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Brief chronicles of our sporting times.

Cutch’s Fun Run around the Bases



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Do me a favor: Watch Andrew McCutchen circle the bases at Citizens Bank Ballpark last night and tell me that he’s not just as exciting to watch as his center-fielder rival Mike Trout

 

Thanks in part to Cutch’s inside-the-park home run, the Pirates defeated the Phillies, 6–3, to close within 3-1/2 games of the first-place Cardinals in the NL Central.

Tags: MLB

How Not to Succeed at Baserunning



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If the Royals lose the AL Central to the Tigers, possibly denying Kansas City its first postseason berth since 1985(!), this play in last night’s ninth inning in Detroit will undoubtedly be what the team and its bitterly disappointed fans will remember:

 

 

ESPN SweetSpot’s David Schoenfield shares the details:

Trailing 4–2 in the top of the ninth to the Detroit Tigers, in a game the Royals needed to win to maintain their lead over Detroit in the AL Central, they had two runners on against a sweaty Joe Nathan, the proverbial case of “on the ropes.” Nathan was taking a long time between pitches, the home fans had grown quiet and the Royals had the meat of their order up with no outs.

Norichika Aoki was at second base, pinch runner Terrance Gore had entered at first base. No. 3 hitter Alex Gordon, the team’s hottest hitter, stepped in. Nathan fell behind with two fastballs, but fought back to strike out Gordon on a foul-tip 3–2 slider.

Now things got interesting. Royals manager Ned Yost inserted speedster Jarrod Dyson to run for Aoki. Was that move necessary? When Dyson’s run isn’t the important one? Well, maybe Yost had something up his sleeve. Consider the circumstances:

  • Salvador Perez, the hitter, had grounded into 21 double plays — or 18 percent of all his potential double-play opportunities. That makes Perez one of the most likely hitters in the majors to ground into a double play. Of hitters with at least 50 double-play opportunities, Casey McGehee had the highest percentage entering Tuesday’s action, at 23 percent. Perez ranked in the top 20.
  • On the other hand, Nathan doesn’t throw a lot of ground balls, 42 percent of his balls in play, a little below the major league average of 47 percent.
  • However, Nathan is also pretty easy to steal on: As ESPN colleague Mark Simon pointed out, baserunners had been 10-for-10 stealing against Nathan this season and 44-for-46 going back to 2006. I’m pretty sure Yost didn’t know this, but Nathan also had one pickoff in his career.
  • Dyson and Gore are burners. Dyson was 33-for-39 in stealing bases on the year and was 20-for-22 in his career attempting to steal third. He’d been picked off three times this year. The rookie Gore had one steal but was 47-for-54 in the minors.

So that’s the setup. And . . . Nathan picked off Dyson (in a play officially ruled a caught stealing, even though Dyson was caught as he stumbled back to second base) and Perez struck out on a slider six inches off the plate and the game was over. . . .

(From postgame tweets, Yost says he did not have a double steal on for that particular pitch, but that Dyson had a green light to steal. The problem with that description is that it doesn’t tell us what Gore was going to do — it would be up to him to read Dyson, which doesn’t necessarily mean he’d attempt to steal second — and he’s the guy you’re trying to get into scoring position. If Gore doesn’t steal second, Dyson stealing third is pointless. So I don’t really buy this explanation from Yost; it doesn’t explain what he wanted the more important runner to do.) 

​More here.

Tags: MLB

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Reveille 9/8/14



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Good morning.

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

If you add up all [of this year's] players currently listed on the 60-day disabled list and considered them as consecutive jail terms, the Rangers would be serving nearly two years. . . .

None of that has anything to do with Washington except that it apparently caused him to suffer a serious loss of perspective as epitomized by his suggestion that Yu Darvish pitch through elbow inflammation because to do otherwise would be to “quit on his teammates.” “So he’s got inflammation,” Washington shrugged. “I’ve got inflammation.” (In an example of either good or bad timing, depending on your point of view, I wrote about this as part of my quotable series earlier on Friday morning.)

