The Morning Column: August 20, 2021
A former Rams and Suns cheerleader is taking her title dreams into her hands after signing with the WWE. "I'm tired of my championships being left in the hands of men who can’t finish the job."
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1. 📣 Former Rams cheerleader gets WWE contract
I covered the WWE tryouts in Las Vegas this week for WWE.com and former Los Angeles Rams and Phoenix Suns cheerleader Sydney Zmrzel got a WWE contract and cut the best promo of the day about her former teams.
Sydney Zmrzel has been on the brink of being a part of a championship team twice over the last three years only to have her heart broken. On Thursday, she channeled that pain as she introduced herself at a WWE talent tryout in Las Vegas.
“I cheered for the Los Angeles Rams and went all the way to the Super Bowl and our team lost,” Zmrzel said. “I then cheered for the Phoenix Suns and went all the way to the NBA Finals and our team lost. I’m at this point in my life where I’m sick and tired of my championships being left in the hands of men who can’t finish the job. That’s why I’m here in the WWE; to take my championship into my own hands.”
Zmrzel delivered the message to a panel that included Paul “Triple H” Levesque, WWE Executive Vice President, Global Talent Strategy & Development. At the end of the three-day tryout, where 38 prospects were put through in-ring training and creative evaluations, Zmrzel was one of 14 to earn a WWE developmental contract.
“You walk into this room and you’re looking at Triple H and all the coaches and it’s very intimidating but also exciting,” Zmrzel said. “I love this. This is my heart and soul. It’s everything that I love, from athleticism to entertainment and getting to interact with so many amazing athletes; it’s incredible. I still can’t believe I’m going to be going out to Orlando to train at NXT.”
Read the full story at WWE.com.
2. 🏀 Lakers, Clippers get full schedules
The NBA released the complete game schedule and broadcast schedule for the league’s 75th anniversary season on Friday. The Lakers will play 42 of their 82 games on national television, highlighted by matchups against the Golden State Warriors on Opening Night and against the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas Day. The Clippers will play 27 games on national television and will open the season on the road on Oct. 21 against the Warriors on TNT.
Here’s the Lakers’ 2021-22 schedule:
Here’s the Clippers’ 2021-22 schedule:
3. ⚾️ Topps out after 70 years of MLB cards
After a 70-year relationship, Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association ended their licensing agreement with Topps. It’s hard to imagine baseball cards without Topps or Topps without baseball cards. They go hand-in-hand.
The first trading card set I fell in love with was the 1989 Topps Baseball Cards. I would go to the drug store near my grade school and buy a pack every day after school. I would unseal the back carefully, stick the chalk looking and tasting piece of bubble gum in my mouth and flip through my new cards.
Fanatics is reportedly getting into the trading card space and securing licensing deals with all the major professional sports league, including MLB, NBA and NFL.
4. 🏒 The only Mike Richards that matters in L.A.
I never really watched “Jeopardy!” and I had never heard of Mike Richards before he was named as the new host of the show to replace the late, great Alex Trebek but after he stepped down following an expose in The Ringer, I am glad I no longer have to think something happened to former Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards whenever I see his name trending. I just want to go back to thinking of the Kings winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014 when I hear the name Mike Richards moving forward.
5. 💵 Odds and Ends Powered by Bovada
Here are some odds on Bovada if you’re thinking about placing a wager today:
6. 📆 Aug. 20, 1974: Nolan Ryan records fastest pitch ever
On this day 47 years ago, California Angels pitcher Nolan Ryan became the first player to record a pitch at over 100 miles per hour. In an 11-inning game against the Detroit Tiger, Ryan had two pitches, including one in the ninth inning that were timed at 100.9 miles per hour. Ryan always said he threw harder in the late innings and that was when he had registered triple digits on the radar gun. The fastest recorded pitch prior Ryan were thrown by Don Drysdale (95.3 mph) and Sandy Koufax (93.2 mph).
7. 🎂 Happy Birthday Blake DeWitt
Happy birthday to Blake DeWitt. The former Dodgers infielder turns 35 today. DeWitt was drafted by the Dodgers in the first round of the 2004 MLB draft. He would go on to become the Dodgers’ opening day starter at third base; singling off Barry Zito of the San Francisco Giants in his first at-bat. DeWitt hit his first career home run on May 5, 2008 and the following night hit the first inside-the-park home run at Dodger Stadium in five years. DeWitt was later traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2010 before ending his career with the Atlanta Braves in 2013.
8. 🎟 Ticket Time Powered by StubHub
Here are the “get in” prices for tickets on StubHub if you’re thinking about going to a game today:
9. 📺 On The Air
⚾️ 4 p.m. – Los Angeles Angels at Cleveland Indians – Bally Sports West
⚾️ 7 p.m. – New York Mets at Los Angeles Dodgers – SportsNet LA
⚽️ 7:30 p.m. – San Jose Earthquakes at Los Galaxy – ESPN2
10. 📻 The Arash Markazi Show
On Thursday’s show, we talked about Los Angeles baseball fans needing to embrace Shohei Ohtani and also caught up with WWE chief brand officer Stephanie McMahon before SummerSlam.
Listen to The Arash Markazi Show on The Mightier 1090 Monday-Friday from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., following The Rich Eisen Show. The Mightier 1090 has the second strongest radio signal in North America and can be heard from “Baja to the Canadian Rockies.” You can also listen to the show on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Play and Stitcher.
And please click below to subscribe to The Morning Column at Substack. It’s totally free and will be delivered to your inbox every morning. Please also consider supporting my fellow colleagues at Substack (and former colleagues at ESPN): Marc Stein, Henry Abbott and Chad Ford on the NBA, Molly Knight on MLB, Ariel Helwani on MMA, Dan Rafael on boxing, Leander Schaerlaeckens on soccer, Chris Peters on the NHL and Peter Bodo on tennis.
That’s it for today. Talk to you all on Monday!