6:00 PM Tennessee Volunteers football coach Butch Jones said that freshman RB Jalen Hurd will play in the Taxslayer Bowl despite being cited for underage drinking on December 3: "We've handled that internally and we'll continue to handle that. That's a few weeks old. It's just like raising your children."
Stephen A. Smith of Fox Sports reported this morning on the Dan Patrick Show that it’s “highly likely” that Chris Bosh and LeBron James will soon join Dwyane Wade in Miami.
Smith to Dan Patrick on Monday:
I got a call last night from a source and I double-checked it with another and they told me essentially that LeBron James and Chris Bosh are going to tag team and go together and join Dwyane Wade in Miami.Read more…
Let’s be honest, it hasn’t been a good couple years for Stephen A. Smith. His talk show cratered. He’s off ESPN. And the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER basically pushed him out the door. We could call it a repudiation of the loud mouth as a media technique, but that’s not true; he’s just been replaced by other loud mouths.
(Hope you didn’t clean out his desk, Inquirer.)
But of all the career moves he’s undergone, the Inquirer’s was the weirdest. He’d been demoted, then unceremoniously dumped. Something seemed off about it, that there was more to the story. But as it turns out, there wasn’t more - and that’s a big problem for the newspaper.
Back in April of 1996, Minnesota Twins manager Tom Kelly said of Mariano Rivera: “That guy, he should be in a higher league. Ban him from baseball. He should be illegal.” At the time, Rivera had zero Major League saves and the Mets and Yankees had never played each other in a game that counted. Last night, Mo earned his 500th career save in a 4-2 win over the Mets, and it will be just as memorable for what he did at the plate than what he did on the mound.
Rivera came in to pitch in the 8th inning last night with the Yankees clinging to a 3-2 lead and Met runner in scoring position. After striking out Omir Santos, the Yankee lineup ended up getting to Rivera’s spot in the order. And Mo did something he had never ever done in his Major League career — reach base. Not only that, he earned an RBI for his bases-loaded walk by Francisco Rodriguez.
Earlier in the inning, the Yankees had engaged in some shenangians, sending Francisco Cervelli to the on-deck circle for Rivera when Derek Jeter was up with runners on 2nd and 3rd with 2 outs. This led to maybe the only time in history in which Steve Phillips and Joe Morgan have made tons of sense. There’s no way Rivera’s coming out of the game, with the Yankees leading 3-2, yet Jerry Manuel initially chose to have K-Rod pitch to Jeter with a base open. Knowing, mind you, that there was a 0% chance that Joe Girardi would lift Rivera for a pinch-hitter. Morgan and Phillips stopped just short of calling Manuel a moron for throwing Jeter a strike on the first pitch. After two balls out of the zone, the Mets finally gave Jeter the free pass. Rivera, of course, strolled to the plate, and was promptly walked (after he fought off a tough 2-2 pitch).
Rivera is still #2 all-time in saves to Trevor Hoffman, but will go down in history as the best closer ever because of his ridiculous 0.77 ERA (in 117+ innings) and 34 saves in the postseason. Plus, he’s now the only closer in MLB history with 500 saves who has been walked by another pitcher (Hoffman has no walks in 35 plate appearances).
It’s only fitting that the Mets were instrumental in all of this, as they keep finding new and interesting ways to fail against their cross-town rivals.
1) Shortstop Stephen Drew lobbed a perfect strike to first baseman Mark Reynolds on a routine grounder. And Reynolds dropped the ball. Just dropped it. It was so bad, it actively looked like he was either trying to drop the ball or had never played baseball in his life.
2) Maicer Izturis lined a shot directly to right fielder Justin Upton. This ball also had the gall to hit Upton right in the glove, and he too made a complete mess out of it, as it bounded away from him and rolled to the wall.
3) The next batter, Bobby Abreu hit a ground ball directly at second baseman Felipe Lopez, who fielded the ball and threw him out. Unfortunately, the ball Lopez fielded was imaginary and the actual ball was somewhere in right-center.
This disaster came just one day after Arizona played a bunt by Erick Aybar into a t-ball home run (courtesy of two throwing errors on the same play). Is it any wonder the D-Backs are 30-46? Weren’t they one of the rising teams in baseball a couple of years ago?
