Rangers Close to Trade with Angels for Josh Hamilton: The Texas Rangers are close to completing a trade with the Los Angeles Angels for Josh Hamilton, according to media reports from Dallas/Fort Worth media. Radio host Ben Rogers tweeted, "My guess is that no big contracts will be traded back to the Angels. I expect this will be the Angels paying a ton of his salary." Hamilton is currently both an injury and a substance abuse concern. He's rehabbing offseason shoulder surgery and self-reported his third drug abuse relapse since 2009.
Fan Hit in Head by Foul Ball Through Home-Plate Netting: A fan behind home plate at PNC Park in Pittsburgh was struck in the back of the head Monday night, necessitating a 23-minute delay as she was treated and stretchered off. She was standing behind the home-plate netting, but close enough to be struck anyway. Tim Kirkjian responded on ESPN that fans who don't watch the ball during a game are in serious danger, especially along the base lines close to home, but how many fans are fast enough to react even if they're paying attention?
Bryan Stow Throws Out First Pitch at Minor League Game: The San Francisco Giants fan beaten outside Dodger Stadium threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the home opener for the San Jose Giants, a team where he used to be a paramedic before he was left brain damaged in the attack four years ago. Stow still suffers memory loss and concentration issues but is able to walk and stand for short periods and gave newspaper interviews before the ceremony. "I'm excited about it," Stow told a newspaper.
U.S. Men Win 2-0 Over Mexico in San Antonio: Playing on a dismal surface, the U.S. men's national team handed Mexico another 2-0 loss in a friendly Wednesday night in San Antonio. Jordan Morris, the first current college player to play for the U.S. since 1999, scored a scrappy goal off a defender's carom and Juan Agudelo took a long pass out of the air, opened up a little space outside the box and beat the goalie to hang the famous "dos a cero" on the Americans' southern rival.
NHL Playoff Pick 'Em Starts Now: The playoffs begin tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern. Pick the eight teams that will advance out of the first round and the number of games each series will require: Ottawa vs. Montreal, New York Islanders vs. Washington, Chicago vs. Nashville, Calgary vs. Vancouver, Pittsburgh vs. New York Rangers, Detroit vs. Tampa Bay, Minnesota vs. St. Louis, Winnipeg vs. Anaheim. One extra point on winning picks for getting the number of games right. Another extra point for picking one of the three top goal scorers in this playoff round.
Ex-NFL Running Back Suspected of Killing Cellmate: Former NFL running back Lawrence Phillips is suspected of killing his cellmate in a Central California prison, officials said. Damion Soward, Phillips' cellmate at Kern Valley State Prison, was found lifeless early Saturday and later pronounced dead. A former Nebraska standout drafted sixth overall in 1996 by the St. Louis Rams, Phillips is serving a sentence of more than 31 years after being convicted of twice choking his girlfriend in 2005 in San Diego and later that year of driving his car into three teens after a pickup football game in Los Angeles. Soward, 37, was serving 82 years to life for first-degree murder.
Famous Texas Sportswriter Jim Dent Convicted of 10th DWI: The sportswriter Jim Dent, a former reporter in Dallas and Fort Worth known better today for his non-fiction sports books such as The Junction Boys, is in jail awaiting his sentence for his ninth and 10th DWI convictions. He fled the charges to Mexico for a year, where he promoted his latest book Manzell Mania in interviews conducted over an anonymous Internet phone service, but was caught at a border crossing in San Diego. He says he's done drinking (natch) but a long prison sentence awaits. "Dent said he has at least one more book in him," writes Barry Horn. "He is 35,000 handwritten words into an autobiography he has titled Last Call."
Losing Wisconsin Coach Laments 'Rent-a-Player' Trend: After Duke beat Wisconsin for the men's NCAA basketball championship, shots were still being taken. Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan: "We don't do a rent-a-player." Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill: "Congrats to Duke, but I was rooting for team who had stars that are actually going to college and not just doing semester tryout for NBA." She later added: "I see I have stirred things up. Sorry, but I'm sad about the one and done thing. I understand why it's happening, but I don't have to like it."
Yankees Have Most Improved Shortstop WAR in Baseball: The New York Yankees have the Majors' biggest projected improvement in wins above replacement (WAR) at shortstop this season -- according to Fangraphs -- and it's all because Derek Jeter retired. Neil Paine of 538 notes, "[T]he Yankees had the least-productive shortstop situation in all of baseball last year, so even a shortstop depth chart headlined by Didi Gregorius was bound to be one of the game's most improved in 2015." There are some other gems in the stats. The Texas Rangers have a +3.7 at first base because they've replaced Prince Fielder ... with Prince Fielder.
Tiger Woods Falls Out of Top 100 in Golf: Tiger Woods, who spent 683 weeks (over 13 years) atop the rankings of world golfers, has fallen out of the top 100. He's currently at 104 and sidelined with injury. In February the 39-year-old took an indefinite break from golf and called his play "not acceptable for tournament golf," but he's hoping to be back to play the Masters in April. He has won 14 Majors, the last in 2008 at the U.S. Open.
NFL Drops Blackout Rule for 2015 Season: The National Football League is dropping its blackout rule for the 2015 season. The rule prevents games from being broadcast in a team's home market if the tickets aren't sold out. It's been around since the 1950s, when NFL games were first televised. Roughly one game out of ten was blacked out under the rule as recently as 2004, and in 1996 it was one out of three games. But there were no games blacked out last season.
