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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Olympics: 10 signature moments

Golden touch: Michael Phelps (left) edged Milorad Cavic in an unforgettable race.

Bob Knight takes shot at Calipari, says integrity is lacking

Former Indiana coach Bob Knight said integrity is lacking in college basketball.
Former Indiana coach Bob Knight said integrity is lacking in college basketball.

INDIANAPOLIS -- Bob Knight said integrity is lacking in college basketball and cited Kentucky coach John Calipari as an example.

During a fundraiser for the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame, Knight said he doesn't understand why Calipari is still coaching.

"We've gotten into this situation where integrity is really lacking and that's why I'm glad I'm not coaching," he said. "You see we've got a coach at Kentucky who put two schools on probation and he's still coaching. I really don't understand that."

Massachusetts and Memphis were both sanctioned by the NCAA for violations committed during Calipari's tenure.

Knight, who won a record 902 games as coach of Army, Indiana and Texas Tech, did not elaborate or take questions from reporters.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

What’s in a Nickname? The Origins of All 30 NHL Team Names

by Scott Allen

Ever wonder what a Canuck is? How about a Blue Jacket? With the NHL season kicking off this week, here’s a breakdown of how the league’s 30 teams got their names.

1. New York Rangers
In 1925, the New York Americans joined the National Hockey League and played their home games at the old Madison Square Garden. Tex Rickard, the boxing promoter and ex-gold prospector who built and owned the arena, decided he wanted his own NHL team, which he was awarded in 1926. Rickard’s team was immediately dubbed “Tex’s Rangers” as a pun referencing the paramilitary force founded in Texas during the 1830s. The Americans folded in 1943, while Tex’s Rangers remain.

puddy-devils2. New Jersey Devils
Given that New Jersey has never been known for its mountains, the team needed a new nickname after the Colorado Rockies relocated to the Garden State in 1982. The New Jersey Sports and Exhibition Authority sponsored a statewide newspaper contest to determine the new nickname and some of the other finalists included Americans, Blades, Coastals, Colonials, Gulls, Jaguars, Meadowlanders, and Meadowlarks. While some fans objected to the winning selection on religious grounds – one threatened the life of a reporter who was covering the search – the Devil has an entirely non-religious folk history in New Jersey. According to legend, a harmless creature known as the Leeds Devil, or the Jersey Devil, roamed the Pine Barrens in the southern part of the state from 1887 until 1938.

3. New York Islanders
When New York’s expansion Major League Baseball franchise held a name-the-team contest in 1961, Islanders finished third behind Mets and Empires. Eleven years later, Islanders was selected as the nickname for New York’s new hockey team, which plays its home games on Long Island.

4. Philadelphia Flyers
The team sponsored a name-the-team contest after Ed Snider, then-vice president of the Philadelphia Eagles, brought hockey back to the City of Brotherly Love in 1966. Snider’s sister, Phyllis, reportedly suggested the name Flyers, which sounds good when paired with Philadelphia but doesn’t have any real meaning.

Lemieux_rookie5. Pittsburgh Penguins
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sponsored a name-the-team contest, but Carol McGregor, the wife of one of the franchise’s part owners, Jack McGregor, was the one responsible for the nickname. In his book, Pittsburgh Penguins: The Official History of the First 30 Years, Bob Grove describes how Carol McGregor came up with the name. “I was thinking of something with a P. And I said to Jack, ‘What do they call the Civic Arena?’ And he said, ‘The Big Igloo.’ So I thought, ice. . . Pittsburgh. . . Penguins.” More than 700 of the 26,000 contest entries were for Penguins.

6. Boston Bruins
When grocery store tycoon Charles Adams brought a team to Boston, he hired former hockey great Art Ross to serve as his general manager. Adams tasked Ross with coming up with a nickname, with one of the requirements being that the team’s colors would be the same as his grocery store chain – brown and yellow. Ross decided on Bruins.

7. Buffalo Sabres
When Buffalo entered the league in 1970, owners Seymour Knox III and Northrup Knox wanted the nickname for their new team to be unique. The brothers sponsored a name-the-team contest and decided on Sabres, with a buffalo featured prominently in the team’s logo.

8. Montreal Canadiens
In 1909, John Ambrose O’Brien created the Club de Hockey Canadien. Ambrose wanted his team, a charter member of the National Hockey Association, to appeal to Montreal’s francophone population and he hoped to drum up a rivalry with the city’s established team, the Wanderers. The Canadiens are often referred to as “The Habs” or “Les Habs,” an abbreviation of “Les Habitants,” the name for the early settlers of New France.

9. Ottawa Senators
The original Ottawa Senators, founded in 1883, won 11 Stanley Cups. When an NHL team returned to Ottawa in 1992 after a nearly 60-year hiatus, the nickname, a reference to Ottawa’s status as Canada’s capital city, was an obvious choice.

10. Toronto Maple Leafs
Conn Smythe purchased Toronto’s hockey team in 1927 and one of his first orders of business was renaming the team. The franchise that began play as the Arenas in 1917 changed its nickname to St. Patrick’s in 1919 to attract Toronto’s Irish population. Smythe eventually decided on Maple Leafs, for a couple possible reasons. Smythe fought in the Maple Leaf Regiment during World War I, and there was a former Toronto hockey team called the East Maple Leaves.

