Articles By Patrick Snow

All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /news/ask-athlon-sports-baseball-history
Body:

Q: In the early days of baseball, it’s my understanding that a “courtesy runner” could at times take the base in the place of an injured player, although the injured player would remain in the game. It was the option of the opposing team to allow the courtesy runner, and to designate a slow player to take the base. I don’t believe the courtesy runner was entered in the box score. Who was the last courtesy runner in the major leagues?

— Edward Rhoades, Ramsey, N.J.

A: Edward, you really know your baseball history. There was such a thing as a courtesy runner, and it was distinct from the pinch-runner, which is obviously still in use today. Here’s the scoop from one of our favorite websites, Baseball-Reference.com: “In the early days of baseball, when rosters were much more limited, there were courtesy runners in addition to pinch-runners. A courtesy runner was put in when the normal runner was temporarily incapacitated by an injury. A courtesy runner had to be agreed by the opposite manager, and his presence in the game was not considered as an official substitution. He could therefore be used again once his running duty was completed, or could be a player already in the lineup, and the player for whom he ran would usually return to the game in the next half-inning. In contrast with pinch-runners, courtesy runners tended to be slow baserunners. The last courtesy runner in a Major League Game was used in 1949.”

Charlie Miller, Editorial Director

Have a question? Email us with any sports-related questions at editor@athlonsports.com
Please include first and last name, plus hometown.
 

Teaser:
<p> Baseball History</p>
Post date: Friday, June 22, 2012 - 15:18
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /news/ask-athlon-sports-horse-racing
Body:

Q: Please explain to me how horse racing odds are figured. I’ve always wondered.

— Danny Coulthard, North Tazewell, Va

A: Danny, it’s not as mysterious as it seems. Basically, the odds are set by the bettors themselves. The track is in business to make money, and it covers its bases by ensuring that equal amounts are bet on all horses, so the more money bet on a horse, the lower its odds, and hence, the lower the payout. The odds for an individual horse are determined by taking the total amount of money bet on all horses in that race and figuring what percentage has been bet on the horse in question, minus a portion for the track’s take. Here’s a scenario that may explain it more clearly: $1,100 has been bet on all horses in a given race, and of that total, $375 has been bet on Horse A to win. Let’s say that the track takes 15 percent as its cut, so $1,100 multiplied by .85 equals $935. Subtract the $375 bet on Horse A, leaving $560. Then, divide the total remaining pool by the amount bet on Horse A, $560 divided by $375, giving you $1.49. That’s rounded up to $1.50, so Horse A’s odds to win are set at 1.5:1. Of course, at the beginning the day, no money has been wagered, so the initial odds are set by a handicapper who provides a baseline for the day’s odds.

Nathan Rush, Editor

Have a question? Email us with any sports-related questions at editor@athlonsports.com
Please include first and last name, plus hometown.
 

Teaser:
<p> Horse Racing odds</p>
Post date: Friday, June 22, 2012 - 15:14
All taxonomy terms: News
Path: /news/ask-athlon-sports-baseball
Body:

Q: I would like to know where the baseball term “Texas Leaguer” originated. I know it refers to a base hit that lands too far out for the infielder and too far in for the outfielder, but how and where did it get its name?

— Tom Ferraris, Whitestone, N.Y.

A: Much of baseball’s colorful terminology has slightly murky origins, and the term “Texas Leaguer,” which refers to a bloop hit that lands between the infield and the outfield, is no exception. As best we can tell, the term originated with a player named Ollie Pickering, a major league outfielder from 1896 to 1908 who had the distinction of being the first batter in an American League game as a member of the Cleveland Blues in 1901. News accounts of the time indicated that Pickering, who had been a popular player in the Texas League (a renowned minor league that dates back to 1884), once ran off a string of eight straight bloop hits, prompting onlookers to remark, “There goes Pickering with another one of those Texas Leaguers.”

Rob Doster, Senior Editor

Have a question? Email us with any sports-related questions at editor@athlonsports.com
Please include first and last name, plus hometown.
 

Teaser:
<p> Ask Athlon Sports: Baseball</p>
Post date: Friday, June 22, 2012 - 15:04
All taxonomy terms: Pat Summitt, College Basketball, Monthly
Path: /college-basketball/well-done-coach
Body:

On the occasion of Pat Summitt's retirement as Tennessee women's basketball coach, Summitt's long-time friend and co-author Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post celebrates the remarkable legacy of a national treasure.

Pat Summitt has always torn down with one hand and built up with another. She has torn down conventional scripted ideas of acceptable conduct for women, what they can and can’t do, and built up a different version with her other hand. She tore down young women and built them back up into stronger ones. “You can’t say ‘can’t’ to me,” she liked to tell them.

Summitt has accepted the word “can’t” in only one instance in her life: On April 18 she was forced by her diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer’s to step aside as the women’s basketball coach at Tennessee after 38 years and eight national championships. She can’t add any more official tallies to her stunning record, which will rest at 1,098 victories — the all-time record in NCAA history male or female — and only 208 losses. But typically, Summitt is more focused on what she can do: she will remain as “Head Coach Emeritus,” and continue to teach what she has always taught best: not simply how to win, but how to use basketball as an exercise in self will. “How to commit,” she says.

She committed. She committed for the sake of commitment back when there was nothing to gain but a little part-time pay and pride in a job well done. She was just a 22-year-old graduate student when she was hired to run Tennessee’s women’s program — the same age as some of the seniors on the team, which tells us a little bit about the university’s commitment to the game at the time. Pat had never run a practice. “I was absolutely terrified,” she remembers.

She was self-taught, a farm girl who learned the game in a hay barn with a plywood backboard. As a grad student she had to take four classes toward her master’s degree, teach four more classes, and she was also in training for the 1976 Olympics; she would captain the USA team to a silver medal. In between those obligations, she drove the team van, washed the uniforms, and helped the janitor set up the folding chairs in Tennessee’s old Alumni Gym, a ramshackle little place that was so dark she said she needed “a miner’s lamp” to see the lines on the floor. At the beginning, there were crowds of only 50 or a hundred spectators watching an overworked young woman trying to build a better life for herself and other young women like her. The goal wasn’t to build a future dynasty, “It was to survive a year,” she says.

She had so little funding that, on one occasion, the team slept on mats in the other team’s gym the night before a game. “We played anybody, just about anywhere, any time,” she says. She never complained, or railed. Instead, she solved her own problems. She stood on chairs in the student center and huckstered, and she rustled up bake sales for cash to buy uniforms.

By her second season she was drawing 1,500 to a game, and by her third the Lady Vols were national contenders who played before 5,000. The crowds kept growing with the victories. Then the national championships started coming, and something remarkable happened.

It was nothing less than the overthrow of male ownership of the sport. Summitt seized the ideal of physical excellence as a method of self-fashioning — the great male dream of athletics as a route to confidence, success and authority — and handed it over to her young women. The crowds grew and roared their approval, and the banners fluttered from the rafters — 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007, 2008 — spanning decades and technological eras from TV to the Internet age, until there was no more glass ceiling for Summitt and the Lady Vols. The winner’s podium was utterly genderless. Pat Summitt had passed her own personal Equal Rights Amendment. And among the many things she had won was a contract with the university that said she would never, ever be paid less than her male counterpart.

By the time she was done the President of the United States had hung a Medal of Freedom around her neck and pronounced her a figure of historical import, a national treasure who had changed merely … well, everything.

Fifteen years ago, I began work with Summitt on her principles-of-success book, Reach for the Summit. We had a conversation that never made it into print, but one that remains the most revealing thing this modest yet most important champion has ever said about herself.

I asked, “Are you a feminist?”
She said, “No, I’m not a feminist.”
“Well, why aren’t you?”
She said, “I’m not a sign-carrier. I don’t go around protesting. I don’t stand out on a sidewalk holding a sign.”
“Fair enough. But what are you?”
“I don’t know what to call myself.”
I said, “I think I know what to call you.”
She said, “What?”
I said, “You’re a subversive.”
She said, “That’s exactly right.”
And then she threw back her head and roared with laughter.

On the day that Pat retired, commentators across the country struggled to articulate the scale of her accomplishments. But the most eloquent and articulate tribute of all came from a simple fan. His name was Dan Donovan, and he was a creative director at an ad agency. He wrote an Internet posting that made its way to various outlets and wound up on my screen. I repeat it here, because it says everything about Pat Summitt that needs to be said.

I’m nobody significant. I have almost no Twitter followers. I don’t blog. I’m just a guy raised by good parents who believed in and appreciated the good that people do. … At some point in my life I learned about Pat Summitt. I followed her on ESPN. I read the articles about her and her teams, and I’ve developed a long appreciation for what she has accomplished. I never hung her poster on my wall as a kid, but I was a fan. I am a fan. I have been blown away by the way she has built remarkable teams and helped produce even more remarkable women.

