Sports Outside the Beltway

Jimin Kang wins Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia

It was her first win since 2005. From AP-

Jimin Kang won the Sime Darby LPGA Malaysia for her second LPGA Tour title, beating Juli Inkster by a stroke Sunday when the 50-year-old Hall of Famer bogeyed the final hole.

Kang, the 30-year-old South Korean player who went to high school in Edmonds, Wash., and starred at Arizona State, made a 12-foot birdie putt on the par-4 18th for a 6-under 65 and a 9-under total at Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club.

“Speechless,” Kang said. “That’s not that easy to do for me. I played solid. I hit a lot of putts. As you guys can tell, my score was good enough to win a tournament, and you know, it’s been a while. So I’m trying to soak this in.

“Oh, my God, I can’t believe I won!”

Inkster finished with her second straight 67. She birdied Nos. 15-17 to take the lead, but couldn’t hold on in her bid to break the LPGA Tour age record of 46 years, 8 months set by Beth Daniel in the 2003 Canadian Women’s Open.

Playing in the group behind Kang, Inkster pushed her second shot into the right greenside bunker at 18, then nearly holed out from the sand before two-putting for bogey.

“When I miss it, I miss it right,” Inkster said about her approach shot. “It was a three-quarter shot and I left it out there. I played well all day.

“I really enjoy what I do. It’s nice to be able to compete.”

Kang, also the 2005 LPGA Corning Classic winner, birdied three of the last four holes and earned $270,000 in the inaugural event.

Kang won Corning in dramatic style. She made a hole-in-one on the 15th hole Sunday and edged Annika Sorenstam for the win also.

After a so-so 2006, Kang was very consistent golfer(Her standings on the money list falling between 42nd and 56th each year) from 2007 to her win today. Still her win was a surprise to me today. Kang had rarely contended in those years and I long since pegged her as one of those Korean players(Shi Hyun Ahn, Birdie Kim, Joo Mi Kim, Meena Lee) who win once or twice then fade slowly or quickly from view.

Juli Inkster continues to show she has has game at age 50. She had two top 10′s coming into Malaysia and was in the top 45 money winners. She improved that today and her chances of qualifying for next year’s Solheim Cup team.


Vancouver Canuck Rick Rypien assaults fan

Some unscheduled boxing matches took place in Minnesota last night. From AP-

Vancouver Canucks center Rick Rypien pushed a fan in the team’s 6-2 loss against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.

Rypien and Minnesota’s Brad Staubitz, who fought in the opening period, were about to square off in the second period before being separated by the linesmen in front of the Wild bench.

As Rypien, who was assessed a double minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct, was pulled by linesman Don Henderson toward the Vancouver bench, he appeared to push the official.

On his way down the tunnel to the dressing room, Rypien pushed a Wild fan who was applauding at the railing. Rypien was quickly pulled away by teammate Manny Malhotra. The fan was removed from the area.

Rypien was not available for comment after the game, but Malhotra thought the fan “got a little bit too involved.”

“There’s boundaries that should never be crossed. We’re in our area of work,” he said. “We’re all for the hooting and hollering and supporting your team and saying whatever is tasteful. But as soon as you cross that line and want to become physical with a player then we have to make sure we take care of ourselves. … We have no idea of what their intentions are.”

What a wimp Malhotra is. An NHL player perceives a fan as a threat? He should go run a child day care or something.

I don’t get this pushing BS in the Associated Press article. Watch the video I will post below and tell me its not assault.

What will be the length of the knee slap suspension the NHL hands down on Rypien? I bet its 10 games or less. The NHL suspension policy is a joke and has been since Todd Bertuzzi broke a player’s neck six years ago. Steve Moore suffered a career ending injury from the sucker punch. Bertuzzi is still playing in the NHL. Enough said about suspensions, right?

Hat tip- Litter Box Cats


Braves Name Fredi Gonzalez New Manager

As widely rumored, Fredi Gonzalez has been hired to manage the Atlanta Braves, following the retirement of the beloved Bobby Cox.

Cox held a farewell news conference at Turner Field, reminiscing about a career that left him as the fourth winningest manager in baseball history and a likely Hall of Famer. As soon as he was done, the Braves introduced Gonzalez as their new manager, with Cox as his side.

“This is perfect for us on so many levels,” general manager Frank Wren said.

Gonzalez served as the Braves’ third-base coach from 2003-06. He then took over as Florida’s manager, a post he held for 3½ years. He had a record of 276-279 with the Marlins, one of baseball’s lowest-spending teams.

When Cox decided 2010 would be his final year, the Braves immediately thought of Gonzalez as their No. 1 candidate — even though he was managing another team.  “He was on our radar before he was available,” Wren said. “We thought there may come a time when we were going to have to ask the Florida Marlins for permission to talk to their manager. We really thought Fredi was the best candidate for us.”