11. Atlanta Thrashers
Ted Turner named Atlanta’s 1997 expansion team after the brown thrasher, the state bird of Georgia.

12. Carolina Hurricanes
After the Hartford Whalers moved to Raleigh in 1997, new owner Peter Karmanos, Jr. named his team after the devastating storms that regularly ravage the region.

13. Florida Panthers
Had Tampa Bay been awarded a baseball team in the early 90s, they likely would’ve been called the Florida Panthers, a reference to the endangered species of the same name. Instead, the nickname was adopted by Florida’s second NHL team. When Panthers president Bill Torrey revealed the nickname, he told reporters: “A panther, for your information, is the quickest striking of all cats. Hopefully, that’s how we will be on the ice.”

14. Tampa Bay Lightning
In 1990, a thunderstorm served as inspiration for then-president of the Tampa Bay Hockey Group Phil Esposito’s decision to name his team the Lightning. Esposito said that in addition to being a natural characteristic of the Tampa Bay area, Lightning expressed the fast action of a hockey game.

15. Washington Capitals
Washington owner Abe Pollin decided on the perfectly apt nickname Capitals after staging a name-the-team contest.

blackhawks
16. Chicago Blackhawks
World War I veteran and coffee tycoon Frederic McLaughlin was Chicago’s owner when it entered the NHL in 1926. McLaughlin named the team after the 86th Infantry Division in which he served. The “Black Hawk Division” was named after Chief Black Hawk of the Sauk American Indian tribe, who fought the Illinois militia in 1832. The nickname was officially changed from Black Hawks to Blackhawks in 1986.

17. Columbus Blue Jackets
Blue Jackets was the winning entry in a name-the-team contest. According to the team’s website, the name “celebrates patriotism, pride and the rich Civil War history in the state of Ohio and, more specifically, the city of Columbus.” Ohio contributed more residents to the Union Army than any other state during the Civil War.

18. Detroit Red Wings
After purchasing the Detroit Falcons in 1932, James Norris renamed the team after the “Winged Wheelers,” the nickname of the Montreal Hockey Club for which he once played. Norris chose a winged wheel as the team’s logo, a nod to Detroit’s growing reputation as the heart of the automobile industry.

19. Nashville Predators
A vote by the fans helped determine Nashville’s nickname, a reference to the saber-toothed tiger remains that were discovered during an excavation in the city in 1971.

20. St. Louis Blues
According to the team’s website, owner Sid Saloman Jr. selected the nickname Blues in 1967 after W.C. Handy’s song, “St. Louis Blues.” Mercury and Apollo were two of the other nicknames that were considered. The space capsules bearing those names were built in St. Louis.

21. Calgary Flames
The Flames played in Atlanta from 1972 until 1980 and their nickname was a reference to the burning of Atlanta by General William T. Sherman during the Civil War. While the team moved, the nickname remained.

22. Colorado Avalanche
Rockies, the nickname for Colorado’s hockey team that left for New Jersey in 1982, had been adopted by Denver’s baseball team by the time the Quebec Nordiques left Canada for the Front Range in 1995. Management originally wanted to name the team Extreme, but received all sorts of negative feedback, and justifiably so. Avalanche, which eventually beat out Black Bears, Outlaws, Storm, Wranglers, Renegades, Rapids, and Cougars, drew some criticism, as well, given their deadly nature. A member of the marketing group responsible for naming the team replied: “This is the NHL, a rough and tough sport, and Avalanche is something that matches the ‘on the edge’ feel they want to create. Hey, Cougars and Bears kill people, too. People shouldn’t get so excited about Avalanche being a disrespectful name or something. It’s just a name.”

gretzky23. Edmonton Oilers
Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, is also the oil capital of Canada. Edmonton began play in 1972 in the World Hockey Association and retained the name Oilers when it joined the NHL in 1979.

24. Minnesota Wild
In 1998, Wild was chosen from a field of six finalists, which also included the Blue Ox, Northern Lights, Voyageurs, White Bears, and Freeze. (Voyageurs were the working-class employees of fur trading companies in the region during the 1700s.)

25. Vancouver Canucks
Johnny Canuck, who originally appeared as a Canadian political cartoon character in 1869, was reinvented as a comic book action hero who fought Adolf Hitler, among other villains, during World War II. Canuck is also slang for Canadian, making Vancouver’s hockey team the Canadian equivalent of the New York Yankees – with a little less money.

26. Dallas Stars
When the Minnesota North Stars, whose nickname was decided by a fan contest, moved to Texas in 1993, they ditched the “North” and didn’t feel compelled to replace it with “South” or “Lone.”

27. Los Angeles Kings
The late Jack Kent Cooke, who owned the Los Angeles Lakers and later the Washington Redskins, settled on Kings as the team nickname from entries submitted in a fan contest. The Los Angeles Monarchs played in the Pacific Coast Hockey League during the 1930s and Cooke’s new team adopted the same royal color scheme as the Lakers.

mighty-ducks28. Anaheim Ducks
Quack. Quack. Quack! Quack! QUACK! Anaheim joined the NHL in 1993 and its team was known as the Mighty Ducks, after the wildly popular Disney movie and cross-marketing vehicle of the same name. The nickname was changed to Ducks and the logo was changed in 2005 after Disney sold the team.

