Thursday, April 30, 2009

Patrick Schuster Has Nothing On Rachele Fico

So, what if it's softball...
Get a load of this...

((HT: WWL 870AM Radio/CP))
Rachele Fico's ((pictured, thanks 23rd perfect game for Masuk High School wasn't her best.

The LSU-bound senior only struck out 20 of the 21 batters she faced Wednesday, giving up a soft grounder to second base for the game's penultimate out. The other team erupted into applause over one of their players just putting the ball in play.

"For four years they've been cheering for foul tips," said Masuk coach Jacqui Sheftz. "To the other teams' credit, they are coming out here and taking their cuts ... but Rachel right now is at the top of her game."

The 11-0 victory was Fico's 43rd no-hitter, fourth consecutive perfect game, and seventh this season. She has a career ERA of .006.

Fico (90-2 career) pitched another no-hitter on Thursday as Masuk won 10-0, but her streak of perfect games ended when she walked a batter. Through 11 games this year, she has given up just two hits and two walks.

"She's throwing in Connecticut, which isn't exactly known as the national hotbed of softball," said LSU coach Yvette Girouard. "But I don't care what level you're participating in, the mark she's setting - you just kind of shake your head and scratch it. It's just an unbelievable feat what she's doing right now."

It's also unprecedented. Marissa Marzan held the previous record for perfect games, pitching 20 for Bullard High School in Fresno, Calif., between 1998-2001, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.

Fico, who goes by Ray, said she's been working at her game since she was 5 years old, playing coed T-ball in her hometown of Oxford.

"I remember crying," she said. "I didn't want to play."

But she discovered she was good at it, and when she was 9, she switched to softball.

"I would just go outside and pitch in my backyard," she said. "When I was younger, I practiced like six or seven days a week."
Her father, Ralph, said Fico would constantly ask him to play catch. He eventually put a batting cage and a pitching machine in the yard. By the time she was in middle school, she was throwing the ball 57 mph. She also threw about 30,000 pitches a year.

"I'm not kidding," he said. "We counted them. It was 100 pitches a day."
Ralph Fico decided to get his daughter some professional help, and eventually found Jen Hapanowicz, a former University of Rhode Island pitcher who runs a training center in Durham, Conn.

Since then, Fico has played for a variety of elite national teams, helping the Gold Coast Hurricanes of Florida to an 18-and-under Amateur Softball Association national championship last summer.

"She has a fire inside and a drive," said Ralph Fico. "This record thing, I don't want to say it bothers me, but it's not something she was looking to set. She just wants to win."
Rachele said she actually likes hitting more than pitching. On Wednesday, she was 4 for 4, including a double and a home run. But she pitches right-handed and bats left, exposing her throwing arm to the mound when she bats. So in college, she's likely to stick to the pitching circle.

She throws a curve ball, a change-up, a drop-curve, a screwball, a riser and something called a screw-rise, often topping 70 mph.

Sheftz, who was a catcher in college, said she's never seen anyone with Fico's combination of control, power and movement. What's it like to catch her?

"It hurts," she said.

Playing for her summer league teams, Fico has pitched against competition from Japan, Venezuela and Taipei. She even threw an inning against the U.S. Olympic team, giving up five earned runs on four hits, with a walk.

Fico is quick to credit her teammates for her perfect games, noting that they sometimes have to wait several games to get a single chance at a ball in the field, but are always ready.

She said she "dreams big" about the future, but wants to concentrate now on helping Masuk to a third consecutive state title. In college, she plans to study special education and just enjoy being a part of the LSU softball team.

Girouard said the feeling is mutual.

"We don't want to put any undue expectations on her," she said. "But let's just say everyone in Baton Rouge is salivating for her arrival."

The Danbury, Connecticut News Times has a list of her complete games in black.
Our friends at Fox 61 in Hartford were present for Perfect Game 23

Maggie The Monkey's NHL Predictions

((HT: TSN))

When TSN brought out Maggie the Macaque in 2003, she selected the Anaheim Ducks to win the Stanley Cup and a television was born. She's been a fixture of TSN's coverage ever since, but is set to retire after this season.

She was a very substandard 2-6 in the opening round this year...
So, how does she do for Round 2...???

See yourself...

Saints Staying In N'Awlins Through 2025

((HT: New Orleans Times-Picayune))

Gov. Bobby Jindal and New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson ((pictured with Rita Benson LeBlanc,thanks Ted Jackson/NO Times-Picayune)) made it official at a 10:15 a.m. press conference: the state of Louisiana and the Saints have agreed to a deal that will keep the team playing in the Louisiana Superdome through 2025.

"Today is a great day for Louisiana," Jindal said. "After many months of hard work, we've reached an agreement with the Saints that benefits taxpayers and benefits the citizens of Louisiana."

Jindal said that a recent university study concluded that over the life of the extension, this deal would generate more than $400 million for the city and state.

"This is a great deal not only for New Orleans, but for the state Louisiana," Jindal said. "This is a terrific investment for the state."

A key component of the deal is that Benson will purchase the New Orleans Center and the Dominion Tower, located next to the Dome, and lease that space. The Center will be turned into a sports and entertainment area.

"What's great about this agreement is that it helps a significant part of downtown recover," Jindal said.

As part of the deal, the state would put $85 million into continuing renovations into the Superdome, which will add seating and suites and continue to modernize the 34-year old building.

