Michael Wilbon wrote in the DC Post about his own free agency struggle.

“I actually do know what it’s like, relatively speaking, to be driven crazy by a dilemma. The Chicago Tribune called. Well, actually, a Chicago Tribune editor flew to Washington to visit me some years back and said my hometown newspaper, the one I grew up delivering as a kid with my brother and our dog, was going to make me an offer I couldn’t refuse. That started weeks of deliberations, nights where I couldn’t sleep, days of uncertainty and anxiety.
So I have a sense of what has gone through in recent weeks, being pulled by Miami and his life there the last seven years and Chicago and his life there the
previous 21 years, the mom he bought a church for, the brothers he played with in the back yard, the two young sons who live there now has gone through a similar push-and-pull, especially since a change of teams would mean leaving home in Northeast Ohio, leaving Cleveland where he’s the most beloved thing to come down the pike since Jim Brown.
I presume they’ve gone back and forth a hundred times because I’d wake up one morning convinced I was leaving D.C. for Chicago. I even had my wife go
to Chicago one weekend and look at neighborhoods we might live in. One day the Trib sent me a box of “recruiting materials” that included my high school
letter sweater from my days on the baseball team. It was an incredible rush. I was gone. Then I’d wake up the next morning convinced I couldn’t possibly
endure those Midwestern winters again, and anyway I couldn’t at that point in my life tell Benjamin C. Bradlee, the greatest editor in the history of
newspapers, that I was leaving The Washington Post for another paper.
Last week, former major league outfielder Eric Byrnes told me about one free agent winter when he bounced back and forth, convinced one day he would go to Cleveland only to change his mind the next day and become certain he’d wind up in Arizona. It went on that way for days.
Of course, the conversation turned to LeBron James and D-Wade, mostly LeBron, and Byrnes said: “I imagine those guys have to be all over the place.
People think you know all along where you’re going and there’s no possible way .. . and I wouldn’t even dare compare my situation to LeBron’s.”
Oh, but it is comparable in one way. Whoever is confronted with the decision, it’s only your whole life. That’s not to be confused with one’s quality of life;
that’s not going to change one iota for any professional athlete choosing between $20 million per year offers. But in the case of LeBron and Wade, maybe even Chris Bosh, we’re probably talking about their decisions affecting the way the modern history of will be written, the way their careers will be assessed, criticized and/or celebrated. So, Bosh is not only weighing whether he wants to live in Cleveland, Miami or Chicago, but whether playing with LeBron James in Cleveland (or Wade in Miami) is better than playing without either in Chicago. Making these decisions in partnership with another person who has a million considerations of his own would be impossible for me. During my own personal debate, I didn’t really need to take into account how competing with the Chicago Sun-Times’s Jay Mariotti was going to affect my life.
Ultimately, I think whoever is in Wade’s ear last is going to win him over, and right now he’s physically in Miami. I can’t imagine him, while in South Florida, telling Pat Riley goodbye, not even to go to Chicago where he’d return a conquering hero. If you took a vote in that city as to which player natives prefer, Wade or LeBron, the bet here is Wade would win comfortably because that’s the way Chicagoans are wired. LeBron, in any basketball circle, would be considered the better player but Wade is ours. There would be so much more pressure on LeBron to win in Chicago (or anywhere else) than there would be for him to win in Cleveland, where the love for one of their own is closer to unconditional. While following this story as closely as I’ve followed anything in years, and in the process talking to agents and executives and other players, I’ve changed my mind a half-dozen times about where I think each is going to wind up, so not nearly as much as they have. I’m at the point now where I think Wade is going to stay in Miami and LeBron is going to stay in Cleveland, and what that probably speaks to is life being pretty damn good where each man already is. (I keep hearing Kornheiser tell me “If people can make you happy where you are, then stay.”) Maybe the only thing more difficult than going home again is leaving home. Meanwhile, my home town, as happened at the end of the Olympic bidding, appears likely to be shunned again.
I remember at the most stressful point of my own ordeal thinking I couldn’t make a bad decision, which was of great comfort. Don Graham was the best boss in the world. My editors, Len Downie and George Solomon, were my Micky Arison and Riley, to continue the Wade analogy. I stayed in Washington, happily as it turned out. It could only have been a fraction as complicated as the stuff Wade and LeBron are navigating, though it was my whole life at the time. The free agent drama has been pretty good theater since before the end of the playoffs, even during the NBA Finals. Decisions are going to be announced soon. It’s fair to wonder if either man believes now, or in 10 years, that he couldn’t make a bad one.”

Gwen Knapp wrote in the SF Chronicle about the problems suffered by those East German “Female” swimmers and how the problems are still present.

“South African government ministers should have kept self-righteousness out of their statements when they applauded Tuesday’s reinstatement of 19-year-old Caster Semenya to women’s track and field competition nine months after she was forced to undergo gender-verification testing.
“The disregard for her human dignity … was deplorable,” said Noluthando Mayende-Sibiya, the Minister for Women, Children and People with Disabilities, in a statement.
She was referring to the International Association of Athletics Federations, but the minister should have directed some of that scorn toward her country’s sports officials.
They hired Ekkart Arbeit as the country’s chief track coach, despite the fact that Arbeit was part of the East German sports machine that dosed women with male hormones, often without their knowledge.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Arbeit was one of many coaches and doctors investigated for his role in giving anabolic steroids to their athletes. Arbeit
reportedly answered to the East German security force, the Stasi, during his coaching career. He confessed to the doping, arguing that it was standard
practice in sports during the ’80s.
The former Heidi Krieger – now known as Andreas and living as a man – was one of Arbeit’s proteges. Krieger accused Arbeit of contributing to altering her sexual identity through doping practices.
The South Africans haven’t been alone in latching onto the infamous Arbeit. Australian officials tried to hire him in 1997, but the resulting furor in the media threatened the country’s image in advance of the Sydney Olympics, and the alliance didn’t last. Britain’s Denise Lewis, the 2000 Olympic heptathlon champion, briefly hired him to work with her during a comeback from childbirth.
The South Africans tried to hire him several years ago, backed away amid controversy, then went back to the well. Of all the coaches in the world, why him?
A governing body that held “human dignity” in high regard would not have put its athletes, or their reputations, in such jeopardy.”

Phil Rogers of the ChiTrib wants to make the All-Star Game mean a lot more than a photo-op.
“Commissioner Bud Selig has vastly improved the All-Star Game since that embarrassing 2002 tie in Milwaukee.
A lot of people don’t like using it to determine home-field advantage in the World Series, but it’s a better alternative than merely rotating home fields on a yearly basis, which is how the Twins wound up hosting Game 7 in 1987 and ’91. The game has become much more competitive.
Selig has expanded rosters for the 2010 game in Anaheim, Calif., and made managers’ lives easier by requiring that starting pitchers who work on the
previous Sunday be replaced on the active All-Star roster. But he didn’t go far enough with the changes announced in April.
It’s time to eliminate the rule requiring each of the 30 teams to send a player to the game.
Call the change the Robert Fick/Dmitri Young rule, for the players who represented the Tigers in ’02 and ’03, when they lost 105 and 119 games.
Voting by fans and players will select 50 of the 68 players who will be announced Sunday as All-Stars. Managers Joe Girardi and Charlie Manuel then have discretion to round out the rosters, but easily half of those picks could end up being used on players from the teams overlooked in voting.
Don’t be surprised if as many as 10 teams don’t have a player voted on, including the $144 million Cubs.
Most teams that don’t have a player voted onto the team do have someone who won’t look too awkward when teams are introduced.
Nationals closer Matt Capps entered the weekend with 22 saves. The Royals’ Joakim Soria had 20 saves. A’s sinkerballer Trevor Cahill was 8-2 with a
2.74 ERA. Orioles infielder Ty Wigginton had 14 homers and 42 RBI.
But what are you going to do with the Astros? Roy Oswalt’s 5-10, so he’s out. Would you rather have speedy center fielder Michael Bourn (25 steals) or
closer Matt Lindstrom (19 saves, 2.97 ERA)?
And the Pirates? The guy having the best year is setup man Evan Meek, but setup men tend to be invisible. Center fielder Andrew McCutchen has a ..301
batting average, 19 stolen bases and much talent, which probably will get him the call even though his stat line is unremarkable.
And the Diamondbacks? Dan Haren is 7-6 but his ERA is 4.56. The lineup is loaded with low-average, high-strikeout hitters who have double-figure home runs and 35-plus RBI. You might as well put names in a hat and draw them out. Chris Young? Justin Upton? Kelly Johnson? Adam LaRoche?
Oddly, the big-ticket Cubs are almost as difficult to decipher.
Carlos Silva is probably the most deserving, but he was 5-18 for the Mariners in 2008-09. Do you think Manuel wants to run him out against American
League hitters?
Centerfielder Marlon Byrd and setup man Sean Marshall are worth consideration, but there are so many more deserving outfielders and pitchers in the NL.
Even Alfonso Soriano can’t be ruled out. He leads the Cubs in home runs, RBIs and OPS (on-base plus slugging) and could be used as a designated hitter or pinch hitter.
But it’s time to stop squeezing guys like these onto the roster. It’s a game for the guys who are playing the best, so why not make that the primary
consideration?
A keeper: Not much has gone right for the Indians, but it looks like they have handled catcher Carlos Santana just right.
Santana, acquired from the Dodgers in the 2008 Casey Blake trade, has been killing the ball since he was promoted from Triple A, showing why he has
been advertised as a future batting champion. He was hitting .333 with four home runs and 14 RBIs through his first 17 games.
“And he’s seeing all these pitchers for the first time,” Indians broadcaster Rick Manning said. “Wait until he learns them.”
The 23-year-old Santana, like the Braves’ Jason Heyward, has advanced strike-zone judgment for a rookie. He has almost twice as many walks (13) as
strikeouts (7), boosting his on-base percentage to .456.
“He was that kind of hitter in the minor leagues, and we knew it would continue when he got up here, and might even get better,” Indians manager Manny Acta said. “When you’re a patient hitter in the minors, and then come up here where the umpires are better and the strike zones are tighter, patient hitters can draw even more walks.”
Taking no chances: Jeremy Jeffress, considered the Brewers’ top pitching prospect before he began a run of three suspensions for marijuana use, has
returned from a 100-game ban. He will be banned for life if he tests positive again.
But Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin has placed Jeffress on the 40-man roster, which will shield him from pot testing. The players’ union, which generally
doesn’t allow MLB to test for “drugs of abuse,” should protect him now.
Melvin claimed the move was made to reward Jeffress, not to protect him.
“He has been a model citizen with his counseling, rehab, everything,” Melvin said. “We would have had to put him on (the 40-man) at the end of the year
anyway, and we thought he deserved to be put on now.”
Melvin says Jeffress has maintained his “electric arm.” He has been moved to the bullpen, and the Brewers hope he can put himself into big-league
consideration within a year.
Silver lining: Joe Maddon’s new favorite team is the 1917 White Sox.
They were managed by Pants Rowland and featured Shoeless Joe Jackson, Ray Schalk and Eddie Cicotte. They also won the World Series after being
twice no-hit during the season, as Maddon’s Rays have been this year (Dallas Braden’s perfect game, Edwin Jackson).
“I’m looking for that positive vibe, and there it was,” Maddon said.
The last word: “People say, ’Who’s the best player?’ (Albert) Pujols. I’ll give you that. But offensively, Miguel (Cabrera) is now every bit as good as
Pujols.” – Chipper Jones after the Braves played the Tigers.”

