Ah, the hidden-ball trick. That perfectly legal move that's used -- often to great effect -- to catch a baserunner off-guard and record an out.

On Saturday, it worked in one of the biggest moments possible.

With a 9-8 lead and one out to go to clinch a spot in the Colorado Class 2A state final, Rye High School pitcher Luis "Junior" Ortiz caught a Hotchkiss baserunner with the following:


For Hotchkiss: Ouch. What a way to go out of a hard-fought game that included a rain delay and even a venue change (according to CHSAAnow.com, the new stadium was better equipped to handle precipitation).

For Rye, though, it kept the Thunderbolts unbeaten and gave them a shot at their second state championship in five seasons; they had gone out in this round in the past three season. As for the final, they won a wild 12-10 game over defending champion Resurrection Christian later that day. Rye finished 25-0.

Quotes, via CHSAA Now:

"We weren't real sure if [the hidden-ball trick] was going to work. We practice it quite a bit and we ran it one time successfully, and it worked again. It's a tough play to do, and the guys executed it real well." --Rye coach Stacey Graham

"It was executed on their end. I couldn't yell loud enough [to our runner to go back]. I couldn't quite get my message relayed to the baserunner. You never want a game to end like that, but sometimes that's the way it goes." --Hotchkiss coach Blake Carlquist

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Mad Men: The Soccer Team

May 24, 2015

Mad Men Group

Like soccer, "Mad Men" has often been criticized for being too slow and too often pushed on non-converts by overeager hipsters. Both may be overly dramatic at times with unfathomable storylines.

But a good soccer team is a fine-tuned machine consisting of different skill sets and personalities, melded together to form the "beautiful game." And well, that's exactly what Matthew Weiner's multiple-Emmy-winning show did well, too.

So some of us are having a hard time saying goodbye to not only one of the best shows ever, but also to end of the club soccer season (at least for a few months). To help us get through it, we lined up our favorite characters from the world of Sterling Cooper into a soccer lineup. Seemed only right.

Striker: Roger Sterling. Petulant. Overpaid. You can't take your eyes off of him. He's the perfect target man at the top of the squad sheet. Think Mario Balotelli. As Sterling said, "Nobody knows what I'm doing. It's good for mystique."

Roger Sterling@MadMen_AMC/Twitter

Striker: Pete Campbell. The wunderkind who's been groomed for this position his whole life and has unmistaken talent, but no one really likes to work with him. "Why can't I get anything good all at once?"

Pete Campbell@MadMen_AMC/Twitter

Attacking MF: Don Draper. The man in the middle of it all who stirs the drink -- oftentimes literally if it was an old fashioned. He may demand too much of the credit too often, but with the price tag a player like this commands, "that's what the money is for."

Don Draper@MadMen_AMC/Twitter

Winger: Peggy Olson. With the Samsonite and Burger Chef accounts, she's proved that her chemistry with Draper in tight spots is unmatched. She may parlay that connection into a big payday for her next contract.

Peggy Olson@MadMen_AMC/Twitter

Winger: Sally Draper. A youngster who's had a lot of responsibility hoisted on her before she was ready. But she's the golden child that has superstar written all over her. Doesn't choke easily. Her career will be an adventure.

Sally Draper@MadMen_AMC/Twitter

Defensive MF: Lane Pryce. A good defensive midfielder knows his/her role, doing the dirty work to let the more high-profile teammates shine. And Pryce, an unassuming "hard man" who isn't afraid to take down a snot-nosed youngster, fits the bill.

Lane Pryce@MadMen_AMC/Twitter

Fullback: Ken Cosgrove. Hard-working, versatile professional who doesn't need this job, but thirsts for that next paycheck. Atlantic Monthly loved publishing his greatest hits. Struggles in road games at Detroit.

Ken Cosgrove@MadMen_AMC/Twitter

Defender: Bert Cooper. If the old adage that you win championships with defense is true, it's because Bert payrolled it. Rock-solid and dependable, he's been known to play full games without cleats.

Bert Cooper@MadMen_AMC/Twitter

Defender: Betty Francis. Like some of the best defenders of all time, Birdie can speak Italian.

Betty Francis@MadMen_AMC/Twitter

Fullback: Joan Harris. Did thankless work on both ends of the field/office.

Joan Harris@MadMen_AMC/Twitter

Goalie: Stan Rizzo. Tim Howard. Gianluigi Buffon. David de Gea. Beards look tough in goal.

Stan Rizzo@MadMen_AMC/Twitter

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Rapper Lil B might not be a household name at the level of Jay Z or Kanye West, but the Bay Area-born man also known as The Based God carries much power in NBA circles.

Which is why the following tweet and subsequent comment to TMZ are big deals.

And, to TMZ: "If Harden doesn't tell what he is doing, which is the Lil B cooking dance, he will be cursed. He needs to stop stealing Lil B swag without showing love."

Lil B of course is referring to this dance from James Harden, which caught on late in the Houston Rockets' season, as well as the rapper's dance from his song "I Cook" (whose NSFW video we can't embed here):

But why is this a big deal? Because Lil B's curses work.

Just ask Kevin Durant.

Years ago the Oklahoma City Thunder star tweeted the following:

Lil B was not pleased.

So far? One MVP, sure, but no titles, only one NBA Finals trip, and this season an injury that helped keep the Thunder almost incomprehensibly out of the playoffs.


Note: There's a LOT more to this story, including a diss track, a temporary lifting of the curse, a return of the curse, a proposed truce, taking credit for the injury, and much more. Grantland broke it down last year -- warning, much NSFW language -- and Lil B commented on the injury this season.

Now, TMZ says Lil B is giving Harden until after Game 3 of the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors before the curse comes into effect ... although the consequences likely would have to be greater than losing to the Warriors, which is a probable outcome even without a curse.

(But that doesn't mean Lil B is wrong! Please don't curse us, Based God!)

UPDATE: It appears Lil B did not wait until Game 3 to make his presence felt.

Toward the end of Game 2, Harden had the chance to win, but mishandled the play.

And then:

Lil B clarified that this is just a warning, but ... point taken.

UPDATE PART II: And apparently it's a point well-taken by at least one NBA franchise. The Atlanta Hawks, one of four teams left standing in the playoffs, aren't taking any chances.

On Friday afternoon, their social media team pleaded mercy to the Based God:


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J.R. Smith might not have led the Cleveland Cavaliers in scoring Wednesday night; LeBron James dropped 31 as the Cavs beat the Atlanta Hawks 97-89 in Eastern Conference finals Game 1.

But the 3-point specialist -- who has literally said his motto is "When in doubt, shoot the ball" -- caught the eye with his 28-point outburst that included 8-of-12 shooting from distance.

Naturally, a lot of people watching at home -- some of them who have an equally indiscriminate approach to shooting -- loved it:

Not everyone liked it, though.

Game 2 of the J.R. Smith Experience (and rest of the Eastern Conference finals) is Friday.

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Garry Hill, a junior outfielder from Star City (Ark.) High School, might have a pretty ordinary name.

But when you can do EXTRAORDINARY stuff like this, you tend to stick out a bit:

The batter appeared headed for an easy extra-base hit before Hill went all superhero mode -- in a playoff game, to boot. Check out the full extension as Hill pursues the quickly descending ball:

Garry HillKamen Entchev/Youtube

Judging from his reaction, or lack thereof, catches like this appear to be the norm for the fleet-footed Hill. And his team won, so here's hoping the kid with the average name and superior defensive game offers up another Web Gem moment like this again.

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