Pakistan’s National Baseball Team Just Wants You To Know They Exist: Pakistan got mercy-ruled twice at the World Baseball Classic qualifiers last week. But they consider it a successful outing.
RIP Arnold Palmer, 1929-2016: One of the all-time greats has passed.
Texas A&M takes College Football Belt: The true championship of college football is back in Texas after the Aggies of Texas A&M walloped the Razorbacks of Arkansas 45-24. The belt has now been resident in the Lone Star State for 101 of the last 103 weeks. This is A&M's second title reign after holding it for seven weeks in 1998, and its first reign as a member of the SEC. A&M's first defense will be next weekend in Columbia against permanent cross-division rival South Carolina.
Les Miles out at LSU: Louisiana State University has fired football head coach Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron after a loss to divisional rival Auburn dropped the Tigers to 2-2. Defensive line coach Ed Orgeron (former Ole Miss coach and former interim USC coach) will serve as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
MACtion 'beats' Oklahoma State, but not with casualties: The Central Michigan Chippewas outscored the Oklahoma State Cowboys 30-27 on one of those great Hail Mary-lateral combos, but only because the officiating crew mistakenly gave them an untimed down after OSU QB Mason Rudolph committed an intentional grounding penalty on 4th down with no time left on the clock. The entire on-field crew (provided by the Chips' Mid-American Conference) has been suspended for two weeks, and the replay crew (provided by the Cowboys' Big 12 Conference) has been suspended for two weeks and will not be allowed to officiate a bowl game this season.
'So, letâ€™s build a pro soccer team from scratch ...': Foursquare founder (and Boston Marathon cheater) Dennis Crowley founded Kingston Stockade FC this year. It's a 4th-tier semi-pro soccer team based in slightly-upstate Hudson Valley, New York, and he did it all for about $50K. He writes about why he did this, how he went about it, and how this sort of thing will end in a U.S. Men's World Cup win.
AHL Team Soaks Portland for $34M for Arena Renovations, Leaves After Two Years: The Portland (Maine) Pirates have decided to move to Springfield, Massachusetts, breaking a five-year lease on the taxpayer-funded Cross Insurance Arena after two years. Escape clauses built into the contract limit the team's payout for breaking the lease to $100,000, which is 0.3% of the cost of the renovations.
When the Nets could have become the Swamp Dragons: In the 1990s, the New Jersey Nets asked the NBA owners for permission to change their team name to the New Jersey Swamp Dragons. The vote came back 26-1 in favor, but the 1 came from... the New Jersey Nets.
NFL Divisional Round Produces Predictable Results: The #1 and #2 seeds in both the NFC and AFC have advanced to the conference championships for the first time since the 2004-05 season. The NFC title game pits the Arizona Cardinals (the oldest team in the NFL) against the Carolina Panthers (the most recent expansion team that wasn't a replacement franchise) in each team's quest for its first Super Bowl victory after being in one apiece. On the AFC side, the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos will meet to see which first-ballot-HOF quarterback will go to Santa Clara.
Kobe Bryant announces retirement: Kobe Bryant -- 5-time NBA champion, 17-time All-Star, 3rd on the list of all-time scorers in the regular season and postseason, unconvicted but all-but-admitted rapist -- has announced his retirement via a poem on the Players' Tribune.
College Football Belt Backlog: The definitive (I believe) trail from Rutgers-Princeton 1869 to Nebraska-Alabama 1972, this proves that the College Football Belt site starts with the right team. This is how bored I was at work today. Starting at the first recognized college football game (Rutgers vs. Princeton, November 6th, 1869) and using the nearly complete records on SportsReference.com, I traced the lineal College Football Belt through the 1972 Orange Bowl, after which point the good people at College Football Belt start up.
Al Golden Out at Miami: After suffering the worst loss in school history, the University of Miami has relieved head coach Al Golden of duties, effective immediately.
Chargers Will Apply to Move to L.A.: The San Diego Chargers have declared their intention to relocate to Los Angeles for the 2016 season, expressly to get the jump on a potential Raiders or Rams move.
