeding ground for MLB. In the beginning there was Gregg Maddux and Mike Morgan. Maddux is a WS champion and Hall of Famer. Morgan was on the 2001 WC Diamondbacks and played for 12 teams during his 21-year career. Barry Zito played LL in LV. Of late, the trifecta of Bryce Harper, Kris Bryant and Joey Gallo has been mentioned often and their LV roots. But there are sixteen other players in the majors from Southern Nevada including Tommy Pham and Chase Shreve. Not too many cities can claim that many players playing at the highest level today. Harper and Gallo played on the same LL and club teams from eight years old to high school. Harper and Bryant played some club together before HS. All of them went Yard at the tender age of eight, which is no easy feat even at 12. As good as they are now, they were just little kids trying to figuring it out back then. Surprisingly, none of these present day greats ever made the LLWS. There are many major leaguers who played in the LLWS including Todd Frazier who lead that Toms River team in 1998. Las Vegas Little League made the US finals in 2014 and backed into the title win Jackie Robinson West LL was DQ’ed after if was found to have used ineligible players. It was the city’s only trip to Williamsport in history.
Baseball is the ultimate team sport. The game is played at a deliberate pace with every pitch a chess move on the six-inning board. There is lots of team time while in the dugout waiting to bat or to play. One or two great talents will not win championships but scrappy, competitive teams can and do. The LL teams that win championships show the resiliency to overcome disappointment in one at bat to fight to the next. For many, making it to Williamsport will be the highlight of their lives. Imagine hitting that note before you are thirteen years old. The eventual champion of the seven-week battle to the finals will bring joy and pride to their community. The 2nd place team will remember these moments with pride and joy forever even if we never recall who finished second. That is not just a Little League thing at the Yard.
The Major League Baseball post-season race this year seems poised to be legend. In the NL, there are eight teams vying for the five available playoff spots. The NL West looks to be the most interesting to the Yard. There is Yard bias most assuredly but we were rooting for the Pumpkin Kids these past few nights in their series with Arizona. Giant’s starting pitching is starting to find its way. Unfortunately, the team is getting a bit long in the tooth and bloated in the payroll. Giant fan has to hope for a stretch run because this could be their last run before this team gets blown up and rebuilt. In the AL, the only battle is for the Wild Card and possibly the AL West Title. The A’s have been the story of the season and only trail the Astros by 1.5 games. The Astros have finally gotten everyone healthy and on the same page. They will probably turn this into a boat race and they do have the better boat. It is hard to predict how this will end. We hope with the Blue Crew playing into late October but the Dodgers have not fared well against the good teams. They do beat up the underachievers pretty well. It does not get any easier from here.
Ross Stripling has become a coveted member of the Dodgers 2018 rotation. Stripling had Tommy John surgery in 2014 and did not pitch until 2016. In his April 2016 MLB debut; Stripling took a no-hitter into the 8th inning. Dodger skipper Dave Roberts pulled him when he reached 100 pitches after walking Angel Pagan. Many questioned Robert’s decision given the historic implications. The only other pitcher to pitch a no-no in his first start was Bumpus Jones for the Reds in 1892. We were unhappy because the first SF batter faced in relief homered to tie the game. Brandon Crawford homered in the tenth to win it. The no-hitter was lost along with the game to the hated ones.
In 2012, Johan Santana pitched the first and only no-hitter in New York Met’s history. It is hard to imagine that the Mets of David Cone, Tom Seaver and Doc Gooden among others had never had a no-hitter. Santana was coming off Tommy John Surgery in 2010 and did not pitch in 2011. In 2012, he was back in CY Young form albeit for an eventual 4th place team. Hope was still in air that June night for the Mets and Santana had not allowed a hit to Cardinal line-up that would finish one game away from the WS. Santana pitched a no-hitter and the Mets won 8-0. It took 134 pitches to get that achievement and it would be among the last of Santana’s career. He would be out of baseball by the end of the season at 33 years old.
In 2013, SF Giant pitcher Timmy Lincecum pitched the first of his two no-hitters. It was similar story to Santana’s. The Giants would win the game 9-0 on their way to a 76-86 finish in 4th place. The Timster’s no-hitter was the highlight of the season for the Giant faithful. It was against the lowly Padres who he would no-hit a second time in 2015. On this meaningless night during this meaningful achievement, Licecum would throw 146 pitches. He chalked up 13 strikeouts and walked four. He was 29 years old. He would be out of baseball by age 32. Two important milestones for the players and their teams. Shortened careers for the protagonists in each narrative. Not sure if the high pitch count lead to meeting their expiration date. But in 2018, Ross Stripling is almost 29 years old with an 8-3 record and a 2.62 ERA and a bright future that is on the uptick not the down slope.
Leader in the clubhouse: The debate of the greatest ever seems to favor Michael Jordan. He is the leader in so many categories in NBA history it is hard to argue against him. Bill Russell lead the most championship teams but the NBA was pretty fledgling back them with nine teams total. The Celtics were crafty and the Lakers not so much. Today’s NBA exploded in 1979-80 when Magic and Larry Bird took their collegiate rivalry to the NBA. Michael came on the heels on those teams but did not really break through until they were on their back nine. LeBron is the main challenger to the GOAT mantel for the NBA that Jordan holds. The Yard already has voted to give it him but our votes don’t count much like California’s in the general election in 2016.
Any NBA GM would pick LeBron ahead of MJ in any mock draft held today based on their prime. MJ was 6-6 195 lbs. LeBron is 6-8 250. Their career stats are almost identical. Jordan scored more and took more shots than James. James averaged more assists and rebounds. Jordan averaged 71 regular season games for his 15 seasons. James averages 81.6 regular season games for his 14 seasons and running. MJ had all kinds of drama surrounding him throughout his career with his gambling and womanizing. Many have assumed Jordan pursued baseball because he was going to suspended for gambling when the stories came out that he welched on a million dollar golf bet. He underwent the most massive divorce in US history when his then wife was finally fed up with his antics. James has never had a shred of drama or outside the lines shenanigans. He is opening schools in Ohio and producing shows for HBO. MJ gets to live in his legend. LeBron is still creating his and it is more compelling to the Yard. If he leads his third NBA team to a title he is legend.
Are you kidding me: Three game suspension for Urban Meyers? Oh wait, he is at Ohio State. In Columbus, you can lie, promote ethics when you have none and cover up domestic violence. You might miss three games but you still get to compete for a national title and all the glory.