Saturday, June 30, 2012

Derek Jeter gets hit by pitch in slo-mo

During Saturday afternoon's sweltering matinee in Yankee Stadium, Derek Jeter turned to avoid getting hit in the jewels by an inside pitch and— when replayed in slow-motion— it kind of looks like he was doing the Watusi or some other dance from the '60's.

Whether or not Jake Peavy's fifth-inning throw was intentional, Jeter just shook it a little more and took his base.

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The Chicago White Sox pitcher might have just been trying to cool off the Yankees' bats which were as hot as the 100° temperature on the field.  By the sixth-inning, three of the Yankees four runs were solo home runs off of the Chicago righty.

NFL Experience could join Super Bowl in New Jersey

New Jersey is already hosting the 2014 Super Bowl, but could also be home to the "NFL Experience," the interactive family attraction that has become a major draw during the Super Bowl festivities.

While Super Bowl XLVIII is being billed as a "New York Super Bowl," the fact remains that the game will be played in the $1.6 billion MetLife Stadium— comfortably situated in the swamps of Jersey.  Now, it looks like the  Garden State may take over most of the weeklong activities leading up to the big game.

It's sort of like the Tebow-Sanchez rivalry of states.

At a meeting of 250 business and community leaders Friday, Rich Petriccione, senior vice president of philanthropy and community relations for the Meadowlands Super Bowl Host Committee— whew, that's some title— said that the Javits Center in Manhattan originally was expected  to be home to the NFL Experience.


But Petriccione said the league later found out Javits was already booked for annual conventions in the weeks leading up to the Feb. 2,1014 Super Bowl game.






"So we're hoping to change the paradigm— maybe move the NFL Experience to New Jersey," he said at a luncheon in Hackensack.  "Or we could have the NFL Experience moving around, in Long Island in Westchester, in different boroughs [of NYC], and obviously different counties out there.  Stay tuned for that."


Petricionne said the group has looked at the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City— among other places.  Maybe they can finally get some use of that empty $3.7 million headache— formerly known as the Xanadu Mall— sitting right next to MetLife Stadium now.


At this year's Super Bowl in Indianapolis, the NFL Experience took up 500,000 square feet at the Indiana Convention Center and drew over a quarter million visitors— most who weren't even going to the game.


The league-sponsored event is a way for fans near the Super Bowl site to feel like a part of the game since most of the tickets go to NFL sponsors, media and insiders.



Dewayne Wise makes pitching debut after making 'The Catch'

Two New York Yankees pitchers made their major league mound debuts on Friday night and one got rocked pretty bad while the other one was perfect.

During the 14-7 beatdown by the Chicago White Sox at Yankee Stadium, Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, turned a laugher into a chuckle after he brought in outfielder Dewayne Wise to do some ninth-inning mopping up.

Wise added a little levity to a tough loss, retiring the two batters he faced to end the ninth inning after the White Sox had scored four runs to put it out of reach.  Rookie starter Adam Warren was a disaster— after blowing a four run lead in the second inning— during his first major league appearance.

Wise became infamous for making the non-catch the other night against the Cleveland Indians and duping umpire Mike DiMuro into calling Jack Hannahan's foul ball an out when the leftfielder clearly didn't catch the ball.

Do you think the home plate umpire's strike zone got a tiny bit smaller for Wise because of his controversial catch?  If it did, it didn't matter.

Wise came into pitch with one out in the ninth after being given "five or six throws" to warm up by Girardi— who probably ended up with his best pitching decision of the night by bringing in the gimmick pitcher.



The former White Sox player said his only regret was not throwing heat by his old teammate A.J. Pierzynski.

"Out of all the people on that team, I wish it would have been A.J. that I faced ," Wise said.  "I would have loved to try and strike him out."

Wise— a left-handed side-armer who has an 82 mph two-seam fastball— did manage to get out power hitters Paul Konerko and Alex Rios on a fly and ground out, respectively.

"I was very nervous," said Wise.  "I haven't pitched since my sophomore year in high school, so I was nervous, especially when [Rios] came up.

"For some reason I just thought that he was gonna hit the ball back at me. I just tried to not throw too hard, hopefully they'd be out front and get them out."



Girardi's gag move wasn't lost on Wise— the first-year Yankee.

"We got our butts kicked tonight," he said.  "It's just one game.  I came in and everybody kind of laughed about it, so we just gotta move on and get ready for tomorrow.'

Friday, June 29, 2012

Drew Brees gets behind the wheel of a New York City yellow cab

Drew Brees got behind the wheel of a New York City taxi cab and picked up unsuspecting passengers around Manhattan to help raise awareness about head-related injuries.

In a video titled "Who Dat Cabbie" posted on YouTube, the New Orleans Saints quarterback drives your typical yellow cab adorned with a gold number nine (his jersey number) hanging from the mirror, a Drew Brees bobblehead on the dash and a hack license on the bulletproof partition (Hey, it's still New York) with the driver ID number 5,476 (the NFL single-season yardage record he holds).  The expiration date on the license reads 'never.'

Six different passengers get into the cab and at first, fail to recognize the Super Bowl MVP.  As Brees cruises around the streets of Manhattan, pedestrians spot him and yell things at the familiar-looking cabbie like "Who dat?" and "Hey, it's Drew Brees" before each of the surprised fares catch on.



One female passenger asks Brees, "Why are you driving a cab?"  To which he replies," Just for fun, it gives me something to do, keeps my reaction time quick."

Brees teamed up with Dick's Sporting Goods to inform people of the dangers of concussions in sports.

During the ride, the six-time Pro-Bowler quizzes the passengers about sports injuries while getting the questions from his armband like he does in the huddle.

All the passengers got prizes at the end of the ride and— more important to Brees— an education on the seriousness of head trauma.

For tourists, the sight of Drew Brees as a hack is a shock, but real New Yorkers were probably more shocked that they actually got a cab that didn't smell or a driver that wasn't yakking on his phone.

Deron Williams and Jason Kidd tweet about teaming up

Deron Williams will become a free agent as of 12:01 a.m. Sunday and speculation where the Nets' valued  point guard will play next season are in full swing— especially on a Long Island golf course.

