Saturday, August 31, 2013

80-year-old weightlifter busted as steroid cheat

Don Ramos is one aging athlete who has found a way to cheat Father Time — but not if he's been messing with Mother Nature to do it, says the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

The latest target on the U.S.A.D.A's list: An 80-year-old weightlifter who was busted for steroids, according to The Associated Press.

The agency that brought down Lance Armstrong announced a two-year suspension for Ramos of Colorado Springs, Colo., who tested positive for steroids while attempting to set a world record in his age group at the Pan American Masters Weightlifting Championships in June.

USADA was contracted to test at the event for athletes 35 and older. The suspension means Ramos can't compete again until July 2015.

Organizers of masters events have been cracking down on doping. Two years ago, USADA suspended nine masters athletes for positive tests, including one in his 50s and three in their 60s.

Cubs announcers use artist's drawings to show home run replay

Nate Schierholtz hit a home run in the fourth inning of Chicago's 6-5 loss to Philadelphia at Wrigley Field on Friday. Unfortunately, the Cubs broadcast was experiencing some technical issues when it happened.

So when it came time for a replay, the resourceful announcers relied on an artist's rendition to show the big hit.

Although he took some artistic license — Schierholtz is a left-handed batter, while his stick-figure avatar was a righty — the artist did include cute little authentic looking caps in his drawings.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Giants' Andre Brown suffers 'tiny crack' in leg during loss to Patriots

After the New York Giants' meaningless 28-20 loss to the Patriots Thursday night at Gillette Stadium, one thing did mean something. Andre Brown, one half of Big Blue's 1-2 punch at running back, along with David Wilson, limped off the field just before halftime and was quickly diagnosed with a fractured left leg.

At the time, it seemed as if Tom Coughlin’s questionable decision to play Brown late into the first half had led to disastrous results — depleting an already skimpy Giants backfield.

But Brown said afterward that the fracture was "not that bad of a break, a tiny little crack in it." He added that he won’t need surgery, and he doesn’t even think he’ll need the team’s short-term injured reserve designation. His leg was in a walking boot after the game.

"We still got to do more tests on it. Last time when I broke it we knew immediately what the problem was,"said the essential third-down back. "Nothing wrong with me, nothing I couldn’t deal with before, been here before. They would let me know if it was serious, but it’s not. Definitely spirits are high and positive and I’m looking forward to coming back this season."

Brown knows from experience. He saw his breakout 2012 season come to an end when he fractured his left fibula in a Nov. 25 win over Green Bay. He remembers knowing instantly in that game that he’d suffered a serious injury.

"No, I would love to stay active," Brown said. "That’s how I feel. I feel I can come back from this ... in a couple weeks."

With Brown out, the Giants will look to Da'Rel Scott or Ryan Torain to serve as Wilson's backup. Scott, a seventh-round pick in 2011, spent most of last season on injured reserve with a knee injury. Torain played in two games for the Giants last year after spending three seasons with the Redskins and Broncos.

Coughlin admitted he didn’t have all the details, he did say that Brown would "take a while" to return.

That’s hardly good news for a team that hoped to rely on Brown after releasing workhorse Ahmad Bradshaw after last season.

Reporter tries to mimic inventive dance moves of fan in stands (VIDEO)

A fan in the stands at Minute Maid Park came up with such creative dance moves, the Houston Astros sideline reporter tries to mimic them later to no avail.

Mix in a little Voguing, a little Walk Like An Egyptian and a whole lot of attitude and you too could be dancing in your seat like this young woman.

The Astros could have used a few moves themselves. They lost to the Mariners 3-2.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Yankee players make fake chalk outline of body mocking Eduardo Nunez's injury (VIDEO)

A day after Yankees infielder Eduardo Nunez fell to the turf in Toronto, a couple of his teammates made a tape outline of his body on the Rogers Centre infield before Wednesday night's game against the Blue Jays.

At the same spot where Nunez went down on the field, Vernon Wells and Joba Chamberlain made a mock chalk outline of the accident-prone infielder on the turf with athletic tape. There was also a wheelchair placed in front of his locker. Nunez laughed when he saw the wheelchair and immediately accused Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter of having something to do with the prank.

 "I think these guys have to be part of this," Nunez said. "For sure, I’ve got to find out. Do something, too."

"The video is funny," Nunez said of the clip (see below) of him falling down. "I know. Weird things happen to me all the time, I guess. Now it’s funny because I (didn’t) break my knee, but that wasn’t (Tuesday) night. Now I’m laughing."

The pre-game levity didn't last for long. By the end of Wednesday night, Nunez sounded more frightened than bent on prank revenge.

When Nunez tried to run in batting practice before the Yankees’ 7-2 loss to Toronto Wednesday night, pain flared up in his knee again and he was scratched from the lineup. Now he’ll be getting an MRI Thursday and the infielder is worried that he’s hurt badly enough that he could miss a few weeks.

That's no laughing matter to the depleted Yankees infield.

Watch two Marlin players slide into third base at the same time (VIDEO)

When you check out this odd play during Wednesday's Marlins-Nationals game, you might think you are seeing double. Don't call the optometrist just yet because it's only the Marlins' Logan Morrison and Donovan Solano both sliding into third base at the same time.

Morrison found himself retreating to third base — just as Solano rounded second to join him at the bag. Third baseman Ian Desmond placed a tag on both Marlin players but could only get one out.

Solano was ruled safe on his feet-first slide and managed to score in the next at-bat.

The Marlins may not be good, but they sure are funny.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Robinson Cano: I'll be back from hand contusion 'maybe Friday'

The New York Yankees' quest to climb back into the American League wild-card race may have taken a huge blow, after second baseman Robinson Cano had to leave Tuesday night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays with an apparent right hand contusion — after getting hit by a 90 mph fastball from J.A Happ. X-rays were negative and the team says Cano is listed as "day-to-day."

