Friday, October 6, 2017

Cam Newton gets iced while Jourdan Rodrigue skates free from criticism

The theory that two wrongs don't make a right is especially true if you are Cam Newton but apparently not if you are the other wrong.

Newton, no stranger to criticism after he takes the podium, is being drawn and quartered and sort of put back together after his mean spirited response to Charlotte Observer reporter Jourdan Rodrigue at a presser Wednesday afternoon. 

Unless you live in a wi-fi-less cave, you are aware that the Carolina Panthers quarterback's snarky — sinister? — grinning answer to a female NFL beat reporter's question about players' routes was, "It's funny to hear a female talk about routes," with a distinct emphasis on the word "routes."

It definitely was not a good answer and called sexist in most circles.

On the other hand, Rodrigue’s offenses are some nasty tweets dug up by Black Sports Online where the 25 year-old extolled the humor of her father’s “super racist” jokes and used the N-word a few years ago. But not before she called out Newton after the presser and demanded respect face-to-face. 

And while Newton’s seemingly humble and heartfelt apology 24 hours later made him a news and talk show hot topic for another day, Rodrigue’s feeble “I’m sorry” tweet or remarks were barely footnotes in these heated conversations. It was all about Cam and the fallout on him that was quick and costly.

The Dannon Company dropped the NFL star faster than you can say Oikos and before Newton had any chance to explain or apologize. Another sponsor Gatorade also issued a statement Thursday, saying, "Cam's comments were objectionable and disrespectful to all women and they do not reflect the values of our brand.” 

Also piling on Newton were his Panthers front office, the NFL,  ESPN and Sports Illustrated all who blistered Newton to the point he had no choice but to call an audible and make the apology video.

Meanwhile Rodrigue, who has been an NFL reporter since 2016, was set upon a pedestal as some sort of feminist darling and not the racist pariah she just might be as her dirty crumbs got swept under the rug like there was an racist expiration date on the vile posts.

So it begs the question: If Newton's lousy attempt at humor is perceived as sexism, why aren't Rodrigue's equally distasteful remarks and racial slurs seen just as offensive? I'm guessing the media, the NFL and most political groups are all just afraid of the yogurt eaters.

Newton has a history of verbal gaffes and surly behavior at the podium starting with his sometimes colorful and outlandish wardrobe. Whether it’s a twisted sense of humor or plain out disdain for the press, Newton must learn to censure himself when he is the center of attention.

The media has shown a history of crucifying then pink-slipping reporters and sports personalities for their racist remarks — whether the offending words are intentional or just perceived as such and this seems no different.

We all know the stories behind the age-old firings of Jimmy the Greek and Al Campanis but just recently, Terry Frei, a sports reporter for the Denver Post, sent a questionable tweet shortly after Japanese race car driver Takuma Sato hailed victory in the Indy 500 over Memorial day and was immediately canned.

Just last year Emily Austen, a 27 year-old Fox Sports reporter, was fired after making insensitive remarks about Mexican, Jewish and Chinese people.

And none of them even used the N-word!

Mike Persinger, Executive Editor of the Charlotte Observer, hinted to BSO that any discipline regarding Rodrigue's tweets would be handled internally — probably meaning we'll never know if there is any at all. She was reportedly at the Panthers training facility on Thursday.

On Thursday, the Pro Football Writers of America condemned Newton's comments, saying in a statement that the NFL player, "crossed the line."

I'm beginning to wonder who draws that line... the media or the sponsors? And maybe there is a second one... a line which represents a double standard.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Could Jersey Girl be behind Aaron Judge slump?

Aaron Judge may not have launched a home run since Aug. 16 against the Mets, but on Saturday night the Yankees slugger was spotted seemingly hitting one out of the park across the street from Citi Field in a couple of other arenas — namely Arthur Ashe Stadium and love.

Judge was shown on the big screen at the U.S. Open during Rafael Nadal's match against Leonardo Mayer after the Yanks beat the Red Sox, 5-1, earlier in the day and, for once lately, he wasn't striking out. In fact the big guy seemed to be going long with an attractive young woman at his side.

The young lady is Jen Flaum, a Franklin Lakes, N.J. native, self-described Yankees fan and recent University of Michigan grad, according to the NY Daily News. It is not known how long the pair have been keeping company.

What is known is that Flaum, whom both Judge and the Yankees(huh?) follow on Instagram recently posted a photo of herself at Yankee Stadium with the caption, "I got 99 problems but A. Judge ain't one."

