Sports Outside the Beltway

Landis Wins the Tour

American Landis wins Tour de France

Floyd Landis won the Tour de France on Sunday, keeping cycling’s most prestigious title in American hands for the eighth straight year.

And, no doubt, the French are so pleased.

This is really a remarkable story, given that Landis has trouble walking, yet just won the Tour de France–and that after making up a seeming insurmountable gap a few days ago (via SI):

“disaster” struck Wednesday in Stage 16 in the Alps.

Landis allowed Pereiro to take the yellow jersey as the race left the Pyrenees at the end of the second week to conserve energy for the three crucial stages in the Alps. That strategy seemed to backfire after Landis lost the jersey in a second Alpine stage at La Toussuire, dropping from first to 11th — 8 minutes, 8 seconds behind Pereiro.

Yet, Landis was able to make that up in one day and go on to win.

(x-posted at PoliBlog)

| | Permalink | Send TrackBack

Witten Signs Extension with Dallas

Via the AP: Witten agrees to seven-year, $29 million deal with Cowboys

Dallas tight end and two-time Pro Bowler Jason Witten agreed to a seven year, $29 million contract with the Cowboys on Saturday.

The deal includes a $6 million signing bonus, a guaranteed $6 million option bonus next March on top of a $500,000 base salary this season, team officials said.

Good deal.

James discussed Witten, and his productivity, in detail here.


So Much for the CFL Experiment

Via the AP: Ricky Williams breaks arm in Argonauts’ win

(x-posted at PoliBlog)

| | Permalink | Send TrackBack

The Invincible One(?)

Tiger Woods leads the British Open with one round to go.

HOYLAKE, England — His 3-foot birdie putt safely in the hole, Tiger Woods was right where he wanted to be Saturday in the British Open. His name was atop the leaderboard after three rounds at Royal Liverpool. And everyone knows the world’s No. 1 player has never lost a 54-hole lead in a major championship.

But if Woods had bothered to look at the flags of 34 countries rippling in the gentle breeze above the grandstands on the 18th hole, he might have noticed that none of them was white.

Sergio Garcia wasn’t about to surrender, not after a 65 that brought him within one shot of Woods and gave him a spot in the final pairing with a guy he has been chasing for seven years.

Ernie Els played his worst golf of the week while playing with Woods and held his own with a 71, also leaving him one shot behind. He was joined by Chris DiMarco, who shot 68 and then bristled when reminded of Woods’ 10-0 record with the lead going into the final round of a major.


Woods made it tougher on himself by struggling on the greens, three-putting three times over the final eight holes to keep himself from turning this British Open into another runaway. He had to birdie the 18th for a 71 to get into the final pairing and build the slimmest of leads.

And he knew it.

“Just take away my three-putts, I would have a four-shot lead,” Woods said.

Instead, he was at 13-under 203 and will be in the final group with Garcia, a 26-year-old Spaniard who now has his best chance ever to capture a major.

Garcia holed out a 9-iron from 167 yards for eagle on No. 2, took only 29 shots on the outward nine and never faded. It will be his first time in the final group of a major since he was four shots behind Woods in the 2002 U.S. Open at Bethpage Black.

“I did what I had to do to give myself a chance,” Garcia said.

Everyone else did just enough to turn this British Open into a wide-open affair.

DiMarco, his fiery emotion replaced by quiet peace as he copes with the July 4 death of his mother, overcame consecutive bogeys at the turn by making three straight birdies. DiMarco, who lost a playoff to Woods at the 2005 Masters, had a chance to join him in the lead until his fairway metal to the 18th green got stuck behind a pot bunker, forcing him to play away from the flag.


One of them is the Big Easy.

Els, in the final pairing with Woods at a major for the first time in six years, struggled with his irons but refused to allow himself to fall too far behind. He picked up birdies on the par-5 16th and 18th holes, leaving him in the three-way tie for second at 204.

Another shot back at 11-under 205 was former U.S. Open champion Jim Furyk (66) and Angel Cabrera, who also shot 66 and left the gallery wondering if there was something in the tea at Hoylake that suited Argentines.

The last time the British Open came to this links course was in 1967, when Robert De Vicenzo of Argentina held off Jack Nicklaus.


Everyone must feel they can get their names inscribed on the silver claret jug Sunday afternoon, thanks to a pedestrian performance by Woods with the very club that had served him so well the first two days.


