Sunday, July 31, 2011

Eli Manning's Silence About Plaxico Burress Spoke Volumes

It looks like Plaxico Burress found a fly in his soup during last night's dinner meeting with Tom Coughlin-- and that fly's name might be Eli Manning.

Burress can cook up every reason in the book to explain why he spurned the New York Giants for their Meadowlands cellmates--I mean stadium-mates--the New York Jets, but the absence of any public support from Manning down the stretch might have swung Burress's decision from Big Blue to Gang Green.

If the Giants quarterback is still blaming Burress, and his arrest for gun possession, for costing the team the 2008 season and Manning's chance to get back-to-back Super Bowl titles, he's barking up the wrong goal post.  Ironically, Manning's lack of vocal support for the return of his one-time favorite target could cost him this season as well.

The Giants team is getting old and, now that the Philadelphia Eagles have buffed up their defensive backfield-- with the signing of DB-extraordinaire, Nnamdi Asomugha-- and the uncertain return of receiver Steve Smith to the Giants, the loss of Burress may have just given a huge advantage to the Eagles in their two division game match-ups.

 Coughlin seemed friendlier than a flair-covered waiter at Bennigan's, leading up to his dinner with Burress, while Manning played the snobby waiter at a French bistro.

All week Roethlisberger openly campaigned for Burress' return to the Pittsburgh Steelers.   Manning only mumbled a few standard comments.

"You just don't want distractions," said Manning.  "Distractions, whatever they may be, can hurt a team.  If you're spending your time concerned about something else, bringing your attention away from the opponent on your preparation, that's considered a distraction."

I tell you what distraction is Eli.  Distraction is being asked 'Why didn't you lobby harder for Burress' about five-thousand times this week and looking for a top-notch wide-out in the fourth quarter this season.

Make no mistake, Manning supports Burress' second chance and even made a call to his former wide-out while he was in prison, but hasn't bothered to jump on the "We Want Plax" bandwagon.

By all accounts, the meeting with Coughlin went swimmingly.  The head coach was smiling yesterday and put it bluntly, "The meeting went well."

Not well enough, as Burress's "fully-guaranteed," one-year deal for $3.017 million with the Jets the next day will attest.

Let's give Manning the benefit of a doubt.  Maybe the silent treatment wasn't such a bad idea.  I don't remember Jets quarterback, Mark Sanchez, standing in Times Square singing a tribute to the ex-con and look where Burress ended up.

"I never really lobbied for anybody," said Manning before the meeting.  "So if this is the right spot for Plaxico, if the Giants and Coach Coughlin are pleased with his attitude and after talking to him, then [I'm] happy to have him."

In the end, here's what Manning's silence about signing Burress said.

No distractions.  Burress' return to the Giants will disrupt an already shortened training camp.  It's about the team, not one player.

Why all the fuss over a soon to be (August 12)  34 year-old receiver who hasn't played a down in 2 1/2 years?

How is a guy who was never a fan of Coughlin's discipline and structured system going to feel about  routine after almost two full years in lockup?  Does the prison stint help Burress cope with Coughlin's Captain Bligh act?

Finally, Manning doesn't want to insult his current group of receivers.  After all, he threw for over 4,000 yards last year and has two Pro Bowl-caliber wide-outs in Steve Smith and Hakeem Nicks.  Joined by Mario Manningham, Manning believes he has the nucleus of a solid receiving corp.

"I like our receivers here, I think we have a great crew, very talented, they work hard," he said.  "Can you have too many good receivers?  No, I don't think so.  I'm going about my business and preparing for myself.

Hey, everybody wanted little Eli to man up and be more assertive--so there you go.

Maybe Burress would have picked the Giants if Manning took the time to drop a dime or, just maybe, Coughlin put that fly in the soup.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Former Yankee Paul O'Neill Shows Off His Mythical 'Rabbit Ears'

Former New York Yankees right-fielder and "Seinfeld" actor, Paul O'Neill, finally proved to the world the existence of a piece of Little League equipment called "rabbit ears" used during his youth.  After a friend sent over one of the beat-up head protectors, O'Neill sported the unusual leather ear flaps on air.
video

A couple of weeks ago, while doing his broadcasting gig on the YES Network during a Yankees game, the talk turned to batting helmets and how they have evolved over the years.  O'Neill casually mentioned wearing the rabbit ears during his Little League years in Columbus, Ohio.  O'Neill's co-caster, Michael Kay, did a double take and, like a million other listeners, and said he never heard of the such a piece of equipment when he played baseball while growing up in New York.

Was it myth or reality?  Some people thought O'Neill was living in some fantasy land and was, himself, probably beaned in the head too many times.

O'Neill insisted it was regulation gear for protecting a kid rounding the bases and thought he might have one lying around somewhere.  O'Neill was occasionally ribbed after he could not find or produce the legendary head gear.

In a time long before video and phone cameras,  O'Neill was unable to document or produce evidence to back his fabulous tale; so rabbit ears were as real as Nessie and Bigfoot.

Finally, during today's game against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium, a weathered pair of blue rabbit ears made it to the broadcast booth, verifying the existence of the funny-looking head protectors.

The odd looking gadget fits over your head and looks like a hybrid of a wrestler's ear protector and the bottom-half of a football helmet worn during the Bronco Nagurski era.  There is no protection on top and has no visor.  It looks the players cap is worn under the top straps.

I still don't understand why you needed one to run the bases.

So, Paul O'Neill, you are vindicated for what was once thought to be a too vivid imagination.  Now find the Fountain of Youth that has revived Bartolo Colon's career.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fisherman Hops on Shark's Back For Ride Of His Life

A Massachusetts fisherman gave new meaning to "Jumping the Shark" after he literally hopped onto the back of one of the fish while it swam alongside his boat.

Eric Jacobs pulled the stunt while angling off the New England coast and a huge basking shark sidled up to the port side of his fishing boat.  Jacobs did his best imitation of Fonzie, dove into the water and got towed about fifteen feet while hanging on to the shark's dorsal fin.

video

"It was very exciting until I realized how far the boat was from me," said the human chum.  " I said 'I need to get back on the boat.'"

Although it is in the shark family, Jacobs was in no imminent danger.  The basking shark is not a man-eater and dines mostly on plankton and small fish.  The breed is the second largest fish in the ocean and can grow up to 30 feet long.

Jacobs said he realized it was just a harmless basking shark before he dropped his pole and took his plunge to infamy.

"I need to swim with him.  I need to be part of this," contemplated Jacobs before his jump and, in the understatement of the day said, "It was the experience of a lifetime."

He must have realized how crazy it was after ten seconds.  Just check out how fast Jacobs swims back to the boat.

Wildlife officials said the basking shark is a protected species and they frown upon the idea of shark-riding.

I knew Red Sox fans were crazy and this proves it.

Orlando Hudson's Fan-Friendly Goof

Orlando Hudson, the four-time Gold Glove winner of the San Diego Padres, was a little too eager to please a fan and his brain freeze cost the Padres a run against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
video

Playing second base on Tuesday night at Petco Field, Hudson called for Ryan Robert's pop-up in shallow right field.  Without breaking his stride, Hudson snagged the ball, headed towards the right field stands and flipped the ball to a ball-girl before heading to the dugout.