A post shared by Jen Flaum (@jflaumy) on

Now before anyone jumps to conclusions about Judge's awful slump, stalking or his new companion's effect on his game — the Olivia Munn Curse so to speak — let's allow the relationship to run its natural course. We all know one hit leads to another.

And while Judge may not have have Derek Jeter's five World Series rings, it sure looks like he is learning to play the former Yankee great's notable off-field game.

Wonder if his gift bags come with one of those white wigs and a foam gavel?

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Eli Manning and Tom Brady postgame chat has fans thinking of third Super Bowl rematch

Eli Manning and Tom Brady are a couple of NFL warhorses who share a pair of epic Super Bowl match-ups on their distinguished resumes. The two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks also seem to possess a mutual respect for each other after the Giants' two dramatic victories.

Once again they met on the field — albeit a more serene environment — after they both sat out Thursday's preseason finale at Gillette Stadium, but it was their little postgame chat which has fans seeing something bigger.

"I didn't tell you this summer, but congrats on last season on the championship," Manning told Brady in the exchange. "It was awesome. It was a great game. Fun to watch. I'm proud of you."

And it was what was said as the two players headed to their respective Giants and Patriots locker rooms that has fans envisioning a third Super Bowl meeting in the future.

"See you down the road, I hope," Brady said.

"See you down the road," Manning replied.

The two teams do not meet in the regular season leaving only one option at seeing you down the road — meaning Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis. 

Talk is cheap but, whether or not you believe Manning's optimism or Brady's sincerity, a third meeting is quite a possibility for the two contending squads.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Chris Christie holds onto nachos while Cubs fan loses his nuts in stadium confrontation

By Tony Mangia

It doesn't really matter if you consider Chris Christie a bully, a blowhard, a traitor, a fathead or — worst of all — a Cowboys fan, you have to admit that, unlike the oozing cheese on a warm tray of nachos, the round mound of New Jersey doesn't melt when the chips are down.

On Sunday the unpopular governor showed that double-wide side when he got in the face of a Chicago Cubs fan during a game in Milwaukee — all while never releasing his precious grip on a bowl of the gooey snack he was carrying.

The nachos-toting Christie was walking down the aisle at Miller Park when a Cubs fan who had nothing better to do than razz the rotund Christie by yelling out at the not-so-hard-to-miss politician.

And his comments had nothing to do with down in front, side, rear or section 215!

So, in his typical brash Jersey style, an intense stare-off between the blustery Guv and suddenly not-so-big-mouthed fan was on. 

“When he initially was going up the stairs I yelled his name,” Cubs jersey-wearing fan Brad Joseph told WISN-TV in Milwaukee.

“He was quite a bit past me, and 30 feet away I yelled his name and told him that he sucked . . . I called him a hypocrite because I thought it needed to be said.”

That's when, according to Joseph, Christie turned back toward him and got in his face while firmly clutching that tray of nachos with one hand.

“First he told me, ‘Why don’t you have another beer?’ which I thought was a decent come back, and I thought that was kind of funny,” he told the station. “Then he started calling me a tough guy.”

Christie, who was at the game visiting his son who works for the Brewers, was also heard on the video sarcastically telling the guy “You’re a big shot!”

While Joseph wilted like a soggy bag of fries on a Seaside Heights boardwalk, Christie kept his all-you-can-eat gaze on the now suddenly timid Cubbie before waddling away. 

Whether suitable or not, politicians should be used to comments in all public areas but, in Christie's case, feedback seems to be off limits when the feedbag is on.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Aaron Judge chips tooth during Yankees' walk-off celebration

Brett Gardner did it all during the Yankees’ 6-5, extra-inning win over the Rays on Thursday night... including a little inci-dental work on the side.

After tripling in the ninth and scoring the tying run to keep the Yankees alive before ending the game in the 11th with a walk-off line drive homer into the right-field seats, Gardy might have also chipped the tooth of Aaron Judge during the celebration at home plate.

Gardner was mobbed by his teammates as he crossed the plate and Judge could be seen being hit by a helmet and reaching for his mouth before jogging off the field alone while the rest of the team still celebrated.

Judge looked a little upset and annoyed as he sought medical attention.

No one, it seemed, was willing to take responsibility for the bopping helmet which ended up smashing Judge in the chin but, with mostly everyone at least six inches shorter than the big guy, it's no wonder it happened.

“It wasn’t my fault,” Gardner said following the victory. “I threw [the helmet] on the ground.

“He’s too big to get hurt by something like that,” the outfielder said. “I think he’ll be all right.”

