Chicago Sun-Times
A hearty stew of offbeat sports and pop culture.

May 2009 Archives

todd-tichenor.jpgWhile we here in Chicago were basking in the confused afterglow of Carlos Zambrano's ridiculous antics and anti-hydration show of violence, there was all sorts of umpire drama in Minnesota.

During Thursday's Twins-Red Sox game, home plate umpire Todd Tichenor ejected the starting catcher and manager of both teams in the seventh inning. If the name Todd Tichenor doesn't ring a bell, that's because he is relatively new to the bigs.
matt-wieters.jpgMatt Wieters, the much-ballyhooed catching prospect for the Baltimore Orioles, will make his major league debut tonight against the Detroit Tigers. (MLB)

Lee Corso isn't about to something as trivial as a little stroke keep him off the "College GameDay" set. (ESPN)

"Laodecian" was the winning world in this year's spelling bee. But, what does it mean? (Dictionary)

Tennis star Simona Halep to get breast reduction surgery. (The Sun)
erin-andrews.jpgIf there are two surefire topics that boost blog traffic, they are Erin Andrews and "Dancing With the Stars." So, this post is basically has to be written.

Andrews, the golden girl of sideline reporting, told The Sporting Blog that she's more than ready to show her moves on the aforementioned television show.

"I love the show, and I've grown up around dancing," said Andrews, who, of course, was on the Dazzlers dance team when at Florida. "People say, 'Oh, you're a dancer, how could you do it?' But I've never taken ballroom, I've never partnered dance with anyone. I think I'd be in the top, unless I fall. I'm a big faller. If you fall, that's a hard fall, which I'm sure would make the Internet very happy."
I can't even imagine what that event would do to the world-wide web, but it wouldn't be pretty.

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Former Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Jimmy Smith pleaded not guilty to several charges Thursday including possession of cocaine and marijuana.

Smith, 40, also pleaded not guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia and driving with a suspended license. A fifth charge, possessing or selling a controlled substance, was dropped.

Smith did not attend the arraignment at Duval County Courthouse. He was represented in court by his attorney, Hank Coxe, who did not comment on the case after the hearing.

Smith, who played 10 seasons for Jacksonville, was pulled over April 23 on Interstate 95 in Jacksonville for excessive window tint on his 2009 Mercedes Benz, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.

The trooper reported that the inside of the car smelled like burnt marijuana. During a search, the trooper found crack cocaine, marijuana and a business card with powder cocaine residue in the car's center console.

Smith retired from the Jaguars in 2006 after playing from 1995 to 2005. He finished with 862 receptions and 12,287 receiving yards and 67 touchdowns. He was a five-time Pro Bowl selection.

Despite the exceptional stats, Smith's career was not without problems:

In 2001, he had three operations to remove scar tissue from his abdomen;Some questioned whether he would play again, but he caught 112 passes for 1,373 yards -- despite being arrested in November that year for suspicion of drunken driving;

Tests later revealed he had cocaine in his system, though he vehemently denied using the drug;

He was suspended for the first four games of the 2003 season for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He then publicly acknowledged an addiction and spent several weeks in rehab.

As of 2008, the only players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with more career receiving yards than Smith are Art Monk (12,721) Steve Largent (13,089) and James Lofton (14,004); only Monk has more catches.

As John Calipari vacates the University of Memphis for greener pastures at Kentucky, he leaves in his wake a sea of scandal -- and NBA rookie of the year Derrick Rose may be in the middle of it.

The NCAA is accusing Memphis of major violations during the 2007-08 season with Calipari at the helm.

The Memphis Commercial Appeal obtained through a Freedom of Information request the NCAA documents that charge a Memphis recruit of "knowing fraudulence or misconduct in connection with his entrance examination." That player competed for Memphis during the 2007-08 season -- and only that season -- which included the team's trip to the Final Four.

From the Memphis Commercial Appeal:

Take a look at the world-class nutty the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano threw after a a call at the plate Wednesday at Wrigley Field. The Pirates put across the tying run, though eventually lost, 5-2, in the 7th inning. But Zambrano got his money's worth arguing the call with plate umpire Mark Carlson.

There was an ejection.

There was a destroyed Gatorade dispenser.

Most importantly, there was contact - and a probable suspension.

But was it Zambrano or Carlson who caused it? If the Cubs' hurler, who was going for his 100th career win is at fault, he's probably looking at a 10-game vacation.

But who do you think caused the ump bump?

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Florida State safety Myron Rolle is congratulated after defeating Maryland, 37-3, on Nov. 22, 2008. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)

Jason Cole has an interesting look at Myron Rolle, the Florida St. safety with a ticket to play football on Sundays, but the brain to study to be a neurosurgeon at Oxford University for a year first.

Rolle, you may remember, won a Rhodes Sholarship last year on the same day Florida went on to route Maryland in College Park. He ended up geting a special exemption from the NCAA to take a chartered jet to make the test and game on time.

"When I was at Florida State, they played up how I was really smart, this brainiac-type of guy, and that was fine," said Rolle, who graduated from FSU in 2 ½ years as a pre-med student. "But it's like they would talk about how smart I am and then that was it. I'm thinking to myself, 'I don't want to just be great in that. I want to be known as a great football player, too.' "

Roll is projected as a first day pick in the 2010 NFL draft after coming out of high school as the No. 1-ranked player in the nation.

Profile of a casual Cubs Fan

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(Sun-Times photo by Tom Cruze)

BY LINDSEY MILLER Sports Pros(e) Contributing writer

The Cubs lose one game and people sigh, shake their heads, say "Well, that's the Cubs!" and go to their next home game anyway. They lose three, and people sigh longer, but still secretly hope this game will be a win. Lose seven? Or eight? Only the real Cubs fans -- or the fans of the opposing team -- bother with the games.

I, neither a Cubs fan nor a Pirates fan, was in the minority on Monday at the Cubs' eighth losing game in a row. But I journeyed to Wrigley Field for my second Cubs game anyway because, well, it's not often I'm able to get tickets, and I didn't really know the difference anyway. I was the girl in the bright yellow shirt, which I later found out is the Pirates' color, staring in the general direction of the field, and cheering for the Cubs (root, root, root for the home team, if they don't win it's a shame). More interesting than the game unfolding in the background was the game going on right in front of me in the stands.
cristal-taylor.jpgThe bizarre situation surrounding Dallas Mavericks big man Dirk Nowitzki continues to get more fantastic.

Records obtained by the Dallas Morning News show Cristal Taylor, Nowitzki's ex-fiancee, is pregnant. Taylor and a lawyer representing the Mavericks star had been embroiled in a war of words of over the validity of pregnancy claims for the last week.


Former Bulls great Michael Jordan is stumping for the Chicago 2016 Olympic bid with a pair of TV public service announcements titled "Let Friendship Shine."

In one of the 30-second spots, Jordan calls the opportunity to represent his country in the Olympics "one of the proudest moments" of his life. Jordan won gold medals with the United States Olympic basketball teams in 1984 and 1992.

In the second spot, Jordan talks about his friendship with Paralympian April Holmes:

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Marziette Gonzales, 12, left, of Calgary, Canada, Drew Kantor, 10, of Edmonton, Canada, and Tegan Odland, 11, right, of Enchant, Canada, listen to other spellers during the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, on Wednesday. (AP)

The oral rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee opened Wednesday with a touch of geography and a celebratory pump of the arms from the first contestant from China.

Kun Jacky Qiao became the first speller to represent China in the competition for more than $40,000 in cash and prizes. The 12-year-old seventh-grader at the Beijing BISS International School, which caters to the children of expatriates in China, had no problem with "recuperate."

And, or course, you can catch all the action on various ESPN/ABC outlets. That is if you can get past the creepy feeling of watching these poor kids and their life-and-death struggles with the lexicon . Always compelling TV, but don't you feel just a little dirty afterward for wallowing in their angst?

You could suffer with them with this play-at-home test from the Bee people - drinking game component optional - and see if you are smarter than a 5th- through 7th-grader. You can even brush up with this practice program to get you ready for the high-stakes world of "using that in a sentence."

Or relive this glorious moment from last year ...

mike_hall_big_ten.jpgDear Kevin and Kyle and your swarm of devoted fans and Kevin's mom,

I have a major problem with the NBA playoffs.

Now at any point in the last decade that problem would have been "I don't care."  But it's not.  I've really been caught up in the playoffs this year.  For the first time since Jordan was last a Bull, I feel this has been a wonderful postseason.  Especially the conference finals.  But something has to stop.

Arguably the best moment of the playoffs thus far came this past week; the biggest shot of LeBron James' career.  What a wonderful moment.  And what a crock.
Exodus Tyson, the 4-year-old daughter of boxer Mike Tyson, died Tuesday after she was taken off life support. The young girl was found hanging from a treadmill cable by her 7-year-old brother Monday and rushed to a Phoenix-area hospital.

