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Brief chronicles of our sporting times.

A Busy 48 Hours for Queens Park Rangers



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Two days ago, AirAsia chief executive officer Tony Fernandes purchased a 66 percent stake in Queens Park Rangers of the English Premier League for a reported $57.6 million. The Malaysian tycoon has promised to run QPR like a “proper business.”

Earlier today, the West London club, newly promoted to the top tier, celebrated with an impressive road victory over Everton, its first victory in the EPL since 1996. More here.

Tags: Misc.

Free LoMo!



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You don’t have to be a Marlins fan to appreciate the sentiments posted on this T-shirt. Logan Morrison may be MLB’s version of Livia Soprano: “between brain and mouth, there was no interlocutor.” Is it little wonder that the young outfielder has over 65,000 followers on Twitter? The Marlins’ recent demotion of Morrison, whose slash line this season is a respectable .249/.327/.464 with a .344 wOBA and 17 home runs, is generally viewed as punishment for not toeing the company line.

Tags: MLB

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Cubs Fire GM Hendry



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Multiple reports out of Chicago indicate that Jim Hendry, the Cubs’ general manager since 2002, has been canned. Despite having one of the highest payrolls, the Cubs are 54-70 and firmly entrenched in fifth place in the National League Central.

Tags: MLB

Bad Call Goes Against the Yankees (For a Change)



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Perhaps unsurprisingly, MLB Advanced Media does not provide replay of Billy Butler’s long drive incorrectly ruled a home run, but allows us to hear some of the YES network’s broadcast booth commentary. Interestingly, manager Joe Girardi failed to lodge a protest immediately following the game, despite the heated insistence of several Yankees, including Mariano Rivera.

Tags: MLB

Biden Goes to China, Massive Brawl Ensues



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The Veep is wheels down in China, and the next thing you know the Georgetown Hoyas — in country for a goodwill tour — are brawling with a Chinese semi-pro team during an exhibition game. Okay, so the one didn’t (necessarily) cause the other, but it’s a strange coincidence, no? 

This (admittedly partisan) account suggests things reached a boiling point after three quarters of comically lopsided foul calls against the Americans. It brings to mind the men’s World Cup last year and the rankly biased officiating.

Tags: NCAA

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The ‘U’ Scandal Reaches Nancy Pelosi



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Gird your loins! Business Insider:

Miami Booster Claims UFL Commissioner Provided Benefits To Student-Athletes

That would be UFL Commisioner Michael Huyghue, who is tied to Nancy Pelosi through her husband Paul’s ownership of the Sacramento Mountain Lions.

An excerpt from the Business Insider piece:

When the United Football League (UFL) was just beginning at the tail end of 2007, Michael Huyghue was asked to become the new league’s Commissioner.  Huyghue’s résumé spoke for itself.  He was Senior Vice President of Football Operations for the Jacksonville Jaguars prior to becoming the President and CEO of a successful Jacksonville, Florida based sports agency titled, Axcess Sports & Entertainment.   Upon receiving the offer from the UFL, Huyghue voluntarily relinquished his NFL Contract Advisor certification and focused all of his efforts on building the UFL product.

At one point in time, Huyghue represented NFL stars that included Jon Beason, Vince WilforkKyle Brady and Adam “Pacman” Jones.  It was well known that Huyghue and Axcess Sports & Entertainment recruited players from the University of Miami with the end goal of representing them in the NFL Draft and beyond.  What was not overtly alleged until earlier today, is that Michael Huyghue and Nevin Shapiro, on behalf of Axcess Sports & Entertainment, paid University of Miami student-athletes during the recruiting process.

Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports performed a masterful investigation regarding the benefits given to University of Miami student-athletes by former University of Miami booster Nevin Shapiro.  Michael Huyghue’s name appears a total of 14 times throughout Robinson’s article concerning that investigation.  The following is quoted from Robinson’s article.  It contains all 14 instances of Huyghue’s name.

Also among the revelations were damning details of [Nevin] Shapiro’s co-ownership of a sports agency – Axcess Sports & Entertainment – for nearly his entire tenure as a Hurricanes booster.   The same agency that signed two first-round picks from Miami, Vince Wilfork and Jon Beason, and recruited dozens of others while Shapiro was allegedly providing cash and benefits to players. In interviews with federal prosecutors, Shapiro said many of those same players were also being funneled cash and benefits by his partner at Axcess, then-NFL agent and current UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue.

