Sports Outside the Beltway

Junior College World Series, the Way the Game Should Be

I happen to live a couple blocks from Suplizio Field, home of the JUCO World Series. Just a great old-fashioned baseball story. Enjoy!

Grand Junction

To find the best baseball story in Colorado, head west on Interstate 70. Pass the ski resorts and aspen trees. Pass the grape vineyards and the red-capped mesas of the Western Slope and hang a right at the corner of North Avenue and 12th Street – the home of the Junior College World Series. It was here, during the city’s first tournament at the now-renamed Suplizio Field, where Walter Bergman Jr. pulled a cap low over his forehead one night in 1959, stood on the steps of the dugout and proclaimed himself the most important kid in town. The Mesa Junior College batboy was 7 years old.

“Those are memories that last forever,” said Bergman, now 55, whose father was a longtime baseball coach at Mesa, now Mesa State College. “This game is special in so many ways.

“You walk out there, and you feel it. You really can’t explain what this means to us, because words can’t describe it.”

And he might have a point. How can you adequately explain the importance of an event that brings together thousands of people to watch two teams from two-year colleges play baseball? And that’s just the 9 a.m. game.

Read on after the jump…

source: The Denver Post

Update* We had a reader ask for a link to the results from this years Junior College World Series. Here you go

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Billy Donovan to Coach Orlando Magic

After weeks of speculation as to his future, Billy Donovan will stay in Florida — with the NBA’s Orlando Magic.

Rich history wasn’t enough to lure Billy Donovan away from Florida. In the end, it was just riches. Donovan will have plenty of them after he was hired to coach the Orlando Magic on Thursday. The team confirmed the hiring Thursday night and scheduled a news conference for Friday morning.

Donovan agreed to a five-year deal paying $5.5 million annually, an official in the NBA told The Associated Press.

“Billy Donovan is a winner,” general manager Otis Smith said. “We feel he is the right person to develop and maximize the talents of our players. We look forward to Billy leading us to the next level.”

Donovan has been the subject of speculation since the Gators’ second straight NCAA championship in April. He turned down an offer to coach Kentucky, whose storied program launched his career as an assistant in 1990, and was more recently linked to the
Memphis Grizzlies’ vacant coaching job.

He seemed to squash those rumors after turning down the Kentucky position, proclaiming, “I love the University of Florida.” But Orlando, about 115 miles south of Gainesville, proved too strong to resist. The Magic job pays more than twice Donovan’s $1.7 million annual deal with the Gators. “There’s going to be a lot of hamburgers, a lot of filet,” departing Florida star Joakim Noah joked.

Both Donovan and the school had said all along they were negotiating a contract extension. Florida president Bernie Machen said Thursday the deal was basically done, just not signed. “There’s always a next,” Machen said at the Southeastern Conference’s annual spring meeting in Destin, Fla. “Billy Donovan has been here for 11 years, won two national championships. He’s been a great ambassador for the University of Florida. We’ll always love Billy Donovan, whether he’s here 11 years or 21 years.”

Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley also emphasized there were no hard feelings. “We certainly wish this run could have gone on forever. It’s been an incredible privilege to be a part of. We’re indebted to Billy Donovan,” Foley said in a written statement. “We hired him 11 years ago to build Florida basketball and he did that beyond anyone’s expectations. We’ll miss him as a coach, but we’ll always be friends and remain close to Billy and his family.”

That’s the right attitude. Despite the AP lede, Donovan was being paid plenty to coach the Gators and could have probably gotten something close to the money the Magic is paying to stay there or go to Kentucky. But with all his stars gone and two national championships under his belt, he has nowhere to go but down. A new challenge just makes sense. And the fact that he won’t even have to move his family to take the job is a huge bonus.

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Orlando Magic make Billy Donovan an offer

From the Orlando Sentinel-

The Orlando Magic have made a whopping offer Thursday morning to Florida Gators basketball coach Billy Donovan, sources close to the situation told the Orlando Sentinel.

The Magic expect Donovan to accept the offer to replace Brian Hill as the head coach by the end of the week.

Donovan, 42, led the Gators to back-to-back NCAA titles.

I don’t know. There is a mighty large difference between coaching college and the pros. Donovan could be successful in the NBA, but the egos a coach has to endure may not be worth it, or the fact that Orlando has been a pretty hapless franchise for most of its history. On the other hand how much more can Donovan due at UF after winning back to back national titles?

My prediction- Donovan stays put.


Michelle Wie withdraws from the Ginn Tribute

This was her first tournament since injurying her two wrists-

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. – Michelle Wie withdrew from the Ginn Tribute on Thursday after playing much of the first round with bandaged wrists and shooting 14 over par through 16 holes.

After Wie bogeyed the par-4 seventh, the 17-year-old star from Hawaii told an LPGA tour official: “We’re not going to play anymore.”