Mike Wise of the DC Post reported that ex-Redskins coach is trying to give NFL players some advice about their post-career lives.
“Unbeknownst to all but a handful of people, Joe Gibbs spent most of two days at Redskins Park on June 1-2. He met with many of the team’s key veterans, two of their wives and about 20 players in all, sandwiching the time during the team’s offseason training activities.
He is involved. Very involved.
“I wanted to give back,” Gibbs said in a telephone interview. “I just thought this was something I could do for the players.”
Joe Gibbs talked money  early last month. For help, he enlisted two university professors with Harvard MBAs.
He humbly spoke of how, during the early 1980s in Washington, Gibbs lost his personal fortune because of financial ignorance. How he felt helpless when
several of his former players — some in contract disputes — confessed to him about making bad business decisions that negatively affected their careers. And how every team in the NFL needs the kind of OTA that recently transpired in Ashburn: a free-of-charge financial seminar Gibbs partnered with Strayer University to put on.
“What Coach Gibbs felt compelled to do means a lot,” said London Fletcher, a Pro Bowl linebacker who took part in the nine-hour, three-session class over
a week and a half with teammates Phillip Daniels, Kedric Golston, Reed Doughty and other players. The wives of Daniels and Golston also attended.
“I’m fairly conservative — some would say tight,” Fletcher added. “But I have friends who have situations where once they’re done playing, they fell on hard times. Is it needed? We just saw a stat that after retirement about 80 percent of players end up in financial ruin. What do you think?”
According to a 2009 Sports Illustrated 78 percent of all NFL players go bankrupt or are in financial duress just two years into retirement. Which makes the furor of the past month feel a little like small potatoes, no?
For all the consternation over a certain lineman not showing his face around Redskins Park, Albert Haynesworth could have used that seminar more than a new defensive scheme; he currently faces three lawsuits and other legal filings
Mark Brunell, the former Redskins quarterback who has signed playing contracts for $52 million during his career, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week because he could no longer pay off a series of bad business loans when a housing investment backfired.
Young, black defensive stars.
Aging, white quarterbacks.
Hall of Fame coaches.
As Gibbs learned a long time ago, banks don’t discriminate at collection time.
About the time he won his first of three Super Bowls and started to become the most revered sports figure in Washington’s history, Gibbs got involved in an Oklahoma real estate deal that went belly up. He lost everything because he didn’t understand his liability if another person signed on his behalf.
“It probably took [his wife] Pat and me four and a half years to pay off our debts,” Gibbs said. “I just didn’t know anything, like the difference between a
simple partnership and a LLC.”
He also remembered some of his dejected former players who confided in him. “To be quite truthful, when a player who was very good or great had that
going on while he was playing, it affected him; I could see it,” Gibbs said. “I just felt helpless. There really wasn’t a lot I could do there, you know?”
Hence, Gibbs’s brainstorm a couple of months ago: Instead of one NFL-sponsored seminar players could sign up for at a certain time of year, why not bring the class to the training facility?
Said Robert Silberman, the chairman and chief executive of Strayer Education, Inc., Gibbs “came to us and essentially asked, ‘Can you put together a short course where they can ask the right questions of their financial advisers, attorneys and agents?’ As he put it, he thought there was a real dearth of instruction and education. His concern was a number of pro athletes have not had sufficient instruction in finances.”
The next step was getting the owner and the coach to go along, which they willingly did.
“Joe asked us to support this program, and we’re happy to oblige,” Redskins owner Daniel Snyder said through a team spokesman. “Anything that helps
players we’re in full support of.”
When the players shuffled into the room at Redskins Park used for the seminar early last month, Gibbs actually shared his own personal story of financial loss and embarrassment. Then Strayer professors Meghan Rodgers and Angela Harris began.
Investments. Spending habits. Savings. Taxes. Credit cards.
“Something as simple as creating a budget, how to put away money properly, looking at our window of earning opportunity,” Fletcher said. “Or what kind of questions to ask financial advisers, how to set up a business to reduce your liability in case things go wrong.”
Gibbs said of the 20 who took part, “about 15 of ’em were real serious,” and ended up receiving completion certificates after finishing with an online portion of the seminar.
“Some of them have a lot of money now; some of them don’t have a lot of money, relatively speaking,” Gibbs said. “Didn’t matter. I just wanted all those guys I coached with the Redskins to be better prepared in life to handle their finances.
“I said: ‘I’m not going to charge you anything. We’re not recommending any investments. We don’t want to ask you for anything. This is a gift.’ ”
The gift of having something to fall back on once the cheering stops, the gift of not making the same mistakes a young, impressionable man made in his first
steps on the way to Canton because he didn’t know how to protect his assets.
“I’d really like to talk to the league and the union about doing something like this leaguewide,” he said. “Just makes sense.”
When a $100 million defensive lineman hasn’t repaid a $2.38 million loan to a Knoxville, Tenn., bank, when a veteran quarterback is left holding the bag in multiple, failed real estate investments — when just 22 percent of NFL players are thriving two years after they leave the game — as usual it’s hard to argue
with Joe Jackson Gibbs.”

Tom Robinson of HamptonRoads.com talked about the greedy NFL owners.

“The logical, sensible and reasonable thing for the NFL to do is to eliminate 2 of 4 preseason games while keeping the regular season at 16 games. Except we know that, when it comes to bankable – as in revenue – logical, sensible and reasonable stand no chance.
As it stands, NFL franchises get 10 home dates a year to shovel the gold into the vault. To expect them to voluntarily reduce the size of their shovel, for the sake of something silly like the health and safety of the human resources who produce that gold, is, unfortunately, laughable.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady surely knows this despite his recent comment to The Associated Press: “The long-term impact this game has on our bodies is well-documented.”
Sure it is, which doesn’t change the fact that 18 regular season performances are coming. The idea has been floated too often by management during the
drum-beating of collective bargaining discussions to believe it’s not going to happen.
They present two more full-speed chances, then, for life-altering concussions and other lasting ills in a game where collisions change lives weekly. Two more opportunities to damage exhausted bodies before throwing them into the unforgiving cauldron of playoff football.
What’s to like about that plan, except nothing?
I dread the idea, as I suspect most reasonable pro football fans do, but shame on me for mentioning the “R” word again. It has no place at this table.
“I don’t believe it’s a good thing,” said Chesapeake’s Chris Crocker, a safety for the Cincinnati Bengals who is about to enter his eighth season. “I think it’s
motivated by television contracts; more games, more money to be generated from them.”
How much of that money will go to the abused players will have to be worked out in the bargaining process. So, too, will the possible expansion of roster sizes and practice squads in order to meet a more intensive labor schedule.
“I know for sure from a player’s standpoint, we just want to get rid of some of the preseason games in general,” Crocker said.
Of course they do. Practice games are charades as unwatchable for fans as they are unnecessary for players, most of who must stay in top shape year-round because they’re strong-armed into attending a slew of “voluntary” workouts.
Practice games are blatant licenses for franchises, which exploit every advantage, to calculatedly rob consumer bases invested far too emotionally into a business relationship.
I’d love to see the players tell the owners what to do with their two additional bone-breakers. But they probably won’t have the chance before they’re locked out by owners, who are guaranteed TV money in any case, seeking to change the financial status quo.
“There’s definitely going to be a lockout,” Crocker said. “It will happen, there’s no doubt in my mind. That’s (the owners’) leverage. They have all the chips.”
Even so, ram-rodding two more dangerous games onto the schedule would be a boorish, and foolish, display of that muscle.”

