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

June 2009 Archives

NCAA_Football_10_cover.jpgOne of the most anticipated titles in the Electronic Arts canon is their college football franchise, and this year's installment -- NCAA Football 10 -- is no exception.

With the addition of the TeamBuilder feature, Road to Glory and the first video game appearance of the ever-alluring Erin Andrews, this year's title promises to give Kyle and me plenty of opportunities to challenge our friendship.

We'll be bringing you plenty of news and reviews of NCAA Football 10 in the next couple of weeks leading up to the July 14 release -- including the following interview with the game's designer, Ben Haumiller.

Haumiller was kind enough to take time during the lead up to the game's launch to answer a few questions about the game's new features and, of course, the difficult task of having to stare at Erin Andrews all day.
ed-belfour-chicago-blackhawks.jpgFormer Blackhawks goalie Ed Belfour, perhaps taking a page from the Book of Chelios, is eyeing a return to the NHL.

The 44-year-old likely Hall of Famer has reportedly been working out near his home in the Dallas suburbs and hopes to play next season.  His agent, Ron Salcer, confirmed that Belfour asked him to contact clubs to determine their potential interest, according to an article at ESPN.com.

In his 17 years in the NHL, "The Eagle" played 963 regular-season games with the Hawks, Sharks, Stars, Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers. His 484 victories is third all-time.

Belfour was in net for the Dallas Stars 1999 Stanley Cup victory.

White Sox Cubs Baseball.jpg

What we worry? Lou Piniella and Ozzie Guillen won't be winning any popularity contests with players anytime soon.

si players mlb poll_070609.jpgFor all the controversy over Lou Piniella's role in the abysmal Cubs season so far and the omnipresent mouth of Ozzie Guillen calling out current and former players alike, these are two guys that players want to play for.

The ultimate "players' managers" in a game that respects and demands strong managers that knew how to play the game on the field. Right?

Yeah, not so much.

Sports Illustrated surveyed 380 current Major League Baseball players for the issue on newsstands Tuesday to see which managers they least wanted to play for, and it wasn't a close, umm, win. Twenty-six percent of the responses pointed to Sweet Lou as the most sour excuse for a major league manager, while 21 percent said Ozzie was no great shakes. That put Chicago's skippers tops on the bottom list.

Next closest? Tony La Russa, coming in 16 percentage points better, so to speak, than Piniella with 10 percent of players saying no thanks to playing for the Genius.

Makes you wonder how the poll went in the Cubs and White Sox clubhouses. Is it possible to have 101 percent of the vote go against you?

michael-curry-fired.jpgThe Detroit Pistons have fired coach Michael Curry after his first year. The first-year coach piloted the team to a 39-43 record in the regular season and saw his Pistons get swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round of the playoffs.

Curry took over the reigns in Motown after the squad had reached the Eastern Conference finals in six consecutive years.

Curry played for the Pistons from 1996-1997 and again from 1999-2003.
We're two weeks away from the annual highly anticipated release of EA Sports' latest entry in its NCAA Football franchise.

NCAA Football 10 drops July 14, and we're starting to get a look at some of the new features (Road to Glory) and faces (Erin Andrews) that make those of us who get excited about these things (the game, people ... the game) even more excited.

The much ballyhooed Andrews will be featured as the host of Road to Glory, a new mode in which Andrews and Kirk Herbstreit chronicle your career from high school senior to college student athlete. Luckily, they leave out those pesky classes and tutor sessions.

The task at hand in 'Road to Glory is simple enough -- choose a position, win a scholarship, head off to college and win the Heisman -- all while being praised by Andrews. It's as close to understanding how it feels to be Tim Tebow that any of us will probably ever get.
 
We could go on and on, but this video does a pretty good job of doing it for us:

eddy-curry-house-foreclosure.JPG

The lavish Burr Ridge home owned by former Bulls player Eddy Curry is in foreclosure. (Sun-Times photo)

BY NATE MILLER

The multi-million dollar home of former Chicago Bulls player Eddy Curry in southwest suburban Burr Ridge is in foreclosure, according to a filing Monday in Cook County Circuit Court.

Bayview Loan Servicing filed a foreclosure notice against Curry, his wife, Patrice, Morgan Stanley Credit Corp., the People of Illinois and Kay Bros. Enterprises Inc.

According to the filing, Curry and his wife took out a $3,719,316 mortgage on the home at 6655 Lee Court on July 3, 2006. The mortgagee named on the filing is Eddy Curry.

At the time Curry and his wife took out the mortgage for the home, there was an initial monthly payment due of $28,675 with an interest rate of 9.25 percent, the filing said. During the repayment period, the interest rate could drop to no lower than 3.25 percent, and could not go higher than 15.25 percent.

Thumbnail image for kendra-wilkinson.JPGReality television star Kendra Wilkinson and NFL wide receiver Hank Baskett were married this weekend at the Playboy Mansion in a ceremony some of the guests are calling "emotional", "beautiful" and like a fairytale."

E! has all of the photographic evidence of the joining of two souls into one, a Google search that is downright frying up the Internets about now. The couple took of for St. Lucia after the ceremony for their honeymoon.

Kendra and Hank's Wedding Day in Pictures    (E!)
Page designer to the stars and unabashed Indianapolis Colts fan Eric White sent us this little gem this morning. It appears one intrepid young hippity-hopper has remixed some of the more infamous rants in sports over the past couple of years into a surprisingly listenable track.

I mean, where outside of YouTube, where can Dennis Green, Allen Iverson, Joe Namath, Terrell Owens and Jim Mora all be seen together?

carlos-zambrano-dewayne-wise.JPG"It was a cutter that cut too much."

That's Carlos Zambrano's story and he's sticking to it. The  Cubs ace said he was certainly not throwing at DeWayne Wise in the sixth inning of Sunday's game at U.S. Cellular Field one pitch after Chris Getz stole home.

"In that situation I don't want to get myself in more trouble," Zambrano said after the game. "I want get out of that situation and pitch my six innings or seven innings."

Wise saw it differently, however.

"I (thought) that he would probably hit me right there," said Wise in the White Sox clubhouse. "That's Zambrano being Zambrano."

As Wise took his base, he voiced his displeasure while traveling the basepath and exchanged words with Zambrano. Wise paraphrased, telling reporters he advised Zambrano, "That wasn't right."

"I don't know why he was like that," said Zambrano. "I wasn't even looking at him. I heard what he said, but I didn't understand what he said. I heard that he was talking to me. I turned around and said, 'What'?"

That's when umpires stepped in and managers stepped out, avoiding further benches-clearing conflict.

Both benches were warned the next inning after Sox starter John Danks biffed Cubs leadoff batter Ryan Freel.

One thing is for sure -- this won't certainly won't endear Zambrano to White Sox fans. No matter how much Guillen sings his praises, Sox fans tend to think "Zambrano being Zambrano" is getting old. 

But Z has said in the past he hopes to play for the South Siders before his career is over. With incidents like the one in Sunday's sixth inning, he certainly isn't winning any fans on the South Side and, considering his line (5 1/3 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO) he may soon find himself losing fans on the North Side.   

geovany-soto-cubs-sox-cellular-field.jpg
(Tom Cruze/Sun-Times photo)

When controversy finds the modern professional athlete, they're prone to either face the public and atone for their perceived sins, or turn and run.

Recently, Bulls guard Derrick Rose came under fire for the latter, but Cubs catcher Geovany Soto chose the former -- and he's to be commended for it.

Although he's known for weeks that his positive marijuana test from the World Baseball Classic would eventually become media fodder, Soto chose Friday to face the cameras and answer reporters' questions just a few hours before he blasted the decisive three-run home run in the seventh inning of the Cubs-White Sox game.

Without getting into specifics, Soto reiterated Thursday's issued apology and offered no specific comment on whether his knowledge of the impending brouhaha contributed to his sub-par on-field performance in April and May.

Even after telling reporters Thursday that he hoped the topic wouldn't come up again, he was gracious in answering questions about it again Friday.

"Obviously, you know, you feel responsible for your actions, but I'm done with it," Soto told a few reporters after taking batting practice. "Basically, I'm here to do my job and that's my number one priority right now."

See how easy that was? And I can almost guarantee that the same questions won't be asked again Saturday or Sunday.
milton-bradley-lou-piniella-cubs.JPGAfter popping out to right field during the sixth inning of Friday's Cubs-Sox game, Milton Bradley decided to express his frustration by throwing his batting helmet and smashing a water cooler.

Apparently this type of behavior had happened one too many times for manager Lou Piniella.

"I told him to take his uniform off and go home," said Piniella during the post-game press conference. "I followed him up into the clubhouse and we exchanged some words. I don't like those things to happen, but I'm just tired of watching it."

Piniella called it a "common occurrence," and said he's done looking the other way. Whether any fallout will come of the incident is yet to be seen.

"I'm gonna put his name in the lineup tomorrow and that's it," Piniella said. 
A federal appeals court yesterday ruled that Hustler magazine didn't have the right to publish decades-old nude photographs of Nancy Benoit, who was killed by her professional wrestler husband Chris two years ago.

The nudes were put out in print a year ago by the Larry Flynt-driven publication, but a lawsuit filed on Benoit's behalf says the woman asked the photographer to destroy the images 20 years ago.

The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling found that a notorious death doesn't give publishers a blank check to publish any images they wish -- including those not linked to a newsworthy event. Such a policy, the court warned, would mean that the entire life of any victim of a notorious slaying would instantly be open to public scrutiny.
This decision reversed an earlier ruling in the magazine's favor that said the photos were part of a legitimate matter of public interest and concern.

Court: Hustler wrong to print dead woman's photos     (AP)
Dodgers White Sox Bas_Mill.jpg Josh Fields breaks his bat on a two-run home run off Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Randy Wolf during the fourth inning of Wednesday's 10-7 White Sox victory. (AP Photo)

Josh Fields made the most of his recent tenure on the White Sox' bench -- which is, perhaps, the reason he broke out of his slump Wednesday night with a 3-for-4, 2-home-run performance against the best team in baseball.

Throughout his 12-day sentence, Fields was able to pick the brain of injured White Sox slugger Carlos Quentin during a series of long conversations about hitting.  Said Fields, "I was able to figure some stuff out."

That may be an understatement.

Whatever Quentin said definitely worked. After a .133 average in his last 12 games (including an 0-for-16 stint), Fields finally slapped a single into right in his first at-bat Wednesday night, and he wasn't done there. Fields took Dodgers' starter Randy Wolf deep to left-center in the fourth inning and provided the Sox' third home run in the team's explosive five-run fifth.

If it's the long talks about hitting that did the trick for Fields, perhaps the entire White Sox lineup could benefit from some alone time on the bench figuring some stuff out with Quentin.

A sneak peek of things to come if Shaq teams up with LeBron in Cleveland?

shaquille-oneal-lebron-james--05-nba-all-star-game.jpgThe pressure for the Bulls to up their game, literally, as the NBA Draft hits may have just gotten bigger.

