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Sunday, October 25, 2009

A-Rod and the Yakee's go to the World Series

NEW YORK (AP)—Alex Rodriguez(notes), welcome to the World Series. The New York Yankees are back in baseball’s big event.

The sport’s top spenders finally cashed in with their first pennant in six years Sunday night, beating the Los Angeles Angels 5-2 in Game 6 of the AL championship series behind the savvy pitching of that old October pro, Andy Pettitte.

Next up, New York hosts defending champion Philadelphia in the World Series opener Wednesday night. Cliff Lee(notes) is expected to face Yankees ace CC Sabathia(notes) in an enticing pitching matchup between former Cleveland teammates—and the past two AL Cy Young Award winners.

Ridiculed in the past for his October flops, Rodriguez played a huge role in helping his team advance through the playoffs, batting .438 with five home runs and 12 RBIs. The slugger earned his first trip to the World Series during a 16-year career in which he’s accomplished almost everything else.

Pettitte set a postseason record for wins, Johnny Damon(notes) hit a two-run single and Mariano Rivera(notes) closed it out in familiar fashion with a six-out save as the Yankees won their 40th American League crown by vanquishing the Angels, a longtime nemesis.

Now, the Yankees go for their record 27th title—when manager Joe Girardi was hired two years ago, he took jersey No. 27 with that in mind.

Not a bad way for Derek Jeter(notes) and crew to finish up the first season at the team’s new $1.5 billion ballpark

For manager Mike Scioscia and his sloppy Angels, it was their latest playoff failure during a decade of consistent regular-season success. Since winning their only championship in 2002, the Angels are yet to return to the World Series despite five AL West titles in the past six years.

After rain postponed Game 6 for a day, the clear weather and mild, 58-degree temperature at first pitch was a stark change from the first two games of the series, when the Angels froze up in the raw chill in New York.

Pettitte escaped a jam in the sixth, going to 3-0 on Kendry Morales(notes) before knocking down a comebacker with runners at second and third to preserve a 3-1 edge. The left-hander pumped his fist, then headed for the dugout.

Pettitte left to a standing ovation with one on and one out in the seventh and tipped his cap to the sellout crowd of 50,173, the largest at the new Yankee Stadium. He earned his 16th postseason win, breaking a tie with John Smoltz(notes), and his fifth to close out a postseason series—also a major league record.

Joba Chamberlain(notes) got two key outs and Girardi went to a well-rested Rivera in the eighth. He gave up a two-out RBI single to Vladimir Guerrero(notes), making it 3-2, then retired Morales to end the inning.

A diving play by first baseman Mark Teixeira(notes) helped Rivera escape further damage.

It was the first earned run allowed at home by the 39-year-old Rivera in a postseason save situation. But the Yankees added two insurance runs in the eighth on a pair of Angels errors and Teixeira’s sacrifice fly.

Rivera finished up in the ninth for his record 37th postseason save, and the Yankees had their pennant.

Rodriguez reached base all four times up Sunday and drew a bases-loaded walk in the fourth that put New York up 3-1. Earlier in the inning, Damon gave the Yankees the lead with a single off 16-game winner Joe Saunders(notes).

Including their unprecedented collapse against Boston in 2004, the Yankees had lost five straight times with a chance to close out an ALCS—and six in a row with an opportunity to end a playoff series.

But this time, New York got it done with help from Jeter, Pettitte, Rivera and Jorge Posada(notes), all part of the late 1990s dynasty under manager Joe Torre.

Normally airtight on defense and fundamentals, the Angels made eight errors in the series and several other uncharacteristic mistakes.

The miscues continued early in the clincher, when 16-game winner Joe Saunders walked five in 3 1-3 shaky innings and Guerrero was doubled off first base on a shallow fly.

With no Rally Monkey bouncing around the video board in the Bronx, Los Angeles failed to pull off one of its signature comebacks. The Angels trailed in all eight of their playoff victories against New York, including a stirring 7-6 triumph in Game 5 on Thursday night that extended the series.

The Angels eliminated New York with division series wins in 2002 and 2005. They are the 73-63 against the Yankees in the regular season since 1996, when Jeter took over at shortstop and New York began a run of four World Series titles in five years.

Looking to lock up the pennant, the Yankees turned to a familiar source of success in Pettitte. The 37-year-old left-hander delivered, allowing one run in 6 1-3 innings for his second closeout win of these playoffs. He also beat Minnesota to complete a first-round sweep.

Always a picture of poise and focus in October, narrowed eyes peering between his cap and glove as he takes his signs on the mound, Pettitte owns postseason records with 38 starts and 237 1-3 innings pitched.

He’s had trouble with the Angels, however, going 0-4 against them over the past two regular seasons. With a chance to put New York up 3-0 in this series, he squandered a 3-0 cushion on the road and took a no-decision in Game 3.