Norman Chad posted this explanation on the DC Post.
“On another 100-degree day in the desert, I am taking the temperature of America while sitting in the Rio Casino sports and race book. Yes, Sin City has been devastated by tough times, but the gambling economy, my friends, never dries up completely.
With a bank of 32 screens in front of me, I am again reminded that Sports Nation is controlled by two entities: Television (lately ESPN) and gambling
Where there is a will, there is a way. And where there is a line, there is a wager.
By late morning here, a half-dozen racetracks already are in action, and by late afternoon there will be a dozen baseball games from back East, plus golf and soccer filling the room.
It is Wall Street, minus the inside trading; trust me, Gordon Gekko would go bust within one year of betting the ponies. The house is the only one with an
edge — you never see a sports book downsize, do you? Sure, once on “Seinfeld” that bookie buddy of Kramer’s didn’t have money to pay Jerry for his winning Knicks bet, but in real life, real bookies shop at Benetton and drive Cadillac Escalades.
You can bet on what’s happening today or what might happen six months from now. In either case, you are pinning your financial future on athletic
performance of which you have no control. Frankly, you have a better chance of scaling Mount Everest in a Hyundai than you do of beating the game.
Still, with the odds against us, we can’t stop trying to buck them. Heck, if I were a betting man, I would’ve taken Slovenia +250 on the money line last week against the United States — that means, for a $100 wager, I would’ve won $250 if the Slovenes beat the Americans in the World Cup. But I had one
extraordinarily bad betting week many, many years ago, and now I only gamble on marriage.
Ah, but my gaming misery doesn’t stop others from flooding into sports books such as the Rio.
(Kicking it up a notch is chef Emeril Lagasse, who opened Lagasse Stadium — a sports book-sports bar-dining emporium — last year at the Palazzo here on
the Strip. Let’s say you’re visiting from Pittsburgh and plunk down $50 on your beloved Pirates — while watching them get beat, 9-2, on one of 100
high-definition screens, you now can enjoy Ahi Tuna Melt with Creole Tomato Glaze. Note: Bring cash for your losing bets and two credit cards for your bill.)
A sports and race book is like a Gamblers Anonymous meeting, without the introductions. Everyone just goes about his business and no one cares what you’re doing. At the Rio, the sports book is just across from the thrice-daily buffet, which now offers a $39.99 “all-day pass.” Considering that cocktail waitresses come by every few minutes offering free drinks and bathrooms are nearby, realistically — if you bring a change of clothes and a razor — you likely could spend up to a week in the sports book without having to leave.
Sports books remain one of my favorite people-watching venues in the world, comparing favorably with a Parisian sidewalk cafe or the Venice Beach
boardwalk. The human condition is on display, in its rawest form. You bet, you watch, you win or lose; you emote. Rinse and repeat.
After a race finished at Derby Lane greyhound track in St. Petersburg, Fla., an older gentleman to my left waved his right hand dismissively and grumbled,
“That [expletive] dog couldn’t win a three-legged race with Carl Lewis.”
I had nearly moved away when this misfit sat down next to me — because he was smoking a cigarette, though I could’ve sworn we were in a non-smoking
section — but after he uttered his somewhat brilliant, somewhat nonsensical canine pearl, I stuck around to hear more. Alas, all he did over the next half-hour was cough and crumple losing tickets.
Which, happily, recalled for me one of my favorite gambling tales:
There’s a fellow who bets football every weekend, and for three straight months he loses every weekend. He’s a bookie’s dream. Then, when football season ends, the bookie — fearful of losing his best customer — tells him he can bet hockey. “Hockey?!?” the man exclaims. “What do I know about hockey?”

Ask The Slouch

Q. Have you ever thought about being referred to by a single name, just like a Brazilian soccer player? (Radu Marinescu; Fairfax)
A. If you saw the e-mails I’m getting from angry readers of late, you’d know I am already referred to by a single name.

Q. How many John Feinstein books do you have to stand on to change a light bulb? (James Gould; Marina del Rey; Calif.)
A. None — Feinstein will just keep writing in the dark.

Q. So is Slovenia now your Team of Destiny? (Michael Stone; Indianapolis)
A. Team of Destiny? It’s my Nation of Destiny — I’ve got a time share in Portoroz.

Q. With Texas staying put, any chance the Pacific-10 lures LeBron? (Chris Cutone; Gibsonia, Pa.)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash.

Thomas Boswell of the DC Post wondered if Stephen Strasburg should go for “K’s” or groudouts.
“Eventually, there’ll probably be hundreds of approaches to analyzing career. But after his first 16 starts as a — three in spring training, 11 in the minors and
two in the majors — one largely unexpected, and not entirely welcome trend seems likely: Strasburg will be a strikeout king.
From the first inning they saw him against the Tigers in March, when the polished vets of Detroit seemed to hit the top half of every ball they swung at, the Nats were delighted that Strasburg’s sinker was far better than they’d known and seemed to elicit a high ratio of weak groundballs.
Wonderful, the brass concluded. That could, in theory, lead to lots of quick groundball outs, fewer pitches per inning, better total productivity and less arm stress. They’d just have to prepare the pitcher’s fans for the reality that he wouldn’t break Nolan Ryan’s season record of 383 strikeouts or the mark of 20 in a nine-inning game.
Before his first start, Nats Manager Jim Riggleman said: “Don’t expect to see double-digit strikeouts too often. He’s going to be more of a groundball pitcher, like Ubaldo Jiménez, than a strikeout pitcher like Roger Clemens or Kerry Wood [who both fanned 20 men in a game]. It’s better to get three outs on 12 pitches than three strikeouts on 18.”
But things haven’t worked out that way so far. They may. But 16 pro games, at whatever level, is not a meaningless sample and the quality of Strasburg’s stuff, and his results, seldom seem to vary much. Here’s the mythic magic and the paradox: He has four pitches and, basically, nobody can hit any of them, including the sinker that he now seems to be throwing almost 100 mph. On Sunday, in Cleveland, one of his change-ups was clocked at 93.
As a result of his overpowering arsenal, including a fastball that veteran ump Brian O’Nora said Sunday was the best he’s seen in the majors this season,
Strasburg’s results have been similar from Viera to Harrisburg to Syracuse to the Show. In all, Strasburg has fanned 99 men in 76 2/3 innings. By coincidence,
that’s one-third of a 230-inning season — typical of current top pitchers.
So, if you want to multiply that 99 by three, it’s not hard to envision Strasburg, by 2012-13 when he’ll be mature enough for such an innings load, fanning about 300 men in a year.
Only 14 hurlers have ever fanned 300 batters in a year.
What’s more startling, and perhaps even a touch alarming, is the way Strasburg’s fastball has jumped a couple of miles an hour in the majors, presumably from bigger crowds and adrenaline, so that he’s fanned 22 men in his first 12 1/3 innings, presumably an unsustainable nonsense rate. Why “presumably”? Because, so far, Strasburg has gotten 59.5 percent of his outs by strikeout.
If he maintained that pace for a 234-inning season, he’d strike out 410 men and demolish every known strikeout record while pitching 100 fewer innings than Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Walter Johnson and Randy Johnson did in their prime season.
Because nobody in the Nats organization, including Strasburg, ever wants to see the number “400” mentioned beside his name — or probably even “300” — a method will probably be sought to avoid it. Try to be more like Jim Palmer, who only went for strikeouts when the game situation dictated. But there’s a
problem.
Since his first pro pitch, he’s fanned 43 percent of all the hitters he’s gotten out. When batters do make contact, it’s often a foul, usually adding a strike. Against the Indians, Strasburg walked five men — two more than he ever did in a college or pro game — and battled a hole in the pitching mound all game, twice having the dastardly slope re-landscaped. Yet, of the 23 batters he faced, only one “squared the ball up” solidly on any of his 95 pitches.
In fact, the Indians made less quality contact than the Pirates did last week. The lone exception was Travis Hafner, who hit a homer on (honest) a 100 mph fastball that moved in (like a cutter) instead of tailing away (like a sinker).
So, Strasburg’s “off” game in Cleveland only underlined the trend. Half of his 16 outs came on strikeouts. Again, that’s big magic or, perhaps, big mischief,
because such a percentage takes you into the 350-strikeout-a-year range. If you really want to root for Strasburg on Friday at home against the White Sox, maybe you should pull for seven innings on 100 efficient pitches with a dozen groundball outs and only a few measly strikeouts.
Oh, you don’t plan to do that? Somehow, I didn’t think so. Those ovations on every strike, with the crowd standing on two strikes, are pretty tough stuff to
resist. Cub fans can tell you. It was hard for Kerry Wood and Mark Prior to resist. Of course, it didn’t bother The Express or the Big Unit for more than 20 years each.
Just to show how remarkably “untouchable” Strasburg’s stuff has been so far, I reviewed all 314 starts of Koufax’s career. How many times, in a nine-inning
game, do you think he fanned more men than the 14 that Strasburg punched out in his debut?
Only four times.
“The Left Arm of God” fanned 18 twice and 16 twice, all in nine innings. He had extra-inning games in which he fanned 16, 15, 15 and 15. But that’s the grand
total: Mr. K had only eight games in his life with more Ks than Strasburg had in his debut.
And Strasburg threw only seven innings last Tuesday. What if he’d gone nine innings, as he surely will? In Cleveland, Strasburg struck out four men in the first two innings, thus starting his career with 18 strikeouts in his first nine innings on 124 pitches.
So, with a certain tilt of the head, Strasburg did in his first nine innings what Koufax was only able to do twice in his career — strike out 18 men in nine innings.
Also, in his first game, Strasburg had 14 strikeouts and no walks. In his whole career, Koufax, known for superb control in his peak years, had only one game with a 14-0 ratio and none better. That 14-0 ratio may be the true tip-off as to Strasburg’s true comparables. Only four rookies have ever had a game with 14-or-more strikeouts and no walks: Clemens, Dwight Gooden, Wood and Strasburg. Career wins: 354, 194 and 81. Take your pick.
Lest we go crazy after 16 peeks at Strasburg, and only two in the big leagues, note that Ryan struck out 19 men three times in one season and the Big Unit,
from 1999 to 2002, when he averaged 354 strikeouts, fanned more than 14 men nine times.
So, even with the rosiest-colored glasses, Strasburg isn’t unique. But it is starting to look — just starting, mind you — like his style may be most akin to the 11 pitchers in modern history who’ve fanned more than 310 men in a season — Ryan, Johnson, Koufax, Bob Feller, Rube Waddell, Sam McDowell, Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez, J.R. Richard, Steve Carlton and, yes, Walter Johnson.
Will this ultra-high-strikeout pattern, one that nobody — even the Nats and Strasburg themselves — anticipated just one week ago, continue? Should we even want it to? No one knows. But you can bet we’ll be waiting, every five days, to find out.”

George Diaz wrote in the Orlando Sentinel about one similarity between Tiger Woods and Mike Tyson.

“I have no idea whether Tiger Woods and Mike Tyson ever crossed paths. Perhaps they shared a let-your-freak-flag-fly moment back in the day when Tiger was masquerading as a family man and Tyson was just masquerading as, ahem, himself.

