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Brief chronicles of our sporting times.

The NYT vs. Florida State’s Jameis Winston



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The Times has a damning report out today on the handling of the rape case against Florida State’s star QB, Jameis Winston. In summary, “there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university.”

The opener:

Early on the morning of Dec. 7, 2012, a freshman at Florida State University reported that she had been raped by a stranger somewhere off campus after a night of drinking at a popular Tallahassee bar called Potbelly’s.

As she gave her account to the police, several bruises began to appear, indicating recent trauma. Tests would later find semen on her underwear.

For nearly a year, the events of that evening remained a well-kept secret until the woman’s allegations burst into the open, roiling the university and threatening a prized asset: Jameis Winston, one of the marquee names of college football.

Three weeks after Mr. Winston was publicly identified as the suspect, the storm had passed. The local prosecutor announced that he lacked the evidence to charge Mr. Winston with rape. The quarterback would go on to win the Heisman Trophy and lead Florida State to the national championship.

In his announcement, the prosecutor, William N. Meggs, acknowledged a number of shortcomings in the police investigation. In fact, an examination by The New York Times has found that there was virtually no investigation at all, either by the police or the university.

The police did not follow the obvious leads that would have quickly identified the suspect as well as witnesses, one of whom videotaped part of the sexual encounter. After the accuser identified Mr. Winston as her assailant, the police did not even attempt to interview him for nearly two weeks and never obtained his DNA.

The detective handling the case waited two months to write his first report and then prematurely suspended his inquiry without informing the accuser. By the time the prosecutor got the case, important evidence had disappeared, including the video of the sexual act.

“They just missed all the basic fundamental stuff that you are supposed to do,” Mr. Meggs said in a recent interview. Even so, he cautioned, a better investigation might have yielded the same result.

The case has unfolded as colleges and universities across the country are facing rising criticism over how they deal with sexual assault, as well as questions about whether athletes sometimes receive preferential treatment. The Times’s examination — based on police and university records, as well as interviews with people close to the case, including lawyers and sexual assault experts — found that, in the Winston case, Florida State did little to determine what had happened.

The rest here.

Welcome to Vandelay Industries Park



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Via the New York Daily News: The Mets’ single-A farm team on Coney Island wants its fans to be masters of their domain:

In a promotion straight out of Bizarro World, the Brooklyn Cyclones will celebrate “Salute to Seinfeld Night” in honor of the “show about nothing.”

Scheduled for July 5, the 25th anniversary of the show’s first airing, the event includes free Keith Hernandez “Magic Loogie” Bobblehead dolls to the first 2,500 fans who arrive at MCU Park — which will be called Vandelay Industries Park for the special occasion.

The Cyclones are also promising a free ticket to anybody who shows up with a business card proving they are a latex salesman, as long as the telephone number given isn’t for an apartment on the Upper East Side.

Unfortunately, there’s no truth to the rumor that the right-field foul pole will be replaced with the aluminum pipe Frank Costanza uses during Festivus.

More here.

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These Phillies Fans Have the Video of the Day



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Via Deadspin, watch Dan Uggla, batting in the ninth inning with the bases loaded and his team down by one, respond to fans showering him with Citizens Bank Ballpark’s version of Brotherly Love:

The final score: Braves 9, Phillies 6.

Tags: MLB

The IOC Warns Rio On 2016 Olympic Preparations



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Last week the IOC warned Rio that their Olympic preparations were way behind schedule. And this labor strike won’t help:

Workers at the main venue of the 2016 Olympic Games voted on Monday to continue their strike indefinitely, just days before officials from the International Olympic Committee are due to visit Rio de Janeiro and encourage the city to speed up preparations.

Around 2,500 workers at the Olympic Park, a huge area that will host more than a dozen events, are seeking higher pay and more benefits.

“We don’t know how long we’ll be on strike,” Antonio Figueiredo Souza, president of the construction workers union Sintraconst-Rio, told Reuters.

“We are not going back until we get an offer. So far that hasn’t happened and so it looks like this will end up in the Labour Courts.”

The strike began on April 3 and is the latest in a series of problems affecting the preparations for the 2016 games, the first ever to be held in South America.

Brazil’s preparations are way behind schedule, and work at some venues has not even started. With just over two years to go before the Games begin organisers are still to say how much the extravaganza will cost and which sphere of government will pay for the different jobs that need to be done.

The IOC last week announced Rio needs more oversight and said it will send officials to the city on a more frequent basis. The IOC’s executive director Gilbert Felli is to return to the city later this week.

