Tuesday, July 31, 2007

**LIVE MILESTONE ALERTS** [David Stefanini]

9:47 - A-ROD WATCH: As the Yanks are killing the White Soxs 16-3, A-Rod can not even get a hit, nevermind a HR. He is 0-5 and is likely done for tonight.

9:41 - GLAVINE WATCH: The Mets grab a 2-1 lead, so Glavine is in line for his 300th career win.
9:24 - GLAVINE WATCH: No damage done in this inning for either team. The score remains in favor of the Brewers 1-0.

9:23 - A-ROD WATCH: A-Rod hit a lazy pop-up just out of the infield. He is 0-4 in the game and stuck on 499 career home runs.

9:22 - GLAVINE WATCH: The Mets can not get Glavine any help. They are losing 1-0.

9:14 - GLAVINE WATCH: Glavine got through the inning by giving up only 1 run. However, the whole story is more telling, it looks like he lost the strike zone. On a 3-0 pitch, a Brewer swung and popped the ball straight up on a pitch that was clearly ball 4. Glavine needs to find the strike zone soon. Brewers lead 1-0.

9:06 - GLAVINE WATCH: After a lead-off walk, then a base hit that was turned into a double by Moises Alou slipping in the outfield, the Brewers get the first run of the game on the board. The Brewers take the lead 1-0.

9:03 - GLAVINE WATCH: Nothing happening in the top of the 4th, score remains tied at 0.

8:49 - GLAVINE WATCH: The Brewers finally got a runner on base. However he stayed at first, and no damage was done. Glavine hasn't allowed a hit through 3 innings. The score remains 0-0.

8:43 - GLAVINE WATCH: The Mets went down in order again, leaving the score tied at 0 going into the bottom of the 3rd inning.

8:40 - A-ROD WATCH: He came so close to hitting it again. Instead Dye makes an amazing catch running into the wall and A-Rod is 0-3 in the game.

8:37 - GLAVINE WATCH: Glavine sits the Brewers down in order again. He is perfect through 2 innings. The score is 0-0.

8:29 - GLAVINE WATCH: The Mets go down 1-2-3 in their half of the 2nd inning. The score remains 0-0.

8:21 - GLAVINE WATCH: Tom Glavine pitched a 1-2-3 first inning. The score is tied 0-0.

8:14 - A-ROD WATCH: A-Rod just hit a ball about 400 ft, but unfortunately to the wrong part of the ballpark. It was a fly out leaving him 0-2 for the game.

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Boston Celtics, Eastern Conference Champs in 2008 [David Stefanini]

Holy S*@%! Kevin Garnett is a Boston Celtic. Talk about a megadeal! The Boston Celtics now have 3 of the best players in the NBA; Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett.

Name a team in the East that can beat the Boston Celtics in a 7 game series, no-one. Right now the Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Detroit Pistons are the three teams you could say can compete with the Celtics. But here is why they wouldn't win, the Heat are to old, the Cavs have only LeBron James and the Pistons couldn't beat the Cavs last year.

The city of Boston must be the happiest place to live right now, sports wise. They have the best team in baseball, a Super Bowl contender every year, and one of the best teams in the NBA. Since I live in New York all of my friends reading this won't let me hear the end of that comment, but it is true.

Kevin Garnett is a perfect player, and I have him ranked as the second best player in the entire league behind Kobe. Garnett can score in the post, has range with his jump shot, he's the leading rebounder in the game, and he is one of the best defensive players in the game.

The Celtics scored the best player available this off-season and any talk about how bad Danny Ainge is should be put to bed. They have a team that can compete with any team in the NBA.

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Tri-fecta Anyone? [David Stefanini]

Something very rare can happen today. So rare, there has never been a day like this in baseball history.

Tom Glavine can become the 23rd player to get to 300 career wins. It is very possible this may be the last time we see this milestone achieved in the near future. The next closest person to 300 wins is Randy Johnson with 284 wins. But we do not know if he will ever pitch again. After that we have to go down the list to Mike Mussina who will not get to 300. The only pitcher I see that has a chance of getting to 300 is Johan Santana.

Now onto the long ball where Alex Rodriquez can become the 22nd player to reach 500 career home runs. Unlike Glavine this milestone will likely be reached again. It is possible that this milestone will be reached two more times before this season is over. Still A-Rod will be the youngest player to ever reach 500 home runs. A-Rod is 32 years and 4 days old today. That will be 332 days younger than Jimmie Foxx was when Foxx hit his 500th.

Finally the biggest and most impressive milestone of the three, Barry Bonds could tie the all-time home run record. Tonight, if he plays, Bonds will be swinging for career homer #755. No matter what your personal opinion of Bonds is does not matter today. The only thing that matters is the number 755. When he breaks the record there will be no mark in the record books, and his name will not be penciled in to be erased in later years. He will be the home run champion, at least until A-Rod breaks it in several years.

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Video: Topps TV hosts Rip Party at American Legends [J. Mark English]

As Mets Lose, Fan Kills his Mom [J. Mark English]

Yikes. I'm a die hard Mets fan, but I know I'd never take it this far. Here is a disturbing story from Reuters:

A New York man has been charged with beating his mother to death with a barbell after losing his temper while watching a baseball game on television.

Michael Anthony, 25, was watching the New York Mets lose a game on Saturday from his home in the borough of Queens when he began furiously banging on the walls, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement on Monday.

His father Fred Fischman shouted at him to stop, but Anthony punched him in the face and threw him to the ground, according to the criminal charges.

When Anthony's mother, Maria Fischman, 61, tried to intervene, prosecutors said he stabbed her once in the head with a knife before chasing her into a bedroom where he struck her several times with the 20 pound (9 kilogram) barbell....

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Monday, July 30, 2007

I Don't Like Barry Bonds [A.J. Cordi]

I just wanted to drop a quick rant before Tuesdays game between the San Francisco Giants the Los Angeles Dodgers.

It's no secret that I don't like Barry Bonds. I've expressed my dislike here, here, implied it here and here, shared my dislike of Bonds with the S.F. fans here, referred to it here, and have commented on it tons times on this blog.

This guy shouldn't even be allowed to bat. When is the last time you actually saw him run to first base? If he doesn't hit a home run, he barely jogs down the baseline. And people expect this alleged steroid-using douche bag cheater to be in the Hall of Fame? I wouldn't give him the honor of wiping my ass. He plays for Barry Bonds, not his team. If I owned the Giants, I would make him pay his own salary.

Bonds will be facing Dodgers' Starting Pitcher Brad Penny (13-1) on Tuesday. I hope Penny walks him every time.

And that's my rant...

The End.

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Keep'em or Trade'em [Jay Moussab]

Ladies and Gentleman welcome to Keep'em or Trade'em let me start with our first contestant:

1) Brad Lidge - After the Astros removed him from the closers spot in the beginning of the season I think you have to trade'em. He is back in the closers spot and at his peak, the Astros are out of it and they should try to get a boat load of prospects. But their GM has told teams he is not available.


Teams interested: N/A

2) Eric Gagne - Yea Akinori Otsuka is injured and you have no real closer if you trade him but like the Astro's you are out of the race. His fastball hasn't been in the high 90's (clocked at 90-93 mph) like we used to know but he has a Trevor Hoffman changeup and a nasty curveball.


Teams interested: Yankees, Red Sox and Mets

3) Dontrelle Willis - Over the last 3 seasons his numbers are diminishing and you can probably get a Philip Humber and Carlos Gomez types of prospects if available. The Marlins are telling teams that he is not available which is mind boggling.


Teams interested: N/A

4) Torii Hunter - You have to pay Johan Santana, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau and a new stadium. There will be no money available money for Hunter, but here is what I do, keep'em then get draft picks when he leaves for free agency. He will probably be a Type A free agent.


