Thursday, September 29, 2011

Toy Plane Bomber Used the Name 'Dave Winfield' as His Alias

The Massachusetts physics expert, who reportedly planned to bomb the Pentagon and U.S. Capital with homemade drones loaded with C-4 explosives, purchased the model planes over the Internet by using the name of former Major League star Dave Winfield.

It looks like the accused terrorist, Rezwan Ferdaus, had an affinity for "Mr. May."

Federal agents, according to the New York Daily News, said Ferdaus purchased the miniature planes, one a replica of an Navy F-4 phantom jet with a Playboy decal on its tail, by passing himself off as someone named after the former New York Yankees outfielder.

Luckily, the Feds busted the idiot before he could carry out the alleged plot.

Dave Winfield would seem like an odd choice of name for the alleged Ashland, Mass. bomber to use as an alias.  I don't remember George Steinbrenner's whipping boy being very effective against the Boston Red Sox.

Any Red Sox-blooded fan would have probably used the names of either Bucky "F@s!#@" Dent or Aaron "F*@;#@" Boone as a fake name to wreak havoc.

I hear the name Robert "F*@#!@" Andino is now big in Beantown.

Too soon?

A-Rod Will Be Yankees X-Factor In ALDS

If you ask Alex Rodriguez, his surgically-repaired right knee and sprained left thumb are fine and sitting out last night's season finale against the Tampa Bay Rays was just precautionary.  The New York Yankees third baseman made it clear that he intends on being in the lineup tomorrow night for Game 1 of the ALDS against the Detroit Tigers.

Last week, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that one of his intentions was to get A-Rod a full week of at-bats to get him ready for the upcoming series.  Last night, all he got was a session in the batting cage.

"I was going to go out and take one or two at-bats, but we felt it was probably smarter to stay off the turf for one night," Rodriguez said.  "Turf is always an issue when you play multiple days back-to-back.  there was just a little soreness, but it's all the turf.  Since surgery, I haven't felt any pain or discomfort."

If it's not the knee, maybe it's the thumb.

There must be some reason he is hitting .171 (6-for-35) with one home run and six RBI's over his last 10 games.  Not exactly boot-shaking numbers.

Rodriguez, missed six games from Sept. 10 to Sept. 16 after the thumb flared up but hitting coach Kevin Long believes his aging charge is not favoring the knee or the thumb.

"His timing is off," said Long.  "We are working with his leg kick and and getting better pitches to hit.  As long as he is healthy, he can help us at the next level."

The next level is exactly where the Yankees will need A-Rod's help.

Just because the Yankees are loaded with power doesn't mean A-Rod is expendable.  The team did lose the last four "meaningless" games of the season.

For the Yankees to battle the Tigers' 1-2 punch of Justin Verlander and Doug Fister, Rodriguez will have to revert back to his 2009 form.  Remember when the slugger carried the Yankees to the World Series with his first certifiable monstrous postseason?  During that run, he hit .455 in the ALDS and .429 in the ALCS with five home runs and 12 RBI's.

This year, the 36 year-old Rodriguez finished this regular season by playing in the fewest games of his career (99) with a .276 average and career lows in home runs (16) and RBI's (62).  Not prototypical cleanup numbers.

If the Yankees can't depend on Rodriguez to be their big time bat, they have other offensive power at their disposal.  Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano have combined for 108 home runs and an impressive 348 RBI's, but combine them with a robust A-Rod and you have the Roar Four.

All three of those players have been shuffled between the No. 3, 4 and 5 spots all season, but now with Granderson safely ensconced in the No. 2 slot, it's up to A-Rod to be No. 4 and make it more difficult for the Tigers pitchers to go around anyone in the middle of the lineup.

If Rodriguez is not healthy, Girardi will have to choose between either rookie Eduardo Nunez or veteran Eric Chavez.

Nunez is more of an offensive threat over the slumping Chavez--  although the fresh legs that gave Nunez 22 stolen bases belong to the same inexperienced head which made numerous mental errors in the field.  The youngster has 22 errors and, in the playoffs where every play counts, that's a real concern.

Chavez, on the other hand, is flawless Gold Glove infielder who has been known to get timely hits but has faded down the stretch.

Both are capable, if not dangerous, replacements if Rodriguez's physical ailments continue to pester him.  A bigger concern could be A-Rod's head.

After his sensational playoffs two years ago, A-Rod withered back to his old big-game habits.

He followed up 2009's breakout postseason play with a dismal outing last year against the Texas Rangers-- batting .190 with 2 RBI's in 25 plate appearances.

"I don't really have a concern about him [Rodriguez]," said Girardi about last night's sitting.  "The turf can do that to you sometimes.  He'll be ready to go (tomorrow)."

Now the hurting Rodriguez faces another October.  Which A-Rod will show up?

The Yankees' Season Wrapped Up in a Song Tribute

What happens when you cross the end of an music era with the last day of the baseball regular season... a song of course.

When the band R.E.M., after over a decade of making music together, announced they were finally calling it quits last week, the words to one of their most iconic songs came to me while I was summarizing this crazy (which ones aren't) New York Yankees season: "It's the End of the World as We Know it (And I feel Fine)."

With apologies to Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe, I give you the Yankees season-- from the off-season contract squabbles to winning the AL East title-- wrapped up in a re-worded version of the great song.


That's great, New York has an earthquake, words and stakes,
get paid, Derek Jeter's not afraid.
Irene was a hurricane, A-Rod in a poker game.
Core Four to Key Three, no sign of Cliff Lee.
Stem cell, elbow, Bartolo's all well,
Joba Rules, Tommy John, Garcia still has the tools.
Red Sox, on fire, trumped by eight, no Yank bats for hire.
AL East, too strong, breathing down your neck, but not for long.
 Dead arm, search the farm, Ivan Nova is a charm
Look at those slow players!
Fine, then.
Uh oh, roster change, Soriano overpaid.
Save yourself, Jorge, batting ninth, no way.
A.J., vitriolic, psychotic, fight, melt down,
felling pretty tight- right

It's the end of the season as we know it.
It's the end of the season as we know it.
It's the end of the season as we know it and the Yanks feel fine.

11 o'clock- TV hour.  Don't get caught in rain showers.
Swish, the man, honeymoon in Afghanistan.
Every motive escalated, six-man rotation, CC hated.
In the dirt, in the sun, Tex's glove saves a run.
DL, milestone, All-Star snub, Jeter atones.
Sandman, 602, watch the cutter, Hall of Fame.
Home run derby, father throws, turn the corner, Robbie grows.
Cashman, no trades, Joe Girardi, Boston fades.


HGH, Crawford's pay, Andy Pettitte, perjury,
Christian Lopez, Minka Kelly, Montero, Hideki.
Granderson for MVP,  Nunez good, but not error free.
You symbiotic, patriotic, pinstriped look, right? Right.