The rest here.

 

Tags: Olympics

Frenchy Stars in the Video of the Day



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What is the world coming to when minor leaguers, including some who have never played a single game in the majors, pull a practical joke on a player with almost enough big-league playing time under his belt to be eligible for Hall of Fame consideration?

Nah, this is too funny to care all that much:

After spending 10 years in the big leagues, Jeff Francoeur finds himself playing for San Diego’s Triple A affiliate in El Paso. Instead of rolling out the red carpet to welcome the free-swinging outfielder, the Chihuahuas decided to play a month-long prank on him.

It took a total team effort to convince Francoeur starting pitcher Jorge Reyes was deaf. The payoff for this massive conspiracy is a seven-minute video roasting him for his stupidity.

More here.

Tags: MLB

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Reveille 4/14/14



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Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday at the office a bit more bearable:

  • Not only did Garcia’s teammate, Jose Abreu, slug two home runs against the Indians on Thursday evening, reports Lindsey Foltin of Fox Sports Ohio, he managed to tear open a brand-new ball with another swing.   
  • Abreu’s 439-foot bomb in the second inning of that game came off Danny Salazar. Gammons Daily’s Bill Chuck noted that the 24-year-old fireballer had a most peculiar outing:

Salazar faced just 18 batters [over three and two-thirds innings,] allowing six hits, including two homers and a double, and walked two and permitted five runs.

Now here’s the amazing part . . .

He struck out every other batter he faced.

Check out his BABIP yesterday — the White Sox were perfect [1.000].

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Nebraska’s Bo Pelini Takes the Field - With His Cat



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First, some background. There’s a hilarious Twitter-parody account of Nebraska’s head football coach called @FauxPelini that has a photoshopped picture of the acerbic coach cuddling with a cat:

Pelini has been good-natured about the account in the past, and at one point asked the parody account for his cat back.

And to continue the gag, Pelini brought the cat with him to Nebraska’s spring game, much to the delight of the fans:

Click the link in the tweet above for the video.

According to ESPN’s write-up of the game, the Huskers have issues at QB. Can the cat help with that I wonder?

 

Tags: NCAA

Report: Manziel Had Top QB Wonderlic Score



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CBS Sports:

Texas A&M redshirt sophomore quarterback Johnny Manziel reportedly scored a 32 on the Wonderlic intelligence test, tops among the highest-ranked prospects at the position in the 2014 NFL Draft. [. . .]

For most teams, the timed logic and reasoning test is used to gauge calm and critical thinking in a pressure environment. The test is given by most teams at the Scouting Combine, when they also are put through athletic, medical and psychological testing.

Manziel is regarded as a top 10 prospect in the 2014 draft. As many as five quarterbacks could be drafted in the top 40 picks: UCF’s Blake Bortles, Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, Fresno State’s Derek Carr and Eastern Illinois’ Jimmy Garroppolo.

The rest here.

 

Tags: NFL

This White Sox Beer Vendor Has the Play of the Day



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Thanks to Comcast Sports Net Chicago via Big League Stew’s David Brown, we get this painful highlight from the Cell:

As Frank Costanza once explained, “It was a million to one shot, Doc. Million to one.”

Tags: MLB

Stars and Stripes Burns in Atlanta



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In the aftermath of their home opener on Tuesday, a 4-0 loss to the Mets, Atlanta decided to resume the Civil War:

New pyrotechnics had been affixed to Braves Vision (the big screen in center field), and an errant firework lit the AMERICAN FLAG ON FIRE during a postgame fireworks show. One fan captured the incredible image and shared it on Facebook.

Team spokeswoman Beth Marshall said the team was trying a new location for a pyrotechnic display. …

“The flag was made of flame-retardant material so it didn’t catch fire, but did burn holes.  We replaced the flag immediately following the game and we will no longer use pyrotechnics from that location,” Marshall told Channel 2 Action News.

More here and here.

Sergio’s Moment



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I write this at 10 p.m. Central the night before the Masters, having meant all week to post it. The Masters this year has the worst story lines, entering it, of any Masters I can remember. There’s just no galvanizing story, no rivalry, no stars obviously peaking . . . nothing that makes for great drama going in, other than the fact that this is indeed Augusta, and Augusta in April rarely disappoints.

