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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Gina Carano gets naked to make weight (w/video)

Gina Carano. Photo. reports that it took female MMA superstar Gina Carano multiple times to make weight for her fight at EliteXC: Heat.

...Gina Carano failed to make the 141-pound limit weight on her first few attempts. She first weighed in at 142.75 pounds. Although visibly embarrassed at the necessary next step, Carano appeared intent on not missing weight for yet another EliteXC card.
Behind the cover of four separate towels in front and behind the undefeated young fighter, Carano removed all of her clothes and stepped back on the scales. An incredulous Carano showed her frustration and presumed embarrassment when the scale showed 142.5 pounds.
Officials on stage suggested a third attempt might be beneficial as the scales appeared to have an issue during the second attempt. After Carano stepped on the scales a third time, an acceptable weight of 141 pounds was registered. The weight was one pound over the contracted 140-pound limit, but the same as Carano's opponent, Kelly Kobald.

And the entertainment didn't stop with a naked Gina Carano. Jake Shields and Paul Daley had to be pulled apart after Daley spewed obscenities at Shields during the stare down. Then, instead of Kimbo Slice posing for the obligatory post weigh-in pictures with Ken Shamrock, Slice turned his back to the UFC veteran and tried to walk away. Shamrock didn't take too kindly to being disrespected, so he pushed Slice from behind and brawl number two of the night broke out.

If the fights tomorrow night can match the energy of the weigh-ins, we're in for a hell of a night of fights.

Posted by Jared Barnes

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Armstrong responds to Tour organizer's 'embarrassment' quip

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Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong responded strongly to the Tour organizer's new president's comment that he has "embarrassed" cycling's premier race.
AP file photo
Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong responded strongly to the Tour organizer's new president's comment that he has "embarrassed" cycling's premier race.

PARIS — Seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong responded strongly to the Tour organizer's new president's comment that he has "embarrassed" cycling's premier race.

"We can't say that he has not embarrassed the Tour de France, as he has had a quite a complicated history with it," Jean-Etienne Amaury said earlier Saturday in French sports newspaper L'Equipe.

The 32-year-old Amaury was named president of the Amaury Sport Organization earlier this week, replacing Patrice Clerc, who was known for his hard line against doping. Some observers interpreted the change as a sign that the ASO intended to soften its position.

Armstrong released a statement later in the day saying:

"The last time I checked I won the Tour seven straight years and was never once found to be guilty of doping despite seven years of intense scrutiny. Not to mention that my team of 25 riders over those seven years was also never found to be positive," he said. "We won clean and fair. Also, according to industry standards, TV ratings, worldwide media impressions, spectators along the route, and global sponsorships were at an all time high. Where's the embarrassment in that?

In the article, Amaury also reiterated the race's fight against doping remains a top priority. This came on the same day other reports said Kazakh rider Alexander Vinokourov would soon reveal his intentions to return to action after serving a one-year doping ban.

"The Tour de France's position has always been very strict and that will not change in the years to come," he said. "(ASO) is quite conscious of the fact that doping undermines cycling's credibility."

Asked whether a comeback by the 37-year-old Armstrong, who retired in 2005 after winning his seventh consecutive title, would throw suspicion on the race, Amaury said that "today's tools in the fight against doping are different."

Energized by the comments, Armstrong took the opportunity to make clear that while he may contend for the Tour title, he doesn't need the race's cache to continue his efforts to raise "the global awareness of cancer."

"...while I love the event and France's people, I cannot accept this sort of grandstanding which distracts from the Livestrong message that is urgently needed, and being sought out, in many other places around the world."

Armstrong announced last month he was coming out of retirement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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F1 prepares to tighten its belt

LONDON, England (CNN) -- As the global economic crisis deepens, Formula One is starting to feel the pinch.

Toro Rosso boss Gerhard Berger wants F1 to be more tight-fisted as the global economic problems start to bite.