29. Phoenix Coyotes
The Winnipeg Jets moved to Phoenix in 1996 and Coyotes was the winner in a name-the-team contest that attracted more than 10,000 entries. Scorpions was the runner-up.

30. San Jose Sharks
Sharks was chosen from 2,300 entries in San Jose’s name-the-team contest. The other finalists included Rubber Puckies, Screaming Squids, Salty Dogs, and Blades. Blades was the most popular entry, but ultimately rejected because of its gang implications. When the nickname was chosen, seven shark species made their home in a stretch of the Pacific Ocean off the California coast called The Red Triangle.

Original here

One-Handed Basketball Player Gets Division I Scholarship and Takes the Court


The 2009-10 NCAA basketball season is right around the corner and freshman recruits across the nation are on the verge of stepping onto the college courts for the first time. Many of which are playing under scholarships and fulfilling their dreams. One of those players is doing so in November against more odds than you can imagine. The player, Kevin Laue, has only one arm. And no i’m not referring to some sort of ’special’ college league for handicapped players. I’m talking about the NCAA Division I that every player dreams of playing in as they grow up.

The Globe and Mail had this to say about Kevin Laue today:

Kevin Laue isn’t supposed to be here, standing on the court practising for his first season of Division I basketball in the United States.

Born without a left hand, the 6-foot-11 centre from Pleasanton, Calif., is now a freshman at Manhattan College, having earned a scholarship to play for the Jaspers and a chance to live out the dream of anyone who has been told they couldn’t play a sport they loved because of a physical defect.

When the Jaspers’ season opens Nov. 14, the question will not be whether Mr. Laue can dribble, pass, block, score or rebound, but whether his opponents will underestimate his skills. “It’s to my advantage,” said Mr. Laue, explaining what it’s like to come onto the floor during a game and face his two-handed opponents. “They think they’re going to have an easy game and just whip on some one-handed kid. But I think I’ve surprised a couple people out there.”

Personally, I can’t wait to see the looks on his opponents faces when he rips a board over them, leaves them hung out to dry in the post, or spots up for a made jump shot right in their face. Check out this video clip of Laue playing the game he loves:

Sports Videos, News, Blogs

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

World Cup 2010: Top 50 World Cup moments

Maradona, Pele, Cruyff... Celebrate the greatest moments and greatest players in World Cup history with our definitive list, complete with YouTube clips.

By Rory Smith

Bobby Moore and Pele: Top 50 World Cup moments
That tackle, that save: Bobby Moore (left) swaps shirts with Pele after the epic 1970 World Cup encounter between England and Brazil in Guadalajara, Mexico Photo: AP

1. Maradona’s two minutes, 1986

No player has ever dominated a tournament as wholly as Diego Armando Maradona managed in 1986, taking a workmanlike Argentina to their second World Cup title. How he did it is encapsulated in his two goals against England in the quarter finals; the first a masterclass in the art of deception - he cheated - and the second, simply a masterclass. They were the moments that made him an icon.


Watch YouTube clip one

Watch YouTube clip two

2. Pele’s pass, 1970

In 1966, Brazil, winners of the previous two World Cups, sent a team of cloggers to England and promptly embarrassed themselves. In 1970, they made up for lost time by sending “five number 10s” – Pele, Jairzinho, Rivelino, Gerson and Tostao – and playing some of the best football ever seen. Pele’s pass for Carlos Alberto’s goal in the contemptuous demolition of Italy in the final provided a fitting epitaph for the greatest team ever to grace the finals.

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3. The Goal That Never Was, Maybe, 1966

Taken from a neutral perspective, the 1966 World Cup final is arguably the best of all 18, featuring a late equaliser to send the game into extra time in a six-goal thriller between two arch-rivals. Geoff Hurst’s second, England’s third, killed off the West German resistance and kick-started a debate that still rages today, and not the one about Hans Tilkowski’s hat.

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4. Cruyff’s turn, 1974

There a few tricks employed quite so often on the playground as the Cruyff turn, a devastatingly simple premise barely noted by commentators in the all-singing, all-dancing age of the Premier League. It is, then, testament to Johan Cruyff’s abilities that nobody thought of it until he unveiled it to the world against Sweden, and the hapless Gunnar Olsson, in Germany in 1974.

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5. They Think It’s All Over, 1966

So iconic is Kenneth Wolstenholme’s commentary that his words almost overshadow both Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick goal in a World Cup final and excuse the small-scale pitch invasion that, should it happen in 2018, would be targeted by a Home Office inquiry resulting in banning orders.

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6. The Miracle of Bern, 1954

Where England places Kenneth Wolstenholme, Germany puts Herbert Zimmermann, the man whose screams of “tor” provided the soundtrack to a nation’s rebirth. Two goals down to the Hungary of Puskas, Hidegkuti and Kocsis – who had beaten them 8-3 in the group stages – Germany somehow recovered before Helmut Rahn sent Zimmermann into raptures.

