Sports Outside the Beltway

Goalie Steve Mason at it again- Columbus blanks Ottawa 1-0

Last night’s game marks the seventh shutout for the NHL rookie.

It seemed like a while since Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Steve Mason had recorded a shutout. In reality it was only seven starts, but when you burst onto the scene with six in your first 24 NHL games, including back-to-back-to-back blankings during one stretch, expectations quickly become elevated.

Have no fear — Mason was back at his stingiest best Friday night, and he needed to be. The Blue Jackets got him a Jakub Voracek goal early in the second period and nothing more, but Mason made that hold up with 18 saves in a 1-0 win over the Ottawa Senators at Nationwide Arena.

“Steve Mason had an outstanding game,” said Voracek, who redirected a shot by Michael Peca past Alex Auld for his eighth of the season. “He made a couple of big saves in the third period. It doesn’t matter if it’s 1-0 or 5-4; it’s still two points for us.”

Mason now leads the League with seven shutouts, and the Blue Jackets moved into a four-way tie for fifth in the Western Conference with 53 points. Three other teams sit just two points out of a playoff spot in an ever-tightening race.

I’m surprised by the rise of Columbus this year. It was easy to write them off after Derick Brassard went out for the season.

Columbus will have to play excellent hockey to make the playoffs, for I feel the Western is the tougher of the two NHL conferences.


Bill Parcells to stay with Miami Dolphins

Since even before Miami lost in the first round of the playoffs, the rumor mill in regards to the Dolphin VP of Football Operations, had been working overtime. From the Sun-Sentinel-

Walking through Super Bowl media headquarters Friday afternoon, Dolphins Vice President of Football Operations Bill Parcells proudly pointed to the picture of him atop the shoulders of Giants players after winning Super Bowl XXI against the Broncos 22 years ago.

But his favorite Super Bowl moment came four years later in the Giants’ 20-19 victory over the Bills in Tampa Stadium when Buffalo kicker Scott Norwood’s 47-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide.

“My most cherished memory is when that field goal went right,” Parcells said while racing through a plethora of media appearances to promote Gatorade ‘G.’

Parcells is hoping to duplicate that memory with the Dolphins and reiterated that he isn’t interested in using a 30-day escape clause in his contract.


Parcells said that despite an 11-5 season and playoff berth, the rebuilding process was far from complete.

I agree, the Dolphins still need a lot of work. Pennington will good for one more year or two at the most. He is injury prone, and I’d be surprised if he gets through 2009 and 2010 without getting hurt. The Dolphin defense is still old, and the secondary mediocre at best. The receiving corps is weak. There are plenty of areas that need improvement.

Miami had an easy schedule this year. It filled with games against Oakland, St. Louis, Kansas City, Seattle, and a few other teams that were really bad. I think the Dolphins will relapse in 2009, 7-9 or 8-8.

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  • OTB Sports linked with Double whammy- Two Dolphin QBs injured in 30-24 loss to Pittsburgh...

NFL- No Thanksgiving game or blackout rule changes for now

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed these issues at a press conference yesterday.

The Detroit Lions’ Thanksgiving Day game is safe, at least for 2009. But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says that could change.

During a news conference Friday, Goodell said owners will discuss having other teams host Thanksgiving Day games “as we get later into the year.”

The Lions have hosted Thanksgiving Day games since 1934, but the club fought off a resolution to rotate the game among NFL teams in 1999.

Goodell also says the NFL won’t change its television blackout policy despite economic troubles nationwide and in cities like Detroit. Five of the Lions’ last six home games in 2008 weren’t televised locally because Ford Field didn’t sell out.

I have no problem with the Lions continuing to be a Thanksgiving tradition. Trivia time- When was the last time a Thanksgiving game was played that didn’t involve Detroit or Dallas, and what was the result. Check under the fold for the answer.

As for the blackout policy, the NFL should get its head out out of its arse. They are the only major sport that blacks out home games if they aren’t sold out. This policy should be deader than the dodo bird.


Serena Williams wins the Australian Open

It was Serena’s third triumph down under since 2003. From AP-

Serena Williams routed Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-3 Saturday to win the Australian Open for her 10th Grand Slam title and a return to the No. 1 ranking.

It was total domination for the second-seeded Williams, who looked at ease in winning back-to-back majors — she won the U.S. Open championship in September — and was moving fluidly on the court.

“I absolutely, clearly, love playing here,” the 27-year-old Williams said. “You guys root for me so much. I don’t get that everywhere. So thank you so much.”

Williams’ near-perfect performance was in sharp contrast to No. 3 Safina, who was tight from the start. Later apologizing to the crowd for her performance, Safina said Williams was just too good, leaving her feeling like a ballboy.

