Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel


Embed this content in your HTML

Search

Report adult content:

click to rate:

Account: (login)

More Channels


Channel Catalog


Channel Description:

A feed of articles for Sports

older | 1 | .... | 916 | 917 | (Page 918) | 919 | 920 | .... | 929 | newer

    0 0

    Times wires
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    NEW ORLEANS — Ray Lewis is "agitated."

    Not because the Ravens linebacker believes the report linking him to a performance-enhancing substance will affect his play.

    Rather, Lewis did not want to spend time discussing the topic as he did Wednesday, when his denials meant the matter intruded for a second day.

    "It's so funny of a story because I never, ever took what he says or whatever I was supposed to do," Lewis said. "And it's just sad … that someone can have this much attention on a stage this big, where the dreams are really real."

    He smiled when the first question was about the topic then chuckled later while addressing it. Known for his frequent references to God and faith, Lewis called the episode a "joke" and a "trick of the devil," adding he told teammates: "Don't let people from the outside ever come and try to disturb what's inside."

    Sports Illustrated reported Tuesday that Lewis talked to a company called Sports With Alternatives To Steroids, which says its deer-antler spray and pills contain a naturally occurring banned product connected to human growth hormone.

    SI reported company owner Mitch Ross recorded a call with Lewis a few hours after he tore his right triceps Oct. 14. According to the report, Lewis asked Ross to send him deer antler spray and pills along with other items made by the company.

    Wednesday, Lewis called Ross a coward and said he "has no credibility."

    Told by a reporter he seemed angry, Lewis replied: "Me? Never angry. I'm too blessed to be stressed. Nah. You're not angry. You can use a different word. You can use the word 'agitated,' because I'm here to win the Super Bowl. I'm not here to entertain somebody that does not affect that one way or another."

    Injuries: San Francisco starting LB Ahmad Brooks said he missed two practices last week and was limited Wednesday because of a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder. He added he will play Sunday. Starting LB Aldon Smith also was limited by a shoulder injury, but the team declined to disclose details.

    Two Ravens starters, LB Dannell Ellerbe and TE Dennis Pitta practiced despite a sore ankle and thigh, respectively.

    Favre on TV: Brett Favre will join the NFL Network for its coverage Sunday.

    Deflecting credit: Asked about the 49ers' skill position players, coach Jim Harbaugh, instead, changed the subject to the offensive line.

    "That's been a phenomenal group for us," said Harbaugh, who during his long answer mentioned every lineman by name. "I'd call them offensive weapons as well. They've been instrumental all year in our extra O-linemen packages, contributions on special teams. The way they have plugged in at guard, tight end and at the extra tight end position has been huge for us."

    Officials: Jerome Boger will be the game's referee. It will be the first Super Bowl for Boger, who entered the league as a line judge in 2004 and was promoted to referee in 2006. The other officials announced: Darrell Jenkins (umpire), Steve Stelljes (head linesman), Byron Boston (line judge), Craig Wrolstad (field judge), Joe Larrew (side judge) and Dino Paganelli (back judge).

    Newtown presence: The chorus from Sandy Hook Elementary, where 20 children and six adults were killed in a Dec. 14 shooting, will sing America the Beautiful before the game.


    Associated PressAssociated Press

    0 0

    Times wires
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    ST. PAUL, Minn. — Matt Cullen scored 90 seconds into the game and again in a shootout to lift the Wild to a 3-2 victory over Chicago on Wednesday, handing the Blackhawks their first loss in seven games this season.

    The Blackhawks and San Jose were the only teams to start 6-0.

    Goals by Andrew Shaw and Jonathan Toews early in the first period prompted Wild coach Mike Yeo to pull goalie Josh Harding 6:46 in for Niklas Backstrom. Backstrom stopped all 28 shots he saw.

    Corey Crawford, off to a sharp start in his third season as Chicago's primary goalie, made 23 saves as the Blackhawks started a seasonlong six-game road trip.

    The Wild hasn't had much production from its second and third lines, with the first line of Zach Parise, Dany Heatley and Mikko Koivu combining for 10 of their 13 goals. But Cullen notched his first goal of the season 90 seconds in on a rebound after Mikael Granlund's slap shot bounced off Crawford's chest.

    game highlights: Nail Yakupov scored a power-play goal with eight seconds left in overtime to give the Oilers a 2-1 win over the host Coyotes. Antoine Vermette was in the box for high sticking. Phoenix's Nick Johnson scored with 19 seconds left in regulation to tie it. … Daniel Alfredsson scored his first goal of the season and the host Senators ended the Canadiens' winning streak at four, 5-1.

    Around the league: Sabres forward Patrick Kaleta was released from a Buffalo hospital after absorbing a hard hit by the Maple Leafs' Mike Brown on Tuesday. There was no update on the condition of Kaleta, who is out indefinitely. … Islanders wing Colin McDonald was suspended for two games for boarding Penguins defenseman Ben Lovejoy on Tuesday. … Rangers captain Ryan Callahan is out 10-14 days after hurting his shoulder during a scuffle with Flyers forward Max Talbot on Tuesday. … Maple Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek said he missed Tuesday's game against the Sabres because he smashed his stick at Monday's practice and bits of the shaft lodged in his right eye. … Former Sharks CEO Greg Jamison, the main suitor for the Coyotes the past year, can't produce the capital needed to buy the team from the NHL, so a deadline of today to maintain a lease agreement with Glendale, Ariz., will pass without a deal being completed, espn.com reported.

    Ex-lightning player sentenced in sex abuse case: Michael McBain, a Lightning defenseman from 1997-99, was sentenced in Las Vegas to four to 15 years in prison for sexually assaulting a girl over four years starting when she was 12. McBain also was ordered to register for lifetime supervision as a sex offender. He apologized in court and said he took responsibility for what he did. He played for ECHL Las Vegas from 2003-08, when he retired to become an assistant coach.

    at Wild 1 1 0 0 3
    Blackhawks 2 0 0 0 2
    Wild wins shootout 2-1

    First Period1, Minnesota, Cullen 1 (Setoguchi, Granlund), 1:30. 2, Chicago, Shaw 1 (Bickell, Kane), 5:14. 3, Chicago, Toews 4 (Hossa), 6:45. PenaltiesKonopka, Min (interference), 13:57; Stalberg, Chi (interference), 15:30; Frolik, Chi (boarding), 16:08.

    Second Period4, Minnesota, Clutterbuck 1 (Gilbert), :59. PenaltiesKruger, Chi (holding), 14:22.

    Third PeriodNone. PenaltiesStoner, Min (interference), 5:51; Sharp, Chi (hooking), 17:55.

    OvertimeNone. PenaltiesNone.

    ShootoutChicago 1 (Toews G, Kane NG, Sharp NG), Minnesota 2 (Parise G, Koivu NG, Cullen G). Shots on GoalChicago 7-8-11-6—32. Minnesota 15-4-2-4—25. Power-play opportunitiesChicago 0 of 2; Minnesota 0 of 4. GoaliesChicago, Crawford 5-0-1 (25 shots-23 saves). Minnesota, Harding (4-2), Backstrom 3-1-1 (6:46 first, 28-28).

    at Senators 1 3 1 5
    Canadiens 1 0 0 1

    First Period1, Montreal, Plekanec 4 (Markov, Diaz), 5:31 (pp). 2, Ottawa, O'Brien 3 (Karlsson, Condra), 7:53. PenaltiesWhite, Mon, major (fighting), 1:27; Smith, Ott, major (fighting), 1:27; Phillips, Ott (interference), 5:18; Prust, Mon, major (fighting), 5:38; Neil, Ott, served by Silfverberg, minor-major (unsportsmanlike conduct, fighting), 5:38; Cole, Mon (slashing), 6:48; Borowiecki, Ott (cross-checking), 6:48; Emelin, Mon (holding), 13:05; Neil, Ott (roughing), 14:15; Turris, Ott (slashing), 16:11; Bourque, Mon (slashing), 17:58; Borowiecki, Ott (cross-checking), 17:58.