That became a moot point when Gonzalez was fired by the Marlins on June 23, a month after he benched star shortstop Hanley Ramirez for a lack of hustle — a move that many believed angered owner Jeffrey Loria.

Gonzalez said he never thought his decision would become such a big deal, perhaps costing him his job but drawing praise from around baseball.  “That’s the way I was brought up,” he said. “I know the way the game should be played. If you don’t something, you’re going to lose those 24 other guys. For me, it was just a simple thing to do.”

In early July, Wren took the unemployed Gonzalez to his lake cabin in east Alabama for a daylong interview. A few days later, team president John Schuerholz met with Gonzalez. Finally, in September, the top two Braves officials held one more formal interview with Gonzalez and knew they had the right guy.  The Braves didn’t even bother interviewing anyone else, and Gonzalez turned down the chance to talk with four other teams that need or were considering new managers, most notably the Chicago Cubs. “He’s got a great personality,” Wren said. “Players gravitate toward him. They like playing for him. It’s important that guys like playing for you, because they’ll usually play even better. We’ve seen him over the course of time. Managing at the major league level is different, but we saw what he did at Florida. He ran a good game.”

Gonzalez said he’s not worried about following in Cox’s large footsteps. The Braves’ manager since 1990, he led the team to an unprecedented 14 straight division titles and the 1995 World Series championship. After missing the playoffs the last four years, Atlanta returned as a wild card this season.

Cox’s last hurrah ended with a four-game loss to the Giants in which every contest was decided by one run.

“Our goal is simple: We want to keep putting flags on that facade up there,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t think there’s a person alive that’s going to replace Bobby Cox. We just want to continue the winning tradition and go from there.”

Cox chimed in, saying it’s not going to be that tough for Gonzalez to put him own stamp on the job.  “Walter Alston was replaced by Tommy Lasorda,” Cox said. “Tommy did a great job and they forgot all about Walter Alston. That is what’s going to happen here.”

He recalled the advice he gave Gonzalez when he first took the Florida managing job in 2007.  “You are who you are. You’ve got to be yourself,” Cox repeated. “Fredi’s got the right makeup to be a great manager. He has all the respect around baseball that you can get. I just want to be in the background. There’s always going to be new starts, and Fredi is getting a new start here.”

Gonzalez said he’ll do a few things differently than Cox. Perhaps the most noticeable change will be having the players stretch on the field before batting practice, something his predecessor never asked the Braves to do.

Also, the Braves shook up Cox’s coaching staff just a bit, firing first-base coach Glenn Hubbard and bench coach Chino Cadahia. Carlos Tosca, who was with Gonzalez in Florida, will take over the bench coach duties and hitting coach Terry Pendleton will shift over to Hubbard’s post.  The Braves plan to hire a new hitting coach after struggling at the plate this season.

“There’s not going to be a lot of crazy changes,” Gonzalez said. “The players might not even notice it. But whoever comes in has their own little way of doing things.”

As adamant as I’ve been that my Dallas Cowboys should never have hired Wade Phillips, this struck me as the obvious move as soon as I heard Gonzalez’ name mentioned.  He’s got a working relationship with the organization and a personality as close to Cox’ as you’re likely to find.  Indeed, the Ramirez benching reminds of me Cox stopping a game to pull a young Andruw Jones out of a game for failing to hustle in the outfield.   That worked out pretty well.

I haven’t followed the Braves as closely as I used to in recent years, partly because baseball’s new rules don’t allow TBS to show every game, ruining the continuity of the season for those of us not in the viewing area, and mostly because family obligations make it tough to justify spending the time.  But, while the team has fallen off a bit from the glory days of 15 straight division titles, there’s still a Braves Way of doing things.   And it looks like they’ve decided to continue it.

AJC’s Mark Bradley disagrees, figuring the Braves should have at least interviewed some assistants from clubs that have been hot lately.  And maybe get more into SABREmetrics.  But that only makes sense if you’re making a change at GM.  The manager has to manage people first.   He’s right that the Braves haven’t made it to a World Series in a long time.   But that’s a function of having fallen to the middle of the pack in spending for a number of years.  And, frankly, getting a little long in the tooth.   The team has a lot of young talent again and appears to be back in contention.

AP Photo


Kicking mad- Edmonton beats Florida Panthers 3-2

The Florida Panthers played their first regular season NHL game last night. From the Sun-Sentinel-

The Panthers began their 17th season and first under General Manager Dale Tallon with a 3-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Sunday night.

Those watching saw a different Panthers team from years past.

Sure, they were still offensively challenged against last season’s worst team, missing point-blank shots that should’ve given them a 2-0 lead after one, instead of a scoreless tie.