When completed, there will be more than 70,000 seats and will add 16 new suites. New Orleans is hoping the additions will help it land the Super Bowl in 2013.

With the dome improvements and the sale of the New Orleans Center, the Benson family and the Saints will be responsible for generating revenue and the state's responsibility diminishes.

"This puts more of a burden on the Saints, but that's OK," Benson said. "We're not just talking, we're investing and I encourage others out there to do that, too."

Here's a big picture graphic of the plan as it stands...
Nakia Hogan and Kate Moran have even more details...
Val Bracy's coverage from Fox 8 is in black here...
Here's a copy of the press release sent out to the masses...
But it may be a tough sell to some Louisiana lawmakers...
Our friends at WVUE/Fox 8 pursue the idea...

Coyotes Deny NHL in Control of Team

((HT: Arizona Republic/Craig Harris))

The NHL, which loaned the Coyotes ((pictured, thanks David Kadlubowski/Arizona Republic)) money in February to keep the team in business, is now running the franchise and has promised Glendale that it would reimburse the city for parking fees and security costs owed by the team, Glendale City Manager Ed Beasley said.

"The NHL is in charge of the team right now," Beasley said. "We have assurances from the NHL the money will be paid. . . . We are sitting down with the NHL and working confidentially with them, and the city expects to be paid in full."

Coyotes President Doug Moss refuted that report late Wednesday night, saying the league has not assumed control of the Coyotes.

"We are not reporting to the league," he said. "We report to (owner) Jerry Moyes. I'm dealing with things in my area, the business side, and Donnie (General Manager Don Maloney) is dealing with the hockey side.

"It's business as usual. He's preparing for the draft. I'm preparing for next year on marketing and sales."

The NHL has helped other financially challenged teams, and since the 1980s it has loaned money to franchises in Dallas, Buffalo, New York, Tampa, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Hartford, according to publicly filed financial statements. However, having a league operate one of its own franchises is rare in professional sports.

Beasley said the NHL started running the team around the time the rent payment was made in late February. It remains unclear what role the NHL has in operating the franchise.

In August, the Coyotes stopped paying the city rent, parking fees and most of its security costs at Arena, according to Glendale city records. The city was paid nearly $351,000 for past-due rent on Feb. 25, the day after the NHL agreed to loan the team an unspecified amount.

As part of the loan agreement, the league had the right to take over the franchise if NHL loan was not paid.

"We have been told from the NHL that they are responsible for the team," Beasley said.

Beasley declined to say how much was owed in parking fees and security cost at Arena, home of the Coyotes.

City records show that over the past four years, from August to April - the current time frame the city has not been paid - the Coyotes paid Glendale from $577,000 to nearly $2.5 million for parking and security costs.

Most of that comes from parking fees the team collects as a surcharge on ticket sales, which allows those attending events at the arena to park for free.

The Hits Just Keep Coming

So, we went through an initial outbreak of A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez) stories went it was first released that he had used steroids. We got, the admission, in advance of a book that had been written by Selena Roberts and David Epstein, writers for that A-Rod had taken steroids as far back as his early days with the Texas Rangers. A-Rod went on TV with the Professor (Peter Gammons of the 4-Letter Word) and confessed his sins, plead for forgiveness and we all moved on. A-Rod was hurt early in Spring Training and is currently close to being healthy and ready to play for the New York Yankees.

((A-Rod photo Courtesy: Theodorakis/N.Y. Daily News))

Now comes the latest twist/twists in the sordid life/story that is Alex Rodriguez. 2 Things that came out the book is about to be published and released mind you. One, A-Rod may have been taking steroids for a time after Texas. In fact there are allegations that he was seen with former Yankee Pitcher Kevin Brown in 2004 somewhere where HGH was present. This all from the Book, which again, is about to be released publicly on Monday.

The Story, as told by the New York Daily News here

Selena Roberts talks more about things on the Dan Patrick show here

And there is more. Apparently, the book also documents Rodriguez tipping pitches. Yes, that's right, tipping the opposition.

Check out Roberts and Epstein's interview with here

According to the story and subsequent interview, this happens quite frequently in Major League Baseball. We aren't sure why or for that matter what this means, but it certainly raises quite a few eyebrows...among other things. Folks, as much as we don't like to hear stuff like this, the book...and the stories coming from it, are certainly exposing a side of baseball that we...or anyone else really likes or wants to hear. We would say that MLB has a response...but quoting the Selig...

Well, just read the Bud Selig interview with SI's Tom Verducci here , it explains things much more clearly than we can.

Swine Flu Outbreak Sickening High School Sports

The swine flu epidemic is serious enough that some high school athletic associations are cancelling events including state championships.

The state of Texas has suspended all high school athletic activities until May 11th because of the swine flu outbreak. Now the state of Alabama is following up.

the Alabama High School Athletic Association has postponed all athletic events because of probable swine flu cases in the Huntsville, Alabama area.

AHSAA Executive Director Steve Savarese told the Birmingham News, "Right now, we are being advised by our medical advisory committee to shut down all activities until further notice."

This move affects the Alabama state track and field championships which were scheduled to begin Friday. That event will be rescheduled.

"This is not something we want to do," Savarese said. "Right now, we want to be cautious."

On the college scene, the University of Delaware baseball team had to cancel it's trip to UNC-Wilmington for a 3 game weekend series because one of the Blue Hen players was ill. UD already has 10 reported cases of swine flu.

