Sports Outside the Beltway

1984 Olympic Bronze medalist shot putter Dave Laut dead at 52

He also won a gold medal at the 1979 Pan American Games. RIP.

Police say former Olympic shot putter Dave Laut has been shot to death outside his Southern California home.

Police officials said the 1984 Olympic bronze medalist and Hueneme High School athletic director was shot multiple times around midnight Thursday.

Sgt. Ron Whitney said the 52-year-old was at home when he and his wife heard noises in the backyard and he went outside to investigate. Shots were fired moments later, and Laut died at the scene.


Tampa Bay Rays trade P Scott Kazmir to the Angels

I thought teams with Pennant hopes made deals to acquire more pitching, not trade it away. From AP-

The Los Angeles Angels, looking to bolster their rotation for the last five weeks of the season and in October, acquired left-hander Scott Kazmir of the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.

“This is a surprise. I had heard rumors before, but it’s hard to believe that it is now official,” Kazmir said after Tampa Bay’s 6-2 loss to Detroit. “It’s a disappointment because of all the relationships I’ve built in the organization and the city, but you can’t control the business side of the game.”

The Angels and Rays had extensive conversations before the trade deadline about Kazmir, who is 8-7 with a 5.92 ERA.

Tampa Bay receives two minor leaguers — left-hander Alex Torres and infielder Matt Sweeney — and a player to be named later in the deal.

“We’re very excited about the player that we can’t name yet, but also about the other two,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “The lefty has a great arm, and Sweeney is one of the best hitters in the minors.”

Kazmir leaves Tampa as the franchise all-time leader in wins, strikeouts, and several other pitching categories. Tampa has a record of 69-58 and are still in the playoff hunt for a wild card spot. So why trade Kazmir.

John Romano of the St. Petersburg Times fills us in-

The Rays just got better in 2010. And 2011, for that matter.

And all it may have cost them was a chance for the playoffs in 2009.

That’s pretty much what this Scott Kazmir trade means. By getting out from under Kazmir’s overpriced contract, the Rays will have a better chance to keep the core of their team together in the next couple of seasons, and that, absolutely, is a good thing.

But there’s no way to spin this trade to make you believe the Rays have a better shot at defending their American League pennant today. Not by taking their No. 3 starter out of the rotation. And not by sending him to the team the Rays would most likely face in the first round of the playoffs if they somehow beat the odds and win the AL wild card.

For now, this trade stinks. There’s no other way to paint it. You could say the Rays have Andy Sonnanstine and Wade Davis in Triple A, and so the rotation is not without options. But if those guys were better than Kazmir, they would have already been with the team.

Whatever carpe diem means, this is the opposite.

Other than for financial reasons, the trade makes no sense. I bet there are a lot of irate baseball fans in Tampa right now.


U.S. Open Tennis officials issue twitter warning

The final grand slam event of 2009 begins next Monday. From AP-

Watch what you tweet.

That’s the message tennis authorities are delivering as the U.S. Open gets set to start Monday, telling players and their entourages to be careful about what they post on the social networking site Twitter.

Signs are being posted in the players’ lounge, locker rooms and referee’s office at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center with the header: “Important. Player Notice. Twitter Warning.”

The signs, written by the Tennis Integrity Unit, point out that Twitter messages could violate the sport’s anti-corruption rules.

“Many of you will have Twitter accounts in order for your fans to follow you and to become more engaged in you and the sport — and this is great,” the notices read. “However popular it is, it is important to warn you of some of the dangers posted by Twittering as it relates to the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program Rules.”

Sports leagues and governing bodies are paying close attention as more and more athletes turn to Twitter to reach fans directly; some NFL teams, for example, urged players not to use it. But tennis appears to be the first sport openly concerned about Twitter’s possible effect on gambling.

Based on stories like this and this, there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about gambling on tennis matches and the possibility the sport could have its integrity compromised. Inside information, like whether a player is nursing a minor injury, would be valuable to gamblers.

The signs at the U.S. Open say tweeting is not allowed on court during matches. They also warn about using Twitter away from the court, saying sending “certain sensitive information concerning your match or other matches and/or players should be avoided. Depending on the information sent out this could be determined as the passing of ‘inside information.”

The messages define that as “information about the likely participation or likely performance of a player in an event or concerning the weather, court conditions, status, outcome or any other aspect of an event which is known by a Covered Person and is not information in the public domain.”

The warnings say they apply to players, coaches, agents, family members and tournament staff.

Do Tennis authorities have the right to enforce twitter rules on anyone but players and tournament staff? Rather than setting rules on what and what can’t be tweeted, the sport is probably hoping people just be prudent about what they tweet.


D-II school cancels opener citing lacking of helmets and pads

A game of touch or football was out of the question. From AP-

No helmets. No pads. No game.

