Friday, July 31, 2009

Gatti's Body Exhumed, Canadian Government Wants More Info


((HT: Montreal Gazette/Mike De Souza))

The Harper government is calling on Brazilian authorities to shed light on the mystery surrounding the death of Montreal boxer Arturo Gatti ((pictured, thanks Teddy Blackburn/Reuters/Montreal Gazette file)).

With the Quebec coroner’s office agreeing to conduct a second autopsy on the body of the former world champion boxer this weekend, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said on Friday that he has also asked his department to look into the matter.

“Today, I have asked officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada to formally seek more information from Brazilian authorities concerning the events surrounding the death, on July 11, 2009, in Brazil, of M. Arturo Gatti, a Canadian citizen,” Cannon said in a statement.

“The government of Canada is seeking more information on the investigation into the death of its citizen, and on the findings of the investigation.”

Cannon said that the government would continue to provide consular assistance to the family in the meantime.

“Our thoughts are with Mr. Gatti’s family during these difficult times,” he said.

After detaining the boxer’s wife for three weeks as a suspect in what they initially described as a homicide, Brazilian police released Amanda Rodrigues, 23, on Thursday.

A lead investigator in the case said that Gatti, 37, had committed suicide, but his family and friends in Montreal are not convinced that the boxer took his own life.

Jeremy Filosa, a Gatti childhood friend, said that the family is very encouraged by Cannon’s decision.

“This is what they wanted the whole time. They were crying out for the government to get involved in this case,” Filosa told Canwest News Service on Friday. “They still have a lot of suspicions and think some of the stuff doesn’t make any sense according to what Brazilian police are stating.”

He said the family has also hired a pathologist, well-known in the world of Hollywood, who will be flown to Montreal over the weekend as an observer to the autopsy.

Genevieve Guilbault, a spokeswoman from the coroner’s office, said the examination by two licensed pathologists from Montreal would begin on Saturday morning. She said the official results would be released in a coroner’s report at the end of the investigation which could take a few months.

Bernard Barre, a family friend who once trained the boxer, also welcomed the government’s announcement.

“We’re really talking about a sports hero for all of Canada,”
Barre said. “It’s completely normal that the government is pushing further in this situation which is becoming more ambiguous with contradictory results, so I’m happy to know that someone in the government is getting involved.”

A spokeswoman for Cannon said the minister was not available for an interview to comment further since the file was under review.

“We are closely following the developments,” wrote Cannon’s director of communications, Catherine Loubier, in an e-mail.

In a phone interview given after she was released from jail, Rodrigues speculated that Gatti may have killed himself because he was afraid she would leave him after the two had a violent disagreement on the night before his death.

Meantime, Brazilian police have released new details about their investigation, explaining that Gatti was hanged with a bag strap from a wooden staircase column more than two metres off the ground, the Associated Press reported.

A police spokeswoman from the northeastern city of Recife told the news agency that investigators originally thought he had been strangled because his body was found on the floor.

The original autopsy indicated that Gatti was hanging from the column for about three hours, police said.

Gatti’s 11-month-old son remains in Brazil, where he is being cared for by Rodrigues’ family.

Gatti, who was born in Italy and raised in Montreal, turned professional at the age of 19 and went on to win two world boxing titles before retiring in 2007 with a record of 40-9.

GlobalTV's Domenic Fazioli has your local reaction...Kevin Newman is your anchor...

Lowe's, SMI Deny End Of Deal

((HT: CBSSports))

Officials from Speedway Motorsports Inc. and Lowe's insist they are still talking in the wake of a report that the home improvement chain is ending its sponsorship of SMI's flagship track.

The Sports Business Journal reported Friday that Lowe's will not renew its 11-year sponsorship of the 1.5-mile oval outside Charlotte, formerly known as Charlotte Motor Speedway.

SMI president and CEO Marcus Smith said both sides are still negotiating and that he remains confident a deal will be completed soon.

The track hosts several NASCAR events each year, including a pair of Sprint Cup races and the series' All-Star Race.

Lowe's is also the primary sponsor of three-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson. That deal expires at the end of the 2010 season.

Schumi Takes Some Laps In Test Car

((HT: CBSSports))

Michael Schumacher was back in the cockpit of a Formula One car on Friday -- and it felt good.

The seven-time F1 champion borrowed an old Ferrari to test his form ahead of a comeback to F1 as substitute driver for the injured Felipe Massa.

"A great feeling to be back in an F1 car,"
Schumacher said after testing it on the Mugello circuit. "After a few laps, I was able to drive constant times and I am quite happy with the time I did."

The 40-year-old German organized the test to check his physical condition and drove a privately-owned Ferrari model used in the 2007 season, company spokesman Luca Colajanni said.

Schumacher could not drive the current Ferrari car due to F1's ban on in-season testing.

"Although those cars are not current or last year's ones, I simply like to drive as much as possible, so this is a good option," he wrote on his website. "Now, we will have to see how my body and my muscles will react to that day in the next days."

He said that on Thursday he had been at Ferrari's headquarters in Maranello to run tests in a simulator.

Schumacher, who retired in 2006, was back behind the wheel just two days after Ferrari announced the seven-time F1 champion would replace Massa until his return, starting with the European Grand Prix on Aug. 23, in Valencia, Spain.

The 28-year-old Massa underwent surgery on multiple skull fractures after he was hit in the helmet by a loose part from another car and crashed into a protective tire barrier during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix last Saturday.

Massa is expected to return home to Brazil on Monday.

Thanks to our friends at RTL for the footgage.
Unless you know German, it just video of him on the track and the post-lap reax...

Music For Your Weekend

Remember, everyone...

"Just another small flame... runnin' through the fire..."

Weis Reacts To McMakin Slur

((HT: WNDU-TV/South Bend))

Not wanting the story to linger until next week's media day, Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis issued a statement on Friday reacting to the comments made by Hawaii coach Greg McMackin ((pictured, thanks South Bend Tribune file)) this week.

Notre Dame, of course, romped Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve. Two days before the game, the two programs participated in a Bowl Banquet together.

At the dinner, a friendly dance off ensued.

This week at the WAC conference media day, McMackin referred to Notre Dame's routine as a "Little faggot dance."

Notre Dame head coach Charlie Weis in regards to Hawaii coach Greg McMackin¹s comments yesterday:

"Coach McMackin demonstrated poor judgment when, while making comments critical of our football program, he used a derogatory word," Weis said in the statement. "Speaking only for our football program, we were offended by the remarks."

"[Friday] afternoon I received a phone call from Coach McMackin and he apologized to me and asked I pass that along to my players and coaches. We accept his apology and we will move on."

"As a parent of a daughter with global developmental delays, I am especially sensitive to offensive characterizations like the one at issue here. But in no way do I believe Coach McMackin's comments were intended to be offensive. In our phone conversation today, I expressed those sentiments."