Cano told ESPN he'll be back on the field, "maybe Friday."

Francesca Schiavone needs to hug ballboy during crushing loss to Serena Williams (VIDEO)

Serena Williams beat Francesca Schiavone in the first round of the U.S. Open so soundly on Monday that the loser requested a playful, comforting hug from a surprised ball boy.

Williams played Schiavone Monday —and she wasn't so easy on the Italian tennis phenom.

Williams, the top-seeded player and defending U.S. Open champion, crushed Schiavone 6-0, 6-1, winning 24 of 30 points in the first set.

The second set didn't go much better for Schiavone, who was the first Italian to win a major tennis tournament when she won the 2010 French Open.

Williams began the second set by winning a 26-point game - and it only got worse for Schiavone from there. 

In the third game of the second set, Schiavone lost yet another point. So, she walked up to the unsuspecting ball boy and forced him into a comical embrace as the crowd let out a collective "awww."

Schiavone apparently knew what she was in for before the match. At her pregame presser, she asked what her reaction was when she found out that she would be playing Williams in the first round of this year's Open.

Her response: "Oh f***!" That's Italian for Oh f***!

Terrifying moment racer's car goes up in flames — with him stuck inside (VIDEO)

A Pennsylvania race car driver had a terrifying brush with death during a recent race when flames engulfed his car —and he was still stuck inside.

Mike Stofflet was racing at the Mahoning Valley Speedway in Lehighton, Pa. Saturday, when his car flipped. Gasoline started to drip, pooling inside the car's frame, before they ignited and engulfed his car in flames. Stofflet clawed at his safety belts in an attempt to escape to no avail.

Workers came along and attempted to flip the car  — and that's when the flames spread, leaving Stofflet sitting in a car filled with fire and smoke. A video car-cam captured the tense, dramatic moments.

Somehow, Stofflet escaped serious injury  — and then he went on to finish fifth in the 25-lap race.

Stofflet later uploaded the video to YouTube and said he's learned something from his ordeal.

"Thanks everyone for your concern I'm doing well just my neck is a little stiff," he wrote, "and no I was not wearing a head sock. Thinking about getting one never thought I would need it."

A lesson burned into his brain.

The girl from Ringu (The Ring) throws out creepiest first pitch ever (VIDEO)

Americans are used to seeing frightening celebrity first pitches (remember John Wall's murderous toss?) but this Japanese ceremonial pitch may be the creepiest ever.

Japanese movie fans may know her as Sadako — the girl from the series of classic psychological horror films which began with with the eerie "Ringu." It was one of the films that launched numerous American remakes of the J-Horror genre a decade ago.

While promoting "Sadako 3D2" (the most recent of many Ringu sequels) — which will be released at the end of this month — the spooky girl herself, and three lookalike minions, were on-hand to throw out the first pitch before Saturday's Chunichi Dragons-Hanshin Tigers NPB game in Japan.

Even through all of the hair — and that being a dead spirit thing — Sadako throws a pretty solid pitch before ending it with a face-plant and a free ride off the mound on a stretcher.

Sleep tight kids.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Miley Cyrus tweets photo of herself in Michael Jordan hot pants outfit

After Miley Cyrus stripped down to nude latex lingerie and rubbed up against Robin Thicke in one of the most controversial MTV VMA performances ever on Sunday night (here's the video in case you've been on Mars or the same planet Cyrus is from) the former Disney star was suddenly shy when she stepped out the following day on Monday. The 20-year-old vixen was covered up and kept her head down as she headed to a work appointment in New York.

That was until she was at it again with her risque antics, tweeting pictures of herself in more very racy ensembles that drags former NBA great Michael Jordan into her twisted life.

In the first photo Cyrus is seen crouching down, twerking it out and running her fingers through her hair as she models a red, white and black Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls basketball theme crop top and hot pants set. She tweeted along with the picture: "#23 #youcanthangwithus #boyslockerroom."

She then follows it up with a photo of herself in a boy's locker room, posing up against the lockers wearing a black G-string over white bike pants teamed with a red bra.

The attention-starved singer always seems to be photographed with her tongue hanging out of her mouth — but that's the only thing she has in common with the great No. 23.

Giants players gets showered when sprinkler system goes off at Coors Field

The fans at Coors Field got a free water show during Monday night's Giants-Rockies game when all of the sprinklers went off for a few seconds during an at-bat in the fourth-inning.

With San Francisco already trailing 5-0, one of the announcers wondered if Giants manager Bruce Bochy called it in to the grounds crew to help "wake up his team."

The unexpected shower didn't help and the Giants went on to  lose 6-1.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Scott Dixon clips tire being carried by member of Will Power’s pit crew (VIDEO)

During the last round of pit stops during Sunday's GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, Will Power and Scott Dixon entered the pits at the same time. After changing tires, Dixon took off as Travis Law, a crew member for Power's car, was carrying a tire away from the pit. Dixon's rear tire clipped Law's handheld tire as he strolled (yes, strolled) out of the pit area and sent it flying into Law and Law into another crew member. Both men fell to the ground in a scary-looking moment, but eventually got up under their own power.

Eventually Power took the checkered flag.

Later, Dixon claimed Law was taking one for the team by purposely standing in front of his car in order to slow him down. It's never a bright idea to go one-on-one with a half-ton IndyCar but, once again,  it looks like someone fought the Law and the Law won.

Vikings' Jerome Simpson laid out drunk 49ers fan on field

Jerome Simpson caught two passes for 24 yards in the Vikings' third preseason game Sunday night against San Francisco but the biggest play of Simpson's night occurred in the fourth quarter when he tripped a drunk fan who'd run onto the field in a Niners jersey.

Typically, when fans run out on the field during a professional sporting event, it's the police or security staff that chases down the unruly fans and often levels them to the ground before they're removed from the stadium.

