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Brief chronicles of our sporting times.

Re: The President Isn’t Tiger, He’s LeBron.



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Another similarity, LeBron and President Obama share the same financial adviser, Warren Buffett:

While Buffett’s appreciation of baseball is well known, he is also a basketball fan.

Earlier this week, in a telephone interview with NBA-TV, Buffett talked about his friendship with the Cleveland Cavalier’s LeBron James.  (To mark James’ 24th birthday, the network did 24 hours of LeBron James coverage, giving you an idea just how important he is in the basketball world.)

Buffett talks about James’ business “instinct” and how he knew what he was doing about financial matters at “an early age.”

Buffett praises James for not being “silly” on spending and “having his head screwed on right.”

But there’s one issue I disagree with Neil on. LeBron is no Barack Obama, as LeBron seems to really not care about paying “his fair share”:

New York Post:

If LeBron James goes to the Miami Heat instead of the Knicks, blame our dysfunctional lawmakers in Albany, who have saddled top-earning New Yorkers with the highest state and city income taxes in the nation, soon to be 12.85 percent on top of the IRS bite. There is no state income tax in Florida.

And from Daily Finance:

Did saving $25 million in taxes fuel LeBron James’ Miami Heat pick?

To quote from Warren Buffett, Lebron has “his head screwed on right” and chose to take his talents to a low-tax state.

Tags: NBA

The President Isn’t Tiger, He’s LeBron.



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New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman published an op-ed comparing Preident Obama to Tiger Woods. His thesis is that both men are natural winners, but external events have caused each to lose his swing.

Friedman is mistaken. Obama isn’t Tiger; he’s LeBron. He even said so. At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Barack Obama remarked, “I’m LeBron, baby. I can play on this level. I got some game.”

Consider the parallels. Both are remarkably gifted, precocious, African-American men. Both were raised by single mothers. Both had their oversized talents recognized at almost unbelievably young ages. Both tasted the success that predicts future triumph quite young. LeBron James did so by winning back-to-back state titles while in high school. Barack Obama graduated from Columbia University and matriculated at Harvard Law School.

Both were feted with accolades before any real prize had been won or goal accomplished. LeBron was nicknamed “King James” while still just a child. Obama was elected president of the Harvard Law Review, where not one item would appear listing him as author. Both started their professional lives at low rungs. LeBron was selected with the first pick of the 2003 draft by the perennially underperforming Cleveland Cavaliers. Obama settled in Chicago as a community organizer and lecturer. Both progressed rapidly, earning the adulation of their peers. LeBron was named Rookie of the Year in his first season and an All-Star the next. He was later named youngest ever league MVP in 2006. Obama was elected to the state senate only 5 years after arriving in Chicago and was running for the U.S. Senate by 2004, giving the keynote address at that year’s Democratic National Convention.

Both men have fallen prey to the trap of heightened expectations. Obama said upon his winning the Democratic nomination that “this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.” LeBron was merely the guest of honor at a rally in Miami where he assured Heat fans that he would bring them “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven championships. [meaning eight] And when I say that, I really believe it.”

Keep reading this post . . .

Tags: NBA

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The False Start Heard Round the World



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Is it possible that the numbers watching the Track & Field World Championships could increase because of Usain Bolt NOT running?

In light of Bolt’s disqualification, the rules may change yet again for future races. But if they do, it will all take place with the world watching.

Interestingly, this process may not work out all that badly for anyone involved. Bolt can be castigated for making a bonehead rookie move, and the IAAF for having draconian rules in place, but no one’s credibility has been tainted. The IAAF stuck with its rules and Bolt did not benefit from special “celebrity exception” to it. Moreover, his disqualification has probably garnered more coverage than he would have gotten for winning the race, or even for setting a new world record (yawn.) His performance in the 200- and 400-meter races will get a lot more attention than they would have otherwise.

Tags: Misc.

Seven Things I Hope to See in September



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Newsday baseball columnist Ken Davidoff is not particularly optimistic about finding dramatic storylines during the final month of the regular season:

There’s no way to sugarcoat this. Baseball could really get crushed in September. We’ve got three divisions in which the leader holds an advantage of six games or more. Both wild-card races are all but settled, and one of the three remaining close divisions, the AL East, fields merely a seeding battle between the Yankees and Red Sox.