And everything was looking really great for the U.S., which came back from near-certain elimination in the group stage of the Confederations Cup to shock Spain in the semis and take a 2-0 halftime lead over Brazil in the final. And while the Americans deserved the early lead, the Brazilians were clearly the better team over the course of 90 minutes, outshooting the U.S. 31-9. It was only a matter of time before they found the back of the net, and they beat Tim Howard three times in the second half to take the title.
The NEW YORK TIMES says that U.S. soccer narrowly missed a “moment” it needed to gain the sport traction in this country again. While the run to the 2002 World Cup quarterfinals was gripping, the games were played in the middle of the night and the Americans came up short in the one game everyone finally tuned into (the quarterfinal loss to Germany). Likewise, most casual fans missed the huge win over Spain on Wednesday, but were glued to the screen as Brazil stormed back to crush our dreams once again on Sunday.
Still, the U.S. soccer program is in better shape now than it has ever been, but if the sport is really going to take the next step in this country (if that can actually ever happen), they can’t afford to have a weak showing on the return trip to South Africa next summer.
• The single-A California League is known as the place where pitchers’ ERAs go to die. This is especially true in the wind-blown desert of Victorville, where the High Desert Mavericks scored 18 runs last night in a home game against the Lake Elsinore Storm. Oh, and they lost by 15 runs.
You read that right. The Storm scored 22 runs in the first five innings, then added 11 more in the last two, and beat High Desert 33-18. The game lasted 4 hours and 10 minutes and was played in 100-degree heat. There were 10 home runs hit, and Lake Elsinore’s starting pitcher gave up 11 runs and would’ve earned the win if his manager hadn’t lifted him with 2 outs in the fifth inning and his team leading by 11 runs. Lake Elsinore picked up 32 hits while the Mavericks had 26. Two of those hits were by outfielder James McOwen, a lightly-regarded prospect who extended his hitting streak to a league-record 36 games.
• TNT’s play-by-play man for NASCAR was suspended from yesterday’s broadcast for a “loud and public confrontation” that took place at his hotel the other night. Nobody in the booth mentioned their missing colleague, Bill Weber.
• BLACK VOICES says Serena Williams is writing a TV pilot inspired by both “Sex and the City” and “Family Guy.” Just to warn you, Serena, the Sarah Jessica Parker-looks-like-a-horse joke is kind of a tired bit now.
• Scottish star Andy Murray is drawing record crowds to see him play at Wimbledon this year, and he’s up against Stanislas Wawrinka in the fourth round today. And if you tune in, you might want to keep your eyes peeled for Murray’s girlfriend, Kim Sears:
You’re probably familiar with Mark Titus, the Ohio State basketball walk-on whose CLUB TRILLION blog has made him something of a cult celebrity, mainly because it’s an honest and frequently painfully funny look at life on the end of the bench for a major college program. You might remember back in January when there was a big flap about NCAA violations regarding T-shirts he was selling on his blog, which turned out to be a non-issue.
But now Titus has managed raise the ire of a group with even less of a sense of humor than the NCAA: THE DAGGER says after being asked by the NBA to stop blogging about the draft because they feared he “was making a mockery of the process,” the league has now informed him (through Ohio State’s Director of Basketball Operations) that he needs to remove his name from the NBA Draft entirely…”or else”. He’s not sure what the that means, but speculates he might be forced to star in an NBA Catalog video like Larry Bird in 1987:
In Rick Reilly’s last ESPN column (unofficially titled “Hangin’ with Mr. BryantJust After Elmo“), Reilly dropped a tidbit about Kobe’s life to give us a taste of the man behind the marketing campaign: “He’s taken up golf. Played Pelican Hill the other day with Bobby Plump, the inspiration for the Jimmy Chitwood character in ‘Hoosiers.’ Forgot to ask why.”
If you go to the article today, though, you’ll see a different bit of tid: “He’s taken up golf. Played Pelican Hill the other day with Maris Valainis, who played Jimmy Chitwood in Hoosiers.” It would appear that Kobe’s Ferrari made too much noise, so Reilly mixed up his Chitwoods.
Keep mind that this is coming from the mouth of Smith, so take it with a grain of salt (right, Chris Bosh?), and the Rockets aren’t confirming the report. But they sure aren’t denying it either, and with Rockets owner Leslie Alexander telling the HOUSTON CHRONICLE to expect official news on McGrady later this week, it looks highly likely that T-Mac is going on the shelf for a long time.