"It is now time to put this incident behind us and return focus to the 2009 season."

The Irish hold their annual Media Day next Friday with the first day of practice next Saturday.

If you want to see the towel waving the Irish players did in the banquet room, you can view it here... thanks, again to WNDU-TV...

Here's the reaction from the Notre Dame football program...

Note: The anchor actually uses the quoted phrase in his story...

Most Coyotes Documents To Remain Sealed

((HT: Arizona Republic/Sanders))

Glendale must immediately reveal a sliver of documents related to Phoenix Coyotes negotiations that the city asked a Maricopa County Superior Court judge to review. But in a ruling Friday, the judge allowed 90 percent of the records to remain sealed.

Of 322 pages detailing talks between Glendale officials and interested buyers of the NHL team, only 35 must be made public, Judge Edward Burke decided.

Glendale has been fighting to keep its discussions under wraps, while the Goldwater Institute has been pressing in court to open them up.

The institute says taxpayers should know, in time to make objections, whether Glendale will offer money as a deal-sweetener with a new owner in order to keep the team playing at city-owned Jobing.com Arena ((pictured, thanks ballparks.com)).

Glendale says such incentives aren't on the table and that the public will be able to review any deal before it goes to the City Council for a vote.

After reading the sealed documents, Burke concluded the city has not yet clinched a deal with the two groups aiming to take over the Coyotes. Until that time, the "disclosure of the majority of the documents," he said, "would have a devastating impact on the city's ability to negotiate with the bidders."

Chicago White Sox and Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf and his investor team have offered $148 million for the bankrupt hockey franchise. A group of American and Canadian backers, under the name Ice Edge Holdings, say they intend to bid $150 million and propose splitting Coyotes games between Glendale and a city in Canada. Both groups say the team would remain based in the Valley.

Burke noted each group has stated team ownership depends on negotiating with Glendale.

The city must release the remaining 288 documents as soon as officials decide to bring a proposal to the City Council, not when a meeting agenda is posted, the judge ordered.

He said he was concerned whether the Goldwater Institute and Glendale taxpayers would "have sufficient time to digest, analyze and prepare to comment on any proposed agreement and/or concessions."

Vick to the Belichick's?


Yesterday, Michael Vick spoke of being "Close" to signing a deal to play football again. Today, the rumors are flying that the "Team" in question is the New England Patriots.

In his press conference today, the King of New England, Bill Belichick was asked directly about the possibility of taking in the formerly disgraced Quarterback.

The story from Boston.com here .

We also have the Belicheck on video: Courtesy// Boston.com and NESN:






Also coming out today, reports from a few outlets saying that Vick is likely to head west...to Seattle. The story from Yahoo Sports...here .

That, I don't buy. Having covered Vick and current Seahawks Head Coach Jim Mora for a few years with the Falcons, I don't buy this. While Mora is certainly not above taking on a charity case, trying to help someone who has fallen out of favor. Vick was a "Huge" letdown to Mora and his staff in Atlanta. He was never a "Team" guy and never put in the extra time needed to be successful.

We do think the Belichick story has some merit though. The Belichick has taken in Corey Dillon and Randy Moss and changed their lives/careers, so it can be done. As for those who say the owner, Robert Kraft's wife is a big animal rights advocate; what better way to prove that Vick is trying to redeem himself than have her in his corner.

Odds on this happening: Very Good

((Michael Vick in better days: Courtesy: wyclefjean.wordpress.com(don't ask)--))

7 Moves Forward In Bankruptcy Plan

((HT: Virginian-Pilot/McGlone))

A bankruptcy judge today refused to approve $1.7 million in Michael Vick’s legal fees from his bankruptcy case, but he will revisit the issue at Vick’s confirmation hearing in late August.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank J. Santoro heard from one of Vick’s pricey New York lawyers today, who tried to explain how his firm racked up thousands of billable hours in 10 months.

While none of the creditors’ lawyers objected to the legal fees, the assistant U.S. trustee noted some questionable expenses, such as a $1,200 airline ticket, a charge for turning on office air conditioning on a Saturday, and car service to and from the office.

Michael Blumenthal of the New York firm Crowell & Moring said his firm had five lawyers and more than two dozen support staff working on Vick’s case, sometimes working late into the night which explained the need for a car service.

He also corrected the judge’s statement Thursday that the firm had billed 8,000. Blumenthal said it was 7,200 hours and noted that the firm cut its fee from $2.6 million to $1.5.

Vick will return to bankruptcy court Aug. 27 for a confirmation hearing. Santoro has already rejected an earlier reorganization plan.

Vick declined to comment before and after the hearing. His lawyers said that they did not expect any news today on whether an NFL team would be willing to sign the former Atlanta Falcons star.

Brazilian Police: Gatti Hanged Himself

((HT: CBSSports))

Arturo Gatti ((pictured, thanks CP)) hanged himself with a handbag strap from a staircase column more than seven feet off the ground, Brazilian police said Friday as they released new details about the boxer's death.

Milena Saraiva, a spokeswoman for police in the northeastern city of Recife, provided more information about Gatti's suicide a day after authorities reversed their stance on the case. Until Thursday, they insisted it was a homicide and the boxer's wife was tagged as the primary suspect.

"This case has been resolved. While the evidence at the scene first led us to think Gatti was murdered, the autopsy results and a detailed crime scene analysis simply pointed to a different outcome," Saraiva said.

On Thursday, a judge ordered the release of Gatti's wife, 23-year-old Amanda Rodrigues, who had been held since July 12 in Recife. She and Gatti arrived with their 10-month-old son a few days before in the resort town of Porto de Galinhas, where they rented a two-level apartment.

Police ultimately concluded that Gatti hanged himself in the apartment early on July 11 from a wooden staircase column that was 7.3 feet off the ground. He stood on a stool and kicked it out from underneath him, police said. The autopsy report said Gatti was suspended for about three hours before his body fell to the floor.

Rodrigues said she was sleeping with the pair's son in an upstairs bedroom. She told police she went downstairs about 6 a.m. to get milk for the boy and saw Gatti's body on the floor, but assumed he was drunkenly sleeping. It was not until she went back downstairs at 9 a.m. that she discovered Gatti was dead and called police. Saraiva said no suicide note was found.

"The first investigators to arrive at the scene only saw his body on the floor and the bloodied strap near his body," Saraiva said. "They assumed his wife strangled him."

Saraiva said 17 witnesses told police that the pair got into a loud fight on a street near the beach in Porto de Galinhas the night before Gatti died. Saraiva said Gatti had seven cans of beer, along with two bottles of wine, over the course of dinner and partying at a bar.

Witnesses told police Gatti at one point picked up Rodrigues, who weighs about 100 pounds, by her chin with his right hand and tossed her to the ground.

