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Brief chronicles of our sporting times.

Baseball Reveille 6/13/11



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Good morning, campers!

Here are recent links that will keep you from sending in those TPS reports on time:

In Brad Hand’s first MLB start, he gave up but one hit, a home run, in six innings. The Marlins lost, 1-0.

Have a walk-off week!

Tags: MLB

The Dallas Mavericks Are Your 2011 NBA Champs



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This has been a long time coming to the city of Dallas, to Mark Cuban, and to Dirk Nowitzki. They shot the lights out and played like champions. Congrats, Dallas!

Tags: NBA

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As If the Mavericks Needed More Motivation



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Video emerged before game 5 of the NBA Finals of the Heat’s Dwyane Wade and LeBron James making light of the opposition, making light of Dirk Nowitzki’s illness throughout the series.

This was before the Mavericks came out and put a pretty good beating on the Heat to take a 3-2 series lead. The Mavericks have looked hungrier than the Heat over the course of this series and, if the Mavs were in danger of getting complacent, video of their star player being mocked by two guys who haven’t performed as necessary for their team to win should mean Dallas will stay focused.

For their part, the Heat guys claim they weren’t mocking Dirk, and they were just making unrelated jokes. No matter what, LeBron and Wade just don’t come off as very funny. Their joke goes on for way too long. They overlaugh at each other. It just seems like it’d be awkward to hang out with the two biggest stars in the NBA. And that’s just the latest problem for the Heat.

(Obviously their on-court play, not their awkward banter, is a far bigger problem. But hey — in the narrative, the Heat are villains, and their unfunny joking just reinforces that.)

Tags: NBA

Let’s Be Blunt: Kenny Britt Is Trouble



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Yep, the Titans wide receiver was arrested again yesterday, a day after his court date on a previous, traffic-related arrest.

 

Cornered by plainclothes narcotics officers in Hoboken on Wednesday, former Rutgers standout and current Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt crushed what police believed was a marijuana cigar into his hands so the investigating officers could not see what it was, court documents revealed.

Just one day after resolving a previous run-in with Bayonne police, Britt — a Bayonne High School graduate — was arrested again Wednesday in Hoboken, said Hudson County Prosecutor Edward DeFazio.

Britt was charged with fourth-degree obstruction, fourth-degree tampering or fabricating evidence and third-degree resisting arrest with force. . . .

 

According to a copy of the police complaint, Britt “did purposely prevent a law enforcement officer from effecting a lawful arrest by using or threatening to use physical force or violence.”

Britt allegedly used his body to “push away from the officers,” the complaint said. It also stated that Britt pulled his arms away from police, preventing them from handcuffing him.

Messages left with Britt’s lawyer, John Hughes, and agent, Todd France, were not immediately returned today.

The arrest was the fourth brush with the law since October for the first first-round pick in Rutgers football history.

Tags: NFL

Jim Northrup, R.I.P.



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The longtime player for the Detroit Tigers–and a hero of game seven of the 1968 World Series–has died.

Tags: MLB

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Ozzie Brushes Back Penn



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White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen has some new choice words for loony left actor Sean Penn.

In response to Penn’s most recent round of effusive praise of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez, this time in the Huffington Post, Ozzie went wild:

It didn’t take long for this post to reach Guillen, who gave Penn a piece of his mind, once again, via Twitter. “Sean penn if you love venezuela please move to venezuela for a year,” Guillen suggested, early this morning. “But rent a house in guarenas or guatire to see how long you last clown.”

Meanwhile, the Sox won again earlier this evening and now stand only three games below .500 and 5 1/2 games out of first place in the AL Central.

Tags: MLB

Remember When? Mike Pelfrey, Wichita State Phenom



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Rewind seven years to June 9, 2004.

Following a disappointing exit from the NCAA Division I Baseball Tournament and before the Mets selected him with the ninth overall pick in the following year’s amateur draft, towering right-handed pitching sensation Mike Pelfrey answered questions from Matthew Namee of The Hardball Times.

Topics included the tourney losses to Arkansas, pitch counts, what it’s like to sign autographs, and the following.

THT: Let’s talk about your high school career. Going into your senior year, you were a top prospect, and then you decided to play basketball. What made you decide to do that?

MP: I just wanted to forget about baseball and just go out and have fun. Basketball is a great way to get in shape for baseball, and I always enjoyed playing basketball, so I thought it was the perfect opportunity. The coach told me they didn’t have any big men, and he told me to come out, that I needed to play, and he thought I could be a key guy.

