Sports Outside the Beltway

Let the Solheim Cup begin

The biennial matches which feature U.S. versus European women golfers tee off this morning at Rich Harvest Farms CC in Illinois. The U.S. team is defending its title, having beat Europe 15.5-12.5 in 2007.

This morning’s fourball matches are the folllowing-

9:05 a.m. Suzann Pettersen and Sophie Gustafson, Europe,
vs. Paula Creamer and Cristie Kerr, United States

9:20 a.m. Helen Alfredsson and Tania Elosegui, Europe,
vs. Angela Stanford and Juli Inkster, United States

9:35 a.m. Laura Davies and Becky Brewerton, Europe,
vs. Brittany Lang and Brittany Lincicome, United States

9:50 a.m. Catriona Matthew and Maria Hjorth, Europe,
vs. Morgan Pressel and Michelle Wie, United States

I hope the strategy Beth Daniel is employing of pairing her two best players(Kerr and Creamer) works better than it did for U.S. Ryder Cup Captain Hal Sutton who in 2004 paired Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods together. They didn’t win a point in two matches.

The match likely to draw the most spectators- The 9:50 group. Michelle Wie was a deserving Captain’s selection for the U.S. team and as long as Michelle remains interested in golf, I see her playing in many more Solheim Cup matches over the years ahead.

Everyone is predicting a U.S. blowout in the 2009 Solheim Cup. On paper the U.S. team looks so much stronger than Europe, and I can’t argue otherwise. All I will do is remind people of how lopsided the 2008 Ryder Cup matches looked before they were played. Europe was expected to blow out the U.S. and the reverse happened. Match play can have cause flukey results sometimes.

My prediction- U.S. 16.5, Europe 11.5


I get a kick out of you- Chad Ochocinco kicks winning PAT in Cincinnati win over New England

The last time I remember a position player earning a point via a kick in a regular season game was Doug Flutie versus the Miami Dolphins. From AP-

A new role, another new name for Chad Ochocinco.

Cincinnati’s emergency kicker and international soccer fan booted the decisive extra point late in the first half and the Bengals beat the sloppy New England Patriots 7-6 on Thursday night.

“‘Esteban’ Ochocinco is back, the most interesting footballer in the world,” Ochocinco said. “Everyone has to remember, I’ve always said that soccer is my No. 1 sport. I think Ronaldinho would be proud of me right now.”

Ochocinco practices kicking but had never done it in a preseason or regular-season game in his eight years with the Bengals, the first seven as Chad Johnson. But when Shayne Graham’s groin felt sore in pregame warmups, coach Marvin Lewis decided to rest the team’s franchise player and see what Ochocinco could do.

Wes Welker notched an extra point in a Miami game four years ago but I didn’t remember it till reading the above article. I remember a Steeler-Raider AFC Championship game in the 70′s where Roy Gerela got hurt and the Steelers had offensive lineman Ray Mansfield do the kicking.


Gender test to be conducted on South African runner

She won the 800 meters in Berlin by a large margin. From ESPN-

South Africa’s track and field federation has been asked to conduct a gender test on an 800-meter runner amid concerns she does not meet the requirements to compete as a woman.

Caster Semenya, 18, won the 800 meters at the world championships with a stunningly dominating run.

Semenya took the lead halfway through the race Wednesday and won in a world-leading 1 minute, 55.45 seconds, beating defending champion Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya by a massive 2.45 seconds. Jennifer Meadows of Britain took bronze.

The world track and field federation requested the gender test about three weeks ago, after Semenya burst onto the scene by improving her personal bests in the 800 and 1,500 by huge margins.

IAAF spokesman Nick Davies said the “extremely complex, difficult” test has been started but that the results were not expected for weeks.

Wouldn’t determining someone’s gender be as simple as checking what they have below the waist? No it is more complex.

The verification requires a physical medical evaluation, and includes reports from a gynecologist, endocrinologist, psychologist, an internal medicine specialist and an expert on gender.