Yesterday, Williams shot a round of golf with Dallas Mavericks point guard Jason Kidd and he had a lot of fun messing with his fans on Twitter by tweeting a photo of them in a golf cart and saying:

"Just finished playing East Hampton Golf Club w/ @RealJasonKidd let the speculation begin?????"

Kidd— who has played for the Mavericks since being traded by the Nets in 2008— has openly expressed that he wouldn't mind backing up Williams in either Brooklyn or Dallas.

Then Kidd took the two star players' plans to another level by tweeting this reply:

"Since you won, we're going to ..." before later deleting the tweet.



The Nets are the favorites to re-sign Williams and have promised their marquee player they would surround him with more talent next season.  But Williams was raised outside Dallas and there has been a lot of talk about him returning to his hometown and a playoff caliber team.

Mavericks' guard Delonte West, last week, even reached out to Williams by tweeting how great it was playing alongside Dirk Nowitzki.

Stay tuned for the Kidd and the who will he play for show.


Trevor Bauer's unique stretching routine doesn't prevent groin pull in debut

Trevor Bauer strained his groin in his major league debut and had to leave after pitching the first four innings.

It's hard to understand how the Arizona Diamondbacks rookie— and No. 3 overall draft in 2011—  could pull anything after watching his pre -game stretching ritual.

Bauer— who was called up from Triple-A Reno earlier in the day— did all kinds of stretches, yoga poses and foul pole-to-foul pole tosses before the game and even had the catcher move back from the plate so he could let his warm-up pitches really fly.

After Bauer threw his first major league pitch, the excited 21-year old retrieved the ball as a keepsake but tossed it into the Atlanta Braves dugout by mistake.

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Fortunately for Bauer, Chris Young hit a tie breaking homer in the ninth inning, giving Arizona a 3-2 victory over Atlanta.



The former-UCLA star allowed five hits, three walks, and struck out three batters in four innings.  Bauer threw 42 of his 74 pitches for strikes.

Next time Bauer does his pre-game warmups, he should work those inner thigh muscles just a little more.

California man faces prison time for fake Babe Ruth glove

A California man faces 21 months in prison for trying to sell an antique baseball mitt for $200,000 by falsely claiming it once belonged to Babe Ruth.

Irving Schieb pleaded guilty to wire fraud after he got caught lying about the glove's history over the phone to an undercover investigator in the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office.


Call it the Ruse of the Bambino.






According to officials, Scheib bought the 19th century baseball glove on eBay for $750 before trying to pass it off as the Babe's.


Although the glove had no connection to Ruth, Schieb tried re-selling the tattered glove through a Nevada sports memorabilia dealer, saying it was a family heirloom that Ruth gave to the late "Father Knows Best" actor Robert Young— whose granddaughter is Scheib's wife.


It turns out the dealer knew best after Schieb claimed that the Sultan of Swat "was so affectionate towards this glove that he slept with it under his pillow at the orphanage" as a child.


Nice story but, like Rick Harrison of "Pawn Stars" always says, "Do you have proof of provenance?"


After the dealer arranged a sale, the unidentified buyer asked Schieb to notarize one of the letters proving the glove's authenticity. Schieb refused and the deal fell apart and the fed's sting was set in motion.


Sentencing is set for Oct. 30.  

Kid catches foul ball in tub of popcorn

A young fan sitting behind home plate used his extra-large size tub of popcorn to snag a pop-up foul ball at last night's Padres-Astros game in Houston.

The kid— wearing what looks like a Los Angeles Dodgers cap— looked like a major-leaguer after making the difficult turnaround catch.

Now he has a hot-buttered souvenir.


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Speaking of little guys making big plays, Alexi Amarista— all 5-foot-7 inches of him— hit a ninth-inning grand to cap off a six-run rally as San Diego came from behind to beat Houston, 7-3.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Beckham fails to make British Olympic team

While thousands of athletes are preparing for the upcoming Summer Games in London, one prominent sports star's Olympic dream has already ended.  David Beckham— the former England soccer team captain— has been left off Great Britain's Olympic soccer team, basically, because he is too old.

One of the most recognizable sports stars in the world, and a key player in London's winning bid for the Olympics, Beckham failed to make the 18-man squad.

Becks was on the short-list of 35 for the coveted spot but he was not selected as one of three 'over-23' players.  The team only allows space for three players over the age of 23.  The Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder is 37.



"Everyone knows how much playing for my country has always meant to me, so I would have been honored to have been a part of this unique Team GB squad," Beckham said in a statement Thursday.  "Naturally, I am very disappointed, but there will be no bigger supporter of the team than me and, like everyone else, I am hoping they can win the gold."

The Olympic snub could spell the end of Beckham representing his country after playing in 115 games for England.

The popular soccer star is still a favorite to light the torch at the opening ceremony in London.

Jersey kid with Dewayne Wise 'caught' ball says it wasn't a catch

The person who ended up with New York Yankee Dewayne Wise's infamous "caught" fly ball Tuesday night wasn't the guy who grabbed it or even the guy who tried to stuff the loose ball back into the leftfielder's glove— it was a seven-year old kid from New Jersey.

Little Ben Pikor ended up going home with the ball that umpire Mike DiMuro didn't look for and that Wise never sufficiently caught in his glove.

"I thought I was in a dream," the little Yankees fan told the New York Daily News.  "But I think the umpire made a bad call."



Ben was sitting with his mom, Anne Marie, along the third-base line at Yankee Stadium when the Cleveland Indians' Jack Hannahan popped a ball in their direction.  After Wise tumbled into the seats for the wayward ball, a mad scrum broke out and one fan, Vinnie Pellegrino, picked the ball from the floor and handed it to his pal Sal Azzariti— who tried to sneak it back into Wise's glove.

After the two adults tried to help the unsuspecting Wise with the great foul ball hoax, they slipped the incriminating evidence [the ball] to the kid.

DiMuro said the ball was caught, killing any chance of an Indians seventh-inning rally in a game the Yankees ended up winning, 6-4.

Ben's mom said, "It happend so quickly and the security guards were right there.  Dewayne tumbled into the seats and everyone was looking around, 'Where's the ball?  Where's the ball?,'  Vinnie had picked up the ball and was holding it above his head.  But the umpire comes over and yells, 'Out!.'"



It's a good thing for Yankees fans little Ben wasn't the ump.