"There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Exodus," the family said in a statement. "We ask you now to please respect our need at this very difficult time for privacy to grieve and try to help each other heal."
This is another sad turn of events for the 42-year-old former heavyweight champion, who has seen his share of heartache -- some of them self-inflicted -- in his lifetime.

"The Tyson family would like to extend our deepest and most heartfelt thanks for all your prayers and support, and we ask that we be allowed our privacy at this difficult time," the boxer said in a statement.
Mike Tyson's Daughter, 4, Taken off Life Support After Found Hanging    (Fox News)

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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his wife, Gisele Bundchen. (AP photo)

Tom Brady is back practicing with the New England Patriots.

The quarterback who was sidelined almost all last season with a knee injury was on the field Tuesday with most of his teammates.

The Patriots are holding four days of organized activities this week. The first three days were held last week for young players and for free agents who signed in the offseason and need more time to adjust to the playbook.

New England Cable News caught the hunky QB getting some soft-tossing in last week.

And if you need even more, Peter King has a look at the Brady life for this week's Sports Illustrated and breaks down what it will be like to leave Gisele on the sidelines for the likes of Randy Moss.

mr_t_wrigley_field.jpgmr_t_first_pitch.jpgMr. T, the enigmatic Chicago-born actor/wrestler/boxer/tough guy, made Memorial Day 2009 a particularly memorable one with his appearance at Wrigley Field.

The main attraction last night at Wrigley was the Cubs-Pirates game, but apparently no one told that to the Mr. T, who unapologetically wore American-themed Zubaz pants in front of 38,942 Wrigley faithful.

He was there to toss the first pitch and sing "Take Me out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch. Perhaps cognizant of the fact the Cubs were facing their eighth straight loss, Mr. T made the most of his time in the limelight.

I wouldn't say that Mr. T completely botched the seventh inning stretch for fear that if we ever met he would punch me. But where does Mr. T's performance last night rank along with the likes of Mike Ditka, Ozzy Osbourne and, recently, Denise Richards? We'll let you be the judge:



MORE PHOTOS: Celebrities toss the first pitch at Wrigley and sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"



 
craps-record.jpgIn one of the most obvious examples of beginner's luck, a New Jersey woman set a new record for longest craps roll in Atlantic City Saturday night.

Patricia Demauro hung on to the dice for four hours and 18 minutes, shattering the previous record by one hour and 12 minutes.

As a cheering mass grew, Demauro kept Lady Luck on her side despite not having much experience.

"This was only my second time playing craps, so this was very exciting for me to be a part of history," says Demauro, who lives in Denville in northern New Jersey.
Craps player sets record at NJ casino      (AP)

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Jose Canseco was pummeled today by a universal sense of justice in the form of super heavyweight Hong Man Choi of South Korea. More photos here. (AP photo)

YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Jose Canseco came out swinging but didn't last long in his debut in mixed martial arts.

The former Oakland A's slugger was defeated by South Korean super heavyweight Hong Man Choi by a knockout just 1 minute, 17 seconds into the first round at Yokohama Arena.

The referee stopped the fight when the 7-foot-2, 330-pound Choi knocked Canseco to the mat and started punching his head.

"That's a big man," Canseco said after the fight. "I ran into one of his left jabs and that almost knocked me out. You have no idea how scary it was facing a man that big."

Canseco did land the first blow with a right to the upper body of Choi but that was all the damage he could inflict on the Korean giant.

Shortly into the fight, Canseco hurt his right knee and was unable to do much after that.

Japan Baseball Canseco.jpg"I hurt my knee back home real bad but I didn't want to disappoint the fans," Canseco said. "I knew that at some point during the fight my knee was going to give out and once I was down I knew I wasn't going to get up. He's just too heavy to move."

Canseco came into the arena to "Wild Thing" with a baseball bat on his shoulder. The way things turned out, he probably should have kept the bat.

In the "it's-not-all-bad" category, Canseco was helped from the ring by his poker-playing girlfriend, Heidi Northcott, right, who appears lovely in many more photos here.

Canseco, who hit 462 home runs over 17 seasons in the major leagues, has had several fights inside the ring since leaving baseball but has never taken on professional fighters like Choi, who improved to 2-2 in MMA.

He boxed Danny Bonaduce, a former "Partridge Family" child star, to a draw in a celebrity match in January. The 1988 AL MVP, who named alleged steroid abusers like himself in his two books, lost to former Philadelphia Eagle Vai Sikahema in his first foray into celebrity boxing.

By his acknowledgment, the baseball outcast needs the money. It's one reason why Canseco has accepted a wide variety of offbeat jobs to make ends meet.

He said he will work on getting his knee back in shape before taking on any more fights.

"I have no idea if I'll do this again," Canseco said. "I've gotta get my knee better before I commit to anything like this."

And here's Choi facing someone who doesn't suck - Bob Sapp - from two years ago ...

AP

Thumbnail image for bigtyson.jpgPolice in Phonenix say Mike Tyson's 4-year-old daughter Exodus is on life support after she was found with her neck entangled with a treadmill cable, according to the Associated Press.

The boxer was out of town at the time of the incident, but has returned to be with his daughter.

Police Sgt. Andy Hill said the "tragic accident" happened Monday morning at Tyson's home when the girl's 7-year-old brother found her on a treadmill with her neck on a cable attached to the exercise machine.

The boy told the girl's mother from another room. She took the girl off the cable, called 911 and tried to revive her.

"Apparently she and her older brother were watching TV in the TV room," Hill told KTAR radio station. "There was also a number of pieces of exercise equipment, and somehow the little girl got herself on a piece of equipment and she ended up kind of choking herself.
Police: Tyson's daughter hurt   (ESPN)
Police: Mike Tyson's daughter on life support    (AP)
Mike Tyson's young daughter critical after bizarre accident   (KNXV-TV)
Thumbnail image for bradley screams.jpgCubs right fielder Milton Bradley is buoying a conspiracy theory in which major league umpires are calling more strikes on him in retaliation for his actions toward their colleague Larry Vanover earlier in the season.

"Unfortunately, I just think it's a lot of 'Oh, you did this to my colleague,' or 'We're going to get him any time we can," Bradley said, according to the Chicago Tribune. "As soon as he gets two strikes, we're going to call whatever and see what he does. Let's try to ruin Milton Bradley.'
Bradley said his approach at the plate would remain unchanged in the face of this perceived unfairness and went on to cite his long track record to support his thesis.

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A Freightliner truck, but not the one Randy Starks was driving.

Miami Dolphins defensive end Randy Starks has been charged with using a Freightliner truck to hit a police officer who tried to stop the vehicle on foot.

Miami Beach Police say the officer tried to stop the 25-year-old player when he was driving a truck packed with 13 people early Sunday in heavy traffic, including a young woman riding in his lap, as the large vehicle navigated through bumper-to-bumper traffic in South Beach.

The vehicle is meant for four people.

randystarks.jpgPolice say Starks kept slowly moving forward even as the officer was beside the truck. They say Starks swerved the vehicle slightly, hitting the officer in the chest and pinning him against another vehicle.

The officer wasn't injured, but Starks was charged with aggravated battery.

Starks remained in a Miami jail Sunday afternoon. A message left at his agent's office was not immediately returned.

CNN detailed the incident with this police report:

In the report, the officer recalled pursuing the truck on foot for about a half-block and pounding on the rear driver's-side window, but it kept moving. The officer caught up to the truck again, and it stopped after the officer pounded on the window again, the report said.

"I slowly approached the side door and just as I reached it the vehicle accelerated and started moving forward and slightly to the left," the unidentified officer writes in the report. "The vehicle's path caused the driver's side of the vehicle to strike me in the chest pushing me back and pinning me against a vehicle stopped in traffic in the northbound lane."

Starks was released Sunday on $10,000 bond.

Dolphins spokesman Harvey Greene said the team was "only recently made aware of the situation. Since we are in the process of gathering information we have no comment."

There was no immediate comment from the league on the incident.

Starks, a defensive tackle out of Maryland, is in his sixth year in the league.

Every day, our team of photographers here at the Sun-Times does an amazing job capturing all of the breaking news and sporting events of the day. To recognize their efforts, we'd like to present a new segment we'll just call "This Happened." It will feature the most heartwarming or compelling photo of the day. I hope we don't get bored with it.

something-good.JPGU.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Daniel Maher stands on the Picasso statue to get a view from above the Memorial Day Commemoration Ceremony at Daley Plaza Saturday in Chicago. Maher's younger brother, U.S. Marine Sean Maher, was killed in 2005 while deployed in Iraq. (John J. Kim/Sun-Times)
john-mayberry-jr.JPGJohn Mayberry Jr. hit a three-run homer in his major-league debut for the Philadelphia Phillies this afternoon at Yankee Stadium. The son of former MLB star John Mayberry had a much better day than the FOX camera crew, who had a bit of trouble finding the 25-year-old's father amidst the masses.

