You know why we're here.

Mar 31, 2011

NBA Launches Probe Into Jay-Z's Visit To Kentucky Locker Room

When the news came out that Jay-Z visited the locker room of the Kentucky Wildcats after their victory over North Carolina this past Sunday, something didn't seem quite right.  The main issue is that Jay-Z is part owner of the NBA's New Jersey Nets.
The advantage Jay-Z could gain by mingling with Kentucky would be the chance to spend time around potential draft picks in order to make a better informed decision on whether to invest in them or not. The Wildcats have several potential lottery picks, including guard Brandon Knight and forward Terrence Jones.
I'm sure Jay-Z had no bad intentions by doing this.  It's that perceived conflict of interest that's the problem, and apparently the NBA agrees.
According to CBSSports.com, the NBA is investigating whether Jay-Z's presence in the Kentucky locker room is a violation of league rules prohibiting team personnel from having contact with college players before they declare for the draft. 
The NBA will need to enforce its rules, and there is precedent for a penalty from the league:
The situation is reminiscent of one that occurred four years ago involving Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge and then-Texas prospect Kevin Durant. Ainge was fined $30,000 for sitting with Durant's mother during a Big 12 tournament game before the freshman forward had declared his intent to enter the NBA draft.
In the end, Jay-Z may get a similar fine, which he'll probably be able to pay with pocket change.   

With the East regional final of the NCAA tournament being played in the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, which happens to be the home of the Nets, it's fair to say that Jay-Z had a right to be in the building.  According to the NY Post, Jay-Z's visit is not a violation of NCAA rules.  As long as someone looked into it and found nothing wrong, I'm satisfied for now. 

Jay-Z's visit to Kentucky's locker room may violate NBA rules [The Dagger]

Mar 30, 2011

Get Free Minnesota Timberwolves Tickets With Cans Of Veggies

How bad is the state of affairs for the Minnesota Timberwolves?  So bad that they're giving tickets away with canned veggiesSeriously.

At Cub Foods grocery stores, the sign reads:
FREE Timberwolves tickets from Butter Kernel!
Purchase four (4) cans of Butter Kernel vegetables and receive two (2) free Timberwolves tickets.
According to the sign, you can get 4 cans of delicious corn, green beans or sweet peas for only 3 dollars (with your Price Club card, of course).  And as everyone knows, nothing represents Timberwolves basketball like canned veggies.  Yummy.

Today is the last day of the promotion, so make sure to get yours now! 

Buy some canned vegetables, get free Timberwolves tickets [Ball Don't Lie]

Texas State Championship Hockey Game Overshadowed By Ugly Brawl

This was not the way that you would want a championship game in any sport to be remembered.  Keller High School should be celebrating their Silver League state title after defeating Arlington Martin 9-3 on Sunday afternoon.  Unfortunately, the attention is being focused on the brawl that occured in the final seconds of the game, and rightfully so, because it got ugly. 

Video is available in Puck Daddy's coverage of the incident.  The Dallas Morning News also provides some insightful commentary

The worst parts of the brawl can be seen in the first 7 seconds of the video:
Martin senior Jeff SoRelle, who had been in the penalty box when the fight started, is then seen skating full speed into view and launching himself into Keller’s Travis Hall.  
As SoRelle skates slowly away, he is leveled by a blindside hit from Keller’s Braxton Mills. Mills had been off the ice, in the spectator area, because of a penalty but returned to the ice during the brawl. In one video, he appears to leave the ice while launching into SoRelle, apparently hitting him in the head.  SoRelle was sent sprawling to the ice as officials and others rushed in to break up the brawl.
David Ambler, the commissioner of the AT&T Metroplex High School Hockey League, said he was told that SoRelle suffered a concussion and a broken jaw.
Interestingly enough, the video also shows another Keller player turning an Arlington Martin player upside-down and pile-driving him into the ice.  Pretty nasty stuff.  
The AT&T Metroplex High School Hockey League suspends a player for three games for fighting, but this was the last game for SoRelle and Mills, so both seniors will be suspended from all USA Hockey-sanctioned events in the future, [league commissioner] Ambler said. Keller coach Knute Anderson said Mills has been suspended from anything involving Keller Hockey.
Players are getting bigger, faster and stronger all the time.  Some hits can not be avoided and are part of the game, but there needs to be measures taken to discourage fights like this one.  Otherwise, you will have more incidents like this one that take away from the enjoyment of the game and turn people off.

High-school hockey brawl tarnishes Texas title game [Puck Daddy]
Keller-Arlington Martin hockey state final brawl hospitalizes player... [Dallas Morning News]

Mar 29, 2011

I See Dead People...at Colombian Football Matches

This is one of those stories that you can't make up, and pretty much speaks for itself.  Some people are just passionate about their soccer (or football)...but some Colombians are taking it to another level.
Soccer fanatics brought the body of a murdered teenager into a stadium in Colombia's Norte de Santander department.
The body of 17-year-old Christopher Jacome was brought in a coffin to the General Santander Stadium in Cucuta, the capital of Norte de Santander, during the Sunday match between Cucuta Deportivo and Envigado.
The boy, a loyal fan of Cucuta who belonged to the fan group "Barra del Indio" -- a group known in Colombia for their aggressive antics at soccer matches -- was shot several times Saturday while playing soccer in a local park.
After his wake, friends from "Barra del Indio" took the cadaver from the funeral home and paraded it around and then into the stadium in an attempt to pay homage to the slain soccer fan.
The medic for the soccer club, Julio Rivera, told the press, "They don't let in the "barras" (fanatics) but yes, a cadaver. This is the only part of the world where this has happened."
Yes, the only place where this has happened so far.  Who's to say this won't be the start of a trend?
The event has generated controversy in Cucuta and stadium officials will hold a meeting to find out who permitted the entry of the cadaver and what punishment will be given.
That might be a good idea.  Aside from the criminal aspect of stealing a body from the funeral home, there could have been some potential injuries if the coffin was mishandled while being carried around the stadium, as well as some health code violations.  They will also have to add some text to signs outside the stadium saying "No coffins allowed".
[Local police official] Colonel [Alvaro] Pico said they have identified some individuals who took the body from the funeral home.

If these guys are as passionate about their soccer as they seem, then banning these guys from attending any future matches may be punishment enough.

Thanks to Dirty Tackle for "digging up" this one. (sorry, couldn't resist).

Friends bring murdered teen to soccer match [Colombia Reports]
Colombian fans took a dead body to football match [Dirty Tackle]

Mar 28, 2011

Jay-Z Visits Kentucky Locker Room After Their Victory Over North Carolina

Kentucky guard Darius Miller couldn't wait to post a photo of his meeting with Jay-Z after the team clinched a berth in this year's NCAA Final Four:

Jay-Z in Kentucky locker room after Sunday's victory.

As exciting as this was for the team, there are some concerns here.  Nothing against Jay-Z, as I would be as excited to meet him as anyone else.  However, we know that he is partial owner of the NBA's New Jersey Nets.  We also know that a few of the Kentucky freshman players are most likely "one-and-done", and will most likely declare themselves eligible for the NBA draft once this tournament run is over.  So, was Jay-Z just being nice, or was he getting up close and personal with the Kentucky players to see who the Nets may draft in June?  Wouldn't that be a potential violation or conflict of interest?  Should the NCAA be taking a closer look at this?