Seeding battles don’t pay the bills. In the realistic, best-case scenario, we could have both West divisions featuring neck-and-neck competitions, with the Giants trying to defend their World Series crown by upending the Diamondbacks and the Angels trying to prevent the Rangers from defending the AL pennant. Even that won’t exactly compel the common fan to jump on the baseball train, though.

Man, that hurts. Assuming Davidoff’s fears are realized, what is left to fantasize about this coming month?

Here are my seven:

  1. The AL home-run race between Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson, and Mark Teixeira gets decided on the final day.
  2. The AL MVP contenders battle tooth-and-nail for the hardware. As of today, Bautista, Granderson, Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez, Dustin Pedroia, and Justin Verlander are all viable challengers. Similarly, the NL MVP candidates — Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, and Shane Victorino — continue their stellar seasons.
  3. A. J. Burnett throws a no-hitter in a packed Yankee Stadium, thereby securing not just a spot on the postseason roster but also a playoff start — in which he will get shelled, of course.
  4. In the last game, Carlos Beltran socks the go-ahead home run in the division-clinching victory for the Mets Giants over the Rockies in Denver.
  5. Stephen Strasburg takes the mound at least twice in front of the home crowd at Nationals Park, striking out double digits in both contests.
  6. Logan Morrison of the Marlins hits well enough to win NL Player of the Month, earning him the right to tweet what he really thinks about his employers.
  7. In addition to Burnett, another player having a dreadful season should have his moment of glory: Adam Dunn of the White Sox captures the AL Player of the Month by hitting a dozen home runs, yet still finishes 2011 with a sub-.200 batting average.

Is there anything of note you hope to see?

Tags: MLB

More Chin-Stroking on “Pressure”



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On Monday, I posted a Joe Posnanski piece on whether players on less competitive teams face “pressure.” While

 

Tags: MLB

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SI’s Poz on “Pressure” -- or, Another Reason Why Joey Bats Is Deserving of an MVP Award



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Following up on an earlier column touting the MVP-esque accomplishments of Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista, Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski takes on “The Myth of Pressure,” in this instance defined as downplaying the otherwise impressive numbers of a player whose club does not play many meaningful games by mid-season, if not sooner. (Remember last autumn’s Cy Young debate over whether pitching in Seattle for a last-place team was easier than taking the mound in the Bronx?)

Poz challenges the notion “that it’s easier to put up numbers without pennant pressure”:

If it were easier to put up numbers in non-pressure situations, then players would consistently and obviously have better years on lousy teams than they do on good ones. Does this ring even the slightest bell of truth? Does anyone believe that Derek Jeter would have put up better numbers had he played for Kansas City? Does anyone believe that Albert Pujols would be so much better if he had spent his career playing in the carefree world of the Pittsburgh Pirates? Roy Halladay was great for mediocre Blue Jays teams and is great for outstanding Phillies teams. Hank Aaron was the same great player with the same great numbers when Milwaukee won, when Milwaukee almost won, and when Milwaukee wasn’t very good at all.

Ultimately, he believes that there is more stress, not less, when playing on a losing team:

. . . Obviously, this depends on how you define pressure, but if the textbook definition of pressure is “the feeling of stressful urgency cause by the necessity of achieving something,” well, absolutely, there’s way more pressure on the lousy teams. . . .

. . . The downward pressure is enormous and overwhelming — after all, who cares? The town has moved on. A Hawaiian vacation awaits. Teammates are fighting to keep their jobs or fighting to impress someone on another team or just plain fighting. The manager might be worried about his job. The reporters are few, and they’re negative. Smaller crowds make it easier to hear the drunken critics. Support is much harder to come by, and there is constant, intense force demanding that you just stop trying so hard. After all: Why take that extra BP? You’ve got the swing down. Why study a few extra minutes of film? You’ve faced that hitter before. Why take that extra base? Why challenge him on that 3-1 pitch? Why? You’re down 9-3 anyway.

Read the rest of his column here.

Tags: MLB

Baseball Reveille 8/29/11



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Good morning, campers!

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

Regarding the 2012 season, good news: Vin Scully is staying put!

That’s it. Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

What Are They Thinking About at ESPN and the Little League World Series? [UPDATED]



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And no, I’m not talking about the way ESPN turned yesterday’s tribute to Cristina Taylor-Green (the Little Leaguer killed in the shooting spree in which Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was wounded) into an Obama campaign spot — because, you know, we’d never want our sports coverage to go political, right?