"It was a fly ball in foul territory, coming toward us.  My cousin [Emily] was trying to catch it," said Pikor, a Little Leaguer.  "We didn't notice that Dewayne Wise was so close to us.  He just dove right into the stands.  It hit off the heel of his glove.  He didn't even catch it."

Out of the mouth of babes... even if they're Yankees fans.

VIDEO OF CATCH

Amazing hole-in-one-shot into moving car

A video of a golfer teeing off a ball and landing into the bucket seat of a moving car 300 yards away just set a new Guinness record for Farthest Golf Shot  to be Caught in a Moving Car.  Really?


The idea might seem pretty farfetched, but the video is pretty unbelievable.

English pro-golfer Jake Sheperd launched the tee shot down a New Zealand airstrip into ex-Formula One race car driver David Coulthard's speeding Mercedes— traveling at over 120 mph— for the hole-in-one and new record.

 Put it all together— 300 yards away, car going 120 mph and the ball travelling at 178 mph. One of these guys was paying attention in their high school physics class.



The feat, known as "The Catch," was confirmed by the fine people at Guinness— even though it took more than one attempt.

The golf ball reportedly smashed a windshield on the $200,000 Mercedes SLS Roadster during one try.

It looks like these people have a lot of time and money on their hands.

1-in-5 women would cheat with Tim Tebow says poll

If Tim Tebow has a hard time getting playing time with the New York Jets this season, he won't have any problem seeing some action off the field— even if he has to pull a quarterback sneak.

AshleyMadison.com— the infidelity matchmaking site— polled 13,500 women and asked them which athletes would make them stray from their husbands and 1-in-5 listed the virginal football player.

Since the ultra-religious Tebow is saving his cherry for marriage, that makes the odds of playing the field with the quarterback in Biblical sense at about one-in-one million.



The salacious website— which once offered $1 million to prove Tebow was really not a virgin— said Tebow got 19.6% of the votes but was still far behind the most desired fling— David Beckham.  The British soccer star could reportedly get it on with 43.1% of the philandering ladies.

Tebow may be happy to know he did beat out his Jets counterpart Mark Sanchez and New England rival Tom Brady.  Giants Super Bowl MVP— and late night comedy show host— Eli Manning got 8.5% of the wives hot and bothered.

Other big name boy toys the ladies would take to the Notell Motel include the newly-single Derek Jeter (16.5%), Alex Rodriguez (13.2%) and that old horndog himself, Tiger Woods, who came in at 15th place with 6.1%.

Even being married to a Kardashian did nothing to keep the ladies from lusting after the sullied  Kris Humphries.  The Brooklyn Nets forward still got 3.3% of the votes— fifth among all NBA players.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Pettitte takes line-drive to ankle, leaves game

Andy Pettitte took a comeback line-drive to his left ankle in the fifth-inning against the Cleveland Indians and had to leave the game.  Indians Casey Kotchman's hard shot nailed Pettitte just above his left ankle and knocked him to the ground during Wednesday's game at Yankee Stadium .  The New York Yankees pitcher looked like he was in a lot of pain and couldn't even chase down the ricocheted ball.

Pettitte— who had a 2-1 lead and gave up only two hits— tried to stay in the game but, after one pitch, manager Joe Girardi pulled him from the game when he didn't like how Pettitte was coddling his planting foot.

Only two weeks ago, the leftie took a hard shot to his throwing hand when he tried to barehand another hard hit line drive.

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The popular Yankee starter just came off his worst start of his 2012 comeback season, when he allowed five first-inning runs against the New York Mets last Friday night.  Pettitte (3-3, 3.29 ERA) has lasted at least six innings in all eight of his starts this season.

After being checked out by the Yankees trainers, Pettitte sat in the dugout with a frustrated look on his face. It seems like he's been used as target practice and dodging balls all season.

Better to be safe than sorry.

CC Sabathia headed to disabled list

CC Sabathia is headed to the disabled list after the New York Yankees starting pitcher underwent an MRI which revealed a Grade 1 strain of the abductor (groin).

Sabathia (9-3, 3.45 ERA, 107 strikeouts) did not tell the team until after his bullpen session on Tuesday.  The lefthander will miss two starts and will return for the All-Star break.  Freddy Garcia will be sprung from the bullpen and replace CC.  Garcia start this Friday against the Chicago White Sox.



"He didn't want to go on [the DL] but he understands it's the best thing to do,"said manager Joe Girardi.  "Missing two starts is better than seven or eight."

D.J. Mitchell is the likely candidate to be called up, but general manager Brian Cashman said that is not definite.


Shaq predicts Super Bowl for Tebow-Sanchez tandem

If you ask Shaquille O'Neal, all that talk about Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez not coexisting peacefully together is a load of bunk.  In fact, Shaq is is so confident that the two competing quarterbacks can get along,  the former NBA star thinks there is a New York Jets Super Bowl appearance in their future together.

Just think peas-in-a-pod or Kobe and Shaq.

After squeezing Tebow's muscles and coming away pretty impressed, on Tuesday,  Shaq tweeted his prediction with a photo: "jets fans this man has been working out.  Look at those arms.  With him and Sanchez u heard it here first Super Bowl."



Shaq may like Tebow's guns, but is there enough firepower between these two players to take the the Jets to the next level?  The genie from "Kazaam" thinks so.



Jersey kid ended up with ball after blown call on Wise play

Dewayne Wise didn't even have the ball in his possession after the Yankees left fielder leaped into the stands and umpire Mike DiMuro called Indians Jack Hannahan's pop fly an out.  DiMuro never even asked to see the ball in Wise's glove and he wouldn't have because it was in the hands of loyal Yankee fan Sal Azzariti— who tried to stick the ball back into Wise's glove before the left fielder lifted himself back onto the field.

The transfer was never completed and Wise just jogged off the field— sans baseball— next to Curtis Granderson, confessing that the "catch" was an act of unintentional pantomime.

"[DiMuro] said, 'Out,' right away," said Wise.  "So what was I supposed to do?  Run back to left field?"



While Wise dove into the seats for Indians Hannahan's foul ball, Vinnie Pellegrino of West Islip, N.Y. (in red shirt on left with arm visibly raised with ball!), picked up the wayward white sphere from the cement floor of the stands and handed it to his buddy Azzariti— who then tried getting an assist on the play.