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7. The Wail Heard Around The World, 1950

It is believed the Maracana held more than 200,000 people for the 1950 final between heavily-fancied hosts Brazil and minnows Uruguay. It was all going to plan for the home fans when Friaca put Brazil, in white, ahead, before Juan Schiaffino and Alcides Ghiggia turned the world on its head. So upset were the hosts that they forgot to give Uruguay the trophy, the 200,000 sat in “silence too difficult to bear” and the national team refused to ever wear white again.

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8. The night before the morning after, 1974

Like Hungary in 1954, Holland were clearly the greatest team on the planet as they swashbuckled their way through the tournament in Germany 20 years later. But their plans fell apart when German newspapers published details of a party at the team hotel on the eve of the final against the hosts – legend has it that Johan Cruyff spent all night persuading his wife nothing amiss had gone on – and their campaign did likewise, as Paul Breitner and Gerd Muller cancelled out Johan Neeskens’ early penalty.

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9. Zinedine Zidane’s sister, 2006

What Zinedine Zidane was to football, Marco Materazzi is to winding up opponents. After a tournament in which he had enjoyed the most glorious of swansongs, the French legend decided to go out in style, giving his side the lead in the World Cup final before, in extra time, responding to one barb too many – reportedly about his sister - with the head-butt seen around the world.

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10. Welcome to Pele, 1958

Brazil’s World Cup pedigree when they travelled to Sweden in 1958 was comparatively poor; when they left, the idea of samba football had been born, largely thanks to the soundtrack which accompanied them as they trained. But the star of the show was the unknown black 17-year-old who saw off Wales in the quarter-finals, scored a hat-trick in the semis and then announced himself to the world with that goal against the hosts in the final.

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11. The Battle of Santiago, 1962

David Coleman, moral arbiter of sport, decried this game between Chile and Italy as the “most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game.” Two players were sent off, noses were broken and all manner of chaos broke loose. Everyone watching probably secretly enjoyed it.

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12. Everything Brazil did in Spain, 1982

Football, by all accounts, only remembers the winners. Eder, Junior, Zico, Falcao and Socrates were not winners – Paolo Rossi put paid to that – but, their countrymen from 1970 aside, no more memorable team has ever played in a World Cup finals.

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13. Cry Baby, 1990

Paul Gascoigne’s tears for his booking in the semi-final of Italia 90 did not simply endear the Geordie schemer to a nation, but laid the ground for the gentrification of football into the sport it has become.

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14. The wall breaks, 1974

Zaire did not have much fun at the 1974 tournament, but those watching them did. Faced with the might of Brazil, right-back Ilunga earned his own place in history thanks to his decision to undertake probably the funniest thing ever to happen in Germany.

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15. Battiston’s teeth, 1982

What is truly remarkable about the worst foul ever seen at a World Cup – and possibly in all of football – is that Harald Schumacher was not even booked for what was at least assault on Patrick Battiston. The Frenchman was left unconscious, his front teeth knocked out, needed oxygen on the pitch and, of course, the Germans went on to win.

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16. The thrown game, 1978

Needing to win by four clear goals to beat Brazil to a place in their own World Cup final, Argentina easily saw off the previously impressive – well, adequate – Peruvians by six, prompting reports the Argentine military junta had fixed the game. That Peru’s goalkeeper, Ramon Quiroga, had been born in Argentina hardly helped matters.

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17. USA! USA! 1950

Joe Gaetjens, a Haitian student drafted into the US side for the 1950 World Cup, only played three games in international football, but his contribution – the goal that beat Walter Winterbottom’s England – produced the biggest upset in the tournament’s history.

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18. The ephedrine scream, 1994

Drug cheats all over the world know the best way to avoid detection is not to draw attention to your altered state of mind. Such a ploy was not for Diego Maradona, not after a wonderful goal against Greece. Had nobody felt the need to test him before his celebration, they probably realised they had better check after it.

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19. Marco, Marco, Marco, 1982

Paolo Rossi, recently returned from a ban after becoming embroiled in a match-fixing scandal, fired Italy to the World Cup final, but it was Marco Tardelli’s strike which defined their victory. He denies screaming his name repeatedly as he wheeled away, insisting: “It was just a noise, I could not say anything.”

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20. Banks’s save, Moore’s tackle, 1970

The reigning champions’ defeat to their heirs apparent in the heat of Guadalajara was notable for Jeff Astle’s miss, Jairzinho’s goal, Bobby Moore’s tackle on Pele and, of course, Gordon Banks’s remarkable save from the planet’s greatest player, as well as the mutual respect on show after the game.

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21. Archie’s Army, 1978

It may not have been enough to save Ally McLeod’s side from ignominious elimination, but Archie Gemmill’s waltz through the Dutch defence to help Scotland to a 3-2 win at least salvaged some wounded Caledonian pride from the 1978 tournament.

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22. Pak Do Ik, 1966

Along with the USA’s win over England in 1950, North Korea’s elimination of Italy from the tournament 16 years later ranks as the greatest shock ever seen at a finals. It was Pak Do Ik who delivered the hammer blow before Portugal overturned a three goal deficit to send the Communist side home in the quarter finals.

