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

October 2009 Archives

kevinallen.JPGWell, it finally happened.

When we started this garden-variety, unedited blog last summer, we knew two things. One, we had absolutely no idea how many people would be reading. Two, that it would someday have to end.

So, it's with a bit of sadness that I tell you of my cohort Kevin's departure from the Chicago Sun-Times -- and more importantly, that you'll no longer be privy to his particular brand of wit and prose at this URL.

Take a minute and let that sink in.

He's leaving to pursue another job opportunity, presumably one where he'll no longer get to write about Erin Andrews as much. I guess it has other perks, though.

Our eight regular readers will probably be surprised to know that the vision for this space was to take a high-brow look at current sporting events as well as functioning as a meeting place of sorts for people who liked to prove how intelligent they were.

Think "Atlantic Monthly" meets "Heaven is a Playground."

That, of course, was before we learned about Search Engine Optimization, Google Trends and the public's insatiable desire of videos of bone-crushing hockey checks. 

Nevertheless, it's been a hell of a lot of fun co-writing this thing with Mr. Allen. And it's not really going to be the same without him.

After some soul-searching and a couple of rough nights at home with single-malt scotch, I've decided to promote myself from co-editor to editor and keep the blog running.

Again, don't want to disappoint the eight of you regular readers.

Who knows what sort of changes are in store without his stabilizing influence. This could very well turn into a forum about "Lost" conspiracy theories. I guess I'd have to update the banner if it did, so maybe not.

Anyway, please join me in congratulating Kevin on his new job and in wishing him well in the future.

If baseball were nothing but fastballs, we'd all be in the Majors at some point. No matter how hard someone throws, with enough work and time in the cage, building up batspeed to attack a fairly straight ball is within reach of the average human.

What inevitably puts the spikes in the throat of the collective dream is the breaking ball. It's often said that trying to hit a round ball with a round bat is the hardest thing to do in sports. While that's certainly open for debate, there's no denying the difficulty of catching a pitch with a wrinkle square on ash or metal.

And for many a hardballer, the curveball is the pinnacle of frustration. Oh sure, you're slider, changeup and splitter can cause an ill-fated attempt to smash bat over knee on the way back to the bench, but the one pitch that can really make a great hitter look like a T-baller is the curveball.

Known by many names - The Hammer, Uncle Charlie, Yakker, Bender, etc. - there's nothing worse than feeling of being frozen, or worse - twisting in the wind with buckled knees, as a big 12-6 local skims across the plate for a called third strike.

Wait, it turns out there is something worse: it's all in your head.

According to Zhong-Lin Lu, who holds the William M. Keck Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, that filthy hook never happened. It's impossible. All in your head. What you just got punched out on and were made to look foolish by was nothing more than a straight ball and what amounts to an optical illusion caused by spin and the red and white blur of seams and hyde.

While you try to figure why this guy hates America and the rules of the universe, check out this rather amazing bit of visual evidence he presents. Sadly, it's not embeddable, but here's the explanation behind the illustration:

In baseball, a curveball creates a physical effect and a perceptual puzzle. The physical effect (the curve) arises because the ball's rotation leads to a deflection in the ball's path. The perceptual puzzle arises because the deflection is actually gradual but is often perceived as an abrupt change in direction (the break). Our illusions suggest that the perceived "break" may be caused by the transition from the central visual system to the peripheral visual system. Like a curveball, the spinning disks in the illusions appear to abruptly change direction when an observer switches from foveal to peripheral viewing.

Got that? It's all in your head, meat.

"Physically, there is no such thing as a breaking curveball. It's mostly in the hitter's mind," claims Lu.

Major League hurler Mike Marshall in a piece in US News' HealthDay begs to differ with the distinguished Lu:

"I can't believe the guy is saying something that was disproved almost 50 years ago. It's absolutely ridiculous. Baseballs move. They really move," Marshall said.

And Marshall knows of what he speaks. Aside from his mound credentials, which include 12 seasons in the majors and a 3.14 ERA, he majored in exercise physiology while earning a doctorate at Michigan State University. He says the devastating movement is no trick of the eye, but rather is due to air pressure forcing the spinning ball downward.

Now, take a look at this nearly illegal curve Dodger pitcher Clayton Kershaw drops on Sean Casey in Spring Training in 2008. With all due respect to Lu, when Professor Vin Scully gets that excited about a hook, it's a great pitch. Just look where it starts and where it ends and see if you think it's optical illusion or straight up filth:

For more visual observation on the art of the curveball - and whether it bends - take a look at what many students of the game think was the best ever thrown, from the hand of Sandy Koufax (toward the end of the video):

The debate aside, when it comes to a curve's power - perceived or achieved - perhaps the best answer is, "does it matter?"

"There seem to be arguments on both sides," Freddy Berowski, a researcher at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, said. "But what really matters is that the batter thinks it curves."

red-sox-die.jpgIn a study that proves internet anonymity and complete lack of consequences makes not for the most accurate of studies, an unofficial survey asking Red Sox fans if they'd ever root for the Yankees is yielding some interesting results.

As of now, over 63 percent say they'd rather die than pull for their bitter rivalry. Thats right, well over half are saying they'd prefer death.

It'd be tricky to really test their mettle on this issue, but something tells me that if faced with the same choice in the real world, that number would be much, much lower.
here-come-the-frillies.jpgJust in case the existing World Series plot lines weren't enough to drum up interest in the Fall Classic, the New York Post has decided to raise the stakes. They're rolling out all the stops in advance of tomorrow's series opener between the Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies, including trotting out a graphic that features Phillies centerfielder Shane Victorinio wearing a skirt.

The art accompanies a story from the "My-City-is-Better-than-Your-City" file that contains some pretty pointed barbs at Will Smith's hometown, painting it as a second-class town with second-rate fans.
larry-johnson-twitter.jpgA day after taking on first-year coach Todd Haley and making homophobic remarks via Twitter, Kansas City Chiefs running back Larry Johnson continued his 24-hour tour of controversy by dropping another slur.

Johnson, sitting next to second-year running back Jamaal Charles, told reporters that "I'm not talking till Thursday," his usual day of speaking with reporters.

Then Johnson turned away and whispered.

"Get your f***** ass out of here," he said.

In the wake of the Chiefs' 37-7 loss to the San Diego Chargers on Sunday, Johnson tweeted about Haley's lack of football-playing experience from a Twitter account that appears to be his.

