As you can see in the photo below, the standard for being called out on your way to first base has changed a bit. Now, apparently, not only must you tag the runner, but you must also tackle him before he reaches the base and tie his feet, rodeo style. At least if the umpire is C.B. Bucknor.
Red Sox Nation is a little miffed this morning over a couple of blown calls by Bucknor, who not only inexplicably missed this tag by Kevin Youkilis, but botched another call at first in the sixth. And within minutes of the conclusion of the Angels’ 5-0 win in Game 1, the assault on Bucknor’s Wikipedia page had begun. Fun! Read more…
Sypher fired back with a rape charge against Pitino, saying that the liaison that led to her pregnancy was an assault, and not a consensual incident. Pitino was never charged with anything because Sypher’s story is full of holes and she could offer no evidence of such an assault (in fact, she went on to marry Louisville’s equipment manager, Tim Sypher, ensuring that she would be spending more time around Pitino).
So now what for Pitino? His lawyer says he’s not making any public statements until the trial, but this is a pretty large matzo ball just hanging out there now. There’s not much else going in Louisville other than this, so it’s just going to keep building and building. How can the guy be an effective coach at this point?
I won’t try and recount the entire COURIER-JOURNAL story here (however, it’s well worth your time to read it), but I will mention a few things that have stood out for me since taking some time to digest everything:
1A. If Sypher filed a civil suit against Pitino for allegedly raping her, would ESPN find that worthy of coverage?
2. We don’t know for sure that this was Pitino’s kid, right? Pitino says he would request a paternity test if she decided to have the kid, but she opted for an abortion instead. She then accepted $3,000 from him for the procedure. She clearly had the abortion, but isn’t it possible that she went to Pitino for the money because she knew he would pay up? He says she told him that she hadn’t had sex with anyone else in months, but she hasn’t appeared to be entirely trustworthy here.
3. Pitino says that he and Karen Sypher met at Tim Sypher’s condo (she and Tim didn’t know each other at the time) to talk about the pregnancy and figure out what to do. Now, knowing what was going on, what on earth would make Tim go “you know what, I think I need to get aboard the Karen train”? Shockingly, the Syphers are now estranged.
4. UL president Tom Jurich is quoted as saying that Pitino “has been truthful about this matter with us all along.” Does that mean the school has known all of these details for six years? If not, when did they find out? Was there any sort of off-the-record punishment for this? Some coaches have gotten canned for drinking beer at a frat party, so I can’t imagine that UL would’ve taken too kindly to their married coach impregnating a woman at a restaurant.
5. Pitino isn’t in any sort of trouble legally, but as this drags on in court it’s going to be a huge distraction. Was that a consideration in bringing Ralph Willard over from Holy Cross to be his new lead assistant? Willard’s exactly the kind of guy who could step in on an interim basis if Pitino decides to either take time off or step down altogether. Pitino actually had a possible way out of Louisville a few months ago when the Sacramento Kings were looking for a new coach, but he decided to stick around.
(UL’s next coach?)
It may not be the biggest soccer game the U.S. has ever played, but today’s showdown with Mexico in a World Cup qualifier sure seems like a big deal. That’s probably because ESPN has spent an inordinate amount of time hyping the game. Having just acquired English Premier League rights, and coming off a summer of showing a number of games involving European clubs touring the U.S., the network is clearly committed to promoting the sport like never before. And they finally seem to have realized that they way to make the game more popular in this country is to give us less MLS and more actual good soccer.
(USA! USA! USA!)
That recent commitment has resulted in a first — ESPN has sent Bob Ley and Alexi Lalas down to Mexico City to put on a 30-minute pre-game show for today’s match. This despite the fact that the game isn’t being shown on ESPN (it’s on some channel called mun2 if you’re wondering).
Despite all the attention, the game is much less crucial to the U.S. than it may seem. The Americans are comfortable in second place in the qualifying group, and while a loss to Mexico wouldn’t be ideal, the U.S. would still have the edge in the standings. The expectations aren’t exactly high, either — the U.S. is 0-22-1 in Mexico.
That puts all of the pressure squarely on Mexico, which sits in fourth place in the group and needs to get into the top three to automatically qualify for the World Cup. A loss to the U.S. would be a complete disaster and might put them in too deep a hole to dig out of. In other words, the Americans don’t have a whole lot to lose out there, and if they can shock Azteca Stadium with an early goal, watch out. That won’t be easy, though, as this LA TIMES article contends. At 7,400 feet in the middle of a smoggy afternoon in a cavernous stadium that will be shaking with noise, it’s maybe the worst stadium atmosphere for visitors in the entire world.
It was a poor effort by Youk, who had all the upper hand when he tossed his helmet at a stunned Porcello, and still ended up getting spun down to the ground by the 20-year-old. In other words, he only did marginally better than Zimmer.
Don’t live in Boston? I’ll catch you up to speed. No one likes Dennis Eckersley’s color commentary on NESN. He’s filling in while Jerry Remy recovers, and it’s pretty much a train wreck. He’s not particularly knowledgeable, his meandering anecdotes go nowhere, and he’ll out-and-out ignore the action.
