Photos you don’t want to see, my take on MVP and less shift in MLB?
By Mike Ashley
BODY BLOW: I didn’t make the ESPN Body Issue again this year. They assure me next year if they do a double issue I’m in.
BY A WHISKER: James Harden’s 65 wins in the Western Conference make him a legitimate MVP. LeBron James’ playoff run reaffirmed he’s the game’s best player. Oh, and maybe think of handing out the NBA regular season hardware sometime within sight of the previous season.
DUECE: The U.S. Open women’s tennis tournament announced changes in seeding rules to accommodate ranked pregnant players in the future. Seems right. Just moving them to doubles wasn’t working.
CLANK: Philadelphia rookie bricklayer Markell Fultz had the ‘yips,’ this season, according to his shooting coach. Yep, he shot the basketball like he was using a putter.
LIKE NBA THREE-TO-MAKE-TWO: With cumulative batting average at a 46-year low, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred is considering banning ‘the shift’ in the infield. Because, you know, it’s too hard for millionaire ballplayers to hit the ball to that other side where no one is standing.
TIMEOUT FOR TRIVIA: Oklahoma City used three consecutive NBA first round draft picks on MVPs Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Who did they draft No.1 the next year?
WHY NOT? Bryce Harper said he’s in for the All-Star Game Home Run Derby. That is, if he makes the all-star roster. I guess there’s not much concern the derby dynamics will mess up his swing this year. He’s hitting .219.
NATIONAL DEFICIT: At the current rate of offensive production, I’m gonna be able to tell my grandkids someday I remember seeing the Washington Nationals score a run.
GO FISH: The Angels are wasting another brilliant Mike Trout season, and I generally can’t stay awake late enough to see his exploits in Los Angeles. He’s a free agent in 2020, and that will be about time for a catch and release of Trout unless LA can give him a playoff/World Series stage.
SECOND OPINION: Kansas City guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif became a doctor and wanted to add ‘M.D.’ to his name on this jersey. The NFL said ‘no,’ because why would you want to publicize something like that? Nice job, Goodell Goon Squad.
REMEMBER THE ALAMO! Former US National team star Landon Donovan told his countrymen to embrace Mexico in the World Cup, and from the reaction you would have thought he’d sold nuclear secrets to the enemy.
TRIVIA ANSWER: After Durant, Westbrook and Harden, 2007-2009, lightning didn’t strike again for the Thunder. OKC took Quincy Poindexter out of Washington No. 1 in 2010. He never played there, but has played 302 games in seven injury-plagued seasons with four different teams. No MVPs, though.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mike Ashley has covered college athletics for over 30 years. He has worked in the athletic departments at Virginia Tech, Radford University and Marshall University, in addition to freelance work from his Northern Virginia home. Ashley has also worked as a stand-up comic, and has been a regular on many radio stations throughout the Mid-Atlantic Region. His work appears in Terrapin Times (covering the University of Maryland), NCAA programs, Blue Ribbon Yearbooks, Athlon, Lindy’s, and on bathroom stalls in major sporting venues. He has also co-authored a book on the golden age of Virginia Military Institute football, “Best Regrets: VMI’s John McKenna and The Lost Age of College Football.” Previously, the Salem, Va., native has helped author books on the New York Yankees, Emmitt Smith, Maryland’s 2002 NCAA basketball championship, and published a book on the history of Radford University.