But I do know that Iron Mike can be a cautionary role model for Tiger. Their stories carry similar plot twists. Both were icons in their sport. They were alpha dogs who preyed on fear. And they both crashed. Hard.

Sure, there was love on the rocks, too, as Robin Givens and Elin Nordegren can tell us. But it’s the competitive scars that were the most damaging. Tyson and Tiger have both been exposed as bullies who don’t know how to respond when life kicks them to the curb.

For Woods, that defining moment began in the driveway of his Windermere home on Thanksgiving weekend last November. For Tyson, the date was
Nov. 9, 1996 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Tyson was defending his WBA heavyweight title against Evander Holyfield, who seemed to be on a suicide run. There were major concerns about his health and his heart. Some people feared that Holyfield might be carried off the ring in a body bag.

Instead, Tyson’s career got fitted with a toe tag. Dead and buried, because Holyfield stood up to the bully — pushing, elbowing, punching — completely
disrespecting the Tyson brand of violence Referee Mitch Halpern stopped the fight in the 11th, with a discombobulated Tyson on the ropes. In the infamous rematch, Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear and was disqualified. Things continued to unravel for Tyson from there, reducing him to a comedic punch line in The
Hangover.

I firmly believe the ear bite was Tyson’s way of running away — the bully had been exposed as a coward.

It’s not hard to connect the dots with Woods, give or take a few body blows. The beatdown of Tiger Woods continues as he limps to the U.S. Open at
Pebble Beach this weekend.

The swagger is gone from the swoosh. There is no reason to fear a guy who finished 19th at the Memorial in Dublin, Ohio, or the guy who dropped out of the TPC in Ponte Vedra because of neck pain, or the lost soul who had three-putt bogeys on consecutive holes at the Quail Hollow Championship. He’s not the same guy who won the Open by 15 strokes a decade ago — a record that still stands for a major championship.

Unless he is able to mount a competitive charge, Tiger is irrelevant to all his challengers on the course. He is average at best. Tiger has never done average.

The Tiger mystique, much like the Tyson mystique, has vanished.

There is a mixed reaction from the gallery. A good number of folks would love to see Tiger rally and return to form, while the other unforgiving group
celebrates his bad karma, because it’s the ultimate payback for all of his sins.

Athletes are all about egos. Tiger and Tyson tapped into that energy and obliterated the competition. Michael Spinks once took a look at Tyson in Atlantic City and checked out in 91 seconds. Golfers paired with Woods on Sunday always had to glance behind their backs, knowing Woods was going to make a charge in the final round. Now, they just look back to see how far behind he is on the leaderboard.

The thoughts swirling in Tiger’s head can’t be very happy-go-lucky. His marriage appears to be in shambles, even though Tiger insisted it’s “none of your business” when asked by a reporter during a news conference Tuesday.

Fair point. But the business of golf remains very pertinent to the viewing public. Woods has now gone seven consecutive majors without a victory — he’s missed two tournaments altogether after knee surgery.

There are other things on the mend right now for Tiger. The weight of all his personal baggage remains heavy. It is relentless.

The beatdowns will continue unless Tiger, unlike Tyson, figures out a way to fight back.”

Bob Hohler, of the Boston Globe Staff, wrote about a series of lawsuits between the inventor of a bat-testing machine and the UMass-Lowell Research Center.
This appears to be a complicated issue with wrong-doings on both sides. So we’ll have to watch how this plays out.

“The blueprint seemed foolproof. With free money — $200,000 grants each from Major League Baseball and Rawlings — the University of
Massachusetts-Lowell would buy a bat-testing machine and create a research facility to help ensure the integrity and safety of the national pastime.
The UMass-Lowell Baseball Research Center opened in 1998 and struck profitable deals to certify every model of bat used in the major leagues and NCAA competition. As a gesture of goodwill, the center gave free advice to the National Federation of State High School Associations and youth baseball organizations, gaining national acclaim for addressing the dangers of balls rocketing off metal bats at dangerous speeds.
Juiced balls, corked bats, other threats to baseball’s historic standards: If scientific testing was needed, the Lowell center responded.
Then came a legal nightmare. Accused of violating its license to operate the testing machine, the baseball center became entangled in a seven-year court fight that spanned two jury trials and ended in January with the taxpayer-supported university taking a $4.4 million hit: a $3.1 million court judgment, plus $1.3 million in interest. The case also cost the university $1.7 million in legal fees.
Now the testing center is in crisis, its future in jeopardy.
The center is “at risk of closure if an effective plan for financial sustainability is not developed,’’ UMass-Lowell chancellor Martin T. Meehan recently wrote to the NCAA, seeking financial assistance.
The university paid the exorbitant legal judgment by borrowing money against the school’s research grant reserves, a UMass official said. The loan is scheduled to be repaid with funds generated by the center.
The question is, will the center survive?
The stakes are high. While the major leagues and NCAA could fund another testing center, shuttering the Lowell facility would eliminate jobs, student research opportunities, and a vital resource for more than 1.5 million young players a year who benefit from bat safety information the center provides at no cost to high school and youth baseball.
Elliot Hopkins, the baseball rules editor for the National Federation of State High School Associations, said the organization cannot afford to pay for the safety information it receives from the Lowell facility.
“Losing the center would literally cripple high school baseball nationally,’’ Hopkins said. “We couldn’t replace it.’’
Meehan has appointed a committee to recommend ways to save the center. The facility generates about $600,000 a year in revenues, with the NCAA paying about $480,000 and Major League Baseball contributing most of the balance.
Meehan’s first step was to ask the NCAA to pay an additional fee for each bat model the center certifies. The center has tested hundreds of models through the years.
“The per-bat financial contribution would help ensure that the [center] can continue to provide a valuable service to the NCAA for years to come,’’ Meehan’s letter stated.
The NCAA, while expressing appreciation for the center’s work, indicated in a statement to the Globe that it was not in a more giving mood.
The Lowell center “has helped in the development and growth of the NCAA baseball bat certification program,’’ the statement read. “In regard to its request for additional monetary assistance, the [center] is an independent contractor and solely responsible for its finances. For its part, the NCAA did renegotiate its contract late last year for an increase in certain testing fees in the hope of enabling the [center] to continue its work and remain financially stable.’’
UMass-Lowell spokeswoman Patti McCafferty said last year’s increase was not related to the financial burden created by the legal case.
“We’re going to continue to work with the NCAA on this issue because it’s important that the center continues the good work it is doing on behalf of baseball players across the country,’’ she said.
‘Very big black eye’
No one is more pained by the center’s predicament than its founding director, James Sherwood, who has been at the forefront of regulating bat performance since the NCAA began cracking down on non-wood bats in the 1990s. A mechanical engineering professor, Sherwood was a key defendant in the legal case, arguing that his alleged breach of the license generated no more than $25,000 for the university.
The machine’s owner, Baum Research and Development Co., and inventor, Charles Baum, of Traverse City, Mich., alleged otherwise, claiming millions of dollars in damages.
Two juries in a federal court in Michigan agreed with Baum. A judge set aside the first jury’s verdict against UMass-Lowell ($2.5 million, plus interest) in 2005 as excessive, but a second jury heard additional evidence and hit the Lowell center even harder. The university’s appeal for a third trial was denied.
Sherwood was flabbergasted. He said the case stemmed from a once-productive working relationship with Baum gone bad.
“This is a blemish on our record, a very big black eye,’’ Sherwood said. “But we don’t deserve it. I really believe we were victimized.’’
Baum, who also manufactures composite bats and has sued both the NCAA and bat maker Hillerich & Bradsby, sold the testing machine to UMass-Lowell on the condition that it be used only to certify bats for the NCAA and other baseball organizations, not to perform commercial testing for his competitors. He alleged Sherwood violated the agreement by performing tests for numerous bat makers.
Baum’s lawyer, Andrew Kochanowski, blamed the costly litigation on Sherwood’s refusal to admit the extent of his licensing breach.
“The whole thing could have been avoided 10 years ago when they were informed they were using the machine improperly,’’ Kochanowski said. “When they decided to keep using it improperly, everything spiraled downhill.’’
Sherwood said he felt deceived by Baum and betrayed by the legal process.
“In all honesty, I never would have continued using that machine if I didn’t feel we were within all our rights to use it,’’ he said.
Lawyers hit it big
With the sides unable to settle their differences, the legal struggle turned into a bonanza for the lawyers. Baum’s legal team rang up more than $750,000 in bills, while UMass-Lowell’s lawyers charged the school $1.7 million.
Officials at UMass-Lowell said the school made numerous attempts to settle but were unwilling to meet Baum’s multimillion-dollar request. Instead, the university’s lawyers waged a full-court defense, including an unsuccessful attempt to persuade a federal appeals panel to dismiss the case.
In the end, UMass-Lowell’s exhaustive legal maneuvering inspired ridicule from Baum’s camp. After the second jury heard two weeks of proceedings and needed only four hours to reach a verdict, Baum stated in a court motion, “This litigation has been dragged out by UMass regardless of cost, using the money of the state of Massachusetts to employ three different law firms to raise frivolous issues.’’
The university’s lawyers described their work in court filings as a legitimate attempt to prevent “a miscarriage of justice.’’
“If Mr. Baum cared so much about the state of Massachusetts, he would have settled the case eight years ago instead of dragging the university through two costly federal trials in Michigan,’’ McCafferty said.
She said the university should not be accused of spending exclusively state money on the legal fees because state appropriations total only about 24 percent of UMass-Lowell’s budget.
Sherwood, meanwhile, remains hopeful about the center’s future. With his student assistants and a new testing machine, he continues certifying bats, ensuring the quality of major league baseballs, and preparing to enforce a new set of bat performance standards the NCAA plans to enact next year.
“We’re doing a lot for the welfare of the players in the game,’’ he said. “It’s really a labor of love.’’
He has participated in seminars from France to Australia, will travel to Vienna in July, and is scheduled to host a prestigious international conference at the center in 2012.
Until then, his work will include a special challenge: trying to save the center and pay down the $4.4 million bill.
“Closing the center is not going to change the outcome of the case,’’ Sherwood said. “We need to find a way to grow and move past this.’’