I’m going to be a father in three months. We’re having a girl. And like many parents, I’ve allowed myself to dream about my little girl one day becoming a great scholar, or athlete or contributor to society. But as I watch Coach Summitt leave (and I completely understand why), I can’t help but think that all I really want is for my daughter to one day learn from a woman like her. A woman who won against odds, lost gracefully and made being great and being modest at the same time seem not only possible but reasonable.

I know Coach Summitt will go on. This is not a eulogy. This is a thank you note. And a promise that even the young girls who grow up miles away from her legacy will always know her name, and more importantly, her story.

Good luck, Coach.

Pat Summitt: By the Numbers
Win-Loss Record: 1,098–208
SEC Championships: 16
National Championships: 8
Coach of the Year Awards: 7
Olympic Medals: Gold (’84), Silver (’76)

 

Teaser:
<p> Pat Summitt’s Tennessee tenure was remarkable on and off the court.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 22, 2012 - 04:59
Path: /college-football/exclusive-qa-robert-griffin-iii
Body:

Robert Griffin III, the 2011 Heisman Trophy winner from Baylor and No. 2 pick overall in the 2012 NFL Draft by the Washington Redskins, is quickly becoming one of the most recognizable faces in sports. Recently RG3 sat down with Baylor Bear Insider editor Jerry Hill for Athlon Sports Monthly and provided some insight about his well-decorated past and a future with endless potential.

Athlon Sports: Winning the Heisman would obviously be special at any school. But was it even more gratifying to do it at a school like Baylor that did not enjoy much success in football in the 15 years before you arrived?
RG3: Winning the Heisman at Baylor University, for Baylor University, Baylor Nation and Baylor alums everywhere, made it special. Being able to lift a community, Waco, Copperas Cove, and surrounding areas, is what made the accomplishment gratifying.

When you were sitting there next to Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck at the Heisman Trophy presentation in New York, how confident were you that you were going to win? And what was that moment like when you heard your name called?
I was confident, but I was more nervous and anxious, because you never know what the voters look at when they place their ballots. At Baylor University, we knew we were the most exciting team in college football. We had big-time players making big-time plays, and we had our collection of “Heisman Moments.” At that time, you are rendered powerless until they utter . . . “The winner of the 2011 Heisman Memorial Trophy is . . . Robert Griffin III, RG3.” Now, you just have to remember the speech.

Other than winning the Heisman, was there one particular “best memory” from your days at Baylor?
Best memories, you mean? On the field, I remember two blocks I threw to help my teammates score touchdowns. The first one was my freshman year against Iowa State, where I pancaked a guy, helping Kendal Wright score. The other was in the 2011 Alamo Bowl, when I helped Jarred Salubi score after I threw a block that helped him escape. I also remember taking three knees to win games — one ended a 16-year bowl drought; one marked our first victory against Oklahoma and a (former) Heisman winner; and one marked us as Alamo Bowl champions with 10 wins. They said we couldn’t do it . . . and we still did it.

What’s one thing that few people would know about Robert Griffin III?
I don’t have dreads. My hair is braided off the scalp. And I doubt that many people know that I dunked in the eighth grade when I was 5-6, just as tall as you, Jerry (laughing).

You obviously attracted a lot of widespread attention for the different socks you wear. How did that start, and do you plan on rolling out some new ones in the NFL?
I started wearing the socks my sophomore year in high school, just as a sign that I was comfortable in my own skin and who I was. Contrary to popular belief, I never wore the socks on the field. But I do plan to continue wearing them off the field and might even have my own designs.

When you suffered a torn ACL during your sophomore season in 2009, were there days when you were going through rehab for the knee injury that you just wanted to give up? How did you fight through that?
I never faced a time when I wanted to quit. I did have a decision to make early on in my rehab, though. I could go through the motions and come back a shade of myself or just the same guy. Or I could push myself to the limit, just as I had been trained to do my whole life, and come back a better player than anyone had ever seen. I pushed and pushed and pushed, because my family, my future family, my friends and my teammates needed me to. I wasn’t going to let them down.

With several of the major schools recruiting you to play something other than quarterback, did that motivate you even more to prove them wrong?
You mean Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma? It’s not really as many as people think, but it wasn’t extra motivation. Do I remember who the three teams were? Yes. But you can’t do things to prove others wrong. All you can do is perform, so that they regret their decisions.

Because of the option offense you ran at Copperas Cove (Texas), most people viewed you as more of a runner than a passer coming out of high school. Was there anything specific you did to improve your throwing ability?
First, I was given the option to throw. We were a pro-style running team in high school, and we were great at it. Because of my speed, I have always faced the criticism that I can’t throw. But I just pushed forward and performed. The stats on the books at Baylor say enough.

What was the point when you first realized that you had the talent to be a top-5 pick in the NFL Draft?
The day coach Art Briles named me the starter at Baylor. I went through a lot in the process. But if you can’t see what you can become, you won’t put in the work to go and capture it.

You obviously agonized over the decision to leave school early for the NFL Draft. How difficult was it for you to forego your senior year at Baylor?
It was the hardest decision thus far in my life. I played on one good knee for a whole half (against Northwestern State in 2009) — after tearing my ACL on the first drive — for my teammates, coaches and Baylor Nation. It wasn’t about money or fame. I truly love my Baylor University, and that is what made it difficult. I cried when I told my teammates, because they truly are my brothers for life. It means something to me to wear the BU on my helmet and across my chest. It means even more to wear it with the guys that I did.

Seeing what Cam Newton was able to do last year, does that give you confidence that you can make a similar impact this year as a rookie starter with the Washington Redskins?
I plan to come in and do all the little things — study, work hard, earn respect and get better. If you come in to make an impact, you won’t make one. You have to focus on the small things so that all the big things can fall into place.

Washington gave up a lot of picks to move up and take you with the No. 2 pick overall in the Draft. Does that put extra pressure on you?
I don’t look at it as pressure. If anything, it makes me want to go out and get to work sooner. They believe in me. That’s why they gave up so many picks for me. There have been a lot of great quarterbacks that have had terrible rookie years. I don’t want to be that guy. I’m going to do everything I can to make sure I’m not that guy. Peyton Manning didn’t have a great year as a rookie, and now he’s considered one of the best of all-time. You’ve just got to work through the bumps and try to succeed in whatever ways you can.
 

Teaser:
<p> An Exclusive Q&amp;A with Robert Griffin III</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 21, 2012 - 06:26
Path: /mlb/2012-major-league-baseball-power-rankings-june-18
Body:

1. Dodgers — Dodgers and opponents batting .239 in June.

2. Yankees — Rafael Soriano had five saves during nine-game win streak.

3. Rangers — Just one game over .500 since their torrid April.

4. Reds — New ace Mat Latos is 5-0 over last 10 starts.

5. Rays — Two shutouts and extra-inning loss in series win over Miami.

6. Orioles — Tossed back-to-back shutouts at Atlanta.

7. Nationals — Swept Red Sox and Blue Jays, then swept by Yankees.

8. Angels — D’backs hitters were no match for Halos’ pitching.

9. Braves — Losing woes at home continue.

10. Giants — Seven games above .500 vs. NL Central.

11. Blue Jays — Lost three key starting pitchers to injury in matter of few days.

12. White Sox — Won three of nine vs. NL.

13. Mets — Lost nine of 10 when not playing the Rays.

14. Marlins — 8-14 in April, 21-8 in May and 4-10 in June.

15. Pirates — Where would lineup be without Andrew McCutchen?

16. Diamondbacks — Entire infield batting .300 or better in June.

17. Cardinals — Closer Jason Motte couldn’t preserve series vs. Royals.

18. Indians — Pitchers hit .333 in interleague play.

19. Red Sox — Big Papi leads Sox in just about every offensive category.

20. Tigers — Won two of three in each of three interleague series.

21. Phillies — Jim Thome swatted 100th homer for third team.

22. A’s — Five different pitchers have saves already this season.

23. Brewers — Need to get Rickie Weeks going.

24. Mariners — Lowest OBP in the American League.

25. Royals — Fewest runs scored in AL.

26. Twins — Drawn at least 30,000 to every game at Target Field this year.

27. Astros — Lost 16 of 21 — 0-11 when scoring less than five runs.

28. Rockies — Were .500 on May 2, now 15 games under.

29. Padres — Enjoying interleague play.

30. Cubs — Last four saves have come from four different pitchers.

Teaser:
<p> 2012 Major League Baseball Power Rankings</p>
Post date: Monday, June 18, 2012 - 15:28
All taxonomy terms: Brandon Moss, Colby Lewis, Matt Cain, Ryan Braun, MLB
Path: /mlb/baseball%E2%80%99s-players-week-cain-braun-lewis-moss
Body:

Each week Athlon Sports looks back at the previous week's best baseball players in the American and National Leagues and recaps the most outstanding pitching performances. Here are last week's — June 11-17 — standouts.

