Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lance Armstrong to be stripped of titles

[8/23/12] AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- With stunning swiftness, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Thursday night it will strip Lance Armstrong of his unprecedented seven Tour de France titles after he dropped his fight against drug charges that threatened his legacy as one of the greatest cyclists of all time.

Travis Tygart, USADA's chief executive, said Armstrong would also be hit with a lifetime ban on Friday. And under the World Anti-Doping Code, he would lose the bronze medal from the 2000 Olympics as well as any awards, event titles and cash earnings.

Armstrong, who retired last year, effectively dropped his fight by declining to enter USADA's arbitration process - his last option - because he said he was weary of fighting accusations that have dogged him for years. He has consistently pointed to the hundreds of drug tests he passed as proof of his innocence while piling up Tour titles from 1999 to 2005.

''There comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough.' For me, that time is now,'' Armstrong said. He called the USADA investigation an ''unconstitutional witch hunt.''
''I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999,'' he said. ''The toll this has taken on my family and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today - finished with this nonsense.''

USADA reacted quickly and treated Armstrong's decision as an admission of guilt, hanging the label of drug cheat on an athlete who was a hero to thousands for overcoming life-threatening testicular cancer and for his foundation's support for cancer research.

[10/21/12] GENEVA >> Forget the seven Tour de France victories. Forget the yellow jersey celebrations on the Champs Elysees. Forget the name that dominated the sport of cycling for so many years.
As far as cycling’s governing body is concerned, Lance Armstrong is out of the record books.

Once considered the greatest rider in Tour history, the American was cast out today by his sport, formally stripped of his seven titles and banned for life for his involvement in what U.S. sports authorities describe as a massive doping program that tainted all of his greatest triumphs.

“Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling,” said Pat McQuaid, the president said of the International Cycling Union. “This is a landmark day for cycling.”

McQuaid announced that his group, known as UCI, accepted sanctions imposed by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and would not appeal them to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. McQuaid said he was “sickened” by some of the evidence detailed by USADA in its 200-page report and hundreds of pages of supporting testimony and documents.

Tour director Christian Prudhomme said he no longer considers Armstrong to be a champion from 1999-2005 and wants him to pay back his prize money.

“We wish that there is no winner for this period,” he said in Paris. “For us, very clearly, the titles should remain blank. Effectively, we wish for these years to remain without winners.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

NBA Legends: George Gervin, Pete Maravich, etc.

George Gervin's playing record speaks volumes. Only Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan have won more league scoring championships than Gervin's four, and he was the first guard ever to win three titles in a row. His career scoring average of 26.2 points per game is among the game's best as is his combined NBA/ABA total of 26,595 points.

During his career, Gervin recorded a remarkable streak of scoring double figures in 407 consecutive games. He played in 12 straight All-Star Games, including nine in the NBA, and he averaged at least 21 points in each of those dozen years. In his nine NBA seasons with San Antonio, the Spurs won five division titles. He won an All-Star Game MVP Award and twice placed second in voting for the regular-season MVP Award.

But these numbers only begin to tell the story of Gervin's phenomenal pro career, which stretched from the early 1970s through the mid-1980s.

*** [8/27/12]

NBA Legend: Pete Maravich

and the rest of the Legends, Gail Goodrich and Jamaal Wilkes are legends?

[9/4/12: with my rating]

Greatest PGs ever: Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, John Stockton
Greatest SGs ever: Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Kobe Bryant
Greatest SFs ever: LeBron (eventually), Larry Bird, Dr. J
Greatest PFs ever: Kevin Garnett, Karl Malone, Tim Duncan
Greatest Cs ever: Kareem, Wilt, Bill Russell

[9/17/12] Q&A with Bill Russell

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

WAC to drop football

The commissioner of the Western Athletic Conference said Monday that it has become apparent the league won't have enough football members to compete after this season, and his focus now is on trying to keep the conference together for other sports.

The 50-year-old WAC would be the first Division I conference to give up on football since the Southwest Conference dissolved in 1995, and it might go the way of the SWC, too, and cease to exist altogether.
"It doesn't mean we've given up on the idea of football for the future, but it's apparent we don't have enough members in 2013 to play football," Jeff Hurd told The Associated Press.

That means New Mexico State would have to join Idaho and play as an FBS independent next year. The WAC's five other football members — Louisiana Tech, San Jose State, Texas State, Utah State and Texas-San Antonio — leave the league after this year.

San Jose State and Utah State are joining the Mountain West. Louisiana Tech and Texas-San Antonio will join Conference USA, and Texas State will go to the Sun Belt in 2013.

So, the WAC would have to add six FBS programs to continue playing football.

"The bottom line is those numbers are not out there," Hurd said. "So, my goal is to add enough schools to maintain the conference in all other sports, but football would not be one of them."

The league must still add two or three members to maintain its Division I status as a non-football league, and there is no guarantees that will happen.

The WAC has been around for half a century but found itself irrelevant in the rapidly changing landscape of conference realignment. It has recently lost Boise State, Nevada, Fresno State and Hawaii while adding Denver and Seattle as non-football playing members.

The league was formed in 1962 with six schools — Arizona, Arizona State, BYU, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming — that jumped ship long ago. Colorado State and Texas-El Paso were also long-time members that left, leaving the league with a hodgepodge of smaller schools.

The high mark of the WAC's football existence was BYU's national title in 1984 under coach LaVell Edwards. Cougars quarterback Ty Detmer won the league's only Heisman Trophy winner six years later, and Boise State had two unbeaten seasons (2006, '09) in its nine-year stint as the league's heavyweight.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Roger Clemens to take the mound again

The last time he attempted a pitching comeback, Roger Clemens was amply compensated monetarily but found little reward on the field.