    Second Period3, Ottawa, Alfredsson 1 (Wiercioch, Turris), 7:27 (pp). 4, Ottawa, Zibanejad 1 (Greening, Benoit), 9:25 (pp). 5, Ottawa, Phillips 2 (Smith, Greening), 11:02. PenaltiesArmstrong, Mon (roughing), 3:23; White, Mon (roughing, unsportsmanlike conduct), 7:24; Bourque, Mon (goaltender interference), 15:16; Wiercioch, Ott (slashing), 15:42.

    Third Period6, Ottawa, Neil 2 (Benoit, Smith), 14:46. PenaltiesCondra, Ott (tripping), 9:37; Prust, Mon, minor-misconduct (roughing), 20:00; Neil, Ott (roughing), 20:00. Shots on GoalMontreal 9-10-13—32. Ottawa 11-11-5—27. Power-play opportunitiesMontreal 1 of 6; Ottawa 2 of 5. GoaliesMontreal, Budaj 0-1-0 (27 shots-22 saves). Ottawa, Anderson 5-0-1 (32-31).


    Associated PressAssociated Press

    0 0

    Times wires
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Trey Burke raised his eyebrows in disbelief when asked about Michigan's most remarkable stat of the night.

    "We only had two turnovers as a team?" Burke said.

    The top-ranked Wolverines were nearly flawless at the start Wednesday night, and they went on to an easy 68-46 victory over Northwestern.

    Burke had 18 points and eight assists in Michigan's first game as the Associated Press's No. 1 team since the 1992-93 season.

    The Wolverines (20-1, 7-1 Big Ten) made 10 of their first 11 shots and went the entire first half without a turnover. They didn't commit a foul, either, until the final minute of the half.

    Michigan's two turnovers for the game equaled a national low for any team this season, according to STATS LLC.

    "There's been times we had two turnovers … in the first minute," coach John Beilein said. "We'll take it, and we'll move on."

    The Wolverines now prepare for Saturday night's showdown at No. 3 Indiana. Michigan fans began chanting "Beat the Hoosiers!" toward the end of Wednesday's game.

    Michigan played without forward Jordan Morgan, who sprained his right ankle last weekend. Jon Horford started in Morgan's place and finished with 10 points and seven rebounds.

    NO. 3 INDIANA 97, PURDUE 60: Cody Zeller had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and all five starters scored in double figures for the visiting Hoosiers (19-2, 7-1 Big Ten).

    NO. 5 DUKE 75, WAKE FOREST 70: Mason Plumlee scored a career-high 32 and Seth Curry hit a tiebreaking 3-pointer in the final minutes for the visiting Blue Devils (18-2, 5-2 ACC).

    NO. 14 MIAMI 73, VA. TECH 64: Shane Larkin had 25 points and the visiting Hurricanes (16-3, 7-0 ACC) took command with a 13-2 second-half run en route to their eighth straight victory. Miami is the first school other than Duke or North Carolina to start 7-0 in the ACC since Virginia in 1981.

    LSU 73, NO. 17 MISSOURI 70: Anthony Hickey scored 14 of his 20 in the second half for LSU. Missouri (15-5, 4-3 SEC) has lost all four of its true road games this season.

    NO. 18 KANSAS ST. 83, TEXAS 57: Thomas Gipson had 17 points off the bench as the host Wildcats (16-4, 5-2 Big 12) snapped a two-game skid.

    NO. 20 NEW MEXICO 63, WYOMING 59: Cameron Bairstow scored 17 for the visiting Lobos (18-3, 5-1 Mountain West), who handed the Cowboys their third straight loss.

    NO. 21 CREIGHTON 91, MISSOURI ST. 77: Doug McDermott had 29 points and made five of the host Bluejays' 15 3s as Creighton (19-3, 8-2 Missouri Valley) tied Wichita State atop the league.

    NO. 24 CINCINNATI 62, RUTGERS 54: Sean Kilpatrick had 19 points and the host Bearcats (17-4, 5-3 Big East) intensified their defense in the second half to overcome a 10-point deficit.

    NO. 16 MISSISSIPPI: Sophomore forward Aaron Jones, a key reserve, is out for the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Tuesday's loss to Kentucky. The Rebels play at No. 4 Florida on Saturday.

    NORTH CAROLINA: Sophomore guard P.J. Hairston is doubtful for Saturday's game against Virginia Tech after suffering a concussion at Boston College on Tuesday night.

    SERIES CONTINUES: Syracuse and St. John's, who started their basketball rivalry more than a century ago, will play for at least two more years even as the original members of the Big East part ways next season. A game will be played at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 15, 2013, and they will meet at the Carrier Dome in 2014-15.

    GAME PPD.: Ohio's home game against Eastern Michigan was postponed because the campus shut down as a precaution amid a search for an armed robbery suspect. The game was rescheduled for 7 p.m. Feb. 20.

    State

    UCF 58, TULANE 50: Isaiah Sykes had 20 points and the visiting Knights (15-5, 5-1 C-USA) rallied for their fourth straight win.

    TAMPA 77, FLA. TECH 74: Anthony Griffis had 23 points as the host Spartans (14-6, 2-6 Sunshine State) rallied to snap a three-game skid.

    ECKERD 81, LYNN 70: Darrien Mack had 21 points to lead five players in double figures for the visiting Tritons (12-4, 5-3 SSC).

    SAINT LEO 68, PB ATLANTIC 62: Marcus Ruh had 24 points for the host Lions (14-4), who clinched a second straight winning season for the first time in the program's 27 years.


    Associate PressAssociate Press

    0 0

    By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    GAINESVILLE — The Florida Gators are still waiting on a serious challenge in SEC play, but until it comes, they'll gladly take the double-digit victories. In fact, it seems to be their ultimate goal right now.

    The No. 4 Gators extended their winning streak to nine games and remained undefeated in conference play with a 75-36 victory over South Carolina on Wednesday in front of 10,533 at the O'Connell Center. It was the largest margin of victory over the Gamecocks (12-8, 2-5 SEC) in series history. The 36 points were the second-fewest Florida has allowed this season.

    The Gators (17-2, 7-0) continue to dominate on defense, as no SEC team has scored more than 52 against Florida this season.

    "It's working out great for us," junior guard Scottie Wilbekin said. "We're just going to keep playing, and if that's the outcome, then we're happy with that. We'll get challenges when a team challenges us. We're just going to keep playing our hardest every game."

    Florida led 33-10 at halftime then opened the second half by going 5-for-5, including three 3-pointers, to take a 46-13 lead with 16:46 left.

    The Gators' press forced the Gamecocks into 11 first-half turnovers. South Carolina didn't score its first basket until the 13:41 mark and shot 14.3 percent from the field in the half to tie a school record for worst shooting percentage in a half in SEC play.

    "They're real good," first-year South Carolina coach Frank Martin said. "The more I studied them on tape, the more I realized there's a reason they've played as well as they have this year. When they play here in this building, they take it to even another level."

    The Gators became the third team in the past 25 years to win their first seven conference games by 15 or more points, after Belmont (eight in 2010-11) and UNLV (12 in 1990-91).

    At the game's end, UF coach Billy Donovan exchanged a lengthy handshake and conversation with Martin.

    "I love Frank, he's a close friend and I've developed a really, really good relationship with him," Donovan said. "I think he's done a great job with his team because they played really, really hard. … Obviously, I understand what he's going through. But he's a great guy and he gets it. He understands that for him, it's a process."

    Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com.


    Associated PressAssociated Press

    0 0

    Times wires
    Wednesday, January 30, 2013

    TALLAHASSEE — Michael Snaer is making these last-second 3-pointers look routine.

    The senior guard made his second winning basket in a week, hitting a 3-pointer with 1.1 seconds left to lift Florida State to a 73-71 win over Maryland on Wednesday.

    "I got a clean look," Snaer said. "I knew it was going in once it left my hand."

    Ian Miller dribbled into the lane, momentarily appearing he had lost possession. Defenders swarmed Miller, but he delivered a pass right to Snaer for the winner before 7,222 at the Tucker Center.