"My father got more creditentials than most of these pro coaches," Johnson said. It was followed with, "My father played for the coach from "rememeber the titans". Our coach played golf. My father played for redskins briefley. Our coach. Nuthn."

He didn't stop there.

Johnson continued the rant, and, in later responses directed toward Johnsons Twitter followers, contained inflammatory remarks about gays. In a reference to someones profile picture, Johnson called it a "f** pic" and called the person a "Christopher street boy," a reference to a predominantly homosexual section in New York's Greenwich Village. Johnson's Twitter profile was taken private and some posts were deleted.
If this is indeed Johnson's doing from the beginning, what type of punishment should he face, if any?
george-Steinbrenner.jpgThe New York Yankees won their 40th American League pennant last night, defeating the Los Angeles Angels 5-2 to take the ALCS in six games.

When the pinstriped crew takes the field Wednesday -- in their first World Series appearance since 2001 -- a familiar face will be in attendance.

George Steinbrenner will "absolutely" be at Yankee Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series Wednesday night, Hal Steinbrenner said last night.

"I think all these players are doing this for him," Hal said. "We want to win this whole thing for him. I think we feel like he's here being a big part of it."

George Steinbrenner, 79, has been in declining health in recent years and has not been at a game in the Bronx since the home opener in April.

George handed over the reigns of the franchise to his son Hal last November. From 1973 to then, the franchise won six World Series under his ownership.
mark-mcgwire-hitting-coach.jpgThe St. Louis Cardinals are expected to announce that former slugger Mark McGwire is returning to baseball after an eight-year exile and will serve as the team's hitting coach.

Hal McRae, who had served as hitting instructor for five years, will not renew his contract, opening the door for Big Mac's appointment. The news comes after a lengthy period of speculation as to if Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa's would come back for his 15th season at the helm.

With that issue pretty much resolved, the focus now turns to McGwire, who retired in 2001 after a series of chronic injuries. His career took a dark turn after setting the single-season home run record with 70 in 1998, as he became the poster boy for the performance-enhancing substance scandal that plagued Major League Baseball.

At a 2005 congressional hearing on steroids, McGwire refused to address the past, saying instead that he wanted to focus on the future.
Because there certainly weren't a lot of offensive highlights for the Bears yesterday, let's start the morning off with one from All-Everything Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. The man known as "Purple Jesus" caught a short pass from Brett Favre and flat-out ran over Steelers cornerback William Gay during the Vikes' 27-17 loss to Pittsburgh.

The brand-new BCS standings look like this:

1. Florida
2. Alabama
3. Texas
4. Iowa
5. USC
6. TCU
7. Boise State
8. Cincinnati
9. LSU
10. Oregon
Forget what we learned from Thumper in "Bambi." You should probably be saying something right now. (AP photo)

There's no way to sugarcoat the Bears' brutal 45-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The offense was offensive.

The defense was indefensible.

The special teams were anything but special.

On a day when they could have gained a game in the standings on the Minnesota Vikings and quieted some very loud Bengal mouths, Lovie Smith's crew laid a big, fat egg and reverted back to .500.

They let former running back Cedric Benson run all over them and get his redemption -- to the tune of 189 yards on 37 carries and a touchdown.

They let serial tweeter Chad Ochocinco make good on every electronic promise -- to the tune of 10 catches, 118 yards and 2 touchdowns.

So, what do you do after one of the most painfully unwatchable games in recent history?

You vent.

We want to hear your best Bears rants. Feel free to really light into anyone and everybody, holding nothing back.

Maybe you'll feel better when you're done. Visceral diatribes have a way of soothing the soul.

At the very least, it will be entertaining.

Go ahead, the floor is yours.
bob-griese-montoya-taco.jpgABC college football analyst and former Purdue Boilermakers star Bob Griese had a bit of a rough outing during today's broadcast of the Ohio State-Minnesota game.

After a promotional sport advertising Sunday's NASCAR race, the top five drivers in the Sprint Cup Series standings were put on the screen.

When fellow analyst Chris Spielman asked where Juan Pablo Montoya was on the list, Griese chimed in with this little gem.

"He's out having a taco."

Montoya is Colombian, and when you think of Colombia, you think ... tacos, right?

Someone on the broadcast team must have alerted him that his lame attempt at humor probably didn't go over as well as it would have during the Miami Dolphins' undefeated 1972 season, and as the game wound down he apologized.

"Juan Pablo Montoya, he's one of the best drivers in NASCAR," Griese said. "Just want to apologize for the comment I made earlier in the ballgame."

This, of course, is not the first time south-of-the-border jokes have landed a television an analyst in hot water.
jasper-howard-uconn.jpgAn officially licensed T-shirt commemorating fallen Connecticut football player Jasper Howard is now available, with the proceeds raised going to benefit two funds set up in his honor.

Howard, a junior cornerback, was fatally stabbed Oct. 18 after a university-sponsored dance on campus.

Today, he was honored before the Huskies' game at West Virginia. Both teams and the head coaches exchanged pre-game hugs and handshakes at midfield.
sean-salisbury-deadspin.jpgIf you like a good scandal and reading proffers, and I know you do, then the Sean Salisbury lawsuit against Deadspin should provide plenty of entertainment.

In one corner is the NFL quarterback-turned-television-analyst that was a polarizing presence while on the air, and in the other is the ultra snarky epicenter of the sports blogosphere.

(That lead-in actually sounds like the tag line for a compelling movie, if anyone has the energy to follow through on it.)

It seems Salisbury has filed suit against Gawker Media, which owns the site in Texas' Denton County, ending a long and very public back-and-forth between he and Deadspin.

The bad blood began in Jan. 2007, when the blog alleged that Salisbury had been suspended from ESPN for taking salacious pictures of himself and showing them to a gaggle of co-workers.
big-ten-network.jpg

It's fitting that some of this year's biggest Big Ten games -- the ones that will affect who earns a trip to the Rose Bowl -- are playing out on the network devoted to covering the conference more extensively than ever before.

Saturday's matchup between Iowa and Michigan State -- 3-0 and 3-1 in the conference, respectively -- airs at 6 p.m. on Chicago-based Big Ten Network, a platform that didn't even exist three years ago.

The development pleases its president, Mark Silverman.

''Having games like Michigan-Michigan State, Purdue's upset over Ohio State and this prime-time game [today] ... the credibility these games provide the network are vital,'' he said.