This time Simpson took matters into his own hands.

As the Vikings were lining up to hike the ball, NBC announcers Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth noticed two fans running onto the field.

"Now you've got a couple of fans coming out," Michaels said.

NBC has a policy to not show fans who run out on the field during professional sporting events, so the camera almost immediately was taken off the field and clips of last year's Super Bowl were shown in place of a live broadcast. 

But Michaels and Collinsworth continued to describe the scene as it unfolded on the field.

"Jerome Simpson actually came off the sideline and whacked the guy," Michaels said.

Collinsworth went on to describe how "there's two different guys on the field and Jerome Simpson gave him the blind side and roughed this guy up a little bit."

The crowd roared as Simpson knocked the fan to the turf.

Less than two minutes later — on the same play — another fan ran onto the field and almost made it the entire 100 yards before being tackled by security. Here's a GIF of that idiot getting taken down by security.

After the third fan ran onto the field, NBC's sideline reporter, Michele Tafoya, spoke to Candlestick Park's security officials, who told her that bike cops who were stationed outside the stadium had been moved to the sidelines to prevent anyone else from rushing the field.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cardinals' mistake leads to hilarious Chargers touchdown (VIDEO)

Saying things didn't go too well for the Arizona Cardinals Saturday night might be an understatement. Not only did the redbirds lose its first-round draft pick — right guard Jonathan Cooper, who broke his leg and is out indefinitely — but they were on the wrong side of a wacky touchdown in a 24-7 loss to the San Diego Chargers.

In the second quarter, the Cardinals were whistled for their third pass interference penalty of the game, giving San Diego the ball at the Cardinals 1. Chargers running back Ryan Mathews went over the middle, but the ball popped free. Cardinals safety Rashad Johnson picked it up but, in an ill-advised move, lateraled to Sam Acho.

Acho, who appeared to be caught off-guard by Johnson’s toss, was hit by Antonio Gates and again the ball popped in the air. Another San Diego tight end, John Phillips, grabbed it and returned it 3 yards for the score to make it 14-0.

It ain't the Buttfumble, but it sure is funny.

“We talk about being a smart football team,” first-year Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said, “and that’s probably the dumbest 30 minutes of football I’ve ever seen.”

The Chargers also blocked a punt and a field goal in addition to scoring on the fumble recovery.

“It's not the conventional way to score,” said Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers about the double-fumble. “I don't know if I've seen a play like that in a long time.”

Farmer's Almanac predicts snowstorm during NY/NJ Super Bowl

The Farmers' Almanac usually isn't the first publication you check out when you're sizing up the Super Bowl but — with this year's big game being held outside in a cold weather location for the first time — it might be more important than any NFL guide.

That is if you believe the 197-year-old publication's prediction that a winter storm will hit the Northeast the weekend of Feb. 2 — when Super Bowl XLVIII will be played outdoors at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands in New Jersey.

The publication — which hits newsstands Monday — is using words like "piercing cold," ''bitterly cold" and "biting cold" to describe the upcoming winter. And if its predictions are correct, the first outdoor Super Bowl in years will be a messy blizzard.

 It also predicts a colder-than-normal winter for two-thirds of the country and heavy snowfall in the Midwest, Great Lakes and New England.

"We're using a very strong four-letter word to describe this winter, which is C-O-L-D. It's going to be very cold," said Sandi Duncan, managing editor.

Green Bay and Buffalo fans must laughing in their long johns.

Based on planetary positions, sunspots and lunar cycles, the almanac's secret formula is largely unchanged since founder David Young published the first almanac in 1818.

Modern scientists don't put much stock in sunspots or tidal action, but the almanac says its forecasts used by readers to plan weddings and plant gardens are correct about 80 percent of the time.

Last year, the forecast called for cold weather for the eastern and central U.S. with milder temperatures west of the Great Lakes. It started just the opposite but ended up that way.

Caleb Weatherbee, the publication's elusive prognosticator, said he was off by only a couple of days on two of the season's biggest storms: a February blizzard that paralyzed the Northeast with 3 feet of snow in some places and a sloppy storm the day before spring's arrival that buried parts of New England.

The Maine-based Farmers' Almanac, not to be confused with the New Hampshire-based Old Farmer's Almanac, which will be published next month, features a mix of jokes, gardening tips and home remedies.

Now, instead of cures for runny noses, maybe it will come up with a way for New York and New Jersey to keep buses and trains from coming to a standstill. 

Running with the bulls event comes to American race track (VIDEO)

A bull-running event inspired by the traditional spectacle in Pamplona, Spain made its U.S. debut on a Virginia car racetrack.

The Great Bull Run held its first of several events Saturday at the Virginia Motorsports Park drag-racing strip in Dinwiddie,Va. Eight groups of 500 paid $60-75 for a chance to run a quarter-mile-long track with the 1,500-pound bulls. Organizers say thousands more turned up to watch from the stands in a frat party atmosphere before ending the day with a massive tomato fight.

After a slow start, the eight bulls rumbled down the 400-yard track — guided by a couple of cowboys on horseback — forcing the red-scarfed thrill seekers to the fences.

Some have criticized the treatment of bulls in the runs. The Humane Society of the United States had representatives there to ensure there’s no mistreatment of the animals. Organizers have said they’re partnering with ranches who supply the bulls and veterinarians to monitor their health.

They'll be happy to know that no bulls were injured in the inaugural event although it was reported that two human participants needed medical attention. 

The track was fenced with coves for runners to get out of the way quickly.

More bull running events are planned for Texas, Florida, California, Minnesota, Illinois and Pennsylvania.

“Everybody’s happy,” said Great Bull Run’s Chief Operating Officer Rob Dickens. “It’ll be back next year.”