    "Miller looked like he was tripping; we just kind of panicked and left Snaer wide open," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "You knew he was going to make it."

    It was the second last-gasp 3-pointer in seven days for Snaer, who also lifted the Seminoles to a 60-57 win Jan. 24 when he banked in a 25-footer at the buzzer to beat Clemson.

    He has made four 3s to win games in the past 13 months. He also had two buzzer-beating 3-pointers last season in wins over Duke and Virginia Tech.

    Wednesday's shot took place in front of coach Leonard Hamilton and the Seminoles' bench.

    "I'm not real sure I had any thoughts in my mind other than, 'I sure hope that that ball falls in,' " Hamilton said.

    Snaer had 19 points and former Clearwater High standout Okaro White 14 for FSU (12-8, 4-3 ACC), which had lost three of its past four.

    Alex Len, who averages 13 points, scored a season-low four for the Terps (15-6, 3-5).


    0 0

    By Gary Shelton, Times Sports Columnist
    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    NEW ORLEANS — Third-and-8 is hard. Anquan Boldin can tell you all about the defensive backs who will tug and pull as a receiver tries to find space in the traffic.

    Catching the ball over the middle is hard. Boldin knows about that, too, the way safeties will attempt to separate a receiver and a football by the force of a collision.

    Enduring a big loss is hard. The championship that got away, back when his Cardinals lost to Pittsburgh in Tampa's last Super Bowl, still gnaws at Boldin.

    And so we complain. About this. About that. About everything. It is our nature, a sport unto itself.

    But not Boldin.

    Not anymore. Not since his trip to Ethiopia, which seems about a million miles from the Super Bowl and the cameras that follow Boldin's every step.

    It was March when Boldin and former Cardinals teammate Larry Fitzgerald flew to Ethiopia, a poor, dry country. Boldin had read something about the struggles of the Ethiopian people, and decided he wanted to help.

    "I didn't want to just cut a check," Boldin said. "I wanted to experience it for myself. I wanted to see what the conditions were.

    "I can try to explain it to you, but unless you see it for yourself, you really can't grasp the situation. They're going through one of the worst droughts ever; it's barely rained in three years. There is no water to grow vegetation, no water to drink. Everything is like desert. For people in the United States, it's hard to wrap your mind around that."

    For more than a week, Boldin and Fitzgerald stayed. Not many people they met knew who they were, or much about the sport they played. But everyone knew they were there to help. They met with officials. They watched classes being taught about farming in arid conditions. And they helped to build retaining walls.

    "We weren't over there just to watch," Boldin said. "It's hard. People make about 90 cents a day there. I remember one man who had a wife and six kids, and he had to walk three hours to work each way to start at 8 a.m. Three of his kids worked in the morning, and three went to school. At night, they reversed it. It was the only way they could make it."

    Now ... who wants to talk about the 49ers' secondary?

    Every now and then, you come across an athlete who is about more than the touchdowns in his statistics. Every now and then, you find a player who finds a way to make someone else's life better.

    Boldin, the former FSU star? He's a tough player, a fine receiver, a fierce competitor. Also, he bought villagers a cow.

    How many receivers can say that?

    Oh, Boldin can play some football, too. He has quietly passed the 10,000-yard mark in career receiving yards. Who else makes more catches that look like rebounds? Who else is as willing to go over the middle to catch a pass?

    In New York, they still talk about the hit Boldin took from Jets safety Eric Smith back in 2008, when Boldin was with the Cardinals. Four days later, Boldin had surgery for a fractured sinus membrane, a procedure that took seven plates and 40 screws to fix. He only missed two games.

    "I just looked at it as a freak accident," Boldin said. "I've played football a lot of years, but that's one hit out of thousands. It wasn't a big deal to me.

    "I'm not a wide receiver. I'm a football player. Receivers go out and catch the ball. I'm willing to do anything it takes to win the game."

    For Boldin, this game matters more than most.

    He had a shot in that previous Super Bowl, after all. The Cardinals had taken a late lead, and Boldin was on the sideline when the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger led his team from behind.

    "I've talked to our team about that," Boldin said. "You don't want to get this close and let it slip away. I remember how they herd you off the field so the winning team can celebrate. You don't want that."

    In other words, Sunday's game is important to Boldin. It just isn't the only thing that is important.

    "The thing I learned in Ethiopia was to be grateful," said Boldin, who is from Pahokee on the banks of Lake Okeechobee. "I had it hard growing up, but nothing like that. The best thing about my childhood was that I was poor, but I didn't know I was poor because everyone around me was poor."

    Now, Boldin finds himself in a different economic sphere, and he wants to help. He has another trip planned to Ethiopia. He has worked with Oxfam, an international organization that wants to help.

    "When you see someone in that situation, you want to help," Boldin said. "I'm in a position where I can. If I'm in front of a camera, people will listen."

    Boldin paused. Then he smiled.

    "You know one of the things I remember?" he said. "No matter how hard their situation is, you always see them with a smile. No one is complaining. People are willing to work, willing to make themselves better."

    Remember that when you watch Boldin play Sunday night. Yeah, he makes the Ravens better.

    Everyone else, too.


    0 0

    By Jim Tomlin, Times Staff Writer
    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    TAMPA — Joie Chitwood oversees NASCAR's most famous racetrack, a 2 1/2-mile monster with seating for hundreds of thousands and a tradition that's hard to match. The high banking and tri-oval shape at Daytona International Speedway are exactly the same as Lee Petty raced on when he won the first Daytona 500 in 1959.

    Some grandstand seats are the same, too.

    Chitwood knows his old track is, well, an old track, and customers now seek more creature comforts. And that's the part he sees as "a chance to affect the customer's experience for 50 years."

    DIS is in the early phases of what track officials hope will be a redefining redevelopment, and they released some renderings last week of what the project would look like. Chitwood is still months from submitting a proposal to the track's owners, International Speedway Corp., but upgrades would include grandstands and seats, entrances, gates and concession areas.

    More specifics are coming in a few weeks, but the government hurdles like zoning have been cleared, and Rosetti Associates — which was behind Ford Field in Detroit among others — have been chosen as architects. Cost is still to be determined, as is a start date assuming approval.

    "I don't get a second bite of the apple (in making a pitch) because they have 11 other tracks that need resources," Chitwood said Thursday of ISC. "This is, I think, the one great chance we've got to do something special at Daytona."

    One major factor is unique to racing: The most desirable and priciest seats are in the top rows, because fans seated higher can see more of the gigantic track.

    Those are also the fans with the most work to do if they want to do anything but watch cars race around at 200 mph.

    "You have to climb every stair (from the ground) to get to the top row," Chitwood said. "Let's say you want a beer at Lap 100. You have to go back down the stairs to the bottom. You're going to do it one time, you're not going to do it more than that. … That's a big thing we're going to focus on."

    Chitwood, a Tampa native and graduate of USF and Florida, calls ticket buyers personally and talks to them at the track. Those encounters can have an effect — at a Nationwide series race in July 2011 he met a fan who asked why DIS could take money from sponsor Drive4COPD while allowing smoking in the grandstands. That helped lead to a policy change last year in which smoking was banned except in designated areas.

    That brought the track in line with stadiums in other sports, and Chitwood is aware that those places are a point of comparison, and competition too. Which, in turn, guides the renovation conversation.

    "We're a racetrack. We're a great racetrack," he said. "How do we really turn ourselves into a stadium? And that's really the goal, that's what we have to do for the next 50 years. If we don't, we're going to continue to Band-Aid here and Band-Aid there but we might not ever really get to the crux, which is: We have an aging property that needs a good facelift. And I think that's what our fans expect."


    0 0

    By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    Before he left his Tampa home 50-some years ago to play pro ball, before he starred for the Yankees during 18 seasons in the majors, before he won the first of 1,800-plus games as manager for five teams including the Rays, Lou Piniella was just a boy with a favorite baseball player.

    "I was a Boston Red Sox fan and Ted Williams was my boyhood idol," Piniella said. "I remember always going to Al Lopez Field when the Red Sox would come (for spring training) to see Ted."

