Friday, August 31, 2012

Mark Reynolds makes flying catch of Yankees line drive

The Baltimore Orioles rolled into Yankee Stadium with a lot to prove on Friday night.  Only three games separate the O's from the from the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East and the black and orange birds don't want to do their annual swan song down the stretch.

If unbelievable catches show that the Orioles mean business, then Mark Reynolds set the tone early and drew first blood in the three-game series.

The O's first baseman made an amazing diving catch of Russell Martin's hard hit line drive between first and second bases in the third inning.  Reynolds soared through the air to make the grab and, as YES Network announcer Ken Singleton put it, "The only thing missing was a cape on this play."



Reynolds catch saved a sure double for Martin — who could probably use a hit and a hug.  The Yankees catcher is 11-for-61 in his last at-bats.

Favre wants to keep picture of privates out of court

It's baaaack.  Former NFL quarterback Brett Favre's little friend is back in the news — or maybe not.

The disgraced QB has asked a Manhattan judge to prevent the photo he allegedly sent of his penis to  Jenn Sterger, a female Jets game hostess in 2008, from being used in a Supreme Court lawsuit.

The former Green Bay Packers legend and New York Jets signal caller is trying to prevent lawyers in the sex harassment case from using the photo as evidence against him.

"They are irrelevant and embarrassing and designed only to vex and harass," Favre's lawyer, Sharon Stern, said in court papers filed Thursday.

But the lawyers for two massage therapists who are suing the married grandfather for sexual harassment say the picture of his naughty bit is essential to their case.

"How could [the photo] not be relevant?" asked Elizabeth Eilander, an attorney for therapists Christina Scavo and Shannon O'Toole.  "It has to do with the course of conduct in which he engaged — unfettered, aggressive flirtation with various women."



In 2011, the women claimed Favre tried to lure the two Jets employees into a sexual rendezvous  back in 2008.  It is also alleged that the quarterback tried to lure Sterger into a "relationship" by reportedly sending the X-rated snapshot of his member to her around the same time.

Eilander is insisting that such sexting showed a certain pattern of behavior during that period of Favre's life.

Favre has never admitted or denied being the sender of the photo — and his lawyers are arguing to keep it that way.

"There are no allegations in the complaint that defendant Favre ever revealed himself to either [massage therapist] ot that the defendant Favre sent plaintiffs any photographs whatsoever — let alone graphic pictures of himself," they said.

O'Toole's lawyer, David Jaroslawicz, said Favre's attorneys have submitted legal papers "six inches deep" to prevent their client from testifying under oath.

Both therapists contend that they were fired by the Jets in retaliation for Scavo's husband — after he found out about the alleged bedroom proposition — calling Favre and berating the quarterback in a phone message.  They are seeking unspecified money damages.

Favre claims that neither incident ever happened.

Jets call on ex-military members to help build team unity

The New York Jets continued what has been a season-long arrangement between the team and a group of former military special forces operators to help with the goal of defining leadership and building unity amongst a locker room that had been divided by turmoil.

On Wednesday, 19 veteran players went through eight hours of "training" covering themes covering everything from building camaraderie to "never leave a man behind."

That last military credo is now printed on signs which hang inside the Jets practice facility.

"Our goal is to help them win a championship," said Jason Van Camp, a former Green Beret who founded the "Mission Essential" two years ago.  " Coach [Rex] Ryan said at the end of last year, 'I lost the pulse of the team.  I need to get a better handle on the chemistry issues.'  That's why he hired us.  To help him do that."



Van Camp — a West point Graduate with 12 years in the Army and a Bronze star to prove it — was secretive about the training procedure but explained that the program simulated real-life situations and experiences that soldiers encounter.

Ryan first contacted Van Camp in February — fresh from a football season that collapsed in disarray — to help evaluate and add cohesiveness to squad.

The Jets head coach doesn't confuse the sort of war that his Gang Green faces with the life-and-death battles the military members know all too well.  He knows the program only simulates the real-life combat situations the military members experienced.

"We're not in those situations, thank goodness," said Ryan about the "Jets basic training."  "But (football) is still about teamwork, still about trying to accomplish certain missions we were set on, and relying on each other.  Those are some strong messages they delivered to us."

After meeting the combat-wounded veterans — including a double amputee on Wednesday — cornerback Darrelle Revis said the program helped players "be ready to handle" specific situations that come up during a season.

Last night, the Jets finally ended their preseason touchdown drought but lost, 28-10, to the Philadelphia Eagles without either Mark Sanchez or Tim Tebow.

Ryan told Van Camp he would like to put every Jets player and coach through the boot camp as long as he runs the team.  The training continues Monday with a two-hour seminar as part of an NFL life skills event.

"It's very innovative, and risky, but it's going to pay off for him," said Van Camp.  "You have U.S. special-forces soldiers working their [butts] off to make this happen for him and for the New York Jets."

Fake Adrian Peterson stars in fantasy draft 'Call Me Maybe' video parody

As if the world needed another parody of Carly Rae Jepson's "Call Me, Maybe," here comes another video version of the pop tune titled "Draft Me, Maybe."  This version of Canada's most annoying musical export since that Celine Dion "Titanic" song centers on what is hopefully the last area of sports that can be parodied — the NFL Fantasy Draft and where Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson should be picked.

The theme of the 3-minute video is focused around where the star NFL running back and top fantasy league prospect should be drafted after coming off major knee surgery and limited action in the preseason.

A chubby Peterson imitator, wearing the running back's Vikings jersey, sings his praises while running through a mall and outside the Metrodome to prove his knee is fine.  Sample verse:

"Well I have the 10th pick
Last year I took Michael Vick
All the backs left are ick
And I can't win, no way."

There's even a "Tim Tebow" cameo.  A buzz-cutted dude, wearing a #15 jersey, makes a bad throw to the Peterson impersonator.  Yup, that's Tebow.



It's all in good fun, if you can withstand some bad vocals and an peppy chorus like:

"My knee is better
And this is crazy
And draft me, maybe
I know it's risky
And kind scaaaary
But I am ready
So draft me maybe."

If this doesn't get you stoked for your fantasy league draft, nothing will.  But what's next — couch potatoes watching a game while singing "Brew Me, Maybe?"


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Worst announcement by a replacement ref yet

During last night's New York Giants-New England Patriots Super Bowl pre-season rematch, this replacement referee made a call on a kick that that's hard to figure out.  Now that we know the fill-ins will be working the first week of the NFL season, it should be a lot of fun when things really get serious on the field.

