September 4, 2013

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In Case You Missed It – August

By: Joe Williams

College football is underway, the NFL season begins this week, baseball’s playoff races are heating up and the PGA Tour playoffs are halfway over (I’m not even going to touch the craziness going on with AROD). It’s been a busy month is the sports world, with quite a few strange stories taking place. Here are a few stories that you may have missed.

Two Cubs fans were arrested for trying to steal ivy from Wrigley Field in August.

The PGA Tour took a page out of the NFL’s playbook (nothing fun allowed) and eliminated the traditional PGA Tour caddie races, a staple during tournaments at TPC Scottsdale and Colonial. Apparently running 150 yards “puts caddies at risk for injury.”

An Arizona Cardinals season-ticket holder handed a beer to his 15-year-old son to hold so he could take a picture. It didn’t take long for undercover stadium police to inform him that he had been serving alcohol to a minor and would be immediately escorted from the stadium and handed a citation for trespassing.

MLB pitcher Brian Wilson was not only offered, but also turned down, $1 million from a razor blade company to shave his insanely long and nasty beard.

During a game in San Francisco, the Pittsburgh Pirates ended up with a Chicago Cubs batting weight in the on-deck circle.

Mom knows best. At least Denard Span’s mom does. She texted her son to “swing at the first pitch” and Span proceeded to go 4-5 on the day with three hits (one was a home run) coming on the first pitch.

Cleveland Indian players Carlos Santana and Jason Kipnis were both asked to hit a home run by an 8-year-old boy from Ohio dealing with cerebral palsy. They both came through in the Indians 7-2 win over Minnesota.

A bench coach for the Chicago White Sox was ejected from a game against the Texas Rangers during the pre-game lineup card exchange.

A report from Forbes claims said that the Houston Astros…the 43-86 Houston Astros are the most profitable team in baseball history.

Robert Griffin III wore a T-shirt for his pregame warm-up that said “Operation Patience.” It was referring to the Redskins’ slowly bringing him back to game action off his ACL injury but the NFL didn’t approve and fined Griffin $10,000 for not adhering to the league’s uniform policies.

Tim Tebow was sent packing by the New England Patriots.

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Fernando Rodney accidentally locked himself in the bathroom when he was supposed to be warming up for a possible relief appearance.

Milwaukee Bucks’ big man Larry Sanders got a new tattoo. The problem? The word “receive” is misspelled. Oops.

The Washington Redskins training camp facility received so much rain that the city of Richmond brought in a helicopter to blow-dry the field.

Minor league pitcher Nick Tropeano recorded a one-pitch strikeout after the batter argued the strike one call and refused to get back in the batter’s box. The ump then called strike two and then strike three.

Two men were arrested for attempting to steal the ivy at Wrigley Field.

Olga Puchkova was disqualified from the Citi Open after hitting a tennis ball in frustration. The ball inadvertently hit a linesmen and the rules say that requires a DQ.

Buffalo Bills quarterback Kevin Kolb hurt his knee after slipping on a rubber mat while walking between practice fields.

Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher John Axford used Twitter to trade tickets for a Krispy Kreme bacon cheeseburger.

NBA player Metta World Peace released a rap song which is of course titled “Peace.”

Olympian Lolo Jones was surprised when drug testers showed up to get her sample in the middle of her birthday party.

LeBron James was selected for jury duty.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Claude Giroux required surgery after a golf club shattered in his hand.

The Philadelphia Flyers painted the ice and then invited fans down in an attempt to set a new world record for number of people watching paint dry…official attendance was 195.

Former NFL coach Bill Cowher appeared in his girlfriend’s new music video dressed in goth and even wore eyeliner.

Tiger Woods is having issues with his back that were caused by soft hotel beds.

A Houston Texans fan brought her own Port-O-Potty to the stadium for tailgating last weekend.

The Philadelphia Eagles security crew prepared for the season by practicing chasing down streakers.

August 27, 2013

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The Week In Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Japan wins Little League World Series: Japan and the U.S. (Chula Vista, CA) battled for the Little League World Series final on Sunday and for the second time in three years, Japan came out on top, winning 6-4. Despite a close matchup, the game still featured its trademark sportsmanship. After hitting Giancarlo Cortez in the helmet, pitcher Kazuki Ishida went to first base to check on him, shake his hand, and apologize. After the game, both teams shook hands and even exchanged hugs. Despite several bad calls both ways, as always, there wasn’t any complaining by the players and even the coaches were held in check. The Little League World Series remains the standard for sportsmanship.

