March 17, 2014

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The Week in Sports

By: Matt Bowen

NCAA Tournament Teams Announced: It’s that time of year again. With March Madness here, entire companies will again be dealing with productivity issues in the earlier part of the week with employees scrambling to complete a bracket. That will continue on into Thursday and Friday with games all day long. There isn’t a truly dominant team out there this season, but the closest one would be Florida, who has been on an absolute tear. Two teams that haven’t gotten as much consideration as teams like Florida, Arizona, and Villanova are Louisville and Virginia. But both of those teams have lost only one game since the beginning of February and won their conference tournaments. Each looks capable of making a deep run.

Louisville Cardinals

After winning it all in 2013, how far will Louisville go in this year's NCAA Tournament?

Phil Jackson reportedly hired by Knicks: According to ESPN, the New York Knicks have officially named Phil Jackson as their team president. It will be interesting to see how this plays out as the Knicks have routinely underperformed, even with talented players. The big question is if the move will be enough to keep Carmelo Anthony, a free agent after this season, around. He is the Knicks’ best player and Jackson’s era will be off to a rocky one if Melo leaves for another team this summer. In addition, there’s no guarantee that Jackson will even be able to make the Knicks a success, anyway. His expertise is in coaching, not in being a team president. Unless the move includes Phil returning to the sidelines, I’m not sure the hire is a slam dunk to work since he can only do so much in the front office.

Darrelle Revis heads to New England: All-World cornerback Darrelle Revis is headed to the New England Patriots after only a year in Tampa Bay. Revis, one of the premier players in the NFL at his position, signed a one-year $12 million deal with the Patriots. New England was far worse in rushing defense (30th) than they were in pass defense (18th) last season, so some might thing the defensive line/linebackers might be more of a priority. But Revis’ presence was something that was too good to pass up. The secondary will be improved bringing him on board and even though it’s only a single move, it’s one that could make New England the favorite in the AFC.

Hats off: A hockey announcer whiffed on a trade prediction involving the New York Rangers’ Ryan Callahan, so he ate a hat. With syrup. Sort of.

Yankees no-hit in Spring Training: The New York Yankees are hoping to be improved with some key additions and a healthy Derek Jeter in 2014. Heading into Sunday, though, the team was a modest 8-9 in Spring Training and on Saturday, the team was no hit in a game by the Miami Marlins. To make matters worse, the Yankees were in a game in Panama to honor the recently retired Mariano Rivera. Spring Training records are hardly a great barometer in determining World Series teams since rosters often consist of players that won’t be in the majors and even the entrenched starters are working on new things. Still, it’s never good to be completely no hit – particularly considering New York was fielding many of their regulars.

Philadelphia 76ers make history: The Philadelphia 76ers made a bit of history over the weekend, but it wasn’t the type they’ll care to remember. On Saturday, the 76ers lost their 20th straight game this season, falling 103-77 to the Memphis Grizzlies and tying a franchise record. That record seems likely to fall Monday night when Philly heads to Indiana to face the Pacers – one of the best teams in the league. The 76ers have some attractive players, including rookie Michael Carter-Williams. But there’s not nearly enough to make for a competitive team just yet. Philadelphia is in line to experience a lot more losses until things get better.

John Daly goes John Daly: Pro golfer John Daly shot a 90 last week at the Valspar Championship. An average guy hacking around on his local public course may be pleased with that number. A professional? Not so much. Daly understandably caught some criticism on Twitter and responded the way you might think he would.

November 13, 2013

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

New York Knicks’ season off to rough start – After several key offseason moves, the New York Knicks are hoping to contend for an NBA title this season. That quest, though, is off to a rocky beginning. The Knicks are 2-4 on the season and were routed, 120-89, by last season’s Western Conference champions, the San Antonio Spurs, on Sunday. Unfortunately, none of that is even the worst thing that’s happened to the team. The Knicks learned last week that center Tyson Chandler is expected to miss several weeks with a fibula injury. Chandler’s loss really hurts the team defensively and that’s one of the few things the team has done right so far this year. Giving up only 93 points a game, New York ranks fourth in the NBA in team defense.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Could Ben Roethlisberger be quarterbacking a team other than the Steelers?

