Sports Outside the Beltway

Report Clears Armstrong of Doping in 1999 Tour de France

Report clears Armstrong of doping in 1999 Tour de France SI.COM

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -Lance Armstrong called it a “witch hunt” from the very beginning, saying a French newspaper used dubious evidence to accuse him of doping – even charging that lab officials mishandled his samples and broke the rules.

According to a Dutch investigator’s findings released Wednesday, he may have been right.


It said tests on urine samples were conducted improperly and fell so short of scientific standards that it was “completely irresponsible” to suggest they “constitute evidence of anything.”

Other than using Soap, deodorant, and toothpaste — Lance was found not to be using any banned substances in France (old joke).

The article goes on to mention possible legal and ethical violations by the organization that was falsely accusing Lance.



Roger Clemens Comes out of Retirement, Rejoins Astros

Roger Clemens will be pitching for the Astros again this year.

Roger Clemens is coming out of retirement for the third time, agreeing to a contract to pitch for the Houston Astros for the rest of 2006. The 43-year-old Clemens, who will be entering his 23rd major league season, is agreeing first to a minor league contract that pays $322,000 over the five-month minor league season, and his first start is likely to be June 6 at Lexington, Ky., the Class A team where his oldest son, Koby, plays. If all goes well, his second minor league start would be June 11 at Double-A Corpus Christi, Texas, followed by a start June 16 at Triple-A Round Rock, Texas.

Clemens announced his return Wednesday at a news conference. “The ball’s in my court now,” he said. “This was a difficult decision on my part in a number of situations. I have to now take the next step and get my body ready to come back, get effective, win games.”

When he is added to the major league roster, he’ll get a one-year, $22 million contract — actually, the contract would be worth $22,000,022 (Clemens’ uniform number is 22). But because he won’t be playing the full season, he’ll receive a prorated percentage of that, which would come to about $12.25 million if he rejoins Houston in late June. The tentative goal is to have him start against the Minnesota Twins on June 22; if he’s put on the big league roster that day, he would earn $12,632,307.


Clemens won his seventh Cy Young Award in 2004, going 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA. He went 13-8 with a 1.87 ERA last year, winning the major league ERA title for the first time since 1990.

Clemens is already the greatest pitcher of his generation–and I say that as a Braves/Greg Maddux fan and has all the accolades and championships anyone could ask for. Still, there’s no reason for him to hang it up while he’s still a truly dominant pitcher, even if he is geriatric by Major League standards.



Legendary Pool Player Steve “The Miz” Mizerak Dies

Pool legend Steve “The Miz” Mizerak has died, AP reports.

Steve Mizerak, winner of multiple pool championships who became one of the game’s more recognizable figures by appearing in training videos, beer commercials and a movie, has died at age 61, his wife said Tuesday.

Mizerak died Monday in Palm Beach County from complications stemming from gall bladder surgery, Karen Mizerak told The Associated Press. Mizerak had not returned home since entering the hospital in January, she said.

Known by his nickname “The Miz,” Mizerak won four U.S. Open Championships and dozens of other billiards tournaments in his professional career, which began when he was 13. He was inducted into the Billiard Congress of America’s hall of fame in 1980.

He used his talent and name recognition to make training books and videos, bringing basics such as breaks and bank shots, to more advanced techniques for trick shots, to the masses. Mizerak also made a difficult trick shot in a now-famous commercial for Miller Lite, when the beer maker was using sports celebrities to sell its product in the 1970s and 1980s.


Mizerak appeared in the 1986 film “The Color of Money,” playing an opponent of Paul Newman’s character, Fast Eddie Felson.

He also branched out in the billiards merchandise business, serving as president and designer for a company he formed to make pool cues.

Born in Perth Amboy, N.J., Mizerak learned to play billiards at age 4, standing on a milk box in his father’s pool hall. Later, he taught history in the public school system in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, while also playing pool in his spare time.


Later in life, Mizerak, who lived on Singer Island, founded the Seniors Masters Tour.


Other survivors include his two sons, a stepson and two granddaughters.



Cowboys Beat Patriots in Super Bowl XLI

SI’s Peter King has picked the Dallas Cowboys to win the 2007 Super Bowl over the New England Patriots. Although he’s gotten it wrong just about every year–and acknowledges such–I’ll take anything as a Dallas and NFL fan at this dreary time of the pre-pre-season.

The envelope, please. The combatants in Super Bowl XLI, on Feb. 4, 2007, at Dolphins Stadium? The New England Patriots vs. the Dallas Cowboys. You heard it here first.

All kinds of great angles. Belichick-Parcells. Bledsoe-Belichick. Kraft-Parcells. Brady-Bledsoe. Parcells and his son-in-law, Pats VP of player personnel Scott Pioli, on opposite sides. Maybe we’d call it the Dallas Pioli Bowl. There are two weeks between the conference championships and the Super Bowl this season. We’d need two months to cover all the angles. That’s how many good stories would be connected to this game.

And we haven’t even mentioned Terrell Owens yet. Or Jerry Jones.