Washington later disowned those comments, but they called into question not only his judgment, but his whole raison d’etre given that he was a terrible X’s and O’s manager. His whole appeal was based on his ability to manage players as people, not as chess pieces. If you’re a danger to those pieces, risking breaking them for questionable gain, or character-assassinate them in the press, well, then what are you contributing? You’re not the morale officer anymore, you’re just the boss, and not a good one. He may well have retained the respect of the players right down to the day of his resignation, but at that point there are bigger issues at stake, greater risks to be avoided.

Watch Little League superstar Mo’ne Davis challenge Jimmy Fallon

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Reveille 9/2/14



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Good morning.

Here are several links from the past week that will make the post–Labor Day blues a bit more bearable:

  • Bill Madden is hardly a Derek Jeter critic, but even the New York Daily News columnist is taking note of the future Hall of Famer’s hitting woes. After a dreadful August, Jeter finds himself a dreadful 145th out of 152 MLB batting-title qualifiers in OPS (.622).
  • Another No. 2, the currently injured (torn labrum in hip) Troy Tulowitzki, made it clear to Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post that he will retire before moving from the shortstop position:

It’s all I know and it’s all I’ve ever worked for. So I guess when you have a dream and you accomplish it and someone tries to take it away from you. . . . it wouldn’t be worth it for me to try and move somewhere else.

Baseball is now dealing with the consequences of having spent a solid decade telling anyone who would listen that baseball is awful and no one should watch it. . . . He would have spent his formative years as a sports fan in the immediate aftermath of a canceled World Series, hearing that greedy players were destroying the game and that the dynastic Yankees team dominating the sport was such an affront to its competitive integrity that drastic measures had to be taken to give other teams any kind of chance at winning. He would have heard about the commissioner touring the country threatening to abolish various teams, some of them successful ones. He would have seen the league enthusiastically cooperating with a congressional investigation that all but treated many of its most famous players as criminals; the league touting an owner-written report claiming that those players were frauds, cheats, and liars; and the league and the government working together with small-time con men to destroy the very best of those players.

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Jessica Valenti: All-Women Sports-Talk Shows Don’t Promote Real Equality



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First Valenti wrote that nail polish designed to detect date-rape drugs encourages “rape culture,” and now she writes that CBS’s new sports-talk show featuring only women somehow ”provides the illusion of equality,” not real equality:

Is CBS Sports’ new ladies’ talk show really an excuse to push women aside?
Giving women separate shows while failing to address gender disparities in existing programming just provides the illusion of equality

We need more women in sports and more female-anchored television news shows — the current lineups on most of them are mostly pale, all-male and correspondingly stale. But creating separate spaces for women’s ideas and commentary isn’t equity: it’s table scraps.

For instance, when launching an all-female sports show, don’t name it something that sounds more like a voyeuristic break-up reality show than a sports program. We Need to Talk, an hour-long primetime show that will premiere on CBS Sports this fall, will feature solely women commentators and be produced and directed by a female team. But this feels more like giving up on women viewers – and sportscasters – than “girl power”.

Giving women their own separate shows while failing to address the gender disparity in existing programming simply provides the illusion of equality: companies get kudos for supporting women without the hard work of creating systemic change.

Besides, is there something so different about women’s commentary and ideas? Will female pundits have some particularly gendered view of sports that isn’t acceptable for CBS’s run-of-the-mill shows? By creating “women’s programs”, what we’re saying is that the male perspective is the normal one. The real one.

The rest here.

She’s right and she’s wrong on both issues.

On an op-ed page or in a lecture hall, she makes sense. Women shouldn’t have to live in fear of date-rape drugs. Women should be considered equals when commenting on sports. This is life in the theoretical. 

But we don’t live on op-ed pages or in lecture halls. Women do have to worry about scumbag men drugging and raping them. Audiences for sports-talk on television and radio do get to choose who they listen to, and might choose, for example, a man who has played in the NFL instead of a woman, no matter how insightful, who’s never taken a snap. This is life as it is.

We really need both the theoretical and the real. While Valenti focuses on the the op-ed/lecture hall aspects of pursuing equality, she’s missing positive changes. Inventors developing products to make women safer and programmers airing media formats that give women a voice are good things.