Ben Roethlisberger denies trade request talk Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was the subject of some trade talk this past week. NFL.com reported that he was interested in potentially exploring a trade request following the season, but Big Ben says it’s not true. The Steelers have had a difficult season and at 3-6, frustration mounting wouldn’t be a surprise. But Roethlisberger wanting out of Pittsburgh would be a curious move. He’s won two Super Bowls with the team, been to a third, and despite some offseason incidents earlier in his career, has had a lot of support from Pittsburgh fans over the years. He’s played his entire career in Pittsburgh and leaving at this point would be a bit odd. Roethlisberger may be frustrated at the current team, but you can bet that the Steelers will again field a competitive team during his tenure at quarterback.

Arian Foster to have season-ending surgeryHouston Texans running back Arian Foster will reportedly have season-ending surgery for a bulging disk in his back. Foster’s injury and subsequent surgery is just the latest misfortune for the Texans who have had a rough season. Foster, himself, has had a down season with only a single rushing touchdown to his credit. After a 2-0 start, Houston promptly has dropped their past seven games. Quarterback Matt Schaub suffered an ankle injury but even when he was healthy enough to play, head coach Gary Kubiak kept him on the bench in favor of Case Keenum. Kubiak also made headlines when he collapsed at halftime of a game last week. It’s just been a miserable season all around for the franchise.

Lloyd McClendon and Rick Renteria hired as managers – The Seattle Mariners have their next manager after hiring Lloyd McClendon last week. McClendon has prior experience, serving as the head man for the Pittsburgh Pirates. His 336-446 record there, though, wasn’t impressive and he had to settle for a role as bullpen coach and hitting coach with the Detroit Tigers the past few years. Seattle fans have understandably been skeptical of the move, but McClendon was handcuffed a bit to some pretty bad Pirates rosters. Still, if he’s not successful in Seattle, it may be a while before he sees another opportunity to become a manager. Renteria, meanwhile, is headed to the Chicago Cubs. He hasn’t been a major league manager before, but still has a good deal of experience. Renteria managed a few seasons in the minors and was a bench coach for the San Diego Padres. Earlier this season, he also managed Mexico’s National team in the World Baseball Classic. Cubs fans will have to be patient with him as the team is clearly in the midst of a rebuilding movement.

Stanford tops Oregon – In another matchup of top five college football teams, No. 5 Stanford upended No. 3 Oregon last week, 26-20. The win helps the Cardinal, obviously, but the real beneficiary is Florida State. The Seminoles were undefeated but still sat behind top-ranked Alabama and Oregon in the minds of many poll voters. If both teams ran the table, there was a chance that Florida State could have been left out of the national championship picture. Instead, the Seminoles likely will control their own destiny now and just might get the chance to reach the title game.

Bill Mazeroski auction a hit – Former Pittsburgh Pirates infielder Bill Mazeroski raked in a cool $1.7 million from an auction centered around items from his series-winning home run in the 1960 World Series. Leading the way was his game-worn jersey from that epic seventh game, which fetched $633,000. Also auctioned were his cleats from the game and his six Gold Glove awards. It always seems a little discomforting to see former players auction off their awards or game items, but it also can’t be forgotten that players in the 1960s and 1970s didn’t make the kind of money today’s players do. And really, how long can you hang onto those items knowing they’re worth hundreds of thousands of dollars?

Florida Panthers fire Kevin Dineen – Head coach Kevin Dineen was fired by the Florida Panthers after another slow start to the season. The Panthers were 3-9-4 at the time of the move and the front office felt a change was necessary. Florida ranks near the bottom of the NHL in offense (26th), scoring fewer than two goals a game, and defense (28th). This was the second straight slow start for Dineen as his team got off to a 1-5 beginning last year. Peter Horachek has been named the interim coach in the meantime.