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Ian Kinsler's unbelievable hidden ball inside-the-park home run

It's a lesson every kid learns day one in Little League — the play isn't over until the umpire makes a call. Chicago White Sox leftfielder Dayan Viciedo finally learned that lesson to his dismay.

A ground ball down the left-field line eluded Vicedo and got lost behind the wall allowing Ian Kinsler to round the bases for a bizarre inside-the-park homer.

While logic says Kinsler should have been held up at second or even third for stadium interference, the umpire never ruled the play dead. So the Texas Ranger scored standing up.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mike Tyson plays Nintendo classic 'Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!' for first time (VIDEO)

It was a bout 26 years in the making but, former undisputed champion of the world, Mike Tyson was recently given the opportunity to play the 1987 hit game "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!"

Despite lending his name to the title of the game, 47-year-old Iron Mike had never played the Nintendo classic. When the game was released in 1987, Tyson, then 21, had started a tour fighting the world's best heavyweights, having himself become the youngest heavyweight champion in history after beating Trevor Berbick at the age of 20.

It's understandable, then, that Tyson, who was becoming the biggest boxing sensation of his era, missed out on the gaming trend that was re-emerging in the mid-‘80s.

Tysons's hand at "Punch-Out!!" showed the former champ getting really into the fight with the game's first opponent Glass Joe (a pun on the term glass jaw, which hints at a very easy opponent.)

"Come on, Glass Joe! Take this, Glass, right up your a--!" said a very excited Tyson after being coached by a group of computer geeks in his corner . "Glass Joe, you punk! Up yours, dude!"

Though you don't get to see just how far Tyson makes it in the game, given the difficulty he was having with Glass Joe, it's hard to imagine that he made it all the way to the final title bout against the tough-as-nails 8-bit Mike Tyson.

What 26 years does to a body.

Yankees Huff flips ball with glove to get sensational out at first (VIDEO)

Yankee reliever David Huff jumps off the mound and shovels the ball with his glove to first base to retire Josh Thole on his sacrifice bunt during Wednesday's game against the Blue Jays.

Huff's backhanded flip came with five-innings of one-hit pitching and helped him get his first win as a Yankee.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Jets give players 'Media Bridges' cards with phrases to use with reporters

The New York Jets organization gave its players handy laminated cards titled "Media Bridges" complete with phrases to use with reporters. It's chock full of polite responses which help divert answers in a civil tone of conversation.

"Let me answer you by saying that" and "That’s not my area of expertise, but I think your audience would be interested to knowing that," are a couple examples of a kinder, gentler Gang Green locker room.

Manish Mehta of the N.Y. Daily News posted photos of the front and back of the cards which will hopefully bridge the gap between the Jets players and the media.

Not surprisingly, there is nothing on either side that says anything like "When it comes to Mark Sanchez" or "John Idzik says." I guess they'll cross that bridge when they get to it.

Sonic to start putting edible college football logos on burger buns

Anyone who has ever said they were hungry for more football will now have a chance to put their money where their mouth is, or  — in this case — mouth where their money is.

Drive-in fast-food chain Sonic announced Wednesday start offering regionally-flavored burgers with college football team logos stamped onto the buns.

The Oklahoma City-based chain is experimenting with the unusual marketing ploy after doing deals with universities in Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana. Each school will have a signature sandwich featuring the football team's logo streamed onto the top bun.

In Sonic's home state, the company has done deals with both Oklahoma University and Oklahoma State University. Both universities share a cheeseburger called the "Sooner and Cowboy Burger" which is topped with hardwood smoked brisket, hickory barbecue sauce and American cheese.

The University of Louisiana's cheese burger, otherwise known as "the Ragin' Cajun Bulldog Burger" features spicy Tabasco mayo and is topped with pepper jack cheese.

Sonic is hopeful that the regional approach will help its brand stand out in a crowded marketplace.

"Any opportunity to take a great-tasting product and tailor it to the local community makes good sense," Chief Marketing Officer James O'Reilly told USAToday.

Renowned for its use of carhops on roller skates, the drive-in chain has 3,500 locations in 44 states.

Sonic is using a process similar to that used to transfer photos onto cakes. The logo is made of a tapioca starch on wax paper, which is steamed onto each specialty bun.

The college football stamps will add upwards of a dime to the price of each burger because Sonic has to pay both licensing and royalty fees to the universities.

The burgers will retail between $3.99 - $4.99 at Sonics local to the teams featured. Consumers who don't like food coloring can request the burgers without the logos - but will still have to pay the same price.

The concept was tested just in Louisiana last year and proved a hit with customers.

If this expanded rollout program catches on, then O'Reilly expects that the company will consider expanding to include pro sports logos too. 

Victor Cruz wears walking boot, still confident of Week 1 return

As Victor Cruz got ready to meet the media Tuesday, he tried to paint a pretty picture for Giants fans despite the sight of the star wideout hobbling on crutches and in a walking boot. Cruz was upbeat and confident he will be ready for Week 1 in Dallas, but coach Tom Coughlin sounded less enthusiastic.

"Why does everybody look so sad?" Cruz asked as he limped up to the podium before yesterday’s practice. The result of a left heel injury suffered Sunday night against the Colts.

It seems likely Cruz will miss the rest of the preseason, but claimed he will be ready to practice the week leading up to the Sept. 8 opener against the Cowboys.

"Hopefully, I can be back before then," he said. "But I do see myself, envision myself out here on the practice field, getting ready for that Cowboys game, getting ready to go down to Texas to play those guys. That’s what I do envision."

Coughlin poured a bucket of cold reality on Cruz's self-diagnosis.

"Hopefully it’s not going to be a long time. Who knows? I don’t know that," said Coughlin. "He feels better from one day to the next, which is a good thing. Now if you look at him you say, ‘Oh, my God, he’s on crutches and a boot.’ So they’re doing all kinds of stuff to make sure that he doesn’t put any pressure on it. But he did feel better."