“So we’re talking about reports that are very long, very time consuming,” Davies said.

It is actually quite complex, as are the possible reasons for people to be confused about Semenya’s correct gender.

Proving one’s gender isn’t always so easy. Aside from the obvious physical signs, chromosomes usually determine whether a person is male or female. Males are born with XY chromosomes while females have two X chromosomes.

A person can be born intersexed or have Turner Syndrome.

Maybe I’m naive, but I think the testing will show Semenya is a woman. The days where East German athletes made you wonder if they had a sex change are like some ago dream.


Nevada Boxing Commission votes to allow instant replay

The Nevada State Athletic Commission adopted two major rules changes at its meetings in Las Vegas on Wednesday that could have a significant impact on boxing in the fight capital of the United States.

In two 5-0 votes, the commission approved the use of instant replay for boxing and mixed martial arts bouts and also amended a rule that previously did not allow fighters in either sport to apply for a license in the state if they had previously suffered a cerebral hemorrhage.

Both new rules are expected to go into effect in September, said Keith Kizer, the executive director of the Nevada commission.

How will instant replay work? Will it interfere with the flow of a boxing match?

The use of instant replay was adopted on a limited basis and will be at the sole discretion of the referee. Kizer said it will only be used when an injury forces a fight to be stopped.

“An eye poke, a cut, something along those lines,” Kizer said. “The cut happens, the fighter cannot continue and the referee makes a call whether it was caused by a punch or a head butt. If he feels the use of replay will help him be sure, he can review it. It’s no different than the NFL. If the replay is inconclusive, the initial call stands.”

That makes perfect sense. I remember some Marvin Hagler fight(Vito Antuofermo?) being stopped because of his opponent’s excessive bleeding. Hagler’s opponent claimed the cut was a result of a head butt but the fighter Marvelous Marvin was fighting often led with his head.

Replay will not be used, Kizer said, to determine such things as whether a knockdown is caused by a punch or was a slip.

All sports today seem to be in need of dragging when it comes to the use of technology. Why should a sporting event be decided in a infalliable and often wrong fashion, if instant replay can prove conclusively a mistake was done?

Since 1972, Nevada rules prevented a fighter who had suffered a head injury, such as a subdural hematoma (bleeding on the brain), from applying for a license, even if the injury was not related to fighting and there was no longer evidence of it in medical testing.

That rule is what prevented fighters such as heavyweight Joe Mesi and lightweight titlist Edwin Valero from asking Nevada for a license after injuries.

But with advances in medical technology, the commission revisited the rule and took its unanimous vote after a recommendation from Dr. Albert Capanna, a neurosurgeon and chairman of Nevada’s medical advisory board, which also approved of the rule change.

This I feel is a bad decision. The history of boxing has clearly shown brain bleeds can happen and if not with with fatal consequences then with permanent brain damage occurring. Errorring on the side of caution would be more prudent.


Memphis Slammed, Calipari Skates Again

For the second time in his career, John Calipari has taken a former lowly school to the Final Four by cheating and managed to leave it in the rubble while he went on to a bigger and better job.

The NCAA has forced Memphis to give up every victory in its 38-win season under coach John Calipari that ended in the national title game in 2007-08, saying the school used an ineligible player.

The announcement came Thursday, 16 months after the Tigers lost to Kansas in overtime in the championship game.

The NCAA also said the school must return the money it received from the NCAA tournament appearance that season. School officials were expected to discuss the report later Thursday during a conference call.

It is the second time both Memphis and Calipari have had to vacate Final Four seasons. The Tigers were stripped of their 1985 appearance, and Calipari’s Massachusetts team lost its 1996 berth.

Calipari is now the coach at Kentucky, where officials have voiced support for him despite the Memphis scandal.

I’m very seldom in agreement with Skip Bayless on much of anything. But he’s right here:

Punishing the current Memphis players and coaches for something they had no control over, while allowing John Calipari to go unpunished is an absolute travesty.


