Sports Outside the Beltway

NJ Devil Center Bobby Holik retires

He was a member of the ‘Crash line’, a feature of the Devil teams that won the Stanley Cup in 1995 and 2000. Enjoy your retirement Bobby.

Veteran center Bobby Holik is retiring after 18 seasons, 11 of those with New Jersey Devils, the New York Post reported.

“I’m done. I’m retiring,” Holik told the Post from his home in Wyoming. “I miss being with my family every day. I knew when the season ended, but I wanted to leave and get home first, and not make a big deal of it.

“A player is what I was. Now I’m a husband and a father.”

The 38-year-old Holik was picked 10th overall by the Hartford Whalers in 1989. He was traded to New Jersey with Jay Pandolfo for Sean Burke and Eric Weinrich on Aug 28, 1992. He, Mike Peluso and Randy McKay made up the Crash Line and helped the Devils win the Stanley Cup in 1995 and 2000.

Holik signed with the New York Rangers in 2002. He played two seasons with the Rangers before the salary cap forced a buy out.

Holik then played for the Atlanta Thrashers for three seasons, and was captain in 2007-08. He returned to the Devils last season. Holik played 1,314 regular season games with 1,423 penalty minutes and a plus-115 rating.


Miami Dolphins DE Randy Starks charged with aggravated battery

Would you believe he had 13 people in a vehicle and a woman sitting in his lap. From the Sun-Sentinel-

Miami Dolphins defensive end Randy Starks was arrested and charged with aggravated battery early Sunday morning after bumping his slow-moving truck into an officer who was trying to stop him on Ocean Drive, according to The Miami Herald.

Here’s what happened, according to a police report obtained by the newspaper.

Starks was driving a black freight-liner through bumper-to-bumper traffic around midnight when an officer noticed there were 13 people in the four-person vehicle, including a woman sitting on his lap.

The officer walked up to the car and knocked on the side window; Starks kept driving. Starks finally stopped when the officer knocked on the side door. Then the car accelerated, causing the vehicle to hit the officer and pin him against against a vehicle in another lane.

A freightliner may have room for 13. On the other hand, driving with someone in your lap or striking someone with your vehicle are clearly dumb things to do. Will the altercation affect Starks career with the Dolphins?


Jenson Button wins the Monaco Grand Prix

The other premier late May auto race was done today. From AP-

Brawn GP’s Jenson Button won the Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday, capturing his fifth victory in six races to extend his Formula One championship lead.

“We’ve got Monaco baby,” Button said after crossing the finish line 7.6 seconds ahead of teammate Rubens Barrichello. Button’s fourth start-to-finish victory of the season was the first for a British driver at the famed street circuit race since Jackie Stewart 36 years ago.

Button leads with 51 points. Barrichello has 35 after his fourth runner-up finish here and Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, who crashed out after 16 laps, is third with 23 points.

“I think we’ve proven this weekend that our package has worked and we’re looking very strong for the next couple of races,” Button said. “This was a massive win.”

Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen earned Ferrari its first top-three finish of the season by taking third. Felipe Massa was fourth for Ferrari ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber, who took his points tally to 19.5.

Button has won more Grand Prix races in 2009 then he did in eight previous years of racing on that circuit. What has caused the sudden change in his racing fortunes. Skill, good luck, or some ‘innovation’ to the cars he races?


When you’re hot and other LPGA Tour notes

Eunjung Yi made some LPGA history today at the Corning Classic.

Eunjung Yi of South Korea has made three eagles in her first five holes on the third round of the LPGA Corning Classic.

Yi eagled the par-4 first hole, the par-5 second hole and the par-5 fifth hole. She’s just the fifth player in LPGA history to accomplish the feat and only the 17th to post consecutive eagles.

Yi started Saturday at 4 under and tied for 59th. Her spree left her at 10 under and just four shots behind leader Karine Icher of France, who had yet to tee off.

Some LPGA related comments

1- Going into today’s third round, France’s Karine Icher had a two-shot lead over Hee Won Han. Han, a six-time winner on tour, is trying to win her first tournament since 2006. She won Corning in 2006, but her more recent victory was the 2006 LPGA Thailand.