Reports early Thursday morning say the Cleveland Cavaliers have sealed a deal to grab Shaquille O'Neal from the Phoenix Suns to team with LeBron James. The Cavs would ship Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic, a 2nd round pick and cash west to complete the deal in a salary dump for the Suns and a belated move for Cleveland after being pushed around in the pivot by Orlando in the playoffs

ESPN.com reports that this is a move long-in waiting for Cleveland:

The trade gives the Cavs a player they've coveted since February. With center Zydrunas Ilgauskas starting to break down, adding Shaq to the roster gives them a dominant force in the middle. The Cavs were obviously unhappy with their ability to defend Dwight Howard in the playoffs and bringing Shaq into the fold should help.

Owner approval is apparently all that's left.

That puts the onus on the Bulls to beef up a low post that was too-often exposed last season. But with the 16 and 26 picks in the first round, there may be no help in the wings, dressed in pinstripe suits and shaking David Stern's hand.

There is, of course, still the possibility of a Chris Bosh deal with Toronto, depending on what happens with the Kirk Hinrich and Ben Gordon contract talks - Hinrich has often been rumored in a potential package for the Raptors' big man.

But for now the young Bulls will be facing a potential Shaq in the King's Castle as they try to make the next jump toward a return to glory.

Yahoo! Sports reports on the LeShaq deal. (Yahoo!Sports)

After having beef with Solomon Wilcots and Mike Golic, the Chad Ocho Cinco-Shawne Merriman Twitter soap opera continues.

The most recent episode consists of Ocho Cinco's response to Merriman's "Call me out again and I'll ring your neck" comment.

The gregarious Bengals receiver posted a video to his Twitter account this afternoon in which he calls out his detractors.

"I think you slightly forgot who you're talking to," a shirtless Ocho Cinco says into the camera. "Slightly disrespectful with the 'You gonna ring my neck out.'"
 
Tigers outfielder and one-time American League batting champion Magglio Ordonez has chopped off his signature long hair. The good people over at Fox Sports Detroit posted the following photo on Facebook just a few minutes ago.

magglio-ordonez.jpgOrdonez' flowing mane of what appeared to be well-oiled hair became a phenomenon during Detroit's improbable 2006 season. Fans would don fake Magglio hair under their baseball caps and really get some rooting done.

This season, it hasn't been all good-hair days for Ordonez. He's collected just two home runs and 11 extra-base hits on the year.
33535862H3434033.JPGBY MIKE HALL The Big Ten Network

Oh Chicken Little,

mike_hall_big_ten-thumb-250x241-7933.jpgYour plight has been well documented.  And not just by those listening to Colin Hay while reviewing Zach Braff's movie career.  But by those who comment on the situation of the college basketball world.

As you know, Mr Little, the NBA draft is just hours away.  And with it come those who choose to scream out loud that the college game is slowly being destroyed.  Today in USA Today there was a long article about the game suffering from the "One and done" rule in college basketball.  And its been a frequent topic on ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption."  So let me try to calm down all the Henny Penny's out there.

One big thing should be clarified.  Its an NBA rule, not an NCAA rule.  If you have complaints, take it up with David Stern, not Myles Brand. 
062409sox.JPGBY KEVIN ALLEN kjallen@suntimes.com

Early in the season, this game might have been over in the second inning. The old John Danks might have continued to hang sliders, give up more runs and the game would have spiraled even further out of reach for White Sox hitters.

But on this night, after giving up three runs in the first two innings Danks managed to battle back and hold a heavy-hitting Dodgers club to 3 hits in 7 innings. Despite those shaky first couple of innings, during which Danks said he "didn't have command of anything," the Sox were still within striking distance.

But, oh, those White Sox hitters. And, oh, that blasted bullpen.

Just when the Sox were starting to string together a couple of wins, it looks as though the lack of run support on the South Side will be the death of John Danks.
Reporting on the evening SportsCenter, Colleen Dominguez has the latest on the Manny Ramirez saga. She says the slugger took Southwest Airlines into town and even had a middle seat. Also brought to the table: the fact that Ramirez was housing pasta and carbo-loading for his big minor-league debut.
sosa-sandberg.jpgSammy Sosa doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame -- that is, if you ask Cubs legend Ryne Sandberg.

Speaking on the 25th anniversary of "The Sandberg Game," Ryno told ESPN 1000 that Sosa, who was revealed as one of 104 players who tested positive in 2003 for performance-enhancing drugs, doesn't deserve to be enshirned in the Hall.

He told Waddle & Silvy
:

"They use the word 'integrity' in describing a Hall of Famer in the logo of the Hall of Fame, and I think there are gonna be quite a few players that are not going to get in. It's been evident with the sportswriters who vote them in, with what they've done with Mark McGwire getting in the 20 percent range. We have some other players coming up like [Rafael] Palmeiro coming up soon, and it'll be up to the sportswriters to speak loud and clear about that. I don't see any of those guys getting in."

AUDIO: Listen to Sandberg's entire interview with Waddle and Silvy.

Sandberg praised Sosa's work ethic during the time they played together -- from 1992-94 and again in '96 and '97. But the gravity of the news revealed last week by the New York Times should prevent players like Sosa and McGwire from being included in Cooperstown.

"For the society, for the up-and-coming players and youth out there, I don't think those guys should be recognized at all," Sandberg told the show.
chris-chelios-chicago-blackhawks.JPG
Chris Chelios was all smiles in 1996 after signing a three-year extension with the Blackhawks worth $10.5 million. (Sun-Times file)

The man who many deem the best American-born hockey player ever to don an NHL uniform is a free agent. Chris Chelios, the Chicago native who played for the Blackhawks from 1990-99, is no longer a Detroit Red Wing.  

The decision not to re-sign the 47-year-old defenseman doesn't come as a surprise, as he only played 28 games last season for the Stanley Cup runners-up after suffering a leg injury early in the season.

From the Detroit News:

General manager Ken Holland met with Chelios on Monday and officially told him the Wings wouldn't be bringing him back after 10 seasons.

"It was kind of understood last summer that the 2008-09 season would be the last one for Cheli as a Red Wing," said (General Manager Ken) Holland, noting the need for the Wings to bring in young players such as Jonathan Ericsson. "Cheli wants to play another season, and I believe he can still play."

Holland went on to call Chelios "a perfect role model for young players." The average age in the Blackhawks locker room last year was 25.5 -- meaning the team certainly has its share of young players.

What do you think, Hawks fans? His former GM says he can still play. So, do you want Cheli back at the United Center in a Blackhawks uniform for the 2009-10 season? Would this proven winner be a welcome role model for these baby Blackhawks, or does the team simply not require the services of a 47-year-old defenseman? 
blake-griffin-ncaa-10.jpgA day after EA Sports announced that Chicago Blackhawk Patrick Kane would be its NHL 10 cover boy, the video game juggernaut named projected first overall draft pick Blake Griffin the cover athlete for NCAA Basketball 10.

The move should come as no surprise, as Griffin was everyone's Mr. Everything last season for the Oklahoma Sooners. Griffin was the consensus national Player of the Year, winning the Big 12, Associated Press, Naismith, Sporting News, and John Wooden Player of the Year awards.

In a statement released today by EA Sports, Griffin said, "Seeing myself on the cover of NCAA Basketball 10 is such a great tribute to my time at Oklahoma. I loved playing in front of passionate fans and competing against some of the best schools in the country. Now I am looking forward to competing at the next level against the best players in the world."
sammy-sosa-uniform.jpgBefore the New York Times story all but eliminated any remaining doubt regarding Sammy Sosa and steroids, many pointed to the slugger's behemoth biceps and swollen shoulders as proof of his use.

The reasonable thing to do if you were juicing would be shying away from any type of added scrutiny about your body. But today we're hearing that Sosa may have had his uniform tailored with elastic inside the arms between the years of 2002-2004.

 
Mark Sanchez has yet to take a snap in a game for the New York Jets, but the former USC gunslinger continues to make plenty of headlines with his personal life.

This time, the recently single Sanchez's ex-girlfriend, with whom he posed in a few sexy pics in GQ Magazine, was spotted with New York Ranger Sean Avery.

The New York Post dishes the dirt:

Hilary Rhoda isn't just a football fan -- she's also a hockey fan. Having dated new Jet QB Marc Sanchez (after posing with him in GQ and helping him celebrate his $50 million contract), the curvy brunette looked very cozy with Ranger Sean Avery last night at Brother Jimmy's in Murray Hill. "They were doing shots of Jack Daniels and Patron, and she had her hands on his arm as they canoodled at the corner of the bar," said our spy. "Sanchez was nowhere to be found."

Note the irony here, based on previous comments by Avery that landed the gregarious winger in some hot water: 
Thumbnail image for lance-armstrong-bike-stolen.jpgPerhaps it's because everything I know about the criminal justice system in this country was gleaned from watching copious amounts of "Law & Order," but it's often really confusing to me just how a sentence is determined.

We sort of looked into this in the wake of Donte' Stallworth's 30-day sentence for DUI manslaughter, but another sports-related ruling today really throws a wild-card number into the mix.

One of the two men involved in the 2008 theft of a rare Lance Armstrong bike will be sentenced to a three-year prison term next week.

Lee Monroe Crider, 40, pleaded no contest June 1 to second-degree burglary and grand theft, the Sacramento Bee reported on its Web site, citing court documents. Crider is scheduled to return to court next Monday for sentencing, the Bee reported.

Look, there's obviously a ton of factors at work in all of these cases, but on the surface, the penalty for stealing a piece of property from a millionaire should just not be more than 10 times more severe than that of someone who wrongfully took a man's life.

Who's with me on this one?

Thumbnail image for manny_ramirez_steroids.JPGManny Ramirez will supposedly be back on the baseball field today, but not here on the South Side of Chicago with the rest of his Dodger teammates. Instead, he'll be playing for the Albuquerque Isotopes.

Los Angeles' Triple-A affiliate has prepared a place for the long-haired one, selling tickets at a blistering pace to see the mildly disgraced slugger and his brand of ball take on Nashville.
patrick-kane-nhl10-cover.jpgPatrick Kane is one of the NHL's faces of the future. The 20-year-old won the Calder Trophy in 2008 and is coming off a season in which he helped the Blackhawks reach the Western Conference finals.

All of this has helped him to become the cover boy for Electronic Art's NHL 10 video game. Kane is only the second American-born player to grace the cover and the first since Rangers goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck was featured on the NHL 97 cover.
us-open-heckling.jpgIt appears that not all of those gathered to watch this year's U.S. Open at New York's Bethpage Black are subscribing to the whole "be quiet while people are trying to golf" code.

At 6:42 p.m., dozens of drunken spectators at Hole 10 taunted Woods as he prepared to start his third round in the rain.

"We're on Long Island, baby, where men are men!" one fan yelled. "Put that umbrella down!"

The taunts were mixed with cheers from the majority of the crowd.

Woods did not respond to the people who were heckling him but tried to quiet the crowd with a "sshh" hand gesture, putting his finger to his lips, as golfers prepared to tee off on the adjacent 12th tee.

"Suck it up, you've got your own video game!" someone shouted at Woods.
While anything involving Woods is going to jump off the page, it was Fred Funk who may have gotten the worst of the beer-fueled crowd's witticism.
Seattle Mariners left fielder Endy Chavez is out for the season after a brutal collision with Yuniesky Betancourt on Friday.