But we all stop to look at train wrecks, don’t we? He’s the creator of the soon-to-be catchphrase, “he’s a little gay with his cheese.” You really never know what Eck is going to say, and last night he really topped himself twice. Once with a flat-out swear, and once with a not-so-subtle Freudian slip.
Finally realizing that we might be headed for a day when future hoops stars are recruited out of the womb, the NCAA has passed legislation banning contact by coaches with players who have not yet reached high school. That means no more offering 13-year-olds a full ride, there, Billy Gillispie.
(”Noooooooo! I already had the class of 2019 signed!”)
It also means that this Mr. Show skit, which was starting to look less far-fetched over time, won’t eventually reflect reality:
Over the past few years, some college coaches have looked to gain recruiting advantages by working at basketball camps comprising elite seventh- and eighth-graders because there was no NCAA rule prohibiting it. But the NCAA will now designate boys’ basketball players as “prospects” beginning in the seventh grade, which will prevent college coaches from working at such camps.
This is bad news for seventh and eighth graders, who now have to do things like, you know, go to school and learn rather than worry about their college hoops prospects all the time.
Speaking of hoops, Luol Deng woke from his season-long slumber and led the Bulls to a 102-93 upset victory over the Cavs in Chicago, where it was approximately -293° last night. LeBron James made only eight of 28 shots and turned it over eight times for what he termed his worst performance of the season — but he also said he was sick.
It’s official. The Dodgers paid Andruw Jones $12 million for each home run he hit, and he’s not going to be hitting any more in their uniform. After attempting to trade him, L.A. finally released Andruw after one insanely horrible season, and Jones agreed to accept the $22 million he’s owed over a period of six years. Which means your team will still be paying for him in 2014, Dodger fans. Two years ago, Jones looked like he had a chance to hit 700 home runs. Now, it looks like he might not get 700 more at-bats in his career.
So, as you read here yesterday, Mark Cuban confronted J.R. Smith on the court for allegedly throwing an elbow at a Dallas player during the Mavs-Nuggets game on Tuesday night. Cubes reported the incident to the league office and even sent back a pair of signed shoes Smith sent him as a peace offering, saying Smith needed to sell them to help pay for the fine that was coming.
Well, it appears the joke is on Cuban. The NBA has cleared Smith of any wrongdoing, and — and this is great — are now pursuing possible punishment against Cuban for going on the court. George Karl wasn’t amused with the owner’s antics on Tuesday:
“If you want to interact, interact with the league office and interact with your own players, but don’t mess with my players. There’s no room for it.
“If this was a normal fan, he would have been banned from the building and maybe not ever let back in the game,” Karl said. “When the game starts, he is a fan. After the game, he’s an owner, but during the game, he’s a fan.”
• THE JOY OF SOX is giddy that the Red Sox have extended Kevin Youkilis‘ contract for a very reasonable price of $40 million for four years. It’s four more years of this, anyway:
• The Rangers have asked their Gold Glove-winning shortstop Michael Young to move to third base to make way for a rookie named Elvis. Young was not happy with this request, but now tells MLB.COM it’s all been worked out.
• Baseball finally fixed the rules to definitively say that a postseason game must be played to its completion regardless of weather, and also eliminated the coin flip as the way to determine who would host a one-game playoff. They’re doing this crazy thing now where the team that won the season series would host the game, rather than something completely freaking random (the Twins would’ve hosted the playoff against the White Sox last year, had this whole “merit” approach been in effect).
• 90-year-old Atlanta sportswriter Furman Bisher somehow has managed to put together a blog. Bisher is so old that he once interviewed Shoeless Joe Jackson about the Black Sox scandal. At the bottom of this entry he pushes the bounds of taste about the new stampede of Japanese media coming to cover pitcher Kenshin Kawakami (ah, so? Really, Furman?)
Youk’s Hits For Kids raised more than $1 million last year, and donated more than 80 percent of that to various children’s hospitals and charities. But tell that to Massachusetts Attorney Grinch, I mean General, Martha Coakley, who notified the organization this week that it is violation of state law, and if it’s not rectified soon, those kids are just going to have to find their cancer treatment somewhere else.
Ben Affleck fancies himself one of the biggest Red Sox fans. Now the actor is sharing one more thing with his favorite team: former girlfriend Enza Sambataro, who married Kevin Youkilis yesterday. Because Youkilis is so tough, he’ll likely play through the lacerations he received from stepping on the glass.
David Ortiz, Mike Lowell and Dustin Pedroia attended the wedding in Cabo San Lucas, along with Mike O’Malley and one of the Wahlberg brothers, and this post is fast turning into Boston B-List Hell. Far be it from me to say that Youkilis is just looking for eye candy to add to the current stable of Red Sox wives, but Sambataro’s job is listed as CEO of Youkilis’ charity. Thankfully she is pretty easy on the eyes: (Pics after the jump.)
BEV NET has confirmation that indeed, the venture is a real one: “Red Sox Gold Glove first baseman Kevin Youkilis has teamed up with California based MBSB Holdings, LLC to produce a new energy drink geared towards sports fans and athletes. SlumpBuster, a term widely recognized by athletes and fans, will be launched in the 1st quarter of ‘08 with hopes of being the official energy drink of locker rooms and stadium concession stands worldwide.”
And there’s even more exciting news about Youkilis’ involvement.