Major problem.  It was only the second out.

Seeing Hudson's goof, Padres first baseman, Jesus Guzman, ran to the ball girl, but it was too late, it was in the stands.

Diamondbacks Chris Young and Miguel Montero were permitted to take two bases.  Young scored to make it 4-0.

The personable Hudson laughed at the epic blunder.

"You see it every now and then," he said.  "Life goes on, nobody's perfect."

Arizona went on to win, 6-1.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Former Yankees Pitcher Hideki Irabu Found Dead Of Apparent Sucide

The long and troubling road of former New York Yankees pitcher Hideki Irabu came to a sad ending today.  The one-time Japanese Pacific League star, and Major League bust, was found dead at age 42 of an apparent suicide in his Rancho Palo Verdes, California home.

Irabu was one of the of the key members of the great 1998 Yankees team which beat the San Diego Padres in the World Series and the Yankees team which beat the Atlanta Braves in1999 for the championship; although Irabu never threw a pitch in either series.

The much-maligned Irabu was once called the "Nolan Ryan of Japan" when he tore through the Japanese leagues.  After Hideo Nomo successfully blazed a trail for Japanese pitchers, the exotic Irabu was brought to the U.S. in 1997 with high hopes.  Japanese fans--many who had never even seen a Yankees game-- came by the thousands to the Bronx.

Irabu's most famous moment in the majors is probably when he ended up being called a "fat... toad" by Yankees owner, George Steinbrenner, after the hefty righthander failed to cover first base during a game.  Steinbrenner became increasingly more disgusted with his investment and the fact that he wasn't living up to the $12.8, four-year contract during his years with the team.

The Yankees first traded for Irabu-- after he refused to go to the San Diego Padres-- and the 28 year-old Irabu made his debut on July 10, 1997 against the Detroit Tigers in grand style.

Irabu thrilled the crowd of 51,000 as he struck out nine with a 96 mph fastball and got his first major league victory.  Current Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, was the catcher that day. After that auspicious opening act, it seemed like it was all downhill from there.

Irabu's abrasive personality, lazy habits and language barrier caused bickering with teammates and the media.  During spring training in 1998, Yankees pitcher David Cone finally had enough and verbally laid into the slacking Irabu in the locker room.

The increasingly unpopular Irabu finished the 1998 season 13-9 with a 4.06 ERA but manager Joe Torre had so little faith in Irabu, he kept the high-priced starter on the bench during the entire Yankees playoff run and World Series victory over the Padres.

Irabu went 11-7 during the 1999 season, which didn't satisfy Steinbrenner and he was traded to the Montreal Expos for Jake Westbrook and Ted Lilly.

Irabu fared no better up north.  He gained weight and reportedly drank to excess.  Knee and elbow surgeries plagued the ever-fattening Irabu and he was finally suspended by the Expos while on a rehab assignment in Triple-A.  He played 14 games for the Expos and finished with a 2-7 record and 6.69 ERA.

The last chapter of Irabu's major league career ended before the 2002 season, when the Texas Rangers tried to convert the burned out Irabu into a closer.  It was a major failure.

Irabu made millions from the Yankees but never made a mark in the league-- excluding the brilliant first game he pitched.

He was arrested for a bar fight in 2008 and a DUI in 2010.  The reclusive Irabu attempted a comeback in Japan in 2009 but shied away from the media until his arrests and ending with the sad news of his death today.

"He was found dead by an apparent suicide," said Los Angeles County Sherriff's Sgt. Michael Arriaga to AP.

During six seasons in the majors (1997-2002), Irabu finished with a 34-35 record and a 5.15 ERA.  His poetic legacy may be that he was an integral part of two World Series Championship teams but never played in one.

Irabu should be remembered for widening the door for Japanese position players like Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui.

The tragic reality is maybe, if Hideki Irabu never came to America, he would still be alive right now.

Tony Dungy and Justin Tuck Think Giants Would Be Good Fit For Plaxico

It looks like Plaxico Burress' two former teams, the New York Giants and the Pittsburgh Steelers, are the front runners for the talented wideout's services this season.  Former Colts head coach, Tony Dungy,  said New York would be a " great home" for Burress' new start.

The New York Daily News reported that Dungy believes, if Burress and Giants head coach Tom Coughlin can put aside their past differences, New York would be the ideal fit for the 33 year-old Burress second go-round in the NFL.

Dungy, acting as Burress' mentor, said his charge needs a "good support system" to get back on track and the troubled wideout already has built a strong foundation with the team owners, Steve Tisch and John Mara.

"I think Mr. Tisch, Mr. Mara, he has a good relationship with them," said Dungy.  And he has a great, great relationship with a lot of the other players that are still there."

Giants defensive captain Justin Tuck agrees. He believes the two men can hammer out their differences.

"Anytime you have a dispute between two people, both people need to talk it out like men," said Tuck.  I think that's what we have on schedule, so we'll see what happens."

It looks like Burress' affection for Rex Ryan and the Jets has faded and now Burress is set to meet with the Giants tomorrow night before heading to Pittsburgh for a meeting with Mike Tomlin and the Steelers.

"I think [the Giants] would be a great kind of family organization for him," said Dungy.

The Giants have already reached out to Burress, even after he was let go by the team for his 2008 arrest for gun possession, subsequent conviction and stint in prison.

Mara drove up to the upstate New York correctional center to pay Burress a visit behind bars and quarterback Eli Manning was one of the first players to welcome his former-favorite target back after his release this spring.

Manning must be drooling at the prospect of throwing to Steve Smith, Hakeem Nicks, Mario Manningham and possibly Burress.  Can you say Air Eli?

Now Burress has to bury the hatchet with his former coach and antagonist, the disciplinarian Coughlin.

I can only imagine how Friday's night meeting will go.  It's hard to imagine how Burress, just released from almost two years in stir, is going to thrive under the strict Coughlin.  It's like going from life under one prison warden to a head coach who is sometimes called one.

Forget the steak and potatoes, the real main dish on Friday night's dinner table is the thousands of dollars in fines, benching and two-week suspension for a rules violation handed down to Plax by Coughlin in the past.

Can Burress abide by Coughlin's tough love rules and avoid the suspensions and fines he accrued in the past?  Until last week, there was a perception that Coughlin didn't even want Burress back, now they are breaking bread together.

The "mellower" Coughlin just signed a one year extension to his contract and the Giants are notorious for not releasing a coach during the final year of a deal so, if this relationship gets stormy again, the old man isn't going anywhere.

The post NFL lockout has left teams scrambling for stability.  The Giants are familiar with Burress and Burress still has a veteran's knowledge of the Giants playbook. 

To Dungy, familiarity will be important to Burress' comeback.

"People need to understand that it is a little bit different," said Dungy.  "It's not just kind of like a free-agent coming into your team.  He has to regrow and redevelop.  You just want that support there, and I think the Giants would be one of the good teams for that."

