8:30 PM The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle notes that the Rochester Red Wings were the last American baseball team to play in Cuba before the U.S. embargo began in 1960. The July 25 game against the Havana Sugar Kings ended in a 3-3 tie after fans began firing weapons to celebrate Fidel Castro's revolution.
The PORTLAND OREGONIAN’s John Canzano, the designated s-stirrer in the Portland media, had a recent piece on Brandon Roy not being present on the floor for the Blazers when the national anthem goes off.
For two seasons now, Roy leaves the court before “The Star Spangled Banner” is performed. He waits out of sight, in the arena tunnel, and has a quiet moment of prayer while his teammates stand and honor America together.
Something about that feels troubling. And this is only partly about patriotism.
Roy is the Blazers captain, and leader, and two-time All Star. And the Blazers are busy preaching unity, and trying to find one vision right up until the moment Roy detaches and leaves his team standing on the court without him. And while I understand his desire to have a personal moment to gather his thoughts, I think there is ample time for a meditative moment in the hours leading to the game and I worry that the statement he’s making is one of individualism.
What would the fallout be if Roy’s teammates decided to join their leader in the tunnel? What if Roy weren’t from Seattle, but rather, from Spain, like Rudy Fernandez? What of respect, and heritage, and ceremony? What of team unity and leadership when the ball isn’t in your hands?
With the local reputation Canzano brings to the piece, Portlanders may be more likely to dismiss his argument out of hand. But I think he’s got a valid point, especially considering Canzano’s crafting of the column.
Since the NFL — indeed, the world — is not yet ready for Michael Vick and Maurice Clarett trying to catch on with a team at the same time, the latter is going to stay in prison. For now. Clarett, the former Ohio State running back who led the Buckeyes to a national championship in 2003, has withdrawn a request for early release from prison that would have allowed him, he said, to pursue an NFL career.
For someone who hasn’t played a meaningful down of football since his freshman year in college, Clarett has spent an alarming amount of time in the public consciousness. He’s hung out with Los Angeles rap stars, been drafted in the NFL, been involved with drug running and the Israeli mob, and was even the subject of a case ultimately decided by U.S. Court of Appeals judge Sonia Sotomayor. Even though he’s only 25, he’s seemingly been everywhere and lived two lifetimes — sort of an evil Forrest Gump.
Although he’s now locked up, we have not forgotten about Maurice Clarett. One reason is that he’s blogging from lockup — or at least we’re led to believe that he is. Clarett isn’t allowed Internet access in prison, but he phones in his writings to a relative, who then posts them on a blog entitled The Mind of Maurice Clarett; a sort of orange jumpsuit poetry jam in which he dwells on his feelings more than the day-to-day details of life behind bars (which has led some to believe that he’s not even the one writing it). There’s no entry so far on his decision to withdraw his request for a pardon by Gov. Ted Strickland.
Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien opposed Clarett’s request for pardon, saying his conduct off the playing field did not warrant special consideration.
“My observation was then and is now he had no chance of obtaining clemency under the statute or by action of the governor so it’s probably wise” that he withdrew the request, O’Brien said.
Clarett hasn’t played football since 2005, when he was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the third round — a surprise move after an unimpressive NFL combine performance in which he was dubbed “Slo Mo” by the media.
He’s serving 7 1/2 years at the Toledo Correctional Institution after being convicted in 2006 of aggravated robbery and carrying a concealed weapon, a chain of events that ended with his arrest while wearing a bulletproof vest with four weapons in his car, less than a mile from one of the robbery victims. He must serve at least 3½ years of that sentence, and although he pulled his request for early release, he still becomes eligible for judicial release in March of 2010.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that Clarett was on top of the world, rushing for 1,237 yards (a school record for a freshman) and scoring 18 touchdowns in helping lead Ohio State to a 14-0 record in 2002-03. The season culminated with Clarett scoring the winning touchdown against Miami in the Fiesta Bowl. But he was released from Ohio State for a variety of NCAA rules violations, then migrated to Los Angeles, where he hung out with rap stars, and began spiraling more and more out of control. He eventually tested the NFL’s eligibility rules in an attempt to enter the 2004 draft — an initially successful challenge that was overturned by United States Court of Appeals judge Sotomayor.
So Clarett has lost his latest battle to return to the free world, but has never lost his struggle to remain in the public eye. And I suppose that it’s good that we hear from him from time to time. If for nothing else, his presence serves as a cautionary tale.
“I’m a man and I struggle. I’m not speaking of anything specific. I’m just talking in general,” he wrote in his latest blog entry, dated Aug. 3.
“Depression comes and depression goes. Inspiring thoughts come and they flee as fast as they come. Sometimes my spirit is in balance and at others it runs wild. I’m not afraid. I just get a little confused at times. I know which way is up and I know how to identify a weasel from a mile away. I know who I love and I know why I love them. I don’t claim to be omniscient but I do claim to be a survivor of the urban circumstances and experiences. … I’m Youngstown’s own.”