Coverage from our friends at NBC15 in Mobile with Lindsay Bramson is in black...
Robert Reeves coverage from WHNT-TV/CBS 19 in Huntsville is below...

KEYE-TV's coverage from Austin, Texas is available by clicking the black as well.
Gregg Watson has the story from Georgetown, Texas for CBS42

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

NHLPA's Kelly: Leafs Not Against Local Rival

((HT: Rogers Sportsnet))

Reinforcing an interview he gave to the Fan960 in Calgary during the Flames-Blackhawks series over the weekend, Paul Kelly, the executive director of the NHLPA, was a guest on Hockeycentral at Noon and he was candid in his belief that the league should place another franchise in Southern Ontario.

"It's a no-brainer to consider the placement of another team here either in Toronto or in Southern Ontario," Kelly said. "There is unparalleled interest here. There's no question it would draw well."

Kelly said although there has been no formal request to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment about the placement of another team in the Toronto market, he's not certain the Maple Leafs ownership group would get in the way of another franchise.

Kelly does believe the Leafs would prefer to see a rival franchise play out of the Air Canada Centre rather than seeing another arena built somewhere north of the city.

"If you were going to put a second team in Toronto, the Leafs would rather see them in the Air Canada Centre rather than build another arena north of the city."
Kelly explained that the team would rather not see another concert venue built in the city.

Listen to the interview with Daren Millard on the Fan590 and HockeyCentral by clicking in black...

Louisville Arena Builder Defends Reputation After Collapse


The general contractor for the downtown arena project is defending its reputation.

After a concrete collapse injured three workers Monday, another worker who witnessed the accident alleges widespread safety issues at the construction site.

But, in an exclusive interview with WHAS11’s Joe Arnold, Mortensen Construction Senior Vice-President John Wood calls the concrete collapse a "serious event" that will be investigated thoroughly and completely.

But Wood calls "preposterous" the allegation that his safety personnel aren't competent.

Wood says the facts are just the opposite, offering as an example that after a similar arena project in Kansas City, Mortensen was honored as the safest contractor in Missouri.

After Monday's accident, which included rebar tearing through one worker’s arm, Wood is taking great pains to stress Mortensen's commitment to safety on the Louisville arena project.

“It is of great concern to us. We view it as an unacceptable event and we will get to the bottom of it and make sure it doesn't happen again,” Wood said.

Wood is leading a five-member Mortensen team investigating the collapse, joined by Kentucky inspectors and three independent structural engineering firms.

“They'll be looking at not only the temporary construction that was supporting the concrete structure,” Wood explained, “but also the materials and systems that were being incorporated into the concrete structure itself.”

Wood says it’s too early to draw any conclusions about what caused the incident, but he did agree to respond to allegations leveled by one arena construction worker who said the project has safety and quality control problems.

In an interview aired Tuesday on WHAS11 News, Charlie Molen, a laborer with more than thirty years of experience on construction projects in Louisville spoke of his concerns.

“I have never been on a project where I've felt as insecure safety wise as I do on this project,” says Molen .

“’Push. Push. Push. Push. Get it done. Get it done. Get it done.’” Molen described an attitude that prioritizes job completion more than job safety.

“Now, this is the first time I've worked for this company,” Molen acknowledged, “so I don't know what their other projects are like.”
The Mortensen executive says the company puts safety first in all of its projects.

“We were not aware of any suggestions or concerns that Mr. Molen had raised, but that had been disregarded by anybody in our organization,” Wood continued. “But the fact that he said that is a grave concern to me and we will get to the bottom of that.”
While Charlie Molen is the only worker of about 250 on the site to make the accusation, several contractors have jumped to Mortensen's defense -- including the engineering firm hired by the Arena Authority to inspect the structural components of the project.

“We've been on numerous sites,” said Patriot Engineering’s Mike Vaught, “and this is probably one of the first sites I've been on that they adamantly tell you to report unsafe conditions.”
Beyond worker safety, the builder says with top of the line architects, engineers and contractors on the job, the isolated incident on Monday is not a reflection of the arena's construction.

“We have absolute confidence in the quality of the work that's being produced,” Wood said.

Meanwhile, a state labor official says Mortensen has granted unprecedented access to state inspectors throughout the arena construction, adding that “contractors with something to hide wouldn't do that.”
And, regarding the 26-month timeline of the arena construction, Wood says that's right in line with their other major arena projects in Memphis, Denver and Minneapolis.

Here's coverage from Dick Irby and our friends from WDRB-Fox 41 in Louisville at the time of the accident.

WHAS-TV's coverage can be found by clicking in black...
Raw tape from an interview with Mortensen Construction is in black here...

Sypher Release Conditions Modified


A federal judge has modified release conditions for the woman charged with trying to extort $10 million from Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino.

Magistrate Judge Dave Whalin on Tuesday took out language that specifically barred Karen Sypher, estranged wife of Pitino's equipment manager, from speaking ill of Pitino.

Sypher's lawyer, Thomas Clay, said Whalin took the step to ensure the language did not infringe on his client's right to free speech.

Sypher was charged Friday in a federal criminal complaint that also accused her of lying to the FBI. She did not enter a plea and was released on her own recognizance.

The case is scheduled for a preliminary hearing May 13 at U.S. District Court.

Here's coverage from our friends at WDRB-Fox 41 in Louisville...