Allen Iverson will officially retire: Yeah, I get it. The obvious reaction is, ‘Wait, didn’t AI hang up his sneakers years ago?’ Technically, no. He hasn’t played in the NBA since 2010 or even overseas since 2011 when he suited up in Turkey, but Iverson had never officially given it up. That should change next week as word broke that Iverson has finally realized his NBA days are over. Regardless of the years it took to make it official, AI has to be a Hall of Famer. For years early in his career, he was arguably the league’s Most Valuable Player leading some very mediocre Philadelphia teams to the playoffs, and even once, the Finals. His career 43% field goal percentage is modest (if not below average) for a star guard, but he was one of the game’s most prolific scorers.

Vince Young is returning to the NFL with the Green Bay Packers.

Vince Young to get another shot in NFL: Vince Young hasn’t been on an NFL roster for a regular season game since 2011 when he suited up with the Philadelphia Eagles, but could be back in the league this season as a backup. Young has impressed in Green Bay in training camp and by all indications, will be the backup to star Aaron Rodgers. He attended training camp with the Buffalo Bills in 2012, but was cut before the regular season. Young’s chances of making the Packers’ roster dramatically increased when the team released Graham Harrell. How he will perform in a regular season game is unknown, but he’s got a track record in the NFL and as a backup, is surely worth a small gamble.

Ryan Braun apologizes (finally): Milwaukee Brewers’ slugger Ryan Braun found himself in an awkward position after the recent Biogenesis scandal rocked Major League Baseball. He was named among the suspended players who had taken a deal giving up their right to appeal, virtually declaring his guilt in taking PEDs after previously denying it. Braun apologized last week, but it will take a lot more than that for him to get back into good graces with fans. The bigger problem for many isn’t so much that he took the drugs initially. Rather, it’s that he lied about it, denying the truth until he was caught. That typically doesn’t go all that well – see Rafael Palmeiro.

Miguel Tejada suspended for 105 games: In another drug-related issue, Miguel Tejada was dealt a 105-game ban for his reported use of Adderall. Tejada’s penalty was so stiff because he was said to have failed two tests before a suspension was handed down. Having previously been suspended for a failed test, these were Tejada’s second and third flunked tests. The curious thing is that Tejada apparently had permission to take the drug for his ADD previously. However, his permit ran out and he continued taking it. A 105-game ban for a drug legitimately being used to treat a disorder might seem harsh, but baseball really had little choice. If he no longer had the required permission, technically, he violated the rules and baseball’s front office could find itself in a bit of a sticky situation if they allowed him to skate free.

Soccer star Ronaldinho has dental surgery: Well, okay.

Claude Giroux injured by golf club: Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux had an unfortunate mishap, injuring a finger during a round of golf when a club accidentally shattered with pieces going into his finger. While he’s expected to fully recover from the tendon damage, it will take a little over a month. That sounds bad but things could have been much worse for the star. While he could be out for preseason games if the injury is too painful, Giroux shouldn’t miss much, if any, regular season time. The Flyers’ first game is on October 2nd and he should be back to 100% right around that time.

Calbert Cheaney to begin coaching career: Former Indiana Hoosiers star and NBA player Calbert Cheaney recently left his post as Director of Basketball Operations at his alma mater to take an assistant coaching job at St. Louis University. Cheaney was one of college basketball’s most celebrated players in the 1990s and will try his hand as a coach now.

Ian Kinsler hustles his way to inside-the-park-homer: Note to Little Leaguers – always run as hard as you can.

July 30, 2013

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The Week in Sports

By: Anson Whaley

Alfonso Soriano returns to Yankees: In desperate need of offense with so many injuries to key players, the New York Yankees turned to a familiar face, trading for outfielder Alfonso Soriano. Soriano began his career in New York as a second baseman before later playing for the Texas Rangers, Washington Nationals, and most recently, the Chicago Cubs. The outfielder is past his prime, but a recent hot streak was proof that he can still provide a surge of power. After hitting only nine home runs in the first three months of the season, Soriano has hit nearly that many already in July with eight this month heading into this past weekend.

