Sports Outside the Beltway

Barry Bonds to be Indicted

The NY Daily News reports Barry Bonds is close to being indicted:

Sources within Major League Baseball said they have no inside information, but expect that the troubled slugger will be indicted. On one of the next few Thursdays, the grand jury will meet in the Philip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco and may be asked to weigh the evidence. If at least 12 of the 23 members agree that there is “probable cause” that a crime has been committed and Bonds is the one who committed it, they will return a “true bill,” otherwise known as an indictment. The grand jury could also return a “not true” bill, meaning it will not indict. The U.S. attorney could also decide not to seek an indictment at that point, or request an extension for the grand jury from the judge.

About the only people who care about Barry Bonds and his tainted home run record are San Francisco Giants fans and ESPN who runs a “Chasing Aaron” notice on their sports ticker ceaselessly.


National League hopes to end AL All-star game domination

From AP

PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols can’t explain it. He knows there are plenty of talented players in the National League, so why do they keep getting kicked around by their AL counterparts?

The American League is 8-0-1 in the last nine All-Star games. AL teams also swept the past two World Series and won an overwhelming 61 percent of interleague games this season.

“It’s crazy. You look at those numbers and you can’t believe it,” the St. Louis slugger said Monday. “That’s why you play this game for so long and never figure out why things happen.

“Hopefully, we can turn this thing around.”

Pujols will get another chance Tuesday night when he starts at first base and bats third for the NL in the 77th All-Star game at picturesque PNC Park.

But it won’t be easy.

The AL boasts big sticks David Ortiz, Vladimir Guerrero and Jim Thome, plus ace pitchers Johan Santana, Roy Halladay and Mariano Rivera.

Indeed, there’s nothing junior about the Junior Circuit.

“It’s a far superior league right now,” Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. “In the American League, this is an All-Star team among All-Star teams.”

Bold words from a big-name player.

Meaningliess words about a meaningless game.

Maybe I’m a minority, but I’ve never understood the fascination with this event. It’s arguably the most overdone event in sports.

I used to watch the all-star games when young. The last game I watched start to finish was the 84 game, and I doubt I’ve watched more than five minutes of any game since. It’s an exhibition game and even turned into a fiasco a few years back by having all the pitchers run out. Why not allow one who was used already to come back into the game? Oh that’s not baseball, but neither is the All-star game to me.

Even sillier is having the home field World Series advantage determined by who wins this event. What has one got to do with the other?

My lack of interest in all-star events apply to all sports. Even golf, I don’t watch the Grand Slam event played every November either.

You can watch and enjoy tonight’s game. I’ll find something else to do.


Oregon man sues Michael Jordan, Nike for resemblance


A Northeast Portland man is suing basketball superstar Michael Jordan and Nike founder Phil Knight for a combined $832 million. Allen Heckard filed the suit himself, June 29th in Washington County Court. Heckard says he’s been mistaken as Michael Jordan nearly every day over the past 15 years and he’s tired of it.

“I’m constantly being accused of looking like Michael and it makes it very uncomfortable for me,” said Heckard.

Heckard is suing Jordan for defamation and permanent injury and emotional pain and suffering. He’s suing Knight for defamation and permanent injury for promoting Jordan and making him one of the most recognized men in the world.

Heckard stands just over six feet tall. He is not six foot six like the real Michael Jordan. But Heckard says many people seem to miss that. He does share a bit of resemblance to the real Michael Jordan. Heckard has a shaved head, an earring in his left ear, and is in good shape from working out, and yes, playing basketball.


The question remains – is the occasional confusion with an admired celebrity worth $800 million.

“Well,” said Heckard, “You never can put a value on a person’s life. You know you’re taking my lifestyle away from me. So you know…we’ll let the ball bounce like Michael does…where it’s supposed to fall.”

My father had a saying- “It takes all sorts of people to make up the world and if you live long enough, you’ll meet every single one of them.”

Someone needs to check Mr. Heckard’s meds. If not, get him medicated.


Danica Patrick Moving to NASCAR?

Indy hottie Danica Patrick might be taking her show to NASCAR next season, if her family gets its way.

Danica Patrick’s father is exploring the possibility of the popular Indy Racing League driver moving to NASCAR as soon as next year, the Orlando Sentinel reported Monday. The Sentinel reported that T.J. Patrick, who has managed Danica Patrick’s career since childhood, was in exploratory talks with some NASCAR teams at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday. “I’m trying to get her here [into NASCAR],” T.J. Patrick told the Sentinel.