Added studio host Dave Revsine, ''The story is no longer, 'Oh, where am I going to have to go to watch this game?' ... Now it's what we can do to make it great for the fans and not having to listen to questions of if people get it."


Love or hate all the marketing that surrounds the Blackhawks these days, you have to give the front office credit for this clever and timely ad.
eric-wright-browns-car.jpgCleveland Browns cornerback Eric Wright escaped serious injury last night when he flipped his Mercedes on a slippery highway entrance ramp late last night.

The 24-year-old was taken to a Cleveland-area hospital and released. Wright was not ticketed by the authorities and reported to the Browns training facility. He was then sent for further medical testing by team doctors.
Some would see the Oakland Raiders' victory over the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday as a miracle of sorts. But, if you take Raiders running back Justin Fargas' word for it, there was a miracle of a more spiritual variety in the eyes of many wearing the silver and black.

Speaking with KHTK in Sacramento, Fargas talked about a pigeon that seemed quite interested in joining the Raiders' special teams unit.



"It definitely is. It kind of gives you a different perspective on things," he said. "Yeah it was definitely a strange event seeing that bird flying out there. It seemed comfortable on the football field and comfortable lying down there literally on special teams. It very well could have been Marquis."

Fargas is referring to deceased teammate Marquis Cooper, who died at sea along with two others in March.


In the third period of Wednesday night's game against the Vancouver Canucks, Willie Mitchell came out of the penalty box at just the wrong time for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Jonathan Toews was on the receiving end of a brutal Mitchell hit near center ice that ended the Blackhawk captain's night early.

Canucks fans will bemoan the fact that the ensuing skirmish stopped play while the team was on a two-on-none fast break. Kris Versteeg was sent to the penalty box for roughing while avenging Toews' demise.

"It was a clean hit," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after the game. "He didn't see (Mitchell) coming."

Vancouver ended up coming back to win 3-2. Toews, meanwhile, will be evaluated today.
twitter-ochocinco-cutler.jpgLong before the team has even landed in Cincinnati for this Sunday's afternoon skirmish against the Bengals, Chad Ochocinco is trying to fill up the Bears' bulletin board.

In tweets to both quarterback Jay Cutler and defensive lineman Alex Brown, Ochocinco said he wants Cutler's jersey, will torment cornerback Charles "Peanut" Tillman, and needs only 1.5 seconds to get open.

Yesterday, Ochocinco started in on Cutler [exchanges sic'd]:

@jaycutler6 tell your defense I'm gonna run circles around them, I'm mad we lost, peanut Tillman is gonna kiss da baby along with the rest'

To which Cutler responded:

@OGOchoCinco it's only Monday. Already starting?

The exchange with Cutler continued:
shock.jpgThe bad news for Detroit sports fans is that it looks like the much-plagued city is losing a professional team.

The good news is that it's far and away the least popular one: the WNBA's Shock.

A team spokesman told the Associated Press that the three-time league champions are moving to Tulsa, Okla.

This comes at the end of another year of weak attendance at the Palace of Auburn Hills, where a curtain was used to hide an upper deck that many times was completely empty.

A couple of lead investors leading the move-to-Tulsa movement announced that former Arkansas Razorbacks coach Nolan Richardson will serve as the franchise's coach and general manager.
UPDATE: The NFL has suspended Wesley one game without pay for this hit. Is that an appropriate punishment?

Carolina Panthers cornerback Dante Wesley will probably find himself the recipient of a big, fat fine and perhaps a suspension after his brutal hit on Tampa Bay Buccaneers return man Clifton Smith yesterday.

Basically, Wesley came down the field at full-tilt and absolutely laid out the defenseless Smith, who was waiting for a punt to come down.



Wesley was ejected after the melee and Smith sustained a concussion that prevented him from returning to the game. More concerning, the Buccaneer was unable to speak due to a throat injury.

Wesley, an eight-year veteran, said that the hit was more accidental than intentionally malicious.

"It wasn't like I deliberately tried to hurt anybody or nothing like that, that's not even me," Wesley said. "So it just so happened, I hit him. My prayers are out with him. I would never try to hurt anyone, I was just trying to make a play."
Is any additional punishment in order for Wesley, or is the ejection enough?
nick-barnett-go-bears.jpgIt appears that some clever Bears fan didn't let professionalism get in the way of having some fun with Green Bay Packers linebacker Nick Barnett.

The football and celebration enthusiast tweeted about the incident:

"I ordered some equipment frm backcountry.com look at wht they put on the box.Am I wrong to think this is disrespect"
The aforementioned Web site specializes in outdoor gear, which is obviously imperative in the always nippy Green Bay.

Barnett recorded three tackles against the Bears in the season opener, a game he probably enjoyed a lot more than the shipping prankster(s).
marcus-jordan-ucf.JPGIt's gotta be the (right brand of) shoes.

Marcus Jordan, son of basketball legend Michael Jordan, will be wearing Nike shoes when he suits up as a freshman for the University of Central Florida basketball team this season. His teammates, meanwhile, will be donning Adidas.

Michael Jordan's name has become synonymous with the brand of shoe he hawked throughout his NBA career.

"It's a level of importance with the Jordan Brand and my family," Marcus Jordan said Thursday at a team media event. "It's no disrespect to Adidas. I have a high level of respect for adidas, but I'm going to be wearing Jordan shoes. I'm wearing the Adidas uniform and all my other UCF gear is Adidas, but the shoes are going to be Jordan Brand."

Fanhouse is reporting that Adidas was not happy about the decision, but "didn't press the issue because they feared a backlash."

Marcus Jordan, a 6-3 guard who graduated from basketball powerhouse Whitney Young last year, is the second oldest of Michael Jordan's three children.

During his Hall of Fame induction speech, Michael Jordan said his children carry a "heavy burden" and that he'd never want to switch places with them. 
Nine-year-old Oliver Wahlstrom is an Internet celebrity this morning as replays of his astounding goal at the TD Bank Garden in Boston are making everyone ohhhh and ahhhh. Wahlstrom picks up the puck with the blade of his stick and then fires a no-look backhanded rocket past a stunned goalie.

The tremendous effort was turned in as part of TD Bank Mini 1-on-1, which affords kids the chance to play on the same ice as the professionals.