5) Ken Griffey JR. - The only reason why the fans of Cincy come out to see the Reds are because of this man. With 588 homeruns and 12 away from 600 you can bet your bottoms that the Reds will keep'em .

I will update any trades that go down tonight and tomorrow.

MLB Mid-Season Hot Stove [J. Mark English]

The trading deadline is approaching ever so fast, and teams are making moves to help assure their post season hopes.

We'll start of with the New York Mets. They moved to bring in a solid second baseman to help fill the void of injured Jose Valentine. Matt Cerrone of Metsblog tells us the latest:

In a conference call a few moments ago, the Mets officially announced the acquisition of 2B Luis Castillo from the Twins in exchange for Double-A C Drew Butera and Single-A OF Dustin Martin....

…i have yet to talk with a minor-league reporter, expert, etc, who does not side with the Mets in this deal…if for no other reason than, most people would actually rather the second-round draft pick over butera and martin, which is the compenatory pick the Mets will get at minimum should castillo leave via free agencyand i totally agree

…in addition to the pick, the Mets get a Gold-Glove second baseman to either a) start for the Mets, should Ruben Gotay stumble, or b) be a defensive replacement, shoud gotay continue to hit…also, by acquiring castillo, Damion Easley will essentially become the team’s other back-up outfielder.

The team chasing the Mets for the NL East crown, the Atlanta Braves, were not to be outdone. Dayn Perry of Fox Sports updates us on their moves:

What figures to be the biggest trade leading up to this year's non-waiver deadline has already gone down.

We speak, of course, of the deal first reported by Ken Rosenthal that sent first baseman Mark Teixeira and lefty reliever Ron Mahay from the Texas Rangers to the Atlanta Braves in exchange for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, shortstop prospect Elvis Andrus and a pair of pitching prospects (probably including Double-A lefty Matt Harrison).

That's a headline-grabbing deal, and it's also one that puts the New York Mets and every team with a hope of entering the NL wild-card fray officially on notice.

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Michael Vick: First Support, then More Bad News [J. Mark English]

Its ridiculous just what things can be turned into a racial issue. Some have come out and said that the reason why fans are infuriated with Barry Bonds is not over steroids, but over race. Alright, well I'll leave that one alone for now. Because now the NAACP, the organization that claims to champion civil rights for African Americans, have come out supporting Michael Vick.

Errin Haines of the USA Today writes:

NAACP leaders urged public restraint Monday in judging Michael Vick before he has his day in court.

R.L. White, president of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the Atlanta Falcons quarterback has been vilified by animal rights groups, talk radio and the news media and prematurely punished by his team and corporate sponsors.

"If Mr. Vick is guilty, he should pay for his crime, but to treat him as he is being treated now is also a crime," White said at a news conference. "Be restrained in your premature judgment until the legal process is completed."

Vick has pleaded not guilty to charges of sponsoring a dogfighting operation.

While Vick has pleaded not guilty, a co-defendant moved to change his plea to guilty. This could wind up being a serious blow to any claim of innocence that Vick had.

Here is more from CBS News:

One of Michael Vick's co-defendants pleaded guilty Monday to federal dog-fighting conspiracy charges in a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Tony Taylor, 34, who will be sentenced Dec. 14, said he was not promised any specific sentence in return for his cooperation with the government.

Taylor, of Hampton, Va., entered his plea in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities, and conspiring to sponsor a dog in an animal fighting venture.

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Can Soccer Save Iraq? [J. Mark English]

In short: No. But it can provide some inspiration for a country that is struggling to deal with the ideal of unity.

The nation of Iraq should be proud of the historic achievement of its soccer team. The Iraqi team captured the Asian Cup, and with it, the heart of a young, but troubled nation. Julian Linden of UK Reuters has more:

Iraq completed one of sport's great fairytales by beating Saudi Arabia 1-0 in the Asian Cup final on Sunday to provide a rare moment for celebration in their war-torn homeland.

The Saudis had been bidding to become the first four-times winners of the tournament but Iraq, riding a wave of global sentiment, upset the hot-favourites for a rare slice of sporting glory.

"This is not just about football... this is more important than that," Iraq's Brazilian coach Jorvan Vieira told a news conference.

"This has brought great happiness to a whole country. This is not about a team, this is about human beings."

Iraqi captain Younis Mahmoud scored the winner in the 71st minute when he climbed above the defence at the far post and headed a perfectly-weighted corner from Hawar Mulla Mohammed into the net.

The Iraqis might have had won more comfortably if they had capitalised on their many scoring chances, only to be denied by a combination of sloppy finishing and extraordinary saves from Saudi goalkeeper Yasser Al Mosailem.

Saudi Arabia had been the best attacking team in the tournament, scoring 12 goals on their way to the final, but could not find a way past the Iraqis, who had the best defence in the competition, conceding just two goals in six matches.

"Iraq deserved to win today," Saudi coach Helio Cesar dos Anjos said. "They were very motivated and we knew the whole world was supporting this team."

Now lets put this team into perspective. Most of the best players available to Iraq had deserted the country for fear of being killed. The team had to deal with constant division among its own players between Sunnis and Shias. On top of this, the team was ripe with awkward diversity, which most thought could never mesh. The team was a schmorgusboard of Sunni's, Shia's, Kurds, Turks, and Christians. All of them, played together as a team. This was in spite of death threats to them and their families.

If the Iraqi government, and the people as a whole can learn anything from this team's achievement, its that the only way that country will ever begin to thrive is if they can put aside their differences and work towards a common goal. A goal which seeks to establish a safe, and strong Iraq that can be a light to the rest of the Middle East.

Michael Strahan: Report to Camp or Retire [J. Mark English]

What is the deal with Michael Strahan and the New York Giants? The New York Times covered the early beginnings of the saga a few days ago. Strahan has become a no-show at training camp, and the Giants are grumbling.

They have contacted retired DE Simeon Rice, and to try to use him as a leverage against Strahan in case Strahan decides to hang up the cleats.

I think Strahan is abusing his relationship with the Jints. If he's holding out for more money, then he is being a hypocrite. A few years ago he called out Tiki Barber for not being a team player for trying to get more money in a contract dispute. Now he is doing the same thing, and not just during the off season, but as the Giants gather for camp up in Albany.

It would be understandable if he needs more money, since he lost $14 million in a lawsuit involving his ex-wife. But the Giants are not exactly going to open up the wallets just to help Strahan out with his personal financial problems.

Strahan may undervalued. He is making $4 million this year, and that is substandard considering he is one of the best in the game at his position. The barrage of overpaid mediocre free agents this past off season would further Strahan's argument that he is not making what he's worth. But he's 35 going on 36, and is coming off two seasons with consecutive injuries. The Giants will be hurt without him, but hardly need to shell out more money just to keep him.

You'd think Strahan would come back more money or not just so he can eclipse Lawrence Taylor's sack total of 132 1/2. Strahan is currently tied with Taylor for that record.

Whatever his decision is, he should make it soon. This distraction is that last thing the Giants need with a coach who is in his make or break year, with a quarterback who's career may be defined by this season, and a team that needs a serious confidence boost going into pre-season.

Why in the world is Strahan seeking to destroy whatever small amount of confidence the Giants come into camp with is beyond me.

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Legendary Coach and Genius, Bill Walsh Dead at 75 [J. Mark English]

Tony Stewart Wins the Brickyard [David Stefanini]

Watch out NASCAR because here comes Tony Stewart. Stewart is on a roll again in the second half of the NASCAR season. Here is Terry Blout with more:

Stewart's confidence is back in full swing after winning back-to-back races for the seventh time in his career.