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23. East 2-1 West, 1998

When Iran and the USA were drawn together in the group stages of the 1998 World Cup, it was thought the game would not be allowed to go ahead. But go ahead it did, and goals from Hamid Estili and Mehdi Mahdavikia gave the Islamic Republic the win against their Great Satan.

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24. The Ronaldo Incident, 1998

It was the toothy striker’s talent which took Brazil to the second of three consecutive World Cup finals, but it was the controversy over his inclusion which may have cost them the 1998 tournament. He apparently suffered a fit, brought on by stress, but was eventually included in the starting line-up, despite originally being replaced by monkey-baiting forward Edmundo. Amid rumours Nike had forced him to play, Ronaldo looked a shadow of his former self and France romped home.

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25. Clive Thomas, 1978

Some things never change. Players have always dived, managers have always complained and referees have always been possessed of a streak of officious incompetence, best summed up by Clive Thomas’s decision to disallow Zico’s winning goal against Sweden in the 1978 World Cup.

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26. Pele’s Dummy, 1970

The greatest goal never scored, shortly preceded by the best piece of play ever to grace a football field that did not involve touching the ball.

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27. Kuwait a Minute, 1982

With his side 3-1 down to the French and hardly likely to launch a comeback, Sheikh Fahid Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah would have been forgiven for accepting Alain Giresse’s controversial fourth as inconsequential. Not a bit of it. He marched his team off the pitch, forced the Soviet referee to cancel the goal and no doubt watched in fury as, minutes later, Maxime Bossis notched a legitimate fourth.

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28. Maradona v Belgium, 1986

Had the diminutive Argentine not gone on to score that goal against England, his effort to see off a talented Belgian side would probably have gone down in his history as his piece de resistance.

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29. Animals, 1966

So incensed was Alf Ramsey by the spoiling tactics employed by Argentina – and their captain, Antonio Rattin, in particular – that he refused to allow his players to swap shirts after seeing off their opponents. He did not, though, call the Argentines “animals”, though he probably thought it.

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30. Higuita and Milla, 1990

The two unlikely stars of the 1990 World Cup. Rene Higuita, the perm-sporting Colombian goalkeeper, and Roger Milla, the all-dancing Cameroonian pensioner who captured the planet’s hearts. Honourable mention, too, to Benjamin Massing and his assault on Claudio Caniggia.

Watch YouTube clip one Watch YouTube clip two

31. Gerry’s pacemaker, 1982

Hosts they may have been, but Spain were hardly a side to be feared in 1982. After drawing with Honduras, they lost to Northern Ireland, thanks to Gerry Armstrong’s goal, and only just scraped through. That should not detract, though, from the proudest moment in Northern Irish World Cup history.

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32. Owen’s goal, 1998

An untested, unproven 18 year-old before he raced away from the Argentine defence to give England a 2-1 lead in the second round of France 98, afterwards Michael Owen was a global superstar.

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33. Gobbing off, 1990

Holland against Germany is always a tense affair, especially after the Dutch gained revenge for 1974 in the 1988 European Championships, but spitting is probably the wrong way to relieve the stress. Seeing Frank Rijkaard’s phlegm in Rudi Voller’s curly mullet remains one of the most disturbing scenes ever produced by television.

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34. Diana Ross v Roberto Baggio, 1994

Had Roberto Baggio converted his spot kick in the 1994 World Cup final and Italy gone on to win, his contribution would have matched that of Maradona in 1986. Diana Ross’s probably would not have, even had she scored.

Watch YouTube clip one Watch YouTube clip two

35. Silly boy, 1998

As one of football’s elder statesmen, David Beckham now seems a different person to the one sent off in England’s second-round fixture with Argentina in 1998 for his petulant response to Diego Simeone’s endless baiting. Effigies of the Manchester United player were burned in the streets, and, until his rescue act against Greece in 2001, the golden boy remained tarnished.

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36. Dennis Bergkamp’s control, 1998

Perfect control, a swift turn and a curling finish past Carlos Roa. Dennis Bergkamp’s third goal of France 98 – the strike that made him Holland’s all-time leading scorer – was his international masterpiece.

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37. Bald eagle, 1994

The reigning champions, Germany, looked a good bet to win a poor tournament until they ran into a Bulgarian side inspired by Hristo Stoitchkov – along with Gheorghe Hagi and Roberto Baggio, the competition’s star – and a bald, journeyman midfielder by the name of Yordan Letchkov.

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38. Cruyff leaves Holland in the mire, 1978

Johan Neeskens famously observed after losing to hosts Argentina in the 1978 final that “if we had won, we would not have left the stadium alive.” He may have been thankful then that Johan Cruyff, for either political or domestic reasons, refused to travel to South America, leaving the likes of Arie Haan and Robbie Rensenbrink – rated as better than Cruyff by some – to help Holland go close, again.

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39. Sticks and stones, 1930

It’s a wonder the World Cup ever got off the ground. First the European entrants for the first ever tournament had to travel by the same boat to Uruguay, then fears over violence were so great for the final that the referee demanded a launch be readied in case he needed a quick escape. When the hosts beat Argentina to win the trophy, their consulate in Buenos Aires was attacked by angry mobs.