After the game ended, team personnel could be seen on the field, presumably in search of the tooth fragment.

“We don’t know who hit him,” Clint Frazier said of the already gap-toothed Judge. “We’re trying to find somebody. But the tooth broke in half.”

Judge has managed to smile through a mini-slump since the All-Star game, but here's to hoping this accident doesn't change that attitude.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Aaron Judge hits Statcast-breaking home run nearly out of Safeco Field

Aaron Judge broke out of his nearly two-week home run slump in a spectacular way against the Seattle Mariners Friday night.

The big guy's three-run bomb against Andrew Moore in the fifth-inning — his first homer since July 7 — and 31st overall — landed at the back of the second deck in left field of Safeco Field helping lead the Yankees to a 5-1 victory over the home town Mariners.

Judge's powerful blast went so far it reportedly broke Statcast, which couldn't even get an immediate measurement of the moonshot. The Mariners estimated the ball traveled 440 feet — a conservative guess at best if you went by the reaction of the crowd or announcers.
Judge came up to the plate in front of a mostly cheering crowd of 34,073 and crushed the 2-1 breaking ball from rookie Moore three rows from the top of Safeco's left field’s upper deck. 

According to a Mariners’ official, nobody has hit a ball out of Safeco Field during a game since it opened in 1999.

But this was about as close as they come. Ask Statcast...well maybe not.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Rays' Logan Morrison angry about Yankees' Gary Sanchez being invited to Home Run Derby

Logan Morrison sounds a little peeved that two New York Yankees players will be jacking balls over the fence at next weeks' Home Run Derby during the All-Star Game festivities in Miami while the Tampa Bay Rays' first baseman might be sitting at home swatting flies.

Morrison, who is tied for third in the majors with 24 home runs, doesn’t think Gary Sanchez is deserving of a spot at next week’s Home Run Derby especially when the Yankees are already sending MLB's home run leader Aaron Judge.

“Gary shouldn’t be there,’’ Morrison told the Tampa Bay Times. “Gary’s a great player, but he shouldn’t be in the Home Run Derby. I remember when I had 14 home runs,’’ Morrison said. “That was a month and a half ago.’’

Sanchez does have a less than spectacular 13 homers this year, but remember the Yankees catcher spent a month on the disabled list.

Morrison, however, wasn’t suggesting that he should take Sanchez’s spot.

“It’s not even about that,” he said. “(Royals third baseman Mike) Moustakas should be there.

“I’m not disappointed. It’s par for the course. I play for the Rays. I get it. They can’t even get my picture right. When they put my name up there, they put Corey (Dickerson’s) picture up there ... on MLB Network.’’

It is somewhat unfair that the Yankees did get two players competing in the contest although Morrison would even have to admit that Sanchez is a real bomber. The Yankee slugger averages a true home-run distance of 420.9 feet — second only to Blue Jays' Kendrys Morales and even further than the powerful Judge.

So while Morrison does have a valid argument, it's time for him to put on his big boy pants and worry about making the AL All-Star squad via the Final Vote.

That is, of course, if they get his name right.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Tim Tebow adds wall crashing catch to his minor league highlight reel

Tim Tebow continues to simultaneously blur and highlight his reputation as minor league baseball's most intriguing player — making it hard for anyone to hate the guy.

Since being called up to the New York Mets' Single-A St. Lucie team — and on the same day Mets GM Sandy Alderson admitted Tebow was more of a gimmick than a latent talent — the former NFL star is starting to look like he deserved the promotion even though it might be better suited to the gridiron than the diamond.

On Friday night, a day after Tebow homered in his second game, the bruising outfielder went Wildcat and can now add a wall crushing catch to his baseball reel.
Alderson was pretty blunt on the Tebow signing claiming the Mets didn’t sign the former quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner because they saw some hidden talent in him. It wasn’t a “baseball decision,” as Alderson said at the time.

“Look, we signed him because he is a good guy, partly because of his celebrity, partly because this is an entertainment business,” Alderson said. “My attitude is ‘Why not?’ ”

Despite his paltry .220/.311/.336 stats and only three home runs in 64 games with Single-A Columbia, Tebow was conspicuously promoted last week. 

Tebow went 0-for-2 last night but, like Alderson said, it's all about the show.  And if the losing Mets continue to be as entertaining as they are now, expect to see Tebowing (remember that?) at Citi Field this fall.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Aaron Judge quiets heckling White Sox fans with 418-foot home run

Once again Aaron Judge used his bat to make noise and with one giant swing Wednesday night also silenced some loudmouth White Sox fans who had been yelling "Aaron! Aaron! You suck!" all game long from the right-field stands where he stands guard.