Hopefully there is no funny business going on, but nothing would surprise me given coach John Calipari's track record.  For those of you excited about Kentucky's Final Four appearance, remember that John Calipari also led UMass and Memphis to the Final Four, and those appearances were later vacated due to NCAA violations.  Let's hope Coach Cal doesn't go 3 for 3.

UPDATE 3/31/11:  Apparently this is not an NCAA violation.  However, the NBA does have rules prohibiting team personnel from having contact with college players before they declare for the NBA draft, and they have launched a probe into Jay-Z's visit

Jay-Z visits the Kentucky locker room after Sunday's victory [The Dagger]

Mar 26, 2011

Will NCAA Allow Butler To Bring Their Bulldog Mascot To Houston For Final Four?

As you may also know, Butler was banned from bringing their bulldog mascot, Blue II, to Washington D.C. for their first two games of the NCAA tournament and to New Orleans for the Sweet 16.  Now that Butler just knocked off Florida 74-71 in OT to clinch their second straight Final Four appearance, will Blue II be allowed to Houston for the final rounds of the tournament?
“We granted an exception for the Final Four last year, and suspect we would do so again in a similar situation,” NCAA spokesman David Worlock said in an e-mail.
This message was sent out before this year's tournament started, so Worlock probably wasn't expecting that this issue would come up again this year.  It looks like the NCAA will need to have a meeting soon to discuss this.  We'll be waiting for the official word, but I'll be willing to bet that Blue II will be there.

UPDATE 3/27/11:  It's official:  Blue II has sent out the word via his Twitter account that he will be in Houston for the Final Four this weekend.

Florida Everblades "Go Green" With Special Hockey Jerseys

Tonight is your last chance to watch the ECHL's Florida Everblades play in their special commemorative jerseys as part of their promotion for Go Green Week.  The jerseys were already worn during Wednesday's and Friday's home games and will be auctioned off after tonight's game.  Looks like they could be in high demand, because everybody know that nothing represents the toughness of hockey like jerseys with blue sky, white clouds and green grass.

But wait, the hockey uniform ensemble wouldn't be complete without the matching socks.  So pretty.  The only things missing are rainbows and unicorns.

Seriously, they could have been worse.  Check out what the Alaska Aces did for Valentine's Day.

Pass or Fail:  Florida Everblades' happy sunshine "Go Green" jerseys [Puck Daddy]

Face Punching Is Not Considered Defense In Youth Soccer

This one goes out as a lesson for the kids at home.  Youth soccer is supposed to be a way for kids to learn how to play the game and have fun.  One of the important lessons that kids should come away with is sportsmanship.  However, it takes some kids longer to learn this lesson than others, as illustrated by this clip offering by Dirty Tackle:
...this clip starts out nice enough. The kid in green takes the ball off the kid in red with ease. And just when it appears green is about to pass the ball -- BAM! -- the kid in red hauls off and punches him the face from behind.
We understand that kids are going to make mistakes along the way while growing up.  However, if a grown up does this, they end up in jail with an assault charge.  Hopefully the parents and coaches involved used this incident as a teachable moment as to what is considered inappropriate behavior on a soccer field (or anywhere else for that matter).  At a minimum, this "kid in red" should have received a red card and immediately been ejected from the game, and maybe the kid's parents made him apologize to the other kid before grounding him.       

We don't know this kid's name or where this game took place, so we can't follow up on what happened afterwards.  That may be a good thing, because if he was identified, this kid would become one of those Youtube celebrities that would never live down their embarrassing moments.  So that can be considered another lesson learned, as you never know who has a cell phone camera nearby.   

Little kid uses face-punchy defensive technique [Dirty Tackle]

Mar 24, 2011

Serena Williams' New Video Game Commercial Too Hot For TV

2K Sports has Serena Williams as one of the stars on the cover of its latest tennis game for the Nintendo Wii called Top Spin 4.  They probably thought that using Serena Williams and her good looks in a TV commercial to sell the game would be a good idea.  However, they may have gotten a little more than they bargained for, as 2K Sports ended up rejecting the ad for being too sexy. 
In a commercial lasting less than 60 seconds, [Serena] Williams – clad in a black leotard and stockings – is deemed "the world's sexiest tennis player" before she faces off against actress Rileah Vanderbilt, who is dressed in a similarly revealing outfit and called "the world's sexiest tennis gamer."
The video is cut with clips from the actual game, as if the two women were playing each other. But combined with grunting sounds that are more commonly heard in the bedroom than on the tennis court, the hotness factor goes up several levels.
"You realize this is a fantasy right?" Williams says at the end.
Those of you at home can judge for yourself with the video here.  (Note that the link may break from time to time once a copy of the commercial gets removed from Youtube, but we try and find a new one to get it working again).

It seems clear that although the game itself is rated "E" for everyone, the ad for the game is most definitely not.  I certainly wouldn't consider this ad appropriate for my kids.  Thumbs up to 2K Sports for rejecting the ad.   

I've never heard of Rileah Vanderbilt before (in the commercial she looks like a Katy Perry clone), which is probably why she's doing this commercial.  She obviously couldn't wait for the publicity so she went ahead and uploaded the commercial to Youtube and tweeted a link to it.  That may not have been the smartest move to make:
"As part of the process for creating marketing campaigns to support our titles, we pursue a variety of creative avenues," 2K Sports said in a statement. "This video is not part of the title's final marketing campaign and its distribution was unauthorized."
So it looks like Rileah Vanderbilt may be facing some legal issues in the near future. 

As for Serena Williams, it seems she may already be acknowledging that this was a mistake:
On Monday, Williams herself told her fans to "Stay tuned for a awesomely sexy video I am tweeting later," but, interestingly enough, she hasn't mentioned it since then.
Serena may want to have a discussion with her publicist.  There's a time and place to promote the "sexy" image, but this certainly wasn't one of them.

Serena Williams' Top Spin 4 Wii game commercial deemed too sexy for TV [NY Daily News]

Mar 23, 2011

NFL Owners Enact Rule To Keep Fields Green: Will The NCAA Follow Suit?

A lot of discussion is being made around the NFL rule change that moves kickoffs back to the 35-yard line from the 30-yard line for the upcoming season (if it happens).  However, another rule that the NFL passed yesterday has nothing to do with play on the field, but the field itself. 

NFL teams must have their field color approved by the league and it has to be a shade of green.  This doesn't affect any teams currently, but effectively prevents a team from changing the color of a field to match the color of their jerseys, similar to what Boise State is doing in the college ranks with the bright blue field. 

I'm glad to see that the NFL is being proactive on this, and personally I think the time has come to ban the colored fields from the college ranks as well.  I hate the bright blue Boise State field as it seems like a cheap gimmick.  The fact that the NCAA has allowed Boise State to use the blue field effectively encourages other schools to do it, and the bright red field that Eastern Washington now has shows that this is becoming a disturbing trend that must be stopped.  Otherwise, we can only imagine what colored fields are coming down the pike.  Purple?  Black?  Yellow?  Will some school may take it to the next level by creating a rainbow of different colors on the field between each set of 5-yard markers?

There also needs to be a similar rule for NCAA basketball courts.  For a perfect example of what we are talking about, look at the University of Oregon's multi-colored hardwood floor (be forewarned - this could hurt your eyes).  

The NCAA tends to be slow when it comes to making rule changes.  Maybe the television networks can push the NCAA to ban the color changes on basketball courts and football fields before it goes too far.  Otherwise, there may be a series of lawsuits coming down the road from vision-damaged viewers.