May 31, 2013

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In Case You Missed It: May Edition

By: Joe Williams

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like something crazy is happening on a daily basis in the sports world. Maybe it’s always been that way and it’s just that we now have the technology that allows us to see and hear everything. Either way, there is just too much crazy for one article at the end of the year to cover it all so let’s just take it a month at a time. Here are some of the wacky sports stories from this May.

The New York Knicks ended up looking pretty foolish when lost Game 5 against the Boston Celtics after they came to the arena dressed in all black because they were “attending the Celtics funeral.”

Aroldis Chapman ate 18 pastries before a game in May.

Wichita State catcher Tyler Baker chased down and captured a squirrel with his batting helmet after the animal ended up in the infield when Baker was on second base.

Washington Nationals outfielder, Bryce Harper, was ejected from a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates because he slammed his bat and his helmet to the ground.

An NFL quarterback who attempted just eight passes last season and is now unemployed was named Most Influential Athlete by Forbes Magazine. That’s right. Tim Tebow is at it again.

Boston Red Sox pitcher Joel Hanrahan threw a wild pitch that actually went right through a sign on the wall behind home plate.

The Oakland A’s lost a game to the Cleveland Indians when a blown call cost them what would have been a game-tying home run in the top of the ninth. Not only did the umpires miss the call live, but then they went to the replay and still got it wrong.

A Jacksonville Jaguars fan sent President Obama a petition asking the President to force the Jaguars to sign unemployed quarterback Tim Tebow.

MLB umpires suffered another embarrassing incident when they allowed the Houston Astros to go to their bullpen twice before a pitch was thrown. The Angels argued the call and after three huddles and a phone call, the incorrect call was upheld.

An average citizen contacted the NBA to declare himself eligible for the draft. Surprisingly, he received a personal response from the NBA informing him that he is a free agent and can sign with any team.

A fan at a San Francisco Giants game fell onto the field while reaching for a ball, lost his pants and was then ejected from the game.

A fan at a Chicago Blackhawks playoff game went into labor in the stands. But she wasn’t about to leave during an elimination game and waited until after the game to go to the hospital.

Lorenzo Cain of the Kansas City Royals was awarded a walk after receiving just three balls instead of the required four in a game against the New York Yankees.

San Diego Chargers rookie Manti Te’o actually showed up at the Maxim Hot 100 party after the magazine put his fake girlfriend at No. 69 in its Hot 100 list.

Cincinnati Reds closer Aroldis Chapman blew a save against the Philadelphia Phillies. This was after he at 18 pastries before the game.

A snow cone vender at a Houston Astros game was fired after bringing the snow cones into the bathroom and leaving them on the floor while he used the toilet.

More to come in June I’m sure.

April 22, 2013

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The Week In Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Boston Marathon bombings – Obviously, the story of the week in sports (and in all other news, for that matter) were the bombings in the Boston Marathon. Not much to say here other than it was a horrific event. But the thing that should be recognized is the hard work of the police and FBI to not only identify the suspects so quickly, but catch them. Great work by all involved.

Already the NBA's scoring champion, can Carmelo Anthony add another championship this season?

NBA Playoffs begin – The NBA’s postseason has begun and several teams are out to 1-0 head starts. We’ve got a long way to go, but my postseason prediction at the beginning of the year was the Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder. I’ll stick with that pick. Each have the talent, offense, and young legs needed at this time of year.

Revis Island will get new address in Tampa Bay – Star cornerback Darrelle Revis was traded this weekend from the New York Jets to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the No. 13 overall pick in this week’s NFL Draft and either a third or fourth-round selection. Rarely are stars traded for first-round picks (particularly in the upper half of that round), but it’s also rare to get a player who may be the best at his position in the middle of his prime. And since Tampa Bay was dead last in pass defense in 2012, giving up just under 300 yards per game, this move will clearly bolster their secondary. Revis missed much of last season after suffering a torn ACL and the injury has to be a concern for the Bucs. But while he got the big money he sought with an extension, signing for six years and $96 million, if he returns to his former self, the trade will have been a good one for Tampa.