THT: How did that affect your next baseball season? I know that was a disappointing year.

MP: Well, I didn’t really prepare for it as much as I usually would if I didn’t play basketball. I didn’t have enough time to start throwing every day like I would leading up to the season, like I would have if I didn’t play basketball. My junior year, I was probably low- to mid-90s; everything worked. I went out senior year and I was throwing 88-89, and scouts didn’t like that, of course.

THT: Have you made a verbal commitment to an adviser/future agent?

MP: Yeah, my advisor is Scott Boras, the same guy I had in high school. I actually talk to a guy named Scott Chiamparino (he’s with the Boras corporation).

THT: I’m curious about that. Of course you saw what happened to Jered Weaver and Stephen Drew and how they dropped in the draft, largely because of their assocation with Boras. Why choose Scott Boras?

MP: Since high school, I’ve developed a relationship with the guys. They’re unbelievable. Some people are scared of them, but nobody’s going to tell you that they’re not the best. They’re the best around, they know their stuff. I remember when I did the interviews in high school with advisers, he came and gave his little speech, and I was blown away by the stuff he had and the stuff he talked about. They came across as more personal. They had your back no matter what, and they’ve never done one thing to change my mind about that. Even after high school, when everything fell down, he was still like, “You’re still the best.” They’ve never done anything but motivate me. Sometimes after my outings, we’ll call and discuss them. I always learn from my outings, whether they’re good or bad.

THT: What was your take on [Long Beach State's] Jered Weaver? He pitched amazing against Wichita State [16 strikeouts in 6 innings].

MP: Our guys really didn’t like him, because he’s very confident. Kind of arrogant, almost. I watched the guy, and I loved the whole game, even though he was shoving it against us. I loved the whole game, just watching his attitude and just watching him go after guys. Brandon Green swung at the first pitch and hit a line drive to right field, and he [Weaver] kind of stepped off the mound and stared at him. I was loving that. Other guys on the team, hitters especially, were like, “Hey, don’t be doing that.” I just totally loved watching the guy work and pitch. That’s definitely a guy I can learn from.

THT: So you can respect that, stepping off the mound and staring a guy down.

MP: Oh, definitely. I enjoyed that. I told myself, “That’s the attitude I need to have.” He knows that he’s the best, and he’s probably got the same expectation, that he has to be perfect. And he knows he can get the job done. Half the reason he’s so good is the mental side. He’s so confident, and he’s not afraid of anybody. He just goes after everybody, and I love that about him. I loved watching him.

Read the rest of the interview here. Pelfrey, who had a no-decision in last night’s loss to the Brewers, has a lifetime ERA+ of 92 and xFIP of 4.52.

Tags: MLB

It’s Tommy John for Joba



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Awful:

Will Carroll (@injuryexpert)6/9/11 4:40 PM Joba Chamberlain has “near complete tear” of UCL. Tommy John surgery coming.

What good did the “Joba Rules” of the last few years do? What good did the Hughes Rules, or the Ian Kennedy do, for that matter?

I won’t say this has made a Nolan Ryan out of me just yet. In fact, all the studies I’ve seen suggest that pitch counts matters way more than innings pitched or four- versus five-man rotations when it comes to susceptibility to injury. My point is that the Yankees gave up on (how many?) innings over the last few years from talented starters in a naive (and I might also add decidedly liberal) hope that they could engineer the future with just enough science and just enough regulation. But can anyone honestly say, if you went back in time three years and told the Yankees front office that the two studs they were handling with kid gloves were going to fall apart the second you took the gloves off — can anyone honestly say that the right reaction to that foreknowledge would have been more restrictions?

I know that contract sizes and the scale of revenue involved in the game have made this impossible, but maybe they should have just let these kids play. Sic transit gloria.

Tags: MLB

Dirk the Narrative vs. Dirk the Numbers Machine



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Jay Kang:

After this year of scolding and moral posturing, we have arrived at a final scene: Dirk Nowitzki — a simple man from vague origins — walks alone into battle against three mercenaries whose heedless and reckless pursuit of personal gain has unhinged the American Way. Everyone our hero has trusted and loved has either betrayed him (Jason Terry) or has died (Jason Kidd, Peja Stojakovic). And although the journey has long since lost its direction, the people’s hero pushes on, not because there is value in pushing on for pushing on’s sake, but because the audience demands its fill of blood and vengeance.