Her round included a 10 on the par-5 third hole.

She shook hands with her playing partners on the eighth tee and rode the cart back to the clubhouse with her caddie and parents.

Wie had not played competitive golf since missing the cut at the PGA Tour Sony Open in January.

To me just based on her score, it seems Michelle still has medical issues with her wrists. She would be best advised to stop playing golf and take as a long a rest as is needed to get 100% healthy. Otherwise Michelle’s injuries could have long-term consequences.

I’m betting Michelle doesn’t play the LPGA Championship next week. An event she came close to winning last year.


Jenny Hansen Duramed Futures Tour player and Iraq war widow

She is 26 years old and her husband Jeff was 31 when he died the result of injuries he suffered while serving in Iraq.

Jeff left for Iraq in October 2005. Along with so many other families in the area, Jenny said goodbye to her husband at the air base in Lincoln, Neb.

As a Cavalry scout, his job in Iraq was to go ahead of troops or units of soldiers to secure an area for others to follow. The job was dangerous and this time, Jenny knew her husband was using his experience as a police officer on a much larger scale than anything he had ever known back home in Nebraska.


One of Jeff’s duties in Iraq was protecting a specific canal. One night last August, he and three other soldiers drove their Humvee alongside the canal during a fierce sand storm. Suddenly, their vehicle hit a large sinkhole and the Humvee flipped over, pinning the soldiers under water. Jeff Hansen normally rode in the front of the vehicle, but when he was pulled from the water, he was in the rear of the Humvee where the other soldiers normally rode. The three other soldiers were rescued, which the U.S. Army believed were likely freed by the Nebraskan. Jeff was eventually airlifted from the accident scene, but that evacuation was hampered by the raging sand storm.

“They resuscitated him, but they couldn’t save him,” said Jenny.

Jenny boarded the plane to Germany, not really knowing what she would find. She rode alongside her mother, Becky Deines, and Jeff’s father, Bob Hansen. Jeff’s mother had succumbed to cancer two months earlier, so the members of the two families clung to each other as they crossed the Atlantic, hoping for the best and dreading the worst.

“I convinced myself that he would hear my voice and it would be a medical miracle,” said Jenny. “When we got there, Army ministers briefed us on what we would see. I went into his room and he was lying there, hooked up to a machine. He had a scar on his chin and I kept touching the scar and just trying to believe it was all going to be alright.”

But in that hospital room, the soldier’s bride and former NCAA Division II All-American golfer, came to a sudden crossroads in her young life. Gone were those easy days of dogs barking across whispering cornfields or shouts of touchdown triumphs for the home team. Gone was the laughter and the kiss at the fountain. Gone was the uncomplicated innocence of small-town America.

This was Germany, miles from home. This was war. This was the most unbelievable circumstance she could ever imagine. And now, at age 26, she was being forced to make the biggest decision in her life. Jeff Hansen, at age 31, had made the ultimate sacrifice. And as she stared across the hospital bed at the man with whom she had planned to spend the rest of her life, Jenny knew that her husband would never really come home.

“Sometimes, you just make a decision,” she said quietly. “It wasn’t an option. I guess I can second-guess it for the rest of my life, but we found peace with the decision we had to make.”

The breathing ventilator was turned off. The family huddled together. An hour later, Jeff Hansen was gone.

“It was like he was waiting for it to be OK,” Jenny said.

Four days later, Jeff Hansen was buried with military honors at the Lutheran Church in Minden, Neb. A group called “The Patriot Guard” escorted the family to the burial services, keeping their roaring motorcycles between the family and anti-war protestors. It was surreal. It was numbing. It was something for which she could never have been prepared.

And then a letter arrived at Jenny’s home. It was from Jeff. Weeks earlier, she had asked her husband what he thought about her trying to play golf professionally. She wanted to test herself and see if she had what it took to compete on the next level. Jeff had written to his wife to say that he was glad she had refocused on golf. The timing of the letter was uncanny. He was gone, but his words of support were as strong as ever as she struggled with what her future held.

“The letter told me to find the focus and dedication that I needed in my life and if there was something I wanted to do, to just do it,” she said. “I still read that letter all the time. I think Jeff wanted me to find new meaning in my life and to not be afraid to try.”

Jenny is so far 0 for 2 in cuts made on the Futures tour. She certainly has a big fan in heaven right now. God bless Jenny(and good luck also) and all the Iraq and Afghan war widows.

The entire article is below the fold


The Short Bus: Kobe, Wants To Stay?


This seemed like a good time to Debut The Short Bus. In an interview with Stephen A. Smith this morning, Kobe stated, that he wants to be traded. Later in the day, Bryant went on Dan Patrick’s ESPN Radio Show and said he wants to be a Laker for the rest of his career. What?