Pettitte was pitching at home for the Yankees in the postseason for the first time since their last World Series game, a 2-0 loss to Josh Beckett(notes) and the Florida Marlins in 2003.

This one was a different story, though.

Los Angeles went ahead in the third when Pettitte hung a couple of curveballs. Unlikely playoff star Jeff Mathis(notes), a part-time catcher who hit .211 during the regular season, led off with his fifth double of the series. He scored on a two-out single by Bobby Abreu(notes), which gave the ex-Yankee four hits in 23 ALCS at-bats.

New York answered in the fourth after a leadoff walk to Robinson Cano(notes). Nick Swisher(notes) was 3 for 30 in the series before his single, and Jeter walked to load the bases with one out.

Damon lined a two-run single over shortstop, and Teixeira’s infield single loaded the bases again.

That was it for Saunders, who walked off as he and Scioscia appearing perturbed by plate umpire Dale Scott’s strike zone.

NOTES: The Phillies won two of three at Yankee Stadium in May. … Former Yankees star Bernie Williams(notes) received a raucous ovation before throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. … Rodriguez has hit in 11 straight postseason games. … Pettitte went to 0-2 on his first three batters. … Two of the five playoff games at Yankee Stadium this year did not include a home run. That happened only once in 81 regular-season games.

by the associated press

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Tony Fein , cut from Ravens dies in Washington

SEATTLE (AP)—Tony Fein, an Iraq war veteran and NFL rookie linebacker who played with the Baltimore Ravens during the preseason, has died of unexplained causes after collapsing at a friend’s house in what his agent said appears to be “an accidental situation.”

Fein, 27, an undrafted rookie free agent from Mississippi, was lying face down and unconscious, vomiting and barely breathing when medics arrived at a house outside Port Orchard on the Kitsap Peninsula just before 9 a.m PDT Tuesday, said Mike Wernet, a battalion chief and medical officer with South Kitsap Fire & Rescue.

The medics put a breathing tube down Fein’s throat after he stopped breathing and administered medication, but he went into cardiac arrest during the drive to Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton, across Puget Sound from Seattle, and was pronounced dead at the hospital at 9:48 a.m. PDT Tuesday, Wernet told The Associated Press.

A man and woman who were present described Fein as a friend who was staying with them. They told the aid crew they awoke to find him unresponsive and vomiting.

“They didn’t really give us a lot of information about what had happened the night before,” apparently because they were upset, Wernet said. “They didn’t indicate anything out of the ordinary.”

There were no obvious wounds or signs of alcohol or other drug abuse, and nothing indicated foul play, he added.

Kitsap County sheriff’s Deputy Scott E. Wilson said a detective was assigned to the case Wednesday because the death seemed unusual.

“We don’t have any indication of anything suspicious … or foul play,” Wilson said.

Fein’s agent, Milton D. Hobbs, a lawyer in Oxford, Miss., said he knew of no medical condition or previous severe illness in Fein.

“As I understand it, it was an accidental situation,” Hobbs said. “As far as I understand it from family members, there’s nothing to indicate that he intended to hurt himself.”

An autopsy won’t be conducted before Thursday and no report will be issued before all toxicology and other tests are complete, likely in six to eight weeks, said Allen G. Gerdes, Kitsap County chief deputy coroner.

Fein, a native of Port Orchard, was released by the Ravens in their last major round of roster cuts on Sept. 5.

“Tony Fein was a really good teammate, a tremendous American, a tremendous young man … just a really good person,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said before Wednesday’s practice in Owings Mills, Md. “We were proud to have him here as part of our team. We’re unbelievably disappointed about the news.”

Hobbs said he last spoke with Fein on Friday and since the death had talked with the Fein’s sister, mother and some friends. He would not discuss a possible cause of death.

“He was working out and we were discussing football opportunities. That was still his goal,” Hobbs said. “We talked about Canada.”

Some Canadian Football League teams had expressed interest in Fein before he joined the Ravens but there had been no contacts since he was cut, the agent said.

Fein was arrested on Aug. 23 and charged with misdemeanor assault on a police officer after an incident at a restaurant at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in which the officer reportedly mistook his cellular telephone for a handgun. A trial was scheduled Wednesday, but prosecutors notified Fein’s attorney last Thursday that they planned to dismiss the case because of conflicting witness accounts, state’s attorney spokeswoman Marty Burns said.

Fein played quarterback for South Kitsap High School before graduating in 2000. At age 19 he enlisted and spent 3 1/2 years in the Army, including duty in Iraq as a 19 Delta reconnaissance scout, according to the Ravens’ Web site.

He later enrolled at Scottsdale, Ariz., Community College, became one of the nation’s top junior college recruits and played for Ole Miss in 2007 and 2008. In two seasons at Ole Miss, he had 136 tackles (77 solo) in 24 games, according to the club’s Web site.