    As Piniella's career advanced, he relished chances to meet Williams, to listen to his stories and, most sacred of all, to talk hitting.

    "He could do that for hours," Piniella said. "He would ask you your opinion, and if it wasn't like his, it was wrong. He'd argue with you, and try to change your mind, and finally, when he'd give up, he'd say, 'Well, you really don't know what you're talking about.' "

    Piniella obviously had some idea, because he did well enough to be chosen for the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame, with induction of an impressive class during Saturday's "Dinner with David Price and Friends" charity event at the Trop.

    "I'm honored," Piniella said. "I really am."

    Piniella, 69, is all but retired now, still living in Tampa, working a few weeks in the spring as an instructor for the Yankees ("I don't do anything but sign autographs") and a dozen or so games as a TV analyst. He reflected on his career during a 30-minute talk with the Times this week. Here are excerpts:

    Will you manage again?

    I'm done. I'll be 70 years old. I did it for 23 years. I had a really nice career. I enjoy being home. I enjoy being with my family. I enjoy my friends. I play some golf, I do some fishing, we went on three different vacations last year. One thing I have found out though — when you're retired you spend a hell of a lot more money than when you're working.

    Best team you played on?

    The '77 Yankees were a really good team, but my favorite team was the '78 team. We were 14 games out around the All-Star break and came back and beat a really good Boston team (thanks to Bucky Dent) and then repeated as world champions.

    Best team you managed?

    I had two. The 1990 Reds, wire-to-wire World Series champions. And in Seattle, in 2001 we won 116 ballgames, an all-time American League record.

    With all you've gotten to do in baseball, are there any regrets?

    The places where I managed, I went for the different challenges involved. I didn't really wait for a team that you'd say, "Boy, this team is ready to go to the World Series." I enjoyed each and every one. The place I had the least success was Tampa Bay, and the reason being our payroll was supposed to grow and it never grew past $20 something million, and I couldn't compete in that division. But everywhere else — we won two divisions with the Cubs, in Seattle we went to a lot of postseason games, in Cincinnati we won a world championship, in New York we won 90 games. But there's nothing really that I would have done different. Losing in my hometown (200-285 in 2003-05) wasn't fun, but, look, I did the best I could. What can I say?"

    It was tough on you, right?

    I just wasn't used to the losing. I thought I could go anywhere and win. I took a little bit of a beating there, no question.

    Ever think you shouldn't have done it?

    As soon as I took the job there was like a rift between the owners (Vince Naimoli and his original partners) and because of it our payroll never really increased. When the Sternberg group bought the team, I told them it was going to take about $60 million or so to have a good team, that they had some good young players but needed some veteran players also. And when the payroll finally got to that number, they started to win some games. They've had a good run. I'm proud of the job they've done.

    As a lifelong area resident, are you surprised the Rays haven't drawn better?

    I though they would do better attendance-wise than they have. It has been surprising. All this talk of a new stadium and everything else, we'll see where that goes.

    How about your chances to make the Hall of Fame (as a manager)?

    My numbers are there. I finished 14th all-time, over 1,800 wins, won a world championship, won 116 games in a season, which was only done one other time. But I'm in with a tough group — I've got (Tony) La Russa, my good buddy, I've got Joe Torre, I've got Bobby Cox. These guys have had great, great careers. So we'll see what happens. But if you ask me, if you look at other managers that have gotten in, you look at their resumes, mine is as impressive or more impressive.

    Sounds like it would mean a lot to you?

    It would mean a lot to anybody. It's the epitome of what you work for. Just to be considered is a good warm and fuzzy feeling.

    What about your reputation for arguing so, um, colorfully with umpires?

    Truthfully, it embarrasses me somewhat. I don't like that part of me. But it wasn't an impostor out there. It was me. ... I'd rather have people talk about the successes that I've had and the games that I've won as opposed to the tempter tantrums, but what can you do. ... You look at these other managers I mentioned and they probably had more ejections. The problem is they didn't stay out there as long.

    Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.


    0 0

    By Dave Mistretta, Times Correspondent
    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    Weather: Cold fronts are not a bad thing this month. Warmer water temperatures have our ecosystem confused. Last spring when temps soared quickly, early migrations of tarpon showed up along our beaches in early April. By June they were harder to locate. Many had gone offshore and spawned a month early. And there's the evidence of Red Tide in southern Pinellas County. Algae blooms grow quicker in warmer water. So enjoy this cold front that is cooling things down for a bit. It'll help get everything back to normal.

    In the mean time: Bottom fishing has been outstanding in shallower depths of 30 to 50 feet. We were catching a few keeper red grouper (season is now closed as of today) mixed in with so many other species. Numerous large grunts porgies and other reef fish are eager to bite, too. All you need is a box of squid to start. It seems every bottom fish will grab a chunk of squid during January and February. Octopus tentacles have also been great bait. No bottom fish can resist the wormlike wiggle of a lengthy tentacle attached to a jig head or circle hook.

    Big macks: King mackerel have refused to leave us this winter. We are still catching occasional fish at depths of 80 feet and out.

    Dave Mistretta captains the Jaws Too out of Indian Rocks Beach. Call (727) 439-2628 or visit jawstoo.com.


    0 0

    By Terry Tomalin, Times Outdoors/Fitness Editor
    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    Making news

    Grouper change Talks A part of FWC meeting

    The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will meet Feb. 13-14 in Orlando to discuss several fisheries issues that will affect anglers in the coming year.

    The big news involves grouper proposals. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council recently voted to eliminate the current Feb. 1 through March 31 shallow-water grouper closed season shoreward of the 20-fathom break. The recreational harvest of red, black, scamp, yellowfin and yellowmouth grouper would be permitted all year unless anglers are fishing in water deeper than 20 fathoms. Beyond 20 fathoms, the Feb. 1-March 31 recreational closed season would remain in effect. But before this becomes law, the Secretary of Commerce must approve the changes.

    In regard to gag grouper, the Gulf Council chose to open the season July 1 in federal waters, which begin 9 miles offshore in the gulf, and keep it open until the annual catch target has been met, which by best estimates, will take 133 to 155 days. The season will probably close sometime in November. This rule must also be approved by the Secretary of Commerce. The state will follow the federal rules in most of its waters, except for the state waters off Franklin, Wakulla, Jefferson and Taylor counties, which, according to the proposal, would open April 1.

    Closures arrive

    While state and federal officials work out future regulations, anglers should take note that the season for several species of grouper closes today in state and federal waters of the gulf. They include: black, red, yellowmouth, yellowfin grouper, scamp, red hind and rock hind. The season will reopen April 1. Gag grouper has a separate season and is now closed to harvest.

    Solunar chart

    AM PM

    Minor Major Minor Major

    2/1 9:25 3:15 9:55 3:40

    2/2 10:20 4:10 10:50 4:35

    2/3 11:15 5:05 11:45 5:30

    2/4 0 5:55 12:05 6:25

    2/5 12:40 6:50 1:00 7:20

    2/6 1:35 7:45 1:55 8:15

    2/7 2:30 8:40 2:50 9:10


    0 0

    By Terry Tomalin, Times Outdoors/Fitness Editor
    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    A friend seeking advice contacted me last week. Her cousin from overseas was in town for a brief visit. She wanted him to enjoy a "real Florida" experience.

    What would I suggest: Disney World? Ybor City? Clearwater Beach?

    "None of the above," I said. "If I had to pick one place that would show Florida at its finest, I would pick the Hillsborough River."

    The Hillsborough, which begins in the Green Swamp east of Dade City, flows for 59 miles through Pasco and Hillsborough counties before it reaches the bay in downtown Tampa. It is one of the state's last great wild waterways.

    It's got all an archetypal Florida river should have: cypress swamps, hardwood hammocks, pine flatwoods and, of course, plenty of alligators. Indians, conquistadors, soldiers and smugglers have traveled its length.

