NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest, Super Bowl 0x31 Round: The final round of SportsFilter's annual NFL playoffs prediction contest is here. Pick the winner of the game, the spread and 10 bonus categories. Nerfballpro leads by two points and is making a bid to go wire to wire.
AHL announces new Pacific Division: The AHL did as expected today, announcing a new five-team Pacific Division comprised of California teams that will begin play next season. Norfolk Admirals (Anaheim Ducks) to San Diego. Adirondack Flames (Calgary Flames) to Stockton. Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oilers) to Bakersfield. Manchester Monarchs (LA Kings) to Ontario. Worcester Sharks (San Jose Sharks) to San Jose. To be clear on the Oklahoma City Barons move to Bakersfield, the Barons are closing shop and the Bakersfield Condors will be moved up to the AHL ranks.
Josh Gordon: I Am Not an Addict: Josh Gordon has written an essay on Medium about his suspension. The gist is that he's made mistakes but he's not the substance abuse addict that sports pundits who don't know him have claimed. "I am not someone who deserves to be dissected and analyzed like some tragic example of everything that can possibly go wrong for a professional athlete," he writes. "I am not going to die on account of the troubled state you wrongly believe my life to be in. I am a human being, with feelings and emotions and scars and flaws, just like anyone else. I make mistakes -- I have made a lot of mistakes -- but I am a good person, and I will persevere."
Crowd Catch: The lengths some people will go to to catch a ball in the crowd. Also, in cricket, using a mitt is illegal.
College Football Playoff Pressured to Change Dates: The College Football Playoff is under pressure on two fronts to adjust dates for its semifinals and championship games. ESPN execs are lobbying CFP officials to move next season's semis off New Year's Eve where it competes with countdown shows. The NFL is considering expanded playoffs with one new game on Monday night competing with the CFP championship. CFP executive director Bill Hancock says the games won't move: “We picked Monday night because it was open and it was the best night for our game. We announced that in June 2012. We established that our game was going to be on Monday night for 12 years."
"Give 'em the works, Cubby! We ain't got a minute to lose!": Back before Super Bowl media week was a circus, Dick Schaap conspired with Fred Dryer and Lance Rentzel to turn it into a circus. "We came into the shop as guys from Southern Cal and left as 1920s reporters. Scoops was the ace reporter. Cubby was the cub. I was the mentor; he was the protégé."
Former Portuguese footballer Luis Figo joins crowded field looking to unseat Sepp Blatter as President of FIFA.: The 78-year-old Blatter is seeking his fifth consecutive term as FIFA President in an election to be held May 29th. Figo joins Frenchman Jérôme Champagne, Jordanian Prince Ali (who has won the backing of England's FA), Dutch FA President Michael van Pragg, and a bookmaker-backed publicity candidate. ESPN FC's Gabriele Marcotti offers a brief primer (autoplay audio/video warning).
Martin Brodeur to Announce Retirement.: One of the all-time greats, Brodeur finishes his 22-year NHL career with a 691-397-176 record, a 2.24 goals-against average and .912 save percentage in 1,266 appearances, all but seven coming with the New Jersey Devils. He holds regular-season NHL goaltending records for wins (621), shutouts (125), games played and minutes played (74,438), and in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs he ranks first in starts (204) and shutouts (24) and second in wins (113).
New MLB Commissioner: We May Ban Defensive Shifts: In an interview with ESPN's Karl Ravetch, new Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred said he's open to the idea of eliminating the crazy defensive shifts that have been cutting into offensive production and making me cry when Prince Fielder comes up to bat. Asked by Ravetch what form a rule might take to accomplish that, Manfred said, "You divide the number of players who have to be each side of second base." (Transcript on ESPN Insider.)
Josh Gordon Fails Substance Test, Out for Another Year: The fantastically talented Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has failed a substance test -- this time for alcohol -- and faces a one-year suspension. Gordon failed a marijuana test in college at Baylor, began his NFL career with a two-game substance abuse suspension and was suspended again after driving while impaired during the off season. He led the NFL in receiving yards his rookie season with 1,646, but this new incident puts his entire pro career in jeopardy. Another talented wideout with substance abuse problems, Justin Blackmon, has missed the last 24 games in Jacksonville due to suspension.
