There’s the ‘Dodger Way to Play Baseball’ … and ‘The Cardinal Way’ … so which way is up this weekend?

dodgers_600Interesting timing with the St. Louis Cardinals about to play three at Dodger Stadium this weekend, and the team’s starting rotation appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated this week as a symbol of how “The Cardinal Way” is about a solid a blueprint as one could have in long-term success.

image003So, you mean it’s not buying a bunch of guys off the Red Sox roster and hoping they all figure it out somehow?

Writer Ben Reiter makes the case that the Cardinals “are the most consistent franchise in baseball due to an organizational philosophy dedicated to measured and constant evolution.”

Let’s point out: The Cardinals have the best record in the MLB with only nine players left from their 2012 championship team. And without their manager.

“When we think of the Cardinals, we think of a distinct organizational culture: Anodyne, diligent, supportive, resolute. Mostly, we think of consistency. Their 11 championships have been well distributed. No son or daughter of St Louis born since 1902 has reached the age of 25 without having lived through at least one victory parade.”

If you’re 25 years old in L.A., you probably don’t remember the last Dodgers’ World Series title was 25 years ago.

image005 (1)Adam Wainwright, Shelby Miller, Jamie Garcia, Lance Lynn and Jake Westbrook are on the SI cover, inspired by the Oct. 7, 1968 SI cover where “The Cardinal Way” was explored in a feature that had Roger Maris, Tim McCarver, Bob Gibson, Mike Shannon and Lou Brock on the cover.

Lynn (6-1, 3.27) is scheduled to start the opener of the three-game series Friday. Rookie John Gast (2-0, 4.76), replacing the injured Wainwright (inflamed elbow), starts Saturday. Miller (5-3, 1.74) goes Sunday against Clayton Kershaw.

Cards GM John Mozeliak, promoted in 2007, is quoted on why the team eventually let Albert Pujols go to the Angels after the 2012 season.

“Losing an iconic player was not easy — it was jolting,” says Mozeliak. “From a very simplistic standpoint, [once we let him go] we knew we had resources to deploy elsewhere.”

That was, contract extensions for Wainwright and Gold Glove catcher Yadier Molina.

“While an overriding ethos—the Cardinal way—has developed over the years, it is flexible enough to allow the team to capitalize on the game’s changing realities better than any other,” says Reiter.

Stan Kasten’s SI copy is in the mail, we presume.

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Play It Foward: May 20-26 on your sports calendar

Highlights of the week ahead, both near and afar:

THIS WEEK’S BEST BET:

Chicago Blackhawks v San Jose Sharks - Game OneNHL WESTERN CONFERENCE SEMIFINALS:
KINGS vs. SAN JOSE
GAME 4: 7 p.m. Tuesday at San Jose, NBC Sports Network:

Slogging through the season finale of ABC’s “Shark Tank” leads us to the conclusion that, maybe not ironically, this thing is about ready to jump that proverbial shark.

Jonathan Quick blocks a goal attempt during the third period in Game 3 in San Jose on Saturday. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Jonathan Quick blocks a goal attempt during the third period in Game 3 in San Jose on Saturday. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

Once a unique platform for some of the most ingenious entrepreneurs in the country, this one was reduced to a single woman pitching her high-end online dating service (apparently it hasn’t worked for her yet), an 11-year-old kid who baked dog treats (“but people can eat ‘em, too”), and a couple of clowns who started a tomato soup and cheese sandwich shop and were trying to market it as the next In-N-Out franchise model. Sadly, Mark Cuban jumped on that last one, bringing in another “shark” to fork over $600,000 for just a 30 percent of the business. “It’s not easy being cheese,” the Dallas Mavs owner said as he shook the hands of his new partners.  And how did the Mavs do in the NBA playoffs again?
82d765c7_jump_the_shark_signEasy-cheesy isn’t how the Kings see their second-round matchup with San Jose’s Sharks shaping up. This reality show, featuring a school of Sharks trying to tank in the home tank (aka, HP Pavilion), reached new dramatic heights with the Game 3 OT decision. Logan Couture has become San Jose’s version of “Mr. Wonderful” with his heroics, while Kings goalie Jonthan Quick is quick to berate the refs for turning their heads to illegal business practices conducted by the San Jose skaters. This one will only get more chippy as the series reaches a far more climatic conclusion – who’s going to cash in on the most power plays?
The series continues this week:
Game 5: 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Staples Center
Game 6: TBA Sunday at San Jose
(A Game 7 would be Tuesday, May 28 at Staples Center)