Shapiro bought plane tickets for two of [Willis] McGahee’s female acquaintances to attend the 2002 Heisman Trophy ceremony and flew D.J. Williams’ mother from California to Miami to spend time with her son and meet with Shapiro’s partner at Axcess Sports, Michael Huyghue.

According to Shapiro, the system for recruiting players to sign with Axcess Sports was actually compartmentalized between himself and Huyghue. The booster would use his close relationship with players to make an introduction to Huyghue, and then he would retreat from agency talk from that point forward and leave it to Huyghue to grow his own relationship and sign the player.

And here’s how Street & Smith’s described the Huyghue/Pelosi/Pelosi partnership back in 2009:

Paul Pelosi, who has made money in real estate and stocks though his firm Financial Leasing Services Inc., was unavailable for comment. His wife is not an investor, Huyghue said, but her standing has been felt to some degree: Huyghue received a VIP ticket to the inauguration, and he said that 20 minutes after the ceremony, President Barack Obama walked up to Huyghue to congratulate him on the UFL.

Huyghue declined to comment on other members of Paul Pelosi’s ownership group.

The UFL is under financial pressure right now and there’s some uncertainty if there will be a 2011 season at all. But, hey. Since President Obama is a fan, maybe they’re up for some stimulus money.

Tags: NCAA

Allegations by Player at the University of Miami



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Major kudos to Yahoo! Sports on this story. Here’s the latest — an interactive webpage that documents the allegations against each and every player or coach they’ve identified as a potential NCAA violation over the year-long investigation. Click on any name on the right margin to read the summary for that individual. For example, here’s NFL star Jonathan Vilma:

Jonathan Vilma was one of dozens of Hurricanes players named by Nevin Shapiro in recorded interviews with federal agents. During those interviews, the booster admitted supplying countless benefits to an array of Miami players from 2002 to 2010. Shapiro alleges he provided multiple extra benefits to Vilma during the player’s career with the Hurricanes. Among the benefits he claimed to have provided:

• Food, drinks and entertainment in Shapiro’s $2.7 million Miami Beach home.

• Entertainment on Shapiro’s $1.6 million yacht and personal watercraft.

• $2,250 in bounties. Shapiro said the bounties were: $1,000 for a hit and personal foul penalty by Vilma on Florida State quarterback Chris Rix during Miami’s 28-27 win on Oct. 12, 2002; $250 for a sack in a 38-33 win over Florida on Sept. 6, 2003; and $1,000 for a hit on Rix in a 16-14 win over Florida State on Jan. 1, 2004.

• Cash gifts.

• Drinks and VIP access in nightclubs.

• Meals at Miami-area eateries on multiple occasions.

Then Yahoo! goes on to document their evidence. I hate to say it, but I don’t think the proverbial NCAA “death penalty” is out of the question here.

Tags: NCAA

‘Death Penalty’ for U. of Miami Football?



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Whoa. CBS Miami reports:

Former University of Miami booster, and federal convict, Nevin Shapiro said his evidence will spark the NCAA’s most severe punishment that could bring about the end of football at the University of Miami.

In an exclusive interview with CBS4’s Jim Berry, Shapiro said the information the NCAA has in its possession is “going to be so detailed and to the truth that it will be impossible for any former players or current players to go around it.”

Shapiro said for the first time that not only was it players who sought favor with him, but also Hurricanes football staff was involved. According to Shapiro’s attorney, Maria Elena Perez, the information first came out under questioning by federal officials and bankruptcy trustee attorneys.

Shapiro is at the heart of an NCAA investigation and his involvement with the school dates back to 2001-2002. Shapiro’s attorney has claimed that he provided UM players with the use of a yacht and various other favors.

In the interview with Berry, Shapiro was tight-lipped waiting for more information to come out, possibly as soon as Tuesday evening. But, he did reveal who he thinks is at fault and some of the things he was able to do with the program.

“The university, because of the desire to put money first, I was given carte blanche to do things I shouldn’t have been able to do,” Shapiro told CBS4. “I led the team out of the tunnel twice in the Orange Bowl.”

