Sports Outside the Beltway

Braves GM John Schuerholz Retiring

An era is ending for the Braves. John Schuerholz is stepping down. The team’s venerable general manager will announce this afternoon that he’s resigning after 17 seasons with the Braves, and handing over the reins to top assistant Frank Wren, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Manager Bobby Cox is returning for at least one more season, but his longtime boss is not.

Schuerholz, 67, has been a baseball GM for 26 seasons with Kansas City and Atlanta, and had the longest tenure among major league GMs. He presided over the Braves’ run of 14 consecutive division titles from 1991 to 2005, an unprecedented run in North American major professional sports. The only disappointment of the era was that the Braves won just a single World Series title (1995) in those 14 postseason trips. He also won a World Series ring with Kansas City in 1985. The Braves missed the playoffs in 2006 and again this year, finishing in third place in the National League East division standings both of those seasons.

Cox, 66, has said he intends to return at least for the 2008 season, which would his 27th as a major league manager and 23rd with the Braves. He indicated this month that he might also manage beyond next season.

Wren, 49, has been a Braves assistant GM for seven seasons, after serving as Baltimore Orioles GM in 1999 and as Florida Marlins assistant GM for eight seasons through 1998.

Jeff Quinton notes (via IM) that Scheurholz is from Baltimore and that there’s an opening there. But I can’t imagine he’d want to start over with a much less promising team at this stage of his career.


Orioles Fire Perlozzo

The Baltimore Orioles have fired manager Sam Perlozzo and hired Andy MacPhail for a front office job, the Sun‘s Jeff Zrebiec and Dan Connolly report.

Sam Perlozzo was fired as manager of the Orioles this morning, according to a club source.

Perlozzo, 56, a Cumberland native who called managing the Orioles his dream job, will be removed about 2 1/2 months into his second full season leading the club.

The team is set to leave this afternoon for a six-game West Coast trip that starts tomorrow night in San Diego.

Bullpen coach Dave Trembley, a longtime minor league skipper who has occasionally subbed for bench coach Tom Trebelhorn this season, has been named interim manager while club executives begin the search for a long-term replacement.

In addition, ESPN’s Buster Olney is reporting that the club has hired Andy MacPhail, former Chicago Cubs president, as the Orioles’ chief operating officer, presumably replacing Joe Foss, who left the Orioles earlier this season. And, according to Olney, they are attempting to set up a meeting with former Florida Marlins manager Joe Girardi to replace Perlozzo.

The Orioles, who are currently in last place in the American League East with a 29-40 record and in the midst of an eight-game losing streak, are expected to announce changes this afternoon.

Somehow, I suspect the O’s will continue to suck.

via Jeff Quinton, who has some local color to add.


Gary Thorne says Schilling’s bloody sock was a fake

Oriole Magic (via Blogtimore) has the best rundown of what happened during the 5th inning of last night’s Orioles’ loss to the Bosox. During the game, MASN announcer Gary Thorne said that Red Sox player Doug Mirabelli had admitted that the now- famous bloody red sock of Curt Schilling’s from the 2004 ALCS was painted red and not actually Schilling’s blood.

The controversy that has now been stirred up was reported on by the Baltimore Sun. The Sun story reports that when asked about it after the game, Mirabelli told the Boston Globe that it was “a straight lie.” The Globe story points out that Mirabelli actually said, “What? Are you kidding me? He’s [expletive] lying. A straight lie.”

Thorne’s broadcast partner Jim Palmer stood by him and said that Thorne didn’t get such a great track record by making things up while also saying it didn’t detract from what Schilling did in 2004. MASN did not air the 5th inning during a later re-broadcast of the game, citing “time constraints.”

Oriole Magic hypothesizes that there are 3 possibilities: the sock was fake, Mirabelli was cracking a joke that he later backed off on, or Thorne simply lost it. According to Oriole Magic, the first two options are the only ones most people are seriously considering.