Whether or not the Giants become Burress' halfway house to resuming a life on the outside remains to be seen.  Maybe the Giants just want to keep Burress' slim chance of hooking up with another "second-chancer," Michael Vick and division rival the Philadelphia Eagles at bay?

It won't be easy for Burress in New York.  You'll probably see more photos of Burress on the street than on the field and night out at a restaurant will be in every gossip page in New York.  Even if people don't hit the floor every time he reaches into his sweatpants pockets, every paparazzi will hit their camera shutter release.

How those scenarios fit into Dungy's theory is speculative at best.  Maybe New York isn't he best place to quietly return to society. 

The Giants team leaders don't think so and have given Burress a vote of confidence.  Manning confirmed speaking with Burress about coming back.

"I don't know what's going to happen with that," said Manning.  "I know he and coach Coughlin might meet sometime.  We'll just see what happens after that."

Tuck says Burress would be welcomed back by everyone.

"I can't speak for Coughlin or Plax," said the defensive end.  "It's well documented they've bumped heads in the past.  Hopefully a little time apart has rekindled the love they share for each other."

Wow.  The words 'Coughlin, Plax and rekindled love' in a quote.  I'm going to tear up.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Yankees Seeing Red Flags In Ubaldo Jimenez Deal?

Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez has become a very hot commodity in the AL East these days.  The New York Yankees, Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox have all considered a trade for the flame-throwing hurler, according to reports.  Only now, the Yankees are wondering why the young (27) and relatively inexpensive ($2.8 million contract this year, $4.2 million in 2012 with an option in 2013 for $5.75 million) ace of the Rockies is being unloaded.

Does the Rockies organization know something about Jimenez that others don't?

Jimenez is regarded as the best starter available before the July 31st deadline.  Other pitchers like Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers of the Houston Astros are out there but don't have the numbers or name recognition of Jimenez and the Seattle Mariners Felix Hernandez is off-limits to anyone, according to the organization.

The red flags being thrown up by Jimenez begin with his second half slump last season after starting the season 15-1.  He finished the season by going 4-7 down the stretch.

At the 2010 All-Star break, Jimenez was considered one of the best starters in the game until it seemed his fastball seemed to fade quicker than his CY Young hopes.

This season, the rightie is 6-9 with a 4.20 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 122 innings.  After a slow start, Jimenez is 5-4 since June 18.

Sure the Rockies are asking a lot in return for their pitcher and that has already pretty much scared off the division-leading Red Sox.  The second-place Yankees may follow. Toronto is just hoping for a steal a deal for the future.

New York is balking at the Rockies asking price of three prized minor-leaguers-- Manuel Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Jesus Montero.  Even Ivan Nova's name has been thrown into the mix.  No way that's going to happen.

Why the Yankees are hesitant to give away some prospects for a stud like Jimenez--who could give them the 1-2 punch they desire-- isn't apparent as it looks.  His age and past history don't include any major breakdowns--physically or mentally.  Jimenez's only time on the DL was for a broken fingernail-- not exactly career-ending-- and has never had any shoulder or elbow injuries that the Yankees are aware of.

One of Jimenez's flaws is his wildness and a high-maintenance throwing delivery.  The fact that he is a product of the NL is a negative too.  The Yankees have had previous problems with pitchers who switched leagues. Randy Johnson and Carl Pavano come to mind.

Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd has said his team is willing to trade Jimenez only because they underachieving and it's time shake some life into the roster.  The GM also cited the lack of other blue-chip starters on the market and trade-bait like Jimenez will bring the Rockies a high return.

He may be thinking a Bernie Madoff type exchange.

Some experts think Jimenez's problem is emotional, and he is bitter at the Rockies for not signing him to a long term deal like teammates Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez.

Another reason the deal should send flags up all over.  Why wouldn't a team sign their ace to a long-term contract in the first place?

"Even if this is his floor, then he is still good enough to pitch in a rotation in the AL East," said an executive that inquired about Jimenez.  "He has value at that level, especially with a good contract.  And if he pitches like he pitched the first half last year, then he's up there with CC [Sabathia, [Jon]Lester and [David] Price among the best pitchers in the division."

Whether or not Jimenez is good enough to be a No. 2 pitcher on the Yankees is debatable.  A.J. Burnett is such a significant drop-off from the No. 1 starter, CC Sabathia, there is definitely an opening for that role. One problem, Jimenez's wildness has a vaguely familiar A.J. ring to it.

The Yankees rotation could be firmed up this afternoon.  Phil Hughes gives it another shot to see if his dead arm issues are over.  Hopefully, the third time is a charm for the struggling righthander and a successful outing would give the Yankees a good inventory of arms while Ivan Nova goes on Saturday.

So far the Yankees haven't been pushing GM Brian Cashman to make a deal before the deadline.  After CC and A.J., the starting rotation is hanging on to the rejuvenated arms of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia-- who knows how long they can hold out--and rehabbing Hughes and Nova.

 If Cashman does push the button for Jimenez, it could come at too high a price. 

Today, the Yankees GM will just watch his real trade deadline Holy Grail, Seattle Mariners Felix Hernandez, face his team at Yankee Stadium.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

NASCAR Pastor Thanks God For His "Smokin' Hot Wife" During Pre-Race Prayer

A pastor at a NASCAR Nationwide series race, thanked God for cars, racing fuel and his "smokin' hot wife," during a pre-race prayer in Nashville last Saturday.  Pulling a line from the character Ricky Bobby in  the movie "Talladega Nights," Joe Helms, pastor of the Family Baptist Church in Lebanon Tenn., shake and baked a lot of God-fearing attendees at the race .

While delivering the pre-race invocation, Helms paraphrased some lines from the 2006 film starring Will Ferrell.  He blessed the "drivers worthy of this track" and also thanked God for Dodges, Toyotas and Fords; along with Sunoco racing fuel and Goodrich tires and GM performance technology.

Sounds like the pastor is shaking hands with God and a few racing sponsors.

The video shows Helms surrounded by race car drivers, soldiers,  his wife Lisa and his two children at the race track.  Helms also thanked the Almighty for his kids, Eli and Emma-- the "little E's"-- and finished his blessing with these words, "in Jesus' name, boogity, boogity, boogity ...Amen!"

Helms attempt to lighten the prayer service, held on the side of the  racing oval and in the middle of the Bible Belt, drew mixed reactions.

The drivers standing next to Helms realized where the lines were coming from and held back giggles; while the pastor's daughter shook with laughter.

The "smokin' hot wife" line comes from a scene in the movie where Ricky Bobby blesses a fast food meal.

Helms said he used the lines because he wanted to avoid "cookie-cutter prayers."

Sounds like the pastor was "all jacked up on Mountain Dew" and now,  Helm's flock might saying, "Holy, moly, that's like lookin' up Yasmine Bleeth's skirt!"

World Series Champs Giants Visit White House; President Obama Admits He Fears The Beard

The San Francisco Giants,  2010 World Series Champions, visited President Obama at the White House yesterday.  The nation's number one baseball fan called the team, "Characters with character,"  then singled out out Giants closer Brian Wilson by asking," Where's the guy with the beard?"  Obama looked at Wilson's Grizzly Adams-type facial hair, shook his head and said, "I do fear it."