More NOLA Reax on Saints Future

((HT: New Orleans Times-Picayune/Ed Anderson))
Sen. John Alario, D-Westwego, said today a deal between the state and the Saints ((Drew Brees pictured, thanks David Grunfeld/NO Times-Picayune)) is near, and the proposals he has heard discussed may may wind up saving taxpayers about $240 million with a new 15-year contract with the franchise. Alario said after a high-level briefing with Superdome officials and key state lawmakers at the Governor's Mansion that state officials "have indicated they may be signing some agreement in the next couple of days," said Alario, the dean of the Legislature who had a key role in creating the existing contract which expires after the 2010 football season.

Alario said the proposed deal will involve Saints owner Tom Benson buying the Dominion Towers adjacent to the Superdome, then leasing about 300,000 square feet -- roughly two-thirds of the building back to state agencies.

Several lawmakers who attended a later briefing on the deal said that the state will pay Benson about $3.8 million a year in rent for offices at the tower.

Rep. Walt Leger II, D-New Orleans, said the plans as he understands them also call for the state to tap $85 million of the remaining $150 million in state surplus money to make repairs to the Superdome and the area around it.

However, House Speaker Jim Tucker, R-Algiers, said that the surplus and other revenue sources are also under consideration as a way to pay for renovations to the state facilities.

The existing deal will pay the Saints about $186.5 million by the time the contract expires in 2010.

Alario said the state will be paying the "going rate" for rental, comparable to other office space in the New Orleans Central Business District.

He said the state will pay no more than $6 million in cash to Benson -- possibly less -- if certain benchmarks are met such as attendance levels, ticket sale sand suitres sales.

Alario and Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Kenner, said the deal also involves the Superdome Commission co-developing the food court and other areas of the storm-damaged New Orleans Centre, but details were sketchy.

Alario said it was his understanding that Benson would pay about $10.5 million over three years to help redevelop the area.

Alario said he understands the area to be renovated would be turned into an "entertainment venue."

"It will not be easy, but we can work it out," Alario said of lawmakers' approval of the deal during the session.

Rep. Juan LaFonta, D-New Orleans, said the deal just shifts money from one source to another for Benson. With education and health care needs being cut around the state, LaFonta said, the deal as it was laid out "is robbing from the poor to give to the rich.

"The state has not done anything for the concerns like NOAH (the New Orleans Adolescent Hospital) and layoffs at University Hospital."

Saints Presser Thursday To Discuss Future in NO

((HT: WVUE-TV/Fox 8-Rob Masson))

State lawmakers know a lot more today about a deal we first told you about to keep the Saints in New Orleans for 15 to 20 more years.

Thursday, Governor Bobby Jindal and New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson will hold a press conference at the Superdome at 10 a.m. to make an announcement regarding the team.

They received two briefings on the issue in Baton Rouge. The first came this morning at the Governor's mansion. Saints Chief Financial Officer Dennis Lauscha left the meeting confident that a deal allowing the Saints to acquire New Orleans Center and Dominion Tower and lease property back to the state would be announced soon.

Governor Bobby Jindal would not comment on reports that the new deal would reduce state payments to the saints by $17 million a year.

Currently, the state pays the team $23.5 million a year in a direct cash subsidy.
Here's your update from our friends at WVUE-TV/Fox 8

The New Superman Suspended

***BREAKING NEWS*** (Because when News Breaks, we fix it)

Orlando Magic Center/Strong guy Dwight Howard has been suspended for Game 6 of the Magic/Philadelphia 76ers series for throwing elbows. Ok, so he did physically throw his elbow joint, though he did wildly swing his elbows at the 76ers Samuel Dalembert while fighting for a rebound in Tuesday nights game. The Magic by the way won that game 91-78.

The Orlando Sentinel reports here

Check out video of the incident from and the You Tube

Part of the reason Howard has no arguement with this, the league has the right to suspend Howard, who recieved his 2nd technical of the playoffs and his 14th of the season.

The 76ers, for there part are protesting/complaining rather loudly about Howard's physicality. Needless to say, Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy is none to pleased about the complaints and complains about the complaints.

((more thanks Orlando Sentinel for the video))

So now, Game 6 is in Philly and Orlando no longer has the services of its best player. How do you think that's going to work out? Well, there is always game 7

Buzz Is Back At Appalachian State

Three weeks ago, Buzz Peterson turned down an offer from Appalachian State as the new head basketball coach. Well, there's been a change and Peterson is heading to Boone, North Carolina after all.

Wednesday Peterson accepted the offer and will begin second stint as the Mountaineers head hoops coach. Buzz was on the bench for four seasons going 79-39 at ASU between 1996-2000.

He is best known for being Michael Jordan's college roommate at North Carolina. Peterson was fired by Tennessee in 2005 in his only major coaching job.

Peterson later coached at Coastal Carolina before Jordan hired him in 2007 to be director of player personnel with the Charlotte Bobcats.

The Mountaineers went 13-18 last season. Their last NCAA tournament appearance came under Peterson in 2000.

Teeing it Up

OSG Sports got the opportunity yesterday to attend an event that can only be described as "Interesting". We were in attendance yesterday at the 3rd annual "Chick Fil-A Bowl Coaches Golf Tournament". Unfortunately for Chick Fil-A, this year attendance was down to 5 groups of 4.

It's always intersting to us to see a gathering of College Football Coaches and particularly one like this where it is mostly coaches, a few odd boosters and even fewer members of the media. They generally seem to enjoy the event, put on at Reynolds Plantation in Middle of Nowhere, Georgia and if you looked carefully, there was actually some bonding going on.