Toro Rosso boss Gerhard Berger wants F1 to be more tight-fisted as the global economic problems start to bite.

The sport's lavish image is in stark contrast to the belt-tightening going on in the outside world.

Many in F1 are well aware that the sport will have to make changes to how it does business to ensure it emerges from the credit crunch mostly intact.

Super Aguri, even with the might of Honda behind them, failed to make ends meet and folded after just 39 races earlier in the year.

But for Eddie Irvine, Michael Schumacher's team-mate at Ferrari from 1996-99, financial problems might work in F1's favor -- particularly for the grid's also-rans.

"Everyone is selling a lot less cars and these are the guys who are paying for F1," the Ulsterman told Sky News.

"The sponsorship deals are subsidized by car manufacturers. You're going to see spending [cut] back and it has to [be cut] back because it has been madness for years.

"It will be good for F1 because it will level the playing field off a little bit. Money hasn't made the show any better, it has made it worse."

Read more about F1 at The Circuit.

Whether the show is better or worse because of money is debatable. There are many factors determining the quality of the product and after the second shock winner in two races at last weekend's Singapore Grand Prix, the argument for F1 being in rude health spectacle-wise is a convincing one.

What is not debatable is that F1 needs money -- there is no more cash-hungry sport around.

As is the way in any business, the haves, such as Ferrari and McLaren, are best placed to weather any financial storm.

There are no have-nots in F1, not with budgets that run into the millions of dollars. Independent teams such as Williams have a reported $160.6m to play with each season, while Toro Rosso have to get by on $128.2m.

But Toro Rosso and Williams are not operating in the same ballpark as McLaren or Ferrari. They lack the backing from a car manufacturer, meaning they have to buy engines, compromising them in other areas.

Red Bull-funded Toro Rosso have been up for sale all season, but no buyer has yet been found. The team's future is further clouded by the fact that from 2010 it will only be allowed to compete in F1 with a car that is designed and built at its own factory.

At the moment, Toro Rosso's machinery is designed at Red Bull Racing's facilities in the UK and their chances of building on Sebastian Vettel's incredible win at the Italian Grand Prix last month depends on them finding a buyer with deep pockets.

"I would struggle to carry on alone [without Red Bull]," Toro Rosso co-owner Gerhard Berger told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"I need the backing of a car manufacturer, which isn't there."

Williams lost BMW as its engine partner at the end of 2005 and the following year they made a $49.5m net loss as revenues dipped 30 percent to $102.6m when IT firm Hewlett Packard also ended their sponsorship deal.

And new sponsors, as well as stay-away car manufacturers, are part of the problem as far as Berger is concerned.

"I think it is going to be difficult times, no question, and if you look at new sponsors coming into Formula One, it is very seldom, especially the big ones," he said.

"As I see it, it is not going to be easy the next two years. I think it is going to affect all of us."

A spending cap is to be introduced for 2009 for all outgoings bar engines (for which cost-cutting measures are already in place), marketing and PR and the salaries of drivers and team principals.

And, it might be said, not before time. The combined costs of all UK-based F1 teams rose by $39.4m to just over $1bn in 2006.

This level of spending could soon be considered a glaring anachronism. Red Bull Racing boss Christian Horner believes the teams and the sport's governing body, the FIA, must keep a lid on expenditure.

"The global economy at the moment isn't in great shape and it affects all areas of the pit lane," he said.

"It is down to the teams to work collectively with the governing body to make sure that we are responsible in what we do to control our costs."

F1's spendthrift days may soon be at an end.

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Cheerleaders are risking serious injury and death to support their teams

By Tim Shipman in Washington

Cheerleaders are risking serious injury and death to support their teams
The number of cheerleaders treated at hospital accident and emergency wards increased from under 5,000 a year in 1980 to nearly 30,000 a year today Photo: Adam Nadel

But new research shows that cheerleaders, who once dazzled with their smiles and sequins, are at greater risk of serious injury than American football players.