NL Pitcher of the Week
Matt Cain, San Francisco
The Giants have won Cain’s last eight starts, but none came in as dramatic fashion as his perfect game last week. The righthander retired all 27 Astros he faced, striking out 14. It was the first perfecto in Giants history and tied Sandy Koufax’s record for 14 Ks in a perfect game. Cain, who leads the National League with a 0.85 WHIP, needed 125 pitches to complete the game. In three June starts, Cain has a 0.38 ERA and 0.63 WHIP.

NL Player of the Week
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee
It was a tough road trip for the Brewers last week — losing four of six games — but not for Braun. The Brewers’ leftfielder had at least one hit in every game and added four homers and seven RBIs. The reigning MVP had three multi-hit games and slugged .793.

AL Pitcher of the Week
Colby Lewis, Texas
The Rangers’ ace dominated in two starts last week with wins over Arizona and in-state rival Houston. Lewis tossed nine innings allowing just four hits with the lone run coming off a solo homer to defeat the Diamondbacks. He followed that effort with seven strong innings of three-hit ball over the Astros. For the week, Lewis struck out 17 in 16 innings while allowing only nine baserunners.

AL Player of the Week
Brandon Moss, Oakland
The Oakland rightfielder had eight extra-base hits over six games — all wins for the A’s. Moss, who found National League West pitching to his liking, delivered five home runs in a four-game span against Colorado and San Diego. For the week he batted .348 with five homers, 10 RBIs and a 1.530 OPS.
 

Teaser:
<p> Baseball’s Players of the Week: Cain, Braun, Lewis, Moss</p>
Post date: Monday, June 18, 2012 - 14:59
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlon%E2%80%99s-essential-eleven-links-day-4
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for June 15.

• The nation’s top-ranked recruit for the Class of 2013, defensive end Robert Nkemdiche of Grayson High School in Loganville, Ga., has verbally committed to Clemson.

• The Heat beat the Thunder in Game 2, but fans and media are still debating the LeBron James-Kevin Durant no-call at the end.

• Mandatory.com has some funny Dad quotes for Father’s Day.

• Bears cornerback Charles Tillman doesn’t like a math problem in a Chicago school regarding the team’s chances of beating the Packers.

• Pacers center Roy Hibbert used Twitter to invite area fans to the movies to watch Prometheus, his treat.

• Harpo’s in Columbia, Mo. already has a signature sandwich called “the SEC.”

• Check out Carlos Santana of the Indians running into a rather large Reds fan.

• Miami football may not receive a ruling in its pending NCAA case until after National Signing Day next year.

Is it college football season yet?

• CBS’ Jon Heyman has an interesting interview with former Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, whose lifestyle has changed in the minors.

• We want to say an early Happy Father’s Day to all of the dads out there. With that in mind, the Video of the Day had to be Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. hitting back-to-back home runs against the Angels on September 14, 1990.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


June 14

• CBS’ Scott Miller says San Francisco’s Matt Cain stepped out from behind the shadow of Tim Lincecum after tossing the first perfect game in Giants’ history.

• Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger says he doesn’t know how to avoid hits. Throw the ball?

• Who doesn’t like a good bar fight between hip-hop crews? TMZ says that the entourages for Chris Brown and Drake got into it last night at a New York City nightclub. Hopefully Brown hit men this time.

• The Interleague battle of Ohio has produced a war of word between Reds manager Dusty Baker and Indians starter Derek Lowe.

• Former Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong is facing more doping allegations.

• Sports radio shock jock Jim Rome stirred up NBA Commissioner David Stern yesterday with his implication that the league’s draft is fixed.

• North Dakota State football won the FCS Championship back in January. However, the NCAA sent the school’s championship banner to its top rival, the University of North Dakota.

• Will the Miami Heat ruin Oklahoma City’s perfect postseason home record in Game 2 tonight?

• ESPN ACC blogger Heather Dinich analyzes the schedule of Florida State, who many consider the league favorite this season.

• Gawker questions London’s ability to throw a good party for the Summer Olympics.

San Francisco’s Matt Cain tossed just the 22nd perfect game in MLB history last night. The final play was a little dicey, but the Giants got it done and the celebration ensued.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


June 13

• Sports Illustrated’s Lee Jenkins looks at the Thunder victory in Game 1, with Kevin Durant starring as the best player on the court.

• With the BCS meetings kicking off in Chicago, ESPN’s Mark Schlabach has a good summary of each conference’s preferred format for a college football playoff.

Real-life mobster Henry Hill, who was played by Ray Liotta in the 1990 Martin Scorsese classic Goodfellas, has passed away at the age of 69. “When I was broke, I'd go out and rob some more. We ran everything. We paid off cops. We paid off lawyers. We paid off judges. Everybody had their hands out. Everything was for the taking. And now it's all over.

• Say what you want about Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees, but tying MLB and New York legend Lou Gehrig’s all-time record for grand slams (23) is an amazing accomplishment.

• Nationals phenom Bryce Harper has an interesting response to a Toronto reporter’s question on how he’ll celebrate his big home run in Washington’s 4-2 win over the Blue Jays.

• Cleveland Browns receiver Josh Cribbs, a Kent State alum, is chartering a bus for fans of the Golden Flashes to go watch the school’s baseball team in its first-ever trip to the College World Series. Well done Josh.

• Arkansas has unveiled its new uniforms by Nike. The white helmet may get some reaction among Razorbacks fans.

• Check out this “GIF” based on Facebook and the movie, The Social Network.

• The Phillie Phanatic is known as one of baseball’s best mascots, but now he/it is being sued by a fan. Looks like a tough summer in Philly with the team in last place and now this.

• Will the Senior Bowl start allowing juniors to play?

• We all like when race car drivers trade some paint on the track, but you rarely see a racer cut across the infield and T-bone another car on purpose. And of course, a fistfight ensued. No word yet if a Laughing Clown Malt Liquor sponsorship was on the line.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


June 12

• SI.com breaks down the NBA Finals, which start tonight in Oklahoma City.

• ESPN Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg clarifies the league’s stance on a college football playoff.

• Joe Fortenbaugh of the National Football Post is fired up by the release of some early college football spreads.

• Mandatory.com looks back at “the toughest John Wayne’s moments.” Love the comment, “Watch and learn, emo kids. This is how you’re supposed to do it.”

• Notre Dame and Navy play every season (including in Ireland this year), and it looks like the Fighting Irish may rekindle the Army series soon.

• United States Olympic (as well as UConn) women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma is being sued for discrimination.

• SportsGrid has the story of Temple basketball player Khalif Wyatt, who pulled an "Ed Norton in Rounders" and solicited a prostitute during his 21st birthday celebration in Atlantic City. And of course, she was an undercover cop.

• ESPN AFC South blogger Paul Kuharsky has the latest on Andrew Luck’s first practice with the Indianapolis Colts.

• The Memphis Grizzlies may be sold to one of the world’s 10 youngest billionaires.

• Jay Tate of the Montgomery Advertiser has the details on the search for a third suspect in the Auburn homicides. There is also debate if federal and local law enforcement fired tear-gas into the wrong Alabama house last night as part of that search.

• The Michigan-Ohio State rivalry is alive and well in early June. Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, a Michigan native, belts out “Hail to the Victors” as he’s leaving the stage from a recent concert — in Columbus, Ohio.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


June 11

• The best story of the weekend may have been the Stony Brook baseball team, who defeated SEC power LSU to advance to the College World Series.

• Speaking of LSU, I can’t think of many better commencement speakers than Tigers head football coach Les Miles.

• Nancy Grace’s first novel The Eleventh Victim, the Lifetime Movie Network and former Beverly Hills, 90210 star Jennie Garth in the Essential 11? Yep, especially with the casting of NBA personality Metta World Peace as a detective opposite Garth.

• Bleacher Report’s Adam Kramer tries to build the perfect college football quarterback.

• Many boxing fans were upset by the decision in the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight. The Big Lead believes a rematch was ready to go even before the first fight began.

• Who ya got: LeBron James and the Heat or Kevin Durant and the Thunder?

• Gizmodo believes that Apple has added some cool features for sports fans to Siri.

• Did Broncos linebacker D.J. Williams give away some of the team’s defensive schemes on social media?

• The Cubs have won the bidding war for Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler. I’m sure the marketing people already have the “Soler Power” shirts ready to sell.

• On a sad note, the Auburn community is still in mourning and looking for answers after tragedy struck the weekend.