I remember people beginning to write off Serena and her sister Venus before the 2007 Australian Open. (Yours truly gave them and their father a Knucklehead award for off the court problems) They were wrong. Anyone want to predict how many more Grand Slam titles will win in her career? I’m going to say two.


Former Heavyweight champ Ingemar Johansson dead at 76

He won the title from Floyd Patterson in 1959 but lost the title in a re-match a year later. He was AP male athlete of the year in 1959.

I got to meet Ingemar Johansson in the late 70′s thanks to my father’s involvement with harness racing.(There were many pro athletes who liked the ponies then) By then Johansson had put on quite a bit of weight and was asked to be Santa Claus for the Broward County(Florida) Christmas boat parade.

Unfortunately I don’t remember anything else from our meeting. His boxing career ended when I was still a toddler. RIP Ingemar.


Philadelphia Eagles Def. Coordinator Jim Johnson has cancer

He plans to still coach as he battles deadly skin cancer. From AP-

Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson has had a recurrence of cancer, this time in his spine, team officials said Thursday.johnson

Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder told The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News that Johnson on Monday was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer that has formed a tumor in his back. Johnson has begun radiation treatments at Bryn Mawr Hospital, the trainer said.

The tumor is in the same area where Johnson’s skin cancer was diagnosed in 2001, Burkholder told the newspapers. Johnson also has cancer in other areas of his body, Burkholder said, but he declined to elaborate. The team did not offer a prognosis.

I know what the prognosis is for Stage IV for Malignant melanoma is and it isn’t good. See I’m in the same boat as Johnson and I’ve survived a year so far. My chances to five are less than ten percent.

As for coaching, I don’t expect Johnson to be back. Only because the battle he faces will consume almost all his time and energy. God bless Jim Johnson and his family. The rest of the AP article is below the fold.


Move over Michelle Wie Part VI

Meet Karen Kim

It is now easy to spot Korean family names like Kim, Lee, Park or Pak on the leaderboards of youth golf championships in the United States. Some second-generation Korean-Americans, such as Anthony Kim and Michelle Wie, grow up to become world-class golfers. kkim

Being touted as the “next Michelle Wie,” nine-year-old Korean-American Karen Kim is one of these promising players. Kim, a student at Lincoln Elementary School in Linwood, California, has already won over 70 titles, including the U.S. national championship for children in Arizona last December. In October 2008, she won the kids’ PGA Invitational and then the California Kids Golf Tour. She was voted golfer of the year by the CKG in 2008.

Kim started playing the golf at the age of five, taught by her father Casey Kim, a professional golfer. Her dream is to surpass Michelle Wie.-Chosunilbo

Over seventy wins, and she isn’t even ten years old. That’s very impressive. We’ll have to keep an eye on Karen. Will she get a contract with Nike? Cause some golf writers and LPGA players to act irrationally when they discuss you? Get disqualified for not signing a score card?

I think the chances are that Karen won’t cause that big a stir. Look at how Vicki Hurst has handled success on the golf course.(Vicki is half Korean for those who don’t know her and after Ji Yai Shin, is arguably the leading member of the 2009 LPGA Rookie class.


The LPGA Ginn Open is dead

Another hole has been blown in the 2009 US Women’s professional golf schedule. From the Orlando Sentinel-

The recession has claimed another victim: the Ginn Open, the LPGA Tour’s lone event in Central Florida.

Ginn Sports Entertainment and Ginn Development Company announced Wednesday afternoon that they will no longer host, produce or sponsor professional golf tournaments, including the Ginn Open at Reunion Resort and the Champions Tour Ginn Championship in Palm Coast.

“The economy is rough, and it’s no surprise,” Ginn Open Tournament Director Linda Chen said.

This year’s Ginn Open had been slated for April 16-19, and it is unclear whether the LPGA Tour can find a replacement tournament for that point on the schedule.

The chances of a replacement being found between now and April rank up there with my winning the Florida lottery in any given drawing. It isn’t going to happen.

No one from the LPGA has commented on this latest tournament debacle. AP reports that VP of LPGA communications Connie Wilson as saying because of travel and schedules the tour would have no immediate comment.

Which might be true. Or Carolyn Bivens and other officials are in a bunker somewhere just like they were when their horrendous LPGA English policy was announced not by the tour, but by a member of the golf media. You mean there isn’t one person available on the cell phone right now? I find that hard to believe.

LPGA blogger Hound dog writes-

Despite the reality of the current economic situation, I am pissed off about this announcement. Thanks for waiting until only 11 weeks before your event to pull out, fellas. Thanks for giving the Tour absolutely no chance to replace your over-speculated asses. Thanks for shooting yet another hole in our schedule and removing one of its largest purses to boot. Thanks for giving our Commissioner a reason to alienate and then kick out one of the Tour’s longest-running sponsorships three years ago – since most folks are still buying groceries these days, I imagine the ShopRite people would already be preparing to host their ’09 tournament if you guys hadn’t come barging in.

