Sports Outside the Beltway

See what I mean about the LPGA and The Golf Channel

Today The Corning Classic will be finishing up. With one round to go, South Korea’s Jeong “JJ or The Little Giant” Jang holds a three shot lead. JJ will be teeing off today at 12:28.

This would seem to set up a television broadcast from 2-5 p.m. or a two hour slot somewhere in that time frame. The Golf Channel is broadcasting the LPGA tour stop this week. Let us look at their schedule for this afternoon.

1 p.m.- Paid Programming
1:30- Paid Programming
2:00- 1995 US Women’s Open Highlights
3:00- 1996 US Women’s Open Highlights
4:00- Annika swings for the kids
4:30- Barton Creek Classic Highlights
5:30- Golf with Style
6:00- How low can you go
6:30- Playing lessons from the pros

Then the Corning Classic is shown on taped from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Do we need any further proof that TGC does not have the best interests of women’s golf in mind when they do their programming? Today’s scheduling is inexcusable and for the LPGA to shift a major championship to this channel a colossal blunder. I will never understand this organization’s thinking.

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LPGA + McDonald’s + The Golf Channel= A ‘Major’ Disaster


Mother of Boy Who Called Notre Dame Play Dies

Cathy Mazurkiewicz, whose 10-year-old son, Montana, was granted his dying wish to call a play for Notre Dame, has died.

The mother of a boy granted a dying wish to call a football play for Notre Dame died eight months after her son. Cathy Mazurkiewicz died Wednesday at 46 at her parents’ home in Bodfish, Calif., of melanoma, said her daughter, Katrin Seymour. Montana, 10, died of inoperable brain cancer. “Me and my sister were with her,” Seymour said. “She took a few soft breaths, gave a smile, then she was gone.”

Cathy Mazurkiewicz, the mother of six children, knew her health was failing when her son died but kept it quiet. “When she was taking care of Montana she hardly had time to focus on her own illness,” said Seymour, who lives in Alhambra, Calif., east of Los Angeles.

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis visited Montana Mazurkiewicz in Mishawaka, outside South Bend, last September before Notre Dame played Washington. Weis asked if there was something he could do, and he agreed to let Montana call the first play against Washington. Montana called “pass right.” Weis called for a pass right on the first play of the game even though the Irish started on their 1-yard line. Tight end Anthony Fasano caught the pass and leaped over a defender for a 13-yard gain.

Montana never got to see the play, though. He had died the day before.

Ugh. What a horrible year for the Mazurkiewicz family.

Related: Notre Dame’s Charlie Weis Lets Dying Boy Call Play



Danica Patrick the Next Anna Kournikova?

Is Danica Patrick in danger of becoming the Anna Kournikova of auto racing?

Danica Patrick has been thinking about Anna Kournikova. One season after she burst onto the auto racing scene as a rookie, Patrick has yet to win a race; and that has caused some to draw a comparison between the attractive driver and the Russian tennis beauty who failed to win a WTA singles title during her eight-year career but became a modeling and marketing sensation.

As she prepares this week for the Indianapolis 500 (Sunday, noon, ET, ABC), where she placed fourth last year, the extremely media-savvy Patrick apparently came to interview sessions prepared to address the comparison. The 24-year-old driver had at the ready the fact that Kournikova was once ranked second in the world in doubles. (Kournikova actually was ranked No. 1 at one point, but Patrick’s research is very impressive, nonetheless.) “Who can say they were No. 2 in the world at anything?” Patrick said. “Not very many people. You have to respect that. If she was just a girl in Russia, maybe she would have been pretty enough to be a model. But you wouldn’t have seen her in any advertising.”

We know that Anna was 0-for-122 in singles tournaments and that Sunday’s Indy 500 will be only Patrick’s 20th race, so perhaps it isn’t fair to associate her IndyCar record with Kournikova’s inability to win. But Patrick was ready this week with another statistic that clearly took someone some time to research.