T.J. and Bev Patrick, who formerly lived in Roscoe, Ill., attended NASCAR’s USG Sheetrock 400 because “we’ve had some inquiries” from NASCAR teams, T.J. Patrick told the newspaper. The Sentinel reported the couple was in the Nextel Cup garage area as guests of Roush Racing, which fields drivers Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Jamie McMurray and runs Fords on the Nextel Cup circuit.

Danica Patrick’s contract with Rahal-Letterman Racing team ends after this season and the Patricks are negotiating with other IRL teams as well as NASCAR teams, the Sentinel reported. The newspaper said team co-owner Bobby Rahal declined comment through a spokesman.

NASCAR is far more popular than Indy these days, so it would seem like a no brainer. John Oreovicz isn’t so sure.

She’d rather be road racing open-wheelers, and short of Formula One — which is an unrealistic goal — the best fit for Danica would seem to be the Champ Car World Series. But the downfall of American open-wheel racing over the past decade has devastated the sponsor market and the money to entice her just isn’t there. Ultimately, money is what it’s all about, which is why T.J. Patrick, Danica’s father and business manager, was hanging around the NASCAR garage area at Chicagoland Speedway over the weekend.


Could Patrick adapt to stock car racing? Absolutely. She wouldn’t have any problems driving the cars, which with power steering and a cushy ride like a Maybach are actually much less physically demanding to drive than an IRL car.

Where I think she would struggle is with the mental grind of racing 38 weekends a year, most of which are spent pounding around unrelentingly similar ovals. And if she’s frustrated running 12th in the IRL, imagine the toll that fighting to make the top 20 every week would take on her psyche.

Only one way to find out. The bottom line, though, is NASCAR’s where it’s at for American racing. She can capitalize on her looks on either circuit but, unless she gets the F-1 gig, she might as well race with the best.

Gone Hollywood


Italy Beats France for 4th World Cup – Video Highlights

The Italian team that managed only a tie against hapless Team USA in the first round beat France in overtime to win the 2006 World Cup, the team’s fourth.

The beautiful game turned vicious, even venomous Sunday. It was all still beautiful to Italy. The Azzurri outlasted France to win their fourth World Cup 5-3 in a shootout after a 1-1 draw marred by French captain Zinedine Zidane’s ejection in the 110th minute of his farewell game for a nasty head butt to the chest of Marco Materazzi.

Italy Beats France for 2006 World Cup Title Photo taly's Marco Materazzi puts on a hat on the trophy as Fabio Grosso, second from right, and Francesco Totti, right, look on at the end of the final of the soccer World Cup match between Italy and France in the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Sunday, July 9, 2006. (AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle) Never masters of the penalty kick, the Italians made all five, setting off an hour of hugging, dancing and fist-pumping celebrations. “This squad showed great heart,” Genaro Gattuso said. “Maybe it wasn’t pretty, but we were hard to beat.”

They were impossible to beat and gave up only one goal actually scored by an opponent. And no, it was not pretty. Outplayed for an hour and into extra time, the Italians won it after Zidane committed the ugliest act of a tournament that set records for yellow and red cards, diving and, at times, outright brutality.

And it was the last move for Zidane, who is retiring. Asked if French soccer would miss Zidane, coach Raymond Domenech said: “Yes, well, he was missed in the last 20 minutes tonight. It weighed heavily in the outcome.” Without their leader for the shootout, the French only missed once. But Italy, rarely strong in such situations, was perfect. Fabio Grosso clinched the Azzurri’s fourth championship, and his teammates had to chase him halfway across the pitch to celebrate.

“It’s incredibly emotional, words can hardly describe it,” Grosso said. “Maybe we still don’t realize what we have achieved. We really wanted to win and in the end we made it.”

Only Brazil has more World Cups, five.

Quite impressive.

Video links:


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Roberts fires USGA-record 62 at Senior Open

From AP

HUTCHINSON, Kan. — Loren Roberts shot an 8-under-par 62 in the third round of the U.S. Senior Open on Saturday, breaking the record for the lowest 18-hole score in a USGA championship.

Roberts, 51, had eight birdies and no bogeys on the narrow Prairie Dunes layout, which is playing at 6,646 yards and features rough that in some places is 5 inches high. His 62 breaks the record by one stroke, which had been shared by seven players, including Jack Nicklaus, Johnny Miller and Vijay Singh.

The course had been softened by early morning rains and the normally brisk winds were fairly calm.

A great round by Loren no doubt. I don’t really follow the Seniors tour.

AP has goofed again. Roberts broke the record a Professional in a USGA event. Christina Kim also shot a 62. It took place at the 2001 USGA Girls.

I called AP in New York, they will be doing a correction.

