Sports Outside the Beltway

NHL Rookie Defensemen Luc Bourdon killed in motorcycle accident

Very tragic, for Bourdon was only twenty-one. He played 27 games this year for the Vancouver Canucks. RIP.

SHIPPAGAN, New Brunswick – Luc Bourdon, a promising rookie defenseman with the Vancouver Canucks, was killed Thursday when his motorcycle struck a tractor-trailer in a crash near his hometown. He was 21.

His death was confirmed by sister Eve Bourdon and stepmother Maryse Godin. Both declined further comment when reached at the family’s home in Shippagan.

Police wouldn’t confirm the identity of the victim but said a motorcyclist was killed in the early afternoon on a road between Shippagan and Lameque.

“Luc was an extremely talented player with a bright future,” Canucks general manager Mike Gillis said in a statement. “He brought great passion to the game and was a valued team member on and off the ice.”

Bourdon’s agent, Kent Hughes, called his client a winner and a competitor.

“There was no quit in him,” said Hughes, who knew Bourdon since the player was 15. “He persevered through a lot. He was a great guy and a great teammate.”

Bourdon was the first-round draft pick of the Canucks in 2005, selected 10th overall. He split time this season with the Canucks and the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League. In 27 games with the Canucks, he scored twice and had no assists.

“Through hard work and perseverance, Luc was able to realize his dream of becoming an NHL player,” Paul Kelly, executive director of the players’ union. “Luc had a promising life and career ahead of him and he will certainly be missed.”

Bourdon played on the Canadian team that won the gold medal at the 2006 world junior hockey championship in Vancouver and made the tournament’s all-star team. He helped Canada win another gold at the 2007 tournament in Sweden.

Bourdon played for Val d’Or, Moncton and Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League before turning pro.


A batty trade

Minor league pitcher, John Odom, was traded for 10 bats.

During three years in the low minors, John Odom never really made a name for himself.

That sure changed this week—he’s the guy who was traded for a bunch of bats.

“I don’t really care,” he said Friday. “It’ll make a better story if I make it to the big leagues.”

For now, Odom is headed to the Laredo Broncos of the United League. They got him Tuesday from the Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League for a most unlikely price: 10 Prairie Sticks Maple Bats, double-dipped black, 34-inch, C243 style.

That actually was good news for the small company, Prarie Sticks.

News of pitcher John Odom’s trade to the Laredo Broncos of the independent United Baseball League, which became necessary when Odom had trouble crossing the border into Canada, was just a few hours old when it began to spread like a virus across the Internet. It moved to television, then even deeper into cyberspace once video became available. And at every turn, the name Prairie Sticks popped up.

The proof was in the PDA when Greenberg and Zinger woke up to resume their trip home.

“All these orders came in between midnight and 5 or 6 a.m. while we were sleeping,” Greenberg said.

People from California to Connecticut wanted Prairie Sticks bats.

Odom shouldn’t be too insulted, future Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson was once traded for baseballs!

Baseball men often will say of a washed-up player, “You couldn’t trade him for a bag of balls.” Technically, the Dodgers didn’t trade for Rickey Henderson. But they did give up a bag of balls. The Newark Bears, an independent minor league team, were contractually obligated to release Henderson, 44, if a major league club wanted him. But when Henderson departed, the Bears made a special request of the Dodgers, asking for a shipment of balls. The Dodgers happily obliged with six dozen, establishing a new going rate for a future Hall of Famer: approximately $130,000–the prorated portion of the minimum salary the Dodgers will pay Henderson–plus 72 balls.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.

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NFL Rules Named After Players

A discussion with Steven Taylor about the new “Marion Barber Rule,” a new point of emphasis against offensive players stiff-arming to the head, prompted me to note how many rules are (informally) named after Dallas Cowboys.

A quick Web search found the following (Cowboys in bold):

    * Bert Emanuel rule — the ball can touch the ground during a completed pass as long as the receiver maintains control of the ball. Enacted due to a play in the 1999 NFC championship game, where Emanuel, playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, had a catch ruled incomplete since the ball touched the ground.

    * Bill Belichick rule — two defensive players, one primary and one backup, will have a radio device in their helmets allowing the head coach to communicate with them through the radio headset, identical to the radio device inside the helmet of the quarterback. This proposal was defeated in previous years, but was finally enacted in 2008 as a result of Spygate. This rule is the first, and thus far only rule named after a head coach.

    * Bronko Nagurski rule — forward passing made legal from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. Enacted in 1933. Prior to this rule, a player had to be five yards behind the line of scrimmage to throw a forward pass.

