Sports Outside the Beltway

Jacksonville Jaguars reacquire WR Ernest Wilford

He did a prior stint with the team from 2004 to 2007. From AP-

The Jacksonville Jaguars have re-signed Ernest Wilford, giving him a chance to make the roster as a tight end.

The team also waived defensive tackle Jonathan Lewis.

Wilford, a fourth-round draft pick by the Jaguars in 2004, left Jacksonville after four seasons and signed a lucrative deal with Miami.

The Dolphins, who gave him $6 million guaranteed, terminated his contract Monday, Miami’s biggest free-agent bust in the Bill Parcells regime.

Wilford caught just three passes for 25 yards last season. He moved from receiver to tight end this year and had a 33-yard touchdown reception against Jacksonville’s reserves in the preseason opener. He had no catches in the second preseason game.

Based on Wilford’s play last year, I don’t expect him to be of much use for Jacksonville.


NY Met Pitcher Johan Santana out for the year

He will undergo elbow surgery. From AP-

Johan Santana needs surgery for bone chips in his left elbow and the star pitcher is out for the season, the latest blow to a New York Mets team battered by injuries.

The team said their 30-year-old ace is expected to be OK for spring training next year. He was examined Tuesday by Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek in New York.

“It’s not the worst,” Santana said on a conference call. “Believe me, I’m going to be ready.”

Santana said he had the same operation after the 2003 season and came back with a career-high 20 wins and the first of his two Cy Young Awards for the Minnesota Twins.

“I know myself,” he said. “I’ve been through this before. I know exactly what it is.”

I won’t speculate on Santana’s long term prognosis. As for the Mets, 2009 is a very disppappointing year for the franchise. Even with a healthy return of Santana in 2010, I don’t expect the Mets to be challenging for the playoffs.


Former Miami Dolphin Defensive Lineman T.J. Turner dead at 46

I only have vague recollections of Turner in a Miami Dolphin uniform. RIP.

Former Miami Dolphins defensive lineman T.J. Turner has died of complications from a stroke. He was 46.

Turner’s death was confirmed by Tims Funeral Home in Lufkin. The Lufkin Daily News said he died Monday at a Bryan, Texas, hospital after a stroke last week.

Turner played seven seasons for the Dolphins from 1986-92, compiling 16 sacks in 101 career games. He played defensive end and nose tackle.

He was an All-Southwest Conference player at Houston before the Dolphins drafted him in the third round in 1986.


Unassisted triple play finishes Mets-Phillies game

The rare play has only taken place fifteen times in MLB history. From The Philadelphia Inquirer-

From shallow center field, Shane Victorino was frantically yelling to teammate Eric Bruntlett: “Touch everybody. Touch everything.”

Afterward, Bruntlett said he wasn’t certain if he heard anything. He was somewhat occupied at the time. The Phillies utility infielder was indeed touching everybody and everything, making history in the process.

In a blink, the second baseman pulled off one of the rarest occurrences in the wacky game of baseball – a game-ending unassisted triple play in a 9-7 win over the New York Mets yesterday at Citi Field.

It was the second time in the cockeyed history of the major leagues that a game ended on an unassisted triple play. The first was May 31, 1927, when Detroit Tigers first baseman Johnny Neun ended a game against Cleveland, but it’s not likely Neun got the same sense of satisfaction as Bruntlett.


His unassisted triple play was only the 14th in the regular season in big-league history – a 15th occurred in a World Series game – and the first by a Phillie since Mickey Morandini pulled one off on Sept. 20, 1992.

Morandini was accused of trying to sell ‘the ball’ when videos clearly showed him disposing of it after the play was over.


The United States wins the Solheim Cup

The matches are still in progress but Morgan Pressel’s 3&2 win over puts the score at 14-11 in favor of the United States. Christina Kim is dormie in her match against Tania Elosegui. That means the Americans will score at least 14.5 and out of 28 points total that gives them the win.