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For the sake of the NFL and the players, Roger Goodell has to put an end to this nonsense.

Two-handled racket making noise at U.S. Open

Brian Battistone isn't a name that usually pops up when you're talking about players in the U.S. Open but yesterday, the tennis player garnered a lot of attention.  The one-time 88th-ranked men's doubles player had onlookers gazing at his equipment — his unusual double-handled tennis racket.

"It's one one of the craziest things I've ever seen in tennis," said former USTA official Randy Walker.

Battistone is the only tennis player on the pro tour using the strange racket — with its "V-shaped" handles — which was approved by the ITF in 2007.  Only four players are known to have used it in a professional event — with Battistone probably being the best known, make that only known.



"You get a lot of comments," Battistone told The New York Post.  "It looks more like a hedge clipper, divining rod or snow shovel than a tennis racket."  Good to have if he has to lead himself to the water fountains during one of those sweltering days out in Flushing.

This is Battistone's comeback to the pro circuit after taking a hiatus in 2010 to become a tennis instructor.  He qualified for this year's U.S. Open mixed doubles event by winning in New Haven last week.

Battistone uses two hands to control the racket and claims he gets more support and a stronger grip on his backhand.

The ITF were quick to approve the wacky racket five years ago even though it never really caught on among fellow pros.

"They were receptive," said Battistone.  "They said, 'If you can feel you can beat Roger Federer with a snow shovel, good luck,'"

Maple Leafs invited fans to 'Watch Paint Dry Live' on website

On Wednesday, the Toronto Maple Leafs actually invited their long-suffering fans to "Watch Paint Dry Live" as a crew painted the ice at Air Canada Centre during a live stream on their website.

From the country that brought you the sport of curling, comes the next most riveting activity on ice that requires a brush or a broom.



Everyone knows winter starts sometime around August up north — and Canadians need a hobby to fill those cold and restless days — but watching paint dry on your computer sounds like it needs the fortification of a couple six-packs of Labatt's.

Luckily now you can watch the paint dry in time lapse with a dramatic soundtrack but nothing compares to seeing it live.

Sadly, with an NHL lockout looming, this could end up being the most thrilling hockey video of the NHL season.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Yankees announcers fascinated with Steve Delabar's baseball seam tattoo

During Wednesday's Yankees-Blue Jays matinee at Yankee Stadium, the YES Network announcers took an unusual interest in Toronto reliever Steve Delabar's scar on his elbow and debated if the  stitches over the six-inch scar were real or just tattooed on to look like the seams of a baseball.

After closer examination of the gnarly scar, both Michael Kaye and John Flaherty agreed that the little stitches over the surgeon's cut were tattoos to make it look like a seam and concluded that it was probably to remind Delabar of what he went through.

The righthander's return to the major leagues is a remarkable story in itself.  After the righthander snapped his elbow four years ago, he had nine nine screws and a plate inserted into his throwing arm.  The 29-year old fastballer quit baseball to become a substitute teacher before earning his way back to play for the Blue Jays in less than a year.

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Delabar (3-1) pitched well enough today to help the Jays beat the Yankees, 8-5.



Both announcers agreed that the doctors did a good job on Delabar's elbow — although it seemed like they deemed the tattoo artist's rendition of a baseball seam less worthy.   While marveling at the noticeable scar and ink-work, Kaye said, "Whatever it is, they put him back together pretty well."

Weatherman Tebows during Hurricane Isaac live broadcast

There's just no avoiding it.  Like the fierce winds and heavy rains of a hurricane, there is nowhere to hide from Tebowmania.

On Wednesday, while reporting on Hurricane Isaac from a gusty New Orleans, The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore Tebowed  while being videotaped on a live broadcast in the middle of the storm.

The fearless weatherman joked about the pose as he bowed to avoid the sideways rain and the endless blast of wind. " For whatever it's worth, I hope I'm making Tebow proud," he joked.

To be honest, that was the first time I've ever seen Tebowing put to a practical use.



The storm surrounding Tebow in the New York Jets camp suddenly looks small by comparison.

Joe DiMaggio pitching caffeine once again

First, there was that pick-me-up beverage in a can — Jolt.  Now, Arizona Beverages is jumping into the energy drink business with their own caffeine-based drink called "Joltin' Joe" in honor of the all-time baseball great Joe DiMaggio.

The ice tea company is preparing to launch the "lightly carbonated espresso drink" in the New York area featuring a picture of the former New York Yankees slugger on the can.

Slated to hit the market next week, the 15.5-ounce drink will carry 80 milligrams of caffeine — more than twice the amount in Arizona's most caffeinated variety of iced tea but will also contain less than half the sugar.

After a couple hits on that can, people might be yelling, "Let's play three ... or four."



For those of you who can remember the former New York Yankee legend pitching coffee makers back in the '70's — and associate DiMaggio with your morning cup of joe — don't expect Mr. Coffee to be wearing the Yankees' 'NY" in the can's photo.

With a bit of Photoshopping magic, DiMaggio is pictured wearing a baseball cap that says "USA" instead of the iconic Yankees' logo.

"We didn't even ask," the Yankees for permission to use their logo, said Elizabeth Kanna, who is head of media and marketing for Joe DiMaggio LLC.

"We felt the Joe DiMaggio brand seemingly extended into coffee and energy," said Michelle Alfandari, who handles licensing for the DiMaggio estate.  The Yankee Clipper passed away 13 years ago.

The drink will be released nationwide by the middle of September.  Look for Joltin' Joes next to the cans of Arnold Palmers at your local grocer.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Giants' Marcus Thomas angry at Madden '13 creators for using 'impostor'

It's a case of mistaken identity, according to Marcus Thomas of the New York Giants.  The defensive tackle went on a Twitter rant Tuesday after finding out that the photo of him on the just-released Madden '13 video game is still not him.

"the creators of madden needs to b slapped for putting an impostor pic in place of me that's not me for the last time I don't look like that," Thomas angrily tweeted this afternoon.  "I been in the nfl going on 6years and y'all still have another man's face for my pic on madden i hate y'all hate is very strong but i do," he raged.



According to the video game website Kotaku, the player pictured is also Marcus Thomas — a running back who hasn't played in the NFL in three years.  That's what has the Giants' Thomas in a snit.

The defensive tackle Thomas just signed with the Giants this offseason after playing for the Denver Broncos for five seasons — one of the five teams the running back Thomas once played for between 2008-'09.



