Sports Outside the Beltway

Detroit Tigers release Designated Hitter Gary Sheffield

Has the veteran of over twenty major league baseball seasons hit the end of the road? From AP-

The Detroit Tigers have released nine-time All-Star Gary Sheffield, who is one home run away from 500 for his career.

Detroit parted ways with the designated hitter Tuesday after a disappointing stay with the Tigers. The team was hopeful Sheffield would be a powerful presence at the plate in the final season of the $28 million, two-year contract extension it gave him after acquiring him from the Yankees for prospects.

But he failed to deliver in large part because he often was injured.

The move comes a day after the Tigers acquired outfielder Josh Anderson from Atlanta, forcing the team to make some tough decisions about its roster a week ahead of opening the season in Toronto.

Sheffield hit .178 in 18 games this spring.

The move was almost certainly made because of Sheffield’s salary. He hit only .225 last year and he’s forty-years-old. An age where most players are out of the game and whose who still remain are in decline. I still think Sheffield will play some more ML baseball and hit over 500 homeruns but I’m skeptical if he’ll be any legitimate help to any team at this stage in his career.


He’s back- Tiger Woods wins Arnold Palmer Invitational

For the second year in a row, Tiger won at Bay Hill in Orlando Florida by making a dramatic birdie putt on the 72nd hole. Last year Bart Bryant was the loser, this year it was Sean O’Hair.

With the win the talk of Tiger not being back to form will end. It will instead be replaced by golf journalists opining on what his chances are of winning the Masters. The first men’s major championship of 2009 begins on April 9th.

Sadly another big golf tournament will get lost in the buzz of Tiger’s win today and all the hype for the upcoming Masters. The LPGA Tour’s Kraft Nabisco Championship begins this Thursday. A few years ago the tournament’s dates were shifted so it didn’t butt heads with The Players Championship any more. The TPC has since moved to May, but the Kraft still gets short changed. Golf writers and the Golf Channel rather talk endlessly about The Masters that hasn’t started yet than a major championship that is under way.

Back to Tiger. He’ll win at least one major championship this year. What a reckless golf prognosticator I am.


Pole vaulter in need of sponsor, runs naked in Paris

And he posted a video of it to the internet. From AP-

A French pole vaulting champion ran naked with his pole through the streets of Paris and posted the video on the Internet, hoping to draw attention to his quest for a new sponsorship deal.

Romain Mesnil, who won a silver medal at the 2007 Athletics World Championships in Osaka, was sponsored by Nike but says his contract expired last year and was not renewed.

“It was probably for budgetary and strategic reasons. It’s the crisis,” he wrote on his Web site.

Many athletes have reported difficulties obtaining corporate sponsorship as companies cut costs because of the global economic downturn.

In his video, Mesnil runs with his pole as if preparing for a vault at tourist spots like Montmartre and the Pont des Arts across the River Seine. A black square has been added to the footage to cover his groin area.

I don’t think too many people would want to see this pole vaulter’s ‘pole’ but I could be wrong.

While Mesnil’s stunt drew him plenty of publicity, supporting a pole vaulter who runs naked in public may not be the image a potential sponsor would want to be presenting.


Former NFL and NCAA Coach Lou Saban dead at 87

Saban, who was a distant relative of Nick Saban, had a history of never liking to stay long at University or pro team he worked for. Ask the University of Cincinnati, where Saban was AD for 19 days before taking the Miami Hurricane head coaching job.

I remember him mainly for his two year tenure at the University of Miami. Army was looking for a new head coach and wanted to talk to one of Saban’s assistants. Instead Saban said he was interested in the job. His abrupt departure from Coral Gables had some local sportswriters predicting doom for the Hurricanes.(Saban was 3-8 and 6-5 in his two years at Miami) Four years later, Howard Schnellenberger took the Hurricanes to a National Championship, where as Saban would spend the rest of his coaching days at places like Peru State and the Arena Football league. RIP Lou.


Yu-Na Kim wins World Figure Skating Championship

The eighteen-year-old from South Korea dominated the competition. From AP-

Queen Yu-na, indeed!

Kim Yu-na won the title at the World Figure Skating Championships on Saturday night, setting off celebrations from Southern California to South Korea. Already treated like royalty at home — her nickname is Queen Yu-na and she wears tiny, sparkling crowns in her ears — her popularity is sure to grow now that she’s given South Korea its first world title.

“I’m sure the whole globe shook,” said Kim’s coach, two-time Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser. “The whole country of Korea must be elated.”

Kim won in record fashion, too. Her 207.71 points were the highest scored under figure skating’s current judging system, shattering the old mark by eight. She was more than 16 points ahead of Joannie Rochette. Main rival Mao Asada was almost 20 points behind, falling to fourth.

How big a rout is that? Think one of those nonconference football games the big names play, and you get the idea.