Alexander also told the paper that McGrady is a “superstar” and that the team has no plans to trade him. Which is probably code for “we really wanted to trade him, but now that he’s damaged goods we’re stuck with him.” How much his absence will impact the Rockets is unclear - he’s either been ineffective or out of the line-up for most of the season to begin with, but losing him can’t help.
The only thing injured on Alex Rodriguez right now is his reputation, which is doing about as well as Jack from Jack in the Box. His press conference at Yankee spring training didn’t help much - I would recommend not using the phrase “I’m here to take my medicine” again any time soon - and might have got his unnamed cousin in trouble.
Rodriguez claims that his cousin brought something called “boli” from the Dominican Republic, which the USA TODAY says usually refers to the steroids Dianabol or Deca-Durabolin. And now a DEA agent is ominously warning that “those who violate drug laws are always at risk of arrest and prosecution.” We don’t know who this cousin is yet - although BIG LEAGUE STEW has a list of candidates - but I’m guessing we’ll find out soon enough.
In related news, the AP reports that the MLBPA has sent a memo to its players informing them how to respond to questions about the 2003 drug testing. Their recommendation: don’t respond. The memo also goes into detail about little details like why the tests weren’t destroyed, and how the union did not give advance knowledge of tests of players.
Alas, no luck last night. As the TENNESSEAN notes, with the game tied at halftime Edwards chose to interview Vanderbilt coach Kevin Stallings instead of Gillispie, telling the paper “I cut my losses.” This is, of course, the entirely wrong approach, and there should have been a producer in Edwards’ ear demanding she interview Gillispie. Not having her interview Gillispie would be like if Chuck Wepner replaced Muhammad Ali at the last minute for “The Rumble in the Jungle” - totally unacceptable.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL TALK says Texas Tech’s Board of Regents has a teleconference scheduled on Friday to discuss the status of head football coach Mike Leach, who turned down the school’s $12.7 million contract offer. But they also might be discussing AD Gerald Myers, who is clashing with Leach. Sounds like it’s time for a Loser Leaves Town cage match.
Larry Bowa hates Brad Penny with the type of white hot passion usually only found in telenovelas and Billy Gillispie interviews. The RIVERSIDE PRESS-ENTERPRISE asked Bowa about Penny’s claim that Bowa talked behind his back, which prompted this retort: “The same guy that’s never on time, out of shape, has one complete game (in his Dodgers career)? That Brad Penny?”
The BOSTON GLOBE looks at the list of witnesses in the Barry Bonds trial and finds Patriots special teams captain Larry Izzo, who is expected to testify that Bonds’ trainer Greg Anderson gave him performance-enhancing drugs back in 2003. There goes his Hall of Fame chances…
Police tell WGRZ-TV that the Bills’ Marshawn Lynch not only had a loaded gun in his car when he was arrested last week in California, but also pot. Roger Goodell is coming for you, Marshawn - may God have mercy on your sou.
The NEW YORK TIMES projects news that ESPN is looking to broaden its broadcasting brilliance to the big screen.
The Worldwide Leader is focused on collaborating with Walt Disney Studios and Creative Artists Agency to produce & distribute sports-themed theatrical releases in the next few years. And the network is already making cinematic strides by hiring 30 filmmakers to produce one-hour mini-movies, set to start showing on the small screen in September 2009.
As the bigwigs try to brainstorm for feature film ideas, Mike Bianchi of the ORLANDO SENTINEL proposes remaking a Disney family favorite - featuring the ESPN Primetime Players. Read more…
The PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS gossips about Stephen A. Smith, revealing behavior by the “Gone In 60 Minutes” radio host that we find very hard to believe: “ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith picked up some furniture at Raymour & Flanigan (2100 Route 38) in Cherry Hill earlier today and referred to himself in the third person while shopping, says a nearby customer.
“‘Stephen would like the sofa that Stephen was just sitting in’ our source quotes Smith, who’s been off from the Inqwaster since his column was stripped in August. Smith, accompanied by ‘an attractive young female’ was gracious to fans who approached, says our spy.”
So Smith had an attractive female, of her own free will, on his arm? And he was approached by someone (anyone) in public who wasn’t hawking free tickets to a Craig Ferguson standup performance? The Daily News really needs to vet its sources.