Kobe talks to Phil Jackson after his interview this morning. That conversation changes the way Kobe feels about the Lakers. So, this afternoon he tries to smooth it over, a bit. Maybe, he should have spoke with coach before he decided to air it out this morning. Sure the Lakers have made some questionable personnel decisions, lately. But, he should have went to them first. Now, they all look like asses!


Rockies 7 Game Win Streak

The Colorado Rockies pulled out of the NL West basement, when they beat the Cardinals last night 8-3. This after sitting 36 consecutive games at the bottom of the NL West division. First 7 game winning streak since September of 1998, when Don Baylor was still the skipper. Oh, and it happens to be the longest streak in the majors, currently. The Rockies have a great young team, could they possibly be molding into a great baseball team?

Colorado’s Yorvit Torrealba celebrates with Troy Tulowitzki, left, and Garrett Atkins, right, after hitting a grand slam off Cardinals starting pitcher Braden Looper in the fourth inning of the Rockies 8-3 win on Tuesday night. The win was the Rockies seventh in a row.


Breaking: Kobe Wants To Be Traded

In an interview being conducted right now on ESPN Radio show of Stephen A. Smith, Kobe has said he wants to be traded and no longer wants to play for the Los Angeles Lakers.

He also went on to say that Jerry Buss mastermined the Shaq trade, management refused to deal for Carlos Boozer, Jason Kidd, and Ron Artest, told two different plans for the team to Phil Jackson and himself. Kobe has also stated he bit the bullet on speaking out to support the franchise, but the current interview blitz was prompted by a “Lakers Insider” reporting to the Los Angeles Times that Kobe was the reason the Lakers dealt Shaq.

More here.

The story lines that have engulfed the Los Angeles Lakers in the last week hit a crescendo Wednesday when Kobe Bryant said he would welcome a trade.

“I would like to be traded, yeah,” Bryant said on 1050 ESPN Radio in New York. “Tough as it is to come to that conclusion there’s no other alternative, you know?”

Bryant, interviewed by Stephen A. Smith, was asked if there was anything the Lakers could do to change his mind?

“No,” Bryan said. “I just want them to do the right thing.”

Earlier in the day, Bryant said team owner Jerry Buss masterminded the trade of Shaquille O’Neal — and Shaq later confirming Kobe’s account.

But Bryant was left “beyond furious” by a report in Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times that read, “as a Lakers insider notes, it was Bryant’s insistence on getting away from Shaquille O’Neal that got them in this mess.”

O’Neal was traded to the Miami Heat after the 2003-04 season, and the long-held belief has been that the deteriorating relationship between O’Neal and Bryant was a factor in O’Neal’s departure.

In response to the Times’ story, Bryant, who was interviewed by Stephen A. Smith for a Philadelphia Inquirer, said Buss “called a meeting with me after he spoke with Jim Gray [of ESPN] to talk with him about Shaq’s future in the middle of the 2004 season.

“He met with me at the Four Seasons Hotel here [in Los Angeles] across from Fashion Island, which is now the Island Hotel,” Bryant told Smith. “I went up to his penthouse suite. [Buss] looks me dead in the face and says: ‘Kobe, I am not going to re-sign Shaq. I am not about to pay him $30 million a year or $80 million over three years. No way in hell. I feel like he’s getting older. His body is breaking down, and I don’t want to pay that money to him when I can get value for him right now rather than wait.

“This is my decision. It’s independent of you. My mind is made up. It doesn’t matter to me what you do in free agency because I do not want to pay [Shaq], period.’ ”

“Dr. Buss said that,” Bryant told Smith. “And I haven’t said anything for years because I’ve always felt like folks were just looking to create controversy. Now I know. I realize what extent [the Lakers] will go to, to cover themselves.”

Reached afterward, O’Neal told Smith that be believed his former teammate beyond reproach.

“I believe Kobe 100 percent,” O’Neal said when reached in Los Angeles. “Absolutely. There’s no doubt in my mind Kobe is telling the truth. I believe him a thousand percent.

“I would have respected Dr. Buss more as a man if he would have told me that himself, because I know he said it. But he didn’t [tell me]. He never said a damn word to me.”

And now Bryant, who reportedly has made it clear to the Lakers that he may see fit to terminate his contract in two years, told Smith he wouldn’t continue to wait for Buss to build the roster around him.

“Promises made to make this team better have not been kept,” Bryant told Smith. “So where does that leave me?”

Bad news for the Lakers, the inpet management has driven the franchise into a disaster area.

I can’t say I don’t blame Kobe, the team around him stinks. The only a handful of players actually work hard, fewer can stay healthy and many more of them are just bums. He’s carried the team for 3 years and my guess is he is just burned out doing it and staying slient and supporting the franchise. Nice work by the Buss family there.