"I couldn't do it," Azzariti told the New York Daily News. "But when the ump called him out I just put the ball behind my back.  And then I gave it to this boy behind me."

The boy, 7-year old Ben Pikor from Denville, N.J., is now the proud owner of the infamous ball.  While this souvineer doesn't have the significance of Derek Jeter's home run ball 12-year old Jeffrey Maier snagged in the 1996 ALCS, it is still another footnote in Yankees history.

At the end of the game— after the Yankees won, 6-4, and Hannahan was tossed for arguing the call— all Yankees manager Joe Girardi had to say about DiMuro was, "Nobody's perfect."

Umps blow call on Yankees catch but did fan try putting ball in fielder's glove?

Derek Jeter was celebrating his 38th birthday but it was left fielder Dewayne Wise who might have gotten the best gift of all last night after the New York Yankees beat the Cleveland Indians, 6-4, in the Bronx.

Wise dove into the leftfield stands for a fly ball hit by the Indians' Jack Hannahan with a man on third during the seventh inning.  The umpires ruled a catch on the play for the final out of the inning but replays clearly show the ball falling out of Wise's mitt even though he mysteriously came up with the ball.

Upon closer examination of the play, it looks like one of the fans Wise plowed into could have— I said could have— popped the loose ball into his glove during the scrum even though a few of New York's Finest were right there.

That's hometown cooking.  Wise even got a police escort out of the stands as well.

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Yankees starter Phil Hughes went eight shutout innings and benefited from the botched call and the Indians big chance at a rally.

Some Yankees fans might say Wise deserved credit for the catch based on effort alone. Apparently, Hannahan wasn't one of those and he was thrown out after getting into a heated argument with the umpires about the call.

The run ended up being more important later after reliever Corey Wade nearly coughed up the 4-0 lead when Cleveland rallied in the ninth.

Meanwhile, Jeter continued his climb up the all-time hits list and moved within one hit of his idol Cal Ripken Jr. for 13th on the list.



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Amare Stoudemire fined $50,000 for Twitter slur

New York Knicks star forward Amare Stoudemire has been fined $50,000 for what the league described as "offensive and derogatory language" in a Twitter message, NBA disciplinarian Stu Jackson announced Tuesday.

Last week— in a direct message that was not seen by the public— Stoudemire responded to a fan with a gay slur after the fan tweeted that the forward needed to step up and "make up for this past season."

The fan, (at) BFerrelli, tweeted his comment on Saturday and received  a direct message containing an expletive and the gay slur from a Twitter account which was later identified as Stoudemire's.



Direct messages are private and can only be seen by the two parties but this one was handed over to a website and made public.

Stoudemire later apologized in another direct message to the fan.

The Knicks forward was plagued by troubles all last season beginning with the unfortunate death of his  brother in a car accident and  getting hand surgery after smashing a fire extinguisher case after a Game 2 Playoff loss in Miami.




Brooklyn Nets surprise Deron Williams with giant Happy Birthday card

The Brooklyn Nets literally drove out of their way to convince free-agent-to-be Deron Williams to stay with the team— after it crosses the Hudson and East Rivers next season— by trucking over a giant Happy Birthday card and parking it outside his Manhattan apartment building.

It might be nice to show their All-Star point guard he is wanted in Brooklyn but— with Williams only a week from becoming a free agent— it reeks of desperation.

The Nets surprised Williams— who turned 28 on Tuesday— and his family by parking a flat-bed truck with a 8'x 16' mobile billboard outside the player's Soho home.  The truck was scheduled to be parked until Tuesday afternoon.

The sign read: "Happy Birthday Deron! From your Brooklyn family" below the Nets' new black and white logo.

And no, that wasn't Jay-Z behind the wheel.



Amy Williams saw the sign before her husband and tweeted a picture of the giant card next to the couple's young children.

"@deronwilliams this is parked in front of our house!" she tweeted.



The Nets are hoping Williams will re-sign with the team for the maximum 5-year deal.  But the Dallas-raised star has his hometown Mavericks believing they are the top threat to land him.

At least until July 1, the Nets can hope their billboard might help sway Williams decision.  I hope they realize there's alternate side of the street parking and it's a tow-away zone.


Chris Brown, Drake offered $1 million each to get into boxing ring

Tough guy rappers Drake and Chris Brown have been offered $1 million apiece to continue their unfinished, nightclub sparring session within the confines of a boxing ring.

The New York Daily News reports that celebrity boxing promoter Damon Feldman said billionaire soda bottling heir Aiki David has offered to back the fight and give another $1 million to charity if the two Rihanna rivals agree to put up their dukes.

"Obviously, they have a grudge.  It's just three 1-minute rounds.  No one will get seriously hurt," Feldman told the Daily News.



Feldman— who has promoted fights with D-list celebrities like Jose Canseco, Danny Bonaduce and Tonya Harding— said the pay-per-view event could be in Las Vegas or Los Angeles with a target date of Aug. 25.

The infamous, bottle-throwing brawl at a lower-Manhattan nightclub on June 14 left Brown, his girlfriend and six others injured from the melee.  San Antonio Spurs guard— and Brown's friend— Tony Parker has filed a $20 million lawsuit against the club, W.i.P., for damage to his left eye after getting hit by flying glass.

NYPD is still investigating claims that Drake taunted Brown and his posse with overtures related to his former girlfriend singer Rihanna— whom they both dated.

The Daily News said a Brown representative told them they had "never heard" about Feldman's offer.



Feldman said he'd like Rihanna to participate in the proposed grudge-match. The scrawny Brown was convicted of beating her up in 2009.

"I would love to have Rihanna as the ring girl," said Feldman.

That might be the best part of the whole fight.

Let's see— without bottles or bodyguards— I would make Drake a legitimate favorite.






Strahan calls Giants treatment of Umenyiora 'flat-out robbery'

Former-New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan found out what the team is paying his current protege Osi Umenyiora and thinks his friend is way "underpaid."

"To be honest with you, it's flat-out robbery," Strahan told The New York Post.

"If it were me, I would have sat at home and I wouldn't have played," said Strahan.  "That's just me.  I've threatened to do that in my time and I ended up getting what I wanted.  Osi's a different mindset than.  I'm probably a little more, 'I don't care what people think.'"