Han was one of the most consistent LPGA players from 2003-06 when she finished between 4th and 9th every year on the money list. The reasons for her three-year absence from the winner’s circle is directly attributable to her having a baby boy in June 2007. She played less than a dozen events that year, and while she had a solid 2008, Han fell off to 19th on the money list. Herworst finish not counting 2007 since 2002.

2- Talking about motherhood, expectant Mom Mi Hyun ‘Peanut’ Kim opened today’s third round in a tie for 14th. Peanut sometime in the late summer or early fall will join Han as the only other South Korean Mom on tour.

Actually other than Han and Peanut, the only South Korean golfers I know that are married are Birdie Kim and Gloria Park.

3- Seon Hwa Lee is also tied for third and would be an appropriate winner for the last ever Corning Classic. Why would she be appropriate? Lee has won four LPGA events, three of them were never played again after Stone Buddha’s victory.

4- Randall Mell* at Golf Channel writes about how sponsors will lose money this year and future projections weren’t very good either -

That’s partly because the LPGA was asking more in negotiations over a new contract. This marks the last year of a four-year deal with the tournament declining to pick up the option for next year. The tournament’s board was negotiating a new deal through 2013 when it pulled the plug.

The cost of running this year’s Corning Classic will be about $3.7 million, Benjamin said. The tournament projects under a new four-year deal, those costs will average out to about $4.45 million annually, though Benjamin said it’s possible the LPGA would have made concessions to lower those costs.

The negotiations, however, never got that deep.

“The LPGA’s asking price didn’t help, but that wasn’t the reason for this decision,” Benjamin said. “We just can’t generate the revenue to keep this tournament the way it is. The economy’s taken a huge toll.”

Randall says you can’t point a derisive finger at the LPGA over its latest lost tournament but I disagree. The time to squeeze a sponsor isn’t when the economy is poor and your organization is having problems with retention. I think a tournament with a lower purse, is better than no tournament at all. Especially in light of the fact the LPGA has almost a dozen US tournaments right now in the last year of their contract.

Caddy blogger Larry has the following-

The details of the loss of The Corning Classic, if true, are troubling. More than one source states that the beloved Commissioner called for a pecuniary squeeze play and was thrown out at the plate. From what I understand, the Corning folks offered to maintain heir current contribution but noted that lessor sponsors were unable to do so. The event could still be held but at a reduced purse. This was rebuffed by the LPGA which demanded bumping the purse to 2.6 million and also called for the addition of more, and or better, scoreboards.

The LPGA version is that they tried everything possible to save the tournament.

After the SBS fiasco, with both sides offering contradictory stories on its demise, who do we believe? Weren’t we told by the LPGA that SBS couldn’t match the offer from J Golf? If you remember the interview with the CEO of SBS, he said the offer was never made. Does anyone see a pattern here? By the way, it didn’t take long for the PGA to pick them up as a sponsor in a long term deal for their opening event. I guess SBS had plenty of cash to spare after all.

One noted LPGA Hall of Fame member lamented recently, that if the players don’t take back the Tour within the next two years, it’s over. She is not the only one sharing that sentiment as more info comes to light about this week’s event.

Since the Shoprite fiasco, I been warning about the path LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens** has been taken. We’ve seen at least four tournaments go belly up because of how Ms. Bivens treated them in one fashion or another. The Hall of Famer is write, Bivens has to or the LPGA is sunk. I said for the first time almost three years ago.

5- Anything I wrote about who may win Corning this weekend is liable to be far off. Scoring has been extremely low today. Taiwan’s Yani Tseng and Vicki Hurst are ten under par for their rounds today and haven’t reached the clubhouse yet.

*- I’ve met Randall at the two LPGA tournaments I was a credentialed blogger for. He used to be a sports writer for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

**- Bivens does have some accomplishments as Commissioner, but the negatives are far too overwhelming to not say her time in the job has been a disaster for the tour.


Calgary Flames fire Coach Mike Keenan

He lasted just two years at his latest NHL head coaching job. From AP-

Mike Keenan was fired as coach of the Calgary Flames on Friday, almost a month after his team lost in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year.

Keenan spent just two seasons with Calgary, and general manager Darryl Sutter said expectations were not met.

“Taking into consideration all factors affecting our season-ending result, we believe this is a necessary change required to allow our team to continue toward our objective of winning the Stanley Cup,” Sutter said.