The Giants DT joked about the mixup and tweeted that he hopes the game's namesake can help clear up the photo snafu.

"Madden is disrespectful practice your craft and make it realistic I'm in newyork now help me please someone call madden and tell him lol," Thomas wrote.

Thomas later claimed he got a response and tweeted about it:

"mr madden has slapped and gave me a pacifier and told me to make the team before I start demanding requests lol"

Isaac won't stop Rutgers-Tulane game at Superdome

With the expanding Tropical Storm Isaac on the verge of turning into a hurricane Tuesday and following a path similar to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, there were some doubts if the Rutgers-Tulane football game could be played Saturday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

The storm could flood New Orleans with heavy rains and storm surge after it hits the city sometime Wednesday making it difficult for the Rutgers team to fly down on Friday or get to the Superdome in the storm's aftermath.

Rutgers coach Kyle Flood (that's his real name folks), however, doesn't anticipate that Isaac will affect the Scarlet Knights travel plans for Saturday night's opening game for both teams.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people down there," said Flood.  "It comes at a time that is ominously close to the time of Katrina a couple of years ago.  So we're hoping for the safety of everybody down in New Orleans, first and foremost."



The Tulane team, as they did in the windy face of Hurricane Gustav in 2008, will be practicing in Birmingham, Ala..  The Green Wave mulled over several options including sticking it out in New Orleans before deciding to prepare for the game at Legion Field in Birmingham Tuesday and Wednesday.   They hope to return back to campus Wednesday night or Thursday morning — conditions permitting.

The Rutgers staff has been in contact with Tulane and is monitoring the situation, added Flood.

"As of right now, as of this minute, we don't have any plans to change our itinerary," the first-year head coach said.  "We have heard nothing of postponing or changing the game or anything like that.  But ... it's going to be an hour-to-hour process."


Monday, August 27, 2012

Joe Montana picks Luck over RG3 in the long run

Joe was on ESPN's "First Take" to promote the new Madden 13 game when the round table discussion inevitably came around to co-host Skip Bayless asking the four-time Super Bowl winner which rookie he would pick to have more long-term success as an NFL quarterback — Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III.

Montana  tried to dodge the question before a nagging Bayless said, "Close your eyes and pick."

The former San Francisco 49ers great shook his head and finally answered, "Luck.  Because he's more of a pro-style guy."

Joe Cool also said RG3 has a lot of upside, but warned him that a quarterback "learns how to slide."

"Guys like RG3 start running and get hit," said Montana.  "He's a big guy, dang, [but] you can't take a hit like a fullback."



The Indianapolis Colts and Washington Redskins met over the weekend, in what was called just another preseason game, but was really a showcase for the top two quarterbacks in the 2012 NFL Draft.  Both signal-callers lived up to the hype and played to a virtual tie — even though the Redskins won the game 30-17.



Griffin III finished going 11-for-17 for 74 yards and a TD while Luck — the man he will be compared to for the next decade or so — completed 14 of 23 throws for 151 yards and a TD.

It's easy to see why Montana hemmed-and-hawed when he was put on the spot. It looks like both players could be headed for long and successful NFL careers.


Amateur 15-year old LPGA winner Lydia Ko must pass $300K prize to second-place finisher

Lydia Ko won the Canadian Women's Open in  Coquitlam, British Columbia on Sunday to become the youngest winner in LPGA Tour history and only it's fifth amateur champion.

The 15-year old South Korean-born New Zealander — already rated one of the best female golfers in the world — broke the record of 16 set by Lexi Thompson last year at the Navistar LPGA Classic in Alabama (since broken by 14-year old Brooke Henderson), and became the first amateur winner since Joanne Carter in 1969.

The good news for Ko was that she finished with a 5-under par 67 for a three stroke victory.  The bad news is Ko doesn't get to keep the $300,000 first-place prize because she is still an amateur.

The young phenom continues to play as an amateur, despite her extraordinary skills, because her goals are to finish high school, go to college and live a normal life as a teen.

Second-place finisher Inbee Park will be the beneficiary of Ko's amateur status and will take home the 300 G's — $140,000 more than she would have won for a second-place share.

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"To break another record, or being in the history, it's amazing," said Ko.  "And it's always awesome to be able to play with the pros."

In January, Ko won the new South wales Open in Australia at age 14 to become the youngest player to win a professional tour event and won the U.S. Women's Amateur two weeks ago in Cleveland.

"I didn't cry after this one, but [after] that one I did cry," Ko said referring to the amateur event.  "But still, as an amateur winning one of the biggest amateur events, I feel like it was a better win — even though this one was awesome."



Ko may have missed out on cashing the $300K check— that could have bought her a lot of text books in college — but gets to keep the big, shiny trophy.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tennessee Little Leaguer makes amazing play in a remarkable game

A Tennessee infielder made a a major league play during the remarkable Little League World Series U.S. Championship Game against a resilient California squad in Williamsport, Pa. Saturday.

Lorenzo Butler, the Tennessee team's second baseman dove to his left to snare a ground ball then — while sitting on the ground — tossed the ball to the first baseman for the out.

And, oh yeah, he also had nine RBIs on three home runs to lead his team to a wild 24-16 victory on the world's biggest Little League stage.  The exciting game lasted over three hours and was worth every minute.

The Southeast representatives went on to defeat the kids from the West in seven innings after California scored 10 runs in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at 15-all.  Tennessee answered with nine in the extra inning and will represent the U.S. for the first time against Japan in the LLWS Championship Game on Sunday.




Every year these boys seem to make bigger and better plays than the summer before.  Add this Butler gem plus his three-homer feat to this year's highlight reel.

Butler's mom was in the stands to watch her son's unbelievable day.  You know she had a lot to cheer for.

Serena Williams not sure if she'll 'Crip Walk' at U.S. Open

Serena Williams was so happy at winning gold at the 2012 Olympic Games this month she broke into a dance.  At first, people paid little attention to the tennis star's well deserved two-step — after defeating  Maria Sharapova for her first singles gold medal — until they found it it was called the "Crip Walk" dance.

There was a huge uproar after it was discovered Williams' five-second victory shuffle was made famous by Crip gang members back in the 1970's and the little hip-hop dance was considered a salute to violent gang culture.

Williams says her spur of the moment celebration was just something that happened and had nothing to do with gangs.

"It was me.  I love to dance," Williams told reporters who asked her about the moves.  "I didn't know what else to do.  I was so happy, and the next thing I know I started dancing and moving.  I didn't plan it.  It just happened."