It's the end of the season as we know it.
It's the end of the season as we know it.
It's the end of the season as we know it and the Yanks feel fine...
My next R.E.M. song tribute will be dedicated to the Boston Red Sox.  You may know it as "Everybody Hurts."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Yankees Throwing Betances at Rays in Final Game

In a surprising move, New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi has decided to give tonight's starting job to Dellin Betances against the Tampa Bay Rays in the season finale.  The outcome of the AL wild card race could be in the hands of the inexperienced 23 year-old.

Only last week, Girardi was adamant about Betances not starting the final game.  It looks like the manager had a change of heart when he looked down the roster and saw no other starters available.

The Yankees are less worried about tonight's game than who they will face this weekend in the ALDS-- the Detroit Tigers or Texas Rangers.

The 6-foot-9 Betances, who had surgery early in his career, has a fast ball which hits the mid-90's and a good curve ball.

He's never pitched a game with this much riding on it-- at least for the other team.

Betances spent most of the season with AA Trenton Thunder and was promoted to AAA Scranton/Wilkes Barre in August-- where he was 0-3 with a 5.14 ERA.

In his only major league appearance against this same Rays team on Sept. 22, Betances walked four batters and hit another in 2/3 of an inning.

The Rays must be licking their chops.

Reyes Pulled After Getting Hit To Preserve Batting Title Chances

Jose Reyes celebrated a lead-off bunt-single in the first inning-- lifting his batting average to a National League-leading .337  (technically, almost three points higher than Milwaukee's Ryan Braun's .335) in the New York Mets season finale this afternoon-- before Mets manager Terry Collins promptly removed his shortstop for a pinch-runner.

When Collins pulled Reyes, the home-crowd cheers at CitiField broke out into resounding boos.

While the manager's move almost guarantees Reyes the batting title, it didn't evoke any memories of Ted Williams's dignified pursuit of .400 when the Red Sox legend finished playing both games of a double-header after he already reached the milestone on the final day of the season 70 years ago.

Collins had hinted that he would lift his shortstop once Reyes had a higher average than his competition, but the move disappointed a lot of the fans who came to see their free-agent-to-be do it more legitimately.

Get the asterisks ready.

In what could be Reye's last at-bat in a Mets uniform, it was kind of an anti-climatic end to the player's amazing season and who was possibly the lone bright spot during the team's dismal year. 

Reyes admitted last week that he was striving to become the first Mets player to win a batting title and was routinely reminded about it.

He said he was being overwhelmed with text messages telling him what Braun did and what Braun was doing.

Braun must now go 3-for-4 in Wednesday night's game vs. Pittsburgh to pass Reyes for the title.

If Braun goes 3-for-4 and has another at-bat, do you think he'll be pulled from the game?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Yankees Rookies Bring '80's Music Stars and Bad Outfits Back to Life

It was a decade of one hit wonders and The Go Go's around Yankee Stadium.  No I'm not talking about Jack Clark or Billy Ball, but the '80's-- a decade the Yankees would rather mostly forget.

Yesterday,  seven rookie players dressed up as some of the end-of-that decade's most famous pop stars during the Yankees annual rookie hazing, and brought back memories of the only ten year-run the team didn't win a World Series.

Some of these players were too young-- or not even born-- to remember when skinny ties with a tee-shirt and big hair were the rage.  A man could actually wear pajama pants to a bar and be the toughest guy in the room. It was a time when MTV actually played music videos and Don Mattingly won an MVP.

Music had G & R's "The Spaghetti Incident" while the Yankees had the pine tar one.

There was Flock of Seagulls and Rickey Henderson, George Michael (before the public bathroom arrests) in Wham with that other guy while the Bronx had "Mr. May," Dave Winfield.

Sadly, people actually dressed like that.  Any John Hughes movie will attest to that.

Hope this photo brings back good memories, except for the duds. The players look like they're having fun parodying the new wave look.  If they only knew that this was considered cool back then until Kurt Cobain and Nirvana went grunge.

Taking their show to Danceteria are (from left) Andrew Brackman, Dellin Betances (Milli Vanilli), George Kontos (George Michael), Hector Noesi (Prince), Joe Girardi, Austin Romine (Madonna), Jesus Montero (MC Hammer), Brandon Laird (Slash).

Worst Soccer Flop Ever...By The Referee!

Whether it was a phantom head butt or just a player's garlic breath-- you can't tell, but this referee took soccer flops to a amazing new low.

Over the weekend, this Brazilian ref holds up a red card and when the offending player gets in his face, then the official drops like a bikini top on Ipanema beach.


 The ref goes down,  grabs his head like Michael Vick after a push and writhes in pain while the unbelieving players look on at the embarrassing display of over-acting.

New York Giants defense also take note.  This is known as excessive flopping-- even in the world of soccer.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Jay-Z Will Announce Concerts Promoting the "Brooklyn Nets" New Name and Home

Rapper Jay-Z plans to headline a series of concerts to promote the opening of the new Nets arena in downtown Brooklyn and make it official, the team's name will be changed to the "Brooklyn Nets."

Goodbye Jersey shore and hello Coney Island boardwalk.

The rap mogul, who owns a small percentage of the New Jersey Nets, will announce today that he will perform at eight concerts to hype the opening of the arena.  Expect his expecting wife Beyonce to join him and a few other performers to help entice fans to make the trek over to team's new home at the Barclays Center-- which is set to officially open Sept. 28, 2012.

Jay-Z is kicking off a major-marketing campaign aimed at luring Knicks fans from Madison Square Garden over or under the East River into the team's new digs-- where all-access passes are going for $15,000 a season.

Even with the .49-cent tickets you could scrounge on StubHub for some New Jersey Nets games last season, there were still a lot of empty seats in Newark's Prudential Center.  Jay-Z is making sure that doesn't happen with the Brooklyn version.

The entertainer is using his highly popular brand and image to help sell the Brooklyn Nets to the New York City audience for the first time.  The well-known star's rugged face is way more fan-friendly than using majority owner Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov's sourpuss.

Net CEO Brett Yormack said, "Jay-Z will be the face of the team's fourth-quarter campaign" in an attempt to sell the 4,400 all-access passes in the 18,000 seat venue.

Jay-Z will be lending his name and face to a poster with the slogan; "Get all access to Jay-Z's and other events at the Barclays Center."

The campaign will focus on how easy it is to get to the new Brooklyn arena and target the money men working on Wall Street and living in ritzy downtown neighborhoods like Soho and Tribeca.  It even claims you can cut seven minutes of subway time by opting for the Nets over the Knicks from downtown on the Q train.  Who knew?

The Nets new name was a badly kept secret, but after today's announcement, it will be official.  Brooklyn will have it's own name on the front of a major sports league jersey for the first time in over half-a-century.