So many good stories that Terry Glenn might make the 17th paragraph of the Associated Press’ Super Bowl preview. Might.


I like Dallas because it has answered every question I have for them but two: Is the offensive line good enough and will the secondary have any more meltdowns like the one it had in the last two minutes of the Washington game last year? We’ll see. And I like the Cowboys even though they may have to win a road game or two in the playoffs to get to Miami because they just might go 3-3 in the toughest division in football right now.

There’s some risk, to be sure, because Owens is a living, breathing incendiary device. But all kinds of silly chemistry things can happen once the year begins. What I like about this team is it addressed almost every one of its major needs entering the off-season. The Cowboys got a kicker with some clutch misses on his resume, Mike Vanderjagt, but he’s better than any guy they’ve had in years. They got the best player in free-agency in Owens, who’s also one of the five best offensive forces in football when he’s mentally right.

They got a second blocking/catching tight end in the second round in Notre Dame’s Anthony Fasano. They got the kind of stonewallish strongside linebacker in the draft — Bobby Carpenter — Parcells must have to play the 3-4 the way he wants. That’s a really good 3-4 right now, and it could be superb if DeMarcus Ware provides the kind of pass-rush his potential says he can.

Agreed all around. If they stay healthy, this could be a truly special defensive team this year. They have incredible depth at D-line and linebacker and are solid at strong safety and cornerback. The only real questionmark is the other safety to go along with Roy Williams.

The O-line is indeed the biggest issue. They were below par last year once Flozell Adams went down and they decided not to bring back perennial Pro Bowler Larry Allen this year. Still, they’ve brought in some young talent in free agency and Rob Petiti should be much better with a year under his belt. And a healthy Adams will help immensely.

Enought to hoist the Lombardi Trophy? I have my doubts. But there’s at least legitimate hope this year for the first time in a while.


Joe Brodsky, Former Dallas Cowboys Coach, Dies

Former Dallas Cowboys running backs coach Joe Brodsky has died.

Joe Brodsky Photo When Emmitt Smith thanked those who helped make him the NFL’s all-time leading rusher at his retirement announcement, his running backs coach for eight seasons, Joe Brodsky, was near the top of the list.

Brodsky died Thursday after a battle with prostate cancer at his Miami Lakes home. He was 71.

“Joe was a big contributor to the success we enjoyed in the 1990s,” owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. “As his primary responsibility was the nurturing and development of the NFL’s all-timer leading rusher, he was an obvious success in that endeavor. But he also touched and influenced the lives and careers of hundreds of success stories in the high school, college and pro football levels. We grieve for his family and their loss, and we appreciate his contributions to the history of the Dallas Cowboys.”

Brodsky left the University of Miami with Jimmy Johnson and helped the Cowboys win three Super Bowls. He helped Smith and fullback Daryl Johnston earn Pro Bowl honors.

Brodsky is survived by his wife of 49 years, Joyce, three sons and three grandchildren.

A shame. I had no idea that he was ill–or that he was quite so old.



Two Washington Wizards players arrested on South Beach

From the Miami Herald-

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – (AP) — Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas and forward Awvee Storey were arrested on charges of disobeying police, part of the crackdown on disorderly behavior among those who have flocked to Miami Beach for Memorial Day weekend.

Storey had been blocking traffic in the middle of a busy street when an officer told him to get back to the sidewalk Saturday night, according to police reports. Storey did not get out of the street, and the officer arrested him and charged him with failure to obey a command.

While police were arresting Storey, Arenas got out of a vehicle and walked toward the arresting officers. According to reports, an officer told Arenas to get back in his vehicle, but he refused, saying he wanted to stand next to his teammate. The officer took Arenas into custody and charged him with resisting without violence.

As Arenas was being arrested, according to reports, he said, “You can’t arrest me. I’m a basketball player. I play for the Washington Wizards, and I’m not going to leave my teammate.”

Both players were then taken to jail for processing.

The Wizards released a statement saying, “We are aware of the situation and, until we have more information, we will have no comment.”

Up my way people block the road all the time but there is never police around. It is never wise to disobey a policeman. That is if you don’t want to go to jail.


Barry Bonds Hits No. 715, Passing Babe Ruth

Barry Bonds has hit his 715th career home run today, passing Babe Ruth for 2nd place. He’s still an almost unimaginable 40 behind Hank Aaron, however.

Barry Bonds stands alone at No. 715.

He hit the milestone home run with a two-run shot to center field Sunday, moving past Babe Ruth into sole possession of second place on the career list behind Hank Aaron. Bonds homered off Colorado’s Byung-Hyun Kim and in front of his home fans — where he wanted to do it all along — and before the San Francisco Giants headed on a road trip. The ball glanced off a fan’s hands about 15 rows up and then dropped onto an elevated platform beyond the fence. The souvenir sat there for a few minutes before rolling off the roof to an unidentified man waiting for a hot dog, and he was quickly ushered away by security. Bonds circled the bases as streamers fell from the upper deck.