Hound Dog is right, it would have nice if the company didn’t wait so long to announce the inevitable. The demise of the Ginn Open comes as little surprise to people and blogger knowledgeable about the LPGA considering how the Ginn Tribute folded.

I wrote about the Shoprite debacle two years ago. To make way for Ginn, the LPGA gave the shaft to Shoprite who rather than take crappy dates on the schedule, pulled the plug on their Atlantic City event. It was an outrageous way to treat a long-time LPGA sponsor that earned Carolyn Bivens a Knucklehead award a few months later when she gave the shaft to another LPGA tournament sponsor, Wendy’s. Don’t forget ADT pulled their sponsorship of the year ending West Palm Beach tournament last year because of tournament pricing, not a change in marketing as the LPGA claims.

I wonder how LPGA headquarters will spin the Ginn Story? Some how I imagine a official speaking with the song ‘Don’t worry, be happy.’ playing in the background.

The LPGA will need luck to survive in the US over the next few years. In the meantime, I will repeat what I been saying multiple times for over two years. Carolyn Bivens has to go or the LPGA Tour is cooked.

A few extra notes-

There is no Florida tournament on the 2009 LPGA schedule now. The ADT is defunct, and the Stanford International which was played in the Miami area last year, has since moved to Texas.

The Ginn Open trophy was named after Kelly Jo Dowd, the mother of Dakoda Dowd a amateur who played in the inaugural tournament. Mrs Dowd died less than two years ago.

Her husband, Dakoda’s father, Mike Dowd was quoted as saying-

“It would have been phenomenal to have Kelly Jo’s name on that trophy for years to come, We got one year.”

One year is better than none. God bless the Dowd family. Mike Dowd also said-

“There’s going to be a lot of sad folks over this,” Mike Dowd said.

I’m betting there are a great many angry LPGA golfers because of this too.

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Ottawa Senators demote Goalie Martin Gerber

When you are demoted to the minors at age 34, I think it is safe to say your NHL career has reached a crisis stage. From AP-

Goaltender Martin Gerber was assigned by the Ottawa Senators to Binghamton of the AHL on Tuesday.

Gerber went unclaimed when he was placed on waivers on Thursday after being sent to the minors on a conditioning stint Jan. 15.

General manager Bryan Murray said this week that one team had shown interest, but that if no deal was made by Tuesday, Gerber would be assigned to the AHL club.

That deadline passed and Gerber was sent down.

The Senators can still call him up if either Alex Auld or Brian Elliot struggles or is injured.

Gerber is earning $3.7 million — with more than $1 million remaining to be paid this season — in the final year of a three-year free-agent deal signed in 2006.

The Swiss goaltender who joined the club after helping Carolina win a Stanley Cup in 2006 was edged out by Ray Emery as the Senators starter in the 2006-07 season.

The 34-year-old Gerber is 4-9-1 this season with a 2.86 goals-against average and a .899 save percentage in 14 games.

Gerber has been a decent backup Goalie but that’s about all. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s playing somewhere in Europe(like former Senator Goalie Ray Emery) during the 2009-10 NHL season.


Florida horsemen say 2009 racing meet will end 3 months early

Could harness racing in Florida be permanently kaput as early as May 2nd 2009?

The Florida Standardbred Breeders and Owners Association (FSBOA) has issued a press release stating that the Isle Casino at Pompano has asked the state of Florida to approve a reduction in the number of Standardbred racing days for the 2008-2009 race meet from 160 to 140.
In addition, the FSBOA release noted that the Isle Casino at Pompano Park confirmed that they have applied for a summer Quarter Horse license. There had been previous reports that Pompano Park was applying for a summer Quarter Horse license.

Also, the FSBOA release said that the Standardbred meet will end on May 2, 2009, instead of the original schedule of Aug. 2, as advertised on the stall application. The FSBOA also said Steve Wolf, Director of Racing at Pompano, told the horsemen in a memo that the stable area and the grooms quarters must be vacated by May 10, 2009. This includes all horses (400–800) and all personal property. Anything left behind will be discarded by management.

“This change will have a devastating effect on Standardbred racing in Florida. It will not only put the breeding and Florida Sire Stakes programs in grave danger, it could spell the end of harness racing in Florida,” said the FSBOA press release.

I don’t know if what the FSBOA is saying is true or if they’re doing a impersonation of Chicken Little ‘Harness racing is falling. Harness racing is falling.’ The Sun-Sentinel based out of Fort Lauderdale, less than ten miles from Pompano Park, hasn’t
reported a word on the state of local harness racing this year.

What I do know, is that horse racing is a precarious situation at present. One being made worse by the current economic situation. I’ve written more multiple times about the economic difficulties ‘The Sport of Kings’ has faced of late. It is my worse fear that the sport will be extinct or close to it in as little as ten years.


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