Today’s final result is likely to be 15.5 or 16 for the U.S. The matches were actually quite close today, not just because Europe and the United States were tied when play started this morning. At the mid point of play, Europe was ahead in matches and I was getting a bad feeling. The United States rallied, perhaps due to the turnarounds in the matches of Juli Inkster-Gwladys Nocera and Brittany Lang-Laura Davies. Lang was down all most all the way but salvaged a half after Davies played the 18th hole disastrously. Inkster trailed for most of her match too but pulled ahead at 17 but lost 18. Still that was another big half point for the United States.

The star of the 2009 matches for the U.S.? You can’t argue with the selection of Michelle Wie. Wie went 3.5-.5 in her matches. That was the best record for any of the Americans, including a one up win in singles against one of Europe’s better players Helen Alfredsson. Will Michelle’s detractors turn down the volume a little. One of their main complaints was that Wie hadn’t won anything since 2003. That doesn’t apply any more at all.

Update- Kim won her match. So the score is now 15-11 in favor of the United States. Cristie Kerr is dormie in her match, Natalie Gulbis is one down. The U.S. will have at least 15.5 when it is all over but could score as high as 17. That would be a deceptive score, play was much closer than that.

2nd Update- Gulbis pulled even with Janice Moodie at 17. What a turn around there also. Natalie was down by 3 holes in her match.


Rubens Barrichello wins the European Grand Prix

Maybe Jenson Button won’t run away with the driving title after all. From AP-

Brawn GP’s Rubens Barrichello won the European Grand Prix on Sunday to claim his first Formula One victory in five years.

The 37-year-old Brazilian took advantage of a costly pit-stop error by Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren team to record a 10th career win — his first since the 2004 Chinese GP — and boost his championship hopes.

Hamilton finished second ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen after having started the Valencia street race from pole position.

Jenson Button finished seventh to have his championship lead cut to 18 points over teammate Barrichello. Red Bull’s Mark Webber finished ninth and is 20.5 points behind Button.

Luca Badoer, who is filling in for injured Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, finished 17th after starting last.

Hamilton, who also finished second at last year’s race, looked to be cruising to a second straight win after having taken the Hungarian GP. But McLaren’s mechanics fumbled when removing tire warmers during his final pit stop, which lasted 13.4 seconds, and the chance was gone.

Barrichello moved clear in front after his second stop and held on to win by 2.3 seconds.

The racing fortunes of Barricello haven’t been very good since he left Ferrari after the 2005 GP campaign. Barrichello will have to show more consistency before it will acknowledged he is among the top Grand Prix drivers again like he was between 2002-04.


Two Miami Dolphin Cornerbacks tested for the Swine Flu

The fins won their second game of the preseason but the most notable news of the day may have taken place off the field.

The Dolphins advised their players Saturday morning that two of their teammates would not attend Saturday night’s game out of fear that both contracted swine flu, but test results have not yet indicated whether such fears are warranted.

Cornerbacks Sean Smith and Jason Allen fell ill late last week, suffering from flu-like symptoms, which led to the team’s decision to treat the situation with extreme caution by telling the players to increase their hygiene practices.

“We’re taking all of the proper precautions until we can find out exactly what is going on,” coach Tony Sparano said.

Sparano said the team is still awaiting the test results, which aren’t expected until Monday at the earliest.

Healthy adults rarely have problems with the flu. It is the contagiousness of the disease, and the possibility Allen and Davis could pass directly or indirectly it to those who have weaker immune systems.


Gulfstream Park fined $800,000 by the State of Florida

If your employees cheat and snort cocaine at your establishment, you can expect to take a double whammy for it in the Sunshine State. From the Miami Herald-

The state has fined Gulfstream Park $800,000 for security failures that allowed employees to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from slot machines by using free-play cards.

In an order filed Friday, the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation said the Hallandale Beach casino was lax in overseeing the use of the cards allowing employees to load the cards with much more money than authorized.

According to the department’s complaint: “The unauthorized issuance and use of test cards with excessive amounts of money loaded onto them was largely, if not completely, unchecked — there were no facility procedures or regulations governing the issuance or check out of test cards, nor receipts issued when test cards were turned in.”

The department fined Gulfstream $800,000 — $100,000 for each count.