His parents were at the game Saturday, but FOX actually showed a man on TV who was supposed to be Mayberry's father, except it wasn't Mayberry's father at all.

"He never spelled it out and said he would be there, but I kind of always knew that he would," Mayberry said of his father.

A quasi-sheepish Joe Buck made the best of the awkward situation and the real Mayberry was eventually found in time for viewers at home to catch his excited reaction to his son's double later in the game.

The younger Mayberry became the first Phillie to hit a home run for his first big-league hit since Chase Utley in 2003.
kobe-bryant-vanessa-bryant.JPGKobe Bryant and wife Vanessa are counter-suing their maid Maria Jimenez for breach of contract, a few months after Jimenez levied a suit against the high-profile couple.

What the Bryant's are really concerned about is the confidentiality agreement they say Jimenez signed when she was hired in 2007. That agreement prevents her from talking to the press and others.

Jimenez sued the Byrants in March, claiming harassment and verbal abuse by Vanessa Bryant.
The crux of Jimenez' suit was that Vanessa Bryant displayed a pattern of verbally abusive behavior towards her, while the Bryants claim the former housekeeper is violating her contractual confidentially agreement by speaking to the press.

The parties are expected back in court in July.

Kobe and Vanessa Bryant Countersue Maid    (KTLA)
jeremy_jarmon_action.jpgKentucky defensive end Jeremy Jarmon has been ruled ineligible for his senior season by the NCAA because of a failed drug test.

He did not identify the banned substance, which he claims he took accidentally. Jarmon tested positive in February and his appeal was denied, effectively putting an end to his collegiate career.

Kentucky DE Jarmon ruled ineligible by NCAA     (AP)
lebron-james-3-pointer-cavs.JPGIt's safe to say that at this point, we are all material witnesses to the mind-blowing talent that is LeBron James.

Cleveland's most popular person added another chapter to his book of legends last night when he snatched victory from the jaws of defeat with a buzzer-beating three-pointer to lift his Cavaliers over the Orlando Magic.

kronwell-hit-havlat.JPGA scary moment came in the first period of tonight's Blackhawks-Red Wings game when right winger Martin Havlat was knocked out by a massive hit from Niklas Kronwall.

Kronwall was assessed a five minute major for interference and a game misconduct.

In the post-game press conference, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Havlat "looked better" after the game, and listed him as day-to-day. He didn't have much to say about the hit itself though.

"I thought it was the correct call," Quenneville said. "He hadn't touched the puck. He hadn't left his feet. It was a tough hit."

There's video of the incident below. Tell us what you think -- dirty play or a case of Havlat having his head down at the wrong time? 

jordan-wiener-mitchell-wiener-swine-flu.jpgJordan Wiener was pitching with a purpose when he threw a no-hitter for his Queens prep school Thursday night. His father, Mitchell, had passed away on Sunday -- becoming New York City's first swine flu fatality.

"I came out and won today for my father," Jordan said, according to FiveBoroSports.com. "Whenever I got flustered, I cleared my mind of every negative thought, and I just pitched to the best of my abilities. I know he wanted me to play today and I pitched the game of my life for him."

The senior left-hander's 14 strikeouts came in just five innings, as league rules mandate a game ends when a team is ahead by 10 runs or more after five innings. Only a passed ball during one of his strikeouts prevented Wiener from throwing a perfect game.

Jordan's father had served as an assistant principal for 30 years before his death.

Chicago radio icon Erich "Mancow" Muller became the next in a line of journalists and media personalities to get waterboarded to show us that it is, indeed, torture. Here's the video from NBC5:

 

View more news videos at: http://www.nbcchicago.com/video.

2010-olympic-torch.jpgThe 2010 Olympic Torch design is scorching internet search engines this afternoon, with many claiming it bears a close resemblance to a marijuana cigarette.

Composed of stainless steel, aluminum and sheet moulding, the torch was designed to evoke snow, ice, skiing and skating, but to many, the metre-long white torch looks suspiciously like a marijuana joint, especially when lit.

The observation has become so common in this city that it's hard to know who was the first to say, "Hey, doesn't that look like ..."

 The fact that next year's games are being held in Vancouver, B.C. only make the connection easier.
brown-rings-acution-randy.jpgFormer Chicago Bull Randy Brown's three NBA championship rings were sold in an auction this morning for $53,833. The winning bidder, identified only as "RingKing," had to outbid Michael Jordan's publicist and two other unidentified bidders who vied for the rings. 

A judge ordered the rings to be sold online through West Auctions following Brown's August 2008 Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing. The minimum bid was set at $19,000
Recently, we brought you the steamy pics of New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez and supermodel Hilary Rhoda from GQ photo shoot.

Now, the always-accurate Page Six gossip column claims the two are an item.

The former USC hunk is now dating Hilary Rhoda, the Estee Lauder model who posed with him in a bikini for a racy spread in the new GQ. "They met on the shoot three months ago and started dating. There was instant chemistry," says a source. Adds another: "Everyone in her crew is buzzing about their relationship."
JETS QB SANCHEZ DATING RHODA     (New York Post)
notre-dame-yankee-stadium.jpgYankee Stadium hosted more than its fair share of historic football games, and now ideas of playing some college football at Yankee Stadium II are beginning to be formulated.

Jack Swarbrick, Notre Dame's athletic director, said the Yankees were open to having college football at the new Stadium, and he would like the Fighting Irish to be the first team to play there. Swarbrick stressed that no dates had been discussed.

"We've been in contact with Yankee Stadium and asked and inquired," Swarbrick said. "We will be discussing games with them, but we haven't entered into any substantive discussions."

Swarbick said the Irish's preferred opponent would be the Army Black Knights.

Notre Dame Begins Talks to Play Football at Yankee Stadium   (New York Times)

white-sox-dogs.jpgMy cohort Kevin and I were in attendance at U.S. Cellular for the White Sox' 7-4 win over the Minnesota Twins last night and are still buzzing about how hard Jermaine Dye hit his fourth-inning grand slam.

The real action though was before the game when around 600 dogs and their owners invaded the playing field as part of Dog Day festivities. After strolling all over the same field that Alexei Ramirez plays on, the dogs and their proud human companions got to enjoy the game from the stands.

Since people love the White Sox and seem to love canines, here's a comprehensive photo gallery of the bark-filled night at the ballpark.

For you dog lovers out there, can you explain to me why bringing your pet to the game is better than leaving him or her at home? I realize this is probably a stupid question, but it seems like a whole lot of trouble to keep Fido pacified in the bleachers as thousands of people are lustily yelling.

Anyway, we'd love to hear from you if you were at Wednesday night's game with your dog or you had a dog-related experience.
HalilIbrahimDincdag.jpgIt would appear that being gay excludes you from having any chance of being a soccer referee in Turkey.

Halil İbrahim Dinçdağ, who was forced to quit his job as a ref due to his sexual orientation, appeared on Turkish television Saturday night to say he would continue his legal fight.

Dinçdağ was forced to leave his job because he had been excused from his compulsory military service on account of his homosexuality, which was documented in a medical report. According to the sport's regulations, anyone who fails to complete his military service for health reasons is unfit to perform as a referee.
Apparently, in Turkey homosexuality is seen as a medical condition that would preclude military service.
grossman-ufl-rosenhaus.JPGContrary to circulating internet rumors, former Bears quarterback Rex Grossman will not be working out for a United Football League team, according to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

"Rex will be playing in the NFL this season," Rosenhaus said in a text message today. "We have not considered any other leagues. He will be on a NFL roster by the start of training camps."

A report surfaced on uflaccess.com Sunday citing a Las Vegas TV station that reported Grossman and former Texas Tech quarterback Graham Harrell were among the players who would be attending a UFL "pro day."

UFL spokeswoman Rachel Gary said teams in the newly formed league will be holding "invitation-only private workouts" in the coming weeks, but declined to offer specific names.

"I can't confirm who's going to be in attendance because it's still being formulated," said Gary.

Jim Fassel (Las Vegas), Dennis Green (San Francisco), Jim Haslett (Orlando) and Ted Cottrell (New York) have been announced as coaches for the league's inaugural season, which is set to kick off in October. 
32079941H12787807.JPGGolfer Phil Mickelson's wife, Amy, has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and he will suspend his PGA Tour schedule, according to a statement on Mickelson's Web site.

She is expected to begin treatment with "major surgery" in the next two weeks.