We now lighten the mood and bring you back to the 18th hole at the Buick Open, where MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann reopens the Tiger Woods Fartgate investigation. If you haven’t seen, and thus heard, the infamous video of Woods allegedly farting while sizing up a shot during the tournament, you’re in luck, because Olbermann has rescued the footage from the abyss.
More interesting than the alleged emission itself — which now that I hear it sounds more like a Whoopee Cushion — is the fact that the PGA pulled all YouTube evidence of the video off the web moments after it happened. Folks, that’s the really hilarious part. Don’t make me come back here and explain this again.
“Tiger broke 70 yesterday, perhaps after breaking something else. We can’t say for sure that it was The Tiger that roared … he might have had one of those Leslie Nielsen machines, or maybe John Daly stepped on a duck.”
If there was a second farter on the grassy knoll, kudos to him. Because that was some excellent timing.
We mentioned this briefly on Tuesday, but I feel that MAXIM’S take on David Ortiz’s Gmail inbox needs further scrutiny. It appeared Monday on their site and immediately won the Internets, delighting us with sample emails such as:
Erin Adrews:I know an ace PR guy …
Crate and Barrel:Fall is right around the corner! …
Alyssa Milano:Offer still stands — Bj, Hj, whatever you …
And the always hilarious:
C.C. Sabathia: FW: Red Lobster All-You-Can-Eat sampi!
The Reading Phillies set an attendance record on Wednesday for Pedro Martinez’s rehab start, in which he pitched decently, earning the win in an 8-4 victory over Trenton. Martinez struck out 10 of the first 17 batters he faced, finishing with 11 strikeouts over six innings. He gave up four runs, three earned. Fun fact: It was his first win at the AA level since 1991.
So you’ve taken the summer off to visit every Major League Baseball park? That’s become somewhat of a cliche, don’t you think? The Taviano family of Columbus, Ohio has invented the new hotness: Visiting 52 zoos in 52 weeks. Marla Taviano, her husband and three daughters began their 22,000-mile quest last August, and ended it on Saturday at their hometown Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. That’s a lot of monkeys.
Not sure what level of Little League the above video is from, but you can bet that Scott Boras has it playing on an endless loop in his office as you read this. As you can see, Jason Moody hits five home runs, including hitting for the home run cycle (watch the catcher, who is not amused). And in yet another example of this, a West Virginia Little Leaguer also hit for the home run cycle. Eli Canterbury, 12, of Barboursville, went 4-for-4 with four homers — solo, two-run and three-run homers, and a grand slam in his final at-bat — as Canterbury’s Barboursville District I All-Stars beat East Huntington 19-1. No Major League player has ever hit for the homer cycle; the only time it’s happened in pro ball was by Tyrone Horne of the Double-A Arkansas Travelers in a 13-4 win over the San Antonio Missions on July 27, 1998.
The Denver Broncos are one of the several NFL teams who prohibit players or personnel from using Twitter, but you’d never know it by listening to head coach Josh McDaniels. “I don’t really have a Twitter policy,” McDaniels said. “I don’t know what it means; I don’t know what it is. I don’t know MyFace, Spacebook, Facebook stuff. I don’t know what that is either.”
Now let’s check in on your Chicago Cubs, who are locked in a death struggle with the Cardinals atop the NL Central. So surely when the Reds trotted out 32-year-old right-hander Justin Lehr on Wednesday — who was making only his second big league start — the Cubs would take advantage. D’oh!Lehr pitched a shutout, 4-0, as the Reds broke an eight-game losing streak.
Koren Robinson has had a troubled career; run off the tracks due to dropped passes, drinking and a run-in with the cops. The former Seahawk, Viking and Packer may be playing for the Orlando Tuskers of the UFL this season. Robinson was the ninth pick overall in the 2001 draft, the year that the Falcons chose a young man named Michael Vick with the No. 1 pick.
Brandon Roy’sfive-year contract extension will likely keep him in Portland for the rest of his career, and since he was born in Seattle, that’s OK. Roy has agreed in principle to the deal, with the fifth year, ending in 2015, as an option. Pending salary cap issues, it could be worth more than $80 million, the second-richest in Portland’s history.
Who would have thought four years ago that Eli Manning would be making more money than Peyton Manning? Or Cooper Manning, for that matter? With his new $97.5 million contract, Eli will be making about $15.3 million annually, to Peyton’s $14.17 million.
The conventional wisdom is that the Pac-10 was having an exceedingly down year. In fact, that’s probably the main reason that USC was left out of the National Championship discussion: their one loss against a Pac-10 school was far worse than a loss to an SEC or Big 12 team.
So what do we make of Oregon’s 42-31 victory over Oklahoma State in last night’s Holiday Bowl? Yes, the Ducks featured an explosive offense, which you would expect from an Oregon team and is apparently mandatory to play in the Holiday Bowl. But the story was their defense in the second half, which put the clamps on the Cowboys’ star QB Zac Robinson.