Instead of just cheering on their team, cheerleaders are now encouraged to compete in high-stress competitions, where dangerous throws and tumbles reminiscent of gymnastics are the norm.

Because the pastime is not regulated like a sport, accidents are common and cheerleaders are swapping their pom poms for crutches, knee braces and ice packs.

Campaign groups, horrified by a growing incidence of "catastrophic injuries" which have left cheerleaders with disabilities, paralysis and even dead, are fighting to clean up the "sport", where many school coaches do not have the necessary safety training.

Figures collated by the National Centre for Catastrophic Sports Injury Research found that between 1982 and last year, 67 young women suffered devastating injuries or death, which accounts for two out of three of all serious sporting injuries among young women.

The incidence of injuries causing paralysis or disability was 2.68 per 100,000 cheerleaders, which eclipses the figure for American football, where there are more fatalities but a lower ratio of injuries to participants.

The number of cheerleaders treated at hospital accident and emergency wards increased from under 5,000 a year in 1980 to nearly 30,000 a year today.

At least three deaths and numerous cases of permanent paralysis are blamed on falls and collisions to the end of last year, and since then two more cheerleaders have died. Most recently in April, 20-year-old Lauren Chang from Massachusetts was killed by an accidental kick to her chest during a cheerleading competition at a local gym.

Dr Frederick Mueller, a sports injury expert at the University of North Carolina, who did the research, told The Sunday Telegraph: "We are getting more and more of these cheerleading injuries, and they are pretty serious head and neck injuries. They're throwing people in the air 20 to 25 feet and trying to catch them on the way down. It's really gymnastic activity. It shouldn't be called cheerleading any more.

"Right now they don't have certified coaches. You get some kids teaching each other."

A pressure group, the National Cheer Safety Foundation, is calling for federal legislation to regulate both schools and colleges but also the private cheerleading companies who run teams in national competitions.

Its founder, Kimberly Archie, said: "Cheerleading isn't really regulated at all. People make up their own rules because cheerleading is not considered sport. For years it was just seen as cute girls on the sideline, even though the injuries are outrageous.

"We have coaches without resuscitation and first aid training. I'd like to see a national youth sports safety act."

She said a further 14 cheerleaders have died suddenly after heart attacks that some believe are attributable to the stresses of their routines.

The foundation has drawn up an action plan for clubs on how to cope with serious accidents, which has already been adopted by more than one thousand school districts in the last two months.

The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators, which represents coaches in private clubs, did not respond to a call seeking comment.

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Wisconsin band suspended for hazing

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The University of Wisconsin marching band has been suspended indefinitely while allegations of hazing, alcohol abuse and sexual misconduct are investigated.

The band won't play Saturday during a nationally televised football game between the No. 18 Badgers and No. 14 Ohio State at Camp Randall Stadium.

The university made the announcement at a hastily called news conference Friday night, saying the behavior is consistent with conduct that put the band on probation in 2006.

Mike Leckrone, band director since 1969, said he made the decision and it was the first time in his tenure the entire band has ever been suspended and prevented from playing at a game.

Leckrone said he informed the 300 band members at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

"My feeling was I hit them between the eyes with a sledgehammer," he said.

No details were immediately released about the behavior, only that it involved inappropriate alcohol use, hazing and sexualized behavior. Leckrone said it involved only a small number of band members, but it was significant enough to warrant the suspension.

He and Dean of Students Lori Berquam refused to discuss any details while the investigation by Berquam's office is ongoing.

The band will practice again starting Tuesday with the understanding that it will not perform again until the investigation is done, Leckrone said.

Penalties for students who violate the university's code of conduct range from a reprimand to expulsion, Berquam said.

It's the latest in a series of high profile problems for the band.

In 2000 the university established a written code of conduct for the band.

In February 2007 the marching band's assistant director Michael Lorenz resigned after an internal report criticized his treatment of a female colleague during a rowdy band trip to Michigan in 2006.