In CBS4’s video archives, Shapiro is seen in front of the tunnel as the Canes entered the field before a game. He is also shown getting excited after a kickoff return was taken back for a touchdown and jumping onto the field.

Shapiro said that he was “hurt” by his treatment by the very players he once thought of as friends. But, “there’s no jealousy or envy of the money they make, their position in life, none.”

The rest here.

Tags: NCAA

Jose Ceda Walks a Potted Plant



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In a slow-pitch, co-ed softball league, there is probably no more embarrassing an act while on the mound than walking the weakest female opponent on consecutive pitches. What happened on Sunday afternoon in the Giants-Marlins game is undoubtedly the MLB equivalent. SB Nation’s Jeff Sullivan has the pitch-by-pitch details here.

Tags: MLB

University of Miami Booster Paid for a Player’s Abortion?



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Yahoo! Sports reports (emphasis mine):

A former University of Miami booster, incarcerated for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme, has told Yahoo! Sports he provided thousands of impermissible benefits to at least 72 athletes from 2002 through 2010.

In 100 hours of jailhouse interviews during Yahoo! Sports’ 11-month investigation, former Hurricanes booster Nevin Shapiro described a sustained, eight-year run of rampant NCAA rule-breaking, some of it with the knowledge or direct participation of at least seven coaches from the Miami football and basketball programs. At a cost that Shapiro estimates in the millions of dollars, he said his benefits to athletes included but were not limited to: cash, prostitutes, entertainment in his multimillion-dollar homes and yacht, paid trips to high-end restaurants and nightclubs, jewelry, bounties for on-field play (including bounties for injuring opposing players), travel and on one occasion, an abortion.

Also among the revelations were damning details of Shapiro’s co-ownership of a sports agency – Axcess Sports & Entertainment – for nearly his entire tenure as a Hurricanes booster. The same agency that signed two first-round picks from Miami, Vince Wilfork and Jon Beason, and recruited dozens of others while Shapiro was allegedly providing cash and benefits to players. In interviews with federal prosecutors, Shapiro said many of those same players were also being funneled cash and benefits by his partner at Axcess, then-NFL agent and current UFL commissioner Michael Huyghue. Shapiro said he also made payments on behalf of Axcess, including a $50,000 lump sum to Wilfork, as a recruiting tool for the agency.

Sorry, Canes fans — this one isn’t going away.

Tags: NCAA

Delmon Young Traded to Tigers, Immediately Hits a Home Run Against Twins (Jim Thome UPDATE)



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The Twins, who are in Detroit for a three-game series, traded corner outfielder Delmon Young to the Tigers for southpaw prospect Cole Nelson and a player to be named later earlier this afternoon, then watched Young hit a home run against them at Comerica Park several hours later.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Jim Thome of the Twins on hitting Nos. 599 and 600!

Tags: MLB

Kiner’s Still Got His Korner



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I miss Ralph Kiner.

“Sports Challenge.” “Everyone looked like “Lindsay Nelson on that show.”

In a recent Village Voice column mostly focusing on C.C. Sabathia, Allen Barra takes the opportunity to wax nostalgic:

One of the worst things they ever did to relief pitching was invent the ‘save’ category. If they hadn’t done that, managers would bring in their best relief pitchers at the point in the game where he could do his team the most good. Casey Stengel used to do that, and so, a lot of times, did Leo Durocher. Now you’re paying the relief aces for saves, and you can only bring them in in save situations where your team is already ahead. They show you how many games a relief pitcher saves, but they never tell you how many games a team loses because a manager didn’t use his best reliever in the toughest situation.

Tags: MLB

This is the Least Funny White House Administration in History



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President Obama took some time out of his busy schedule of raising dollars and playing golf to meet with the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers –rivals to President Obama’s team of choice, the Chicago Bears.

During the merriment, President Obama was given a tiny ownership interest in the Packers, which promoted President Obama to joke:

“If I’m a part owner,” Obama said, “I think we should initiate a trade to send Rodgers down to the Bears.”

It’s funny I thought, but not to Bears fan,s I guess. The White House felt the need to “clarify” things:

Believe it or not, the White House reached out to the Chicago Tribune late Friday to clarify Obama’s joke. Via Brad Biggs: “The President understands the value of having a reliable backup quarterback — and (Rodgers as a No. 2 behind Cutler) would make it more likely that he could greet the Bears at a similar ceremony at the White House next year.”

