8:30 PM The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle notes that the Rochester Red Wings were the last American baseball team to play in Cuba before the U.S. embargo began in 1960. The July 25 game against the Havana Sugar Kings ended in a 3-3 tie after fans began firing weapons to celebrate Fidel Castro's revolution.
A week after the Philadelphia 76ers’ Allen Iverson announced he was leaving basketball for the rest of the season to be with his sick 4-year-old daughter, the star’s wife filed for divorce in Fulton County Superior Court.
In the divorce petition filed on Tuesday, Tawanna Iverson said her 8 ½-year-long marriage to the guard was “irretrievably broken.” In the petition, Tawanna Iverson asked for temporary and permanent custody of their five children as well as child support and alimony.Read more…
The MILWAUKEE JOURNAL-SENTINEL has the tale of a 47-year-old man (who for some reason has been unidentified) who was abandoned at the Kettle Hills Golf Course in suburban Milwaukee by a group of people he referred to as his “uncles.” And when you’re 10 beers into your day, taking the cart home seems like a great idea, even if would take you a week and a half to get there. Luckily the guy was run down by the cops in an extremely low speed chase about a mile from the course. Here’s a map of the 2009 “Tour de Beast Light”:
(In the guy’s defense, he thought he was playing “Tron”)
Originally, when the cop car blew his horn and flashed his lights at the guy, he just pulled over to the shoulder and kept right on driving, as if the only thing he was doing wrong was driving in a lane instead of the shoulder. He eventually pulled over and was charged with operating a vehicle under the influence and for blowing a stop sign on the corner of Route 167 and Route 175.
There’s no word on the whereabouts of the “uncles,” who clearly were not pleased with their nephew for some reason. It appears as if things might have gotten well out of hand before he decided to flee, as the police were called to the course before the crew even finished up their round.
Speaking of deluded men under the influence, it’s not exactly news that Sammy Sosa was juicing all those years, and still not news that Ryne Sandbergsays he doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. Personally, I think so many guys were ‘roiding it up that the now-sullied stars of the era were still the best players of their generation even if they were artificially enhanced (and pitchers were doing it too). So I’d probably be OK with guys like McGwire, Bonds, and Sosa getting into the Hall someday. But I might be changing my mind on Sosa now that Darren Rovell has discovered that Sammy had his jersey sleeves tapered so that his arms would look bigger:
Courtesy of Rovell’s article:
CNBC confirmed through a source that Sosa did indeed ask for the elastic arm tapering for at least the 2002 season. The source said that he could not remember another player that asked for this specification.
“I don’t know why it would be tapered like that other than it being a purely cosmetic change so that people could see his muscles,”said David Hunt, president of Hunt Auctions.“There doesn’t seem to be any other reason why he’d do it.”
Oh man, that’s just kinda sad. At least Bonds and Big Mac had the courtesy to just take some drugs and mash. Who knows what all Sosa was doing. We now know that he was willing to not only shoot up, but also cork bats AND make his jersey tighter. I wouldn’t be shocked if he somehow found a way to sneak some sort of springy superball into play during his at-bats.
• YOU BEEN BLINDED has video of ESPN’s fantasy guy Matthew Berry f-bombing it up in a faux-interview with a sports comedy duo called 12 ANGRY MASCOTS. He tries waaaaay too hard, but delivers a few decent lines. Not sure how ESPN feels about Berry dropping the phrase “Kosher C***block” on YouTube.
• Did you think last August that Michael Phelps was going to be rendered mostly irrelevant already, while Shawn Johnson would be the one going to every big film premiere? Here’s Shawn at the Transformers premiere:
April is the best month to be a sports fan, and last night was a classic example of why. It was a virtual buffet of scrumptious viewing options. And a really good buffet, too, like the ones you find in downtown Vegas where all the locals eat, not one of those lousy chain buffets where everything from the decor to the food is a monochrome tan color palette and seems to be from the 1970s. (I’m looking at you, Hometown Buffet.)