Saraiva said at that point a security guard for a local hotel intervened, only to be punched in the face by Gatti. A small crowd that had gathered around the scene grew angry, with some throwing stones and even a bicycle at the boxer, the police spokeswoman said.

One stone hit Gatti in the back of the head, causing a wound that police originally said was caused by a small steak knife that was found near his body -- and which police showed off to reporters the day after Gatti's death.

The fracas eventually broke up, and Gatti and Rodrigues returned to the apartment in separate taxis.

In an telephone interview with the Associated Press as she walked out of jail Thursday, Rodrigues said Gatti may have killed himself because he feared she would leave him after their fight, one of many during a rocky two-year marriage.

"I believe that when we got home and he saw that he hurt me, he thought I would leave him, that I would tell him to just let me go, that I would separate from him," she said. "He did that in a moment of weakness. He was drunk, maybe he didn't know what he was doing, maybe he thought I would leave him the next day."

According to records at the Court of Quebec's criminal and penal division, Gatti was charged on April 16 for violating a restraining order that had been filed against him. Records didn't indicate who filed the restraining order, but Gatti's mother, Ida, confirmed it was Rodrigues who had taken one out against him.

Gatti, who captured two world titles in his 16-year pro career, retired in 2007 with a record of 40-9.

Gatti manager Pat Lynch said at a Thursday night memorial service for the boxer in northern New Jersey he was shocked when he heard about the suicide ruling and hopes the Canadian government will get involved.

"I'm not going to rest," he said. "We've got a lot of investigation ahead of us."

Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon said Friday in a statement that government officials will seek more information from Brazilian authorities on the Gatti investigation and its findings.

Hossa Contract Under Investigation

((HT: TSN))

The National Hockey League is reportedly investigating Marian Hossa's ((Pictured, thanks Gregory Shamus/Getty)) new 12-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks amid allegations that it circumvents the collective bargaining agreement.

According to the Edmonton Sun, if Chicago is found guilty, it could face a maximum fine of $5 million and the loss of draft picks. Hossa and the Blackhawks allegedly agreed that the star forward would retire before the end of the contract, which would lessen the cap hit on the team.

Hossa's deal is for a total of $62.8 million but is front-loaded, as he will make $7.9 million for each of the first seven years before dropping to $4 million in 2016-17. In the final four years of the contract, Hossa makes a total of $3.5 million.

If he were to retire following 2016-17, the cap hit on the team following that season would disappear.

A four-time All-Star, Hossa led the Red Wings with 40 goals in 2008-09 and was third on the team with 71 points. He added 15 points (6 goals, 9 assists) in 23 playoff games as Detroit lost to Pittsburgh in the Cup Finals.

The Slovakian native has recorded 339 goals and 719 points in 775 career games with Ottawa, Atlanta, Pittsburgh and the Red Wings. He recently underwent surgery to repair a small tear in his rotator cuff suffered during Detroit's playoff run this past season.

Papi Acknowledges Positive '03 Test


((HT: National Post))

Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz ((pictured, thanks Johnathan Hurst/Reuters file)) became the latest star implicated in baseball's ever-growing drug scandal, acknowledging on Thursday that the players' union confirmed he tested positive in 2003.

Shortly after hitting the go-ahead home run that beat Oakland 8-5, Ortiz responded to a story on The New York Times' website that he and former teammate Manny Ramirez tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs six years ago.

"I've just been told that the report is true,"
Ortiz said in a statement after contacting the union. "Based on the way I lived my life I'm surprised to learn I tested positive."

The popular Big Papi, who had never been linked to drugs, said he intended to find out what was in his system and would tell the Red Sox and the public.

"You know me - I will not hide and I will not make excuses," he said.

Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa are among the many all-stars tainted by the drug cloud, which has called into question some of the sport's greatest achievements over the last two decades.

Ortiz and Ramirez led the Red Sox to the World Series title in 2004 - their first in 86 years - and another championship in 2007.

Ramirez, now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, recently served a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy. Asked about this second alleged doping violation, he told reporters in St. Louis: "You want more information, I'm pretty sure you guys got the phone number to the union. Call the union, and they can explain that to you guys."

More than 100 major leaguers tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003 - the results were supposed to be anonymous and are now under court seal.

"Precisely for that reason, the Players Association will not, indeed cannot, comment on whether the information is accurate," outgoing union leader Donald Fehr said.

The Times' story cited lawyers involved in pending litigation over the testing results who spoke anonymously because the information is under seal by a court order. The newspaper did not say what the players tested positive for.

The results from the 2003 tests were supposed to remain anonymous but were seized by federal agents. Rodriguez admitted using performance-enhancing drugs after he was linked to the 2003 list. And in June, The Times reported Sosa also was on the 2003 list.

Ramirez was a long-established star in 2003. Ortiz, in contrast, had been a part-time player before that season.

Ortiz had never hit more than 20 homers in a season as a part-time player in Minnesota early in his career. He came to Boston as a platoon player in 2003 and had four homers by July 1, then hit 27 the rest of the year.

Ortiz followed up with seasons of 41, 47 and 54 home runs as he established himself as one of the best sluggers in the game.

Last year, he dipped to 23 home runs, and his slump continued this season. He went into Thursday's game hitting .224 with only 13 homers.

Ramirez returned from his suspension this month and quickly re-established his presence in the middle of the lineup for the NL West-leading Dodgers.

Boos have rained down on Ramirez throughout this week's series in St. Louis whenever he comes to the plate or touches the ball.

"He's a great player and I don't think the suspension has anything to do with it," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "Personally, if he never got suspended they'd still be booing the hell out of him."

"I think the reception would have been the same. Some people hate the long hair or whatever it is, or the fact he's a free spirit,"
he said.

NHL Wants To Delay Coyotes Auction


((HT: GlobeSports/Waldie))

The NHL wants to postpone an auction for the Phoenix Coyotes until Sept. 10 to give two potential bidders more time to finalize their offers. U.S. bankruptcy court Judge Redfield T. Baum was scheduled to hold an auction Aug. 5 for bidders interested in keeping the club in Phoenix. If that auction failed to produce a decent offer, a second one would be held Sept. 10 for bidders who want to move the club.

In a court filing last night, the NHL and the City of Glendale argued the second auction is no longer necessary because the league has rejected the ownership application of RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie ((pictured, thanks GlobeSports file)), who wants to buy the club for $212.5-million (all currency U.S.) and move it to Hamilton. Balsillie “is not a viable purchaser of the club,” the league said.

The NHL said delaying the auction will give prospective bidders Jerry Reinsdorf and Ice Edge Holdings more time to arrange lease agreements with the City of Glendale, which said it is “very close to a definitive agreement with each of the Reinsdorf group and Ice Edge that would allow the team, under new ownership, to continue to play at the Jobing.com arena”.

Reinsdorf is offering $148-million while Ice Edge, made up of Canadian and American investors, has proposed a $150-million offer.