There’s also no downside for the examples listed above, even if the ideas are total flops. What if nobody buys the nail polish? At least the topic of men assaulting women is being talked about, and in a new way that’s getting it op-ed space in the Guardian. And what if the CBS show fails? Again, Liberals like to assume, like in the movie A Field of Dreams, “if they build” a show, viewers/listeners “will come. ” That’s not how it works. You start small, build an audience, prove yourself, and then get the big job. Take Michael Strahan as an example. There’s not a person who would have predicted that when Strahan retired from the New York Giants, he’d eventually replace Regis Philbin. None. I’m still surprised he’s on the show. But, hey, it works. Viewers love Live! With Kelly and Michael, and now Strahan is appearing on Good Morning America as well.

But where did Strahan start his career in broadcasting? It wasn’t with Fox and the NFL, but with the DIY Network and a home improvement show in 2007. He started on Fox in 2008, and didn’t break out as Regis’s replacement in 2012. 

CBS is giving women journalists a platform to, at worst, begin to build an audience that they will carry with them in their careers. That’s good news, not simply window dressing. 

Of note, Valenti is criticizing this CBS show before it’s even aired: 

“By creating ‘women’s programs,’ what we’re saying is that the male perspective is the normal one. The real one.” A single episode of this new CBS show has yet to air.

Maybe we should watch an episode first before declaring it a failure, no?

And I can’t let this one pass: Valenti tries to paint sports-talk programming as “pale.”

Well, if we’re using the Guardian as the benchmark for our pale-o-meter, I think people of color in sports media are doing pretty well. Here are the five columnists featured on the top of the Guardian’s ”Comment” section of their U.S. website. . .


And here are their pictures . . .

These writers can use a little sun I think. In the spirit of equality, of course.

Tags: Sports Media

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Reveille Rainout



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Good morning.

A much deserved quasi-vacation is the reason for this week’s Reveille’s being washed away. It will appear next on Tuesday, September 2.

Meanwhile, enjoy this GIF, courtesy of SB Nation’s David Roth, of the way-amazin’ Yasiel Puig slamming, nabbing, and tossing his batting helmet, pretty much all in one motion:

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Michael Sam Sacks Johnny Manziel



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Video here:

 

Tags: NFL

WaPost Editors Won’t Use ‘Redskins’ Any Longer



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From the editors of the Post:

Washington Post editorials will no longer use ‘Redskins’ for the local NFL team

But this isn’t as big a deal as it seems as the the decision of the editors to stop using “Redskins” only applies to editorials and not the rest of the paper or website:

What we are discussing here is a change only for editorials. Unlike our colleagues who cover sports and other news, we on the editorial board have the luxury of writing about the world as we would like it to be. Nor do we intend to impose our policy on our readers. If you write a letter about football and want to use the team name, we aren’t going to stop you.

That seems pretty self-serving. The term is only banned in the part of the paper that won’t lose them angry readers? 

 

Tags: NFL

POTUS Rejects ALS ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’ From Lebron James



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TMZ:

He rejected Ethel Kennedy. 

He rejected LeBron James. 

He even rejected Justin Bieber!!

And it seems pretty clear … President Barack Obama believes images showing the POTUS dousing himself in ice water would be damaging to the presidency. 

Oh, please. The president is no stranger to cold water, even braving the frigid temperatures of Martha’s Vineyard over his vacation:

But can Obama handle East Coast ocean temperatures? In a somewhat shocking revelation later in the day during remarks at a fundraiser, the president said, “I found, as somebody from Hawaii, the water is still a little cold.”

A dip in the Atlantic Ocean counts, right?

 

Tags: NBA

Reveille 8/18/14



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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:

  • The Royals remain in first place in the AL Central. In an article that includes references to the disastrous Howard the Duck film, Tom and Jerry cartoons, the Treaty of Versailles, and the short-lived Carpatho-Ukraine republic (no, really, it’s in there), SB Nation’s Steven Goldman explains why the good times are unlikely to last.  