It remains to be seen if Brooklyn's own Spike Lee will jump ship from his beloved Knicks to his hometown borough.  The film director likes wearing clothes that say "Brooklyn" on them.

Hey, the Nets now even have a Kardashian on their team. If Jay-Z's campaign fails, there's nothing that family's PR machine won't promote.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A.J. & Jeter Okey-Doke Stumbling Red Sox 6-2

A.J. Burnett picked the right time to beat the Red Sox for the first time while wearing pinstripes.  The much maligned pitcher threw a solid 7 2/3 innings and boosted his chances of getting No. 3 spot in the Yankees playoff rotation.

In the first game of Sunday's doubleheader, the Yankees beat the Red Sox 6-2 as Burnett (11-11) picked up his first win at Yankee Stadium since June 29.

The righthander fooled Boston's hitters with a good command of his curve ball and finally looked like the Red Sox slayer the Yankees hoped they acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Meanwhile Derek Jeter gave one more reason for Boston Red Sox fans to despise the Yankees shortstop.  The Yankees Captain continued to tease his division nemesis with his instinctive smart play by using his head-- or in this case-- his foot.

Jeter scored from second base on an Alex Rodriguez but, as he slid into home plate under the fumbled tag of catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, he didn't touch home plate.  Salty, more intent on seeing where A-Rod was, ignored Jeter who slipped behind the catcher and sneakily tapped home plate with his toe.

Jeter then jogged to the dugout with a huge grin on his face after giving the Yankees a 5-1 lead. He went 3-for-4 and scored two runs. 


The simple play epitomized the Red Sox ineptitude during their ongoing September collapse and highlighted how they are not making the little plays that add up to wins.

The fifth-inning play began with what may have been Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield's last knuckleball.  The 45 year-old pitcher is in the last year of his contract and Boston is heading dangerously close to being eliminated from playoff contention.  Where he'll be next year is anyone's guess.

 Burnett's only mistakes were the two home runs he gave up to Jacoby Ellsbury.  Other than those two dingers, Burnett was nearly flawless. He allowed only five hits and the two earned runs.

Even Burnett's 100th, and final, pitch-- before he was pulled in the eighth-- was a punch-out of Saltalamacchia.  It was his sixth K of the game and the first time Burnett has seen the seventh inning since July 29.

Dave Robertson relieved A.J. and the strikeout machine mowed down three of the final four outs.

Jorge Posada increased his chances of making the playoff roster.  The Yankee DH, batting cleanup, was 2-for-3 with a two-run home run and tipped his hat to the appreciative crowd.

Besides getting a long-awaited victory at home, Burnett got his own standing ovation from the fans when he exited the diamond.  It's been a while since this brand of A.J. had shown up in the Bronx, and it's been an even longer time since the under-performing pitcher heard cheers like that from Yankees fans. They couldn't have come at a more opportune time. 

The next sound A.J. may want to hear is manager Joe Girardi telling him that he is the No. 3 starter next Monday night.

Jason Werth Wins Race By Ambushing Four Former-Presidents

There were no Secret Service agents to be seen, so Washington Nationals outfielder Jason Werth took full advantage of the situation by ambushing four illustrious former-U.S. presidents to win a big-headed mascot race.


During the Nationals final homestand last night against the Atlanta Braves, Werth and some of the other Nationals players jumped into a mascot race starring George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and perennial big-head loser Teddy Roosevelt and made the seventh inning highlight a little more interesting-- they mugged the Mount Rushmore icons.

At first, Werth and his teammates knocked down every presidential replica except the Roughrider, but then the slender slugger decided to take first place for himself.

Why can't Washington do this with the presidential debates?  The candidates' heads are big and empty enough already.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A.J. Burnett Will Get Third Spot In Yankees Rotation By Default

It's a good bet A.J. Burnett will be the New York Yankees' No. 3 starter in the playoffs, unless he totally gets blown out of the water in tomorrow's start against the Boston Red Sox.

After CC Sabathia and rookie Ivan Nova, the Yankees will have no other choice but to give the job to Burnett due to old injuries and older age to the other starters.  The pivotal spot won't be awarded to Burnett based on his performance, as much as by default.  

It's more like a Two-and-a-Half Men rotation with Burnett being as welcome as Charlie Sheen on that show's set-- with a paycheck to match.

Only difference, Winning is definitely not in Burnett's vocabulary.

Everything was looking pretty rosy for the Yankees and their six-man rotation up until only a few days ago.

Leading up to the playoffs, Phil Hughes had thrown three strong games and was ready to take over the No. 3 spot until an MRI showed that the back spasms which forced him from pitching on Wednesday were an old spine injury flaring up again.

Up until then, Hughes (5-5, 6.00 ERA) had been the most consistent starter after Sabathia and Nova and appeared to be the logical No. 3.  Now, a herniated disc injury from seven years ago has reared its burning head and has to be a concern to the team regarding Hughes' long-term prognosis.

The Yankees are confident he can make one more start in a meaningless game before the playoffs, but they need a fully healthy Hughes on the mound and probably won't take a chance on the disc flaring up during a pivotal playoff game, so it looks like the bullpen for the 25 year-old.

That leaves Burnett, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia looking for on spot behind Sabathia and Nova; and none of them have been spanking any teams over the past few weeks. 

It looks like Colon and Garcia have just plain run out of steam.  The two veteran pitchers played beyond any one's expectations and carried the Yankees for a good portion of the season but it looks like Father Time has come a calling.

Colon's chances of making the New York Yankees playoff rotation took a big hit last night when he was pounded by the Tampa Bay Rays for seven runs (five earned) in three innings.

The one-time No. 3 front-runner, Colon (8-10), is winless in his last nine starts and has an ERA of 5.09 since the All-Star break.

Manager Joe Girardi has already hinted at being unsure about Colon's future and it looks like the pitcher's stock has fallen off the chart.

The 38 year-old Colon was, at times, brilliant this season and the Yankees off-season pick-up exceeded all expectations.  The beefy hurler came back after almost two years of inactivity and hasn't pitched a full season since 2006 due to injuries. 

Garcia is more of a mystery.  The other bargain basement pick-up was consistent up until a few weeks ago.  The 35 year-old was always hittable but seemed to pitch himself out of any jams until recently.  Now, opposing players are using him like a batting tee and that won't do in the third game of a playoff series.

Over his last two starts, Garcia has been rocked for 11 earned runs in seven innings.  Not good enough for a short-- or long-- series.

Which leads us to Burnett.  What hasn't been said about the $82 million dollar enigma that wasn't a headline on the back page?  From funny haircuts, cussing out the manager and mound meltdowns, the tattooed Burnett has done it all-- and badly.