Lakers Owner Busted For DUI

If Kobe Bryant calling the ownership out, management by committee preventing any moves to improve the team, and bad personnel decisions weren’t bad enough for the Los Angeles Lakers now their owner is making bad personal decisions by driving drunk and getting arrested.

– Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss was arrested early Tuesday for investigation of driving under the influence of alcohol.

The 74-year-old Buss was taken into custody shortly before 1 a.m. after he drove his gold Mercedes-Benz station wagon the wrong way on a street in an unincorporated section of Carlsbad that has double yellow lines, California Highway Patrol officer Tom Kerns said.

Of course the one bit of humor in this came from one line in the story:

A 23-year-old woman in the vehicle with Buss wasn’t arrested, Kerns said.

Knowing the reputation of Dr. Buss, it wasn’t his granddaughter.


Take this job …

The Baltimore Sun’s David Steele doesn’t think that the Orioles ought to hire Davey Johnson. In “Office needs to tell Johnson Thank you but no thank you” Steele writes

If you hear it once a day, you hear it a thousand times from the increasingly unfaithful: Everything was just fine while Davey was here, and everything has stunk since he left. Even if Johnson’s departure didn’t directly cause the Orioles to slowly sink to the bottom, it sent up the first real warning flare that something was terribly amiss in the House of Angelos – that the honeymoon was pretty much over.Burying that hatchet would go a long way toward healing the rift between Baltimore and the Orioles, or at least delay it from becoming a canyon.

It wouldn’t do that as well as winning would, though.

And if the prodigal manager does come marching through the gates, he’d better start winning, and winning fast – or else the clock will start ticking on his honeymoon, too.

Which means the Orioles had better be absolutely, positively, lead-pipe-lock sure that the manager really is the problem. Not just a problem. The problem.

This isn’t 100% correct. The Orioles were already in decline in 1996. At that time Gillick was much better in building a team for the present than for the future. During Johnson’s tenure as manager, the Orioles staved off decline. But the main point, that if the problem isn’t just the manager don’t change him, is valid.

Thomas Boswell made a similar argument in Orioles Have to Learn To Lay Off the Change-Up

Once again, when a relief pitcher torches five games in two weeks or two players scuffle in the dugout, it’s the manager’s fault. Welcome to dysfunctional business as usual by the Warehouse. The crazy kids run the family, not the parents. The chain of command is a pretzel. Winning and losing isn’t as important as who gets the blame. And, often, the best man takes the fall.Before the Orioles brass decides whether to dump the competent, honest Perlozzo alongside the managerial carcasses of Ray Miller, Mike Hargrove and Lee Mazzilli, it should look at the team’s long dismal history of similar decisions. Since ’85, a span in which Baltimore is 186 games under .500, the franchise has had 11 managers in 23 seasons. If Perlozzo doesn’t survive this season, he’ll be the eighth Orioles manager I’ve covered who got fired within months of finally furnishing his office. Johnny Oates was so fretful he didn’t truly unpack his memorabilia until his third season. Perlozzo, in his 12th year with the organization and third year as manager, has seen it all.

Well put. Though if you’re arguing about Perlozzo’s competence pointing out that he overused Baez when Baez was floundering sort of undermines the point.

It turns out that Davey Johnson wasn’t much interested in the job anyway. In a tirade worthy of Curt Schilling Johnson told Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post

“I don’t even know that he’s on the hot seat,” Johnson said. “I don’t even know why we’re having this conversation. I guess there’s nothing to write about, so you guys start dreaming up stuff. I wish him the best. I’m not going to lend any credence to that.”That’s why people write, because they dream up stuff and want to put pressure on people. Leave me out of these sordid little games you play.”

Though Roch Kubato of the Sun takes a shot at Johnson’s response because

keep in mind that Jeff Zrebiec’s story in yesterday’s edition of The Sun stated that the Orioles had internal discussions about Johnson. It’s pretty hard for the guy to dispute that statement. How would he know what’s being said inside the warehouse?

Well that’s a very good reason for Johnson to shoot down the rumors. If unnamed sources are bandying about names as replacements for the current manager, the potential replacement ought to be emphatic that he’s not been contacted. Those unnamed sources were (intentionally or not) undermining Perlozzo.

After the 1994 season, it was rumored that Angelos wanted a big name manager for the team, perhaps even Tony LaRussa. Then it turned out that Angelos (or a representative) had actually contacted LaRussa. Angelos realized then that if it was public that he was seeking a replacement for the late Johnny Oates, it would be classless to leave him twisting in the wind, so he fired Oates at that point.

Johnson, who presumably was once friendly with Perlozzo – and maybe still is – was right to berate Kilgore. He was standing up for the manager.

Related thoughts at Beltway Sports Beat.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad .

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