Case in point: Game 5 between the Celtics and the Bulls, which took an already great series into uncharted territory. With their backs to the wall and missing two of their Big Three (Kevin Garnett to injury and Ray Allen after fouling out with 5:27 left in the fourth quarter), Boston found a way to get past Chicago 106-104 in overtime. And that way was Paul Pierce, who made three straight jumpers in the final 77 seconds of OT to carry the Celtics to a 3-2 series lead.
Just how historic is this series? The two teams have set a record with three overtime games in one series - and there’s still as many as two games left to go. (And let’s be honest: anyone who isn’t a Boston fan has to want this to go to seven games.) Bob Ryan of the BOSTON GLOBE believes it’s the best No. 2 vs. No. 7 match-up in league history, and it’s pretty hard to argue the point.
Of course, there were other heroes who made the win possible for the Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins and Brad Miller. Yeah, that Brad Miller, the big, vaguely stiffish center who plays for the Bulls. Miller had a chance to send the game into a second OT when Rondo was called for a foul on Miller’s missed layup with two seconds left. But Miller clanked the first one and then failed to hit the rim while trying to miss the second one.
Meanwhile, Dwight Howard is just destroying things. Mainly the 76ers, as evidenced by his 24 point, 24 rebound performance in the Magic’s 91-78 victory to get their own 3-2 series lead. And more specifically, he destroyed the 76ers Samuel Dalembert with an elbow to the head which earned him a technical foul. Philadelphia coach Tony DiLeo has said the team has already informed the league about Howard’s foul (in hopes of getting him suspended for Game 6), but since David Stern was actually at the game, the phone call was probably unnecessary.
But like any weapon of mass destruction, Howard can be as dangerous to his allies as his enemies (think of him as the basketball version of Doctor Manhattan, except with less giant blue wang), as proven when he KO’ed Orlando starting point guard Courtney Lee, sending him out of the game and to the hospital with a likely concussion. Which means that Orlando could be very short-handed when heading back to Philadelphia for Game 6. This series is far from over.
Meanwhile, let’s turn our attention to something slightly less violent: the NHL playoffs. Unless you consider death by choking to be too graphic for your tastes. Because that’s exactly what the New Jersey Devils did in their Game 7 against the Carolina Hurricanes, finding a way to lose in regulation despite having a 3-2 lead … with 80 seconds left.
No OT needed here, just a total and complete collapse started by Jussi Jokinen’s game-tying goal at 18:40 in the 3rd period and completed with Eric Staal’s game and series-winner with 37 seconds left. And keep in mind that this all happened in New Jersey: If you want to know just how quiet a sellout crowd can be, just watch this video of the Hurricanes’ furious rally:
Finally, I guess that Major League Soccer has finally reached the big time. Sure, their attendance is lagging and their TV ratings are at XFL levels, but now they can claim to be on par with a big time league like the NBA in one capacity: a referee game-fixing scandal. The COLUMBUS DISPATCH says that MLS referee Jair Marrufo is under investigation for allegedly accepting an autographed jersey from Chicago Fire star Cuauhtemoc Blanco in the referee’s room after their 2-2 draw against the Columbus Crew on Saturday. (And a hat tip to SOCCER BY IVES for finding the original story.)
Accepting a gift from a player is a pretty awful idea if you’re an official of any sport, much less a professional official at the highest level. But when you add to this the fact that Marrufo called a controversial red card on the Crew’s Gino Padula for a foul on Blanco in the second half, and that the Fire rallied for two late goals against the man-down Columbus side for a 2-2 draw, and things get downright shady.
As someone who has covered the MLS in recent years, I don’t think Marrufo purposefully threw the match; Given the lousy quality of MLS referees (including Marrufo), I don’t think the majority of them have the wherewithal to fix a bowl of cereal, much less a match. It’s more likely the whole incident was a mix of horrible on the field and post-game judgment by an MLS referee, a shockingly common occurrence.