Scott Ostler, of the SF Chronicle, wrote about those guys in the bullpen.

“The Philadelphia Phillies stand accused of stealing signals. At Coors Field in Denver, Phillies bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer was seen using binoculars to peep at the Rockies’ catcher from the center-field bullpen.
Cheating? Poppycock, Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said.
“We’re not going to let somebody just stand out there in the bullpen with binoculars looking in,” Manual sputtered, after he let somebody just stand out there in the bullpen with binoculars looking in.
TV cameras caught Shane Victorino in the Phillies’ dugout, on the bullpen phone. Does this make Victorino “the Spyin’ Hawaiian”?
Manuel insisted, in spite of all the evidence, his team was not cheating.
“We’re smarter than that,” he said.
(Sound of crickets.)
Clearly the Phillies need assistance defending themselves against the charges. Because I wrote the book, “How to Cheat in Sports” (Chronicle Books), I might be able to help. Charlie and Mick, here are some helpful phrases to fire at accusers:
— “Since when is bird-watching a crime?”
— “I just found these in my box of Cracker Jack.”
— “Hell yes, I was watching the Rockies. I want to make sure they’re not trying to steal our signals.”
— “Dude, it’s a Viewmaster.”
— “You mean this? My ‘binoculars’ flask? Want a taste?”
— “Tell you what, buddy. When you try to make a criminal out of a guy working undercover for Homeland Security, the terrorists have won.”

Bob Moliaro, of Hampton roads.com, starts our look at this latest chapter.

“Here we go again.
Performance-enhancing drugs, banned by sports and feared by decent folk, are in the news.
As one of his teammates estimates that at least 20 percent of NFL players are using some sort of prohibited performance-enhancing drug, Redskins wide
receiver Santana Moss is being linked to a notorious Canadian doctor accused of smuggling human growth hormone.
“I ain’t got nothing to do with nothing that ain’t about me,” said Moss, an eloquent defense if ever there were one.
It’s never about them. It’s always somebody else.
Tour de France pedal pusher Floyd Landis, though, has finally stopped peddling his lies and admits he was a doper. He’s also implicating others, including Lance Armstrong. A charming fellow, that Floyd.
The stories involving Landis and Moss make up a twofer that provides media and fans with another opportunity to rage against performance-enhancing drugs.
Maybe we should take this occasion, though, to come to our senses at long last. Maybe it’s time that the naive holdouts stopped pretending that the use of steroids and HGH is some sort of monstrous incongruity sure to bring big-time athletics to their knees.
If that were the case, it would have happened by now because banned PEDs have been around longer and are more prevalent than people want to admit.
Take cycling. Please. At its highest levels, the sport is rife with drug cheats. Everybody knows it. But once again, the familiar themes and dark suspicions will be recycled in time for the Tour de France.
Few inside the bike business mourn Landis now. Those outside the sport won’t give him much thought.
And while it’s understood that Armstrong is a hero to many – for reasons other than ticking off the French multiple times – even his worshipers have to realize that his cycling legacy is shrouded in uncertainties that undermine the legend.
As for a sport that matters to the American public, no amount of so-called scandalous publicity can dim the NFL’s TV ratings.
With a wink and a nod, everybody understands what’s going on in pro football. The banned PEDs are one of the ingredients that make the NFL great. You’d have to be living under a rock to think otherwise.
The players’ bodies take such a beating – and are asked to recover so quickly from injury – that it’s almost unfair not to grant them access to HGH.
Asked if 20 percent was a good ballpark figure for how many players circumvent the NFL’s drug policies, veteran Redskins defensive end Phillip Daniels said, “It’s probably more than that, really.”
Could as many as 25 percent – one in every four players – be relying on anabolic agents?
Even if this were proven, it’s unlikely it would change the perception of the NFL. People know the score. Media. Fans. All of us. A lot of the hand-wringing and commentating that takes place after a football player is exposed simply is for show.
There could be significant fallout from Galea’s arrest for smuggling and distributing HGH. Some of it could fall on Alex Rodriguez and Tiger Woods, a couple of his former clients.
Redskins fans might want to be concerned about the investigation. Also, there’s a chance that further revelations about players and HGH could prove
embarrassing to the NFL.
But before anybody leaps to conclusions, let’s remember that the NFL isn’t called the Teflon league for nothing.
Pro football never was going to wake up with a drug hangover the way baseball did after its steroid era. Recent developments shouldn’t change that.”

Then he’s followed up by Graham Dunbar and Dennis Passe, AP Sports Writers, who had  this appear in the Miami Herald.
“The leaders of the IOC and World Anti-Doping Agency said on Friday that Floyd Landis should provide concrete evidence to back up his allegations of
doping by seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.
“He has to bring proof that this is true,” International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge told The Associated Press. “These are accusations that need to be corroborated by proof.
“You can’t condemn without proof,” Rogge added. “He would be better off by giving evidence to corroborate that, otherwise he is risking a lot of libels. …
You can only sanction an athlete with tangible proof.”
WADA president John Fahey, in a separate interview with the AP, said if there is any substance to Landis’ allegations, either the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency or
the International Cycling Union (UCI) should intervene.
“If he has evidence, he should make that evidence available to the USADA or UCI and I’m sure if there is any substance to that evidence, either of those
bodies would act,” Fahey said. “There will always be rumors about it.”
Rogge and Fahey spoke after Landis, in a series of e-mails sent to sponsors and sports officials, confessed to years of doping after having previously denied cheating.
The American rider, who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title and served a two-year ban for doping, also alleged that Armstrong not only joined him in doping but taught others how to cheat.
Armstrong denied the claims by his former teammate, saying Landis has no credibility.
“We have nothing to hide,” Armstrong said at an impromptu news conference before the fifth stage of the Tour of California on Thursday. “Credibility, Floyd lost his credibility a long time ago.”
Rogge said UCI officials will require “more evidence than just an e-mail. They need to have more details to launch an inquiry.”
Rogge also expressed doubts about Landis’ claim that Armstrong and longtime coach Johan Bruyneel paid former UCI president Hein Verbruggen to cover up a test in 2002 after Armstrong purportedly tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO. Verbruggen is also a former IOC member.
“To my knowledge it is not possible to hide a positive result,” Rogge said. “The lab knows the code. WADA gets it also. Then it goes to the national and
international federations.
“One person cannot decide: ‘I can put this under the carpet.'”
The UCI denied changing or concealing a positive test result, and Bruyneel said, “I absolutely deny everything (Landis) said.”
Rogge welcomed Landis’ confession of his own doping.
“The fact that he is coming out is something that we applaud,” he said. “It will clear his conscience. An admission is proof under the WADA Code and you
should be penalized.”
Fahey, reached by phone in Melbourne, Australia, said Landis’ confessions didn’t surprise him.
“There was absolutely no doubt about the decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sport on his final appeal,” Fahey said. “They saw him as being a cheat, and in this context, he has now admitted it, and I am pleased. There is no contrition, however, no apology, and I regret that.”
In two e-mails obtained Thursday by The Associated Press, Landis admitted for the first time what had long been suspected – that he was guilty of doping for several years before being stripped of his 2006 Tour title.
“I want to clear my conscience,” Landis told ESPN.com. “I don’t want to be part of the problem any more.”
Neither Landis nor his family returned repeated messages from the AP.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the details of the e-mails. The newspaper also reported Landis was cooperating with the Food & Drug Administration’s criminal investigations unit and had met with FDA special agent Jeff Novitzky, the lead investigator in the BALCO case.
In an e-mail Landis sent to USA Cycling chief Steve Johnson, he said Armstrong’s positive EPO test was in 2002, around the time he won the Tour de Suisse.
Armstrong won the Tour de Suisse in 2001 and did not compete in 2002.
“We’re a little confused,” Armstrong said.
The e-mail to Johnson also said: “Look forward to much more detail as soon as you can demonstrate that you can be trusted to do the right thing.”
Landis also implicated at least 16 other people in various doping acts, including longtime Armstrong confidant George Hincapie, Olympic medalist Levi Leipheimer and Canadian cyclist Michael Barry.
The Wall Street Journal reported another e-mail from Landis also linked another top American racer, Dave Zabriskie, to doping.
“At the end of the day, he pointed the finger at everybody still involved in cycling,” Armstrong said.
Landis is part of a long list of former Armstrong teammates and former U.S. Postal Service riders who have either acknowledged or been caught doping.
USA Cycling would not comment about Landis’ series of e-mails, citing its policy on not discussing “doping allegations, investigations or any aspect of an adjudication process.” The US. Anti-Doping Agency also declined to comment for similar reasons.
Like Armstrong, UCI president Pat McQuaid questioned Landis’ credibility.”
This is a situation that has taken on a life of its own and will continue until something concrete is decided unilaterally.

Paul Lucas wrote on Page 2 of ESPN.com, about some retro unis.

“When you think of Under Armour, you think of a company that looks forward, not back. You think high-tech, high-performance fabrics. You think of UA founder Kevin Plank’s mantra, “Cotton is the enemy.”
So when the University of Missouri baseball team recently began wearing an old-school retro road uniform, complete with a textured-looking surface pattern that looked a lot like old flannel grays, Uni Watch was plenty curious. Who had designed and made this thing of beauty, which looks so much better than the drab road grays we usually see nowadays? Maybe Ebbets Field Flannels, or Mitchell & Ness? 

Surprise: It’s from Under Armour.
Or maybe it’s not so surprising after all, at least according to Ryan Lineberger, senior product manager for UA’s on-field group. “We’re innovation-driven, sure, but we have some real uniform geeks here, myself included,” he says. “So anything we can come up with that helps celebrate the heritage of the game while providing something that’s performance-driven, that’s a good thing.”
In this case, UA has come up with Legend Gray, a new throwback uniform fabric currently being worn for selected road games by Missouri, Texas Tech and Pepperdine. Although it looks like an old natural-fiber flannel fabric, full of texture and grain and a heathered tone, it’s actually UA’s standard double-knit polyester embedded with a pattern designed to simulate the look of flannel.
This all might seem like a lot of fuss over a gray fabric, but Missouri baseball coach Tim Jamieson says people have noticed. “Very seldom do you have other coaches comment on your uniforms, but each coach we’ve played has said something about this one,” he says. “They want to feel it, they want to see what it’s all about. It’s amazing, because from a distance it looks like my old Little League uniform, or what major league teams wore in the 1960s.”
 
