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Nowitzki wants Shaq

07.13.10 at 1:51 pm ET
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According to DallasBasketball.com, Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki has insinuated to the German Sportspage that he wants Shaq.

Nowitzki, who just re-signed with Dallas, was of course speaking of free agent center Shaquille O’Neal. According to the report, the Mavs’ forward goes on to say: “On the basis of his experience he would be a great addition to our team. He is still a dominant center, and opens space for others.”

If signed, it would be assumed the 38-year-old O’Neal would back-up newly-inked center Brendan Haywood.

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LEEinks list: Most controversial owners in sports

07.13.10 at 1:32 pm ET
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Owners in professional sports often are magnets for controversy. Whether it be squabbles with coaches and players regarding contracts, or disputes with the their competitors, they never seem to let us down when it comes to fresh Monday morning fodder.

With the sudden passing of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, and the recent controversy surrounding Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, it seems timely for a list of owners who have brought attention to themselves over the years.

Here is a list of the most controversial owners in sport, ranging from the beginning of the Steinbrenner era in 1973 up to today’s current batch.

10. Daniel Snyder, Redskins

Snyder has found himself working hard to sign high-priced free agents while keeping himself in the loop in the entertainment industry. Known for his public friendship with actor Tom Cruise, he has financed production companies and even purchased one of his own (Dick Clark Productions). But everything hasn’t been peachy for the millionaire mogul. Because the Redskins haven’t exactly flourished under his watch — which started in 1999 — he has been criticized for his personnel decisions and dealings with his fans.

While not exactly endearing himself to the local constituency, Snyder has banned signs at the team’s stadium and continues to escalate ticket prices. If you’re a Redskins fan, you can only hope he puts as much effort into the football side of his business as he does the entertainment side.

Read the rest of this entry »

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National views on Steinbrenner’s legacy

07.13.10 at 12:38 pm ET
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George Steinbrenner was often in the public eye, here posing with Billy Martin (left) and Lou Piniella (right). (AP)

Only nine days after celebrating his 80th birthday on July 4, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died Tuesday morning after suffering a heart attack at his home in Tampa, Fla. Steinbrenner’s death also comes just two days after the death of former longtime Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard. Steinbrenner bought the franchise for $8.7 million in 1973 and built it to where it is worth around $1 billion today. Under his reign, the Yankees won seven World Series titles and 11 American League pennants.

Bill Madden of the New York Daily News writes that the Yankees were unstable and changing under the rule of Steinbrenner. He feuded with managers and players, such as Reggie Jackson, Lou Piniella, Goose Gossage, Graig Nettles and Sparky Lyle. After his team won back-to-back World Series championship in 1977 and 1978, the Yankees owner compromised the farm system and focused on excessive free agent signings. Nevertheless, even after all of Steinbrenner’s controversial endeavors, he had success and the Yankees became one of the most coveted franchises in all of sports.

The New York Post staff writes that “The Boss” was both loved and loathed. Even though he received negative publicity, he was passionate and committed to winning. He was a unique businessman and pioneered strategies with his innovative mentality. With his health deteriorating, Steinbrenner fell back into the shadows and became less and less involved with franchise operations. Read the rest of this entry »

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Beltre, Sox haven’t talked new deal

07.13.10 at 11:37 am ET
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WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford reports that, according to a source familiar with the situation, third baseman Adrian Beltre and the Red Sox haven’t had any talks about a new deal that would guarantee that the first-time All-Star would remain in Boston beyond this season. Beltre can become a free agent after the 2010 season. He is currently on a one-year, $9 million contract that includes a $5 million player option for ’11 that can be bumped up to $10 million with 640 plate appearances. Beltre currently has 349 plate appearances in 85 games.

Beltre is hitting .330 with a .370 OBP, .537 slugging mark and .907 OPS with 13 homers and 55 RBI. He leads all AL third basemen in average, slugging and OPS.

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Beltre looking to play ‘three or four more years’

07.13.10 at 10:38 am ET
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Red Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre, who turned down multi-year offers (including one from the A’s) to sign with the Red Sox on a one-year, $9 million deal, told the San Francisco Chronicle that he took the Sox’ offer with the belief that he could get another contract that would allow him to play “three or four more years.”

“When it got time to make a decision, I decided one year. At that point, I wasn’t looking just at the financial side. I just wanted a chance to put a ring on my finger. I thought Boston had a better chance to do that,” Beltre told the Chronicle. “I took a risk to come to Boston and play one year. … No disrespect to Oakland, but at the moment, I thought this was the best opportunity. I trust I can play three or four more years and get another contract. This might be my only chance to be associated with an organization that can win now.”