Speaking of people I wish would go away but haven’t quite yet: Please get ready to head to your fallout shelters until the start of the regular season. PRO FOOTBALL TALK says that the Jets have given Brett Favre his release, meaning he’s now a free agent. And Favre’s response to the news (“at this time, I am retired and have no intention of returning to football”) has me feeling very nauseous and woozy.
In case you missed it on Monday night, James Jones of the Miami Heat scored eight points in 11 seconds against the Hawks, thanks to back-to-back four point plays. And Miami still lost by about a billion points - imagine how much worse it could have been (OK, eight points worse, but still). BALL DON’T LIE has the video proof of the Reggie Miller-esque scoring outburst:
The CHATTANOOGA TIMES FREE PRESS says former Tennessee OL Cameron Mayo was arrested on charges of sexual assault. The former Volunteer was working at Dalton High in Tennessee as a substitute teacher at the time of his arrest.
In other Red Raiders news, Texas Tech’s baseball team recently had a “Turn Back The Clock” night, so UNI WATCH says their video department decided to make a retro style highlight package. Someone had a lot of fun making this, so please watch:
More fallout from the swine flu epidemic: the AP says that CONCACAF has canceled its regional beach soccer tournament scheduled to begin tomorrow in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The good news: if you’re going to be stranded somewhere because of a horrible flu outbreak, at least it’s the beach.
Michael Barner is a 9-year-old boy who suffers from a rare blood disorder. To help the young man out, over 250 friends & family members in his hometown of Vineland, New Jersey, got together to hold a benefit at a local restaurant. However, the celebration turned sour when it was discovered that someone stole one of the benefit’s top prizes.
You have to question what kind of a person would do such a thing as steal from a sick child like that. But a bigger question would be what kind of person would think an autographed photo of Willie Green would be considered such a big prize.
You had your fun, Red Sox haters, when Boston was 2-6 and looking like a mediocre mess. Now, the Sox have won 10 straight and look like the team to beat in the AL East (can Toronto really keep this up?). The Yankees found three different ways to lose to the Sox over the weekend, and were further embarrassed when Jacoby Ellsburystole home off of Andy Pettite:
Ellsbury’s theft highlighted a three-run fifth inning that led the Red Sox to a 4-1 win on Sunday Night Baseball. It was the weekend in a nutshell for the Yankees, who are now facing mounting questions about their pitching staff, which is ruining things for an offense that’s scoring more than five runs per game (and will get better when A-Rod returns).
So, you’re the Orlando Magic, you’re down 2-1 in the series to heavy underdog Philly, and you just dumped a nine-point lead late in the fourth quarter and find yourself tied in the final seconds. You don’t want this going to OT because the Sixers have all the momentum. So now what? Clearly, it’s time for Hedo Turkoglu to just dribble around for a while and then drain a 26-footer to win it 84-81:
Just how you drew it up, right Stan?
In Houston, the Portland Trail Blazers once again had a chance to steal a game from the Rockets…and once again, gave it away late. The Rockets killed the Blazers on the offensive boards, getting two huge second chances that led to three-point daggers from Shane Battier in the final minutes. Portland still had a chance to tie it with 20 seconds remaining, but Brandon Roy was called for an offensive foul, then Travis Outlaw missed a deep three. The Rockets held on, 89-88, to take a 3-1 series lead. Houston needs just one more game to advance to the second round for the first time since 1997. And, unfortunately for Blazer fans, Tracy McGrady isn’t around to blow this one.
(How does his hair stay behind his ears all the time like that?)
In the NHL’s late game, the Hurricanes blanked the Devils 4-0 to push their series to a deciding game in Newark on Tuesday night. In related news, NHL.COM has told Kevin Smith he can’t blog about the series on their site anymore. Apparently, the NHL wants to be “family friendly” and didn’t realize they had commissioned one of the filthiest mouths anywhere to write about the series. So now, Smith has moved his playoff blog to his own site.