The big guy slammed a 418-foot, two-run homer to left in the sixth inning of the Yankees’ 12-3 victory over Chicago but the shot left a mouth gag that covered the other side of Guaranteed Rate Field as well.

After the game the usually humble Judge admitted that he looked toward the rowdy fans as he rounded the bases after hitting his 27th homer of the year.

“I did. I did. I like having some fun with the fans,” Judge said. “They were heckling me pretty good out there. I’m not going to say anything to them. I just gave them a little peak as I rounded the bases. I was just having some fun with them. They were kind of razzing me when I got back out there.”

“Just smiling, having a good time,” Judge said. “It is fun to play this game. Someone razzes you a little bit, just having fun. It was all good. They were getting on me pretty good.”  

Joining Judge in the shushing was Masahiro Tanaka who won a game for the first time in nearly two months — keeping the Yankees in the top spot of the AL East.

Monday, June 26, 2017

UFC fighter gets the crap choked out of her...literally

Justine Kish not only got the crap choked out her by Felice Herrig in their UFC Fight Night showdown at UFC Oklahoma this weekend, she even left the skid marks inside the Octagon to prove it.

In an embarrassing moment Kish probably wishes she could wipe away, the corn-rowed warrior apparently lost control of her bowels during the fight while trying to escape a vicious rear-naked chokehold from Herrig. The exertion Kish used to escape the grasp of Herrig most likely brought about the unfortunate incident.

And, even more unfortunately for Kish, her octagon accident was not lost on viewers at home. Replay of Kish’s attempted escape confirmed that a nasty brown substance was left behind on the canvas.
The previously undefeated Kish was praised for the courage she showed in escaping the deep choke from Herrig.

“I have no idea how Kish got out of this,” UFC analyst Kenny Florian said. “Just pure toughness and strength. Just amazing determination from Justine.”

But her real fortitude showed when the straw-weight took to social media following the contest, humorously owning up to her Depends moment, and telling her fans that she will return to fight again for the throne. 

That's when #ShitHappens started trending.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Michael Phelps will race against a great white in Shark Week event

By Tony Mangia

Without an Olympics this summer and no other human being to beat in the pool, it seems only logical that Michael Phelps takes on one of the fastest and, just for fun, one of the most fearsome swimmers on the earth, namely the great white shark.

In what could possibly be described as Shark Week jumping the shark, the Discovery Channel announced that 23 time Olympic gold medal winner  Phelps will race a great white shark as part of its popular summer series on July 23:

"They are one of the fastest and most efficient predators on the planet: Sharks. He is our greatest champion to ever get in the water: Michael Phelps. 39 world records. 23 Olympic golds. But he has one competition left to win. An event so monumental no one has ever attempted it before. The world’s most decorated athlete takes on the ocean’s most efficient predator: Phelps V Shark – the race is on!"

According to, sharks cruise around at around 5 mph, but great whites can reach top speeds of 25 mph — about "10 times faster than the typical human swimmer" when they are in attack mode.

One can only guess that Phelps is hoping against attack mode and won't be paddling for his life since the the Olympic chum, I mean champ, has only been clocked at a top speed of 6 mph.

But it's not like Phelps hasn't been training and researching his competition. Last week the 31-year-old went cage diving with some great whites hopefully to get a leg up and keep one out of his toothy rival's mouth:

The network is hyping this broadcast as a once in a lifetime event and is hoping their viewing audience bites.

But just in case you don't remember other "monumental" Man vs Beast competitions like Nat Geo Wild's Man vs Cheetah back in 2014 when a couple of NFL players raced a spotted speedster in separate enclosures which ended up about as exciting as watching the big cats napping at the zoo.

And speaking of dozing, there were high hopes in 2014 for the Discovery Channel's Man Gets Eaten Alive By An Anaconda which ultimately turned out to be one of TV's most laughable and epic fails.

Either way, real sports fans know a race doesn't count if the players don't compete on the same field of play, bumping shoulder to shoulder,  leg to leg or, in this case, arm to fin.

I'm sure plenty of people will tune in to watch the colorfully named Phelps Vs. Shark: Great Gold Vs Great White. Just don't expect to see any red — especially in the accounting books.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Congressional Baseball Game will go on Thursday in light of GOP shooting

The annual Congressional Baseball Game will go on as planned, Rep. Martha McSally announced in an all-member briefing after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others were shot by a deranged Bernie Sanders supporter while the Republican team was practicing Wednesday morning at a Virginia ball field.