The Flames finished the regular season with 46 wins and 98 points, but they were ousted in the first round in six games by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Keenan, who had one year remaining on his contract, said following the playoff loss to Chicago that he believed he would be back to finish his deal.

“I have another year left on my contract,” Keenan said. “My expectation is to be here to fulfill my contract.”

Keenan was hired as the Flames coach in June 2007, replacing Jim Playfair. He leaves Calgary with an 88-60-16 regular-season record. His 672 victories rank fourth on the career coaching list.

Keenan has coached 8(Philadelphia, Chicago, the New York Rangers, St. Louis, Vancouver, Boston and Florida. Only with the NY Rangers in 1994 did he win a Stanley Cup) of the 30 teams in the NHL. I’d be willing to make a small wager he is coaching a 9th before 2010 is over.

As for Keenan’s firing, the Western is the strongest of the two NHL conferences. Calgary is a good team, but Detroit and San Jose are better for sure, with Chicago and Vancouver arguably better than the Flames. Without knowing more, Keenan may be a victim of unrealistic expectations.


Hall of Fame Hockey player Clint Smith dead at 95

He was the last surviving member of the 1940 New York Rangers that won the Stanley Cup. RIP.

Hall of Fame player Clint Smith, a two-time winner of the Lady Byng Trophy while with the Chicago Blackhawks and New York Rangers, has died. He was 95.

Smith died Tuesday, the Vancouver Canucks announced Thursday. He played 11 years in the NHL with New York (1936-43) and Chicago (1943-47) and was the lone surviving member of the Rangers’ Stanley Cup-winning team in 1940. Teammate Alf Pike died in March.

Smith was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.

The 5-foot-8, 165-pound center won the Lady Byng Trophy in 1939 and 1944, an award given for skill and gentlemanly play. He had only 24 penalty minutes in 483 regular-season games. Smith had a four-season stretch in which he wasn’t called for a penalty.

In the 1943-44 season, Smith set an NHL record with 49 assists while playing on a line with future Hall of Famers Bill Mosienko and Doug Bentley. The trio set a league scoring record by producing 219 total points.


Demolition job- Minnesota beats Chicago White Sox 20-1

It was the worst defeat in Chisox history. From AP-

While the Chicago White Sox weren’t exactly showing their best side to Jake Peavy, the Minnesota Twins were taking out their anger on the baseball.

Joe Mauer hit a grand slam, two doubles and drove in a career-high six runs as the Twins routed the White Sox 20-1 Thursday, matching Chicago’s most-lopsided loss in team history.

“I think a lot frustration came out today,” said Mauer, whose Twins had lost the first six games of their road trip before winning big on getaway day. “We had a rough trip. It was nice to get some runs. We kept on saying, ‘Keep at it, keep at it.”

There was nothing nice about the game for the White Sox, whose only other 19-run defeat ever was a 19-0 loss at Anaheim in 2002.

“We did everything wrong we could do,” Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen said. “You name it, we did it wrong.”

It would seem so. Nineteen run losses are not too common at the pro level. The good news, tomorrow is another day and game. Twice in baseball history has a team come back from being no-hit to having a no-hitter of their own the next day.

What sparked today’s outburst was an attempt at ‘small ball’ by Minnesota.

Minnesota led 1-0 and had two on in the second when Betemit fielded Nick Punto’s bunt and threw the ball off Punto’s helmet. Mauer’s sacrifice fly and Kubel’s RBI single made it 4-0 before Cuddyer lined a three-run homer over the left-field fence. Three pitches later, Crede took Colon deep for an eight-run lead.

Bunting, except when it’s done by a pitcher, is usually associated with what’s called a one-run offense. The botched bunt helped score Minnesota 7 runs in the inning it was conducted. Trust me, that won’t happen again for a while.


NY Senators oppose potential Phoenix Coyote move to Canada

National politics and the NHL. How often do these two mix? From AP-

U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York are opposed to the Phoenix Coyotes relocating to southern Ontario because it would have a potential “crippling” effect on the Buffalo Sabres.

In a letter sent to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Thursday, the two Democrats sided with the league in its bid to prevent Canadian businessman Jim Balsillie from purchasing the bankrupt Coyotes and moving them to Hamilton, Ontario, located about 45 minutes west of Buffalo.