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Steelers’ Tomlin receives extension

07.13.10 at 9:09 am ET
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Following a year when the Steelers finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs after losing five in a row, coach Mike Tomlin is reportedly receiving a three-year contract extension.

Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writes that Tomlin’s new contract will carry him through 2014. The financial terms of the deal are unknown and team president Art Rooney is on vacation and unavailable for comment.

Tomlin has a 31-17 record in three seasons with Pittsburgh, including a Super Bowl victory over the Cardinals in his second year.

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Heat continue to build roster

07.13.10 at 9:07 am ET
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Everything seems to be going right for the Heat lately.

After landing the top three players in the 2010 free agent class, Miami is filling in the rest of the roster with solid role players. Longtime Heat forward Udonis Haslem is staying in South Beach while sharpshooter Mike Miller is joining him.

Haslem signed a five-year deal Monday worth $20 million, a significant decrease from the amount he could have received in offers from the Mavericks and Nuggets. Haslem was considering signing elsewhere, but after the arrivals of LeBron James and Chris Bosh, he decided to stay. Haslem was part of Miami’s championship team in 2006 and averages 10 points and 8.1 rebounds for his career.

Miller, on the other hand, will sign a five-year contract, according to his agent, Arn Tellem, who confirmed the news on his blog Monday. Like Haslem, Miller’s decision depended on whether or not the Heat could bring in James and Bosh. Last season with the Wizards, Miller averaged 10.9 points a game on 50 percent shooting from the field and 48 percent from beyond the arc.

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LEEinks list: Most memorable All-Star moments

07.13.10 at 7:57 am ET
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Since the start of the All-Star tradition in 1933 — skipped only in 1945 because of World War II — Major League Baseball’s midsummer matchup has featured dazzling plays and unforgettable feats by the best players to grace the field.

Here’s a list of some of the memorable moments that have impressed us, frustrated us, or simply made us appreciate the tradition that is the MLB All-Star Game.

July 10, 1934: Hubbell strikes out five legends

The 1934 All-Star Game at the New York Polo Grounds brought some of the best hitters in the history of the game together on one field. But it also brought Carl Hubbell’s screwball. Though Hubbell got off to a rough start, allowing Charlie Gehringer a leadoff single (he then moved to second base on outfield error) followed by a walk to Heinie Manush, Hubbell quickly regrouped. He struck out the next three batters — all-time greats Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx. The next inning, whiffs of Al Simmons and Joe Cronin would make it five strikeouts in a row for Hubbell.

July 9, 1946: Ted Williams returns from war and goes 4-for-4

With World War II’s end, the Midsummer Classic returned after a one-year hiatus on July 9, 1946, at Fenway Park. While many of the league’s rivals hadn’t faced each other in years, Ted Williams and Rip Sewell provided the matchup everyone had been waiting for. Sewell tried to keep Williams at bay with his high-lobbing “eephus” pitch, but Williams homered — the only player to hit a home run on the pitch — and ended up going 4-for-4 with five RBI to contribute to the American League’s 12-0 blowout. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tuesday’s Morning Mashup

07.13.10 at 7:38 am ET
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Welcome to Tuesday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY:
MLB: All-Star Game, 8 p.m. (FOX, WEEI)

AROUND THE WEB:

♦ At SI.com, Ian Thomsen talks to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and gets an explanation for the owner’s rant about LeBron James. Meanwhile, Greg Cote at the Miami Herald revels in the fact that the Heat have become the most hated/envied team in the league and calls comments from Gilbert and others hypocritical. And Frank Isola in the New York Daily News writes that Isiah Thomas might come out of this as the biggest winner, as he reportedly leans on Knicks owner James Dolan to re-hire him in the wake of the team’s failure to land LeBron.

Pat Forde at ESPN.com writes about the NCAA’s announcement breaking down how the expanded NCAA basketball tournament will work. The last four at-large teams invited will play four small-conference champions.

David Ortiz won the Home Run Derby, but Tim Sullivan in the San Diego Union-Tribune writes that the contest is “a good idea that is aging badly.”

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On July 13, 2000, which Red Sox player was caught attempting to steal in the first inning to make him 0-for-8 on the season (which held as his final numbers for that year)?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The advice that he received on this was poor. The performance was fine. His honesty and his integrity, I think, shined through. But this decision was ill-conceived.” — NBA commissioner David Stern, on LeBron James‘ pronouncement that he will play for the Heat

STAT OF THE DAY: $100,000 — Amount Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert was fined for his website rant after LeBron said he was leaving Cleveland

‘NET RESULTS:

Spanish goalie Iker Casillas gives his reporter girlfriend a kiss during an interview after the World Cup.