“The NHL believes that, if given several more weeks, the bids will be substantially more complete and in a form that allows the court to render a considered judgment on the merits,” the league said. The NHL believes that Ice Edge will formally submit its bid today.

The league said it rejected Balsillie because the NHL's executive committee had found that he “repeatedly turned his back on commitments and representations he had made to NHL owners, he had consistently acted in total disregard of established league rules, policies and procedures, and he had taken many affirmative actions both personally and through his representatives that had caused significant damage to the league and to many of its clubs.”

The NHL added that, during his interview with the committee, Balsillie “suggested he intends to challenge the league's assertions regarding the facts of his dealings with the league and individual clubs”.

The NHL also requested that if the court does not approve a bid at the Aug. 5 auction, an auction to relocate the club should only take place after the club has been extensively marketed. Therefore, the league said, no date should be set for that auction until after the 2009-10 season.

In its filing, the City of Glendale echoed many of the NHL's arguments and said the Aug. 5 auction should be put off for several weeks. The city also noted that Balsillie was not approved as an owner and would not be eligible to bid in the relocation auction, making it unnecessary since he was the only bidder.

The NHL said its board of governors “elected to disapprove Mr. Balsillie based in large part on his personal dealings with the league and individual clubs since his prior interview with the executive committee in 2006”.

Alleged Forrest Robber On Videotape

((HT: AJC/Garner))

Atlanta police on Thursday released surveillance video of at least one suspect in the shooting death of boxing great Vernon Forrest.

The video is from security cameras at the Whitehall Street gas station where Forrest was robbed and a nearby apartment complex ((screen grab, thanks APD)).

“The images are good enough to get a mug shot of the robber,” Detective Lt. Keith Meadows said of footage showing an armed man in jeans and a black T-shirt.

Police are looking for three to four men in connection with the Saturday night killing of the 38-year-old boxer.

“We believe that the person that robbed Mr. Forrest and the one who actually murdered him is not the same person,” Meadows said.

One man robbed Forrest at gunpoint, taking his diamond and gold “4X World Champion” ring and a Rolex watch, police said. Forrest pulled a gun from his waist and went after the robber, police said.

A second man shot Forrest multiple times in the back after he chased the robber, police said. And at least one other man was in a red Pontiac Grand Prix that later retrieved the robber and the shooter, police said.

“Security footage actually picks up the [robbery] suspect, but Mr. Forrest actually loses sight of the subject,” Meadows said.

Investigators used time stamps from video recorded at the 505 Fulton Street apartment building and the Whitehall Street convenience store to compile a timeline of events, Meadows said.

Footage from the gas station shows the Pontiac pull into the station, and the man police say was the robber get out.

Video from the apartment complex showed the same man enter a breezeway, carrying a silver handgun, just after police said Forrest had given chase.

“At that point Mr. Forrest comes around the corner, and he encounters another individual we believe has a gun in his hand,” Meadows said, citing witness accounts.

“Mr. Forrest and this individual exchange words, and he realizes this is not the individual that actually robbed him ... Mr. Forrest turns and walks away.”

The armed man shot Forrest seven or eight times, police said.

The apartment footage later showed the robber waiting in the breezeway and talking on his cell phone before being picked up by the Pontiac.

The car then drove south on McDaniel Street, Meadows said.

The Atlanta Police Department is asking anyone with information on this incident to call investigators at 404-577-TIPS (8477).

Here's the surveillance tape from the gas station, thanks again to the AJC

Moyes Challenges Reinsdorf Bid

((HT: CP))

Phoenix Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes has challenged Jerry Reinsdorf's bid to buy the financially troubled hockey team.
In a motion filed in bankruptcy court on Thursday, Moyes' lawyer said that Reinsdorf's bid "cannot be approved as a matter of law" and that "there are no qualified bidders" based on terms set by the court.
The motion did not elaborate but says that Moyes' objection will be laid out in court documents on Friday, the deadline for filing objections to Reinsdorf's bid.
By disputing the legality of Reinsdorf's offer, Moyes is setting the stage for a battle pitting him and unsecured creditors against the NHL and the city of Glendale.
Later Thursday, lawyer for Glendale and the NHL asked the court to postpone next Wednesday's local bid auction, saying Reinsdorf and another potential bidder, Ice Edge Holdings, needed more time.
The league said in its filing Thursday that it understood that Ice Edge would make a bid on Friday.
Glendale said that it is "very close to a definitive agreement with each of the Reinsdorf group and Ice Edge that would allow the team, under new ownership, to continue to play at the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale for the foreseeable future with strong economic essentials and support from all necessary constituencies."
The filings did not divulge what the "strong economic essentials" would be or provide details of the negotiations.
Glendale asked Judge Redfield T. Baum to postpone the sale to "early to mid-September." The NHL, meanwhile, asked Baum to set a Sept. 10 deadline.
The filings by Moyes, Glendale and the NHL came one day after the NHL Board of Governors approved Reinsdorf's US$148 million bid and unanimously rejected an application by Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, who has offered $212.5 million contingent on moving the franchise to Hamilton.
An application by Ice Edge, led by Anthony LeBlanc of Thunder Bay, Ont., was deemed "incomplete," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. That consortium was encouraged by the board to continue with the application process.
The group headed by Reinsdorf, the owner of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls, has said it plans to keep the team in Glendale, where the Coyotes have lost tens of millions of dollars in recent seasons.
Details of Reinsdorf's bid have not been made public. Reinsdorf's group has been negotiating with the city of Glendale to rework the lease agreement to play in Jobing.com Arena.
The NHL wants to keep the team in Arizona and believes the franchise can be successful with better management and a better product on the ice.
More than 500 documents have been filed in the complex case since Moyes surprised the NHL
by taking the team into Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 5.
Moyes says he is owed $300 million, and under the Balsillie deal, Moyes would receive about $100 million. But under the Reinsdorf proposal, Moyes would get little if anything because of the contention that the $300 million is lost equity and not a debt.

OSG College Football 2009 Predictions: Sun Belt Conference

Arkansas State Red Wolves

2008 Record: 6-6 Overall, 4-3 in the SBC

Arkansas State is highly motivated this season because of the way 2008 ended. The Red Wolves defeated FAU but the Owls went bowling and the Red Wolves stayed home.

Things To Like About Arkansas State:

Reggie Arnold: Arnold is a playmaker in every sense of the word. Can you believe Arnold, a senior from Little Rock McClellan High School, isn’t carrying the rock in the SEC? All Arnold has accomplished with the Red Wolves is gain 3,210 yards in his career and if he gains 1,000 yards this year can join an exclusive fraternity of backs that have gained 1,000 yards 4 straight seasons. Arnold can run a 4.3 and has size.

Corey Leonard: Leonard can be a superior duel threat quarterback. He has speed and can be pick up huge chunks of yards in the open field plus as an outstanding arm. Arguably the best quarterback in the Sun Belt.