The dry conditions have left splotches of brown on the greens, and Woods struggled to find the right speed on his putts.

It started on the par-5 10th, when Woods gave himself a 25-foot eagle putt. He ran it about 3 1/2 feet by, and pulled the next one, gritting his teeth as he headed to the next tee. He answered with a birdie from 18 feet on No. 11 to build a two-shot lead, and it looked like it might get larger when his 20-foot birdie on the 14th caught the edge of the cup.

But it spun out and trickled 4 feet by, and Woods again missed the hole on his par putt.

He lost the lead again on the 17th when his 40-foot putt from the back of the green came up 6 feet short.

“You really had to watch your pace, because obviously every green is just a slightly different speed,” he said.

Garcia had a few problems of his own, missing a 6-foot birdie on the 17th that might have sent him to a course record. He had another birdie putt from the same distance on No. 11 that he left short.


Els could easily have fallen away, especially on No. 7. He hit driver off the tee and into a gorse bush, having to take a penalty drop. Then, he hit into a pot bunker near the sodden wall. He blasted out to 15 feet and escaped with bogey, and limited the damage until he found his swing again.

He will play with Furyk in the pairing ahead of Woods-Garcia, very much in range of a fourth major.

“We’re still in contention, it’s a major championship,” Els said. “A lot can happen tomorrow.”

First of all former Knucklehead winner Doug Ferguson has struck again. Ernie Els is playing with Chris DeMarco not Jim Furyk. Els, DeMarco and Garcia finished tied for 2nd with Garcia playing with Woods, that means Els and DeMarco go off together.

Here is another recent golf reporting mistakes. There was also the early reporting after the finish of the US Open where Ferguson said no Australian had won a major since Greg Norman in 1993. It was Steve Elkington in 1995. Just more proof AP uses idiots to cover pro golf.

Tiger has won every single major championship he has led going into the final round. I think this may be the week for that streak to end. He has several excellent challengers nearby. It wouldn’t take much for one to catch and pass Tiger.

If I were placing wagers on today, I’d say Ernie Els. We’ll know if I’m right in about five hours.


Forrest Gump goes to the Univ. of Miami

From the Palm Beach Post

CORAL GABLES — University of Miami football player Willie Cooper was shot in the buttocks this morning in South Miami, according to a police spokeswoman.

Cooper was “up and walking around by the time police arrived,” said South Miami police spokeswoman Susan Rothstein.

Police were at the scene investigating the incident this morning, and Rothstein could provide no further details.

Cooper, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound linebacker from St. Augustine, played 12 games for the Hurricanes last season and saw action primarily on special teams.

UM spokesman Rick Korch said school officials were aware of the situation but had no further comment.

Somehow I don’t see Tom Hanks portraying Mr. Cooper.


Braves Trade for Closer Bob Wickman

The Braves have acquired veteran closer Bob Wickman from the Indians.

Sensing a playoff surge, the Atlanta Braves traded for proven closer Bob Wickman, sending a minor leaguer to the
Cleveland Indians on Thursday to address a lingering weakness. The 37-year-old Wickman has been successful on 15 of 18 save chances this season, and tied for the AL lead last year with 45 saves. To get him, Atlanta traded Class A catcher Max Ramirez.

The Braves have won 14 straight division titles, but their chances looked to be in doubt when they were 33-46. Since then, Atlanta has won 12 of 16 to get back into wild-card contention, five games behind Cincinnati.

AJC has more details:

The Braves filled their most glaring need Thursday by acquiring veteran Cleveland Indians closer Bob Wickman in a trade for a minor league catching prospect — and not top prospect Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The Braves traded Class A catcher Max Ramirez for Wickman, 37, who has converted 15 of 18 save opportunities this season and was 1-4 with a 4.18 ERA and only one home run allowed.


“We had a need to bolster our bullpen,” Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. “Bob is a proven closer with more than 200 saves, and we are confident he will help to anchor the bullpen in the ninth inning.” Wickman has a 3.64 career ERA with 229 saves in 290 opportunities, and gives the Braves their first established veteran closer since John Smoltz moved back to the starting rotation after the 2004 season.