"It will be play ball tomorrow night," Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) and manager of the GOP squad, confirmed later in the day. 

Despite the cowardly armed sneak attack aimed at Republicans, it won’t stop the annual charity match-up from being played 7:05 p.m. on Thursday at Nationals Park, according to the game organizers from both parties.

During a solemn address to the chamber Wednesday afternoon, House Speaker Paul Ryan injected a moment of levity – joking that the wounded Congressman's biggest complaint will be having to spend time on the disabled list.

“Knowing Steve Scalise as we all do, he is likely really frustrated that he’s not going to be able to play in the baseball game,” Ryan said of his friend — who is still listed as in critical condition.

Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), manager of the Democrats, invited all players from both teams to dinner at Democratic headquarters on Wednesday night.

“We’re united not as Republicans and Democrats but as United States representatives,” said Barton during the joint appearance with his Democratic baseball rival Doyle.

The annual congressional baseball game dates back to 1909 and is considered a bi-partisan event open to everyone.

Every year Senate and House members of each party fortify friendships off the floor and on the field. Members usually wear the uniform of their home states and districts, and although proportional representation is not required, elected officials of many states play to bring home the victory trophy.

Rep. Eric Swalwell, (D-Calif.), who is on the Democrats’ baseball team said the Democratic team practices at a different facility than where the shooting occurred. Swalwell noted that they usually have security, but the Republicans likely had “even more” due to Scalise’s rank in the House Republican Leadership.

President Trump touted the "heroism" of Capitol Police officers, and said their presence prevented what would have been a "massacre."

There is expected to be an increased number of fans in the stands — and more security at the gates— this year as the game has now taken on national significance.

More importantly, the sportsmanship represents the hopes of an America that is striving for unity.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Aaron Judge sends 495-foot home run over Yankee Stadium Bleachers

By Tony Mangia

Aaron Judge continues to wow fans with his amazing home run hitting prowess but, on Sunday, the gentle giant added an almost unbelievable shot to his young and growing legacy.

A day after hammering a home run hit harder than any one recorded in the Statcast era — a rocket with a 121.1 mile-an-hour exit velocity according to the charts — Judge went orbital again.

“I’m sure he can hit it up to 122 or 123,” teammate Gary Sanchez said after Saturday night's bomb. “He has a lot of power.”

Less than 15 hours after Sanchez's statement, and against the same Orioles team, Judge not only hit the ball with authority, he hit it for distance — 495 feet to be exact.
The reaction of his teammates shows the marvel of a home run ball hit into No Man's Land like that.

The best part of the dugout celebration might be 5'8" inch Ronald Torreyes getting a shoulder boost up to reach the 6'7" Judge's high five.

All rise... again.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Lone Saudi Arabian player honors moment of silence for London terrorist victims before match against Australia

In what can only be described as a disgraceful display of disrespect and lack of decency or compassion for human lives, only a single Saudi Arabian soccer player chose to stand still and pay respect to the victims of the London terrorist attack during a moment of silence while the rest of his team continued to warm up, kick around the ball and even tie their shoes before a World Cup qualifying match against the Australian team this week.

As a full stadium looked on, only Salman Al-Faraj politely held his hands behind his back and stared at the ground during the sixty second tribute before the match as his Saudi teammates ignored the gesture and walked off to their positions on the pitch like it was nothing but a big delay.

That's one out of 11 for all you keeping score at home or Homeland.

The Saudi Arabian team became the target of worldwide outrage for snubbing the minute of silence, with officials claiming it was "not in keeping with Saudi culture."
Video shows the Australian team lined up at the halfway mark, with the Saudi players ignoring the respectful moment as they get in formation to start the game — all except the 27-year-old midfielder Al-Faraj.

Footage seems to show Saudi captain Osama Hawsawi instructing his teammates to pay their respect and stand still only after sensing the crowd's reaction.

It was reported that Saudi Arabian fans watching at the Adelaide Oval also ignored the moment of silence, speaking loudly and moving around in the stadium.

After widespread outrage, the Saudi Arabian Football Federation issued a statement saying it "deeply regrets and unreservedly apologizes for any offense caused." 

"The players did not intend any disrespect to the memories of the victims or to cause upset to their families, friends or any individual affected by the atrocity," it stated.

"The Saudi Arabian Football Federation condemns all acts of terrorism and extremism and extends its sincerest condolences to the families of all the victims and to the Government and people of the United Kingdom."

