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.
James Shields Signs with San Diego Padres: The San Diego Padres have signed James Shields, the last major free agent left on the board, to a four-year deal with an option for a fifth, SBNation reports. Under new GM A.J. Preller, they've added Matt Kemp, Justin Upton, Wil Myers, Derek Norris and Will Middlebrooks. The free-spending Friars last went to the playoffs in 2006.
UNC's Legendary Coach Dean Smith Dies: Legendary University of North Carolina head basketball coach Dean Smith died Saturday evening at the age of 83, according to the University of North Carolina. He had battled dementia for years, and according to a family statement provided to UNC, he "passed away peacefully" in his Chapel Hill home with his wife and five children by his side. Smith coached the Tar Heels from 1961 to 1997, tallying a record of 879-254 in 36 seasons. The school named its basketball arena for Smith in 1986, and it's referred to as "the Dean Dome."
Jerry Rice Should Catch Some Hell for This: Jerry Rice on deflating footballs: "I'm going to be point blank, I feel like it's cheating. Because you have an edge up on your opponent and its unfortunate that it happened. ... I've played in cold weather, I know how hard the football is and you can grip the leather [if deflated] just a little bit better." Jerry Rice on putting Stickum on gloves: "I know this might be a little illegal, guys, but you put a little spray, a little Stickum on them, to make sure that texture is a little sticky." Stickum was outlawed by the NFL in 1981.
Hey, NFL, Let Anyone Commentate the Next Super Bowl: Robert McMillan wants more choices for Super Bowl commentary than the same-old network announcers calling games the same-old way. "What the Super Bowl needs is a YouTube of color commentary," he writes. "We need to trash the boring veneer of impartiality that dulls down todayís NFL broadcasts. Tune into the Seahawks Fan broadcast and hear some real tears at the end of the game. Want to listen to a woman call the game? This is the way that could finally happen. Gamblersí Super Bowl? No problem. You enjoyed Drunk History? Wait till you try Drunk Super Bowl. Personally, Iíd go for a data heavy, FiveThirtyEight-style broadcast: the Databack. Let a thousand flowers bloom in color commentary land. Many will be terrible. But some will be brilliant."
Patriots Win Super Bowl 0x31 After Epic Last-Second Interception: The Seattle Seahawks were one yard away from taking the lead with under 30 seconds left, but New England Patriots defensive back Malcolm Butler jumped a route and intercepted a pass, closing out an epic 28-24 comeback win in Super Bowl 0x31. The Patriots trailed by 10 points in the second half -- the biggest deficit quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill Belicheck have faced in the Super Bowls they've played -- but they came back to win their fourth Super Bowl in 13 years.
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.
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."
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: ďWe 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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
Boy Asks All 32 NFL Teams: Why Should I Be Your Fan?: A 12-year-old boy in Yukon, Oklahoma, wrote to every NFL team in December, asking them a simple question: Why should I be a fan of your team? Cade Pope got one letter back, hand-written by Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, along with a replica helmet signed by the team's All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechley. "We would be honored if our Carolina Panthers became your team," Richardson replied. "We would make you proud by the classy way we would represent you."
Buckeyes Win College Football Playoff: The Ohio State Buckeyes won the inaugural College Football Playoff National Championship, defeating Oregon 42-20 at AT&T Field in Arlington, Texas, Monday night.The Buckeyes overcame four turnovers thanks to Ezekiel Elliott (36 carries, 246 yards, four touchdowns), Cardale Jones (16-of-23 passing for 242 yards, a passing TD and a rushing TD) and a defense that swallowed the vaunted Ducks attack, forcing six punts.
Colts Silence Broncos Offense, Make Peyton Manning Look Old: Peyton Manning has his ninth one-and-done in his playoff career after Andrew Luck led the Indianapolis Colts to a 24-13 road victory over the Denver Broncos, putting Indy in its first AFC Championship Game since 2009. Manning went 21-for-40 with only 152 yards, leading to headlines talking about retirement.