Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mickelson's Emotional Double Bogey

Phil Mickelson will be out indefinitely once again after learning of mother Mary's breast cancer diagnosis just six weeks after wife Amy was stricken with same disease. (Photo courtesy of BBC News)

Phil Mickelson just can't catch a break, from his long journey to his first major to the debacle on the 72nd hole at Winged Foot, and that even includes his personal life.

After Lefty finished tied for second in last month's U.S. Open just weeks after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer, Mickelson's mother fell victim to the same fate, as reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Mary Mickelson was diagnosed with breast cancer just several weeks after her daughter-in-law Amy was found to have the same disease, and will undergo surgery later this week at the same hospital where Amy Mickelson underwent her procedure.

Phil has yet to address the media following his runner-up finish at Bethpage two weeks ago, but there is little doubt that he will skip next week's Open Championship at Turnberry, and his status for next month's PGA Championship, as well as the rest of the year, is uncertain.

Two Princes Headline Home Run Derby

Albert Pujols will undoubtedly be favorite in Monday's Home Run Derby in his home park of Busch Stadium. (Photo courtesy of USA Today)

This year's Home Run Derby will have a hometown feel to it, not to mention an aura of baseball royalty. Headlining Monday night's affair at Busch Stadium will be Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, the National League's leading vote-getter and hometown hero. Pujols leads the major leagues with 31 dingers this season.

Joining Prince Albert will be another royally named slugger, Milwaukee's Prince Fielder. Another pair of first basemen will represent the NL, and they are the Padres' Adrian Gonzalez and 2006 Home Run Derby champion Ryan Howard of Philadelphia.

The American League participants will be announced later this week, with potential selections being reigning champion Justin Morneau of the Twins and Texas' Josh Hamilton, who crushed a record 28 homers in the first round of the Derby last year at Yankee Stadium in a performance that will not soon be forgotten.

The All-Star Game takes place a week from tonight in St. Louis.

Friday, July 3, 2009

An A-Bomb From A-Rod

Andy Roddick advances to third Wimbledon final after four-set semifinal win against Andy Murray. Next up for the American is Roger Federer, who beat Roddick in both of his previous final appearances. (Photo courtesy of BBC News)

There will be an Andy on Centre Court Sunday, but not the Andy that many had hoped would be there.

Andy Roddick, who had lost six of his eight previous meetings with Britain's Andy Murray before their semifinal match today, advanced to his third Wimbledon final, taking out the third-seeded Murray 6-4, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. Roddick lost both of his previous finals to Roger Federer, who he faces on Sunday. Federer is now one match away from a record 15th Grand Slam title after knocking out 24th-seeded Tommy Haas in straight sets today. Federer already broke a record by advancing to his 20th career Grand Slam final, and seventh straight at the All-England Club; but the buzz of the day was Roddick beating Murray.

"To be honest, the last couple of years I didn't know if I'd ever get a chance to play for a
nother Grand Slam title. Now I get to. It's just a dream." The dream of Murray becoming the first Brit to win Wimbledon since Fred Perry in 1936 remains that, at least for another year, as Roddick looks to beat Federer to win his second Grand Slam, and first since the 2003 U.S. Open. "I had to play my best tennis out there to win today," said Roddick, who won the match despite Murray having more aces and winners.

The Williams sisters face off tomorrow for the ladies' title, with Venus looking to win her third consecutive Wimbledon.

Blazers Become Hedo-Nists With Turkoglu Signing

After leading Magic to NBA Finals appearance, Hedo Turkoglu takes his drive to Portland, agreeing in principle with Blazers on a deal that will be announced next week. (Photo courtesy of NBA.com)

The acquisition of Vince Carter spelled the end of the Hedo Turkoglu era in Orlando, just weeks after Turkoglu carried the Magic into the NBA Finals, opting out of his deal after the Magic were eliminated by the Lakers. Now, Turkoglu gets to face Los Angeles more often, agreeing in principle to join the Blazers in a deal that will be finalized next week when the salary cap becomes official. Turkoglu is the prize in a free agent crop that is good, but not as big as next year's, which could include big names such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

Turkoglu had been seeking a five-year deal worth roughly $50 million, and would become the Blazers' second option behind point guard Brandon Roy.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Andys To Meet In Semis; Sisters In Ladies' Final