Like Kournikova, Patrick has pulled in millions of dollars in endorsements, to the point that she out-earns everyone with whom she competes on the circuit. And as in Anna’s case, the range of her endorsements indicates that she appeals to a broad demographic.


And like Kournikova, who helped double the sales of a particular tennis string thanks to her photo on its packaging, Patrick sells. This year, she’s the only IRL driver with her own merchandise trailer, and more Danica-related items have been sold on eBay this year than for any other driver. Her popularity even challenges that of top NASCAR drivers. According to a Sports Business Journal poll, Patrick is almost as well known as Nextel Cup champion Tony Stewart; and she is more liked than Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon.


Perhaps the most refreshing thing about Patrick is her blunt honesty. Asked if she — or Kournikova, for that matter — deserves to be making millions in endorsements, Patrick replied with a big Why not? “There are plenty of people who are more famous or popular and earn more money in endorsements because they can, and they should,” Patrick said. “If they don’t, they’re just silly.”

The comparison is really rather silly. Patrick is easily a better race driver than Kournikova was a tennis player. Even playing just with the girls, Kournikova never won anything; Patrick is very competitive against the best drivers in the world.

Danica Patrick FHM Photo

And, frankly, while she’s a very attractive woman, Patrick’s not nearly as hot as Kournikova.

Anna Kournikova Sports Illustrated Photo


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Gone Hollywood


Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders 2007 Calendar Shoot

The Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders are in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico shooting photos for their 2007 calendar.

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders 2007 Calendar Photos

Rob Phillips had the tough assignment to go along with them and report on the event for the Cowboy’s Web site. More photos of the cheerleaders, albeit in their uniforms, and plenty of blog-style coverage of the trip at the link.

Gone Hollywood


LPGA + McDonald’s + The Golf Channel= A ‘Major’ Disaster

Some news from Golf World-

When CBS and the McDonald’s LPGA Championship parted ways last month and the telecast of the women’s major championship landed on The Golf Channel, the assumption was that network officials were not interested in women’s golf. But Golf World has learned the truth might be the other way around: Sources say NBC would have jumped at the opportunity to air the event. But the Olympics network never got the opportunity.

Jon Miller, NBC’s senior vice president of sports, said when NBC learned CBS was giving up the McDonald’s (because tournament officials wouldn’t agree to the network’s request for a 3 p.m. Sunday finish), he called the LPGA and told commissioner Carolyn Bivens his network would like to take over the telecast. But Miller says Bivens told him McDonald’s officials had already decided to go with The Golf Channel; when Miller pressed her on it, Bivens told him the decision was “out of the LPGA’s hands.”

Why would any tournament, particularly a major, opt to give up broadcast network coverage? Money is the most obvious answer. A source familiar with the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said McDonald’s saved $1.2 million a year by going to The Golf Channel instead of a network. Unlike the PGA Tour, the LPGA buys network time for its tournament broadcasts, then sells the commercials itself to try to recoup its cost. The source told Golf World it would have cost $1.5 million to put the McDonald’s on CBS (or, presumably, NBC), but just $300,000 on The Golf Channel.

LPGA officials referred comment to McDonald’s officials. Tournament spokesman Frank Quinn said the decision to go with The Golf Channel had nothing to do with saving money, and everything to do with the enthusiasm and support The Golf Channel had shown in recent years. “This was not a financial move,” said Quinn. “[NBC] had not expressed interest in the past, and The Golf Channel expressed great interest. The Golf Channel is a growing force, and we went with them.”

A horrible decision has been made and the LPGA’s acquiescence in this matter doesn’t surprise me one bit.

The Golf Channel is not a good choice for broadcasting a Women’s major golf championship. The reasons-

1- The Golf Channel is not on all cable systems or if it is, it’s part of a sports package that costs extra money. The tournament therefore will have a much more limited viewing audience.

2- TGC has a contract requiring them to broadcast Nationwide events before any other US tournament broadcast. If both fall on the same weekend, TGC will have to show the LPGA Championship on tape delay.

