Sports Outside the Beltway

Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut WR Dexter Jackson

File the 2008 NFL Draft round selection in the file called ‘bust’. From AP-

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have released underachieving wide receiver Dexter Jackson.

Jackson was a second-round draft pick out of Appalachian State in 2008. He appeared in the first seven games of last season, primarily as a kick returner.

The 23-year-old returned 20 punts and 14 kickoffs with limited success before losing the kick return job to undrafted free agent Clifton Smith. Smith went on become a Pro Bowl selection, while Jackson did not get into a game again.

The Bucs announced the move before practice Monday. Jackson didn’t have any receptions as a rookie and has been slowed this preseason by an ankle injury.

At the time of Jackson’s selection by Tampa, the pretty much universal opinion was that the Bucs were stretching. Jackson had the fastest 40 time in the combine, but had problems holding onto the ball and didn’t like being hit. Not good traits for a WR/Kick returner. I think the odds are less than 50-50 that Jackson ever catches a regular season NFL pass.


Tampa Bay Lightning sign F Alex Tanguay

He still has to take a physical before the deal is finalized. From ESPN-

Alex Tanguay is off the market.

The sought-after free-agent forward has agreed to a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning worth $2.5 million, a source told’s Pierre LeBrun.

“We’re pretty happy he is with the Lightning and he’s looking forward to giving his best,” Tanguay’s agent David Ettedgui told the St. Petersburg Times

Though a separated shoulder sidelined him for most of last season, Tanguay finished with 16 goals and 25 assists in 50 games.

Lightning GM Brian Lawton told the Times that Tanguay was “the guy we wanted.”

“It’s a chance for him to play with some really high-end, high-skill players, which we think he is,” Lawton told the newspaper. “And we think together, it should be a nice combination.”

Nice combination, but does it really improve Tampa? The Lightning had a horrible 2008-09 season. They were weak at defensemen, average at best at goalie, and other than their front line, mediocre when it came to scoring. Tampa needs a whole lot more than Alex Tanguay to make it back to the playoffs and I don’t see that happening at the end of the 2009-10. Tanguay on the other hand is free to move on to his next sucker team.


M.J. Hur wins Safeway Classic

Yet another South Korean ladies golfer won an LPGA tournament in 2009. Rookie MJ Hur beat Suzann Pettersen with a birdie on the second hole of sudden death.

The playoff was originally a three-way affair. Michelle Redman, winless on tour since 2000, three putted the 18th hole which was the first hole of sudden death. On the same hole Pettersen saw her birdie chance to win slip by the left side of the hole.

Pettersen and Hur then went to the 17th for the second hole of sudden death. 17 is a driveable par 4 but Hur and Pettersen laid up. Hur to the left, and Pettersen dangerously close to the water on the right. Hur put her approach shot to about 10 feet and after Pettersen missed her birdie putt, Hur rolled hers in.

Afterwards Hur ran away from a Korean compatriot who only wanted to douse her with champagne. Hur gave in and took her bath with a smile on her face.

Hur is the second surprise South Korean winner in the last two months. Like Eunjung Yi, Hur hadn’t shown much in 2009 before her win. Hur’s best finish was a 13th place finish. You could make an argument that the win was handed to her by Pettersen. Pettersen was -15 at one point today, then played holes 14 and 15 in bogey and double bogey. The double bogey was really disastrous since it took place on a par five. On 18, Pettersen drove it in the hazard but it bounced out. Pettersen who won all five of her LPGA triumphs in 2007, is building a record of Sunday failures since then.

Hur missed a couple of makable birdie putts on the back nine also. She made a clutch par putt on the 1st hole of sudden death after just missing the green with her approach.

Pettersen, Hur, and Redman finished at 13 under for 54 holes. Michelle Wie, Seon Hwa Lee, and Ai Miyazato finished tied for 4th, two shots back. Wie is hot right now. If not for her enrollment at Stanford and the thin LPGA schedule for the rest of 2009, I’d safely predict a win for her. She still may do it. Miyazato is another hot golfer at this time. Miyazato is starting to put herself in the Player of the Year picture for 2009.

Lorena Ochoa finished T49. Ochoa hasn’t had a top five finish since April. After dominating the LPGA for two years, you have to ask yourself what has caused her recent reversal. This is more than a slight slump.

Update- There are photos in the post now. I also wanted to note how Hur’s victory and the strong finishes by Michelle Wie and Anna Nordqvist(who won the LPGA Championship in June) have made the Rookie of the Year race much more interesting. The 2009 LPGA ROY was all but given to Ji Yai Shin before the season began. Shin has won twice this year and is #2 on the money list with a substantial ROY points lead but she isn’t going to win the award in a runaway.