Now tennis fans are wondering.  Will she do the Crip Walk dance at the U.S. Open?  The 14-time grand slam winner isn't sure and claims she has nothing planned for next month's tournament in Flushing, N.Y..

"I have to win seven matches, so we'll see," she said at a Taste of Tennis charity event.

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Williams says she is still enjoying her Olympics win.  Planning a funky little victory dance is probably the last thing on her mind right now.


It's hard to believe the dance created such a firestorm, but she must have done it pretty good to get a thumbs up (gang sign?) from Snoop Dog.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Derek Jeter takes nasty pitch to head and lets pitcher know it

There was a scary moment during the second inning of Friday night's New York Yankees-Cleveland Indians game after Derek Jeter took an inside pitch from Corey Kluber to the side of his head. The Yankees shortstop didn't take the brushback lightly and walked to first base glaring at the young pitcher and mouthing the words, "You don't do that."

The fastball went right at Jeter's head and knocked his helmet off after hitting the bill.  You could probably hear the ball smacking Jeter's helmet outside in the parking lot of Progressive Field.

Kluber got an earful from Jeter as he was heading to first base.  Something you don't see too often from the Yankees leader.



It was the first start for the Yankees ace CC Sabathia after returning from the 15-day DL and Indians players were probably wondering who was going to be plunked — as retaliation for hitting the Yankees captain — when they stepped up to the plate. They got off without a payback pitch.

Jeter avoided serious injury and seemed okay after the beaning.  He made one of his patented leaping leap-and-throws to first base for the final out in the bottom of the second to prove it.

Words of wisdom indeed from one of baseball's most revered player.  "You don't do that."

Bill 'Spaceman' Lee pitches complete game at age 65

Roger Clemens pitching at age 50 has nothing over Bill "Spaceman" Lee's latest gig.  The former Red Sox and Expos lefthander, one of baseball's all-time great characters, became the oldest pitcher to ever win a game after he threw a complete game victory for the San Rafael Pacifics of the independent North American League.  And it wasn't a publicity stunt.

Lee, who won 199 games over 14 seasons in the major leagues went nine innings in the Pacifics' 9-4 victory over Maui Na Koa Ikaika of Hawaii.  Lee signed a contract with the Pacifics earlier that day.

According to the team, Lee is the oldest pitcher to win a professional game — breaking his own record when he won a game in Massachusetts in 2010 at age 63.



Lee threw a few strikes with his famous blooping  Leephus pitch and his fastball was clocked at 70 mph.  He threw 94 pitches with 69 going for strikes, although he struck out no one.

"He threw 100 pitches in batting practice," on Wednesday, said former Los Angeles Dodger Mike Marshall, the manager of the Pacifics.  "He's the only guy the whole season to go all nine, and the rest of the guys are in their 20's."

Lee— who mockingly nicknamed his chubby-cheeked manager Don Zimmer "The Gerbil" when he was on the Red Sox— was pretty serious on the mound but still sounds like he has his irreverent sense of humor to go with his intense hatred of the New York Yankees.

After spotting a Yankees fan outside Fenway Park the other day while attending Johnny Pesky's funeral, the 65-year old Lee did what the the Spaceman would have done forty years ago.

"I flipped him off," he said.


Titans Marc Mariani's gruesome leg break brings back memories of Theismann and LT

Nobody likes to see an athlete's season— or even career— cut short but, if you are old enough to remember Lawrence Taylor's infamous hit on Joe Theismann on a Monday Night Football game in 1985, Tennessee Titans Marc Mariani's gruesome broken leg injury injury brought back those same nightmares.

Mariani broke his left leg while returning a punt against the Arizona Cardinals.  Replay showed he snapped his leg near the calf as he went to the ground at the end of a 14-yard return with 9:40 left in the first quarter Thursday night.

He remained on the ground for several minutes as a team doctor put an air cast around his broken leg.  He was carted off the field after a few teammates came over to comfort him.




Not surprisingly, he did not return to the sidelines.

Mariani, a seventh-round draft pick out of Montana, was a Pro-Bowl returner in 2010.



Best wishes for a speedy return— in more ways than one.

Who gets Lance Armstrong's titles now— other suspected dopers?

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said on Thursday it will strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles.  While the cyclists Armstrong beat have another chance to get his relinquished titles, it isn't going to be easy for organizers to sift through the the second and third--place finishers to find a deserving winner.

All eight men who finished in second and third place, respectively, during Armstrong's championship reign have some sort of ties to doping in what is now being called the world's dirtiest sport.


The USADA, in its zeal to clean up the sport, may be opening up a Pandora's medicine chest of unprecedented doping in the sport and bring on even more headaches.  It'll be pretty funny when a sixteenth-place finisher is the first "clean" rider who can get a title.
1999
No. 2 : Alex Zulle, Switzerland. His 1998 team, Festina, was ousted from the Tour that year in connection with the widespread use of the performance-enhancing drug EPO. Zulle later admitted to using the blood-booster over the four previous years. The Festina affair nearly derailed the 1998 Tour, and is widely seen as the first big doping scandal to jolt cycling.
No. 3: Fernando Escartin, Spain.
2000
No 2: Jan Ullrich, Germany. The 1997 Tour winner, a five-time Tour runner-up and longtime Armstrong rival. He was the top-name cyclist among at least 50 implicated in the "Operation Puerto" police investigation in Spain in May 2006. Ullrich was stripped of his third-place finish from the 2005 Tour and retired from racing two years later. Earlier this year, he confirmed that he had had contact with Eufemiano Fuentes, a Spanish doctor at the center of that scandal, calling it a "big mistake" - but did not admit to doping.
No. 3: Joseba Beloki, Spain. Implicated in Operation Puerto, he retired in 2007. He was reportedly was cleared by a Spanish court of any involvement in the case.
2001
No 2: Ullrich.
No. 3: Beloki.
2002
No. 2: Beloki.
No. 3: Raimondas Rumsas, Lithuania. On the last day of the 2002 Tour, police stopped his wife, Edita, at the Italian border and searched her car, turning up suspected doping products. A French court later handed them four-month prison sentences on doping-related charges. The cyclist denied taking banned substances at that event, and all his tests came back negative. He said the products in his wife's car were for his mother-in-law. The next year, he was given a one-year ban after testing positive for EPO in the 2003 Giro d'Italia.
2003
No. 2: Ullrich.
No. 3: Alexandre Vinokourov, Kazakhstan. He later served a two-year doping suspension after twice testing positive for banned blood transfusions during the 2007 race. He won the Olympic road race in London last month and has announced plans to retire.
2004
No. 2: Andreas Kloeden, Germany.  A German national doping agency is reportedly opening up an investigation into the cyclist's past history.
No. 3: Ivan Basso, Italy. Excluded from the 2006 Tour because of his involvement in Operation Puerto. He claimed that he gave his blood to Fuentes - the Spanish doctor at the center of that scandal - but never used it. Later that year, Basso received a two-year doping ban; he later returned, and won his second Giro d'Italia in 2010.
2005
No. 2: Basso.
No. 3: Ullrich.  