Reports of band members' hazing, alcohol use and inappropriate sexual behavior prompted the university to put the band on probation after the trip.

Then-Chancellor John Wiley threatened band members with losing performance and travel privileges.

Wiley, in an October 2006 letter to Leckrone, called band members' behavior "boorish to patently dangerous and unlawful."

At that time, seminude band members were alleged to have danced suggestively and there were reports of women being forced to kiss other women to be allowed to enter bathrooms on a bus.

The university said in a statement that the latest allegations were consistent with the 2006 troublesome behavior.

The award-winning band has a storied tradition on campus and a special place in the hearts of Badgers fans.

Leckrone said he believed the latest allegations breached the band's code of conduct and warranted a swift and significant response.

"I don't think it would be appropriate for me just to ignore it," he said.

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O.J. Simpson guilty of armed robbery, kidnapping

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) -- O.J. Simpson faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison after he and co-defendant Clarence "C.J." Stewart were found guilty on 12 charges, including armed robbery and kidnapping.

The jury reached the verdict 13 years to the day after O.J. Simpson was acquitted of two murders.

The jury reached the verdict 13 years to the day after O.J. Simpson was acquitted of two murders.

The case involved a Las Vegas, Nevada, hotel room confrontation over sports memorabilia. Simpson said the items had been stolen from him.

Friday's verdicts came 13 years to the day after a Los Angeles jury acquitted Simpson of killing his former wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Goldman's father, Fred Goldman, was thrilled with the result.

"We're absolutely thrilled to see that the potential is that he could spend the rest of his life in jail, where the scumbag belongs," Goldman said Saturday. "Right now, there is not much more to say other than we're going to wait to find out what else happens."

The Las Vegas jury reached its verdict after about 13 hours of deliberations Friday.

Simpson sat quietly and showed little emotion at the defense table as he listened to the verdicts being read.

Deputies then handcuffed Simpson and led him from the courtroom.

Simpson, 61, could get life in prison for these convictions. Clark County District Judge Jackie Glass set sentencing for December 5.

Defense attorney Yale Galanter spoke with Simpson after the verdict and said the former football star was "extremely upset, extremely emotional."

Galanter said he will file a motion for a new trial and appeal the case.

Simpson and Stewart were charged with 12 counts, including conspiracy to commit a crime, robbery, assault and kidnapping with a deadly weapon.

Carmelita Durio, Simpson's sister, sobbed as he was being escorted out of the courtroom, The Associated Press reported. As spectators left the courtroom, Durio collapsed, and paramedics were called, court spokesman Michael Sommermeyer said.

Although Glass prohibited mention of the 1995 murder case during the robbery trial, it remained an unspoken undercurrent throughout.

"From the beginning, my biggest concern, and I told you this the day after Mr. Simpson was arrested, was whether jurors would be able to separate their very strong feelings about Mr. Simpson and judge him fairly, equally and honestly," Galanter said.

Stewart attorney Brent Bryson said he was shocked by the verdict and said his client was hurt by Simpson's notoriety.

"I'm in disbelief that a jury could come back and find all those counts and convict Mr. Stewart on all those counts," Bryson said. "The only explanation that is even conceivable is the spillover prejudice from sitting next to Mr. Simpson."

Simpson arrived at the Clark County Justice Center about 10:50 p.m. Simpson told CNN before the verdict was read that he was "apprehensive."

Prosecutors charged that Simpson led a group of men who used threats, guns and force to take photographs, footballs and other items from memorabilia dealers Bruce Fromong and Al Beardsley in September 2007.

But a defense attorney said Simpson was targeted by police out to get him and cohorts in order to make "big bucks" off him.

Neither Simpson nor Stewart testified during the trial, and witnesses gave sometimes conflicting and contradictory testimony.

Galanter said Simpson was a target of investigators from the very beginning. The case "has taken on a life of its own because of Mr. Simpson's involvement," he added.