After comeback five-set win in first indoor match on Centre Court, Andy Murray looks to pump up home country again tomorrow in semifinal match against Andy Roddick. (Photo courtesy of London Times Online)

Most of Great Britain may not be as enthused as the rest of the world is about the latest Grand Slam final matchup featuring the Williams sisters, which will take place Saturday after Venus and Serena won their semifinal matches against Dinara Safina and Elena Dementieva, respectively. They are instead focused on tomorrow's semifinal matches in the gentlemen's draw, and on their native son, third-seeded Andy Murray, who faces off against sixth seed Andy Roddick on Centre Court. Germany's Tommy Haas faces the unenviable task of trying to derail Roger Federer's quest for a record 15th Grand Slam title in the other semi. However, the conversation du jour around the All-England Club is whether or not Murray can do what Tim Henman could not, and that is bring a Wimbledon title back to the land of Big Ben for the first time since Fred Perry did it back in 1936, when greats such as McEnroe and Connors weren't even born yet.

Murray is 6-2 lifetime against Roddick, who won a five-set quarterfinal match against 2002 Wimbledon champ Lleyton Hewitt to get into this spot. The two have only met once in a Grand Slam, and it came at Wimbledon, when a then-19-year-old Murray bounced Roddick in straight sets in the third round back in 2006, when Federer won his fourth straight Wimbledon title. Murray comes in off a stright-set drubbing of 2003 French Open winner Juan Carlos Ferrero, who reached the U.S. Open final the same year, losing to Roddick in what remains the American's lone Grand Slam victory.

"I feel confident because I've won a lot of matches on the grass," said Murray, who becomes the first Brit to reach the semis since Henman did it in 2002.

As far as Murray reaching the final is concerned, he has a win against Haas at Wimbledon, eliminating him in the third round last year, (he followed that up with his epic five-set win over Richard Gasquet) while he is 6-2 lifetime against Federer. However, Murray lost to Federer in straight sets in last year's U.S. Open final.

Marian Means Big Money For Hossa, Gaborik

After playing in consecutive Stanley Cup Finals with Pittsburgh and Detroit but coming up short both times, Marian Hossa looks to hoist Lord Stanley in Chicago after signing 12-year deal with Blackhawks. Elsewhere, Marian Gaborik gets $37.5 million from Rangers over next five years. (Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The Blackhawks made a splash on the first day of free agency last year by giving defenseman Brian Campbell a $56.8 million, eight-year contract. One year later, Chicago has added what they hope will be the final piece; signing Marian Hossa to a 12-year deal worth $62.8 million. Hossa, who turned down a long-term offer from the Penguins last year to sign a one-year contract with Detroit, will now be the Blackhawks' top winger, and will be paired with young stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in what now becomes one of the NHL's best first lines. Chicago also signed Hossa's former Detroit teammate Tomas Kopecky, as well as former Devil John Madden; but Hossa was by far the catch of the day, as his name was the highlight of a stellar free agent crop.

"We felt he was the best player available on the free-agent market with his experience and durability," said Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon. "We felt he would be a tremendous asset to our team and to our young players, and help lead us to the
ultimate goal of winning the Stanley Cup." Chicago was eliminated by Hossa's Red Wings this past season in the Western Conference finals. Hossa's arrival in the Windy City spelled the loss of Blackhawks playoff hero Martin Havlat, who signed a $30 million, five-year deal with the Minnesota Wild. Havlat becomes the replacement for Marian Gaborik, who heads to New York after signing with the Rangers for five years and $37.5 million. The Gaborik signing comes just one day after the Blueshirts parted ways with Scott Gomez, trading him to Montreal, who also had an active first day of free agency.

After the Canadiens lost Mike Komisarek to the rival Maple Leafs, the Habs struck quickly, picking up Mike Cammalleri and Brian Gionta, who played with Gomez in New Jersey. Montreal also signed defensemen Jaroslav Spacek and Hal Gill, with the latter fresh off winning a Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh.

Other notable signings include Vancouver signing the Sedin twins (Daniel and Henrik) to matching five-year, $30.5 million deals, and Calgary signing Jay Bouwmeester after acquiring him from the Panthers this weekend during the draft.