Mickelson was schedules to play in this week's EDS Byron Nelson Classic and defend his championship next week in the Crowne Plaza Invitational.

The Phil and Amy Mickelson Foundation was established in 2004, focusing on youth and family issues. The couple testified before Congress last year, and asked for more money to be spent in schools on math and science.

The couple was married in 1996. They have three children ages 9, 7 and 6.

 
Mickelson Halts Season as Wife Diagnosed With Cancer [Bloomberg]

John Smoltz marries Kathryn Darden

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john-smoltz-red-sox-kathryn-darden.jpgBoston Red Sox pitcher and Lansing, Mich. enthusiast John Smoltz has tied the knot with Kathryn Darden. It will be the second marriage for both.

The couple was wed at Smoltz' home in Alpharetta, Ga.

Smoltz has four children from a previous marriage and Darden two, but no word yet on a "Brady Bunch" style reality show.

Team Glavine adds a boy     (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
Former Braves pitcher John Smoltz gets married     (USA Today)
james-harrison-flying-white-house.jpgA few days ago, James Harrison's decision to not join his Steeler teammates at the White House sparked quite the debate on this here blog space. Reader reaction was split pretty much down the middle on whether Harrison was just exercising his rights or if he was being disrespectful.

Today we get news that a fear of flying may be contributing to his decision to not hang out on Pennsylvania Ave. with Barack Obama.
Thumbnail image for shawn-johnson-bikini.jpgOlympic gymnast Shawn Johnson took home the "Dancing With the Stars" crown last night, edging out "Sex & the City" eye-candy Gilles Marini by the slimmest of margins.

Johnson's triumph -- by the smallest margin in show history -- makes her the fifth winner with an athletic background in eight seasons.

Admittedly, I don't watch this show, but I've always thought that former athletes have a marked advantage in this contest. After all, it is an athletic competition.
dontrelle-willis-return.jpgIn news that will delight Detroit Tiger fans and perhaps please casual baseball observers who enjoy comeback stories, Dontrelle Willis picked up his first major-league win since Sept. 25, 2007 tonight against the Texas Rangers.

Willis threw 6 1/3 scoreless innings and was part of just the fifth combined one-hitter in franchise history in a 4-0 win. Along the way, he retired 17 hitters in a row.

He of the herky-jerky windup was placed on the disabled list earlier this spring with an anxiety disorder and spent much of last summer in the minors.
nba-draft-lottery.jpgThe NBA Draft Lottery -- the annual watching of ping-ping balls and general awkwardness -- was held tonight, with the Los Angeles Clippers winning the first overall selection.

Conventional wisdom suggests they will snag Blake Griffin, the national college player of the year out of Oklahoma. But, this is the Clippers we're talking about so all bets are off.
New Orleans has been selected as the host for the 2013 Super Bowl, making it the 10th time the city has hosted football's biggest game and the first since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

New Orleans hosted the 2002 Super Bowl when the then-plucky underdog New England Patriots knocked off the St. Louis Rams.
Thumbnail image for mark-sanchez-gq.jpgIt's really good to be Mark Sanchez right now.

The 22-year-old first-round pick of the New York Jets is headed to the nation's biggest market to play the most glamorized position in sports.

He's good looking, well-spoken and pretty charismatic. Hey, someone should try to market this --

Sanchez appears in a retro-themed photo spread for GQ magazine with supermodel Hilary Rhoda. And while some of the pictures in the photo gallery might get him some hazing from his new teammates, it's a small price to pay for boosting your Q rating.

Built for the Beach    (GQ)
michael-strahan-brothers.JPGHere in the Midwest, we don't purport to know much about the inner machinations of Hollywood. We tend to believe that the studio decision makers sit around all day in their mansions dreaming up clever ideas that manifest into the drivel we consume during our evenings. We're OK with that. We accept it, and seldom question it with any seriousness -- which is why "Two and a Half Men" has existed for six seasons and Mark-Paul Gosselaar counts himself among the nation's employed.

It's also why "Brothers" -- the new Michael Strahan sitcom -- will come to life on the Fox network this fall. Yes ... the same Michael Strahan who set an NFL record with 22.5 sacks in a single season.

Why? Why would you do this, Fox? Why would you, Michael Strahan, with the original luster on your 2007 Super Bowl ring yet to tarnish, decide to do this?

According to the video promo on Fox's Web site, "Brothers" is "about the people we love ... the family we need ... and everything in between." Forgive me if I'm out of line here, but isn't everything in between the people we love and the family we need ... well, everything?

While "Seinfeld" followed the show-about-nothing formula to success, Michael Strahan's new sitcom is apparently about everything.  On the contrary, it's about a retired NFL player who is coping with life after the NFL. So, it's about Michael Strahan.

Here's the Fox plot treatment for the show:
john-wall-kentucky-slam.jpgJohn Wall, the nation's premiere high school point guard has decided to play his college basketball at Kentucky, according to SLAM.

For what it's worth, ESPN's Andy Katz is now saying multiple sources are confirming Wall's commitment. They cite the 6-4 senior's desire to play for new Wildcats coach John Calipari.

Breaking News: John Wall to Kentucky     (SLAM)
Source: Wall picks Kentucky     (ESPN)
Briny_Baird_pf_changs.JPGNo trip to P.F. Chang's is complete without trying their signature chicken lettuce wrap. And thanks to PGA golfer Briny Baird, this delectable appetizer can be yours -- absolutely free.

So, how did he do it? How did Briny Baird, pride of Valdosta State University, win a lettuce wrap (with purchase of entree) from PF Chang's for every 18-and-over man and woman in the United States with a valid e-mail address?

The same way any rational person wins free food for Americans -- by hitting golf balls off the top of a hotel onto the outfield of San Diego Padres' Petco Park.

From the San-Diego Union Tribune:
SORIANO.jpgWWE wrestler and former Real World cast member The Miz dissed the Cubs and called out Alfonso Soriano in front of thousands of wrestling fans at Allstate Arena Sunday night.

The Miz likened the Cubs to fellow wrestler, John Cena, calling them both "lovable losers."

the MIZZ.jpgThe Miz then called out the left fielder, who was sitting in the front row for the event. Soriano stood stoically as The Miz berated him, claiming Soriano would never win a World Series as long as he's playing baseball on Chicago's north side.

If Soriano disagreed, The Miz suggested, he should come in the ring and do something about it. Soriano declined, which prompted the Miz to fake a phone call from Cubs manager Lou Piniella.

"[Lou] said that you can't do it," said the Miz, "because he said he'd rather you get your yearly injury on the field rather than off."

Good call, fake Lou Piniella. Good call.

Steve Dahl Show has video of the event here.
rick-porcello-nolan-ryan.jpgDetroit Tigers starting pitcher Rick Porcello is a 20-year-old right-hander who has performed well so far this season, amassing a 4-3 record and a 3.86 ERA. Pretty impressive considering he spent last season in Class A ball.

And to hear Tigers skipper Jim Leyland tell it, he's been performing bleepin' awesome. So bleepin' awesome, in fact, he compared him to another righty you may have heard of.
sean_avery_vogue.jpgAdd 'restaurateur' to the list of words we can use to describe New York Rangers Sean Avery.

The enigmatic left winger recently celebrated the opening of Warren 77 in New York's TriBeCa neighborhood, and the New York Observer was there to observe it all.

Avery, a former intern for Vogue Magazine and connoisseur of all things fashion and New York fancy, is a partner in the bar -- the details of which were divulged in this New York Times piece from March.

For those wondering, here's how you greet your guests at your bar opening if you're Sean Avery ... From Observer.com:

"'How do you say 'cheers' in the Jewish language?' the flashy forward asked guests at the opening of his new Tribeca bar and restaurant Warren 77 on Friday, May 15.

'L'chaim!' the crowd replied.

'There ya go,' said Mr. Avery, who further encouraged attendees to "just keep buying drinks because I didn't open a f***ing bar for nothing."

Other highlights of the party, according to the article, included an acoustic set from Rangers goalie Henrik Lundquist. Hear that, Nikolai Khabibulin? Cover songs. Acoustic guitar. No wonder they call us the Second City. 
jon-gruden-monday-night-football-tony-kornheiser.jpgBreaking news from the world of weeknight professional football always spices up a Monday morning.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden will replace the oft-vilified Tony Kornheiser in the "Monday Night Football" booth this fall.

Kornheiser cites a fear of flying as his reason for leaving.

Gruden to replace Kornheiser on MNF     (AP)
adam-burish-skate-injury.jpgBlackhawks forward and fellow Sun-Times blogger Adam Burish got a close shave during yesterday's game.