Defense: Arkansas State might have the stoutest defense in the Sun Belt. 2 years ago the Red Wolves lead in league in “D” and was 2nd only behind Troy last year. ASU has a stud in Alex Carrington, the preseason Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Year. The senior defensive end lead the Sun Belt in Tackles For Loss in 2008 and was second in sacks. Carrington can blow up a backfield. They also have 8 returning starters on defense.

Things Not To Like About Arkansas State:

Schedule: It’s a doozy. with non-conference road trips to Nebraska (Sept. 12) and Iowa (Oct. 3) with a Sun Belt showdown against Troy in Jonesboro (Sept. 26) sandwiched in between. That’s a brutal stretch. Plus ASU plays at Louisville (Oct. 31) and gets FAU on the road.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: I think Arkansas State has the best talent in the league. If ASU can get through their 1st 5 games at 3-2 including a win over Troy, then the Red Wolves should have enough in the tank to claim the Sun Belt title.

Phil: I’m still trying to get past the “stoutest” defense line. No, just kidding. They are a good athletic team who will give Iowa and some of their other opponents fits. Troy is the known quantity in this conference, but I wouldn’t be surprised if State takes over that title.

Nelson: : As long as the coaching staff can keep players out of jail and, allegedly, shooting other people they should be the class of the conference. OSG HQ knows of three alums from the school- two of them are extremely attractive. Go Indians… oops, Wolves…


Troy Trojans

2008 Record: 8-5 Overall, 6-1 in the SBC (2008 Sun Belt Champions)
Lost to Southern Miss 30-27 (F/OT) in New Orleans Bowl

While Arkansas State may have the best talent in the Sun Belt but the Troy Trojans may have the best team in the league. Larry Blakeney has only 12 retuning starters overall but don’t let that number get you to thinking the Trojans are rebuilding. Troy is really good and have been there and done that.

Things To Like About Troy:

BCS Buster: Strange how the Big 12 conference won’t schedule a game at Troy anymore after the Trojans defeated Missouri 24-14 in 2004 and Oklahoma State 41-23 in 2007 at Movie Gallery Memorial Stadium. Troy has gone into the noisy dens of the SEC and have almost beaten LSU twice at Death Valley and has hung around Florida and Georgia making their fans very nervous. 2009 includes 2 road games against SEC opponents at Florida (Sept. 12) and at Arkansas (Nov. 14). Does anyone smell an upset?

Defense: Last year the Trojans had the best defense in the league. It’s a unit that’s fundamentally sound and rarely misses tackles. Defensive End Brandon Lang will be a force to be reckoned with. Lang led the SBC in sacks last year. Boris Lee and Bear Woods are a hell of a linebacking duo. Both Lee and Woods were in the Top 5 in the SBC in tackles in 2008.

Offense: The Trojans have playmakers, 2 at Quarterback. Jamie Hampton and Levi Brown do a great job running the spread offense. Having both might be good for Troy considering Troy’s non league schedule. The receiving corps is outstanding lead by Jerrel Jennigan.

Things Not To Like About Troy:

Offensive Line: The Trojans lost 4 starters on the O-line.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: This Troy team is loaded. They will give Florida a run for their money at the Swamp and Arkansas fits in Fayetteville. The Trojans just might win one of those games. Troy will play in a bowl game in 2009.

Phil: Yes, they will be a pain in the ass to the big boys. The difference is the amount of really good players and Trojan man always comes up a little bit short in that department. Without an experienced O-Line, the QB’s will be running for their lives. Again, look for an 8-4 record here.

Nelson: Larry Blakeney has turned Troy into the “factory” of the conference. They WILL be one of those “at-large” teams that will fill a hole somewhere. Bank on it…

Florida Atlantic Owls

2008 Record: 7-6 Overall, 4-3 in the SBC
Defeated Central Michigan 24-21 in Motor City Bowl

Florida Atlantic is the only SBC team to win back to back bowl games and they could make a bowl game for the 3rd straight year and if they do, a win just may be a lock. Head coach Howard Schnellenberger is 6-0 all time in post season bowl games.

Things To Like About FAU:

Recievers: The best set in the SBC. Cortez Gent just missed 1,000 yards in receptions last year and will be QB Rusty Smith’s prime target. Getting TE Jason Harmon back is huge.

Things Not To Like About FAU:

Defense: Only 3 returning starters on defense. There will be some growing pains here.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: Here’s FAU’s first 2 games this year: at Nebraska and at South Carolina. They might be beat up in September. I never count a Howard Schnellenberger team out and FAU should have a 8-4, 7-5 type year and make a bowl.

Phil: We love the Schnellenberger though we wonder just how old he is. He has got to be at least 137. They will be a solid SBC team, but nothing special over all. They may sneak in a bowl game because anyone in Division 1 with a winning record gets to play in a bowl game. That is how it works.

Nelson: Rusty Smith has proven himself to be one of the most under-looked, and maybe underrated, quarterbacks in the country. He’s proven he can take apart “higher-level” D1 teams when given the chance. FAU could be the 3rd team from the Sun Belt to move on to the post-season. A real feather in the cap of the conference on the whole…

Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders

2008 Record: 5-7 Overall, 3-4 in the SBC

The talent is there to compete but the Blue Raiders need a few breaks along the way.

Things To Like About MTSU:

Big Guys In The Trenches: MTSU has the best lines in the SBC. The O-Line improved greatly during the 2008 season, the D-Line is fast and can get to the quarterback.

Things Not To Like About MTSU:

Schedule: Road games at Clemson, Maryland (who MTSU beat last year), Troy and Florida Atlantic, ouch. The Blue Raiders do host Mississippi State which could be a winnable game. MTSU is 3-28 all time vs the SEC with all 3 wins coming against Vanderbilt.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: MTSU will win a game against one of their BCS opponents. If MTSU gets consistent QB play than the Blue Raiders might breakthrough.

Phil: MTSU is football on skates. They have always lit things up and having Tony Franklin as the O-Coordinator won’t change that. Again, like FAU, they are a middle of the pack team. They may make it to 7-5 because of where they play and as we said earlier, 7-5 will get you a bowl game.

Nelson: The big question will be how the Blue Raiders adjust to having Tony Franklin as their new OC. Will the defense be there first, or will the offense click from the beginning…? Look to the MSU game for their D1 win outside of the conference in an, otherwise, average year in the ‘Boro.

Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks

2008 Record: 4-8 Overall, 3-4 in the SBC

Things To Like About ULM:

Athletes: The Warhawks have great athletes in the skill positions on offense.

Experience: ULM has 17 returning starters for 2009.

Defense: Teams biggest strength. Linebackers Cardia Jackson and Josh Thompson are outstanding combining for 235 tackles, including 11 for losses last season.

