Friday, August 21, 2009

Top Ten with Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice [David Letterman]

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Plaxico Burress Pleads Guilty to Gun Possesion; Will Serve 2 Years Behind Bars [J. Mark English]

This is from Laura Italiano and Clemente Lisi of the New York Post:

This time, he didn't catch a pass.

In a surprise move, former Giants superstar Plaxico Burress pleaded guilty today to attempted gun possession -- agreeing to a two-year prison term rather than face a guaranteed higher sentence if convicted at trial.

The time behind bars -- which will work out to 20 months with good behavior -- is his penance for accidently shooting himself in the thigh with his own Glock at a crowded Midtown nightclub last November.

The knucklehead wide-receiver will turn himself in at his Sept. 22 sentencing, exchanging his cleats for a pair of canvas loafers issued behind bars.

He'll miss the birth of his second child, who has yet to be born, although Burress is hoping not to miss his last golden years in the NFL.

He wore a resigned, hangdog expression as he took his plea, then strode wordlessly away from a crowd of press cameras to a waiting car.

"After an agonizing period of discussion, Plaxico decided he wanted to do this now in the hope that when he is released, he will be able to continue his stellar carreer," his lawyer, Ben Brafman, said after the surprise plea in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Burress famously caught the winning pass for the Giants against the New England Patriots in the 2008 Super Bowl.

He is hoping that any suspension under consideration by the NFL could be served concurrent to his sentence, Brafman said.

"If he stays healthy," Brafman said, "he has many years ahead of him."

Giants co-owner John Mara called the situation "a terrible tragedy."

"When I think about what he threw away just by making some poor choices," he said. "Hopefully it's a lesson for the rest of our players to learn."

Mara added, "The laws in New York are pretty strict for this type of offense and rightfully so."

Prosecutors' rock-bottom plea offer of two years prison expired today, said lead prosecutor John Wolfstaedter. And a mandatory three-and-a-half years minimum sentence loomed under tough state gun laws -- given the airtight weapons possession case against him.

"There was no way out," Brafman said.

Had Burress rolled the dice and gone to trial, the best he could have hoped for was a hung jury, the lawyer said.

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Caster Semenya: Is She a He? [J. Mark English]

Nothing like controversy in the sports world of running.

This is from Stewart Maclean of Mail Online:

A female runner accused of being a man tonight took gold in the 800m World Athletics Championship.

South African Caster Semenya, 18, had to take a gender test after doubts were raised about her sex.

But despite the furore, she easily took gold in the final in Berlin.

The teenage sensation has sparked controversy over her strikingly muscular physique.

Today officials at the world athletics body, the IAAF, revealed that it ordered her to take a gender test three weeks ago.

IAAF spokesman Nick Davies confirmed the tests were taking place, though he said the results would not be confirmed for several weeks.

Until the results are confirmed, there was nothing to prevent Semenya from competing in tonight's final, he said.

He added: 'At this moment in time we do not have any evidence to stop her running.'

South African athletics chiefs furiously denied the claims and stated Semenya was definitely female.

Molatelo Malehopo, general manager of Athletics South Africa, said: 'She is a female. We are completely sure about that and we wouldn't have entered her into the female competition if we had any doubts.

'We have not been absent-minded, we are very sure of her gender. We are aware of the claims that have been made but our aim at the moment is to prepare Caster for the race this evening.'

Semenya was ordered to take the test after raising suspicion during an incredible performance at a junior championship.


What do you think? See for yourself:

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President Obama: NASCAR Can Aid Auto Industry [J. Mark English]

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Video: Brett Favre Explains Himself [J. Mark English]

<a href=";from=IV2_en-us_foxsports_articles" target="_new" title="Favre makes it official">Video: Favre makes it official</a>

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Photo: Brett Favre Dons a Viking Helmet [J. Mark English]

Brett Favre Will be a Minnesota Viking [J. Mark English]

Let the groans begin. Yet again, Mr. Favre has decided that retirement is not enough. Or maybe he is already in retirement, and has decided he will screw around with three NFL franchises as a part of a post football past-time. His next victim will be the Minnesota Vikings. This is from the Mark Maske of the Washington Post:

Quarterback Brett Favre is expected to sign a contract Tuesday with the Minnesota Vikings to come out of retirement again and play for the team this season, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Favre arrived at the Vikings' training complex after traveling to the Minneapolis area earlier in the day. He exited a plane at a St. Paul, Minn., airport and got into a waiting vehicle.
He is to undergo a physical and, barring any unexpected snags, is to sign a deal that apparently will pay him approximately $12 million this season.