Missouri’s cool throwback road uniforms are drawing attention from uniform lovers and oppponents alike.
Legend Gray came about as an offshoot of the cream-colored off-white fabric that many teams have recently been using for their home throwbacks. “The
cream tone is easy enough to create — it’s just a colorway,” says Lineberger. “But we wanted to create a road gray fabric to go along with that. We have
plenty of the old flannels here at the office. We wanted to achieve that look, so we said, ‘How can we get this done?'”
The key turned out to be a process called sublimation, in which ink is embedded into the fabric instead of printed onto it. Until recently it’s been used primarily for loud, gaudy designs (think roller hockey or extreme sports), in part because the process didn’t work well for more subtle effects. But the quality has improved a lot over the past year or two, allowing the production of something as nuanced as Legend Gray.
So how did they do it? Most companies would be too secretive to explain the details of a project like this, but Lineberger agreed to give Uni Watch an
unusually good look at UA’s creative process.
“First we had to define what our goal was,” he says. “When you look at old flannel, it’s basically a cross-stitch. You get lots of little squares, and some of the fibers are thicker than others — that’s the uniqueness of it. That’s what we were after.”
Replicating that look began with Under Armour’s designers taking a high-res photo of flannel fabric, turning it into a digital pattern, and then sending that
pattern off to UA’s sublimation partner, who used the pattern to create samples. Then came a fine-tuning and refinement process that lasted two years. There were about a dozen versions of the fabric produced during that time, but many of the variations were just tiny tweaks. In an effort to simplify the backstory, Lineberger showed Uni Watch the four major phases in Legend Gray’s design evolution:
Step 1: This was the first version of Legend Gray. “You’ll see it doesn’t really have the grains and the lines in it,” says Lineberger. “So we said, ‘We like the
color, we kind of like where this is going,’ but we didn’t really see that textured, cross-hatched grid of horizontal and vertical yarns that you see in a true flannel fabric.”
 
Mizzou is one of three teams to wear new Undr Armour uniforms which simulate the look of flannel.
Step 2: “With this version, I felt like we had a greater sense of that gridded texture,” says Lineberger. “But it was too dark, so we had to dial it back and get the right color tone.”
Step 3: If the previous version was too dark, this one was too light. “They dialed it back too far,” says Lineberger. “It’s too pale, and there isn’t enough texture.
I still like this one, and it could have some play in other applications for us, but it wasn’t what we were trying to achieve with this project.”
Step 4: Here’s the sample that was ultimately approved — a happy medium of tone and faux texture.
Lineberger expects many more schools to be using Legend Gray for their throwback programs next season. But why limit it to throwbacks? Why not use the textured look for all of UA’s road uniforms? Lineberger says there are no plans for that, at least for now — grrrrr.
Of course, it won’t matter all that much even if every college team in the country starts wearing Legend Gray, because almost nobody watches college
baseball. So the real question is, will major league teams ever start using this type of fabric?
Uni Watch put that question to the folks at Majestic, who’ll be making MLB’s uniforms at least through 2014. Unfortunately, they weren’t as forthcoming as the UA people. “We don’t have any comment with regards to MLB development,” said a spokesman. “On a broader scale, Majestic design teams are always investigating new technologies, especially those which will improve on-field appearance, comfort and performance. Sublimation techniques are one of the many areas we continue to explore.”
Boooring! That kind of robotic corporate-speak is just as bland and flat as MLB’s boring road grays. Majestic could learn a lot from Under Armour — in
terms of UA’s communications style and its gray fabric.
Butt(on) out
Another interesting thing about those Under Armour jerseys: As you can see, they have buttons down the front, but it turns out that only the top two buttons are functional — the others are just there for show. The jerseys are actually pullovers.
This stealth-pullover look is UA’s standard baseball jersey design (except for Texas Tech, where they didn’t even bother with the bogus buttons because they would’ve interfered with the lettering that goes down the front). “It’s a feature we created about four years ago,” says Lineberger. “It helps eliminate bulge at the tuck points, and it’s been very well received.”
Uni Watch has long wondered why baseball jerseys have stuck with the button-front approach. Lots of MLB teams went to pullovers in the 1970s and ’80s, but by 1993 everyone had switched back to button fronts, even though buttons are clumsy and inevitably lead to problems — some visual, some logistical.
Why not go with pullovers, or zippers or Velcro? (Uni Watch explored these and other closure formats a while back.)
And for that matter, if Under Armour is going to make pullover jerseys, why bother with the faux button-front design? “It’s just to not scare people too much,” says Lineberger. “If there’s one thing about baseball people, they don’t like change.”
You don’t say. But if you’ve already snuck the stealth pullover into the mix, do you think you might just quietly eliminate the nonfunctional buttons one day?
“That’s definitely on the table,” says Lineberger. “We’re always looking at those different options.”

Glen Liebman, the Sports Quotes Guy, gave us:

“Lots of great quotes over the years around food and sports. Listed below are ten of the funniest food and sports quotes from my books, Basketball Shorts,
Hockey Shorts, Baseball Short, Boxing Shorts and Football Shorts.

1) “I like airline food.”
–Melvin Turpin, former NBA Player, after telling the media he weighed 265 pounds and then flying to Cleveland the next day and weighing in at 282 pounds.

2) “When I got home after practice one night, my young wife met me at the front door crying, ‘Darling, the dog ate the meat loaf I made for you.’…I took her in my arms and said, ‘Stop crying honey, I’ll buy you another dog.'”
–Abe Lemons, former college coach

3) “Gravy used to be a beverage for him.”
–Bud Foster, Virginia Tech Defensive Coordinator, on Tackle Cordarrow Thompson who went from 340 pounds to 301 pounds

4) “Better make it four. I don’t think I can eat eight.”
–Yogi Berra, asked if he wanted his pizza cut into four or eight slices

5) “I prefer fast food.”
–Rocky Bridges, former major leaguer, asked if he liked snails

6) “No thanks, I don’t drink.”
–Jeff Stone, former major leaguer, asked if he wanted a shrimp cocktail

7) “He’s got a nutritionist and I’ve got room service.”
–George Foreman, asked how he was training against his opponent Evander Holyfield

8) “It was hard to have a conversation with anyone. There were so many people talking.”
–Yogi Berra, on going to a dinner at the White House

9) “There ain’t but four things in life I know somethin’ about–pickup trucks, gumbo, cold beer and barbequed ribs.”
–Bum Phillips, former NFL Coach

10) “The best way to avoid ballplayers is to go to a good restaurant.”                    — Tim McCarver

Baseball purists always use the fact that there isn’t a clock to advance the romance of the game. Tom Robinson of HamptonRoads.com wrote about the pace of a game.

“I’m trying to get the fuss over Ken Griffey Jr.’s alleged nap the other night in Seattle that supposedly made him unavailable to pinch hit late in another Mariners loss.(ed: Branch Rickey did say that  it was better to let a player go a year too soon than a year too late. For Griffey, It may be a year late.)
It’s obvious: At 40 and batting .200 – with no homers and five RBIs – Griffey is old and in the way. Aging guys with fading skills and relevancy nap a lot.
That’s just what we do.
I mean, that’s what they do.
OK, so technically I can see where Griffey could be considered “asleep on the job” if he really was night-night in a clubhouse chair when he was summoned by manager Don Wakamatsu to grab a bat.
Wakamatsu, by the way, refuted the claim of two unnamed Mariners cited by the Tacoma News Tribune, although Griffey oddly talked around it. “There’s some things that are not accurate,” and then, “Anything else you want to ask?”
And yes, sleeping at work probably isn’t the greatest thing to do when the game is on the line. Or when, say, some high school kid is “shadowing” you on “Future Sports Columnists of America Day” or something, after which the jig really would be up.
But before we awaken a ruckus here, or even Keith “Catnap” Hernandez up there in the booth, let’s throw a big blanket of context over this.
We are talking about baseball here, right? The sport of somnolence. The timeless sport that really is timeless: “When’s the game going to be over, Yogi?”
“When it’s over.”
The lazy game with a pace so laconic somebody – Brother Jasper of Manhattan College, legend states, more than a century ago – concocted an audience-wide, late-afternoon “stretch” to help patrons make it to the end without coming to blows.
The “pastoral” game in which the point – as we learned from the great George Carlin – “is to go home! And to be safe! I hope I’ll be safe at home!”
That’s baseball, and you know I’m a baseball guy, but we’re keeping it real here.
Answer me this. If there really is no sleeping in baseball, then how come “Wake up out there!” is the third-most shouted phrase from the dugout next to “Stick it in his ear,” and “Anybody know how many outs there are?”
If sleeping in the clubhouse was such a crime – and that’s another thing. Clubhouse. W hy do teams array them with flat-screen televisions and plush leather furniture, limitless snacks and then make the players spend five hours there before they sit and stand around for three more hours during the actual game?
You get that fat and happy and try not to lapse into peaceful slumber. Think Thanksgiving afternoon – your eyes are getting heeeeaaavyyyyy…
It’s not easy – that’s all I’m saying – which is why even if somebody tried to quickly wake the groggy Griffey and hand him a bat, the guy might not have immediately known which end to grip let alone which direction to face the pitcher.
Clubhouse power naps – although usually pregame – are actually common, so it’s no shock to imagine Griffey, as the story goes, disappearing from the dugout in the fifth inning and being found sawing wood there in the eighth.
Look, he’s old and in decline, he wasn’t playing, he was out in the Seattle chill, he went in to get a toasty jacket and, well,… zzzzz. Lay off him. Americans are notoriously sleep-deprived, we’re told, and so we are an irritable, yawning and forgetful lot.
Griffey happened to forget he was still in the middle of a ballgame, but hey. If baseball doesn’t want to adopt a game clock, alarm clocks would at least be the next best thing.”