I’m talking about the weather — specifically, the way the LLWS reacted to Hurricane (now Tropical Storm) Irene. Yesterday, the championship game scheduled for today — which will pit the Japanese squad against the U.S. champion, Huntington Beach, Calif. — was moved earlier, to noon from the originally scheduled 3 p.m. slot. I thought it was odd when I first heard it. Williamsport, where they’re playing the LLWS, is in north-central PA. The worst of the storm (the eye of which is well east of W’port) is supposed to be the early part of Sunday. Then, this morning, I checked the local weather. It is supposed to rain until around 3 p.m., at which point they anticipate partly sunny skies. So it seems they have moved the game from the best part of the day to a rainy part of the day.

Am I missing something? I’m not trying to be a wise guy. I just wonder why they changed the schedule in a way that ill-serves the game. And given how manic they are about injuries (it’s amazing how much pitch counts have changed the game since back when I was a lad), why move the game to a time when the conditions will make injuries more likely? I usually assume that television is to blame for all stupid scheduling in sports, but in this case the game was already scheduled to be televised at 3 p.m., so the last minute switch is guaranteed to hurt ratings. So I just don’t get what’s going on. 

UPDATE: Never mind — they’ve moved the game back to 3 p.m. Bulletin here.

Tags: Misc.

Missing an Open Goal



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Atsushi Yanagisawa of Japanese soccer team Vegalta Sendai must wish he had another chance like the one presented to him in his team’s match against Nagoya Grampus. After Nagoya Grampus goalkeeper Yoshinari Takagi flubbed his clearing attempt, Yanagisawa had an open net, but put the ball just wide. The look on his face says it all.

Tags: Misc.

Giants vs. Jets vs. Irene



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I expect the game will eventually be canceled, but as of now, game on!

NJ.com:

When the Giants and NFL made the decision to move up Saturday’s preseason game against the Jets to 2 p.m., team president John Mara said they did so “to give everybody an opportunity to get home safely after the game.”

Now, with Hurricane Irene bearing down on the area, they’re thinking about postponing or canceling the game altogether for the same reasons.

Though the forecast for the time of the game is currently reflecting conditions that shouldn’t greatly affect the quality of what occurs on the field, the Giants and the league are exploring their options in regard to moving the game, team senior vice president of communications Pat Hanlon said.

Hanlon didn’t get into specifics about the discussions, but it’s likely the safety of fans and workers is foremost on the minds of the Giants and the NFL. Gov. Chris Christie announced earlier today New Jersey Transit trains will stop running at noon — two hours before scheduled kickoff — which means fans won’t have the option of taking public transportation in leaving the game.

The last thing you want is extra people on the roads, even in a best-case scenario for the storm. I’m actually surprised they haven’t made a decision yet.

Tags: NFL

ESPN Tells Golf Analyst Paul Azinger to Stop Anti-Obama Tweets



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USA Today:

UPDATE: ESPN is coming down on Paul Azinger for mocking President Barack Obama on Twitter. The golf analyst tweeted Thursday the Commander-in-chief plays more golf than he does — and that Azinger has created more jobs this month than Obama has.

On Friday ESPN ‘reminded” Azinger his venture into political punditry violates the company’s updated social network policy for on-air talent and reporters.

“Paul’s tweet was not consistent with our social media policy, and he has been reminded that political commentary is best left to those in that field,” spokesman Andy Hall told Game On! in a statement.

ESPN’s Hall would not comment on whether Azinger, who won the 1993 PGA Championship, will be fired, suspended or punished in some way. “We handle that internally,” he said.

After being publicly chastised, Azinger declined an interview request. Hall said he just wants to “move on.”

There’s some outrage on Twitter over ESPN’s move, but I see nothing wrong with it. If Azinger doesn’t like the conditions of his lucrative employment with ESPN, he can always work elsewhere.

Tags: Sports Media

Jim Thome Returns to Cleveland While Minka Kelly Leaves St. Jetersburg



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Jim Thome had his best years with the Indians and now, thanks to a trade between Cleveland and Minnesota, the lefty slugger gets a chance to hit a few more home runs with his old club.