What Strahan seems to forget is that the last time he held out for more money, he piled up over $500,000 in fines and penalties.  When Strahan did return, he didn't get the increase in his $4 million salary.



Umenyiora was unhappy with the contract he signed in 2005 and— earlier this month— agreed to a restructuring that will pay him about $7 million this season— up from $3.975 million— before he becomes a free agent.

For Strahan to criticize a jump in pay like that is kind of funny— especially if Umenyiora seems content.

"For him, it works out, he's going to be fine, he's going to play well," Strahan added.  "If he played well under the previous situations of being unhappy to being somewhat happy now, I'm sure he'll do great."

Still, Strahan thinks his old teammate should have taken a harder stance with the Giants.

"He just didn't take advantage of it at the times when he should have," said Strahan.  "I think Osi has a good heart.  He expects for people to do as what he would do, you expect people to treat you the way you expect to be treated.  Sometimes in the game of business it doesn't work out that way and you have to understand it as a player sooner rather than later."

Umneyiora lost his starting job in 2011 to rising star Jason Pierre-Paul but still had 12 1/2 sacks in 13 games.

It sounds like Strahan might have an ulterior motive for for Umenyiora's bigger paycheck.

"I think he'll play well and I think next year, contract-wise, will be a big year for him and I can get a loan from him," he joked.

Only Strahan— one of the most popular Giants players ever— might get away with criticizing the organization after a touchy situation had already been settled.

Italian newspaper shows Mario Balotelli as King Kong atop Big Ben

Prior to Italy's Euro 2012 match with England, an Italian newspaper published a picture depicting Italy star Mario Balotelli— who is black— as King Kong swatting soccer balls while clutching the top of Big Ben.

There was concern by players competing in Euro 2012 that racism could be a problem with fans in Ukraine and Poland.  I bet Balotelli didn't expect the racial insensitivity to come from his own country.

On Sunday, La Gazzetta dello Sport published a photo-illustration of the star striker with an accompanying story about the upcoming match.  The intent of the cartoon seemed to be that Balotelli and the Italians would beat England, but the execution was done in slightly poor taste.



Balotelli was racially abused at the Euro 2012 opener after hundreds of Spain fans made monkey noises at the international soccer star.  He threatened to walk off if he was harassed at any other matches.  In Italy's group-play match against Croatia, fans directed racist chants towards Balotelli and threw a banana onto the pitch during play.  The Croatian Football Federation was fined 80,000 Euros ($106,000) for the fan's actions.

Before the tournament, Balotelli— who was born in Palermo, Sicily— but is of Ghanaian descent, had expressed concerns about racial tension in the two host countries.



"I cannot bear racism, it's unacceptable to me.  If it had happened again, I would straight away leave the pitch and go home.  We are in 2012.  It can't happen," said the 21-year old.

Italy advanced against England with a 4-2 shootout win after both teams failed to score in regulation and overtime.  Italy will meet Germany in the semifinals on Thursday.




Monday, June 25, 2012

Mets' chicken 'Little Jerry Seinfeld' sent down to farm

The New York Mets have retired "Little Jerry Seinfeld"— the chicken whose 15 minutes of fame has come to pass— and will send him from the big leagues down to the farm.

The clucking good luck charm will not end up as someone's feather duster or Josh Beckett's mid-game locker room snack after the bird was handed over at Citi Field to an upstate New York animal sanctuary by Mets pitcher Tim Byrdak— who bought the fowl as a prank on Friday night.

Little Jerry found himself a new home," said Byrdak before the bird was handed over to the Farm Sanctuary of Watkins Glen.  "He avoids the fryer and the oven and everything else you can cook a chicken with."



After the Mets mascot pooped on Byrdak, the lefthander joked, "Just think, you could have ended up on someone's dinner table."

Byrdak had a friend buy the $8 bird from a Chinatown market as a good luck charm after Mets closer Frank Francisco called the New York Yankees "chickens" before this weekend's Subway Series.  Little Jerry's usefulness lasted only one game before the Mets dropped the the final two games to their crosstown rivals.

It's probably a good thing LJ got taken away by the animal lovers so soon. Francisco said he was upset to see Little Jerry go.

"I was planning on making chicken-noodle soup," he said.

He could use it too— a lot of it.  The big closer injured his left oblique and was placed on the the 15-day disabled list.

Somewhere, somehow karma is involved in all this.




LeBron goes back on Twitter to thank fans

After a short hiatus, LeBron James is back on Twitter giving a shout out to his fans with a new video.  Wearing a pair of ubiquitous, faux glasses and a hat that says "Champions," the NBA Finals MVP thanked his fans and said, "As you can see, I am a champion."

King James— donning a T-shirt with an image of himself on it— said he was grateful to the fans who "stuck with me" and proclaimed that "I am back."

video

James has over 5 million Twitter followers— second most by an American athlete behind Shaquille O'Neal.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Jonathan Papelbon gives Jim Thome $5,000 for walk-off home run

Jim Thome slugged a walk-off home run Saturday against the Tampa Bay Rays and got a little bonus on the side.

After Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon blew his first save of the season, he told the Philadelphia Phillies slugger in the on-deck circle that he would pay him $5,000 for a home run.

Thome didn't let Papelbon or his bank account down with a pinch-hit homer off Rays pitcher Jake McGee to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning and give the Phillies a dramatic 7-6 victory.



The five-time All-Star also made history along with the 5 G's.  It Thome's 600th career dinger and his 13th game-winning home run— breaking a six-way tie with Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Stan Musial and Frank Robinson.

As for the payment, Papelbon said he made out a a check right there in the clubhouse. But Thome— one of the classiest guys in baseball— claims he is still waiting for his reward.

"That was a huge pick-up by Jim Thome," said Papelbon.  "I couldn't be happier for anybody in the clubhouse."

Mets' chicken goes from 'Jeter' to 'Seinfeld'

Mets reliever Tim Byrdak has changed the name of his clubhouse chicken from "Little Derek Jeter" to "Little Jerry Seinfeld."  The $8 hen— Byrdak had a friend pick up in Chinatown— was renamed in honor of the Mets-loving comedian.