    * Chad Johnson rule — players may no longer use a prop or do any act while on the ground during a touchdown celebration. Enacted in 2006. (While Johnson was the foremost offender, the rule also might be considered the Joe Horn rule, after an infamous post-touchdown incident involving Horn and a cellular phone after he scored for the Saints against the New York Giants. [13]

    * Deacon Jones rule — no head-slapping. Enacted in 1977.

    * Deion Sanders rule– Player salary rule which correlates a contract’s signing bonus with its yearly salary. Enacted after Deion Sanders signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 1995 for a minimum salary and a $13 million signing bonus. (There is also a college football rule with this nickname.)

    * Deion Sanders rule II — Player salary rule which correlates a contract’s signing bonus with its yearly salary. Enacted after Deion Sanders signed with the Dallas Cowboys in 1995 for a minimum salary and a $13 million signing bonus. (There is also a college football rule with this nickname.)

    * Emmitt Smith rule — A player cannot remove his helmet while on the field of play, except in the case of obvious medical difficulty. A violation is treated as unsportsmanlike conduct. Enacted in 1997.

    * Erik Williams rule — no hands to the facemask by offensive linemen.

    * Fran Tarkenton rule — a line judge was added as the sixth official to ensure that a back was indeed behind the line of scrimmage before throwing a forward pass. Enacted in 1965.

    * Greg Pruitt rule — tear-away jerseys are now illegal. Pruitt purposely wore flimsy jerseys that ripped apart in the hands of would-be tacklers. Such a jersey was most infamously seen in a game between the Rams and Oilers where Earl Campbell’s jersey ripped apart after several missed tackles.

    * Ken Stabler rule — on fourth down at any time in the game, or any down in the final two minutes of play, if a player fumbles, only the fumbling player can recover and/or advance the ball. If that player’s teammate recovers the ball, it is placed back at the spot of the fumble. A defensive player can recover and advance at any time of play. Enacted in 1979 in response to the 1978 “Holy Roller” play.

    * Lester Hayes rule– no Stickum allowed. Enacted in 1981.

    * Lou Groza rule — no artificial medium to assist in the execution of a kick. Enacted in 1956.

    * Mel Blount rule — Officially known as illegal use of hands, defensive backs can only make contact with receivers within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Enacted in current form in 1978.

    * Mel Renfro rule — allows a second player on the offense to catch a tipped ball, without a defender subsequently touching it. Enacted in 1978.

    * Michael Irvin rule — no taunting. Another rule, resulting in offensive pass interference, prohibiting WRs to push off CBs, is also often called “the Michael Irvin rule.”

    * Neil Smith rule — prevents a defensive lineman from flinching to induce a false start penalty on the offense. Enacted in 1998.

    * Phil Dawson rule — certain field goals can be reviewed by instant replay, including kicks that bounce off the uprights. Under the previous system, no field goals could be replayed. Enacted in 2008 as a result of an unusual field goal that was initially ruled “no good” but was reversed upon discussion.

    * Ricky (Williams) rule — rule declared that hair could not be used to block part of the uniform from a tackler and, therefore, an opposing player could be tackled by his hair (aka “The Ricky Rule” due to Williams’ long dread-locks). Enacted in 2003.

    * Roy Williams rule — no horse-collar tackles. Enacted in 2005 when Williams broke Terrell Owens’s ankle and Musa Smith’s leg on horse-collar tackles during the previous season.

    * Shawne Merriman rule — Bans any player from playing in the Pro Bowl if they test positive for using a performance-enhancing drug during that season. Enacted in 2007 after Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman played at the 2007 Pro Bowl after testing positive and serving a four-game suspension during the preceding season.

    * Terrell Owens rule — no “foreign objects” on a player’s uniform (enacted in response to the 2002 “Sharpie incident”), though existing rules already forbade this.

    * Tom Dempsey rule — any shoe that is worn by a player with an artificial limb on his kicking leg must have a kicking surface that conforms to that of a normal kicking shoe.

    * Tony Romo rule — teams will now be given 45 minutes – 25 extra minutes than in years past – to prepare the balls for the game; and 12 sequentially numbered “K” balls will be used in the game, monitored by an official, instead of the ball boys. Enacted in 2007.

    * Ty Law rule (also known as the Rodney Harrison rule — placed more emphasis on the Mel Blount rule after the New England Patriots utilized an aggressive coverage scheme, involving excessive jamming of wide receivers at the line of scrimmage, in the 2003 AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Sources: “National Football League lore – Rules named after players,” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, “National Football League – Rules named after players,” Spiritus-Temporis, “Penalties Named after NFL Players,” The Football Palace Forums


Is golfer Annika Sorenstam pregnant?