Air Jordan.jpg

Michael Jordan and his "devil" shoe. (AP)

The Cult of the Air Jordan is a passionate one. Since the first release of Michal Jordan's iconic shoe line in 1985, Nike has managed to develop a dedication of follower that borders on frenzy - do a Google search for "Air Jordan" and gaze at the 33,000,000+ links for proof if you have a few spare minutes.

Each year a new high top is rolled out to the delight of the fashion-aware ballers, hipsters, trendsters and collectors - mostly long gone are the days when you could get jacked up for you Mikes, even thought they still command a mighty price.

Picture 8.pngNike's Jumpman23 site is, yes, above all a marketing/advertising push for you to fork over your hard-earned dollars for a tennis shoe. But at least they do it in a cool way. Not least of the interesting features is this new timeline feature that takes you through the years of Air Jordan with interesting videos, photos and facts about the man who could fly.

A couple Saturdays back, I had the opportunity to make a fool of myself on the Fanzone segment of the hit Big Ten Network show "Friday Night Tailgate." Basically all this required was to show up, wear one of my old Michigan State hoodies and not make fun of the Michigan fan I was paired with for not, you know, actually attending the Ann Arbor school.

Anyway, the game turned out to be an instant classic as the Spartans squeaked out a 26-20 overtime victory after squandering a 14-point fourth-quarter lead. I was nervous enough to not even enjoy the catered lunch -- which should tell you a lot.

The static camera shot apparently did little to keep my 5-11 frame in the picture as I desperately tried to give the good people over at BTN the reaction shots they'd need. But, my actual face isn't exactly my best feature.

Here's what went down:



You can look at "Friday Night Tailgate" on, you guessed it, Friday nights at 11 p.m. ET or 10 p.m. Chicago time. It's actually quite funny and features the always well-groomed Mike Hall, who has been known to throw down an opinion or two around here.
john-wooden-quote.jpgFormer UCLA head coach and motivational guru John Wooden turns 99 today, a remarkable feat for a man who's made a lifetime out of remarkable feats. Wooden, who in June was named Greatest Coach of All-Time by the Sporting News, is still a staple at Bruins basketball games and still the measuring stick all college basketball coaches are judged by.

The Sporting News poll was a bit of a landslide, as Wooden got 57 first-place as opposed to the 20 of runner-up Vince Lombardi.

Anyone out there have differing thoughts on who the best coach ever is?

You can see the entire results of the poll here.

NLDS Phillies Rockies Baseb.jpg
Sun-Times sports writer/editor Daryl Van Schouwen checks in with this umpire rant:

There has been plenty of discussion lately, stemming from the run of blown calls by major league umps in the playoffs, about using replay in baseball.
Forget replay. How about this for a solution: Just get better. Just do a better job. Try to be above average.

Cubs Banks Statue Baseball.jpg

Sure, Mr. Cub has a statue at Wrigley Field, but that's not enough to make Ernie Banks happy. (AP)

Ernie Banks is the Cubs. As any fan knows, he's an icon of the team perhaps equaled only in popularity and legend by Ron Santo.

    "Let's play two!"
    Back-to-back MVP awards despite his team.
    512 homeruns.
    The Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.

There's little the great slugger and ambassador of the game didn't accomplish. Yet in this interview with Boston Public Radio station WBUR, the face of one of the most-storied franchises in baseball says he hasn't accomplished anything as a person.

"I haven't done anything yet. ... Nothing."

While Banks fans may scoff at that notion coming from the beloved Cub, he makes it clear he's talking about his shortcomings as a member of the human race and his desire to achieve one more award for excellence - the Nobel Peace Prize. Sure, he got edged out this year by President Obama - maybe that was art of the controversy? - but it remains Banks' largest unfulfilled dream, he tells the interviewer.

"I always had a bigger goal when I was 15, and that was to win the Nobel Peace Prize. I see myself in Stockholm. That has been my journey. I've been chasing the footsteps of my life to do something worthwhile."

Maybe the 79-year-old Banks can get closer to his dream by brokering peace between the North and South Side baseball fans in a city fractured by cross-loathing?

For now, though, the 79-year-old legend is surely plenty busy raising the 1-year-old daughter, Alyna Olivia Banks, he adopted with his wife, Liz. And, of course, still waiting for that championship parade riot in Wrigleyville.

In Dennis Eckersley's long and illustrious Hall of Fame career, there were plenty of highlights. But, there's one moment of failure that he'll never be able to escape.

Surrendering a game-winning home run to a gimpy Kirk Gibson in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, when the fire-balling right-hander was closing games for the Oakland A's.

In a postseason that's been filled with misplayed fly balls, blown saves and shoddy baserunning, there's no shortage of players feeling the same emotions experienced by Eckersley in the wake of their October gaffes.

The in-studio analyst for TBS discussed the sudden rash of less-than-spectacular plays and the effects on those who make them Monday night.

"It stays with you until you get back out there again," Eckersley said. You have to live with it until the next time. What if there's not a next time? Who's to say [there will be], right?"

Perhaps the most glaring error in this young postseason came from St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday, who dropped the would-be final out in Game 2 of an NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers -- an error that allowed the Dodgers an improbable comeback victory.

"I guess the best thing that came out of it was that it wasn't the end," Eckersley said. "If it was the last game, that would have been worse, or even if it was a walk-off. At the same time, it doesn't take away from the fact that it was devastating."

The Cardinals were eventually swept in three games, leaving Holliday with an entire winter to think about what could have been if he'd been able to corral that final out. Eckersley points out that being the goat is just as big a part of the game as being the hero.

"He has to take that with him to wherever he goes because he's a free agent," Eckersley said. "It's a character-builder. It truly is. Nobody needs that kind of humbling, but you know, that's how this game can grab you at any given time."

Holliday is hardly the only player who must deal with a sour taste in their mouth during the offeason. The Minnesota Twins turned in several head-scratching baserunning decisions that helped the Yankees sweep them away and Boston Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon blew a save in the decisive Game 3 against the Los Angeles Angeles.

"Papelbon, to me, is devastating because he has not had a ton of failure," Eckersley said. "I said it on the air, and I didn't mean it to be mean, that he has lived the charmed life. He hasn't had any big blows .. He's been absolutely lights-out, so let's see how he handles it."

Looking forward, Ecksersley notes that there's a silver lining to every failure.

Each one is a chance at redemption.

For him, the sour taste of 1988 was quickly washed out when he was able to lead his A's to the 1989 World Series title.