"Every cooperator, every person who had a gun, every person who had an ulterior motive, every person who signed a book deal, every person who got paid money, the police, the district attorney's office is only interested in one thing: Mr. Simpson," Galanter said.

The most compelling evidence for both sides came from audiotapes.

For the prosecution, conversations taped by collectibles middleman Thomas Riccio took jurors from the poolside planning to the profanity-laced hotel room confrontation.

Riccio, a chatty sports memorabilia dealer and convicted felon, made the rounds on network news shows immediately after the hotel room fracas. He admitted on the stand that various media outlets paid him $210,000.

The crucial evidence for the defense came from two audiotapes: a voicemail from a key prosecution witness who seemed willing to tailor his testimony for a price and tapes of Las Vegas police officers laughing and joking about Simpson's Los Angeles acquittal following his arrest.

Galanter told jurors the surreptitious recording captured police investigators in the hotel room after the confrontation. "They're making jokes. They're saying things like, 'We're gonna get him,"' he said.

Police were called to the hotel about 8 p.m. September 13, 2007. Shortly after midnight, detectives visited Simpson at his hotel. He told them he was just trying to recover property that had been stolen from him.

"Why are they not in trouble?" Simpson asked about memorabilia dealers Beardsley and Fromong, according to police reports filed in the case. Both men testified for the prosecution, although Beardsley said Simpson did nothing wrong and was "set up" by the "rat Riccio."

Riccio, who was not charged in the case, testified that he didn't think twice about recording Simpson when asked for help retrieving what Simpson claimed was his property.

All four of the former co-defendants testified for the prosecution. Two of them tied Simpson to guns and threats.

Michael McClinton testified that Simpson instructed him to bring a gun and "look menacing" before they entered the hotel room.

Simpson has told police he had no idea the people with him were armed.

The testimony was laced with innuendo about unsavory activities by several of the witnesses, many with criminal records. Riccio and Beardsley feuded openly, calling each other names and questioning each other's sanity.

Aware that loose cannons on the stand could blow the case into mistrial purgatory, Glass refused to let David Cook testify. Cook, an attorney for the family of Ronald Lyle Goldman, searches for Simpson assets to satisfy the $33.5 million civil judgment against the former NFL star.

Simpson was acquitted of killing his ex-wife and Goldman in a trial that ended 13 years to the day before the Las Vegas jury began its deliberations.

Regarding Glass' ruling, Cook said, "If you read between the lines, I think she thought my appearance would bring up the Ghost of Christmas Past."

As testimony neared its end, Glass vented her frustration with the quibbling lawyers.

"I'm trying to get this trial back on track," she snapped. "I am surprised you haven't seen my head spin and fire come out of my mouth at this point in this trial."

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Baseball's Most Embarrassing People, Places and Things

by Larry Dobrow

There are any number of people within sports who heap shame upon their families every time they leave the house. This season, however, baseball more or less found itself in the clear: no high-profile steroid busts, no Clemens re-un-reverse-retirements, no players smacking around their wives in full view of 50 Red Sox fans.

Ah, but there's still despair and intellectual/moral/emotional rot for those who dare to track it down. The race for sixth place starts behind these five entities.

MLB_most_embarrassing_mariners.jpgThe Seattle Mariners
You can almost—almost—forgive the Yankees this year's failure; they can blame a chunk of it on injuries and the rest on A-Rod. But the Mariners opened the season with a $118 million payroll, including $22.5 million in commitments to the since-released Richie Sexson and Jose Vidro. Along the way, they axed their manager and GM, and finished 61–101 (.377). Seattle boasts tasty seafood and gentile citizens who, charmingly, stop when the street signal starts blinking, but the city has become the Baltimore of professional sports.