Obama, taking a break from his budget battle, met with the Giants yesterday afternoon in the East Room of the White House and wished the team well in it's quest to defend it's World Series Championship unless it was against his beloved Chicago White Sox.  "Which right now isn't a sure thing," he joked about his struggling home team.

The President shook hands with the players and mingled with a gaggle of San Francisco politicians including former mayors and House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi.

Besides seeking out the free spirit Wilson, Obama sounded like he feels a kinship with Tim "The Freak" Lincecum and the rest of the team's collection of castoffs and misfits.

"The Giants may be a little different, but know how to win," said Obama, a knowledgeable baseball fan.

Obama congratulated the Giants for their miraculous season, where they won their first World Series Championship since moving to San Francisco from New York 53 years ago.

The President got to hang with one of his idols once again, Willie Mays-- who was once a guest on Air Force One during a trip to the 2009 All-Star Game.  Mays presented the Leader of the Free World with a Giants jersey signed by the team.  Obama joked about his flight with the baseball great, Mays.

"Very rarely, when I'm on Air Force One, am I the second most important guy on there," he said.  "Everyone was passing me by-- 'Can I get you something Mr. Mays?'"

The President lauded the team for efforts to support injured U.S. troops and praised the players for being the first American sports team to make an "It Gets Better" video to help gay and lesbian youths who have been bullied.

Giants manager, Bruce Bochy, summed up the visit by saying," Certainly, we were all honored to be there.  It's quite a privilege."

He was probably more thankful the outlandish Wilson didn't wear a skin-tight Lycra tuxedo.

Monday, July 25, 2011

San Francisco Giants Plan To Use Falcons To Halt Seagull Invasion

The invasion of seagulls swarming down into the stands at AT&T Park during San Francisco Giants games has gotten so bad the team is planning on using falcons to disperse the invading flocks.

The huge Western Gulls begin swooping down right around the seventh inning stretch to grab discarded food and even snag ball park treats from fan's hands.

By the ninth inning, the attacks in the stands sometimes looks like the scene from "The Wizard of Oz" when the flying monkeys dismantle the Tin Man and unstuff the Scarecrow.  To some fans getting pooped on the head is a worse fate.  I don't think seagull look-alike, Tim Lincecum, getting plopped on his cap would consider it good luck either. 

Maybe the birds come late to catch a glimpse of closer Brian Wilson mopping up.  Who knows what's  nesting in his beard.

The nuisance has increased steadily over the past decade since the stadium opened in 2000, but now, the birds have fans literally running for cover.  The giant bird's diet consists of garbage, eggs, other birds, fish and roadkill.  Apparently they eat anything in their paths.

"We've seen an increase in the birds," said Jorge Costa, Giant's operations manager.  "And the behavior seems to be more aggressive.  They've started flying around and trying to go into the stands while the game's in progress.  That's unusual for them."

Experts think the gulls are attracted to AT&T Park from nests on Alcatraz Island and by the activity of the fans.

"They probably see the lights on, or in the afternoon, they probably see the crowd," said Dan Murphy, Golden Gate Audubon volunteer.  "When the crowd starts thinning, they just show up."

To combat the invasion, the Giants are considering hiring a commercial falconer company to ward off the pests.  The cost to the team is estimated to be around $100,000 per year.

In San Francisco--the Ground Zero of politically correctness--  I'm sure the falcons will be used to only scare the invading scavengers.  No dirty birds will be harmed in the process.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Yankees To Stick With Robertson As Set-Up Man When Soriano Returns

It sounds like New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi has decided who will set up Mariano Rivera when Rafael Soriano returns to the team and it looks like Dave Robertson, who replaced Soriano, will get to keep the job.  Soriano is expected to return to the club sometime this week after being put on the DL almost two months ago.

This will be the second demotion for Soriano since signing with the Yankees last winter.  Don't expect the surly pitcher to be happy.  First, he took a back seat to Mariano Rivera and now a rumble seat to Robertson.

Robertson has blossomed as the eighth inning set-up man since filling in for the injured and rehabbing Soriano.  He even has an 2011 All-Star Game selection to prove it.

The 26 year-old righthander may have stumbled a little in today's 7-5 victory over the Oakland A's, but over the last two months Robertson has been solid.  He is 3-0 with a 1.57 ERA.  But the stellar stats hide a lot of nail-biting drama when Robertson is on the mound.

Robertson is the Yankees version of the Cardiac Kid.  In the 40 innings he has pitched, Robertson's bi-polar statistics include allowing 29 hits and 26 walks combined with an unbelievable 63 strikeouts of opposing hitters.

The tightrope-walking Robertson has allowed only two earned runs over his last 26 appearances and in 21 1/3 innings on the road has not given up a single run.  An amazing achievement, considering it always looks like the bases are filled when Robertson is staring down a batter.

On that note, the lanky hurler struck out a batter for the third out with the bases loaded for a record nine times in a row against the A's on Saturday.  The previous record of eight rally-whiffers was held by former Yankee Jeff Nelson when he was with the Seattle Mariners in 1995. 

Robertson stumbled a bit, during a downpour, in Sunday's 7-5 win against the A's.  He was pulled with two outs in the eighth after his curve ball wasn't tailing and he gave up a couple of earned runs.

When asked about his bases-loaded/strikeout record, Robertson shook his head and told the YES Network, "I can't stop doing that."

Whether or not your heart can handle Robertson's high-wire act, he's getting the job done.

Soriano, on the other hand, will have to earn back his old set-up spot.  The brooding righthander has already gone from closer to set-up this season.  There's really no shame there when it's behind Rivera, but coming back to Yankee Stadium as a middle reliever has to sting.

Before going on the DL on May 27, Soriano was 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA.

The $35 million rightie pitched the seventh inning for Triple-A Scranton today.  Soriano gave up a lead-off home run before retiring the next three batters.  On Thursday, he threw 16 pitches for Class-A Tampa.  He gave up one run on two hits.  Not exactly reassuring stuff.

Girardi said Soriano could probably pitch Monday as well.

"We're looking at that," Girardi told the YES Network.  "I wanted to see how he feels today.  If he feels good after today and tomorrow, it is very possible he would pitch Monday."

In any case, Girardi said he was going with the hot hand and keeping Robertson as Rivera's set-up man.

On using Soriano as a seventh inning relief pitcher when he returns, Girardi used caution in his selection process and will cope with the eighth-inning conundrum later.

"It's important to get Soriano healthy first," he said.  "If he's healthy, it's a good problem."

Friday, July 22, 2011

15 Year-Old Refuses To Return Hideki Matsui's 500th Home Run Ball

Reversing a chapter from Christian Lopez's book on what to do after you catch a historic ball hit by a professional baseball player, a 15 year-old kid refused to hand over Hideki Matsui's 500th career home run ball back to the player.

Maybe this kid is still holding a grudge against the Japanese because the of the women's soccer team shocker over every teenage boy's fantasy pin-up Hope Solo and the American team in the World Cup.