The contract reportedly contains an option for a second season.
He could be on the practice field Wednesday and play in a preseason game Friday.


In case you can't tell from my intonation at the top, I think this is absolutely crazy on the part of the Vikings, and self serving on the part of Favre. What did the Packers do to him that makes him want to now play in their own division, after a year in which the Pack pleaded with him not to go to the Vikings. Also, he set the New York Jets back a year in development of possibly a franchise quarterback.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated concurs that this whole episode is nefarious at best:

If I were Childress, I'd have waited until Sage Rosenfels struggled -- if he struggled -- and then made the call to Favre. By doing it now, Childress loses Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson; how can they ever trust anything he says now? I'm sure both are furious, and Rosenfels, particularly, is crushed. And the way Favre talked to me three weeks ago, there's a chance he won't last the season and Childress will have to turn to one of his angry quarterbacks.

What Favre told me late last month he wasn't coming back because he felt totally beat after some hard summer workouts, how could he think he'd have enough stamina to make it through a season? He simply didn't think he'd be able to handle the physical rigors of the season. "I just didn't think my body would hold up the way it had in the past,'' he said.

The perfect scenario would have been for the Vikings to see if Rosenfels or Jackson played well enough through a piece-of-cake early schedule (at Cleveland, at Detroit, San Francisco), and if the position was an Achilles heel, then reach out to Favre to see if he was interested. By doing it now, Childress tells his team he doesn't trust Rosenfels or Jackson. That could come back to haunt him if Favre's body breaks down.

Childress has looked like a desperate man throughout this melodrama. He made it known internally that Favre had to do at least some work in the offseason program or the veteran mini-camp to be considered. Favre never showed. Then he had to come by the start of camp. Favre didn't come, opting for his third false retirement in 17 months. Now the Vikings let him come back after the team has gone through training camp. Favre's the wishy-washiest player in memory -- and the Vikings are his enablers. It's ridiculous.

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Video: Daily Show - Usain Bolt Breaks 100-Meter Record [J. Mark English]

Video: Michael Vick on CBS 60 Minutes [J. Mark English]

Video: NY Giants Miracle Preseason Win [J. Mark English]

Friday, August 14, 2009

Michael Vick Signs with the Philadelphia Eagles [J. Mark English]

This is from the Philadelphia Eagles website:

The Eagles announced on Thursday night that have signed QB Michael Vick to a one-year contract.

Drafted with the first overall selection in the 2001 draft by Atlanta, Vick spent six seasons with the Falcons and last played on 12/31/06 at Philadelphia. A three-time Pro Bowler, the 29-year-old Vick rushed for 1,039 yards in 2006, the most by a quarterback in a single season in NFL history. His 8.45 yards per carry average that year also is an NFL record.

A multi-dimensional threat at quarterback in both the pass and run game, Vick became the first quarterback in NFL annals to pass for over 250 yards (252) and rush for over 100 yards (115) in the same game (10/31/04 at Denver). His eight career 100-yard rushing games are the most by a quarterback in NFL history and his 3,859 career rushing yards ranks third all time behind Randall Cunningham (4,928) and Steve Young (4,239).

Vick was named to the Pro Bowl in his first season as a full-time starter in 2002, after amassing 3,713 total yards (2,936 passing, 777 rushing) and 24 total touchdowns (16 passing, 8 rushing). He led the Falcons to a 27-7 upset victory over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Wild Card game that season, ending the Packers undefeated playoff record at Lambeau Field.

For his career, Vick appeared in 74 regular season games (67 starts) from 2001-06, completing 930 of 1,730 passes for 11,505 yards and 71 touchdowns, while rushing for 3,859 yards and 21 touchdowns. He is 2-2 as a starter in the playoffs with both losses coming at the hands of the Eagles.

A two-year letterman at Virginia Tech, Vick led the NCAA in passing efficiency with a 180.9 rating as a freshman in 1999. He finished third in the Heisman Trophy voting that year behind Ron Dayne and Joe Hamilton.