A few thoughts. First, I won’t even link to them, but I have been struck by an amazing spate of columns in recent days that effectively shovel dirt on the imaginary grave of Tiger Woods. For years, the golf press worshiped, at least in print, so obsequiously at the Shrine of Tiger that it was sickening. It was very, very, very, very, very difficult, pre-2009, to find anybody in print with the guts to criticize Woods about anything. Then, when he had his public fall from grace, the piling on began. He is standoffish. He curses. He’s not as gracious as Nicklaus when he loses. Heck, he’s not as gracious when he wins. He ignores the gallery. He tends to bend the rules in his favor. And on and on. All of these things are true. But none of them were frequently mentioned before Woods’s sex scandals came to light. And this week, with his missing the Masters because of injury, the media have been brutal. They compare him with Nicklaus, in terms of character and grace, and, accurately, find him wanting. They quote fellow players seeming to belittle him and to take his absence in stride, as if he’s no longer really a big deal. And the undertone of these columns is almost gleeful, as if the writers are just really enjoying “sticking it” to Woods.

I say enough already. A lot of the criticisms are accurate. I’m no big Tiger fan. But he’s not a monster. By the standards of any sport other than golf, he’s a reasonably good role model apart from his sexual escapades. He tries to comport himself with dignity, even if it doesn’t come naturally to him. He is usually courteous, even if not warm, to other players. He reveres the military, and honors military personnel every chance he gets. He does do good charitable work for children, and seems to really care about it. He gives all he has on the course. He plays hurt, horribly hurt. 

In short, he’s no ogre. And the time to kick him isn’t when he is down, suffering from a bad back and unable to play. He doesn’t deserve to have his misfortune be cause for being treated badly. Even those of us who don’t want to see him win more majors can and should wish that he be afforded more respect and, more important, more decency . . .

Now, on to those who will actually be playing . . . There is a lot of analysis that could be done. I wish there were time to explain why Trevor Immelman might surprise and put up a real challenge. There are encomiums to be written to Jason Day’s skills and reasons to predict him to win if his wrist holds up. There is also lots of good speculation about the chances of Dustin Johnson. But my crystal tarot tea leaves, sending me smoke signals and saying Abracadabra, tell me the real guy to watch is Sergio Garcia. As good as he has been for so long (it’s been 15 years since he finished second to Woods at the PGA), he still ranks up there with Greg Norman and very few others as having underperformed, in overall records, given the potential that his own hard work has given him. At age 34, after 15 years on the big stage, he still has won not a single major title.

But now is the time for him to step up. His game has really come back in the past 16 months or so, with several Euro titles and some close calls in the United States. He finished third last week in Houston, and for once he is putting beautifully, whereas for a long, long time it was his putting that was his Achilles’ heel. And his nemesis Woods, who seems to “get in his head,” is not around to bedevil Garcia. The Masters recently seems to reward people in the 32–34 age range. Garcia is 34. He is “due,” as the saying goes. Here’s saying Sergio Garcia puts on the Green Jacket on Sunday.

Frank Thomas Has the Quote of the Day



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Without further to-do:

Perhaps the Big Hurt was responding to yesterday’s White Sox-Rockies game in Denver, which featured six home runs by the visiting team.

Never mind that no team has played more than ten games, Frank, the Yankees didn’t hit their first home run of the 2014 season until their sixth contest. They now have three, as do the Marlins and Rangers. Heck, the Royals have yet to hit their first. 

Of course, it’s worth noting that the Hall of Fame newbie blames the ball (and presumably MLB, by extension), not performance-enhancing drugs. We do know that a livelier ball will almost certainly result in more home runs. What is considerably less clear is how PEDs in the bloodstream of hitters and pitchers alike affect the frequency of round-trippers. (For example: “[T]he rate of home runs on contacted balls was higher in 2012 than it was in 1998.”)

Tags: MLB

Ryan Braun 2.0 Slugs Three Home Runs



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The Phillies fans who showed up for their team’s home opener let visitor Ryan Braun know exactly what they thought of his use of and repeated lying about performance-enhancing drugs.

Braun, who had had a quiet first week at the plate, responded to the chorus of boos and shouts of “cheater” by slugging three home runs in a 10–4 win for the Brewers:

Two of the home runs were three-run blasts to left field. The third was a solo shot the opposite way.

More here.

Hank Aaron on Race: Little Has Changed



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Ben Nightengale of USA Today recently interviewed one-time home-run king Henry Aaron, as tonight marks the 40th anniversary of hitting no. 715.

Regrettably, the 80-year-old’s remarks were laced with a Sharpton-esque suggestion that politicos opposed to President Obama are racist:

“To remind myself,” Aaron tells USA TODAY Sports, “that we are not that far removed from when I was chasing the record. If you think that, you are fooling yourself. A lot of things have happened in this country, but we have so far to go. There’s not a whole lot that has changed.