NFL Owners Enact 'Boise State Rule':  Field Must Be Shade Of Green [SBNation]

Mar 22, 2011

Spanish Goal Celebration Fail Leads To Player Taken Out On Stretcher

Here's a perfect example of how football players (or soccer players in America) should NOT celebrate a teammate scoring a goal:
Racing Club de Ferrol's Rafa Casanova took a shot to the eye from his own teammate during a group hug to celebrate a goal in their Spanish fourth division match. It was a pretty hearty blow right to the eye from an oblivious late-comer to the celebration and it sent Casanova to the ground.
Even stranger is the fact that Casanova had to be taken off on a stretcher.
Watch video of the funny, and yet embarrassing, "goal celebration fail" here, courtesy of Dirty Tackle.

Casanova's toughness may also have to be questioned after this incident.  After looking at the video numerous times, you can't help but wonder:  A stretcher?  Really?  I can understand temporarily blurred vision may cause you to go to the ground to regroup, but he couldn't get back up after that?

The NFL has penalties for excessive celebrations after touchdowns.  Maybe Spanish football has to do the same - to protect the players from hurting themselves.

Goal celebration ends with player getting stretchered off [Dirty Tackle]

New York Jets Owner Woody Johnson Hit By Car While Riding Bike

Not many details are known about the accident involving New York Jets owner Woody Johnson, who was apparently clipped by a car while riding a bike in Florida a couple of weeks ago.  It seems news of the accident only broke in most media circles yesterday as he showed up to the annual NFL league meetings in New Orleans on crutches and with his left ankle in a boot.
Johnson, who arrived in New Orleans on crutches and with his left ankle in a boot, had surgery on March 11, according to sources.
"I just got nicked by a car," Johnson said. "I wasn't wearing a helmet and all that stuff. You are supposed to do all that stuff. I didn't hit my head or anything. I broke my ankle."
Johnson added that he was riding a rental bike in Palm Beach and that his injuries were not serious.
Johnson declined to describe the accident, but added, "A driver is not supposed to hit bikes. Anyway, that's the way it went down."
Interesting that something like this can happen to an NFL owner and no one knows about it, especially with the current lockout situation and so much media coverage around it.  Would be interesting to see if some details come out later regarding Woody Johnson's accident, but so far Palm Beach police have no comment. 

Jets' Woody broke ankle in bike accident [NY Daily News]

Mar 20, 2011

Bad Fan Behavior: Greek Football Fans Throw Flares At Players

It goes without saying that throwing things at the field in sporting events is bad fan behavior.  Hovever, Greek football fans seem to be taking this to a whole new level by throwing flares at players. 
In the 58th minute of the match [between PAOK and AEK Athens during the Greek Cup semifinal second leg match], which PAOK lost 1-0, AEK goalkeeper Sebastian Saja took a direct hit by a flare thrown from behind his goal. Not only did it give him an unwanted shock, but it burned a nasty hole in the side of his shirt.
I won't even ask how the fan managed to sneak that through the stadium gates.  Seems like a major security lapse to me.  But wait, there's more, according to Reuters:
Then, with barely a minute remaining, dozens of PAOK fans invaded the pitch and started clashing with riot police. TV cameras were also attacked as AEK players and the referee ran off the pitch.
Play was suspended for 20 minutes before the referee returned to blow the final whistle. No stoppage time was played.
The incident was the fifth pitch invasion of a season plagued by violence inside and outside Greek stadiums.
I don't know what's going on over there, but someone may want to step up and start addressing this issue.

AEK Athens goalkeeper hit with flare [Dirty Tackle]

Mar 19, 2011

Does Bruce Pearl Keep His Job After Embarrassing Loss In NCAA Tournament?

The halftime score was Michigan 33, Tennessee 29.  Based on the final score, I think it's safe to say that Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl's halftime speech didn't exactly inspire his team.  Losing by 30 points to Michigan in the second round of the NCAA tournament doesn't bode well for Pearl's future.

Things were so bad that Michigan became the first team ever to win an NCAA tournament game without hitting a free throw.  Ouch.

Freshman Tobias Harris offered some insightful comments after the game:
"We just didn't play with heart out there," Harris said. "Michigan came out and made shots and we just did a terrible job of trying to cover them. On the offensive end, we rushed too many shots. Basically, just quit."
When you have a player coming out and admitting that the team quit and didn't play with any heart, that responsibility falls on the head coach.  It makes it more difficult to argue that Bruce Pearl should keep his job.  After this stinker, I think it's just a matter of time before the other shoe drops.

Michigan catches fire to start second half in rout of Tennessee [AP via ESPN]

San Diego Reporter Nearly Gets Run Over By SUV During Live TV Report On Aztecs Victory

Ben Higgins is the sports director at KGTV-10, the ABC affiliate in San Diego.  He is currently covering the San Diego State University (SDSU) Aztecs in Tuscon, Arizona for their NCAA tournament run.  He was probably excited to cover the big story of SDSU winning their first-ever NCAA tournament game Thursday night.  However, Higgins probably never expected that he would himself become the big story of the day.

In the first 20 seconds of Ben's live report after the game, you can see a white Chevy SUV backing up towards the camera.  As it gets close, Higgins pauses for a brief instant as he hears some noise behind him but has no idea what is coming.  Credit goes to an alert camera operator for stepping in and giving a couple of loud taps on the back of the SUV to get it to stop, probably saving Higgins from serious injury.  Higgins realizes a second later what just happened and then jumps away with a surprised "Oh!", then the crew quickly cuts to pre-taped footage of the SDSU victory.

After the footage airs, Higgins calmly jokes "Back live here at Tuscon, just barely..." and wraps up his report.  The San Diego anchorwoman captures the seriousness of the situation, claiming "you probably could have heard me screaming your name all the way from San Diego to Arizona".  That gives Higgins an opportunity to give credit to his camera operator for saving him from certain injury.

Watch video of the the full live segment from KGTV via Youtube here.

Interestingly, you can probably read the license plate of the white SUV if you look closely enough.  Since the driver was backing up, you would think that they would have to be looking behind them to make sure they wouldn't hit anything.  So if anyone out there knows who was driving that SUV, ask him what he was doing, where he was going and how he didn't see Higgins and his camera crew standing there

TV reporter almost gets run over during report on San Diego State [The Dagger]

Mar 18, 2011

2012 Olympics Encounter Some Early Hiccups

Some glitches occured this week in preparations for the 2012 Olympics in London:
  • On Tuesday, the Olympic clock was unveiled in Trafalgar Square in a spectacular ceremony, starting the countdown at 500 days until the opening ceremony.  However, less than 24 hours later, the clock stopped, leaving embarrassed technicians at Swiss watchmaker Omega scrambling to fix it.  
  • Tickets went on sale Tuesday for the 2012 Olympic events, and Visa is the exclusive credit card of the 2012 Olympics.  However, a glitch in the system prevented people whose debit or credit cards expire before August of this year from completing the purchase of their tickets.  Visa claims that the problem has now been fixed

Hopefully this is not a sign of things to come.  Fortunately London still has over a year to prepare. 

2012 ticket sell-off fails to start with a bang [The Independent]

Mar 17, 2011

Chad Ochocinco's Soccer Tryout: For Real?