Blackhawks forward Adam Burish had a scary moment Sunday when he got nicked in the neck by Ben Eager's skate. The incident drew blood, but the wound was superficial and Burish returned to the game. ''I don't know how my head is still connected,'' he said. ''It was centimeters, millimeters from slicing my neck.''
For those of you who missed the replay of this heart-stopping incident:



Playoff beards. They can save your life.
james-harrison-white-house.jpgPittsburgh Steelers linebacker and "Weekend Update" guest James Harrison won't be joining his teammates at the White House on Thursday when President Barack Obama welcomes them.

"If you want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers, invite us when we don't win the Super Bowl," he told Pittsburgh's WTAE-TV. "So as far as I'm concerned he would have invited Arizona if they had won."
Harrison's motives don't appear be to political and he also skipped the Steelers' visit after Pittsburgh's 2006 Super Bowl win.

dwighthoward.jpg

Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard goes in for the dunk in front of Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce during Orlando's 101-82 win in Game 7 on Sunday. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Who does your average athlete thank after a big win?

God? Yep, pretty high on the list.

Mom/dad? Sure, you'll get that sometimes.

The Fans? Often the cheers of the crowd will be given crazy credit for a team's ability to win or lose.

Picture 14.png

But high-flying Dwight Howard took it to a new level after his Orlando Magic dispatched the Boston Celtics Sunday afternoon in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal tilt, 101-82.

Dwight gave a shoutout to his Twitter followers in a post-game interview with TNT's David Aldridge.

Howard is a very social media savvy guy, it seems. In addition to his 61,000-plus followers on Twitter, he also has a Facebook page and blog to interact with his fans. But unless those thousands of dedicated No. 12 jersey-wearing supporters are either suiting up for the Conference Finals against Cleveland or kidnapping LeBron James, that may be the last thanks they get.

Still looks like a Fail Whale for the Magic with Cleveland winning in 6.

When friend of the blog and fellow former Mizzou Tiger Mike Hall needed to purchase some new suits last week, he asked if I'd like to tag along. Mike makes his living looking good on national television, while here on the print/Web side of things I tend to wear a T-shirt and jeans in the Sun-Times newsroom to go with the patchy playoff beard that's currently hanging onto my face for dear life. So when he asked if I'd help out with his latest video blog entry, I was more than a little curious to see how the other half lives.

The answer comes in the form of this following video, where you'll be able to see my beard make a brief cameo toward the end:

john-lackey-ejection.JPGLos Angeles Angels staring pitcher John Lackey had an interesting -- albeit short -- outing today against the Texas Rangers.

Lackey, who was making his first start of the season, threw a whopping total of two pitches before being ejected.

He probably didn't even need a post-game shower.
kevin-gregg-cubs-closer.JPGKevin says: It's bad enough that Cubs closer Kevin Gregg gave up a 4-0 lead in the top of the 9th inning of today's game against the Astros at Wrigley Field. But does he have to be so damn unforgivable?

There were surely a healthy amount of fans who filed out early, thinking they'd just witnessed the first career Major League win for starter Randy Wells. And as they shuffled into Murphy's Bleachers, Cubby Bear, Casey Moran's and the usual post-game bars within earshot of the boos, they witnessed on television exactly what Cub fans everywhere will surely remember as the day Kevin Gregg gave up a four-run lead in the ninth. He pitched to five batters, giving up four hits, including two back-to-back home runs.

Randy Wells did his job quite admirably. Angel Guzman did his job. Carlos Marmol even did his -- surprisingly drama-free, at that.

It's convenient at this point to bemoan the loss of Kerry Wood at this point. But he blew his share of saves last season when he came back to take over the team's closer role.

The difference: Kerry Wood was entirely forgivable.
michael-jordan-yvette-prieto.jpgAs quickly as this rumor flared up, we're here to douse it.

There's "absolutely no truth" to Internet rumors that Michael Jordan's girlfriend Yvette Prieto is pregnant, according to a spokeswoman for the former Bulls legend.

"With all due respect to the media's need to disseminate information quickly, it might behoove some reporters to make a phone call or call our office for accuracy," said Jordan's longtime spokeswoman, Estee Portnoy, in a phone conversation this morning. "Many of these Web sites do not do that. If they had called, I would have let them know immediately" that the rumors were false.

We pointed yesterday here at Sports Pros(e) to a post on MediaTakeout.com that stated Prieto was pregnant. But Portnoy insists their report is entirely inaccurate, offering no further information but to squash any more speculation.

"I want to let the people know that the media isn't even calling our office for comment before they go ahead and print rumors," Portnoy added.

Jordan and Prieto purchased a house together in suburban Miami last October.

Jordan has two sons and a daughter with his ex-wife, Juanita. 
maria-verchenova-golf.jpgQuick.

When's the last time you watched women's golf for any extended period of time that didn't include you falling asleep on the couch after watching the college basketball game that preceded it?

I'll go out on a limb and say it's been a while.

Maria Verchenova, a young Russian golfer may give dudes everywhere reason to tune in soon, as she attempts to become to golf what Maria Sharapova is to tennis.
michael-jordan-yvette-prieto.jpgRumors are swirling that Michael Jordan's girlfriend, Yvette Prieto, is pregnant. MediaTakeout.com is reporting that one of its "most trusted snitches" is telling them that the former Bulls legend and the 30-year-old serial celeb dater Prieto are expecting their first child.

Because it's the Internet, and because these rumors can be squashed just as quickly as they flare up, we advise that you hold off on saving the baby shower date. Regardless, it's some interesting fodder for an otherwise uneventful Thursday.

Jordan and Prieto were recently spotted at the Kentucky Derby, where ESPN cameras captured the color-coordinated couple taking in the day's festivities. Earlier this year, the couple purchased a suburban Miami home together.

Jordan has two sons and a daughter with his first wife, Juanita.

parker.jpgFormer Naperville Central High School and current Los Angeles Sparks star Candace Parker is a mom.

Goodwin Sports Management has issued the following release:
twilight_baseball_pattinson.jpgBY ALISON ABBEY Special to Sports Pros(e)

Move over, "Field of Dreams." Take a backseat, "The Natural." Hit the bench, "Mr. Baseball." There's a new flick putting everyone's favorite sport square in the batter's box and it's called "Twilight." It may get a bad rep as a cheesey, teeny bopper chick-flick, but hardcore "Twi-hards" know it's one hell of a baseball movie.

Didn't think vampires were willing to take a break from their busy blood-sucking/high school student-wooing schedule to enjoy a rousing game of baseball? You're wrong. (Un)dead wrong. As main character Edward Cullen himself says, vampires love baseball because "it's the American pastime."
Thumbnail image for dontrelle-willis-anxiety-disorder.jpgDontrelle Willis, who has yet to appear in a major league game this year after being diagnosed with anxiety disorder, will start for the Detroit Tigers tonight against Minnesota.

The charismatic left-hander has had a tumultuous couple of months as he's tried to fight his way back to the bigs.

It seems he's been everywhere, man.
red-wings-blackhawks.jpgThe Blackhawks skated on to their first Western Conference finals since 1995 on the strength of Patrick Kane's hat trick in Game 6 against the Vancover Canucks.

The Detroit Red Wings play the Anaheim Ducks in a decisive Game 7 tomorrow night for the opportunity to take on the Hawks and earn a berth in the Stanley Cup finals.

If that weren't exciting enough, we decided that if our two teams square off, some sort of side bet is in order. As is the the case with all wagers, the more embarrassing the stakes the better.

corie_blount_arrest.jpgCorie Blount, who played for the Bulls from 1994-95 and again from 2002-04, will spend a year in an Ohio prison after being busted with possession of insane amounts of pot.

Blount was arrested last December after 11 pounds of pot were intercepted being delivered to his grandmother's house. Another 18 pounds of pot and a stash of cash were found at his home.

So, Corie Blount will essentially be going to prison for possessing 29 pounds of weed. That's right ... 29 pounds ... of weed.

The Associated Press reports:
ESPN personality Skip Bayless got into a heated exchange with Mike Missanelli of ESPN radio 950 in Philadelphia. Bayless' offense was labeling unruly fan behavior as "Philly style."

Missanelli welcomes the arugment enthusiast to his show, plays a clip and promptly calls Bayless a "nitwit."

It devolves from there.

Sports radio gives me a headache, but here's the interview.



Does anyone really win in these "my city's fans are better than your city's fans" arguments?

new-york-mets-streaker.jpgI don't know why this is, but despite having attended only around 100 major league baseball games in my lifetime, I've been at three different games where streakers ran onto the field. Each time is equal parts hilarious, horrific and a reminder that patrons need to keep their drinking in check.

The New York Mets' costly new stadium, Citi Field, was christened with its first scantily-clad running enthusiast last night. A big night for any young ballpark.
amanda-beard-pregnant-married.jpgSeven-times Olympic medalist and swimming enthusiast Amanda Beard dropped not one, but two big surprises today in an exclusive interview with People.