    Rich in history, you might call it Florida's "first river." While historians debate the exact route Spanish explorers took inland, there's no doubt these adventurers landed on the shores of Tampa Bay. I imagine Hernando De Soto had a young lieutenant who eyed the river from the deck of a galleon and wondered where it led. Did he take a longboat and some men and set off into the wilderness?

    Five hundred years ago, the banks looked quite different. The ancient cypress trees, some thousands of years old, probably blocked most of the sunlight. The forests were filled with wild cats, bears and howling wolves. It was probably scary and dangerous for these sailors who had been so long at sea.

    After the Spanish came the Seminoles, wandering Creeks from the British territories to the north, and they staked a claim. That was soon challenged by the Americans, who built bridges and forts, only to surrender them to the mosquitoes and snakes.

    Eventually, the Indians grew tired of fighting and disappeared to the south, leaving the land and river to loggers, who stripped the old growth forests, changing the landscape forever.

    But the river has a way of healing itself, and today, it takes a trained eye to spot the berms that supported the narrow-gauge rail lines that hauled the timber away. The wolves are gone. The bears have moved south and north, away from people.

    Every now and again, you still hear tales of a lone panther stalking the river's banks, or of a big bull gator that guards the mouth of an inhospitable stretch known as Seventeen Runs. "The Runs," as the area is called by locals, has dozens of downed trees, a myriad of feeder streams and dead-end creeks, which makes it a favorite hunting ground for large alligators. Big Joe used to frequent this part of the Hillsborough until he got too bold and a state-licensed trapper removed him in the name of public safety.

    But for a tourist from England, or any place else that doesn't have large reptiles as residents, even a 6-foot gator is an impressive sight. The Hillsborough River has no shortage of alligators, big and small.

    But in general, the river is ideal for beginners, especially the section below Hillsborough River State Park, serviced by an outfitter, Canoe Escape. The river is also a birder's paradise, and you can count on seeing great blue heron, white ibis, osprey and red-shouldered hawks.

    My favorite trip, and the one I recommended to my friend and her cousin, is the float from John B. Sargeant Park to Morris Bridge Park. It takes about two hours. No experience necessary.

    February is the best month to paddle. There are no bugs, the air is cool and crowds nonexistent.


    AMANDA DOMINGUEZ   |   Special to the TimesAMANDA DOMINGUEZ | Special to the Times

    0 0

    By Gary Shelton, Times Sports Columnist
    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    NEW ORLEANS

    Third and 8 is hard. Anquan Boldin can tell you all about the defensive backs who will tug and pull as a receiver tries to find space in traffic.

    Catching the ball over the middle is hard. Boldin knows about that, too, the way safeties will attempt to separate a receiver from the football by the force of a collision.

    Enduring a big loss is hard. The championship that got away, back when his Cardinals lost to the Steelers in Tampa's last Super Bowl, still gnaws at Boldin.

    And so we complain. About this. About that. About everything. It is our nature, a sport unto itself.

    But not Boldin.

    Not anymore. Not since his trip to Ethiopia, which seems about a million miles from the Super Bowl and the cameras that follow Boldin's every step.

    It was March when Boldin and former Cardinals teammate Larry Fitzgerald flew to Ethiopia, a poor, dry country. Boldin had read something about the struggles of the Ethiopian people and decided he wanted to help.

    "I didn't want to just cut a check," Bol­din said. "I wanted to experience it for myself. I wanted to see what the conditions were.

    "I can try to explain it to you, but unless you see it for yourself, you really can't grasp the situation. They're going through one of the worst droughts ever. It's barely rained in three years. There is no water to grow vegetation, no water to drink. Everything is like desert. For people in the United States, it's hard to wrap your mind around that."

    For more than a week, Boldin and Fitzgerald stayed. Not many people they met knew who they were or much about the sport they played. But everyone knew they were there to help. They met with officials. They watched classes being taught about farming in arid conditions. And they helped to build retaining walls.

    "We weren't over there just to watch," Boldin said. "It's hard. People make about 90 cents a day there. I remember one man who had a wife and six kids, and he had to walk three hours to work each way to start at 8 a.m. Three of his kids worked in the morning, and three went to school. At night, they reversed it. It was the only way they could make it."

    Now … who wants to talk about the 49ers secondary?

    Every now and then, you come across an athlete who is about more than the touchdowns in his statistics. Every now and then, you find a player who finds a way to make someone else's life better.

    Boldin, the former Florida State star? He's a tough player, a fine receiver, a fierce competitor. Also, he bought villagers a cow.

    How many receivers can say that?

    Oh, Boldin can play some football, too. He has quietly passed the 10,000-yard mark in receiving in his 10-year career. Who else makes more catches that look like rebounds? Who else is as willing to go over the middle to catch a pass?

    In New York, they still talk about the hit Boldin took from Jets safety Eric Smith back in 2008, when Boldin was with the Cardinals. Four days later, Boldin had surgery for a fractured sinus membrane, a procedure that took seven plates and 40 screws to fix. He only missed two games.

    "I just looked at it as a freak accident," Boldin said. "I've played football a lot of years, but that's one hit out of thousands. It wasn't a big deal to me.

    "I'm not a wide receiver. I'm a football player. Receivers go out and catch the ball. I'm willing to do anything it takes to win the game."

    For Boldin, this game matters more than most.

    He had a shot in that previous Super Bowl in 2009, after all. The Cardinals had taken a late lead, and Boldin was on the sideline when the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger led his team from behind.

    "I've talked to our team about that," he said. "You don't want to get this close and let it slip away. I remember how they herd you off the field so the winning team can celebrate. You don't want that."

    In other words, Sunday's game is important to Boldin. It just isn't the only thing that is important.

    "The thing I learned in Ethiopia was to be grateful," said Boldin, who is from Pahokee on the banks of Lake Okeechobee. "I had it hard growing up but nothing like that. The best thing about my childhood was that I was poor, but I didn't know I was poor because everyone around me was poor."

    Now, Boldin, 32, finds himself in a different economic sphere, and he wants to help. He has another trip planned to Ethiopia. He has worked with Oxfam, an international organization.

    "When you see someone in that situation, you want to help," he said. "I'm in a position where I can. If I'm in front of a camera, people will listen."

    Boldin paused. Then he smiled.

    "You know one of the things I remember?" he said. "No matter how hard their situation is, you always see them with a smile. No one is complaining. People are willing to work, willing to make themselves better."

    Remember that when you watch Boldin play Sunday. Yeah, he makes the Ravens better.

    Everyone else, too.


    Audra Melton   |   Oxfam AmericaAudra Melton | Oxfam America

    0 0

    By Jim Tomlin, Times Staff Writer
    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    TAMPA — Joie Chitwood oversees NASCAR's most famous racetrack, a 2½-mile monster with seating for hundreds of thousands and a tradition that's hard to match.

    The high banking and trioval shape at Daytona International Speedway are the same as what Lee Petty raced on when he won the first Daytona 500 in 1959. Some grandstand seats are the same, too.

    Chitwood knows his old track is, well, old, and customers now seek more creature comforts. That's the part he sees as "a chance to affect the customer's experience for 50 years."

    The speedway is in the early phases of what track officials hope will be a redefining redevelopment, and they released artist renderings last week of what the result would look like. Chitwood is still months from submitting a proposal to the track's owners, International Speedway Corp., but upgrades would include grandstands and seats, entrances, gates and concession areas. Specifics are coming in a few weeks.

    Government hurdles such as zoning have been cleared, and an architect has been chosen, Rosetti Associates, which was behind Ford Field in Detroit, among other projects. Cost is to be determined, as is a start date.

    "I don't get a second bite of the apple (in making a pitch) because they have 11 other tracks that need resources," Chitwood said Thursday of International Speedway Corp. "This is, I think, the one great chance we've got to do something special at Daytona."

    One major factor is unique to racing: The most desirable and priciest seats are in the top rows, because fans seated higher can see more of the gigantic track. Those also are the fans who have the most work to do if they want to do anything but watch the race from their seats.

    "You have to climb every stair (from the ground) to get to the top row," Chitwood said. "Let's say you want a beer at Lap 100. You have to go back down the stairs to the bottom. You're going to do it one time; you're not going to do it more than that. … That's a big thing we're going to focus on."