(Cross Posted at Inside Charm City)


Chris Simms has spleen removed

Tampa Bay Bucs’ QB Chris Simms was hospitalized following today’s loss to the Panthers and is listed in critical condition. He was removed from the game in the 3rd Quarter and television announcers said he was being treated for dehydration. Head Coach Jon Gruden said post-game that his ribs were injured somehow.

UPDATE: NBC just reported that the Bucs are saying he’s hospitalized but not in critical condition. Apparently no other information will be released until his family has been contacted.

UPDATE #2: Peter King of NBC reports that Simms had his spleen removed and was never in critical condition.


Mark Cuban: Your League is Rigged!

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban screamed “Your league is rigged!” to NBA commissioner David Stern after his team’s controversial loss to the Miami heat Sunday night, reports Miami Herald reporter Greg Cote.

”We Wuz Robbed!” has long been the handiest excuse of teams that cannot find a decent reason for their collapse that doesn’t involve the ignominy of a mirror. The convenience of alleging bad calls, or even willfully biased officiating (you’ll recall the Seattle Seahawks conducted a remarkable seminar in early February), also is the blame-dodge of choice among teams that cannot bear to properly credit the opponent.

And so there it was for all to see past midnight Sunday in Miami’s downtown bayfront arena: the sourest, saddest, sorriest display by a losing team that you’d ever wish to witness.

Not the loss itself; that was rather valiant. The reaction to it.

There was Cuban, whose billions can buy just about anything but a mortal slump by D-Wade, careening onto the court in a blue Jerry Stackhouse jersey after the final buzzer, screaming profanely at referee Joe DeRosa.

Cuban then turned to Stern and other NBA officials who were seated at the scorer’s table and was overheard to shout venomously in the jubilant din, “[Bleep] you! [Bleep] you! Your league is rigged!”

Cote was on ESPN Radio’s “Mike and Mike” show around 8:35 this morning defending this quote, which he alone has published. He admits that it is a “third hand” quotation that was passed from an unnamed “league official” to an unnamed source in whom Cote has great confidence. He says he emailed Cuban for a reaction (when, he doesn’t say) but did not get a response. I’ve now done the same.

Cote contends that he didn’t make too big a fuss about Cuban’s quote (it was several paragraphs into the article) because it is, after all, Mark Cuban, who has a reputation for spouting off. Still, this is beyond anything Cuban has said before and, given that he allegedly said it right there on the court after a nationally televised NBA Finals game, it’s rather odd that no one else is reporting this.

In a somewhat related matter, Cuban posted on his blog yesterday afternoon on the subject “Cursing.”

I like to curse. I like to curse because I enjoy how it gets everyone in an uproar. I wont curse in an environment where I have accepted an invitation or am a guest of someone else. I will play by their rules.

But if you come on my home turf and want something from me. Its my rules.

Last night in the locker room after we lost in overtime to the heat. I was asked by reporters to answer some questions. I told them i would if they asked good questions and didnt ask the same cliche’d questions they had asked after other games. It was interesting how quiet everyone got.

then someone asked “Is this your worst loss ever” . What the f@#^ kind of question is that ? Is this for a VH1 special ? “Worst Losses Ever ?” If it was, then maybe it was a decent question. Otherwise, how do you answer that question…


So I told the reporter to “Ask me a real f@#^ing question”

Apparently some folks have taken exception to me cursing in my response. Well in this case, the reporter was using my time, we were in a locker room and I was trying to provide a response that had no value to me, but could only help him. If he doesnt think enough of either of our time to invest the brainpower and minutes it takes to come up with something different than has been asked a thousand times.

F@#^ em.

Needless to say, the symbols are mine.

UPDATE: Cuban has been fined a cool quarter mil.

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was fined $250,000 by the NBA on Tuesday for his outbursts following Game 5 of the NBA finals. Cuban was cited for “several acts of misconduct” he committed after Dallas lost 101-100 in overtime to the Heat in Miami on Sunday night.

Furious with several calls, Cuban went onto the floor to vent directly to official Joe DeRosa. He then stared down and screamed toward commissioner David Stern and a group of league officials, from the court, then the stands. He later used profanity during a postgame session with the media.