The bird was smuggled into the Mets clubhouse after closer Frank Francisco called the Yankees "chickens" on Thursday.

"I told him [Francisco] the Yankees sent it over for him.  He had a look of concern," said Byrdak.

The name Jeter didn't last long — and the team decided to rename the feathered mascot.

"We're going to call him Little Jerry Seinfeld," said team prankster Byrdak— in a nod to the episode of "Seinfeld" which Kramer buys a what he thinks is an egg-laying hen but turns out to be a cockfighting rooster.

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Byrdak said he had a buddy buy the bird  from a poultry market in Chinatown and believes it helped the Mets win the first game of the Subway Series Friday night.



Last night, Little Jerry Seinfeld laid a big, fat egg and the Mets lost 4-3.  

The chicken's 15-minutes of fame might be coming to an end, but Byrdak won't let Little Jerry end up in a KFC bucket.

"Does anyone live on a farm that could take a chicken off my hands?" Byrdak tweeted last night.

For now, the feathered friend was in a cage in "a restricted area" of the clubhouse.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Supermodels have Twitter war over Ronaldo's gelled hair

Top models Bar Refaeli and Irina Shayk got into a Twitter catfight over soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo's over-gelled hair.  The Israeli stunner Refaeli insulted the super-slick hairdo of Shayk's boyfriend, Ronaldo, during Thursday night's game between his team, Portugal, and the Czech Republic.

Refaeli— who has been linked with wild-haired, snow-board super-star Shaun White— posted on Twitter: "The only thing I can think of when I watch Ronaldo is that hair gel should be outlawed!"



Shayk— who has been dating the soccer god for two years— took offense at the jab at her man's look. The Russian beauty tweeted back: "Being a hater is not a cute look. Learn to love."

The catfight was on. Although Refaeli backed off just a little, she still dissed Ronaldo for having the spiky disaster on his head.  She tweeted back to Shayk: "I love u and I love ur BF.  I just don't get hair gell."





Ronaldo's girl had the last laugh after her BF scored the only goal in Portugal's 1-0 victory.




Mets reliever Tim Byrdak brings live chicken into clubhouse

Did Mets reliever Tim Byrdak prank his followers on Twitter or did the pitcher with the aviary-sounding last name actually buy a live chicken and bring it into the team's clubhouse?

Video evidence proves the latter but it still hard to tell.

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After last night's 6-4 victory over the Yankees, Byrdak— the team jester— posted this message to 7,552 followers on his iPhone: "ok people I bought a chicken from China Town and now he is our mascot.....don't want to see him get whacked......please help!"



Well, that is a live chicken and it does appear to be the Mets clubhouse carpet so you can take it at face value.

After Frank Francisco called the Yankees "chickens" before the game and players did the Chicken Dance and played chicken-themed songs in his honor,  I guess the Mets' joker— who once dressed as Hulk Hogan— just might be crazy enough to bring a live farm animal into the locker room.

And the Chicken legend grows.




Jeremy Lin granted his 'early-Bird rights' but NBA will appeal

The Players Association won and so did the New York Knicks after Jeremy Lin and Steve Novak were granted their "early-Bird rights" by an arbitrator, giving the team more financial flexibility this summer.

Friday's ruling by arbitrator Kenneth Damm means that Lin— as well as Novak— will be able to re-sign with the Knicks without the confines of a salary cap. 

Within an hour of the ruling, the NBA issued a statement saying it would appeal.  If that goes over past July 1 free agency, it could create a delay in the Lin/Novak negotiations.  Union attorney Ron Klempner said he believes the appeal will be resolved by then, paving the way for Lin and Novak to have Bird rights by then.



Because the Knicks will not have to waste their $5 million mid-level exception to sign either of those players, the team can take that money to improve their roster in other ways (i.e. a veteran point guard).  Steve Nash leads the list of experienced point guards the Knicks have their eyes on but that looks like a long-shot— especially the way the organization bum-rushed Mike D'Antoni—Nash's friend and former coach in Phoenix— out of New York.

Point guards Jason Kidd, Jameer Nelson, Andre Miller and shooting guard Ray Allen could also fill the $3 million slot.

Had the arbitrator sided with the NBA, and neither player was granted his so-called early-Bird rights, the Knicks would have had to use their exception money on Lin and left them with little room to make other moves and Novak was as good as gone.

"Can't tell you how great it is to have my Bird rights preserved," tweeted Novak.  "A lot of hard work was put into making this happen."

For now, it looks like Linsanity is still at the Garden.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Curt Schilling lost entire fortune on collapse of video game company

Former major-league pitcher Curt Schilling said today that the collapse of his 38 Studios video company has probably cost him his entire baseball fortune.

In his first public comments since the company filed for bankruptcy protection on June 7, Schilling said during a 90-minute interview on WEEI-FM in Boston that he personally invested more than $50 million of his own money in the company and that he had to tell his family that "the money I saved during baseball was probably all gone."

The former Boston Red Sox World Series hero— famous for his bloodied sock— said he was "tapped out" and had nothing left to keep the company afloat.



Schilling placed part of the blame on Rhode Island officials, including Gov. Lincoln Chafee, for enticing 38 studios to move to Providence from Massachusetts in 2010 with the promise of a $75 million loan guarantee. The state is working to determine how much it's on the hook for after the company's collapse.

While he conceded he "absolutely" was part of the reason the company flagship project —an online multi-player, role-playing machine code-named Copernicus— wasn't completed, Schilling said public comments made by Chafee last month questioning the firm's solvency were harmful as the firm tried— but failed— to raise capital to keep its head above water.


Schilling said he hopes to return to work as an analyst at ESPN.  He took a leave of absence from the network after 38 Studios filed for bankruptcy.

38 Studios laid off its entire workforce— nearly 300 employees in Providence and more in Maryland— last month.  The move was made after the company was more than two weeks late on a $1.1 million payment to the state.  It was not the first time 38 Studios was financial trouble.  The firm had sought state tax credits to keep going, but Schilling said today he wasn't looking for a bailout.

Schilling said he hadn't done anything wrong, never took money and didn't even take a salary. He said he never intended to hurt the firm's workers

"It's been kind of a surreal 60 days or 65 days," Schilling told the radio station.  "It's crushing and devastating to see it fail the way it did."