    Chitwood, a Tampa native and a graduate of USF and Florida, calls ticket buyers personally and talks to them at the track. Those encounters can have an effect.

    At a Nationwide series race in July 2011, he met a fan who asked why the track could take money from sponsor Drive4COPD, a public health campaign for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, while allowing smoking in the grandstands. That helped lead to a policy change last year in which smoking was banned except in designated areas.

    That brought the track in line with stadiums in other sports, and Chitwood is aware that those places are a point of comparison and competition, too. That guides the renovation conversation.

    "We're a racetrack. We're a great racetrack," he said. "How do we really turn ourselves into a stadium?

    "And that's really the goal. That's what we have to do for the next 50 years. If we don't, we're going to continue to Band-Aid here and Band-Aid there, but we might not ever really get to the crux, which is: We have an aging property that needs a good facelift. And I think that's what our fans expect."


    Daytona International SpeedwayDaytona International Speedway

    0 0

    By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    Before he left his Tampa home 50-some years ago to play pro ball, before he starred for the Yankees during 18 seasons in the majors, before he won the first of 1,800-plus games and a World Series as manager for five teams including the Rays, Lou Piniella was just a boy with a favorite baseball player.

    "I was a Boston Red Sox fan and Ted Williams was my boyhood idol," Piniella said. "I remember always going to Al Lopez Field when the Red Sox would come (for spring training) to see Ted."

    As Piniella's career advanced, he relished chances to meet Williams, to listen to his stories and, most sacred of all, to talk hitting.

    "He could do that for hours," Piniella said. "He would ask you your opinion, and if it wasn't like his, it was wrong. He'd argue with you, and try to change your mind, and finally, when he'd give up, he'd say, 'Well, you really don't know what you're talking about.' "

    Piniella obviously had some idea, because he did well enough to be chosen for the Ted Williams Hitters Hall of Fame, with induction of an impressive class occurring during Saturday's Dinner with David Price and Friends charity event at the Trop.

    "I'm honored," Piniella said. "I really am."

    Piniella, 69, is all but retired now, still living in Tampa, working a few weeks in the spring as an instructor for the Yankees ("I don't do anything but sign autographs") and a dozen or so games as a TV analyst. He reflected on his career this week with the Tampa Bay Times. Here are excerpts:

    Will you manage again?

    I'm done. I'll be 70 years old. I did it for 23 years. I had a really nice career. I enjoy being home. I enjoy being with my family. I enjoy my friends. I play some golf, I do some fishing; we went on three different vacations last year. One thing I have found out though: When you're retired, you spend a hell of a lot more money than when you're working.

    Best team you played on?

    The '77 Yankees were a really good team, but my favorite team was the '78 team. We were 14 games out around the All-Star break and came back and beat a really good Boston team (thanks to Bucky Dent) and then repeated as world champions.

    Best team you managed?

    I had two. The 1990 Reds, wire-to-wire World Series champions. And in Seattle, in 2001 we won 116 ball games, an all-time American League record.

    With all you've gotten to do in baseball, are there any regrets?

    The places where I managed, I went for the different challenges involved. I didn't really wait for a team that you'd say, "Boy, this team is ready to go to the World Series." I enjoyed each and every one. The place I had the least success was Tampa Bay, and the reason being our payroll was supposed to grow and it never grew past $20-something million, and I couldn't compete in that division. But everywhere else — we won two divisions with the Cubs, in Seattle we went to a lot of postseason games, in Cincinnati we won a world championship, in New York we won 90 games. But there's nothing really that I would have done different. Losing in my hometown (200-285 in 2003-05) wasn't fun, but, look, I did the best I could. What can I say?

    It was tough on you, right?

    I just wasn't used to the losing. I thought I could go anywhere and win. I took a little bit of a beating there, no question.

    Ever think you shouldn't have done it?

    As soon as I took the job there was like a rift between the owners (Vince Naimoli and his original partners) and because of it our payroll never really increased. When the (Stuart) Sternberg group bought the team, I told them it was going to take about $60 million or so to have a good team, that they had some good young players but needed some veteran players also. And when the payroll finally got to that number, they started to win some games. They've had a good run. I'm proud of the job they've done.

    As a lifelong area resident, are you surprised the Rays haven't drawn better?

    I thought they would do better attendancewise than they have. It has been surprising. All this talk of a new stadium and everything else, we'll see where that goes.

    How about your chances to make the Hall of Fame (as a manager)?

    My numbers are there. I finished 14th all time, over 1,800 wins, won a world championship, won 116 games in a season, which was only done one other time. But I'm in with a tough group. I've got (Tony) La Russa, my good buddy, I've got Joe Torre, I've got Bobby Cox. These guys have had great, great careers. So we'll see what happens. But if you ask me, if you look at other managers that have gotten in, you look at their resumes, mine is as impressive or more impressive.

    Sounds like it would mean a lot to you?

    It would mean a lot to anybody. It's the epitome of what you work for. Just to be considered is a good warm and fuzzy feeling.

    What about your reputation for arguing so, um, colorfully with umpires?

    Truthfully, it embarrasses me somewhat. I don't like that part of me. But it wasn't an impostor out there. It was me. … I'd rather have people talk about the successes that I've had and the games that I've won as opposed to the temper tantrums, but what can you do. … You look at these other managers I mentioned and they probably had more ejections. The problem is they didn't stay out there as long.

    Marc Topkin can be reached at topkin@tampabay.com.


    Times (2005)Times (2005)

    0 0
  • 01/31/13--18:31: Super Bowl news and notes
  • Times wires
    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    Quote of the day

    "It's definitely all about him. Once a guy goes to the center of the field, goes into the victory formation on the last play of his last home game … I just don't think the Giants or any organization I've ever been a part of — even growing up — would allow somebody to single themselves out like that. You're becoming a caricature of yourself. It's exhausting."

    Amani Toomer, ex-Giants receiver on Ravens LB Ray Lewis, citing his actions during the AFC wild-card game

    By the numbers

    44 Touchdowns scored by both the Ravens and the 49ers during the regular season.

    Prop bets of the day

    San Francisco margin of victory

    1-6: 3-17-12: 4-1

    13-18: 6-119-24: 10-1

    25-30: 16-131-plus: 25-1

    Baltimore margin of victory

    1-6: 4-17-12: 6-1

    13-18: 10-119-24: 20-1

    25-30: 40-131-plus: 80-1

    Quick! Who's Flacco's backup?

    Tyrod Taylor is the forgotten quarterback at the Super Bowl. His resume? Two years, no starts and 30 passes — 25 in the Ravens' meaningless regular-season finale Dec. 30. That's because Joe Flacco has started every game over the past five seasons and never missed a down because of injury or ineffectiveness. Still, Taylor, a standout at Virginia Tech, knows he's one play from getting into the game. "There are so many situations throughout the league where the next guy is called in," Taylor said, "so you can't look at how many straight games Joe has played without being injured."

    Ticket demands can get dicey

    Jacoby Jones, the Ravens' All-Pro kick returner, was overwhelmed for game tickets by his family and friends who live in New Orleans. Each player and coach can get 15, two for free, the rest for purchase. Prices range this year from $800 to $1,200. "I said I only got nine, so they'd fight over them," he said with a laugh. Then he got smart and put his mother, Emily, in charge of distribution: "My mom is old-school, no nonsense. She's from here, born and raised. It will be immediate family."

    Endorsement potential

    Who are the most marketable personalities in this year's game? "The Harbaugh brothers and (49ers QB) Colin Kaepernick," said Matt Delzell, who specializes in celebrity endorsements. "The Harbaughs make for a good story line (as opposing coaches), and Kaepernick is a dynamic player with a warm disposition who has deftly handled the spotlight." Allegations of using performance-enhancing substances might cause some to back away from Ravens LB Ray Lewis. "With a big personality and a Hall of Fame career, Ray was clearly one of the most marketable players heading into Sunday's game," Delzell said. "Even if (the claims) prove to be false, it still hurts his marketability in the short term."