Michael Jordan says he’ll take Kobe Bryant over LeBron James.

Racing broccoli proposes during minor league game.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Jose Offerman

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Roger McGuinn is 68 today.

Here he is performing the same song with the Byrds in the 1960s.

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Just call him the Golden Baller

07.13.10 at 1:30 am ET
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The man with the golden locks, Diego Forlan was joint top scorer of the World Cup with three other players, but walked away with the Golden Ball (best player) instead of the Golden Boot (top scorer) because Germany's Thomas Muller had more assists.

Class on the field and class off of it, Diego Forlan exudes it.

Going into the World Cup final Sunday four players had separated themselves from the rest in terms of their play throughout the tournament and were the only real contenders for the Golden Ball or the best player in the World Cup – David Villa, Wesley Sneijder, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Diego Forlan. I also thought the player from the winning team in the final would take home the Golden Ball.
However, I commend the media and voters for selecting Forlan a player that scored five scintillating goals and had one assist while helping this not so well known Uruguayan team, the second smallest country in the tournament with a population of around 3.2 million people, win Group A.
In the process Uruguay got two notable scalps, they’re tie with France in the opening match helped send that team into turmoil before going home in complete disgrace, and they’re win over South Africa in the second match ultimately meant that for the first time in the history of the World Cup the host nation would not advance past group stage into the knockout round. Once into the knockout round, Uruguay found themselves in the most favorable draw to get the semifinals playing South Korea in the round of 16 match before having to take on Ghana in the quarterfinals. Forlan and company took care of business in both matches and even though they would fall short against the Netherlands in the semis and Germany in the third-place game, 3-2 both times, Uruguay had its best finish in the World Cup since 1970 when Forlan’s father was playing for La Celeste.
In fact Uruguay are the forgotten world soccer power. Having won two of the first four World Cups in 1930 and 1950, more recently failed to qualify in 2006, ranked 26th in 2002 failing to get past the group stage, and also failed to qualify in 1998 and 1994. Not exactly great credentials.
Like his home country, this tournament was all about redemption for Forlan. A famous flop at Manchester United after coming over from Independiente in Argentina, it took Forlan eight months to score his first goal for the club as fans became restless with his performance. He would go on to score several big goals there, but it was not until he moved to Spain where he became a household name leading La Liga with 25 goals at Villarreal before he moved on to his most recent team Atletico Madrid.
But enough about his biography, Forlan for me was one of the most pleasurable players to watch in this tournament. He never looks like he’s going to do much, but all of the sudden he will make a deft-cutback move, take one more touch and then unleash his deadly accurate shot from either foot. Getting better as the tournament progressed, Forlan scored in each of Uruguay’s last three games in the knockout round, all of which were world class.
Unselfish as well, Forlan may have only had one assist, but his ability to pick out teammates on free kick or switch the point of attack to people like striking partner Luis Suarzo was incredible all tournament long. He was also one of the few in the tournament to have figured out the Jabulani Adidas ball scoring one of the most memorable free kicks against Ghana, the only goal for Uruguay in regulation.
I think going back to the fact that Forlan continued to perform and may have even gotten better as his opponents got better speaks to why the voters selected him.
Neither Sneijder nor Villa exemplified themselves late in the tournament. Sneijder did score two in the quaters against Brazil – probably his crowning moment in the tournament – and then one more against Uruguay in the semis off a deflection, but in the final he was could not inflict his will on the game as Spain essentially shut him down with Xabi Alonso and Sergio Busquets marking him throughout. Villa also fell off track because his coach Vincente Del Bosque had to put him into Fernando Torres’s center forward position with Torres failing to live up to expectations. Villa simply just does not play as well in the middle as a smaller player often playing against giant center defenders as opposed to when he is slotted on the wing, and he did not score another goal after the switch of positions.
And lastly no team depended on one player more than Uruguay depended on Forlan to score goals and be “the guy.” Sneijder had Robben, Kuyt, Van Persie and even both Elia and Van der Vaart off the bench to act as side kicks. Villa had Xavi, Iniesta, Pedro, Torres, Puyol, Pique, Alonso, and Casillas all to protect him. Spain and the Netherlands and even Germany were all vastly more talented than Uruguay, who did also have Suarez and a few other decent talents, but again Forlan was the marked and still came through.
Taking a look at Forlan’s work, I think you will see why I think the voters chose “wisely.”
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