The Newport News, VA, native attended Warwick High School, passing for 4,846 yards and 43 touchdowns, while also adding 1,048 yards and 18 touchdowns on the ground.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rick Pitino and the Abortion Debate [J. Mark English]

Jon Pyle of True/Slant attempts to reconcile some of the biases out there right now among sports commentators in regard to the Rick Pitino scandal:

This morning on Mike & Mike, like thousands of sports talk shows across the country, they discussed how Pitino’s actions would effect his program, specifically recruiting. They essentially argued whether Pitino’s scandal or a coach photographed drinking and partying with coeds like Larry Eustachy would be worse for their respective programs. Mike Greenberg, supporting Pitino, was overwhelmed by the other two guests. But he made an adjustment that got to the true heart of people’s shock, he asked them to consider the situation “if there were no abortion”. Mike Golic and Eric Cassilias immediately changed their views and agreed that without the abortion, Pitino’s scandal wasn’t nearly as bad. This is where an editor for a reality show would insert the stock screeching record sound effect. The message being sent by Mike & Mike and the majority of sports radio hosts and columnists is that we can accept infidelity but abortion unquestionably makes Pitino’s situation more scandalous.

This cannot sit well with the Pro-Choice crowd, who have created a perception that abortion was an issue that only the fundamentalist fringe opposed. In my mind, the situation was always presented as being relatively even in terms of support. Apparently that is not the case, as nearly every news outlet carrying this story has highlighted the abortion as the seedy underbelly of the story. Do the majority of Americans actually oppose abortion or are sports fans more conservative? Does this controversy just frame it in the wrong context? Does anyone even realize that the subtext of the coverage of Pitino’s affair may reinforce anti-abortion sentiment or perhaps even create it?


My Thoughts -

I must take issue with Jon Pyle sentiments. This is not a debate about the validity or morality of abortion. The issue at hand is the character of Coach Rick Pitino. He is paid to be a leader of men in an educational institution. He is paid to win, but he also has a responsibility to demonstrate self discipline. (Even contract has a morality clause, which stipulates the type of behavior he must demonstrate as a leader.)

The nasty turn in this sad saga is not the affair. An affair, or even just one night of weakness is one thing. As humans we are all doomed to fail, and have moments that are shameful. But its how we handle the aftermath that determines our character.

Paying a woman to have an abortion is not something that either a person with a pro-life stance or a pro-choice stance should ever feel comfortable doing. The law of the land is choice, but not forced choice. He is making the choice for her, instead of helping her deal with the reality at hand. The emotional scars of the poor woman in this situation must be unbearable.

I cannot claim to know what goes on in the head of a person like Coach Pitino. But the facts that have come out do not show a man of tremendous character. Instead he seems to be a coward, who has put a woman in an unimaginable position of both physical and psychological horror. He has betrayed his family, his team, and the institution that has hired him.

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President Obama Flubs Facts on Billie Jean King [J. Mark English]

From the Politico by Carol E. Lee:

Before presenting tennis legend Billie Jean King with the Medal of Freedom Wednesday, President Obama ticked off some ...... of her accomplishments: 12 Grand Slam titles, 101 doubles titles, 67 singles titles.

“Pretty good, Billie Jean,” he quipped.

But he didn’t get any of it right, according to King herself.

“They didn’t get any of my facts right,” King lightheartedly noted afterward. “Did you see all the – how many titles I won? I was cracking up.”

“Not even in the ballpark,” she continued.

King found it amusing, and said her accomplishments on the court aren’t the most important.

“I thought it was adorable,” she said.

Asked what Obama got wrong, she said, “Well the Grand Slam’s at 39 not at 12.”

“That’s not what’s important,” she explained. So when Obama got it wrong, “I thought even was more cute...I go, ‘Oh that’s really sweet.’ Like, just move on, get off the tennis stuff. Tennis was a platform.”

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Video: Madden NFL 10 Xbox 360 Review [J. Mark English]

Some Thoughts on Pitino [J. Mark English]

What consequence should Coach Pitino face for the latest revelations we have learned in regards to his personal life. Here are a few thoughts from fellow bloggers:

Eamonn Brennan, - After last night's drastic report -- wherein Rick Pitino admitted to police that he paid Karen Sypher $3,000 for an abortion after having consensual sex with her on a restaurant floor (really, this whole story screams "class") -- most thought Pitino's job, at least, was safe. There is little criminal worry to be had here. If the sex was consensual, there's no crime against giving a woman money for an abortion. It just happens to be a really awful thing to do, the sort of thing a self-appointed leader like Pitino should probably not choose to do. After all, success is a choice, right?