More likely, he is holding out for some sort of huge payday.

Lopez was the young cell phone sales man who caught Derek Jeter's milestone, and long awaited, 3,000th hit.  After Lopez snagged the home run ball in the centerfield stands, he immediately handed it over to the New York Yankees organization.  In return he was rewarded with signed memorabilia, season suite tickets and a $15,000 IRS bill.  Experts claim the ball could have been worth up to $250,000.  Cynics called Lopez a sucker.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Did Colon and Garcia's Last Outings Quell Yankees Trade Talks

Last week the New York Yankees seemed desperate to add another reliable starter to their rotation.  All eyes seemed to be focused on Colorado Rockies flame-thrower Ubaldo Jimenez.  Only problem was, the Rockies would literally be asking the Yankees for the farm to make any kind of trade for their 27 year-old righthander.

The Yankees remember all too well last year's lack of starting pitching in the playoffs and have to be wondering if they can pin four-fifth of their October hopes on Phil Hughes--a pitcher on the mend, A.J. Burnett--who has reverted back to his inconsistent self, Ivan Nova-- who just went on the Triple-A DL for a foot injury, and Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia--two aging veterans picked up during the off-season winter-sale.

Funny thing, outside of CC Sabathia, Colon and Garcia, have been the most impressive this season.  Now the question is can the 38 year-old Colon and 35 year-old Garcia hold up?

Both pitchers combined for a total of two earned runs in 13 innings in two games against the Tampa Bay Rays this week.

Garcia out dueled David Price and struck out seven Rays hitters over 6.2 innings last night.  Last week Garcia was battered in Toronto where he allowed five earned runs in five innings after a 12 day layoff.  Manager Joe Girardi said the layoff was responsible.

Colon's masterpiece the night before was spoiled after centerfielder Curtis Granderson lost a fly ball in the roof of Tropicana Field.  The hefty hurler went 6.1 innings and struck out nine batters.

Reports continue to swirl that the Yankees are still interested in Jimenez, but there hasn't been any official comment from management. Girardi seems content on keeping things as they are.

"This is what we have and we've gotten to this point because of them," he said.  "There's no reason that can't continue."

Well, many fans will dispute that sentiment and the Yankees reportedly have scouts buying more Rockies tickets than usual.

The reasons to add a player like Jimenez, who has 50 wins over his last three years and has over 33 starts in each of his three full seasons.  He had 214 strikeouts last season-- third in the NL-- and the durable pitcher who has thrown 845 innings without any real troubles.  Jimenez has only been on the DL once in his career for a broken fingernail.  The Yankees have to like the thought of getting a pitcher without shoulder, elbow or "dead arm" problems.

Jimenez could come cheap in contract but steep in trade.  He is making $2.8 million this year, $4.2 mil next season and an option of $5.75 in 2013.  Compare that to the $33 million the Yankees will be shelling out for A.J. Burnett over the next two years.

In exchange, the Rockies will probably want Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Jesus Montero--three of the Yankees top prospects.

Jimenez's bi-polar 2010 season has to be on the Yankees mind after he started 15-1, then sludged through the second half of the season.  He is 6-3 with a 2.61 ERA in his last 10 starts.

The Yankees could wait until the end of the season to get Jimenez and hang on to their prospects, much like they did with Sabathia in 2008, when they held on to Hughes and got the big pitcher they wanted anyway.

The questions now are if Hughes is back to form and  if Colon and Garcia can keep it up for another two-and-a-half months.

They will each get at least another start before the July 31 trade deadline--one more chance to show the Yankees the first half of their seasons weren't a fluke and the team can hang on to their prospects for the future.

Reggie Bush Dating Kim Kardashian Lookalike According to Kim K Lawsuit

It looks like Reggie Bush has a type; even if former-girlfriend Kim Kardashian and her lawyer may be the only ones who think so.

According to the New York Daily News, Bush, who split with Kardashian last year, is rumored to be dating Melissa Molinaro, an actress who is at the center of a lawsuit filed against Old Navy by Kim K.

The suit claims Molinaro looks too much like the reality TV star in the clothing store's ad campaign.  Bush's new squeeze is accused by Kardashian's attorney of mimicking Kim K in the television ads which ran last winter.

Even if most people didn't see the immediate resemblance, Bush--the former USC and current NFL player-- must have.  Molinaro is said to be dating Kardashian's ex.

Kardashian, who claims her sultry looks are a famous brand, filed suit yesterday against the clothing giant Old Navy who used the buxom Molinaro in the advertisements last February.

Yesterday, Gary Hecker, an attorney for Kardashian, filed suit in a U.S. District court against Old Navy for compensatory and punitive damages for "unauthorized use of Kardashian's name, identity and likeness."

"We're seeking damages according to proof," said Hecker. "Kim Kardashian is immediately recognizable and known for her look and style.  Her identity and persona are valuable.  When her intellectual property rights are violated, she intends to enforce them."

The sexy actress said the comparisons to Kim K started after the ad first aired.  In the spots she is seen dancing and lip-synching.  The ad has attracted more than 2 million views on YouTube.

For those wondering why Kardashian waited so long to file the suit over the clone and if it is some sort of  jab at her ex, the newly-engaged Kim K said," I worked hard to support the products I'm personally involved with and that I believe in."  She just recently signed a deal with Sears.

If you think all curvy, full-bottomed, pouting brunettes look like Kim Kardashian, she might have a case.  Apparently Reggie Bush likes the look.

Old Navy has not commented.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Jenn Sterger Will Be Bowling For Dollars On Spike TV

Former New York Jets game-day/sideline reporter/hostess, Jenn Sterger, is close to getting another television gig once again.  According to the New York Post, Sterger recently filmed a pilot for Spike TV called "Spike's Spare Time," a show where Sterger will interview celebrities while bowling.

Hopefully, the only balls that she will see now weigh 14 pounds and have three holes in them.

Stergen is hoping to put the whole Brett Favre texting mess behind her and get on with her career after a short stint hosting a show on Versus.

She told the Post, "It's [bowling] probably the one sport I'm pretty awesome at."

"I've bowled since I was six," said Sterger.  "I was in all of the youth leagues and a bunch of traveling leagues in Florida."  She claims her average was 189, with an all-time high game of 289.

Sterger also said life has been easier and work is now more attainable since the story of the Favre drama broke last year.

Favre, the former Jets quarterback, was accused of texting photos of his private parts to the sexy brunette.  It was followed by a controversial interview questioning her accountability on ABC television.

"I'm in such a better place," she said.  She hopes her new show puts those rumors to rest that ABC got the interview in exchange for finding her a job.  Sterger claims the allegations were all false.

"Do you see me having a show at ABC?" she asked.  "Nope, not at all."

Hope Solo and Abby Wambach Do Stupid Soccer Tricks on Letterman Show

Hope Solo and Abby Wambach, two members of the silver medalist US Women's World Cup soccer team, appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and took shots at four moving taxi cabs outside the Ed Sullivan Theatre in New York City yesterday.  Solo, a goaltender, finally put a ball right through the sliding door; while Wambach's kicks sailed wide or bounced off the taxis.

