Leicester City One Step Closer to Immortality: Leicester City drew 1-1 at Man United Sunday, bringing the Foxes to the brink of the Premier League championship. Tottenham must beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Monday to keep their hopes alive, something Spurs hasn't done in 24 straight matches. Bookmakers offered 5,000-to-1 odds before the season on Leicester City winning the title, which will cost them $14 million if it happens. One of the people who made that bet is the actor Tom Hanks, who bet £100 pounds and stands to win £500,000 ($730,000).
NHL Playoff Pick 'Em, Round 2: The second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs begins tonight at 7 p.m. EDT when the Islanders play the Lightning, even though the Predators and Ducks haven't finished their first-round series. The matchups are Stars vs. Blues, Islanders vs. Lightning, Capitals vs. Penguins, and Sharks vs. Predators or Ducks.
The Secret History of Tiger Woods: ESPN scribe Wright Thompson has penned a fascinating, sympathetic piece on the fall of Tiger Woods that tells an insider story with no help at all from the golfer. Before reading it I wasn't aware of how much his wish-fulfillment Navy SEAL training might have contributed to the ruptured ACL in his left knee that changed the trajectory of his career in 2007. One of many interesting quotes, from golfer Mark O'Meara: "If Tiger was around other professional athletes, storytelling would always have a nature of one-upmanship. If Tiger was around some sort of active or retired military personnel, he was all ears. He was genuinely interested in what they had to say. Any time he told a military-related story that he had heard or talked about a tactic he had learned, he had a smile on his face. I can't say that about anything else."
ESPN Fires Curt Schilling for Anti-Transgender Post: It took Curt Schilling a while, but he's finally gotten himself fired from his ESPN broadcasting job for inflammatory social media antics. He shared an offensive anti-transgender meme on Facebook, made a crude anatomical comment and then doubled down. By one count, it was the seventh time his social media activities became an issue. "ESPN is an inclusive company," the network announced. "Curt Schilling has been advised that his conduct was unacceptable and his employment with ESPN has been terminated."
Giants' John Mara: NFL May Dump Kickoffs: "We're not at the point where we want to take the kickoff out of the game completely, although we may be moving in that direction. ... It still does remain an exciting play, but it's also a dangerous play. Obviously concussions are on the top of our list in terms of our concerns for the game going forward." -- New York Giants co-owner John Mara, a member of the NFL Competition Committee
NBA Approves Advertising on Uniforms: In a first for the top 4 U.S. pro sports, the NBA announced Friday that it has approved the sale of advertising on team uniforms in a three-year experiment. The ads will take the form of 2.5-inch square patches tailored to a sponsor's logo. "Jersey sponsorships provide deeper engagement with partners looking to build a unique association with our teams and the additional investment will help grow the game in exciting new ways," said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who makes it sound so brandtastic the league should be doing it for free.
Kobe Bryant Scores 60 in Final NBA Game: Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott said he has one simple plan for Kobe Bryant's final NBA game Wednesday night. "Like I told him: 'This is the last hurrah. Let's have some fun. Let's go out with a bang,'" Scott said after shootaround at the team's training facility hours before the Lakers face the Utah Jazz in the last game of Bryant's 20-season NBA career.
SportsFilter's NHL Playoff Pick 'Em Starts Now: The Stanley Cup Playoffs begin Wednesday at 7 p.m. EDT: Panthers vs. Islanders, Lightning vs. Red Wings, Capitals vs. Flyers, Penguins vs. Rangers, Stars vs. Wild, Blues vs. Blackhawks, Ducks vs. Predators and Kings vs. Sharks. Pick the eight teams that will advance out of the first round and the number of games each series will require. 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 the Eastern and Western conference in this playoff round. First prize is a one-year subscription to Hockey News.
Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em Contest: Final Week: One week left in SportsFilter's contest to win an ABA basketball, a tilt that lacks drama because Howard_T has whupped us. Nine games to predict this week, including three extra ones from NBA TV. The NBA Playoff Pick 'Em is coming soon.
Opening Day for the Greatest Numerical Sport: The New York Times marks the opening of the MLB season with some numbers that are becoming unreachable in the sport: 75 stolen bases (last by Jose Reyes, 2007), 250 innings pitched (Justin Verlander, 2011), 100 relief innings (Scott Proctor, 2006), 40/40 club (Alfonso Soriano, 2006), 20 sacrifice bunts by a non-pitcher (Juan Pierre, 2007). You know it's time for the great game to return when we're thinking about sacrifice bunts by a non-pitcher,
Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: 16 Days Left in the Season: There are seven nationally televised games to predict this week in SportsFilter's contest. Howard_T has a 66-point lead so it may be all over but the crying. Golden State plays twice this week in TV games and Houston thrice.