That's not a good thing for the rest of the Nextel Cup drivers. The shark in an orange fire suit smells blood in the water. Don't get in his way or he will swallow you whole.

How confident is Stewart now?Trailing leader Kevin Harvick by five car lengths with 15 laps to go, Stewart got on his radio and said, "Here kitty, kitty, kitty."

Under the stupid 'Chase for the Cup' rules, Stewart looks to have all the momentum going into the final stretch of the season. Jeff Gordon, who has clearly dominated the circuit this year, is going to have his hands full contending with Stewart. While I was watching the race yesterday I kept thinking to myself how good Tony looked. He ran a smooth race and turned up the heat with 10 laps to go to win it. It was a brilliant performance. He is my favorite going into the Chase to win it all.

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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Photos: Gwynn, Ripken Jr. - Welcome to the Hall of Fame [J. Mark English]

My Reflections from the NBA Rookie Shoot [David Stefanini]

"Today I consider myself, the luckiest man on the face of the Earth." That is exactly how I felt on Friday. I was lucky enough, along with J. Mark English and the American Legends staff, to attend the NBA Rookie Shoot 2007 at the New York Knicks practice facility. This was the second year in a row I was able to attend. Needless to say, this years rookie class is far greater than last years.

I had the privilege to sit down and talk with Greg Oden for roughly 10 minutes. Talking to him I was just asking how its been dealing with the media; but all I got from him was one-word answers because he said he wasn't feeling well.

I also got a chance to speak to Mike Conley Jr. A player who I feel is going to be one of the best point guards in the league in a couple of seasons. I was talking with him for about 25 minutes. I asked him how he felt when Ohio State was down often in the NCAA Tournament. He told me, "we never lost confidence, coach kept tellin' us we gonna win."

I then asked him what was he most looking forward to entering the NBA. He responded with, "just playing against all the stars, the guys I looked up to when I was young."

It was a fabulous day and I hope I have the chance to do it again next year. My final thoughts on the Rookie Shoot is this: The NBA is lucky to have a group of men that are this much fun to be around. All of them signed everything I put in front of them, all of them were very open for conversation, and all of them seemed like good kids.

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Is Barry Bonds the Feel Good Story of the Summer? [J. Mark English]

The parody website, the Onion, asks this question with its latest posting of sharp wit. Enjoy:

Although Barry Bonds remains the target of criticism over his possible—some say almost certain—use of performance-enhancing substances, the fact that Bonds has not been implicated in dogfighting, nightclub shootings, gambling, or murdering his family has transformed his controversial pursuit of the all-time home-run record into the feel-good sports story of the summer.

"Until we have definitive proof one way or the other, the very presence of so many questions about Bonds and steroids will haunt his achievements forever," ESPN's Peter Gammons said Monday. "However, at this moment, I think we'd all have to agree that having a raging juiced-up misanthrope break the greatest record in sports is a ray of sunshine compared to everything else on the sports page."

"What kind of person electrocutes dogs, let alone fights them?" Gammons added. "I simply can't comprehend it. Go, Barry!"

While Bonds has been routinely greeted with booing and jeering whenever he played outside of San Francisco, the taunting seems to have abated for the moment as sports fans across America lapse into a reflective silence as Bonds approaches the plate.

"I know Bonds is probably 100% pharmaceutical Frankenstein," said Brewers fan Charles Michaels, who waved a banner reading "Make Us Relatively Proud, Barry" while not exactly rooting against Bonds at Milwaukee's Miller Park Sunday night. "But I also know for a certainty that gambling problems didn't compel him to affect the outcome of the NBA playoffs. You have to give him that much."

"Bonds is not exactly my hero," said Braves fan Bradley Hanson, who flew to San Francisco for Monday night's Braves game in order to pointedly not boo Bonds. "But he's a reminder that in these troubled times for sports, there are still players whose crimes are simple, pure, and only tarnish our beloved sport and everything it stands for without killing anybody."

Photo: Barry Bonds at 754, One HR Shy of Tying Aaron [J. Mark English]

Around the Baseball World 7.27.2007 [David Stefanini]

Barry Bonds hit career home run #754 tonight, leaving him 1 homer shy of tying the record. This topic has been beaten to death by the media. The game is still in progress and if Bonds is to tie the record I will immediately let everyone know.

As far as big named pitchers go, Randy Johnson is going to have season ending back surgery. The surgery is going to be a major operation that is going to take a lot of time to heal. Johnson said, "I have no intention at this time of retiring" Why not? What let does he have to prove in his career? He is going to go down as one of the best pitchers in the history of the game. He has won the major titles in his professional career. Go home Randy and enjoy the day you get accepted into the Hall of Fame.

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Kudos to Costas [EdMcGon]

"A day after Barry Bonds called him a "little midget man who knows (nothing) about baseball," broadcaster Bob Costas said he wasn't upset with the San Francisco Giants slugger and responded with a jab of his own.

"As anyone can plainly see, I'm 5-6 1/2 and a strapping 150, and unlike some people, I came by all of it naturally," Costas said Thursday in a telephone interview.

You gotta love Costas, don't you?

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Joakim Noah and Corey Brewer Pay American Legends a Visit Today [J. Mark English]

Vick and the Jock Culture [EdMcGon]

"Until Monday, when [NFL Commissioner Roger] Goodell ordered [Falcons quarterback Mike] Vick to stay away from the team's training camp while the league reviews the federal dogfighting charges against him, at least one person close to Vick felt he didn't fully grasp the ramifications of his circumstances.

"I wouldn't say he's delusional about the problem, but I don't think he sees it as being as big a deal as everybody else," the associate said. "He thinks it's going to blow over eventually … He doesn't know how deep this goes."

Mike Vick...just...doesn't...get it.

Vick doesn't think think the allegations are a big deal. By extension, is it safe to assume he doesn't think dog fighting is a big deal? If he doesn't think being accused of fighting dogs is important, then how far of a stretch is it to believe he would actually do it?

While this may not be damning evidence, it certainly lends credence to the charges. But there is another side to Vick's state of mind: the jock culture.

We all have seen how jocks rarely have to face consequences for their off-the-field activities. We have all seen the DUI's, and speeding charges, and wife/girlfriend beatings, but how many times do jocks ACTUALLY get caught? I suspect it is a lot more times than we have been led to believe, but we will never know for certain if the police won't hold these kids accountable.

And childhood is where it starts. A kid is good at a specific sport in high school. But kids being kids, he does something wrong at school. The principal finds out, and covers it up, because the school's team is winning, thanks to this kid.

Maybe the kid is failing a class, so the principal puts a little pressure on the teacher to give the kid a passing grade.

By the time the kid is out of high school, he has only learned one thing: Do well at sports, and all other things will be forgiven.

In college, this lesson is only reinforced. Money, dinners, and gifts from alumni boosters only serve to ingrain the lesson. Of course, the campus police are always there to escort a star player back to his dorm room after he gets drunk and rapes some poor girl at a frat party.

On top of all this, the jocks all look after each other. That is part of the team mentality. Unfortunately, the jock culture almost elevates it to mafia-like similarities.

Consider all the current and former players who have come out in defense of Mike Vick:

Clinton Portis (RB, Redskins): "It’s his property, it’s his dog. People should mind their business."

Joe Horn (WR, Falcons, from an interview with the Atlanta Journal Constitution): "What upsets me is if you don't know Michael Vick or haven't talked to him about how he feels, you shouldn't talk about the man until he's proven guilty or exonerated. Let the system take care of itself and take its course...

I've spoken to him several times. Mike is saddened about the tension this is going to cause the team. I assured him I support him, the rest of the guys support him and the team supports him. Whether he's guilty or innocent or whether you believe he is, time will tell...