Bill Barnwell:

[A]s I mentioned in the introduction, Nowitzki isn’t shooting appreciably better during the postseason. That is admittedly hard to believe considering Nowitzki’s freakish performance from the 3-point line, where he’s hit a full 50 percent of his 42 attempts. And freakish doesn’t do his performance from the free throw line justice. Nowitzki has converted 163 of his 174 freebies (93.7 percent) this postseason. If we assume that his 89.2 percent success rate from the charity stripe during the regular season is the best measure of his actual ability to shoot free throws, the odds of Nowitzki going 163-of-174 are about 66 to 1. So where is he lacking offensively? As you might expect, it’s on his 2-point attempts, which make up the vast majority of his attempts from the field.

Those two takes are from a single piece over at Grantland, the Bill Simmons-helmed new “sports and culture” site. The narrative is contradicted by a lot of analysis: Taking out each team’s top three players, the Mavs are better than the Heat and have thus far performed that way — even with Peja Stojakovic’s disappearing act. Tyson Chandler had an underappreciated Game 4, grabbing nine offensive rebounds.

What can be infuriating is that the narrative can and possibly will turn on a dime. Part of the sports media’s job is to over-analyze and craft ever-changing narratives. If Dirk has a bad game and the Mavs win, it’ll consist of the cavalry showing up to help the lone gunner. If LeBron dominates Game 5 it’ll be about how he’s (again) “learned” to be clutch. Narrative can and should enhance a fan’s appreciation of everything you’re watching. Just don’t believe everything you read.

On, erm, hugs and high fives . . . that’s numbers and narrative that anyone can appreciate.

Tags: NBA

What Is the Mavs’ Secret Weapon?



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Hugs and high-fives?

Personally, my money’s on voodoo.

Tags: NBA

Geren Gone



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Via Craig Calcaterra, the last-place A’s announced earlier today the firing of manager Bob Geren.

As Calcaterra explains:

The A’s have lost nine in a row and absolutely nothing has gone right for them. They depended on the offense improving and it hasn’t. They depended on the pitching carrying them like last year and there have been injuries preventing that.  And the whole reason for hiring a guy like Geren in the first place — even keel, do the front office’s bidding, etc. — was called into question a few weeks ago when Geren got into a public dispute with reliever Brian Fuentes.  If a middle manager can’t keep the peace, what’s the point of having a middle manager?  Given his famous friendship with [general manager] Billy Beane, one wonders if he simply lost the A’s clubhouse entirely.

Former Diamondbacks skipper Bob Melvin is taking over on an interim basis.

Tags: MLB

Secret Weapon for the Miami Heat



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Tags: NBA

Duke Loses BBall Recruit to UNC Over Spelling Error



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Oops:

P.J. Hairston is a pretty easy name to spell and remember. It’s two initials and a simple last name — P.J. Hairston. Pretty easy, right? You would think so, but apparently that was not the case for Duke.

Hairston is a 6’4″ guard from Hargrave Military Academy in Chatham, Virginia who signed to play basketball for North Carolina. He says he was considering Florida, Georgetown, Wake Forest, and Duke in addition to Carolina, but he ultimately decided he wanted to stay close to home. So how did he choose between Carolina and Duke? A recurring error by the Blue Devils certainly helped sway his decision.

“The thing about Duke was, every time they sent me a letter, they wouldn’t spell my name right,” Hairston told the Greensboro News & Record. “They would have ‘T.J. Harrison’ or something like that. And I’m like, ‘OK. How can I go here? You can’t even spell my name right.’ It’s only two letters and HAIR and STON. I’m trying to figure out how that’s so hard.”

Way to go, Dook.

Tags: NCAA

Ohio State Football Update



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Star quarterback Tyrrelle Pryor, already suspended for the first five games of the season, won’t be returning to school for his senior season. The supplemental NFL draft of the CFL are possibilities at this point.

In other Pryor news, ESPN is reporting that Pryor accepted between $20,000 and $40,000 in cash in exchange for autographs. ESPN’s source is a “former friend.” ESPN alleges each autograph netted Pryor between $500 and $1,000 — which seems awfully high for a Pryor signature and, without knowing anything about “former friend,” I’m not sure of the report’s accuracy.