First, she's married.

Secondly, she's 5 1/2 months pregnant.
Dr. Phil Astin, who was the personal doctor to professional wrestler Chris Benoit, was sentenced today to 10 years in prison for illegally prescribing drugs to his patients. Benoit killed himself, his wife and the couple's 7-year-old son in 2007.

Prosecutors said Astin prescribed painkillers and other drugs to known addicts for years. They said at least two of Astin's patients died because of his lax oversight of what medicines they were taking. However, the indictment was unclear about whether Chris Benoit, a wrestler for Stamford, Conn.-based World Wrestling Entertainment, was one of the two.
Wrestler Benoit's doctor gets 10 years in prison     (Fox Sports)


Chicago Blackhawks fans may be among the few Americans these days who don't immediately think of Amstel Light whenever The Fratellis' "Chelsea Dagger" plays.

The song -- which blasts over the loudspeakers after every Blackhawk goal (with the exception of those scored by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane or Patrick Sharp) -- is one of the many additions to the increasingly exciting atmosphere surrounding Blackhawks games at the United Center this season.
big_baby_davis_push_fan.jpgIt seems the talk about Big Baby Davis' actions after hitting a last-second shot to beat the Orlando Magic last night won't be going away quietly. The father of the kid Big Baby shoved in the front row as he bounded toward the Celtics' bench has penned a strongly worded e-mail to the NBA demanding that Big Baby apologize to his "embarrassed" son.

The Orlando Sentinel's Shannon Owens spoke with Ernest Povetti -- a VIP court-side season ticket holder whose son had his hat knocked off by Big Baby. We remarked in last night's post that we were impressed he wasn't completely knocked over, showing an impressive level of resiliance and fortitude during the incident. Povetti called Davis a "raging animal with no regard for fans' personal safety" in the interview with the Sentinel.

Judging by the comments in the previous post, most people seem to be siding with Big Baby, forgiving him because there was no particular malice involved. So what do you think? Should Big Baby be forced to apologize? Or should this story just die an immediate and decisive death? And finally, if it had been Dwight Howard hitting the buzzer beater, do you think there would be any sort of stink made by the father?
bruce-jenner-plastic-surgery.jpgReality television and Reggie Bush enthusiast Kim Kardashian has revealed that her father Bruce Jenner has gone under the knife for a plastic surgery operation. This will be documented on the upcoming season of "Keeping Up With the Kardashians."

Admit it, you've snuck a peek at this program before.

Jenner, for those of you who know him only as the ever-facilitating father on this program, won the gold medal in the decathlon at the 1976 Summer Olympics.
Gary Dell'Abate makes his living as the producer for Howard Stern's radio show.

After seeing the man known as Baba Booey's attempt at throwing a baseball on Saturday, we can see why he abandoned any dreams of making the major leagues.



Juuuuuuust a bit inside. Woefully low as well.
big_baby_davis_push_fan.jpgAfter hitting a last-second shot to bury the Orlando Magic in Game 4, an exuberant Glen "Big Baby" Davis pushed aside a towel-waving kid, knocking off his hat -- a fact that went entirely unaddressed by the TNT broadcast team of Marv Albert and Reggie Miller.

Associated Press photographer Phelan M. Ebenhack captured the exact moment in the photo above.

As Davis celebrated (as only Big Baby can) with his fellow teammates, the camera cut to Dwight Howard who seemed none-too-pleased. Had Howard seen Davis push the kid aside? Was he angry at Big Baby's big celebration in his house?

Either way, Davis' jumper sends the series back to Boston in a 2-2 tie.

For his part, the kid looked to be a bit annoyed, but was pretty impressive in his toughness. He recovered his hat, but was left to sift through that empty feeling that comes with watching from the front row as your team loses on a last-second shot by a man named Big Baby.

Here's the video of said fan push:
henrik-stenson-underwear.jpgHenrik Stenson won The Players Championship with a terrific final round, finishing with a four-shot victory.

That's all well and good, but around here, he'll always be remembered as the guy who stripped down to his underwear to play a shot out of a water hazard at Doral. And were does one go to for scantily-clad golfing footage?

Why, the CNN archives, of course.



Ahh, I see what she did there with all the talk of form and strokes. Very crafty.

Stenson will move up to No. 5 in the world ranking after the victory.
mlb-pink-bat.jpgMajor League Baseball will commemorate Mother's Day in what has become its traditional way today.

Pink ribbons, pink wristbands and pink bats are in vogue as big league players participate in the annual "Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer" initiative by MLB that raises awareness about breast cancer and directs massive proceeds to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

The pink ribbon logo will appear on the bases and on commemorative home plates, and the lineups will be written on pink cards.

The bats, along with the home plates and lineup cards, will be autographed by the teams and will be auctioned later on MLB.com, with the proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Foundation.

It's important to realize that in the face of scandals, professional baseball does have its merits. Championing fund-raising efforts for great causes would of course qualify. So, kudos to everyone involved in this.

On a non-baseball related note, please take time out of your day to pay your respects to mothers everywhere, who so often get overlooked while doing one of the hardest jobs out there -- often selflessly sacrificing for the benefit of their children day after day.

Mother's Day cause special to Chavez     [MLB]

Astros paint town pink, raise awareness    [MLB]

carmelo-anthony-bad-call.jpgIt was certainly something you don't see every day.

An NBA player irate that he hadn't been called for a foul.

In the waning seconds of the Dallas Mavericks-Denver Nuggets game this afternoon, Mavs' Antoine Wright committed what looked to the untrained eye to be a pretty intentional foul on the Nuggets' Carmelo Anthony.

And yet, the whistle never blew.

Anthony continued his motion, draining a three-pointer to give Denver a one-point lead with a second remaining -- an advantage they held onto to take a 3-0 lead in the series.
Just noticed the Cubs-Brewers game in Milwaukee is being delayed because some of the lights went out. Comcast is providing us with an extended close-up of the non-functioning lights.

Cubs play-by-play man Len Kasper has already suggested any fans in the area with working light bulbs drop by Miller Park to help solve the problem.

I'm not sure they allow that.

UPDATE: Play has resumed after a 20-minute delay.
curtis-granderson-catch-indians.JPGDetroit Tigers center fielder and Blue Island native Curtis Granderson snatched victory from the jaws of defeat last night in Cleveland when he made a jaw-dropping catch on what looked to be a game-winning two-run homer off the bat of Indians' golden boy Grady Sizemore.



Even more entertaining than the spectacular catch was the call by play-by-play man Matt Underwood Al Pawlowski, who underwent a very public roller coaster of emotions in the span of about four seconds.

That's Excitement --> Jubilation ---> Euphoria --> Disbelief --> Sheepishness if you're scoring at home.

People are already calling it the play of the year, but a handful of Cub fans in the newsroom disagree. They point to the epic grand-slam-saving grab made by Reed Johnson earlier in the season in Milwaukee.
jeremy-mayfield-drug-test.JPGAnother day, another story of an athlete failing a drug test.

This time, it's NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield, who has has been suspended indefinitely after failing a random test.

The Associated Press is reporting that NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter would not reveal the banned drug in question but did say it was not an alcohol-related offense.

Mayfield becomes the first driver suspended under the circuit's new substance abuse policy, which was put in place this season.
wade-boggs-beer.jpgLast night, a few Sun-Times staffers went out for an after-work beverage to celebrate the completion of another compelling Satuday paper. As it often does, the conversation turned to baseball and how today's game doesn't stack up to the current incarnation of America's pastime.

Some good stories about yesteryear were tossed around, but somehow I failed to mention my favorite baseball legend of all time.

I first stumbled across the gem about a year ago and since have made it a point to bring it up as much as humanly possible.

It involves Hall of Fame third baseman Wade Boggs and a whole bunch of beer.

The dirty details after the jump.
alex-rodriguez-home-run-return.jpgAlex Rodriguez cracked a home run in his first at-bat of the season during the Yankees' 4-0 win over Baltimore.

The recently embattled third baseman teed off on the first pitch for a three-run shot into the left-field seats.

A-Rod owes a tremendous debt to Manny Ramirez, who has stolen enough negative media attention away from Rodriguez that many forgot it was even happening.

And by many, I mean me. I forgot.

It's just that it's been Manny this, Manny that for a day and a half.
mannyR.jpgOur baseball guy Chris De Luca penned a very compelling column about Manny Ramirez this morning in which he attempts to explain what the latest scandal means for the game.

He says that the 21st century baseball fan has become so callused to the steroid issue that it's hard for new allegations to open up any sores.