Announcement of the fine came hours before Game 6 of the NBA finals in which the Mavericks trail the Heat 3-2.

Cuban said Monday he was bracing for the fine, his second this postseason. He also was assessed $200,000 during the second round for going onto the court and for an entry on his blog criticizing the way the league selects officials for the playoffs.

Stern said Tuesday that he believes Cuban’s more vitriolic outbursts are “not healthy for either him or the game.” “I don’t think he is crazy. I think he is smart. I think his recent loss of self control is not planned and not calculated, and I think if he could, he would like to have some of it back,” Stern said in an interview on San Francisco radio station KNBR. “Because at bottom, I really do believe it distracts the players and that can’t be good. It sets a bad tone.

Cuban has a statement at his blog, Blog Maverick, unequivocably defending the League’s integrity.

The games are not rigged. Thats a complete insult to the players on the court and the incredible amount of effort they put into preparing for and playing the games. All 82 regular season and post season games. The NBA couldnt rig the games if it wanted to. And it doesnt want to. Its that simple

Do i like that i have gotten more than 12,000 emails in the last week and probably 80pct have questioned some level of honesty. No, I hate it. I hate it more than you will ever know because these are my customers, NBA customers, who are questioning our enterprise. Thats never a good thing and each one is a business hole I have to work harder to dig us out of.

Do I wish there was better communication from the league ? Yes. I dont like when my email box fills up with nonsense. Yes. I wish the league would just come out and explain events that occur in a game to the public. I think it would help the perception of our game. I think it would help fans better understand not only the rules of the NBA, but also the nuances, strategies and challenges of the game. I have suggested it. Many others have suggested it.

Getting an explanation pretty much eliminates everyones ability to question what just occured. Some media people have suggested that the same approach that MLB takes would work well. Simply allow reporters to ask officials questions after a game. Why not ?

He emphatically denies Cotes’ third hand report, though:

pparently the Miami Herald is reporting i screamed at the NBA comissioner after the game the other night. Didnt happen. Didnt say a word to the man. Not a single word. And that was absolutely by intention.

I believe him, incidentally.

While I find Cuban likable and think he’s an incredibly smart businessman, I agree with Stern that these outbursts are bad for the game. Cuban’s heart is in the right place–I think he’s genuinely trying to make the NBA better and many of his complaints about the quality of the officiating have merit–but his approach is wrong. That said, I think the idea that a man, even a billionaire, should be subject to fines of this ridiculous magnitude without much more substantial due process bizarre. Stern’s integrity in unquestioned but no man should have that amount of unchecked power.

Via IM from Jeff Quinton


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Proposed College Football Rules Changes

The NCAA Rules Committee, along with input from the AFCA, has proposed some rules changes for the 2006 season that are designed to shorten the length of games. The reasoning cited is that many games are pushing 3.5 hours and games featuring two passing teams are often lasting over 4 hours.

The rules changes expected to pass include lowering the kicking tee for kickoffs from two inches down to one inch to decrease touchbacks, starting the clock when the ball is kicked rather than when a member of the receiving team takes possesion, and starting the clock after changes of possession as soon as the ball is spotted instead of when the ball is snapped.

Another recommendation that’s expected to fail would give home teams the option of cutting halftime down to 15 minutes from 20. Changes in the replay system have also been proposed. The changes would leave the current system in place but would also allow head coaches unlimited challenges (as long as calls are overturned.)

Cross-posted from Fanblogs,


Gumbel, Collinsworth to do NFL Network games

Business Week

On Apr. 26, the NFL Network is expected to announce at its programming presentation to advertisers that it has hired TV veteran Bryant Gumbel and former wide receiver-turned-commentator Cris Collinsworth to call its new package of NFL games, BusinessWeek has learned.


Collinsworth, a former analyst on Fox (NWS ) and a onetime Cincinnati Bengals standout, will also be part of a new football broadcast team at NBC, which won the bidding to air NFL games this year as well.

Cross-posted from Backcountry Conservative.