This is happening, according to Sporting KC web site:
Sporting Kansas City has invited National Football League star Chad Ochocinco to Kansas City next week for a four-day tryout with the Major League Soccer club. Following the tryout, set to begin on Wednesday, Sporting Kansas City will determine whether to extend the trial period.
It's good that he's looking for alternative ways to pay his bills, as the NFL lockout situation may not be resolved for a while.  Besides, he needs to earn some money to pay for the clothes he bought from that store in Cincinnati:
Municipal Court Judge Bernie Bouchard signed an order for Ochocinco to pay Amm One, also known as Exclusive Wear, in the 2700 block of Vine Street $11,717.39 for the clothes.
“My clients informed me they had given him ample opportunity to pay it and he didn’t,” Joseph Honerlaw, attorney for the clothing company, said Tuesday.
I guess the reality TV show just wasn't meeting expectations.

UPDATE 3/23/11:  Chad Ochocinco's tryout has begun, and you can sign up for live coverage of his tryout at sporting85.com

Chad Ochocinco to tryout with Sporting KC [Sporting KC]
Judge orders Chad Ochocinco to pay for clothes [Shutdown Corner]

Early Exit For Kevin O'Neill, USC in NCAA Tournament

Now that USC's season has ended after last night's 59-46 loss to Virginia Commonwealth in the first round of the NCAA tournament, it should be interesting to see if there are any further ramifications from last week's suspension of head coach Kevin O'Neill following an altercation with an Arizona booster in a Los Angeles hotel last week
USC athletic director Pat Haden said he supported basketball coach Kevin O'Neill "150 percent," but added he intended to discuss in the future whether or not O'Neill has an issue with alcohol.
"I'm not a professional but it's something we have to talk about," Haden said. "We're going to talk about it. I'm not saying he has a drinking problem. These last eight months I haven't seen any indication there is.  We'll talk about his behavior because there is a perception he was drinking that evening."
Haden said after USC's 59-46 loss to Virginia Commonwealth that O'Neill would return next season. O'Neill was asked after the game if he were interested in the now-vacant Oklahoma job?
"I've got a great job," [O'Neill] said. "I'm where I want to be. I expect to be at USC for a long time."
Pat Haden has had enough work to do trying to clean up the USC football program.  Now he has to deal with this.

Haden plans to address O'Neill about drinking [Long Beach Press-Telegram]

Mar 16, 2011

Butler's Bulldog Mascot Banned From Opening Rounds of NCAA Tournament

The NCAA tournament runner-ups from last season, Butler, will have to open this year's tournament at the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., without their faithful bulldog mascot, known as Blue II.
“We granted an exception for the Final Four last year, and suspect we would do so again in a similar situation,” NCAA spokesman David Worlock said in an e-mail. “But in preliminary rounds, given the limited space, tight turnaround at venues with multiple sessions, etc., the rule is no live animals may enter the building.  This was specifically communicated to Butler last season.”
Georgetown, which will host the first- and second-round games at the [Verizon Center]...asked the NCAA to allow Blue II to attend the game...given that they also have a live bulldog mascot prominently featured at home games. The request was turned down.
Butler's opponent in their first round matchup is Old Dominion.  No word yet if the ODU mascot, the smiling lion called "Big Blue", will be in the building.  However, I would think that ODU's mascot would have to be watched more closely than Blue II would need to be, after Big Blue attempted a Lebron James baby powder toss before the CAA championship game.  Hopefully he would be kept far enough away from the court this time to cause any hazards to the players or any delays to the game.

Butler's bulldog, Blue II, banned from NCAA tournament [The Dagger]

Doug Gottlieb's Bad Day At The Office, Live On ESPN

Many of us have had a day at the office that we'd rather forget.  Unfortunately for ESPN college basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb, his bad day was captured live on camera and will live forever on Youtube.  This all happened in the span of a single minute on camera:
  • Doug apparently hits the wrong spot on the touchscreen, causing the bracket to disappear and the Sportscenter "SC" logo to appear...sideways. 
  • When discussing how his NCAA Final Four predictions will play out, he has touch screen trouble again and accidentally selects Florida to play in the title game, when he really intends to pick Kansas.
  • After he gets his Kansas pick straightened out, his cell phone starts ringing...and he can't shut it off fast enough.  Host David Lloyd has to take Gottlieb's phone away from him so Doug can finish the segment. 
The solutions going forward are obvious:  more practice time with the touch screen, and turn off the cell phone (or at least put it on vibrate mode - they all have that these days, don't they?)

The longest minute of ESPN analyst Doug Gottlieb's career [The Dagger]

Mar 15, 2011

Denver Nuggets Commit Latest NBA Jersey Foul With Wilson "Chanlder"

By now you may have heard of the latest NBA jersey foul which took place last night.  The unfortunate victim was Wilson Chandler, who recently joined the Denver Nuggets as part of the Carmelo Anthony deal.  The last name on the back of his jersey had the "l" and "d" backwards, resulting in "Chanlder".  This must have been fixed at halftime, as the Denver Post reported that his jersey had the correct spelling in the third quarter, and coincidentally shot 5-for-6 with four 3-pointers in the quarter. 

Something still doesn't add up, though.  Wilson Chandler was traded to the Nuggets on February 22nd.  Since then, the Nuggets have played 9 games, and Monday night's game against the New Orleans Hornets was their 5th road game since the trade.  I think it's safe to assume that they spelled his name right on the road jerseys that they wore for the previous 4 road games.

In that case, I would certainly be curious how the Denver Nuggets equipment manager, Sparky Gonzales, would explain this, as presumably this would fall under his responsibility.  How did they manage to misspell the name on Wilson Chandler's jersey last night?  Were these different jerseys than the prior road games?  Do they have to re-apply the letters on the jerseys before each game?  Are they only wearing their jerseys once now before throwing them away?  This seems very strange to me.  Let's hope Spakry, oops, Sparky has learned from this (and give him credit for fixing it before the game ended).  

Wilson "Chanlder" becomes NBA's latest jersey foul victim [The Dagger]

NFLPA: Are They A Union Or Not?

So to recap yesterday's events:  
The NFL Players Association is putting into place a plan that would prevent each top college prospect from attending next month's draft in New York, according to multiple league sources. The NFLPA already has contacted 17 top prospects who ordinarily would have received an invitation to attend the draft and informed them not to go.
However, after a lot of negative publicity, the NFLPA toned down their stance a bit:
Later Monday, a source said the edict is a recommendation, not an explicit order not to attend the draft. The source said the union plans to give the prospects the "same experience down the street."

Here's my take on this:  On Friday the NFLPA announced that they had decertified as a union.  That means that technically they no longer exist.  So who is telling these top prospects that they can't attend to the NFL draft?  Sounds like the union still exists.  It seems like the NFLPA trying to have their cake and eat it too at the expense of these college kids who don't belong to the union yet. 

I understand why they decertified legally, as that gives them grounds to fight for the injunction against the owners' lockout.  However, this attempt by the NFLPA to strong-arm the top college prospects gives the NFL owners ammunition to prove that the NFLPA decertification is a sham, not to mention the negative publicity it brings upon itself with this petty move. 

If the NFLPA wants to put up a good fight against the owners, it needs to play its cards better than this. 

Source:  NFLPA wants draft boycott [ESPN]

Could Peyton Manning Become A Free Agent?