As things stand and in light of this win and Kim’s other recent victory, she has to be considered the overwhelming favorite for the gold medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics to be held in Vancouver.


Former NY Yankee catcher Johnny Blanchard dead at 76

He was not much of a defensive player but because of his good hitting did a good job filling in for the Yankees at catcher, first base, left fielder, and as a pinch hitter. RIP.

Johnny Blanchard, who played in five consecutive World Series for the New York Yankees in the early 1960s, died Wednesday of a heart attack in Minnesota. He was 76.

A key player off the bench when the Yankees won five AL pennants from 1960-64, Blanchard batted .345 (10-for-29) in the World Series overall and hit a pair of home runs as New York defeated Cincinnati in the 1961 Series.

“This is a sad day,” Hall of Famer Yogi Berra said. “Johnny was a good friend and a great teammate. He was proud of being a Yankee and always fun to be around. We’ll miss him.”

Blanchard was among the fan favorites at the Yankees’ fantasy camps, held twice a year at the team’s spring training complex.

“Johnny was a funny guy and a great storyteller,” former Yankees pitcher Bob Turley said. “He was always happy. Everybody loved him and loved being around him.”

Blanchard was signed by the Yankees in 1951 and made his major league debut four years later at 22. He is one of four players in Yankees history to homer in four consecutive at-bats, accomplishing the feat over three games from July 21-26, 1961.

“He would do anything it took to help win a ballgame,” said Ralph Houk, who managed the Yankees from 1961-63. “Johnny was a true Yankee, there’s no doubt about that.”


One in five of China’s athletes lie about their age

Is anyone shocked by this news?

An x-ray analysis of the bones of competitors in the Youth Games in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong discovered that 3,000 of the 15,000 athletes, or 20 per cent, had misrepresented their age.PD*23452415

Two thousand of them were too old to be eligible for youth competition, while one offender was seven years older than he claimed.

Suspicions of age-faking have dogged Chinese sport and caused embarrassment for China during last year’s Olympic Games in Beijing. He Kexin, a gold medal-winning gymnast was investigated by the International Olympic Committee after being accused of being only 14 years old and ineligible.

Although Miss He was eventually cleared by the IOC, suspicions linger on and Bruno Grandi, the president of the International Gymnastics Federation recently gave an interview to the German press in which he said that there was “strong circumstantial evidence” of age falsification by the Chinese.

Steps are being taken to prevent a repeat at next year’s Asia games. What happened in Beijing has so tainted Chinese sports, its going to be awfully hard to accept anyone’s word that age shenanigans won’t be happening there also.


Memo to Jeff Gordon- It’s the economy stupid

The NASCAR driver was surprised by the empty seats last weekend in Atlanta.

Despite warm temperatures and sunny skies, Atlanta Motor Speedway was a tough draw on Sunday. Though the announced crowd was 94,400, the grandstands were at most two-thirds full for the Cup race.

“To me, this is some of the best racing we’re putting on in the series anywhere we go,” Jeff Gordon said. “I know there’s a lot of race fans around here. I’m a little baffled by it. I’ve been hearing that they were going to have some empty seats. It’s hard to say.”

When people fear losing their job or have trouble paying their bills, they naturally cut back on luxuries. Like listening to what bozo athletes think they should be doingspending money to go to sporting events. Someone please inform Gordon that US unemployment right now is higher than it has been in 25 years. Thank you.


QB Alex Smith to stay in San Francisco

The former #1 pick of the 2005 NFL draft and the 49ers re-worked the contract they had.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith has had a disappointing start to his career, but he was adamant about one thing — he wanted to stay.

As a result of his loyalty, Smith was able to rework the final two years of his contract and stay with San Francisco. According to a source, Smith will make $4 million a season in 2009 and 2010, in addition to base salaries that weren’t immediately made known.

Less pay is better than a chance of no pay at all.

In his previous contract, he was scheduled to make $24.6 million in the final two years.


Other teams had shown interest in Smith, who is only 24 years old and has four years of NFL experience. Those teams were willing to pay him more than his 49ers deal, according to a source, but Smith was insistent on making something work in San Francisco.

A perennially disappointing QB is offered more by other teams and he decides to stay with his original team. Does anyone else have a hard time believing this?

Smith, the first pick in the 2005 draft out of Utah, had 30 starts in his first three seasons, but was placed on injured reserve for the entire 2008 season because of a shoulder injury.

His best season may have been in 2006, when he completed 257-of-442 passes for 2,890 yards, with 16 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Part of his rocky path may be because of the 49ers’ annual change in offensive coordinators — Smith has had a new one in each of his four seasons.

Coaching upheaval hasn’t helped, but I see no reason not to think Smith would still be a NFL draft bust if he had the same coordinator every year.


NHL Left Winger Gary Roberts announces his retirement


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