Richard’s Weekly Sports Round-Up
Last week was definitely a slower sports week. However, there was still sufficient news. Allegations (Ben Roethlisberger), death (Vernon Forrest) and trades (Matt Holliday) were impossible to ignore. The Tour de France ended yesterday with seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong finishing third. And, SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama, kept football fans itching to plan their Saturday tailgate menus. Furthermore, a perfect game was thrown last Thursday at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago. Football season is growing near, and teams are making pushes to earn MLB playoff berths.
If only pro-football were played during the summer months, we would be set. One more week until Jaguars’ training camp….
10. Rick Reilly, one of today’s best sportswriters, called out Tiger Woods’ tantrums on the golf course in his column last week. Reilly, an ESPN The Magazine writer, argues that Woods as a 33-years-old, married man with two children, should have outgrown his temper. While failing to make the cut at Turnberry, Woods was cursing and throwing his clubs. Reilly points out that Woods’ actions are “disrespectful to the game.” My Take: Bravo to Rick Reilly! Nobody is bold enough to call out the almighty Tiger Woods. We seem to forget that there was golf long before Tiger Woods. His actions are childish at times. But, when an organization (the PGA Tour) needs you, none of its members are going to call you out for your bad behavior. Tiger Woods doesn’t need the PGA Tour; the Tour needs him.
9. The Jacksonville Jaguars signed former Liberty running back Rashad Jennings to a rookie contract on Friday. Jennings, 24, is expected to vie for the backup role behind Maurice Jones-Drew. Now, having signed four draft picks, the Jaguars have five left to sign. Players report for training camp on August 2. Jennings’ contract is for four years and $1.788 million. My Take: The Jaguars must have a strong defense and stellar running game. Along with fullback Greg Jones and primary ball carrier Jones-Drew, the Jaguars need Jennings and Chauncey Washington to get quality carries. The running game cannot be elite without a stout offensive line. Games are won in the trenches.
8. The University Police Department arrested Florida linebacker Dustin Doe Thursday night for driving with a suspended license. The Gator posted a $1,000 bond the next morning. Driving with a suspended license is a first-degree misdemeanor. In 11 games last season, Doe recorded 29 tackles with one interception. He has a court hearing in August and will not participate in team activities. My Take: The Florida Gators will keep winning, and my prediction is players will continue to get arrested. The saying: “winning heals all wounds” could never ring truer, especially the arresting wounds. It’s a shame the Cincinnati Bengals weren’t winning more when all their players were arrested.
7. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced to teams on Thursday that the NFL Draft will be a three-day, primetime event beginning in 2010. The Draft will run from Thursday, April 22, to Saturday, April 24 on either ESPN or the NFL Network. On Thursday, the first round will air at 7:30 p.m. ET. Friday will be rounds two and three. Rounds four through seven will be covered on Sunday. My Take: It was only a matter of time before the NFL Draft became a primetime event. After 39 million viewers watched the 2009 Draft, Goodell saw a huge money-making opportunity. I wonder how many viewers will flip the channel from The Office and 30 Rock for the NFL Draft. At the very least, it will receive 30 million viewers.
6. In the biggest trade in the MLB this season, three-time All-Star Matt Holliday was traded from the Oakland Athletics to the St. Louis Cardinals on Friday. In the trade, the Athletics received pitcher Clayton Mortensen, outfielder Shane Peterson and third baseman Brett Wallace. The Cardinals are creating protection in the lineup for star Albert Pujols. In the last month, former Cleveland Indian Mark DeRosa and ex-Boston shortstop Julio Lugo have also been added to the Cardinals via trades. My Take: St. Louis is the perfect fit for Matt Holliday. His return to the National League will improve his batting statistics. Holliday’s half-season with the A’s produced mediocre numbers (.286 batting average, 11 home runs and 54 runs batted in). However, Holliday can become a free agent after the season ends. Depending on his end-of-the-year stats, the Cardinals might want to sign him to a long-term deal. Showing Pujols that winning the World Series again is a priority is the only way the best player in baseball stays in St. Louis.
5. Spain’s Alberto Contador won his second Tour de France on Sunday over Luxembourg’s Andy Schleck and Lance Armstrong. Armstrong, Contador’s Astana teammate, finished 5:24 behind 2007 Tour winner Contador. Britain’s Mark Cavendish won Sunday’s final stage for his sixth stage victory. A Spaniard has won the last four Tours. After his win, Contador spoke about the tension between him and the 37-year-old Armstrong. Contador told French TV that “we are totally incompatible.” My Take: Few people will remember Contador’s victory. The four-minute difference between first and second will be overshadowed by the drama that occurred: Armstrong’s practically calling it quits last Sunday after he realized Contador was unstoppable. It was As The World Turns combined with The Bold and the Beautiful. At least blood doping wasn’t an issue. According to Armstrong’s Twitter account, the anti-doping control came to his hotel 11 times during the Tour.
4. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is expected to make a decision on the reinstatement of former quarterback Michael Vick this week. Supposedly, Goodell and Vick met for three hours Wednesday afternoon in New Jersey. Vick was released from federal custody last Monday after a 23-month sentence. Rumors are that Vick will be suspended between two and six games for this season. Vick can join a team before most NFL teams begin training camp later this week. My Take: Most likely, the 29-year-old will be suspended four games. At 29, Vick is football old. I’m sure his quickness has deteriorated since he has been out of the league. He can sign for the minimum with an NFL team. But, don’t expect him to start at quarterback. Vick will thrive in the Wildcat formation if a team implores that strategy. At the very least, Vick can sign with the United Football League. He will play football again.
3. The mystery is finally solved regarding which head coach left All-World quarterback Tim Tebow off the preseason All-Southeastern Conference team. At the SEC Media Day on Friday, South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier admitted to being the lone coach. Spurrier, a former Florida Gator great, allowed a South Carolina aide to fill out the ballot. Spurrier apologized and changed his preseason vote to Tebow, instead of Ole Miss quarterback Jevan Snead. With Spurrier’s vote, Tebow, a former Nease High star, became a unanimous selection. My Take: This story made this year's SEC Media Days much more interesting than they ever would have been. Plus, this story will continue to develop. When Florida plays at South Carolina on November 14, the Tebow/Spurrier dynamic will be the primary storyline. Snooze…
2. In a 5-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, pitcher Mark Buehrle led the Chicago White Sox with the 18th perfect game in MLB history. Buehrle threw 76 of his 116 pitches for strikes. In the ninth inning, his chance at a perfect game was in jeopardy when former Jacksonville Sun Gabe Kapler hit a fly ball into deep centerfield. But, DeWayne Wise caught Kapler’s fly after scaling the eight-foot wall. The last perfect game was achieved by then-Arizona Diamondback Randy Johnson on May 18, 2004. My Take: The perfect game is one of the most impressive achievements in all of sports. The 30-year-old Buehrle has accomplished nearly everything in his career. He has won a World Series, hit a home run as a pitcher, pitched a no-hitter and thrown a perfect game. All Buehrle needs now is 300 career wins, which he won’t reach. He’s currently at 133 career wins.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has been accused of rape by a woman in Nevada. According to the woman, the crime allegedly occurred at Roethlisberger’s hotel room in Lake Tahoe last summer. The two-time Super Bowl champion was there for a celebrity golf tournament. In the lawsuit, the woman, a Harrah’s casino host, is seeking $440,000 in damages and $50,000 from Harrah’s for allegedly covering up the incident. Big Ben read a prepared statement Thursday saying he will “fight to protect my family and my reputation.” My Take: Since there are no witnesses, it turns into a he said/she said. I am puzzled how ESPN didn’t begin to cover this story until much later in the week. I understand players’ lives should be private, but this is news. Acting like nothing happened is not the path to take. This story is the complete opposite of ESPN’s coverage of Brett Favre.
5. Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski will once again lead the USA men’s basketball team back to the Olympics in 2012. Coach K, as he is popularly known, will coach the team next summer for the world championships in Turkey. His staff of assistant coaches has also agreed to return.
4. The Jacksonville Suns return home beginning today for a ten-game home stand at the Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. The first five games are against the Birmingham Barons followed by five with the Huntsville Stars. Summer baseball is a must. For an excellent price, you’ll see future Florida Marlins.
3. Retired quarterback Brett Favre is wondering whether he wants to come out of retirement to play for the Minnesota Vikings. Last week, Favre received numerous phone calls and texts from Viking players. Favre’s agent, Bus Cook, said the 37-year-old will make a decision at “the beginning or middle of next (this) week.” I think Favre will milk the suspense for all it is worth and I bet he’ll play for the Vikings this year.
2. The Toronto Blue Jays have set a deadline for trading their ace Roy Halladay. Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said if a trade occurs, it will be on or before July 28. The MLB trade deadline is July 31. A number of teams are very interested in Halladay, the 2003 AL Cy Young Award winner, including the Philadelphia Phillies and the Los Angeles Dodgers.
1. Boxing fans, mark your calendars for November 14. Manny Pacquiao, the best pound-for-pound boxer, agreed to fight the 147-pound champion Miguel Cotto. They will meet in the ring at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Pacquiao (49-3, 37 KOs) and Cotto (34-1, 27 KOs) decided to fight at the maximum weight of 145 lbs.