Have fun with that. 

Jets plan to keep Wildcat under wraps during preseason

New York Jets fans waiting to see Rex Ryan unveil his vaunted Wildcat offense with Tim Tebow will just have to wait a little while longer to see the beast released from its cage.

Rex Ryan has kept the scheme a well-kept secret this summer and admitted Thursday that the Jets will be keeping it that way— at least until the regular season.

"I don't see us really using the Wildcat in the preseason," said the Jets head coach.  "We'll play Mark [Sanchez] into the third quarter and we'll play Tim to finish out."

It doesn't sound like Tebow will have a problem with that plan.  He's been lining up in the traditional quarterback position throughout the first two preseason games and claims he doesn't need to dwell on the radical Wildcat to be proficient at it— but admitted he is ready to run it.

"Nah, it's fine.  We had a few live reps in practice, but I've run that stuff before so I've gotten reps in my life at it," he said.  "I just think continue to work on it in practice when we need to and we can get good reps in practice.  I don't think it's something you have to do in the preseason."



While Ryan claims the Jets will not use the Wildcat this Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, he is still giddy knowing opposing teams have to spend time devising a plan to defend it.

"Well, let's get them to prepare for it a little bit," he joked.

Santonio Holmes also likes that element of surprise before the Jets open the regular season on Sept. 9 against the Buffalo Bills..

"The things we're gonna do this season, why give everybody a clue right now?  Leave 'em all guessing," said the Jets receiver.  "Show it on Sunday  when it really counts and we just punch them in the mouth from there."

Whenever Ryan decide to unleash the Wildcat it will be welcome in Jetsville.  So far the offense has looked like a kitty-cat.

D-II Emporia State coaches start water balloon fight during practice

It's a sweltering day during football practice and the players are baked and tired from working out under the hot Kansas sun.  What can a coach do to cool off the team and raise morale at the same time?  At D-II college Emporia State, the coaches came up with a unique idea.  While the players were doing "up-downs"— they rolled up in a golf cart and start throwing water balloons at the young men.

It's not like it was one-sided because the coaches hid a bunch of water sacks in the end zone and it turned into a full-out war.

Watch the video as the Hornets players turn into little kids and cool off.



Head coach Garin Higgins said he wanted to "break up the monotony" of practice and pick up their spirits in training camp.

Looks like he did a good job.  Too bad he was the main target of the water balloon soaking.  Maybe that's not such a bad thing if you're dealing with a roasting August day in Kansas.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Ticked-off Jeter says ESPN's Bayless 'should be tested'

New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter brushed off sports commentator Skip Bayless' suggestion that  human growth hormone was behind the shortstop's noticeably pumped-up stats this season.  On the ESPN show "First Take," Bayless— the resident antagonist— said Jeter's performance at age 38 merits suspicion of him "using something."

Said Bayless: "How could I not wonder, is he using something?"

Responded Jeter: "Maybe Skip should be tested?"

On the show, Bayless later tempered his remarks about the future Hall of Famer.

"I'm not saying he uses a thing," Bayless said.  "I have no idea."



Jeter is batting .324 with a major league high 168 hits.  He homered for the third straight game last night against the Chicago White Sox— giving him 13 for the season.  It's Jeter's highest total since he hit 18 in 2009.  He's batting .381 (45-for-118) over his last 27 games.

Asked if he was bothered by his name being linked to PED's, Jeter said," It's a first for me, man.  I don't know what to tell you."

Bayless might be talking through his hat but, by living and playing in New York, Jeter has heard and seen all kinds of rumors come and go.  But still, the recent suspensions of former Yankees Bartolo Colon and Melky Cabrera do cast a doubts about the use of PEDs throughout the majors.

"Now you have everybody questioning everything," said Jeter.  "That's the unfortunate thing."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

High school star Tony Farmer faints in court after getting three year sentence

Tony Farmer— the highly-recruited high school basketball star had his anticipated high-flying college career come crashing down to the ground on Tuesday.

Farmer, from Garfield Heights, Ohio was sentenced to three years in prison for kidnapping and assault of his ex-girlfriend Andrea Lane.

The 18-year old basketball star looked shocked when his sentence was announced by the judge before he turned to his attorney and collapsed to the floor after fainting.

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Farmer, a 6-foot-6 forward, was ranked as one of the top-100 high school players in the class of 2013 and was being courted by the likes of Dayton, Xavier, Ohio State, Michigan State, Iowa, West Virginia and Illinois.



His sentence will be reviewed after 180 days and the schools will have to wait and see how the case plays out, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

The incident took place last April in the lobby and parking lot of Farmer's apartment complex.  It was caught on a building security camera.  Farmer also reportedly threatened Lane via text messages.

Ky. universities flag words like 'pony' and 'gazongas' from athlete's social media

Kentucky's two largest universities will be using software to monitor what student-athletes post on their social media accounts.

According to USA Today, all student-athletes at the University of Kentucky and most at the University of Louisville will surrender their online privacy to coaches under a social media system used by both schools— as well as others around the country— as a condition of playing sports.

Most of the 406 words flagged by U of L are slang expressions that deal with sex, drugs and alcohol.  UK has a similar policy but 370 words it bans are the names of sports agents.  UK also flags the words "Muslim" and "Arab" but the school is taking steps to remove them from the list after being questioned about them.

A sampling of some of the offensive words at UK include "agent," "Benjamins," "porn," "panties" and "robbery."

At U of L the student-athletes can eliminate such naughty words as "beer bong," "BYOB," "Sam Adams" and "gazongas" from their Twitter and Facebook lexicon.

Bazoombas is okay. "Pony" (slang for cocaine) is not.



U of L senior associate athletic director Kenny Klein said athletes involved in all sports— except basketball and football players— are required to use the software UDiligence.  Klein says the decision to use the system was up to the head coach of each sport.  The Courier-Journal reports that  basketball coach Rick Pitino and football coach Charlie Strong did not return calls.

