Tags: Misc.

Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward — Crash Updates


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


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.

Miami-Dade High Schools to Start Testing for Steroids


I get what they’re trying to do here, but I’m not sure they realize how hard it will be to implement an effective program. Via the Miami Herald:

A day after Biogenesis founder Antonio Bosch admitted to providing steroids to — among others — high school athletes, the Miami-Dade School Board announced its commitment to start a testing program.

The steroid testing will be a pilot program and will get under way during the coming school year, Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said Wednesday.

Carvalho said the school district will allocate about $73,000 for the program the first year, to be implemented by a vendor as yet to be selected. Since the cost of analyzing a test is more than $50, that won’t pay for a lot of testing. Carvalho hopes to supplement that amount by getting private sponsors.

Whatever the scope, it could discourage steroid use, the superintendent hopes — the theory being that any testing will act as a deterrent.

In designing a testing program, an athletic body must decide how often to test, for what substances and whether testing will be random, “suspicion-based” or some combination of the two.

“We’re going to sensitize the parents, the students, the coaches to this issue very aggressively,” Carvalho said.

As for the argument that this will “discourage steroid use,” there is testing in college and pro sports and athletes use performance enhancing drugs all the time. Another problem is that whatever program the high schools use will be less invasive than the testing of adult athletes, i.e., would you as a parent let somebody you don’t know watch your son or daughter urinate in cup? I certainly wouldn’t. But getting rid of the invasiveness of the tests opens the window to cheating. 

The rest from the Herald here.

Tags: Misc.

Science: Caffeine Gives Athletes an Edge


Me: Duh. Via NPR:

After winning the Tour de France last Sunday, Vincenzo Nibali was tested for a bunch of performance-enhancing substances. But Nibali and his fellow competitors were welcome to have several cups of coffee (or cans of Red Bull), before their ride into Paris; caffeine is not on the World Anti-Doping Agency’s banned list.

Still, the drug is definitely a performance booster. Just in the past few months, studies have shown that caffeine helps female volleyball players hit the ball harder and jump higher, rowers go farther, and cyclists go faster in a 20K time trial.

A large body of research shows caffeine helps in “pretty much every kind of endurance exercise,” giving a performance advantage of 1.5 percent to 5 percent, says Mark Glaister, an exercise physiologist at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham, U.K., and an author of the recent cycling study.

The rest here.


Tags: Misc.

UFC Fighter Leaves California to Fight with the IDF in Gaza


Via Rappler:

Noad Lahat, an Israeli mixed martial arts fighter who is currently competing under the banner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, has decided to put his prizefighting career on hold to rejoin the Israel Defense Forces in the conflict with Hamas militants at the Gaza strip.

A military life has long been a part of the Lahat family as his parents were former generals, while Noad served three-and-a-half years in the paratroopers’ brigade of the Israeli armed forces.

In addition, his older brother and sister took part in the military service as well, and his younger sibling is expected to do same in the near future.

A sequence of back-and-forth incidents involving unsuccessful peace negotiations, the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers, and the death of a Palestinian youngster led to the recent spark in the unending crisis.

Although the Israeli government does not compel its citizens who are outside the country like Lahat to return and serve, the 30-year-old native of Samaria, Israel affirmed that he is determined to temporarily hang up his four-ounce gloves to defend his nation.

“I’m having fun here, but I’ll have nowhere to go back home if I don’t go there. If me and my friends, my brothers-in-arms, won’t go to defend my country, we’ll have nowhere to go. It’s something I really don’t want to do. I want to stay here and enjoy the rest of the week after two tough months, but I have to go. Otherwise, I’m not going to have a home,” he said in his post-fight interview after beating Steven Siler via unanimous decision at UFC on FOX 12 over the weekend.

Lahat also shared that while in the United States preparing for his three-round tussle against Siler, his family was fighting for survival amidst the latest round of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which had weighed heavily both on his heart and mind as he tried to focus on the bout.

“My mom and dad have 15 seconds to run to get shelter when missiles are falling on them and I’m here in sunny California. I love California, but I need to go and defend my home. As a combat soldier, there’s nothing I want more in the world than peace. I don’t want to see my younger brother go in the army. I don’t want to see me and my other brother going back home on Sunday. I don’t want to see more killing and more blood the only blood should be in the Octagon,” he stated.