ESPN Will Air 'Glory Road' Texas Western/Kentucky Game: In 1966, sports history was made when the five black starters of Texas Western took the court against the all-white team of Kentucky in the NCAA basketball championship. Texas Western (now UTEP) won 72-65 over legendary coach Adolf Rupp's team. The game 50 years ago got the movie treatment in Glory Road but has rarely been seen since the original broadcast on March 19, 1966. That's about to change: ESPN will air it Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. EDT.
NFL Adds Rule for Automatic Ejections After 2 Personal Fouls: The NFL has passed a rule that ejects a player automatically for two personal foul penalties. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made the recommendation, which will define some personal fouls as infractions that are eject-worthy. The league also moved touchbacks to the 25-yard line and abolished chop blocks.
Tennis Tourney Exec: Women Ride Men's Coattails, But They're Attractive: The finals of the BNP Paribas Open are today at Indian Wells. So what better time for Raymond Moore, the CEO of the tournament host, to say that the WTA women "ride on the coattails of the men. ... If I was a lady player, I'd go down every night on my knees and thank God that Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal were born, because they have carried this sport." He also said of the women's game, "They have a lot of very attractive players. ... They are physically attractive and competitively attractive."
Rebecca Lowe Leaving NBCSN Premier League Desk for a While: The face of Premier League soccer in the U.S. is taking a leave of absence during a season that could make history. Rebecca Lowe would rather give birth to her first child than see whether Leicester City can shock the world or Tottenham take its first title since 1961. "Of all the seasons in the Premier League, it's typical that this is arguably been the best one and I won't be there for the end," said Lowe, who is eight and a half months pregnant. Her last game is Sunday's Manchester derby.
Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 18: Only five national games this week, including two games tonight on ESPN: Memphis vs Houston at 8 p.m. ET and Cleveland at Utah at 10:30 p.m. This is the week Howard_T falls back to the peloton.
Snowmobiler Strikes Iditarod Team, Killing Dog: A snowmobile driver repeatedly attempted to harm two Iditarod sled teams on Saturday morning, leaving one dog dead and several injured, two teams claimed. "Someone tried to kill me with a snowmachine," musher Aliy Zirkle said after reaching a checkpoint. She described two incidents, and musher Jeff King another where his team was hit from behind, killing one dog and injuring two others. The driver fled, but later Arnold Demoski, 26, said that he struck the dog teams and was blackout drunk when it happened. "I feel really bad for what I did," he said.
Spring Training Fan Saves Kid from Flying Bat: A fan watching a Pittsburgh Pirates/Atlanta Braves spring training game at Disney World made an incredible save, blocking a bat flying into the stands as it was heading towards a young boy's head. Christopher Horner of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review captured the incident in a series of photos. Pirates outfielder Danny Ortiz, who lost his grip on the bat, had no idea this happened. He said, "I went home and my wife said to me, 'You almost killed that kid!'"
Peyton Manning is Retiring from the NFL: Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning will announce his retirement from the NFL at a news conference in Denver on Monday, bringing an end to a Hall of Fame career. In his 18-year career with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, Manning won two Super Bowl titles, five most valuable player awards and the records for career yards and passing touchdowns. He plans to spend more time with his brands: Nationwide, Papa John's, Gatorade, Nike, DirecTV and Budweiser.
Oklahoma City Thunder Co-Owner Dies in Car Crash: Aubrey McClendon, a 20 percent owner of the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder, died Wednesday when his car struck a highway embankment. He was 56. A day earlier, the Department of Justice indicted McClendon for conspiring to suppress prices paid for oil and natural gas leases. Police told Reuters he had "plenty of opportunity to get back on the roadway and that didn't occur."
Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 18: Eight national games this week, tipping off with Pistons/Spurs and Thunder/Clippers tonight on ESPN. Howard_T is a prognosticative juggernaut.
Bart Starr's Back Injury Was From Brutal Hazing at Alabama: "For more than 60 years, Bart Starr and his wife, Cherry, have kept a dark secret hidden away from the narrative of the Hall of Fame quarterback's career. No more. One of the most respected football players in the history of the game, and arguably one of the toughest, was hazed so badly while at the University of Alabama that it derailed his college career, disqualified him from military service and affected him throughout his 16 years with the Green Bay Packers."
New Rule Takes Out Slides Like Chase Utley's Legbreaker: The Chase Utley slide that broke Ruben Tejada's leg during the NLDS will no longer be legal in Major League Baseball: "Under the new policy for sliding, designated Rule 6.01(j), a slide to break up a double play will have to include a bona fide attempt to reach and remain on base. Contact with the fielder is permissible, but the runner cannot change his path to initiate contact or engage in a “roll block.” The plays are subject to review under video replay, and if it is determined that the runner did not engage in a bona fide slide attempt, then interference will be called and both the runner and the batter-runner can be called out."
Pace Mannion NBA Pick 'Em: Week 17: There are seven national games this week, beginning tonight on ESPN with the Wizards at the Bulls and ending Saturday on ABC with the Warriors at the Thunder. Howard_T holds a dominating lead but the scrappy Rcade is poised for an unexpected surge, just like John Kasich.