UK athletes have also been flagged for a number of postings.

One UK student posted on March 26: "I have some OxyContin.  It will make you feel good. (hash) drugs." according to records.  The offending word—  "drugs."

Another student was flagged for writing , "God is the only one who can heal me, help me & fight for me."  The word "fight" was the dirty word.

The schools claim they are helping the athletes by monitoring what they say to prevent them from sending an embarrassing Internet posting "you can't get back."

Klein said the practice of monitoring social media is not unfair to athletes.

"It's not what you can say is an invasion of privacy or anything, because you're not looking for things in an private setting, only things in a public setting."

The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky doesn't agree with then school's actions and is looking into whether or not it violates the student's right to free speech.

Both schools declined to release information about any disciplinary actions against flagged posts, saying it would violate student privacy.

Students were at a loss for words.


Clemens claims comeback is not a ploy to delay Hall of Fame

Roger Clemens went to great lengths and expense to clear his name of perjury charges and now critics are saying his baseball comeback is not just for fun— but a calculated attempt to delay his  appearance on the Hall of Fame ballot this winter.

The 50-year old pitcher downplayed the idea that he was hoping to return to the majors, where even one pitch would delay his eligibility for Cooperstown another five years and maybe put memories of his association with steroids in the back of voter's minds.

Clemens is expected to begin pitching for the independent Atlantic League's Sugarland (Tex.) Skeeters this Saturday.  The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the Houston Astros have already sent a scout to see the seven-time Cy Young Award winner throw.  The 354-game winner's fastball was recently clocked at 87 mph on a radar gun.

Hall of Fame voters were expected to reject the inclusion to the Hall of Fame because of his high-profile role in the Mitchell report on doping in the major leagues.  A jury acquitted Clemens in June of six felony charges related to his congressional testimony after he denied using steroids and human growth hormone.

"Sure the Hall of Fame is great, I've told people that.  But it's not going to change my life either way," Clemens said.  "But if there's something there that somebody feels like they have a grudge or want to hold something against you, I can't control that one bit."



Clemens last pitched in the majors with the New York Yankees in Game 3 of the ALCS in 2007 claims  a big league return or turning back the Hall of Fame clock aren't on his mind.

"I've been to the major leagues and back a couple of times," he said.  "I've retired and unretired, so I wouldn't consider thinking that far ahead.  I'm just going to try to get through Saturday.  I think I can compete a little bit."

Former Astros executive and current Skeeters special advisor Tal Smith knows Clemens will help put fans in the seats but won't call the comeback a publicity stunt.

"Knowing Roger and how competitive he is and what great shape he is in, and the fact that Jamie Moyer pitched close to 50 and Nolan Ryan pitched well into his 40's. If anyone can do it, Roger Clemens can do it," Smith said.

It sounds like Smith thinks Clemens' return to the majors will help the pitcher's chances of winning over the HOF voter's hearts

"I think voter's should remember that he's been acquitted of all charges and that he never tested positive," Smith said.  "I hope this story dies down in future years."

If Clemens' comeback can make unsympathetic voters forget about the 10-week trial— with its images of steroid-covered syringes and other medical waste covered with the hurler's DNA— could a Barry Bonds return be far away?


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Osi Umenyiora defends locker-room 'culture' in NFL

Osi Umenyiora said he knew the reaction to the Prince Amukamara cold-tub video would be "bad" but the New York Giants defensive end is standing up for the incident which he claims is part of NFL locker-room "culture."

In a tweet he sent to Steve Weatherford— which has apparently been deleted— Umenyiora says if Weatherford is apologizing for his video then HBO should apologize for "Hard Knocks."

Umenyiora's take on Jason Pierre-Paul's dunking of Amukamara may make head coach Tom Coughlin cringe but he is a locker room insider and has a good perspective into the way players co-exist.

"It happens.  I hate it got out there like that but when you look at it on the video, it looks a whole lot worse than it was actually was," Umenyiora told The Star Ledger.  "If you had seen the whole thing, they'd know it was just playing around and it's stuff that just happens.  But it was nothing worse then what you see on that show."



Asked if he thinks people would be shocked by a lot of the things that go on in the locker room that players consider mundane Umenyiora answered, "Absolutely.  I think so. But that's the way it is.  If you grow up in this culture or whatever, there are certain things ... I mean, you probably play around with your cousins and brothers and stuff like that in a way you wouldn't normally in a public place.  It's the same thing here."

He also knew there would be hell to pay for the hazing stunt after Umenyiora admitted he knew it looked bad to the media.

"Honestly, I was just sticking up for my teammate because when I saw it, knowing what I know about the way it actually was, I was like, 'Oh, that's bad.'  I promise you I said that," Umenyiora said when asked about the tweet to Weatherford.  "But as a team, we always have to stick together.  It was the truth, but I still have to stick up for my teammate."



Umenyiora knows the video can be decieving.

"Because of the way it looked.  Some of the language and, even though JPP and Prince were good friends, from the outside looking in, you'd think, 'Man, JPP's a bully.'  It's not like that," said Umenyiora.  "Everybody loves Prince.  I just know it didn't look the way it ever was."

Umenyiora also hinted that he might have been more than just a spectator while Weatherford was aiming his camera.

"I was right there," he joked.  "They didn't catch me on camera, but I was there egging the whole thing on."

Nets owner Prokhorov calls Knicks owner Dolan 'that little man'

The Brooklyn Nets might have lost out on the Dwight Howard sweepstakes but another big man is making noise on the team— and it ain't Brook Lopez.

Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov already moved the team across the the Hudson and East Rivers into the the city that the New York Knicks once called their own.  Now the Russian billionaire has gone out of his way to take a shot at Knicks owner James Dolan by referring to his shorter counterpart as "that little man" in a New York Magazine article.

The 6-foot-8 Nets owner reportedly stands a full 14 inches over the diminutive 5-foot-6 Dolan.

"Prokhorov told me back in November that he plans on attending a quarter of the regular-season games and 'all the playoff ones,'" the article's writer, Will Leitch, wrote.  "He also made sure I heard him call Dolan 'that little man.'"


What Prokhorov doesn't lack in height, he seems to lose in tact.  He has already warned the Knicks that once the Nets are ensconced inside their new $1 billion Barclays Center, Knicks fans would be coming over to Brooklyn in droves and at his introductory press conference, he predicted the Nets would have an NBA championship in five years.  That was three years and a 58-172 record ago.