I think he should be around. The more he's around his family, his football family, his teammates playing football; it's what might help Michael Vick. I respect our commissioner but I don't think suspending him is going to help him. Michael wants to play football. He told me that over and over again. "I know what's going on but I need to be there playing and going through training camp to try and get through this." I told him over and over that good times will come again. Right now you're going through something and it's something you're going to have to go through.

Deion Sanders (former NFL cornerback, in an editorial on news-press.com): "What a dog means to Vick might be a lot different than what he means to you or I. Hold on, don’t start shaking your head just yet. Listen to me.

Some people kiss their dogs on the mouth. Some people let their dogs eat from their plate. Some people dress their dogs in suits more expensive than mine, if you can believe that.

And some people enjoy proving they have the biggest, toughest dog on the street. You’re probably not going to believe this, but I bet Vick loves the dogs that were the biggest and the baddest. Maybe, he identified with them in some way.

You can still choose to condemn him, but I’m trying to take you inside his mind so you can understand where he might be coming from.

Emmitt Smith (former NFL running back): "He's the biggest fish in the whole doggone pond so they're putting the squeeze on him to get to everyone else...Now, granted he might have been to a dogfight a time or two . . . but he's not the one you're after, he's just the one whose going to take the fall -- publicly."

Does anyone wonder where the phrase "dumb jock" comes from? Logic goes out the window when they have to defend one of their kind. Portis was downright defensive, Horn completely ignored the PR ramifications because he wants his teammate on the field, Sanders sounds like Oprah, and Smith is paranoid.

But why would great players like these reduce themselves to stupidity in order to defend the indefensible? Just as Vick doesn't see his own problems, neither do other players.

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Tour De France: Leader Rasmussen is Out [J. Mark English]

Can they race afford any more turmoil? They are like the NBA, NFL, and MLB rolled into one. Drugs, scandal, the whole thing. Here is more from Edward Wyatt of the New York Times:

Chaos and disgrace enveloped the Tour de France early Thursday after the event’s overall leader, Michael Rasmussen, was removed from the race by his Rabobank team for lying about where he was training.

The announcement came hours after Rasmussen, who had already been riding under suspicion of doping, won the 16th stage Wednesday and appeared to be in position to claim the championship of cycling’s most prestigious event on Sunday in Paris. The news came shortly after the withdrawal of a second team in two days from the Tour amid the ever-widening doping scandal that has rocked the sport since last year’s champion, Floyd Landis, was found to have failed a drug test on his way to the title.

This year’s Tour has lost at least two teams, the winners of four stages and the overall leader. But organizers have so far said the event would not be canceled. Doing so, said Patrice Clerc, the president of the company that organizes the Tour, would mean victory for the riders who violate the rules.

Rasmussen, a 33-year-old Danish rider, was awarded the race leader’s yellow jersey for nine consecutive days, and, with his second stage victory of this Tour, he extended his lead to more than three minutes over his closest competitor. Almost from the time he gained the lead, however, questions have dogged him about his training and about why he missed at least three drugs tests this year after antidoping officials could not locate him.

On Wednesday, members of seven teams staged a protest at the beginning of the stage in Orthez, refusing to ride out with the other teams for a few minutes to bring attention to what they said was their united effort to combat doping. They soon joined the race, a 136-mile stage to the top of the Col d’Aubisque in the Pyrenees.

With Rasmussen gone, the new overall leader will be Alberto Contador, a Spanish rider for the Discovery Channel team who has fought a fierce battle with Rasmussen in the Pyrenees over the last three stages. The Rabobank team spokesman, Jacob Bergsma, said the team would announce later Thursday morning if the remaining riders would complete the Tour.

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Quotable Schilling on Bonds; McGwire [J. Mark English]

Curt Schilling from my point of view is the Jack Bauer of baseball. Beyond the resemblance between him and Kiefer Sutherland, he is one hell of gutsy guy just like Jack. Who will ever forget his "heroic" (which must go in quotations since as Terry Francona the Red Sox manager says, the real heroes are over in Iraq) performance against the Yankees in game 6 of the ALCS when he shut down the Bombers despite a bloody ankle.

Guts and glory spilled some of his heat in the way of words today on ESPN's Jim Rome show. Catch some of the venom that he unleashed on Bonds and McGwire:

Curt Schilling says that Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire's refusals to address accusations of steroids use are tantamount to admissions.

"If someone wrote that stuff about me and I didn't sue their [butt] off, am I not admitting that there's some legitimacy to it?" he said on HBO's "Costas Now."

When asked about Schilling's remarks before the Giants played the Atlanta Braves on Wednesday night, Bonds responded: "Don't worry, my day will come.''

Schilling said "this will be the steroids era forever" and proposed that Jose Canseco and Rafael Palmeiro should be punished for steroids use.

"Jose Canseco admitted he cheated his entire career," Schilling said. "Everything he ever did should be wiped clean. I think his MVP should go back and should go to the runner-up."

As for Palmeiro, Schilling said: "The year he tested positive, nothing he did that year should count, which I think would take away 3,000 hits for him."

Schilling discussed accusations by Bonds' former mistress, Kimberly Bell, who testified before a grand jury that Bonds told her of his steroid use in 2000. She also said Bonds gave her $80,000 in cash to buy a house, the proceeds of which allegedly came from a paid autograph session that authorities also are investigating as going unreported to the Internal Revenue Service.

"If I wrote a book about Bob Costas and in that book I wrote about Bob Costas' girlfriend being on the road, and Bob Costas giving that girlfriend card show money and I outlined your daily steroid regimen, I've got to believe your first line of defense is to sue my [butt] off," Schilling said.

"It goes to the Mark McGwire thing in Congress. I mean, I'm a huge Mark McGwire fan. But I just always thought it was very simple: If you did something and someone asks you if you did it and you didn't do it, you say no. Any other answer than no is some form of yes, isn't it?

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Photo: Tom Glavine at Win 299 [J. Mark English]

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Re: Bombings Blast Cheering Iraqis [J. Mark English]

As fans celebrated in the streets, bombs went off killing scores of Iraqis trying to relish in a bit of normal jubilation. Breibart news site has more:

Two suicide car bombings struck soccer fans in Baghdad as they were celebrating Iraq's victory in the Asian Cup semifinal on Wednesday, killing at least 50 people and wounding more than 100, officials said.

The victims were among the thousands of revelers who took to the streets of the capital after the country's national soccer team beat South Korea to reach the tournament's final against Saudi Arabia on Sunday in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The first attack took place about 6:30 p.m. when a bomber exploded in a crowd of people cheering near a well-known ice cream parlor in Baghdad's western neighborhood of Mansour, according to police and hospital officials. At least 30 people were killed and 75 were wounded, an Interior Ministry official said.

Another suicide car bomber detonated his payload about 45 minutes later in the midst of dozens of vehicles filled with revelers near an Iraqi army checkpoint in the eastern district of Ghadeer, killing at least 20 people, including two soldiers, and wounding 61, according to the ministry official.

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Three Cheers for the Iraqis! [J. Mark English]

Every little bit of positive news out of Iraq helps. This time its the soccer team that provides some rare happy news. Once was, that if the soccer team did poorly in competition, the sons of Saddam Hussein would torture the players. Free from that fear, the team showed what they were capable of against South Korea in the Asian Cup.

However, the celebration got a bit out of hand... Here is more from Reuters:

Gunfire erupted across Baghdad on Wednesday as Iraqis celebrated their national soccer team's victory over South Korea to reach the final of the Asian Cup.

Iraq won 4-3 in a penalty shootout to reach the Cup final for the first time.