Jeremy Maclin out for year: NFL training camps are underway and that can only mean one thing – injuries won’t be far behind. The biggest casualty thus far may be the Eagles’ young wide receiver, Jeremy Maclin, who is out for the season after tearing an ACL in a practice. With perhaps their best wideout injured, Philadelphia’s season gets off to a rocky start. The team still has DeSean Jackson at receiver, but Maclin’s loss gives rookie head coach Chip Kelly less to work with on offense – his area of expertise.

Jaromir Jagr signs with New Jersey Devils: Even at 41, Jaromir Jagr isn’t ready to hang up his skates. After playing for the Boston Bruins and Dallas Stars last year, the winger has signed a one-year $2 million deal with the New Jersey Devils. Jagr isn’t the player he once was, but still has a little left in the tank after scoring 35 points (including 16 goals in 45 games this past season). Plus, with Ilya Kovalchuk leaving New Jersey to play in Russia, the team was in desperate need of scoring. Jagr ranks eighth all-time among NHL players in scoring and his 681 career goals are good for tenth overall.

Lebron > Kobe in ESPN poll: When it comes to the most popular player in the NBA, LeBron James passed up Kobe Bryant for the first time in a few years according to an ESPN poll. Bryant had beaten out James the past few seasons, but after his second consecutive title, James overtook him last week. Really, it’s just proof that time heals all wounds. Immediately after the much-scrutinized “Decision” broadcast where James announced his intention to leave Cleveland for Miami, he took a huge publicity hit and was even viewed as a villain by many. But after a few years with the Heat and winning a couple of rings, liking LeBron is once again okay.

101 Russian women set a skydiving record: Yeah, I’m not even going to try to add anything to this. Feel free to watch for yourself.

Matt Garza pickup costly for Rangers: Matt Garza may not quite be a household name, but the pitcher could be the best starter that gets dealt before baseball’s trade deadline this season. At 7-1 with a 2.87 ERA, Garza is having a career year and was heavily desired by contenders before he was traded to the Texas Rangers by the Cubs. Garza didn’t come cheap, however. He cost Texas two of their top prospects entering this season, pitcher Justin Grimm and first baseman Mike Olt. Both have struggled to a degree this season, but Grimm has seven wins with the major league team while Olt has 12 home runs in the minors. The trade also cost the Rangers C.J. Edwards, a flamethrower who has dominated Rookie League and Class A in the minors the past two seasons. Also, keep in mind that Garza could only be a rental player as he’s due to become a free agent after this year. All things considered, the Rangers need to not only make the playoffs, but maybe even reach a World Series for this trade to come out in their favor.

Tim Hudson injury hurts Braves: Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson suffered a devastating injury last week when his ankle was broken by the Mets’ Eric Young, Jr. in a collision at first base. The injury was a big one as the veteran will miss the rest of the season. That hurts Atlanta’s playoff chances at least a bit and the team is already looking around for a potential trade. The Braves hold a comfortable lead in the NL East, but should the team hold on for a playoff spot, Hudson’s veteran presence will be sorely missed in the postseason.

Matt Harvey likely to end season early: Similar to what the Washington Nationals did with prized young pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the New York Mets are planning to keep Matt Harvey on a limit for the rest of the year. Mets manager Terry Collins has said Harvey has about ten more starts left instead of the 13 or so he may reach if he continued to pitch every fifth day. While similar to Strasburg’s situation, though, it’s a bit different considering the Mets aren’t likely to be in the playoffs as the Nats were. One thing that will be interesting, though, is to see if the loss in starts costs Harvey when it comes to the Cy Young voting.

December 19, 2012

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Why the NFC East is the Best Division in All of Sports

By: Matt Bowen

Excitement and suspense fills our NFL imagination’s as the 2012 season once again comes down to the wire. With so much at stake during the final two weeks across the league, the tightest playoff race belongs to the tumultuous NFC East.

Last season, the NFC East winner was decided in a Week 17 matchup between the Cowboys and Giants.