Meanwhile, Derek Jeter and Minka Kelly recently split after three years of dating. (Maybe that explains the Yankee shortstop’s hitting prowess over the past several weeks?)

Tags: MLB

Now Hustling Violates the #### “Unwritten Rules?” (Groan.)



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Big League Stew’s David Brown shares some details on Tuesday night’s incident involving the rather portly Brad Penny of the Tigers and the always-hustling Sean Rodriguez of the Rays.

On Tuesday night, during an at-bat in the seventh inning against noted cable guy/health inspector Brad Penny (notes), Rodriguez flied out to left field, but ran so fast he was nearly at second base by the time outfielder Delmon Young (notes) caught the ball.

Somebody please pop open the Unwritten Rule Book, because Rodriguez’s hustle apparently didn’t sit well with Penny, who glared and yelled at Rodriguez as he walked back to the Rays dugout. Rodriguez yelled back.

The exchange — which Detroit TV missed entirely, but Tampa Bay’s broadcast happened to catch live — seemed pretty mild as baseball yelling goes. But it appeared that Penny thought Rodriguez was showing him up by running hard.

Clearly exasperated, Brown points out why Rodriguez’s actions were justified:

It’s preferable to think that Penny is full of baloney, and that ballplayers should run as hard as they can whenever it’s feasible and advantageous. And you know what? It might have been advantageous for Rodriguez to run hard on that fly ball to shallow left field. There are at least three reasons why:

1. Professional ballplayers should run hard on every play, not only because they make a lot of money, but also because taking as many bases as possible is GOOD. Possible exceptions: injury/illness; pitchers who hit and don’t want to wear themselves out on “routine” plays; to decoy the opposing fielders.

2. Because Tropicana Field, with its translucent roof, unique electrical lighting and annoying catwalks, often plays haphazardly for outfielders. Balls get lost frequently up there.

3. Because Delmon Young was playing left field and, while he does have experience at the Trop, people don’t call him “Elmon” because he’s good on “D.” That ball might have dropped in — you never know.

More here, including Rays manager Joe Maddon’s “insane” response to Penny’s barking.

EDIT: Brown updated his post with this nugget: “Reporters finally tracked down Penny, who said via The Heater on Thursday that he was mad at Rodriguez for ‘screaming and cussing.’ … OK. Even though Penny was screaming (not sure about swearing) at Rodriguez? That screaming was OK? And what about the fact that Jim “Freaking” Leyland is the Tigers manager. He’s probably off somewhere swearing right now.”

Tags: MLB

Shakes at the Jake: “We Just Had a Freakin’ Earthquake!”



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During yesterday afternoon’s Mariners-Indians game in Cleveland, tremors were felt in the Progressive Field press box. Incredibly, Shin-Soo Choo legged out a double as the shaking continued upstairs.

Tags: MLB

Holliday, Pagan Leave Their Games After TMI Incidents



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An airborne creature hunting for untold riches buried itself deep into Matt Holliday’s right ear, forcing the left fielder from last night’s Dodgers-Cardinals game in the top of the eighth inning.

Meanwhile, issues with another orifice squeezed center fielder Angel Pagan from the Mets-Phillies game after the top of the fifth inning.

Tags: MLB

NFL Imposes Five-Game Ban on Pryor



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Citing a desire to keep troubled NCAA players from using the NFL Supplemental Draft as a way to avoid NCAA sanctions, Commissioner Roger Goodell told Ohio State’s Terrell Pryor that if he entered the NFL Supplemental Draft, his NCAA five-game ban would become a NFL five-game ban. This is where it gets cloudy as early reporting indicated that Pryor had to accept the ban before Goodell would let him into the draft. Pryor indicated he’d accept this condition to get into the NFL, but later reports say he will appeal it with, NFLPA on his side:

Thursday, the former Ohio State QB earned a spot in the NFL’s supplemental draft, but was handed a five-game suspension, one that his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, said they wouldn’t appeal.

But Pryor’s lawyer, David Cornwell, told ESPN Radio Friday that they planned to appeal the ban, incurred as a result of Pryor admitting to receiving illegal benefits as a collegiate player.

“(Commissioner Roger Goodell) indicated that we have the right to appeal within three days after Terrelle signs an NFL contract, and given some of the developments — both in reaching the decision and comments out of the (NFL Players Association) regarding the decision — I think it’s likely that we will file an appeal, and give the Players Association an opportunity to make its objections to this on the record,” Cornwell said.