Most of Smyly’s changeups have gone for balls. That’s bad for the run value. Many others have gone for hits — some of those for extra bases. That’s worse for the run value. Smyly, like a lot of lefties, has a pretty pronounced platoon split, and it’s something he’ll need to improve on if he wants to become a more reliable starting pitcher down the road. To get better, Smyly doesn’t need to get a better changeup, but that would be the most direct path, which is why he’s still working on the pitch. Perhaps the Rays figure they can help him out, either with the change or by turning his change into a splitter. The good news for Smyly is his changeup isn’t a finished product. The bad news is right now all he has is a scattered assortment of parts without instructions.

  • David Golebiewski of Gammons Daily documents how former first-round amateur-draft pick Anthony Rendon has thrived in 2014 even as two other top-ten picks on the Nats, Bryce Harper and Ryan Zimmerman, have been bitten with the injury bug. 
  • Yasiel Puig’s ”heartwarming gesture” to former Brooklyn Dodger Carl Erskine and his adult son caught the attention of Dodger Insider’s Cary Osborne.
  • Had Nolan Ryan been born in 1987, not 1947, would he have been given an opportunity to start big-league games? Oh, and is there reason to suspect that Ryan took steroids? Radical Baseball’s Kevin Matinale responds to both questions.    
  • What does Red Sox chairman and vanquished MLB-commissioner candidate Tom Werner have against Gettysburg, The Ten Commandments, Gone With The Wind, and Once Upon a Time in America? NESN’s Nick Solari has the details.

 

 

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Ray Chapman and the Whole Pivotal 1920 Season



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Let not this weekend of August 16–17 pass without some remembrance of Ray Chapman. Ninety-four years ago today, the Cleveland Indians shortstop died at St. Lawrence Hospital in Washington Heights in upper Manhattan. The day before, he was hit in the head by a pitch at the Polo Grounds. He is the only player in MLB history to die from an injury sustained on the field.

The 1920 season unfolded as one long pivotal moment in baseball history. The Black Sox scandal, which happened the previous fall, was gradually coming to light. It led to the major-league owners’ appointment of the first commissioner of baseball; Kensaw Mountain Landis took office in November. In hindsight, 1920 stands out also for being Ruth’s first season in a New York uniform. He was in right field when Chapman was struck down. I suppose you could multiply the events worth noting.

For a detailed but lucid account of “the pitch that killed” and of the whole busy season, off the field as well as on it, read this classic by Mike Sowell. The writing is almost flawless. You should be able to inhale it in a single sitting, maybe two.

 

 

Meet the New Commish



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So who is this Rob Manfred dude, tasked with leading the National Pastime for the next three years starting in January:

Matt Bonesteel of the Washington Post offers up some professional background on the 55-year-old, Major League Baseball’s chief operating officer since last September:

Manfred has worked for MLB in an official capacity since 1998 after previously serving as an outside counsel to the league during the players’ strike of 1994–95, which led to the cancellation of the 1994 World Series. Supporters of his candidacy for commissioner (led by the New York Yankees) said his experience in shepherding the league through its labor issues – he helped forge new labor deals in 2002, 2006 and 2011, each time without a work stoppage — would be an asset when the MLB owners and players return to the bargaining table to negotiate a new deal after the league’s current collective bargaining agreement ends following the 2016 season.

Bonesteel notes that not every owner was enthusiastic about Manfred:

MLB is the only professional sports league without a salary cap, instead relying on a luxury tax in an attempt to keep teams from stockpiling talent. MLB is also the only league in which the balance of power rests with the players during labor negotiations. Manfred will need to rally the support of skeptical owners [led by Jerry Reinsdorf of the White Sox] who see their compatriots in the NFL, NBA and NHL as having the upper hand over the players.