If you want to see this feature of TGC’s programming, just look at when this week’s Corning Classic is on television.

3- Also there is TGC’s horrible coverage of women’s golf. It is rarely featured for more than a minute or two on their nightly Golf Central shows. The European and Senior tours get better coverage.

When there is an LPGA major, say the Nabisco Championship, TGC is out either previewing the Masters or has almost all its attention turned towards The Players Championship. They rather cover a major wannabe than a major championship.

The only way this makes common sense is from the $ standpoint. Sorry to say but the LPGA doesn’t look at the bigger picture. Namely their lack of exposure and this decision won’t be helping it one bit. Short-term the choice is financially ok, but it does nothing to improve the tour’s long-term outlook.

The LPGA’s decision isn’t surprising considering-

1- Their poor television deals. Like allowing ABC to broadcast the Women’s British Open on tape delay.
2- Last year’s decision to eliminate their online message boards and abandoning thousands of fans who used them. This was done without warning, leaving fans to scramble for themselves.
3- Tournamens only selling high priced season passes instead of daily tickets.
4- Revolving door tournament sponsors and tournaments with long histories going belly up. Leaving local and loyal golf fans without a venue.
5- A recent dustup with the news media over who has the ownership of stories about the tour and photos of its players. AP, two Hawaiian newspapers and Golf World magazine all stopped covering the tour for varying lengths of time in reply to the LPGA’s new policy which was later reversed.

I know Carolyn Bivens has been commissioner for barely six months, but all signs I see aren’t good. The LPGA is on the verge of a crisis stage if it isn’t in one already. Organized Women’s Professional Golf could be a thing of the past in the USA if things don’t change and fast.

Note- I am a big fan of both Men’s and Women’s professional golf. As you can see I’m opionated and passionate on the subject. I’d like to see the LPGA do well, I’m just terribly pessimistic at present.


UCF ties up O’Leary through 2015

From the Sarasota Herald-Tribune

ORLANDO, Fla. — The University of Central Florida extended football coach George O’Leary’s contract through 2015 Thursday, perhaps sewing up the 59-year-old until retirement.

In two years, O’Leary has helped transform UCF from one of the country’s worst NCAA Division I-A programs to one of its most promising. The Golden Knights carried the nation’s longest losing streak into last season, but ended up playing in the school’s first conference championship and bowl games on the way to an 8-5 record.

The deal delivers $1 million in the first year, with gradual increases to $1.55 million in 2015 and $500,000 in possible incentives each season. It also includes a buyout capped at $5 million, or $1 million for each remaining year on the contract, if O’Leary or UCF breaks it.

“Believe me, we have a lot of work to do. Every dollar will be surely worked,” O’Leary said.

O’Leary returned to college football at UCF in December 2003 after two years as defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. He made national headlines in 2001 after resigning the head coaching job at Notre Dame when it was discovered parts of his resume, compiled long ago, had been falsified.

O’Leary was head coach at Georgia Tech from 1994 to 2001, amassing a 52-33 record and earning 2000′s national coach of the year award. He was nominated for the award again after UCF’s finish last season.

Will the next headline be- University President arrested for kidnapping.

Good for O’Leary. He has redeemed himself from the Notre Dame/resume debacle. UCF had a short lived nobody college program and he’s brought them to two straight bowl games. That’s quite a turnaround.

I’ll say this- O’Leary will never finish this contract. UCF is deluding itself. The buyout clause is expensive, but these can be overcome. If O’Leary continues to be sucessful, other programs will get interested. O’Leary’s transgressions are minor in the world of college sports. Soon they will be all forgiven and a thing of the past.

I give O’Leary and UCF 3 years or less. Five is the worst scenario I see.


Preakness winner Bernardini out of Belmont

From AP-

NEW YORK – For just the third time in 36 years, the Belmont Stakes will be run without either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness Stakes winner. Preakness winner Bernardini was declared out of the Belmont on Wednesday, another blow to the final race of the Triple Crown series set for June 10

The Belmont field already was without Derby winner Barbaro, who sustained career-ending injuries in last weekend’s Preakness, which Bernardini won by 5 1/4 lengths.