    This time, she does it live

    Beyonce, the halftime performer, sang the national anthem Thursday just like at the inauguration. The difference? On Thursday, it was live. After the song, she acknowledged she lip-synched Jan. 21. "I did not have time to rehearse with the orchestra," she said, adding she was emotional that day in Washington. "Due to no proper sound check, I did not feel comfortable taking a risk. It was about the president and the inauguration, and I wanted to make him and my country proud, so I decided to sing along with my prerecorded track, which is very common in the music industry. And I'm very proud of my performance." And after her rendition Thursday, she had the line of the day: "Any questions?"

    Times wires


    0 0

    By Tom Jones, Times Sports Columnist
    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    1. The Big Easy has been the Big Snoozy when it comes to Super Bowls. Of the previous nine held in New Orleans, I would rank seven — maybe even eight — as bad games. Some were blowouts such as 55-10 (49ers over Broncos to end 1989) and 46-10 (Bears over Patriots to end 1985). Some were simply boring such as when the Cowboys beat the Dolphins 24-3 to end 1971 and the Broncos 27-10 to end 1977. Some were just train wrecks such as when the Steelers beat the Vikings 16-6 to end 1974. That might have been the most poorly played Super Bowl ever. They teams combined for 13 punts, 20 completed passes, four fumbles lost, three interceptions, a safety, blocked punt and missed extra point. The lone really good game in New Orleans? The Patriots beat the Rams 20-17 to end 2001 on Adam Vinatieri's last-second field goal — a game Rams running back Marshall Faulk now claims the Patriots cheated to win.

    2. You wonder how the good folks of Cleveland feel about the Ravens being in the Super Bowl. I'm thinking only San Francisco will have a larger 49ers fan base than Cleveland. Since former owner Art Modell moved the Browns to Baltimore in 1996, the Ravens have won one Super Bowl, are about to play in another, claimed five division titles and made the playoffs nine times. The new Browns, who entered the league as an expansion franchise in 1999, have had two winning seasons, made the playoffs only once and do not have a postseason victory.

    3. If the 49ers win, I hope David Akers kicks like a 60-yarder on the last play. Akers, 38, missed 13 kicks in the regular season, including two in overtime periods, and is 1-for-2 in the playoffs. Frankly, it's stunning he still has a job. Fans are down on him, and even the 49ers briefly lost faith. They brought in kickers for tryouts just before the playoffs and signed and have since released Billy Cundiff. It would be fun to see the 15-year veteran kick a Super Bowl winner then promptly retire as a legend.


    0 0

    Times wires
    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    NEW ORLEANS — No other uniform would fit Donald Driver.

    The Packers' all-time leading receiver announced his retirement Thursday, with a public ceremony planned for Feb. 6 at Lambeau Field.

    "I've always said that I owe it to the fans to retire as a Packer," said Driver, who turns 38 Saturday. "I feel like I can still play, but if I can't play for my organization, then I can't play for anyone else."

    Driver finishes his 14-year career as Green Bay's all-time leader in yards receiving (10,137), catches (743) and 1,000-yard seasons (seven). He's one of only 18 receivers in history with 700-plus career catches and 10,000 or more receiving yards in 200 games.

    Rooney rule: Three former black head coaches — Tony Dungy, Herm Edwards and Jim Caldwell — said the NFL needs to rethink its Rooney Rule for promoting minority hiring after 15 top vacancies were all filled by white candidates since the regular season ended a month ago. "I know the concept is good," said Dungy, the former Bucs coach who was with the Colts when he became the first black coach to win a Super Bowl. "Obviously, it's not working the way it should."

    Steelers chairman Dan Rooney pushed the league to require every team to interview at least one minority candidate for each coaching or GM opening. The league established the rule in 2003.

    Robert Gulliver, the NFL's executive vice president of human resources, said he expects to make revisions in the rule.

    Union makes safety complaints: Players association executive director DeMaurice Smith and union president Domonique Foxworth, critical of the league's handling of player safety, threatened to file a grievance if the NFL refuses to institute a system to verify the credentials of all medical personnel on each team. He said the NFLPA has three amendments it wants for the collective bargaining agreement, including the appointment of "a neutral chief safety officer who can hear appeals about acceptable levels of medical care."

    Rainey pleads: Former Gators and Steelers running back Chris Rainey pled no contest to disorderly conduct in Alachua County after his arrest in January on charges of simple battery in a dispute with his girlfriend. Rainey was fined $200 and imposed court costs of about $300. His charge was reduced to disorderly conduct because the reported victim denied being battered. The Steelers released him after his arrest.

    Times staff writer Antonya English contributed to this report.


    0 0
  • 01/31/13--19:26: Sports on TV/radio
  • Times staff
    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    TODAY

    Baseball

    Caribbean World Series: Venezuela vs. Dominican Republic, 5 p.m., ESPND

    Caribbean World Series: Puerto Rico vs. Mexico, 9:30 p.m., ESPND

    Boxing

    Light middleweights: Molina vs. Spinks, 9 p.m., ESPN2

    College basketball

    Manhattan at Siena, 7 p.m., ESPNU

    Youngstown State at Detroit, 9 p.m., ESPNU

    College hockey

    Michigan State at Michigan, 6:30 p.m., Big Ten

    Dartmouth at Union (N.Y.), 7:30 p.m., NBCSN

    Golf

    PGA Europe: Dubai Desert Classic, 4:30 a.m., Golf

    PGA: Phoenix Open, 4 p.m., Golf

    High school hockey

    Freedom vs. Lakeland Jenkins, 7:30 p.m., BHSN

    Newsome vs. East Lake, 9 p.m., BHSN

    NBA

    Heat at Pacers, 7 p.m., ESPN

    Magic at Celtics, 7:30 p.m., FSN; 1010-AM

    Lakers at Timberwolves, 9:30 p.m., ESPN

    NHL

    Jets at Lightning, 7:30 p.m., Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Blues at Red Wings, 7:30 p.m., NHL