Things Not To Like About ULM:

Quarterback: Trey Revell has the edge as starter out of spring. Zach Rhodes is a tremendous athlete that will be on the field if he isn’t the starting QB. Both need to be consistent if the Warhawks want to challenge for the SBC title.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: ULM is a hard team to figure out. The Warhawks seem to have the weapons on offense at the skill positions plus a decent O-Line but do they have the QB to get the job done. The defense will keep ULM in games so the offense must do it’s part. 6-6 at best for ULM.

Phil: They typically are an athletically gifted, technically deficient team. They, to quote Steve Spurrier “Should look real good comin’ out of the tunnel”. Don’t expect a lot here, because you won’t get it.

Nelson: that can surprise Alabama can surprise anyone. There’s always “one” of those games that will make a season. Unfortunately, ULM won’t be surprising anyone anymore. Another .500 year in conference and more paychecks outside the conference.

Louisiana-Lafayette Rajin’ Cajuns

2008 Record: 6-6 Overall, 5-2 in the SBC

Louisiana-Lafayette was strong last year and QB Michael Desormeaux was the best in the league. 2008 ending was a bummer for the Rajin’ Cajuns not getting into a bowl game. This year they won’t have Desormeaux back.

Things To Like About Louisiana-Lafayette:

Athletes: Though ULL suffered three huge losses on offense with Desormeaux, stud RB Tyrell Fenroy and WR Jason Cherry, the offense will still have enough quality athletes to keep ULL in games. Let’s see where they are at a mid-season.

Offensive Line: Might be the best in the SBC. They are big and experienced and will give who ever takes over at QB a chance to be successful.

Things Not To Like About Louisiana-Lafayette:

Quarterback: Who will it be? Brad McGuire or Chris Masson, both are sophomores. Both will battle for the job in fall camp.

Schedule: 4 SBC road games in 5 weeks might be too much for ULL to overcome.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: Louisiana-Lafayette will be competitive but let’s see how the quarterback battle plays out. ULL might get a key win as they host Kansas State Sept. 12 and the Big 12 hasn’t fared very well on the road vs the Sun Belt. A win over K-State would be a huge confidence boost. After that its road games at LSU and at Nebraska. Ouch.

Phil: They started great last year and faded. They have lost a lot of experience and though the young guys may be good, it takes awhile in the smaller conferences for them to figure it out. They will be competitive later in the season, but will struggle early. Again, middle of the pack at beast, a bowl game only if they catch a humungous break.

Nelson: on the Kansas State idea, and that’s about it for the Cajuns this time around. Notice I left the “Fightin’ Rickey Bustles” comments to our previous commentor.

Florida International Golden Panthers

2008 Record: 5-7 Overall, 3-4 in the SBC

The fighting Cristobals made some big strides last year. With 16 returning starters FIU’s first winning season ever is a possibility

Things To Like About FIU:

Motivated Team: In 7 years of existence FIU has never had a winning season. This year the team is confident this could the year that changes. The pieces are in place in 2009 to breakthrough.

Things Not To Like About FIU:

Depth: While the starters are experienced the 2nd teamers are very young.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: You have to like the upside of FIU. Head Coach Mario Cristobal is steadily building the program to compete in the SBC. Will this be the year? It just might. FIU will get beat up on their opener against Alabama then travel to New Jersey hoping to leave Rutgers without wearing concrete boots. 0-2 start looks likely going into their home opener against Toledo before 2 SBC road games. 6-6 is probably the most likely outcome at best for the Fighting Cristobals.

Phil: Ditto most of what Wilkie says. This won’t be the year, the schedule will prohibit that.

Nelson: A lot of teams in the SBC will be .500 this year. So, what does that say about the talent level in the conference altogether…? Either everyone is really average, or they just enjoy beating up on each other and can be decent as a lot.

North Texas Mean Green

2008 Record: 1-11 Overall, 0-7 in the SBC

8 wins in the past 4 years. The once Mighty Mean Green have fallen on hard times.

Things To Like About North Texas:

You Can Only Go Up: With only 1 win last year it can’t be much worse. Oh sure you could go 0-12 but North Texas should win a game or 2 or maybe 3.

Things Not To Like About North Texas:

Defense: They were dead last in the SBC last year. They have 2 good linebackers to build around in Craig Robertson and Tobe Nwigwe but not much else.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: Let’s face it, it’s going to be another long year for North Texas. 3 wins might be all they can get.

Phil: They are Green and they are supposed to be mean. They were a “Bottom of the Barrel” team pretty much all of last season. They are probably in over there heads, even in this conference.

Nelson: 3 wins…??? It all depends on how the Mean Green can close the deal at home. Ohio University, Western Kentucky, and Army are all in Denton this time. That will swing the schedule for them. The team could be 1-5 at the half-way point, and that will determine whether they have the fortitude to improve in the second half.

Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

2008 Record: 2-10, 0-5 in the SBC

Things To Like About WKU:

Influx Of Talent: Western Kentucky has a great recruiting class coming in with impact players who could and should contribute immediately for the Hilltoppers.

Things Not To Like About WKU:

Scoring Points On Offense: This was a big issue last year for WKU only averaging 17 points per game. That has to change for the Hilltoppers to move up the SBC latter.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: I’m intrigued with Western Kentucky because of the freshman class coming in. This is a program that should compete for the SBC crown in a few years but right now WKU will take it’s lumps.

Phil: Again, not ready for prime time. They are still adjusting to life in D-1 and that takes a long time. They were a good 1-AA Team, but this is different. Don’t wait on them this year.

Nelson: All I can really say here is: “Keep your head low…” It’s gonna be a long year for a young team… ,

OSG’s Take On The Sun Belt Conference:

SBC Champion:

Wilkie: Arkansas State
Phil: The Other Men of Troy
Nelson: Arkansas State

Best Offensive Player In The SBC

Wilkie: Reggie Arnold – Arkansas State
Phil: Arnold
Nelson: Rusty Smith - FAU

Best Defensive Player In The SBC

Wilkie: Alex Carrington – Arkansas State
Phil: Cardia Johnson- Troy (Just because he has endurance)
Nelson: Brandon Lang - Troy
J-Dub: Reggie Arnold - Arkansas State

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Andrews Stalked by Paparazzi


According to a report in today's Atlanta Journal Constitution (well ajc.com anyway), Erin Andrews, ESPN's sideline reporter, called 911 on July 22nd saying she was being stalked by the paparazzi.

Andrews who has been in the news of late after a video of her walking around her hotel room naked was released on the internet, was very shaken by the incident, one where she said "I did nothing wrong and I'm being treated by Britney Spears".

((Erin Andrews isn't happy/Photo Courtesy: courier-journal.com))

The story from AJC.com here .

The 911 call here. ((Not family freindly language))

While we aren't big fans of Andrews' reporting skills, she has become immensely popular in the internet community. Unfortunately, some of the folks who haunt that part of the universe can be, well...a bit odd. There is some debate about the whole video thing, though for one, I don't think there should be, I find it hard to believe that she would willingly consent to that.