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Goodbye En-Joie

From AP-

VERONA, N.Y. — Flooding along New York’s Southern Tier forced PGA officials Thursday to change the venue for the final B.C. Open to Turning Stone Resort’s Atunyote Golf Club.

The move about 90 miles northeast from En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, N.Y. was driven by widespread flooding last week along the Susquehanna River. The river runs alongside the public course, which had hosted the tournament since it began in 1971.

“It’s kind of a bittersweet day,” Henry Hughes, chief of operations for the PGA Tour, said at a news conference on the grass beside Atunyote’s clubhouse. “It was a hard decision, but it was easy to make because we had about 20 feet of water on the golf course [last week].”

The $3 million tournament, which will be played July 17-23, will be called the B.C. Open presented by Turning Stone Resort and will have a field of 132 players. All ticket sales to date will be honored, Hughes said.


Named after the cartoon strip, the B.C. Open has been a PGA Tour stop since 1972. But it struggled financially in one of the smallest markets on tour and never had a corporate sponsor. It is being eliminated from the PGA Tour, a victim of the major modifications to the tour schedule beginning next year.

The BC Open may be a minor tour stop, but it will be missed by yours truly. After the death of my mother in the mid-80′s I used to take my leave and go on vacation with my father. This usually consisted of us going to Long Island New York to visit family. From 1985-87, my father and I made the drive upstate and attended the BC Open.

Our usual day to attend was pro-am day. Players are much more friendly and informal those days. Usually I’d walk all 18 holes, my father 9, our favorite player to watch was Peter Jacobsen. At the 85 pro-am I remember my Dad saying to Peter to let one go off the 18th tee, Jacobsen did just that. A sneaky long hitter, Peter cranked out a drive a little over 300 yards. That was when such drives were not the norm as they are today.

We’d arrive early in the morning, before 8 a.m. Guess where we parked? How about across the street from the club.

The BC Open was a small town tournament and had the flavor of such. It was a nice looking course, if not difficult to play for the PGA pros. I remember the holes well. The front nine a little better than the back. Water fronted holes one and two. The back nine had back to back par 3′s at 16 and 17. Eventually one of those was converted to a par 3.

In spite of small purses and mediocre dates on the schedule, the BC Open has a good roster of winners. Tom Kite, Hubert Green, Fred Couples, Craig Stadler and John Daly. All of them major championship winners. Other good tour players had the BC Open among their triumphs.

Too bad the BC Open and En Joie will be a thing of the past come 2007. Just one more reason I dislike the FedEx Cup.


Shaun Alexander Suggests Future Direction for Madden

Being employed by the technology sector, this story appeals to both the computer AND the football geek in me, even though I don’t personally play Madden. Shaun Alexander suggests improving the Madden experience.

I remember when Madden first came out – my friends played it on Sega Genesis. It was revolutionary for its time – you could control a team playing football! It was like you were behind the center, snapping the ball! You could choose plays!

Time has gone by. Computers and gaming systems have improved. However, besides the graphics, Madden has not. Its still pretty much the same as it was on the old Sega systems, with some improved graphics.

So it is refreshing to hear the cover athelete from this year’s game suggest improvements.

At least, that’s the hope of Shaun Alexander, running back for the Seattle Seahawks. In a press appearance in New York last week, Alexander offered (registration required) his ideas about how EA’s aging Madden series could be made better. “Madden has always been great,” he said . “But it’s always been one-on-one, just you and another person, and real football is a team game.”

Alexander continued: “You should be able to make a team and play together with your friends. Like if you have 10 friends, you could all play different positions and be in 10 different houses and play together over the Internet. Or maybe you just have like five people, and you control the skill positions and the program controls the other guys.”

I love this idea – why not have a video game that makes you work together like a real football team? Keep the single player option, but with the way the internet is connecting other games like World of Warcraft, why not have a Madden where you could assemble a team?

Even though I rooted against him in the Super Bowl, I’m rooting for Alexander in this one.


New Dallas Cowboys Coaches 2006 is taking a look at coaches that have been added to the staff or significantly changed responsibilities this offseason.

Chris Palmer, Quarterbacks Coach:

Things are beginning to look a lot like New England, circa 1996, for new Cowboys quarterbacks coach Chris Palmer, and judging by his success a decade ago, that’s a good thing.

In 1996, when the Patriots advanced to Super Bowl XXXI, Palmer was the team’s quarterbacks coach, and responsible for tutoring Drew Bledsoe, the Cowboys’ current starting quarterback who was the Patriots starter back then. And in 1996 Palmer was also working under fourth-year Pats head coach Bill Parcells . . . and now Parcells is entering his fourth year in Dallas.