Stats Guru: Patriots Hold Onto Ball Far Better Than Any Other Team: Sports quantitative analyst Warren Sharp has found an interesting statistical anomaly involving the New England Patriots: The team has fumbled dramatically fewer times than any other NFL team the past five years, measured in term of fumbles lost per offensive play run: "There is no other team even close to being near to their rate of 187 offensive plays (passes+rushes+sacks) per fumble. The league average is 105 plays/fumble. Most teams are within 21 plays of that number." The Patriots five-year run of non-fumbling is the best five-year run of any NFL team in the last 25 years, raising the question of how the team is able to hold on to the ball so much better than anybody else.
Ernie Banks, legendary 'Mr. Cub,' dead at 83: Banks was an 11-time all-star and back-to-back NL MVP. With career totals of 512 home runs and 1,636 RBI, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. He is the only National League shortstop to hit 40+ home runs in a season, a feat he accomplished five times.
Don't hit me in the mouth, I gotta play tonight: Miles Davis and boxing. "The legendary jazz trumpeter and composer isn’t the only person to ever make the comparison—George Foreman famously stated that “Boxing is like jazz. The better it is, the less people appreciate it.”—but few are as uniquely qualified to ponder the relationship between music and pugilism as Davis was. Over the course of his life and career, the man’s connection to the sweet science was almost as complex and fascinating as his music was. It was a source of childhood inspiration, a muse, and even a lifesaver."
11 of 12 Patriots' Balls Deflated, ESPN Reports: The NFL inspected the balls used by the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship Game and found that 11 out of 12 were inflated 2 pounds per square inch below NFL rules, NFL sources told ESPN. The balls had been inspected under three hours prior to game time by the referees and were properly inflated, the sources said. No word yet on any potential punishment. One source described the league as "disappointed ... angry ... distraught." Jackie McMullen of ESPN writes that if Belichick was involved, he should be suspended for the Super Bowl.
Playing with the Big Boys (and Girls): How Koko, Beans and Flash, some color-coordinated socks and coaching are changing the face of grade-school basketball in Springfield, Illinois.
Patriots crush Colts in the rain: Foul weather didn't slow down Tom Brady and the Patriots as they beat Andrew Luck and the Colts 45-7 (the second worst drubbing in AFC Championship history). This will be the Pats' 8th Super Bowl trip, tying them for the record with the Steelers and the Cowboys; and Brady's and Bill Belichick's 6th, tying them with Mike Lodish (player) and Don Shula (coach).
Seahawks Advance to Super Bowl 0x31 with 16-Point Comeback: Down 16-0 at the half and 19-7 with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth, the Seattle Seahawks beat the Green Bay Packers 28-22 on the first overtime possession with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Jermaine Kearse. Wilson was terrible until he wasn't, throwing four interceptions before leading one of the greatest comebacks in an NFL playoff game. The Seahawks become the first Super Bowl champ to reach the game the next season since New England in 2005.
High school coach suspended after basketball team wins by 159 points.:
"The game just got away from me," Anderson told the San Bernardino Sun on Friday. "I didn't play any starters in the second half. I didn't expect them to be that bad. I'm not trying to embarrass anybody."
Mets charging their own minor leaguers to attend : "It's not uncommon at all for teams to open up spring training early, and say you can work out here," said attorney and former minor leaguer Garrett Broshuis. "It's also not uncommon to make players pay for accommodations. I know a lot of guys who sleep on someone's couch." But what about charging players $1000 for the privilege? "This seems a lot more uncommon," Broshuis replied, saying he'd never heard of something like this. "'Deplorable' is the word I'd use."
NFL Playoff Pick 'Em Contest, Conference Championship Round: Pick the winners and the spread of the NFC Championship and AFC Championship Sunday, along with the top passer, rusher and receiver. The first game is Green Bay at Seattle at 3:05 p.m. Eastern Sunday, followed by Indianapolis at New England at 6:40 p.m.
The Gaming Obsession of the Green Bay Packers:
Which game do the Green Bay Packers obsess over during their down time? Madden 15? Poker? Dominoes? Something a little more...nerdy.
Free Climbers Finish 19-Day Scamper Up El Capitan: In a sporting achievement for the ages, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson finished their 19-day free climb of El Capitan's Dawn Wall yesterday. John Branch explains in the New York Times why this is a big honking deal: "They are the first to free climb every inch of the 3,000-foot Dawn Wall in a single expedition, long considered impossible, using only their hands and feet to pull themselves up. Ropes were merely safety devices to break the occasional fall. By virtue of its scale and difficulty, the climb was considered by some to be the most difficult ever accomplished."