Sports Outside the Beltway

Manager Tony La Russa announces retirement

This news comes less than three days after the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series.

Tony La Russa is calling it a career after 16 seasons as manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

La Russa, 67, only days removed from winning his third World Series title, made the announcement during a Monday morning news conference.

La Russa had hinted at a possible return during the NL championship series against the Brewers, expressing excitement about the Cardinals’ talent in place.

But apparently claiming his second World Series ring with the Cardinals — his 1989 Oakland A’s team also won it — was enough of a capstone.

La Russa’s 2,728 regular-season victories over 33 seasons as a manager rank third on the career list behind Connie Mack (3,731) and John McGraw (2,763).

Mack stayed on at least a decade too long. Illness was the cause of McGraw’s resignation and he would die two years later The Giants last World Series appearance with McGraw came eight years previously.(But the Giants did go to the WS the year after McGraw’s resignation) La Russa chose to get out while on top, and I think he made the right decision.


Puck Drop- Florida Panthers start the 2011-12 NHL season

Tonight I’ll be back to watching my favorite hockey team. The cats open the year against the New York Islanders on Long Island.

Florida is almost a brand new team from last year. Considering that the Panthers were 30-40-12=72 last year and last in the Eastern Conference, the turnover should be for the better.

The new faces include Scottie Upshall, Kris Versteeg, Jose Theodore, Tomas Fleischmann, and Brian Campbell. Departing players- Cory Stillman, Tomas Vokoun, Rostislav Olesz, Darci Hordichuk, and others. I think the new additions are for the better with one exception.

Hockey pundits have weighed in on Florida. With one exception, none have picked the Panthers to make the playoffs. That would be 11 straight years without a post season appearance if they’re right.

I think Florida won’t make the playoffs. My prediction for them this year- 36-33-13=85 or 10th in the Eastern Conference.

Florida has the makings of a good offense. David Booth and Kris Versteeg have scored 25 goals before and I expect them to do so this year. Mike Santorelli had 20 goals last year but had little support. I expect him to up it to 25 at least. One of these players will get it 30, and I expect it to be Booth who did score 31 goals in 08-09 before he suffered a serious concussion the next season. Booth started slow last year, but looked back to his prior form at the end of the season. Stephen Weiss should be in the low 20′s in the goals scored department.

Besides those four players, Evgeny Dadonov, Upshall, Tomas Kopecky and Scott Mathias should be more than solid contributors. Dadonov is the sleeper, he being one of the few Panthers to impress me last year. He could be up in Santorelli-Versteeg territory on a full season.

Florida I think is in good shape Defensemen wise. They’re a mixture of youngsters (Dmitri Kulikov and Erik Gudbranson. Florida’s first round selections in 2009 and 2010 respectively) and veterans (Mike Weaver and 2nd time around Panther Canada Ed Jovanovski.)

The biggest problem Florida faces right now is their goaltending situation. Vokoun was one of the best goalies, but he is gone. In his place is Theodore who I have derided on multiple occasions. My opinion on Theodore hasn’t changed now that he is wearing a Florida uniform. He played poorly in the preseason and I’m not expecting good things from him in the regular season.

Florida’s #2 Goalie was supposed to be Scott Clemmensen. Who I used to deride on a scale similar to Theodore but I warmed up to him based on his play last year. That said, Clem isn’t more than a serviceable #1 Goalie and to make matters worse he will be out the first month of the season due to injury. So instead of Clem being on the opening day roster, Florida Panther Goalie of the future Jacob Markstrom, will be in the NHL rather than the AHL to start the season. I think Markstrom still needs minor league time, but Theodore has the potential to be an absolute bomb(He played poorly in the preseason, including a 7-goal disaster against Dallas) as starting goalie and that could cause the Swede to get the starting job earlier than anticipated and while he is still in need of more pro experience. The Florida Goalie situation is questionable at best and could be terrible this year.

Florida has a new head coach in Kevin Dineen. He and General Manager Dale Tallon look to have the Panthers going in the right direction. There are the usual skeptics, but hardcore Panther fans for the most part are more optimistic about the team than they have been for 5 years at least.

I’m being optimistic in predicting a 36-33-13=85 finish for the Panthers because I expect them to start poorly unless someone steps up at Goalie. The Panthers should get better as the year goes on and finish the year with a rosy future ahead of them as Jonathan Huberdeau, Quinton Howden, and others make it to the NHL. In a few minutes, we’ll begin seeing how my predictions will work out. Go Florida!

Hat tip- John at The Litter Box from whom I borrowed the above photo from.


13-time PGA Tour winner Dave Hill dead at 74

My interest in golf began in the late 70′s. As I recall now, my weekly golf watching began with the 1978 Masters which was won by Gary Player after he shot a final round 64.

Naturally enough as my interest in following the golf tour grew, I wanted to read about it also. In 1979 shortly before I enlisted in the Navy I bought a book. It was titled Teed Off and it was written by Dave Hill. Hill, whose productive PGA career ran before I began following the sport, gave his opinions in Teed Off on everything from golf course design to some players think sex helps them play better golf. I loved the book and recently bought a new copy of it because the old one I had was falling apart.