Later, the same Saudi players still found time to kneel and pray after a goal.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Mr. Met fired after giving middle(?) finger to fans at Citi Field

The unwanted drama at Citi Field continues to unfurl and even the New York Mets baseball-headed mascot has gotten caught up in the losing and frustration.

On Wednesday night, that four-fingered freak, Mr. Met, reached his own breaking point and flipped what must be considered his middle digit at some fans during the 7-1 loss to the Brewers. The loss halted a modest a three-game winning streak for the Mets and ended one costume wearer's career for good.

A video posted by @adelucia35 on Twitter captured the moment when Mr. Met flipped the bird to a group of shouting fans as the mascot walked toward a tunnel through Citi Field.

The incident came on a night that marked the 53rd anniversary of Mr. Met’s debut as the team mascot. 
"We apologize for the inappropriate action of this employee," the Mets said in an email from the organization. 

"We do not condone this type of behavior. We are dealing with this matter internally."

A Mets official told The Associated Press more than one person wears the Mr. Met costume during each season, and the person who wore it Wednesday night will not work in the costume again.

All kind of funny considering the real middle finger to fans is the 23-28 record the team is holding up to them. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sri Lanka's Knuckles Mountain is a worthy trek...with or without the leeches

Article and photos by Tony Mangia

Sri Lanka just might be one of the most colorful and interesting places in the world for travelers searching for a 180-degree change of pace — all in one country and all in a single day. From the ancient temples at Polonnawura through the tea plantations of the Hill Country and the aqua blue water surfing in Arugam Bay, the country offers visitors a wide array of activities and sights — all at a spectacularly cheap price. And even if you find those places just a little too congested with civilization, a mountain hike or hill walk might be the perfect cure. 

Transversing the water drop-shaped Sri Lanka is a little trickier than most places and even the most experienced adventurers might tire traveling the narrow, bumpy and traffic-clogged roadways via bus or rail. But if you like to hike, the rugged paths of the Lakegala Mountain trek — more commonly known as Knuckles Mountain — are well worth at least one visit and less crowded and touristy than the over-rated Adam’s Peak stair climb that is nearby.

Situated about 25 kilometers (15 miles) northeast of the dusty, tuk-tuk congested streets of Kandy, Knuckles Mountain is as breathtaking a sight for eyes that one could find in the green and biodiverse Central Highlands of this scenic country. The Ceylon British came up with the name which is derived from the rounded, knuckled ridge resembling a giant clenched fist punching its way out of the earth.

Popular Knuckles Mountain hiking trails include the mini world’s end from Deanston, a trail to Dothalugala from Deanston, a trail to Nitro Caves from Corbett’s Gap, a trail to Augallena cave via Thangappuwa from Corbett’s Gap and the trail to Kalupahana from “Meemure” village.

I was in Sri Lanka to do some volunteer work and a little scuba diving but, after hiking the Inca Trail last spring, it has become part of my travel routine to hike at least one or two trails where and whenever I can.  And while the one-day Knuckles Mountain trek I chose is not as daunting as the seemingly endless trails in Peru, there are some multi day and night treks you can do at Knuckles as well. And the one-day hike has a challenge — namely one word that put more fear into my heart than any five day trek anywhere — leeches. Yup. Leeches. And not the kind who hog all the water and trail mix on a hike.

It seems the first thing anyone says when you mention Knuckles Mountain are the blood-sucking, worm-like parasites who attach themselves to your ankles and make their way up your leg before securing themselves to your body for a snack. And in the damp, leafy trails of Knuckles, they are reportedly as abundant as the foliage itself. I hoped the Buddhist blessing I received the day before would protect me from the unpleasant little creatures if the application of a soap and salt liquid on my legs didn’t keep them sliding off.

After some relief hearing that I might get about only half a dozen of the wormy hitchhikers and that some sort of medicinal benefits would surely outweigh the gross factor, I came to grips that I would be latched onto and it was part of the Knuckles Mountain initiation. So off my hiking buddy Jamie and I went.

Most locals recommend entering the trail on he Thangappuwa side of the range about five miles from the mountain peak and to get a guide. The Knuckles Mountain trek could be described as an intermediate hike filled with plenty of clearly-marked, flat rock trails but also has detours going through and up huge boulders, rugged stone stairs and up and down slippery bamboo and jungle-lined tunnels. The steep mountain terrain at the summit of the main Knuckles peak (the sixth highest in Sri Lanka) including a rare dwarf cloud forest. Guides are essential and it would be quite easy to get thrown off course and miss specific wildlife, plants and breathtaking points of interest if you tried it alone. You can hire one by contacting the Forestry Department in advance. We arranged our hike through the volunteer group we were working with but travelers can get more information and book a guide through

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Adelphi lacrosse team uses President Trump speech as entrance song

Adelphi University athletes found one way to get fans in the stands to get up and scream before a game — if not only the liberal ones.