Maybe the US goalie should have taken one of the penalty kicks during the championship game loss to Japan on Sunday?


video

The losing American team is still getting a rousing welcome home after being upset by Japan.   They were greeted at the airport by fans when they arrived back in the United States and Letterman was one of the first stops for the two stars of the team.  You would have thought they won the whole enchilada.

Solo and Wambach, seated on a couch next to Letterman's desk, looked nervous and demure--a stark contrast to their individual on-field persona.

Letterman opened the interview with the obvious. "Tough loss," the gap-toothed host said.  Both players shook their heads before he lobbed this bon mot," It looked like you were all over those people, the Japanese."

Solo said she received a "good luck" email right before the game from a friend--and one of the opposing Japanese players-- and responded by emailing back; "Whatever happens, happens."  Letterman then joked, " You should have said 'Would it have killed you to lay down.'"

Letterman finally admitted," I know nothing about the game," but never asked the question everyone wanted to know: Do you think you choked?

Solo did answer that question in an interview on ESPN.  It sounded like an apologetic "No."  Then she added, "Only if you truly don't know the game."

video

While the US team licks their wounded egos, the same darlings of the media are still getting the star treatment for coming in second.

This week's cover of Sports Illustrated will feature a photo of Solo with the headline;  "HEART AND HEARTACHE- Japan Shocks the US..."

Shouldn't Japan's veteran leader, Homare Sawa, be gracing the SI cover for winning the World Cup?

Amazingly, the US women's team gets the winner's treatment.  I didn't see a photo of LeBron James on the cover of SI for being upset by the Dallas Mavericks or the brooding faces of the men's 2004 Olympic basketball team who came home with bronze.

The US appearance in the World Cup may have drawn more fans to the sport of women's soccer, but give the winner's their due.

Japan's upset could cost the most recognizable faces of the US team-- Solo and Wambach-- millions of dollars in endorsements said Bob Dorfman.

Dorfman, who rates endorsement potential of athletes as Creative Director of Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco, thinks the deals could dry up fast.

"I heard there were some marketers who were planning on using them-- but decided not to because of the loss," said Dorfman.  "Everyone likes a winner."

Rumors that GoDaddy.com had it's sights on goalie Solo joining Danica Patrick in their racy ads, but after the loss they backed off. 

GoDaddy.com spokesman Nick Fuller said," At this point in time, GoDaddy.com is not pursuing a sponsorship deal with Hope Solo."

Getting attention and attracting new fans to the sport are still viable assets for the two break-out female stars claims Dorfman.

They can still work in the "glamor" areas like Patrick and Maria Sharapova do, he said.

While it lasts, Solo and the rest of the team should enjoy all the adulation the USA can throw at them; for if they played for North Korea, chances are, they would probably be serving some sort of penance on a work farm.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yankees Taunt Rays' Mascot During Lightning Delay; Then Win

Last night, while the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays game was delayed due to a lightning strike which knocked out a bank of lights in Tropicana Field, the Yankees dugout had fun playing keep away with the Rays mascot, Raymond.

Right after a bolt of lightning zapped the domed stadium, with Robinson Cano holding a full-count at the plate, Yankees manager Joe Girardi told officials he wouldn't continue play until the field was fully illuminated.  That's when Raymond went to the Yankees side to play catch.

The Yankees own unofficial mascot, Bartolo Colon, led the heckling during the 18 minute delay before his team eventually went on to defeat the home team 5-4 after the Rays walked in the winning run.
video

Colon, the cuddly 260-pound pitcher, wouldn't play catch with Raymond during the fifth-inning delay until finally giving in to the fuzzy mascot.

Raymond, who has been punched out by a Baltimore Oriole player, tackled by a fan and out danced by a Cardinal mascot tossed the ball back to Yankees centerfielder Curtis Granderson, who also refused to give it back.  Raymond just left in a huff.  His team should have followed.

The Rays pounced on A.J. Burnett--pitching on eight days rest-- early and scored three runs in the first inning.  Burnett looked like his old inconsistent self.  The Rays held  a 4-2 lead until the Yankees tied it up in the eighth.

Rays starter Alex Cobb held the Yankees to three hits and two runs through six but the depleted Rays team was coming off a 16-inning loss to the Red Sox late last night and it seemed only a matter of time before the Yankees could shred through the taxed Tampa Bay bullpen.

In the top of the ninth Rays manager Joe Maddon went to his only remaining reliever, rookie Alex Torres--who was called up earlier in the day.  Torres immediately gave up a lead off single to Granderson who stole second.  Mark Teixeira struck out then a grounder by Robinson Cano moved Granderson to third.

Next, Maddon had Torres intentionally walk Nick Swisher before walking Andruw Jones to load the bases.  A 3-2 ball to Russell Martin walked in the go-ahead run.

Hector Noesi and Mariano Rivera pitched 3 2/3 innings of scoreless relief to keep Burnett from getting a loss.

Later Girardi commented about the power outage and his discussion with the umpires. " They asked me if we wanted to continue to play through it or not," said the skipper.  "I said, 'No, I don't.'  It was a big time in the game, and I want all the lights all on in that situation."

Torres wasn't exactly lights out in his first major league outing and it looks like he took the lightning express back to the minors.

Tweet Victory For US Women's Soccer Team On Sunday

The US Women's soccer team may have lost to Japan in Sunday's Women's World Cup Championship match up but, after being upset, they were a part of a record for the number of tweets sent after the game.  The story-book ending for Japan was tweeted about more than any other event in history.

The wild finish to Japan's penalty kick victory over the Americans in the championship game help set the record of a staggering 7,196 TPS-- that's tweets per second-- according to Twitter.

To put it into perspective, Osama Bin Laden's death topped out at 5,100 TPS.

The previous record of 6,939 TPS was set just after midnight on New Year's Day 2011 in Japan.  Coincidentally, after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Twitter reported 5,530 twitters per second.  Japan used the disaster as inspiration during their unbelievable title run.

For all the geeks keeping score, here's how the Women's World Cup TPS record stacks up against the men's.  Last year's men's World Cup opener between host country South Africa and Japan --  I'm seeing a trend-- boasted only 3,282 TPS at it's peak.

Other notable big-tweet days include the Green Bay Packers victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV which hit the 4,096 TPS mark and the Royal Wedding with William and Kate which scored a commoner-like 3,966 tweets per second.

The US/Japan record was almost topped on the same day after the Copa America quarterfinal match up between Paraguay and Brazil came in at 7,166 TPS.

Before the Women's World Cup Final, even President Obama tweeted the US squad to wish them well: "I'm thinking:  Score a goal, be a leader, let's get this done."

The President may the only person in the world who still uses proper English in his tweets.

According to Twitter, it handles over 200 million tweets a day and has over 200 million registered accounts.  Some claim that total is more like 300 million.

One trend I'm noticing about tweeters is they tend to be Japanese and are partial to soccer.