And much like the Cardinals fans greeted Holliday with a standing ovation upon his return to Busch Stadium, A's supporters backed Eckersley when he first took the mound in 1989 -- a gesture that helped him get back to business on the mound.

"I got one when I got back to Oakland," Eckersley said of the ovation. "It took a little of the sting out and showed the appreciation that the fans had. It hurt everyone, but it couldn't hurt anyone more than me. I want to win as much as anyone and I was lucky because we won the next year."

In reality, however, there's no guarantee that the chance at redemption will come as quickly for this year's crop goats. They won't all follow Eckersely's path back to the top -- something the former reliever realizes.

"I was so lucky," he said. "Think about it. The following year we win the whole thing and I get the ball in my hands for the last out. I'm so grateful that happened."

If you saw Seattle Seahawks fullback Owen Schmitt during today's game against Jacksonville Jaguars, you might think that he'd spent all afternoon destroying people and taking names.

But, you'd be wrong.

Schmitt's bloody chic look wasn't the result mixing it up in the trenches, but rather a very visible reminder of a pre-game psyche-out move that went horribly awry.

Smart thinking, guy.

tim-tebow-bible-verse.JPGHow much does Florida Gators quarterback and concussion victim Tim Tebow move the needle?

More people are searching the Bible verse he has written on his eye black than anything else right now as the Gators lead the LSU Tigers 10-3 in the third quarter, according to Google Trends.

The verse is 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

"Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
Considering all of the hubbub surrounding his comeback from a particularly nasty concussion two weeks ago, it doesn't take a scholar to figure out the meaning.
Because we now live in a world where Twitter-savvy NFL wide receivers can share their intentions regarding a potential post-touchdown celebration, we now all know what Chad Ochocinco has up his sleeve.

The self-proclaimed "Interesting One" just posted the scene he'll recreate if he gets into the end zone for the Cincinnati Bengals tomorrow against the Baltimore Ravens.



This, of course, is no easy feat against a defense that stringent. And this particular clip runs for 82 seconds, which is quite an elaborate and time-consuming way to celebrate six points. Something also tells me this might draw a flag, or multiple flags.

But, that doesn't mean it wouldn't be fun to see.
Colorado Rockies fans probably have an ample number of jackets, wool caps and mittens in their closets. You don't live in Denver and not adapt, after all.

They'll need all the cold-weather gear they can bring with them tomorrow night, when the game postponed today will be made up at at 8:07 p.m. MT.  That's 10:07 on the East Coast.

 Major League Baseball decided to move the game back after a snowstorm blanketed the area and iced over roads. Tonight's game-time temperature was expected to be around 25 degrees, which would have made for the most frigid postseason game ever.
I'm not even going to insult you by trying to come up with a sports-related peg. Just look at this.

It's fun that pop-music sensation Miley Cyrus made what will certainly be a widely-circulated viral video to announce that she's stepping away from the Twitter game because she needs her privacy. Certainly no irony there.

Thumbnail image for tim-tebow-florida-quarterback.JPGWhen top-ranked Florida marches into Death Valley to take on conference rival LSU,  we'll finally have our answer to a question that has plagued mankind for the past 14 days.

Will Tim Tebow play?

The All-Everything quarterback was knocked out of a game against Kentucky with a brutal concussion two weeks ago, and since then it seems the media has been caught up in a giant game of telephone as the speculation around his readiness intensified.

On Friday, an Orlando-area television reporter came out and said the one-time Heisman winner was "definitely" going to play. This prompted a denial from Florida's athletic department, who stated Tebow's status had yet to be determined.

Gators coach Urban Meyer himself has said that the lefty is a game-time decision. If he can't go, the No. 1 team in the nation will be in the hands of redshirt sophomore John Brantley.

You'd think the prospect of catching a Tebow-less Florida would be something the LSU players would be looking forward to. After all, who wouldn't want to face an unproven underclassman instead of a guy whose name comes up in the "best college players of all-time" conversation?

This dude, apparently.

"We definitely want Tebow to play,'' LSU tight end Richard Dickson said. "He's a great player. He does great things for the sport. He's an unbelievable competitor. It wouldn't be Florida without him.''
That's kind of why you don't want him in there, Mr. Dickson.

Kickoff is at 8 p.m. ET.
phil-cuzzi-foul-ball-yankees-twins.jpgPhil Cuzzi is lucky his horrendous call benefited the New York Yankees and hurt the Minnesota Twins. Had it been the other way around, those big meanies in the Big Apple -- who don't share our tempered Midwestern disposition -- may have made things real unpleasant for him.

Cuzzi, a veteran umpire, blew a call in the top of the 11th inning when he ruled a ball of the bat of Joe Mauer foul.

It was nowhere near foul.

The ball bounced into the stands and would have been a leadoff double if called properly. Mauer proceeded to single in an inning that saw the Twins load the bases with no outs and then fail to score.

Mark Teixeira's walk-off solo homer in the bottom of the frame ended the game and gave the Yankees a 2-0 edge in the series as it heads to Minnesota.

It's the latest in a string of botched umpiring decisions that has some on these here Interwebs grumbling about expanded instant replay. First, there was the no call on Brandon Inge's hit-by-pitch in the AL Central tiebreaker. Then, it was CB Bucknor's forgettable night in Anaheim. Now this.

It's getting harder and harded to defend the guys in blue, who on the whole do a heck of a job. A part of you has to feel for them, but another has to expect them to get it right the first time.
cb-bucknor-umpire-red-sox.jpgFirst base umpire CB Bucknor had a rough night during Game 1 of the ALDS between the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox. The veteran missed not one, but two brutal calls that each went against the visitors, both involving the very vocal Kevin Youklis and both involving Howie Kendrick.

Twice Bucknor ruled Kendrick safe on plays at the bag, once rulling that Youklis had pulled his foot on a force, and another where he ruled Youk missed a tag. The picture over to the left seems to contradict the first play in question, and video replays also stand in stark contrast to the second call.

Considering the fact that the Red Sox put up a big, fat zero on the scoreboard, these calls didn't cost them the game. But, is it too much to ask that the umpiring in the playoffs be conducted at the highest level? That seems fairly reasonable.

Bucknor was voted the worst umpire in the majors in a 2006 poll, a fact that certainly didn't escape Boston-area media outlets.
Thumbnail image for dewayne-wise-white-sox-fan.jpgThe man responsible for saving Mark Buehrle's perfect game and this hastily-written article has declared free agency.