We saw Steve Spurrier and Jim Grobe yucking it up on the course along with the Johnson's, Paul and Bobby who were paired together. Seeing Nick Saban and Houston Nutt eating lunch and visiting for a long while also struck us as interesting, but a good thing.

While it would be nice for regular Joe's to get opportunities to play in Charity Golf Tournaments such as this one, for once it was actually nice to see these guys getting along off of the field and some of them are actually pretty good golfers. We saw Paul Johnson hit a 100 yard approach inside of 3 feet on 16. Your winners, for the 2nd year in a row, the 'Ol Ball Coach and his playing partner, Sterling Sharpe.
((photos courtesy of: Brant Sanderlin/

It was just a Joke

It seems as though the owner of the Albany Firebirds in the AF2 (minor league arena football), didn't realize his team offered one Michael Vick, a contract. Walter Robb says "That's a joke". "Can you imagine him playing for $200 a week"? No, Mr. Robb, we couldn't. That's why in our story last night, we didn't exactly take this seriously.

Check out the story in the Albany Times-Union here

((photo courtesy: Albany Times-Union archives))

Somehow, Robb says, he never knew about the "Press Release" announcing the offer. Apparently he didn't either read the internet or any of the mulitple media outlets who picked the story up. According to the Coach, Tony Bowick, it was pretty much a publicity stunt designed to drum up interest in his otherwise bad football team. The team's Marketing Department came up with the idea and the GM signed off on it, without telling the owner, Vick, the Humane Society (who wasn't asked about the whole $100k donation part) or anyone else who could have told them it was a really bad idea.

Cups Are Stacking Up In The Sports World

My son introduced me to sport stacking last fall. It's a P.E. activity at his elementary school. Little did I know that sport stacking has reached the level of popularity that the best compete in a world championship. That event occurred last week in Denver, Colorado which hosted the World Sport Stacking Championships.

Here's a report from the Wall Street Journal. Thanks

Eleven-year-old Steven Purugganan from Massachusetts is the Tiger Woods of sport stacking. Purugganan broke his own world record in the 3-6-3 with a "stacktacular" time of 2.15 seconds. Purugganan didn't stop there, he had the fastest times in sport stacking's triple crown, 3-3-3, 3-6-3 and Cycle. That earned Purugganan the overall trophy.

“As sport stacking gains momentum around the world, the
competition climbs to higher and higher levels."
World Sport Stacking Association Director Mark Lingle said. "This was our 7th annual world championships and it definitely was our fastest yet!”

Those of us at the OSG HQ are amazed how fast these kids stack. We see Olympic potential with this.

Matt Versgersian is a Moron

If you ever wanted to hear the "Awkward Broadcasting Moment", then take a listen to what the MLB Network's Matt Versgersian said during last night's wrap up show.

The incident, an injury to Colorado Rockies baserunner Brad Hawpe happened on a pickoff play. Hawpe was hit in the neck and after having his head immobilized, was removed from the field. Up to that point, the commentary was pointed and spot on. But than Versgersian felt the need to "go back to the video". He makes a really poor comment about the EMT on the scene looking like "Donovan McNabb". If you listen closely after that, you may hear crickets.

Needless to say, poor judgement + poor taste equals really bad television. 'Nuff said.

2 Goals In 80 Seconds= A Game 7 Devils Loss


We all thought New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur was ridiculous in times of dire need. He was again Tuesday night in the Game 7 against the Carolina Hurricanes, but he couldn't do it all by himself.

Jussi Jokinen and Eric Staal score in an 80-second span to send the Devils home and the Canes to the Eastern Conference semis.

Here's TSN's coverage with Darren Dutchyshen on the highlight roll...

Rangers Sent Home in Game 7 Loss To Caps

The collapse is complete...
The New York Rangers had a 3-1 lead in their opening round Eastern Conference series against the Washington Capitals. A third-period goal by Sergei Fedorov sent the Broadway Blues home after a 2-1 in DC.

Here's TSN's coverage with "Ms. Dude"- Jennifer Hedger.

Long-Term Saints Deal in The Works

((HT: WVUE-TV/Fox 8-Natasha Robin))

A Saints official confirms ((Tuesday night)) that team leaders will meet with lawmakers tomorrow about negotiations for a long term deal. Governor ((Bobby)) Jindal will also be there to bring Lawmakers up to speed on what's been discussed so far. Governor Jindal says there has been "significant movement" between the two sides.

The new agreement could keep the Saints in New Orleans for years. As part of the new long term deal, Saints owner Tom Benson may buy Dominion Tower ((pictured, thanks Fox 8)) and lease much of the space back to the city and the state.

After several inspections, the total price tag for a full rehab on the building is somewhere between 20 and 50 million dollars. The goal is to eliminate the need for direct cash subsidies from the state to the Saints and at the same time, breathe new life into a commercial corridor that has yet to come back from Katrina.

Any new deal would have to be approved by lawmakers. Adding yet another level of urgency to the proposal, NFL owners decide in just a few weeks if New Orleans bid to host the 2013 Superbowl moves forward.

A deal with Benson could dramatically boost the odds.
Here's the video version from Fox 8 in New Orleans...

Glavine Throwing Plan On Course

((HT: AJC/David O'Brien))

Tom Glavine did light throwing in the outfield Tuesday for the third consecutive day without discomfort in his surgically repaired pitching shoulder. The 43-year-old left-hander plans long-tossing sessions from about 100 feet Thursday and Saturday, and if that goes well he’ll test the shoulder with a side session on the bullpen mound Monday.