• The Broncos, along with all of the former AFL teams, are going to wear throwback jerseys for the first two games this season. No, not those orange ones we all remember from our youth. It’s this monstrosity that thankfully was retired after only two seasons (according to the DENVER POST, they were acquired secondhand from a defunct bowl game):
• This may not be sports-related, but lets face it, Bea Arthur was twice the man that A-Rod will ever be. So in honor of her sad demise, here’s some grainy footage of her embarrassing performance in the horrible Star Wars Holiday Special:
Time and time again, some unlucky player or team reminds us that no matter what the sport, it’s pretty much impossible to win if your two hands are clutching your throat. Today’s failboat crew: the Orlando Magic!
(If you’ve just hit the game-winning shot, you may frown at whomever you like.)
It’s not just that the Magic led through the entire second half; it’s that they led by 18 near the end of the third quarter, and Philly looked lost. But the Sixers climbed back, not with their regular cast of characters, but with guys like Lou Williams and the immortal Donyell Marshall. We’ve said for years that when you’ve got a guy that looks like Ludacris on the court, good things happen. Philly’s first lead of the second half came with just 2.2 seconds to go, when Andre Iguodala worked free from Hedo Turkoglu for a split second, just long enough to drain a long jumper in his face.
#3 Orlando Dwight Hasn’t Figured Out a Costume Change to Make Him a Point Guard, Toos vs. #6 Philadelphia So Glad We’re Paying Elton Brand $18 Million in 2012-2013s
#4 Atlanta Name Three Players vs. #5 Miami Name Twos
#1 Los Angeles Kobe Clubs Baby Seals with Portuguese Water Dogs Wrapped in Veals vs. #8 Utah Deron Williams Falls Asleep Every Night Clutching a Copy of His Tear-Stained Contract After Failing to Find an Out Clauses
#2 Denver You’ve Got to Be Kiddings vs. #7 New Orleans Seriously, Aren’t These in the Wrong Orders
#3 San Antonio Flashbacks vs. #6 Dallas Hey, At Least We Haven’t Traded for Shaq Yets (Note: the above series has been moved to CBS and the Hallmark Channel as per FCC regulations around programming for the elderly.)
As always, it’s the gift you didn’t even have to ask for. Or didn’t want to.
Major League Baseball tried yet again yesterday to provide another round of gifts to Jackie Robinson, who has been feted nearly as often as Frank Sinatra since his death. Yesterday, every player in baseball wore number 42 in his honor to avoid the embarrassment of 42 wearer infighting last year.
Ian Kinsler followed up on this attempt with his own success: 6-6 at the plate with a cycle attached. If the opposing team last night (the Orioles) happened to be your sleeper team this year, you may want to check just how deep that sleep is.
Speaking of deep sleep, former Illinois governor (and current Illinois chew toy) Rod Blagojevich apparently didn’t feel it necessary to stop at meddling with the affairs of Tribune Co. when he didn’t get his way. He also sent a note to Cubs manager Lou Piniella to recommend a lineup change in 2007.
S’funny; we don’t remember Blago being so receptive to a lineup change at the state level earlier this year. Perhaps he isn’t a big fan of having his moves micromanaged by impotent whiners who never held the position dictating his actions from afar when they’ve never been in the trenches, y’know?
Kobe Bryantand Elmo beatboxing. Look… to misquote David Mamet, that’s why they call it ‘video’:
Congratulations on playing all 82 games this season, Grant Hill. Also, congratulations on getting your wife, Tamia, a spot at All-Star Weekend and various local charity events in Arizona. Strong season all ’round.
Now that the WALL STREET JOURNAL has a sports section, expect to see sabermetric notions exposed to a larger audience. That might explain why the guy in the cubicle next to you suddenly wants to talk about batting the pitcher eighth.