In 2000, neither Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus nor Preakness winner Red Bullet ran in the Belmont, won by Commendable. Before that it happened in 1970, when neither Derby winner Dust Commander nor Preakness winner Personality ran in the Belmont, won by High Echelon.


Darley Stable announced the decision about Bernardini in Lexington, Ky., saying the colt deserves a break after running three races in quick succession.

Bernardini won his first career race on March 4 and won the Withers Stakes in his next start April 29.

Then came his surprise victory in the Preakness over Sweetnorthernsaint, the race overshadowed by the serious injury at the start to Barbaro. The Derby winner broke three bones in his right rear leg and underwent surgery.

Dubai’s Sheik Mohammed, who operates Darley Stud, made the decision to rest Bernardini.


The colt is due to return in August, with the Jim Dandy, Haskell and Travers Stakes under consideration. The ultimate goal is the Breeders’ Cup Classic in November at Churchill Downs, Bell said.

Barbaro’s injury at the Preakness may or may not have factored into Darley Stud’s thinking. These horses are prone to injury and it wouldn’t surprise me if Bernardini never raced again.

Related posts-

Bernardini Wins Preakness; Barbaro Hurt


Babe Ruth’s Last Season

Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Blunders is hot off the presses. In an excerpt at, he details Babe Ruth’s rather embarrasing 1935 season with the Boston Braves.

Ruth had turned thirty-nine in 1934, and though he could still hit — in ’34, Ruth was maybe the third-best hitter in the American League, behind only Gehrig and Foxx — he couldn’t do much else. As Fred Lieb later wrote, “The pipestems that served as legs would no longer carry, with any alacrity, the barrel that served as a torso.” Yankees manager Joe McCarthy had seen enough of Ruth, because the Babe could neither field nor run and also because the Babe made no little secret of his ambition to manage the Yankees. Soon.


When Ruth signed his contract with the Braves, he believed that he really would be a sort of assistant manager, with the chance to either take over as manager — perhaps as early as 1936 — or wind up with enough stock in the Braves to be an active co-owner. He believed those things because Fuchs, in a long letter delivered a few days before the press conference in New York, told him so.

However, Ruth’s actual contract wasn’t nearly so expansive. In fact, Ruth soon discovered that, rather than being given stock in the Braves, he was seen by Fuchs as a potential investor; the hope was that Ruth would sink $50,000 of his money into the club. Ruth also was expected to participate in various promotional events, and play in exhibition games (which were, in those days, frequent for most major-league clubs). But on May 12, with Ruth struggling at the plate, he told McKechnie and Fuchs that he wanted to retire. Fuchs convinced him to hang on for a few more weeks, as the Braves hadn’t yet visited every National League ballpark where various Babe Ruth Days were scheduled.

There would be one last hurrah. On May 25 in Pittsburgh, Ruth hit a two-run homer in the first inning. In the third, he hit another. And in the seventh, he hit one more home run (this time with nobody on base). The latter two homers came against Guy Bush, who years later would say, “I never saw a ball hit so hard before or since. He was fat and old, but he still had that great swing. Even when he missed, you could hear the bat go swish. I can’t remember anything about the first home run he hit off me that day. I guess it was just another homer. But I can’t forget that last one. It’s probably still going.”

Ruth had hit the ball over the Forbes Field roof, something nobody had ever done before. It was Ruth’s last home run, and his last hit. And emblematic of the Braves’ fortunes in 1935, despite Ruth’s three home runs and six runs batted in — he’d also singled home a run — the Braves lost the game, 11-7.

Ruth could still swing the bat. But he couldn’t run, and so he couldn’t field or do more than trot around the bases, and McKechnie was facing a trio of mutinous pitchers who said they might refuse to take the mound if Ruth were in right field.