Those of us who love the game are numb to it by now. Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and now Manny Ramirez ... turns out they were all juicers. My, oh, my, another black eye for baseball. Except where do you apply the punch to a face already battered by the muscle-bound blows delivered by Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada?
Well said, indeed. It's sad to see a game that used to inspire so much optimism and joy when I was younger arose such cynicism now that I'm older. But, the question I'll pose to you is this: Is the Ramirez suspension ultimately good for baseball?
blackhawks_playoff.jpg
The view from Section 310.

Andrew Ladd saved Mother's Day and Martin Havlat is Jesus.

That's what I learned last night while sitting next to my mother in section 310 of the United Center for the Blackhawks' thrilling 2-1 overtime win over the Vancouver Canucks.

It was my mom's first hockey game, and it almost didn't happen. The odds were stacked strongly against us. After all, yesterday morning she was 2,829 miles away from Chicago in the Anchorage, Alaska airport. (My parents, originally from Chicago, are now permanent residents of Homer, Alaska.) A grumbling Mount Redoubt volcano was threatening to pop its top again and send enough ash into Alaska's air to cancel her trip altogether.

Her flight was scheduled to arrive at O'Hare at 5 p.m. Game time was two hours after that. Between our car in the O'Hare parking lot and the United Center, there stood 18 miles of creeping Thursday afternoon traffic along the Kennedy Expressway.

I convinced my skeptical mother to join me at the game the day before with the following e-mail:
rick-pitino-kings.jpgLouisville basketball coach Rick Pitino is in the running for the vacant Sacramento Kings job, according to a report from Yahoo! Sports.

Pitino has communicated his interest in a possible NBA return to Kings ownership, sources say, and one league official describes the Maloof family as "intrigued."

It is believed that Pitino intermediaries initiated the contact. No Kings offer is imminent and so far conversations have been exploratory in nature.

Sources caution that there are significant hurdles that need to be cleared before Pitino could become Sacramento's coach, but say for a variety of reasons Pitino is feeling the pull of the pros again.

The Kings, as you may remember, haven't had a tremendous amount of success with their coaches in recent seasons.

dom-dimaggio-dead.jpgDom DiMaggio, Joe's younger brother, died early this morning at his Massachusetts home. DiMaggio was 92 and the author of a stellar career of his own that featured seven All-Star appearances.

"Elected to the Red Sox Hall of Fame in 1995, Mr. DiMaggio spent his major league career in Boston, playing for the Sox from 1940 to 1942, then from 1946 to 1953. He lost three seasons to wartime service in the Navy.

Mr. DiMaggio, who stood 5-feet-9-inches tall and wore eyeglasses, was nicknamed "the Little Professor," a tribute to his intelligence on the field as well as his scholarly mien and slight stature."
Former Red Sox star Dom DiMaggio dies at 92      (Boston Globe)
manny_ramirez_steroids.JPGLos Angeles Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez will be suspended 50 games for testing positive for a performance enhancing drug, according to the Los Angeles Times.

An announcement is expected later today. The Times reports that the Dodgers will promote triple-A outfielder Xavier Paul to Los Angeles.

Ramirez issued the following statement:

"Recently I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me. Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I've taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons."

From the LA Times
:

"Ramirez is expected to attribute the test results to medication received from a doctor for a personal medical issue, according to a source familiar with matter but not authorized to speak publicly."
This morning on ESPN 1000's "Waddle & Silvy," baseball writer Bruce Levine praised the league for going after one of its top stars one of its best teams.

Regardless of who it is," Levine told the show, "if you break the rules you're going to be punished."

Waddle and Silvy also talked to Jose Canseco, who last month said he was 90 percent sure that Ramirez' name was on the infamous 2003 list of players -- which included Alex Rodriguez -- who anonymously tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

Canseco theorized to the show that this suspension is essentially a make-up for his name being on that list.

"It's smoke and mirrors," Canseco told them.

Ramirez is currently batting .348 with an on-base percentage of .492. he's slugging .641, and has 6 home runs so far this season.

The Dodgers beat the Washington Nationals last night 10-3 to become the first team in MLB history to start the season a perfect 13-0 at home. 

Dallas police arrested a 37-year-old woman at the home of Mavericks' big man Dirk Nowitzki. Cristal Taylor was taken into custody on several outstanding warrants.

Naturally this has raised all sorts of questions -- most namely, how do these two know each other?

Police wouldn't speculate on Taylor's relationship with the NBA All-Star. Sarah Melton, a spokesperson for the Mavericks, believed Taylor was "just staying at his house."

Sources tell NBCDFW Taylor is Nowitzki's girlfriend.

Taylor also appears to like to change it up in the name department.

Booking records show Taylor has used at least eight different aliases in the past including Chrystal Ann Taylor, Crystal Ann Taylor, Debra Johnson, Shana Mancini, Krista Santiago, Crystal Ann Santiago, Cristal Westerhaus and Crista A. Westerhays.
Nowitzki's Girlfriend Arrested at His Home     (NBC Dallas-Fort Worth)
I recently acquired my first Sparty hat, courtesy of my Sports Pros(e) cohort, Kyle (a somewhat recent Michigan State grad). I will wear it with even more pride now that I've seen the following clip of the all-dancing, all-singing, all-everything NCAA basketball coach of the decade, Tom Izzo.

Izzo this week starred in a musical performance at Michigan State's Wharton Center as part of a fundraiser. His appearance is estimated to have raised more than $100,000 for the American Cancer Society's Coaches vs. Cancer program.

Spartans coach Tom Izzo goes to Broadway

MSU's Tom Izzo pulls off 'Broadway' performance [MLive.com]
Coach does his part, and MSU charity production is a winner [Freep.com]
Izzo will dance, but only if it's to fight cancer [NWTimes.com]
Ron Artest, ejected from last night's game against the Lakers for making a throat-slit gesture at Kobe Bryant, took his post-game interview as an opportunity to share some disturbing personal details with the media.

Namely, Ron Artest once saw a man get stabbed in the heart with a table leg during a basketball game:


q_rating.jpgIn recent days, we've been reminded just what a fabulous sports city Chicago is. On successive Saturdays four of the five major sports teams were in action -- while the Bears prepped for the NFL draft.

Having a plethora of Chicago athletes on display, we got to wondering which of them is the most marketable.

Before even diving into the debate, we had to define exactly what "marketable" meant. Luckily, it was reasons like this that Wikipedia was created.

The Q Score is a way to measure the familiarity and appeal of a brand, company, celebrity, cartoon character or television show. The higher the Q Score, the more well-known and well thought of the item or person being scored is. The Q Score is primarily used by the marketing, advertising and public relations industries.
After much arguing and some hurt feelings, we came to somewhat of a consensus.

The two most marketable figures in Chicago sports have a combined one season of play in Chicago.
hawkie.jpg
No doubt the Hawks are the more fleet-skated team in their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal series with the Vancouver Canucks.

They use that speed - as they did successfully throughout the regular season - to create scoring chances, wreak havoc along the boards and physically impose their will over opposing teams.

It worked wonders in their first-round series win over the Calgary Flames.

But what happens when a quick and skilled squad runs into a team determined on dominating a game through defense, puck possession and a roadblock of a goalie?

Mr. Chi City's NSFW day on the floor at a Bulls game

Yes, the Bulls season is done, though they did go out on a high note after battling the Celtics in a playoff series for the ages.

But that can't stop us from enjoying what must be one of the happiest fans to EVER place butt on seat at the United Center. Mr. Chi City has given us a look at his day as he gets floor seats and tells everybody about it.

After that there's a continuous running commentary of pretty much everything - and some pretty good smack talk for some Celtics.

Oh, and of course the mackin'.

The season ended on a loss, but Mr. Chi City is a winner, no doubt. Hope he enjoyed his ice cream.

And if you're wondering if this cat's for real, here's a chat he had with metallungies.com that seems to prove he is. Holla! LOL! Too good.

dave-bing-detroit-mayor.jpgFormer Pistons great Dave Bing pulled a surprising victory in the Detroit mayoral election yesterday. Bing began his NBA playing career in the now-troubled city in 1966 and ran on a platform of -- wait for it -- change.

Bing, 65, ran as a change agent and nonpolitician. He worked to convince voters that he would bring his business sensibilities to city government.

"I don't intend to lose. We're winning," Bing said earlier in the day.

Despite some hiccups along the way -- he refused to name a 25-person transition team, battled allegations of being an outsider and lied about having a master's degree -- Bing handily convinced voters he was the best man to bring the city out of crisis.