Iraqis poured into the streets of Baghdad, waving national flags and cheering. An Iraqi television reporter choked back tears of joy as he joined the celebrations on a Baghdad street.

State television flashed a warning from military commanders urging people not to fire guns into the air. The warning appeared to go unnoticed as people fired pistols and AK-47 assault rifles.

Firing weapons into the air is a tribal tradition at times of celebration but the bullets often kill people on the ground.

Three people died and about 50 were wounded after Iraq beat Vietnam on Saturday to reach the semi-finals.

Iraqis in the autonomous northern region of Kurdistan even waved Iraqi flags in a rare display of national unity. Kurds normally view the Iraqi flag as an Arab symbol.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Quotes from the Atlanta Falcons Press Conference [J. Mark English]

Its been one of those days where press conferences are making bigger headlines then what is happening on the field. Today the Atlanta Falcons held a press conference making it official that Michael Vick shall be suspended. Here are some highlights of what the team had to say:

"This has been a difficult week in every respect that you can think of. The indictment of Michael Vick has affected everyone associated with the Falcons, the National Football League, our players, our coaches, our associates, our sponsors, our season ticket holders, our fans, the Atlanta community and you in this room. But, it's also gone beyond our partners. The details of the indictment have touched the emotions of people across the country. We have heard from many of them. I know that many people are deeply distraught about what they read in the indictment, and I am as well." - Arthur Blank, team owner

"Every year, you are going to deal with controversy and adversity. Certainly, we've had our share so far. One of the keys to coaching and the keys to success is how you deal with it, how you face it straight on and how you put it behind you and move forward. I think that's what we have to do on Thursday. We have to get in the meeting room, meet with the players, and make sure we understand what the situation is as we know it with Michael and move on from there and put all of our focus on the team getting ready for our opening game." - Bobby Petrino, head coach

"The league has a number of programs in place in respect to educating players. Commissioner Roger Goodell has set up programs and one that will even deal with the issue of dog-fighting to an extent. We have a player program director and we have programs that we run all year. We have Falcons University where we deal with life skills and issues that confront players. It doesn’t mean it's a perfect world. You have a lot of young men with things going on. We do as a League take it very seriously as the commissioner has shown in the past couple of months. One of the ways we take that seriously is through education. It also falls back on the leaders of the locker room. You look at the leaders of the locker room to help the young players realize what is acceptable and unacceptable. I can't sit here and tell you that we end up with a perfect world, but we do understand the responsibility of helping these guys realize what is and what is not acceptable." - Rich McKay, general manager

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David Stern Press Conference [David Stefanini]

From David Stern's press conference:

Good morning. We're here today to discuss the ongoing investigation into certain allegations about NBA referee, Tim Donaghy.

What I propose to do is to tell you what our procedures are with respect to referees and gambling; what we can or cannot tell you and why there are certain things we can't tell you that might have made it easier not to have this press conference at this time, but we thought it was our obligation to have it; what previous actions we have known about with respect to Mr. Donaghy, what we did about those, and what we are permitted to say about Mr. Donaghy and the investigation and when we learned about those facts. And then I'll open it up to questions and spend quite a bit of time here to satisfy you on all of the things that I'm able to.

The first thing that I would like to say is that our rules are crystal clear; that referees may not either gamble on our games; or, provide information to anyone about those games. We, you know, have a rule that says you're subject to discipline, which would most likely be expulsion from the league and the job. We educate our referees intensely. We have training camp presentations, we have brochures we distribute work rules , they are visited by security, and we give them copies of compliance plans and the like that make it clear that not only aren't they permitted to either gamble or provide information to people; they may not even provide other than to their immediate family the details of their travel schedules or the games they are going to work.

We take these rules seriously. We have a security department that is large. It's headed by Bernie Tolbert, the senior vice president of security, former FBI, head of the Buffalo office second in command at Philadelphia who has a background in undercover work. We have in house representatives that are from Secret Service, U.S. Army, New York Police Department, and New York State Police Investigation.

We, in addition, have a security network that includes a security representative with respect to every NBA team. Those security representatives are routinely judged and either changed as appropriate, and instructed on the ground to be listening to what goes on, what they hear, what they see, what they can observe. And those security representatives are for the most part either FBI retired, local police, in some cases DEA. And we are permitted by work rules, some of them are actually functioning in their regular capacity for local PD and working for us at the team level.

In addition to the constant communication with our security represents of what goes on in the cities, we are in continuous conversation with DEA, the FBI section on organized crime which deals with sports betting, and with the Homeland Security Department. Our security department operates rather extensively, and has actually been beefed up more recently with respect to its activities in connection with Homeland Security, which occupies since 9/11 a more substantial time, a more substantial amount of its time.

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NFL 2007: NFC Preview [EdMcGon]

Time for the NFC Preview.

Estimated wins this year are in parentheses:

EAGLES (9 wins): The Eagles are the mark of consistency in this division. They haven't really improved any this year, but they aren't much worse either. Andy Reid has this team running like a well-oiled machine, as we saw last year when Donovan McNabb got hurt and Jeff Garcia stepped in easily. The Eagles are the team to beat in the East.
REDSKINS (9 wins): This team will live or die by QB Jason Campbell. If he improves significantly this year, they could easily win more than 9 games and blowout this division. However, I think he could be a solid quarterback who can put this team in playoff contention, possibly Super Bowl contention.
GIANTS (7 wins): Bye bye Tiki Barber. Bye bye Tom Coughlin. Hello Bill Belichick.
COWBOYS (6 wins): I feel it is safe to say Wade Phillips is a HUGE step down from Bill Parcells. The Cowboys highlight film this year should be titled "Ray Handley Does Dallas".

BEARS (10 wins): Exactly WHICH team in this division will challenge the Bears? Even losing Thomas Jones and (possibly) Lance Briggs will still leave the Bears strong enough to beat this division's sorry bunch of losers.
LIONS (7 wins): I will give GM Matt Millen credit: He got the best player in last April's draft. WR Calvin Johnson will be a legitimate superstar in the NFL. But even that won't be enough to save this sorry team.
VIKINGS (6 wins): Just four words: starting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson. Somewhere, Daunte Culpepper is laughing his butt off.
PACKERS (5 wins): Bret Favre getting another year older cannot be good for this team, even though he did play alright last year. Still, if I was playing for this team, I wouldn't feel like I was playing for a Super Bowl. I would feel like I was playing to get some old quarterback into the record books.

SAINTS (12 wins): Actually, 12 wins might be a conservative guess. This team looks ready. Other than injuries, there is no reason this team can't win 14-15 games.
PANTHERS (8 wins): The Panthers are a good team, but not great. After a few mid to late season losses, expect the "Bill Cowher is going to the Panthers" rumors to start flying, and the Panthers will mail in the rest of the season.
BUCCANEERS (7 wins): If you look at all the quarterbacks on the Bucs preseason roster, there is one decent one: Jeff Garcia. The last time he started 16 games was 2002. He is 37 years old. Expect the Bucs to start strong with Garcia before he gets hurt.
FALCONS (5 wins): The Falcons will be a real "dog" this year. Seriously though, they have a new coach installing a new system and a quarterback with legal problems. The backup quarterback (Joey Harrington) is mediocre on his best days.

49ERS (10 wins): This team will surprise a lot of people this year. Alex Smith is starting to become a good quarterback. Frank Gore may be the next Marshall Faulk. They picked up solid receivers in Darrell Jackson and Ashley Lelie, to go along with Arnaz Battle. TE Vernon Davis can only get better in his second season. The defense started to look better last year. This team will make the playoffs AND will contend for the Super Bowl.
RAMS (8 wins): The Rams will live or die by Steven Jackson. That said, I still see too many questions with their defense.
SEAHAWKS (7 wins): Mike Holmgren is looking like a strong candidate for the hot seat. This team won a weak division last year, and the main players aren't getting any younger.
CARDINALS (6 wins): The Cards got the right head coach. Now they just need an offensive line and a defense. If the Cards get any more than 6 wins, then you can call Ken Whisenhunt a genius.

