Archive for May, 2012

Hakeem Nicks says he’ll be ready for Giants’ season opener

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Hakeem Nicks is optimistic about beating the 12-week timetable to rehab his broken right toe. (AP)

Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks told reporters in a conference call Thursday that he is not only optimistic about returning for training camp, but when it comes to the season opener on Sept. 5 against the Cowboys, he’ll be suited up and ready to go.

“I don’t have any doubt,” Nicks said.

Nicks had his broken right toe surgically repaired last Friday – one day after suffering the injury – and is optimistic about beating the 12-week timetable to return.

“The doctor said he had people come back as early as four weeks, six weeks to eight weeks,” Nicks said. “My goal is always to come back early. We just don’t want any setbacks.”

“I’m walking around pretty good right now,” he continued. “It is still early. It is just a matter of me being patient and making sure I do all the right things and taking care of my body.”

Yankees catcher Russell Martin rips umpire Laz Diaz

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Russell Martin had some choice words for umpire Laz Diaz following the Yankees' 6-5 win over the Angels Wednesday night. (AP)

Yankees catcher Russell Martin called out home plate umpire Laz Diaz following his team’s 6-5 victory over the Angels on Wednesday night, claiming the umpire wouldn’t allow him to throw new baseballs back to his pitchers after foul balls.

Martin said that it was Diaz’s idea of punishing him for arguing balls and strikes earlier in the game.

“Laz Diaz is a d—. Write it hard,” Martin shouted shortly after the game.

“He said that it was a privilege that I had to earn, for me to throw the ball back,” Martin said. “That’s never happened to me before. I even told him, because there’s guys on base, I like to keep my arm loose. Nope. ‘I’m not letting you throw the ball back.’ That’s pretty strange, to me. That’s a good story, huh?”

Martin said he and Diaz had no history with one another. Diaz was unavailable for comment following the game.

“I think it happened in the second inning or something,” Martin said. “And then even at the end of the game, after I got hit in the neck, I’m like, ‘Can I throw the ball back now?’ He’s like, still, no. I’m like, ‘You’re such a d—. You’re a d—, dude. Like, for real. Unbelievable.’ “

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier wants football players to be paid

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier first brought up the idea of paying college football players at last year’s SEC spring meetings. He hasn’t backed down from that stance at this year’s conference gathering.

The NCAA has been considering the idea of a $2,000 stipend for players, but Spurrier wants players in the revenue-producing sports, such as men’s basketball and football, to be paid $3,500-$4,000 a year to cover normal college expenses.

“We as coaches believe they’re entitled to a little more than room, books, board and tuition,” Spurrier said Wednesday. “Again, we as coaches would be willing to pay it if they were to approve it to where our guys could get approximately get three, four thousand bucks a year. It wouldn’t be that much, but enough to allow them to live like normal student-athletes. We think they need more and deserve more. It’s as simple as that.”

Spurrier proposed last year that players should receive a stipend on $300 for every game, but the same complications remain this year. Title IX and the inequality of revenue are the two biggest conflicts that could halt this proposed plan. Other SEC coaches are well aware of the issues involved in this proposal, but Spurrier said all 14 SEC coaches backed the idea.

LSU coach Les Miles said that the players deserve to get paid because of their sports’ large revenue pool.

“What we’re saying is the revenue-income sports, certainly football, would need in a possibility of sharing the income that’s being produced, paying it back to those guys,” Miles said.

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said it was an issue of supporting his players, but he understood the complexity of the idea.

“It’s one of those things as coaches that we’re constantly fighting for kids and doing everything we can to help them,” Franklin said. “And I really appreciate that. I’m the same way, but on the same hand, I also know it’s more complex than we maybe think it is and there’s a lot of things that go into it. You have to be aware of that.”

David Stern might push for Olympic basketball age limit in 2016

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

NBA commissioner David Stern is interested in the idea of the Olympics as a 23-and-under event. (AP)

On Wednesday, NBA commissioner David Stern and deputy commissioner Adam Silver said they are looking into the possibility of only sending elite NBA players to the FIBA World Championship and transforming the Olympics into a 23-and-under event.

A more lengthy discussion with FIBA, the International Basketball Federation, will happen in the future. As for now, the best the NBA has to offer will play in the 2012 Olympics in London, but these discussed changes could potentially come about for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. NBA players were first given the opportunity to play in the Olympics in 1992.

A move to a 23-and-under Olympics could mimic the system that international soccer has in place.

“We think international soccer has an excellent model and in the case of soccer, of course, there’s the World Cup of football, which is the biggest sporting event in the world every four years, and then in the off years, for the World Cup, they play, in essence, with some exceptions, a 23-and-under competition at the Olympics,” Silver said.