The rest here.

Tags: Misc.

Polling the NBA, NCAA, and MLB in Florida


Here’s the latest from Public Policy Polling.

The NBA playoffs? Meh. . .

The Heat are in the NBA finals right now but most of Florida doesn’t care. 31% of voters in the state say they’re rooting for the Heat, 13% say they’re rooting for the Spurs, and 57% say they don’t care. LeBron James has a 38/14 favorability rating- it’s 28/16 with white voters and 79/6 with African Americans.

Not much love for the Hurricanes. . .

Florida narrowly edges Florida State for college sports loyalties in the state, 22/19. Central Florida is third at 11%, followed by Miami at 10%, Florida Atlantic at 5%, South Florida at 4%, and Florida International at 2%. Florida coach Will Muschamp is in tepid standing with the Gator fan base- just 33% say they approve of the job he’s doing to 19% who disapprove, with a 48% plurality still taking a wait and see approach. His approval rating is down from 46% in September. Despite winning the Heisman Trophy and a national championship last fall, 72% of voters in the state say they have no opinion about Jameis Winston. 10% see him favorably and 18% unfavorably.

And Tampa’s success on the baseball diamond does not translate into fan support. . .

Florida’s teams continue to do pretty poorly when it comes to MLB loyalty in the state- the Braves lead with 17%, followed by the Marlins at 14%, Yankees at 11%, Rays at 10%, Red Sox at 8%, and Cubs at 5%. The few fans the Marlins and Rays do have remain optimistic for the season though. 65% of Marlins fans think the team will make the playoffs this year, 38% think they will make it to the World Series, and 19% think they’ll win it all. Despite an abysmal start to the season Rays fans remain hopeful too- 59% think they’ll make the playoffs although only 20% think they’ll get to the World Series and just 12% think they’ll win it. Baseball fans are either incredibly optimistic people or lie to pollsters about their expectations- or perhaps spin is a better word than lie. 



Tags: Misc.

Falklands War 2.0 at the World Cup?


Brazil is worried about English and Argentinean soccer fans in the same city at the same time:

Police have raised fears over the fact both England and Argentina will play games in the same city just days apart.

An 11,000-strong contingent of Argentinian fans will travel to see their side play Iran on June 21 in Belo Horizonte, where the Argentina squad will be based during the opening weeks of the tournament.

Three days later, more than 7,500 England fans are expected in the southeastern city for their final group game against Costa Rica.

Around 650 violent ‘ultras’ will cross Argentina’s border with Brazil for the tournament, with the notorious Barra Brava group thought to have made alliances with equally brutal Brazilian hooligans.

The Barras Bravas – linked to Argentinian club San Lorenzo – have already threatened England fans with violence in revenge for losing the Falklands War in 1982.

One Brazilian group, Mafia Azul, are suspected to have rented a ranch on the outskirts of Belo Horizonte in order to accommodate dozens of Barras Bravas.

The Mafia Azul are linked to Belo Horizonte side and current league leaders Cruzeiro, who were earlier this year banned from stadiums in Brazil after violent confrontations with rival fans which left several people dead.

The rest here.

Tags: Misc.

White House to Host Summit on Concussions and Youth Sports


When is the White House summit on concussions and secretaries of state? The Washington Post:

The White House will hold a summit on youth sports and concussions later this month, bringing together young athletes, academics, parents and others to raise awareness of head injuries among young people who play sports.

According to a White House official, the administration will announce new commitments by the public and private sectors to raise awareness among athletes, parents, coaches, schools and others on how to identify and treat concussions and to conduct research to help understand how sports-related concussions affect young athletes.

The White House Healthy Kids and Safe Sports Concussion Summit will take place May 29. According to the White House, Obama, an avid sports fan, wants to make sure that children can play sports safely and appreciates the role that sports play in the lives of young people.

The rest here.

Tags: Misc.

And This Is Why You Don’t Bring Flares to a Soccer Game


Ooof. It seems that the propellant in the cop’s pepper spray is flammable, leading to the result below when coming into contact with the hooligan’s lighted flare:

Deadspin has the video and notes that the photo was the result of lucky-timing as the actual fireball was quite brief and went out as soon as the officer stopped spraying.

