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Richard’s Sports Round-Up

miller-article1It was a week dominated by Major League Baseball trades and the eye-opening revelation that Boston’s David Ortiz had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Blue Jays pitcher Roy Halladay will stay put in Toronto this year, and with Cliff Lee in the Phillies rotation, the rest of the National League should be quite worried.

Oh, of course, what is a week without hearing about either Brett Favre or Michael Vick? That’s when you know football season is truly near. Sports talk radio hosts are excited they won’t have to continue talk about cycling and make lists of their favorite sports moments for much longer. Football season could not have come sooner.

Plus, Tiger Woods is back on the golf course crushing the so-called competition.

10. The Sporting News released its list of the 50 greatest sports coaches of all time last week. Coaches, experts and Hall of Fame athletes voted on which coaches would appear on the list. The top three coaches on the list are John Wooden, former UCLA men’s basketball coach; Vince Lombardi, longtime coach of the Green Bay Packers; and, Paul “Bear” Bryant, legendary football coach at Alabama. FSU’s football coach Bobby Bowden is No. 24 on the list. My Take: I truly love any sports list, especially one that is excellent for debate. John Wooden’s 10 NCAA titles in 12 years stand as one of the most impressive accomplishments in sports. I found it interesting how former Grambling State head football coach Eddie Robinson was one spot ahead of Bowden. I guess Robinson’s 408 career victories could not be ignored.

9. Following his perfect game, Chicago White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle was flawless after five innings against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday. His streak of 45 consecutive batters retired set the MLB record. The previous record was 41 batters set by Buehrle’s teammate Bobby Jenks in 2007 and San Francisco’s Jim Barr in 1972. Buehrle recorded outs on 17 Minnesota Twins and then walked Alexi Casilla.  My Take: Buehrle has to be on top of the world right now. I wonder if a sportswriter riled him up recently and got him started on this hot streak. With either an AL East or AL West team potentially locking up the wild card spot, the team needs Buehrle to continue his hot streak to catch the Detroit Tigers and fend off the Twins. The addition of pitcher Jake Peavy from the San Diego Padres could also help. If Peavy can stay healthy, it will better the White Sox’s chances.

8. Former Jacksonville Jaguar Jimmy Smith pled no contest to a misdemeanor charge of drunken driving along with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia from an August 28, 2008, arrest. Smith was served one year of probation and 50 hours of community service. Duval County judge Brent Shore told Smith those hours would be spent talking to youths about alcohol abuse. Smith said he had been in a Texas rehabilitation center after his April traffic stop. Also, Smith has his driver’s license suspended for six months along with paying court costs and fines. My Take: I truly wish the best for Jimmy Smith. Being admitted into a rehab facility was one of the first steps Smith needed to take to get on the road to recovery. However, he has another case on August 17 for his most recent traffic stop. The 40-year-old Smith can affect many children’s lives if he so pleases. I hope he goes in that direction, and not down a dead-end street.

7. The Boston Red Sox traded for star catcher Victor Martinez, formerly of the Cleveland Indians, on Friday. It was one of 11 trades that occurred before the Friday deadline. Martinez, an All-Star, brings a big bat and experience playing catcher. The 30-year-old was traded for pitchers Nick Hagadone, Justin Masterson and Bryan Price. Martinez has spent the last seven seasons with the Indians. He will earn just under $6 million for this season. My Take: It’s a shame to see the Indians trading away most of their talent. Cliff Lee, Ryan Garko and Martinez are gone. The team traded CC Sabathia last year. The Red Sox become instantly better because of Martinez. The race for the AL East title between the Red Sox and New York Yankees will be extremely fun to watch. It’s a shame the acquisition of Martinez has been overshadowed by the report that David Ortiz tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.

The Jacksonville Jaguars signed four of their rookie draft picks last week. Prior to the start of training camp yesterday, only first-round pick Eugene Monroe is missing from team activities. On Thursday, the Jaguars finalized deals with third-rounder Derek Cox and seventh-round wide receiver Tiquan Underwood. The next day, defensive tackle Terrance Knighton completed his deal. Second-round pick Eben Britton signed a four-year contract worth about $4.6 million on Saturday. Probable left tackle starter Monroe is one of 11 first-round picks who have yet to sign. My Take: I am highly impressed how Jacksonville was able to sign all but one draft pick. And, coming to terms with four picks the week before camp starts is even more notable. There is no word on when Monroe will sign, but Oakland’s Darrius Heyward-Bey signed a five-year deal worth $38.25 million, and that has to slow talks between Monroe and the Jaguars. Signings of this year’s first-round class is going much slower than last year’s. I’m expecting a much better camp than last year’s for the Jags.

5. Tiger Woods easily won his third Buick Open title on Sunday by three strokes over a lackluster field. After opening with a 71 on Thursday, Woods shot a 63, his best round in almost four years, on Friday. Woods now has four PGA Tour wins this year in 11 events played. Woods plays the Bridgestone Invitational this weekend followed by the PGA Championship at Hazeltine. Now, when Woods is leading after three rounds, he is an amazing 36-1 in winning the tournament. His 69 career wins places him four wins behind Jack Nicklaus and 13 behind Sam Snead. My Take: Woods made it look way too easy on Sunday. I began to laugh because it wasn’t even a competition. If The Greenbrier (West Virginia) replaces the Buick Open, Tour officials should just call it the Tiger Open. In my opinion, Woods’ sheer domination makes for incredibly boring television viewing.