Byeong Hun-An wins the U.S. Golf Amateur

He is the youngest ever winner of golf’s most prestigious amateur championship. From AP-

Byeong Hun-An has defeated Clemson senior Ben Martin 7 and 5 to become the youngest champion ever at the U.S. Amateur.

It’s the second straight year the winner has been the youngest in the history of the event, which has been around since 1895 and played 109 times.

A 17-year-old born in South Korea, An took a 3 up lead by winning three of the last four holes in the pairing’s first of two 18-hole rounds Sunday. He doubled that edge as Martin bogeyed five of the first seven holes in the afternoon round.

Lee is just a little over a month younger than the 2008 U.S. Amateur Champion Danny Lee. Lee lives in New Zealand, but was born in South Korea. Throw in PGA Champion Y.E. Yang and all those South Korean winners on the LPGA Tour. There is Jennifer Song also, the U.S. Women’s Amateur Champion. Michelle Wie was also the star of the recently completed Solheim Cup matches. Don’t you see the trend, South Korea or people of Korean descent are trying to conquer the golf world. Something has to be done about it before The Sunday Telegraph’s Mark Reason bursts a blood vessel.


20 in a row- Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-3

It is over two years since the Bucs won a game in Milwaukee. From AP-

The streak began when Claudio Vargas beat the Pirates more than two years ago as a starter. After he was released, became a reliever and returned in a trade, the Brewers still haven’t lost to Pittsburgh at home.

Vargas (1-0) threw a scoreless inning in relief of Yovani Gallardo, pinch-hitter Jody Gerut doubled to score the go-ahead run and Milwaukee rallied off Kevin Hart’s wildness for their 20th straight win over the Pirates in Miller Park, beating Pittsburgh 7-3 on Saturday night.

“It’s unbelievable. I played here in ’07 and every time they come here, we win, and every time we go there, we lose,” said Vargas, who went six scoreless innings in a 10-0 win on May 4, 2007. “It’s fun because 20 games straight is real impressive.”

Andy LaRoche homered for the Pirates, but they couldn’t avoid the longest streak by one team over another at home since the Indians beat the Orioles franchise 27 consecutive times at Cleveland Municipal Stadium from 1952-54.

When I first read this, I wondered why the reporter didn’t just say the St. Louis Browns. Then I remembered the Browns transferred to Baltimore after the 1953 season. Unlike the Indians in the 1950′s, the Brewers haven’t been one of the best teams in baseball the last two years. That makes their winning streak pretty remarkable in my opinion.


Kimi Raikkonen wins his 4th Belgian Grand Prix

It was the first win for the 2007 Grand Prix Champion since last year’s Spanish GP. From AP-

Kimi Raikkonen held off Force India driver Giancarlo Fisichella to win Formula One’s Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday, the Ferrari driver’s fourth triumph at the high-speed track in the past five years.

The former world champion, who started sixth, immediately overtook pole sitter Fisichella after the safety car came in following accidents on the opening lap — including one involving overall F1 leader Jenson Button — and held for a 0.9-second victory.

“It’s a proper circuit, an old-style circuit,” said Raikkonen, who clinched Ferrari’s fifth win in seven races at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit. “It’s just been good to me.”

Championship contender Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull, who had retired with engine failures in the last two races, finished third to gain on Button.

Button failed to finish in the points for the first time this season, and Rubens Barrichello moved within 16 points of his Brawn GP teammate after finishing seventh despite an oil leak with two laps to go. Barrichello’s car caught fire as he rolled into pit lane.

Button leads the drivers’ standings with 72 points, followed by Barrichello with 56 and Vettel with 53. Mark Webber of Red Bull, who finished ninth after a drive-through penalty, trails by 20.5 points.

Raikkonen is the sixth different F1 driver to win in 2009. I’m betting it hits double digits before the year is up.


Michigan football players allege NCAA violations

They claim Wolverine coaches are exceeding the time limits set for football practice. From AP-

Several Michigan football players claim the program regularly violates NCAA rules limiting how much time they can spend on training and practice sessions, according to a published report.

Players from the 2008 and 2009 teams told the Detroit Free Press for a story published on the newspaper’s Web site on Saturday that the amount of time they spend on football activities during the season and in the offseason greatly exceeds the limits. The players spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity because they feared repercussions from coaches.

Coach Rich Rodriguez and the university’s compliance director, Judy Van Horn, both denied that the football program was violating NCAA rules.

“We know the practice and offseason rules, and we stay within the guidelines. We follow the rules and have always been completely committed to being compliant with all NCAA rules,” Rodriguez said in a written statement to the newspaper.