Tags: Misc.

Dancer Who Lost Her Leg in Boston Bombing Is Dancing Again


The best thing you’ll read today:

Professional dancer Adrianne Haslet-Davis, who lost her lower left leg in the Boston Marathon bombings, took to the stage Wednesday afternoon to do a short rhumba wearing a prosthetic leg made for her at the MIT Media Lab. Haslet-Davis, who has taught 20 different types of dance at Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Boston, performed briefly at a TED Conference in Vancouver, B.C.

Hugh Herr, director of biomechatronics at the Media Lab, was at the conference to explain the design of the leg, which he made with a team of scientists savvy in prosthetics, robotics, and biomechanics. Herr is a double amputee, resulting from a rock climbing accident in 1982. He first met Haslet-Davis at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and thought he could help. The dancer’s husband, Air Force Captain Adam Davis, suffered a cut nerve and artery in his left foot in the bombing and had a skin graft from his right thigh to repair his right foot, which was peppered with shrapnel. He had just returned to Boston two weeks earlier from a deployment in Afghanistan when the couple decided to spend a nice spring day watching the Boston Marathon.

After the TED performance, Haslet-Davis stood alongside dancer Christian Lightner and wiped away tears.

Amazing. From this. . .

. . .to this. . .

Welcome back, Adrianne.


Tags: Misc.

NASCAR’s Trevor Bayne Diagnosed with MS



 NASCAR driver Trevor Bayne has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, according to his racing team.

Multiple sclerosis is a chronic disease that affects the central nervous system, often causing pain, numbness in the limbs and a loss of vision. Symptoms vary by patient and can disappear for months at a time, making it difficult to diagnose early on.

Doctors have cleared Bayne, 22, to compete, said a statement by Roush Fenway Racing.

“I am in the best shape I’ve ever been in, and I feel good,” Bayne said. “There are currently no symptoms and I’m committed to continuing to take the best care of my body as possible.”

Bayne was the youngest driver in NASCAR history to win the Daytona 500 in 2011. He said he plans to race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship in 2014.

Scientists do not know what causes multiple sclerosis, according to the Mayo Clinic, although a person’s risk increases if a family member has the disease.

The rest here.

Tags: Misc.

Astrodome Down


A defeated referendum in Texas yesterday may result in the demise of the 48-year old Astrodome:

After Texas voters on Tuesday rejected a referendum that would have authorized up to $217 million in bonds to turn the Astrodome into a giant convention and event center, the stadium is likely to be demolished.

“We can’t allow the once-proud Astrodome to sit like a rusting ship in the middle of a parking lot. This was the best effort (to revamp the stadium), and voters have turned it down,” Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said. Fifty-three percent voted against the referendum.

Emmett said a final decision on what happens to the Astrodome will be up to the commissioners court, the group of local officials who manage the county. But he said the stadium’s future was pretty much sealed with the referendum’s failure. He said a decision would have to be made quickly but didn’t say exactly when that would happen.

While some supporters who attended an election watch party Tuesday evening in an exhibition hall across from the Astrodome vowed to continue fighting for the stadium, preservation groups who had championed the referendum said there was really nothing more that could be done.

“Because it sat vacant for many years, there’s been a lack of passion for it,” said Beth Wiedower, senior field officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, one of the groups backing the plan.

More here.

Tags: Misc.

Drug Dealing Helped Prepare Jay-Z to Be a Sports Agent


Indeed, that’s what the co-founder of Roc Nation Sports revealed to Vanity Fair:

Jay’s checkered past taught him a few things that he says will come in handy in his new role as a sports agent: “I know about budgets. I was a drug dealer,” he tells [contributing editor Lisa] Robinson. “To be in a drug deal, you need to know what you can spend, what you need to re-up. Or if you want to start some sort of barbershop or car wash—those were the businesses back then. Things you can get in easily to get out of [that] life. At some point, you have to have an exit strategy, because your window is very small; you’re going to get locked up or you’re going to die.”

H/T Craig Calcaterra

Tags: Misc.