Chavez tore his ACL and MCL, as well as his lateral meniscus on the play. Preliminary information suggests that his recovery time will be nine to 12 months, which could mean that he won't be ready for the start of the 2010 season.

Mariners left fielder Chavez is out for 2009 and possibly part of 2010    (Seattle Times)
photo.jpgWith 23 seconds left in the first half, wide receiver Donovan Morgan could be seen standing on the Chicago Slaughter bench, doing the pop-and-lock as the Jonas Brothers' "That's the Way We Roll" blasted over the loudspeaker.  But that wasn't the most interesting thing that happened at the Slaughter-Wisconsin Wolfpack playoff game Saturday night at the Sears Centre.

That honor could go to former Channel 5 reporter Amy Jacobson, who split the uprights for two of her three attempted field goals during a celebrity halftime showcase.

The honor could go to the throngs of kids wielding two-foot horns that they used interchangeably as musical devices and clubs with which to beat each other.

The honor could go to quarterback Russ Michna, who completed 16 of his 24 passes for 264 yards and six -- yes, six -- touchdowns and didn't bother to button his chinstrap for the second half.

But I have to say the most interesting thing I saw Saturday night was the clinic put on by the entire Chicago Slaughter team on the field, which resulted in a 63-19 shalacking of the Wolfpack. The Slaughter win earned the team its first trip to the Continental Indoor Football League Championship, to be played next Saturday at the Sears Centre.
jim-brown-tiger-woods.jpgJim Brown and Tiger Woods have each brought a level of domination to their respective sports that may never be paralleled. Both were pioneers of sorts, breaking down barriers -- real and otherwise -- on their way. But, the Hall of Fame running back recently reiterated his opinion that Woods doesn't do enough when it comes to enacting social change.

In a soon-to-air profile of Brown and legendary basketball star Bill Russell -- to air on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Brown says he is disappointed in the golfer's lack of passion on social issues.
bernie-kosar-bankruptcy.gifFormer NFL quarterback Bernie Kosar has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday. The pass-tossing enthusiast has been hamstrung by a recent string of financial and legal problems.

Kosar, who starred for the Miami Hurricanes and Cleveland Browns in the 1980's, was shown to owe his largest creditors a combined $19.5 million. Among the reported debts are $1.5 million to the Browns and $3 million to his ex-wife.

Like all retired quarterbacks should do upon leaving the game, Kosar opened a steakhouse. Alas, that went out of business last year.

Cavaliers James Surgery Bas.jpg

When a king meets a president: Obama summons LeBron for White House hoops. (AP)

US Obama.jpgThe question is, will there be a handshake after this game for LeBron James?

President Obama, hard-core hoophead that he is, wants the NBA's Most Valuable Player - and most prominent sore loser - to break out the high tops to help inaugurate the new basketball court going on the South Lawn of the White House.

And the Baller in Chief isn't stopping there, telling Bloomberg News in an interview that he wants some other names in the game:

"As soon as we get the basketball nets up we're going to have some of these guys over for a game," Obama said.

Asked if he'd be playing, Obama bristled: "Of course. It's my court."

But the home court advantage may not be that strong for Obama. In addition to James having visited the White House already, he's also got a speed and size thing going that has the President somewhat in awe.

"When you get up close to him he's a legitimate six- eight, six-nine. He's huge. Moving that kind of speed? It's pretty remarkable," Obama said of the Cleveland Cavaliers star who racked up 28.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.2 assists per game this season.

PX082_4D9E_9.JPGIf fans of the Chicago Rush are wondering what happened to the team's players after the Arena League canceled its season due to economic woes, they need look no further than the Sears Center in Hoffman Estates.

A handful of former Rush are currently playing championship-caliber football with the undefeated Chicago Slaughter of the Continental Indoor Football League.

The team is hoping for its first CIFL title, but first they'll need to beat the Wisconsin Wolfpack this Saturday in the Western Division championship.

The Slaughter have already beaten Wisconsin three times this season. But rather than allowing his team to get cocky, head coach and former '85 Bear Steve "Mongo" McMichael is using his NFL experience to teach his young players that winning when your team's on top isn't always as easy as it should be.

We caught up with McMichael this morning and spoke with him about his team's chances and the family friendliest game in town.
wade-boggs-beer.jpgHall of Fame third baseman made no secret about his admiration for a couple of things. Chicken, which "Sports Illustrated for Kids" informed me he ate before every game, and Miller Lite.

Around this here blog there's been no hesitation trotting out his epic 64-beer road trip legend whenever we need a pick-me-up.

Boggs will be pouring Miller Lite for fans who attend the Lowell Spinners game on Saturday. The doubles enthusiast has enough left in his arm to dole out suds for the first hour after the gates open to the public, so get 'em while they're cold.

Wade Boggs to visit LeLacheur June 20     (Lowell Spinners)
Thumbnail image for cristal-taylor.jpgAccording to papers filed last week, Dallas Mavericks' star Dirk Nowitzki is seeking sole custody of his ex-girlfriend's unborn baby if he is proven to be the father.

The recently incarcerated Cristal Taylor was served with the document, which identifies the parties as "D.N." and "C.T." Taylor was jailed on a theft of services charge on May 6, which ignited a flurry of speculation as to the nature of her relationship with Nowitzki.
Thumbnail image for carlos-zambrano-wrigley-field.jpgOzzie Guillen and Carlos Zambrano have a lot in common.

They've shared billing in a Pepsi commercial.

They share a homeland.

And on Thursday, they shared a playing field. But not before the White Sox manager shared some opinions on the Cubs righty.

"Zambrano, to me, is one of the best pitchers in the game," Guillen said before his team took on the Cubs' ace. "And I love, love the way he handles himself on the field. Many people say he's crazy, he's out of his mind. I love that, I like that attitude. I don't want people to fall asleep on the stinking mound."
missy-giove.jpgMelissa "Missy" Giove, a former downhill bike racing champion, was busted by the DEA for possession of 384 pounds of marijuana, according to the Saratoga Springs Saratogian.

From the Associated Press:

"The 37-year-old Virginia resident was arrested earlier this week along with a 30-year-old man whose home was allegedly stashed with hundreds of pounds of marijuana and more than $1 million in cash. Giove was one of downhill mountain biking's first female superstars, winning world and national titles before retiring six years ago."

Nicknamed "The Missile," Giove and her cohort, Eric Canori, face a maximum of 40 years in prison and a fine of $2 million if convicted.

There's apparently a local angle to this as well, as a traffic stop here in Illinois led to their eventual arrest.

According to the Saratogian:

"DEA spokesperson Erin Mulvey said the DEA learned of Giove and Canori's plans when Illinois State Police notified them about a suspicious traffic stop on June 13. DEA officials put their vehicle under surveillance until it arrived in Wilton. Mulvey said the drugs' final destination is 'still under investigation.'"

Giove holds the record for NORBA downhill wins with 14.

Melissa 'Missy' Giove facing prison [Bike Radar]
Photo from Marthahucker.com
bruce-pearl-nba-draft.JPG
(AP Photo)

He's rapped for you. He's dressed like a Creamsicle for you. And now, Tennessee Volunteers coach Bruce Pearl will analyze this year's NBA Draft for you.

NBA TV and NBA.com is providing a ton of exclusive content leading up to and during the June 25 draft, including "Pearl's Gems" blog entries and blogs from prospects Blake Griffin, Tyler Hansborough and Stephen Curry.

From a Turner Sports release:

The rapidly aging quarterback says his workouts with a bunch of Mississippi high schoolers help keep him young as he contemplates his next move. What never gets old is hanging on every news item of the retirement rumor enthusiast, waiting for a decision on whether to join the Minnesota Vikings as the closest thing they have to an NFL quarterback.

If nothing else, maybe he can score an invite to homecoming if the comeback doesn't work out.

ozzie-mows-wrigley.jpg

Ozzie Guillen might not like coming to Wrigley Field, but the White Sox manager seemed to be having a good time there Wednesday.

Before the Sox' 4-1 victory over the Cubs, he greeted Cubs manager Lou Piniella on the field and lifted up his black warmup jacket to reveal a Cubbie-blue T-shirt that read, ''Ozzie Mows Wrigley.'' The two shared a hearty laugh about Guillen's new purchase, which he made that morning outside the stadium that he says makes him ''puke.''

Rich Callow, the vendor who sold the shirt to Guillen, said he saw Guillen arriving at the ballpark.

''I told Ozzie, 'Hey you want to see a T-shirt?''' Callow said. ''He came over and looked at it and started laughing. He liked it a lot and wanted to buy it.''

They may be on-field rivals, but Cubs ace Carlos Zambrano and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen have teamed up to sell Pepsi in their native Venezuela.

The duo appears in the following Spanish-language Pepsi commercial together, which includes a cameo at the end from Bobby Abreu:

 
The Onion -- harbinger of fake news and a staple in the messenger bags of hipsters everywhere -- has released a video on its Web site that's causing quite an internet stir. Judging by the title, "Gymnast Shawn Johnson Put To Sleep After Breaking Leg," it's clear why it's quickly becoming viral.

Although Johnson, who finished first in ABC's "Dancing With the Stars," declined to comment through her publicist, at least one of her former gym mates talked to the Olympian's hometown newspaper, the Des Moines Register:

Geena Pilcher, a former gym mate of Shawn Johnson and a soon-to-be-junior at Johnston High School, was not amused by the video.

"It's sort of rude; it's just over the top," said Pilcher, who competed in gymnastics with Johnson for five years.

Has the Onion gone too far this time? Watch the video and tell us what you think:  

CUBS PIRATES.jpg

Sammy Sosa in 2003.

As if there weren't going to be enough wars of words in the stands of Wrigley Field this week with the White Sox on the North Side, the ammo just got nuclear.

The New York Times is reporting that Sammy Sosa, holder of most of the Chicago Cubs power records from his homer-happy reign at Clark and Addison, was on the juice in 2003.

According to the paper:

Sammy Sosa, who joined with Mark McGwire in 1998 in a celebrated pursuit of baseball's single-season home run record, is among the players who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003, according to lawyers with knowledge of the drug-testing results from that year.

The disclosure that Sosa tested positive makes him the latest baseball star of the last two decades to be linked to performance-enhancers, a group that now includes McGwire, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro.

Sosa has long protested his innocence, when not outright denying accusations, as the focus of constant rumors of using illegal substances since his race with McGwire in '98, often joking that he only uses Flintstones vitamins and hard work.

CONGRESS STEROIDS.jpgSosa exceeded 60 homers three times, but if these accusations are true, the biggest bomb he ever launched may have come in 2005 when he testified on the use of banned substances in baseball before Congress. Sitting next to Rafael Palmeiro, McGwire and others at a hearing called by the House Government Reform Committee to examine the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball, Sosa testified that:

"everything" he had heard "about steroids and human growth hormones is that they are bad for you, even lethal" and that he "would never put anything dangerous like that" in his body. "To be clear, I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs. I have never injected myself or had anyone inject me with anything."