Silver added: “So what we have told FIBA and what David has announced several times is that we are all in through the London Olympics, and then post-London Olympics we want to step back together with USA Basketball, led by Jerry Colangelo and Patrick Baumann in FIBA, and the same way David talked about the new commission being a deliberate body, and I think together with the competition committee a committee of owners, we need to take a long-term view of what makes sense both for the NBA and for the game.”

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has mentioned that the NBA is making a major mistake by allowing players to play in international competitions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Saints fan creates website to help contract negotiations with Drew Brees

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Drew Brees

The Saints have been mired in scandals from the team’s vice president all the way down to the players this offseason. Lost in the mix have been unsuccessful contract negotiations between the team and star quarterback Drew Brees.

A Saints fan has tried to take things into his own hands by creating a website attempting to help ease the financial tensions between the two parties. Tony LeMon founded fansstepup.com, asking other Saints fans to donate any amount toward a new contract for the six-time Pro Bowl quarterback.

The website’s mission statement reads:

Drew Brees has been an incredible ambassador for the City of New Orleans. Not only in his accomplishments on the football field, but in his charitable and community endeavors, he has lifted the spirits of New Orleanians when we were most challenged. In the past few months, we fans have been frustrated to know that Drew Brees may not continue his professional endeavors in New Orleans for reasons completely out of our control.

But we can do something about it. We can STEP UP and give Drew a BONUS for all that he has done for New Orleans and this region. We can send a clear message to Drew Brees that we appreciate what he has done for us. We can send a clear message to Drew Brees that we want him to stay here. At the same time, we can let other cities in this country know that we are the best fans anywhere and that we take care of our own. We as fans can become empowered with the creation of this BONUS. We need not sit idly by while a New Orleans treasure is taken away from us.

As of May 30 the website had raised $1,093.09 in online donations.

Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Wally Szczerbiak questions Kevin Garnett in the clutch

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

Welcome to Thursday’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.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
MLB: Tigers at Red Sox, 7:10 p.m. (NESN; WEEI)
MLB: Brewers at Dodgers, 10 p.m. (MLB Network)
NBA playoffs: Spurs at Thunder, 9 p.m. (TNT)

AROUND THE WEB:

Wally Szczerbiak, who played six-plus seasons with Kevin Garnett on the Timberwolves and briefly played for the Celtics as part of his 10-year career, did not pull any punches in his criticism of the Big Ticket on Wednesday night. Despite Garnett’s stellar performance this postseason — including 18 points and eight rebounds in Wednesday night’s Game 2 loss — Szczerbiak, now a CBS Sports analyst, pointed to Garnett’s late-game struggles in a series of tweets.

Wrote Szczerbiak as Garnett was missing five of his last six shots: KG is another one who lacks the #clutchgene always has!

Late in the game he added: KG never takes big shot for #Celtics now he’s fourth in line behind Pierce Allen and Rondo to take clutch shot. Warrior all game though!!

And following the game: KG was a warrior all game but in OT he was horrible on both ends of the floor tonight!!

♦ Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy is on the disabled list after breaking his hand when his wife moved a suitcase that fell on him. Since the circumstances behind the bizarre injury were revealed, Lucroy said his wife has been the target of hate messages.

“It’s tough for me, because this is already a freak thing as it is,” Lucroy told Milwaukee radio station WSSP-AM. “My wife has been getting hate mail on her Facebook, like, messages and stuff. It’s really sad that these kinds of things happen from a freak thing. I mean, she didn’t do it on purpose. It was an accident. Stranger things have happened.

“It’s been a battle for me, personally, because there’s no one to blame, and my wife is getting killed by this. It’s not like she’s not hurt enough already, not feeling guilty enough already. I really wish people would just leave her alone, leave us alone, just let us try to move forward, and get this behind us, because this has been a brutal couple of days.”

Lucroy, batting a league-best .514 with runners in scoring position, is scheduled for surgery Thursday and is expected to miss six weeks.

♦ Former Blue Jays catcher Charlie O’Brien bolstered Roger Clemens‘ case in his perjury trial when he took the stand Wednesday and said he remembered seeing preloaded syringes of vitamin B12 in the clubhouse.

The prosecution challenged O’Brien’s assertion that he knew what was in the syringes, and also questioned how he prepared for his appearance on the stand.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA: On May 31, 1984, Celtics guard Gerald Henderson stole a crosscourt pass and hit a layup with 13 seconds remaining to tie Game 2 of the NBA finals against the Lakers. The Celtics went on to win the game in overtime and win the series in seven games. Which Laker threw the fateful pass?

