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 WASHINGTON POST and BALTIMORE SUN reported Saturday Ralph Friedgen has been informed by the University of Maryland he will not return as coach of the football team in 2011.
Both outlets also reported that the school has asked Friedgen to “retire” but the coach, who is owed $2 million by the school in 2011, has refused.
I’ve since learned from a source with ties to the Maryland football coaching staff that Friedgen has indeed accepted a buyout of his contract from the school. Friedgen has also agreed to coach the team’s bowl game against East Carolina on Dec. 29. Read more…
College coaching sources tell me this afternoon that the University of Kansas is in the process of discussing a possible buyout of the contract of football coach Mark Manginowith representatives of the coach.Also,the University of Maryland is meeting with reps of Ralph Friedgen to discuss a possible buyout of his contract. Additionally, Paul Wulff of Washington State is facing the same scenario at this time.
Discussions are ongoing, and none of the deals will likely be announced today. Though my source indicates agreements for each of the three could be consumated by the end of the weekend. Read more…
As we speak, Plaxico Burress is preparing to testify before a grand jury in Manhattan about shooting himself in the leg last year. And those of you with some familiarity with the legal system might have this reaction to that news: uhhh, wha?
(”I saved the world from having to deal with 19-0. Doesn’t that count for something?”)
In a move that ESPN’s Lester Munson is calling “desperate” and “highly unusual,” Burress will subject himself to questioning in an effort to get the grand jury to consider lesser charges than the felony that is currently on the table. It’s rare for a lawyer to allow this to happen because it can backfire in so many ways. For one, Plax has to be very careful about what he says. If any statement he makes ends up not being true, he could find a perjury charge added to whatever else he’s facing. And, since the prosecutors can ask anything they want, if Burress is forthcoming with every detail, he could basically end up admitting his guilt. Although, as one ESPN commenter noted, Burress really only needs to be asked three questions:
1. Did you have a gun in your possession when you shot yourself?
2. Do you have a permit to have that gun?
3. Do you have a permit to carry a concealed weapon in New York?
If the answer is “yes” to #1 and “no” to the other two questions, that’s basically all they need to make their decision.
(Things aren’t going well if this guy’s talking about you)
So why do it? Munson and fellow analyst Roger Cossack seem to think that Burress’ lawer, Benjamin Brafman, might be using this as a means to encourage a plea bargain. But Munson says that they don’t have any leverage here, since they’re the ones facing all the downside related to Burress’ testimony. The term “bluff” is being thrown around, but what’s the bluff? Why would the D.A. be worried about Plax testifying?
The only reasonable theory being offered is that maybe Plax can charm the jurors into thinking he’s a good guy who didn’t know the law and just wanted to protect himself. But he’ll have to do all of this without his lawyer, who won’t be allowed into the courtroom.
On Monday, Manhattan D.A. Jack McCoyRobert Morgenthau spoke publicly about the case, saying that Plax was OK with doing a year in jail, but that the people won’t accept a deal that involves less than two years in the clink. Morgenthau even suggested that he’s looking at charging Antonio Pierce for his role in the incident, something Cossack claims was “out of bounds” for the D.A. to talk about publicly, and certainly meant to bait Burress into a deal.
None of this looks particularly good, and one wonders if that two-year deal from the D.A. is still on the table. And I think it’s safe to say it would be the worst two-year deal any NFL free agent would be signing this year.
(When the guy with the huge ears says you’re doing time, you’re doing time)
Despite the eventual unraveling, Buehrle set a major league record by sending down 45 consecutive batters. That’s 15 consecutive innings without allowing a baserunner. The previous record was 41, held by two players, including Buehrle’s teammate, Bobby Jenks (who did it in three-batter increments as a closer).
Elsewhere around baseball, Ichiro did something he’d never done before — end a game with a hit. That’s right, none of his previous 1,952 hits were of the walk-off variety, by far the longest such active streak in baseball. To give you an idea, Alex Cora now holds the active record for most hits without a walk-off at 742.
(”You know, maybe if you didn’t have Yuniesky Betancourt hitting in front of me for four years I would’ve done it once or twice.”)
It’s been a good year for the Dodgers, but things took a turn for the embarrassing when Mark Loretta had to come on to pitch with two outs in the eighth inning at L.A. trailing 10-0 to the Cardinals. Loretta was the first position player to pitch in a game for the Dodgers since 2004, and after drilling Matt Holliday with a fastball he got Ryan Ludwick to fly out to end the inning. In other words, he did way better than Chien-Ming Wang had done this year. The Yankees finally Old Yellered him and are sending him to have surgery that can’t possibly make him any worse. Wang’s future with the Yanks is in doubt, as the team must offer him at least $4 million to keep him next year or lose him to free agency.
• Because everyone’s been asking for it, here are those long-awaited highlights of the touch football game played by NFL legends before Super Bowl X in 1976. If you’ve ever wanted to see Paul Hornung make a gay joke, watch a bunch of guys try and cop a feel on Phyllis George, and hear why Johnny Unitas likes to drive Pontiacs, look no further:
As you can see, Bill Murray and Christopher Guest had nowhere to go but up.
MANGINO & FULMER PROVE TO BE TONS OF FUN FOR BCS: EVERY DAY SHOULD BE SATURDAY gets heavy handed, as they throw their weight into the college postseason picture:
That’s our own Mark Mangino grappling with Phil Fulmer over the final BCS bowl slot, while Charlie Weis and Ralph Friedgen can only sit in the background and observe what might have been.And Bill Parcells looks like he wants to get his money’s worth for those pricey courtside seats.