The inconsistent pitcher has been given a second life by Girardi, oh...  about half a dozen times.  Two weeks ago it looked like the bullpen for the cantankerous righthander but, like some pinstriped vampire, he keeps arising and sucking the life from the team. 

Over his last 10 starts, Burnett has been lit up like a Times Square billboard.  He has allowed 46 earned runs over 52 innings and it would have been more if Girardi didn't yank him in the fifth the other night.

Through it all, Girardi has come to bat for Burnett too many times to let his whipping boy stew in the bullpen.  After all, the Yankees are already loaded in that department.

So it comes down to attrition after the big gun Sabathia (19-8) and the white-hot Nova (16-4).  

Expect Girardi to go to Sabathia in a game 4 on short rest--  even if the ace of the staff has not been a sure thing over the past month.

Garcia will get one more shot against a reeling Red Sox tonight in a desperate bid to win the No. 3 spot.  Unless he throws a perfect game, expect to see old A.J. warming up for Game 3 in two weeks.

Funny, the Yankees started the season worrying about their starting pitching and head into the playoffs with the same concerns.  How did they manage to win in between?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

'MAGIC/BIRD' To Hit Broadway Stage In Spring Of 2012

It was always a great drama which started in the late '70's and raged throughout the 80's and now, the love/hate relationship between NBA stars Magic Johnson and Larry Bird will be brought to The Great White Way and no, that's not a reference about Bird's style of play.

In the spring of 2012, the drama "MAGIC/BIRD" will make its debut on Broadway and bring the storied careers and the bitter rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics stars to the stage.

The white vs. black, blue-collar vs. Hollywood themes and battles for one NCAA title and three NBA championships will surely provide plenty of dramatics with a hardwood backdrop.

The play itself may not replace a LeBron, Kobe or 'Melo on the court -- if there is a lockout--  but brings its own collection of all-stars to the front court.

Hitting the boards just got a new meaning in the theater world.

'MAGIC/BIRD' has its own two stars and a pretty good bench.

It was written by playwright Eric Simonson-- the same man who wrote the critically-acclaimed "Lombardi," and will be directed by Tony Award-nominated Thomas Kail of "In the Heights" fame.  The rest of the creative team will be filled by award-winning sound and costume designers.

'MAGIC/BIRD' will be a first on many levels.

Besides the unique subject matter, the play will be the first production endorsed by the NBA (or any professional sports league) and both Johnson and Bird have provided their own creative input throughout the development of the drama.

The set will be highlighted by spectacular basketball footage.  The historic backdrops will be displayed over the stage via projector.

It sounds like the NBA has high hopes for this production about two of its most legendary players.

Johnson, who loves the spotlight as much as Bird disdains it, had this to say.

"I have great love and respect for Larry Bird," he said.  "And am elated that our personal and professional relationship will now be exposed to an even larger audience through the dramatic production."

No preview date has been released.

Just wait for those tight gold Lakers and green Celtics shorts to make a comeback in the over-priced Times Square souvenir shops.

Ex-Giants Linebacker Says Fewell Taught Flopping To Players

The New York Giants are being taught how to fake injuries by the team's defensive coordinator Perry Fewell, former Giants linebacker Bryan Kehl told Howard Balzer of The Sports Xchange.

"Perry Fewell coaches that," Kehl told Balzer.  "He's their D.C.[defensive coordinator].  He coaches that."

Call it the Fewell Flop.

Kehl was a little-used linebacker who played a couple of months with the Giants when Fewell started in 2010.  Kehl was waived after week 1 and picked up by the Rams-- where he is still on the roster.

While Kehl didn't perform for the Giants, it sounds like he got some free acting lessons as a parting gift.

The NFL might be  interested in what Kehl allegedly learned from Fewell.  The league released a statement to all 32 teams warning of fines, suspensions and even loss of draft picks if it is determined that someone took a dive on the field during a game.

The bad taste surrounding Giants safety Deon Grant and linebacker Jacquain Williams' "injuries" during the team's 28-16 win over the St. Louis Rams during Monday night's game won't wash away.

If you haven't heard, as soon as the Rams got into the red zone with their hurry-up offense and the winded Giants defense unable to make quick substitutions, Grant and Williams both dropped like fainting Justin Bieber tweens to stop the drive.

It looked like Williams saw Grant was down and he miraculously hopped right up while Grant waited for medical attention.  The Rams drive stalled and they settled for a field goal.

The Rams are still miffed over the incident.

Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said he heard Giants players telling one another to "Go down,' after Grant tackled running back Cadillac Williams on the Giants 7-yard line late in the first quarter.

Grant continues to declare his innocence and showed reporters his swollen right knee and said he hasn't missed a game in 12 pro seasons.  On videos, Grant is shown holding his left knee.

"You go and check my medical report," Grant said Wednesday.  "I have the injuries to speak for it... two torn MCL's that I never had surgery, wrist surgery, shoulder surgery, a broken hip with a metal plate and screws in it.  How can another person that's not in your body tell you you are faking an injury?"

Grant conceded that he heard the "Go down" yells, but said it was because he couldn't get up and off the field.

In the memo sent to each team, the NFL said they will  punish future bad acting jobs.

The memo stated: "Those found to be violators will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action for conduct detrimental to the game."

Giants defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka thinks accusing injured players of flopping could lead to trouble.

"I think it's a really dangerous path to go down," said Kiwanuka.  "If you start letting referees decide whether a player is hurt or not, it might come back to bite them big time... it might lead to lawsuits."

An NFL spokesperson said no punishment could be handed down without solid proof-- like an admission of guilt.

Letterman To Minka Kelly: "I always wanted to date Derek Jeter"

Last night on "The Late Show," David Letterman expressed his own yearning-- and the desire of millions of New York women-- to have dinner and catch a flick with New York Yankees star Derek Jeter.

While interviewing Jeter's ex-girlfriend Minka Kelly, Letterman-- a die-hard Yankees fan-- gushed about the shortstop and said, "I've always wanted to date Derek Jeter."

To which Kelly laughed and said, "I know."


Letterman was only joking, but that segment of the interview seemed to make the actress a little uncomfortable.

Jeter, New York's favorite son, and Kelly broke up a few weeks after the Yankees' "Captain" got his milestone 3,000th hit.  It was later reported-- but not confirmed-- that she was involved with a co-star.

It was only a matter of time before Letterman veered from Kelly's real reason for appearing-- to promote her new TV show, "Charlie's Angels," and ask the sexy actress about her three-and-a-half year relationship with Jeter.

"I know you were in a romantic relationship with Derek Jeter," prodded the host.  "It must have been great fun."

"He's a tremendous guy," Kelly shyly replied.

That's when Letterman jokingly made the great reveal.

Kelly was a good sport for appearing in a city where Jeter can basically do no wrong then face one of the Yankees' biggest fans on TV.

