An American Tragedy: Pat Tillman's Uncertain Death.: ESPN today published an exhaustive investigative report into the death of America's most celebrated volunteer -- former Arizona Cardinals safety Pat Tillman. In Part One, ESPN asks: "Was the Army and/or the White House so desperate for a positive spin that they morphed Pat Tillman into a male version of Jessica Lynch? ... Tillman's Silver Star suggests the possibility of spin."
Rugby player declared brain dead after being beaten and kicked in the head during game. : Police are still undecided if a South African rugby player is going to be charged with murder after killing an opponent on the playing field. Boland (South Africa) rugby player Riaan Loots was "pummelled" and "kicked in the head" by an unnamed member of the "Delicious Rugby Team" during a game last Friday. Loots was in a coma and declared brain-dead on Sunday. A club manager of "Delicious" said racism was the cause and blames the ref for being unfair.
"The most bizarre match in the history of Super 12/14 football.": Super 14 Final went Saturday between the Crusaders and Hurricanes. Those at Jade Stadium, Christchurch, were asking each other after the bell "Who won?" The only obvious reply was: "Haven't the foggiest."
132nd Run for the Roses: America's most prestigious horse race, the Kentucky Derby goes this afternoon. Brother Derek is the best look here, he has been a phenom in California and thrashed the field in the Santa Anita Derby. But he gets a terrible barrier draw (18 post) and of course, favorites haven't won the Derby in decades. So back some roughies like Showing Up (20-1) and Sweetnorthernsaint with Kent Desormeaux riding. Fill out your boxes and wheels: Barbaro goes at short odds (4-1) with hot rider Edgar Prado up. Mike Smith won last year on Giacomo with one of the best Derby rides seen in years -- he saddles up today on Giacomo's brother Flashy Bull (50-1) from the extreme outside gate post.
'American sports are played with the hands. Using your feet is for commies'. : Millions of children grow up in America playing football. But they all give up by the age of 10. Award-winning writer Dave Eggers explains just why his country will never understand the sport they insist on calling soccer.
Time for updated clocks?: This is something I noticed in the Torino luge & bobsled events -- the times are shaved so damn close, it's perhaps time for newer and more accurate clocks that measure speed 1/1000th of a second instead of 1/100's. Yesterday Kitchener's Kelly Vanderbeek came 4th in a World Cup Super-G ski event. But she was only 1/100th of a second behind the winner. That's right, the three women in front of her standing on the podium (Lindsey Kildow, Michaela Dorfmeister and Nadia Stygerall) had the same time: 1 minute, 18.65 seconds. Vanderbeek was .01 seconds back in 4th place. Is it time we started splitting the 1/100ths?
DOWNHILL SPIRAL: The case behind Bode Miller's fifth-place finish. : Look at Miller's season in downhill: Seven races, one podium. His average finish is ninth. Throw out his outlying 22nd in Lake Louise on Thanksgiving and his average finish is still no better than sixth. All season long he has linked occasionally sick turns, won splits and hinted at greatness past while falling short. Blame it on the beers if you like. Blame it on the belly. Or blame it on the brain. Truth is: Miller's Olympic downhill was precisely what his entire season has been. Nothing more and nothing less.
Wake me for the final: Olympic women's hockey? : "Three medals, two teams. ... This is not competitive imbalance. This is farce."
Nobody circles the wagons like the Buffalo Bills.: ESPN.com reports that former Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy, 77, will return to the team to oversee the football operation, and president and general manager Tom Donahoe will be fired Wednesday, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports. Did I just read that right...Marv Levy? Press conference schduled for 2:30 pm ET Wednesday...
The Silencing of Carlos Delgado.: "The Mets have a policy that everybody should stand for 'God Bless America' and I will be there. I will not cause any distractions to the ballclub.... Just call me Employee Number 21." And we saw him grin and bear it when Jeff Wilpon, son of Mets CEO and owner Fred Wilpon, said, "He's going to have his own personal views, which he's going to keep to himself."
Fire Millen!: The crowd then started to chant "Fire Millen" and some fans began fashioning their own makeshift signs, using the backs of grocery bags and other items. Millen, who now has a 20-56 record in his four-plus years at the helm, was caught by television cameras laughing, presumably at what was beginning to unfold in the stands. A young fan, perhaps in his early 20s, made up a small "Fire Millen" sign and ran through the crowd, ducking and dodging security. He weaved his way through 15 sections of the stadium, alternately raising his sign, acknowledging the cheering crowd with fist pumps and high fives.
Martin dismisses Bloc's plan for a 'Team Quebec'. : Canadian prime minister Paul Martin dismissed a Bloc Quebecois plan that would see superstar hockey players like Mario Lemieux and Vincent Lecavalier play for Team Quebec instead of Team Canada in international tournaments. Released on Wednesday, the Bloc platform includes a plank calling for Quebec national teams to play in international hockey and soccer tournaments.