Bing's victory was capped by a very basketball-esque entrance to greet supporters as Europe's "Final Countdown" played.
taylor_pyatt_return.JPG
Blackhawks right winger Troy Brouwer checks Vancouver left winger Taylor Pyatt into the boards in the 1st period. (Tom Cruze/Sun-Times)

After last night's 3-1 loss at the United Center, Blackhawks fans are left with little to like about the Vancouver Canucks. However, you can't help but cheer for Taylor Pyatt, who returned to the ice last night a month after his fiancee Carly Bragnalo died in a car accident.

Pyatt led the Canucks with four shots on net in 12:38 of ice time. He was mobbed after the game by the media and well-wishing teammates.

This subplot was underplayed during last night's broadcast, but a few articles are trickling out about it now.

Craig Custance has a well-written piece over at the Sporting News about Pyatt's return to the Canucks lineup. He writes:
Thumbnail image for brettfavre.JPGAnd.So.It.Begins.Anew.

A source close to both Brett Favre and Minnesota Vikings coach Brad Childress says the two parties will meet later this week to discuss the possibility of Favre returning to the NFL to play for the Vikes.

There is a mutual understanding that sometime soon thereafter Favre will decide whether to sign with the Vikings. The team would expect him to participate fully in offseason minicamps and training camps, which he missed last year with the Jets.

Favre has not been working out and declined to have surgery to repair the torn biceps tendon that plagued him the final month of last season.

Favre may believe the injury can heal on its own as did a similar problem with his left shoulder while he played in Green Bay. A source close to Favre told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that how the injury heals will play a role in the quarterback's decision.

If you feel like you've read this story before, that's because it's the same "will he, won't he" drama that's been surrounding Favre ever since he threw that interception in overtime against the New York Giants in that NFC Championship game.

You may remember that Favre used to play for the Green Bay Packers. That was before things got super weird for all of us.

This is where you unleash your righteous indignation.

Have at it, kids.

Source: Favre, Vikes to discuss playing     (ESPN)
emilyhi3.jpgA Sports Illustrated cover (and a 0.50 ERA) will do this to you.

Kansas City Royal Zack Grienke, the most successful pitcher in the month of April and the MLB "it" story line du jour, is suddenly finding that his personal life has quickly become fodder for the tongue-wagging sports fan set.

Specifically, Greinke's fiancee, Emily Kuchar, has been making nearly as many headlines as KC's golden boy.

Here's the rice and beans:
zambrano-mows-my-lawn.jpg(Photo from JoeSportsFan)

For further proof that a few morons can besmirch the reputation of thousands of fellow fans of a particular team, we turn to St. Louis.

The JoeSportsFan blog today published a series of fan photos from last month's Cubs/Cardinals weekend series in St. Louis.  Depicted on one of the T-shirts is the silhouette of what appears to be a person in a sombrero mowing a lawn with the caption: "Zambrano Mows My Lawn."
St. Louis Cardinals center fielder Rick Ankiel was carted off the field last night after he slammed headfirst into the outfield wall while trying to make a spectacular catch.



Luckily, it seems like Ankiel avoided serious injury.

X-rays and a CT scan of Ankiel's head, neck and back were all negative and showed no fractures, team spokesman Brian Bartow said. Ankiel remained hospitalized overnight for observation and the team said he was day to day.

46_bear_cover2b.jpgThere's a reason the playbooks in the Madden video game franchise are so incredibly accurate for each NFL team. That reason's name is Anthony White.

White has been an assistant designer with EA Sports for the past four years, where his main focus has been the creation of the strikingly accurate Madden playbook. So when you drop back to pass this season with Jay Cutler from the shotgun on third and long and check down to a streaking Juaquin Iglesias across the middle for a first down, go ahead and pat yourself on the back, but be sure to give thanks to Mr. White for designing such a perfect play.

White was kind enough to take some time in the middle of the development process for the forthcoming Madden 10 (to be released Aug. 14) to answer a few of our questions about this year's edition of the most popular sports video game of all time -- and what it's like to have the coolest job in the universe.

Sports Pros(e): Where are you from, and when did you start playing Madden football?

Anthony White: I'm originally from Oakland, MS which is a small town located about 45 minutes south of Memphis. I started playing Madden NFL in 1991 when the game was first released on the SEGA Genesis console and I've been a diehard player ever since.
jacquiline-standley-joba-chamberlain-arrested.jpgJacqueline Standley, the mother of New York Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain, has been arrested for allegedly selling methamphetamine to an undercover police officer in February.

The 44-year-old Standley was charged Monday with delivery of an exceptionally hazardous drug, a felony. Her bail was set at $5,000 and she was assigned a public defender, whose name was not on her jail record.
Chamberlain plead guilty to drunken driving last month.
brandy-miller-bruce-pearl.jpgTennessee basketball coach and body-paint enthusiast Bruce Pearl introduced his new fiance Brandy Miller during a stop in her hometown of Sevierville on Monday.

Pearl said the couple became engaged last week.

Good for you, Bruce. Good for you.

When Western Carolina and Furman lace 'em up for a softball tilt, you better get the women and children safely hidden away. The real action isn't on the field, but in the stands where a few fans clearly take their college softball very seriously.

Check the video out at about the :20 second mark when the crowd stops passing hot dogs and starts throwing punches. The combatant in the purple shirt on the left is apparently a mother of one of the players, according to the video poster and bustedcoverage.com.

Kinda puts the barking at your beer league in perspective, huh?

lebrontravel.jpgThe Cleveland Cavaliers have never had a player win the NBA's Most Valuable Player award, but according to sources who get paid to know this type of stuff, that will all change later today.

According to a league source, LeBron James will be named the NBA Most Valuable Player this afternoon.

James has chosen to have the announcement at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron. All his Cavs teammates are expected to be there as well as representatives from Kia, which will give him a new car as part of the honor.

What does LeBron James want with a Kia, anyway?

Also of note: The Cleveland Plain Dealer's ever-so hilarious biblical pun.

twitter-logo.jpgIf you've somehow missed the latest technological phenomenon to assail the American populace -- Twitter -- you must have been living under a rock. And if you are living under a rock, you can rest assured that people want to hear about every little detail on the aforementioned social network.

Not content with traditional forms of communication like the telephone call, text message and e-mail, we've become awash in 140-character updates on the micro-blogging platform. Twitter's intended goal, if I can hypothesize here, is to share real-time updates while continually shrinking the world - bringing everyone together.

On paper, it doesn't seem like there'd be anything wrong with this. But, Twitter doesn't exist on paper. It exists both in the real and virtual world - two realms that can sometimes breed awkwardness when they meet.
chicago-cubs-swine-flu.jpgNot really a whole lot to say about this, except that this Cub fan didn't let pressing real-world issues like swine flu get in the way of enjoying a sunny day at Wrigley Field.

The White Sox fan a few desks over claims Cubs Fever should be recognized by the CDC, however.
super-bowl-london.jpgThe NFL has made its intention of broadening the league's empire overseas perfectly clear in recent years. One would have to look no farther than two sold-out games at London's Wembley Stadium and a third game scheduled at the site this coming October.

But, there's a big difference between staging an occasional regular season game across the pond and having the Super Bowl take place outside of the United States.

A report in today's Sunday Telegraph reveals that London has launched a serious bid to host the big game in the coming future.
gmichelleshoe1.jpgIs $540 too much to spend on a pair of sneakers?

That's the question many are asking after first lady Michelle Obama was seen wearing a pair of shoes made by haute French designer Lanvin during a trip to a food bank.

From New York Daily News:

"Michelle has stepped out in Lanvin before while getting down to business. A week ago, she shoveled dirt at a tree planting while wearing the line's chiffon tank.

"Dresses and strappy pumps cost upward of $1,500, while tops go for $400 to $1,000."

Michelle shares her taste for the costly kicks with the likes of Kanye West and Ellen DeGeneres.


Photos: Check out these shoes and other's Michelle Obama has worn
rondo_hinrich_bulls_celtics.jpgIt's probably moot to ask a largely Chicagoan crowd to weigh in on this subject -- but should Rajon Rondo be suspended for Game 7 for this hard foul against Kirk Hinrich?

Benching Rondo would make it even tougher for the Celtics, whose bench has already been deprived by injuries, to win Saturday. But where do you draw the line? Just because his presence on the court is vital to giving the Celtics a chance to win, does that mean the league should overlook his actions in last night's game?

After watching the replay, it seems obvious -- this is clearly more of an egregious display of unsportsmanlike conduct than Dwight Howard's errant elbow the other night -- the same one that sentenced him to watching his team and live blogging about it instead of playing. Rondo was charged with a flagrant foul and Hinrich was charged with a technical, but neither were ejected from the game. 

And yet, Rondo's gotten away with another flagrant foul in this series when he fish-hooked Brad Miller. After reviewing the play, league officials somehow determined that because Rondo didn't wind up, he was going for the ball. Perhaps these same league officials are due for a makeup call?

Check out the replay and tell us what you think:

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