Who’s on First? A Weekly Sports Column

Lin-sanity reigns

Move over, Tim Tebow. There’s a new sports media darling, and his name is Jeremy Lin. Lin is a 23-year-old point guard for the NBA’s New York Knicks, and his story reads like something out of the vaults at Disney: no scholarship offers out of high school, so he went to Harvard; he went undrafted after college, and was then cut by two teams, including his hometown Golden State Warriors; and now, he’s found a home on the New York Knicks, where he recently broke the NBA record for most points in one’s first five games as a starter. Not bad for the NBA’s first Taiwanese-American player, eh?

Yes, “Lin-sanity” is now sweeping the sports world, as the young point guard is now popping up everywhere from Time.com to the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine. How big has the hype gotten? Lin’s “brand” is said to be worth nearly $14 million, and headline writers may be running out of Lin puns. The horror! The latest bit of Lin-sanity, which included a big win over Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers last weekend, came on Tuesday night, when Lin’s three-pointer with under a second left in the game sent his Knicks to a 90-87 win over the Toronto Raptors, the team’s sixth win in a row. While outsiders have debated everything from whether or not Lin will calm “tiger moms” to whether or not he’s only getting such attention because of his race, Lin achieved a more practical milestone this week: he moved off of his brother’s Manhattan couch and into a place of his own. Linning!

Wings set wins mark

The Detroit Red Wings have long been the model for success in the NHL. The Wings are truly a member of hockey’s royalty, as they’ve won eleven Stanley Cups, six Conference Championships, six Presidents’ Trophies, and 19 Division Championships. Oh, and they haven’t missed the playoffs since 1990. Not too shabby. So when a team like the Wings does something that they’ve never done before as a franchise, it has to be pretty special, and what they accomplished on Tuesday night certainly was: a 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars was the Wings’ 21st home win in a row, the longest such streak in NHL history. Win number 21 broke the mark formerly held by the 1930 Boston Bruins and the 1976 Philadelphia Flyers, who each won 20 home games in a row. The Wings, who currently have the league’s best record, last lost at home on Nov. 3, a span of three-and-a-half months. To put the streak in perspective, the Wings have more consecutive home wins (21) than the last-place Columbus Blue Jackets have total wins…for the entire season (17). The Wings will go for consecutive win number 22 on Friday night when they host the Nashville Predators.

Cespedes lands in Oakland

Yoenis Cespedes, a 26-year-old Cuban outfielder who was one of this winter’s most-prized free agents, has found a home in Oakland as the Athletics signed the elite prospect to a four-year, $36 million contract this week. Cespedes was rumored to be close to signing with the Miami Marlins, but the A’s, notorious for their short-spending ways, crept in towards the end and offered Cespedes the shorter deal he’d been looking for. Cespedes is, according to most scouts, a true five-tool player: he hits for average, hits for power, and runs the bases, throws, and fields well. He set a Cuban League record in 2011 with 33 home runs in a single season, and put on quite a show for Cuba at the 2009 World Baseball Classic: he hit .458 with two home runs and five RBI in just six games. If nothing else, Cespedes will bring a bit of buzz with him to the A’s, a team that finished third in the AL West last season and was 17 games out of a playoff spot. Cespedes will likely play center field for the A’s, but current centerfielder Coco Crisp doesn’t appear to be all that willing to make room for his new teammate. The A’s are reportedly not done yet this offseason, as rumors are circulating that they’re considering signing recently-retired DH Manny Ramirez to a contract as well.

Gwynn has successful surgery

Tony Gwynn spent years battling pitchers as one of the best hitters baseball has ever seen. He’s expected to take that tenacity with him as he recovers from his newest battle, this time against mouth cancer. The 51-year-old Hall of Famer underwent 14 hours of surgery in California on Tuesday to remove a malignant growth from inside his right cheek; the tumor-removal was the second surgery on Gwynn’s mouth in the past two years. According to ESPN.com, Gwynn’s wife, Alicia, said that the surgery went well, and that Gwynn was already “talking, drinking water and laughing” on Wednesday morning. According to Gwynn himself, the culprit for his cancer was his career-long use of smokeless tobacco through a process known as “dipping” that is rampant in Major League Baseball. Post-surgery biopsies revealed good results, and it’s expected that Gwynn will be able to resume his coaching duties at San Diego State University before too long. Gwynn played his entire 20-year career with the San Diego Padres, racking up 3,141 hits and boasting of a career batting average of .338.

Leave a Reply