ROGUE AGENT: In the early morning of April 16, 2004 NHL hockey player Mike Danton was arrested by FBI agents at the San Jose, California airport. He was charged with conspiring to have "a male acquaintance" murdered in a "murder-for-hire" plot. A TROUBLING RELATIONSHIP. But, in the week after his arrest, from inside the Santa Clara, California jail, Danton started reaching out to the very man he had tried to have killed--his mentor in hockey and life and currently his agent--David Frost. ... The fifth estate obtained a number of these recorded conversations. They provide a chilling glimpse into the world of the troubled player and his controlling agent. [Red Terror sez: Read the transcripts and by all means watch this unforgettable documentary (streaming video available) that explores the seedy side of the NHL dream.
100 years of attitude. : All Black villainy has a dimension of its own, its ruthlessness more disconcerting, its practitioners more celebrated, in a chamber of horrors kind of way. And this, of course, is the truth that dare not speak its name. The All Blacks exert their grip on the sporting imagination not because they are better than everyone else, although that has clearly been the case for at least 50 of the last 100 years, but because they are never anything less than dangerous, in every sense of the word.
What is Roberto Alomar thinking?: Roberto Alomar and Danny Bautista were reinstated from the voluntary retired list Thursday by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and the pair filed for free agency.
"She's immortal.": And so Makybe Diva, Australia's greatest horse, who raced away to win the Melbourne Cup for an unprecedented third time, yesterday entered Australian folklore.
When Fists are Frozen: The Statue of Tommie Smith and John Carlos.: Perhaps the main reason the statue is so good, so different, from things like Martin Luther King, Jr. shot glasses and Mohandas Ghandi mouse pads, is that it was the inspiration not of the school's Board of Trustees but a group of students who pushed and fought for the school to pay proper respect to two forgotten former students that epitomized the defiance of a generation.
Pat Tillman, Our Hero. : "I don't believe it," seethed Ann Coulter. Her contempt was directed at a September 25 San Francisco Chronicle story reporting that former NFL star and Army Ranger war hero Pat Tillman, who was killed in Afghanistan last year, believed the US war on Iraq was "f***ing illegal" and counted Noam Chomsky among his favorite authors. It must have been quite a moment for Coulter, who upon Tillman's death described him in her inimitably creepy fashion as "an American original--virtuous, pure and masculine like only an American male can be." She tried to discredit the story as San Francisco agitprop, but this approach ran into a slight problem: The article's source was Pat Tillman's mother, Mary.
New haka the cutting edge of sport : A throat-cutting gesture at the end of a fierce new All Black haka symbolises the cutting edge of sport and not the slaughter of opponents, says the haka's composer. This story is nearly a month old, just checked the archives and noticed it flew under the radar. If you haven't seen the new haka, check it out. Forget national anthems and exchanging pennants and flowers and all that crap, the haka is the best pre-game ritual in world sports. I've been digging around for some good video, and so far the best I have found is the one on the NZRU website -- it sputters and starts, but it's the only thing I've found online. Some people think the haka pushes psychological gamesmanship to the limit and gives the ABs an unfair advantage -- what do you think?
Canada's national "Hide & Seek" team.: Am I the last guy in the world to hear about this awesome Olympic demonstration sport in beijing 2008??
Far right and football gangs plot 'revenge': Plans by an alliance of rightwing extremists and football hooligans to exact "revenge" on Muslims after last week's bomb attacks are being monitored by police. ... Football hooligans communicating over the internet have spoken of the need to put aside partisan support for teams and unite against Muslims. Hooligans from West Ham, Millwall, Crystal Palace and Arsenal are among those seeking to establish common cause.
Real, the movie.: Real Madrid officially launched a "shamelessly self-promoting feature film" about the club yesterday. Despite recent on-pitch disappointments (ha ha, that's an understatement), club president Florentino Perez says he's proud that Real Madrid is "breaking new ground by becoming the first football club that has inspired a film of this type."
Legend or loser? : Sir Clive Woodward was knighted after winning the World Cup with England but his reputation is in tatters following his stewardship of the Lions tour of New Zealand.
Paid sports propagandist.: Tony Blair's former spin-meister Alistair Campbell -- the man who "sexes up" dodgy dossiers, is now on the payroll of the British Lions rugby team, where it appears he's getting rewarded handsomely for his expertise. On Saturday, in the biggest rugby game since the last World Cup, the New Zealand All Blacks humiliated the Lions in the First Test 21-3, so Alistair goes into full swing deflecting criticism of coach Clive Woodward and re-directing it with multiple midnight press conferences accusing the All Blacks of being thugs. British fans are becoming unglued, but ex-Lions aren't buying it.