The White Sox announced that center fielder Dewayne Wise is taking this route instead of accepting an assignment to Class-AAA Charlotte.

Wise hit a meager .225 in 84 games for the Sox this year, but will always be remembered for his wall-crashing, ball-juggling gem of a catch that enabled Buehrle to maintain perfection.
cole-hamels-baby.jpgIt's understandable if Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels had a hard time focusing during his Game 2 start against the Colorado Rockies. After all, his wife Heidi was due with the couple's first child at any time. And while he was struggling out there, she actually went into labor.

Hamels was informed of the development by Phillies clubhouse attendant Frank Coppenbarger, who received the following text from what appears to be a very poised Heidi.

I'm in the hospital going into labor. Could you please tell Cole as soon as he is done pitching?

By the time this message reached him, Hamels had already been lifted from the game and was able to race to the hospital to be with his wife. Giving up four runs in five innings can really free up a guy's afternoon.

The kid's got some good genes, what with daddy being the pitcher with the hair and mommy the "Survivor" alum. Around here, we're just glad there's a happy ending associated with the accompanying picture -- one that hasn't provided any fodder at all for Phillies haters.

matt-holliday-balls.jpgThings got dramatic on Los Angeles yesterday when St. Louis Cardinals left fielder Matt Holliday played the potential final out of the game into the spark that would ignite the Dodgers' 3-2 comeback victory.

Holliday, who was acquired from the Oakland Athletics early this season, is known more for his his bat than his glove -- but certainly is expected to make plays like the one presented to him when James Loney hit a sinking line drive to shallow left. Instead of catching it, he let it hit him in the stomach (or worse), allowing Loney to dash into second base safely. Ronnie Belliard and Mark Loretta followed with clutch hits, turning Holliday into one giant goat and making us all forget the homer he'd hit earlier in the game.

Predictably, this Buckner-like performance is accompanied by some controversy.


How disappointed were you about the White Sox season?  

Probably not as disappointed as Lloyd Rutzky, a 61-year-old vendor who has walked the aisles on the South Side for more than 45 years.

Rutzky, you see, takes out his frustration by horse-whipping a bench in the vendor's locker room after particularly bad losses, or, in the case of this video, after a terribly disappointing season.


02_levi_lgl.jpgRemember when Levi Johnston was just a name to us, a kid from Alaska who enjoyed playing hockey and was Bristol Palin's boyfriend?

We all seemed so young, so innocent then. We'd never heard of the Octomom. Jon and Kate were together. The Cubs hadn't signed Milton Bradley.

Simpler times.

Now, in a little over a year, Johnson has become a media-seeking, Vanity Fair-gracing celebrity after a brief stint as a roustabout in his home state.

He will be even more exposed to the American populace -- well, a certain subset of it -- when he appears in an upcoming issue of "Playgirl."

That's right, it's going to happen.

He's currently hitting the gym, buffing up for the spread, according to the always fun TMZ. They report that the 19-year-old is working out six days a week, either so he looks good or for his inevitable reality show where he tries out for the NHL.

The shoot is scheduled to take place sometime this month.
It takes a lot for us to notice anything going on in the NBA preseason, but Los Angeles Lakers guard Shannon Brown's ridiculous dunk against the Golden State Warriors last night did the trick.

Brown took the ball coast-to-coast before elevating over Mikki Moore for the one-handed slam. The Maywood native was rumored to have a 45-inch vertical back in college, which probably really helped him with the ladies.

tony-fein-death.jpgRookie linebacker Tony Fein, who was with the Baltimore Ravens in the preseason, was found dead Tuesday morning, according to his agent. The 27-year-old played two seasons at Ole Miss and was a war veteran -- serving three years in the Persian Gulf. He was arrested on Aug. 23 and charged with misdemeanor assault on a police officer in an incident that had sparked a debate over racial profiling.
brandon-inge-hit-by-pitch-marsh.jpg(Image courtesy of With Leather)

Any Tigers fans out there upset about this no-call? In the top of the decisive 12th inning, Detroit's Brandon Inge was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, which would have scored the go-ahead run and make it 6-5 and keep the bases loaded for Gerald Laird.

The only problem is that home plate umpire Randy Marsh didn't call it. Inge proceeded to hit into a 4-2 fielder's choice and Laird fanned with a full count, setting the stage for the Twins' heroics in the bottom of the inning.

Its understandable for Marsh to miss this at full speed, but his quote after the game is a little puzzling, considering the stark visual evidence to the contrary.

"I did not have the ball hitting him," Marsh told a pool reporter. "We looked at replays, too. And the replays that we've looked at, to be honest with you, were inconclusive. I did not see a replay that showed that it hit him."
For his part, Inge was adamant that the ball did hit him, but seemed to understand how the frenzied environment at the Metrodome could have made it difficult for Marsh.

"Actually, every time I've been hit in the shirt, it's been caught," Inge said. "Because it makes two distinct, pretty good noises. Now, I will give him the benefit that this is one of the loudest places I've ever been in my life."
As someone who grew up with the Tigers in my blood, I can honestly say I'm not that worked up about this call, or the somewhat ridiculous strike three call on Placido Polanco in the ninth. Yesterday's game was without a doubt one of the finer examples of nerve-wracking baseball we've seen in a long time. And just as the players made mistakes when the pressure was on, so too did the umpires.

It's going to happen. And it shouldn't take away from an instant classic. That's part of the deal, that unpredictable way the situation is going to be amplified.

All that said, it doesn't make blowing a seven-game lead in the last month any easier for supporters of the Old English 'D'.
lebron-james-browns-1.jpgThe New York Jets have reached a deal with the Cleveland Browns to bring wide receiver and 5-Hour Energy enthusiast Braylon Edwards into the fold. Getting young quarterback Mark Sanchez a proven second playmaker at wideout cost the Jets wide receiver Chansi Stuckey, linebacker Jason Trusnik and undisclosed draft choices.

The trade comes in the midst of an investigation of what happened outside of a Cleveland nightclub early Monday morning, when Edwards allegedly punched promoter Edwards Givens, who happens to be BFFs with LeBron James. No charges have been filed yet, but the incident could be disciplined by NFL brass.

Edwards was also drinking with fellow wide receiver Donte' Stallworth in Miami the night Stallworth killed a pedestrian on his way home and he was given 30 hours of community service after being busted for going 120 mph in a seperate incident.