In 2010, he had a huge billboard— featuring Prokhorov and minority-owner Jay-Z— painted with a bird's-eye view of Madison Square Garden.  Over the pair were the words, "The Blueprint for Greatness."



Jay-Z has been the most visible Nets owner— doing everything from designing the team's logo and uniforms to choosing the music which will be played during games— but it is Prokhorov who is pulling the Knicks' tail.

The teams open their seasons on Nov. 1 when they will meet at the Barclays Center.  Let another New York rivalry begin.


Garcia's 'Temp' caddie could make $93K for week's work

Local caddie David Faircloth has to be pinching himself after having the good fortune to caddy for Sergio Garcia— who just won his first PGA Tour victory since 2008— at the rain-delayed Wyndham Championship Monday.  The first-place prize was $936,000.

Faircloth was picked up up by Garcia as a last minute replacement for his former caddie— who split with the golfer after missing the cut at the PGA Championship a week earlier.  Garcia was looking to hire a "local" caddy from the private country club in North Carolina called Eagle Point.

A week ago, Faircloth was lugging clubs for up to $75 a bag.  Based on the customary 10-percent PGA Tour caddies make from the winner's check, Faircloth could pocket up to $93,000.

It's a nice temp job if you can get it.



Faircloth was at the tournament to caddie in the pro-am for Bobby Long, a member of Eagle Point, and president of the foundation which organizes the Wyndham Championship.  Long recommended Faircloth to Garcia and they teamed up for the first round on Thursday.

Garcia didn't say how much he would pay Faircloth saying," I'll have to look at it.  Obviously he's not going to get what a normal caddie would get because his job was fairly easy."

Faircloth was basically just carrying Garcia's bag.  He did not give him yardages, read greens or help with club selection.

The star-struck Faircloth was so overwhelmed by Garcia's win, he almost forgot to carry out the ritual of a caddie taking the flag from the final hole as a keepsake memento.

Tony Navarro, a respected and experienced PGA caddie, saw that Faircloth was caught up in the moment and secretly got the flag and handed it to the flustered man.

"Well done this week," Navarro told Faircloth. "This is yours."

It's a week Faircloth will remember for a long time.

Michael Strahan could be headed to 'Live With Kelly' show

Kelly Ripa has announced that the "Live With Kelly' show will introduce her new co-host on Sept. 4— nearly a year after Regis Philbin left the morning show— and a lot of signs point to former New York Giants defensive end Michael Strahan landing the gig.

Ripa posted a video on tout.com Monday in which she announced her new co-host will join her on the "Live" set during that day's syndicated broadcast.

"Hey guys, big news," she said.  "Mark your calendars.  On Sept. 4, I'll be joined by my new co-host." Yay!

Since Philbin left the show, Ripa has sat opposite a variety of potential co-hosts including Strahan who has sat next to the perky Ripa more than anyone else.

Strahan, the ex-Giants star and "Fox NFL Sunday" host has put his beachfront California home up for sale— sparking rumors of his return to the New York area.  It would be convenient for the former NFL player to live near the ABC studios on the westside of Manhattan where the show airs from.



Other potential co-hosts who are in contention for the highly-visible job include "Saturday Night Live" host Seth Myers, singers Josh Groban and Nick Lachey along with her husband Mark Consuelos.  How cute would that be?

Ripa joined Philbin on the show in 2001 after Kathy Lee Gifford (Frank's wife) left a year before.

The gap-toothed Strahan looks to be the favorite but my money is on dark horse Pat Kiernan of NY1 News.

It looks like Ripa could talking about Giants football instead of Notre Dame on Mondays this fall.


Rory McIlroy drives tennis ball into Yale Bowl tunnel

When you're the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world you get the opportunity to do a lot of things normal people don't get to do— or get caught doing.  Just ask Tiger Woods.

What was Rory McIlroy doing driving tennis balls through a tunnel at the Yale Bowl on Monday?  Who knows  but it probably had something to do with promoting the New Haven Open tennis tournament his girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki was competing in.

The winner of this year's PGA Championship took a couple of swings at the fuzzy yellow balls before finally getting one through the tunnel.



McIlroy was probably just trying to impress his Danish girl with the new challenge.


Wozniacki is the four-time defending champion at New Haven but I doubt she'll be whacking golf balls over a net anytime soon.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Nevada politician wins first MMA fight, then retires

They're always talking about fights in the political arena and how candidates have a puncher's chance of winning. On Saturday night, it was nice to see one elected official actually put his fists where his mouth is— or more apt, where his opponent's jaw was.

Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller raised his right hand in victory after defeating Jamal Williams after a second round stop in his first amateur MMA fight, then promptly retired.  He walks away from mixed martial arts as an undefeated light heavyweight.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Miller won his MMA debut— one of 10 amateur fights held by the World Fighting Championships (WFC) at the Montbleu Theater in lake Tahoe, Nev.

"I'm one and done," said Miller.  "Competing in an MMA event was on my bucket list.  Now that I got it done I've got a day job and an important election coming up."



The Nevada pol had been training in front of cameras for his big night and even showed up in pubic with a black eye.

 The hard work paid off but it was almost wasted in the first round when a nervous Miller got caught in a choke hold against Williams— a former high school wrestler and boxer— and struggled to make it to the bell without tapping out.

In the second round, Miller came out full fury and backed his opponent into a corner with a body kick and a hard right hand.  The referee stopped the bout 30 seconds into the round.

Miller got the promoters to promise that his appearance would not be promoted to avoid turning the event into a media circus.

Miller's cornermen and a handful of fans were all wearing T-shirts that read: "My secretary of state can armbar your secretary of state."

Now Miller retires from the MMA octagon and heads back to the world of political infighting.  I'm betting none of his opponents will calling him out anytime soon.

Stunt woman does amazing tightrope stunt between two speeding trucks

Faith Dickey risks life and limb every time she walks across a slackline but pulling off this stunt is beyond crazy.

The world record highliner was filmed walking across a cable strung between two speeding semi-tractor trailers before they reach an upcoming tunnel and the line snaps.

The stunt was performed live on an empty mountain road in Croatia for a Volvo truck promotion.



Besides keeping her balance on a swaying line, bumps in the road and battling the oncoming wind, Dickey has that tunnel wall to respect.  You can see her give it a nervous look as she approaches the tunnel.

She was successful after a few rehearsals. A few?!