BEST OF THE REST: Continue reading

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Q and A: Billy Baldwin wonders if there’s a win-win situation for the future of Olympic wrestling

billy-baldwin4Billy Baldwin wrestles with the fact that there may no such win-win scenario in place to keep wrestling from breaking its own fall.

But he doesn’t act if there’s nothing he can do about.

The No. 3 brother in the Baldwin thespian franchise – behind Alec and Daniel, and ahead of Stephen – has rallied his Hollywood pals to the plight of the sport as the International Olympic Committee considers all kinds of factors as to whether it has a future past the 2016 Summer Games in Rio.

United4WrestlingLogo2

Many will hang out with Baldwin at today’s “United 4 Wrestling” event at the L.A. Sports Arena, where the U.S. national wrestling squad’s biggest names grapples with opponents from Russia and Canada, trying to stay positive after the Iranian team decided to go home early for a variety of reasons.

Baldwin, a high school and Division III college wrestler, explains better why he thinks his words and actions can be of some help:

Q: Ice cream needs to be refrigerated, screw drivers need to be straight-edge and Phillips head, the tires on your car need to be properly inflated, and wrestling needs to remain an Olympic sport. Why is that so hard to understand? And do you get tired of hearing that question all the time? Continue reading

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Why Harvard-Westlake and Coach Bairos will go to the mat for U.S. wrestling’s Olympic future

Head coach Zeke Jones talks to the U.S. national wrestling  before practice at Harvard-Westlake High School on Friday. The USA, Canada and Russia national teams will meet for in exhibition 2:00 p.m. Sunday at L.A. Sports Arena. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer)

Head coach Zeke Jones talks to the U.S. national wrestling before practice at Harvard-Westlake High School on Friday. Members of the U.S. Canada and Russia national teams will meet for in exhibition 2 p.m. Sunday at the L.A. Sports Arena. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer) Find more staff photos at this link.

Grapple with this scenario: The sport of wrestling has become such an anachronistic, under-funded and stagnant exercise that the International Olympic Committee has put it on notice — be relevant or else you’ll be voted out as soon as the 2020 Summer Games.

Contrast that to the scene embraced at the Harvard-Westlake School’s historic Hamilton Gym late this afternoon: A few dozen junior high and high school wrestlers, their parents and coaches and other curiosity seekers patiently waited – you know how traffic can be — just to watch the U.S. national wrestling team conduct a two-hour workout on their own “H-W” matted floor laid across the old basketball court.

U.S. national wrestling team star Jordan Burroughs signs a shirt for Patrick Halkett following practice at Harvard-Westlake High School (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer)

U.S. national wrestling team star Jordan Burroughs signs a shirt for Patrick Halkett following practice at Harvard-Westlake High School (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer)

A seven-man U.S. contingent, in New York a couple days earlier competing in a televised international match against Iran and Russia, continues on a “Save Our Sport” agenda with another exhibition planned for 2 p.m. at the L.A. Sports Arena on Sunday afternoon.

The only noticeable and controversial hitch to this one – the Iranian team was unexpectedly called back home by its government late Thursday, potentially derailing the Sunday event. Organizers scrambled to talk the Russian team into changing its plans and come West, as well as recruit some key members of the Canadian national team to join in and rescue it from another public relations nightmare.

Tyler Caldwell, left, and Jon Reader practice at Harvard-Westlake High School. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer)

Tyler Caldwell, left, and Jon Reader practice at Harvard-Westlake High School. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Photographer)

Things can get messy when sports and politics intersect, but they can also motivate to join arms, knees and headlocks into forming a coalition that speaks toward doing more for the greater good as far as all athletes are concerned.