It was just a big day all around for Oregon sports teams. Along with the Ducks winning the Holiday Bowl, the Portland Trail Blazers did the improbable on Tuesday night, taking out the defending champion Boston Celtics 91-86 without the services of injured All-Star guard Brandon Roy.
Keeping in mind it might be foolish for the Celtics to start panicking now - they are still 28-5 - but they have lost three of four. Oh hell, where the fun of having a sense of perspective: between this, the Patriots missing the playoffs and the Red Sox getting rejected by Mark Teixeira, let’s start wildly speculating about the end of the Boston sports dynasty.
Other sports news that happened as you prepare to get your drank on tonight:
LeBron James’ birthday wasn’t as successful as he would have liked, as he lost his showdown with Dwayne Wade’s Heat 104-95. Somehow you excuse me if I’m not too sympathetic. Still, the game was a lot of fun to watch - NESW SPORTS has highlights of some impressive blocks each superstar had during the game:
Most coaches are petrified of their players getting distracted by the glitz and parties that surround bowl games, especially if they are some place exciting like Miami. Which explains why the CINCINNATI ENQUIRER says Bearcats head coach Brian Kelly is debating moving his team from the hotel they are staying at ahead of the Orange Bowl because Sean “P. Diddy” Combs is having a New Year’s Eve party there.
DIME WARS has awesome video of the Pistons’ Rasheed Wallace doing what he does best: taunting and baiting NBA referees. What can you say? The man is the best of all time.
The LA TIMES reports that UCLA defensive coordinator DeWayne Walker, long considered to be a prime candidate for a head coaching job somewhere, is finally going to get his chance at New Mexico State. Of the seven African American head coaches in the FBS, two are in the state of New Mexico.
More from the Danny Villa mess: the BOSTON HERALD says that his wife has filed divorce papers against the disgraced former NFL player and HS football coach accused of raping an underage student. Hope he has a good divorce lawyer.
Thank God we finally have Brady Quinn’s first start out of the way so we don’t have to listen to the speculation every week about when he’s going to get a shot and see that stupid NFL draft footage anymore. Why do so many people care? I mean, great, he played pretty well for Notre Dame against Navy and Stanford but got killed in every big game. Way to go, bud, I guess doing all that and playing absolutely no NFL football is good enough to get yourself a Fathead.
Brady did, however, have the Browns in good position to win last night, leading the Broncos 23-13 after three quarters. But Jay Cutler finally lived up to his own hype and got it done in the fourth quarter, like a certain other Bronco quarterback did a couple of times in Cleveland. (See, aren’t these Cutler-Elway comparisons just ridiculous?) Denver scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter and won the game 34-30. Cutler threw for 447 yards in the game, and Quinn put up a respectable 239 yards with two touchdowns. The game was viewed by approximately 39 fans on the NFL Network, and 17 people on a choppy SopCast feed from Denmark.
Speaking of football games nobody could watch, #10 Utah rallied from an early 10-0 deficit and beat #11 TCU 13-10 last night in a game that was on some channel called CBS College Sports. Never did I think I’d actually be complaining that a game wasn’t on Versus. Since this channel isn’t part of my DirecTV package, I assume that it ended in exciting fashion. Actually, there’s proof that it ended in exciting fashion (and a Dan Fouts sighting!).
(”I used to be on Monday Night Football and now I’m calling Mountain West games on some station that 4% of the country gets.”)
Over on ESPN, Virginia Tech took care of Maryland 23-13, plunging the ACC into even more mediocrity. Freshman Darren Evans set a school record with 253 rushing yards. One of the odd BCS rules out there is that a non-BCS team can actually automatically qualify for a BCS game if they finish in the top 16 AND finish ahead of the winner of one of the BCS conferences. And never has this been more possible with the top ACC being currently ranked 19th (North Carolina) and all 12 teams in the league sitting with at least two conference losses. So just because Utah or Boise State loses a game or you think Ball State is too far down to make it, it’s still very likely that we’ll be seeing one of these teams on Fox in January.
There was a spectacular ending in the NBA last night in Portland that most of you on the East Coast probably missed. With the Rockets trailing the Blazers 98-96 with 1.9 seconds left in overtime, Yao Ming hit an 18-foot baseline jumper while he was being hacked to tie the game. He then made the free throw to give the Rockets a 99-98 lead. But Brandon Roy swished a rainbow 30-footer as time expired to give the Blazers a crazy 101-99 win. Check out the video:
• Our favorite Indian pitchers, Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, finally had their tryout yesterday. The ARIZONA REPUBLIC’s Jim Walsh has the details. In short, a lot of scouts think they deserve a shot, but nobody thinks it should be their team that gives it to them.
• The SAN DIEGO UNION TRIBUNE quotes Padres GM Kevin Towers as saying that Jake Peavy’s “train has left the station,” which means the ‘07 Cy Young winner is going to be traded soon. He also has a full no-trade clause.