Now Sosa, who retired last week and told ESNdeportes that he would "calmly await" his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in five years, will be cast into the same tainted pool of names that the Cooperstown crew are shunning. Yes, you, McGwire.

phelpsvideogame.jpgMichael Phelps is taking a huge step on the road back to corporate-sponsor redemption as he's expected to announce a partnership with H20 Audio today.

The product the swimming and book-writing enthusiast is pitching -- waterproof headphones -- could not be better suited to his life.

You'll recall that Kellogg's dropped Phelps after the now-infamous bong picture surfaced, while companies such as Visa, Speedo and Omega have stood by him.

This marks the first new endorsement deal for Phelps since all of the photograph hubbub.
william-gholston-michigan-state.jpgIt would stand to reason that if you are 6-foot-7, 240 pounds and really, really athletic, lots of institutions of higher learning would be urging you to come strap on the pads on their dime.

Such was the case for Detroit-area recruit William Gholston, who was being recruited by such powerhouses as Oklahoma, Ohio State and Southern California, but today committed to Michigan State.

The linebacker-defensive end hybrid is an enormous boost to the Spartans' arsenal, to hear the Detroit Free Press tell it.

Stallworth Pedestrian Kille.jpg

Donte Stallworth at his plea deal sentencing Tuesday in Miami.

Vick Release.jpgCleveland Browns wide receiver Donte' Stallworth took full responsibility for killing a pedestrian while driving drunk in Florida and agreed to plead guilty to DUI manslaughter in Miami today.

The price paid for taking a man's life while driving drunk? Thirty days.

To put that in perspective, Michael Vick, who is currently serving house arrest in his Virginia home, was originally sentenced to nearly two years for running a dogfighting ring. Abusing animals is a heinous crime and this is not intended to downplay that at all, but a man's life was lost through criminal irresponsibility and Stallworth works a deal that gets him a short month in jail and two years of house arrest and eight years of probation.

How is this justice in any way again? Stallworth had been facing 15 years and got off by any measure with an incredibly light sentence. Consider this story of a 17-year-old facing the same circumstances who came away with a 24-year sentence.

strahan_murphy.jpgFormer Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, who will make his debut as a small-screen actor this fall in the TV show "Brothers," is engaged to Nicole Murphy.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of this union is the making of nine step brothers and sisters. Strahan is the father of four, while Murphy, the ex-wife of sometime actor Eddie Murphy.

Strahan spoke to People Magazine about their relationship:

"I have a great relationship and she's a great girl," says Strahan, who is a father of four. "I don't like to talk much about my private life, but I'm really happy."

Murphy, who has five children with her ex, wouldn't comment about the plans for her future with Strahan. But he says that though they've talked about it, "There aren't any plans for kids... We've got nine between us already."

The couple, who met last year at a party thrown by Derek Jeter, has had at least one public tiff. In March, it was reported that Strahan put a tracking device in Murphy's car when he suspected her of cheating.

There's no wedding date yet, but Strahan's "Brothers" -- which producer Mitchell Hurwitz urged Sports Pros(e) to give a chance -- is set to debut in mid-September. 
artie-lange-joe-buck-video.jpgAll the buzz this morning is centered on comedian Artie Lange's appearance on the inaugural episode of "Joe Buck Live" on HBO last night.

The foul-mouthed comic appeared in a fireside chat with Paul Rudd and Jason Sudeikis (each of whom I personally find much more humorous), but clearly dominated the conversation.

It goes without saying that the following link is extremely not safe for work -- unless you work on a 17th Century pirate boat with a particularly nasty captain.

Artie Lange goes off     (The Big Lead)


Tell us what you think after the jump.
phelps8.jpgIf you're Michael Phelps, you probably faced a bit of a quandary a while back.

What do you do after you captivate an entire nation with a brilliant Olympic performance, stand at the center of a drug controversy and have your picture snapped numerous times with scantily clad co-eds?

Why, you write a children's book, of course.

Phelps draws heavily on his real life in the new title, "How to Train with a T. Rex and Win 8 Gold Medals," which is available in stores now.
meeks.jpgKentucky guard and 54-point game enthusiast Jodie Meeks has informed the school that he will remain in the the NBA draft.

Meeks averaged an SEC-best 23.7 points per game during his junior year and set a school record for points in a single game against Tennessee in January.

The 6-foot-4 sharpshooter also made 90.2 percent of his free throws and is projected as a second-round selection.

Jets Favre Football.jpg

Brett Favre may or may not come out of retirement several times tonight on HBO. (AP)

BUCK TRIBUTE.jpgWho's voice will grate on you more?

Brett Favre will appear on Joe Buck's "Joe Buck Live," a quarterly show on HBO tonight at 8 p.m. (Central). Among other things, the retirement enthusiast Favre will discuss his desire to strap 'em on again, likely in a Minnesota Vikings uniform.

HBO spokesman Kevin Flaherty says Favre agreed in April to appear on the show at Buck's request. That was before his release from the New York Jets that prompted Minnesota's pursuit of the three-time NFL MVP.

The broadcast will be in front of a live audience out of New York, though there's no guarantee John Madden's bus will make it to the studio on time.

ozzieguillen.jpgTwo days ago, I asked an unabashed Cub fan and valued co-worker if there was any intrigue left in the upcoming White Sox-Cubs interleague series.

Sure, he said. He never gets sick of sticking it to White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. I'd anticipate a great many of his Cub brethren would echoes those sentiments, especially in light of Guillen's latest comments about venerable Wrigley Field.

"Wrigley Field? I puke every time I go there. I'm just being honest.

''If Cubs fans don't like the way I talk about Wrigley Field ... I don't say anything about their fans, but Wrigley Field? They have to respect my opinion because that's the way I feel. A lot of great people are working there, the clubhouse people working there -- I wish they had a better clubhouse. But besides that, it's exciting when the game starts. Of course it's exciting because that's one of the best; it's always crowded. But besides that, it's terrible.''

Are these fighting words or old, rehashed words? Do they do anything for your level of excitement regarding the upcoming series? Are you sick of hearing about the conditions on the North side from a guy who spends exactly three days a year there?
piniella_ejected.jpgContrary to the signs you see peppering the windows of Wrigleyville apartments, it's not gonna happen.

No matter how bad things get, it would seem that Lou Piniella is not going to flip out.

He's not going stride from the depths of the dugout, throw his cap down on the ground, kick dirt, scream in an umpire's face, or grab a base and chuck it end-over-end into left field like some defenseless old rag doll.
New York Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez confronted Yankees reliever Brian Bruney before today's game as both the Mets and Yankees were using the field.

Rodriguez and Bruney had been lobbing verbal hand grenades back and forth via the New York media over the past few days. First, it was the Yankees' Bruney on the cataclysmic Luis Castillo error and how much he enjoyed seeing the gaffe with the demonstrative Rodriguez on the hill.
lance-briggs-brett-favre.JPGYou may not have heard about this, but there's some drama surrounding this Brett Favre guy and his potential return to the NFC North. If the longtime Packer and potential Viking needed any extra incentive to come back, he'd have to look no further than some recent comments by Bears linebacker Lance Briggs.

Chicago Sound: 1997

| No Comments | No TrackBacks
1997.jpgIt shouldn't be a surprise that the conversation with Chicago-rooted band 1997 turns to numbers.

Twenty-five hours a day. Eight days a week.

Those are the figures they agree on when asked how much time they devote to their music.

"Literally, we do as much as we can without leaving to eat,"  bassist Matt Wysocki says.

Speaking from sunny Florida, the Chicago band is lounging poolside before embarking on the next leg of their current nationwide tour.

The sound separates them from so many of their emo-infused contemporaries and keeps them far away from a paint-by-numbers pop-rock outfit is rooted in pop, but also feeds off several tributaries of music.
johnny-benson-crash.JPGJohnny Benson Jr. was transported to a Grand Rapids hospital after being involved in a fiery wreck Saturday night.

The incident occurred on the first lap of the featured race at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Mich. Entering turn four, Benson crashed into the outside wall and was engulfed in flames before safety crews could arrive.

Benson is the defending NASCAR Truck series champion.

Johnny Benson Jr. seriously injured in Berlin Raceway crash    (WZZM)
If you're like us, and you like blockbuster-y trade rumors with your Sunday breakfast, this morning is shaping up to be great.

According to the Arizona Republic, the Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers are talking about a deal that send Shaquille O'Neal to the Cavs in exchange for Ben Wallace and Sasha Pavlovic.

The two teams discussed this possibility earlier this year, but talks were shelved after February.

Umpire Don Briggs gave the entire crowd at a West Burlington, Iowa, baseball game the thumb, booting more than 100 fans fans for being unruly earlier this week.

Briggs said he had no problem with any of the student athletes during Thursday's game between Winfield-Mount Union and West Burlington. He said he had to take action because fans were being unruly, yelling and arguing.

"I know it sounds like I'm the bad guy -- but it was the crowd," Briggs said. "If I got the control to ask one person to leave, I feel like I can ask them all to leave."

However, West Burlington Superintendent James Sleister said he didn't see any unusual behavior and said he thought the umpire overreacted.

The game resumed after a 40-minute delay. West Burlington won 12-11.

Many of the fans, as it turns out, pulled a Bobby Valentine and just lingered despite the umps hook, according to the Des Moines Register:

The crowd, estimated to be more than 100 people, lingered. Some people refused to leave. Others moved 30 feet away to a sidewalk officially off school property. The delay lasted nearly 40 minutes.

Eventually, West Burlington Superintendent James Sleister arrived and persuaded the umpire to allow the game to continue. Fans returned and the game resumed, under the agreement that "anyone making a negative comment toward the officials would be ejected from the premises and could be charged with disorderly conduct."

The umpire called police as a precaution. West Burlington police officer Al Waterman says there were no arrests.

But really, anything that allows us to remember the greatest ejection in baseball history is OK in the end. Phillip Wellman, here's your cue:

Over at SI.com, Jon Heyman is reporting that the Cubs are actively scouting Pedro Martinez, citing National League sources.

The 37-year-old free agent has been throwing regularly, but is not believed to be close to making a decision regarding his return. Martinez is said to be looking for $5 million, a rather steep asking price, especially when paired with the question marks surrounding the Cubs' ownership situation.

Cubs, Rays scouting Pedro in Dominican Republic     (CNNSI)
luis-castillo-error.jpgIn what has to be one of the more brutal ways to lose a baseball game, New York Mets second baseman Luis Castillo dropped a pop fly and apparent final out against the New York Yankees last evening.

His team down by one with runners on the corners and sitting on a 3-1 fastball, Alex Rodriguez skied a can of corn pop-up to shallow right field, slamming down his bat in disgust. But, Castillo staggered to his left to make the play and had the ball pop out of his mitt, scoring the runner from third. When Castillo failed to check a hustling Mark Teixiera rounding third and threw the ball to second base, the slugging first baseman raced home with the winning run.

mike-north-fired.JPGEd Sherman of Crain's is reporting that sports talk show host Mike North was fired by Spectrum Entertainment CEO David Hernandez after questioning the financial situation of chicagosportswebio.com.

North's wife BeBe and Jeff Schwartz, who helped found the station, were also reportedly dismissed.

Mr. North said he was fired by Mr. Hernandez after questioning him about Webio's finances. He said 12 checks bounced a couple of weeks ago, and as many as 30 this week.