Obama Proposal Could End Taxpayer-Subsidized Pro Sports Stadiums: Some interesting news from USA Today: "An obscure item in the president's new budget would put an end to the long-standing practice of states and cities using tax-exempt bonds to finance professional sports arenas, a practice that costs the U.S. Treasury $146 million, according to a 2012 Bloomberg analysis."
Tim Tebow Working Year-Round on Throwing Mechanics: Former Major League pitcher Tom House runs a performance center for pitchers and quarterbacks whose past clients include Tom Brady and Drew Brees. This interview with House describes in detail how much Tim Tebow has been doing to develop his quarterback skills in the hopes of returning to the NFL at age 27. "We've been seeing him about three days every week, year-round," House said. "Now, he works besides his time with us, but the time he spends working with us on skills, routes and all of those things works out to about two or two-and-a-half hours per day."
Formula E Racing Comes to U.S.: The first all-electric open wheel racing series, Formula E, made its United States debut Saturday in Miami. It's the fifth race of the series' inaugural season. The cars are completely battery powered -- there are no combustion engines -- and they emit a high-pitched whir instead of the roar typically heard in auto racing. There are also no pit stops during the race. Instead of running out of gas, the Formula E cars run out of battery about halfway through the 39-lap event. Before that happens the drivers must make it to the pit area where, instead of swapping batteries, they hop into an entirely different car.
Mark Teixeira: Sharing Yankee Stadium with NYCFC Will Suck: New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixiera, asked about sharing the team's stadium with the new MLS team New York City FC: "It's going to suck, but you have to deal with it. It's going to tear up the infield, but there's nothing we can do about it, so we'll deal with it." NYC FC plays its home opener Sunday. Outfielder Brett Gardiner fears that when new grass has to be put down, it will give way and cause ankle and knee injuries.
62,000 Welcome Orlando City to MLS in Franchise Opener: Kaka scored an equalizer on a free kick in extra time as Orlando City SC played to a 1-1 draw against New York City FC in the Major League Soccer franchise opener for both teams. Mix Diskerud had scored in the 76th minute on a pass from David Villa to put the visitors ahead. A crowd of 62,000 fans packed the Citrus Bowl, the second largest ever for a team's first game in MLS.
Yu Darvish May Need Tommy John Surgery: The Texas Rangers had the most games lost to injuries last season and appear to have beat the all-time record. Just a few days into spring training ball they may have lost ace Yu Darvish for the season and possibly more. He's considering Tommy John surgery after an MRI found a sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow.
Bears Receiver Brandon Marshall Traded to Jets: Following the swap to send running back LeSean McCoy from Philadelphia to Buffalo in exchange for linebacker Kiko Alonso, another NFC offensive star is switching jerseys: Chicago is trading wide receiver Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets for not-yet-specified players or picks. Trades can't become finalized until free agency begins Tuesday.
Curt Schilling Declares War on Twitter Trolls Abusing His Daughter: After Curt Schilling announced that his daughter had been accepted to play softball in college, both he and his daughter were subjected to vicious sexual remarks by Twitter trolls. Schilling did some online sleuthing and found as many as he could. "She didn't do anything, she never said anything, yet she's now receiving personal messages with guys saying things to her, well let's just say I can't repeat and I'm getting beyond angry thinking about it," he writes.
High School Players: Root for Our Opponent: The Gainesville Tornados, a high school basketball team in Texas, sometimes play with zero fans in attendance because they're a juvenile correction facility. Two players for Vanguard Prep in Waco did something unusual and asked some of their fans to root for the other team. The idea took off and the Gainesville players took the court to the shock of seeing their own fan section, signs and cheerleading squad.
College Player Scores 30 Points in Final 4.5 Minutes: The good news: Florida State freshman guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes scored 30 points in the final 4:38 against Miami Wednesday night. The bad news: Florida State still lost 81-77. Rathan-Mayers racked up the points with six three-pointers, two layups and eight free throws. He says, "The arena was quiet. It was like I was in there by myself. It was a feeling I've never, ever felt before. There was nothing else happening around me."
Chargers, Raiders Pursue Shared Stadium in Los Angeles: The San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders say they'll share a new $1.7 billion stadium in Los Angeles if they don't get a stadium deal in their current cities. The teams issued this statement: "We are pursuing this stadium option in Carson for one straightforward reason: If we cannot find a permanent solution in our home markets, we have no alternative but to preserve other options to guarantee the future economic viability of our franchises." Another move-to-LA bid is being explored by St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke, who has a joint venture to build a stadium in Inglewood.
Belgian Soccer Fans Lose Their Heads: Fans of the Belgian soccer team Standard Liege greeted the return of their former captain Steven Defour on the opposing team with an enormous banner that depicted his decapitated head. Belgian foreign affairs minister Didier Reynders called it "stupid, nasty and irresponsible."
McCutchen: Baseball No Longer a Sport Where Poor Kids Get Discovered: Andrew McCutchen offers an interesting take on the Little League champs from Chicago who took in players from outside their district. "Baseball used to be the sport where all you needed was a stick and a ball. It used to be a way out for poor kids. Now itís a sport that increasingly freezes out kids whose parents donít have the income to finance the travel baseball circuit," he writes. "If youíre a poor kid with raw ability, itís not enough. You need to be blessed with many mentors to step in and help you."
NFL Pick 'Em Contest, Final Scoreboard: The results have been tabulated and NerfballPro completes a wire-to-wire victory, winning by one point over Hincandenza and two over NoMich. Picking the 52 points scored in the game exactly earned a one-point bonus for the champ. Tommytrump takes home the coveted Costanza for last place, sunk by a conference championship round in which everything that could go wrong did.