The school's men’s lacrosse team used a speech by President Donald Trump as its entrance music as they ran onto the field carrying an American flag. 

The 39-second video, which includes a musical soundtrack accompanying the speech, shows the Adelphi players lined up before entering the field. The player at the front of the line is carrying an American flag. It is not clear from the video at which game the clip was shot.

It has already been viewed more than 900,000 times on Instagram — with the typical left-right ranting.

Although it is highly unusual for teams to use a president's speech in an entrance song, this pregame decision does not violate the private school's policy, a university spokesperson said.

“The men’s lacrosse team’s regular-season pregame warm-up music is selected as a team and approved for use so long as they do not contain vulgarity or inappropriate subject matter,” Adelphi athletic director Danny McCabe said in a statement. “The songs they proposed and used this season meet those guidelines. As such, we are obliged to follow the policy.”

Men’s lacrosse coach Gordon Purdie added in a statement that the team “traditionally has chosen patriotic music” to accompany their entrance to the field.

“It was not intended to provoke or be taken as a political statement,” he said. “We’re sorry if anyone was offended.”

The team has reportedly used the same speech as an intro before.

Adelphi, a private university on Long Island, plays in Division II, is 14-3 this season and is the top seed in the NCAA Tournament, which begins Saturday at home against fourth-seed Pace.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Yankees beat Cubs on Brett Gardner's come-from-behind ninth inning home run

The Cubs were cruising along in the ninth inning towards a 2-0 win in the Friday afternoon opener of their big inter-league series with the Yankees when Brett Gardner silenced the optimistic Wrigley Field crowd with one mighty swing.

Looking like it was a sure win, Chicago closer Hector Rondon then got Didi Gregorius to ground out to start the top of the inning. Chase Headley then singled, and a wild pitch would send him to second. After a strikeout, Jacoby Ellsbury walked to put the tying run on. That’s when Gardy came up and jacked a 2-out, 2-strike pitch out of the park to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead.
Gardner left no doubt he put the Yankees ahead as the game hero hollered and fist pumped his way around the bases. It was Gardner's fifth home run of the season — all in his last six games! 

Funny, because before today, we last saw Gardner Wednesday night, as he was taking batting practice in the Yankees dugout up in Toronto.

Yankees fans are taking a liking to Gardy's new found power... no matter where he does it.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Travis Rudolph is a NY Giants signee everyone can root for

Travis Rudolph was not picked in the NFL draft this year but is one of 17 undrafted players to be signed by the New York Giants. And if the wide receiver never ends up being a Giant on the field during a game, it's nice to know that the 21-year-old is way bigger off of it.

Rudolph, you may remember, is the Florida State player whose photo of him sharing lunch with a lonely autistic boy in a school cafeteria went viral and warmed the hearts of many.

And it appears that Rudolph and the young boy, Bo Paske, are still pals.

Rudolph posted an Instagram picture of the pair hanging out during the NFL draft this past week.

The relationship started last August, when the football player visited Tallahassee's Montford Middle School along with four other players to speak with students.

He saw Paske, a sixth-grader who is autistic, by himself at a table in the lunch room, and asked if he could sit with him.

He said the two had a great conversation, calling Bo a "cool" person who he would hang out with any day.

The pair even met up a week later at FSU so Rudolph could give Bo a jersey emblazoned with the name PASKE on the back.

Leah Paske, Bo's mother, was moved to tears upon seeing a photo of the gesture and said she is grateful for the kindness Rudolph showed her son who often eats lunch alone.

In a Facebook post in which she shared a of the lunchroom encounter, Paske said her talked about some of the challenges Bo faces with his disorder including the solo midday meals.

Rudolph led Florida State in receiving the past two seasons and forfeited his final season of eligibility to enter the NFL draft. And now, on a team loaded with receiving talent, the former Seminoles player might be a long shot to make the team.

But if there is anyone worth rooting for it's Travis ... and his buddy Bo.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Aaron Judge has birthday bash and crash during Fenway Park debut

Aaron Judge sure knows how to celebrate his birthday and the rest of the league might be glad it only comes once a year.