Congratulations to Oracle, I mean the U.S.A., for Winning the America’s Cup


From today’s New York Times:

Many regattas ago, when Jimmy Spithill had not yet won the grandest prize in yachting, one of his mentors, the Australian Syd Fischer, gave him words to sail by.

“Syd used to say to me when something was going good, ‘Be careful,’ ” Spithill said, “ ‘because you can be a rooster one day and a feather duster the next.’ ”

A sailor had to be careful indeed in the 34th America’s Cup, which generated historically fast speeds and risks in carbon-fiber foiling catamarans that bore a greater resemblance to flying machines than boats.

But while it once looked all but certain that Spithill, the Oracle Team USA skipper and helmsman, and his crew mates were going to end up as feather dusters in San Francisco, they were ultimately able to turn Fischer’s catchphrase on its head, pulling off the greatest comeback in America’s Cup history and one of the most dramatic in any sport.

Trailing by 8-1 to the challenger, Emirates Team New Zealand, and within one defeat of losing the Cup, Oracle continued to upgrade its boat and its confidence and — against overwhelming odds and a team of veteran sailors — proceeded to win an unprecedented eight straight races to defend the trophy.

The final blow was delivered Wednesday in the first winner-take-all race since 1983. It was a grand spectacle, with the biggest and loudest crowd of the regatta gathered onshore and the two predatorial catamarans crossing the start line in near unison at well over 30 knots.

Oracle was the first to crack, burying both bows in the water as it prepared to round Mark 1 And generating a huge splash and a collective gasp back on shore as it slowed dramatically. But there would be no breakdown and no Kiwi revival. Though New Zealand led at Mark 1 and Mark 2, the third leg was again critical. In the early stages of this best-of-17 regatta, Oracle was the slower boat upwind, but as the series stretched on, the team’s designers and shore crew used the off days to modify the boat to their advantage.

Wednesday only underscored the obvious. Oracle was the significantly faster boat upwind, hydrofoiling for extended periods while Team New Zealand remained closer to the water and increasingly farther from the defender.

The rest here.

And here’s a multimedia-interactive from the Times that shows the Oracle boat in action. Look ma, no canvas!

Tags: Misc.

International Olympic Committee ‘Totally Satisfied’ with Russia’s Anti-Gay Law


We’ll see what the IOC has to say once the protests happen in Sochi. Via the AP:

The International Olympic Committee has dismissed concerns over Russia’s law banning gay propaganda, saying it doesn’t violate the Olympic charter’s anti-discrimination clause, and pronounced Russia ready to host the 2014 Winter Games.

Jean-Claude Killy, chairman of the IOC Coordination Commission, gave his stamp of approval during a news conference Thursday at the conclusion of the commission’s 10th and final visit to Sochi before the games, which begin on Feb. 7.

Russia has come under scrutiny as the next host of the Olympics because of the law passed this summer outlawing “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors,” which many worry may apply to gay athletes and visitors to the games.

Killy said the commission deliberated for several days and concluded “the IOC doesn’t have the right to discuss the laws that are in place in the country hosting the games, so unless the charter is violated we are fully satisfied.”

The rest here.


Tags: Misc.

Science: Fans’ Weight Gain Is Tied to W–L Records


It’s science so it must be true. USA Today:

Fans of losing teams like to say that their favorite team is killing them. They may be right.

A study in the academic journal Psychological Science found that fans of losing teams consume more calories the day after games than fans of teams that win.

Yes, losing can make fatter fans.

Professor Pierre Chandon of the INSEAD business school, who conducted the study with the doctoral student Yann Cornil, looked at food consumption in NFL cities the day after games. He found that the day after a loss, fans tend to gorge themselves.

As Chandon put it:

“One day after a defeat, Americans eat 16 percent more saturated fat, and 10 percent more calories. But on the day after a victory of their favorite team, then it’s the opposite. They eat more healthily. They eat 9 percent less saturated fat, and 5 percent fewer calories. There was no effect in cities without a team or with a team that didn’t play.”

This holds true not only for NFL teams, as the duo found similar results when looking at French soccer teams and their fans.

The rest here.

Tags: Misc.

Rocky V Star, Heavyweight Champion Tommy Morrison Dies at 44


Details here.

Tags: Misc.