John Marshall, who is an AP Sports Writer, had a piece published in the Miami Herald that dealt with the increasing medical procedures on a athlete’s hip that allows them to, often, return to the athletic arena.
“The surgeon waved his arms like a puppeteer over the body of his 18-year-old patient, the sound of a heartbeat from a monitor giving way to the jarring noise of a saw grinding bone in her hip joint.
The sedated college volleyball player agreed to the surgery, not knowing if her insurance would cover the expense but hopeful that it would allow her to again walk up stairs without collapsing in pain. And hovering over her was Dr. Marc Philippon, the surgeon at the epicenter of the fastest growing niche in orthopedics: hip arthroscopy.
“The goal, whether it’s a professional athlete who earns a living with their body or a weekend athlete, is to get them back to an active lifestyle,” Philippon said.
“This procedure allows them to do that.”
Used minimally in the 1980s, hip arthroscopies have become much more popular. According to the Millennium Research Group, which tracks medical technology, more than 30,000 hip arthroscopies were performed in 2008 and the number is expected to rise to 70,000 a year by 2013.
Philippon is well known for fixing the hips of Greg Norman, Mario Lemieux, Tara Lipinski, Marcus Camby, Kurt Warner and, perhaps most famously, Alex Rodriguez. His office inside the Steadman Clinic in this ski resort town is filled with autographed photos, posters, hockey sticks, footballs and basketballs.
Philippon has done hip surgeries on everyday people, too, more than 4,000 and counting.
One of his recent patients, who agreed to let an Associated Press reporter watch her procedure, was Taylor Irwin, a college volleyball player from Pinedale, Wyo. She’s one of the younger patients Philippon has worked on, but she has as much damage around her hip socket as someone three times her age.
Active in sports since she was little, Irwin started having hip problems while playing soccer and volleyball in high school. She has hip displaysia, causing her hips to go out of alignment, and the constant wear and tear of cutting, jumping and running led to a torn labrum, the ring of cartilage that holds the hip together.
After fighting through the pain of her hip popping out of place during her senior season in high school, Irwin couldn’t take it anymore once she arrived at the University of Great Falls in Montana.
“My freshman year started and I realized I couldn’t play through the pain,” Irwin said. “I’d get deep into a squat low to the ground and wouldn’t be able to get back out of it. Even walking up the stairs to my dorm room, by the top I’d feel weakness in my legs, like I couldn’t go one more step.”
Had it been 15 years earlier, Irwin probably would have been out of luck. Try physical therapy, would have been the advice, suffer through the pain, maybe get hip replacement surgery down the road.
But hip arthroscopy has made enormous advancements in recent years. Doctors learned better techniques for guiding an arthroscope into the awkward of angles of the hip, past the tough ligaments and around the head of the femur. They’ve discovered labral tears and deformities in bone, progressing from cleaning out debris to restorative techniques.
“In the past, we didn’t have a treatment for this,” Philippon said. “Now we have an approach, an arthroscopic approach that’s very successful.”
Thing is, it’s still so new, many insurance companies still don’t recognize it as a required procedure; Irwin and her family went into surgery not knowing if their appeal to their insurance company would be approved. Long after the procedure, their insurer agreed to cover 85 percent of the cost.
Irwin’s injury was similar, though a little more complicated, than A-Rod’s famous hip.
Irwin had a torn labrum and an impingement in the ball-and-socket joint, caused by a bone deformity. She also had what’s commonly known as a snapping hip; one of the tendons at the front of her hip was too tight and would catch within the joint, causing sharp pain.
For the torn labrum, Philippon cleaned away the frayed edges, drilled holes in the bone for anchors and put a stitch around the labrum. He also whittled down the bone deformity, trimmed off the impingement and released the IT band with an incision to stretch it out.
Philippon later used a whirring ball of razors to notch two holes in the hip bone and had an assistant hammer in what looked like a wall anchor for hanging art in your living room.
The hip socket is filled with water during the surgery to better see the damage and clear out the debris. And while the area looks huge on the video screen, it’s actually about the size of a tennis ball, the repairs to the labrum and bone less than 5 centimeters each.
The morning after surgery, Irwin was in physical therapy, gingerly riding a stationary bike to work on her range of motion and start building her strength. After returning from Vail, she went to physical therapy twice a day for two weeks, then once a day for about 12 more.
Four months after surgery, Irwin starting running with her teammates and participating in a few drills. At six months, she was pain-free, able to run, cut and do agility drills, though she wasn’t able to play this past season. Irwin is expected to be fully healthy when practice starts again in the fall.
“I don’t regret any of it,” she said. “The pain I feel now is nothing it was before. It was a sharp, shooting pain, but now it’s more kind of soreness and not like it was before, which is reassuring.”
The bad news? Irwin’s right hip is getting worse and she’ll probably need the same surgery next year.
At least she’ll know what to expect.”

Thomas Boswell of the DC POST is trying to show that Washington may not be first in our hearts and in last place in the National League much longer.
“So much has happened so fast it’s hard to keep up with the transformation of the changes began late in 2008, when the Lerners finally decided to spend some money, then accelerated last spring when Mike Rizzo became GM and Stan Kasten’s views were given more weight. In the past month, it has all come together.
Suddenly, the Nats are in the sport’s mainstream.
In ahead of the rich Mets, are the rebuilding Braves and gritty Marlins. Second place might be a bit pricey for a summer-long stay, but a classy neighborhood is where the Nats actually live these days.
Never tell big leaguers who’ve found some chemistry and momentum how many games they can win. Let them tell you. It’s more fun that way. But whatever you expected from the Nats it’s a whole handful more now.
When you add a southpaw starter (healthy Scott Olsen with a 3.51 ERA), a closer (Matt Capps, who’s 14 for 14 in save opportunities), a setup man (Tyler
Clippard, 7-1 with a 1.80 ERA) and a gifted shortstop (Ian Desmond), all 26 or younger, you’ve changed your future. When a fit Livian Hernandez (4-1, 1.04)
and an energized Ivan Rodriguez (.383) play like stars, you suddenly have postseason MVPs as leaders.
On Wednesday, the Nats got the kind of bad news that might have derailed other seasons: Jason Marquis, a 2009 all-star and $15 million free agent will miss four to six weeks. But with Craig Stammen developing and a stockpile of serviceable starters such as Luis Atilano (3-0) and Matt Chico, the Nats’ rotation might be okay as long as John Lannan remains healthy after skipping his last start.
Then there is the parade of established pitchers returning from injury (Chien-Ming Wang) and lefty prospects (Aaron Thompson and Ross Detwiler) who
might be ready before midseason.
Too much starting pitching “is a mythical creature, like the Loch Ness Monster, the Abominable Snowman and the agent with a heart of gold in ‘Jerry Maguire,’ ” Kasten said. Because the Nats had an apparent excess of arms, they may still have enough now.
It was typical of the Nats — that’s to say, atypical of any team, heretofore part of the weak right field platoon, hit the first two homers of his career, including a 420-foot game-winner off $37 million closer Francisco Rodriguez, and saved three runs with a diving catch.
The other Nat with three RBI? Stammen, the starting pitcher. The winning pitcher? Clippard, who was clobbered in the Mets’ six-run eighth inning Tuesday night. This season, resilience is a Nat.
As much of a spring shock as the Nats have been, they may morph again by this time next year. Few teams have the immediate youth pipeline, the quality arms recovering from injury and the low-payroll flexibility to improve so quickly.
With the full-time arrival of Strasburg and rookie reliever Drew Storen, the recovery from surgery of Jordan Zimmermann, as well as the possible signing of a power-hitting, free agent right fielder next winter, the Nats could nudge into the top half of the sport as a wild-card contender next season. For such a thing to happen, every young pitching arm doesn’t have to pan out — just enough of them. That’s how winning organizations do it.
Rizzo has blown up the roster he inherited and tried to explode its defeatist mind-set, too. Seven Nats have played in the World Series and an eighth in the AL Championship Series. That doesn’t include Adam Dunn, headed toward a 500-homer career, all-star Ryan Zimmerman or power bat Josh Willingham.
The Nats no longer lack experience or attitude.
Progress has been big, but more annoyance may be in store in the short term. With Marquis out and Lannan worrisome, with the bullpen one strong arm shy of stability and six road games against the Rockies and Cardinals on tap, the Nats are temporarily vulnerable.
Next week, the Nats may return home having survived the 40 toughest games of their whole season — 19 against ’09 playoff teams and six more against
nemesis Marlins — with a winning record. Or they may limp back after doses of Ubaldo Jimenez and Albert Pujols.
But in a month, if Strasburg and Storen are aboard, or in a year with more reinforcements, one conclusion is sensible. The Nats are one of the game’s
fastest-rising teams.
Of course, when you start from 205 losses in two years, “up” is relative But the Nats aren’t just some lousy team staggering up toward respectability. They’re
probably past that. In their last 105 games under Manager Jim Riggleman, they’re 52-53. Once back home, they play 63 straight games against non-playoff teams.
The last four years, the Nats’ season has, for competitive purposes, been over by now. So, fans may think baseball answers our questions quickly. But
normally that’s not the pleasure given by the long season. You have to wait Revalue. Then wait again.
Most teams have at least one hot streak where they go 10 games over ..500 as well as one when they are 10 games under .500. For example, the ’06 Nats
had streaks of 6-17, 15-5 and 4-15 by the end of June. This year’s Nats haven’t even had their first real period of exhilaration. Or potential disaster. They’ll
have both, maybe multiple times.
The difference this season is that those streaks and skids, that process of going from worst-to-good that’s now only a month old, will actually be worth the watching.
Washington got a major taste of baseball pleasure in ’05. But that was a team without a future, an ex-Expo club being gussied up for sale. This is entirely
different. The Nats have needs, especially at the top of the rotation. But count the current Nats who could be key contributors to a winner in ’11 or ’12. Two
years ago, you could count them on one hand. Now, you run out of fingers — fast.
The next few days could get scary. But the next few years should be fun.”