Keyshawn signs with the Panthers

Len Pasquarelli reports that:

Wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson, released by the Dallas Cowboys last week, has reached agreement with the Carolina Panthers on a four-year contract.

Complete financial details were not immediately available, but it is believed that Johnson will receive a $5 million signing bonus.

Johnson, 33, visited with the New York Giants earlier this week and it is believed he turned down a contract proposal that would have paid him $3 million per year. He then visited on Thursday with the Panthers, one of the teams he cited as a possible landing spot when he was released.

In 10 seasons, Johnson has 744 catches for 9,756 yards and 60 touchdowns.


San Diego St. Arena Evacuated Over Bomb Scare

Arena reopened in San Diego following evacuation (ESPN)

Police evacuated Cox Arena on the campus of San Diego State on Thursday, hours before a first-round NCAA Tournament basketball game, after a bomb-sniffing dog signaled a potential problem at a hot dog stand.

The building was cleared while police tried to determine if there was an explosive device in the hot dog stand, assistant vice president for marketing and communications Jack Beresford told Reuters.

He said it was not immediately clear how many people were inside the building at the time but that the teams had not yet arrived.

ESPN’s Jay Bilas reported that Marquette was on its bus at the hotel and had not been cleared to come to the arena. Tip-off between the Golden Eagles and Alabama is scheduled at 2:40 p.m. ET.’s Wayne Drehs reported the games will be delayed at least two hours.

“A bomb-sniffing dog noticed something in a hot dog cart,” Beresford said. “They got a hit on something that was in the cart itself.”

Later games include UCLA vs. Belmont at 4:55 p.m. ET, Illinois vs. Air Force at 7:25 p.m. ET and Washington vs. Utah State at 9:45 p.m. ET.

Cross-posted from Backcountry Conservative.

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Braves Could Return to Local Ownership

After months of would-be buyers kicking the tires on the Atlanta Braves, an investment group led by Ron Terwilliger, president and CEO of Trammell Crow Residential, has emerged as a leading candidate to purchase the baseball franchise from Time Warner, has learned.

Terwilliger has been approved by Major League Baseball to enter into negotiations that could lead to the purchase of the NL East club. That means he has been given clearance to go through the team’s books and conduct due diligence on the franchise’s operation. Terwilliger met Tuesday in Atlanta with other potential investors, and the investment group has retained New York-based Galatioto Sports Partners to represent it in negotiations.


On Dec. 13, 2005, Time Warner acknowledged its interest in selling the Braves, winners of an unprecedented 14 straight division titles. Since then, local media in Atlanta have been fixated on the possibility of Falcons owner Arthur Blank gaining dominance of the Atlanta market with the purchase of a second pro franchise. Sources close to the negotiations, however, suggest that Blank’s interest might have been oversold to advance the bidding, noting also that it is unlikely a public company like Time Warner would sell the club off a single bid.

Blank, who amassed a fortune as co-founder of Home Depot, stepped away from negotiations last month.


Terwilliger fits Major League Baseball’s preference for local ownership, as he has headed the Atlanta-based Trammell Crow since 1986. The company ranks as one of the largest developers of apartments and condominiums in the country, and has assets in excess of $3 billion.

An honor graduate of the United States Naval Academy (Class of ’63), Terwilliger served five years in the Navy before receiving his MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business.


Last year, estimated the value of the Braves at $392 million, which ranked them eighth among baseball franchises. The sale of the club is likely to fetch something close to $400 million. Unless the process speeds up dramatically, it’s doubtful any sale will be final until late in the season, at the earliest.

It will be nice to get rid of the penny-pinching AOL/Time Warner cabal that has presided over the recent departure of so much talent. As the article notes, the management of the club, including GM John Schuerholz and Manager Bobby, is excellent. If it weren’t for their leadership in recent years with some of the rough starts and loss of stars, the team would not have continued their division win streak. However, they were seriously hamstrung by tightened purse strings and it will be good to get a local owner back in charge.

Cross-posted from Backcountry Conservative.


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