After signing a six-year, $45.9 million deal before training camp, Cruz got hurt three plays into Sunday’s 20-12 preseason loss to the Colts when he went for a deep ball from Eli Manning and cornerback Greg Toler committed interference and then landed on top of Cruz.

"On the way down, the defender’s weight landed on top of mine on one single foot. I felt it go numb and knew something was wrong immediately," Cruz said. "The MRI just showed some blood in there in the area where the swelling is, and that was about it. No tear, nothing wrong with the bone. Everything’s fine, which is a good sign, which is what I was worried about."

Cruz's MRI was reassuring.

"No tear, nothing wrong with the bone," he said. "Everything’s fine, which was a good sign, which was what I was worried about. Even though I didn’t hear anything pop, but you just never know with any injuries. I was happy about that. I’m just on the road to recovery"

Cruz is wearing the boot and using the crutches to keep weight off his foot.

"It’s all about getting better at this point," he said. "I think I have a firm understanding of the offense and me and Eli have an understanding of how he likes to hit me and the things we do out there on the field. I’m not too concerned about it. Obviously, I’m a guy that loves to practice, loves to be out there, but it’s just a short setback. You would never want to have one, but if there’s a time to have one, it’s now."

The Giants sent those MRI exam results to a specialist to confirm the initial diagnosis of a bruised heel, according to ESPN. After seeing Cruz’s fellow starting wideout Hakeem Nicks hobbled for much of last year, the Giants weren't taking any chances.

"I think it’s an injury where it’s predominantly the swelling that’s the issue, and once the swelling goes down, I think I’ll be OK," Cruz said. "I just want to be smart and want to make sure I’m 100 percent when I’m out there, and make sure that all the swelling is gone and ... attack it early. I don’t see it lingering or anything long-term with it. I feel good. I feel better than yesterday, which is a good sign."

Cruz will probably miss the final two preseason games and considerable practice time. Rueben Randle is most likely to step into his role as a starter. Playing on the outside yesterday at practice, Randle caught a pair of long touchdowns in 11-on-11 scrimmages.

"That’s what preseason is all about: opportunity. And opportunity is there,’’ Coughlin said. “Also hopefully we get to the game with Jernigan, [Brandon] Collins, those kind of people ready to contribute also. So it’ll be a great chance for them also."

Minor league team introduces lucky winner of free funeral promotion

Everyone knows minor league baseball is famous for its wacky promotions to attract new fans and keep them coming back to the park. But what about a team having a giveaway for someone who might not be passing through the turnstiles for very long?

If you consider giving away a free funeral at a baseball game as entertainment both morbid and strange, the offbeat promotion by the Lehigh Valley IronPigs will seem a little over the top.

But for 64-year-old contest winner, Steve Paul, the funeral giveaway valued at $10,000 is a sensible blessing.

Diagnosed with ALS in June, the Pennsylvania resident entered an essay contest with the IronPigs to win, knowing his disease is fatal and irreversible.

“For a person who is not looking at their own mortality, yes it would be morbid. For a person who is trying to find some sort of peace and some sort of direction knowing what lies ahead, it is very comforting,” Paul said.

That's why Kevin Reichel, of Reichel Funeral Home in Northampton, agreed to sponsor the IronPigs' "Celebration of Life" Tuesday at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown

The idea to put the "fun" back in funeral came from Kurt Landis the General Manager for the IronPigs and it drew over 50 entries from people describing why they deserved the free sendoff.

“Teams are used to pushing the envelope and teams want to be crazy and fun,” Landis said.

The funeral giveaway at the ballpark includes a headstone, casket, flowers and a memorial service.

The contest was tough on Paul's daughter but she knows the prize will make her remaining days with dad less stressful.

“It’s shaken my world, it has shaken the rest of my family’s world. This is one less thing that we have to worry about,” Robyn Paul said.

And in the sixth-inning, when the IronPigs announced Paul was the recipient of the free funeral on the field, he was greeted with a standing ovation after reading his essay.

For his remaining days, the wheelchair-bound Paul — who rewrote the essay a few times before finally submitting it — has been relieved of the burden of leaving his family to pay for his funeral.

“I am so happy. I am ecstatic,” Paul said.

Paul said he wants to be buried in Lou Gehrig's No. 4 — even though he's a longtime Philadelphia Phillies fan.

Joba Chamberlain nearly tackles Jose Reyes for out (VIDEO)

In case you haven't heard, football is back at Yankee Stadium. It's too bad Joba Chamberlain doesn't know that the season doesn't start for a couple of weeks.

The Yankees reliever lost his footing while applying a tag to Jose Reyes that nearly knocks the Blue Jays shortstop over during the first game the first game of Tuesday's doubleheader.

Does the struggling Joba know that the Giants are looking for a linebacker over in the Meadowlands?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Erick Aybar gets plunked and strikes out at same time (VIDEO)

Striking out and getting hit by a pitch have to be the worst feelings in baseball —  both mentally and physically.  So what happens when you are the recipient of both dishonors at the same time?

The Angels' Erick Aybar found that out Monday after striking out and simultaneously being hit by a Joe Smith pitch in the bottom of the eighth inning.

In case you're unfamiliar with the rule, the swing supersedes the hit-by-pitch. If you offer at a pitch that hits you, it's a strike no matter what.  Aybar definitely went around though.

Double your displeasure.

Three 'bored' teens randomly kill college baseball player

Three teenagers, who claim they were "bored," randomly shot an innocent college baseball player while he was jogging on a residential street. The Australian man, out for a jog in an Oklahoma neighborhood, was reportedly shot and killed by a  the trio of young men who decided to kill someone for fun, according to The Associated Press.