There's a theory floating around right now that says the troubled wide receiver's punch was more of a calculated move than a knee-jerk reaction. Over at CBS Sports, they're talking about how by throwing his fists, Edwards got exactly what he wanted.

It's also worth pointing out that a change of scenery in New York doesn't excatly guarantee he and James won't cross paths again. The Cavaliers' All-Everything star will become the game's highest-profile free agent after this year, and the Knicks are considered frontrunners in the sweepstakes to land him.

Jets acquire WR Braylon Edwards from Browns     (AP)
Edwards punches his way out?      (CBS Sports)
big-dawg-cleveland-browns.JPGA lawsuit against Madden video game maker Electronic Arts filed by the man who routinely attends Cleveland Browns games wearing a dog mask will likely go away, according to an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

John Big Dawg Thompson sued EA after he found out that Madden 09 -- released last year -- showed a Browns fan wearing a get-up that resembled his own.

Thompson's lawyer, Alan Parker, told the Plain Dealer that the case is being dismissed.

Part of the complaint reads, "Cleveland Browns Stadium includes animated fans that features a character dressed unmistakably as Big Dawg, with a distinctive pop-eyed and heavily jowled dog-face mask and orange hard hat."

For this perceived transgression, Thopmson was seeking a minimum of $25,000 and a demand that EA would stop putting his image in its video games.

John Big Dawg Thomson is the man's legal name -- hence the lack of quotes around the phrase "Big Dawg."
ted-williams-head.jpgThe people over at FOX Sports are looking at the MLB playoffs from a whole new angle that many in the mainstream probably didn't even consider.

From the frozen head of Hall of Fame outfielder Ted Williams.

That's right, just a few short days after hearing of the alleged abuses of Teddy Ballgame's head, they've decided enough time has passed to make light of it.

Here's the preamble to the piece that predicts the outcomes of each of the four first-round series:

I know what you're thinking: Cremation is looking pretty good right now.

Yeah, the ol' Splinter took some licks in life -- broken elbow, neck problems, fighter-jet crash landings. But nothing as rough as the abuse I've taken in death.

Course, these lab tech wusses would wait 'til I got no arms to take a run at The Kid.

But if you think a few lumps are gonna keep Teddy Ballgame down, you got another think coming. Like I always say, there's no crying in cryonics.

And look at the bright side, if I wasn't frozen in suspended animation, I wouldn't be able to weigh in on the 2009 playoff picture.

You've got to give them credit for seizing the moment, but is this in bad taste -- or funny and harmless?

I'm curious as to how the concept for this graphic was described to the new media member charged with creating it, and how awkward of an exchange that was.

Ted Williams' frozen head? In a freezer? Next to Colorado Rockies ice cream and New York Yankees frozen meat? Yeah, I suppose I could do that ...

Thumbnail image for erin-andrews.jpgOne would think that Michael Barrett, the man accused of taping Erin Andrews naked, will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law if it turns out the allegations are true. But, what of the hotels who allowed what's sounding more and more like a ridiculously obvious violation of Andrews' privacy? What, if anything, should be done in light of their unknowing assistance in this ugliness? Was the granting of the requests reasonable, given the circumstances?

Our own Richard Roeper, noted card player and White Sox enthusiast, explores the question in his column today.
freddy-garcia.jpgVeteran right-hander Freddy Garcia will be back with the White Sox next year, according to a report on ESPN Chicago.

Garcia went 3-4 with a 4.34 ERA for the South Siders after being picked up in June as a free agent. Next year's contract would be for $1 million in base salary with another $2 million in incentives.

Prior to being traded in 2007, Garcia compiled a 40-21 record with the White Sox and was a vital part of the 2005 World Series championship, winning the clinching game in Houston.

On Saturday, the 33-year-old threw seven innings of one-run ball against the Detroit Tigers, notching a season-high seven strikeouts.
Bears wide receiver Johnny Knox electrified the Soldier Field crowd Sunday with a 102-yard kickoff return to begin the second half. But it's a uncommonly speedy ballboy who's continuing to raise some eyebrows in the aftermath.

The as-yet-unnamed ballboy kept pace with Knox as he raced down the field, even outpacing some members of the Lions' kick coverage team.

The 24-year-old, identified by ESPN 1000's Waddle & Silvy Show as Darryl MaGee of Champaign, called into the show this morning. He told hosts Marc Silverman and Tom Waddle that he found out from friends that a highlight of him keeping pace with Knox was blowing up.

On his Twitter account MaGee said, "Man I'm all over the internet and ESPN now!!!!! I  definately [sic] didn't expect this!":

 
Miguel Cabrera's now-public domestic disturbance Saturday morning was apparently not the first time the slugging first baseman for the Detroit Tigers has been involved in a police report this season.

Another Birmingham Police report shows that Cabrera was involved in an incident back on August 31 at the Townsend Hotel. Three people at the Rugby Grille claim Miguel Cabrera came in drinking from a large plastic cup and became verbally abusive toward a heavy-set teenager who was with them.

According to the police report, Cabrera wanted to go outside to fight. He reportedly threatened to get his "click-clack" and motioned like he had a gun.
Cabrera later told Tigers brass that he doesn't own a firearm.

Again, the Tigers face the Minnesota Twins in one game for AL Central supremacy Tuesday afternoon. That really can't come soon enough for Miguel.

Miguel Cabrera's 'Other' Run-in with the Law     (WXYZ)
tom-cable-randy-henson.jpgOakland Raiders coach Tom Cable may be disciplined by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for his altercation with a former assistant during training camp.

Randy Henson is accusing Cable of punching him and breaking his jaw in an Aug. 5 incident. Henson's lawyer told the NFL Network that his client has met with authorities to discuss the matter.

While criminal charges haven't been filed, Fox Sports is reporting that Goodell will consider punishment, if warranted.

"This is not getting pushed under the rug," Goodell told the Web site.

Cable has said that "nothing happened," however.

"When all the facts come out, everything will be fine," Cable said.

The Raiders play the New York Giants on Sunday, providing a perfect opportunity for the commish to meet with Cable.

Goodell: Cable discipline still possible     (ESPN)

Tom Cable could find himself in a lot of trouble soon     (LA Times)

miguel-cabrera-scratches.jpgWhile the Detroit Tigers have been trying to give away the AL Central to the Minnesota Twins, many have been trying to figure out just what's going on with Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera's face.

The first baseman showed up to Saturday's crucial game against the Chicago White Sox with scratches and abrasions on it, but neither he nor team officials would comment on them.