"When people's checks started to bounce, we wanted to find out why," Mr. North said. "He never responded to our emails and phone calls."
The Web site is just a few months old and simulcasts North's "Monsters in the Morning" show, which airs on Comcast SportsNet.

Checks bounce at Webio; North out     (Ed Sherman's Blog)
cutler-madden-10.jpgFor the Madden faithful, we celebrate today the release of the latest team and player ratings for Madden 10. (What it lacks in the significant other department, Madden Nation more than makes up for in hand-eye coordination.)

If you're anything like me, you refuse to use any team but the Chicago Bears when playing the latest installment of the Madden video game franchise. Therefore, today's developments come with great anticipation.
michael_vick_presser.jpgUnited Football League founder Bill Hambrecht says that Michael Vick deserves a second chance to play football and that the fans want to see him back on the field.

Calling Vick "probably the best football player in America," the chairman of the securities firm W.R. Hambrecht & Co. said fans want to watch the suspended former National Football League quarterback and that Vick could have a place in the new league, which is scheduled to begin playing in October.

"He has paid his penalty," Hambrecht, 73, said in a television interview. "What we did is we went out to our fan base and said 'what do you think?' And on our Web site, people want to see him. People believe he deserves a second chance."

Previous discussion about Vick's return to football has sparked a downright astounding amount of passionate comments, but somehow I feel like if the quarterback returned to the gridiron outside of the NFL, the level of interest in the storyline would rapidly diminish.
Rex Grossman, who spent six rollercoaster seasons with the Bears, has signed with the Houston Texans and will compete for their No. 2 quarterback spot.

Grossman's agent, Drew Rosenhaus, made the official announcement today on Twitter:

rosenhaus-grossman-texans.jpgGrossman is expected to join the Texans at minicamp next week. The deal is expected to be a one-year deal for the league veteran minimum of $620,000. Grossman joins starter Matt Schaub and backups Dan Orlovsky and Alex Brink as quarterbacks on the Texans' roster.

Grossman was drafted by the Bears in the first round of the 2003 draft. Grossman quarterbacked the Bears to a Super Bowl appearance in 2006, but eventually lost his starting job to Kyle Orton.



derrick-rose-gang-sign-photo.JPGWhen a high-profile athlete makes an ill-advised decision -- as some are wont to do -- and their transgression becomes public fodder, there are a number of ways the athlete and his agent/publicist can respond. But it really just boils down to the right way and the wrong way.

Derrick Rose chose the wrong way.

Responding to allegations of cheating on his S.A.T. and, more recently, a photo that surfaced of him flashing a gang sign during his time at Memphis, Rose, his agent, B.J. Armstrong, and his public relations representatives from Wasserman Media Group took the cowardly way out by failing to address the former and issuing a pathetically predictable written public statement to address the latter.
We understand if you haven't been glued to your computer monitoring the later rounds of the Major League Baseball draft. It's just...a lot of rounds.

One of the more notable picks -- coming in the 40th round -- was that of Asaad Ali. The 18-year-old catcher from beautiful Niles, Mich. is the adopted son of boxing legend Muhammad Ali.

So, what about Ali's tape of the tape?

He weighs in at 224 pounds, stands 5-10 and hit .367 with 2 home runs and 18 RBI this season.

Angels draft boxing legend Ali's son     (MLB)
ryan-leaf-payton-manning.JPG
Ryan Leaf is on the lam.

The former San Diego Chargers quarterback -- heralded as one of the biggest busts in NFL history -- is wanted by the law in Texas, according to the San-Diego Union-Tribune.

A warrant for Leaf's arrest was issued May 20 in Randall County, Texas -- where nine indictments were issued involving his use of various painkillers.

From the San Diego Union-Tribune:
Thumbnail image for dwight-howard-superman-dunk.jpgFinally, an NBA finals storyline gaming enthusiasts can get behind.

Last week, it was announced that Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant would be on the cover of NBA 2K10. Today, we find out that Orlando Magic big man Dwight Howard will be the cover boy of NBA Live 10.

For our older readers, these are video games.

This is the first such honor for Howard, a charismatic center and full-fledged member of the Twitterati. Conversly, this is old hat for Bryant, who will have his mug on the cover of a game for the seventh time in his career.

Not that the cover art should have any bearing on which game you buy, but which title made the better choice on this one?
Rex Grossman, who became one of Chicago's most polarizing sports figures during his six-year tenure as a quarterback for the Chicago Bears, may have a new home.

Grossman is visiting with the Houston Texans Thursday night, and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, expects the former University of Florida standout will sign a one-year deal, according to ESPN senior NFL writer John Clayton.
justin-verlander-tigers.jpgDetroit Tigers' starting pitcher Justin Verlander popped a fastball into catcher Dane Sardinha's mitt, striking out Josh Fields as securing a 2-1 victory Wednesday night at U.S. Cellular Field.

The radar gun displayed "98" as the crowd hung its collective head in mismay.

Impressive, sure. But so much more impressive considering it was his 122nd pitch in a six-hit complete game, a performance Tigers manager Jim Leyland dubbed "a masterpiece."

"It's hard to describe how well he pitched," Leyland said. "Just absolutely tremendous."

Jim Thome's seventh-inning home run was only run the White Sox could muster, and when the slugger stepped up to the plate in the ninth, Verlander admitted he considered pitching around him.

But, the 6-5 right-hander who led the American League in losses last season said that goes against everything that has gotten him this far. He prompty fanned Thome, and a few pitches later secured his seventh victory of the year.

A year in which he's pitching like he's not afraid to lose.
josh-fields.jpgFor the second straight night, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen moved third baseman Josh Fields across the diamond to first base. For the second straight night, Fields played the position cleanly.

But, that's not to say that he's entirely comfortable over there. In fact, he's been using Paul Konerko's glove.

"Paul's been gracious enough to let me use his gamer," Fields said. "He's a real good team player. He's got a lot of good lotions on it and it's really soft."
Tigers White Sox Base_Mill.jpg
(AP Photo)

He's only been here for six days, but White Sox third baseman Gordon Beckham has already caused quite a stir in the Windy City. In that time, he's managed to elicit plenty of chatter from Chicago's media machine while igniting fans' hopes for the team's near and distant futures.

He says being under the microscope has nothing to do with his hitting woes, but Beckham is just 2-for-20 in his first six major-league games, and has garnered some stern warnings from manager Ozzie Guillen -- produce, or else. Wednesday night, his second career hit in the seventh inning was promptly followed by his first failed stolen base attempt after Detroit catcher Dane Sardinha gunned him down.
Blake Griffin's body of work to this point has led him to be the consensus No. 1 pick in the upcoming NBA draft. His rebounding and point-scoring exploits are well-known from coast to coat. The man behind that body, a San Franciso trainer named Frank Matrisciano, gets his moment in the sun today, via a USA Today profile.
A couple of requests to people who write about sports: Stop using the phrase 'Curious Case' in headlines, and stop publicly speculating whether specific baseball players are using steroids. These two emerging trends in sports journalism are quickly becoming cliche.

In his June 8 post at Midwestsportsfans.com, "The Curious Case of Raul Ibanez: Steroid Speculation Perhaps Unfair, but Great Start in 2009 Raising Eyebrows," Jerod "JRod" Morris is guilty of both -- and he was ambushed on ESPN's "Outside the Lines" because of it (the steroid part ... not the 'Curious Case' part).

Ibanez himself also took a shot at Morris. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
arod-book.jpgRemember when all anyone talked about for about a week was that tell-all book on Alex Rodriguez? Written by Sports Illustrated's Selena Roberts, it was going to really change things. Well, perhaps we overestimated how much of an impact it would have.

Despite all of the media hubbub, the book has sold a total of 16,000 copies. More telling, 11,000 of those sales came in the first week it was on bookshelves.

The book had an announced first printing of 150,000 copies, but is clearly falling woefully short of expectations.
I have a younger brother. There's only a three-year age difference between us and we both grew up eating and breathing sports. And, I'd be lying if I said that I didn't enjoy every single second of my childhood spent dominating him in Whiffle ball, basketball and any other impromptu game we could invent to be played in the living room.

So, maybe that's why I find the following clip much more hilarious than mean-spirited. It's of WGN sports reporter Pat Tomasulo throwing down a thundering dunk against a small child and involves some crying.



Questions? Comments? Outrage? Belly laughs?
nick_montana.jpgYou may have heard of Nick Montana's father. His name was Joe and he earned a living by flinging around a pigskin as oversized, aggressive men tried to hurt him.

Young Nick has elected to pursue the same hobby as his Hall-of-Fame dad, and on Tuesday committed to play quarterback at the University of Washington.

The 6-foot-1, 185-pound Montana is rated as the No. 13 QB in the nation by Scout.com and had offers from Notre Dame, his father's alma mater, as well as Louisiana State, Ohio State, Stanford, Alabama and Georgia.

Montana said he had originally planned to take much of the summer to make his decision but that his visit to UW last weekend "made everything a lot easier. It cleared everything up."

The Huskies finished 2008 with a record of 0-12, but are hoping new coach Steve Sarkisian can turn the program around.

steeler-super-bowl-ring.jpgThe Pittsburgh Steelers received their Super Bowl rings last night in a nice little meet-up at Heinz Field. The team apparently chose this wide open locale because the commemorative jewelry is enormous and needs room to breathe.

Let's get more descriptive words from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The face contains six large, brilliant-cut diamonds, one for each Super Bowl victory. There are seven other diamonds that represent the Steelers' seven conference championships and seven others below to add up to their 14 division titles in a football design.

The face includes a red, blue and yellow stone to resemble their hypocycloid logo. On one side of each ring are six Lombardi Trophies with the 27-23 score of their victory against Arizona in the Super Bowl. On the other is the ring owner's name, the Steelers helmet logo, the NFL logo and the player's number.

The ring weighs in at a hefty 3.7 ounces and contains 63 diamonds.
kendra-wilkinson.JPG
(AP Photo)


Kendra Wilkinson, who entered America's celebrity consciousness as one of three Hugh Hefner girlfriends on the reality show "The Girls Next Door," is pregnant, according to a bevy of tongue-wagging internet sources. And here's where the sports connection comes in -- the father is her fiancee, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Hank Baskett.

This from Eonline.com (where Kyle and I get the bulk of our sporty news):

"Hank and I are thrilled to announce that we are expecting our first child together. We are touched by the outpouring of support by our family, friends and fans."

Wilkinson is starring in a reality show about her comings and goings, aptly titled "Kendra." Baskett, a sometime target of quarterback Donovan McNabb, snared 33 receptions in 2008 for 440 yards and 3 touchdowns. The couple is planning a June 27 wedding in California at the mansion of her ex-boyfriend, Hugh Hefner.

Film Review Tyson.jpg

No word on any stolen tigers, much less a bachelor party for Mike Tyson. (AP)

spicer.jpgIt's been a rough couple of weeks for Mike Tyson, with the death of his 4-year-old daughter, Exodus, in a tragic treadmill accident still fresh in his mind. But now he has at least a little joy to ease his grief - with the help wife no. 3.