Former U of Cincinnati and NY Knick Center Paul Hogue dead at 69

Even though he played with Oscar Robertson who was famous for his rebounding ability, it was Hogue who set many of the Bearcats’ records. RIP

Paul “Duke” Hogue, a star center on Cincinnati’s back-to-back national championship basketball teams, has died at age 69.

His wife of 43 years, Patti Hogue, said he died Monday of heart and kidney failure.

The 6-foot-9-inch center helped lead the Bearcats to NCAA championships in 1961 and 1962, both times defeating Jerry Lucas-led Ohio State squads in the title games.

Hogue was chosen the most outstanding player in the 1962 NCAA tournament. He scored 36 points against UCLA in the semifinals.

Hogue was a first-round pick of the New York Knicks in the 1962 NBA draft, playing two seasons for the Knicks and the Baltimore Bullets.


P Mike Hampton has a torn rotator cuff

Another setback for the veteran lefty has he tries to re-establish himself in the major leagues.

Houston Astros left-hander Mike Hampton has a partially torn rotator cuff and hopes to pitch again this season.

Hampton (7-10, 5.30 ERA) went on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday. He left his last start on Aug. 13 with shoulder soreness. An MRI taken Wednesday revealed the extent of the injury, the team announced.

The Astros said Hampton will not have surgery to repair the injury.

The 36-year-old has started 21 games this season, his most since 2004. He missed the 2006 and 2007 seasons after separate elbow surgeries.

I always thought this type of injury required surgery. If Hampton is operated on at some future date, I think his playing career will be at an end. He was a good pitcher but his career has been downhill ever since his signing with Colorado before the 2001 season.


NY Giant WR Plaxico Burress pleads guilty to felony charge

What a waste. From ESPN-

Former New York Giants receiver Plaxico Burress pleaded guilty Thursday to a weapons charge and agreed to a two-year prison term for accidentally shooting himself at a Manhattan nightclub.

Burress pleaded guilty to one count of attempted criminal possession of a weapon, a lesser charge than he initially faced. Under a plea agreement, he agreed to a two-year prison sentence and two years of supervised release.

Burress was indicted earlier this month on two counts of criminal possession of a weapon and one count of reckless endangerment. He faced a minimum sentence of 3½ years if convicted at a trial.

Burress, who caught the winning touchdown for the Giants against the New England Patriots in the final minute of the 2008 Super Bowl, also faces disciplinary action by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.

That should not need being stated. Just look at Goodell’s decisions in regards to Michael Vick and Duante Stallworth. A NFL player after getting out of jail doesn’t just get a free pass back into the league nor should he. What a waste


St. Louis Cardinals sign P John Smoltz

He was released by the Boston Red Sox less than two weeks ago. From AP-

John Smoltz agreed to a deal with the St. Louis Cardinals on Wednesday, giving the 42-year-old former ace a chance to rejuvenate his career in the middle of a pennant race.

Smoltz joined the NL Central leaders shortly after he cleared waivers, following his release by Boston. He was 2-5 with an 8.33 ERA in eight starts for the Red Sox.

General manager John Mozeliak said Smoltz likely would start Sunday at San Diego, and probably would get at least a few turns in the rotation. Mozeliak said Smoltz didn’t ask to start as a “negotiating ploy.”

“He had very little demands,” Mozeliak said on a conference call. “He had no demands. From everything he had heard about this club, he was excited to take this opportunity. The reason for the start was just to get him work and know what we have.”

The Cardinals hope Smoltz either can fill a void as the fifth starter or provide right-handed relief in the bullpen.

The Cardinals are six games up in the NL Central, so they can spare a game too in the standings. That said, I don’t understand this move. Why put yourselves at risk with a pitcher who looks finished career wise?


Fantasy Football Guide

Are you ready for some fantasy football?

Manzine’s first annual Fantasy Football Guide provides tips on preparing for and conducting the draft, managing your gameday rosters, successfully negotiating trades, and best positioning yourself to win your league championship.

And Brett Favre’s name isn’t mentioned. Not even once.


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