MLB_most_embarrassing_mets.jpgShea Stadium
Baseball nostalgists can sentimentalize just about anything—the dead-ball era, stale ballpark pretzels, Jose Lima, you name it. Yet not even Mets fans can find it in their hearts to mourn the orange-and-blue monstrosity that is Shea. When the park meets its end at the hands of a wrecking ball late this year, its legacy will be one of grime and recessed seating. Looking for a victim here? The automotive chop shops that encircle the stadium, which never again will seem so innocent and beautiful by comparison.

MLB_most_embarrassing_cincinattiReds.jpgBob Castellini and Walt Jocketty, Owner and General Manager Cincinnati Reds
There are many ways to handle indignant fans. You could buy them pizza, for example, or give them coupons redeemable elsewhere for pizza. The Reds, however, addressed their recent legacy of soul-numbing failure with an open letter in which franchise higher-ups were all "dude, we're totally not happy about sucking, either!" and "have some patience, you girlyboys." Already demoralized within a few milligrams of an overdose, the fan base reacted with a whimper and a single stray tear.

MLB_most_embarrassing_farnsworth.jpgKyle Farnsworth, Relief Pitcher Detroit Tigers
His deer-spearing leisure leanings notwithstanding, Farnsworth is an intelligent, sensitive guy. That latter side was on full (and awkward) display when he got all weepy-shmoopy upon being traded to Detroit. Farnsworth may have the closer's low-lidded glare and fastball-cum-rocket, yet somehow a dizzying percentage of those fastballs are deposited by batters into the bleachers. His cropped hair and zany goggles say "closer"; his body language screams "worry-wart." Pity is not the reaction a shutdown reliever ought to inspire.

MLB_most_embarrassing_JimBowden.jpgJim "Fresh Bagels" Bowden, General Manager Washington Nationals
Never mind his almost superhuman incompetence—we have a new theory about Trader Jim. Here it goes: Jim Bowden is the coolest, funniest, most charismatic, most generous guy on the planet. How else has he been able to survive years of below-average performance in one of the most hotly desired gigs in baseball? Whenever Stan Kasten and the other Nats higher-ups get ready to drop the axe, Bowden must walk in the door with, like, a bag of fresh bagels. At the bar, he probably jumps to buy the first round. At the office holiday party, he's quick with a quip, a toast and a donation to the team's charity of choice. So we're coining a new nickname: Jim "Fresh Bagels" Bowden. Please refer to him as such until he gets shitcanned within the hour.

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First Week of Playoffs in Pictures… so far

If things don’t change fast I’ll have to eat my words…

Ah October…. Fall is in the air… the crisp breezes are cooling off the remnants of a hot Atlanta summer… and it’s still baseball time.

Is this my favorite month? As a Braves fan I’ve only had one October I really loved and that was 13 years ago. But as a baseball fan and casual observer watching the fates run their course for each postseason team, I love it.

Well I’ve got this week’s coffee in hand and ready to get you updated on this week in the playoffs. A lot can happen in a short amount of time. Especially with a five game series at hand.
So far..

Cubs fans are already a little pessimistic

Cubs fans are already feeling a little pessimistic

White Sox fans are hoping this doesn't happen again.

White Sox fans are hoping this doesn't happen again.

Red Sox have won 10 postseaon games in a row. What universe is this?

Red Sox have won 10 postseaon games in a row. What universe is this?

Rays fans want more cowbell

Rays fans want more cowbell

Phillies fans are cautiously optimistic

Phillies fans are cautiously optimistic

Angels fans still have something to believe in.

Angels fans still have something to believe in.

Dodgers fans are hoping the curse lives on

Dodgers fans are hoping the curse lives on

And the Brewers are just happy to be here.

And the Brewers are just happy to be here.

So yes, this Braves blog has caught playoff fever. And we’re so glad to have contributions from fans around the league keep us to date from the front lines.

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite World Series matchup. If you don’t see it, leave it in the comments.

You can also check on each divisional series here.

NLDS- Dodgers and Cubs
NLDS- Brewers and Phillies
ALDS- Rays and White Sox
ALDS- Red Sox and Angels

Keep Choppin’

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