Discover more from The Morning Column presented by The Sporting Tribune
MLS leaves Las Vegas at altar
Major League Soccer will have San Diego as its 30th franchise with Las Vegas once again on the outside looking in.
Good morning and welcome to The Morning Column presented by The Sporting Tribune. Please subscribe if you haven’t done so already. It’s free and will be delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. OK, let’s get to it!
1. MLS leaves Las Vegas at altar
Major League Soccer will have San Diego as its 30th franchise with Las Vegas once again on the outside looking in, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Steve Carp.
As the old advertising saying goes, “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.”
It seems that tag fits Las Vegas when it comes to Major League Soccer.
The last coupe of years, we were led to believe that MLS was Vegas-bound, sure to join the NFL, NHL and WNBA as part of our sports scene. Investors appeared to be secured. Stadium projects were being bandied about. The large soccer-loving community was getting excited. There was even a nickname: “Las Vegas Villains” that was trademarked.
Then commissioner Don Garber pulled the rug out from underneath our collective feet.
The league plans to announce Thursday that San Diego will be its 30th team, beginning play in 2025. International business entrepreneur Mohamed Mansour has partnered with the Sycuan Native American Tribe to spend $500 million to join MLS and the team will play at 35,000-seat Snapdragon Stadium, which opened last fall.
2. Lakers attempt to tie series against Nuggets in Denver
The Lakers lost a Game 1 for the first time in this year's postseason but will look to return home with the series tied 1-1 for the third time, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Rey Moralde.
The Lakers will move on from Game 1 and prepare for Game 2 against these Denver Nuggets.
The Nuggets have given the Lakers a nearly-unsolvable riddle in Nikola Jokic. He just did everything for Denver in Game 1, ending with a 34-21-14 triple-double that would impress even Oscar Robertson.
But while the final line was incredible, let's make a note that Jokic only scored three points in the fourth quarter. And they were all from free throws. The Lakers put Rui Hachimura as their primary defender and had Anthony Davis be the help defender and roamer. The Lakers nearly stole the victory but, ultimately, they fell short. And the Nuggets lead, 1-0.
Denver isn't Memphis or Golden State. The Nuggets are younger, taller, and deeper than both of those teams. And their starting frontline is humongous. Jokic is 6'11", Michael Porter Jr. is 6'10", and Aaron Gordon is 6'8". Which is why it was puzzling to see the Lakers keep their starting line-up from Game 6 against Golden State.
3. Post Draft Lottery NBA Mock Draft
The Spurs won the lottery again and will select the next great NBA superstar in Victor Wembanyama, but where will the other top prospects go? The Sporting Tribune’s Brandon Deutsch has you covered but first he explains why Wembanyama is a generational talent.
The San Antonio Spurs have won the lottery and are almost guaranteed a championship at some point if they can build a team with the right pieces alongside generational prospect Victor Wembanyama. David Robinson, Tim Duncan, and now Victor Wembanyama, the Spurs have gotten a generational player the #1 pick three times. The best prospect since LeBron James and a generational talent on both ends of the floor, at 7-4 with a whopping 8 foot wingspan, Wembanyama can handle the ball like a guard, has elite 3-level shot creation with an unblockable jumper (because of his height). He is also one of the more versatile defensive prospects in recent memory.
Though his efficiency has dwindled down toward the end of Metropolitans 92’s season, the volume was still elite as Wembanyama still averaged 21.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks per game last season with a TS% of 58. I wouldn’t be surprised with the pace of play in today’s NBA if he averaged 22+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 2+ blocks per game as a rookie. He the all the talent in the world and could become the greatest player in NBA history if he reaches his potential.
4. Struggling Padres lose twice to Royals
Having lost their past three series, the San Diego Padres (20-24) dropped two of three games to the last-place Kansas City Royals (14-31) at Petco Park, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Gabriel Santiago.
On the heels of being swept at Dodger Stadium, the Padres entered a series with the Kansas City Royals looking to put a halt to their recent losing ways. Having lost five consecutive games, Michael Wacha played stopper on Monday evening for San Diego.