Rosenhaus, who backed the deal, said NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith was involved in the decision with Goodell. The NFLPA planned to fight any suspension for Pryor relating to his time as an amateur, according to the NFL Network’s Albert Breer.

The NFL issued the ban as part of an effort to discourage college athletes using the league as an escape from amateur violations.

Stay tuned.

Tags: NFL

Raiders Draft Terrelle Pryor



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Oakland gives up a third-round pick next year to acquire the Ohio State product in the supplemental draft — which seems at first blush a high price to pay.

But considering how the Bills coveted mobile QB Cam Newton, and given the fact that Buffalo acquired an extra fourth-round pick when they traded Lee Evans to the Ravens, you can’t fault the Raid for expecting the Bills to bid a fourth rounder. 

Tags: NFL

Oakland Raiders Pick Terrelle Pryor in the 3rd Round



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As I wrote in my pre-season write-up on the Raiders, Al Davis loves a speed. And I guess Davis figured using next year’s 3rd round pick to get Pryor made sense. The only question is does Pryor play in the NFL as a QB or a receiver?

Tags: NFL

Ex-Hurricane Tyrone Moss vs. Yahoo! Sports



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This is hilarious. Moss is denying he ever talked to Yahoo! Sports about taking cash and gifts from booster Nevin Shapiro:

“I never did a story,’’ Moss said from his parents’ home in Pompano Beach. “I never admitted to receiving $1,000 from anyone. I’ve never taken no phone call from anyone. I have not talked to anyone directly. I don’t know how this story got out about me, but it was a shame that I wake up and see all this negative publicity about me.

“I don’t know where they got those quotes from. …I never met him.’’

Oh really? Tyrone, over to you:

Gerry Ahern, managing editor for Yahoo! Sports colleges and investigations, told The Herald by phone Sunday that Moss’ phone interview was taped. Then, Yahoo! Sports investigative reporter Charles Robinson played the two parts of Moss’ interview that are in the main story that ran last Tuesday.

“We stand behind the story,’’ Ahern said. “Moss’ quotes were part of a taped on-the-record interview.’’

In the tape that was played for The Herald, Moss was asked, “That $1,000, did he [Shapiro] hit you with that the first time he met you?’’

Responded Moss: “Yeah, it was me and some other players with my incoming [class]. I’m not going to say the names, but you can probably figure them out yourself. When I was getting there my freshman year, it was me and a couple more players. … It was me and a few more of the guys in my incoming class that he kind of showed love to.’’

The second part of the tape that was played for The Herald on Sunday dealt with Axcess Sports agency. “Nevin basically was the front man,’’ Moss said on the tape. “Nevin got to be close one-on-one with a player. And when it was time to actually come out into the draft, it was like ‘You’re rolling with me and that agent.’ And the thing is, it was almost like he had given so much to where it was like you gotta ride with him with most players. That’s how that was.’

Tags: NCAA

Geaux Directly to Jail?



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Problems in Bayou country:

Four LSU football players hired a defense attorney and put off a meeting with police about a bar fight that started when a patron honked at a crowd blocking his exit from a parking lot, Baton Rouge police said Sunday.

Quarterback Jordan Jefferson, offensive lineman Chris Davenport, defensive lineman Josh Johns and receiver Jarvis Landry had been asked to give their side of the story at police headquarters Monday, but attorney Nathan Fisher asked for a delay, Sgt. Donald Stone said.

Fisher requested “a 24 hour postponement so that he can meet with the players and get a better understanding of the incident,” he wrote in a news release. He said police would speak with Fisher on Monday to arrange the interviews.

Earlier, he said that the fight began when a driver honked his horn at a crowd blocking his way out of the bar’s parking lot. The driver was one of four people injured in the fight outside Shady’s Bar, according to a news release from Stone.

The football players weren’t asked to turn themselves in, Stone said in a telephone interview.

“They were asked to come in so they can be interviewed and tell their side of the story,” he said. The investigation will continue after that, and police may talk to other players, he said.

Stone said police interviewed four people who were treated and released — three for minor injuries and a fourth for a more serious injury that could bring a felony charge of second-degree battery. Some witnesses also have talked to police, he said.

Tags: NCAA

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