Safety tether or not, if a highway railing didn't kill her, one of the 18 wheels probably could.  Pretty spectacular in every way.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Coughlin not happy with 'inappropriate' Prince video

Tom Coughlin made it through most of the New York Giants training camp without any tabloid landmines— unlike like his counterpart Rex Ryan and the Jets— but now a simple hazing has the head coach ready to explode.

Coughlin did not sound pleased after a video posted on Twitter went viral and showed Jason Pierre-Paul tossing Prince Amukamara into a cold tub accompanied by a slew of obscenities. He promised to "address that strongly."

"I'm learning about that today.  I really didn't have any information about that until maybe an hour before this conference call," Coughlin told The New York Post Sunday afternoon.  "I'm gonna look into it, I'm gonna talk to the parties involved, as I'm understanding it there were some parts of it that were inappropriate."



In the video— which was posted on punter Steve Weatherford's Twitter account— Pierre-Paul is recorded at training camp at the University of Albany carrying the 207-pound Amukamara over his shoulders through a hallway and dumping the second-year defensive back into a cold tub.  In the background Giants players cheer Pierre-Paul on and one shouts "stand up for yourself!"

After the dunking, Amukamara pulls himself out of the tub, wiping his eyes and doesn't look amused at the hazing ritual usually reserved for rookies.  The 2011 first-round draft pick has been pranked before— as it is the unofficial ritual in NFL locker rooms— but doesn't consider himself a newbie anymore even though he missed last season with an injury



Chris Canty, Michael Boley, Bruce Johnson and Terrell Thomas are seen in the video where Pierre-Paul spews a string of profanities and yells,"He ain't gonna do that s*** to me."

Weatherford is presumed to be recording the incident after Canty says," Steve, let me see the footage."

Fresh off a satisfying win over the rival Jets, Coughlin promised to get to the bottom of the embarrasing— but basically harmless— public Videogate. He sounded annoyed at the whole episode and the immaturity of his players.

"No way anything that occurs within this family or within this group should that be part of any kind of social media aspect," said Coughlin.  "I'm gonna address that strongly because I've spent a little time on that this preseason and I'll look into it further,"


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Tebow cheered in MetLife Stadium Jets debut

Tim Tebow got a warm welcome as he hit the MetLife Stadium field for the first time as a New York Jets player.  The Jets backup quarterback made his debut in front of his new home crowd during the third quarter of the team's preseason game against their rival New York Giants and was greeted by cheers.

Mark Sanchez made the Jets fans appreciative of anyone after he stunk up the stadium in the first half (47 yards, 3 sacks) and fell behind the Giants 13-0.

Everyone in New York knows the real battle in the MetLife Game isn't for the "Snoopy Trophy," it's for the Jets starting job.

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Tebow looked pretty efficient in his first few snaps and was 3-for-3 for three first downs before rumbling six yards for another one before the bad Tebow emerged.  The Jets quarterback missed the perfect opportunity to totally win over the house but missed a wide open Stephen Hill at the goal line on a 2-and-20.  The Jets settled for a 30-yard field goal on the 13-play drive.



All-in-all, Tebow looked better than Sanchez— even if it was against the second team defense

Mattingly suspended two games for 'arguing' with umpires

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly has been suspended for two games beginning with Saturday night's game against the Atlanta Braves.

The former Yankees player and coach was also given an undisclosed fine "for excessive arguing" with home plate umpire Angel Campos in Thursday's 10-6 loss in Pittsburgh.

The wild scene unfurled when Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp was ejected from the game after reportedly yelling "Let's go 'Dre" to his teammate Andre Ethier who was at the plate.  Campos took offense to the cheer and threw a riled Kemp out of the game.  Kemp had to be restrained by teammates from going after Campos.  Mattingly was tossed after he came to his player's defense.



The suspension was announced Saturday by Joe Garagiola Jr. , senior vice president of standards and on-field operations for MLB.

Mattingly admitted he was confused when he first heard of the suspension but later said he understood he was suspended because he did not attempt to restrain Kemp before jumping into the argument.

Kemp was not fined or suspended.

"I'm happy about that," said Mattingly.

At the Dodgers batting practice, Mattingly was asked where he would watch Saturday's game.

"I don't know.  I heard there's a suite somewhere," he joked.

Dodgers bench coach Trey Hillman will take over as skipper for both games


Friday, August 17, 2012

Mark Sanchez clears things up: 'This is my huddle'

Hey, it worked for Eli Manning last year and maybe it just could work for Mark Sanchez— tooting your own horn.

Maybe he isn't "elite" like Manning claimed he was last summer but Sanchez sounds like he wants the respect a starting quarterback with two championship games under his belt usually attains.

The other day, the New York Jets quarterback agreed with Bart Scott's assertion that Sanchez could be one of the top 10 NFL quarterbacks in the league. Yesterday, Sanchez took another big step forward before firmly planting it down by stating: "this is my huddle."



While some people still doubt Sanchez is even the best quarterback on his own team, maybe this is a sign the fourth-year starter is morphing into the leader the Jets so desperately need.

"One of the things I felt more comfortable doing, especially with the younger wideout group," said Sanchez, "was getting on those guys and letting them know when you come in the huddle, not to be selfish here, but this is my huddle.  Don't talk.  Name your position quickly and let's go."

The 25-year old's numbers may not say elite but the way he is conducting himself in camp is speaking volumes.

"Get lined up because there's a lot of stuff I need to go through to get us in the right position to be successful and Coach is expecting me to do that," Sanchez told his charges in the practice huddle.  "If you're not on task, I'm going to get yelled at.  I'm going to be standing there holding the ball."

While Sanchez admits his new found vocal leadership doesn't come naturally, he believes he is getting the hang of it.

"It's not the easiest thing to do," he said.  "It's no necessarily my genetic makeup to just start yelling at guys.  There's a time and a place to give somebody a hug and give them a chest bump and a high-five, and there's other times when you've got find the right ways to reach people.  I think I'm really navigating that a lot better now.

"It's natural to have a little bit of emotion out there, I'm not a robot."

Sanchez may have puffing out his chest after Tim Tebow's final day at camp was an unmitigated flop.  The "backup" quarterback's 11-on-11 stats on the day read: 2-for-10, 1 INT and 4 sacks.  Did someone say Wildcat?

Still, it's getting the respect of the team that Sanchez so dearly wants and Darrelle Revis threw his vote to the incumbent.

"If we lose, it falls on Mark," said Revis, the defensive back and unofficial team leader.  "If we win, it falls on Mark."

Sanchez probably couldn't think of a better compliment.