Throwing Out the First Pitch, Gangnam-Style


It helps if you’re trained in taekwondo:


Tags: Misc.

Ray Chapman and the ‘Masons’ vs. the ‘K.C.s’


Ray Chapman, shortstop for the Cleveland Indians, was hit in the head by a pitch at the Polo Grounds 93 years ago today. He died the next morning at St. Lawrence Hospital (now a minimum-security prison) on West 163rd Street in Washington Heights. Two months later, the Indians appeared in, and won, their first World Series.

Mike Sowell tells the story in The Pitch That Killed (1988), an account of the grim incident itself and a history of events leading up to and following it. Though he’s too restrained to describe the 1920 season in such stark terms, from his telling, the reader begins to form a picture of it as a watershed in the history of major-league baseball.

Rumors that the White Sox had thrown the World Series to the Reds back in October 1919 were building and would culminate in a grand jury a month after Chapman’s death. In the offseason, around Christmas 1919, the Red Sox had sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees in what we now regard as the most monumental transaction in baseball history. He was in right field at the Polo Grounds when Chapman was hit. (Ruth himself died 28 years later to the day, in 1948, the only other year the Indians won the World Series.)

In July 1920, another good Boston pitcher, Carl Mays, whose reputation for being a headhunter followed him, ended up on the Yankees’ roster after breaking his contract with the Red Sox. Ban Johnson, president of the American League, took legal action to block the trade, which he feared would set a bad precedent, but the case ended up in a court in New York, and that was that. In August, Mays threw the pitch that killed Chapman. In late September the White Sox, locked in a tight pennant race with the Indians, lost seven of their regulars, suspects in the Black Sox scandal, when owner Charles Comiskey suspended them, practically handing the pennant to the Indians. In November 1920, the National Commission, a triumvirate consisting of the presidents of the two major leagues and the owner of the Cincinnati Reds, hired Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis to fill the newly created position of commissioner of baseball.

Sowell arranges those familiar elements of baseball history to create, as I say, a picture that highlights their interlocking relationships and tells a complex story that happens to be true. But it’s in a subplot to the Chapman incident as he relates it that this reader, anyway, finds the most disturbing significance.

In August 1920, Chapman, a Protestant, had recently married a Cleveland woman who was Catholic. According to her family, he had plans to take instruction to be received into the Church during the offseason. On his deathbed, a priest administered last rites. His wife’s family arranged a Catholic funeral at St. John’s Cathedral in Cleveland. Manager Tris Speaker did not attend, and catcher Steve O’Neill showed up with a black eye. According to newspaper accounts, Speaker’s absence was due to nervous exhaustion. In a newspaper interview decades later, Bill Wambsganss, or Wamby, the second baseman for the 1920 Indians (he pulled off an unassisted triple play in Game Five of the World Series), described a fight between Speaker and O’Neill. Speaker was a Protestant and Mason; O’Neill, a Catholic. Speaker objected to what he saw as sectarian aggression by Chapman’s Catholic wife and her family. O’Neill defended their decision to have him buried in the Catholic Church. The argument escalated, according to Wamby, and punches were thrown.

During his Red Sox years (1907–15), Speaker — together with Smoky Joe Wood, who would reunite with him when Wood moved to the Indians in 1917 — was said by the Boston newspapers to be a leader of what they dubbed the “Masons,” Protestants who were opposed in the clubhouse by the “K.C.s” (Knights of Columbus), Catholics who were primarily Irish Americans. A seasoned baseball historian warns me against looking for religious conflict in major-league baseball, but here are two dots — the early-20th-century Red Sox as described by the press at the time, and Wamby’s plausible account explaining O’Neill’s black eye and Speaker’s no-show at Chapman’s funeral — that, when you connect them, do reflect what we know from history to be a dark social reality in American society at the time.

Tags: Misc.

Mascot Fired For Not Being Fat Enough


English soccer team Bradford City F.C. fired the man who played its mascot, the “City Gent”, because he lost too much weight. Since 1994, Lenny Berry has played the “jolly, portly character” that was based on Stafford Hegginbotham, the club’s former chairman.

Imagine the legal challenges if this were to happen in the U.S.

Tags: Misc.


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