A Nats' Park shooting; unruly fans at Yankee Stadium; and my "Dream Team" Seattle Kraken roster

The Sunday afternoon edition of "Five things to know before 5 AM" is here

Yes, my apologies for the very late post, but the last segment of this Snippets edition actually took me an hour-plus itself in its construction. But to recap yesterday’s action, we had a car shooting just feet away from Nationals Park; a fan plunking an opposing outfielder; a walk-off grand slam; and the steal of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. All that, and my “dream team” for the expansion Seattle Kraken, in today’s Snippets.

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1) Shooting outside Nationals’ Park injures three as game is suspended

There was a traumatic experience in last night’s San Diego Padres - Washington Nationals game at Nationals Park. Midway through the 6th inning (the score does not matter at this point), fans, media members, players, officials and everyone else at the ballpark could hear around seven sequential gunshots, as seen in the video above. Fans did not know what to do as the Public Address announcer told the crowd and everyone at the stadium to stay calm and remain within the stadium walls, since the shooting took place outside of Nats Park (right outside of the stadium), but in earshot of everyone in attendance. But thousands of fans were scrambling for the exits and many were taking shelter in this worrisome state of panic.

Three people were injured, including one woman who was a patron to last night’s game, and two others that were later taken into custody. The DC police assistant chief believed that the shots were from one car to another.

But I have to show some love to the Padres’ players, most notably Fernando Tatis Jr., Manny Machado, Wil Myers and Jurickson Profar, who helped lead family members and fans from the front row seats into their own dugout. Same goes with Nationals’ manager Dave Martinez, who was checking on everyone that came through the Nationals’ dugout and near his office.

The game will resume at 1 PM EST today, but what a harrowing experience for everyone at the ballgame. I hope the federal government is listening and takes matters in their own hands, since this action happened right at their own backyard (just under two miles from the US Capitol) last night.

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2) Chaos and poor decisions at Yankees/Red Sox game

We had more chaos in another MLB game 237 miles away at Yankee Stadium, but this was more so on the field. There was nearly an hour-long weather delay to start the game between these two hated American League East rivals… even though not a drop was felt in the stadium. Then, we had the game take place, all while there was a downpour on the field. And, it got worse, from a player safety perspective, as a young Yankees’ fan intentionally threw a baseball from the left field bleachers and hit the Red Sox left fielder Alex Verdugo in the back, while the game was in-progress in the monsoon conditions. After Red Sox manager Alex Cora told the Red Sox players to leave the field (due to fan escalation, as they continued to throw debris in Verdugo’s direction) for just a handful of minutes, the umps then reversed Cora’s decision (while the rain continued to fall) so that the game could continue. It was not until the end of that sixth inning that the umpires then decided to call the game, with the Yankees winning, 3-1.

3) Pirates walk-off the Mets with grand slam

And, we had drama involving the ‘other’ New York baseball team in the New York Mets last night. One of the worst teams in Major League Baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates were at home facing the Mets. The home team was trailing 6-0 after seven innings. Then, they mounted their comeback against Mets’ reliever Seth Lugo and lights out closer Edwin Diaz. A double and a Wilmer Difo (a former Nationals’ bench player) three run home run later, and it was a 6-5 game, as the Mets yanked Lugo from the game.

Fast-forward to the bottom of the ninth. The Pirates are now down 7-5. A hit-by-pitch, a walk and a single later, we then had bases loaded, with no outs, and catcher Jacob Stallings at the plate. On an inside four-seam fastball that was destined to be a ball on the first pitch of the at-bat, Stallings hit a towering fly ball down the left field foul pole line for the walk-off grand slam.

3) Game 5 of the NBA Finals: Jrue Holiday has a performance to remember

This game 5 of the NBA Finals was pivotal for both teams last night, as the winner would be one win away from hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy. And that was the case for the road team in the Milwaukee Bucks, who win in a fantastic finish for the ages - and we yet again have an iconic moment from Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Phoenix Suns lose to Milwaukee Bucks, 119-123 (Bucks lead series, 3-2)

After the first quarter, one would think the Phoenix Suns would run away with this game, much like how they did in the first two games of the series. They opened to a 37-21 first quarter lead. But the Bucks stormed back on the heels of their third-best player in Jrue Holiday. He scored 14 of his NBA Finals-high 27 points in a pivotal Bucks’ 43-point quarter, turning that 16 point deficit into a three point halftime lead (64-61).