Two days before St. Paul’s College was supposed to open the 2009 football season, the Tigers canceled Saturday’s contest with West Virginia Wesleyan. The reason, West Virginia Wesleyan athletic director Ken Tyler said Friday, was a lack of equipment.

In an instant, the thrill and anticipation of finally playing fell flat.

“I’m flabbergasted and disappointed for our players,” Tyler said. “They’ve been working really hard. They’ve been peaking and looking forward to kick off the season. It’s a real punch in the gut. Beyond that, I feel it was very unprofessional. We would never, ever even consider doing that.”

Tyler said St. Paul’s AD Leroy Bacote called him with the news Thursday, less than 24 hours before the Wesleyan team was scheduled to travel 341 miles to play the game in South Hill, Va.

Division II St. Paul’s had ordered helmets and pads — but the shipment hadn’t arrived yet.

“He couldn’t guarantee that they would be there in time,” said Tyler, adding that the game would not be rescheduled.

Tyler said he asked Bacote how the team practiced without helmets and pads and was told the players did calisthenics in shorts and T-shirts.

Equipment arriving late is the norm not the exception. Especially today when most of it is coming from overseas. I remember in my church league baseball days a team didn’t have their uniforms for the season opener. That was 40 years ago.


Cowboys Stadium’s video board OK’d for ’09

Jerry Jones can keep his video boards right where they are, at least for this season.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Friday clarified rules on punts that ricochet off the high-definition monitors hanging over most of the field at the new Cowboys Stadium. Perhaps the key part of his announcement is that the guidelines cover only this season, an indication the league may force Jones to raise the boards before the 2010 season, which ends with the Super Bowl in his building.

The league clearly wouldn’t want even the remote possibility of a championship decided by a ball hitting a TV screen within a punter’s reach.

Why should any football game be decided by something not part of the playing field? This isn’t golf, where trees and water hazards are part of the golf course.

Long-term changes can be made only at the annual rules meeting. However, Goodell noted that Rule 3, Section 1 of the league rule book allows for changes new policy to be enacted for the current season only.

Jones was not immediately available for comment.

The video boards are the signature item of the $1.15 billion stadium because of their clarity and size: 60 yards long, stretching from 20-yard line to 20-yard line.

How are video screens the signature item of any sporting arena? I know if I’m a fan watching a football game in person, my eyes are on the field not a video screen. Those I would only check for instant replays.

The problem is they are 90 feet above the field.

While that is 5 feet above the league’s standard, the ease Tennessee punters had kicking balls into the boards before — and once during — last Saturday night’s debut game indicates that standard might need revision.

You think so?

Downs will still be replayed “if a ball in play strikes a video board, guide wire, sky cam, or any other object,” but now the game clock will be reset to the time when the first play was snapped. Any penalties during the wiped-out play won’t count, except for personal fouls.

Also, if officials on the field don’t see the ball hitting the board, the replay assistant can now initiate a booth review at any time. If the replay assistant doesn’t ask for a review, coaches can challenge under normal challenge rules.

All the above makes sense. I think the boards should be moved, they will interfere with the flow of a game at some point. However, since it cost 40 million dollars to install them, I don’t see any action being taken other than the above ground rules. Who knew football would start sounding like major league baseball.


Coming to a theater near you- Mayweather-Marquez fight to be shown in cinemas

This used to be a common practice. From AP-

Boxing is coming back to the big screen.

Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s eagerly anticipated showdown with Juan Manuel Marquez on Sept. 19 will be showcased live in about 170 theaters nationwide, promoters announced Monday. The fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas will also air on HBO pay-per-view.

Richard Shaefer of Golden Boy Promotions said he’d been considering theater feeds for several years, ever since a trip to the movies with his kids. Unaware that live boxing has a long history on the big screen, Shaefer’s children asked him whether it was possible today.


Mayweather (39-0, 25 KOs), considered one of the sport’s pound-for-pound kings, will be fighting for the first time since ending a brief retirement. The flamboyant six-time world champion will be taking on a five-time champion in Marquez (50-4-1, 37 KOs), headlining a stacked card that includes two other title fights.

All of the televised undercard fights will also be shown in theaters.

The decision is part of a comprehensive marketing thrust that includes 30-second previews, much like film trailers, shown on about 1,500 screens before the start of movies for the next several weeks. Tickets for the actual fight are expected to be about $15.


The first fight to be publicly shown in theaters was Eric Boon against Arthur Danaher on Feb. 23, 1939, in London. The format gained popularity in the 1950s, after Joe Louis defeated Lee Savold in a fight beamed to thousands from Madison Square Garden, and a young Muhammad Ali earned a tremendous following around the country during the 1960s.

His epic fight against Joe Frazier in March 1971 at the Garden was seen worldwide.