“We can talk about baseball. Talk about politics. Sure, this country has a black president, but when you look at a black president, President Obama is left with his foot stuck in the mud from all of the Republicans with the way he’s treated.

“We have moved in the right direction, and there have been improvements, but we still have a long ways to go in the country.

“The bigger difference is that back then they had hoods. Now they have neckties and starched shirts.”

Aaron went on to say that the decline of African-American participation on the big-league diamond was also an indication that racism was alive and well:

“When I first started playing, you had a lot of black players in the major leagues,” Aaron says. “Now, you don’t have any (7.7% of big-leaguers last season). So what progress have we made? You try to understand, but we’re going backward.”

Actually, a SABR study found that, while Aaron is correct that black-player involvement is down from its 18.5 percent zenith in 1975 (his final season), African-Americans made up a mere 5.4 percent of the ballplayers during his 1954 rookie season and 5.2 percent one year later.

More importantly, the sport has gone global in more recent years. For example, 24 percent of last year’s opening-day MLB rosters consisted of players not from the United States.

More here.

Tags: MLB

Did Boston’s David Ortiz Kill the Presidential Selfie?



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Could be. If so, he deserves a medal.

Exit question: Why is Team Obama more embarrassed by the Samsung-Ortiz stunt than the selfies from the Mandela funeral?

Tags: MLB

Reveille 4/7/14



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Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make your Monday at the office a bit more bearable:

  • C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams claims he didn’t mean to give a shove to the Reds fan who, sporting a knee brace and crutches, snared a foul ball that Adams had attempted to catch. Hmmm.
  • Who is Charlie Blackmon and how did he manage to go 6 for 6 in the Rockies’ third game of the season? ESPN SweetSpot’s David Schoenfield investigates. 
  • Meanwhile, Schoenfield takes issue with the decision of new Nats skipper Matt Willliams to bat Bryce Harper sixth last Wednesday against the Mets (and on Friday against the Braves):

The biggest flaw here is that [Denard] Span is hitting leadoff and he’s clearly one of the weakest hitters on the team. He’s not terrible, so it’s far from the worst lineups we’ve seen, but he doesn’t bring a high enough on-base percentage to offset his lack of power (.279/.327/.380) and he’s not a big enough base thief to create many extra runs that way (20 steals in 2013). He is, however, probably the fastest guy on the team and that’s why he’s hitting leadoff. So Williams has elected — for now — to give an inferior hitter more plate appearances. 

  • Two players were inked to six-year contract extensions last week: Chris Archer of the Rays and Jason Kipnis of the Indians. Cliff Corcoran of SI’s The Strike Zone gives the Kipnis signing a big thumbs-up for Cleveland, noting that “Kipnis has a very similar offensive profile to Dustin Pedroia and Ben Zobrist,” but is three and a half years and six years younger respectively. Similarly, Randy Holt of The Outside Corner notes that, by extending Archer, they “lock[ed] up a pitcher who’s just 25 with big upside, for a very nice price.”
  • An unexpected overnight rainstorm ought not be a problem for teams playing the following evening . . . unless no tarp was covering the stadium infield. Janice Mccauley of the Associated Press provides the soggy details from Oakland. 
  • Neil Paine of FiveThirtyEight’s Data Lab explores the relative importance of having a top farm system.
  • In the wake of a successful two-game exhibition series in Montreal — the first baseball games played in the city since the Expos departed after the 2004 season — the Hardball Times’ Blake Murphy looks back at the “10 best moments in the history of Olympic Stadium.” Among them:

Believer Fever: In 2003, with Death knocking at the Expos’ door, Montreal took the first three games of a four-game set from the Phillies. A win in the final game of the series would have created a tie for the Wild Card with a month to play. The crowd was electric, and while the team stumbled down the stretch (no September call-ups? C’mon son), it was a final sign that the city would support the team, even as the fans were getting crapped on.

  • Murphy’s colleague Frank Jackson reviews the mostly refreshing relationship between beer and baseball.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

18-Inch Stuffed Corn Dogs a Desert Hit



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I am pretty sure the first lady was not at all amused on reading this update from Phoenix:

The Arizona Diamondbacks are having trouble keeping up with the demand for their new D-bat corn dog, an 18-inch long corn dog stuffed with cheese, bacon, and jalapenos.

Arizona says they moved 300 of the $25 behemoths on opening day and now they only have enough left to make 100 per game for the rest of their opening home stand.

Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall told ESPN that the team will use their upcoming road trip to stock up on the necessary provisions and possibly make the D-bat available in more than two of the stadiums concession stands.

Here’s hoping that Chase Field’s bathroom pipes are also able to handle the increased demand. (And considering the ongoing issues at Oakland’s O.Co Coliseum, thank heavens the A’s didn’t come up with a similar product for sale.)

More here.

Tags: MLB

Two Redskins, One Uniform Number



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Via CBS Sports:

What number will Jackson wear in Washington? And that question isn’t as easy to answer as it might seem.

Since his rookie year in 2008, Jackson has worn No. 10. There’s a small problem with getting that number in Washington though: It’s already taken. And it’s taken by someone who Jackson probably won’t be able to buy off. That someone would be Robert Griffin III.

Even though RG3 has worn No. 10 since high school, Jackson is still holding out hope that the Redskins quarterback will give the number up, “We talked about it a little bit, but there hasn’t been a decision that’s been made yet so far,” Jackson said on Tuesday. “Maybe RG3 will wear No. 3 and I’ll try to get 10. We’ll see how it goes.”

This makes no sense, as Redskins management would first have to approve the switch. And if the two did switch, the NFL merchandising policy is that RGIII would have to personally buy all the old merchandise with his name and number on it. As RGIII’s jersey is a best-seller, that’s a lot of inventory he’d have to purchase. Plus, imagine all the angry Redskins fans who now have the wrong jersey.

RGIII later tweeted that he wasn’t switching numbers. Either Jackson was delusional when talking to Griffin about the jersey change or the media are quoting this out of context. 

Tags: NFL

Sports Broadcasters Criticize Paternity Leave in MLB



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Radio broadcaster Mike Mike Francesa at New York City’s WFAN is not happy that Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy took a few days off to be with his wife and their newborn son. Via the New York Daily News:

Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy missed his second straight game Wednesday night to be with his wife and newborn child, taking advantage of his collectively bargained paternity leave.

But his absence didn’t sit well with some of New York’s sports talk radio hosts, who took the second baseman to task for not “getting his ass back to the team.”

“One day I understand. And in the old days they didn’t do that. But one day, go see the baby be born and come back. You’re a Major League Baseball player. You can hire a nurse to take care of the baby if your wife needs help,” WFAN afternoon host Mike Francesa said on Wednesday.

Murphy left the Mets on Monday to be with his wife, Tori, who gave birth to their son, Noah, in Florida. The Mets were off Tuesday and called up Wilmer Flores on Wednesday to play second base.

Murphy, who is allowed 1-3 days off for paternity leave that was put into MLBPA’s collective bargaining agreement in 2011, is expected to be back in the lineup for Thursday’s afternoon game against the Nationals. That isn’t soon enough for Francesa, who says all dads should follow his example.

“What are you going to do? I mean you are going to sit there and look at your wife in a hospital bed for two days?” he mocked. “Your wife doesn’t need your help the first couple of days; you know that you’re not doing much the first couple days with the baby that was just born.”

And Francesa wasn’t alone:

Boomer Esiason, on WFAN’s morning show, took it even a step further, saying Murphy should have insisted his wife “have a C-section before the season starts. I need to be at Opening Day, I’m sorry.”

His partner, Craig Carton agreed: “Assuming the birth went well, the wife is fine, the baby is fine, 24 hours and then you get your ass back to your team and you play baseball.”

Really Boomer? After all Esiason has gone through with his son, I’d expect that he’d at least understand the importance to a father being with his wife and child at his child’s birth.

Tags: MLB

President Selfie Update: Ortiz Photo Was Staged by Samsung



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So now the President of the United States is nothing more than a prop in a marketing campaign? 

Staged selfies might be the name of the game.

It started at the Oscars with Ellen DeGeneres’s epic picture of celebrities and now it appears David Ortiz himself may be in on the action.

Samsung confirmed that it had helped Ortiz take Tuesday’s selfie with President Obama. The mobile provider then promoted the picture on Twitter to the company’s 5.2 million followers.

Trade publication Sports Business Journal reported on Monday that Ortiz had inked a new endorsement deal with the cellphone provider.

Samsung Mobile promoted the Obama-Ortiz selfie on Twitter after the Red Sox appeared at the White House, and it had been retweeted 34,000 times as of Tuesday evening. As Twitter users weighed in, Samsung Mobile smartly responded to individual users asking about the picture. “This photo was taken with a #GalaxyNote3,’’ Samsung Mobile US tweeted.

The rest here.

Tags: MLB

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