If history continues to repeat itself, does this all mean Palmer, Bledsoe and Parcells will be leading the Cowboys to the, uh, Super Bowl?

Paul Pasqualoni, Linebackers Coach:

After one of the Cowboys’ June mini-camp practices, Jason Witten asked linebackers coach Paul Pasqualoni for some advice on a tight end technique, staying late while other players and coaches were heading for the locker room. This might seem strange, a Pro Bowl tight end asking the linebackers coach for help, but evidently Witten feels he lost a good teacher over the off-season when Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells switched Pasqualoni to his new defensive role.

But Pasqualoni’s coaching talents will likely be best served at linebacker, he says, though that doesn’t mean he necessarily wanted to leave the tight ends behind. “I really enjoyed my year with the tight ends,” said Pasqualoni, the former Syracuse head coach who spent his first year coaching in the NFL last year with the Cowboys. “They were just an outstanding group, big-league class guys. They came to work every single day. “They were outstanding in meetings, outstanding on the practice field, outstanding in the games.”

Pasqualoni already realizes the linebackers are much the same way: High character players who love football. That always makes a coach’s job easier, and Pasqualoni is hoping the similar personalities at the two positions will ease his transition.

Vincent Brown, Inside Linebackers Coach:

Coaching the Meadowcreek High School Mustangs is a lot different from coaching the Dallas Cowboys, new linebackers coach Vincent Brown admits, but he isn’t balking at the challenging jump. Before being named Cowboys inside linebackers coach on Feb. 15, Brown had served as an assistant coach at the Norcross, Ga., school for four years. Last year he was Meadowcreek’s athletic director. But that’s it, the extent of his coaching resume.

“It is a huge difference,” Brown said of the jump from high school to the NFL. “In terms of just the preparation and the detail, and now it’s 100 percent football; there are no outside distractions, no classes to teach, none of that stuff. “It’s just all football.”

Freddie Kitchens, Tight Ends Coach:

Meet Freddie Kitchens, the former University of Alabama quarterback back in his day, a guy until about six months ago Parcells didn’t know from Adam. He now is in charge of the Cowboys’ tight ends, a fairly important responsibility since the Cowboys plan on using more two-tight end sets this year in their offense. “We’ve spent the first two or three months running the offense, so I’m starting to feel confident,” said Kitchens, who quarterbacked the Crimson Tide from 1995-97. “The attention to detail in the NFL is a little more strict, but as far as on the field is concerned, coaching is coaching.”

Kitchens, still just 31, had spent the past two years at Mississippi State as an assistant coach. The previous three years he was just up the road at North Texas coaching running backs. And perhaps the most interesting entry on his résumé is the year he spent as a grad assistant at LSU (2000) under current Miami Dolphins head coach Nick Saban, who’s offensive and defensive schemes have often been compared to those of Parcells.

Parcells said he had no previous experience with Kitchens, but that Mississippi State head coach and friend Sylvester Croom highly recommended his aid after Kitchens’ name was passed along to the Cowboys head coach by his scouting staff as a young, up-and-coming college assistant to keep an eye on.

Tony Sparano, Assistant Head Coach:

About a week before the final Cowboys mini-camp began, a moving van pulled up next door to Tony Sparano’s house. Understand, Sparano has been a football coach the past 22 years. Of those, 15 were spent in college and the past seven in the NFL, including the past three with the Dallas Cowboys. He is used to moving around. His family, wife Jeanette and three kids, is used to moving around. In fact, for a three year stretch there, from 2000-2002, the staffs Sparano was on, Cleveland, Washington and Jacksonville, were all fired, counting head coaches Chris Palmer, Marty Schottenheimer and Tom Coughlin. “My kids just start wondering when’s the next time,” Sparano says. So excuse the missus if she got a tad paranoid that day in late May when looking outside she saw a moving van perilously close to her latest house, and factor in she hadn’t talked to her husband all day. Bad karma.


Still under contract with the Cowboys, former assistant head coach Sean Payton asked for permission to talk with Sparano once he became the New Orleans Saints head coach. Payton wanted to hire Sparano as his offensive coordinator after the former Cowboys passing game coordinator worked closely this past year with the one-time New Haven center who was the Cowboys’ running game coordinator. Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells said, nothing doing. Keep your mitts off my guy.

But you got to figure Sparano was devastated. Here was his chance to be an NFL offensive coordinator, yet he was being denied permission to even talk, relegating him to his offensive line and running game-coordinator duties with the Cowboys. Plus, who knows how long Parcells will hang around.