But when the dust cleared this morning, the Louisville Courier-Journal (which is absolutely killing this story) has this news: Pitino's contract actually contains a morality clause, which can be summed up as such:

Disparaging media publicity of a material nature that damages the good name and reputation of Employer or University, if such publicity is caused by Employee's willful misconduct that could objectively be anticipated to bring Employee into public disrepute or scandal, or which tends to greatly offend the public, or any class thereof on the basis of invidious distinction.

Employee's dishonesty with Employer or University; or acts of moral depravity; or conviction of a felony or employment or drug-related misdemeanor; or intoxication or being under the influence of a psychoactive substance when performing duties under this contract, when student athletes are present, when attending scheduled public events or appearances, or during media contacts.

Not only are those terms vague and pretty easy for a university admin to wriggle through, there are about five different moral requirements you could argue Pitino isn't making there. I'd say committing adultery and paying a woman for an abortion is tantamount to "willful misconduct that could objectively be anticipated to bring Employee into public disrepute or scandal." Or also see "which tends to greatly offend the public," or even "moral depravity." Cut and dry: these apply to Pitino's situation under any objective appraisal, do they not?

Pitino's job could still be safe; maybe the university will cut him some slack and forget all these pesky morality clauses lodged in his contract. But if public sentiment grows too loud -- and you can imagine how "adultery + abortion" plays in red-state Kentucky -- Louisville can act to rid themselves of Pitino's mess.


Mike Miller, Beyond the Arc - It's a head-shaking story. No other way to say it.

But it's also a reminder -- as if sports fans needed another one this summer -- that we really don't know our sports figures, no matter how much larger than life they may seem.
Rick Pitino is one of the college basketball's best coaches, a man who ressurected Kentucky basketball, re-built Louisville and is the only coach to ever take three different schools to the Final Four. But he's no longer on a pedestal. Not ever again.

Pitino's admittal that he had sex in a restaurant with a woman six years ago and then gave her money for an abortion ensures that.

In the same summer when ex-NFL quarterback Steve McNair was shot and killed by his mistress and when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is being sued by a woman for allegedly raping her, it's just more fodder for already jaded fans.

Some might say this simply reinforces the idea that sports figures are capable of mistakes like everyone else. Others would say this is why it's foolish to elevate them in the first place.
The details of the Pitino saga -- the best place is probably the Louisville Courier-Journal's comprehensive report -- read like a bad soap opera. Infedeilty. Extorsion. Rape. It's bewildering and sobering at the same time. And as the case progresses, it'll become even more so.

Questions now surround Pitino's future.

Does he remain at Louisville (he recently signed an extension through the 2013 season)? And if so, can he still recruit? How does he handle prospective players and their parents? Will outraged fans, onlookers and the media attention become too much? If he does leave, can he really start somewhere new?

After all, this case will follow him for the rest of his career, and his life.

A head shaker.

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Baseball Helmets: Safety vs. Helmets [J. Mark English]

As athletes progress, so do safety features in sports equipment. Unfortunately sometimes the safe enhances in the technology of equipment does not always look appealing to athletes. The New York Times' David Waldstein examines this issue:

Three weeks after absorbing the potentially deadly impact of a 93-mile-per-hour fastball on his batting helmet, Edgar Gonzalez still feels dizzy whenever he lies down. Because of the lingering effects of a concussion, Gonzalez, a second baseman for the San Diego Padres, has not played since that experience. When he finally returns, it may be with the newest protective device that could one day come to define the look of a major league batter.

Rawlings is about to introduce its newest batting helmet, the S100, a bulkier but far more protective helmet that can withstand the impact of a 100-m.p.h. fastball, according to Rawlings and an independent testing organization. Most other models, when hit flush by a ball, are compromised at speeds in excess of 70 m.p.h.

As helpful as the new helmet may be, there is resistance to it from some major league players who are not prepared to sacrifice comfort and style for added protection. Gonzalez is not among them. “After this happened to me, I would wear anything,” he said. “I don’t care how goofy it is, as long as it could help protect me.”

Gonzalez and others who choose to wear the new model could become pioneers like Ron Santo, one of the first to wear a batting helmet with an earflap, or Jacques Plante, the first hockey goalie to wear a face mask on a regular basis.