NBC Sports Hardball Talk’s Craig Calcaterra sees his election as one final victory for the outgoing head honcho:

Say what you will about Bud Selig, but after driving baseball into the ditch by helping foment the 1994 strike, he learned that he couldn’t simply impose his will on the game of baseball. He needed to deal. He needed to compromise. Both with the players and the other owners. And occasionally politicians and media executives. No one thinks of Bud Selig as a charismatic leader. Many like to talk about him as if he is a failure. But can you name a thing that he has wanted and not gotten in the past 15 years or so? Or, at the very least, a thing he hasn’t wanted that he has, nevertheless, been able to spin as his own personal victory? I can’t. 

He got what he wanted by abandoning the aggressive and confrontational approach which catapulted him into office in the first place. He led a coup against his predecessor, Fay Vincent, and declared war on the MLBPA. When he lost, he changed. Not many people with his power survive such losses. Even fewer manage to change and find success. Bud did. And he dragged 30 team owners along with him, despite the fact that team owners tend to be a non-learning, non-compromising lot by nature. He got them to play by his rules and as a result baseball has flourished and has been free of labor difficulties for the better part of two decades.

There is no shortage of advice pouring in to the Ccmmissioner-elect on how to improve the game. Ted Berg of USA Today’s For the Win offers up his fair share, including one that’s perfectly sensible:

OK, this one’s for real, and real simple: Enforce the rule that says pitchers can only hold onto the ball for 12 seconds between pitches when no one’s on base. Long baseball games are fine if they’re filled with actual baseball action, but there’s just not a lot of upside to letting pitchers futz around on the mound like goons when they should be pitching. Same for batters needlessly stepping out of the box. Seriously, just… move it along already.

And on the other end of the spectrum there’s this:

You want to make the sport appeal to kids? Try a swift rebranding. Instead of the boring batter logo that’s now 45 years old, freshen things up with the enduring face of baseball, Bartolo Colon. This is going to sell some T-shirts, I promise:

Oy.

Best of luck, Mr. Manfred.

More here, here, and here.

Tags: MLB

Stay Classy, Joe Nathan



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When the Tigers signed free agent Joe Nathan to a $14-million, two-year contract, a 5.11 ERA and 4.91 BB/9 wasn’t what the club — or the fans, for that matter — had in mind for the new closer.

After finishing last night’s game, an 8–4 victory over the visiting Pirates, Nathan gave the Comerica faithful a rather dismissive gesture I occasionally witnessed while growing up in Brooklyn. 

Mark Townsend of Yahoo’s Big League Stew has the details here, including the not-safe-for-work imagery.

Nathan subsequently apologized for making the gesture, according to MLB.com.

Tags: MLB

Judge Throws Book at Single Mom, Slaps RB Ray Rice on Wrist



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Remember Shaneen Allen, the single mom from Pennsylvania who is facing three and a half years in prison for carrying a concealed handgun in New Jersey? NRO’s editors wrote about her a few weeks ago:

On October of 2013, a Pennsylvania resident named Shaneen Allen drove into New Jersey’s Atlantic County and was pulled over by police for an “unsafe lane change.” When the detaining officer arrived at her car window, Allen informed him that she was carrying a concealed firearm, and presented her Pennsylvania carry license as proof of eligibility. Unbeknownst to her at the time, however, was that New Jersey is among the 20 states that do not recognize Pennsylvania’s permit. In consequence, she was arrested. If convicted of the charges that the state has elected to bring, she will be locked in prison for up to a decade.

A single mother of two young children, Allen works more than one job and as a result leaves her home at odd times of the day. After two robberies made her aware of her vulnerability, she became convinced that she should be prepared to defend herself and her family, and resolved to do something about it. Which is to say that Allen bought her firearm, and obtained her concealed-carry permit, not to commit crimes but to prevent them. This has failed to move the prosecutor, Jim McClain, an overzealous man who has routinely declined to use the considerable latitude with which he has been entrusted by the state.

It turns out that the judge in Allen’s case is the same judge that allowed NFL star Ray Rice to avoid jail time for punching his wife in the face. 

Glenn Reynolds writes:

Carrying a gun way worse than beating your wife

When Ray Rice beat his wife unconscious in an elevator, New Jersey Superior Court Judge Michael Donio and New Jersey District Attorney Jim McClain agreed to put him in a diversion program for 1st-time offenders to keep him out of jail. But when Pennsylvania single mom Shaneen Allen was pulled over for a traffic violation and volunteered to a New Jersey police officer that she was carrying a legally-owned handgun with a Pennsylvania permit, the response of Donis and McClain was to deny her the same opportunity as Rice.