 The scenario may not be as impossible as it may seem, as we wait for a federal judge to make a decision on the NFLPA's request for a preliminary injunction to stop the lockout by the NFL owners:
It will take several weeks before federal judge David Doty, who has made several crucial rulings in favor of the players and is expected to preside over the case, makes a decision in Minneapolis...It is anticipated Doty will grant the injunction. The NFL will immediately appeal to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis.  It could take days or weeks to get a decision.
So, in the time between the injunction stopping the lockout and a ruling on the appeal, the NFL is expected to be back in business with a new league year starting and the beginning of free agency. [Peyton] Manning, who has played 13 years with the [Indianapolis] Colts but never been an unrestricted free agent, was among 14 players designated with the franchise tag in February.
NFLPA outside counsel Jim Quinn said yesterday that the tags can't be enforced and have no effect. "Null and void," he told the Daily News.  There is no union and no collective bargaining agreement and presumably no franchise tags.
It will be up to the league to impose new free agency rules and perhaps up to Doty to rule whether franchise tags are legit...Quinn said the franchise tags will be challenged. If the players win, Manning would be an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career.
Peyton Manning to the Jets?  It could happen...   [NY Daily News]

Fennville's Inspirational Playoff Run Comes To An End

In the Class C regional semifinal last night, Fennville lost to Schoolcraft 86-62, ending their season.  Wes Leonard's parents broke their silence yesterday, thanking everyone for their support.
"You won't get over it, but you've got to get through it," Jocelyn Leonard told the AP after she and her husband visited Fennville's locker room. "We couldn't get through it without everybody helping us."

Tourney run ends for grieving Fennville [AP via ESPN]

Mar 13, 2011

USC Reinstates O'Neill After Altercation, Suspension

It looks like Kevin O'Neill's job as head basketball coach at USC is safe...for now.  After suspending O'Neill on Friday, USC athletic director Pat Haden reinstated O'Neill as head basketball coach on Sunday.
"Effective immediately, I am reinstating Kevin O'Neill as our men's basketball head coach," Haden said in a statement. "Coach O'Neill and I have talked numerous times these past few days. He has continued to express his regret and embarrassment over the incident that led to his suspension from any remaining games of the Pac-10 Conference Tournament...Further, he understands that he let them down as their role model and leader. He has apologized to his team, as well as to me, our administration, our fans and the Pac-10."
"I'm excited to be back coaching the Trojans and I am looking forward to the postseason," O'Neill said. "This is a special team and we have shown that we can compete with anyone in the country.
"But I temper my excitement of being reinstated with the realization that I made a serious error in judgment the other night. The disciplinary measures that Pat Haden took, including the suspension, were absolutely the right call. My wife, Roberta, and I are both very apologetic for the embarrassment we caused the Trojan Family. We vow to move forward in a positive manner."
UPDATE 3/14/11:  O'Neill has to get his team regrouped pretty quickly.  USC managed to receive one of the last at-large bids in the NCAA tournament, as they will play Virginia Commonwealth (VCU) on Wednesday for the #11 slot in the Southwest regional

USC reinstates Kevin O'Neill [ESPNLosAngeles.com]

Mar 11, 2011

Fennville Wins District Final, Heads To Regionals Next

The inspirational story of Fennville High School's basketball team continues with another victory tonight:
 Fennville won for the third time since the on-court death of star player Wes Leonard, rallying past Covert, 51-48, in a Class C district final tonight in Grand Rapids.  Fennville erased a 10-point deficit to improve to a perfect 23-0.
Next, it's off to regionals, where play begins on Monday.

UPDATE 3/14/11:  Fennville plays Schoolcraft in the Class C regional semifinal in Vicksburg.  Capacity is about 3,500, similar to DeVos Fieldhouse in Holland, where Fennville played their 3 district playoff games.

Grieving Blackhawks rally to win district final [Detroit Free Press]

What Did USC Coach Kevin O'Neill Do To Get Himself Suspended?

The news broke today that USC has suspended head basketball coach Kevin O'Neill for the remainder of the Pac-10 tournament in light of his involvement in a verbal altercation with Arizona booster Paul Weitman in a Los Angeles hotel lobby Thursday night.  
[Weitman] is a longtime friend of Lute Olson, which is noteworthy because of the rift between O'Neill and the legendary Wildcats coach. O'Neill had been told before a year-long stint as interim coach that Arizona would name him head coach afterward, but the Wildcats instead let him go following the 2007-08 season and made preparations for Olson's return.
On the surface, this seemed like a harsh punishment for a simple verbal altercation, so the first question I had was obvious:  What exactly did O'Neill say?  Or was there something more to this?

Well, an Arizona basketball news site called PointGuardU claims to have reliable sources which paint a much darker picture of the incident, although their reports to this point are unconfirmed:
Kevin O’Neill went on a drunken tirade along with his wife after beating Cal yesterday. In fact, he didn’t even change his suit and went straight to the JW Marriott lobby bar.
PointGuardU’s sources have indicated that USC head coach Kevin O’Neill and his wife were drunkenly escorted away from their hotel after getting into verbal and physical altercations with Arizona fans on Thursday night.
O’Neill and his wife were in a hotel lobby of the JW Marriott and visibly intoxicated when they exchanged words with a group of Arizona fans. O’Neill reportedly threatened the fan that USC was going to “beat the hell out of Arizona.” Words were exchanged and our sources say that O’Neill’s wife struck one of the Arizona fans. O’Neill and his wife were escorted out of the hotel, and Arizona fans were left wondering what just happened.
The fan was [Arizona] booster Paul Weitman and they ran into each other at the elevators...Apparently KO’s wife, Roberta, started the melee by roughing up Wetiman with one of her rings. KO then got involved and when hotel security intervened the things got even uglier.
Chaos and confusion ensued. The craziness of what occurred led to a scuffle between O’Neill and Arizona fans.
PointGuardU shows a picture of O'Neill with a drink in his hand, posing with an Arizona fan.  It would seem at the time the picture was taken, he was probably in a better mood than he is right now.

According to ESPNLosAngeles, O'Neill denies there was a fight but "acknowledged the altercation grew heated, comparing it to an argument between a baseball manager and an umpire."  He knew immediately that he had done something wrong.  
"I feel like I've let my team down, which is the worst feeling you can have is a coach," he said.
Perhaps even worse, he has put his wife in the middle of a contentious crossfire.
"It's hard to see anybody you love being criticized," he said. "It's unfortunate that her name is even involved at all. We do everything together. We go everywhere together. She's very supportive of everything I do and our team and our players."
And to top everything off, USC lost to Arizona last night, 67-62.

UPDATE 3/13/11:  Kevin O'Neill reinstated as USC basketball coach by athletic director Pat Haden.

USC suspends Kevin O'Neill [ESPN]
Kevin O'Neill repentant after incident [ESPNLosAngeles]

Mar 10, 2011

More Details From Miguel Cabrera's DUI Arrest Become Public

Yesterday the Florida state attorney's office released disturbing new details about Detroit Tigers star Miguel Cabrera's DUI arrest last month.  The documents accuse Cabrera of threatening a restaurant manager shortly before his arrest:
About half an hour before Cabrera's disabled 2005 black Land Rover was spotted by police, the manager of a bar in Fort Pierce, Fla., had had an altercation with the Tigers slugger, the police report said.
Cabrera reportedly walked into Cowboys Bar-B-Q & Steak Co. as it was closing and was asked to leave, the report said.  Cabrera ignored management's request, and when he was asked to leave again, he said: "You don't know me. I will kill you. I know all of you, and I will kill all of you and blow this place up."
Another witness at the bar, an off-duty wildlife officer, said Cabrera told him "he had a gun in his bag for us."   The police reports do not indicate Cabrera had a gun.
The new information doesn't change anything going forward, as we know Cabrera needs help and hopefully he will get it.  However, it does offer a little insight into how bad things could have been. 