“A humble young man,” Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis(notes) said. “Our hearts definitely go out to his family because it’s such a tragedy for a man to be that young and go through the things he’s been through."

by the assciated press

Sunday, October 04, 2009

A-Rod hits 2 HRs, drives in AL-record

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Alex Rodriguez(notes) hit a three-run homer on his first swing of the season and smacked a grand slam on his last. The New York Yankees slugger was pretty impressive in between, too.

Setting what he hopes will be the tone for a successful playoff run, Rodriguez homered twice and drove in an AL-record seven runs in a 10-run sixth inning Sunday, helping the AL East champions finish the regular season with a 10-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.

“We have one goal and it’s to win 11 games,” he said, looking ahead to the postseason. “If we get to 11 wins, that’s means we’re going to get contributions from everyone.”

On this day, he was a one-man wrecking crew.

Rodriguez hit a three-run homer off Wade Davis(notes), giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead. He added his 18th career grand slam later in the inning after Andy Sonnanstine(notes) issued an intentional walk to league co-home run champion Mark Teixeira(notes) to load the bases.

“It was awesome. That was a great inning for him and for the team,” Teixiera said. “It’s good to have a nice offensive output like that the last game of the season and give us some momentum.”

The previous AL record of six RBIs in an inning was accomplished 12 times, most recently by Boston’s David Ortiz(notes) on Aug. 12, 2008. The major league record is eight, set by Fernando Tatis(notes), who hit two grand slams in an inning for St. Louis on April 23, 1999.

New York, preparing to open the playoffs at home against Detroit or Minnesota on Wednesday or Thursday, finished with a 103-59 record, its best since 103-58 in 2002.

Tampa Bay dropped to 84-78 after going 97-65 last year and reaching the World Series for the first time.

A-Rod moved into a tie with Mark McGwire for eighth on the career list with 583 homers. It also gave him at least 30 homers and 100 RBIs for the 13th time— including the past 12 seasons—despite missing the first month with a hip injury.

“Unbelievable,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He needed two homers and seven RBIs to keep his streak alive. It’s really pretty amazing. That’s the player he is.”

A.J. Burnett(notes) (13-9) pitched five innings for the victory, enabling the Yankees to avoid a weekend sweep.

Joba Chamberlain(notes), who could be headed for the bullpen for the first round of the playoffs, tossed a perfect inning in relief as Girardi continued to get the pitching staff ready for the postseason.

Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman will meet Monday to begin discussions on the playoff roster.

A year after making an improbable run to the American League pennant, the Rays finished 19 games behind the Yankees in the division. Evan Longoria(notes) scored both of the runs off Burnett, hitting his 33rd homer in the first and racing home on a passed ball to give Tampa Bay a 2-0 lead in the fifth.

Rookies Davis (2-2), Jeff Niemann(notes) and David Price(notes) combined for 25 wins and are part of the reason the Rays are optimistic about their prospects of returning to the top of the AL East next year.

“There’s no doubt we’ll be right back in it, and our goal is to get to the World Series again in 2010. Period,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “Nothing else really matters in regard to our goal-setting.”

Rodriguez was sidelined until May 8 after hip surgery, then homered on the first pitch he saw from Baltimore’s Jeremy Guthrie(notes). He began Sunday with 28 homers and 93 RBIs and said the possibility of extending his 30-100 streak didn’t cross his mind until New York batted around in the sixth.

“I just didn’t think it was realistic at all, so therefore it wasn’t even a goal,” Rodriguez said.

“I was actually talking to (Eric) Hinske and I said I may have one shot. If they load the bases, I might pop one, you never know. I was just joking around, then I hit it.”

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner visited with the team for about an hour in the clubhouse before the game and later said he’s “excited” about the playoffs, which will start later this week.

The 79-year-old Steinbrenner made the trip to Tropicana Field from his home in nearby Tampa for the second time this season. He also met with the players before a Yankees win in St. Petersburg on July 29.

“It was really great to see him. He was in good spirits,” Girardi said. “Said, ‘Just keep it going. Just keep doing what you’re doing.”’

NOTES: Teixeira and Tampa Bay’s Carlos Pena(notes) tied for the AL home run title with 39. … Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte(notes) wound up earning $10.5 million of the $12 million available under his contract—$500,000 more than the Yankees’ original offer of $10 million guaranteed that he failed to accept. Pettitte had a $5.5 million base salary, earned $3 million based on innings and $2 million for staying on the active roster the entire season. He missed $750,000 bonuses for 200 and 210 innings, finishing with 194 2-3. … The Rays sat All-Stars Jason Bartlett(notes) and Carl Crawford(notes). Bartlett finished with a career-best .320 batting average, a team record. Crawford, who batted .305, set the previous mark of .315 in 2007.

by the associated press

Rio's win will cost U.S. broadcast deal worth less

COPENHAGEN — The cost of Chicago's defeat in its bid to host the 2016 Olympics will be felt in the value of the next U.S. broadcast deal.