"It's a life-changing thing," he said but added, "I'm not asking for sympathy.  It was my choice."

Plaxico takes shot at Jets' Sanchez

Plaxico Burress took a few subtle pot-shots at the New York Jets as he continues to look for an NFL job and came off looking like getting a second chance meant nothing.

Yesterday, Burress appeared on ESPN's "First Take"and was asked if he believes Mark Sanchez is the best choice of quarterback to lead the team to a Super Bowl.

"They just paid him, so I think they believe he is," said the ex-Jet receiver referring to Sanchez's new contract extension.

After being asked whether he believes Sanchez is good enough to get the Jets to a Super Bowl, Burress  continued his passive-aggressive answers.

"I think the defense will," he said with another subtle jab at Sanchez.  "I think they definitely have a Super Bowl defense."



The man is entitled to his opinions but is that any way to repay a team that gave you a new start after spending a couple of unproductive years in prison.

Sounds like the convicted felon just shot himself once again— this time in the foot.

The disgruntled Burress spent one disappointing season with the Jets— registering career lows (45 catches, 612 yards, 8 TDs) for a full season.  For a 36-year old free-agent looking to catch on with a team, Burress sure has an odd way of making himself seem desireable— by dissing a former teammate on national television.

Burress didn't stop with Sanchez.  When asked by the hosts if he would play with the Jets new signal-caller— Tim Tebow— Burress just shrugged and laughed.  He gave credit to Tebow as a competitor— where have we heard that before— but said receivers would not want to play with him because he is not a pure passer.

"As a starting wide-receiver in the NFL, you walk out there on Sunday and line up ... it's not Peyton Manning back there," said Burress.

Burress said he thinks Tebow will push Sanchez but could also take his starting job by midseason.

"I think he's going to make Mark Sanchez a better quarterback," he said.  "When they bring somebody in at your position, he's going to compete."

The former Steelers and Giants player has drawn little interest from any NFL teams.  Burress said he wants to play with the Carolina Panthers and claims he has been in touch with quarterback Cam Newton.  The Panthers have confirmed nothing.

FULL INTERVIEW



Mets closer Frank Francisco calls Yankees 'chickens'

Mets closer Frank Francisco sure knows how to egg on his team's cross-town rivals the New York Yankees.  Right before an important three game series this weekend, he calls them names and calls them out.

"I can't wait to face those chickens," Francisco told The New York Post right before the Yankees cross the road (actually the Grand Central Parkway) to meet the Mets at this weekend's Subway Series at Citi Field.  "I want to strike out the side against them. I've done it before."

After the crowing closer almost blew a 4-2 lead last night against the Orioles, Francisco clammed up.

"I think I've said too much already," he said.



It's hard to figure out why Francisco thinks the Yankees should be wearing KFC wrappers instead of pinstripes, but lately— when it comes to the Mets— they are more like foxes in the henhouse.

The Mets are attempting to regain some sort of dignity in the city after getting swept out of Yankee Stadium last week.  Francisco didn't appear in any of those games but has faced the Yankees many times as a member of the Rangers and Blue Jays.

For the record, the righthander has struck out the side against the Yankees.  Only thing is, it was over eight years ago when Francisco, pitching for the Rangers, struck out the three batters he faced—  Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi when they were just little chicks.

It was a bold statement by Francisco. Not too many Mets or Yankees talk trash before their annual hookups but, if anything, we may soon know the answer to that ever-perplexing question: "What came first, the chicken or the egg on your face?"



Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tony Parker sues for injury in Chris Brown-Drake brawl

NBA star Tony Parker— who was injured in a free-for-all bottle-throwing melee at a Manhattan nightclub— has filed a $20 million lawsuit against the club operators for negligence in security and supervision.

The San Antonio Spurs guard got caught in the middle of rap stars Drake and Chris Brown's brawl— provoked by their love-triangle relationship with singer Rihanna— at the Soho hot spot W.i.P last week.  The object of their affection was not at the club that night.

In papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court, Parker holds W.i.P.'s owners responsible for the "corneal laceration of the left eye and other injuries" he suffered at the scene where seven others— including Brown and his girlfriend— were injured.  The club has since been shut down.



Parker's lawyer, David  Jaroslawicz, blamed the club for knowingly allowing the two men, who have both dated the singer, into the club and creating a volatile atmosphere.

"The defendants were reckless, careless and negligent in permitting Drake's and Brown's entourage to be in the same club at the same time despite knowing the tension between the two," the filing says.

"She's been known, like Helen of Troy, to cause trouble," said Jaroslawicz about Rihanna.

Neither Brown or Drake were named in the suit but blame each other for instigating the Trojan War.


Jaroslawicz said selling booze with bottle service is like "throwing gasoline on the flames."



The suit says Parker wasn't sitting with either side but has said he was "with my friend Chris Brown" when the fight began.

"Me and my friends took some punches," said Parker.  "They started throwing bottles everywhere."

Parker was preparing to play with the French team at the London Games this summer but said he'll be sidelined for a week as his eye heals with the aid of a "therapeutic" contact lens.

"I'll be missing the the start of the French team because I can't do anything for a week except keep the lens in and then take drops," he said.




Big Papi: Boston is 'becoming the ----hole it used to be'

An expletive-laced question-and-answer with reporters on Thursday led Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz to blame the media for causing clubhouse drama and say that Boston is "becoming the -----hole it used to be."

Ortiz, affectionately known as Big Papi told reporters surrounding his locker that there's "more drama, more s---" and implied he wasn't happy how the local media treats the team.

"I'm just tired of dealing with the drama here," Ortiz said.  "This is baseball, man.  It seems like everything that goes on around here is like one of those Congress decisions that will affect the whole nation.  It ain't like that, man.  This is baseball.  We're supposed to have fun, to have  our performance out there at the highest level.  Every day is something new, some drama, some more [expletive].  I'm tired of that, man."

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The Red Sox (35-33) have been struggling this season and— after last year's epic collapse, locker room antics and the firing of manager Terry Francona— all eyes are focused on the team and new manager Bobby Valentine.  They are still in fourth place — only one game out of the American League East cellar.

Ortiz, on the other hand, is having a grand season batting .313 with a team-high 18 home runs and 49 RBIs.