Miguel Cabrera not on travel roster [ESPN]

KC Royals Off The Hook, Fan Injured by Mascot's Hot Dog Toss Loses Case

A ruling was made yesterday that may set a precedent for future lawsuits against careless mascot behavior.  Let's review the background of the case:
During a game in Sept. of 2009, John Coomer, a [Kansas City] Royals fan, was struck in the face with a hot dog hurled by Sluggerrr, the Royals’ mascot. Sluggerrr had been firing weiners into the crowd with the cannon ...but then began tossing them manually.
See Youtube video of his regular routine during Royals games, which takes place in various parts of the stadium.  No, I did not forget to use spellcheck.  The Royals mascot does have 3 Rs at the end of his name, but that's beside the point.  It's when he started tossing the hot dogs by hand that things apparently got, pardon the pun, out of hand:
Coomer says Slugger tried to throw a hot dog behind his back. Instead of sailing out of Slugger’s hand, the suit says, “Slugger lost control of his throw, or was reckless with his throw, and threw the hot dog directly into him”. Coomer claims he was sitting just a few feet from Slugger when he was hit in his left eye by the hot dog.
The suit [against the KC Royals] said Coomer suffered a detatched retina and developed a cataract in the injured eye, and that he expects to have future medical expenses because of the injury.  Coomer's suit cited negligence and battery, and asked for more than $25,000 in damages. 
Unfortunately there is no video of this particular incident (that we know of, anyway).  As for the defense:
The Royals argued Coomer, who was seeking $25,000 in damages, should have taken more responsibility for his own protection at the game in September 2009.
Byron Shores, the man inside the Sluggerrr suit between February 1996 and October 2009, told the court Wednesday that he had no recollection of the incident and was only made aware of the accusation against him when he was dismissed by the Royals, although the club said he was dismissed for something unrelated.
Seems like an interesting coincidence how Shores was dismissed shortly after the incident occurred, but that's neither here nor there. 

Anyway, long story short, the jury in the case sided with the Kansas City Royals, as they ruled yesterday that the team will not have to pay damages to Coomer.  Apparently the Royals were successfully able to argue that Coomer should have been paying attention to Sluggerrr while he was performing his routine in order to take adequate precautions.  Since Coomer claimed to have attended 175 Royals games, he could not claim that he was unfamiliar with Sluggerrr's routine and therefore unprepared to get accidentally hit with a hot dog.

No word if this protects the individuals in the mascot suits, such as Byron Shores in this case.  However, it would appear that the professional sports teams themselves, or the colleges and universities who have the mascots at their games, are off the hook.  So it looks like Vanderbilt won't have to worry about that fan who got the bloody nose while "Mr. C" was crowd surfing, and Old Dominion won't have to worry about VCU's Ed Nixon suing for slipping on the court after "Big Blue" threw baby powder all over it.

And, of course, Sluggerrr has free reign to toss (or shoot) those hot dogs around at will.  Royals fans, watch out!

Inherit the mascot:  KC Royals mascot, Sluggerrr, on trial today for hot dog assault [NBCSports]
Judge:  Royals not at fault for fan mishap [FOXSports]

Big East Refs Fall Asleep, Rutgers Gets Jobbed Against St. John's

You know when the commissioner of the Big East has to make a statement about the officiating after the game, the refs must have performed terribly:
"The Big East Conference acknowledges that two separate officiating errors occurred at the conclusion of the St. John's vs. Rutgers game," [Big East commissioner John Marinatto] said. "Both missed violations should have caused the game clock to stop and a change of possession to occur prior to the end of the game. Neither error is reviewable or correctable under NCAA playing rules."
It's clear to see Justin Brownlee took multiple steps with the ball without dribbling, amounting to a travelling violation, and stepped out of bounds with 1.7 seconds left, which should have stopped the clock.  If the thousands of fans, commentators, and viewers around the country saw it, it's difficult to see how the three referees failed to see it.

It's more unfair that an obvious error like this one can't be corrected.  There was more than two hours before the next Big East tournament game was scheduled to start, so it would have been easy enough to get the teams and officials out of the locker room to replay the last 1.7 seconds.

On top of that, Brownlee threw the basketball into the crowd, which could have been a technical foul.  Aside from the fact that someone could have gotten seriously hurt if they got hit in the head, it was only a couple of weeks ago that a male cheerleader for Louisville threw the ball in the air with half a second left in the game.  The refs called a technical foul, gave Pitt two free throws, and they had an attempt to tie the game with a desparation heave.   

Overall, this missed call may not make a difference in the grand scheme of things.  There's no way to say that Rutgers would have made a basket if they had another shot.  Also, Rutgers was not going to make the NCAA tournament unless they won the Big East tournament, requiring them to win 3 more games, which would have been extremely unlikely.  However, it's a shame that the Rutgers seniors have their careers end like this.

Ref head:  St. John's end "unacceptable" [ESPN]

UPDATE 3/10/11:  The three officials from yesterday's Rutgers-St. John's game have voluntarily withdrawn from the rest of the Big East Tournament.

Fennville Wins In Blowout, Plays In District Final Friday

The Fennville High Blackhawks basketball team continued their inspired play in the Michigan high school state tournament by beating Bangor High 79-50 in a district semifinal game.  Ultimately the result of this game should not be that surprising, as Fennville had already beaten Bangor three times this season.  However, this win would certainly be the most meaningful after the passing of Fennville's star player, Wes Leonard, just a week ago.

They move on to play Friday night in the district final against Covert High.  That game will be played at DeVos Fieldhouse in Holland, the same site as Fennville's last two district playoff games.

Fennville has blowout win over Bangor day after funeral for teammate Wes Leonard [MLive]

Mar 9, 2011

George Washington University Professor Honored At Halftime, Tossed For Heckling Referee

A part-time professor at George Washington University, Robert Kasmir, was honored during the first half of Saturday's regular-season finale for donating between $10,000 and $24,999 to the university.  He came out onto the court with his family to accept the recognition, and he had front row seats for the game.  Apparently this wasn't enough attention for Kasmir, as he decided to heckle a referee from his seat after a foul call in the second half:
“Basically, I told the ref he was the worst ref I’d ever seen and he wasn’t worth the $1,600 dollars they were paying him and that was it,” Kasmir said. “And then he ejected me from the game.”
Kasmir didn't leave his seat right away, so the game had to be delayed an extra minute or two while members of the GW athletic department removed him from the front row.   [Watch video of the incident here]
Associate Sports Information Director Brad Bower said Kasmir was ejected for violating the NCAA and Atlantic 10 Sportsmanship Statement
"Profanity, racial or sexist comments, or other intimidating actions directed at officials, student-athletes, coaches or teams will not be tolerated and are grounds for removal from the site of competition,” the statement reads.
There's no denying that Kasmir violated this code, and he deserved to be ejected.  Certainly this is no way for a fan to behave under any circumstances, but for someone who is honored during the game to behave this way?  Seems like a publicity stunt, if you ask me.  Does he have a book coming out soon?  Or a reality show?  

I like how he's being led out by the athletic department representatives and then turns to the crowd and puts both hands in the air like he just won a game or something.  Worst of all, one of the family members with him was a young boy.  What kind of example does this set for him?  How does it look for GW to have this man representing the university?  Come on people, have some respect and some dignity.