The paparazzi thing is another issue. There should be laws in place about those guys. Andrews apparently lives in a gated community, yet these guys got in. I get the whole "Get a picture" thing. Why can't that be done in a public place like everyone else?

Appeals Court Takes On Kentucky Speedway Suit


((HT: WXIX/Fox 19))

The former owners of the Kentucky Speedway are asking a federal appeals court for a green flag to pursue their antitrust claim against NASCAR.

"They were squeezed out," attorney Stan Chesley, who helped file the lawsuit in 2005, said after arguments Thursday in front of a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A lower-court judge last year rejected the speedway's claim that the racing body and a sister company that operates tracks and promotes races have conspired to monopolize control over who gets the top stock car events. The Kentucky track, some 40 miles south of Cincinnati, has new ownership that wants the case ended to help its chances of gaining a coveted NASCAR Sprint Cup race. But Chesley said there are important issues for a trial, and that the former owners also want hundreds of millions in damages.

"People have the right to have their case heard in court," Chesley said. NASCAR attorney David Boies said the lawsuit against the racing body and its International Speedway Corp. represented impatience by the Kentucky Speedway to get a Sprint Cup race. "They want one. Everyone wants one," Boies told the judges.

Boies noted that the speedway has hosted other NASCAR series races since opening in 2000 and was in effect saying: "We want it all and we want it now."

Plaintiffs' attorney Charles Rule, who headed the Justice Department's antitrust division during the Reagan administration, said the alleged conspiracy is meant to keep independent tracks from gaining top-tier races. "This is a classic case of anti-competitive illegal conduct," Rule told the judges.

Rule said the new Kentucky Speedway owners, Speedway Motorsports Inc., were co-conspirators. Boies told the judges there was no evidence of that claim.

Kentucky became the eighth NASCAR-sanctioned track in SMI's portfolio, but the only one without a Cup date. NASCAR has said the lawsuit must end before Kentucky Speedway could get a Sprint Cup race. "We're not a party to it, and we'd like to see it resolved," Mark Simendinger, general manager for the Kentucky Speedway, said in a telephone interview.

Appeals judges typically take months to decide and prepare their opinions. They repeatedly questioned Rule on his contentions they should overturn the January 2008 ruling by U.S. District Court Judge William O. Bertelsman.

Judge Ronald Lee Gilman asked whether a premium race was "in the eye of the beholder." Rule replied that NASCAR's top-tier races draw the most television revenue, fan interest and other benefits to tracks, and are the "major league" of racing.

NASCAR officials say there are limits to how many premium races they can run in a year - the Sprint Cup series currently has 36 points competition races and two "All-Star" races. "Like other sports - the NFL, Major League Baseball, the NBA - NASCAR has the right to create its schedule and host events where it wants to," said NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston

NY Times: Manny And Papi On '03 Steroids List


((HT: MyFoxBoston))

David Ortiz ((ictured, thanks WFXT-TV file)) and Manny Ramirez, the sluggers who led Boston to a pair of World Series championships, were among the more than 100 Major League Baseball players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003, according to a report in The New York Times.

The article posted on the newspaper's Web site Thursday cited lawyers involved in pending litigation over the testing results who spoke anonymously because the information is under seal by a court order.

Ortiz declined comment to the paper before the Red Sox played Oakland. The popular-but-slumping Big Papi had not been previously linked to positive tests.

Ortiz came up in the second inning Thursday and was cheered by the sold-out crowd at Fenway Park. He lined the first pitch off the Green Monster for a double.

Ramirez, now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, recently served a 50-game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy.

Major League Baseball declined to comment on the Times' report, telling The Associated Press it didn't have the list of the 104 players who tested positive six years ago. The players' union also declined comment.

Red Sox owner John Henry did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

In 2004, Ortiz and Ramirez led Boston to their first World Series championship since 1918. The sluggers helped the Red Sox win another title in 2007.

The results from the 2003 tests were supposed to remain anonymous, but they later were seized by federal agents. Alex Rodriguez admitted using performance-enhancing drugs after he was linked to the 2003 list. And in June, The Times reported that Sammy Sosa also was on the 2003 list.

Ramirez was a long-established star in 2003. Ortiz, in contrast, had been a part-time player before that season.

Ortiz had never hit more than 20 homers in a season as a part-time player in Minnesota early in his career. He came to Boston as a platoon player in 2003 and had four homers by July 1, then hit 27 the rest of the year.

Ortiz followed up with seasons of 41, 47 and 54 home runs as he established himself as one of the best sluggers in the game.

Last year, he dipped to 23 home runs and his slump continued this season. He went into Thursday's game hitting .224 with only 13 homers.

Ramirez returned from his suspension this month and quickly re-established his presence in the middle of the lineup for the NL West-leading Dodgers.

Boos have rained down on Ramirez throughout this week's series in St. Louis whenever he comes to the plate or touches the ball.

"He's a great player and I don't think the suspension has anything to do with it," Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. "Personally, if he never got suspended they'd still be booing the hell out of him."

"I think the reception would have been the same. Some people hate the long hair or whatever it is, or the fact he's a free spirit,"
he said.

WBZ-TV caught up with Big Papi during Spring training this year to ask him about that whole steroids thing...
video

Hawai'i Coach Doesn't Like Irish Dancing Skills


((HT: KGMB-TV))

University of Hawaii Warrior head football coach Greg McMackin ((pictured, thanks KHNL-TV)) used a gay slur three times during his news conference Thursday at the Western Athletic Conference football preview while recalling a story from last year's Hawaii Bowl against Notre Dame.

McMackin used the term first when discussing a team "dance" performed by the Irish during night-before-game festivities involving both teams.

In the game, Hawaii lost 49-21 to the Fighting Irish.

According to multiple media reports, McMackin asked reporters in attendance to "cover for me" after uttering the slur.

To hear the audio of his speech, click here.

He returned to the interview room after the session to apologize for using the phrase and again later for a formal statement.

"I would sincerely like to apologize for the inappropriate verbiage and words that I used," McMackin said. "I have nothing against the University of Notre Dame. I don't talk like that. I'm really ticked off at myself for saying that. I don't have any prejudices and it really makes me mad that I even said that. I'm disappointed in myself.

"What I was trying to do was be funny and it wasn't funny."

Gatti Death Ruled Suicide


The cororners report is in on the death of former boxer Arturo Gatti...and the verdict is...suicide. The former Welterweight champion's body was found on July 11th by his wife in Brazil. Unfortunately, the Brazillian authorities assumed that his wife, Amanda Rodrigues was the one who killed him and they threw her in jail. She has since been released.

The story from the New York Daily News here .

This puts an end to a violent and strange story of one of Boxing's most legendary competitors. Gatti, who was in Brazil on a "Second Honeymoon" with his wife and 10 month old, leaves a legacy of classic fights including battles with: Oscar DeLaHoya and Floyd Mayweather.