Bonds connected at 2:14 p.m. in the fourth inning, then immediately raised his arms and clapped his hands together before beginning his historic trot. Kim became the 421st different pitcher to surrender a home run to the 41-year-old slugger — yet another meaningful drive Kim has given up, having allowed a pair of monstrous World Series homers in 2001.


This is the first time in nearly 85 years that Ruth hasn’t been in the top two on the career home run list, according to David Vincent of the Society for American Baseball Research. He passed Sam Thompson to move into second on June 20, 1921, when he hit his 127th career home run.

Until he missed most of last season due to injury and came back this year a shadow of what he’d been in 2004, it seemed inevitable that Bonds would pass Aaron. Another 40 homers to tie and 41 to break the 755 mark now seems almost unthinkable, however. It would likely require Bonds to play the rest of this season and all of next season on his horribly battered knees.


Danica Patrick Doesn’t Win Indy 500

Danica Patrick Stripping Race Suit PhotoThe 2006 Indy 500 is over. Danica Patrick did not win. Mario Andretti’s grandson finished second and some guy I’ve never heard of won.

Unlike golf reporters, who at least have the sense to tell us where Tiger Woods finished when he doesn’t win an event, the story does not mention where Patrick finished. She placed 4th last year.

Update: She finished 8th. Not a bad first two Indy 500′s. Incidentally, the winner was Sam Hornish, Jr., who was the 2001 and 2002 IRL champion. That I’ve never heard of him says something about how far this sport has fallen from its heyday. There’s not a pre-1996 CART Champion whose name I’m unfamiliar with; most are household names.





Ricky Williams to play for Toronto Argonauts

From the Palm Beach Post-

Running back Ricky Williams received permission from the Dolphins on Sunday to play for the Toronto Argonauts during the 2006 season, the Dolphins announced.

Shortly before, the Argonauts scheduled a 4 p.m. news conference in Toronto to announce that they indeed signed Williams, who is expected to attend.

Details of the deal are not yet known, but Williams likely will earn upward of $350,000 for the one-year deal.

Following the CFL season, Williams will wait until the end of the NFL season to seek reinstatement after fulfilling a one-year suspension.

If he is reinstated, he will be bound to return to the Dolphins based on details of legal documents faxed to the Dolphins from the Argonauts on Saturday evening.

This has been rumored for over a month. I’m just surprised the Dolphins are allowing this. What if Williams gets seriously injured playing in the CFL? Put aside his drug use and other personality problems, Williams is possibly the best running back in the NFL. That’s based on his play prior to 2004.

Then maybe Miami isn’t planning on Ricky being a part of the team’s future. There is good reason to question his desire to play in the NFL.

Does the CFL have a drug policy? If they do, it doesn’t seem to be much of one. Why would they otherwise allow a NFL player suspended for drug use to play in their leauge. I know next to nothing about the CFL but allowing Williams to play is beyond me.

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Craig “Ironhead” Heyward Dies of Brain Tumor at 39

Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, a fullback for several NFL teams from 1988 to 1998, has died from a brain tumor. He was only 39.

Craig "Ironhead" Heyward  Photo Jed Jacobsohn/Allsport Craig Heyward played for five different NFL teams, including the Colts in 1998. Former NFL fullback Craig “Ironhead” Heyward, who played 11 seasons in the league with five different franchises, died here Saturday after a seven-year battle with a recurring brain tumor. Heyward, who retired from the league following the 1998 season, was 39.

Given the severity and aggressiveness of Heyward’s tumor, known as a chordoma, and the inability of surgeons to completely remove it during two operations, his death was not unexpected. Heyward also suffered a stroke a few years ago that left him partially paralyzed. But friends who had visited recently with Heyward, including one-time NFL quarterback Bobby Hebert, a former teammate in both New Orleans and Atlanta, certainly did not expect his death to come so quickly. Hebert told two weeks ago that he was apprised that the tumor had wrapped itself around Heyward’s brain, that further surgical attempts were not planned, and that the once-mighty fullback would likely survive another three to five years. “The one thing he’s still got and that hasn’t changed a bit,” Hebert said at the time, “is that devilish sense of humor of his. Hopefully, that will keep him going for a while.”

In a statement released by the University of Pittsburgh, coach Dave Wannstedt, who helped direct Heyward to the school and also coached him with the Chicago Bears, said: “I will always remember him as a tremendous player who had an irrepressible attitude on and off the field. We spoke just a few weeks ago and I was struck by the typical upbeat ‘Ironhead’ attitude he displayed despite his health. The thoughts and prayers of the entire Pitt family are with Craig’s loved ones during this time of sorrow.”

Heyward departed Pitt as an underclassman to enter the NFL draft and was the first-round selection of the New Orleans Saints in 1988. He played from 1988-92 for the Saints and then had stints with Chicago (1993), Atlanta (1994-96), St. Louis (1997) and Indianapolis (1998).

ESPN’s Len Pasquarelli has a touching eulogy entitled, “Ironhead was a nickname, Craig was the man.”


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