Saturday, March 28, 2015

Who gets Derek Jeter's locker remains a question with Yankees

A lot of questions face the New York Yankees as they head into the final week of spring training but one lingering quandary stands now out: Who's getting Derek Jeter's locker?

It's decision that will have to be made sometime within the next few days, before the team's Opening Day game against the Blue Jays at Yankee Stadium April 6, clubhouse manger Lou Cucuzza Jr. said.

The locker is significant because it was the space the recently retired Jeter occupied since the stadium opened in 2009. It's also prime real estate, positioned in the back of the clubhouse, near the entrance to the players' only section.

And unless Jeets heads to that stadium in the sky, it remains an available cubicle.

Cucuzza said he approached home-grown Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner more than a week ago about possibly taking over the spot, but Gardner hadn't made a decision yet.

Alex Rodriguez joined the Yankees in 2004, but he was suspended for all of 2014 for using performance-enhancing drugs. That interruption makes Gardner the longest consecutively tenured Yankee. 

Yeah ... and it's A-Rod.

Gardner made his big league debut in pinstripes in 2008.

"We'll figure out it out," Cucuzza said. "We've still got time."

Didi Gregarious, who will replace The Captain at shortstop this season, is too much a newcomer. And trying to fill Jeter's shoes on the field and then drop your sweat socks in the Yankee icon's locker might just be a little too much to handle.

McDonald's All-American game shoes will have Big Mac insoles (PHOTO)

McDonald's officially stepped into the fashion business this week, launching its Big Mac Lifestyle collection in Sweden on Tuesday.

The lifestyle line consists of sweatshirts, galoshes, and cozy comforters so you can cuddle with those cheesy, gut-busters all night long. 

And the Mickey D didn't forget the athletic types either — namely the MacDonald's All-American basketball players.

Darren Rovell tweeted that all of the participants of the game will pad their shoes with Big Mac insoles:

Now you have two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce. cheese, pickles, onions and Dr. Scholl's on a sesame-seed bun.

And nothing says 'lovin' it' like ripe basketball kicks.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Steve Lavin, St. John’s ‘mutually agree’ to part ways: Report

Steve Lavin will no longer be the men's basketball coach at St. John's, the school announced Friday, after the two sides mutually parted ways.

The news comes days after reports said Lavin was in talks over a contract extension and one week after the Red Storm were bounced from the NCAA tournament in the first round. Those extension talks didn't last long, as reports later stated his job was in jeopardy.

“Coach Lavin returned high expectations to our men’s basketball program and represented St. John’s in a positive way,” St. John's athletic director Chris Monasch said in a statement. “We appreciate his commitment to the program and to our student-athletes over the past five years. Our student-athletes represented the University well, especially our five-member senior class who excelled on the court, inside the classroom and within the community.”

Lavin did a lot of good at St. John's. He raised the profile of the basketball program, won 20 games 3 times and most will say he left the program in better shape now than when he got here. After all, he took the program to the 2011 NCAA Tournament for the first time after a nine-year drought but critics point out it was a roster filled mostly with previous coach Norm Roberts' recruits. And in postseason play, Lavin’s teams did not fare well. They were 1-5 in the Big East Tournament, 1-2 in the NIT and 0-2 in the NCAA Tournament.  

While Lavin went 21-12 during the 2014-15 season, and compiled a decent 81-55 record over five years, he never seemed to get the team over the hump.

And the disappointing 12 point loss to San Diego State in Charlotte last week — due largely because of the suspension of Chris Obekpa — was probably the last hinge to his fate despite all of the talk about the contract extension.

Granted, Lavin coached only four games in 2011-12 after bravely battling prostate cancer surgery, but there was always the academically ineligible recruits, untimely player suspensions and relatively low profile for a team in the nation's biggest media market that kept his job in question.

“In life change is inevitable, so I take the long view. I'm grateful for my time teaching at St. John’s University,” Lavin said in a statement. “I will take with me the lasting friendships forged during my tenure as Head Coach. I'm proud of our results both on and off the court — in particular our memorable runs to the NCAA tournament in 2011 and 2015. Most importantly, I take pride in our performance in the classroom having graduated our student athletes who will represent the institution in a first class manner."