((Arturo Gatti/ Courtesy: Bello/Getty Images))

Back to Vallhalla


Though not the home to any known Vikings, Louisville's Vallhalla Golf Course will be home to the 2011 Senior PGA championship and the 2014 PGA Championship according to an announcement this morning in Louisville.

The course, which hosted the 2000 PGA Championship and a slew of other "Championship" level events along with last years Ryder Cup is considered one of the "Great" golf courses in the U.S.

The story from the Louisville Business Journal here

((Vallhalla/Courtesy: Louisville Bizjournals.com))

USC is at it Again....


This isn't quite as serious as the accusations involving Reggie Bush, but Pete Carroll and the USC Trojans are in hot water with the NCAA, again. Apparently, Carroll invited longtime NFL Assistant Pete Rodriguez to observe the teams Kicking and Special teams and make recommendations.

According to the byzantine rules of the NCAA, that friends...is a significant violation.

Check out the story from the LA Times and Paul Pringle here.

If we were way out west in L.A, we'd be concerned. The NCAA is looking hard at a "Lack of Institutional Control" thing with the Trojans, not only because of football but basketball too. While, the "Unofficial" coach thing certainly won't get them barred or banned from anything, the combination of this along with the numerous other "Investigations" could make for some "Hot" seats out there.

((Pete Carroll looks concerned/Courtesy: Alex Gallardo, LA Times))

The Next Wave Of Sports Reporters

((HT: WJTV/Jackson))

This is what happens when you let kids at a summer camp loose with microphones.
They're learning how to play baseball from the hometown Mississippi Braves.
They're learning TV reporting from the people not holding the microphone from WJTV



We think M-Braves Phillip Wellman ((the first interviewee)) had it down right.
The kids actually listen to him...

And a lot of you think your jobs are, actually, safe...
Some News Directors may actually dig this idea to kill time during local newscasts...
We're not kidding...

Balsillie Will Continue Coyotes Bid


((HT: GlobeSports/Shoalts, Waldie))

The level of hostility from the NHL’s board of governors caught Jim Balsillie ((pictured, thanks GlobeSports file)) by surprise, but the rejection of his bid for the Phoenix Coyotes did not.

Even though the NHL announced yesterday that its governors unanimously rejected Mr. Balsillie as a potential owner and approved a bid for the Coyotes from Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, the co-CEO of Research In Motion Ltd. vowed to press on.

Balsillie’s spokesman, Bill Walker, said a new version of his $212.5-million (all currency U.S.) offer for the team will be filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in a few days.

“We’re moving full steam ahead,”
Walker said. “We don’t believe that Jim Balsillie’s qualification to be an NHL owner is an issue at all.”

The committee gave a welcome reception to a proposal by Ice Edge Holdings, a group made up of Canadian and American investors.

“We didn’t hear anything that would stop us,”
said Daryl Jones, a partner in Ice Edge. “We’re still in the game.”

Like Reinsdorf, Ice Edge wants to keep the Coyotes in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, but it has not submitted its bid to the court – which will hold the first of two possible auctions for the team on Aug. 5 – because it has yet to line up all of its financing and arrange a new arena lease. The governors deferred a decision on the offer, and now the group says it plans to press ahead with a bid.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said in an e-mail message that Mr. Balsillie was rejected under bylaw 35 of the league’s constitution. That section says the league can reject potential owners if it does not believe they are of “good character and integrity,” as well as for financial reasons. Daly declined to comment when asked to be more specific.

Walker declined to comment on details of the meeting with the governors’ executive committee or on why the league rejected Balsillie.

A source familiar with the meeting said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman called Balsillie shortly after the gathering to tell him why the league was rejecting him as an owner. According to the source, Bettman cited the way Balsillie “had interacted with other member clubs.”

The meeting, held in a Chicago airport hotel, was tense. For more than an hour, members of the executive committee took turns verbally pounding Balsillie. According to sources familiar with the proceedings, Montreal Canadiens owner George Gillett and Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold led the charge.

Gillett was embarrassed last November when Balsillie told a reporter the Canadiens were for sale. It was denied at the time but later proved to be true. Leipold was the owner of the Predators in 2007 when Balsillie’s bid for the team was first accepted and then rejected.

The source said Gillett claimed the fallout from Balsillie’s comments on the impending sale destroyed the Canadiens’ season.

“It was not gentle,” the source said.

However, the NHL’s rejection of Balsillie as an owner may not stand up in bankruptcy court.

During a hearing in June, Judge Redfield T. Baum told the NHL that because it approved him as an owner when he tried to buy the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2006, it could only reject Balsillie as an owner if there was a “material change” in PSE Sports & Entertainment, the company Balsillie formed to handle the Penguins and Coyotes bids.

“We do not think that Jim Balsillie’s qualification to be an NHL owner is an issue in this case, given his 2006 approval as an NHL owner,” Walker said.

“Presumably the onus will be on the NHL to demonstrate a material change in PSE’s circumstances, although no such change was raised with us,” he said. “Beyond that, we have confidence in, and respect for, Judge Baum and the legal process as this case unfolds.”

Daly responded by denying Balsillie had been approved as an owner in 2006 and refuting Walker's comments.

"Mr. Walker must have been at a different meeting than the rest of the Executive Committee," Daly said via email Wednesday night. "Beyond the fact that Mr. Balsillie was never approved by the Board of Governors in 2006, his entire interview today was spent answering questions on the things he has done since 2006 that call into question his bona fides to be an NHL owner. Obviously, the board was not comfortable with approving him as a business partner, as is their absolute perogative."

Sources say the Balsillie camp believes the NHL wanted to reject him as an owner in advance of the Aug. 5 auction sale of the Coyotes, which is restricted to bidders willing to keep the team in Glendale. If Judge Baum declines to accept the bid from Reinsdorf, who is the only person to file one so far, then an auction for bidders like Balsillie, who wants to move the Coyotes to Hamilton, will be held on Sept. 10.

Balsillie is hoping Judge Baum will accept his bid because it offers $64.5-million more than Reinsdorf’s bid. The Reinsdorf bid is for $148-million and is largely based on the assumption of debt. It is also conditional on working out a new lease and revenue concessions from the City of Glendale, plus concessions from the major creditors.

Walker said by almost any measure Balsillie’s offer is far better than Reinsdorf’s. For example, he said, Balsillie has arranged a 32-year lease for the Copps Coliseum in Hamilton, whereas Reinsdorf has yet to reach agreement with Glendale for Jobing.com Arena.

The Ice Edge group has only submitted a letter of intent so far, offering up to $150-million, and it still has to pull together a final offer. The NHL committee spent most of the meeting asking the group, which wants to have the Coyotes play five regular-season games in Saskatoon, about its background and financial assumptions.