“I’m back!” Those were the first words out of Manny Ramirez’s mouth at his “welcome back” press conference for the return of the outspoken super slugger. Ramirez is happy to be back in Los Angeles for at least another two seasons after signing a lucrative 2-year $45 million contract with $25 guaranteed in the first year. Who wouldn’t be happy getting paid a salary like that? Oh yeah, Ramirez a week earlier when he initially turned down the contract. Who in their right mind would turn down $45 million, especially when $25 million is guaranteed and it is only a TWO-year contract? Goes to show that no matter how talented you are, you can still come off as completely arrogant and overpaid.
On the other end of the baseball spectrum back on the East Coast, the Yankees have problems of their own with their superstar, Alex Rodriguez. Weeks after coming out with the story of his steroid use, Alex Rodriguez has opted to have surgery to fix his torn labrum. Unfortunately for the Yankees, this surgery will have A-Rod out for at least 6-9 weeks, or at least that is what they are planning. Reports have said that a torn labrum can take up to 4 months or longer to heal after surgery, so the two month time-frame that the Yankees are giving Rodriguez is absolutely ridiculous. Why risk injuring their star player further by not allowing his injury to heal properly? The answer is simple. Without A-Rod in the lineup, the Yankess face the daunting task of replacing him at third base with their less than stellar backup infielders. This unfortunate news comes weeks after A-Rod’s disheartening confession to steroid use. What a month it has been for Rodriguez and the Yankees. They can only hope that the coming months will bring relief to a Yankees squad that is in desperate need of a pennant come October. With the Red Sox reclaiming the throne as the American League East powerhouse, the Yankees have been left searching for answers.
In light of this, baseball is still going strong, with teams from all around the world competing in the World Baseball Classic. Early favorites Japan and the United States have jumped out to 2-0 and 1-0 records respectively. After losing their first two games, China blew out the previously undefeated Korean team with a humbling 14-0 victory. Look out for the unprecedented amount of talent in this incredible baseball tournament, you might not see anything like it again.
Coming later, David Beckham back with the Los Angeles Galaxy for good?
In a day of comebacks, homecomings and clinched playoff spots, perhaps the most thrilling game of the day took place in South Beach. The high-scoring affair pitted Phoenix and All-Star center Shaquille O’Neal against Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat at home. It was a homecoming for Shaq, who called Miami home for a few seasons before being traded to the Suns. Dwayne Wade went off on Phoenix, putting up 35 points, 16 dimes and 6 boards en route to an impressive 135-129 win. The Miami Heat bench, fueled by rookie phenom Michael Beasley and hot-shot 3-point shooter Daequan Cook supplemented the incredible performance by Miami’s starting 5 by going off for a combined 55 points. This sealed the deal for Miami, who after facing struggles in recent games was able to finish this one out and get a good win against a talented Suns squad led by Shaq. Dwayne Wade, who has averaged 37.3 points per game over his last 6 games has come alive for the Heat, who are trying to fight for the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference.
One team that no longer has to worry about their chances of making the playoffs are the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs, fresh off a win in Miami took complete control at home and cruised to a 91-73 against a sub-par Milawaukee Bucks team led by Richard Jefferson. The Cavs are the first team in the NBA to clinch a playoff spot, but that won’t be enough for them. Look out for Lebron and the Cavs to keep fighting for that number one seed and ideal homecourt advantage. With games against Boston, Miami and Phoenix coming up within the next week, the Cavs will have their work cut out for them.
Coming off a two-game skid, the Celtics were in desperate need of a win, and they managed to scrape one out against Devin Harris and the New Jersey Nets. Led by Paul Pierce’s 31 points and 5 assists, the Celtics were able to overcome a Nets 4th-quarter comeback to win 115-111. Vince Carter’s 34 points and 4 assists was just not enough to propel the Nets against the defending champs, so the Nets will look to rebound against Dwight Howard’s Orlando Magic. Meanwhile, the Celtics will have to buck up because they are facing a surging Cleveland Cavaliers squad at home Friday, the Orlando Magic on Sunday and Dwayne Wade’s Miami Heat on Wednesday. Without KG, Boston will have to find some answers in order to keep their dreams alive of repeating as NBA champions.
Other teams around the NBA had some hard-fought games tonight as well. The Hawks fought back in the 4th quarter against the Knicks at Madison Sqaure Garden but came up short as they lost the game 109-105. Despite the valiant efforts of Tony Parker and his 37 point performance, the Dallas Mavericks were able to withstand the furious onslaught by the San Antonio Spurs to win 107-102. The Oklahoma City Thunder pulled off an 88-83 win against the struggling Washington Wizards due to a balanced attack from their 5 starters, all who ended up scoring in double figures. The Chicago Bulls completely demolished the Golden State Warriors, having six players score in double figures on their way to a 110-88 victory at home. The Portland Trailblazers were able to capitalize on an impressive 28 point performance by Brandon Roy to beat the Indiana Pacers 107-105. The Pacers continue to miss All-Star Danny Granger, who has been sidelined with a foot injury since February 19th. The Utah Jazz were able to pull of a 101-94 victory against the ailing Houston Rockets, who are without Tracy McGrady for the remainder of the season. This win marks their 9th in a row, which poses the question can anyone stop them? We will get the answer to that when they face off at home against the Denver Nuggets. The Memphis Grizzlies got a good win against the Los Angeles Clippers. Not that it matters for either team, as they are both clearly out of the playoff races with Memphis having 16 wins and 44 losses and the Clippers having 15 wins and 47 losses. Rudy Gay was the shining star of the night, putting up 35 points and 8 boards to go along with Marc Gasol’s near triple-double effort of 20 points 10 assists and 8 boards. Tomorrow, the New Orleans Hornets face off against the Dallas Mavericks, who are fresh off a huge emotional victory against the San Antonio Spurs. Later in the night the Nuggets take on Brandon Roy and the Trailblazers in an attempt to continue their quest for a Western Conference playoff spot.
Tomorrow I’ll be covering the NFL Free Agency, including Terrell Owens being released by the Dallas Cowboys. Also will be covering the GHSA basketball state playoffs and Manny Ramirez signing back with the Dodgers.