The Hot Seat: The college football head coach carousel is starting to claim victims, with Maryland's Randy Edsall getting the boot after a 2-4 start (and losing that fourth one after it was already an open secret that he was gone), North Texas's Dan McCarney getting the boot after the worst FBS loss to an FCS team in history, Rutgers' Kyle Flood's three-game suspension probably going permanent at some point, and USC's Steve Sarkisian very likely gone pending a temporary leave of absence to deal with alcohol issues.
Tokyo 2020 Committee Releases Short List of New Sports: Eight sports are in line for addition to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics: baseball/softball, bowling, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, surfing, wushu, and karate. Tokyo 2020 organizers will make their recommendation this September, with the IOC making its final decision next August. The list of non-recommended sports was a vast one: air sports, bowls, bridge, chess, dance sport, floorball, flying disc, football, korfball, netball, orienteering, polo, racquetball, sumo, tug of war, underwater sports and waterski and wakeboard.
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).
Ducks v. Bucks in Arlington: The post-BCS era started with a firm (if unintentional) repudiation of the BCS, as defending national champion Florida State was embarrassed by perennial bridesmaid Oregon and defending-minus-one (and -minus-two) champ Alabama was beaten by perennial SEC victim Ohio State.
Tide-Buckeyes, Ducks-Noles: It's official -- the participants in the College Football Playoff will be the four power-conference champions that played a conference championship game. #2 Oregon takes on undefeated defending national champions #3 Florida State in the Rose Bowl, while Nick Saban's #1 Alabama faces Urban Meyer's #4 Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl. #5 Baylor and #6 TCU are left out, handicapped by being in the 10-team Big 12.
MLB Pace-of-Game Committee Suggests Six New Rules: The Arizona Fall League will test out six new rules intended to speed up baseball this year.
1 -- Hitter must keep one foot inside the batter's box (except for fouls, wild pitches, time outs granted by the umpire, etc.).
2 -- Manager can signal an intentional walk rather than have the pitcher throw.
3 -- Maximum break of 2:05 between innings, hitters in the batter's box by 1:45. Umpire can call a strike on slow hitters and a ball on slow pitchers.
4 -- Maximum of 2:30 for pitching changes, including during inning breaks (clock starts when reliever enters the field).
5 -- Three "timeout" mound conferences per game.
6 -- 20 seconds to pitch after receiving the ball (Salt River only). Clocks will be posted in dugouts.
Area Man Buys Bills for $1B: The trust that inherited the Buffalo Bills from Ralph Wilson has apparently agreed to sell the team to Terry Pegula, the owner of the Buffalo Sabres. The amount is being reported as slightly above $1 billion, which would be a record for a team that does not own its own stadium. Pegula had become a favorite due to his large wallet and his roots in Western New York. The other team owners still need to agree to the sale at their next meeting in October.
I wrote an e-mail two years ago that was inappropriate and offensive. I trivialized our fans by making clichéd assumptions about their interests (i.e. hip hop vs. country, white vs. black cheerleaders, etc.) and by stereotyping their perceptions of one another (i.e. that white fans might be afraid of our black fans). By focusing on race, I also sent the unintentional and hurtful message that our white fans are more valuable than our black fans.
Eight NFL Stars Sue for Getting Doped Up: Eight former NFL players (including HOFer Richard Dent) have sued the league for four decades of being drugged off their asses by team trainers and doctors, leading to long-term medical issues and drug addiction. The suit seeks to establish a class action that would cover every player who was treated without being fully advised of what was being done to him, which is to say pretty much every player in NFL history.
Nets Sign First Openly Gay NBA Player: Journeyman center Jason Collins has signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets and will make history as the first openly gay player for an NBA team when he takes the court in a game. The Nets play the Lakers tonight at 9 p.m Eastern. Collins came out in a Sports Illustrated cover story last April, but was not signed by a team until now.
UW Snaps Up Boise's Petersen: After Boise State wunderkind coach Chris Petersen allegedly turned down the USC job, the Trojans turned to Washington's Steve Sarkisian. UW responded by taking Petersen after what is described as a short negotiation.