Brad Lidge Will Get The Save, Find The Lost Ark

Brad Lidge has a bone to pick with the Catholics, but first he has a coveted piece of jewelery to obtain. That would be another World Series ring, the first step toward that beginning tonight (7:57 PM ET, Fox. I’ll bring the guacamole). Lidge, however, will not stop there. When the Series is over, he’ll be digging up other valuable artifacts.

Brad Lidge

(Pawning that big hat, for instance, could bring in about 75 bucks)

Lidge, during a bout of soul searching during a pitching slump, decided to pursue a degree in religious archaeology, with plans to eventually work in that field. He also says that the religious treasure on display at the Vatican in Rome could be put to much better use helping the poor.

Wait, Lidge went to Notre Dame, right? That’ll go over big. Read more…

Speed Read: Hero Vandy Coach Turns Down Raise

It’s hard to get too misty-eyed about the integrity of college sports when coaches are dealing with sex scandals, players are getting arrested on a daily basis and Yahoo! Sports is ready to let loose with the blockbuster news that a USC football player might have received an extra large slice of apple pie at the cafeteria because he’s on the team. But then you hear about things like the following story and you remember why you cry like a girl every time “Rudy” is on.

Kevin Stallings, hero

Vanderbilt head basketball coach Kevin Stallings had been planning a 10-day trip for his basketball team to Australia for well over a year when he learned that school wide budget cuts threatened to nix the trip. So what did Stallings do? He decided to decline the $100,000 raise he was owed by the school in order to pay for the journey. The team played OK - going 3-2 in five games - but I would imagine that the benefits go much further than that. Plus, how do you not play hard for a guy who gave up $100,000 so you could go to Australia?

“Jermaine, remember when you got to feed that kangaroo straight from your hand? Then how about screening out your man?”

Jarvis Varnado

This comes on the heels of Mississippi State’s star basketball player Jarvis Varnado giving up his scholarship so the team could sign more players. That’s two totally selfless acts involving SEC basketball in the space of less than a week, which is probably more than we saw all of last season. Sometimes its good to be reminded that sports are supposed to be, you know, uplifting.

West Ham hooligan

Meanwhile, just to cut the legs out from under you as you’re actually starting to feel good about sports again: look, British football hooligans are back! I guess if The Specials are touring again, then it really is like 1982 in London, which apparently means it’s time for pitch invasions, fights in the stands and undoing 25 years of progress toward making soccer in England respectable again.

The trouble came in a Carling Cup match between rivals West Ham and Millwall. West Ham won the game in extra time, 3-1, but the story was the “fans” of the two teams. One man was stabbed and at least 10 people were arrested in what appeared to be planned brawls outside of the stadium before and after the game. Plus, West Ham fans staged a “pitch invasion,” storming the field after West Ham scored the go-ahead goal early in extra time, forcing the match to be delayed for several minutes and riot squads to escort the visiting Millwall players off the field for their own safety.

I’m guessing this isn’t exactly what ESPN was hoping for when they paid for the partial rights to cover EPL games this season. Although I’d like to see the “ESPN Axis” technology be used to highlight some hooligan taking a dart to the eye - let’s see Tommy Smyth put that one in the old onion bag. (Also, it should be noted that the Carling Cup is about as important as winning the Cactus League title - I shudder to think what things will be like by the end of the season.)

Floyd Landis

Speaking of awful people, we have a Floyd Landis sighting. Even though he’s was stripped of his Tour de France title for doping offenses, he’s got at least one cycling team who would consider hiring him. And of course it’s with Lance Armstrong’s new team. Really, were you expecting anything else? Armstrong had been out of the headlines for a whole three or four weeks, and we can’t have that. P.S.: Have fun with that sponsorship, Radio Shack.

Sen. Ted Kennedy will be remembered for…

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Philly Loves Their Pitchers Enough to Stalk Them

Geoff Geary. Go ahead, take a moment. If you don’t play in a 14-team NL-only fantasy baseball league, you may spend a few moments trying to remember which soap he was on and then give up and turn to the almighty Google. However, Philly fans are very familiar with the former Phillie pitcher, traded for Brad Lidge last offseason.

Philadelphia Phillies fans celebrate the World Series

(For perspective, this is what Phillies fans do when they’re happy.)

He reminisced fondly about his days in Philly recently with the HOUSTON CHRONICLE as he prepared for his second season as an Astro:

My last year before I got traded, there were fans who were threatening my life and threatening other people, saying they were going to follow me home and beat up my fiancée at the time.

Wait, people follow Phillies pitchers around and threaten their significant others? Maybe Brett Myers really did have a case!
Read more…

Speed Read: Harry Kalas Can Now Die In Peace

Well, I suppose that was all worth it for the folks in Philadelphia. For the first time in 28 years and just the second time ever, the Phillies are World Series champions. And the fact that they defeated their longstanding arch-rivals from Tampa Bay makes it just that much more satisfying.

Phillies win World Series

(Lidge tore his rotator cuff and his out for next season, but who cares? WHOOOOOOO!)