In his debut at Fenway Park on Wednesday night, the hulking 25-year-old rightfielder a hit a two-run homer and made a remarkable catch while falling into the stands to help back up starter Luis Severino's three-hit, six-strikeout gem during the Yankees 3-1 victory over the Red Sox.

In the second inning, Judge got a fastball from last season's AL Cy Young award winner Rick Porcello and went the opposite way over the short wall in right for his seventh homer of the season.

Then, in the third, Xander Bogaerts hit a fly ball toward the short wall along the right-field foul line. Judge extended his arm to make the catch before hitting the wall and plunging head-first into the stands.

Initially, it was ruled no catch as Judge lost the ball on the transfer before emerging from the seats. But the Yankees challenged the call, which was overturned following a replay review.

The real loser on the play... those poor first row seats.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Gronk crashes Sean Spicer presser during White House visit

During the New England Patriots' visit to the White House Wednesday afternoon, party boy tight end Rob Gronkowski unexpectedly showed up at a Sean Spicer press conference.

As the Press Secretary was answering a question about NAFTA, Gronk casually poked his head in the room.

The mischievous NFL star asked Spicer if he needed some help.

Spicer replied, “I think I got this, but thank you.”

After more stunned looks from the press corps than the day after the election, the room broke out in laughter as Gronkowski left the room.

“That was cool," Spicer remarked. "How do you follow that?”
Gronk also made his way to the Oval Office and had a chance to fist bump the Prez after the Patriots ceremony honoring the team's Super Bowl LI win.

Just glad the the big lug didn't start poking around while asking: What's this big shiny red button for?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Tony Mangia On Assignment In Sri Lanka

Message to readers of The Other Paper:

I will be out of the United States for the next four weeks visiting the beautiful country of Sri Lanka.

The essentials

Although the civil war ended in Sri Lanka a few years ago, many Sri Lankans are still displaced and looking to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives. I will be spending a few weeks helping a group of refugees rebuild some of the resettlement villages and temples that are still in disarray and teach English to some of the children. Yup. Lots of “How ya doin’” will probably be heard as they move back home.

In between, there will be time to do some scuba diving, mountain hiking and work on a special photo assignment.

I will probably be without Internet, phone or even TV for most of the the duration and, sort of happily, won’t be posting or viewing anything on social media. Hopefully, this will mean not seeing or hearing about any “news” related to American politics as well. So don’t burn the place down until I get back.

And, while I will somewhat miss March Madness (no St. John’s), I guess following the the cricket league pools and learning how to throw — hit? — a wicked googly will be just as much fun.

New posts to return next month. Ayubowan.

Ezekiel Elliot caught on camera yanking down woman's top during St. Patrick's Parade

Ezekiel Elliott, last season's NFL offensive sensation and MVP finalist, might find himself in a more defensive stance in the future after being caught on camera exposing a woman's breast during a St Patrick's Day Parade.

Two videos have circulated of the 21-year-old Dallas Cowboys running back getting inappropriate with the young woman and pulling her top down towards a camera. Elliot was reportedly with the unidentified woman, who continually slaps his hand away, before yanking down her tank top while drinking at a Dallas rooftop bar over the weekend.

What makes it even more disturbing is the fact that Elliott has been under investigation for assault claims by his ex-girlfriend since the beginning of his rookie season last year.

The footage, obtained by TMZ, shows the woman gesturing to her breasts to the crowd before Elliott exposes her left one right before she immediately covers back up.

A second short video was also posted, in which the same woman bends towards the crowd showing some cleavage.

Elliott reaches again for her breast and she swats his hand away.
A representative for the football player has said that the woman wasn't upset by the incident and spent time with Elliott and a group of friends later in the evening.

Elliott previously told the Washington Post that he was hoping for closure on the assault allegations against him by his ex-girlfriend, which have hounded him since the beginning of his rookie season in 2016.

"I would rather them not drag on as long. I think if there was something to find, which there's not, they would've found it by now," he has said.

Authorities cleared him following a lack of evidence in the case, after his then-girlfriend posted photos of bruises on her arms on Instagram and tagged Elliott.

She later deleted the photos.

Last January, police were also called to Elliott's Florida apartment in response to a domestic incident involving the same woman, who said the running back had pushed her against a wall during an argument. 

The NFL has already reportedly questioned Elliott about that incident and can still suspend players for conduct violations without the presence of legal charges. And, with all of the previous inicidents involving NFL players and domestic abuse stoking the flames, this might turn into a nasty burn for Zeke.