Wickman, the Indians’ all-times saves leader, had to approve the deal as a 10-and-5 player with at least 10 years of major league service and five with his current team. Wickman led the American League with a career-high 45 saves last season in 50 opportunities. It was his fifth season with at least 25 saves for Milwaukee and Cleveland. Before he moved from middle relief/setup work to a closer role, he led the National League with 28 “holds” for Milwaukee in 1997 and led the AL with 53 appearances for the Yankees in the shortened 1994 season.

Atlanta relievers have a National League-worst 20 blown saves in 40 opportunities, and the Braves have had inconsistency all season from closers Chris Reitsma, Ken Ray and Jorge Sosa.


Ramirez, 21, was batting .285 with nine home runs and 37 RBIs for Class A Rome. The Venezuelan is a bright young prospect, but the Braves have 22-year-old All-Star catcher Brian McCann and Saltalamacchia, who’s having a terrible season at Class AA Mississippi but remains a top prospect.

One hates to trade promising young talent away to acquire players in the twilight of their career but the Braves are only going to get so many chances to win another World Series. I hope it’s not too late.


Dallas Cowboy Keith Davis Shot Again

Dallas Cowboys safety Keith Davis has been shot for the second time in three years. He is apparently fine.

Cowboys safety Keith Davis was released from the hospital Tuesday, just two days suffering two gunshot wounds early Sunday morning while driving alongside Interstate 635. Davis is not only healing fast, but is also expected to be ready for all contact once the team begins training camp on July 28 in Oxnard, Calif.

Davis was admitted to Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas early Sunday morning after two shots grazed him in the thigh and the head. However, Davis was not seriously injured and even made light of the incident from his hospital bed. “My head has been leaking, but that’s OK,” Davis said on Sunday. “I’ve got a big head, and my braids still look good. As soon as I realized I got hit, I started applying pressure to the spot. I was a kinesiology major in college. I guess I learned something from all of those courses.”

Davis was driving around 5 a.m. with his girlfriend when he said a gunshot broke the glass of his back window. As Davis tried to speed away, he said that’s when several more shots were fired at his direction. While two shots connected, the Cowboys safety was able to get away from the shooter and got to another highway before he pulled over to his girlfriend drive him to the hospital. “I was just minding my own business driving home, and I didn’t quite make it,” he said. “I’m a victim.”

This marks the second time in three years that Davis has been shot. Nearly a month before the start of the 2003 training camp, Davis was also shot twice, once in the hip and the other in the elbow. But while doctors cleared Davis to fully participate in that camp, he never got the opportunity. Head coach Bill Parcells, who was about to conduct his first camp with the Cowboys, made an example of Davis by releasing him just one day before the first practice in San Antonio.

Thankfully, it appears Davis was indeed an innocent bystander this time. It was true the first time, too, but he had exercised rather poor judgment in his choice of hangouts. One can hardly blame him for being on an Interstate highway.


Seattle Sonics Sold

Starbucks king Howard Schultz had enough of arguing with Seattle for improvements to an arena and got his ownership group to sell the Seattle Sonics to an Oklahoma City group. The new owners said they’d try to find the agreement with Seattle that Schultz couldn’t, but don’t be surprised to see Oklahoma City with an NBA team all to itself in a few years.


Al Capone, Pete Rose, Barry Bonds

Sounds like some Karnac the Magnificent puzzle doesn’t it? No, it is three people whose downfall was or could be failure to report all their income to the IRS. From AP-

SAN FRANCISCO – The easy money Barry Bonds made by aggressively selling his name, likeness and sports equipment through his Web site and brief autograph sessions in hotel conference rooms could prove to be the embattled slugger’s legal undoing.

A federal grand jury is probing whether he paid taxes on some of that fortune, and key government witnesses include a scorned business partner and a jilted lover who profited from the name “Barry Bonds.” He also is being investigated for allegedly lying to another federal grand jury about his steroid use.

Legal analysts said proving the Giants star cheated the IRS out of its cut of memorabilia sales is far easier to prove than perjury.

If so, Bonds wouldn’t be the first professional athlete to run afoul of the IRS over sales of autographed jerseys, balls and baseball cards.

Pete Rose in 1990 served five months in prison for not reporting income from memorabilia. Several other prominent players — including Darryl Strawberry and Hall of Famers Duke Snider and Willie McCovey — were busted in the 1990s for not properly reporting such income.

Brian Hennigan, a Los Angeles lawyer who represented Strawberry when the baseball player pleaded guilty to tax evasion in 1995, said it’s relatively easy to fall into tax trouble because the memorabilia business is largely cash-and-carry.