40. Platt’s volley, 1990

The moment when England began to believe. Converting Chris Waddle’s chipped free kick with a smart volley in the last minute of extra time, Platt sent Bobby Robson’s side to a quarter final with Cameroon and presented them with their best chance of winning the trophy since 1966.

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41. Leonidas, 1938

The Black Diamond was the undisputed star of the third edition of the competition and the pioneer of the free-running, expansive style which has come to define Brazil in the eyes of the world. Dropped for the semi-final in which Brazil crashed out to Giuseppe Meazza’s Italy, he still finished top scorer.

42. Andres Escobar, 1994

Pele’s tip to win the World Cup – never a good form guide – Colombia were eliminated in the group stage after Escobar’s own goal handed the hosts a 2-1 win. He was shot dead weeks later in Medellin amid speculation his error had cost the city’s powerful drug barons millions in gambling losses.

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43. 27 seconds in, 1982

Captain Marvel Bryan Robson notched his place in World Cup history with the fastest ever goal at the finals – a half-volley against France in their opening game – but even that could not get Ron Greenwood’s side past the second group stage, where they missed out to West Germany.

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44. The minnows in the sun, 1958

With Scotland inept and England’s hopes decimated by the Munich air disaster, it was Wales and Northern Ireland who bore the brunt of Britain’s hopes. Had it not been for Pele, Wales may have made the semi-finals, while only Just Fontaine’s exploits halted Northern Ireland’s run.

45. Hitler’s bad luck continues, 1938

Desperate for sporting success to prove Aryan supremacy, the Fuhrer co-opted some of Austria’s wunderteam into his German side for the 1938 tournament, held in France. Two years after the Berlin Olympics, it was Switzerland who filled the role of Jesse Owens, knocking the combined side out in the first round 4-2 after a replay.

46. Fashion with Jorge Campos, 1994

In his wonderful treatise Football In Sun and Shade, Eduardo Galeano wonders whether goalkeepers wear bright colours in a bid to overcome the isolation of their role. Campos, the colourful Mexican shot-stopper who fancied himself as a striker, must have been lonelier than most.

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47. The Fix, 1982

With a win for West Germany enough to take both them and near-neighbours Austria through at the expense of Algeria, both sides stopped playing after Horst Hrubesch gave the Germans the lead in the 10th minute. Algeria protested, Fifa turned a blind eye and the greatest fraud in World Cup history was complete.

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48. 'The Fix', 2002

First Italy, then Spain. Conspiracy theories abounded in southern Europe as South Korea, co-hosts of the 2002 tournament, saw off two major superpowers – thanks to some truly dreadful refereeing decisions – on their way to the semi-finals, where a third proved too much to ask.

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49. Cubillas does for Ally’s Army, 1978

Ah, hubris. Scotland travelled to Argentina on a wave of optimism, their side full of some of the best players in Europe and their song topping the charts. Defeat to Peru, though, scuppered their best ever chance of getting past the group stage.

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50. The most beautiful goal, 2006

Italy may have won the tournament, France and Germany may have provided the romance, but Jose Pekerman’s magnificent Argentina, a poetic, balletic side pivoted around Juan Roman Riquelme, were the best team on show in 2006, a fact beautifully demonstrated by Esteban Cambiasso’s 26-pass goal in the 6-0 trouncing of Serbia.

Watch YouTube

Original here

Briatore out over Renault fix row


Nelson Piquet Jr crashes in Singapore

Watch Piquet's Singapore crash

Flavio Briatore has left his position as boss of the Renault team after they decided not to contest charges of fixing the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

Executive director of engineering Pat Symonds has also left the team.

Renault were summoned by governing body, the FIA, after Nelson Piquet Jr claimed he had been asked to crash to help team-mate Fernando Alonso's race.

An FIA spokesperson confirmed a World Motor Sport Council hearing in Paris on Monday would go ahead.

Renault have been called to answer charges that they "conspired with Nelson Piquet Jr to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix with the aim of causing the deployment of the safety car to the advantage of its other driver, Fernando Alonso".

The hearing will attempt to attribute responsibility for the Singapore "crash-gate" despite the departure of Briatore and Symonds.

Flavio Briatore
Briatore has lost his job over the Singapore race-fix charge

The FIA could still impose sanctions if Renault are found guilty, including excluding the team from the championship, although that must be considered unlikely given the two people Piquet said were responsible have now left the team.

When asked for his thoughts on Briatore's demise, Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said: "Well, I feel sorry for him actually.

"Obviously, I am surprised at what has happened, and I am taken by surprise today that they've decided to walk away."

Piquet crashed in Singapore two laps after Alonso had come in for a routine pit stop.

That meant that when race officials sent out the safety car to clear up the debris from Piquet's car, Alonso was alone among the front-runners in not having to stop for fuel and tyres.

Renault's double world champion went on to take the chequered flag at Formula 1's inaugural night race and claim the team's first victory in two years.

Nelson Piquet Jr crashes out of the Singapore Grand Prix in 2008

BBC's Andy Swiss reports on case

At the time, Piquet attributed the crash to a simple error, but after being dropped by the team after July's Hungary GP the race-fixing allegations emerged.