I hope somebody asks the judge to explain how a non-violent first-time offender who did something accidentally deserves more prison time than a NFL star who committed a violent act intentionally. 

 

Tags: NFL

Werth Gets Clocked Doing 105 MPH in 55 Zone



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Via Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post: Jayson Werth’s shoulder may be giving him some discomfort, but his right foot appears to be on fire:

Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth was pulled over in early July and charged with reckless driving for going 105 mph in a 55-mph zone, according to a case file on the Fairfax County General District Court Web site.

Werth was charged with a misdemeanor for the incident, which occurred July 6, according to the file. Werth originally had a hearing scheduled for Aug. 8, but the case has been continued until Nov. 12.

“The Washington Nationals have been in communication with right fielder Jayson Werth regarding this situation for multiple weeks,” a Nationals spokesperson said in an e-mailed statement. “Jayson is cooperating with the authorities. As it is an ongoing legal matter, the team has no further comment.”

Maybe a grizzled veteran can take aside the impressionable 35-year-old corner outfielder and . . . oh, wait, never mind.

More here.

Tags: MLB

Cespedes Shows How Sweet It Is



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What do you think Yoenis Cespedes did immediately after receiving a little chin music from a Jonathan Broxton fastball?

Yup:

Meanwhile, see what Edinson Volquez found in his glove:

“What’s that saying about ‘a blind squirrel’?”

The Red Sox and Pirates won their games against the Reds and Tigers, respectively.

Tags: MLB

Meet the Greatest Cubs Fan in the World



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I want to be this guy when I grow up — happy and handsome, athletic and crafty (well, he is left-handed), and, unless there’s Jack Daniel’s in that soda cup, sober:

Interestingly, “this guy” is no ordinary Cubs fan. Meet Mike Pullin, “a 65-year-old champion on the Professional Bowling Association Senior Tour (now the PBA50).” Here he is in action back in 2000.

He’s no Bartman, that’s for sure.

Tags: MLB

Jerry Jones and the Pictures of the Woman Not His Wife



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“Misinterpreted”? Via the New York Post:

Now this is some lackluster Cowboys defense.

Jerry Jones, in his first comments addressing the photos that surfaced last week depicting the Cowboys owner in a series of raunchy poses with two Texas strippers, as part of a possible extortion plot, only could muster that the snapshots are “misrepresented” before dissembling with a series of no-comments.

“Someone has misrepresented photos taken at a restaurant five years ago for their own purposes,” Jones said Sunday night, according to The Dallas Morning News. “I’m just not going to comment on it.’’

You be the judge: how, exactly, should we interpret this?

 

Tags: NFL

Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward — Crash Updates



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Wall Street Journal:

The Tony Stewart Crash: Just What Happened

New York Post:

The aunt of the sprint car driver who was struck and killed by auto racer Tony Stewart on Saturday has blamed the NASCAR hothead’s temper for her nephew’s death.
“Thanks for thinking of our family tony Stewart when you decided to be a d***!,” said Wendi Ward, aunt of driver Kevin Ward Jr, who was fatally struck when he exited his vehicle to confront Stewart during the caution flag of a dirt track sprint car race in upstate New York Saturday.

Christian Science Monitor

Tony Stewart crash probe focuses on track, lighting

Tags: Misc.

Meet the 13-Year-Old Girl with a 70-MPH Fastball



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Great stuff:

Mo’Ne Davis isn’t your average Little League player, and she certainly isn’t your standard teenager. She just so happens to be an astounding pitcher who dominates the competition and could help redefine how women are viewed in the sport of baseball.

Davis pitched a shutout on Sunday that helped the Taney Dragons of Philadelphia advance to the the Little League World Series, all on the back of her 70 mph fastballand a brutal curve. Yes, 70 miles per hour.

And here’s video:

 

Tags: Misc.

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