• There are many ways to celebrate a team win and your MLB-leading 20th save of the season. Apparently Indians closer Chris Perez likes to celebrate with his buddies, Ralph and Earl. Here’s our slightly disgusting Video of the Day…

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 

Teaser:
<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 15, 2012 - 11:55
All taxonomy terms: College Football, NFL
Path: /college-football/god-tells-kevin-ellison-set-bed-fire-joint
Body:

Former San Diego Chargers defender and current Spokane Shock arena football player Kevin Ellison was arrested Thursday after jumping out of his third-floor apartment in the Spokane, Wash., area. The dwelling was on fire, a blaze that Ellison said he started with a marijuana cigar because “God told him to set the bed on fire.”

Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze before the fire spread, but two neighboring units sustained smoke damage, according to authorities.

The former USC player will have to face an arson charge in federal court, and he should have a hearing within the week to determine his next legal step.

According to Shock majority owner Brady Nelson, Ellison has been suspended by the league.

Teaser:
<p> God tells Kevin Ellison to set fire with a joint</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 14, 2012 - 23:06
All taxonomy terms: Eric Kelly, Overtime
Path: /overtime/bestworst-boxing-trainer-ever-eric-kelly
Body:

WARNING: Explicit Language In Video

Meet the Don Rickles of the boxing trainers, 2000 Olympic alternate Eric Kelly. He is Wall Strreet’s newest social commentator, who may be the best (funny, honest) or worst (angry guy who offends most of the population while barely helping you) trainer in New York. After a “street altercation” ended his boxing career, Kelly just seems so pissed that he has to work with Wall Street types.

The language is very salty, so this definitely in the NSFW category. A couple of his verbal gems include, “I can’t believe you’re still on this side of the dirt” and “You look like all the nerds just had a convention on your body.”

Enjoy.
 

Teaser:
<p> Eric Kelly: Worst Boxing Trainer Ever</p>
Post date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 - 17:50
Path: /nba/miami-heat-ready-challenge-oklahoma-city-thunder
Body:

The NBA Finals begin tonight at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, and the stars on the court will be plentiful. The dynamic trio of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden lead the Thunder, while the more publicized “Big 3” of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will counter for the Heat. The teams split in two games this season with the Thunder winning at home, 103-87, and the Heat evening it up in Miami, 98-93.

While the teams will obviously decide who wins the championship, many fans are focusing on the head-to-head matchup of James and Durant. Miami is back in the finals for a second-straight season thanks to another stellar campaign from James, who won his third MVP in four years. Meanwhile, Durant won his third consecutive NBA scoring title this year and has the Thunder rolling through the competition in the postseason. Multiple defenders will guard each superstar throughout the series, and the player who can hit the big shots late in games may decide the champion.

The NBA Finals change to a 2-3-2 format for the home team, instead of the 2-2-1-1-1 formula used in the earlier rounds of the postseason. The Thunder have the home-court advantage in this series and are 8-0 in Oklahoma City during the playoffs. The OKC franchise won its only title as the Seattle Supersonics in 1979, while the Wade-led Heat took the NBA crown in 2006. Durant and company are playing in their first final, while James hopes his personal third shot at a title is the charm in 2012.
 

Teaser:
<p> Miami Heat Ready to Challenge the Oklahoma City Thunder</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 12, 2012 - 11:48
All taxonomy terms: College World Series, News
Path: /news/stony-brook-beats-lsu-advance-college-world-series
Body:

The little school — only playing Division I baseball since 2000 — from Long Island traveling to meet the six-time national champion program from the SEC. An easy prediction, right? Not this time, as the slipper fit perfectly for the Stony Brook Seawolves in topping powerhouse LSU. Matt Senk’s club took out the heavily-favored Tigers in the super regionals and will now advance to the College World Series in Omaha. Stony Brook’s attendance was 5,800 for the year, while LSU averages over 10,000 per game. However, the Seawolves were unaffected by the massive crowd in Baton Rouge and took two of three from the Tigers.

The signs have been there all season that Stony Brook had a special team, but no one was expecting the America East champions to flourish against SEC and ACC foes. The Seawolves finished the regular season at 52-13, with all nine regulars batting above .296. The team average for the year was a staggering .335, while the pitching staff’s ERA was an impressive 2.99. Leadoff hitter Travis Jankowski was the 44th overall pick by the Padres in the MLB Draft after hitting .422 with 36 steals. Third baseman Willie Carmona, a Phillies draftee, supplied the power with 12 home runs and 72 RBIS. Ace Tyler Johnson, an Oakland A’s pick, led the squad with a 12-1 record and a 1.94 ERA.

After winning three straight elimination games in the Miami regional, Stony Brook lost a painful Game 1 to LSU after repeatedly giving up late leads. But the Seawolves pitching would stifle the Tigers bats in Games 2 and 3, and now Senk’s club will be the talk of the town in Omaha. Stony Brook may have the goods to win the College World Series in what would be one of the better underdog stories that collegiate sports has ever seen.
 

Teaser:
<p> Stony Brook Beats LSU to Advance to the College World Series</p>
Post date: Monday, June 11, 2012 - 12:37
All taxonomy terms: I'll Have Another, News
Path: /news/i%E2%80%99ll-have-another-scratched-belmont-stakes
Body:

There is shocking news in the horse racing world, as I’ll Have Another has been scratched from the Belmont Stakes. The three-year old horse won in dramatic fashion at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and many fans were hoping to see a Triple Crown winner for the first time since Affirmed in 1978. However, I’ll Have Another trainer Doug O'Neill told the "The Dan Patrick Show" this morning that his horse was “officially out of the Belmont.” There will be a press conference on Friday afternoon at Belmont Park to discuss the details.

There was a six-year stretch in the 1970s that saw an amazing three Triple Crown winners — Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978). However, no horse has accomplished the feat since. There have been some dramatic second-place finishes — Sunday Silence (1989), Silver Charm (1997), Real Quiet (1998) and Smarty Jones (2004) — as well as some memorable thirds (Charismatic – 1999, Funny Cide – 2003) and the heartbreaking injury to Big Brown in 2008.

Sadly, I’ll Have Another will also join the non-Triple Crown list with its surprising scratch for the Belmont Stakes.
 

Teaser:
<p> I’ll Have Another Scratched from the Belmont Stakes</p>
Post date: Friday, June 8, 2012 - 12:20
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlon%E2%80%99s-essential-eleven-links-day-3
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for June 8.

I’ll Have Another trainer Doug O'Neill told the "The Dan Patrick Show" this morning that his horse was “officially out of the Belmont.” Many fans were hoping to see a Triple Crown winner for the first time since Affirmed in 1978.

• Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has cashed in after his stellar 2011 season.

• Fox’s Ken Rosenthal details the success of Mets skipper Terry Collins in his third managerial stint.

• Bleacher Report’s Barrett Sallee has the SEC Tweets of the Week.

• OUCH! Mix in some sunscreen, SPF 1000.

• SI’s Ian Thomsen breaks down LeBron James' epic 45-point performance in the Heat’s Game 6 win in Boston.

• Get ready for some slow baseball, as Daisuke Matsuzaka returns to the Red Sox rotation on Saturday.

• A huge influence on college sports is resigning, as University of Florida President Bernie Machen plans to step down next year.

• ESPN ACC blogger Heather Dinich looks at the Virginia quarterback competition.

• Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham received a nice raise after his Bulldogs’ unit finished fifth in the country in total defense.

• You’ve seen the Harvard baseball players do their rendition of the pop song, “Call Me Maybe.” Now, it’s the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders’ turn. This version has been very popular in our office, even if you watch it in mute. Have a great weekend.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)


June 7

• Are we witnessing a potential dynasty with the Oklahoma City Thunder?

• Many relatives of MLB superlatives were taken in this year’s draft, including the sons of Cal Ripken, Orel Hershiser, Steve Garvey and the grandson of Red Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski. Current managers Mike Matheny, Kirk Gibson and Dale Sveum all had sons drafted by their current organizations.

• ESPN Pac-12 blogger Kevin Gemmell looks at the league’s potential 1,000-yard rushers.

• Ever wondered what it’s like to ride along with five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson? Check out this video from his iPhone inside the car.

• Russ Mitchell looks at the uneven playing field of college football.

• Highly-respected Philadelphia Eagles president Joe Banner has been reassigned with the organization.

• Shaq Thompson, a Washington football signee who may be the best freshman in the country this season, may also play for the Boston Red Sox in the summer.

• What does the future hold for receiver Mike Wallace and the Steelers?

• Former Wisconsin basketball player Jarrod Uthoff has decided to transfer to Iowa.

• Fansided.com is frustrated by some elements of “the new NBA.”

• ZoowithRoy.com (a Phillies-centric blog) has provided us with a new superstar reporter, Awesome Emma. Check out her interview with Phillies star Cole Hamels in our Video of the Day. “Coffee’s so good!”

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)


June 6

• Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick calls out star right fielder Justin Upton on Phoenix radio, and he destroys the credibility of injured shortstop Stephen Drew regarding an extremely slow rehab process.