Tyson tied the knot Tuesday with Lakiha Spicer La Bella Wedding Chapel at the Las Vegas Hilton hotel-casino in a ceremony that was called "sincere," but nothing special.

County marriage records in Las Vegas show the 42-year-old Tyson and 32-year-old Spicer got a marriage license about 30 minutes before their ceremony.

Tyson was previously married to actress Robin Givens in 1988 and Monica Turner in 1997.

His first marriage ended after one year after Givens filed for divorce and said in a nationally televised interview that she was afraid of Tyson. His marriage to Turner lasted five years.

And, of course, he also has a star turn in "The Hangover" going for him. Which is nice.

Spicer has had her issues with the law (majorwager.com)

paul-westphal-sacramento-kings.jpgThe Sacramento Kings have decided to try something crazy and hire a proven commodity to coach some basketball.

Paul Westphal confirmed Tuesday nigh that he had accepted the Kings' job.

Westphal is best known for his stint with the Charles Barkley-led Phoenix Suns from 1992-1996 in which he led the franchise to the NBA finals. Unfortunately, they matched up against Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. They usually didn't end so well.

The Kings finished this season with an NBA-worst 17-65 record.

Breaking: Kings to hire Paul Westphal     (Sacramento Bee)
It's not been a banner day for athletes, both current and former, who sport tattoos.

First, there was the TMZ post earlier that included an unfortunate photo of Reggie Miller doing the Jar Jar Binks walk and sporting a tummy tat. Most guys get those -- right?

reggie-miller-tattoo.jpg

Then it was revealed over at Fanhouse that backup Orland Magic center Marcin Gortat got in trouble with Reebok, with whom he has a shoe contract, over some photos of him that appeared in a Polish newspaper that prominently featured his Michael Jordan tattoo. Dudes get tattoos of other dudes on their bodies -- right?
barry-bonds-liz-bonds-divorce.jpgLet the record show this is two posts this morning about home-run hitters and their complicated love lives. First A-Rod, and now Barry Bonds. I wonder if these two have anything else in common?

Bonds' wife has filed for a legal separation, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Liz Bonds, who married the former Giants slugger in 1998, is seeking spousal support and custody of the couple's 10-year-old daughter, according to the filing Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court.

She cited irreconcilable differences. They have lived in Beverly Hills since 2003.

Bonds' wife files for separation     (San Francisco Chronicle)

dan-marino-home.jpg
(Photo from Sotheby's)

For three years now, the sprawling estate of Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino has sat on the market with nary a buyer.

As some frustrated home sellers are wont to do in this situation, Marino and his wife, Claire, are trying to sweeten the deal. This includes dropping the asking price from $15.9 million to $13.5 million, throwing in $1.5 million worth of designer furniture and a little something to remember from whom the house was purchased. (See the Sotheby's listing here)

Marino recently told the Wall Street Journal he'd leave a signed football for the lucky buyer. Because if anything is going to entice someone who can afford a $13.5 million home, it's an autograph.

In case you're interested in making an offer, the 15,000-square foot home sits on four acres in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. It has 10 bedrooms, 12 bathrooms and two powder rooms -- plus a pair of guest houses, a pool, putting green and a pond stocked with bass for people who love to fish, but hate the challenge it presents.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for arod-selena-roberts.jpgOur celebrity guy Bill Zwecker reports this morning that there may be some ominous signs beginning to surround the romance between New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez and actress Kate Hudson.

Although the couple haven't confirmed they're dating, the two were seen canoodling at Kady Herron's Halloween party, among other indicators.
courtney-lee-missed-shot.jpgHere's one of the more pathetic sentences you'll read today.

Around a dozen fans waited for the Magic's charter jet to arrive at Orlando International Airport early Monday morning.
For the math-impaired readers out there, that's about 12. Twelve people braving the dark night to welcome Dwight Howard and Co. back from an unsuccessful couple of games in Los Angeles. That borders on awkward.

Down two games to none, the Magic now have three straight at Amway Arena. Despite the change of venue, many are saying this series is over.

Not one, but two "Around the Horn" participants have tipped their hand on this issue already.

Thumbnail image for nick-adenhart-death-dui-angels.jpgAndrew Gallo, the man charged with killing former Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others in a drunk-driving crash, is due in a California court this morning.

The 22-year-old is charged with three counts of murder.

Police say Gallo's blood alcohol was nearly three times the legal limit at the time of the accident.
rock-paper-scissors.jpgIn what may be the highlight of the baseball season so far, Boston Red Sox outfielders Mark Kotsay and Rocco Baldelli decided who would replace the inured Jacoby Ellsbury in center field on Sunday by playing a little rock-paper-scissors.



Red Sox manager Terry Francona has won two World Series titles, but evidently doesn't sweat the small stuff like this.

I'd like to see this type of conflict resolution employed more often around the office. Say Johnson and Smith both want the Penske file. Wouldn't a simple game of chance be more expedient than having the situation micromanaged?

Video: Baldelli & Kotsay Play Rock Paper Scissors    (Sox & Dawgs)
You can't get away from this story. Ever.

Brett Favre apparently underwent arthroscopic surgery on his throwing shoulder recently, according to two sources.

Favre remains unable to make a commitment because subsequent throwing sessions indicate the shoulder is not yet 100 percent.

While Favre has now clearly demonstrated his interest in coming out of retirement for a 19th season in the NFL, it seems equally obvious that he will not do so unless convinced he has recovered fully from the torn biceps tendon that undermined him last year with the New York Jets.
Favre's agent Bus Cook refused to comment on the surgery rumor, saying instead that it fell under the realm of confidential client privilege.

ESPN's Ed Werder weighs in on the latest vignette in this ongoing soap opera after the jump.
NASCAR driver Kyle Busch showed how to celebrate a big victory last night at Nashville Superspeedway. After triumphing in a Nationwide Series race, Busch tried to smash a custom-painted Les Paul guitar.

The following video shows why the driver races cars for a living. His guitar-smashing skills do not rock very hard.



Busch had previously said he'd celebrate this way if he ever won in Nashville.
bonnie-richardson-track.jpgHigh school senior Bonnie Richardson gave new meaning to the phrase "carrying the team on your back" Saturday at the Texas Class A state track finals. Richardson, you see, is the only member of the Rochelle girls track team.

That's right, for the second consecutive year, Richardson has single-handedly won the title by defeating 56 other schools.

It's definitely impressive, but obviously not enough for the P.A. announcer on duty.

The daughter of a Rochelle High teacher and a rancher, Richardson won four individual medals in five events: gold in the long jump and high jump, silver in the discus and bronze in the 200 meters. She also finished fourth in the 100 meters.

Since becoming the first girl in state history last year to win a team title solo, her celebrity has put her in national magazines and gotten her a Texas A&M track scholarship. It may even lure more than one girl next year to replace Richardson on the Lady Hornets team.

For Richardson, repeating the feat Saturday was perfect until she stood atop the medal stand and the public address announcer implored the crowd to applaud this amazing accomplishment by ... Bonnie Singleton?

Richardson is also the valedictorian of her 14-person class. What a show-off.
They were few but mighty. Their cheering began on the Red Line as far north as the Addison stop. Some with faces painted red, others with American flags both painted on their chests and tied cape-like around their necks, the Sam's Army faithful stood, bounced, sang and cheered from the time they stepped foot on the L platform to the second the clock struck 90.

They were all but drowned out at Soldier Field, however, by a sea of Honduras fans that far outnumbered the Yanks by some estimates of at least three to one.

Since the CONCACAF hexagonal dates were announced last November, it's been questioned whether Chicago is the best place to host a World Cup qualifying match. With nearly 25 percent of its population being Hispanic, it was inevitable that the Hondurans would far outnumber American fans at Soldier Field.

But for the 55,647 who made it to the game, there was no question as to whether any of them wanted to be at Soldier Field.

And for those potential United States fans who weren't among the Soldier Field throngs -- they missed a hell of a sporting event and a historic moment in Chicago sports history.

The numbers tell a significant part of the story:
tony-larussa-twitter-lawsuit.JPGSt. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa and Twitter have reach a settlement against the micro-blogging site.

La Russa had sued the social-networking giant over a fake page that purported to be the lineup savant.

La Russa said Twitter has agreed to pay legal fees and make a donation to his Animal Rescue Foundation.
Tweets to the account had made light of La Russa's previous DUI charge and the deaths of Cardinals pitchers Daryl Kile and Josh Hancock.

Despite all the hubbub, the faux La Russa had collected just four followers.

La Russa, Twitter settle lawsuit     (Austin American-Statesman)
jonas-brothers-sportscenter.JPGThe late-night "SportsCenter" from Los Angeles isn't your slightly older brother's sports-highlight show. In fact, last night it was pretty much your much-younger sister's kind of program.

That's what you get when the Jonas Brothers make an appearance.

The band of brothers joined Neil Everett and Stan Verrett to give their tween-pop insights on the night's top plays.



So, that happened.
When the outspoken Shaquille O'Neal began insisting on being called the Big Aristotle, we played along. After all, he is big and he occasionally said some funny and insightful things. Plus, no one's around who actually knew Aristotle.

But one wonders if the philosopher would post things like this on his Twitter account. Here, from the mind of O'Neal is a disturbing image.

This is what van gundy and dwight howards baby would look like:

shaq-dwight-howard-twitter.jpg

O'Neal, of course, has plenty of time for this hypothetical zygote mash-ups since his Phoenix Suns were eliminated from contention. Howard, on the other hand, is competing for an NBA title. So, who's really getting the last laugh on this?
usa-costa-rica-soccer.JPG
(AP Photo)

At the US-Honduras World Cub qualifying match Saturday night at Soldier Field it's very possible the majority of fans  -- or perhaps the more vocally vociferous fan base -- will not be waving stars and stripes or clad in red, white and blue.

This is nothing new for the players. And it's not a knock against soccer fans in Chicago.

It's just the way it is:

kobe.jpgAs if Kobe Bryant didn't have enough going for him, Lil Wayne has weighed in on the Los Angeles Lakers' star's greatness with a new song - the "Kobe Bryant Song" - he recorded just in time for the NBA Finals.

LeBron will not be happy this with lyrics like this:

"Kobe doing work / 2-4 on my shirt / He the greatest on the court / And I'm the greatest on the verse".

And it must have worked to keep Kobe pumped up. Bryant dropped 40 on the Orlando Magic to lead the Lakers to a Game 1 win, 100-75.

Lil Wayne, motivational rapper.

Cycling enthusiast Lance Armstrong, in a more productive and less cringe-inducing use of Twitter than the one we brought you earlier today, announced the birth of his son on Thursday.

Armstrong said both the baby and girlfriend Anna Hansen are doing fine and even posted a photo of the newborn. The couple has named the baby Max and there's absolutely no way the kid's using training wheels when it comes time to learn how to ride a bike.

Lance Armstrong announces birth of son on Twitter     (AP)

Tiger Stadium Demolition Ba.jpg

Hold off there, fellas. Tiger Stadium has a movie to make. (AP)

The memories of the a great ballpark are almost gone in Detroit, but there will be one last moment of glory for Tiger Stadium.