The Yankees, meanwhile, had just won the AL East division title earlier in the night after sweeping the Tampa Bay Rays.

I'm sure Jeter was too busy celebrating to watch.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Girardi Pieces Together Yankees Playoff Clinching Monster

New York Yankees starter Phil Hughes was scratched today due to back spasms and manager Joe Girardi did a masterful job of piecing together a mosaic of pitchers to help the team beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-2, and clinch a playoff berth this afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees trailed for seven innings until Eduardo Nunez smashed a solo home run into the left field seats to tie the game at two.  Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter followed with singles and Robinson Cano doubled to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead they would hang on to.

Less than a work of art, Girardi created a sort of Frankenstein starter by using the arms of seven different pitchers through eight innings-- to make up for the loss of Hughes and not upset the rotation-- before Mariano Rivera came in to get the save in the ninth.

The managers' creation would go toe-to-toe with Rays starter James Shields who allowed one run and four hits through seven innings-- using one spare part after another.

The head of Girardi's monster was Hector Noesi who was making his first Major League start.  Noesi lasted 2.2 innings and gave up four hits and allowed the only two runs Tampa Bay would score.

After that, the mad scientist Girardi would stitch in Raul Valdes for 1.1 innings.  Valdes allowed one hit and stymied the Rays with three strikeouts.

Next, Girardi would utilize George Kontos, Aaron Laffey, Corey Wade and Boone Logan in small roles until the seventh.  Each of those pitchers, except Wade, would go 0.2 innings and allow a single hit apiece.  Wade would last 1.1 innings.

Luis Ayala (2-2) struck out two Rays batters for the final outs in the eighth and was the beneficiary of the Yankees three-run eighth.

Mariano Rivera came in and got the last three Rays hitters out for his 44th save of the season and No. 603 for his career.

The Yankees clinched a playoff berth today for the 16th time in the last 17 years.  The come-from-behind victory put the team 6 1/2 games in front of the second place Boston Red Sox.

Shields (15-12) got the devastating loss; which dropped the Rays 2 1/2 games behind the Sox in the wild card race with only eight games left.  The team has now lost 5-out-of-9 and looks like it is running out of steam.

The only bad news for the Yankees was the updated condition of Hughes back spasms.  After the game, Girardi was asked if the scheduled starter's injury was serious.

"Hughes went for an MRI," he reluctantly told the YES network.  "I think he went for an MRI."

 Dr. Girardistein now has to hit the laboratory and put together a four-man playoff rotation.  Where's Igor when you need him?

Surprised Kid Catches Game-Tying Home Run As Yankees Clinch Playoff Berth

A slightly apprehensive, but persistent kid, who caught Eduardo Nunez's game-tying home run at Yankee Stadium this afternoon looked totally shocked that the ball even landed in his glove.


The Tampa Bay Rays were leading the New York Yankees, 2-1,  and Rays starter James Shields was cruising along through eight innings until Nunez smacked the ball into the left field seats.

The solo shot sailed over the wall and through the outstretched hands of other fans into the possession of the closed eyes and open mitt of the youngster to tie the game.  Little did he know the homer would help the Yankees clinch a playoff spot.

Later in the same inning, the Yankees Robinson Cano doubled in Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter to give New York a 4-2 lead.

The Yankees used seven pitchers before Mariano Rivera came in to close the ninth and get save No. 603.

The win helped the Yankees clinch at least a playoff berth and the demoralizing loss hurts the Rays chances to catch the Boston Red Sox.

BYU Fans Have Beef With Arby's

BYU football fans are beefing about a local Arby's promotion they consider a low blow to their school.

After turning the ball over seven times last weekend and losing to rivals Utah, 54-10, a south Provo Arby's restaurant was telling customers who bring in a BYU ticket stub, they will get a free "turnover."

Get it... turnover.


Cougar fans took offense to the gist and timing of the promo and, after Utah students posted the promotion on their Twitter accounts, the fast food joint was overrun by an angry, but pastry-loving, fan base.

The message on the billboard outside the Arby's read: "Bring in BYU stub for a free turnover."

The branch manager claims the promotion was not a dig at the BYU team and had the promotion before the game.  It was only an accident that the message was still up when it was over.

A couple of questions arise.  First, who shows only a ticket stub before a game?  Wouldn't you have the whole ticket?  And why turnovers?  Hmmm....

That's about as bad as things get in Provo.


Yankees Fan Serves Court Papers To Red Sox Pitcher Before Key Game

A New York Yankees fan served court papers to Boston Red Sox pitcher Erik Bedard just hours before the pitcher was set to take the mound in a key game against the Baltimore Orioles yesterday at Fenway Park.

The life-long Yankees fan, Tom Cabral, served the papers while proudly wearing a Yankees shirt.

Cabral, who didn't hide his team's allegiance, served Bedard on behalf of the pitcher's ex-girlfriend, Courtney Roberts, who is suing the lefthander for child support.

It was a chore lots of Yankees fans would have gleefully done for free.  Cabral had the dubious honor, but was only doing his job.

"When I walked in, I was like, I'm a Yankees fan, but I'm not trying to [give you a hard time]," Cabral recalled.  "I told him that and said, 'Sorry, I've got to do this.'  But he said it was no problem.  I handed him the copies of all the documents and he signed them."

Even with the Yankees attire, Cabral walked away from the incident unscathed.

Red Sox management even kidded Cabral about his timing.

"[The Red Sox] legal department was joking with me about it.  They were saying, 'That's why you're so adamant about doing it today-- you're a Yankees fan."

Slapping Bedard with the legal papers from Massachusetts Probate and Family Court right before the reeling Red Sox were set to play an important game was not Cabral's idea.

"The Red Sox were very cooperative," Cabral said.  "They asked if I could serve these tomorrow because he was starting tonight.  My position was, 'My client wants it served today, and that's what I have to do."

Sounds like Bedard's ex-girlfriend isn't a Sox fan anymore.

Bedard didn't make it through the third inning and the Orioles beat the Red Sox, 7-5.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Deon Grant Won't Face Discipline Unless He Admits Faking "Injury"

The New York Giants had a hard time containing Sam Bradford and his no-huddle offense throughout the first quarter last night, so when the St. Louis Rams entered the red-zone, two Giants players stopped the clock their own way.

If you look at the replays, you can only guess the "injuries" to safety Deon Grant and linebacker Jacquain Williams were feigned but the NFL cannot discipline either of the two players unless they take credit for their bad acting jobs.


Both players were stricken at almost the same time, with the rookie Williams hitting the turf first immediately followed by the veteran Grant, after the Giants had trouble substituting players fast enough.

Funny thing was, after Williams spotted Grant rolling around like a deer in a trap, the rookie hopped right up.

Who knew the Italian national soccer team was coaching the Giants defense.