Come on! The entire world is in economic collapse, yet the White House has a rapid response team in action for the president’s dopey comments at a photo-op?

Tags: NFL

Real Madrid Signs Seven-Year-Old Soccer Phenom



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It’s such a ridiculous story, you might as well learn about it from the Taiwanese animators:

Tags: Misc.

Baseball Reveille 8/15/11



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Good morning, campers!

Here are recent links that will keep those dreaded TPS reports from being sent in on time:

  • Rangers starter C .J. Wilson is a wee bit critical of A’s fans who do not show up to the ball park to support the team. Oh, and he hates the O.Co. Coliseum mound, too.
  • Speaking of lousy fans, Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times rates the top 10 and bottom 10 fanbases. Baxter pretty much suggests that when Dodger fans stay home, this is done out of love for the franchise, whereas when any other team’s supporters stay home, this is an unconscionable act.
  • The Cubs unveiled a statue of the late Ron Santo at the intersection of Addison and Sheffield.
  • “Are Florida Marlins sending a message by demoting outspoken left fielder Logan Morrison?” asks Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post. The transaction also surprised Big League Stew’s David Brown.
  • Matt Sebek of Joe Sports Fan cues the way-back machine to 1986: Why are the fans at Busch Stadium giving a prolonged standing ovation to a Cardinals batter for hitting a foul ball?
  • Flip Flop Fly Ball’s Craig Robinson figured out which A’s-Red Sox game Ray Kinsella and Terence Mann attended in Field of Dreams.
  • Baseball bats, not those used for cricket, flew off of Amazon.co.uk’s shelves during the riots that engulfed British cities. Slate’s Brian Palmer has potential explanations.
  • Learn everything you wanted to know about the batting average on balls in play (BABIP) statistic and then some way more, courtesy of “elcroata” of Athletics Nation. The uber-short version: when applied to hitters, it’s not about luck.

Dan Uggla’s hitting streak ended at 33 games yesterday afternoon.

Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

Is There Anything R. A. Dickey Can’t Do?



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Courtesy of Spike Davis of Amazin Avenue, we now know who stood (sat?) in for FDR during part of the photo-op session at Yalta. (Seriously, would Poland have been handed to Stalin if the knuckleballer had been allowed to handle the negotiations?)

By the way, the self-described “Star Wars nerd” opened up a Twitter account earlier today.

Tags: MLB

Early Nominee for Next Year’s Craphonso Ja’Wan Thorpe Awards?



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My beloved Jets have signed one Cordarol Scales as an undrafted free agent wide-out. Sounds like he should see a dermatologist.

By the way, I was stuck watching the dumb Iowa debate last night (okay, it wasn’t actually dumb; it was pretty good) when there was football on television. Honest to goodness football. I saw some of the replay of the Ravens/Eagles game, though (God bless NFL network). Those Eagles are stacked. Besides the obvious improvements in the secondary, some of the “lesser” acquisitions really stood out to me. Ronnie Brown, a bona fide Big Back, had a great couple of series, and adding Vince Young as a backup in a system built around Michael Vick makes a lot of sense.

Tags: NFL

What Might Be Right about Jeter; What Might Be Wrong about Rivera



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Using always-cool heat maps and spray charts, Baseball Analytics contributor David Pinto suggested on Wednesday that Derek Jeter’s mid-season trip to the disabled list may have been a gift from the gods, as the shortstop is now pulling the ball with considerably greater frequency.

Meanwhile, editor Bill Chuck offered up his own heat maps featuring Mariano Rivera’s cutter locations to suggest that the closer’s legendary pitch may be “moving, slowly, but surely into the territory of mere mortals.”

Tags: MLB

Gold-Medal Idiot



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A potential member of the U.S. Olympic ski team urinated on an 11-year-old girl during a JetBlue flight from Oregon to New York City. The U.S. ski team has dropped him from the developmental squad. But somehow, this cretin has avoided any criminal charges for the incident.

Tags: Misc.

Best Thing You’ll Watch Today



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Fantastic. A dad, home from his third tour of duty in Afghanistan, surprised his twin daughters during a Triple-A game in Spokane, Wash. Check out the video over on the homepage.

Tags: MLB

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