After an 0-for-4 performance that night and an 0-for-3 effort yesterday, we learn that police were called to Cabrera's home early Saturday morning for "family trouble."


You've probably already made the connection between Jay Cutler's five-yard, helicopter-style rushing touchdown against the Detroit Lions yesterday, but here are the two plays on videotape.





Elway's scamper was obviously the more important play, coming in the midst of the Denver Broncos' Super Bowl XXXII victory over the Green Bay Packers.  But, I dare say that Cutler's was much more impressive, as he was able to get more elevation and withstand a more powerful collision. On the other hand, his clip doesn't have the voiceover work of Alec Baldwin.

Which of these two is the better football play?
Thumbnail image for lenny-dykstra.jpgIf you're like me, you've often wondered how much much Lenny Dykstra's 1986 World Series ring would set you back.

The answer: $56,762.50.

That's what the winning bidder, a Queens, N.Y. collector, will pay after winning an auction for the jeweled tribute to the Mets' seven-game victory over the Red Sox.

Dykstra filed for bankruptcy protection in July, saying he owed more than $31 million and had around $50,000 in assets.
football-praying.JPGMembers of the USC Trojans and Penn State Nittany Lions pray after the 2009 Rose Bowl. (AP)

The Warriors of Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High (Ga.) ran through a banner completely devoid of Bible verses before their football game tonight.

But, not everyone is thrilled about the more secular entrance.

The school has kicked off each game by running through a banner that featured verses written by the team's cheerleaders since shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The practice had become a tradition before Catoosa County schools Superintendent Denia Reese banned it following a parent's complaint.

That's not sitting too well in the town the AP describes as "deeply religious."

"Hundreds of people attended a rally this week supporting the signs, which included messages such as: "Commit to the Lord, whatever you do, and your plans will succeed." Many students attended class Friday wearing shirts with Bible verses and painted their cars with messages that read: "Warriors for Christ."

During the game, several other messages were visible in the packed stadium. Some people stood with signs that read "You Can't Silence Us" and some young men had Bible verses painted on their chests.

The issue, of course, is the bold line between church and state. The school board's attorney informed Reese that the biblical banner violated federal law because it was being displayed at a school-sponsored event.
Thumbnail image for blount punch.jpgWhen Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount was slapped with a season-long suspension after punching Boise State's Byron Hout after the season opener, many were surprised by just how severe it was.

The troubled Blount had a prior history of run-ins, so this was hardly his first strike. Still, a highly unscientific poll of the newsroom yielded a majority who felt the punishment didn't fit the crime. Our always-stern readers, on the other hand, seemed ready to lock the guy up and throw away the key.

A few weeks after the incident, Ducks coach Chip Kelly announced today that Blount's suspension could be lifted if he meets certain conditions. These, of course, include going to class, keeping out of further trouble and continuing to practice with the team.

In addition, Kelly said he reached out to experts in the field of psychology and former NFL coach Tony Dungy -- who mentored Michael Vick after this imprisonment -- to help.

On Thursday, the student newspaper in Eugene published a letter of apology from Blount. In it, he offers his "sincerest apologies and heartfelt regret."

As a senior, the suspension effectively ended Blount's collegiate career, one that had him drawing interest from the NFL.

So, does Blount deserve another chance to get out on the football field and improve his draft stock. He obviously made a terrible error in judgment, but should that follow him for the rest of his life -- along the way eliminating his chances to earn a living playing football?

While his situation isn't quite the same as Vick's, it would seem that if he says and does the right things, a second chance would be afforded to him. After all, many would argue that his transgressions were made out of impulse as opposed to the pre-meditated ones Vick made.

Williams.jpg

Gotta keep your head on the ball, or something.

There are few Major League Baseball luminaries more celebrated that Ted Williams. The Splendid Splinter was the last man to hit .400 in a season, stroking at a .406 clip for the Boston Red Sox in 1941.

The famously prickly Hall of Famer and hero of World Ward II and the Korean conflict is considered by many to be the greatest hitter ever and, at least for son John-Henry Williams, was a treasure worth trying to save for all eternity. John-Henry chose to have dear dad cryogenically preserved upon his death at the age of 83 in 2002. Or, more specifically, Ted Williams head.

And that's where things get weird according to a new book, "Frozen," according to the New York Daily News:

amd_book_frozen.jpg

In "Frozen," Larry Johnson, a former exec at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Ariz., graphically describes how The Splendid Splinter" was beheaded, his head frozen and repeatedly abused.

The book, out Tuesday from Vanguard Press, tells how Williams' corpse became "Alcorian A-1949" at the facility, where bodies are kept suspended in liquid nitrogen in case future generations learn how to revive them.

Johnson writes that in July 2002, shortly after the Red Sox slugger died at age 83, technicians with no medical certification gleefully photographed and used crude equipment to decapitate the majors' last .400 hitter.

Williams' severed head was then frozen, and even used for batting practice by a technician trying to dislodge it from a tuna fish can.

John-Henry, who had a brief pro baseball career, including with the Schaumburg Flyers, was a controversial figure before his father died. But the heat really came down him with his 2002 decision to freeze his father without so much as a public funeral. John-Henry himself died of Leukemia in 2004 and was also treated at the Alcor facility as part of the ted Williams agreement.

On a day when the Chicago Bears, the NFL and anyone who ever loved the game pays tribute to Walter Payton - the 10th anniversary of his death in 1999 from bile duct cancer - it seems fitting to simply sit back and take in what made Sweetness so great. So memorable.

The Bears put together a nice video tribute, played at halftime, to the Hall of Famer that lets his friends, teammates and coaches speak to his greatness as a player and a person. One of the toughest, most elusive, most determined players in the history of the game, Payton was as well-known as a prankster as he was a hard-nosed football player.

Some great moments and memories to savor.

A video making the rounds this morning shows Minnesota Twins catcher and All-American golden boy Joe Mauer allegedly tipping pitches from second base.

The YouTube video, diligently uploaded by "rolemodel2008," features an at-bat by Twins outfielder Jason Kubel on Tuesday night againt the Detroit Tigers when Mauer was on second base. The uploader identifies the American League's leading hitter's repeated touching of his helmet as his pitch-tipping technique.



As one might expect, the Twins are laughing off the incident. In fact, Mauer's longtime teammate Justin Morneau says that the catcher has not once tipped him off in their five years of play together.

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