Tiger Woods made some interesting remarks at a press conference yesterday-

Q. What was your reaction when you heard Annika, that she would retire at the end of the season? And have you spoken with her since then? And, if so, what have you spoken about?

TIGER WOODS: I knew that was going to happen. She’s done it all. She’s been through it all. For men and women, it is two totally different things. Who knows, she might come back or not. I doubt it. I don’t see Annika ever doing anything half-ass. The time she is going to spend with her child and her family, I don’t ever see her ever wanting to come back to the game of golf in that capacity. What it takes to do that, I don’t foresee her doing it. We talked quite a bit after that.

Based on these comments, golf bloggers Ryan and Geoff have begun the speculation. That the reason Annika announced her retirement is due to her being pregnant. Could Annika of been pregnant at the time of the press conference? I don’t remember what movie it was said in, but here’s my three word reply-

Not bloody likely.

Here’s why-

Annika stated at her May 13th press conference that her last event would be the Dubai Ladies Masters . That tournament ends on December 13th 2008.

If Annika knew she was pregnant at the press conference, she would have to be at the very least four weeks pregnant.(An HPT finding out that very day she is having a baby). If Annika was 4 weeks at the time of her conference, I used an online pregnancy calculator to determine-

Her due date would be January 20, 2009

Therefore she would be 34.4 weeks pregnant minimum the day the Dubai tournament ends.

All of you raise your hands if you know a professional lady golfer who competed in a pro golf tournament at that time in her pregnancy?

Not too many hands up in the air, eh?

Therefore I hypothesize that Annika was probably not pregnant at the time of her May 13th press conference.

Other circumstantial evidence in favor of my opinion-

1- A doctor would likely tell Annika to stop playing

2- Annika would likely not want to risk both her and her first child’s health by competing.

3- Fellow Swede Carin Koch is an LPGA pro in addition to being mother to two and she and Annika know one another well. Annika would likely of known when Carin stopped playing.

A woman can play golf if she wants up to birth, but the Vicky Hurst story notwithstanding, it isn’t the most comfortable of things to do. An amateur golfer also can use a golf cart, Annika would have no such thing in Dubai.

Could Annika be pregnant? Yes. If she is, I wish Annika well.

Would she play Dubai next December if she was 34 weeks pregnant at the time? No.


Patriots Cheated on ‘Injured’ Players, Too

In addition to videotaping other teams in direct violation of League rules, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots also cheat on their use of the Injured Reserve list. Mike Florio has the details at Sporting News.

When Walsh met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, he blew the whistle on the Patriots using players on injured reserve during practice. Goodell chose his words carefully at the press conference following the May 13 meeting with Walsh, explaining only that Walsh said “there was a tape at one point in time of a player inappropriately practicing.” The question left unanswered is the extent to which the Patriots engaged in such conduct outside the presence of a camera lens, and after Walsh left the team in 2003.

Enter Ross Tucker. The former Patriots offensive lineman has joined the media, and he recently wrote that the Patriots were using injured players in practice as recently as 2005. Tucker also says that none of the other three teams he played for did the same thing.

Goodell has said that he’ll investigate Walsh’s claims, but that he won’t impose further penalty on the Patriots if Walsh’s claim is corroborated. But what if Tucker’s claim is corroborated, too? And what if an investigation reveals that the Patriots have been using injured players in practice for most of the Bill Belichick era? Can Goodell really do nothing further to the team at that point, especially since he made it clear last year that the Patriots had a chance to come clean, and that any future evidence of undisclosed cheating would result in harsh sanctions?

As one league source opined to last week, the use of injured players in practice is more significant than the videotaping of defensive coaching signals. As the source explained it, the tactic allows “injured” players to be stashed on the roster, preventing other teams from claiming them on waivers. It gives the “injured” players an opportunity to develop their skills. It gives the healthy players a break from practice reps.

Simply amazing. The NFL has let Belichick get away with claiming fake injuries and under-reporting serious injuries, violating the spirit of the League’s disclosure rules, for years. But this is far more serious than that. My guess is that they’ll get away with this one, too.


Former MLB pitcher Geremi Gonzalez killed by lightning strike

He won 11 of his career 30 wins as a rookie with the 1997 Chicago Cubs. After that arm injuries hampered Gonzalez’ career. RIP.


CARACAS, Venezuela — Former major league pitcher Geremi Gonzalez, who won 11 games for the Chicago Cubs in 1997, was killed by a lightning strike in his native Venezuela on Sunday. He was 33.

Geremi Gonzalez pitched for five major league teams and compiled a 30-35 career record.

Emergency management official Herman Bracho said Monday that Gonzalez was struck by lightning at a beach.