Professor honored at halftime tossed from game for heckling [Yahoo! Sports]
Professor, donor tossed from basketball game [GW Hatchet]

Baby Powder Stunt By Old Dominion Mascot Goes Awry

In this week's edition of mascots behaving badly, we have Old Dominion University:
Before tipoff of Monday night's Colonial Athletic Association title game between Old Dominion and Virginia Commonwealth, Monarchs mascot "Big Blue" did a LeBron-esque powder toss underneath one of the baskets. Unfortunately, the baby powder on the court created a slick enough surface that referees stopped play after VCU's Ed Nixon slipped on a layup attempt in the opening two minutes and careened into a baseline sign board.
Everyone from ball boys to suit-and-tie-clad tournament officials spent nearly 10 minutes wiping that portion of the floor with mops and hand towels. Only after referees and players from both teams tested the floor did play finally resume.
VCU coach Shaka Smart was still incensed after his team's 70-65 loss by the "five-point swing" he believed Nixon's botched layup caused. Since referees didn't stop play until after the sequence was over, Old Dominion capitalized on Nixon's fall with a transition 3-pointer from guard Ben Finney.
Not sure why the ODU mascot felt the need to imitate LeBron James - was he planning on changing a diaper?

First Vanderbilt's mascot gives a fan a bloody nose, and now a player nearly gets injured by a mascot's carelessness.  It's a bit of a disturbing trend, and eventually it's going to end up with a lawsuit, and then mascots will be banned for good.  Please, try to be careful and use common sense.

How Old Dominion's Mascot Delayed Monday's CAA title game [Yahoo! Sports]

Mar 7, 2011

Fennville High School Will Continue Playing, Opposing Team Agrees To Give Up Home Court

A follow-up story on Thursday's tragedy at Fennville High School, after their star player, Wes Leonard, collapsed and died on the court after scoring the game winning basket
According to the Associated Press and Detroit News, the Fennville team practiced on Saturday and officials from the school and team met with the Leonard family before deciding to play Monday's game. Additionally, with the cooperation of Lawrence (Mich.) High -- Fennville's playoff opponent -- the teams will play at Hope College's basketball arena, capacity 3,300, to allow more fans to attend the game.
While Hope College will technically be a neutral venue, it lies in Holland, Mich., which is the closest large town to Fennville. Yet despite the fact that Lawrence held a home court advantage, it will now travel more than an hour to the site of the game, whereas Fennville will have to drive less than 30 minutes to the postseason opener. The Tigers willfully handed over their home court advantage to help make it easier for Fennville to play ... and to allow more of the school's grieving fans to be there when the team takes the court for the first time without Leonard.
Hats off to Lawrence High School for a very classy move.  As far as Fennville High, the basketball team deserves praise for showing courage in representing their fallen teammate.

Michigan team to play days after star dies on court [Yahoo! Sports]

UPDATE 3/8/11:  Fennville High beats Lawrence 65-54, advances to next round.  [Yahoo! Sports]
UPDATE 3/10/11:  Fennville beats Bangor, 79-50, advances to district final against Covert.

Mar 5, 2011

Bobby Knight Gets One Past Censors on ESPN's College Gameday

Usually the network censors have the bleep button handy when Bobby Knight is around, but it looks like they were asleep during his appearance on ESPN's College Gameday this morning at Baylor.
The mishap, which you probably can't call much of a slip of the tongue for Knight, came while he and Digger Phelps were 'coaching' against each other during a drill on handling situations at the end of a game.
The Baylor basketball team was practicing on the court in front of the Gameday analysts and a few hundred students.  Although the footage used by Yahoo! Sports doesn't show exactly what Knight was referring to, he uses a term to describe Phelps' defense - a word that rhymes with hissy-fit.
Rece Davis, Jay Bilas and Hubert Davis served as the refs, and even though Davis apologized on air for Knight's choice language, the guys were clearly entertained at the incident — both on camera and on Twitter.
It's tough to ask someone like Bobby Knight to tone down the language, but it does make for good television.  For adults, anyway.

Bob Knight drops a verbal bomb on ESPN's College Gameday [Yahoo! Sports]

Jose Canseco Starring In New Season Of "Celebrity Apprentice", Season Premiere Tomorrow

The season premiere of the new season of "Celebrity Apprentice" starts this Sunday, March 6th, on NBC.  This is only mentioned here because one of the 16 candidates is retired baseball star Jose Canseco.

The premiere episode has the candidates broken into two teams, men vs. women, who have to run separate Manhattan pizza places to see which team makes the most money.  This footage was shot this past October, and Jose Canseco was making pies with former music David Cassidy and Mark McGrath.

Ironically, it was reported a few days later in the New York Post that Canseco had to make an emergency call to the dentist after he broke off a front tooth on a slice of pizza.  No word as to whether this incident was connected to this specific competition of "Celebrity Apprentice", or whether it was caught on film and may be included in one of the upcoming episodes.

Pizza busts Jose Canseco's tooth [NY Post]

Mar 4, 2011

Michigan High School Player Dies After Making Game-Winning Shot To Cap Perfect Regular Season

From Fennville, Michigan, a celebration on the court after a high school basketball team completes their regular season with a perfect record takes an unbelievably tragic twist:
Holland Hospital spokeswoman Deb Patterson said 16-year-old Fennville High School junior Wes Leonard died Thursday night. A cause of death has not yet been determined.
According to Patterson, paramedics were performing CPR on Leonard at the time of his arrival at the hospital. He was pronounced dead nearly 90 minutes later.
Leonard had scored the game-winning layup in a 57-55 win over Bridgman in overtime to cap Fennville's 20-0 season. Leonard fell to the ground after teammates and fans rushed the court.
Leonard scored more than 1,000 points in his three seasons at Fenville, which is about 200 miles west of Detroit. According to the Grand Rapids Press, Leonard also was the quarterback of the school's football team and led the Blackhawks to the second of the state playoffs. In October, he threw seven touchdown passes in a game.
Fennville is scheduled to begin the state tournament on Monday in Lawrence, Michigan, although what will happen next from a basketball standpoint would seem to be rather insignificant given the circumstances.

UPDATE:  Cause of death was cardiac arrest due to an enlarged heart.   [ABC News]
UPDATE 3/7/11:  Fennville will play Monday's game as scheduled.  The opposing team, Lawrence High, has agreed to give up home court and play at neutral site closer to Fennville to allow more of their fans to attend the game.
UPDATE 3/8/11:  Fennville beats Lawrence 65-54, advances to next round [Yahoo! Sports] 
UPDATE 3/10/11:  Fennville beats Bangor 79-50, advances to district final against Covert

Fennville basketball star Wes Leonard dies after hitting game-winning shot [Grand Rapids Press]
 Player collapsed on court after layup [ESPN]

Mar 3, 2011

JaMarcus Russell's Mansion Facing Foreclosure

You would have figured that with the $60 million contract that JaMarcus Russell signed with the Oakland Raiders when he was the #1 overall draft pick in 2007, he would have enough pocket change laying around to make the monthly mortgage payments, even though his NFL career has imploded and he is currently unemployed.  Sadly, that does not seem to be the case. 
According to documents obtained by TMZ -- foreclosure proceedings have begun on the former #1 overall draft pick's house ... after he allegedly failed to pay $195,512.05 in mortgage payments.
Now, if the unemployed QB doesn't cough up the cash in the next 3 months, the bank will put the home on the auction block.
JaMarcus Russell -- Oakland Mansion In Foreclosure [TMZ]