Now he's seeking that satisfaction with little immediate financial incentive.

Clemens, 50, who last pitched in the majors with the New York Yankees in 2007, will return to the mound Saturday night when he starts for the Sugar Land (Texas) Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League against the Bridgeport Bluefish.

Clemens scored a major legal victory in June when he was acquitted of charges he had lied to Congress under oath when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs.

Brock Lesnar, back in the WWE

[8/20/12] Following a three-year run as one of the biggest draws in UFC history, Brock Lesnar finally returned to his roots with WWE. And similar to his days in the Octagon, Lesnar was the main event Sunday night at WWE’s SummerSlam pay-per-view.

Flanked with his promoter and real-life friend Paul Heyman, Lesnar stepped inside the squared circle in front of 17,482 fans at Staples Center donning not a traditional wrestling outfit but MMA attire – custom red and black Jimmy John shorts, MMA gloves and a mouthpiece.

In what can be best described as a slobberknocker (a term coined by WWE Hall of Fame broadcaster Jim Ross), Lesnar and his opponent, Triple H, brawled inside and outside the ring in an intense nearly 20-minute brawl, with the former MMA star repeatedly attempting to apply the MMA-influenced kimura lock. After several attempts throughout the match, Lesnar was able to slap the armlock submission move that was named after judoka legend Masahiko Kimura in the middle of the ring, forcing Triple H to tap.

“Brock reached out to us when his UFC contract was done and I think he was just sticking his toe in the water to see if there was any interest,” Paul Levesque (aka Triple H), WWE executive vice president, talent and live events, told Y! Sports prior to SummerSlam. “We spoke and the rest is history.”

*** [3/25/15]  Brock Lesnar will stay with WWE over the UFC.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Felix Hernandez throws perfect game

SEATTLE (AP) — As he rode down in the crowded elevator wearing a wide grin after watching Felix Hernandez twirl baseball history, Seattle general manager Jack Zduriencik felt like having a little fun.
He pulled out his cellphone, held it to his ear and listened for a moment.

"No, we're not trading Felix Hernandez," Zduriencik jokingly said into his phone.

Not after Wednesday. Not anytime soon.

Hernandez pitched the Seattle Mariners' first perfect game and the 23rd in baseball history, overpowering the Tampa Bay Rays in a brilliant 1-0 victory Wednesday.

The 2010 AL Cy Young Award winner has never hid his desire for pitching perfection. For a franchise on its way to an 11th straight season without a playoff appearance, Hernandez is the one constant keeping fans interested in Mariners baseball.

Hernandez (11-5) rewarded those fans with a 12-strikeout gem on Wednesday afternoon. He baffled the Rays using his sharp curve and blistering fastball to keep the Rays guessing all day.

It finally culminated in the ninth inning when Hernandez struck out pinch-hitter Desmond Jennings, got pinch-hitter Jeff Keppinger to ground out and closed out the perfecto by falling behind Sean Rodriguez 2-0 and then throwing three perfect pitches.

His teammates had spent most of the game leaving Hernandez to himself, but after the right-hander was done pointing at the sky, he was engulfed in celebration.

"It was always in my mind, every game. 'I need to throw a perfect game.' For every pitcher I think it's in their mind," Hernandez said. "Today it happened and it's something special. I don't have any words to explain this. This is pretty amazing. It doesn't happen every day."

It was the third perfect game in baseball this season — a first — joining gems by Chicago's Philip Humber against the Mariners in April and San Francisco's Matt Cain versus Houston in June. More than half of all perfectos — 12 — have come in the last 25 seasons.

This also was the sixth no-hitter in the majors this season, three of them at Safeco Field. Humber threw his gem in Seattle, then six Mariners pitchers combined to hold the Los Angeles Dodgers hitless at the park on June 8. There have been seven no-hitters in a season twice since 1900. It happened in 1990 and again in 1991, with Nolan Ryan throwing one in each of those years.

Melky Cabrera brings back memories of Barry Bonds

SAN FRANCISCO – Five years on, the specter of Barry Bonds lingers in this clubhouse. Performance-enhancing drugs were pervasive in baseball throughout the 1990s and early 2000s because the interminable Steroid Era started and ended with the hulking, prodigious Bonds. The Giants of Bonds were a grand success. They were also Team BALCO.

The ugliness of the era repackaged itself in the form of another Giants star left fielder, not nearly as hulking but guiltier in baseball's eyes than Bonds ever was. Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games Wednesday for testing positive for testosterone. Cabrera, second in the National League with a .346 batting average and a pleasant surprise for a team starved for offense, is gone for the rest of the regular season.


(Reuters) - The San Francisco Giants' postseason ambitions suffered a jolt on Wednesday when All-Star outfielder Melky Cabrera was suspended for 50 games for failing a doping test.

The 28-year-old from the Dominican Republic, the most valuable player in this year's All-Star game, had tested positive for testosterone and admitted to using a substance banned by Major League Baseball's drug prevention program.

"My positive test was the result of my use of a substance I should not have used," Cabrera, who will become a free agent after this season, said in a statement.

"I accept my suspension under the joint drug program and I will try to move on with my life.

"I am deeply sorry for my mistake and I apologize to my team mates, to the San Francisco Giants organization and to the fans for letting them down."

Cabrera's suspension was effective immediately, the baseball commissioner's office said in a statement on Wednesday.

The eight-year big-league veteran is batting .346 -- second in the National League -- with 11 home runs, 84 runs scored and 60 runs batted this season.