The Bucks then grew that lead to around 13 points in the third quarter, led by their Big Three of Giannis, Jrue and Khris Middleton. The Suns would not go away, however; they mounted their comeback of their own, as Devin Booker (40 points on 17-33 shooting) and Chris Paul (21 points and 11 assists on a more-efficient 9-15 from the field) took that 13-point deficit into only trailing by one with under a minute left. Then came the play of the game:

Booker was driving into the paint with about 20 seconds left, down 119-120. He was then quickly double-teamed by the likes of Giannis and P.J. Tucker. As Booker was pivoting in the opposite direction, Holiday, the weakside defender, had a two-hand rip of the ball from Booker’s grasp, and went the other way. Instead of just holding on to the ball (and waiting to be fouled/for the clock to expire), Holiday found a sprinting Giannis for the dagger of an alley-oop. It was made more emphatic as Paul fouled Giannis as Giannis was following-through on the dunk.

This is the first game of the series in which the road team won a game, and now the Bucks head home for game 6 on Tuesday night - which could be the series’ clincher. They now have the clear-cut advantage after winning the last three games of the NBA Finals, and have a chance to win on their home court. Best of luck for both teams, for what should be yet another exciting NBA Finals game.


4) 2021 British Open - Who is in contention?

We are now into the final round of the 2021 British Open - the final golf major of the 2021 season. South African Louis Oosthuizen has been in command and in first place after the first three days, but American Collin Morikawa is on his heels by just a stroke (-12 to -11). Fellow American Jordan Spieth is in third (-9), and Spaniard Jon Rahm is in fourth (-7). And, here is where we stand with the golfers that I mentioned on Thursday’s preview:

Both Spieth and Irish golfer Rory McIlroy (my favorite to win the British Open) were consistent - the problem with Rory was that he was consistently good in this tournament, while the former was consistently great in holding third place through the first three rounds. And, American Rickie Fowler and Irishman Shane Lowry (the reigning champion) could not have more polarizing finishes. Fowler started decent (one under par on Thursday) but dropped off the face of the Earth with his terrible +5 yesterday afternoon (finishing tied at 73rd); Lowry, on the other hand, started off slightly bad (one over par on Thursday) and vaulted himself into the top-12 with his 5-under performance on Friday.

Regardless, should be a fight to the finish among the likes of Morikawa, Spieth, Rahm and Oosthuizen this afternoon.

5) NHL’s protected players announced for Wednesday’s Seattle Kraken expansion draft; who would be on my Kraken ‘dream team’?

And, for the last topic of this early Sunday July afternoon, I wrap-up by talking about the NHL. For those unaware, the expansion team the Seattle Kraken will have their inaugural season later this year. But in order to have a team, you need players. So, how it works is that all NHL teams are allowed to protect 11 players from their rosters, while the remaining for each team is in a pool for the Kraken to select in this Wednesday’s expansion draft. They have $81.5 million to spend on a total of a maximum of 23 players (but 18 are allowed to suit up) - typically, 3 goaltenders, 12 forwards and 6 defensemen. So, 20 players total, with about 5 or so injury replacements.

So, as of 10 AM EST this morning, the NHL has the available pool of players that are available/protected by each NHL team. You can see that full list here. The Las Vegas Knights are immune to this protection, as they are a recent expansion team. As for notable players available? You have the likes of forwards Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim), Taylor Hall (Boston), James Neal (Edmonton), Corey Perry (Montreal), and James van Riemsdyk (Philadelphia); defensemen: Zdeno Chara (Washington), Sebastian Aho (New York Islanders); P.K. Subban and Shea Weber (Montreal), among others; and elite goaltenders, like Tukka Rask (Boston), Ben Bishop (Dallas); Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles); and Carey Price (Montreal).

With that being said, I am going to create my own Seattle Kraken ‘dream team’ roster. It will not be anywhere close to the same roster that they will have this October, but this one will have a lot of notable names that the casual NHL fan has seen/heard. I will be sticking with the same salary cap ($81.5 million) and the roster size of 30 (minimum of 12 forwards, 6 defensemen and 2 goaltenders) and one player per team. So, lets get started:

We are done with another edition of my Snippets on this July Sunday afternoon. So, until next time, signing off. Enjoy the weekend, everyone!