• It looks like none of the top Miami hotels want to deal with the filming of Chad Ochocinco and fiancé Evelyn Lozada's wedding/television show. Hate to see 85 get 86ed.

• ESPN Big 12 blogger has the rare story of a recruit decommiting from Texas, especially unusual since it’s a Lone Star State kid.

• Check out the video of the Red Hot Chili Peppers taking batting practice and hanging out with Reds starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo in Cincinnati.

• The Rolling Stones classic “Satisfaction” was released today in 1965. The incomparable Keith Richards says he wrote the famous intro in his sleep. Just Keith being Keith.

• The home-schooled Hud Mellencamp, son of famous singer John Mellencamp, will walk on to play football at Duke despite never playing high-school ball. “Hud’s gonna be a football star…” Sorry, had to go there.

• Would Cubs manager Dale Sveum really bench his best player?

• Can the Heat rebound after three consecutive losses to the Celtics?

• Phil Mickelson reportedly sent PGA Tour commissioner Tim Finchem a text message from the course complaining of fans with phones. 

• CBS’ Jon Heyman says there will be no signability issues for the Astros with No. 1 overall pick Carlos Correa.

• It’s not quite "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys, but current Rams and former Titans head coach Jeff Fisher has the perfect ‘70s cop mustache in this video by Nashville band, Goodbye June.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)


June 5

• Titans speedster Chris Johnson tells Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean that he is “still the best back in the league.”

• Here is just your average story where a Super Bowl ring of Green Bay Packers executive turns up with heroin, weapons, etc. on a raid of a drug trafficking organization.

• ESPN ACC blogger Heather Dinich and Big East blogger Andrea Adelson debate the futures of those two leagues.

• Apparently agent Drew Rosenhaus thinks Terrell Owens’ days in the NFL may be done, so the formerly great receiver fired him. No more sit-ups in the driveway?

• SportsGrid sees James Harden of the Oklahoma City Thunder turning into Mr. T.

• Deadspin has an interesting piece on former Rangers pitcher David Clyde, the No. 1 overall pick in the 1973 MLB Draft, who was pulled up to the Majors immediately and seemingly ruined by the organization.

• Green Bay’s Donald Driver takes care of 12-year-old Packers fan Stephen Wagner, who had the receiver’s cleats ripped away from him at a celebrity softball game.

• SB Nation’s Rob Neyer looks at the television coverage of the 2012 MLB Draft.

• Will Jaguars first-round pick Justin Blackmon begin his NFL career suspended?

• Gizmodo believes airport security could be worse than usual this summer. How much more naked can we all get?

• I’m sure most Mets fans celebrated the franchise’s first no-hitter in a responsible way. That was not the case, however, for Long Island fanatic Rafael Diaz. He runs on the field to celebrate with Johan Santana and the boys, only to be pummeled by security in our Video of the Day. And the worst part is that Diaz spent two nights in jail, missing his son's first birthday party.

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)


June 4

• Even Mets fans hate that the first no-hitter in franchise history was marred by an egregious blown call that would have taken away Johan Santana’s no-no.

• Chadd Scott of ChuckOliver.net questions whether Clemson and Florida State fans would benefit by moving from the ACC to the Big 12.

• While we wait for Anchorman 2, here are some interesting facts from the classic original. Can you imagine Maggie Gyllenhaal as Veronica Corningstone?

• ESPN Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg details the league’s postseason stance, including strongly favoring a selection committee to determine the participants in a four-team playoff.

• Are the referees ruining a classic series between the Celtics and Heat?

• Tiger Woods tied Jack Nicklaus for second on the all-time wins (73) list at the Golden Bear’s tournament, the Memorial. Could the majors record be next?

• I’m not sure many of you watched the MTV Music Awards, but they did have some exclusive new footage from Dark Knight Rises.

• An arbitrator upholds NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s ability to suspend players involved in the bounty scandal with the Saints.

• Did the SEC mess up its entire league schedule to preserve two historical rivalries? Russ Mitchell believes so.

• Will Roddy White of the Falcons have a diminished role in 2012?

Florida coach Will Muschamp made fun of the city of College Station recently when talking to boosters about the Gators trip to Texas A&M this season. Mayor Nancy Berry has a witty response in our Video of the Day…

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)

Teaser:
<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Friday, June 8, 2012 - 11:58
All taxonomy terms: Belmont Stakes, Triple Crown, News
Path: /news/belmont-stakes-ill-have-another-goes-triple-crown
Body:

Editor's Note: I'll Have Another has been scratched from the Belmont.

I’ll Have Another thrilled horse racing fans with similar come-from-behind wins in the Kentucky Derby and Preakness, and the Doug O’Neill-trained horse has the oppotunity to win the elusive Triple Crown on Saturday. In the pages of Athlon Sports Monthly, Nathan Rush chronicled the difficulty in achieving horse racing immortality.

The Belmont Stakes is the oldest, longest and most demanding race for those chasing the Triple Crown of thoroughbred racing. And as with any goal worthy of tireless pursuit, attaining the ultimate crown jewel in the sport of kings is not easy.

In order to contend for the Triple Crown, horse and human alike must survive an endurance challenge whose finish line is in Elmont, N.Y., just outside New York City.
The 1 1⁄2-mile at Belmont Park tests the stamina of the three-year-old thoroughbred racehorses. The run is a quarter-mile longer than the 1 1⁄4-mile at Churchill Downs in Louisville and significantly longer than the 1 3⁄16-mile at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

The Triple Crown’s grueling schedule also tests the mental toughness and intestinal fortitude of the trainers, who are tasked with making sure their multi-million-dollar athletes are rested yet ready to run, during an intense five-week stretch — at the Kentucky Derby (May 5), Preakness Stakes (May 19) and Belmont Stakes (June 9).

“There are two weeks between the Derby and Preakness; and three weeks between the Preakness and Belmont,” explains Todd Pletcher, a four-time Eclipse Award winning trainer who won the Belmont in 2007 with Rags to Riches, the first filly to win the race in 102 years.

“You have to make sure that your horse is going to be ready to perform on all three of those days.”

Twenty-nine horses have entered the Belmont Stakes having won the Derby and Preakness; only 11 of those achieved Triple Crown immortality with a win at Belmont Park, the most recent being Affirmed in 1978.

Pletcher’s mentor D. Wayne Lukas, however, did capture the “trainer’s Triple Crown” in 1995, by winning all three races with two different horses — Thunder Gulch (Derby, Belmont) and Timber Country (Preakness). With the growing trend of fewer horsemen — such as Pletcher, Bob Baffert and Steve Asmussen — taking the reins to train more horses in the elite field of Triple Crown races, the “next Lukas” may be more likely than the “next Affirmed.”

“I learned a great deal from Wayne as well as his son, Jeff. They provided a great foundation for training horses and operating a large stable,” says Pletcher, whose 2012 stable of contenders includes El Padrino and Gemologist.

“It is always very difficult, but I feel we have colts who are well-suited to go the classic distance. They have been training very well.”

The Kentucky Derby may claim to be the “most exciting two minutes in sports” but throughout the 138-year history of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes has been the scene of the most exhilarating few seconds in thoroughbred racing — period. There is no greater moment in the sport than the crowning of a Triple Crown champion, which always takes place in New York.

The question is, after 34 years, will there ever be another thoroughbred capable of capturing the elusive Triple Crown?

“Yes. I think it can be done. Some have come very close since then,” says Pletcher. “I think it’s only a matter of time before it is accomplished again.”

TRIPLE CROWN WINNERS
There have been 11 Triple Crown winners in history, broken up by three significant dry spells — with an 11-year gap between the original champion, Sir Barton (1919), and his successor, Gallant Fox (1930); a 25-year break between Citation (1948) and Secretariat (1973); and the current 34-year drought since Affirmed (1978).

1919 – Sir Barton
1930 – Gallant Fox
1935 – Omaha
1937 – War Admiral
1941 – Whirlaway
1943 – Count Fleet
1946 – Assault
1948 – Citation
1973 – Secretariat
1977 – Seattle Slew
1978 – Affirmed


CLOSE BUT NO CIGAR
Since Affirmed won the Triple Crown in 1978, there have been 11 horses who won both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes before falling short at the Belmont Stakes.

1979 – Spectacular Bid (3rd in Belmont Stakes)
After waiting 25 years between Citation’s Triple Crown in 1948 and Secretariat’s remarkable run in 1973, the sport nearly witnessed a three-year streak of three-year-olds winning the big three races. But a fluke accident likely prevented a shot at the Triple Crown. Spectacular Bid stepped on a safety pin on the morning of the Belmont Stakes and — despite taking an aggressive approach and an early lead — faded late in the race, showing behind Golden Act and Coastal.