Christopher Lane, an East Central University catcher who was visiting the town of Duncan, where his girlfriend and her family live, had passed a home where the boys were staying and that apparently led to him being senselessly gunned down at random, Police Chief Danny Ford said Monday. A 17-year-old in the group has given a detailed confession to police, but investigators haven’t found the weapon used in last week’s shooting, the chief said.

That teen — and a  15 and 16-year-old — remain in custody. Ford said the district attorney is expected to file first-degree murder charges Tuesday. It wasn’t known if the three will be charged as adults or juveniles. They were to appear in court Tuesday afternoon.

“He didn’t deserve any of this,” Lane’s girlfriend, Sarah Harper, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. “It’s heartbreaking that it was such a random choice those guys made that drastically altered so many lives in the process.”

Witnesses rushed to help Lane after hearing a shot Friday and seeing him stagger and collapse on a road in Duncan, a south-central Oklahoma town of about 24,000 residents.

Harper said she and Lane had only returned to the United States from Australia last week.

Lane attended ECU in Ada, about 85 miles west of Duncan. He started 14 games behind the plate last season and was entering his senior year.

“He was an absolute joy to coach,” said his coach, Dino Rosato, in a statement issued by the school.

"Chris was an extremely well-respected teammate," said Rosato.  "He set a great example for all of his teammates, but more importantly for the younger players. He was a mature student-athlete who his teammates could look to for advice and support."

This is beyond sad.

Giants outfielder and ballgirl collide going for popup(VIDEO)

San Francisco outfielder Joaquin Arias runs into foul territory and takes a popup away from a Giants ballgirl in the ninth inning in game against the Red Sox Monday night.

Look at it this way — the ball "dude" (announcer's call) could have been A-Rod getting beaned in Boston. Who said that?

Monday, August 19, 2013

MLB surprises A-Rod's lawyer by waiving confidentially clause before 'Today Show' appearance

Alex Rodriguez's high-powered mouthpiece Joe Tacopina was blindsided by "Today Show" host Matt Lauer when the famous criminal defense lawyer  claimed he was anxious to talk about Rodriguez and his case against baseball — as he fights to overturn a 211 game ban he was given for his part in the Biogenesis scandal — but wasn't allowed to because of MLB's confidentiality clause.

Little did Tacopina know he was about to be ambushed in a gripping display of legal gamesmanship.

Appearing on the nationally-televised interview Monday, Tacopina said, "If the Vice President of Major League baseball would be good enough to waive the confidentiality clause, I would love nothing more than to talk about Alex's Rodriguez's testing history and various things. I would love nothing more," 

Lauer was more than prepared for that response and surprised the attorney by revealing that baseball had sent him the confidentially waiver overnight. He said that if Tacopina signed it, then “everyone” on both sides could talk. 

“They sent us a letter saying that if you’re willing to sign this letter," Lauer said.  "That they are willing to waive the confidentiality clause in the Joint Drug and Prevention Program, that they’ll be allowed to talk about everything and you’ll be allowed to talk about everything. 

“They said that would include all prior violations of the program committed by Rodriguez, all documents, records, communications, text messages and instant messages related to Rodriguez’s treatment by Anthony Bosch.”

A suddenly tongue-tied Tacopina offered to read the letter that Lauer claimed MLB had just sent over.

“Listen. We would love nothing more than to be able to discuss the testing history, the scientific evidence and the tests of Alex Rodriguez under this JDA drug program, nothing more,” said Tacopina before clamming up and going on the offensive in the interview.

He declined to sign the letter.

"Here’s what I’m prepared to answer. Alex admitted back in 2001 and 2002 that he had used performance-enhancing drugs as a member of the Texas Rangers when it was not banned (NOTE: Baseball had a banned substance list then, but did not yet discipline for PED use). He has said since then he has not. I will tell you this: This letter, if they had sent it to me last night, I would have been prepared to answer . . ."

"If he will answer that question,"Lauer interrupted.  "Doesn’t he owe people the answer to that question before you start pointing fingers at people?"

Tacopina responded, "Let me say this to you first: The reason we’re sitting here today . . . we had this scheduled for last week but we had to cancel. We saw Alex was all over the news. They want to try this case in the media. What has been going on has been outrageous . . . anonymous leak after anonymous leak after anonymous leak. It doesn’t stop. And it has to stop. They are perverting this process. The process should not be perverted."

It was just another interesting turn in the "bumpy road" A-Rod warned everyone about.

J.R. Smith reportedly driving around NYC in armored car

It looks like New York Knicks guard J.R. Smith is already finding ways to spend some of the money from his new $24 million deal with the NBA team.

According to the New York Post, Smith was seen driving up to the restaurant Catch in Manhattan's  Meatpacking District behind the wheel of a Gurkha F5 armored vehicle. 

Smith, who’s recovering after surgery on his left knee in the off-season, rolled up to the hotspot in the $450,000 ride — which is made by Toronto-based Terradyne Armored Vehicles and used by police and the military. Smith parked the oversize truck on the street while he dined inside.

Hummers are so passe.

Ball State student sinks half court shot and wins free tuition (VIDEO)

During a "Welcome Week" event for Ball State University students, one lucky spectator was randomly selected to take a half court shot and win one semester of tuition completely paid for.

Just one day into his first year in college, 18-year-old Markus Burden was the chosen participant and managed to rise to the challenge by sinking the basketball from past the half court line in front of a cheering incoming class.

The Frankfort, Illinois native's shot from way beyond the arc was worth a lot more than three points and won him free tuition for his spring semester.

"It was an overwhelming feeling," Burden said in an outfit that sparkled as much as his winning smile.

Burden was randomly selected to take part in the contest by one of the coaches on the basketball court. Coach might want to give the recreation league player a tryout.

"'I am still very excited and surprised that I hit the shot," he said. 

Burden said his mom refused to believe the news until she saw photographic evidence of the valuable stunt.

Ball State University has been sponsoring the contest for several years, but this is the first time a student has actually managed to make the show and claim the prize.