Hence the genesis of the next Cowboys assistant head coach, which he was promoted to once Parcells repaired his staff following the losses of Payton and linebackers coach Gary Gibbs. Even Parcells admitted, “We had a little domestic misunderstanding here during the off-season. You know, these young coaches think the way to get ahead is get a title and get someone to recognize it – I’m being serious, because it’s a frame of the way they have grown up. So titles have become a lot more important in the NFL from an assistant coaches’ point of view than in actuality they really are in my opinion. “And in Tony’s case, Payton is trying to get him down there to be the offensive coordinator, but who do you think is going to be calling the plays in New Orleans? He was doing that to try (to) get him, so I was trying to accommodate people.”

Mike MacIntyre, Safeties Coach:

Mike MacIntyre’s been around a while, working mostly with young players, no matter if it’s been coaching in college or with the Dallas Cowboys. And those young players have been mainly defensive backs, a position experience would be most helpful, but one the Cowboys have very little at once again this year.

Nevertheless, MacIntyre embraces the challenge now that he’s the safeties coach for the Cowboys, promoted after spending three years with the team as an assistant secondary coach, along with handling the defensive quality control responsibilities. But to hear him, not much has changed, other than his title. “I guess the only thing is there might be more criticism if something doesn’t go right,” MacIntyre said. “I’m held a little more accountable for what the safeties do – it’s not like I’m coming in new or anything like that.”

Todd Haley, Passing Game Coordinator/Wide Receivers Coach:

Todd Haley would like to be better known for becoming the Cowboys’ passing game coordinator. He’d probably like to be known as the guy who turned Patrick Crayton from an NAIA Jack-of-all-trades into an NFL receiver. Heck, he’d probably not even mind if everyone recognized him for being the son of Dick Haley, long-time NFL personnel guy with the Steelers and Jets.

But no, bring up the name Todd Haley, and it’s like, “Isn’t he the guy Parcells punched on the sideline?”

Nice claim to fame.

“That was a love tap,” Haley says of the fourth-quarter incident in last season’s Seattle game, precipitated by voicing his displeasure with an official’s call a little too vehemently, evidently irritating Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells, who was doing a nice enough job of voicing his own opinion at the time.

But then that’s Haley, opinionated, outspoken and head-strong – a tad edgy – and why many might have been surprised when Parcells decided to upgrade the responsibilities of this third-year Cowboys wide receiver coach to also include that of the all-important passing coordinator following the departure of Sean Payton.

Confusing as it may be, a Parcells kind of guy.


Satchel Paige’s 100th Birthday

Today would be Satchel Paige’s 100th birthday. Maybe.

“Age is a question of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” That’s according to baseball immortal Leroy “Satchel” Paige, born 100 years ago on July 7, 1906. Paige (legend has it) won 2,100 games, 60 in one season, and 55 without giving up a hit. And that was before he was allowed in the majors as a 42-year-old “rookie.”

“How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?” Paige once remarked. Of course, old Satch was known to have fudged the facts a smidge when it came to longevity. He enjoyed shaving off or adding a year or two to his biography, depending upon his mood and how much publicity it might attract. Satchel’s actual birthday is one of the great mysteries of sport.

He told Cleveland Indians owner Bill Veeck it was Sept. 18. Wilber Hines, a childhood friend, claimed it was Sept. 12, 1905. In 1980, two years before Satch died, Cool Papa Bell reported that “Satchel is two years older than I am, and I’m 101.” (Bell was 77 at the time.)

But Satch’s mother, Lula, said that he was born in 1904, and that she wrote the birthdates of her 13 children down in the family Bible. The only problem was that her father was reading it under a chinaberry tree one day when the wind blew it out of his hands. The family goat ate it, and the date was lost forever. But the goat, according to Satch, lived to be exactly 27.

July 7 seems to be Paige’s most likely birth date. Teammate Ted “Double Duty” Radcliffe (who died last August) insisted Satch was born on July 7, 1900, two years to the date before he was.

In Satch’s autobiography, Maybe I’ll Pitch Forever, he wrote, “I got to Cleveland on July 7, 1948. That was my 42nd birthday.” And in 1954 the Mobile, Ala., Health Department located a birth certificate for a “Leroy Page” dated July 7, 1906. “They’ve been carrying on so long about my age, nobody will believe what I say,” Satch said.

We’ll never know for sure when Satchel Paige was born. But when he threw his first pitch for the Cleveland Indians in 1948 (one year after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier), Satch was an old man by baseball standards. Yet he still went 6-1 to help the Indians win the American League pennant. Paige became the first black player to pitch in the
World Series and the first Negro League player inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame (his plaque says he was 42 in 1948). Satch went on to pitch four more seasons.

The man was a character, if nothing else.


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