    Tennis

    WTA: Suez Open, 8 a.m., Tennis

    Davis Cup: Brazil at United States, 2 p.m., Tennis

    Saturday HIGHLIGHTS

    College basketball

    Cincinnati at Seton Hall, 11 a.m., ESPNU

    Syracuse at Pittsburgh, noon, ESPN

    Purdue at Northwestern, noon, ESPN2

    Virginia Tech at North Carolina, noon, Ch. 44

    Women: Texas at TCU, 12:30 p.m., FSN

    Austin Peay at Murray State, 1 p.m., ESPNU

    Georgia at South Carolina, 1:30 p.m., Ch. 38

    Duke at Florida State, 2 p.m., ESPN; 1040-AM, 620-AM

    Notre Dame at DePaul, 2 p.m., ESPN2

    Dayton at St. Louis, 2 p.m., NBCSN

    Wake Forest at Maryland, 2 p.m., Sun Sports

    Tulsa at Memphis, 2 p.m., CBSSN

    Colorado at Utah, 2:30 p.m., FSN

    Robert Morris at Long Island-Brooklyn, 3 p.m., ESPNU

    Miami at N.C. State, 4 p.m., Ch. 10

    Wichita State at Northern Iowa, 4 p.m., ESPN2

    Tennessee at Arkansas, 4 p.m., ESPN

    Alabama at Vanderbilt, 4 p.m., Ch. 38

    Rhode Island at Butler, 4 p.m., CBSSN

    Ohio at Akron, 5 p.m., ESPNU

    LSU at Mississippi State , 5:30 p.m., FSN

    Kansas State at Oklahoma, 6 p.m., ESPN2

    Kentucky at Texas A&M, 6 p.m., ESPN

    Columbia at Princeton, 6 p.m., NBCSN

    Temple at St. Joseph's, 6 p.m., CBSSN

    Mississippi at Florida, 7 p.m., ESPNU; 620-AM

    Ohio State at Nebraska, 7 p.m., Big Ten

    Baylor at Iowa State, 8 p.m., ESPN2

    Nevada at New Mexico, 8 p.m., NBCSN

    Arizona State at Washington, 9 p.m., ESPNU

    Michigan at Indiana, 9 p.m., ESPN

    Gonzaga at San Diego, 11 p.m., ESPNU

    Golf

    PGA Europe: Dubai Desert Classic, 6 a.m., Golf

    PGA: Phoenix Open, 1 p.m., Golf

    PGA: Phoenix Open, 3 p.m., Ch. 8

    NBA

    Bulls at Hawks, 7 p.m., WGN

    Hornets at Timberwolves, 8 p.m., NBA

    Magic at Bucks, 8:30 p.m., FSN; 1010-AM

    NHL

    Devils at Penguins, 1 p.m., NHL

    Rangers at Lightning, 7 p.m., Sun Sports; 970-AM

    Bruins at Maple Leafs, 7 p.m., NHL

    Sunday HIGHLIGHTS

    College basketball

    Women: Dayton at Richmond, 11 a.m., ESPNU

    Providence at Villanova, noon, BHSN

    Iowa at Minnesota, 1 p.m., Big Ten

    Women: USF at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m., 1010-AM

    Women: Alabama at Florida, 1 p.m., FSN

    Women: Duke at North Carolina, 1 p.m., ESPNU

    USF at Connecticut, 2 p.m., BHSN; 98.7-FM

    Marquette at Louisville, 2 p.m., ESPN

    Women: Georgia at Kentucky, 2 p.m., Ch. 38

    Virginia at Georgia Tech, 3 p.m., ESPNU

    Women: Arkansas at Mississippi State, 3 p.m., FSN

    Wisconsin at Illinois, 3:30 p.m., Big Ten

    Golf

    PGA Europe: Dubai Desert Classic, 6 a.m., Golf

    PGA: Phoenix Open, 1 p.m., Golf

    PGA: Phoenix Open, 3 p.m., Ch. 8

    NBA

    Clippers at Celtics, 1 p.m., NBA

    NHL

    Penguins at Capitals, 12:30 p.m., Ch. 8

    NFL

    Super Bowl XLVII: Ravens vs. 49ers, 6:30 p.m., Ch. 10; 98.7-FM, 1010-AM

    TV: BHSN: Bright House Sports Network; CBSSN: CBS Sports Network; ESPND: ESPN Deportes; FSN: Fox Sports Net; NBCSN: NBC Sports Network


    0 0

    Times wires
    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    NEW ORLEANS — Ravens S Ed Reed clarified his remarks about ex-linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide last year.

    When first asked about Seau, whose brain was found to have signs of trauma that could have led to his emotional state, Reed said, "Did he sign up for it? Yeah, he signed up to play football. Junior gave everything he had to football. I'm sure he's looking down and has no regrets."

    Reed said Thursday that he meant Seau probably doesn't regret playing football.

    "When I said I know he won't have any regrets, I was talking about football, not the fact that the man passed away and lost his family," Reed said. "No disrespect to his family, but people tend to write the wrong things and take it out of context."

    Reed added that playing football has affected his life.

    "Some days I wake up and I'm like, 'Where did my memory go?' " he said. "But I signed up for it."

    Saying sorry: 49ers CB Chris Culliver apologized for his comments he made Tuesday concerning homosexuals. In an interview with comedian Artie Lange, Culliver said he wouldn't welcome a gay player in the locker room, the 49ers didn't have any gay players and if they did those players should leave. "They were very ugly comments," he said.

    Saying Thanks: When Mike Singletary took over as 49ers coach in 2008, one of his first actions was benching TE Vernon Davis during a game for putting himself above the team. Four years later, Davis credits Singletary with setting his career on the right track and regrets never getting a chance to thank Singletary, who was fired during the 2010 season. "I remember the very first time he kicked me off the field. Tears were shed," Davis said. "I told him, 'I want to be traded, Coach.' He said, 'Okay, I'll find another team for you.' That moment, it started to click for me. It made me a better man, a better teammate and a better leader for my team."

    Coordinating practices: Because Tulane is building a new football stadium, the Ravens practiced in the outfield of its baseball field Wednesday. Unhappy with the hard artificial turf, the Ravens on Thursday asked the NFL if they could use the Saints' facility in Metairie.

    The 49ers are training there. So the Ravens dressed and did a walkthrough at Tulane then rode five buses for the 8-mile trip.

    Despite the practices overlapping by only 10 minutes, the NFL found enough drapes to create a partition between the two sides of the field and blocked off all windows in the weight room.

    Ravens coach John Harbaugh credited brother and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh: "This wouldn't have worked out if the coaches didn't know each other."

    Practice report: 49ers linebackers Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks were limited for a second day with shoulder injuries but are expected to play. The Ravens reported no injuries.

    No comment: Earlier this week, the 49ers' Randy Moss said he's the greatest receiver in history. Responded Hall of Famer Jerry Rice: "I don't need to talk about being the best receiver. I don't need to pat myself on the back."

    Fakes: The U.S. Immigration and Customs department said it has confiscated about $13.6 million worth of phony NFL merchandise over the past five months and expects to confiscate more this week. Authorities also have shut down more than 300 websites selling counterfeit goods as part of "Operation Red Zone."


    0 0
  • 01/31/13--19:36: 'Lefty' misses 59 by a lip
  • Times wires
    Thursday, January 31, 2013

    SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Phil Mickelson pointed his putter at the cup and started to walk toward the hole, ready to celebrate golf's magic number.

    At the end, though, the ball caught the right edge of the cup, curled 180 degrees to the other side of the hole and stayed out. A fraction of inch turned cheers to gasps and cost him a 59 Thursday in the first round of the Phoenix Open.

    "Six feet to go, (the ball) was in the center," Mickelson said. "Three feet to go, it was in the center. A foot to go, it was in the center, and even as it's approaching the hole, I couldn't envision which side of the hole it could possibly miss on, and it ended up somehow just dying off at the end, catching the lip. At that speed, to lip out as much as it did is very rare.

    "I'm excited to shoot 60, but to see that last putt lip out the way it did and not go in, it's crushing because you don't get that chance very often to shoot 59."

    Playing partners Jason Dufner (68) and Rickie Fowler (68) thought it was going in, too.

    "Unlucky. He was walking it in," Dufner said.

    "I thought it was in," Fowler said. "I was pulling for him, trying to stay out of his way."

    Mickelson settled for 11-under 60, matching the tournament record he already shared with Grant Waite and Mark Calcavecchia. He had a four-stroke lead over Ryan Palmer, Brandt Snedeker, Padraig Harrington, Ted Potter and Jeff Maggert when play was suspended because of darkness. The round started an hour late because of frost.

    Five players have shot 59 in official PGA Tour events, the last being Stuart Appleby in the 2010 Greenbrier Classic.

    In perfect conditions on a TPC Scottsdale course softened by weekend rain, Mickel­son, who started on the back nine, birdied the first four holes, then parred No. 14 and missed a 5-foot birdie try on the par-5 15th.

    He was thinking about breaking 60 after making the turn in 7-under 29, which tied the tournament back-nine record.

    "(When) I birdied (his third and fourth holes), 'Done deal. I'm going to get this done,' " Mickelson said.

    "Very disappointed that I wasn't able to birdie the last couple. … I just knew I could do it, and darn it, it just lipped out."

    deer-antler spray update: Vijay Singh withdrew from the Phoenix Open, a day after saying he used deer-antler spray and was "absolutely shocked" it contains a substance banned by the PGA Tour. Singh cited a back injury in pulling out before the first round. The tour said it is looking into Singh's use of the spray, which contains IGF-1, connected to human growth hormone. Mark O'Meara, at the European Tour's Dubai Desert Classic, said he doesn't think Singh would try to cheat but believes he should be suspended "for a couple of months." Bob Charles, the 1963 British Open winner, said in New Zealand he also used and promoted deer-antler spray for more than 20 years and was surprised to learn it contained a banned substance.


    Associated PressAssociated Press

older | 1 | .... | 916 | 917 | (Page 918) | 919 | 920 | .... | 929 | newer