This NFL version of a soccer flop is considered bush-league but is a gray area in the NFL rule book which states that " The Competition Committee deprecates feigning injuries, with subsequent withdrawal, to obtain a timeout without penalty.  Coaches are urged to cooperate in discouraging this practice."

While it is a violation of the spirit of the rules-- and bad sportsmanship-- the NFL will not punish Grant, Williams or the Giants unless one, or all, admit to taking a dive.  Yeah... right.

The sports radio lines were filled with rants about the cheap momentum-stopping tactic but the NFL apparently has its hands tied.  How do you prove a fake injury?

For now, it's a non-issue and it looks like the Giants pulled a fast one.

Lady Gaga Spotted Dumping Champagne On Fans At Giants Game

Lady Gaga was seen dumping champagne over a V.I.P. railing at the end of last night's New York Giants game and, according to the New York Post, it dripped into a section of MetLife Stadium reserved for disabled fans.

It's just one more occasion where the meat-wearing singer has shown up at a New York sporting events and created a scene, or more accurately, annoyed the fans.

 There were no reports of anyone being showered by the bubbly, but it's the third arena where she's worn the home team's hat and acted like a monster.

She has a habit of showing up at New York venues and pulling some stunt, safely, from the security of her luxury box.

Last summer she even riled Jerry Seinfeld enough, after she flipped the bird to fans while sitting at a Mets game at CitiField, that he went public with his annoyance.

The comic was probably thinking: "You ever notice that people who wear food as clothing shouldn't be allowed into sporting events?"

Gaga better not wear the flank steak outfit in the Giants parking lot before a game or it'll end up on some one's grill.

A week after the Mets spectacle, the "Born This Way" singer invaded the Yankees clubhouse swilling whiskey and talking with the players.

At last night's game Gaga wore a bright blue Giants cap to go with her tutu skirt and giant sunglasses.

Apparently, she was celebrating some one's birthday and tweeted about her night.

"@#Giantsgame watching them win like Champions.  Touchdown Baby!#GoBlue," she pecked.

The Giants beat the St. Louis Rams, 28-16.

First CitiField, then Yankee Stadium, now MetLife Stadium... Lady Gaga coming to Madison Square Garden soon... and not to sing.

Giants Michael Boley Spikes Football Into Face Of A Fan

Maybe, because it was his first NFL touchdown, New York Giants Michael Boley can be forgiven for performing one of the worst football spikes in recent memory during last night's game.  If the score doesn't leave an imprint in NFL history, the torpedo-like ball left one in some poor fan's face.

Boley, after scooping up a fumbled screen pass to St. Louis Rams running back Cadillac Williams, raced 65 yards to score a second quarter TD then, after the Giants linebacker crossed the goal line, he spiked the ball directly into the face of a fan standing behind the end zone.


It doesn't look like Boley intentionally drilled the ball into the unsuspecting man, but the horizontal toss was a direct hit to the nose and had enough power to ricochet off the guy's face into the back of a cameraman's head.

Boley's first NFL score came after being at the right place at the right time, with the Giants leading 7-6 early in the second quarter, and the defense was struggling.  The Rams were marching to what looked like at least a field goal when Rams QB Sam Bradford threw a screen to Williams in the left flat.

The ball which went backwards slipped through the running back's hands and fell to the ground. Williams made no attempt to grab it, so Boley picked it up and raced down the sideline.

Suddenly the Giants lead was 14-6 and the team went on to a 28-16 win in their home opener at MetLife Stadium.

"The Boley play was big, no question," said Giants coach Tom Coughlin.  "When you score on defense, that's a huge play."

Next time, Boley scores, fans might want to move out of spiking distance.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Cowboys' Show-Boating Holley Cost Dallas Bettors $72 Million

San Francisco 49ers safety Donte Whitner's shoe-string tackle of Dallas Cowboys receiver Jesse Holley cost Dallas more than a touchdown, it cost Cowboys bettors an estimated $72 million.

An estimated $100 million was bet worldwide on the Cowboys-49ers game, with an estimated 86% of that action on Dallas.

In overtime, Holley was caught from behind and tackled on the two-yard line by Whitner, leading to the  Cowboys winning field goal.  As he approached the goal line, Holley slowed down and raised the ball over his head then Whitner grabbed his ankles and brought the receiver down.

If a TD had been scored the Cowboys, as 3-point favorites, would have cashed for bettors.  The Cowboys opted for the immediate three-pointer and won, 27-24.

A touchdown would have covered the spread.  Instead, all bets were returned on a tie [called a 'push'].

So that means a so-called meaningless shoe-string tackle resulted in bettors winning $0 instead of an estimated return of $72 million.


Playing with a fractured rib, Dallas QB Tony Romo hit Holley on the 77-yard completion on the first play of overtime that set up Dan Bailey's winning 19-yard field goal, and Dallas rallied for the victory yesterday in San Francisco.

Bailey kicked a tying 48-yard field goal as time expired in regulation.

Whitner bit on the decoy play, that left the rarely used Holley wide open, before the 49ers safety raced down field after the hot-dogging receiver to bring him down at the two yard line.

Holley told ESPN he wasn't showboating, but that he had just finished playing special teams and "the Ferrari ran out of gas."

Cowboys fans are happy for the win but it could have 72 million times sweeter if Holley dove over the goal line.

Phillie Phanatic Goes Ape Over Dugout

After clinching the NL East this weekend,  Phillies fans had a lot to cheer about but why, why in the name of Mr. Met, would the Phillie Phanatic get up on the dugout and do the monkey with half-a-dozen people in chimpanzee costumes?

The bizarre scene took place last night during a game at Citizens Bank Park against the St. Louis Cardinals when the furry green mascot was joined over the Philles' dugout by the phoney primates.


Not being a big fan of mascots-- I did find this kind of funny.  You really can't go wrong with monkeys on TV anytime.

The big-headed apes didn't push any environmental issues like the Stanford Tree, a monkey movie and they aren't as scary--or peculiar--  as the 2012 London Olympic mascots, Wenlock and Mandeville.  Are those things remote controls or what?

Last night's dance line didn't do anything to help the Phillies though.  They were blanked by the Cards, 5-0.

The New York Mets mascot can only pine for the day when he is joined in a conga line within his lonely stadium.

Maybe Mr. Met can do the Dougie with the packs of wild dogs which reportedly roam outside CitiField.

Jeter's Is Bigger Than A-Rod's

For all of you wondering-- and who hasn't-- who has the bigger Florida mansion, Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees shortstop wins with flying colors.

When it comes to massive homes with more bathrooms than Yankee Stadium, Jeter's 30,875 square-foot St. Petersburg home dwarfs A-Rod's mere 18,000 square-footer in Miami.