The marketing major will receive $11,000 to go towards his tuition costs for the upcoming semester.

Burden's incredible shot might even have famous Ball State alum David Letterman saying, "Hey heeey."

Alex Rodriguez paid for Anthony Bosch's attorney: Report

Alex Rodriguez prepared us when he said the next seven weeks would be a "bumpy road" and we can expect "a story like this" every day — now it seems A-Rod might have run into a pothole that even his legal team can't fill.

The latest bombshell involving A-Rod, according to ESPN's "Outside the Lines," claims the embattled New York Yankees player made two payments for former Biogenesis chief Anthony Bosch's attorney. T.J. Quinn is reporting that the New York Yankees third baseman's retainer payments are part of the evidence Major League Baseball has proving he interfered with the PED investigation.

According to Quinn, Rodriguez paid a $25,000 retainer in February before a $50,000 wire transfer was rejected in April. A-Rod's camp says the second payment attempt was a mistake and asked for it to be returned. A spokesperson for Susy Ribero-Ayala, Bosch's attorney said this:

"A retainer was paid (via wire transfer) by a representative of Alex Rodriquez (sic). Ms. Ribero-Ayala accepted this payment on behalf of Anthony Bosch as payment for his legal representation," the statement says.

"In April 2013, Ms. Ribero-Ayala received an unsolicited and unwarranted wire transfer from A-Rod Corp. The funds were immediately returned. Mr. Rodriquez (sic) does not have any involvement in Mr. Bosch's legal representation."

MLB also has email exchanges discussing the second transfer. Ribero-Ayala said she was unaware why she had received the money and returned it upon request. Quinn says the evidence shows failed negotiations between A-Rod's camp and Bosch's attorney, at best. Neither side offered comment.

Rodriguez was suspended a record 211 games for his ties to Biogenesis earlier this month. He has appealed the ban and returned to playing third base for the Yankees. Fifty games is the typical penalty handed down to first time offenders, but A-Rod received more because he allegedly interfered with the investigation.

You're going to need a bigger shovel this time A-Rod.

Yonder Alonso misses bag in strange play at first base (VIDEO)

Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso has trouble finding the bag after receiving the throw from Eric Stults, allowing Mets batter Juan Lagares to reach safely on Sunday.

The odd-looking play came after Alonso had already been called for being off the bag earlier in this series when he wasn't, but this time the first baseman looked like he was purposely stepping away from making the tag.

Mets announcer Keith Hernandez — a pretty good first baseman during his playing days — couldn't believe Alonso's sluggish gaffe.

"[His teammates should] have a cup of black coffee for him when he comes back [to the dugout]," he suggested. "It's ninety feet, not ninety-three."

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A-Rod hit by Dempster pitch in first at-bat against Red Sox (VIDEO)

Alex Rodriguez was hit by a Ryan Dempster pitch in his first at-bat against Boston Sunday night, prompting both the Yankees and Red Sox players to clear the benches and bullpens in a tense scene at at Fenway Park.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi ran onto the field during the nationally-televised game, threw his cap to the ground and was ejected. He was tossed during a heated argument after plate umpire Brian O'Nora warned both teams against further trouble. Girardi loudly insisted to O'Nora that Dempster intentionally took aim at A-Rod two times before finally nailing him on a third attempt.

Dempster's fastball hit Rodriguez in the second inning with a 3-0 pitch. Dempster threw his first pitch of the inning behind the legs of Rodriguez, missed inside with the next two pitches and then threw a fastball that glanced off A-Rod's elbow pad and deflected into his back setting off an explosion of cheers by the Sox faithful.

Rodriguez was recently suspended 211 games by Major League Baseball in a drug case. He is appealing and allowed to play until there is a decision.

NCAA bans Marine from playing football because he competed in military recreational league

A Middle Tennessee State freshman who completed five years of active service in the Marines this summer is appealing an NCAA rule which prevents him from playing this season because he competed in a recreational league in the military.

The rule essentially says student-athletes who do not enroll in college within a year of graduating high school will be charged one year of collegiate eligibility for every academic year they participate in organized competition, according to USAToday.

By NCAA standards, Steven Rhodes' play at the Marine base counted as "organized competition" because there were game officials, team uniforms and the score was kept. But the 6-foot-3, 240-pound Marine sergeant said the recreational league was nothing close to organized.

"Man, it was like intramurals for us," said the 24-year-old. "There were guys out there anywhere from 18 to 40-something years old. The games were spread out. We once went six weeks between games."

The rule first took shape in 1980, when "participation in organized competition during times spent in the armed services, on official church missions or with recognized foreign aid services of the U.S. government" were exempt from limiting eligibility.

But through several revisions and branches of the rule, the clause allowing competition during military service was lost and not carried over into the current bylaws.

Daryl Simpson, MTSU's assistant athletic director/compliance, said he doesn't believe the NCAA ever intended to penalize military service members.

"All this is strictly because of how the bylaw is worded," he said of the technicality. "In my opinion, there is no intent of anyone to not allow protection to our U.S. service members."

Middle Tennessee won a partial appeal to the NCAA last week recouping two years of eligibility for Rhodes with his recreational league spanning two academic years. But Rhodes still is appealing to play this season practicing both at tight end and defensive end.

On Sunday, MTSU spokesman Mark Owens said that the school hopes to hear from the NCAA within the next month. The Blue Raiders open the season Aug. 29 hosting Western Carolina.

Maybe this time the NCAA will get it right.

Was Russian female athletes kiss on podium protesting anti-gay law?

Russian athletes Kseniya Ryzhova and Tatyana Firova shared a kiss on the medal stand Saturday after winning gold at the World Athletics Championships in the 4×400 meter relay, sparking a debate over whether the gesture was a sign of celebration, or a defiant protest of their country’s anti-LGBT laws.