Princess Grace Awards Gala.jpgA movie is being made at Tiger Stadium days before the Detroit ballpark's expected demolition. "The Irishman" tells the story of union organizer and mobster Danny Greene.

The picture stars Ray Stevenson, Val Kilmer, Vincent D'Onofrio and Christopher Walken. Producer Bart Rosenblatt says Detroit is standing in for 1970s-era Cleveland.

Filming began today at the stadium, which opened in 1912 as Navin Field.

The Tigers departed after the 1999 season.

The city says demolition work could begin as early as Monday.

randy-johnson-300.jpgFuture Hall of Famer and former mullet enthusiast is going for his 300th career victory this afternoon against the hapless Washington Nationals. (MLB)

Despite rumors to the contrary, Derek Jeter and Minka Kelly are not engaged. (New York Daily News)

Seems an exorbitant amount of people are interested in seeing reality-television star Kate Gosselin in a bikini. (Fit & Healthy)

Former Dawson's Creek show runner Tom Kapinos really didn't care for the talent on the vocabulary-driven show. (E!)

In case you're wondering what Kevin Allen had for dinner last night, or would like to be his Twitter friend. (@KevinAllenCST)

2-5_hale_wade05_3604.JPG

Dwyane Wade hit Chicago in February for his divorce proceedings. (Keith Hale~Sun-Times)

Chicago-native and Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade is suing his former business partner, Richard von Houtman, for $100 million over accusations of drug and steroid use.

The focus of the lawsuit, filed May 28 in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, is two e-mails it said von Houtman sent to Heat President Pat Riley accusing Wade and other unnamed Heat players in a March 15 message of smoking marijuana and using cocaine and steroids.

"Your players were caught in a hotel room smoking marijuana. From Wade to (name deleted) and the rest of the NBA players. Is it just about selling tickets?" the lawsuit quotes the e-mail as saying. It later adds, "The Miami Heat 'Drugs, Sex & Basketball.' "

The e-mail to Riley also contends that Wade is not the nice guy suggested by his public image and alludes to his messy divorce from estranged wife Siohvaughn Wade. "Behind closed doors, Mr. Wade is a bully and a coward," the email says.

It's been a litigious year for the All-Star, who sued his estranged wife, Siohvaughn, and her lawyers in February during divorce proceedings over allegations that he had contracted a sexually transmitted disease in an extramarital affair.

Then there was the back-and-forth lawsuits over a never-opened restaurant with Wade and his former business partners blaming eachother for its failure and lack of promotion.

Cardinals Pirates Baseball.jpg

No, Tony LaRussa did not tweet you.

St. Louis Cardinals manager and wine enthusiast Tony LaRussa is cardinal-red in the face, but it's not another key loss to the Cubs that has him mad.

Fanhouse reports that the skipper, who is also lawyer, is suing Twitter on trademark infringement and "dilution, cybersquatting, and misappropriation of name and likeness."

The fake Twitter account, @TonyLarussa, has since been taken down, so we can't get a look at the impostor genius that was being extolled there. Sadly, that leaves us with the real thing in the meantime.

The lawsuit includes a screen shot of three tweets. One posted on April 19 said: "Lost 2 out of 3, but we made it out of Chicago without one drunk driving incident or dead pitcher."

Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile died of a heart condition in his Chicago hotel room in 2002. Cardinals reliever Josh Hancock died in a 2007 auto accident, and the medical examiner measured his blood-alcohol level at 0.157 -- nearly twice the legal limit.

One month earlier, La Russa was found sleeping behind the wheel of a running sport utility vehicle in spring training with a blood-alcohol level of 0.093 percent. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence.

Within this whole mess involving Derrick Rose's changed grade at Simeon High School, it's hard to overlook the fact that the issue would be moot if it weren't for the pesky NBA rule barring 18-year-olds from entering the league.

U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. is asking Commissioner David Stern to rethink that policy.

From the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
kevin-garnett.jpgThe 2009 NBA finals begin tonight, and I strongly encourage all 11 of our readers to tune in. You see, this will be the final NBA championship that has any drama surrounding it for quite some time.

It's already been decided that the Boston Celtics are going to take home the title in 2010 and 2011 -- at least in Kevin Garnett's mind.

Kevin Garnett's recovery from right knee surgery apparently is going well. Garnett expressed optimism in a recent conversation with team owner Wyc Grousbeck, who spoke yesterday at a corporate sponsorship event at the Boston Harbor Hotel.

"I talked to [Garnett] and he guaranteed the championship in 2010 and in 2011," Grousbeck said. "He was as fired up as he's ever been."
Saying Garnett is as fired up as he's every been is saying a lot. The excitable big man is usually good and fired up. Ridiculously fired up even.

But, hey: anything is possible.

30055642H12172677.JPGCleveland Browns wide receiver Donte' Stallworth today pleaded not guilty to DUI manslaughter charges stemming from an accident in Miami in which a pedestrian was killed by a car driven by Stallworth.

Police say the NFL player was drunk when he struck 59-year-old Mario Reyes on a Miami Beach causeway. He faces up to 15 years if convicted.

Currently, Stallworth is free on $200,000 bail and did not attend this morning's legal proceedings.
sammy-sosa-retire.jpgOur baseball guy Chris De Luca's column in today's Sun-Times talks about Sammy Sosa's formal retirement from baseball. In it, De Luca chastises Sosa for insisting he's clean in one breath and skirting the specifics in the next.

In an interview with ESPNDeportes, Sosa says he will patiently wait for his induction into the Hall of Fame. With 609 career home runs, he definitely has the numbers.

But, numbers in the Steroids Era are but a small part of the entire picture.
tom-glavine-released.jpgThe Tom Glavine era in Atlanta is reportedly over. Again.

According to sources, the Braves have released the two-time Cy Young Award winner after he threw six scoreless innings in his latest rehab start.

The left-hander has a career record of 305-203 and career ERA of 3.54.

Glavine, however, is left wondering what he could be doing to get back to the bigs.

The Braves told Glavine that he was being released because his velocity is down, one source said. However, Glavine was throwing only 76-78 miles per hour in spring training and in recent starts had increased that to 83-86 miles per hour.

"I don't know what else I can do," Glavine said after Tuesday night's game, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "Physically I felt good and I feel like I'm ready.

Does this move effect the outlooks of either the Cubs or White Sox? The White Sox have recently tried to acquire Jake Peavy and were rumored (rumored remember) to be interested in Roy Oswalt.

The Cubs have long been privy to the masterful location and mix of speeds the veteran has displayed. Is there any chance they'd take a chance on the Future Hall-of-Famer having some wins left in that arm of his?

shin-kicking.jpgAdmit it. Lately you've been drifting aimlessly, awash in a pile of bills you can't pay and toiling away at a job you don't find rewarding.

If only there was some sort of escape, something to look forward to at the end of the day. Something that combined the two loves of your life: straw and kicking people in the shins...

If only you lived in rural England. Then you could fill that void.

Dover's Hill in the English West country recently played host to the time-honoured Costswold Olimpicks recently.

The games feature a variety of unusual disciplines. Including the tug-of-war and the wheelbarrow race. But, the highlight for most is the bruising sport of shin-kicking. It's been a while since I've seen a good shin-kicking.

This game requires strength, technique...seriously, and of course a good pair of legs. The idea is to kick your opponents shins until you literally leave them without a leg to stand on.

Twenty-seven-year-old Phil Titmus won this year's contest.

Here's evidence:

Cubs White Sox Spring Baseb.jpg

Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson takes in a spring night with the fans. (AP)

The Sun-Times' Gordon Wittenmeyer reported in March that the Cubs were keeping their options open on spring training for a number of reasons:

One requirement is a larger stadium seating capacity" than the 13,100-seat HoHokam Park in Mesa. Sources said that the Cubs "have contacted officials" in Sarasota, Florida, which "loses the Cincinnati Reds next spring." Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney said that the Cubs have been "contacted by Florida state officials."

Meanwhile, speculation has been building about a push to move a potential Cubs Spring Training home further south, with Naples being the name mentioned.

And Crist has apparently asked an economic consulting firm to look into the viability of relocating the Chicago Cubs to Ed Smith Stadium, according to a source at the Florida State University Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis.

Does this mean it's time to turn in cacti for palm trees? Not quite there yet, but some movement is clearly underway.

dungy-cutler-bears-tony.jpgNewly minted "Football Night in America" analyst Tony Dungy is wasting no time jumping into his new role, questioning whether the Bears made the right choice in trading for quarterback Jay Cutler.

During a teleconference to announce he'd be joining the NBC Sports today, the former Indianapolis Colts coach who led his team to a Super Bowl victory over the Bears in the 2006 season, was asked his thoughts about Chicago's blockbuster offseason trade.

Dungy posited that the Bears made the move largely with beating the Packers in mind.

"I really think Chicago gave up a lot to get a quarterback who they believe is going to be the final piece of the puzzle," said Dungy. "But I'm not sure he's won enough to merit that yet. It may turn out to be a great move, but the jury's out. To me, it was a risky move. But I think one that was done with the idea of beating one team."

Asked whether he thinks Cutler is the best quarterback in the NFC North, Dungy said it's too early to tell.

"We'll see about the maturity level, that's what I would question," said Dungy. "And some of the things that happened leading to him leaving Denver. That would concern me as a coach. That's my question. I think he can make all the throws. But quarterbacking is much more than making throws."

Dungy's first regular season appearance on NBC's "Football Night in America" will be Sept. 13, when the Bears take on the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
bryce-harper-sports-illustrated.jpgIt's early June and in a matter of hours both the NBA finals and Stanley Cup finals will be going on. Baseball season is in full swing and NFL teams are thinking about upcoming minicamps.

Sports Illustrated, however, has decided that a 16-year-old high schooler is more important than all of these things. Their June 8 edition will feature baseball-playing Bryce Harper, whom the magazine is touting as "The Most Exciting Prodigy Since LeBron."

Let's meet this new driver.

He is from Las Vegas.

More superlatives after the jump.
We all know the story.

Michael Jordan is cut from his high school basketball team and uses that for motivation to author the most impressive NBA career of all-time. It's inspiring, yes, but it's also ripe for parody.

That's where Charlie Murphy comes in. In a faux infomercial, Murphy plays LeRoy Smith, the man who apparently beat M.J. out for the last spot on the team.

Get your basketball on, gang.

rodney-harrison-retires-2.JPGNew England Patriots safety Rodney Harrison is retiring after 15 years in the NFL, and will join the NBC Sports "Football Night in America" crew as an analyst.

Harrison, a south suburban Chicago native reputed as one of the hardest hitters in the NFL, was selected for the Pro Bowl twice during his career. After suffering a season-ending injury that kept him out the last 10 weeks of the 2008 season, Harrison joined the NBC Sports team as an analyst for the Super Bowl.

During a teleconference today, Harrison said of his new gig, "Just like I played the game, I'm going to be honest, going to be forthright and I'm going to do it with passion."

The 1991 Marian Catholic High School grad said he plans to "step up" his charity work with youths in the south suburbs in his off time.

In a statement released today, Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports, said, "Rodney is someone we've had our eye on. He is a strong communicator and personality, and our initial thoughts about him were confirmed when he did a terrific job for us at the Super Bowl. We have no doubt that Rodney will be as hard-hitting with his opinions as he was with his body on the football field.