4. Retired quarterback Brett Favre informed Brad Childress, head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, that he would continue his retirement and not return for a 19th NFL season. Minnesota has attempted to acquire Favre all summer. The 39-year-old Favre called Childress Tuesday to inform him of the decision. The Vikings held its first practice on Friday. Training camp will help settle whether Tarvaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels will quarterback the Vikings. My Take: Let’s remember that this is Brett Favre. There’s a better chance of the sun’s setting in the east than Favre’s deciding against an NFL return. Nobody is convinced that he will stay retired. Combined with the Favre saga, Jackson’s MCL sprain on Saturday sent scares throughout the Vikings’ organization. I bet Childress calls Favre after every game this season, win or lose, to beg him to put on a purple jersey.

3. Former star quarterback Michael Vick was conditionally reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell last Monday. When or if he is picked up by a team, Vick can participate in everything except for the last two preseason games. Once the regular season begins, the 29-year-old will be considered for full reinstatement by Week Six at the latest. The Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys are a few teams that have said pursuing Vick is not an option. Vick will most likely play for the six-year veteran minimum of $620,000. My Take: I mentioned in my Thursday column how I thought the Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texans should attempt to acquire Vick. With the recent MCL injury sustained to Viking Tarvaris Jackson, Vick should at least be given an opportunity to work out with the team. Vick will land somewhere. For all I know, he could love the media attention just as much as Brett Favre.

2. The Philadelphia Phillies acquired starting pitcher Cliff Lee Wednesday from the Cleveland Indians. The Phillies also received outfielder Ben Francisco in the trade. Cleveland was given four minor leaguers: pitcher Carlos Carrasco, infielder Jason Donald, pitcher Jason Knapp and catcher Lou Marson. Lee, 30, bolsters a pitching staff that was relentlessly mentioned in the pursuit of Toronto’s Roy Halladay. This season, Lee is currently 8-9 with a 3.02 ERA with 113 strikeouts. My Take: The Phillies have added two Cy Young Award winning pitchers in the past two weeks. Pedro Martinez and Cliff Lee will not only give the club more leadership and experience, but they give the Phillies more of an edge to catch the Los Angeles Dodgers as the best team in the National League. Trading for Lee turned into a better option for the Phillies than getting Halladay. If the team decides to keep Lee, he’ll only cost the Phillies around $8 million instead of Halladay’s $15 million plus.

1. The New York Times released a report Thursday that MLB players David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003. The former Boston Red Sox teammates won World Series titles together in 2004 and 2007. The list of players who tested positive in 2003 is over 100 players in length. Ortiz had been in an early-season slump this year while Ramirez was banned 50 games in May for failing a drug test. The two join Barry Bonds, Jason Grimsley, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa and David Segui as players who tested positive for drugs in 2003. My Take: I understand that it’s a crime to be leaking the names of these players on “the list.” However, I wish all the names would be revealed at once. It’s almost as if people associated with the MLB are releasing the names to keep casual baseball fans interested in the sport. I’m not shocked at the names that have been given so far. I’ll only be crushed if Albert Pujols is on the list.

Looking Ahead...

5. Big Ten football teams Illinois and Northwestern are working to play their annual game at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Both head coaches are in favor of the venue, which could be played at Wrigley as early as 2010. As of last weekend, the teams discussed the game with the Chicago Cubs.

4. The Florida Gators men’s basketball 2009-10 schedule was partially released last Monday. The non-conference schedule includes matchups against NCAA runner-up Michigan State, North Carolina State and Xavier. The Gators will play Jacksonville University at Jacksonville Memorial Arena on December 4. The conference schedule will be released at a later time.

3. American Phil Mickelson committed last Tuesday to playing in the Bridgestone Invitational August 6-9 in Akron, Ohio. Mickelson has taken a leave of absence after his second place finish at the U.S. Open back in June. His mother and wife are both undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Mickelson, who has two PGA wins this season, will also compete in the PGA Championship in two weeks.

2. Former Florida Gator Jarvis Moss left camp Saturday for what Denver Broncos head coach Josh McDaniels called “personal reasons.” Denver’s KDVR first reported that Moss, a 3-4 linebacker, was thinking about walking away from football. During Moss’ rookie year, the 2007 17th overall draft pick signed a five-year contract worth almost $15 million.

1. Training camp for the Jacksonville Jaguars officially began yesterday with players reporting to Jacksonville Municipal Stadium. The first practice is today at 10:45 a.m.   Thursday, August 13, will be the last day in which practice is open to the public.  Seating for about 1,400 fans will be provided. Admission and parking is free to all.

3 Responses »

  1. My take: Brett Favre wants to return to the NFL but his body is unwilling. Michael Vick will be picked up by the Vikings. And TIger Woods will rub his magic bottle he found years ago and make a wish to win one more time. It has to be magic. No one can win this many tournaments. I like the guy and wish him the best, but you've got to be kidding me. The tour should invoke a Tiger Woods handicap just for him. Or, tie one hand behind his back. Either way, I think he'd still win. Maybe they should make him play with one shoe.

  2. Good for Tiger Woods. He's the best golfer ever! Really sad about Phil. Did not know that his wife and mother were battling cancer. As for Favre, the Vikings should sign him. He can definitely play in the cold!

  3. Interesting to hear about the 45 straight batters. Having just received an email from JEM I had to look you up. Some old Pittsburgh trivia for you--it was only 36 straight batters, but it was in a single game, that Harvey Haddix LOST!... Nice write-up young fella... Say hi to everyone from the Steubenville crowd.