Major league players are a fearless and traditional bunch, and for many any kind of change, even for the sake of safety, is anathema.

“No, I am absolutely not wearing that,” Mets right fielder Jeff Francoeur said with a laugh after seeing a prototype, as if he were being asked to put a pumpkin on his head. “I could care less what they say, I’m not wearing it. There’s got to be a way to have a more protective helmet without all that padding. It’s brutal. We’re going to look like a bunch of clowns out there.”

Among a small, informal sampling of players, several said they would likely stick with their current model, even though the S100 has been proven more effective in independent laboratory testing. In the eyes of some major league players, it’s just too bulky, too heavy and too geeky-looking.

“I want a helmet that’s comfortable,” Athletics infielder Nomar Garciaparra said, “and that doesn’t look bad.”

Yankee first baseman Mark Teixeira said the new helmet would make him feel as if he were wearing a football helmet in the batter’s box.

“The one I’ve used for my entire career is fine,” he said.

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Rick Pitino = Bad Boy [J. Mark English]

Rick Pitino, the great college basketball coach at Louisville, has admitted to paying for an abortion to cover up an 'affair'. The Los Angeles Times breaks down the scandal:

The Courier-Journal of Louisville says he told police he had sex with Karen Sypher in 2003. She has pleaded not guilty to charges of trying to extort up to $10 million from the basketball coach.
Staff and Wire Reports

Louisville men's basketball Coach Rick Pitino told police he had sex and paid for an abortion for the woman accused of trying to extort him for $10 million, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

The Courier-Journal of Louisville reported on its website that Pitino told police he had been drinking in a Louisville restaurant and had sex with Karen Sypher in August 2003. The police report said he denied allegations by Sypher that he raped her after the restaurant closed and at another time somewhere else. He said later he gave her $3,000 for an abortion.

Sypher went to police to report the rape allegations last month. A Kentucky prosecutor said the complaint she filed with a police sex-offense unit wouldn't be prosecuted because it lacked supporting evidence.

Sypher has pleaded not guilty to federal charges of trying to extort up to $10 million from Pitino and lying to the FBI.

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Merlyn Mantle, widow of Yankee icon Mickey Mantle, succumbs to Alzheimer's disease at age 77 [NY Daily News]

This is by Michael Obnerauer of the New York Daily News:

Merlyn Mantle, the widow of Mickey Mantle who was by turns the adoring, troubled and stoic partner in a 43-year marriage to the Yankee icon, died Monday in a hospice in Plano, Tex. She was 77.

The cause of death was the effects of Alzheimer's disease, the Yankees said in a statement. Merlyn Mantle had made a home in Dallas, just south of Plano, for 51 years.

Merlyn and Mickey, high school sweethearts, were married on Dec. 23, 1951, following Mickey's rookie season with the Yankees and two years after what Merlyn later described in a memoir as love at first sight. When they met, Mickey was a student at Commerce High School in Oklahoma and Merlyn a cheerleader at Commerce's archrival, Picher High.

"I developed an instant crush on Mickey Mantle, and by our second or third date, I was in love with him and always would be," Merlyn wrote in a 1996 book, "A Hero All His Life," that she co-authored with sons David and Danny Mantle, along with the writer Mickey Herskowitz.

But the couple's 43-year marriage did not fit the fairy tale that their two-year courtship did. Mickey, Merlyn, Danny, David and son Mickey Jr. all waged their separate battles with alcoholism, with the four men being treated at various times at the Betty Ford Clinic and Merlyn finding help in Alcoholics Anonymous. After Mickey's retirement following the 1968 season, his habits for partying and womanizing became well-known until he came to public grips with them before his death from cancer on Aug. 13, 1995, in Dallas.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Eunice Kennedy Shriver Dies at 88 [J. Mark English]

Friday, August 07, 2009

College Football Preseason Rankings [J. Mark English]

2009 preseason poll

Team (1st Place Votes)
2008 record
Final 2008 Rank
Florida (53)
Texas (4)
Boise State
North Carolina
Notre Dame
Oregon State