Mar 2, 2011

Jets Linebacker Bart Scott "Can't Wait" For His Wrestling Debut With Hulk Hogan

Tonight (March 3rd), New York Jets linebacker Bart Scott will cash in on his notoriety by appearing with wrestling superstar Hulk Hogan on Spike TV's "TNA Impact"
Scott, who likely won't do much physically to avoid risking injury, should feel right at home since he grew up watching professional wrestling and counts Hogan as his inspiration for trash-talking. Scott has long been one of the biggest talkers in the NFL and his postgame rant with ESPN's Sal Paolantonio following the Jets' 28-21 victory over the Patriots in the AFC divisional showdown became an instant YouTube classic.
After Scott chided those who allegedly disrespected the Jets, Paolantonio congratulated the linebacker and said, "See you in Pittsburgh."
Scott then barked the infamous words "Can't wait!"
ESPNNewYork's Ian O'Connor writes about Hogan's impression with Bart Scott's rant:
"It was like one of my mid-'80s promos, and all that was missing were a few 'What are you gonna dos?' and some lightning bolts in there," the 57-year-old Hogan, now with TNA Wrestling, told ESPNNewYork.com. "It was right on the money. I think it's cool that [Scott] is stepping up and showboating it a bit, because it's about personality and entertaining people, too.
"I could tell Bart had been watching wrestling, and it's pretty cool because a lot of these guys are afraid to step outside the box. ... Sometimes when you say stuff you believe it and it happens."
UPDATE 3/3/11:  A preview of Bart Scott's appearance was posted on Youtube, as it was apparently taped last week.  Here's a link to it

Bart Scott can't wait to appear with Hulk Hogan [ESPN Page 2]
Scott's trash-talking hero?  Hulk Hogan [ESPNNewYork.com]

Coco Crisp Arrested For Suspicion Of DUI

Oakland A's outfielder Coco Crisp was arrested early Wednesday morning in Scottsdale, Arizona, on suspicion of drunk driving.  Not the best way to start spring training.  On top of that, a little bit of irony:
Major league security officials met with the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday and delivered their annual spring lecture to the players on the pitfalls of their profession. One of the subjects discussed was the danger of drinking and driving.
No word if this incident has any connection to Crisp's batting practice session with Charlie Sheen at UCLA last month.

When asked for their thoughts, Captain Crunch and Count Chocula had no comment.

Coco Crisp arrested for DUI offense [AP via ESPN]

UPDATE: Luis Moreno Suspended 2 Games, Fined $650 For Kicking Owl

That's it.  A two-game suspension and a $650 for Luis Moreno after kicking the owl during the Colombian soccer match.  Of course, you can't put a price on the infamy and scorn that Moreno is feeling and will continue to feel for quite some time after this incident.
Moreno, who lives in the Colombian city of Pereira, has been the target of insults and newspaper editorials condemning his behavior.
"I have received threats," he said Wednesday without offering details.
Luis Moreno suspended for kicking owl [AP via ESPN]

Is Ben Roethlisberger Getting Married This Summer?

In further evidence that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is cleaning up his image, TMZ has posted a picture of a "save the date" card for his upcoming wedding.  Yes, folks, it looks as though Ben Roethlisberger will be getting married this July.  It's safe to say he won't be spending any more time at the college bars.

Ben Roethlisberger Wedding - A Summer Affair [TMZ]

London 2012 Mascots Star In New Video To Promote Next Olympics

While Russia has just selected their mascots for the 2014 Winter Olympics, London has had their mascots in place for the 2012 Summer Olympics for quite a few months now.  They seem to be a ripoff of the character Muno from the children's show "Yo Gabba Gabba".  

Granted that the mascots are probably designed to appeal to children in order to sell merchandise, but it's almost as if they tried to come up with the most generic mascots possible so as not to offend anyone. It reminds me of the TV show "Community", where Greendale Community College designed their "human being" mascot as a faceless, colorless, genderless character.   

London's Olympic mascots still terrifying [Yahoo! Sports]

Mar 1, 2011

Los Angeles Clippers Celebrate Black History Month - In MARCH?

Normally, you wouldn't think twice about the nice gesture by the Los Angeles Clippers to admit 1,000 underprivileged children to attend tomorrow night's game in honor of Black History Month.  That is, until you think about it and realize, like everyone else, that Black History Month is February, and we are now in the month of March. 

The full-page ad that team owner Donald Sterling placed in this Sunday's Los Angeles Times is a public relations disaster.  Not only are the Clippers celebrating Black History Month in the wrong month, but Donald Sterling decided to put his own face in the ad, next to his star player, Blake Griffin.  You have to wonder what is going through this guy's head.

Clippers Celebrate Black History Month - In Wrong Month [Huffington Post]

How Will Luis Moreno Be Punished Now That He Can Officially Be Called An Owl Killer?

First Michael Vick, now this:
An injured owl that was kicked off the field by a player during a match between Colombian soccer clubs has died from shock.
Veterinarian Camilo Tapia said the owl went into shock Tuesday after it was taken in for treatment two days earlier.
The owl landed near the corner of the field on Sunday during a match in Barranquilla between home club Atletico Junior and Deportivo Pereira. Pereira defender Luis Moreno walked over and kicked the owl about three meters (yards) to get it off the field.
There is video of the incident going around the Internet.  I won't provide a link to one of them because it's tough to watch, and we certainly don't endorse that kind of behavior here.  Luis Moreno did apologize after the attack:
“I want to apologize to the fans,” Moreno said after the game, a 2-1 victory by Atletico Junior. “I was not trying to hurt the owl. I did it to see if it would fly. What I wanted to do was get it off the field. The kick was a product of tension on the field at the time.”
It's tough to accept the apology after viewing the video, as it looked like Moreno treated the owl like it was the game ball.  Could it have been too much to ask to pause the game so that someone could gently get the owl off the field?

UPDATE 3/2/11:  The fine came down today:  Two game suspension, $650 fine.

Owl kicked by Luis Moreno dies [AP via ESPN]
Mascot owl in Colombia goes into shock and dies [AP via Yahoo! Sports]

Mascots Chosen For 2014 Winter Olympics, Amid Some Controversy

The 3 mascots chosen to represent Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are:  a snowboarding leopard, a bunny, and "an earnest, slightly dorky" polar bear with a scarf.  They would seem to be safe choices that will appeal to kids. 

Earlier in the month, one of the mascot choices was Ded Morez, the Russian version of Santa Claus, and he was actually one of the favorites to be selected.  However, on Saturday he was withdrawn from the list of choices because the mascot would become property of the International Olympic Committee.  Did it really take it this long to figure out that using Santa as the Olympic mascot might be a conflict of interest?

The snow leopard finished with the most votes at 28 percent.  It seemed that prime minister Vladimir Putin likely had some influence in the final voting tally, according to the AP:
In a nationally televised meeting with students hours before the mascot vote, Putin said he favored the big cat because "the leopard is big, strong, fast and beautiful. ... If the Olympic project restores at least one segment of nature that was lost due to human activities, it will be symbolic."
The polar bear, which seems to be the safest choice, may be the one causing the most controversy.  Viktor Chizhikov, the man who designed the mascot to the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow, seems to think that this bear is a direct copy of his.  "This polar bear, everything is taken from mine, the eyes, nose, mouth, smile," he told a Moscow radio station. "I don't like being robbed."

Here is a picture of the 1980 Olympic mascot.  Doesn't look that much alike to me.  Well, they do look similar in the fact that they're both bears, but that's about it.  I don't think he'll win this argument. 

Snow leopard, bunny, polar bear chosen [AP via ESPN.com]
Meet the dorky, controversial mascots for the 2014 Olympics [Yahoo! Sports]
discussion by