Every sports fan, whether they like it or not, knows the NFL is No. 1 when it comes to media coverage and generated revenue. At the top of the food chain is the NFC East, a division that holds four of the most popular teams in all of sports. It may seem odd that the Dallas Cowboys belong to a division with three east coast teams, but the Cowboys are larger than life—a smaller media market simply wouldn’t suffice for Dallas. Joining the biggest thing in Texas are the New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles.

Like last season, this year will be decided in Week 17. The Cowboys and Giants met in 2011’s final week for a winner-take-all showdown which crowned the victor the divisional champion and granted them a ticket to the playoffs. History tells the rest of the story as the Giants took the game and eventually the Super Bowl.

This season has been no different as the Redskins, Cowboys and Giants all have an 8-6 record heading into Week 16. The Eagles may be out of the running, but Philly fans are as faithless as they come. At the moment, the Redskins are on top, but there’s plenty of football left to be played.

Heading into this season, the defending Super Bowl champion Giants were the runaway favorite, the Cowboys were in a must-win situation and the Redskins weren’t expected to win the division, but were optimistic thanks to the acquisition of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.

Now, the Giants are coming off a 34-0 drubbing by the Atlanta Falcons, the Cowboys have won 5-of-6 and the Redskins, led by not one but two rookie quarterbacks(Kirk Cousins being the other) have won five straight and control their own destiny.

Week 16 pits the Redskins against the Eagles, who would like nothing more than to spoil the party. The Cowboys go up against the New Orleans Saints, who are only 6-8, but thanks to quarterback Drew Brees are as dangerous as they come. And finally, the Giants face the Baltimore Ravens, which is a desperate game for both sides.

If both the Redskins and Cowboys win in Week 16, this would set up a virtual win-and-in situation in Week 17.  Nothing screams playoff football like a playoff game in the final week of the regular season. Like last season, every football fan in the world will be glued to their television to see who exactly makes it to the postseason party.

This is why the NFC East is the best division in sports. As much as every sports fan may dislike that this division seems to get all of the attention, they sure do put on a good show. Enjoy the theatrics as sports history unfolds before our very eyes.

October 10, 2012

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5 NFL Games To Watch in Week 6

By: Junior

With the sixth week of the NFL season kicking off tomorrow, we take a look at the biggest games coming up on the schedule. Five weeks into the season, we are finally starting to understand which teams are making moves for the playoffs and which are already falling out of the hunt. These five match-ups in Week 6 should go a long way in helping us figure out which teams belong in each category.

The Giants and 49ers rematch in Week 6 could hold playoff implications down the road.

Green Bay at Houston

After a 15-1 season last year, there are few records as shocking as Green Bay’s. At 2-3 on the season, they now head to 5-0 Houston to try and start making their way back to the top of the NFC North. If they can’t, a previously unthinkable 2-4 start would give Chicago and Minnesota a nice cushion atop the division.

NY Giants at San Francisco

A rematch of last season’s NFC Championship game will help us find out where the Giants rank this season. Currently tied for the NFC East lead with Philadelphia, the Giants need a big win to show they aren’t having a Super Bowl hangover this season. While San Francisco is 4-1 and looks to be on its way to the postseason again, they are tied with Arizona for the division lead and need to stick with the underdog Cardinals, who could get a win this week against the struggling Bills.

San Diego at Denver

The AFC West is up for grabs, but the Chargers have possession for the time being. This is a perfect opportunity for Peyton Manning and the Broncos to take possession and start to make their run for the division title. The Manning-era is off to a bumpy 2-3 start, but a win going into the bye week could be what Denver needs to get on track. If the Chargers win, they too would be going into a bye, but with a nice lead in the division.

Baltimore at Dallas

Baltimore has looked impressive so far this season and many people are predicting a deep run in the playoffs for the Ravens. Dallas has been inconsistent so far this season, and a win over the Ravens could be the statement they need to make a run coming out of their bye week. If Baltimore wins, they will be 5-1 heading into a HUGE game against the Texans. This game could be a turning point for both teams.

Detroit at Philadelphia

After making the playoffs last season, the Lions have started out 1-3. Coming off of a bye week, they face a Philadelphia team that is 3-2 despite having quite a problem with turnovers. If the Lions want to climb out of the NFC North basement, this game seems like a must-win. For the Eagles, a win keeps them atop the competitive NFC East heading into their bye week.