In a game that was called after just three innings, and featuring the Phillies batting first for some reason, the Fightin’s beat Tampa 4-3 to take the series 4-1. Three of the games were decided by one run, and the Rays made just enough mistakes to win none of those games. One wonders what would’ve happened if Evan Longoria had let that chopper go foul at the end of Game 3, or if things would’ve gone better for Andy Sonnanstine if he’d thrown to the right base in the first inning of Game 4. Or, perhaps most of all, if B.J. Upton hadn’t swung at the first freaking pitch with nobody out in the eighth inning last night and at least given Carl Crawford a pitch or two to steal a base.

But give the Phils credit. They were just the better team. Better starting pitching, better bullpen, and a dominant closer in Brad Lidge who more than made up for his struggles in Houston (except to Astros fans, who still hate the guy). To think that he was seen as a “risky move” when the Phillies traded a crappy outfielder for him. A bunch of different guys came through with huge hits. Utley and Howard contributed sporadically (the former with a spectacular defensive play to cut down Jason Bartlett at home in the seventh inning last night), but the heroes of this series for the Phillies will be guys like Carlos Ruiz, Pedro Feliz, and Geoff Jenkins, who I thought was playing for Milwaukee’s AA team until I saw him at the plate last night.

Geoff Jenkins

It’s all a bit odd to think the Phillies are actually the champs. At the beginning of last season, Jimmy Rollins made news for predicting that they would win the NL East over the defending Mets. Most laughed, even the Phillies fans. Eighteen months later, they’re on top of the baseball world. The national media, for the most part, covers the Phillies only in relation to what the Mets are doing. They’re just that team that gets to go to the playoffs because the Mets are huge failures, not a real contender, right? And now, as the offseason approaches, we’ll go right back to a billion stories about what’s wrong with the Mets and Yankees, and how they can get fixed. The Phils have never really received a whole lot of respect, but now they have a title with which to taunt their rivals to the north, and isn’t that more important anyway?

Towel girl thinks so:

Blazers fans lived without Greg Oden for all of last season, so living without him for two to four more weeks shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Oden has a sprained foot, but an MRI revealed that there are slight fractures in the foot. Everyone insists it’s minor. The bigger problem for Portland fans is not the inevitable Sam Bowie comparisons, but that Tuesday night’s game displayed just how much better Andrew Bynum is right now than Oden. And Bynum’s only a year older than Oden. So how exactly is Oden supposed to dominate the West for the next decade?

Greg Oden is hurt

Mike D’Antoni’s Knicks debuted with a 120-115 win over Miami last night. And this is pretty much the same team that routinely struggled to put up 80 points with the same personnel last year. The biggest news of the night was that Stephon Marbury, who actually played pretty well in the preseason, got DNP-CD‘d for the first time in his career, as D’Antoni went with Chris Duhon and Nate Robinson all night. For what it’s worth, Marbury is actually handling it all fairly well. Isiah Thomas didn’t have much to say when reached for comment, as he said he slept through the whole thing.

Here’s some more news to digest while you recover from flipping cars over all night:

Shaq riled up Gregg Poppovich when he complained about the Spurs going to the hack-a-Shaq strategy in the first half of playoff games last season. So what does Poppovich do in the season opener last night between the two rivals? Have Michael Finley bear-hug O’Neal five seconds into the game, then give him the double-barreled thumbs up with a giant grin:

• Former Colts player and current high school football coach Jeff Burris was caught driving backward through the streets of Indianapolis at 1:00 in the morning. He was drunk, of course. WRTV in Indy has the details.

• Just in case you live in Kansas and you were wondering, you are in fact required to root for the the Thunder. The WICHITA EAGLE has decided that for you.

Joe Lieberman is so concerned with getting John McCain elected right now that instead of campaigning, he’s spending his time pleading with the NFL to get more games on TV, so says the Springfield STATE JOURNAL-REGISTER.

• THE TWO MINUTE DRILL is having a “best looking college female athlete” contest, that appears to just be combing through the rosters on every university’s athletic website and coming up with the best headshots. Yes, Allison Stokke is involved.

• The AP says the Saints just cut some kickers and added some new kickers, none of whom I’ve ever heard of. Domination of the NFC South to ensue.

• You know, I just don’t trust those polls. Texas#1? What a bunch of crap. I have them more like #16. No doubt that Tulsa and Ball State are better. Even Minnesota’s better. Don’t believe me? It’s true, just check out the ESPNU Allstate Fan Poll.

• There was a brawl during a charity soccer match between media members and politicians in Scotland on Sunday, according to THE COURIER. So, I guess that MSNBC vs. RNC hockey game next weekend isn’t such a bright idea.

Bernard Berrian has been trying to call the NFL’s steroid hotline (what?) to find out if he’s ingesting anything illegal, but nobody’s been answering, says PRO FOOTBALL TALK. Berrian proceeds to place blame on NFL for recent rash of positive drug tests.

• LISTVERSE has a list (duh) of the 15 most influential driving-related video games of all time. In other words, a list of 14 games I sucked at, and Pole Position.

How many games will the Knicks win this year?

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