Others Recieving Votes (2008 Recrods)
Kansas (8-5) 138; Michigan State (9-4) 136; Texas Tech (11-2) 114; Cincinnati (11-3) 90; Pittsburgh (9-4) 64; West Virginia (9-4) 55; Rutgers (8-5) 51; Miami (Fla.) (7-6) 46; Missouri (10-4) 44; Illinois (5-7) 38; Clemson (7-6) 30; South Carolina (7-6) 18; UCLA (4-8) 14; Auburn (5-7) 12; Nevada (7-6) 11; South Florida (8-5) 11; Kentucky (7-6) 9; North Carolina State (6-7) 7; Arkansas (5-7) 6; Wisconsin (7-6) 6; Northwestern (9-4) 5; Southern Mississippi (7-6) 4; Wake Forest (8-5) 4; Arizona (8-5) 3; Boston College (9-5) 3; Central Michigan (8-5) 3; East Carolina (9-5) 3; Colorado (5-7) 2; Maryland (8-5) 2; Navy (8-5) 2; Tennessee (5-7) 2; Houston (8-5) 1; Michigan (3-9) 1; Minnesota (7-6) 1; Troy (8-5) 1.

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Don't Bet on Watching Football in 2011 [J. Mark English]

Peter King of Sports Illustrated survey's the upcoming union disputes of the National Football League. His dour forecasts puts a shadow on any hope of a full season come the year 2011. Here is more from King:

If I were a football fan, I'd be worried about the NFL season in 2011. That's what this tiff between the National Football league and the NFL Players Association over guaranteed benefits for the 2010 uncapped year and beyond tells me.

Should you care? Not yet. But the tone of commissioner Roger Goodell in a letter to the NFL Alumni Board of Directors this week, along with the reversal of several former players thought to be on the side of new NFLPA boss DeMaurice Smith sets a markedly different tone than the ultra-positive vibes each side has been giving in the early stages of negotiations.

And over the phone from his Washington office, Smith told me he was concerned by "a lack of progress on a new CBA'' after two meetings between owners and players.

Now, we all know a new deal between the two sides to stave off a work-stoppage in this $8-billion-a-year industry will take 52 meetings -- not two -- but for Smith to voice his frustration this early, I believe, is significant. As was his point about the NFL guaranteeing disability benefits for the 2010 season. Under the terms of the current CBA, the league has the right to reduce disability benefits from a maximum of $224,000 a year for completely disabled players, like the paralyzed former Lion, Mike Utley, to $48,000 annually.

Smith first raised this point with me recently, and the NFL immediately took umbrage with the inference that this might happen. And Wednesday, Goodell underlined that point by guaranteeing that the league would keep benefits the same in an uncapped year. Goodell also said in his letter to the alumni: "In all my conversations with DeMaurice Smith, he has never raised the subject with me. Had he done so, my answer would have been unequivocal -- there will be no reduction in pension or disability payments to retired players during 2010."

In an interview with me, Smith said: "I'm thrilled they want to step up to the plate. I wish they had done it sooner ... Why stop now? While they're at it, since they're in such a generous mood, why don't they guarantee that the coaches' benefits will stay at [2008] levels? ... I'm pleased that this happened, but our players are still preparing for a lockout.''

Smith sounded a little wounded in our conversation. He thought he had built a bridge with some of the more militant retired players, such as activist former Colt Bruce Laird. But Laird was included in the NFL Alumni letter, praising the league for its action to guarantee the benefits in an uncapped year. And in a separate interview with the Associated Press, former Viking Robert Smith said the league "was trying to break the union.'' The scare words from both sides are beginning.

Football is guaranteed for the next two seasons. But this spat between the two sides tells me two things: Roger Goodell is not going to be all touchy feely and dismissive when he thinks the league's character and intentions have been questioned. And DeMaurice Smith is not afraid to fire back when he thinks he's been shown up either. I'm not saying there's going to be no football in 2011. I'm just saying this is not a good sign.

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Decline of the Sox? Rise of the Yankees? [J. Mark English]

For the first time all season, the New York Yankees beat their rival, the Boston Redsox. The win cushioned their division lead to 3 1/2 games in the AL East. In the beginning of the season, few might have expected this reversal of fortunes. We look at a perspective of the Bosox from the Boston papers, and a perspective of the Yankees from NY papers:

Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe: Billy Traber on the mound. Kevin Youkilis in left. John Smoltz in the showers, possibly contemplating retirement.

And the Red Sox sinking like a stone in the American League East.

Not exactly what you had in mind for Boston’s big August series at the new Yankee Stadium, is it?

