Albert Pujols, a relative disappointment in 10 years with the Angels, is enjoying a renaissance at 42 since returning to the Cardinals as a DH batting against lefthanders. His recent production puts him in the company of Willie Mays, Stan Musial and Ted Williams as he flirts with the 700 home run mark. The last half of the season has been a fitting farewell tour for one of baseball’s greats.
Picked up piece: Courtesy of ESPN legend Tim Kurkjian, the Yankees are the only team in MLB history to play .700 ball in its first 60 games and sub-.500 in the next 60.
A biting brief: Ty Cobb’s dentures, which 23 years ago sold for more than $7,000, are up for auction again. Chew on that.
Global view: We constantly hear about American sports figures making sacrifices for their careers, families and teams, but at last report 133 Ukrainian athletes and coaches have made the ultimate sacrifice in the war against Russia.
Steadfast: Ukrainian resoluteness was on display Wednesday during a Ukrainian Premier League soccer match that was halted four times by air raid sirens. It took more than four hours, but the teams finished the game.
Quick hit: A sports website rates FedEx Field the worst NFL stadium. The Commanders’ suffering customers knew that, right?
Getting stronger: Justin Verlander continues to amaze, though Astros fans, management and Verlander himself must be thinking, “Save something for October.”
Woah!: Now that we know the World Series doesn’t begin until Oct. 28, who will be the next Mr. November?
Hoop du jour: Goes without saying that it’s not a good look for the NBA when Kevin Durant always finds reasons to be a sad sack.
Performance: The NBA’s decision to not schedule any games for November Election Day should be recognized for the virtue signaling that it is. Think about it: who among us hasn’t been able to cast a vote because NBA games were being played that night? This is a publicity stunt masquerading as social activism.
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Setback: The season-ending loss of Chet Holmgren, Oklahoma City’s 7-foot draft pick, obviously is a devastating blow to the rookie and his team. That he damaged his foot in a Pro-Am exhibition in a small gym in Seattle over the weekend somehow makes the kid’s tough break seem worse. Sure, could have happened anywhere. But at long last, teams might want to think about prohibiting their players from freelancing.
Net loss: Novak Djokovic’s post-Wimbledon vacation continues through the U.S. Open. He’s given stubbornness a bad name.
TV timeout: There’s a reason Fox welcomed back Urban Meyer to its Saturday college pregame show with relatively little fanfare. Meyer is a punch line and/or punching bag after his Jacksonville Jaguars debacle. Which begs the question why the network would give him another job. Meyer can’t be taken seriously anymore on the subjects of character, morale and team building. His story is out.
Bottom line: How much should a singular talent like Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson be paid when you factor in that nobody else in NFL history had 80 running and throwing touchdowns before the age of 24.
Idle thought: Two words that should brighten the day of any Steelers fan: Kenny Pickett!
Old school: The pro tennis tours use computer linked TV cameras to determine whether a ball is in or out. Soccer leagues use similar technology to determine off-sides and if a shot crossed the goal line. Meanwhile, the NFL still measures first downs as if Red Grange were running the ball. Its 21st-century chain gangs are comical.
Bob Molinaro is a former Virginian-Pilot sports columnist. His Weekly Briefing runs Fridays in The Pilot and Daily Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and via Twitter@BobMolinaro.