Death of Pat Summerall – Legendary sports broadcaster Pat Summerall passed away last week of cardiac arrest at the age of 82. Though he covered a variety of events such as the Masters and US Open tennis events, Summerall is best remembered for his work as an announcer alongside John Madden for football games, including the Super Bowl. Many, though, forget that Summerall actually played for several years in the NFL, primarily as a kicker. Along with Madden, he became one of the staples in pro football.

Carmelo Anthony wins first scoring title – It’s not as important as what he’ll do in the NBA playoffs, but New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony secured his first scoring title averaging 28.7 points per game. That was just good enough to top the Oklahoma City Thunder’s Kevin Durant, who checked in at 28.1. Melo has always been a bit in the background of the other 2003 NBA Draft picks, Lebron James and Dwyane Wade, but that could change this season. If he’s somehow able to propel the Knicks past the Heat juggernaut, he could win his first title. That may still not be enough to push him past Wade (who has two rings) or James (largely considered the league’s best player), but it will put him in a special class of superstars with an NBA ring.

Midnight Madness could start sooner – The NCAA passed a new rule that will allow teams to practice up to six weeks before their first regular season game instead of the four that was previously allowed. That won’t make a huge difference but one interesting note is that it will likely push the date of the popular Midnight Madness up a bit earlier.

Shamed Rutgers coach Mike Rice gets $475,000 in settlement – Now infamous basketball coach, Mike Rice, received $475,000 in a settlement from Rutgers for being fired before his contract was up. Rice, if you’ll recall, was fired after video surfaced of him verbally and physically abusing players. Rutgers president, Robert Barchi, stated the coach could rightfully be fired for bringing shame to the school. Rice clearly did that and, to be honest, I’m surprised he got as much as he did. If you’re the head coach, it’s hard to complain about a parting gift like that after you verbally berated your players and were lobbing basketballs at them. Want to know the worst of it, though? Rice is reportedly coaching an AAU girls’ basketball team. I’m all for second chances, but if this is true, it’s hard not to question it being allowed so soon after the Rutgers videos surfaced – and with 12- and 13-year old girls no less.

January 10, 2013

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What I’ll Remember About 2012 – Part 1

By: Joe Williams

Every year we see things we never thought we would and things we never want to see again. We see everything from the incredible to the inspiring to the sad and hilarious. Here’s what I will remember about 2012.

January 1 – Matt Flynn and Matthew Stafford combine for 971 net passing yards in 45-41 Green Bay win.

January 8 – The Denver Broncos make short work of the new NFL overtime rules, scoring an 80-yard touchdown on the first play of overtime to beat the Steelers 29-23 in the first round of the AFC playoffs.

January 9 Alabama actually scored a touchdown in its rematch with LSU in the BCS Championship Game, winning 21-0.

January 14 Tom Brady shredded the Denver Broncos for five touchdown passes in the first half and another in the third quarter to tie the postseason single-game record in a 45-10 win.

January 14 – The 49ers and Saints combine for 34 points in the fourth quarter and four lead changes in the final five minutes as the 49ers outlasted New Orleans 36-32 and advanced to the NFC Championship Game.

January 22 – Joe Paterno passed away.

January 22 – The Baltimore Ravens had a dropped pass in the end zone that prevented them from winning the AFC Championship Game in New England and then missed a 32-yard field goal that would have sent the game to overtime.

January 22 – The New York Giants advanced to the Super Bowl with a 20-17 overtime win against the 49ers after a fumbled punt set up the game-winning field goal.