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Duke Women’s Lacrosse to Wear INNOCENT Bands

The Duke women’s lacrosse team will wear sweatbands proclaiming their male counterparts “Innocent” during the Final Four.

The Duke women’s lacrosse team retains strong ties to the men’s team currently embroiled in rape allegations. The women plan to wear sweatbands that say “innocent” when they play Northwestern in the Final Four on Friday in Boston, The Durham Herald-Sun reported Wednesday.

“Obviously we want to win a national championship for ourselves, but definitely also for the university and the men’s team,” junior Leigh Jester told the paper. “They don’t really have a chance to play their season, which is a shame. “We’d love to bring it home not only for ourselves, but also for them.”

There’s a strong sense that the Duke players accused of rape are “innocent,” at least in the criminal law sense. Further, I think the school went way overboard in firing the coach and taking their season away before the case was adjudicated.

Still, that was the school’s policy. How can it allow the women’s team to make this statement in contravention to University policy? They, after all, represent the school.


NFL to Move Existing Team to Los Angeles — Eventually

The NFL today voted to go forward with a team in Los Angeles but vetoed expansion. John Clayton draws the obvious conclusion.

So everyone wants to know: What NFL team or teams eventually will play in the Los Angeles area? Folks, barring a bail-out move to an interim site, there won’t be a Los Angeles-based team before 2010. That’s a long time and this process of finding a site is going to be more painful and complicated than most realize. How painful?


It’s going to cost $800 million just to renovate the Coliseum. Adding in the cost of getting a team and funding it eliminates most of the top businessmen in the country. That’s why the group will spend next month talking to business leaders in both cities trying to see if it can work financially. The NFL knows California’s ability to use public money is, to say the least, limited.

However, the NFL can be creative. If private interests can kick in significant money for a stadium project, that would help to make it work. The league certainly has the ability to assure the Los Angeles stadium future Super Bowls, maybe as often as every three or four years. That’s a huge financial carrot.


Expansion is clearly the last resort. The current 32-team model works both competitively and financially. If a 33rd team was added, a 34th franchise eventually would be formed and that’s a major problem. “I think 33 teams is awkward,” Chiefs president Carl Peterson said. “It’s taken a long time to get to 32 teams with eight four-team divisions. I think 32 teams is the right number.”

Colts general manager Bill Polian, a member of the competition committee, worries about the quality of the product by adding more teams. He realizes it’s not as simple as finding 53 players for an expansion team. Teams need eight-man practice squads. Teams build up injury lists. Most teams go under the assumption that they have to have 64 players to get through a season. “There are not enough football players now,” Polian said. “To take 64 players out of the current pool would make it even tougher. Look at the New York Giants in the playoffs last year. They had to sign two linebackers off the street and start them in the playoffs.”


“Expansion does not make sense for the NFL at this juncture,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “We don’t improve anything by expanding. We water it down.” Jones is not only speaking about the product but he’s also speaking about the economic model of a team. The new collective bargaining agreement extension in March was more costly than any owner anticipated. Adding another partner to share the revenue through expansion is even more of a problem now than it was a year ago. “As an owner, all you would get from an expansion team is what you would have gotten in TV money when they pay you a lot of money,” Jones said. “All you get is what you would have already gotten had you not sold it.”

With no expansion, the list of possible moving options to Los Angeles includes the Chargers, the Saints, the Bills and the Jaguars. The Chargers would like to work out something in San Diego county, and they still have time to do it. Saints fans purchased more than 55,000 season tickets, and that type of commitment from the fans keeps the idea of staying in New Orleans alive in the short term. Bills owner Ralph Wilson has conveyed long-term concerns about football in Western New York although he will never move the team. Wayne Weaver is trying to make things work in Jacksonville in what is considered a tight market.

The lost generation of pro football fans in the Los Angeles area should be hopeful of getting an NFL team in the next four years. The focus now is deciding on a stadium site, getting it together and letting the NFL’s subcommittee sweat the hard details of the how and why.

Surely, the answer is to move the least viable team or teams to the L.A. market.


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