“Then we’ll go from there,” said Glavine

Carroll Rogers has the pre-toss strategy from Glavine...

Glavine said Monday he is still in some pain in his shoulder, but expects to have that even if he rests all season.

He wants to get back on the bullpen mound by the end of this homestand and then he’ll have a better idea of what he’s facing.

Glavine had said two weeks ago after a visit to Dr. James Andrews revealed shoulder inflammation that if his shoulder didn’t feel better after two weeks, he might be to the point of deciding to retire. He isn’t quite there yet.

“I’m less emotional than I was two weeks ago,” Glavine said. “I waited two weeks, and if this is it, at least I’m confronting that feeling and coming to grips with those feelings. I’m more willing to look at it matter-of-factly that it’s worth it to give it one more shot. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”

Schuster Fails For 5th No-No In a Row

A Pinellas high school pitcher came up short in his bid to throw a fifth straight no-hit game.

Mitchell High School ace Patrick Schuster had put together a string of four no-hitters going into Tuesday's district tournament game.

With a horde of media and large crowd watching at a high school field in Clearwater, the lanky left-hander gave up a double in the third inning to Gaither High's Drew Dotey, ending the streak.

The national record for consecutive no-hitters by a high school pitcher is six. Schuster captured the state of Florida record when he turned in his fourth straight last week at his home field in New Port Richey, northwest of Tampa.

Here's the highlights from ABC-28 in Tampa...

Rick Harmon's story from the Tampa Tribune is in black...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Leaked Footage From UT Spring Practice

Another quick laugh from the genius that is LSU Freek...

But, if you need a Graduate Level course in speaking "Orgeron," we recommend you listen here from the mind of Chris Vernon
Or watch a version of it here...

Vaughn Martin Drafted By The Chargers

((HT: The Score))

Our friends at The Score TV Network in Canada caught up with UWO undergrad Vaughn Martin after being drafted by the Chargers. Here's the interview to get your post-draft reaction from north of the border.

NHL Keeping Coyotes Afloat

((HT: Arizona Republic/Craig Harris))

The National Hockey League has loaned money to the Phoenix Coyotes ((fans pictured, thanks Arizona Republic)) to keep the financially troubled franchise operating, but if the team fails to pay its debt the league can take it over, according to the agreement.

The day after the team agreed to loan terms February 24 with the NHL, it paid Glendale nearly $351,000 in overdue arena rent payments that dated to late summer 2008. The money also likely was used to meet player payroll.

The loan, for an unknown amount, gives the NHL more control over the future of the Coyotes - including the possible relocation of the team. The Coyotes have never made money since owner Jerry Moyes became an investor in 2001, and annual financial losses have exceeded $20 million during his tenure. Moyes, also owner of trucking giant Swift Transportation Co., is looking for new investors in the team.He declined to comment.

Although Moyes has continued to bail out the team with his personal fortune or by obtaining loans, the team made the playoffs just once, making it challenging to generate money from local TV and radio contracts and ticket sales.

This season, the Coyotes had the third-worst average home attendance (14,875) in the 30-team NHL with a modest payroll of roughly $43 million, just above the NHL-mandated $40.7 million minimum per team. Teams cannot spend more than $56.7 million.

The Coyotes also were forced to lay off 18 employees or about 10 percent of its staff earlier this year.

The unspecified NHL financing came nearly a month after NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman publicly said the team was "not on life support" and called formal loans to the team "wildly exaggerated" speculation.

The NHL, which also advanced funds to the Coyotes that they were to receive later in the year, declined to comment.

To get money from the league, the team pledged all of its assets, including its management agreement of Arena in Glendale, as collateral, according to financial records filed with Maricopa County Recorder's Office. Glendale officials had no comment.

The league's investment ultimately could give the NHL leverage to move the team, according to one sports business expert.

"It could be part of a procedural move to take control of the franchise under certain circumstances other than the team going bankrupt on its own and having additional negative public relations for the organization," said David Carter, executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute.

Carter, who has provided financial advice to sports organizations, said leagues, including the National Basketball Association, provide financial support for teams that are unable to meet payroll.

Carter added that the NHL investment also gives the league leverage to put the team into a receivership - a form of bankruptcy to reorganize with a court-appointed trustee.

Public records do not indicate how much money the NHL loaned the Coyotes. The team already had borrowed at least $57.5 million since December 2003 from affiliates of MSD Capital, records show.

MSD Capital is a New York-based private investment firm that oversees the capital of computer entrepreneur Michael Dell and his family. Dell Financial Services of Austin, Texas, also is a major lender to the National Hockey League.

A spokesman for MSD declined to comment on loans provided to the Coyotes.

To secure numerous loans from affiliates of MSD Capital, the Coyotes in 2007 pledged all of its assets to the investment firm. The assets were used in the NHL loan and the MSD Capital affiliates agreed to take a "junior" or second position for its loans, records show.

That means if Moyes finds new investors in the team the NHL would be repaid first and MSD Capital would be paid from any remaining proceeds. Unsecured creditors then would be paid.

When Moyes, who eventually became majority owner, bought the team in 2001 with developer Steve Ellman and team coach Wayne Gretzky they paid about $125 million. The team is valued at $143 million by Forbes, the financial magazine that estimates values for all professional sports teams.