Clearly a case of he said, he said. I tend to believe the players. They have more to lose and Rodriguez has always struck me as person lacking in integrity.


Very Bad- New Orleans Saints blow out Oakland Raiders 45-7

I can’t ever recall an exhibition game won by 38 points. From AP-

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints offense looked to be in midseason form. Unfortunately for the fans in Oakland, the Raiders appear to be as well.

Brees completed 14 of 17 passes for 179 yards and drove the Saints to touchdowns on all three drives he played, leading New Orleans to a 45-7 exhibition victory over the Raiders on Saturday.


Brees completed his first eight passes, as he had receivers open all over the field. The return of last year’s leading receiver, Lance Moore, from offseason shoulder surgery helped Brees’ cause. He had four catches for 29 yards, including a 5-yarder in the back of the end zone on Brees’ final pass.

That touchdown gave the Saints a 21-0 lead with 13:53 left in the half and brought an early end to Brees’ day and loud boos from a Raiders crowd that has seen plenty of bad football during a six-year stretch when Oakland has lost an NFL-worst 72 games.

The Saints were able to move the ball with ease even without top running backs Pierre Thomas (knee) and Reggie Bush (calf). Mike Bell started, but Lynell Hamilton got the bulk of the work with 16 carries for 95 yards. P.J. Hill added 89 yards and two touchdown runs.

Brees drove the Saints 80 yards on the opening drive, culminating in Heath Evans’ 4-yard run. Brees capped the next drive when he stepped up in the pocket and hit Devery Henderson on a 40-yard pass behind safety Hiram Eugene.

New Orleans added two more scores before halftime behind backup Mark Brunell, taking a 31-0 lead when Hill scored on a 1-yard run with 1:21 left in the half. That was set up by a 71-yard pass from Brunell to Robert Meacham.

The Saints outgained Oakland 344-60 in the first half, posting 19 first downs to three for the Raiders. New Orleans finished with 536 yards of total offense.

Oakland went 5-11 last year. From the looks of this game, the Raiders may need a great deal of luck to win more than two games in 2009.


Alabama gives Nick Saban a contract extension through 2017

The Crimson Tide went 12-2 in 2008. From AP-

Pledging his commitment to Alabama for the rest of his coaching career, Nick Saban signed a contract extension Saturday that will keep him in charge of the Crimson Tide football program through the 2017 season.

Saban, accused by some of being a coaching nomad and not willing to set down roots, said prior to last season that there were “no other horizons” for him in the coaching profession. This latest deal would appear to be another clear indication that he has dug in at Alabama.

I never thought of Saban as a coaching nomad. His namesake, the late Lou Saban, was the ultimate nomad in college football coaching.

Alabama officials had been working on a contract that would not change Saban’s base salary over the next several years, but would award him with a three-year extension, bumping up his total financial package to an average of more than $4 million per year.

Saban is scheduled to make $3.9 million this year. His original eight-year contract was worth $32 million and escalated each year. He’ll go to $4.1 million in 2010 and is scheduled to make $4.2 million in each of the final three years of that deal (2012, 2013 and 2014).

A long term contract locks in Saban in Tuscaloosa for a long time. It comes with disadvantages, which to me outweigh the advantages. A coach may underperform or bring scandal to the school. The University will then, and often with good reason, want to move on but are restrained from doing so because of the cost of buying out a coach’s contract.

Alabama football fans, no disrespect to my friend and owner of this blog James Joyner, seem fickle to me. They want the Bear Bryant days back and when a coach doesn’t live up to these high expectations, they soon long for the next candidate. That is just my humble opinion.


Cincinnati Bengal WR Chad Ochocinco fined for orange chin strap

He isn’t happy about it either.

Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco was fined $5,000 for wearing an orange chin strap during a preseason game.

Ochocinco first wrote about the fine on his Twitter account Saturday, saying, “WTF I got a damn fine already, it’s the damn preseason, this is some b——-!!!!”

Rule 5, Section 4, Article 3(a) specifies that all players must wear a “Helmet with chin strap (white only) fastened and face mask attached.”

On his Twitter account, Ochocinco said he was suing the NFL for discrimination.

“Im sueing [sic] the NFL,” he wrote at about 1:45 p.m. ET, “I am color blind so this fine is discriminating because I’m disabled in a way, this is a sad day for me:(”

He also posted a photograph of the letter he received from the league.

Ochocinco also posted a reaction to the fine on ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen’s Twitter account, writing, “mort this is [expletive] ridiculous, I am typing a letter back to the league office as we speak, I’m fining they a$$ [sic] back!!!! :(

What is more ludicrous- The fine or Ochocinco’s reaction?


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