Jeter's Super-sized-McMansion completed construction this winter and was dubbed "St. Jetersburg" by annoyed neighbors who imagined an endless parade of celebrity gawkers driving by the popular New York Yankees player's gated house.  Now that Jeter is single again, expect a lot of female hopefuls to cruise the block.

The house was also the scourge of Yankees owner, Hank Steinbrenner, who directed an ill-timed statement at Jeter during their contract talks this past winter.

"Some of the players are too busy building mansions, and other things," he said.  "And not concentrating on winning."

First time a building was blamed for losing a AL Championship series.

A-Rod has no problem with celebrity-adverse neighbors-- because all of them are already gossip page fodder.

Rodriguez just completed construction on his home on Miami's exclusive North Bay Road and, if he needs a cup of sugar, he can just walk over to Lebron James place or borrow some hedge clippers from Will Smith.

A-Rod's hood is loaded with single-named celebrities like himself.  There is Sly [Stallone], Rosie [O'Donnell] and the most famous one-namer of all-- his old flame Madonna.  Block parties will be a blast and O'Donnell can haul the kegs.

Both players bought their land for about the same price: Jeter for $7.4 million and Rodriguez for $7.7 million, but both have put millions into renovating the properties.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Mariano Rivera: "I Want To Play Centerfield For One Inning"

Yesterday, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was asked by reporters if Mariano Rivera could cap off his Hall-of-Fame career by being granted one final wish-- to play centerfield.  Girardi sounded like, under the right conditions, he would consider it.

Today, on the Mike Francesa Show, Rivera was asked if he wanted to play one game, one inning or one out at the No. 8 position.

"Just one inning," the unassuming Rivera replied.  "If I caught one ball in centerfield, that would be it."

It sounds like it's more than a flight of fancy for Mo.

"I have one more year left," said the 41 year-old Rivera,  "So I will be pursuing that position."

When pigs fly or when Jorge Posada plays second base.  Oh wait, the 38 year-old catcher did, so now it's might be hard for Girardi to deny Rivera one of his final wishes on his major league bucket list.

Rivera checked off another to-do item when he had his one-and-only at-bat in the July of 2009-- a ninth-inning, bases-loaded pop-up-- which had the Yankees dugout rolling with laughter.

Now, it's time to bring John Fogarty's immortal song to life.

"Put me in, coach-- I'm ready to play today, Look at me, I can be Centerfield."

In  a week when Rivera reached the 600-save milestone, is poised to pass Trevor Hoffman on the all-time list and being lauded as one of the greatest Yankees of all time, it seems like a given that before the season's end we will see Rivera penciled in at centerfield-- under the right circumstances.

Or won't we?

Rivera is a gifted athlete and shags flies in centerfield all the time during batting practice.  It seems unlikely he would embarrass himself or make a silly error.  I mean look at the pressure-filled position he already excels at.

"He's incredible," said Girardi.

If there's a meaningless blowout before the end of the season, could we honestly not think of that  scenario happening at this point of Rivera's career?

"I'll think about that when he tells me he's near the end," said Girardi.  "It's something I would definitely think about.  That'll get me in trouble, won't it?"

Sounds like he is already given the idea some thought.

"Maybe I'd try it for one hitter," said the manager.  "A guy who hits a lot of ground balls, strikes out a lot... and there would be nobody on base where he'd have to make a throw."

Gloomy Gusses are already pointing out the dangers and hurdles.  Besides blowing the play-- unlikely-- or twisting an ankle chasing down a fly ball (devastating);  meaningless games come around about as often as an A.J. Burnett August win during a September playoff race, and the Yankees can't afford for any of those negatives from occurring.

So, when would the best time for Girardi to play fairy godfather and grant Rivera his final wish?

Rivera has one more year left on his contract but next season could be too late.  There's always the possibility of injury or a tighter playoff race to curtail his longing.

I say, this year, first blow-out at Yankee Stadium, put him in.  It's the least the Yankees could do for Mariano Rivera Appreciation Week.

It's the least they could do for the Sandman.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

St. John's 2011-12 Recruiting Class Takes Hit; Sampson, Garrett & Pelle Ineligible

St. John's University's Top-3 nationally-ranked basketball class just got knocked down a few spots.  Incoming 2011-12 recruits JaKarr Sampson, Norvel Pelle and Amir Garrett have yet to be approved by the NCAA Initial Eligibility Clearinghouse and will not be eligible to play during the fall semester.

Head coach Steve Lavin announced Thursday that the three student-athletes-- one-third of his lauded nine top freshmen recruits-- are unable to qualify for the 2011 fall semester.

They won't be enrolled for this semester and remain "under review" by the NCAA committee.  They were expected to have received clearance by the NCAA by this time.

The university is in its third week of classes and will work with the NCAA to review the three cases for possible enrollment in spring 2012.

Lavin said, "We are hopeful Amir, Norvell and JaKarr will be able to join us on the court this winter and in the classroom when the spring 2012 semester begins."

All three are consulting with their families and reviewing their options.  There is a good chance they could still be approved and be on the court in late December after the fall semester ends.  The team would have played 10 games by then.

These aren't just any incoming freshmen.

Garrett is from California but played for Findlay prep in Henderson, Nev..  The 6-foot-6, 190 pound offensive threat was rated as high as the 68th best over-all player in the country and  the #15 power-forward.  The left-handed pitcher was the 22nd-round  pick of the Cincinnati Reds and signed a minor league contract in the off-season.

Pelle was a standout power-forward from Los Angeles and he was rated the #2 center in the country.  The 6-foot-10, 200 pounder is a shot-blocking machine.

Sampson is a 6-8 swingman who starred in Akron at St. Vincent's-St. Mary's--  LeBron James high school-- before transferring. He was rated as high as the #11 combo-forward in the country.

Lavin will begin his second year with the Red Storm after rejuvenating the sinking program last season.  After taking the team to its first NCAA tournament since 2002, he announced he was battling prostate cancer.

A-Rod's Return to Yankees' Lineup on Friday Still Looks Uncertain

New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez had another day to rest his sprained thumb in Toronto, but said  he wasn't sure  he would be playing against the Blue Jays.  Goodbye Cameron.  Helloooo Nunez. 

While the rest of the Yankees spend their last off-day of the regular season prepping for the stretch run, A-Rod said he will will test his swing on Friday and make a decision after that.

Asked by reporters if that means he won't play against the Blue Jays, Rodriguez said, "That depends on how the session goes."

Only yesterday, Joe Girardi was optimistic about A-Rod's Friday night encore.

"We decided  for him to not hit [Wed.]," said the manager.  "We said, you know what, if we can give him two more days before he actually swings on it, it's probably better off for our plans just to put him there Friday."

Contrary to what Girardi said about A-Rod's Friday night return to the lineup yesterday, he has now backed off by saying his slugger is more day-to-day.