1981 – Pleasant Colony (3rd)
1987 – Alysheba (4th)
1989 – Sunday Silence (2nd)
1997 – Silver Charm (2nd)
1998 – Real Quiet (2nd)

Bob Baffert’s bay colt Real Quiet — nicknamed “The Fish” due to his slender, sleek, almost aquatic-like build — lost by a nose to the appropriately named Victory Gallop, a Canadian-born stallion who placed second to Real Quiet in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Despite going down to the wire and falling painfully short at Belmont Park, Real Quiet came closer to ending the Triple Crown drought than any thoroughbred to date.

1999 – Charismatic (3rd)
2002 – War Emblem (8th)
2003 – Funny Cide (3rd)
2004 – Smarty Jones (2nd)
2008 – Big Brown (9th, DNF)

Although cocky trainer Rick Dutrow called the Triple Crown a “foregone conclusion,” a hoof injury leading up to the race and a loose shoe on race day resulted in Big Brown finishing last among the nine horses who ran in the Belmont Stakes. Big Brown suffered his first career loss — as 38-to-1 longshot Da’ Tara led wire-to-wire, while the 3-to-10 overwhelming favorite failed to finish after jockey Kent Desormeaux pulled up because he “had no horse.”

Teaser:
<p> Belmont Stakes: I'll Have Another goes for the Triple Crown</p>
Post date: Friday, June 8, 2012 - 07:00
All taxonomy terms: Chad Ochocinco, New England Patriots, NFL, News
Path: /nfl/ochocinco-released-patriots
Body:

The short stay of Chad Ochocinco in New England ended on Thursday with the Patriots releasing the receiver. Bill Belichick reportedly tried to trade No. 85, but then cut the underperforming wideout in a move that was not surprising. Over the past few years, Ochocinco seemed much more interested in being a celebrity than a top NFL player. From name changes to television appearances to dating reality stars, the once-great baller faded on the field as he made more news in the entertainment industry. In the six seasons from 2002-07, No. 85 averaged 88 catches for 1,339 yards and eight touchdowns per year. But over the last four seasons Ochocinco only had 207 receptions in 58 games, including a career-low 15 catches in 15 games for the Patriots in 2011.

The celebrity receiver, who has almost 3.5 million followers on twitter, sent out the following message on his release: “Thoroughly enjoyed the oppurtunity to play for the "Patriot" organization... fans were (expletive) wicked awesome, I wish all of you the best...”

Who knows what’s next for Ochocinco? His commitment to football will obviously be in question after his struggle with the Patriots. He never seemed to buy into the New England system on offense and did not receive many opportunities because of that. Some NFL will probably take a chance on the flawed but likeable receiver, who turned 34 earlier this season. Another franchise may believe that they can find one more productive season in Ochocinco, or he may just concentrate on reality TV.

For now, No. 85 has been 86ed.
 

Teaser:
<p> Ochocinco Released by the Patriots</p>
Post date: Friday, June 8, 2012 - 06:19
All taxonomy terms: Fantasy Baseball, MLB, Fantasy
Path: /mlb/fantasy-baseball-weekend-rundown-june-7
Body:

Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2012 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire every Monday and a Weekend Rundown every Thursday.

Will they ever play?

It can seem like forever waiting on an injured star, especially when other players on your roster start filling up the disabled list. You may have stashed some big names that have not played in 2012 on your DL, but what can be expected upon their return?

Ryan Howard – Philadelphia Phillies
The Phils slugger is finally on the field in Clearwater, facing some minor leaguers in extended spring training games. Howard has yet to play in the field or run the bases. While the prospect of a late power edition to your club is enticing, it’s difficult to see the former MVP doing much damage this season. Lower-body injuries and 250+ athletes do not mix.

Chase Utley – Philadelphia Phillies
The former All-Star is also playing in Clearwater and seems further along than his partner on the right side of the Philadelphia infield. Utley is swinging well and running the bases, and he hopes to have no setbacks with his chronic knees. He could provide a boost in the second half but only batted .259 with a .769 OPS in 103 games last season.

Carl Crawford – Boston Red Sox
A disappointing 2011 season on the field in Beantown has turned into an exhaustive 2012 rehab campaign. Wrist surgery and an elbow injury have Crawford’s frustrations at an all-time high. He can swing the bat but has not been cleared to throw. Unless you’re an extreme optimist, there’s not much here for the ’12 season. Remember, Crawford only had a .289 OBP last year.

Stephen Drew – Arizona Diamondbacks
The shortstop is scheduled for a Triple-A rehab assignment this week, but he may be dealing with other issues from the club. Arizona managing partner Ken Kendrick recently said on radio that he thought Drew was more concerned with his 2013 team than playing for the franchise that is paying his salary. Ouch. The reality here seems to be that Drew’s stellar 2008 season looks much more of an outlier than a sign of consistent potential.

Drew Storen – Washington Nationals
The young closer burst on the scene last year with 43 saves, and he should give you the best chance for a second-half boost of the players on this list. Storen had been long-tossing every other day during his rehab from elbow surgery, but earlier this week he threw on consecutive days. The Nats stopper should be back after the All-Star break.

DL Watch and Other Injury News

• Texas placed left-hander Derek Holland on the 15-day DL today with shoulder fatigue. Holland (5-4, 5.10 ERA) has been battling a stomach ailment of some sort that’s caused him to lose 15 pounds over the last few weeks and resulted in diminishing stamina and velocity on the mound. On May 30, Seattle touched up Holland for eight runs on eight hits in just 1 2/3 innings. He pitched much better in his last outing on Tuesday in Oakland, getting the win as he gave up just three earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, but he was clearly not the same pitcher late in that start as the Mariners hit him pretty hard in the fifth and sixth innings. Alexi Ogando, who went 13-8 with a 3.51 ERA as a starter last season, will move from the bullpen to take Holland’s spot in the rotation.

• Detroit Tigers catcher Alex Avila was placed on the DL on Wednesday due to a right hamstring strain. The team called up Bryan Holaday from AAA to take Avila’s place on the roster. Holaday went 1-for-4 with a run scored in his major league debut last night against Cleveland.

• Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman left Wednesday’s game against the Marlins with a bruised left index finger. Freeman, who had a RBI single in the fourth inning, injured his finger trying to break up a double play as he was hit with the relay throw. His finger was put in a splint and he was scheduled for x-rays and additional tests today. At the very least, expect him to miss a few games this weekend. It could be worse for Atlanta, who’s still missing Chipper Jones, but the Braves upcoming interleague series are at home, so they don’t need to worry about a DH. Eric Hinske will more than likely take over for Freeman at first.

• Speaking of Jones, the Braves’ long-time third baseman should be back soon, possibly the end of next week. Jones, who went on the DL on May 24 with a calf injury, appears to be getting to the point where he will be ready to go on a brief rehab assignment before rejoining the team.

Jason Bay, who’s been on the DL since fracturing a rib in late April, should make his return to the Mets’ line up this weekend. Bay was in the starting lineup for today’s matinee against Washington, but was scratched before the game due to the flu. Bay is expected to see a lot of time at DH during the Mets’ upcoming interleague series against the Yankees and Tampa Bay. After those two series, manager Terry Collins has said he will probably employ some sort of outfield rotation with Bay, Lucas Duda, Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Andres Torres.

Weekend Interleague Notes

Interleague play resumes on Friday, which means some National League teams will be employing a DH. Besides not having to watch pitchers swing the bat, this extra hitter in the NL team’s line up also could present a short-term opportunity to give your fantasy line up a boost. Here are some names worth considering during interleague play:

Jason Bay – As was mentioned earlier, Bay should return to the Mets’ line up as early this weekend. With the Mets in New York for the Subway Series against the Yankees and then on to Tampa Bay, he will probably get the bulk of the DH at-bats when he’s in the lineup. Bay (.240-3-5) is off to a slow start at the plate, but he’s had pretty good success in his career against both the Yankees (.333-6-28 in 40 G) and Rays (.283-8-25 in 27 G).

Kirk Nieuwenhuis – The Mets’ rookie outfielder has made the most of his opportunities in Bay’s absence. Entering Thursday, he was hitting .295 with three home runs and 20 RBIs, along with three stolen bases. Not surprisingly, the left-handed hitting Nieuwenheis fares better (.326) against righties than southpaws, so you may want to be wary of using him against the Yankees’ Andy Pettitte or Rays’ David Price, should he be in the lineup for those games.

Jim Thome – The Phillies’ first baseman was activated from the DL on Wednesday, just in time for interleague play. Thome is no stranger to DH, having played 18 of his 22 seasons in the American League, or interleague play. For his career, Thome is a .270 career hitter with 59 home runs and 150 RBIs in interleague series. The Phillies open a series in Baltimore on Friday before going on to Minnesota to face the Twins starting next Tuesday. Thome’s teammate Ty Wigginton (.269-6-26) could be another option in deeper leagues.