“We’ll adjust fine to the circumstances and keep our focus on the goal of making wrestling an important event on American soil,” said U.S. national coach Zeke Jones, who arranged for the team to shuttle over to the Studio City school from their hotel in El Segundo based on his longtime relationship with Harvard-Westlake coach Gary Bairos. Continue reading

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Still no word on why Iran wrestling team went home and skipped out on L.A. visit

U.S. freestyle wrestler Obe Blanc, top, and Iran's Hassan Rahimi kick off an international wrestling exhibition at Grand Central Terminal on Wednesday in New York. Rahami was declared the winner in the bout. The event dubbed "The Rumble on the Rails" raised money for wrestling nonprofit Beat the Streets but took on added significance because of the International Olympic Committee's recent recommendation to drop the sport starting with the 2020 Games. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

U.S. freestyle wrestler Obe Blanc, top, and Iran’s Hassan Rahimi kick off an international wrestling exhibition at Grand Central Terminal on Wednesday in New York. Rahami was declared the winner in the bout. The event dubbed “The Rumble on the Rails” raised money for wrestling nonprofit Beat the Streets but took on added significance because of the International Olympic Committee’s recent recommendation to drop the sport starting with the 2020 Games. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

ORIGINAL POST: 10:30 p.m. Thursday, May 16
UPDATED: 7 a.m. Friday, Friday May 17

Without an official explanation, the Iranian national wrestling team abruptly returned home Thursday and will not compete against a United States squad as planned Sunday at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.

First reported by the Daily News on Thursday night, the reason for the team’s departure a day after decisively winning an exhibition against the U.S. in an international meet in New York remains a mystery at a critical time in promoting the sport as its Olympic future hangs in the balance

Former Olympic gold medalist and professional wrestler Kurt Angle holds up a T-shirt during a three-nation wrestling exhibition at Grand Central Terminal on Wednesday (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Former Olympic gold medalist and professional wrestler Kurt Angle holds up a T-shirt during a three-nation wrestling exhibition at Grand Central Terminal on Wednesday (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

A goodwill tour ongoing this month involving the U.S., Russia and Iran was to boost awareness for Olympic wrestling, which might be canceled during the Summer Games starting in 2020. Wrestling is one of eight sports seeking to fill one spot in the 2020 Olympics and a key vote by the International Olympic Committee will take place May 29 in Russia to recommend three of eight sports to advance to a final vote  in September.

In a joint statement released this morning by USA Wrestling executive director Rich Bender and Bill Scheer, the chairman of the Committee for the Preservation of Olympic Wrestling, the program for the “United 4 Wrestling” 2 p.m. event Sunday has been changed to include the U.S. team facing a squad from Russia and Canada instead.

“We have been informed by the Iranian Wrestling Federation that the team’s schedule has changed and they have departed for Iran,” said the statement.

“We are thankful to the Iranian Wrestling Federation for their participation in New York. We had an outstanding competition with the three countries and the Iranians have assured us that they remain committed to the cause of keeping wrestling in the Olympics.”

The U.S. team is scheduled to train this afternoon at Harvard-Westlake High School in Studio City in preparation for Sunday’s event, which organizers had planned to attract many Iranian-Americans to attend as they did in New York.

Iranian fans cheer as Iranin wrestlers compete in an exhibition wrestling match at Grand Central Terminal, Wednesday in New York. "The Rumble on the Rails"  exhibition, featuring teams from the United States, Iran and Russia, raised money for charity but is also aimed at drawing attention to the sport's attempt to stay in the Olympics. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Iranian fans cheer as Iranin wrestlers compete in an exhibition wrestling match at Grand Central Terminal, Wednesday in New York. “The Rumble on the Rails” exhibition, featuring teams from the United States, Iran and Russia, raised money for charity but is also aimed at drawing attention to the sport’s attempt to stay in the Olympics. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

Wednesday, the Iranian team defeated the U.S. team, six matches to one, during their first visit to the U.S. in a decade. Fans waved Iranian flags and blew horns loudly.

“It was really loud in there,” said U.S. wrestler Kyle Drake afterward in an Associated Press story. “Feels like we were in Tehran. What’s going on? Where’s our USA folks?”

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