IOC Uncovering More Beijing Cheats

((HT: FoxSports))

Eight months after the closing ceremony, the IOC is uncovering more drug cheats from the Beijing Games.

The International Olympic Committee, staying true to its pledge to fight doping, said Tuesday that six athletes have been nabbed by retesting their blood samples for CERA, an advanced version of the blood-boosting hormone EPO.

A person familiar with the results told The Associated Press the latest tests caught three track and field athletes, two cyclists and one weightlifter.

The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because the names haven't been released by the IOC, said a male track and field athlete who won only one gold medal was one of the athletes. The other medalist was in cycling.

The IOC did not identify the athletes or sports involved, saying it was notifying the competitors through their national Olympic committees.

The Italian Olympic Committee said one of the six was an Italian athlete, though it declined to name him. The Italian news agency ANSA identified him as cyclist Davide Rebellin, silver medalist in the road race.

U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Darryl Seibel said the federation hadn't received notification from the IOC of any adverse findings involving a U.S. athlete.

"Unless we hear otherwise, we are treating no news as good news," Seibel said.

The IOC reanalyzed a total of 948 samples from Beijing after new lab tests for CERA and insulin became available following the Olympics. The testing began in January and focused mainly on endurance events in cycling, rowing, swimming and athletics.

"The further analysis of the Beijing samples that we conducted should send a clear message that cheats can never assume that they have avoided detection," said Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the IOC medical commission.

Coaches, athletes and anti-doping organizations welcomed the announcement, saying it helps restore credibility to Olympic sports.

"I'm in favor of anything they're doing to clean up the sport," said Glen Mills, coach of Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, who won three gold medals in the 100 meters, 200 meters and 4x100 relay - all in world-record times.

Bolt "has not heard anything - and he will not hear anything," Mills said by telephone from Jamaica.

The IOC will wait for word from the national Olympic bodies before holding any disciplinary hearings. Athletes found guilty of doping face being disqualified from the Olympics and stripped of any medals they won.

The positive findings were based on "A" sample test results. Athletes will be allowed to ask for a testing of their backup "B" samples.

In the meantime, national and international bodies are free to impose provisional suspensions of athletes, the IOC said.

A Greek race walker, Athanasia Tsoumeleka, announced in January that she had tested positive in the new Beijing checks. Tsoumeleka, who finished ninth in Beijing in the 20K walk, was charged by a Greek prosecutor earlier this month with using banned drugs.

The IOC previously disqualified nine athletes for doping at the Aug. 8-24 Olympics. In addition, there were six doping cases involving horses in the equestrian competition.

The IOC has already stripped four athletes of Beijing medals - Ukrainian heptathlete Lyudmila Blonska (silver), Belarusian hammer throwers Vadim Devyatovskiy (silver) and Ivan Tsikhan (bronze) and North Korean shooter Kim Jong Su (silver and bronze) [pictured, thanks The Guardian)).

The IOC is storing doping samples for eight years so they can be tested retroactively when new detection methods are developed.

The World Anti-Doping Agency welcomed the IOC findings. Under the WADA code, athletes can be disciplined up to eight years from the date of a doping violation.

"We suggest that athletes who may be tempted to cheat keep this reality in mind," WADA president John Fahey said. "We believe that retrospective testing serves as a strong deterrent."
Lauryn Williams, a member of the U.S. track and field team in Beijing and a 2004 silver medalist in the 100 meters, also backed the testing system.

"To go ahead and weed out the cheaters is a good thing," she said. "To find out there are additional cheaters is not a great thing."

UNO Vote Underway

((HT: New Orleans Times-Picayune/Pierce W. Huff))

Today through Thursday students will vote online whether to accept an increase in athletic fees that is almost double what they pay now. If the majority of students vote for the increase, which will take effect in the 2009-2010 school term, UNO athletics will remain status quo.

If the majority of students vote against the increase or fewer than 1,050 students participate in the voting, then the program faces an uncertain future.

According to Sun Belt Conference Commissioner Wright Waters, UNO is breaking new ground.

"I've heard of universities putting athletic fee increases to a vote of the students before," Waters said. "Florida International recently did it to approve starting a football program. North Texas did it to approve a new stadium. It's usually dedicated money to help supplement a new entity. I've never heard of it in this kind of situation before."
UNO Athletic Director Jim Miller said he has never before heard of a university placing so much of the future of its athletic funding in the hands of its students.

"When students go in front of their computer to vote they have to ask themselves if the value that the athletic program delivers to the university is important to them," Miller said.

Ron Maestri, UNO's athletic director from 1979 to 2000, said he thinks the student vote is "ridiculous," because the Privateers' student athletic fee has never been adequate in terms of keeping up with the athletic fees of the other universities in the Sun Belt Conference.

"I would hope that (the students) look at what athletics has done for the university," he said.

Miller said he thinks that students will support the athletic program.

"You're nervous anytime there is some kind of uncertainty, but I'm confident in the points we've been making and the value of our athletic program," he said.

Last year, student athletic fees contributed $1.9 million to the athletic department's $4 million budget. The budget is expected to increase to about $4.6 million next year. The athletic program got $1.4 million in funding from the university last year. Because of looming budget cuts, that money won't be allocated next school year. So the athletic program will ask students to make up the difference.

Miller has had UNO athletes go on a major push for votes in the past few days.

He has urged all athletes not only to vote for the increase, but to try to get other people on campus to vote for it as well. He scheduled a meeting with students Monday afternoon to reiterate the pros of the athletic fee increase.