Lavin is a decent man of principles and a well-liked coach but, with his senior-laden team all but gone, it seemed the time was right for the Red Storm to begin all over again.

And something tells me you'll be hearing the names Mullin and Hurley around Carneseca Arena a lot in the next few weeks. And maybe Mark Jackson.

NBC bringing back 'Coach' with Craig T. Nelson: Report

Craig T. Nelson will be returning to the sidelines after NBC ordered 13 episodes of a sequel series to the '90's sitcom Coach.

The 70-year-old actor will reprise his role as Division-1 football coach Hayden Fox in a story that picks up two decades or so after the original show ended in 1997, according to

Just think Lou Holtz goes back to Notre Dame — but with less mumbling — must have been the pitch.

"Coach Hayden Fox, in the present day, has retired from coaching. He is called back to become assistant coach to his own grown son, who is the new head coach at an Ivy league school in Pennsylvania that is just starting up a new team," NBC said.

For the last two seasons of the original series, Coach Fox coached the Orlando Breakers, a fictional National Football League expansion team.

The new show's 13 episodes will be shot in traditional multi-cam style, is being headed up by original executive producer Barry Kemp.

There was no word whether co-stars Jerry Van Dyke, who played goofy defensive coordinator Luther, or Bill Fagerbakke, who played dumb jock Dauber would return for the new show. Shelley Fabares played Hayden's girlfriend (and later wife) Christine Armstrong, a television news anchor.

Nelson recently ended a successful run playing family patriarch Zeek Braverman on the NBC's "Parenthood."

And Fagerbakke has enjoyed a long run as the voice of Patrick Star on SpongeBob Squarepants.

Who knows how the old coach will handle issues that were pretty much isolated back in the days before the proliferation of social media and political correctness took over sports.

Blake Griffin wannabe fails spectacularly in dunk contest (VIDEO)

Lloyd Hickinson tried to channel Blake Griffin at the Golden Chihuahua All-Star Game in Mexico, hoping to hurdle a car on his way to a crowd-pleasing dunk during a contest.

And the initial results were, let's say, way less than spectacular.

As Hickinson dribbles toward the convertible filled with people — he tries to clear the vehicle but only gets rim, followed by both of his legs crashing against the car's door on the way face down. 

Holy Chihuahua.

The shamed Hickenson doesn't give up though and successfully completes the stunt on a second try. But that isn't as much fun.

Here's Griffin's famous dunk in all its slow-motion glory:

Late Dean Smith bequeaths former players with $200 dinners in will: Report

When former North Carolina coach Dean Smith died last month at the age of 83, he left behind more than a basketball legacy deeper than just Xs and Os. Smith was the first coach at North Carolina, and among the first in the segregated South, to offer a scholarship to a black athlete and his humble "Carolina Way" became the standard of the school he cared so much for. 

And now, as per the late coach's pre-arranged instructions in his will, Smith is showing his gratitude by mailing out $200 checks to each of the varsity lettermen he coached over 36 years with one last instruction: "Enjoy a dinner out."

The letter to former UNC guard Dante Calabria, reads:

 “Each Player was important and special to Coach Smith and when he prepared his estate plan, Coach wanted to reach out to each of his letterman. Accordingly, Coach wanted each letterman to be sent a two hundred dollar ($200.00) check with the message 'enjoy a dinner [out] compliments of Coach Dean Smith.'”

USA Today confirmed the letter’s authenticity with accountant Tim Breedlove, who said that the letter was sent to about 180 of Smith’s former players.

Smith actually coached 184 players between 1961 and 1997 bringing the total cost of his posthumous gesture to about $36,800.

But no bean-counter will ever put a price on his memory. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Third-grader banks in a no-look backwards 3-pointer at the buzzer (VIDEO)

At the AAA County Championship Game in Maryland between the Allentown Arrows and Bowie Bulldogs, third-grader Tyrik Petway banked in a no-look, backward three-pointer as time expired. 

From the video below, you can see him backing up into his defender near the three-point line and launching the ball without looking at the hoop. It hit the backboard and amazingly goes in. 

These kids can ball but fast-forward to 4:05 to see the remarkable shot:

And you are probably going to be seeing a lot more of Petway for years to come because he's ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the nation for the class of 2024 by Coast2CoastPreps.

Seriously. Look it up.