Sports memorabilia is a multimillion-dollar enterprise for professional athletes. Bonds sells his jerseys for as much as $1,900 on his Web site.


A Bonds indictment could come as soon as Thursday when the grand jury investigating his case is expected to end its service.

But the grand jury’s term could be extended or a new panel could be given the investigation, former prosecutors said.

If reports are correct, Bonds is in deep tahe. This will probably bring about the end of his baseball career but not end the debate over whether he used steroids or not. Barring Barry making a confession, that controversy like whether Pete Rose bet on baseball will rage on for years.


LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens has to go

The LPGA Commissioner is well on the way to destroying the tour she was appointed to run. Here is the latest news.

CHARLESTON, S.C. – A $2.6 million LPGA event will be staged here next year, a week following the Senior PGA Championship at Kiawah Island’s Ocean Course.

The event, the Ginn Tribute hosted by Annika Sorenstam, will be held May 31-June 3 at the RiverTowne Country Club in nearby Mount Pleasant.

“It’s exciting news. It’s a great event coming up on our schedule,” Sorenstam told The (Charleston) Post and Courier. “We’ll try to attract the best players and really make it a special event.”

The purse for the tournament, which will be televised by NBC, is one of the richest payoffs of any LPGA event.

Isn’t this wonderful news? A new tournament with a big purse? Not if you read this.

New dates may have the ShopRite Classic and LPGA heading to court

By Ron Sirak
Golf World July 14, 2006

There is more turbulence on the LPGA Tour between its administration and tournament sponsors. This week’s dilemma: Will a new sponsor with deep pockets double its presence on the tour? Will the rookie commissioner turn her back on an event that has been loyal to women’s golf for 21 years and give its spot on the schedule to the rich new kid on the block? And will the spurned event strike back by taking legal action against the LPGA, further complicating what has already been an awkward transition in leadership? The answers, mostly, are “yes.”

According to sources familiar with the situation, the LPGA will announce next week a new event in South Carolina and sponsored by Ginn Clubs & Resorts, which debuted as a sponsor this year with a $2.5 million stop in Orlando. That’s the good news. The problem is the date discussed with the new tournament is the week before the McDonald’s LPGA Championship–a spot currently occupied by the ShopRite LPGA Classic, won this year by Seon Hwa Lee (pictured). Larry Harrison, general chairman of the Atlantic City event since its inception in 1986, says he’ll sue if his date is given away.

“We have a letter from the previous administration guaranteeing us that date in ’07 and ’08,” Harrison told Golf World. “Our lawyers think we have a very strong position. We told [the LPGA] if they announce this date we will pursue legal action.”


Harrison says he was supposed to meet with LPGA commissioner Carolyn Bivens last week in Philadelphia, but she was unable to attend because of airline problems. The tour’s chief legal officer, Libba Galloway, and its VP for business affairs, Mike Nichols, did make the meeting. Asked how the get-together went, Harrison said: “Not very well.” Bivens also missed the HSBC Women’s World Match Play last week which, like the ShopRite, is held in New Jersey.

According to Harrison, the ShopRite has given $12 million to charity since 1986–$1.8 million last year–and was offered three alternative dates by the LPGA: The week opposite the men’s U.S. Open; the week of July 4th; and the week between tournaments in California and Mexico. None of those dates are acceptable to Harrison.

“We went up against the men’s Open once before and it was a total disaster,” he said. “No gallery, no press.” July 4th weekend on the Jersey shore would be impossible because of the lack of reasonable hotel room rates for the players or casinos for the two parties during the event. “And what kind of field would I get if we were between stops in California and Mexico?” Harrison asked.

So the LPGA has antagonized a long-time sponsor, gotten themselves in a potential lawsuit they can very well lose and probably scared other tournament sponsors. And what for? Bivens seems to be sending a message you’re only as good as your last tournament. This is suicidal for a tour with money problems, decaying tournament scheduling and sponsor retention problems.

Then throw in the media credentials debacle from last spring, staff turnover and dissent at the LPGA HQ, and the LPGA Championship television rights controversy, little good news is coming out of Daytona Beach and several disasters are looming.

Michelle Wie could do wonders for the tour once she becomes a member. But will there be an LPGA for Michelle to star on? The message is clear, Carolyn Bivens has to go or the LPGA is sunk.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.