"I'm 100 percent salesman," he said. "We've all had to put our salesmen's hats on. Some say that we're selling our survival, but the fact is that we have a Division I program that generates positive exposure and marketing that you can't buy on your own."
UNO pitcher Jim McGonigle said he isn't worried about the vote.

"I'm pretty confident that our student body will come through for us," he said. "I've talked to people, and they are willing to help us."

But there is a group of UNO students who aren't in favor of an athletic fee increase.

Sandra Casto, a senior business major, said she won't vote for the athletic fee increase because she feels more money should be spent on academic programs.

Freshman Duc Nguyen said he will vote for the increase, but he doesn't think the vote will pass.

"I don't think people care about athletics, because it's not as popular," Nguyen said.

Justin Cottrell, the president of the student government association, said he doesn't have any idea about the vote's final outcome.

"I've heard extremes from both sides of the issue," Cottrell said.

Cottrell made amendments to the original proposal from the UNO athletic department asking for a student vote to increase athletic fees.

Last week, the student government senators approved an amendment to the athletic fee vote that places a cap on the increase not to exceed $195.96 for undergraduate students and $146.97 for graduate students.

The student government senators also approved an amendment by Cottrell to the athletic proposal that it must have a minimum of 1,050 votes to be official. Cottrell felt that was a reasonable amount of votes needed to show students have been paying attention to the issue.

"I think the number of voters is going to be more than enough," he said. "I'm expecting between 2,500 and 3,000 people to vote."

Miller said he expects a large number of voters as well.

"If you're going to have a Division I program, you have to support it," Miller said.

2 For 7?

Because we care about our friend Seven (Michael Vick), we feel an obligation to both report and...well...comment about the latest adventure in his ongoing saga. It seems as though the Albany Firebirds, of the AF2 Football League (Arena ball...the minor league version), have offered our friend a job. Yes, he'll be the Quarterback and yes, he'll get paid, though we suspect that it wasn't exactly the pay scale that either he or his representatives imagined. Per league rules...AF2 players receive $200 per game, with a $50 bonus for wins. Oh...and lest we forget, they want to put a clause in Mr. Vick's deal that he make a donation to the Albany Humane the tune of $100k. Uh...somehting tells us that won't quite be enough.

Check out the story from the Albany Times-Union here

Who knows, the Firebirds...of to an 0-5 start this season could use the help or at the very least the publicity, which judging by the media action today, they certainly will get.
((michael vick photo courtesy of : AP Photos))

Also today, a second hearing in Mr. Seven's bankruptcy case took place. Mr. Vick's legal team seems to have agreed with the judge in his case and revamped his plan to pay off his debt's. The judge sent the team back to make some minor adjustments to the plan, which will probably be approved.

Here is the story from our friends at WAVY-TV in Norfolk

Monday, April 27, 2009

Irsay Knows Sweetheart Deals When He Signs Them

((HT: Indy Star/Robert Annis))

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay ((pictured, thanks Sam Riche/IndyStar is refusing calls to renegotiate his team's stadium lease with the city, firing back at critics who suggest the Colts should foot more of the bill for Lucas Oil Stadium.

In comments during Saturday's NFL draft and in a call to The Indianapolis Star on Sunday, Irsay took a firm stand against calls for the Colts organization to kick in as much as $5 million extra for operating costs to help bail out the city's ailing Capital Improvement Board. The city and the Colts spent more than four years working out lease terms for the $720 million stadium.

"I'm not going to renegotiate. That's the bottom line," Irsay said. "All we did was negotiate in good faith. We've done everything we can to have a great organization. We've lived up to our part. We've exceeded our part."

Last week, Gov. Mitch Daniels joined other government leaders calling on the Colts and Pacers to "search their consciences" and kick in additional money to help the CIB, which operates Lucas Oil Stadium, Conseco Fieldhouse and the Indiana Convention Center. The CIB has projected its 2010 deficit at $47 million.

Irsay criticized Daniels -- a good friend, he pointed out -- for insisting that gambling companies abide by terms of an agreement signed before the economic downturn.

"He said, 'A deal's a deal,' " Irsay said. "But when the shoe's on the other foot, it's a different story."
Spokeswoman Jane Jankowski said the governor had no comment on Irsay's statement.

Irsay said the CIB's problems aren't unexpected.

"That's like me drafting all these players this week and later saying, 'I didn't know I was going to have to sign them, too,' " Irsay said.

State lawmakers are considering legislation that gives the City-County Council the authority to raise local auto rental, ticket, innkeepers and alcohol taxes to plug the CIB's deficit. Last week, City-County Council leaders from both parties said there were not enough votes to pass the package of tax increases if it makes it to the council. Also, the legislature ends its session Wednesday, so time is limited.

Here's some of Irsay's comments from the discussion in black...
Irsay also hates the idea of a ticket tax hike and fired back in a letter released to the public. The Colts claim they never "asked" for a new stadium.
Kevin Rader from WTHR-TV13 is at the Indiana Statehouse...

Matthew Stafford on "Letterman"

((HT: CBSSports/Worldwide Pants))

It was only a matter of time... Highland Park meets Central Park.
Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford gets to poke fun at himself courtesy of that David Letterman-guy...
Our personal favorite is Number 8...

We guarantee that Matthew is asking, "Who in the hell is Larry Hagman...?"
It's this guy...
((HT: CBS/Lorimar))