The International Olympic Committee's top negotiator said the U.S. rights are worth less after the 2016 Games were awarded to Rio de Janeiro.

"Obviously, the domestic games would be more valuable," IOC finance commission chairman Richard Carrion told The Associated Press.

And the American deal — the most lucrative in the IOC's portfolio — might not be done for another three years if the economy doesn't improve.

"We have plenty of time and it doesn't have to be in 2010. We could conceivably do a deal as late as 2012," Carrion said.

U.S. networks including NBC, ABC-ESPN and Fox were expected to enter a bidding war for combined rights to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and a 2016 Chicago games.

NBC paid $2.2 billion for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and 2012 London Games.

The IOC gets more than half its revenue from broadcasting deals, and U.S. deals alone have been worth more than the rest of the world's broadcasters combined.

Carrion, an IOC Executive Board member from Puerto Rico, said the timing of U.S. negotiations was not dictated by Friday's host vote. Rio defeated Madrid 66-32 in the final round of voting after Chicago was eliminated first, before Tokyo also fell out of the race.

"I've always said it's more a matter of where the economy is heading rather than the selection of the host city," Carrion said.

Carrion did not expect the popularity of the Olympics to suffer a backlash from American viewers and advertisers after the manner of Chicago's defeat.

"It's still a premium brand. I would not read much into it that they were eliminated in the first round," Carrion said.

Just 18 of 95 IOC voters supported Chicago despite personal pleas in the final presentation Friday from President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.

"I don't think this will affect the television discussions," he said. "This is a competition like any competition. But there is only one gold medal, and no silver and bronze."

He said Rio's time zone, one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time in New York City, was "not bad" for the American market.

A likely drop in American revenues would be partly compensated by rising revenues from Brazil.

In August, the IOC completed a $170 million rights sale to Brazilian broadcasters TV Globo, Bandeirantes and Rede Record to show events from Sochi and what will now be the home Rio Games.

Timo Lumme, the IOC's director of television and marketing, described that deal Sunday as a "huge evolution" from previous agreements.

Brazilian broadcasters paid $10 million for the combined 2006 Turin Winter Olympics and 2008 Beijing Games cycle, then $60 million for Vancouver and London.

Lumme said the Brazilians were bidding blind before the 2016 host vote.

"It was a good bet by them," Lumme told the AP. "It's turned out they are in Rio and we hope they go on to make a good return."

from the associated press

Rich Gannon Drp's the Ball in the Broadcast Both

Rich Gannon and Donovan McNabb(notes) have a lot in common. Both played quarterback in a Super Bowl loss, both have lived in Philadelphia at some point in their lives and neither has any idea how the NFL's overtime rules work.

One year after McNabb infamously expressed surprise that professional games could end deadlocked, Gannon, the former Raiders quarterback-turned-CBS analyst, made a similar slip-up at the end of the Cincinnati Bengals-Cleveland Browns game, in which he was providing color commentary.

With seven seconds left in overtime, the Bengals called a timeout to prepare for the potential game-winning field goal, to be kicked by Shayne Graham(notes). It was an easy decision for head coach Marvin Lewis: Since the clock was running, calling a timeout allowed Graham and the field goal team to take their time instead of having to rush the kick. Gannon, though, took exception.

Why, you ask? Did he think a miss would give the Browns too much time to run a Hail Mary? Was it his belief that the timeout could unintentionally lead to a self-inflicted icing of Graham? Nope. Both those things would be somewhat reasonable (if still misguided).

No, Gannon didn't like the timeout because he thought that if Graham hit the field goal, it would leave too much time for dangerous Cleveland return man Joshua Cribbs(notes) to take back the subsequent kickoff for a touchdown. You know, that dreaded post-score overtime kickoff that has felled so many teams throughout history.

Gannon's partner in the booth, Ian Eagle, quickly and politely informed Gannon that the game would be over if Graham successfully converted the field goal, since NFL overtime is sudden death. Gannon laughed and apologized for his mistake. Awesomely, Eagle then asked if McNabb had infiltrated the broadcast booth. Nah, Ian, if that were true, Gannon would have vomited when the game got down to crunch time. (Rimshot!)

It was a ridiculous mistake, but unlike McNabb's ignorance of overtime rules (and his continued defense of said ignorance later in the week), we'll give Gannon the benefit of the doubt and say this was more likely a slip of the tongue than a complete misunderstanding of how overtime works. But, of course, it didn't seem possible that McNabb wouldn't know about ties, so maybe we're giving Gannon too much credit.

from yahoo sports