National League teams aren’t the only ones who have to adjust their usual strategy during interleague play. American League teams don’t get to use the DH when they play in NL parks, which means some managers have to get creative to make sure their best hitters stay in the lineup.

For example, Angels manager Mike Scioscia has already said that Albert Pujols will move over to third base for their interleague series in Colorado against the Dodgers, with Kendrys Morales taking over at first base. In some leagues those six games may be enough for Pujols to gain third-base eligibility. Just something to watch.

Also, don’t be surprised to see Boston first baseman Adrian Gonzalez roaming in right field next week when the Red Sox play the Marlins in Miami. It’s something manager Bobby Valentine is said to be considering to get either rookie Will Middlebrooks or veteran David Ortiz in the lineup.

Kevin Youkilis can move over to first to make room for Middlebrooks at third or Ortiz can play first with the Youker or Middlebrooks staying at the hot corner. Middlebrooks also has been practicing at shortstop, although that situation was more the result of second baseman Dustin Pedroia’s thumb injury rather than the upcoming interleague play. The bottom line is this with Valentine calling the shots, there’s no telling how the Red Sox’ lineup and defensive alignment will look when their series against the Marlins opens up on Tuesday.

Another AL first baseman who could find himself in the outfield this weekend is Kansas City’s Eric Hosmer. It’s probably a long shot, but Royals manager Ned Yost has tossed out the idea of moving Hosmer to the outfield so normal DH Billy Butler can go to first.

Hosmer owners could care less about whether he gains outfield eligibility or not, they are just glad the young left-handed hitter has finally started to hit the ball more consistently. Sitting at a pitiful .172 through May 20, Hosmer has been raking as of late. Since May 21, he is batting .352 with two home runs and 10 RBIs. Even better, he’s hit .368 with as many stolen bases (two) as strikeouts (two) in his first six games in June.

--By Mark Ross and Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman on Twitter)
 

Teaser:
<p> Fantasy Baseball Weekend Rundown</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 7, 2012 - 16:49
All taxonomy terms: Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder, NBA, News
Path: /nba/kevin-durant-leads-okc-nba-finals
Body:

It has been an amazing playoff run so far for the Oklahoma City Thunder, with the dynamic duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook leading the team to the NBA Finals. OKC has gone through a who’s who of Western Conference opponents, defeating the Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs on the way to the Finals. Those franchises have won 10 of the last 13 NBA Championships, but Scott Brooks’ team has forced an out with the old, in with the new dynamic in the Western Conference. The Thunder are 12-3 in the postseason, and they are undefeated at the rockin’ Chesapeake Energy Arena.

The Boston Celtics have a chance to close out the Miami Heat tonight, as OKC awaits its next foe. It’s easy to see why the Thunder have become so successful — nailing their draft picks when selecting in the top 10. While the franchise was in turmoil during the last couple of years in Seattle, the players acquired during that time have been elite. OKC’s first picks in 2007 (Durant), 2008 (Westbrook) and 2009 (James Harden) have produced the team’s three leading scorers. The franchise also got center Serge Ibaka with the second of two first-round selections in 2008, and he has been a force in the middle defensively. With valuable contributions from role players like postseason veteran Derek Fisher, Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins, it’s easy to see why the Oklahoma City Thunder will be a tough out for either the Celtics or Heat.
 

Teaser:
<p> Kevin Durant leads OKC to the NBA Finals</p>
Post date: Thursday, June 7, 2012 - 12:23
All taxonomy terms: College Football, jokes
Path: /college-football/jokes-about-usc-rivals
Body:

Here are some of our favorite jokes about USC's biggest rivals.

• What does a UCLA fan do when the Bruins win the BCS championship?
He turns off the PlayStation.

• A man in a bar leans over to the guy next to him and asks, "Wanna hear an Arizona State joke?" The guy next to him replies, "Look, fella, I'm six feet tall, 200 pounds, and I'm an Arizona State grad. The guy next to me is 6-2, 225, and he's an Arizona State grad. The big dude next to him is 6-5, weighs 250, and he's an Arizona State grad. You still wanna tell that joke?" The first man replies: "Not if I'm gonna have to explain it three times."

• What do you call a Bruin in a BCS bowl game?
A referee.

• Did you hear that UCLA's football team doesn't have a website?
The Bruins can't string three "Ws" together.

• How does a UCLA fan count to 10?
0-1, 0-2, 0-3, 0-4….

• Why is Notre Dame replacing the turf in its stadium with cardboard?
The Irish always look better on paper.

• What do you call a beautiful woman on the arm of a Notre Dame fan?
A Tattoo.

• The Foo Fighters are playing at the Rose Bowl this fall.
They're 10-point favorites.

• You know you’re from Oregon if:
You’ve ever climbed a water tower with a bucket of paint to defend your sister’s honor.

• Things you will never hear an Arizona State fan say:
I have reviewed your application.

Related USC Content

USC Trojans 2012 Team Preview
USC Trojans Top 10 Players for 2012

Is Depth USC's Biggest Obstacle to a National Title?

Top 10 Greatest USC Trojans Since 1967

The Greatest Moments in USC Football History

USC Cheerleader Gallery

Teaser:
<p> JOKES ABOUT USC RIVALS</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - 02:41
All taxonomy terms: College Football, jokes
Path: /college-football/jokes-about-lsu-rivals
Body:

Here are some of our favorite jokes about LSU's biggest rivals.

• What happens when Nick Saban takes Viagra?
He gets taller.

• How many Alabama football players does it take to change a light bulb?
Just one, but he gets four academic credits for it.

• What does the average Alabama football player get on his SAT?
Drool.

• Did you hear about the new honor system at Alabama?
Yes, your Honor. No, your Honor.

• How does an Ole Miss fan count to 10?
0-1, 0-2, 0-3, 0-4…

• How many Crimson Tide fans does it take to change a flat tire?
Just one . . . unless it’s a blowout, then they all show up!

• What do Alabama fans use for birth control?
Their personalities.

• Did you hear what happened to the Arkansas fan when he found out that 90% of all car accidents occur within five miles of home?
He moved.

• How do you get an Mississippi State graduate off your front porch?
You pay for the pizza.

• You know you’re from Alabama if:
Someone asks to see your ID and you show them your belt buckle. 

Teaser:
<p> JOKES ABOUT LSU RIVALS</p>
Post date: Tuesday, June 5, 2012 - 02:36
All taxonomy terms: College Football, jokes
Path: /college-football/jokes-about-alabama-rivals
Body:

Here are some of our favorite jokes about Alabama's biggest rivals.

• What's the difference between a litter of puppies and Auburn fans?
Eventually puppies grow up and stop whining.

• What do you get when you cross Ole Miss with a groundhog?
Six more weeks of bad football.

• How many Auburn freshmen does it take to change a light bulb?
None. That’s a sophomore course.

• Where was O.J. headed in the white Bronco?
Tennessee. He knew that the police would never look there for a Heisman Trophy winner.

• Why don’t LSU fans eat barbecue beans?
Because they keep falling through the holes in the grill.

• The Foo Fighters are playing at Vaught-Hemingway this fall.
They're 10-point favorites.

• What do you call 20 Auburn fans skydiving from an airplane?
Skeet.

• Why is Mississippi State replacing the grass at Davis Wade Stadium with cardboard?
The Bulldogs always look better on paper.

• Things you will never hear an Auburn fan say:
I just couldn’t find a thing at Walmart today. 

Teaser:
<p> JOKES ABOUT ALABAMA RIVALS</p>
Post date: Friday, June 1, 2012 - 02:02
All taxonomy terms: College Football, College Basketball, NFL, NBA, MLB
Path: /college-football/athlon%E2%80%99s-essential-eleven-links-day-2
Body:

This is your daily link roundup of our favorite sports posts on the web for June 1.

• It looks like the Red Sox will attempt to trade third baseman Kevin Youkilis.

• We all know that Boise State has the “smurf turf”, but will Maryland really play on a black field this season?

• CBS’ Brett McMurphy details the different college football playoff models that will be hotly debated this summer.

Denver Post columnist Mark Kiszla thinks the Rockies should move All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to third base.

• SI.com’s Lee Jenkins breaks down last night’s Oklahoma City Thunder victory, the Spurs first loss since April 11.

• There is sad news in the basketball world today, as former Notre Dame and Bulls star Orlando Woolridge has passed away at the age of 52.

• We have no idea why some California taxpayers are upset that Justin Combs, son of millionaire hip-hop legend Sean “Diddy” Combs, is getting a football scholarship to UCLA.

• Fansided.com examines how long the surprising Baltimore Orioles can stay in the AL East race.

• Former Steelers receiver Hines Ward will join the NBC this fall and be a part of the Sunday night NFL studio show.