The Yankees presented Muhammad Ali with an award before last night’s game, and if the champ stuck around, he was probably reminded of his bloodbath victory over Ernie Terrell in the Astrodome in 1967.

Zero for 8 against their division brethren this year, the Yankees pummeled Smoltz and broke through with a 13-6 victory over the unraveling Sox.

Josh Beckett will be asked to stop the madness tonight. The Sons of Tito are 3 1/2 games behind the Bombers and only 2 1/2 ahead of Tampa Bay. Pass the brown paper bags. The Hub is on the brink of panic.

“We’re playing like [expletive] right now, that’s obvious,’’ said AL MVP Dustin Pedroia. “We’ve got to play better.’’

Clearly it’s time for Theo and the minions to Just Say No to the admirable Smoltz experiment. We’ve seen eight starts and Smoltz is 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA. The Yankees roughed him up for eight runs on nine hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings. Lefty batters went 9 for 13 against Smoltz with three walks.

It doesn’t sound as if Smoltz is going to make it easy for the brass.

“It’s correctable,’’ said the 42-year-old righty, while admitting, “Time may not be on my side if this continues.’’

Continues? That would indicate that he’s getting another start. Though the alternatives are not good (Michael Bowden?), it’s hard to imagine the Sox sending Smoltz back to the mound Tuesday at Fenway against Detroit.

“We have a lot of things to talk about,’’ said Terry Francona. “I don’t think five minutes after a game we need to come to a conclusion.’’


George Vecsey, New York Times: It was a great day for the Bronx. A Yankee fan from the borough, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, was confirmed for the Supreme Court by a 68-31 vote in the Senate. Whatever else transpired in her hometown on this day would surely be secondary.

Then, on a soft summer evening, the borough that gave the world the Bronx cheer greeted a citizen of the world, Muhammad Ali, making his first appearance in the House That Cable Built.

In his old age, and stricken with a form of Parkinson’s disease, Ali is an icon, the old divisions long forgotten by most. The fans applauded respectfully as he was driven in from the outfield in a golf cart, and Jorge Posada of the Yankees shook his hand on the outfield warning track.

As Ali walked slowly toward home plate, a few in the crowd chanted the familiar “Ah-LEE! Ah-LEE!” that used to rock boxing arenas and spontaneous street appearances by the champ in the old days.

The cheer in the new stadium was definitely not of the Bronx variety as Ali, 67, accepted something called the Six Star Diamond Award from the American Academy of Hospitality Service. Derek Jeter gave him a cap and the Yankees posed around him for a group photograph.

Then the game began. That’s right. The game. The Yankees were playing their rivals, the Red Sox, on the first visit by David Ortiz since recent revelations that he was on a list of ball players who tested positive for banned performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.

Yankee fans have been saying, Nyah, nyah, I told you so, since the news was revealed in The New York Times. Many of them had been convinced Ortiz had to be doping because of the ridges on his head, or the home runs he was suddenly smiting.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Video: Upper Deck Masterpieces Case Rip [J. Mark English]

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

High-And-Mighty ESPN Should Take It Down A Notch [Frank Deford]

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

"25 Things We Miss about Football" [J. Mark English]

Football is right around the corner. Teams have reported to camp, and pretty soon our lazy Sundays will be occupied with the rush and thrill of gridiron battles.

Sports Illustrated recently posted a list of 25 things we miss about football, that we more then likely will not see this year or anytime soon:

1. The USFL

2. Over-the-top Touchdown/Sack Dances

3. Al Davis When he was a football Genius

4. Single-Bar Facemasks

5. The College All-Stars vs. Defending Super Bowl Champions Game

6. Well-Dressed Coaches

7. College Football Games Played only on Saturday

8. The Statue of Liberty Play in the NFL

9. Old Mile High Stadium

10. Quarterbacks calling their own plays

11. Frank Broyles

12. Straight-on kickers

13. Spiked Footballs After TD's

14. Drop Kicks

15. The NFL in L.A.

16. Two-Bar Facemask

17. Tearaway Jerseys

18. Jack Buck and Hank Stram Calling CBS Radio's Monday Night Football Games

19. Stickum and Eye-Black

20. The Wishbone

21. Pete Rozelle

22. The Orange Bowl in the Orange Bowl

23. Barefoot Kickers

24. Brent Musburger Beginning a Telecast on CBS "You Are Looking Live..."

25. Aloca Presents...Fantastic Finishes

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