Frank Deford wrote on SI.com that the Wall Street Journal has started a sports section.
“At a time when newspaper sports departments are disappearing as fast as Baltimore Oriole fans, I’m delighted to have The Wall Street Journal aboard as a new member of what has long been characterized as the toy department. Yes, America’s sober-sided business gazette has started a ballyhooed section in the New York market that features local news, culture and . . . sports.
However, while I admit that I’m not qualified to advise The Journal on how to write about credit swaps, may I be so impudent to dare tell the Journal
that if it purports to cover sports on its gray pages, it must get on the same page with the rest of us world’s jock literati.
That is, my dear stock market friends, if you’re going to write about games, you don’t call players Mr. or Ms. In sports sections or sports TV or sports
internet, the world over, nobody — not even fancy-pants team owners — gets to be a Mr. or Mrs. Or a Senor or a Mademoiselle or a Herr. Why, they don’t
even use courtesy titles on the jolly olde Wimbledon scoreboard any more.
But because it is the Journal’s style to refer to hedge funders in their bespoke suits and Turnbull and Asser shirts and ties by their courtesy title, it has foolishly decided to maintain this same policy in sports. Thus we have a discussion of a Mr. Braden’s perfect game, a Mr. Barajas behind the plate and a Mr. James, who works for a Cleveland firm. Having The Journal report on sports is rather like having Miss Jane Austen write them for you, with Mr. Darcy batting and Mr. Bingley pitching.
Thank heavens the legendary Grantland Rice was not working for Mr. Rupert Murdoch when he wrote about a Notre Dame backfield — that most famous
line ever to appear on a sports page — or it would’ve come out this way: “Outlined against a blue-gray October sky, the Four Horsemen rode again. In
dramatic lore they were known as Famine, Pestilence, Destruction and Death. These are only aliases. Their real names are Mr. Struhldreher, Mr. Miller, Mr.
Crowley and Mr. Layden.”
Or, as Howard Cosell would’ve called out memorably on Journal television: “Down goes Mr. Frazier. Down goes Mr. Frazier.”
Now, it is true that there was a double standard on the sports pages for many years. Whereas male athletes would be identified by only their last name, it was felt that sportswomen could not be treated so rudely. Thus we had Laver vs. Rosewall, but Mrs. King vs. Miss Bueno.
If anything, though, now we are heading downscale, where more and more athletes — both genders, all sports — are referred to in the media simply by their first name or a nickname. Thus we have Kobe and A-Rod and Serena and T.O. — all far better known in those informal ways, than by what appears last on their passport.
Yes, Mister Wall Street Journal, we welcome you to the arena, but please, one of the nice things about our business is that there are no misters in sport. Just players.”

This was written, with style, by Norman Chad.

“Like the rest of the planet, I am fervently awaiting the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. match. It could be the sport’s last great gift to the huddled masses. Beyond Dempsey-Tunney, Louis-Schmeling, Robinson-La Motta, Ali-Frazier and Hearns-Leonard, will embrace the new multicultural world order and return if only for a single night — to the brightest lights on the biggest stage.
That’s assuming they ever fight and assuming folks are willing to pay $64.95 to view it.
(That price might sound steep, but look at it this way — the next time you fly, if you forgo checking two bags, right there you’ve saved enough money to afford Pacquiao-Mayweather!)
The two have fought outside the ring in trying to set up a fight inside the ring.
Mayweather implied Pacquiao had used performance- enhancing drugs and insisted on blood testing just before they fight. Pacquiao would not agree and sued Mayweather for defamation of character.
Pacquiao says giving blood just before a fight would weaken him.
(My own anecdotal evidence supports Pacquiao. In 1998, I gave blood and, less than 72 hours later, foolishly proposed to my second wife. Then last year I gave blood just before writing and dozens of readers e-mailed to tell me it was the worst article they had ever read.)
Unable to come to terms on a fight, Pacquiao proceeded to dominate Joshua Clottey on March 13 and Mayweather proceeded to dominate Shane Mosley on May 1, reviving debate on which champion is the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer (I am often asked why the term “best pound-for-pound boxer” is used. Indeed, was G. Gordon Liddy referred to as the best pound-for-pound plumber in the business? Is Bobby Flay the best pound-for-pound chef? Is Yo-Yo Ma the best pound-for-pound cellist? The pound-for-pound expression essentially acknowledges the fact that a bantamweight, say, cannot beat a middleweight, but pound-for-pound, the bantamweight might be a better fighter. Of course, outside of the United States, they talk about the best “kilogram-for-kilogram” boxer.)
Whenever Pacquiao- Mayweather happens, it likely will attract one of the biggest pay-per-view audiences ever; in 2007, Mayweather’s fight against Oscar De La Hoya drew a record-breaking 2.45 million buys.
(In the 20th century, the heavyweights carried boxing’s biggest paydays. Of late, if the WBA, WBC, WBO or IBF heavyweight champion walked into the
room, you’d just assume he was one of Ben Roethlisberger’s bodyguards. For anyone seeking a new life of anonymity, the heavyweight division is on par with the witness protection program, minus the government perks.)
(Okay, let’s play the “World Heavyweight Champions or World Leaders Game” I’m going to list 16 names — half are 21st-century heavyweight champs, half
are presidents or prime ministers. You determine who belongs to which category: Traian Basescu, Lamon Brewster, Heinz Fischer, David Haye, Horst
Kohler, Sergei Liakhovich, Oleg Maskaev, Dmitry Medvedev, Samuel Peter, Hasim Rahman, Fredrik Reinfeldt, Kevin Rudd, Corrie Sanders, Nicolas
Sarkozy, Alvaro Uribe and Nikolai Valuev. Good luck!)
Other than their boxing skills, the two have little in common. Mayweather runs his mouth, Pacquiao runs for office.
Pacquiao has his own political party, the People’s Champ Movement, making him sort of a younger Ron Paul with a better left hook.
Pacquiao has been running for a seat in the Philippine Congress. In the final days of his campaign, he was joined by his fight promoter, Bob Arum, which might indicate the 31-year-old is less astute in politics than pugilism.
(I’m certainly no expert in the electoral process, but do you really want to be side-by-side with Bob Arum — maybe the most nefarious pound-for-pound
promoter around — when you’re trying to earn the voters’ trust?)
As for the likelihood of Pacquiao-Mayweather becoming a reality, it’s a certainty. Nobody walks away from that much blood money.

Ask The Slouch

Q. Would you consider it a demotion to go from commentating on poker to commentating on bass fishing? (John Revay; Woodbridge)
A. They’re quite similar — except in poker, after you hook the fish, you don’t clean and scale him, you just spend his money.

Q. Do you think professional sportswriters should receive the same pay as the athletes they write about? (Les Tolt; North Olmsted, Ohio)
A. I write about professional bowlers — you want me to take a pay cut?

Q. A la Dwyane Wade, did an ex-wife ever sue an ex-girlfriend who helped break up your marriage? (Jon Headley; West Bend, Wis.)
A. Actually, I believe she sent her a thank-you note.

Q. Los Suns? (Greg Townsend; Pittsburgh)
A. Frankly, it should’ve been Los Soles — in for a centavo, in for a peso.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just e-mail asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash! “

Tom Robinson wrote on HamptonRoads.com. “Go ahead, bunt for a hit.”
“Evan Longoria was trying to win a baseball game Sunday for which he was paid nearly $6,000 – the per-game ration of his reported $950,000 annual salary.
That’s all you need to consider when weighing whether the 24-year-old Tampa Bay Ray ran afoul of one of baseball’s annoying “unwritten rules” by trying to bunt for a hit against the Oakland Athletics’ Dallas Braden.
There was a game to be won. Longoria, his team down 4-zip, hoped to do something about it with a surprise ploy. What’s unclear about that logic?
Braden, of course, was in the process of throwing what became a rare perfect game, won by that same 4-0 score. But when Longoria fouled away his bunt
attempt, he was the first batter of the fifth inning – i.e. only 12 outs into the game.
Still, a small Oakland crowd of 12,228 rippled in boos. And when it was over, Longoria, who struck out in that at-bat, and his manager Joe Maddon actually had to field questions about whether Longoria’s effort to reach base via a bunt was legit, seeing as how “baseball code” says no-hitters should not be spoiled
by bunts.
What? Why?
Fans are just fans, but I cry for any credentialed media member who seriously thought there was a crumb of controversy there worth mining or, worse, truly believes Longoria was wrong to bunt.
I need to be shown where in the “code” teams trailing by four lousy runs with more than half a game left are ordered to handcuff themselves by removing an offensive weapon.
Which unwritten chapter and verse judges four clean innings a perfect-game bid that opponents must somehow bow to or else be called out as dirty, rotten, sissified “code” violators?
It’s ridiculous and another sign that baseball, which desperately needs a pomposity check, has no idea how to get over itself.
The good thing is, Braden didn’t fuss about Longoria’s ploy, as far as I know, which is interesting because Braden’s the guy who went nuts a couple weeks ago when Alex Rodriguez crossed his mound while returning to first after a foul ball.
Evidently that’s a big-time code-breaker, although if I had that one stored, I admit I’d forgotten about it. But come on, baseball’s hard enough as it is. Minding a bunch of random P’s and Q’s along with everything else, for the sake of certain appearances, is dubious business.
Common competitive sense needs to rule – no stealing when up by a load late, and extremes like that. But in this case, why is bunting, a dusty skill that can and does win games, such an insult to manhood anyway?
The art of bunting itself is what should be insulted by the mangled treatment it gets from careless pros. Even in this muscled age, the bunt is absolutely a worthy tool.
And if my squeeze bunt beats you in the ninth, or my drop along the third-base line wrecks your perfect game at any point, well, it seems to me your frustrated finger needs to point at your defense, not at me.
Twenty-seven outs a ballgame are golden. The real insult is expecting someone to hand over even one without a full fight.”