The Brazilian has since testified to the FIA that he was instructed by Briatore and Symonds when and where to crash.

Renault's response was to accuse the 24-year-old and his father Nelson Piquet of false allegations and blackmail, going as far as saying they would begin legal action against them.

But on Wednesday the team said in a statement they would "not dispute the recent allegations made by the FIA concerning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix".

The statement added: "The team also wishes to state that its managing director, Flavio Briatore and its executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds, have left the team."

BBC pundit and former team boss Eddie Jordan said he was surprised by Renault's announcement but believes it was effectively an admission of guilt.

ANDREW BENSON'S BLOG

"Suggesting they are not going to contest the allegations is in itself an admission," Jordan told the BBC.

"I don't know what goes on in teams, and certainly in the Jordan team you would contemplate all sorts of things, but you certainly couldn't contemplate that."

It remains to be seen whether this latest controversy, and the exit of Briatore and Symonds, will affect Renault's decision to stay in Formula 1.

Briatore had denied speculation that the French team's future was under threat and the team have signed a new Concorde Agreement to stay in F1 until 2012.

But this latest controversy, coupled with a decline in cars sales, could yet have repercussions for the staff of around 700, who are are employed at the team's headquarters in Enstone, in Oxfordshire, and Viry-Chatillon in Paris.

Former grand prix winner John Watson told the BBC: "The fact that Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have left the team was the only solution to Renault.

Pat Symonds
Symonds was Michael Schumacher's race engineer in the 1990s

"A company on the scale of Renault, a world-scale motor company could not afford to have a scandal of this magnitude rattling around in the boardroom."

As it is, Renault's statement appears to end the F1 career of two of the sport's best-known protagonists.

Briatore became Benetton team principal in 1988 and when Renault bought Benetton in 2000 to run under its own moniker, the 59-year-old Italian was chosen to lead the team.

Symonds started his F1 career in 1981 at the Toleman team, which morphed into Benetton and Renault, and worked his way though the ranks to become executive director of engineering in 2001.

Briatore was also heavily involved in the teams' association Fota, as it sought to reach an agreement on the future of the sport with the FIA this season.

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Throwback Ref Unis: WTF Or Whataburger?














During tonight’s Monday Night Football clash between the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots, the teams broke out their AFL throwback uniforms. That was awesome. Unfortunately, the refs also wore their AFL throwbacks. When I saw them in these clownsuits, I could only think of one thing…

whataburger

Seriously, I didn’t know whether to scream at them over calls they blew or order a burger, fries and a shake. When Leodis McKelvin pulled a Munson, ran the ball out when he should have taken a knee, then fumbled, it was utterly hilarious to see a six-pack of these bozos gather around the pile. This is what the work uniform would look like if Foot Locker merged with Whataburger. The hats are absolutely hideous, I think I saw one of those in my grandpa’s closet before he passed.

To make matters worse, the refs in the San Diego Chargers at Oakland Raiders game are wearing the same thing. I wonder if just putting those on raises your cholesterol. Ugh, they look like what you’d see if an inmate screwed a jack-o’-lantern. The NFL really needs to figure out the difference between throwbacks and throwaways. Please. I’ve been adjusting my TV set all night thinking the color was off.

More pics of these abominations after the jump…

ref2

ref3

(Adam Best is the senior editor of the FanSided.com Sports Network and the twisted mind behind The Best View. Follow him on Twitter.)

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NCAA president Myles Brand, 67, loses fight with cancer


Mike DeCourcy, Sporting News

After fighting pancreatic cancer for nearly a year, NCAA president Myles Brand died Wednesday. He was 67.

Brand became a sports figure when, as Indiana University president, he fired basketball coach Bob Knight following the institution of a "zero-tolerance" policy that Brand judged Knight to have violated by verbally confronting an IU student.

Brand subsequently was hired to replace Cedric Dempsey as NCAA president in January 2003. In his NCAA position, he was known for his advocacy of athletes' issues, such as advocating the increase of funds for their emergencies and for championing a more just freshman eligibility process.

Mike DeCourcy is a writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at decourcy@sportingnews.com.

10 Craziest Baseball Rules

Picture 3

The guy in the photo above is Alexander Cartwright, and he’s credited with inventing the modern game of baseball. Only problem is that those initial rules from the 1840s were pretty messed up, in comparison to how baseball is played today. We’ve lauded a lot of these old timey baseball guys with handlebar mustaches in the past, but we might have to take it all back. In the 1800s, baseball was a goofy game with a lot of stupid rules. These guys would probably crap themselves if they had to face guys like Justin Verlander or Alex Rodriguez today. Here are The 10 Craziest Baseball Rules You Would Never Believe Existed. Besides the whole “no minorities” thing that we’re glossing over, that is.

10. Pitchers Could Cover Balls With Just About Anything
Before 1920, pitchers could cover the ball with spit, Vaseline, road kill, Nickelodeon slime or whatever the hell else they wanted. It apparently worked. That Babe Ruth guy didn’t start hitting a billion home runs a year until they outlawed it. We don’t actually know for a fact they used road kill, but that whole ‘Dead Ball Era’ thing would make more sense if they did.