Throughout the first two periods, Tallon and third-year coach Pete DeBoer watched their charges, including seven newcomers, dominate the game with smothering defense and solid forechecking, but still trailed 3-2 on deflected goals by Dustin Penner and Ryan Jones, as well as a goal by Shawn Horcoff that appeared to have been kicked in, but stood after a review.


“It looked very clear to me. I don’t know what else a kicking motion is. … That’s what I saw. … It didn’t surprise me they count it. They’re trying to get the scoring up.”

The Panthers outshot Edmonton 23-7 after two periods (28-13 overall), but three Edmonton shots got past Vokoun. The Panthers fell to 7-7-3 in season openers, including 2-7-1 on the road.

“It’s frustrating in that we didn’t get rewarded for the effort we put in,” DeBoer said. “It looked like a kick to me. The interpetation of that rule I don’t understand. I don’t know if you have to take a punter’s kick at it for it not to count.”

Thanks to two new Panthers forwards, Steve Bernier and former Oiler Marty Reasoner, the deficit was cut to one heading into the third. Bernier, a major part of the draft-day trade with the Canucks involving defenseman Keith Ballard, stole the puck and set up Reasoner for an open wrist shot that he buried from the faceoff circle.

Then with 2:09 left in the period, Bernier fed left wing David Booth, who, showing no ill effects from last year’s concussions, ripped a shot at veteran goalie Nikolai Khabibulin that popped back to Reasoner for the stuff shot.

Here is video of the Horcoff shot. The view that begins at the 1:18 mark seems to clearly show a kick.

Florida lost and it was due to fluke shots and a bad call by the referees. The team and its fans have to get over it. Next up is a game with Vancouver, tonight. The Canucks are picked by many to be in the NHL finals next spring. Florida’s path at the beginning of the 2010-11 NHL season is only getting tougher.

Hat tip for the above video- Donny at Litter Box Cats.


Katherine Hull wins Navistar LPGA Classic

She had won two tournaments in Australia since her last LPGA win. From AP-

Australia’s Katherine Hull rallied to win the Navistar LPGA Classic on Sunday for her second career LPGA Tour victory, pulling ahead with a birdie on the par-5 17th and finishing with a par for a 5-under 67 and a one-stroke victory over Brittany Lincicome.

Hull, the former Pepperdine player who also won the 2008 Canadian Women’s Open, finished at 19-under 269 on the links-style Senator layout at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail’s Capitol Hill complex. After opening with a 68, she had three straight bogey-free 67s.

Lincicome closed with a 65. Third-round leader Cristie Kerr shot a 72 to tie for third at 17 under with Na Yeon Choi (69). Kerr played the first 50 holes in 20 under, then was 3 over on the final 22.

Kerr has as much as a five-shot lead during Saturday’s 3rd round. Hull is a very good golfer. She was second at the Women’s British Open last August. I expect her one day to take the mantle away from Karrie Webb as to who is the best Australian female golfer. Right now, you could make an argument it is Hull.

One of my favorite players, Brittany Lincicome, was runner-up for the second time this year in a Alabama based LPGA event. She lost a playoff to Se Ri Pak in Mobile last May.

Also blogging the Navistar- Hound Dog and The Constructivist at Mostly Harmless. TC points out if not for three shots, we could have had a Double Yang weekend. Amy Yang finished fifth at the Navistar and YE Yang won the Korean Open.


One last time with feeling- Nebraska beats Kansas State 48-13

The Cornhuskers will join the Big 10 next season. From AP-

Instead of resenting No. 7 Nebraska for leaving the Big 12, maybe Kansas State should thank the Cornhuskers.

Who wants to keep playing a team that always beats you silly?

Quarterback Taylor Martinez rushed for 241 yards and four touchdowns and Nebraska ended a 99-year rivalry in the same lopsided fashion it began, thrashing the slower, outmanned Wildcats 48-13 on Thursday night.

Martinez, a redshirt freshman, pushed his five-game rushing total to 737 yards and also threw a 79-yard scoring pass for the Huskers (5-0), who head off for the Big Ten next year with an domineering overall record against Kansas State (4-1) of 78-15-2.

Unbeaten in their first four games and with senior running back Daniel Thomas averaging 157 yards per game, Kansas State fans had hoped to send the Huskers out the Big 12 door with a loss.

But the Wildcats were helpless against such offensive and defensive speed and the night belonged to Martinez. He broke the team record for rushing yards by a quarterback and tied the team mark for rushing TDs by a quarterback while Thomas was held to 63 yards on 22 carries.

“Pretty much everything we ran was clicking pretty good,” Martinez said. “I was making the right reads. I just do what I can do — make plays.”

Martinez rushing performance was the best ever by a Cornhusker QB but only the 8th best by any Nebraska player.

Kansas State until fairly recent had the worst record of any Division I school. So the lopsidedness of their series with Nebraska isn’t very surprising.