Read the rest of this entry »

Larry Bird says he wants to return as Pacers president

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Larry Bird told reporters on Wednesday that he loves his job, likes his team, and would prefer to return as Pacers president next season. According to The Associated Press, the Indiana native is simply waiting to work out an agreement with team owner Herb Simon.

The statements challenge earlier reports that Bird would step down as the team’s president at the end of the year.

Bird took over as president when Donnie Walsh left for the Knicks in 2008. After failing to glimpse the postseason since 2005-06, the Pacers have made the playoffs in back to back seasons and this year forced the Heat into a seven-game series in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The turnaround earned Bird his first NBA Executive of the Year award, making him the only person to ever be named Most Valuable Player, Coach of the Year and Executive of the Year.

NFL agrees to keep Pro Bowl, work with players to improve competitiveness

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

The NFL announced Wednesday that it will not be canceling the Pro Bowl after all.

Commissioner Roger Goodell, who has voiced his displeasure with the quality of the game on numerous occasions, had threatened to cancel the game entirely after the uninspired play of this year’s 59-41 AFC victory.

But after discussions between the league and the players’ union, the NFL said the Pro Bowl would return to Honolulu for the third straight year.

“The issue is we recognize it is an all-star game, but we also believe fans expect more from an NFL game,” Goodell said recently. “If we believe we can achieve that, we want to give them every opportunity to do that.”

While NFL executive vice president Ray Anderson said the players have acknowledged that the quality of the game has been poor, neither the league nor the players’ union offered any details on measures being taken to improve the game.

“The players have made it clear through the NFL Players Association that they would like the opportunity to continue to play the Pro Bowl in Hawaii,” Anderson said. “We will support the players on this initiative to improve the Pro Bowl. We have had many discussions with the players in recent years about the Pro Bowl and they recognize that the quality of the game has not been up to NFL standards. We look forward to working with the players toward the goal of improving the competitiveness of this season’s game.”

The game will take place at Aloha Stadium on Jan. 27, one week before the Super Bowl. For this past January’s game, TV ratings were strong, with 12.5 million viewers, making the Pro Bowl the most watched of all all-star games for the 2011 season.

After taking his job, Peyton Manning takes Tim Tebow’s top spot in jersey sales

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Peyton Manning's Broncos jersey is a top seller. (AP)

As if taking over Tim Tebow’s job as Broncos quarterback wasn’t enough, Peyton Manning also has stolen Tebow’s top spot for the best-selling NFL jersey.

According to NFLShop.com sales figures released Tuesday, Manning’s Broncos jersey has sold more than any other between April 1 and May 28. Tebow’s Jets jersey ranks second. Rookies Robert Griffin III of the Redskins and Andrew Luck of the Colts round out the top four.

The Washington Post, however, points out that rookie jerseys did not go on sale until April 26. According to the Post, Griffin owns the NFL’s top selling jersey in May, with Luck close behind.

Either way, the numbers are a confirmation that the NFL is indeed a quarterback-driven league, as QBs made up eight of the top 10 most popular jerseys over the full two-month period. Niners linebacker Patrick Willis (7) and Steelers safety Troy Polamalu (10) were the only non-quarterbacks to make the list.

The full list, according to NFLShop.com:

1. Peyton Manning

2. Tim Tebow

3. Robert Griffin III

4. Andrew Luck

5. Eli Manning

6. Aaron Rodgers

7. Patrick Willis

8. Tom Brady

9. Cam Newton

10. Troy Polamalu

Local boxing legend Mickey Ward claims he was sexually abused as a child

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Former boxer Mickey Ward, shown throwing out the first pitch at a Red Sox game last September, had his autobiography released Wednesday. (AP)

In his autobiography, released Wednesday, boxing great Mickey Ward writes that he was sexually abused by a family friend from age 9 until he was 12.

In the book, “A Warrior’s Heart: The True Story of Life Before and Beyond The Fighter,” the Lowell native writes that the attacker, 10 years his senior “never asked me to do anything to him, but rather I was always on the receiving end of his advances. It wasn’t every month or every week, but it happened and it happened many times.”

On Tuesday, Ward told the New York Post he’s kept the fact from friends and family, including half-brother and trainer Dicky Eklund. But the book, he said, “was about my life, and I might as well tell the whole story.”

Ward, who was portrayed by Mark Wahlberg in the 2010 film “The Fighter,” recalls that he confronted his attacker twice since the abuse, including a boxing match at a gym when Ward was 15. But Ward says he didn’t hurt the man either time. “I could have ripped his head off,” he writes. “But I realized that if I … took justice into my own hands, and wound up spending the rest of my life rotting in a prison cell … he would have won.”