In Game 1 against the Royals, Wacha tossed a gem, going into the eighth frame before allowing his first (and only) hit. In the strikeout department, Wacha was also fabulous; He fanned 11 Kansas City hitters through seven innings pitched, earning his fourth win of the 2023 season.
For the Padres offense, they were finally able to score more than three runs in a game–that is something they had not done in their previous five contests (all losses for San Diego). The Friars plated a run immediately when Fernando Tatis Jr. scored on a wild pitch from Brad Keller to Xander Bogaerts. San Diego nearly got another run in that same fashion after a second wild pitch from Keller put Juan Soto on third base, but Matt Carpenter grounded out to end the first inning: 1-0 Padres.
5. Outman’s grand-slam propels Dodgers to series win over Twins
The Dodgers ended their homestand with a 7-3 win over the Minnesota Twins. The Dodgers won their sixth straight series and improved to 15-3 over that span, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Jake Dicker.
Dustin May left the game following a scoreless 16-pitch first inning. May struck out two hitters, but his velocity was down from the usual 97-98 miles per hour that fans are used to seeing on his sinker.
Following the game, Dodger manager Dave Roberts confirmed that May will be placed on the injured list with a flexor pronator strain. It was originally diagnosed as right elbow pain. A lengthy stint on the IL would be a massive blow to both May and the Dodgers.
May, two years removed from Tommy John surgery, has quietly been one of the NL’s best pitchers to this point. May is 4-1 with a 2.68 ERA and a WHIP below 1.000. For a guy who has battled injuries seemingly since being called up with the Dodgers, it seemed like he was finally healthy and putting it all together. “Elbow pain” is never something you want to hear when it comes to pitchers, but the severity of the injury is unknown. With the right-hander headed to the IL, expect Gavin Stone to get another shot at the big leagues.
6. LAFC settles for 1-1 draw against Sporting KC
Despite an early goal from Denis Bouanga, LAFC settled for a 1-1 draw against Sporting KC Wednesday night, writes The Sporting Tribune’s Anthony Bautista.
Everything was going according to plan for LAFC for the first 20 minutes of Wednesday's game against Sporting KC. Until it wasn't.
Despite scoring an early goal, LAFC would settle for a 1-1 draw at home against Sporting KC Wednesday night.
The MLS's leading goal-scorer continued his terrorizing scoring run since when Denis Bouanga, scored to put LAFC ahead, 1-0, in the 13th. Bouanga now has nine goals for the season, with seven coming in five home games.
7. Odds and Ends presented by Circa Sports
Here are some odds at Circa Sports if you’re thinking about placing a wager today:
8. Ticket Time presented by TickPick
Here are the “get in” prices for tickets if you’re thinking about going to a game Friday.
6:30 p.m. – Minnesota Twins at Los Angeles Angels – $13
5:30 p.m. – Dallas Stars at Vegas Golden Knights – $182
9. On the Air presented by The D Las Vegas
Here are the game times and television channels for professional teams in the region today.
9:30 a.m. – Los Angeles Angels at Baltimore Orioles – Bally Sports West
4:45 p.m. – Los Angeles Dodgers at St. Louis Cardinals – SportsNet LA
5:30 p.m. – Los Angeles Lakers at Denver Nuggets – ESPN
10. The Arash Markazi Show presented by The Sporting Tribune
The Sporting Tribune’s Arash Markazi is joined by Brandon Deutsch to discuss the Los Angeles Lakers losing Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals to the Denver Nuggets but perhaps finding the blueprint on how to defeat the Nuggets in the series in coming back from 21 points down to nearly tying the game late. The Lakers just wanted to steal one of the first two games in Denver and can still do that.
Listen to The Arash Markazi Show presented by The Sporting Tribune on The Mightier 1090 ESPN Radio in Southern California, 98.5 The Bet in Las Vegas and the Hawaii Sports Radio Network 95.1 FM and 760 AM in Hawaii. You can also listen to the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Stitcher.
Thank you for reading. Please click below to subscribe to The Morning Column presented by The Sporting Tribune. It’s free and will be delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.
That’s it for today. Talk to you tomorrow!