February 4Jeremy Lin came out of nowhere and led the New York Knicks to a win with 25 points, five rebounds and seven assists in the first of an incredible 13-game stretch in which he averaged 22.3 points and 7.4 assists. His heroics were celebrated worldwide and he ended up on the cover of Time and Sports Illustrated and one of the biggest celebrities in the league.

Jeremy Lin was one of the biggest stories of 2012.

February 5 – The New York Giants beat Tom Brady and the Patriots in another Super Bowl, 21-17, led by Eli Manning and another fourth-quarter comeback.

February 5 – Tom Brady’s wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, gets caught on camera blaming Patriot receivers for New England’s Super Bowl loss, saying that her husband cannot throw and catch the ball at the same time.

March 8 – The Indianapolis Colts announced that they will release future hall-of-fame quarterback, Peyton Manning.

March 13 – The First Four was worth watching on this night. First, Western Kentucky rallied from a 16-point deficit with 4:51 to go and beat Mississippi Valley State 59-58. Then BYU followed that up by erasing a 25-point deficit and beat Iona 78-72.

March 16Duke and Missouri, both No. 2 seeds in the NCAA tournament, go down on the same day. Norfolk State upset a 30-win Missouri team 86-84 and then later that night Lehigh defeated the Blue Devils 75-70. Only four No. 15 seeds have ever knocked off a No. 2 seed in history before it happened twice that day.

March 20 – Peyton Manning picks the Denver Broncos.

March 21NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell laid down the law on the New Orleans Saints for their bounty scandal, effectively ending the Saints season before it ever got started. This story never went away due to the continuous appeals of the suspensions.

March 26 – The Denver Broncos trade Tim Tebow to the New York Jets.

March 11 – Tiger Woods withdrew from the final round of the WGC Cadillac Championship with an injury. The blimp that was covering the golf tournament then followed Tiger as he left the golf course, a scene usually reserved for a high-speed chase.

April 1 – I.K. Kim takes the honor for worst golf shot of the year after she missed an 18-inch putt that would have won the LPGA’s first major of the year, the Kraft Nabisco Championship. She ended up losing in a playoff.

April 2 – John Calipari and his Kentucky squad that consisted of six future NBA players wins the national title, beating Kansas 67-59.

April 3Baylor completed a perfect season at 40-0 and won the women’s national title, beating Notre Dame 80-61.

April 8 – Bubba Watson hits one of the greatest shots in Masters history; a miracle 40-yard hook shot out of the pine straw on the second hole of a sudden-death playoff with Louis Oosthuizen. Two putts for par later and Watson was wearing the green jacket.

April 21Phil Humber pitches a perfect game at Seattle, striking out nine in the White Sox 4-0 win.

April 26Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III are drafted by the Colts and Redskins.

May 8 Josh Hamilton hit four home runs and had eight RBI against the Baltimore Orioles.

June 3 – Tiger Woods hit an incredible flop shot from behind the green on 16 that trickled into the hole on his way to winning the Memorial Tournament.

June 7 – LeBron James overwhelms the Boston Celtics with a 45 point and 15 rebound performance in a 98-79 win over Boston on the road to force a Game 7 in South Beach.

June 7 – Novak Djokovic outlasted Rafael Nadal in a grueling marathon in the Australian Open final (5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5) in a match that took five hours and 53 minutes and didn’t end until 1:37 a.m.

June 11 – The Los Angeles Kings win their first Stanley Cup in 45 years after barely squeaking into the final playoff spot in the West and going on one of the greatest runs in playoff history.

June 13Matt Cain pitched a perfect game in a 10-0 San Francisco win over the Astros.

June 21 – LeBron James and the Miami Heat win the NBA championship after beating the Oklahoma City Thunder 121-106 in game five.

June 27 – A four-team college football playoff was formally approved to begin in 2014.

June 30 – The third round of the AT&T National was played with no spectators on the golf course because of safety concerns after a powerful wind storm left trees uprooted all over the golf course.