No matter how annoying tweeters pecking away are, they still aren't as bad as vuvuzelas.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Japan Upsets United States in World Cup Final and Brings Hope Back Home

In what everyone is calling the greatest Women's World Cup Final in history and one of the biggest upsets in team sports, the long-shot Japanese women's soccer team defeated the highly-favored United States in penalty kicks to take home the world title in Frankfurt, Germany yesterday.

Japan, the little engine that could, overcame long odds to make it to the finals but used a steady passing game, tough defense and unyeilding tenacity to come from behind and defeat the stronger and bigger U.S. squad.
video


Even U.S. fans could not begrudge Japan of it's hard-earned win.

The Japanese were playing for a country devastated by an earthquake and tsunami which wiped out huge portions of northern Japan on March 11 and left over 23,000 people dead or missing.  The victory brings optimism to a country still filled with heartbreak and destruction.

The drama was set even before the teams took the field.

Nobody gave Japan a chance to win-- not even a puncher's one.

Japan had never beaten the U.S. in 25 previous matches and lost three games against this same team earlier this spring. They were the second smallest team in the tournament and, because of the earthquake and tsunami, had limited time to practice together leading up to the World Cup.

The highly entertaining game had everything soccer fans want to see.  For once the game lived up to the hype. 

There was the David vs. Goliath angle-- literally-- and enough action and close calls to keep even the most cynical soccer fan on their feet.
video


After a scoreless first half, Japan was robbed of a high percentage shot after a referee wrongly called a Japanese break away off-sides early in the second period.  The U.S. took advantage of the missed call and scored the first goal in the 69th minute after Megan Rapinoe lofted the ball to 22 year-old Alex Morgan.  It seemed the U.S. had destiny in their hands.  The shouts of U-S-A! U.S.A. began to fill the Frankfurt stadium and bars around America.

Japan accelerated their finesse game by bringing in extra scorers and, in the 81st minute, it paid off.   Aya Miyana intercepted a lazy Alex Kreiger pass in the U.S. penalty area and looped the ball over U.S. goalie, Hope Solo's outstretched arms.  Tie game with momentum on Japan's side.

The U.S. continue to take-- and miss--  shots at the Japanese goalie.  On the day the Americans out-shot Japan 27-14, but had too many kicks hit the post or sail over the net.

At the end of regulation, the game was tied at 1-1 and both teams prepared for the 30-minute overtime session.  Now, no 'Golden Goals' could save either team.  It was thirty minutes of play.

As the Japanese team huddled before the extra period, their coach, Norio Sasaki,  could be seen smiling while encouraging his players.  They looked looser than the U.S. team.

That smile was wiped away in the 14th minute of overtime when Abby Wambach once again used a header to score a go-ahead goal.  This was the third time in this World Cup, the towering Wambach's head put the U.S. into the lead.  This time it looked like the team would take the 2-1 lead to a world title.

Wambach was now looking at endorsement deals from every shampoo, hat and hair dye company if the Americans could milk the clock for another sixteen minutes.

Amazingly, a minute later, Homare Sawa-- in her fifth World Cup for Japan-- made an awkward, off-balance shot past Solo to tie the game.

Now both teams were headed to the dreaded and nerve-wracking penalty kick phase.

The U.S. missed their first two penalty kicks and Japan led 2-1; leaving just Saki Kumagi's kick to seal the victory for Japan's first world title.  Solo tried to psyche out the tiny Kumagi by flailing and stretching inside the goal.  It didn't work.  Japan wins 3-1 on penalty kicks.

It could be called the Miracle on Turf or Japan's Hope over America's Hope or whatever, but to the millions of Japanese, still reeling from the disaster, watching the victory in pre-dawn Japan, it was more than a soccer match.

It was pretty hard to root against Japan.  Their first victory against the U.S. was more important than soccer itself.  The inspiration the team brings back home will bring happiness to many who need something to cheer about and spur them on. 

At the end of the game, the Japanese women unfurled the banner they have held up after all their wins leading to World Cup title game.  It reads "To Our Friends Around the World- Thank You For Your Support."

Soccer should be thanking them.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Derek Jeter Is Most Popular Male Athlete Despite Recent Bad Publicity

Derek Jeter was voted the "Most Popular Male Athlete" according to a just-released Harris Poll.  The New York Yankees shortstop is perched at the top spot for the first time, replacing Kobe Bryant who held the title last year.

Jeter's rise from the No. 3 spot in 2010 to the No. 1 position wasn't influenced too much by his highly-publicized quest for his milestone 3,000th hit because the poll of 2,163 participants were contacted during the week of June 13-20, when Jeter was on the disabled list.

Peyton Manning moved up from No. 5 to the second spot.  The face of the NFL also endorses half a dozen prominent products and his mug is seen on plenty of TV commercials.  The Indianapolis Colts quarterback had a popular faux '70's movie trailer, co-starring his brother Eli, flooding the Internet about the same time of the poll.

Even the NFL lockout couldn't dim the ubiquitous football star's popularity.  He was the most popular athlete polled by Gen-X (ages 35-46).

Michael Jordan, whose final NBA game was eight years ago, still tied for third place with Los Angeles Laker Bryant.  Jordan was the most popular athlete from 1993-2005, when the title was handed over to golfer Tiger Woods.

Surprisingly,  Woods was the most popular this year with the "matures" (ages 66+) according to the Harris Group.  He was number one from 2006-2009.  Still, the shamed and slumping golfer had the biggest drop in the top-ten.

"As his playing woes continue, it is likely that his (Woods) fall will continue next year", said a Harris representative.

Even so, Woods marketing team has to be happy.

Bryant was the most popular among Hispanic and African-Americans in the Harris Poll.

Jeter was big among the Baby Boomers (ages 47-65) even though the The Captain has been in the news a lot lately-- and not for all the most popular reasons.

Jeter's quest for the 3,000 Hit Club was accomplished in grand style last week after he went 5-for-5 and bashed the historic hit into the centerfield stands.  The home run ball was caught by a fan, Christian Lopez, who was immediately whisked out of his seat by Yankees personnel, who--many believe-- overwhelmed the young man into turning the ball over to Jeter for a mere pittance.  Now Lopez is stuck with a whopping income tax bill to cover the season tickets he got as a reward.  Now,  even Yankees fans say that Jeter should foot the IRS bill in exchange for the ball.

After that controversy,  Jeter skipped out on the All-Star Game he was elected to; citing his recovery from a strained calf and preparing for the wear-and-tear of the second half of the season as his reasons.  Many fans didn't think he deserved to be in the Mid-summer Classic in the first place.  He spent the break in Miami with his girlfriend actress Minka Kelly.

Noticeably absent from the Top Ten is Lebron James.  King James "Decision" last summer seems to have turned off more than only Cleveland fans.  James was No. 6 last year.

Besides Woods, another bad boy made the list.  Hines Ward tied with Albert Pujols at the seventh position.  The Pittsburgh Steeler was arrested a couple of weeks ago--after the poll was taken-- for suspicion of DUI.  Ward's "Dancing With the Stars" victory probably pulled in a lot of the ladies' votes, but apparently not as many as Manning.  The QB was the most popular athlete among the women polled.