The owner of Gulfstream Park is in bankruptcy. So the fine may not even be paid. The track also already owes $144,000 in back taxes. If they can’t pay those taxes, why should the State of Florida be hopeful will Magna Entertainment will pay the new fines?

The penalty follows a two-year inquiry by the state — and a criminal investigation that resulted in the conviction of one employee for cheating and organized fraud. Other employees were fired or suspended but not charged.

In September 2007, employees at Gulfstream caught a patron playing slots — for free — by using a card that was only meant to test the machines.

Investigators found that a slots technician had given the man the test cards and shared the money he won.

A subsequent investigation found that many cards that were normally worth about $5 of play had instead been loaded with hundreds of dollars.

According to the complaint, the test cards were not tracked — no unique serial numbers, sign-out requirements or system for logging them.

One employee is convicted, others are allowed to return to their jobs but the track is fined. The rules are certainly different in Florida.


Tennessee Punter kicks into HD Screen over Cowboys stadium

Dallas owner Jerry Jones must be a fan of Football Follies. From ESPN-

The Tennessee Titans felt they exposed a major flaw in Cowboys Stadium during the first football game played in the building when reserve punter A.J. Trapasso hit the gigantic HD screen that hangs over the field.

But after a 30-10 Dallas win, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said he doesn’t think it is an issue. The NFL signed off on the 160-foot long, 90-foot high video board, Jones said, and he does not plan to alter it.

After Trapasso’s punt with 8:07 on the clock in the third quarter Tennessee coach Jeff Fisher threw his red challenge flag and talked to referee Walt Anderson before fourth down was replayed.

“It’s an issue, yeah,” said Fisher, who serves as co-chairmen of the NFL’s competition committee. “I’m sure the Cowboys or the league will tell you, I shouldn’t have to throw a flag out there because [the officiating crew] didn’t see the ball hit the scoreboard. Now, it’s not necessarily their responsibility. Once a fair catch signal is given, then there are no eyes on the ball anymore. So they don’t see it. So something has to get worked out. It can become a problem.”

Said Jones after his team’s debut in the $1.2 billion stadium: “You don’t need to move it. You gotta be trying to do it. The rule is very clear. You just kick it over.”

No Jerry, something needs to be done about the screen. Kickers were hitting the damn thing during practice.


Tribune Company sells most of their stake in the Chicago Cubs.

Will a new owner mean new fortunes for a team without a World Series appearance for 64 years? From AP-

Media conglomerate Tribune Co. announced a definitive agreement Friday to sell all but a 5 percent stake in the Chicago Cubs and Wrigley Field to the billionaire Ricketts family, capping a tortuous process that began nearly 2½ years ago.

Tribune valued the transaction at about $845 million.

“Our family is thrilled to have reached an agreement to acquire a controlling interest in the Chicago Cubs, one of the most storied franchises in sports,” said Joe Ricketts, who founded the Omaha, Neb.-based online brokerage TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. “The Cubs have the greatest fans in the world, and we count our family among them.”

Tribune had announced on Opening Day in 2007 that the marquee baseball franchise and historic ballpark would be sold at the end of that season. But the process was slowed by CEO Sam Zell’s efforts to maximize sale profits, the collapse of the credit markets and Tribune’s 2008 bankruptcy filing.

The Ricketts family, tentatively selected as the winning bidder last January, had agreed to pay about $900 million for the team, Wrigley and a 25 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet Chicago, which broadcasts many Cubs games.

But that total was renegotiated, with Tribune retaining a small stake for legal reasons.

The sale figure exceeds the record $660 million paid for the Boston Red Sox in 2002, although that deal did not include a ballpark.

Tom Ricketts* is a investment banker, and along with his son, are long-time Chicago Cub fans.

I wonder how long Wrigley Field still has to go as a major league baseball stadium. It is nearly 100 years old. If there any Cub fans among my readers, please enlighten me on that subject.

*- There was a former MLB catcher and long-time coach by that name, Dave Ricketts. He passed away last year I wonder if the new owners are related to him.


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