"To paraphrase one of his teammates, 'Rodney was as blunt with his opinions as he was with this hits.'"
mickael-pietrus-shoes.jpgConsider for one second just how bizarre it is that people have shoes named after them. I'd offer that the founding fathers could not have foreseen a nation where highly skilled athletes helped hawk footwear to an overly receptive nation.

But, I digress.

Basketball shoes are fun because they make situations like the one Orlando Magic shooting guard Mickael Pietrus is currently facing possible.

Pietrus said he has worn a pair of basketball shoes that Bryant endorses during games but will not do so for his NBA Finals match-up against the Lakers.  "I have some at my house, but I'm going to play with Michael Jordan shoes," Pietrus said.
Imagine the hyperbole of a man clad in Bryant-approved footwear locking down the prolific scorers, thus making said shoes slightly less marketable. NBA commissioner David Stern just wouldn't have it.

MTV AWARDS.jpg

It's pretty much a good day when the Hogans, the Royal Family of Wrestling (or first family of white trash, depending on how you look at it) bring another squabble into the news.This time it's WWE legend Hulk Hogan sounding off in the latest issue of Life & Style to refute some trash talking from ex-wife Linda centering on daughter, Brooke. That's the kid not currently doing jailtime - unlike brother Nick.

Seems that mom is not a fan of her little girl anymore and feels she's being generally dishonest, in particular claiming Brooke is lying about getting a boob job and that the girl's boyfriend, rapper Stack$, liked to spark up joints with the Hulkster, a fact dear daughter covered up.

What's Hulk say about this - and the charges that he was "rolling and smoking joints" during one of his daughter's recording sessions?

"Absolutely not!" he shoots back. "Brooke is a clean-cut girl. She's very open and honest." In fact, Hulk suggests that Linda, who filed for divorce in 2007 after 24 years of marriage, is the one using drugs. Linda has said she'd happily submit to a drug test to prove otherwise.

Hulk's response?

"If Linda says she'll take a drug test, I say bring it, brother! It needs to be done, and she'll fail it."

What you gonna do, brother Linda? The ball's in your court.

Oh yeah, here's Brooke and Stack$ in the video for her latest single, "Falling" off the album "The Redemption." Right.

Brooke Hogan f/ Stack$ (OFFICIAL VIDEO)

LAKERS MAVERICKS.jpg

Tony Romo's "Stairway to Heaven" includes Jessica Simpson. (AP)

Eastern Illinois alum and ditzy blond "pop singing talent" enthusiast Tony Romo celebrated his 29th birthday April 21. But what to get the guy who has everything, including a star on his helmet?

Well a boat, of course, you big silly.

Make that $100,000 worth of speed boat from Joe's daughter, or so says the National Enquirer.

But this isn't just any boat, the pal points out. The custom 25-foot Malibu Wakesetter has a 450 horsepower motor.

"Tony loves speed, and with all of the horsepower in his new boat, he can go as fast as anyone on the lake," said the pal.

Jessica, 28, had the boat delivered to the house the couple shares in the Dallas area, where Tony's posse gathered for an impromptu party.

The gossip rag and tracker of ET goes on to suggest that Jessica is trying to buy her way into a wedding with the zippy gift, allegedly telling friends that Tony's need for speed is the key to a pricey ring on her finger:

Now to name the ride. How about the Double D? Joe Simpson would certainly approve. And let's just hope Tony learned his lesson from fellow Texas boating enthusiast Cedric Benson. Keep the containers closed.

carlos-beltran-swine-flu.jpgThe New York Mets are dealing with something no major league team has had to face in history.

A swine flu scare.

Here's the news out of Pittsburgh:

An associate producer for SportsNet New York, who started having symptoms after arriving here Sunday night, was treated and tested at a hospital, but the Mets had not received confirmation as to what type of flu the strain was. The producer left Pittsburgh on Tuesday and traveled back to New York by car.
The Mets trainer briefed his team, urging them to report any symptoms that would be indicative of swine flu. Starting pitcher John Maine and center fielder Carlos Beltran have both been ill with a stomach virus, but aren't exhibiting any of these symptoms.
ozzie-guillen-lou-piniella.jpgBoth Chicago baseball teams are off to less than blazing starts this season as we dive into June. On the South Side, Ozzie Guillen's White Sox are treading water at 25-26 and are 3 1/2 games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central. Closer to the North Pole, Lou Piniella's Cubs sit at 25-25, trailing both the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central.

These two teams are two completely different animals to be sure. The Cubs were expected to rip through the regular season and return to the playoffs, hellbent on erasing 101 years of futility. The Sox, on the other hand, weren't predicted to enjoy the same kind of success.

Yet here they are. Some 50 games into the season and winning at the same clip.

Since it's never too early to ask hypothetical questions about October baseball, which of these teams has a better chance to reach the postseason?
lebron-james-mouth-surgery.jpgJust a few short days after LeBron James' lack of words after a Game 6 loss to the Orlando Magic got him in some hot water, the NBA superstar had a procedure on his very famous mouth.

The Cleveland Cavaliers star underwent successful surgery on Tuesday at Cleveland Clinic to remove a benign growth in his mouth, the team said. Specifically, Dr. Frank Papay performed a five-hour procedure on James' parotid gland, which produces saliva. Surgery for such conditions often takes time because of the numerous nerves and blood vessels in that area of the jaw.
James was had been aware of the medical issue for several months but opted until after his team was bounced from the playoffs to undergo surgery.

LeBron has procedure    (ESPN)
obama-lakers-nba.jpgBarack Obama hears you need his sage NBA prognistication. (AP photo)

Although President Barack Obama has far more pressing things to attend to, it seems he just can't help himself when it comes to basketball prognostication.

The first fan is picking the Los Angeles Lakers to triumph over the Orlando Magic in six games in the NBA finals.

Obama, who is a big basketball fan, was asked who he expects to win as he walked out of the White House on his way to the Marine One helicopter.

Over the loud whine of the chopper, Obama stopped, took a few steps back toward reporters, and said, "Lakers in six."
You'll remember that Obama picked the North Carolina Tar Heels to win the NCAA tournament back in March. Much to this Spartan's dismay, they did.

What are your thoughts on this Lebron-less series? The casual NBA fan in me seems to agree with the president on this one.
shaquille-oneal-haircut.jpgShaquille O'Neal showed off his intriguing new haircut on his Twitter page this afternoon, and it's safe to say that the big man has made an interesting choice.

It's a style he's calling the "George Jefferson fade."

The big man of big nicknames will watch his former teammate Kobe Bryant go for his fourth NBA championship when the Lakers tip off against the Orlando Magic on Thursday.

What do you think of O'Neal's new look? Any chance "balding chic" will be sweeping the playgrounds?
A truck carrying members of the Brazilian soccer club Sertaozinho overturned, and the incident was captured on video:

 
Tiger-Stadium.jpgIf there's one place that was most crucial in the development of my love of sports, it stood at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull in Detroit, Mich. Tiger Stadium in all it's double-decked glory was the holiest of ground for a young Michiganian who unabashedly worshiped at the Temple of Baseball.

Even though I've long since made my peace with the exodus to Comerica Park, it's still sad to read today that the Detroit Economic Development Corporation has voted to tear down the rest of what remains of the old girl.
South Suburban Chicago native Rodney Harrison is expected to announce tomorrow whether he plans to continue playing in the NFL, but it looks as though he's ready to retire.

The 1991 Marian Catholic grad, twice voted by his peers as the dirtiest player in the NFL, has not attended any of the Patriots' OTAs this summer. Further, Mike Reiss, who blogs about the Patriots for Boston.com, is reporting that NBC Sports Chairman Dick Ebersol will make an NFL talent announcement tomorrow at noon.

The two-time Pro Bowler missed the last 10 games of the 2008 season with a torn quad, making it his fourth season in a row with a serious injury.

If he does announce retirement, Harrison could find himself spending plenty of time in front of the camera this season. The Boston Globe reports today that "he has retained the services of Maxx Sports & Entertainment to represent him for broadcasting opportunities."

Last year, he shared his expertise with the NFL Network and NBC during its Super Bowl coverage.

Former NFL Super Bowl-winning offensive lineman and current ESPN analyst Mark Schlereth must be very proud of son Daniel. When the younger Schlereth took the mound for the Arizona Diamondbacks in a scoreless 6th-inning relief appearance May 29, Schlereth-squared made father-son history as only the 6th duo to have an NFL and MLB player in the family.

The other five? There's an ex-Cub in there ...

Yogi Berra (MLB) - Tim Berra (NFL)

Lou Brock (MLB) - Lou Brock (NFL)

Jack Snow (NFL) - J.T. Snow (MLB)

Lee Gross (NFL) - Gabe Gross (MLB)

Don Patterson (NFL) - Corey Patterson (MLB)

Schlereth the elder has a history of being a huge backer of his son, going so far as to produce a documentary on Daniel's season as the University of Arizona closer in 2008. And he was all a-Twitter for the kid's Big League debut against Atlanta.

Daniel Schlereth was a first-round pick in the 2008 draft.

Dennis Rodman, who used to be a pretty good rebounder in the NBA, apparently wants to get clean. At least that's what one would assume since the former championship-era Bull is among the newest cast of VH1's "Celebrity Rehab With Dr. Drew." Those who are more pessimistic will probably assume it's Rodman's way of keeping his cartoonish mug on our televisions any way he can.

From the VH1 blog:
kimbo-slice.jpgKimbo Slice, the bearded tough guy who last year headlined the most-viewed mixed martial arts card in history, will be a contestant on the upcoming season of "The Ultimate Fighter."

Born Kevin Ferguson, Slice fought for the now extinct Elite XC, but has been repeatedly belittled by UFC president Dana White for his lack of ability.

White has called him a "joke," a "bum" and "not a real fighter," among other less than kind descriptions. He said that Slice would "get murdered if he fought in the UFC" and suggested that his lightweight champion, 155-pound B.J. Penn, would "annihilate" the 230-pound Slice.

The UFC president has repeatedly insisted he would not allow Slice to compete in the UFC unless he won his way onto the show by competing on "The Ultimate Fighter," which beings taping Wednesday and is scheduled to air in September.

Former UFC light heavyweight champions Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Rashad Evans will serve as coaches this go-around, ensuring some healthy ratings for the show.

Ruben Brown web.jpgWe're lucky enough to have Sun-Times reporter Dave Newbart's words and pictures this evening. It's just what the doctor ordered after a three-day gap in coverage. We promise not to get that lazy on you again.

Ten bucks says you'll never love the Bears as much as the guy after the jump.

BY DAVE NEWBART

There might not be a more down-to-earth future NFL Hall-of-Famer than Ruben Brown. Brown, who played four seasons for the Bears and helped push them to the Super Bowl, has moved back to Buffalo, where he played nine great seasons for the Bills. But he's still well-loved among Bears fans and players and gets back to town frequently - primarily for Ruben Brown's Motorcycle Run, a charity ride that raises cash for the Salvation Army.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

May 2009 is the previous archive.

July 2009 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Pages

Powered by Movable Type 5.04