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August 11, 2017

Saturday Sport: Kittens, Swans, Crickets, Hurdles

It has been a weeks of surprises in sport, some weirdness, some upsets:

USA:  Baseball:  The St. Louis Cardinals were losing 5 to 4 to their cross state rivals, the Kansas City Royals, when a cat invaded the field and stopped play.  The cat did not look feral, but certainly did not like the attention it was receiving.  Originally approaching a Royals outfielder, the cat realized his mistake, clearly a feline of good taste, and continue to flee toward the outfield wall.   A Cardinals groundskeeper risked life and limb, in short sleeves and short pants, to track down the feline, so that play could continue.  The cat did not go down easily, biting and scratching across the entire outfield, and infield for that matter.  The unfortunate and importunate groundskeeper dropped the cat outside of the ball field, as he headed for first aid. A woman insisted on taking the cat, but then stated she had lost it in the park across from the stadium.  The search continues.

The cat was renamed #RallyCat.  Baseball fans will remember #Buschie the #RallySquirrel from a few years ago, whose appearance during a game launched the suffering Cardinals into glory.  #RallyCat did not disappoint as it was his turn at bat.  After the distraction, Cardinal's veteran player Yadier Molina was at bat, and batted a GRAND SLAM HOME RUN, garnering four runs for the Cardinals, who held out to win the game.  The Cardinals have renamed him Yadier Meowlina, and he has since professed a great love for cats.  The next day the Cardinals hit a grand slam, the first time in their history this has happedn two games in a row.  Pictures of Yadier with his kittens are now all over the internet.  In more weird news, Cardinal's pitcher, Lance Lynn, was hit in the side of the head by a 110 mph ball, but continued the game unscathed. 

The Cardinals have reignited the National League Central Division race these days with a six game win streak.  This should make their weekend games at the Atlanta Braves doubly interesting. Division Leaders Chicago Cubs have entered their characteristic August slump. 

In the USA:  Today features PGA Golf Third-round play in the 99th PGA Championship, from Quail Hollow Club in Charlotte, North Carolina. This is golf's final major of the season, with Sergio Garcia, Brooks Koepka and Jordan Spieth winning the first three. The purse for this tournament is $10.5 million

In London, United Kingdom, the Track and Field Worlds continue.  As covered elsewhere in this space, 21 year old Norwegian Hurdler Karsten Warholm apparently surprised himself most of all, when he took the Gold medal in the 400 m hurdles.  Please read Rexswimguy's excellent coverage, but look around the net for pictures of the amazed athlete like the one featured here.  They're  better than a baseball player covered with kittens.    

Saturdays action at the Track and Field Worlds includes various events in the Decathlon, including the 110 m hurdles, the discuss, javelin,  and pole vault.  The Decathlon will come to a stirring conclusion in this evening's 1500 meters race.  Today also features finals in men's 5000 meters, javelin, and 4x100 m relay. 

In Sri Lanka, India continues their tour with their 3rd Test at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium, also known as Muttiah Muralitharan International Cricket Stadium (Sinhala: පල්ලෙකැලේ ජාත්යන්තර ක්රිකට් ක්රීඩාංගණය, Tamil: பல்லேகலை சர்வதேச கிரிக்கெட் விளையாட்டு மைதானம்) in Kandy.  This test begins today and lasts through
the 16th.   Pallekele is an ultra modern facility, which opened a few years ago and seats 22,000.  India has been dominating the series so far, and with Sri Lanka missing some key players due to injuries, the hosts will have to rely on surprise to hold out for a win.  No national team from India has ever swept a series of three tests or less on foreign soil, but under the captaincy of Virat Kohli, this team may pull out that honor. 

In Aussie Rules football:  The 2017 season has been one of the most exciting and intriguing in recent memory, as many matches have been close, and could have gone either way.  On a weekly basis at least one fan base has been left wondering how different things could have been if that crucial set shot or turnover went in their team’s favor.  In a season as close as 2017 - it is the close margins in games which may well decide who finishes in the top eight.  This is especially challenging in that as of the end of Round 20 there have been 37 games decided by 10 points or less.  Every team apart from Adelaide have been involved in a game which has been decided by 10 points or less thus far.  Today will see contests between the Sydney Swans vs. Fremantle at the Sydney Cricket Grounds, the Geelong Cats vs. Richmond, the Brisbane Lions vs. the Gold Coast Suns, Essendon vs. the Adelaide Crows, and the West Coast Eagles vs. Carlton.  The Fremantle Dockers make a rare trip to Sydney for a clash with the Swans at the Sydney Cricket Grounds, and it looms as a tough assignment for Ross Lyon's team who showed some good signs in their win over the Suns last week, just their second from their past 10 games. Sydney, currently 6th in the standings,  bounced back from a loss to Hawthorn to smash Geelong and reaffirm its status as a premiership contender. The Swans' miserly defense is settled and in form, so it's hard to see Fremantle kicking a big enough score to cause the home side any trouble.  In their last five meetings, the Swans have beat the Dockers, three games to two. 

Meanwhile, back in Europe, English Premiership Soccer is ramping up again, as are many of the other Ligues, Ligas, Serie, etc.  Seems like last season was just wrapping up.  More tomorrow.  

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