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NFL 2007: AFC Preview [EdMcGon]

It is that time of year again. With NFL training camps just a few weeks away, it is time to take a preliminary guess at how this coming season will unfold. I am just a bit anxious for the season to begin, can't you tell?

I'll start with the AFC this week. My projections for wins this season are in parentheses:

PATRIOTS (11 wins): While the Pats have improved their most glaring weakness from last year, their wide receivers, I would not expect that to improve their overall wins by much because the rest of this division has also improved. However, they should still win this division.
JETS (9 wins): I will give Coach Mangini credit. He learned how to win games from Bill Belichick using smoke and mirrors. This is still not a great team, but I wouldn't underestimate their coaching.
BILLS (8 wins): The addition of RB Marshawn Lynch will make this team better, but this is offset by the loss of CB Nate Clements. I am still not sold that J.P. Losman can be the quarterback they need.
DOLPHINS (7 wins): New coach (Cam Cameron). New quarterback (Trent Green). Even with the growing pains, I expect the Dolphins will be better.

BENGALS (10 wins): The team to beat in the North. We all know how depleted their roster has become due to local law enforcement, but this team still has a solid base to build on, and Marvin Lewis can do it.
RAVENS (10 wins): It is hard to call the Ravens a much worse team than last year. While the addition of RB Willis McGahee improves them, this team was already old last year. If QB Steve McNair still has enough gas left in the tank, this team could easily be a Super Bowl team. But that's a BIG "if".
STEELERS (7 wins): This is a good news/bad news deal for the Steelers. With Mike Tomlin installing a new offense, expect the Steelers to take a while to come around offensively (assuming the new offense works at all). I am giving the Steelers the benefit of the doubt here by saying 7 wins. Expect the Steelers to start slow and MAYBE come on at the end of the season.
BROWNS (4 wins): This team is STILL rebuilding? By the way, anyone execting Brady Quinn to be an improvement over Charlie Frye will be sorely disappointed. Quinn might be a LITTLE better next year.

TITANS (9 wins): While the Colts may be the "class" of this division, the Titans will be hungrier. Vince Young is the real deal, and he'll take the Titans past the Colts to win this division. The only question in my mind is whether the Titans win the division by a tie-breaker or by overall wins.
COLTS (9 wins): With the Super Bowl victory hanging around their necks like an albatross, expect the Colts to drop more games than last year. Regardless, they are still a tough team to beat.
TEXANS (7 wins): Will their offensive line play any better than last year? Will Matt Schaub play any better than David Carr? And their best running back is Ahman Green? With all those questions, there is a bright side. I think their defense will be a little better with DT Amobi Okoye.
JAGUARS (6 wins): The Jags still have not solved their quarterback problems. Without a lot of improvement elsewhere, this team is dropping.

BRONCOS (10 wins): Jay Cutler looks like the best quarterback the Broncos have had since Elway. Another year under Cutler's belt can only mean good things for this team.
CHARGERS (9 wins): How can an overwhelmingly talented team like the Chargers go from 14 wins to 9 wins? Two words: Norv Turner, who has consistently shown over the years he can take a great team and make them mediocre.
RAIDERS (7 wins): Expect the first year under Lane Kiffin to be a significant improvement over last year's catastrophe. All the news out of Oakland seems to show the Raiders embracing the new coach's philosophy.
CHIEFS (7 wins): Nothing like another year under Herm Edwards to make a playoff team worse. When you consider that RB Larry Johnson might hold out or be traded, the Chiefs might even be a 2 win team.

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Video: British Open - Another Meltdown [J. Mark English]

Video: Suns Victims of Tim Donaghy? [J. Mark English]

Saturday, July 21, 2007

NFL/Falcons, May Ask Vick to Sit Out 2007 Season [David Stefanini]

This from Len Pasquarelli and Chris Mortensen from ESPN.com:

In what has quickly evolved into a collaborative effort that includes input of officials from the NFL, NFL Players Association and Atlanta Falcons, embattled quarterback Michael Vick could be urged to take a voluntary leave of absence to focus his energy on the legal challenges from a federal dogfighting indictment confronting him, sources said.

Under the leave-of-absence scenario, and given the projected timeline of any trial that could ensue from the federal indictments brought against the quarterback Tuesday, all parties would enter into the agreement, if it is consummated, with the expectation that Vick would probably miss the entire 2007 season.

Well we knew this was going to happen at some point. The NFL clearly want Vick to sit out this season, because if he voluntarily does it, it clears the NFL from any wrong doing. The Falcons on the other hand will basically forfeit their upcoming season. Without Vick, the Falcons have no chance of winning anything this season.

I would hope that Vick will play in the upcoming season. It will be the only 60 minutes during the week where he can get his head off the accusations at hand. It worked out for Kobe Bryant when he went through his rape charges.

I just hope the NFL doesn't suspend him. Like I said, he hasn't been proven guilty. If he is proven guilty, the NFL should ban him from life. But until that time the NFL should not take any direct discipline actions. If Vick will willingly sit out the season that is his option. That would probably be the best situation for Vick. It is worth it to him to miss one season and play the next ten, than to play this season and loss the rest of his career.

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RE: NBA Ref May Have Bet on Own Games [David Stefanini]

First I would like to say I think this is my fault. It seems this week all of my favorites are being thrown into the flames of hell. First we had the Michael Vick incident. This is my idol, the man I said I was when I was in the school yard in 8th grade running around the opponents left and right. Now the game I love the most, basketball, is coming under fire.

I can not agree with J. Mark English any more. When he says, "I don't think people quite realize or grasp the concept that gambling in sports from the very people involved in that sport is a cardinal sin" he can not be more correct. It seems a lot of us turn the other way or say it is ok, but the fact is it simply isn't.

If it turns out over the past few years this NBA official has been shaving points off a game this will be catastrophic to the NBA. Right now they are the third out of the four major sports in America. They will likely never catch baseball or football, and certainly will never fall below hockey (if that still is a sport). But the scars this will leave on the game will be tremendous, and people will not be able to turn the other way. Many fans would not be able to find it in them to trust the league.

Just think about it; if someone who has this much control on the game is betting on the game, and therefore trying to control the outcome that rightfully destroys any trust the fan could have in that league. David Stern has tried to clean up the image of the NBA with the dress code and the 'must play in college' rule; but as Mark said, this is going to harm the league far greater than any dress code or age of a player ever could. The NBA is going to have to make sure that no other NBA refs were involved in this other than Tim Donaghy.

Now I am a fan of due process, and in the case with Vick I think we should find evidence, and then convict because you are innocent until proven guilty. But all the reports I am hearing from numerous media posts does not look good for Tim. The FBI has him linked to countless games over at least the past 2 NBA seasons, probably more.

To go along with Mark English and myself, here is Marc Stein with his thoughts:

It's hard to believe that Barry Bonds can probably claim a greater share of the public's trust than the NBA at large, but that's the ugly reality confronting Stern. As even Stern himself termed it in a statement issued Friday afternoon, Donaghy is accused of betraying "the most sacred trust in professional sports."

To be completely honest, the story completely turns my stomach. I always knew it was a possibility but I never thought it could be a reality. Things like this are not supposed to happen. As Stein said, this is the "most sacred trust in professional sports." I now have the thought in my head that the some of the NBA games I watched as a kid were fixed, and it just makes me sick.

