SPORTS DIGEST: Tiger Woods makes a charge that comes up short

May 17, 2018

It was a great Sunday for watching sports.

Tiger Woods was making a charge as only Tiger can do. The Boston Celtics were schooling LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals of the NBA Playoffs and Shohei Ohtani, the young Japanese star for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, was mowing down the Minnesota Twins.

The only thing spoiling the day was the Dodgers dropping their fourth game in a row to the lowly Cincinnati Reds.

Not a bad way to spend Mother’s Day.

Woods’ comeback at the Players Championship Tournament in Point Vedra Beach, Florida, was the most captivating story simply because we all want to see if he can win on the PGA Tour again.

After shooting one under par for the first two days of the tournament, Woods barely made the cut. But he shot his way into contention for the third time this year with a 65 on May 12 and was six under the next day when he found himself only four shots behind Webb Simpson in a tie for second place at the 14th hole.

But Woods couldn’t make it all the way back. He bogeyed the 14th while Simpson birdied the 11th to put six shots between the two players and then Woods double-bogeyed the island green 17th hole when his tee shot found water.

Woods ended up in 11th place and impressed Jordan Spieth, who was his playing partner for the last round. Spieth said Woods is playing at the same level everyone who is winning tournaments is playing at.

Woods, who will take the next two weeks off before playing The Memorial starting May 31, is satisfied with his game.

“I felt comfortable with every facet of my game today,” he said. “Everything felt good. I had control. I was hitting it high, low, right, left, didn’t matter what it was. I felt like I had control of it today.”

Now if he could only harness that for four straight days. That would be good for golf.

Jalen Brown of the Boston Celtics tries to drive on LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers May 15. The Celtics took a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals of the NBA Playoffs with a 107-94 victory. (Photo courtesy of the NBA)

PLAYOFF ACTION: I have been a Los Angeles Lakers fan too long to like the Boston Celtics. Still, you have to tip your hat to the Celtics, who lead the Cleveland Cavaliers two games to none in their Eastern Conference final series after a 107-94 win May 15.

The Cavaliers are going home for the next two games of the series May 19 and 21, so they have a chance to get back into the series, but I don’t think they will. LeBron James scored 42 points, had 12 assists and 10 rebounds May 15 and the Cavaliers still lost. By 13 points.

James is the best player in the game but he can’t carry the Cavaliers on his back against a team as good and as a deep as the Celtics.

The Celtics had six players scoring in double figures, the Cavaliers had three. The Celtics move the ball offensively, the Cavaliers stand around waiting for James to lead them. I expect Boston to win at least one of the two games in Cleveland and close out the series in game five May 23. They can then rest up for the finals because the Golden State-Houston series in the west could go seven.

Japanese rookie Shohei Ohtani has proven himself capable of handling Major League pitching and hitting. The two-way player is 301 in four starts as a pitcher and is hitting .342 in 21 games as a hitter. (Photo by Juan Lainez)

OHTANI RISING: The Angels don’t get much attention here but the Shohei Ohtani experiment might be changing that. Ohtani is the young Japanese player who can pitch and hit.

In 21 games, Ohtani is hitting .342 with five home runs and 16 runs batted in.

As a pitcher, Ohtani is 3-1 after six starts with an earned run average of 3.58 and 43 strike outs in 32 and 2/3 innings.

The Angels are a game out of first place in the American League West and there is a buzz out of Anaheim that hasn’t been there in a while.

Ohtani and Mike Trout give the Angels a potent one-two punch offensively that manager Mike Scioscia utilized for the first time May 15 as the first two hitters in the lineup. They combined to go 1-6 in a 5-3 loss to the Astros, but expect to the see that at the top of the lineup more often.

The Angels are off to a start the Dodgers can only hope for.

Dodger third baseman Justin Turner returned to the lineup May 15 after missing seven weeks of the season due to a broken left wrist. The Dodgers hope Turner can solidify the Dodgers lineup, which has sputtered most of the season. (Photo by Nick Koza)

SINKING SHIP: As more and more fans jump off the Dodgers bandwagon, I am beginning to resign myself to the fact that this isn’t the Dodgers year.

Justin Turner joined the lineup for the first time May 15 after missing the first seven weeks of the season. Turner is the Dodgers team leader and will get the offense moving, but the loss of Corey Seager is liable to be the reason the team will struggle the rest of the season.

Seager has been the most consistent hitter in the Dodgers lineup the last two seasons. He also has solidified the defense.

Chris Taylor has moved from centerfield to shortstop to replace Seager, leaving the Dodgers weaker defensively at two crucial positions: shortstop and centerfield. Couple that with a bullpen that has trouble throwing scoreless innings and the Dodgers may well be in for a long year after five straight division titles.

I’m not saying the Dodgers can’t go on one of their long winning streaks like the 43-7 run they went on last season. Or the 42-8 run they went on in 2013

I just don’t think it is going to happen this season. Number one, there is no one in the farm system that will have the impact Yasiel Puig had on the 2013 team and Cody Bellinger had on last year’s team. The starting pitching isn’t as team, nor is the bullpen.

It doesn’t mean that the Dodgers are done for the season, especially with Arizona Diamondback centerfielder A.J. Pollock breaking his thumb this week. I will wait until August to get excited by the Dodgers.

BETTOR’S PARADISE: Imagine when that new football stadium opens up in Inglewood in a couple of years, and there is a betting window on the premises, just like the good old days of Hollywood Park. That’s a definite possibility after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week that New Jersey can legalize sports betting.

It will take a while, but expect California to follow suit and legalize sports gambling of same type in the next few years. I hope that any legislation legalizing sports betting provides funding for people who will develop a gambling addiction. There are too many sports fans who think they are smarter than the people who set the betting lines and the easier it is to bet, the more people will be inclined to bet.

Personally, I prefer enjoying the action I’m watching without worrying about how much money I might be losing, although I do enjoy the occasional trip to the race track.

Frank Mazzotta

AS A REMINDER: A retirement party will be held at noon May 20 at the Cerritos College football stadium for coach Frank Mazzotta, who is stepping down after 42 years as the coach of the Falcons.

Hundreds of former players are planning to attend to see their coach one last time. There will be a barbecue and social between noon and 1:30 p.m., a program at 1:30 p.m. and a group photo at 3:30 p.m.

People who played for Mazzotta when he was an assistant at El Rancho High School and the head coach at Warren High School also are expected to attend as well as people who played with Mazzotta on the 1960 CIF championship team at El Rancho.

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