The Sabres, one of the NHL’s strongest U.S. small-market franchises, generate about 20 percent of their revenue from across the border.

The NHL has asked a bankruptcy judge to uphold the league’s right to determine who owns a franchise and where it plays.

Will the Coyotes play anywhere next year. A Ottawa Sun journalist has some serious doubts.

The judge asked the sides to report back on May 27, a week from today. I can predict with near certainty that nothing will come of that mediation. Moyes isn’t about to relinquish his apparent ownership and the NHL isn’t about to allow him to put the team into bankruptcy. Try finding middle ground there.

If it’s not bad enough that Moyes and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman have no trust in each other, the judge did say he would discuss relocation — what he called the “hot-button issue” — on June 22, more than a month from now, which was immediately followed by the NHL lawyer indicating the league would not approve the movement of a franchise for next season at such a late date.

That date all but ensures Balsillie and Hamilton are out for next season.

It could also mean the Coyotes are out for next season.

That is the difficulty the NHL must come to grips with. You can’t move the Coyotes by late June and you can’t sell tickets in Phoenix for a franchise nobody can say for certain will be there. It is a double-edged sword, with both sides stabbing at the league.

The NHL has had to step in before to keep a team afloat. It was the Ottawa Senators around 15 years ago. NHL owners will croak first before allowing Jim Balsillie, I think the same will go for keeping the franchise known as the Coyotes alive in some form or another till a suitable owner can be found.

As for Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, I understand their interest in trying to protect the Sabres. The team is a New York based business and in no way compares to this fool congressman who has a Congressional committee investigating the College bowl system.


Back injury may end Oakland Athletic 3rd baseman Eric Chavez’s career

He has only played on a limited basis since 2007. From the San Francisco Chronicle-

The next time Eric Chavez’s back goes out, it will be the end of his career.

“Pretty much game, set and match,” the A’s third baseman told The Chronicle by phone from his home in Phoenix.

Chavez is rehabbing his most recent back problem in Arizona in the hopes of rejoining the A’s on their next homestand. Doctors, however, have told him that a herniated disk in his back could go at any time, even if he sneezes.

If that happens, Chavez will need to have his previously repaired vertebra, the L4-L5, fused with the vertebra that is currently herniated, which is the L3-L4. Another microdiscectomy such as the one Chavez had in October, 2007, is out, because it would leave his spine too unstable, Chavez said.

Spinal fusions don’t allow for the type of physical activity performed by pro athletes.

If a spinal fusion causes Chavez give up ballplaying it will be sad but necessary. His long term health is more important.

If Chavez retired today, he is certainly one of the top 100 3rd baseman in baseball history. Prior to the 1930′s, most players at that position were closer to modern day shortstops offensively than to today’s 3rd basemen. Harlond Clift was the first to ever hit 30 homeruns, and he did that in 1938. That’s eight years after the big offensive year of the era.(1930) Chavez has hit over 220 homers in his career, with a .268 career Batting average and career on base percentage of .344. Those are more than solid numbers plus Chavez was multiple time gold glove 3rd baseman.

Chavez was a favorite Star Tour player of mine in the last year I played in those tournaments. He was my regular 3rd baseman for my 2nd place finishing team in this tournament and this.


Dontrelle Willis two hits the Texas Rangers

It was the first win for the former Florida Marlin left hander in almost two years. From AP-

Dontrelle Willis finally won again after nearly 20 months.

Willis allowed one hit while working into the seventh inning of Detroit’s 4-0 win over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night. It was the Tigers’ fourth straight win and snapped Texas’ seven-game winning streak.

Willis (1-0), making his second start since coming off the disabled list with an anxiety disorder, struck out five in 6 1/3 innings to win for the first time since Sept. 25, 2007. He allowed two baserunners in the first inning, then retired 17 straight.

“He was tremendous,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. “Hopefully we can build on that.”

I do hope Willis can get his career back on track but if baseball history is any guide, the odds are against it. Hurlers who lose the ability to pitch for non arm related woes, have a poor record of coming back. Take for instance Rick Ankiel, Mark Davis, and Steve Blass. On the good side of ledger, Willis was impressive last night. The book is still open so far as the rest of his career goes.


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