Even if the official is found innocent, the trust will still be greatly hurt. David Stern has to pray that Peyton Manning is tied to Michael Vick's dog fighting to get the headlines off the NBA. And even if Manning was to be found to have involvement, the NBA will still have much more severe long-term negative effects than the NFL could.

One last thing: Mark, please do not say Michael Jordan's story book ending was fabricated. He is my hero and if it is true, lets just imagine it isn't and never bring that up again.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Tim Donaghy's Point Shaving: Putting Things in Perspective [J. Mark English]

Tim Donaghy's name, if proven guilty, can share the same legendary status as the 1919 Black Sox, and Pete Rose.

The Sox and Rose damaged the sport they played more then any drug user or thug could ever hope. When players, coaches, and referees bet on games they crush to pieces an unspoken covenant that is shared between fan and participant. This covenant represents a promise that what we see is real. Sports are not fiction, nor fantasy. Instead it is a tangible, and actual thing where then ending is unknown to both viewer and athlete right down to the final out, the final whistle, the final horn, until the fat lady sings.

When Michael Jordan hit his famous last second shot against the Utah Jazz in the 98 NBA Finals, what we saw was real. Or so we were led to believe. Now, thanks to Tim Donaghy, doubt will creep in during every past or present moment in the NBA. Our hope is that the Jordan shot was not orchestrated by an NBA exec trying to conjure up the best ending for the best financial result. Our hope is that what we were watching was pure drama occurring in real time. We hope that it was not a puppet show, and puppeteers were deceiving us before our own eyes.

If Tim Donaghy is found guilty of point shaving, he will hurt the NBA's credibility. The trust between the fans, and the game of basketball will have to be earned once again through time. It is important for us to take a step back and realize that if basketball is such a great game, then it survive this turmoil that it is about to be thrown into. As the tempest nears, the game will go on.

Baseball is an example of a sport that has persevered and moved on. Baseball is alive and well now with record attendance across the country, and TV ratings that most other leagues would die for. But it was not so long ago when many thought that the national past time had run its course. In 1989 it was hit with the Pete Rose scandal, in which it was found he bet on baseball.

At the time, baseball commissioner, A. Bartlett Giamatti, tried to bring calmness to a time of incalculable harm to the game. He gave a moving speech when he announced the banishment of Pete Rose by saying:

I believe baseball is a beautiful and exciting game, loved by millions - I among them - and I believe baseball is an important, enduring American institution. It must assert and aspire to the highest principles - of integrity, of professionalism of performance, of fair play within its rules. It will come as no surprise that like any institution composed of human beings, this institution will not always fulfill its highest aspirations. I know of no earthly institution that does. But this one, because it is so much a part of our history as a people and because it has such a purchase on our national soul, has an obligation to the people for whom it is played - to its fans and well-wishers - to strive for excellence in all things and to promote the highest ideals.

I will be told that I am an idealist. I hope so. I will continue to locate ideals I hold for myself and for my country in the national game as well as in other of our national institutions. And while there will be debate and dissent about this or that or another occurrence on or off the field, and while the game's nobler parts will always be enmeshed in the human frailties of those who, whatever their role, have stewardship of this game, let there be no doubt or dissent about our goals for baseball or our dedication to it. Nor about our vigilance and vigor - and patience - in protecting the game from blemish or stain or disgrace.

The matter of Mr. Rose is now closed. It will be debated and discussed. Let no one think that it did not hurt baseball. That hurt will pass, however, as the great glory of the game asserts itself and a resilient institution goes forward. Let it also be clear that no individual is superior to the game.

The same should be said for basketball. The NBA will survive this blemish. It will suffer yes, and there will be pain for those involved. It will bounce back however, and it will thrive.

NBA Commissioner David Stern Reacts [J. Mark English]

"As we previously stated, we have been cooperating with the FBI in their investigation of allegations that a single NBA referee bet on NBA games that he officiated. As part of that cooperation, we were asked by the Government not to comment about the investigation, but in light of the widespread press coverage and the naming of the referee, Tim Donaghy, we consider it appropriate to make a fuller statement.

"We would like to assure our fans that no amount of effort, time or personnel is being spared to assist in this investigation, to bring to justice an individual who has betrayed the most sacred trust in professional sports, and to take the necessary steps to protect against this ever happening again. We will have more to say at a press conference that will be scheduled for next week." - David Stern

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Photo: Tim Donaghy - the Man Who Could Tear the NBA Apart [J. Mark English]

Video: Senator Byrd Lashes Out Against Vick [J. Mark English]

Senator Robert Byrd came out swinging today on the Senator floor against Michael Vick. This is just a small part of his rant against Vick, as well as dog fighting.

Please keep the following in mind, when you watch this video. The Senator, a democrat from West Virginia, used to be a member of the KKK. Should a national emergency occur where President Bush, Vice President Cheney, and Speaker of the House Pelosi are all killed, then Senator Byrd would assume presidential powers, as prescribed by the Constitution. (President Pro-Temp, or the oldest member of the majority party in the Senate is always fourth in line to be President)

Also, after watching this video, you may become an advocate of term limits...

NBA Ref May Have Bet on Own Games [J. Mark English]

I recall Jeff Van Gundy a few years ago being muzzled for complaining that it was as if the Rockets were being treated unfairly by refs because they were trying to affect the outcome. Van Gundy was fined for throwing out such suggestions with out any proof.

And now this story from Murray Weiss of the New York Post comes out:

THE FBI is investigating an NBA referee who allegedly was betting on basketball games - including ones he was officiating during the past two seasons - as part of an organized-crime probe in the Big Apple, The Post has learned.

The investigation, which began more than a year ago, is zeroing in on blockbuster allegations that the referee was making calls that affected the point spread to guarantee that he - and the hoods who had their hooks in him - cashed in on large bets.

Federal agents are set to arrest the referee and a cadre of mobsters and their associates who lined their pockets, sources said.

"These are dangerous people [the referee] was involved with," a source said.

One source close to the probe counted the number of games on which the ref and his wiseguy buddies scored windfalls in the "double digits."

NBA Commissioner David Stern is aware of the investigation and has a report about the referee on his desk, another source said.

The official, whose name was withheld, allegedly wagered on games during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 NBA seasons.

Comment -

I don't think people quite realize or grasp the concept that gambling in sports from the very people involved in that sport is a cardinal sin. People look at someone like Pete Rose and want to look the other way for his gambling problems. But his gambling on Reds baseball threatens the publics ability to know that what they are watching is the real deal. There is an element of trust between the fans and the sports we watch. That sacred trust allows the fans to know that what happens on the field is real. The NBA, NFL, MLB, and the NHL are not the WWE. And we accept this.

If it turns out that this ref is guilty, I hope they throw the book at him, to make sure that this can never happen again. Otherwise the sports we watch may become so poisoned with the element of disbelief, that there will be no reason to ever watch the games we love again.

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sports (Self) Center [Robert A. George]

Guest blogging from Robert A. George of Ragged Thots:

The news on Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick's indictment (his Marion Barry-type defense: "Bichon frise set me up!") creates an interesting irony. In its story this week on the decline of ESPN's Sportscenter -- especially given the upcoming departure of network anchor-institution Dan Patrick -- Newsweek notes:

ESPN's lucrative partnerships with the NFL, the NBA, MLB and NASCAR, among others, have put its news operation, and "SportsCenter" in particular, in a unique bind. "Imagine The New York Times owning half of the Broadway theaters whose plays it reviews. Or imagine CNN paying billions of dollars for exclusive ... rights to cover the War in Iraq," wrote ESPN's own ombudsman, Le Anne Schreiber, in a May 10 Web column titled "At ESPN, Conflict of Interest Is Business as Usual." It has led to the occasional gaffe, like ESPN's decision to cancel its well-regarded drama "Playmakers" after the NFL complained about the show.