The Red Sox DH took exception to an ESPN report earlier this week that said the Sox clubhouse had a "toxic" envioronment— a claim disputed by the players.

Valentine tried to lighten the tension by telling reporters, "You might have caught [Ortiz] on a bad day."

"He's really pretty good with drama, like ninth-inning drama," he joked.

Ortiz wasn't exactly smiling when he ended the locker room chat by saying," It's becoming the ----hole it used to be.  Look around bro.  Look around.  Playing here used to be so much fun.  Now, every day is something new, not related to baseball.  People need to leave us alone, [let us] play ball and do what we know how to do."

VIDEO OF FULL INTERVIEW

New York Jets lowering prices of upper-tier seats

The New York Jets announced today that the team will be adjusting the pricing of season-ticket seats in the last 13 rows of the 300-Level of MetLife Stadium for the 2012 season.

Jets President Neil Giat said seven rows of four sections of sideline seats priced at $105 and $95 per game will fall to either $75 or $50 depending on the row.  Those in the end zone and corners will drop from $95 to either $75 in six rows or $50 for the last seven rows.

"Experience the excitement of a Jets game at MetLife Stadium," the Jets website said.

Got that?  In other words, more people can afford to watch Tim Tebow's flutterballs from up in the nosebleed section.



According to the Jets, about 12,000 seats— which do not require personal seat licenses— will be affected.

It sounds like sellouts are not a concern for the Jets in the 82,500-seat stadium they helped finance with their co-tenant the New York Giants.  Giat said the discounted prices is being made "to improve the value for our fans."

In reality, it sounds like a promotion to draw the Jets' hard-core, working-class fans— even if they would be closer to the action watching a high-def TV in their local bar.  The stands still have vacancies and the acoustics of the new stadium have taken a lot of the twelfth-man out of Gang Green.  A roar that used to fill the old Giants Stadium is now more of a murmur and more fans means more racket.

Or just maybe, the Jets, know it is going to be a long season and are preparing for the worst.

"This was not an issue about worrying about getting games on TV," Giat said.  "But what is the right price for the value for the fans.  And there's really an emphasis in the NFL on season ticket holders, the lifeblood of the league."

Jets fans will be able to purchase a season ticket for as little as $500 including two preseason games.  Fans who already have tickets in those sections will benefit from the dip in pricing and can contact the Jets for more details.





Leroy Neiman, artist of the sports world dies at 91

LeRoy Neiman, the iconic painter of the world's greatest athletes—  whose distinctive paintings captured the colorful, kinetic energy of the sports world has passed away at the age of 91.  The artist's bushy, handlebar mustache and ever-present cigar were almost as well-known as his brush strokes.

The long-time New Yorker had been battling health problems in recent years but no cause of death was released.

Neiman's distinctive Impressionist style captured the biggest names in the sports and entertainment for over six decades.  The ubiquitous artist was a staple at every big stage sporting event— whether he was  hunched over with his sketch pad on a Super Bowl sideline, ringside at a world championship fight or at the finish line at a Triple Crown race— Neiman's bold strokes captured the action in his own inimitable technicolor style.



The artist painted every larger-than-life figure from Frank Sinatra to Secretariat in his prime but his favorite subject was Muhammad Ali.  The LeRoy Neiman Gallery inside the Muhammad Ali Center in Louisville, Ky. contains 15 years worth of Neiman's interpretations of the prizefighter.

Neiman's familiarity around the ring even led to cameos in some of the "Rocky" movies.

"It's not an act of arrogance to draw, it's humbling— you must use your God-given talent.  And of all the people I sketch, in most cases I feel I have to measure up to the subject," he said.



Neiman's career took off when Hugh Hefner hired him to do illustrations for Playboy magazine in 1954.  The LeRoy Neiman name is considered one of the most commercial successes in the art world but— even though his work was worth tens of thousands of dollars and hang in the permanent collections of some of the most prestigious museums and living rooms in the world— critical praise was hard to achieve.

That didn't matter to the artist, who simply said he did it for those who enjoyed it.

"It's been fun.  I've had a lucky life," Neiman told The Associated Press in 2008.



Henrik Lundqvist wins Vezina Trophy, drops F-Bomb on NBC Sports Network

Henrik Lundqvist— the New York Rangers stylish puck-stopper— had an F-Bomb get by the censors at NBC as he accepted the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender at the league's annual awards ceremony Wednesday night.

After Lunqvist nervously let the four-letter word slip out, the crowd at the Wynn Las Vegas resort simply laughed with the Swedish charmer as he apologized and continued thanking all of the people who supported him throughout his career.

Lesson learned.  Just because you put a designer suit on a hockey player doesn't mean he's still not a hockey player.



The Blueshirts goalie received 17 of the 30 first-place votes from NHL generals managers— easily defeating Los Angeles Kings' Jonathan Quick (6 votes) and the Nashville Predators' Pekka Rinne (4 votes)— to take home his first Vezina Trophy.

Lundqvist, 30, had just thanked Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan when he took a nervous breath.  "Oh ----," said Lunqvist, which got a laugh from the audience.  "Sorry, but it feels good."

The classy goaltender— who has been named to People magazine's World's 100 Most Beautiful People list— has been nominated four times for the Vezina in seven NHL seasons.  He went 39-18-5 in 62 appearances, setting a career high in wins and becoming the first goaltender in NHL history with 30 or more wins in each of  his first seven seasons.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Yankees sign 19-year old Cuban pitcher Omar Luis Rodriguez

The New York Yankees have agreed to terms with 19-year old Cuban pitcher Omar Luis Rodriguez.  The fireballing young lefthander— who had defected from Cuba and declared a free agent earlier this month— was offered a minor league contract worth $4-$5 million by the Yankees and won't need to be added to the 40-man roster.

The signing was first reported by MLB.com, who also listed the Dodgers, Phillies and Royals as potential suitors for his services.



Rodriguez is projected to become a starter and had impressed scouts with a 93 mph fastball.  He helped Cuba earn a bronze medal at the World Junior Baseball Championship in 2010— which introduced the young phenom to the world.

The signing comes before new rules take effect on July 2, which effectively limits how much major league teams can spend on international signings.  The rules are part of the new collective bargaining agreement.

Welcome to America O-Rod.