The rise of pay-per-view coincided with the demise of boxing on the big screen, as fans began to watch high-profile fights from the comfort of home. Among the last fights widely shown in theaters was Ray Leonard’s infamous “no mas” victory over Roberto Duran in November 1980.

IMHO boxing needs to be more public friendly. Most big championship fights are not on free television, basic cable, or even HBO. Due to this I can count the fights I’ve watched one hand in the last twenty years. To me, I won’t pay $50-60 to watch less than an hour’s action.

I might pay $15 to watch a fight in a movie theater. Dear Wife would also, if Manny Pacquiao was boxing.


Chicago Blackhawks Forward Patrick Kane pleads guilty to disorderly charge

Justice is swift in upstate New York. The original incident took place less than a month ago. From the Buffalo News-

Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick T. Kane and his cousin James M. Kane pleaded guilty today to a non-criminal charge of disorderly conduct for an early-morning fee incident with a Buffalo taxicab driver Aug. 9.

Chief City Judge Thomas P. Amodeo granted them both conditional discharges and ordered them to make a written apologies to the cabbie and pay $125 each in court fees. Amodeo stressed that he was imposing the same type of sentence he would impose on similar defendants with no prior criminal record in similar situations.

$125 in court fees and most likely a couple of thousand to an attorney to clean up his mess. All because of he didn’t want to part with twenty cents. I hope Kane shows better money management skills with all the earnings he makes from playing in the NHL.


Wegmans, LPGA agree on three-year title sponsor deal

Pro golf in Rochester New York has been preserved.

Two months after negotiations broke off on tenuous terms, Wegmans and the LPGA agreed Wednesday on a contract that will keep the supermarket chain as title sponsor of Rochester’s annual women’s golf event for at least three more years.

Bill Strassburg, vice president of special projects for Wegmans Food Markets, said a three-year contract with an option for three one-year extensions was completed late Wednesday afternoon. Wegmans has been title sponsor of the 33-year-old tournament at Locust Hill Country Club since 1998.

“The LPGA has taken a very strong stance to try to correct some of the things that were lacking,” Strassburg said.

That thing that was lacking was flexibility under the previous Commissioner. The maturing of Michelle Wie can’t hurt the LPGA either. She is the biggest draw in pro golf other than Tiger Woods. Wie if she can build on her success at the Solheim Cup matches, may be a lifesaver for the LPGA. Stay tuned.


Veteran NHL C Mike Sillinger retires

He played for 12 different teams in his career but he scored the most points for his final team, the New York Islanders. Enjoy your retirement Mike.

New York Islanders center Mike Sillinger decided two hip operations were enough.

The center who played for a record 12 teams during 17 seasons in the NHL is retiring because of an injured left hip.

“The decision was clear to me after dealing with hip surgery the last two seasons, Sillinger said during a conference call Wednesday. “If I was to come back and be a hero I’d be getting a hip replacement before I’m 40.”

The 38-year-old forward played in only seven games last season and had season-ending hip resurfacing surgery in January. In February 2008, he had a microfracture procedure on the hip that forced him to sit out the final 29 games of that season.

Sillinger spent three years with the Islanders and his 42 goals and 87 points were his most with any NHL team.

“It’s a big hole to fill,” Islanders general manager Garth Snow said. “Mike was good at many different things, whether it was putting the puck in the net or taking a faceoff.”

Sillinger was chosen No. 11 in the 1989 draft by Detroit. For his career, he had 240 goals and 308 assists in 1,049 games.

Sillinger said he’d like to stay in hockey but downplayed the notion that he might go into coaching right away.

“I’m just going to enjoy the kids for now and see what the future brings,” he said.

Besides the Islanders and Red Wings, Sillinger also suited up for Anaheim, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Florida, Ottawa, Columbus, Phoenix, St. Louis and Nashville.


Zach Greinke sets new Kansas City strikeout record in win over Cleveland

The previous mark had stood for 21 years. From AP-

Zack Greinke had a relatively benign game plan against Cleveland: throw strikes early, let the hitters put the ball in play.

He was way off — and ended up in the record book.

Greinke struck out a team-record 15 in eight overpowering innings and got some rare offensive support, helping the Kansas City Royals end a five-game losing streak with a 6-2 win over the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.

Taking advantage of Cleveland’s passive approach to breaking balls early in the count, Greinke (12-8) changed his mindset, going after hitters with a nasty variety of offspeed pitches. He left the Indians baffled all night, passing his career high with 12 strikeouts in the first six innings, breaking Mark Gubicza’s 21-year-old team record of 14 by getting Andy Marte in the seventh.

That the record stood for 21 years, doesn’t surprise me. The heyday for the Royals was during the 70′s and 80′s. That the mark was just 14 is a little bit surprising when you think of a team that had pitchers like Bret Saberhagen, Dennis Leonard, Danny Jackson, David Cone and Steve Busby pitch for them in the past.


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