Neither athlete has released a statement about the kiss and it was unclear Sunday if it was in protest. The kiss nevertheless is a slap in the face of Russia’s law banning any form of “homosexual propaganda.” While Sky News seems certain that the kiss was a political statement, others aren’t so sure. Gay Star News says it is “unclear” whether the kiss was merely a sign of affection or whether the athletes were “blatantly defying Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ laws since neither of the athletes have released a statement.”

Regardless, the kiss could land the athletes in legal trouble considering it expressly goes against the much-criticized law that bans anything that may be seen as a promotion of homosexuality.

Earlier in the week, another Russian track athlete, Yelena Isinbayeva, backtracked on comments that appeared to support the law.

“If we allow to promote and do all this stuff on the street, we are very afraid about our nation because we consider ourselves like normal, standard people,” said Isinbayeva Thursday. “We just live with boys with women, women with boys.”

LGBT activists have called for a boycott of the upcoming Sochi winter olympics in protest over the law, which grants officials the authority to arrest gay people or those suspected of being gay.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Kuyt shows off nasty shiner after collision with teammate De Guzman

From the looks of this photo you would think Dirk Kuyt got the worst of accidental head-butt (video at bottom) from Dutch teammate Jonathan DeGuzman but, you'd be wrong in a You should see the other guy sense.

Kuyt, the former Liverpool winger, took to his Twitter page to show off the result of the incident, which left him with an extremely nasty black eye and stitches. 

The pair collided in Holland's training session while on international play this week, leaving De Guzman in need of hospital treatment, and out of their Premier League opener against Manchester United.

De Guzman certainly came off worse in his clash of heads with Kuyt, after he was carted off the pitch in need of hospital treatment, and out of their Premier League opener against Manchester United.

Before paramedics got to De Guzman,  United striker and international team-mate Robin van Persie rushed to his floored teammate's  aid. 

With his head bandaged, a groggy De Guzman was lifted onto a stretcher before being wheeled into an ambulance. 

He was taken to hospital for tests and the initial diagnosis is a mild concussion, which usually means a two-week lay-off. De Guzman had been named among the starters for Holland.

Innovative beer 'Robo-Vendor' impresses Nationals Park baseball crowd (VIDEO)

This is one baseball stadium beer vendor who knows time is money — especially when the cutoff for serving suds usually comes before the seventh-inning stretch — and has done something to increase his profits.

A couple of fans videotaped this Nationals Park beer jockey with a home-made gizmo attached to his left hand that cuts the top off not just one but TWO cans of beer simultaneously making it easier and — more importantly — faster to pour the refreshing brews to thirsty fans who can't wait for it to dribble out of the standard sipping hole a single can at a time.

The impressed fans even came up with a name for the human can-opener and start chanting "Robo-Vendor Robo-Vendor" as he drains a couple of beers for them.

Coming soon to stadium near you —Robo-Vendors ... patent pending.

MLB's bat invasion continued at Target Field on Friday (VIDEO)

For the third time in 10 days, a bat has been spotted at a MLB stadium during a game — and not the Louisville Slugger variety. First, one of the flying mammals swooped down in Pittsburgh, another was carried off the field in Atlanta and one got up close and personal with Twins infielder Doug Bernier at Target Field in Minneapolis Friday night.

This little guy flitted around the infield for a while before heading back to its cave. No harm done during his short visit.

Why the sudden invasion of flying bug-eaters? Who knows — but let's remember they devour the even more pesky mosquito.

 Pretty soon Major League team's batboys (and girls) will need a degree in chiropterology.

Cameraman snags foul ball, gets adulation from crowd (VIDEO)

A television cameraman — with an uncanny resemblance to movie director Kevin Smith — made a terrific barehanded catch of a foul ball at Citizens Bank Park during the Dodgers-Phillies game Friday night. After rolling the ball over the Dodgers dugout into the stands, Andy — as the announcers called him —soaked in the adulation from the crowd with a nifty little bow.

Maybe it was Smith. Philly is only a three-exit, Jersey Turnpike drive away from Silent Bob's usual stomping grounds.

Either way, Behind the Scenes Andy, you earned the applause.

Friday, August 16, 2013

John Lackey has 'a problem' with A-Rod playing during appeal

A Yankees-Red Sox series usually doesn't need any sub-plots to ramp up the drama but — with all of controversy surrounding Alex Rodriguez's doping charges and his subsequent suspension and appeal — one player just couldn't ignore spouting off about A-Rod's visit to Fenway Park this weekend.

Red Sox starter John Lackey doesn’t think Rodriguez should be playing while he appeals a lengthy suspension related to Major League Baseball’s investigation into Biogenesis and performance-enhancing drugs.

Interestingly enough, Lackey is scheduled to start Saturday’s game against A-Rod and the Yankees in Boston.

“I’ve got a problem with it. You bet I do,” Lackey told the Boston Globe on Thursday. “How is he still playing? He obviously did something and he’s playing. I’m not sure that’s right. … It’s pretty evident he’s been doing stuff for a lot of years I’ve been facing him.”

While 13 other players accepted lesser bans, Rodriguez is appealing his 211-game suspension. Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria has also voiced his displeasure with A-Rod being on the field during baseball’s playoff push.

Lackey admitted it’s been discussed in the Red Sox clubhouse, adding that some people have “strong feelings” on the topic.

“Sure, we talk about it,” Lackey said. “But talking to the media about it is a little bit different.”

Lackey’s comments should make an important three-game series at Fenway just a little more spectacular— as if it needed any more help. 

“He took me deep the first time I faced him as a rookie, and he admitted to doing stuff back then,” said Lackey, referring A-Rod’s prior admission to using PEDs while playing for the Texas Rangers from 2001-03. “There are a lot of things I want back from him.”

New York is 8.5 games behind first-place Boston in the AL East and six games in the wild card race.