"I haven't touched a bat in five days," said Rodriguez.  "Maybe Girardi has more confidence than me."

The third baseman injured his left thumb Aug. 21 against the Minnesota Twins.   He played in nine games since then and is hitting .258 (8-for-31) with two home runs and 4 RBI's over that span.

Rodriguez was expected to miss only three or four games since the digit acted up again Sept. 9.  That is, until it was slow to heal this week.

Girardi planned on using A-Rod if the slugger could swing a bat on Thursday.  He didn't, so it doesn't look good.

A-Rod took ground balls and threw long-toss before Wednesday's game against the Seattle Mariners.

"I was at the point I had to stop because I was unable to do my job," said Rodriguez. "It's not going to feel 100%, but you have to play through it." 

The Yankees play 14 games in 13 days before closing out the regular season-- all against AL East rivals.

For A-Rod, this has been a tough week.  Besides breaking up with his long-time actress girlfriend, Cameron Diaz, the put-offish player was named the sixth "Meanest Major League Baseball Player" in a Sports Illustrated player's poll.

Yankees' Staten Island Farm Team Wins Title, Then Gets Sold

The New York Yankees are selling their Staten Island farm team just days after it won the N.Y.-Penn League championship.  It was the team's second title in three years.

The asking price for the team is $8.3 million-- about the price of Derek Jeter's Florida home give-or-take a couple of the mansion's nine bathrooms.

The Staten Island Yankees won the championship on Tuesday night.

According to a report in the New York Post, the Yankees and their partner, Mandalay Baseball, expect the sale of the farm team to be approved and sold by the end of the month.

The Steinbrenner Foundation, set up by Yankees former owner, George Steinbrenner, will keep a small piece of the franchise, which moved to Staten Island from upstate Oneonta in 1999.

The team-- which plays in Richmond County Bank Ballpark just a short walk from the Staten Island ferry--  has reportedly had trouble drawing the crowds its rival the Brooklyn Cyclones draws in Coney Island.

The Cyclones are owned by the New York Mets and have been drawing sold-out crowds regularly.

The buyer of the Staten Island Yankees was not identified, but it has been reported on-line that a hedge-fund manager is putting up the cash for the team.

According to the Post, Mandalay and the Yankees are getting together to purchase the Yankees Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre farm team for $14.6 million.

The Steinbrenner Foundation will also own a piece of the Scranton team too.

Scranton is usually the final stop before making the bigs.  Manny Banuelos, the 20 year-old phenom, is currently playing there.

Heavy Metal's "Big Four" Replaces "Core Four" at Yankee Stadium

In what can only be described as the only time "Enter Sandman" blared through the bowels of Yankee Stadium and fans were not disappointed to see Mariano Rivera come trotting out of the bullpen; four of heavy-metal's most iconic bands took over the House That Jeter Built for a seven-hour headbanger's ball.

The speed-metal giants-- Anthrax, Megadeth, Slayer and headliners Metallica--  played in front of over 40,000 fans and there wasn't a fist not pumping or head of hair not flailing in the the whole crowd.

In front of a wall of amps, all four bands took to the stage and went loud and fast. A tribute to when music was born from aggression and not romance.

Anthrax-- die-hard Yankees fans-- kicked off the show at 4 p.m. under a blazing sun and it was a reunion and homecoming for the Queens and Bronx band members.  The only non-New Yorker in the band, returning lead-singer Joey Belladonna, reprised his role as a link to the bands finest years in the 80's.

Megadeth was the second act and lead-singer Dave Mustaine-- who just had neck surgery was less than 100 percent and he admitted it to the crowd.  Heed the warning Justin Tuck of the New York Giants.

Slayer lived up to its name and was the most fundamentally true to the genre-- with deafening guitars and beats faster than a Brett Gardner stolen base-- until the the night came to a climax with Metallica.

The most mainstream of the bunch, Metallica, may be the only band which could get cops, firemen, long-haired punks and biker gangs to rock as one.

The top-billed California quartet is the band which fills stadiums and the boys covered everything from the old, "Creeping Death," to the classics, "Master of Puppets."

While the other bands played one-hour sets, Metallica played twice as long and came out blazing with fireworks, videos and stage effects.

In a time when music tries to be controversial but ends up sounding fake, last night's night's self-proclaimed "Big Four" showed why they still draw new fans after thirty years.

The bolts and foundations of Yankee Stadium haven't been rocked that hard since the autumn of 2009.

For the New York Yankees, last night's show will be a tough act to follow but anytime you hear "Enter Sandman" in the Bronx, everything is alright.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Shaq Keeping Busy; Beats Venus Williams in Oreo-eating Contest

Venus Williams finally met her match in Shaquille O'Neal at a gym in Manhattan yesterday.  One of the world's best tennis players' team lost to the newly retired NBA star's crew in an Oreo-eating contest at the Game Day Challenge sponsored by the cookie company.

O'Neal played Williams one-on-one in basketball and tennis but the highlight was the cookies-and-milk event.

Williams took the loss in stride.

"Shag got lucky today," she joked.  "But it was really fun."

Shaq didn't gloat about his victory though.

"She's fabulous," he said.  "She's always been a great athlete."

Oreo is promoting its new "Triple Double Oreo" which it introduced in August.

Those cookies just keep getting bigger and bigger, don't they?

Teenage Girl Finds Herself The First Female Character Added To EA Sports NHL Games

One day fourteen year-old Lexi Peters was playing one of EA Sports Hockey editions and tried to customize her team into her own St. Peters Purple Eagles hockey team and ran into a problem-- there were no options for putting a female player on the video screen.

Peters then asked her father a simple question, "Why not?"

How come she couldn't recreate her own team when there were not any female avatars?

Her father's advice was to send one of the largest video game makers in the world a letter to find out.


In what seemed like a long-shot, the Buffalo native wrote: "It is unfair to women and girl hockey players around the world, many of them who play and enjoy your game.  I have created a character of myself, except I have to be represented by a male and that's not fun."

It wasn't as easy as that responded EA Sports.  The company would have to go through the NHL, who would make the final decision.

It seemed like a lost cause until NHL 12's head producer David Littman saw the letter and considered it a "wake-up call" regarding the sport's increasing female fan base.

Littman went out of way and got permission from the NHL to use female character builds in the game's options.

The high school freshman's moxie gave her a chance to put a female player on the video's ice and, as a reward for her clever idea, NHL 12 used the likeness of Lexi as its first female character option.

Lexi would now be playing the part of the "default" female player that gamers could customize.

The young hockey fan may not know this, but her vision is not so far-fetched.  After all, the NHL had a female player back in 1992.

Manon Rheaume, a goaltender, played two exhibition games for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The game was launched on Monday and features Steven Stamkos of the Lightning on the box.