Hill was a controversial player.(In Teed Off he claimed or joked that the PGA used to allow fan banners until ones were seen with the words ‘Hill’s Angels’ on them) He’ll never be forgotten for his 80 acres of corn and a few cows wisecrack about Hazeltine National Golf Club in 1970. Less remembered but more important, was Dave Hill filing an anti-trust lawsuit against the PGA Tour in 1971. He said there were two sets of rules, one for the stars and one for everyone else. It’s still true today. Tiger Woods defaces a green at a US Open and does he get fined or penalized? Of course not. Hill’s lawsuit I think did bring about changes but they are behind the scenes. The fines and suspensions handed down to players and why used to be public. Now the PGA Tour doesn’t discuss the matter as seen with their suspension of Jonathan Kaye a decade ago. Did he just attach a badge to his pants zipper or do much more? The Tour won’t talk about it.

Back to Hill. He was outspoken and controversial(Age didn’t seem to mellow him. He got in a fist fight with JC Snead when both of them were playing the Seniors Tour. 20 years prior to that Tour officials had to prevent Hill from having a go at Chi Chi Rodriguez too.) but he was also a talented golfer who won a Vardon Trophy and one of the best shotmakers of his day. RIP Dave.


Dave Hill, whose golf skills combined with a sharp tongue made him Jackson’s most famous athlete, died Tuesday at age 74.

Hill, recognized as one of the top shotmakers on the PGA Tour in the 1960s and ’70s, had suffered from emphysema for several years, according to his brother and fellow PGA Tour player Mike.


NBA suspends training camps indefinitely

File this under not surprising news-

NEW YORK — The lockout has started doing real damage to the NBA’s calendar.

Players won’t report at the usual time. The preseason won’t start as scheduled.

And more cancellations could be necessary without a new labor deal soon.

Out of time to keep everything intact, the NBA postponed training camps indefinitely and canceled 43 preseason games Friday because it has not reached an agreement with players.

All games from Oct. 9-15 are off, the league said. Camps were expected to open Oct. 3.

“We have regretfully reached the point on the calendar where we are not able to open training camps on time and need to cancel the first week of preseason games,” deputy commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. “We will make further decisions as warranted.”

The players’ association did not comment.

I don’t expect their to be another NBA game this year. This kind of labor conflict is usually protracted and nothing will get done till the season is on the verge of being lost. As NHL fans know from 2004-2005, even then the dispute can go over the cliff taking a whole season with it.

I have no sympathy for either owners or players. The players are rich and overindulged, the owners of small market NBA teams had to know when going in that they had little chance of making the franchise they were purchasing into NBA Championship contenders/moneymakers.


Former NFL OT Orlando ‘Zeus’ Brown dead at 40

Very sad and RIP.

BALTIMORE — Former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Orlando “Zeus” Brown was found dead Friday at his Baltimore home. He was 40.

The cause of death wasn’t known.


Born Dec. 12, 1970 in Washington, D.C., Brown played 10 NFL seasons, including four with the Cleveland Browns (1993-95 and 1999) and six with the Ravens (1996-98 and 2003-05). He started 119 of his 129 games.

Ravens director of player development Harry Swayne, Brown’s former teammate and fellow tackle, called Brown “a big old puppy dog with a little bit of a bark.

“He had a lot of friends around the league. He was one of the best guys. It’s a tough loss.”

Brown always will be remembered for shoving official Jeff Triplette in a 1999 game between Cleveland and Jacksonville.

Brown was suspended for knocking down Triplette after the official threw a weighted penalty flag that accidentally struck the massive tackle in the right eye. The 6-foot-7, 350-pounder stormed onto the field and pushed Triplette.

Brown, whose father was blind from glaucoma, said concern for his eyesight caused him to confront Triplette. Brown was hospitalized for six days with bleeding behind the eye. He sued the NFL for $200 million, settling the lawsuit for $25 million.

He missed the next three seasons because of the injury, returning to football and the Ravens for the 2003 season.

Browns tackle Tony Pashos played three seasons in Baltimore with Brown, known as “Zeus” around the league.

“He was a really good teammate,” Pashos said. “I came in under him as a backup. Even when Zeus wasn’t on the team he came around and supported us. He loved us. He loved football. He could never walk away. Man, I can’t believe it. I remember the attitude he brought to the building to the room. He tried hard. He told the young guys throughout practice to try hard and work on technique but then when it comes to games, it’s about taking the other guy’s will. And he was the apex of that. He did do that.”

Former Ravens coach Brian Billick said Brown will always be one of his favorites.

“He brought such passion and physicality to practices and games,” Billick said in a statement released by the Ravens. “There is no way to quantify his heart, his actual love to play football. The game was so important to him.”

Brown was a frequent visitor to the Ravens’ practices, tutoring young linemen Jah Reid and Ramon Harewood.