• Some good college basketball matchups were announced today, with the SEC/Big East Challenge taking place from Nov. 29-Dec. 1.

• As you all know, the first Friday in June is always National Donut Day. So to celebrate, we give you everyone’s favorite donut connoisseur in our Video of the Day…

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


May 31

• With the league-owned New Orleans Hornets winning the No. 1 overall draft pick, Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski addresses another chapter in a long-debated topic — is the NBA Draft Lottery rigged?

• Kentucky's John Calipari kills the Indiana basketball rivalry for a second time this spring.

• ESPN SEC blogger Chris Low has a witty response to Big Ten blogger Adam Rittenberg’s piece on the league he covers and a college football playoff. Battle at the Mothership?

• Mandatory.com has a slideshow of the worst infomercial products ever. I mean really, the Potty Putter?!

• The Colts were the NFL’s most consistent winner over the past decade until Peyton Manning’s injury in 2011. Now with No. 18 in Denver, the franchise is hiring a marketing firm to sell tickets and avoid blackouts.

• The Dodgers have had a great 2012 so far, but star Matt Kemp going back on the disabled list could be crushing.

• Deadspin says that sports fans are calling ESPN’s iPhone radio app a “money grab.”

• Is the window closing for the current stars of the Dallas Cowboys? Jerry Jones says he decides when and where the windows are for his team.

• Does the Big 12 want to stay with its current 10-team model?

• Life is just never normal in Allen Iverson’s world.

• We hate to see anyone get hurt, but some aspiring chefs and Hell's Kitchen viewers might enjoy this. During a charity soccer game, chef Gordon Ramsay is taken out by former Man U star Teddy Sheringham in our Video of the Day…

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


May 30

• HBO announced that the new season of the popular series “Hard Knocks” would feature the Miami Dolphins. We see the star of the show being Lauren Tannehill, the wife of first-round draft pick Ryan Tannehill.

• SEC coaches want the best four teams to play in the proposed college football playoff, not just conference champions.

• Steven Tyler has purchased the first-ever 2012 Hennessey Venom GT Spyder, not your average toy in the attic.

• Michigan verbal commit Logan Tuley-Tillman posted a picture on Twitter recently burning Ohio State recruiting material, causing some Buckeyes fans to taunt him on the internet. For any OSU fans that may want to go to Peoria, Illinois and meet him, Tuley-Tillman stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 314 pounds. Tread lightly.

• How well will Roy Oswalt fit with the Texas Rangers?

• Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report recaps Day 1 of the SEC meetings in Florida.

• The Phillies season keeps getting worse with the news that ace Roy Halladay’s will miss six-to-eight weeks with a shoulder injury.

• So how’s your Facebook stock doing? You can hear the Winklevii laughing from here.

• How does Mark Richt try to keep the state’s No. 1 recruit, Robert Nkemdiche, from leaving the state? Hire his former coach as Georgia’s “Director of On-Campus Recruiting”, of course. However Nkemdiche’s current coach played at Alabama, so the Dawgs may be done in by the Crimson Tide system.

• We end on a sad note. CBSSports.com Deputy Managing Editor Craig Stanke passed away yesterday at the age of 56. Senior baseball columnist Scott Miller pens a moving tribute.

• The next time your little leaguer makes an error, have him watch Pirates shortstop Josh Harrison’s throw to third base against the Reds. Wow. Here is our Video of the Day…

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 


May 29

• Barry Bonds back in MLB?

• I got so excited when beer, bacon, cheese, and chicken wings were in the first sentence of a story. However, it quickly turned to disappointment with this crazed shoplifter. Also, who poses for a mug shot like it’s one of those “glamour” deals in the mall?

• The L.A. Kings public relations staff “out-tweets” Conan O’Brien.

• This was obviously before the Heat-Celtics series, but a Miami TV host has a rather interesting name for Philadelphia’s basketball team. Hate to think what their logo would look like in her world.

• College baseball’s NCAA Tournament starts this week. Here’s the bracket, and make sure to check out some compelling competition and some future MLB stars before next week’s draft. 

• ESPN blogger Edward Aschoff has the latest from the SEC meetings in Destin.

• We often wonder exactly what world Metta World Peace lives in — or what calendar he uses.

• Is another Nick Fairley arrest a signal that the Lions have become the Bengals 2.0?

• The current Angels momentum could be derailed with a Jered Weaver injury.

• TCU’s depth has taken a hit as the Frogs prepare for Big 12 play.

• The Twins had a special moment over the Memorial Day weekend, reuniting Master Sgt. Robert Buresh — returning home from Afghanistan — with his daughters prior to the game. Here's our Video of the Day...

--- Email us with any compelling sports-related links at links@athlonsports.com

---By Patrick Snow (@AthlonSnowman)
 

Teaser:
<p> The best sports links from the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, NASCAR and the world of entertainment.</p>
Post date: Thursday, May 31, 2012 - 20:41
All taxonomy terms: College Football, jokes
Path: /college-football/jokes-about-oregon-rivals
Body:

Here are some of our favorite jokes about Oregon's biggest rivals.

• What's the difference between an Oregon State football player and a dollar?
You can get four quarters out of a dollar.

• What do you call a Beaver in a BCS bowl game?
A referee.

• What do you get when you cross Oregon State with a groundhog?
Six more weeks of bad football.

• Did you hear that Oregon State's football team doesn't have a website?
The Beavers can't string three "Ws" together.

• How does an Oregon State fan count to 10?
0-1, 0-2, 0-3, 0-4…..

• What do USC fans use for birth control?
Their personalities.

• Did you hear what happened to the Washington State fan when he found out that 90% of all car accidents occur within five miles of home?
He moved.

• What do you call a beautiful woman on the arm of a Cal fan?
A tattoo.

• The Foo Fighters are playing at Reser Stadium this fall.
They're 10-point favorites.

• Things you will never hear an Oregon State fan say:
I’ll take Shakespeare for 1000, Alex. 

 

 

Teaser:
<p> JOKES ABOUT OREGON RIVALS</p>
Post date: Thursday, May 31, 2012 - 03:51
All taxonomy terms: College Football, jokes
Path: /college-football/jokes-about-oklahoma-rivals
Body:

Here are some of our favorite jokes about Oklahoma's biggest rivals.

• What does an Oklahoma State fan do when the Cowboys win the BCS championship?
He turns off the PlayStation.

• What's the difference between a litter of puppies and Oklahoma State fans?
Eventually puppies grow up and stop whining.

• What does the average Texas football player get on his SAT?
Drool.

• Did you hear about the new honor system at Texas?
Yes, your Honor. No, your Honor.

• How many Oklahoma State freshmen does it take to change a light bulb?
None. That’s a sophomore course.

• How many Texas fans does it take to change a flat tire?
Just one . . . unless it’s a blowout, then they all show up!

• Why is Texas replacing the turf in its stadium with cardboard?
The Longhorns always look better on paper.

• Why don’t Oklahoma State fans eat barbecue beans?
Because they keep falling through the holes in the grill.

• What do you call 20 Texas fans skydiving from an airplane?
Skeet.

• You know you’re from Texas if:
Someone asks to see your ID and you show them your belt buckle.

Teaser:
<p> Jokes About Oklahoma Rivals</p>
Post date: Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - 00:48
All taxonomy terms: College Football, jokes
Path: /college-football/jokes-about-ohio-state-rivals
Body:


Here are some of our favorite jokes about Ohio State's biggest rivals.

• What's the difference between a litter of puppies and Michigan fans?
Eventually puppies grow up and stop whining.

• Why do Michigan football players like smart women?
Opposites attract.

• How does an Indiana fan count to 10?
0-1, 0-2, 0-3, 0-4…..

• How many Michigan fans does it take to change a flat tire?
Just one . . . unless it’s a blowout, then they all show up!

• What do Michigan fans use for birth control?
Their personalities.

• Did you hear what happened to the Michigan fan when he found out that 90% of all car accidents occur within five miles of home?
He moved.

• What do you call a beautiful woman on the arm of a Michigan fan?
A tattoo.

• The Foo Fighters are playing at Ross-Ade Stadium this fall.
They're 10-point favorites.

• What do you call 20 Michigan fans skydiving from an airplane?
Skeet.

• You know you’re from Wisconsin if:
You’ve ever climbed a water tower with a bucket of paint to defend your sister’s honor.

Related Ohio State Content

Ohio State Buckeyes 2012 Team Preview
Ohio State Buckeyes Top 10 Players for 2012

Ohio State Buckeyes 2012 Team Predictions

The Greatest Players in Ohio State Football Since 1967

The Greatest Moments in Ohio State Football History

Ohio State Buckeyes Cheerleader Gallery

Will Ohio State Have the Big Ten's Best Record in 2012?

Teaser:
<p> Jokes About Ohio State Rivals</p>
Post date: Tuesday, May 29, 2012 - 02:41

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