First timers to the Top Ten included Ward, Pujols, Derrick Rose and Aaron Rodgers.

The top three female athletes were at No. 1, tennis-star Serena Williams followed by her sister Venus and race car driver Danica Patrick.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mistrial Ruled In Roger Clemens Case; Could Get Off Due To Double-Jeopardy

U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton was not certain of a fair trial, in the case of former-major league baseball star Roger Clemens' perjury trial,  and ruled a mistrial on the second day of the case.  His ruling was handed down after prosecutors showed jurors inadmissible evidence against his orders.

Prosecutors claimed the problem could be corrected with instructions to the jury to "disregard the evidence."

Walton wasn't convinced of the prosecution's assurance and said, "We've got a man's liberty at interest."

The jurist followed that up by reasoning," I don't see how I can un-ring the bell."

Now the government's case could be "concluded" if they determine not to re-try the case or if Clemens' attorneys claim 'double-jeopardy."  The term refers to the law which prevents anyone from being tried again for the same crime.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Japanese Women's Soccer Team To Meet United States in World Cup Final

Japan defeated Sweden today, 3-1, and will be making it's first appearance in a World Cup Final.  They will meet the United States who, earlier, overwhelmed France late and won 3-1 on a rain-slicked field.

It's hard for the world to not root for the big underdogs from Japan, especially after the Japanese players once again unfurled a huge banner after the match that read, "To Our Friends Around the World;  Thank You For Your Support," which refers to the world-wide outpouring of aid after the the March 11 tsunami and earthquake that left 23,000 people dead or missing.

video

The U.S. team hopes to win their first World Cup title since 1999 when they defeated China.

The Japanese just want to bring hope home.

Derek Jeter Spends All-Star Break in South Beach With Minka Kelly

The 82nd All-Star Game is over and the New York Yankees first 3,000-hit Club member, Derek Jeter,  didn't make a surprise appearance at Chase Field as many had rumored.  Instead, Jeter skipped the mid-summer classic to rest his strained calf and relieve the pressure of getting the milestone hit with his long-time girlfriend Minka Kelly.

Jeter was spotted hanging out in Miami with the 31 year-old actress this week.  The couple was seen having lunch and cuddling in the trendy South Beach area, only a baseball toss away from where Kelly is filming the new "Charlie's Angels" television series.

What better way to relieve pressure than for Jeter to opt for snuggling with a Hollywood angel over facing the Los Angeles baseball kind like Jered Weaver.

Jeter hasn't made too many comments regarding his controversial snub of the All-Star Game, after getting his historic 3,000th hit,  but plenty of others have come to the elected All-Star's defense.

"I have no problem with Derek Jeter," said Commissioner Bud Selig, according to the New York Post.  "I've known him for 15 years; he's always done the right thing.  I completely understand the situation.  And to tell you the truth, I probably would have done the same thing myself."

Jeter's teammate, Curtis Granderson echoed the sentiment.

"We understand where he is coming from," said the All-Star centerfielder.  "The most important goal is for the team, to go ahead and be healthy for the later part of the season, which is obviously the most important, which is what the  fans want to see."

Jeter picked up his 3,000th hit with a dramatic home-run on Saturday and there was speculation the twelve-time All-Star would still make it to last night's celebration, even if it was only to throw out the first ball. 

Now we know the Yankees Captain instead headed to Florida for some love during the three day break.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Jeter's Good Guy Image Taking 3,000 Hits This Season

Things haven't been so great in the usually charmed life of Derek Jeter this season. Except for his magnificent Saturday afternoon love-fest which saw the beloved New Yankees Captain join the exclusive 3,000th hit club, it's been a pretty tough year for New York's favorite son.  Jeter seems like he has another hitting streak going on these days.  Only these whacks, on his personal and professional image, are putting a lot of chinks in the shortstop's armor.

The controversies have piled up fast and furious around Jeter since winter like never before.  Here's a blow-by-blow account.

Planking to the Oldies; Man Willingly Gets Planked By Richard Simmons

Richard Simmons, the 62 year-old fitness guru, is the latest celebrity to join in on the worldwide craze of "planking."  In a photo posted on Twitter by a student in one of his fitness classes, the exuberant promoter of "Sweating to the Oldies" is seen happily planking a man on a studio floor.


This isn't the first time Simmons has publicly planked.  He was recently videotaped doing the deed on a filthy Los Angeles sidewalk.  Simmons seems to enjoy his new role as planking ambassador even if his technique is a little off.  You arms should be at your sides.

"I'm planking," he shrieked.  "Then what do you do?"

Planking is the latest fad where a person lies on their stomach, stiff and expressionless with their arms at their side.  You do it in usually in unusual locations or situations.  While lying there, someone photographs the moment and posts it on the Internet.  There are thousands of web sites devoted to the "sport."

Justin Bieber is just one of the celebrities who is known to enjoy a good plank and Gordon Ramsey was spotted planking an airplane engine.  Some people probably wish it was a hot stove top.

The craze has been taken to extreme and dangerous levels.  Last month a man was killed in Brisbane, Australia after he fell six stories while planking on a hotel balcony.

The poor guy being planked by Simmons probably feels like dying after this photo hit the Internet.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Girardi: Jeter Will Be Leadoff Hitter...Probably

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he is sticking with Derek Jeter batting in the leadoff spot right now, but his endorsement didn't sound like it was etched in stone.

With the aftermath of the Derek Jeter 3,000th hit love fest over the weekend behind him, Girardi is getting back to the main task at hand, namely, keeping pace with the Boston Red Sox and juggling an injury-plagued lineup.
video

There was no way Girardi was going to take Jeter out of the leadoff spot with number 3,000 within his grasp at Yankee stadium,  but now Girardi has to make the practical decision about who will most benefit the team in the first spot of the Yankees lineup.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Jeter Fan Gives Historic Ball To Yankees Shortstop In Exchange For Season Tickets

The lucky fan who came out of the scrum in the left-centerfield seats clutching Derek Jeter's historic 3,000th hit has given the ball back to his favorite player in exchange for season tickets.

Christian Lopez, the young cell-phone salesman from up-state New York, came out of the scramble for the valuable home-run ball and held it high in the air.  Early estimates of it's value start at $250,000 and have gone as high as half a million dollars because it was a homer.

It's a moot point now, Lopez said he was happy to give the ball back to Jeter.

video
Lopez was contacted, in the stands, by Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner via phone call after the big catch and accepted his offer of four Champion Suite seats at Yankee Stadium for the rest of the season through the World Series and assorted signed bats and balls in exchange for the coveted ball.

The die-hard Yankees fan was also promised a chance to meet with his idol, Jeter.

"That would be really cool," said the soft-spoken Lopez.  "I just came here to watch history."

Now he is a part of it.

It's a sure bet that Jeter will up the reward for Lopez's unselfish act.

In a TV interview, Lopez said he was awed by the Yankee Stadium route he took to the broadcast booth.  When asked about his personal life, Lopez said he was a life-long Yankees fan who claimed he was "getting by."

Christian, you did a noble thing for a grateful player.  Now get ready for the interviews and attention.