Under Way- Carolina Hurricanes defeat Minnesota 4-3

The first game of the 2010-11 NHL season is in the books. From AP-

HELSINKI — Brandon Sutter scored twice as the Carolina Hurricanes held on to beat the Minnesota Wild 4-3 in the opening game of the NHL season on Thursday.

Anton Babchuk, back after a year in the Russian KHL, and Jussi Jokinen also scored for the Hurricanes.

Brent Burns scored for Minnesota with 3:21 left, but Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward made a late save to preserve the win.

Guillaume Latendresse scored for Minnesota 3:33 into the game, but Sutter tied it on a power play with 10 seconds left in the first period.

Babchuk put Carolina in front at 5:58 of the second period on another power play in which coach Paul Maurice lined up three forwards.

“I’ll do it again. If the power play struggles, it affects the offense, and it has been good to think of something which could be positive,” Maurice said.

New Minnesota center Matt Cullen tied it at 9:52 against his former team, but Carolina upped the pace and took control.

Jokinen restored the Hurricanes’ lead on a two-man advantage at 11:16, and Sutter made it 4-2 at 18:03 after a great rush by Patrick Dwyer up the right wing.


Ward came away with 29 saves, while Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom turned away 31 shots.

The NHL season opener belongs in North America, not Europe. I’m dead set against regular season sports games being played any where but at sites chosen by the teams involved.

The Florida Panthers won the first game of the 2009-10 season also played in Finland. They went on to finish with the 3rd worst record in the league. I expect Carolina to do better this season, but not make the playoffs.


North Korean gymnasts banned for teammate’s false age

Hong Su Jong had previously competed at events, including the 2004 Summer Olympics. From AP-

North Korea’s gymnasts have been suspended from the world championships starting next week because one team member’s age had been falsified.

The International Gymnastics Federation said Thursday it provisionally suspended North Korea’s federation and gymnast Hong Su Jong for 30 days, ruling them out of the worlds – being held Oct. 16-24 in Rotterdam – and any other international or national event.

North Korea – which entered four women, including Hong, and two men to compete at the worlds – can appeal to the FIG within five days.

The FIG’s disciplinary commission met Wednesday and noted that Hong’s entry for the worlds had her birth date as March 9, 1989.

FIG documents show that she competed at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the 2006 worlds using a birth year of 1985, and won the silver medal on vault at the 2007 worlds using 1986.

If Hong was born in 1989, she would have been ineligible to compete in Athens. Gymnasts must turn at least 16 in the calendar year of an Olympics to be eligible.

Age falsification has been a problem in gymnastics since the 1980s, when the minimum age was raised from 14 to 15 to help protect still-developing athletes from serious injuries. The minimum age has been 16 since 1997.

It seems pretty dumb to me that the North Koreans thought they could slip a age change for Jong through without anyone noticing. All the publicity stemming from Chinese athletes at the 2008 Olympics have most likely made officials scrutunize age claims more seriously.

Was it fair to ban the whole team? I think so because it was North Korea’s responsibility to make sure of the age of its athletes. Jong’s prior history makes this look like a blatant effort at cheating.


Roy Halladay throws second no-hitter in postseason history

The only other took place in 1956. From AP-

Roy Halladay threw the second no-hitter in postseason history, leading the Philadelphia Phillies over the Cincinnati Reds 4-0 in Game 1 of the NL Division Series on Wednesday.

Don Larsen is the only other pitcher to throw a postseason no-hitter. He threw a perfect game for the New York Yankees in the 1956 World Series against Brooklyn. The 54th anniversary of Larsen’s gem is this Friday.

“It’s surreal, it really is,” Halladay said. “I just wanted to pitch here, to pitch in the postseason. To go out and have a game like that, it’s a dream come true.”

Halladay took the Year of the Pitcher into the postseason. The excitement spread beyond Citizens Bank Park — the last two outs were shown on the video board at Target Field, where the Twins were preparing to play the Yankees, and Minnesota fans cheered.

The All-Star right-hander, who tossed a perfect game at Florida on May 29, dominated the Reds with a sharp fastball and a devastating slow curve in his first playoff start.

The overmatched Reds never came close to a hit. Halladay allowed only runner, walking Jay Bruce on a full count with two outs in the fifth, and struck out eight.

I’m going to say this again. 2010 is not t he year of the pitcher when it comes to baseball history. 1968 wins it hands down. How many hitters hit over .300 this year in the AL? More than one that was the 68 total. Did 1/5th of the games played this year end in a shutout? No. Was either league batting average below .235? No. The thing is, it isn’t even close.

That rant is over.

Halladay is arguably the best pitcher in baseball. It is very remarkable IMHO that there have been just two post season no-hitters. World Series and playoff teams have been no-hit in the regular season, some even during a pennant race.(The 1969 NY Mets were done in by Bob Moose in 1969 for example.)


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