"Playmakers" ran for one 12-episode season four years ago. Unfortunately, the NFL pressured the network to kill it, charging that the fictional show reflected poorly on the real NFL. It featured players engaged in illict affairs, spousal abuse, drugs -- and one of them came out as gay too (sort of "Footballers Wives" without the accents).

Of course, in just the last year, there have 13 arrests of Cincinnati Bengals players (admittedly, Chris Henry was nabbed four times); over a two-year period, Tennessee Titan "Pacman" Jones has been arrested multiple times and has been suspended for half of next season, Chicago Bears' Tank Johnson spent time in jail on weapons charges (and subsequently got released by the team after speeding) -- and now Michael Vick is under indictment for dogfighting.

Bring back "Playmakers", ESPN! It's far tamer than anything that's really happening in the National Football League.

On the other hand, maybe the network thinks such a show would only be redundant at this point.

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Bonds Inches Closer to Aaron [David Stefanini]

Barry Bonds hit is 752 and 753 home runs of his career today against the Cubs. These two swings left him only 2 home runs behind the most prestigious record in sports.

The question now becomes where is he going to break the record? His next series is in Milwaukee. Yes, the home of Bud Selig. I feel they should sit Barry and let him break the record in front of his home fans. The things this man has had to go through is very difficult to comprehend. Imagine waking up and being one of the most hated men in sports. Luckily for Bonds, Michael Vick has become the most hated athlete in the world.

I am one who thinks we should just let Barry play and celebrate his amazing accomplishment.

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Photo: Bonds Smashes 752, 753 [J. Mark English]

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Steroids: What Benoits Death Doesn't Tell Us [J. Mark English]

Large quantities of steroids were found in wrestler Chris Benoit's body following a toxicology exam given after his death. Does this tell us anything about the affects of someones mind who is a steroid user? Not really. Mark Spector of the National Post has more:

Dr. Kris Sperry, chief medical examiner for the State of Georgia, took the podium in Atlanta, faced the media that had gathered to learn whether steroids had played any role in the double-murder suicide of the Benoit family, and told them: "There is no way to know." Isn't that the problem?

Not enough users have stepped forward so that doctors can truly know what occurs inside one's brain when they begin taking steroids at age 16, as Benoit is alleged to have done. He apparently continued right up to his suicide at age 40. So there is no accepted, clinical evidence that the inordinate number of deaths of former pro wrestlers are following any medical pattern, and nothing to tellus what will happen to all those sprinters who have doped their way to Olympic finals over the past 20 years.

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In the Wake of Vick, Goodell Faces Dilema [J. Mark English]

Tough decision lie ahead for NFL principle, er, I mean commissioner, Roger Goodell. I'm sure I'm not the first person to make that subtle title mistake. After all, Mr. Goodell is making the the staple of his early tenure, an age of heavy handed discipline. Players that are continuously on the wrong fence of the law, find themselves in the principles office, er, I mean the commissioners office.

Carl Bialik and Jason Fry of the Wall Street Journal's Daily Fix, break down what choices lies ahead for Mr. Goodell:

Several columnists urge NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to suspend Mr. Vick. "If Goodell is truly the new sheriff in town, and wants to be consistent, and at the same time let every player in the league know he plays no favorites, then how can he not take action against Vick?" New York Daily News columnist Gary Myers asks. "Because he boosts TV ratings? Because he's one of the most exciting players in the league? He can't go soft because Vick is a marquee player." Mr. Myers, however, adds that according to his unnamed sources, the commish won't suspend Mr. Vick based solely on the indictment.

MSNBC's Michael Ventre says Mr. Goodell has carved out for himself, with the approval of the players association, a justice system that doesn't require waiting for the criminal-justice system to act. And the NFL will want to distance themselves from the QB, Mr. Ventre writes: "Whatever the evidence, the coming weeks and months will feature a gusher of bad publicity involving Vick, the Atlanta Falcons and the NFL. Details about the investigation will leak. More people will come forward about the extent of the despicable pastime allegedly perpetrated on Vick's land. When the general public starts to hear gory tidbits about the savagery that was allegedly condoned by the Falcons' quarterback, he will be persona non grata in society, let alone the NFL."

But Philadelphia Daily News columnist Rich Hofmann urges patience. "For Goodell, there is no danger in acting too slowly here," Mr. Hofmann writes. "If people want to be disgusted by Vick and the allegations, it is their right. If people want to condemn the commissioner for allowing this kind of accused miscreant to play in his league, so be it. But what is the alternative, and how would you square it with anybody's sense of justice? After all, even a hanging judge waits for a conviction before ordering the rope."

Whatever the league does, the Falcons are free to cut Mr. Vick, a move MSNBC's Mike Celizic urges. But as Washington Post columnist Michael Wilbon notes, the team had been planning to build around Mr. Vick, even letting their backup go.

The whole episode reinforces for San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Nick Canepa that the Chargers made the right call in trading the No. 1 pick in the 2001 draft to the Falcons -- who picked Mr. Vick -- and instead selecting at No. 5 "a nice fellow, a tailback named LaDainian Tomlinson, who has scored 111 touchdowns and thrown for six more since that fateful day."

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Reaction to Michael Vick [David Stefanini]

Well, J. Mark English was waiting to hear what I had to say and here it is:

This is a case of some stupid DA trying to make a name for himself. Look to the Kobe Bryant case where zero evidence was present to prove his guilt, but yet the DA felt obligated to make a statement. I feel this is the same situation.

A couple of weeks ago there was no evidence to indicate Michael Vick. So what happened? Did they magically step onto some bit of evidence? Now before I say anything else I have to point out how bad this looks for Vick. There seems to be a lot of things pointing to him being guilty. What else am I supposed to say other than this: do not judge Michael Vick yet. Let the justice system run its course before we decide who is the guilty party here.

My only hope the idiot that calls himself the head of the NFL, does not over react with a severe punishment. Vick hasn't been found guilty of anything, but with the way the this idiot has run the NFL that doesn't matter. If you are accused its good enough for him.

My prayers are with Michael Vick, actually they are with everyone who can set him free.

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Michael Vick Indicted [J. Mark English]

I can't wait to hear what David has to say about this, given that he is an ardent supporter of Michael Vick. But the Smoking Gun has revealed that Michael Vick has been indicted:

NFL star Michael Vick was indicted today on a federal conspiracy charge for his alleged role in a dog fighting venture that operated from a Virginia property owned by the Atlanta Falcons quarterback. A copy of the indictment, filed today in U.S. District Court in Richmond, can be found below. The 27-year-old Vick, whose nickname is listed as "Ookie" in the indictment, allegedly established the Bad Newz Kennels in early-2001 in Smithfield, Virginia. It was this property, for which Vick paid $34,000, that the star athlete and his codefendants used as the "main staging area for housing and training the pit bulls involved in the dog fighting venture and hosting dog fights." According to prosecutors, Vick and his cohorts began purchasing pit bull puppies in late-2001 and would eventually "sponsor" individual dog fights with purses as high as $26,000. In the indictment's most harrowing parts, federal investigators describe what happened to some Bad Newz Kennels dogs that either lost matches or did not perform well in test fights. After a March 2003 loss by a female pit bull, codefendant Purnell Peace, "after consulting with Vick," electrocuted the animal. In April, prosecutors allege, Vick, Peace, and Quanis Phillips, "executed approximately 8 dogs that did not perform well in 'testing' sessions." These animals, the indictment claims, were killed "by various methods, including hanging, drowning, and slamming at least one dog's body to the ground."

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Monday, July 16, 2007

10,000 Marbles for the Phillies [J. Mark English]