Gonzalez pitched for five major league teams from 1997-2006. The right-hander appeared in 131 games with 83 starts, compiling a 30-35 record.

Gonzalez also played for the Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox, New York Mets and Milwaukee Brewers. He made a combined 24 appearances for the Mets and Brewers in his final major league season in 2006.

The Toronto Blue Jays released him during spring training last year. Gonzalez then moved to Japan and pitched in five games for the Yomiuri Giants.


Chicago Bulls’ Joakim Noah arrested for possession of marijuana

The former University of Florida star basketball player was also charged with having an open container of alcohol. From AP-

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Authorities in Gainesville have charged Chicago Bulls forward and former Florida star Joakim Noah with possession of marijuana and having an open container of alcohol.

Gainesville police spokesman Sgt. Rick Roberts said Noah was arrested around 1:50 a.m. Sunday after an officer spotted him on a sidewalk holding a plastic cup containing an amber drink, a violation of city law. During a search at the station, officers found marijuana in his pocket.

Noah was released after signing a notice to appear before a judge — standard procedure for such offenses. He could face up to 6 months in jail and a $500 fine for the marijuana charge.

Noah won’t go to jail, and may not even be fined but sentenced to community service. Anyone else have an opinion?


Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Big Brown has hoof injury

This news comes two weeks before the horse tries to become the first Triple Crown winner in 30 years.

NEW YORK — Triple Crown contender Big Brown has a slight crack to his left front hoof, although trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. expressed confidence Sunday the injury won’t keep his colt from running in the Belmont Stakes in less than two weeks.

But the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner has missed two days of training at Belmont Park, and will miss at least several more while being treated by hoof specialist Ian McKinlay for a five-eighths of an inch crack on the inside of his left heel.

“We’re all concerned because there’s a big race coming up,” Dutrow said at a Sunday news conference outside his barn. “But Ian has us pretty well relaxed.”

The trainer said he was 100 percent confident Big Brown would be in top form when he attempts to become the first Triple Crown champion since Affirmed in 1978. “I sure am,” he said.

The injury was detected by Dutrow on Friday, who wasn’t sure what the problem was so he summoned McKinlay, who treated Big Brown for more serious front foot issues — abscesses in the soles of each of his front feet that led to wall separations — last year and again in January.

McKinlay treated the cracked hoof with an iodine and alcohol solution Sunday, and said he will take a closer look Monday, perhaps patching it up and inserting a set of wires before stitching up the area.

This prediction could be wrong but I think Big Brown won’t race at the Belmont. A deal has already been made for this horse’s future as a stud. Racing him at Belmont risks this investment. That’s why I don’t think Big Brown will race.


Leta Lindley gets her first LPGA Tour win but another drought continues

She won the Corning Classic on the first hole of sudden death.

CORNING, N.Y. – Leta Lindley earned her first career LPGA Tour victory by beating Jeong Jang on the first hole of a playoff to win the Corning Classic.

Jang made a great shot out of a greenside bunker at No. 18 for a tap-in par Sunday before Lindley stepped up and drained a 6-foot putt for birdie.

Lindley’s win comes in her 296th career start. She lost a playoff on the second hole to Chris Johnson at the 1997 McDonald’s Championship in her only other playoff.

Congratulations to Leta Lindley.(I believe she lives in South Florida. Palm Beach Gardens maybe) Lindley says in her LPGA bio that her two children are the greatest accomplishment in life. Now that she has won an LPGA event, will that change? I’d bet it is still the children.

For South Korea’s Jeong Jang, this was the second time ‘JJ’ has lost in a playoff dating back to July of last year. The remarkable thing about that stat, is the fact not one of the 45 or so South Korean born golfers on the LPGA Tour has won in that period of time. The winless streak began at the Evian Masters where JJ lost to Natalie Gulbis in sudden death. Seon Hwa Lee won the HSBC Matchplay the week before.

Are the South Korean ladies jinxed right now? No, but I thought the Corning Classic, which had been won by Jimin Kang, Hee Won Han, and Young Kim since 2005, would have been the tournament to end the streak.


Former NFL Lineman Thomas McHale dead at 45

McHale played both on the offensive line and defensive line during the nine years he played in the NFL. He played Defensive End at Cornell where he was an All-American. RIP.

WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (AP) — Authorities are investigating the death of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Thomas McHale, who was found dead at a friend’s home. He was 45.

The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said McHale was found by the friend early Sunday in the Tampa-area home. Authorities say foul play is not suspected. An autopsy has been scheduled.


McHale played for the Bucs from 1987-92, then spent two years with the Philadelphia Eagles and a year with Miami Dolphins.


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