“He took time out of his busy schedule over the last couple of months to work with me to help me grow as a player,” Harewood said. “To have a player and man of his stature do that for a young player like myself says all you need to know about him.”

Brown was divorced and is survived by three sons.


Florida Marlins put Pitcher Leo Nunez on restricted list

Who is this man? From AP-

Florida Marlins closer Leo Nunez has been playing under an assumed name, and the issue prompted him to return Thursday to his native Dominican Republic, two people familiar with his immigration status said.

Both people said the Marlins have been aware of the issue for several months. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Dominican and team officials haven’t made any public comment on the case.

One of the people said Nunez’s real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo and he’s 29, a year older than listed in the team media guide. The Marlins placed Nunez on Major League Baseball’s restricted list, and he isn’t expected to pitch in the final week of the season.

His agent, Andy Mota, declined to comment. The Marlins traveled Thursday to Milwaukee for their final road series of the season.

Nunez has 36 saves and a 4.06 ERA in 68 games this year. His ERA was 2.59 in late May but is 6.00 since then.

The age of a baseball prospect does matter though one year would seem to be slight. What appears to be the bigger is why Nunez did this deception. Most people will believe he has something to hide, and at this moment in time I have to agree.

Update- Baseball players lying about their age is hardly anything new and something I had totally forgotten about. Other players have weathered this ‘crisis’. Nunez will probably do the same.


Jet carrying Russian professional hockey team crashes

The KHL team, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl , was on board. This team had quite a few former NHL players on its roster. Pavol Demitra, Karel Rachunek and Josef Vasicek are three. Their head coach was Brad McCrimmon. Closer to home, former Florida Panthers(my favorite team) Ruslan Salei, Alexander Karpovtsev, and Karlis Skrastins played for Lokomotiv but early reports say Salei was not on board. The other players are all dead or believed to be. God bless the friends and family members of those who died.

Someone feel free to correct me, but I don’t remember incident like this involving a pro or college hockey team in either the United States or Canada. There have been aviation incidents where most or all of a sports team were wiped out. In most cases in the Americas or involving Americans, the teams were amatuers(The U.S. Figure Skating team aka Sabena Flight 548 disaster in 1961 or college teams like Marshall, University of Evansville, Wichita State) to name a few, involved college athletes.

Overseas is another story. In 1958 members of the Manchester United football were killed in a crash in Germany, the famous ‘Alive’ story involved uruguayan rugby team players. A Zambian soccer team was wiped out in a crash about 10 years ago. I recall a crash involving Italian athletes about 40-50 years ago but I forget the details. There have been other crashes.

Pro sports teams have to travel and with plane travel there is a risk. RIP to those who died today.

Hat tip- Donny at Litter Box Cats


NBC’s idiotic golf coverage or where in the world is YE Yang?

Rory McIlroy has a 10-shot lead at the moment in the 2011 U.S. Open. South Korean YE Yang is tied for second. NBC, who is televising this year’s U.S. Open, acts like Yang isn’t even playing in the tournament.

On the 3rd hole we see Yang’s tee shot but nothing else. When he was putting for birdie, NBC showed a short piece on former Open winners.

On the 5th hole, none of Yang’s putts are shown.

The 6th hole after McIlroy tees off, you’d think NBC would show Yang’s tee. Nope, they don’t. Instead we get a fluff piece on McIlroy.

There was an earlier lapse in NBC’s coverage of Yang on either the 1st or 2nd hole but I didn’t take notes.

Hardcore LPGA followers have been noting for a long time the way Korean golfers are covered on television. Or call it lack of coverage. Just a month ago NBC had no problem telling us David Toms had a very poor record at The Players Championship while he dueled KJ Choi. NBC didn’t mention that Choi’s record at the TPC of Sawgrass is even worse.

Yang just made birdie at the 6th hole to pull to nine shots behind. NBC also issued an apology for editing out part of the pledge of allallegiance in a opening segment of today’s broadcasts.


NFL Draft 2011 Round 2 #35 Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton

Dalton is four-year starter and proven winner, but he might have a difficult transition to the NFL. He is undersized and will not be able to take off and run at the next level. He is generally an accurate passer, and he’s grown on scouts and coaches since the NFL Scouting Combine. He played in a very user friendly scheme where he threw to a lot of wide open receivers and it is unclear if he can fit the ball into tight windows. Still, his stock his risen, and he looks to go as early as the beginning of the second round.


NFL Draft 2011 Round 2 #34 Buffalo Bills CB Aaron Williams says-

Williams is a confident corner that should be able to contribute immediately as a nickel back. He lacks the hip fluidity to play on an island at the next level, but he has experience lining up over the slot and maintains proper position to take away the easy crossing routes. When the ball is in the air, he has a great closing burst and the superb hands to make plays even on errant throws. He is aggressive in run support, but lacks the fundamentals to make tackles in the open field. Williams is good football player and should be an early second day pick.


Visitors Since Feb. 4, 2003

All original content copyright 2003-2008 by OTB Media. All rights reserved.