And finally, former Indiana basketball coach Bobby Knight takes issue with the NCAA:

Bob Knight criticized the NCAA and called the rule Ohio State football players broke when they sold and traded their personal memorabilia “idiotic.”

The former Indiana and Texas Tech basketball coach, and an Ohio State alum, spoke to reporters Monday night before the Henry P. Iba Citizen Athlete Awards ceremony, where he was scheduled to deliver the keynote address.

“I understand what’s happened and there was a rule that was violated,” Knight said. “But it was an idiotic rule.”

Five Ohio State players, including star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, were suspended for the first five games of the upcoming season after it was revealed they traded jerseys, rings, trophies and other items for tattoos.

“I think this NCAA that we’re currently involved with is so far out of touch with the integrity of the sport that it’s just amazing,” Knight said.

I assume the prohibition of throwing chairs at basketball referees is a stupid rule, too? Vintage Knight for your enjoyment:

 

Tags: NCAA

2012 Olympic Torch: Awesome — Or a Cheese Grater?



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Tags: Misc.

Shock of Shocks (Jeff Francoeur Edition)



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Every spring, we are told that this year will be different for genial right fielder Jeff Francoeur.

Francoeur got off to a deceivingly hot start in April.

However, here is Frenchy’s AVG/OBP/SLG line for May: .233/.287/.388

And here is his line over the past four weeks: 216/.262/.320

Morale of the story: A bright smile and a couple of “Aw, shucks!” still go a long way with the beat writers.


Tags: MLB

Tiger Woods Won’t Play in U.S. Open



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Via his website:

“I am extremely disappointed that I won’t be playing in the U.S. Open, but it’s time for me to listen to my doctors and focus on the future,” Woods said. “I was hopeful that I could play, but if I did, I risk further damage to my left leg. My knee and Achilles tendon are not fully healed. I hope to be ready for AT&T National, the next two majors and the rest of the year.”

Tags: Golf

Things Keep Getting Weirder at WVU



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First, head coach–in-waiting Dana Holgorsen gets in trouble at a casino.

Then more reports start surfacing of other incidents involving Holgorson.

Now there’s a possibilty that those incidents were fabricated and that the source of those reports was current heach coach, Bill Stewart.

West Virginia University is searching for anonymous contributors to newspaper stories it says contain “blatant inaccuracies” about the football team’s head coach-in-waiting and offensive coordinator, Dana Holgorsen.

Two senior university officials told the Charleston Daily Mail the scope includes members of the entire football program as well as other athletic-affiliated organizations.

The timing of WVU’s internal inquiry, which is a normal procedure in response to such incidents, coincides with a pause in the concluding phase of Coach Bill Stewart’s separation agreement with the university.

Two sources said the contract has been awaiting signatures for weeks but has been tabled as the athletic department determines who has and has not participated in fabricating stories about Holgorsen and compromising the coaching transition.

Though with this new policy for home games, fans will be able to forget their coaching troubles without leaving the stadium:

Oliver Luck arrived at Friday’s Board of Governors meeting not to tout the positives about the proposed plan to sell alcohol at West Virginia University’s sporting events, but to attack the weaknesses.

When he left, the amendment to Policy 18 had passed by a 10-5 vote at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center and largely because he was ready to address the criticisms raised by board members.

Tags: NCAA

Draft Recaps: The First and Supplemental Rounds



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Summaries are available from John Sickels of SB Nation and John Samuel of Baseball America. As for the remaining rounds, J.J. Cooper of BA lists the top prospects still available.

Meanwhile, are changes coming for 2012?

Tags: MLB

Zimmerman Watch



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Last night, I went to the Potomac Nationals game — they’re the single-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals and their ballpark is a couple of miles from my house. It was Dollar Night — dollar tickets, dollar hot dogs — and there’s always a good chance that a cheapskate like me will show up for it. Anyway, we had a pleasant surprise: Ryan Zimmerman of the Washington Nationals was there on rehab. He looked like a major leaguer, smacking the first pitch he saw to the left-field wall for a double. On the night, he went two-for-three. At third base, he let a rocket of a grounder get past him. He probably should have had it, but the generous scorekeeper gave the hitter a single rather than Zimmerman an error. He left the game after about seven innings.

Before the game started, Zimmerman signed a ton of autographs. Every kid that wanted one probably got one. Both of my boys did. He’s a class act.

Tags: MLB

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