Picture 6

9. Balls And Strikes Didn’t Really Exist
When baseball started, hitters just kind of stood at the plate whacking away until they hit the ball somewhere in fair territory. That created a question of what constituted a walk (see Rule Four) or a strikeout. In 1887, walks were even considered hits. And that was also the first year that batters were awarded first base if they got hit by a pitch. Called strikes didn’t even exist until 1858. And until 1863, base runners would run advance on foul balls. And as you’ll see in Rule Three, they didn’t necessarily run to the correct bases.

Have you ever seen a Little League game with 6-year-olds? It’s pretty terrible. That’s how we imagine old timey baseball must have looked. We even picture an old farmer so terrible at hitting, that his coach has to bring out a tee.

Picture 7

8. Catchers Had Zero Protection
See that old timey idiot in the picture below? It’s not his fault. Chest protectors weren’t introduced into baseball until 1885. It wasn’t until six years after that when catchers got to wear padded mitts. These poor bastards just had to stand there in a dumb stance and wait to get their goddamn faces blown off with a foul tip. But, then again, you’ll see from #1 that these guys weren’t really facing ‘the heat’ from pitchers until 1883. It’s just amazing it took the rules committee two years to realize that catching was a fairly dangerous job.

Picture 8

7. Pitchers Used To ‘Throw’ From 45 Feet
You’ll notice in the picture below that the pitcher (who isn’t even on a mound) looks crazily close to the batter. That’s because the whole 60-feet-6-inches thing didn’t exist until 1893. But hey, that’s 15.5 feet shorter to hurl your heavy-as-hell Vaseline/spit/pubes ball towards your poor bastard catcher.

Picture 9

6. Hitters Had Flat Bats
For some reason that we can’t figure out, hitters used to have flat bats until 1893. They really took their cricket influence seriously. Why did they want to use paddle bats? Maybe they wanted to spank the ball. Sounds pretty lame to us.

Picture 10

5. Pitchers Couldn’t Step Towards The Plate When They Threw
Seriously. In 1863 a rule was instated which said pitchers had to have both feet on the ground at the same time they threw. Was sh*t getting way to crazy until 1863? Modern day Major League batting practice is probably way more entertaining than old timey baseball. Either that, or it it mostly resembled weird-rules baseball from a middle school P.E. class.

Picture 11

4. Hitters Got Nine Balls Before They Walked
We said in Rule Nine that baseball rule makers had a real hard time with balls and strikes, but in 1879 it was decided that nine balls made a walk. How bad did a pitcher have to be to walk somebody in 1879? You would’ve had to be blind. It wasn’t until 1889 that the number was finally whittled down to four.

Picture 12

3. Base Runners Didn’t Have To Touch Every Base
From 1858 – 1864, base runners didn’t have to touch every base in order. Did they also play the “Benny Hill Show” song while these goofballs ran all over the field?

Picture 10

2. Batters Could Call For The Type Of Pitch They Wanted
From 1867-1887, batters had the privilege of calling for a low pitch or a high pitch. What was the point of pitching? Did the pitcher also have to wipe the batter after they went to the bathroom?

Picture 11

1. Pitchers Threw Underhand
That should blow your mind. Major League Baseball officially started in 1876, but it wasn’t until 1883 that pitchers were allowed to throw overhand. The initial rules of baseball stated that pitchers had to throw the ball as if they were pitching a horseshoe. So these old batters got to call for their pitch and get it thrown to them underhand. They couldn’t step towards the plate. No wonder the pitchers covered the balls in battery acid and pig manure.

Picture 5

Love baseball (or battery acid and pig manure)? Check out our lists on 10 Baseball Players You Wouldn’t Want To Sit On You and 10 Worst Baseball Teams Of The Past 30 Years.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Mexico edges U.S. 2-1 in qualifier

Isarael Casto
Israel Castro tied the game a 1-1 with his first-half goal for Mexico.
LUIS ACOSTA/AFP/Getty Images
2010 World Cup Qualifying Glance
North and Central America and Caribbean Finals
Standings
Team GP W D L GF GA Pts
Costa Rica 6 4 0 2 9 9 12
Honduras 6 3 1 2 11 7 10
United States 6 3 1 2 11 8 10
Mexico 6 3 0 3 8 9 9
El Salvador 6 1 2 3 7 9 5
Trinidad 6 1 2 3 7 11 5
• Top three qualify
• Fourth-place team advances to playoff vs. South America fifth-place team
Results, Schedules
Wednesday
At Mexico City
• Mexico 2, United States 1
At Port-of-Spain, Trinidad
• Trinidad and Tobago 1, El Salvador 0
At San Pedro Sula, Honduras
• Honduras 4, Costa Rica 0
Saturday, Sept. 5
At Sandy, Utah
• United States vs. El Salvador, 7:57 p.m.
At Tegucigalpa, Honduras
• Honduras vs. Trinidad and Tobago, 9:30 p.m.
At San Jose, Costa Rica
• Costa Rica vs. Mexico, 10 p.m.
• All Times Eastern

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexican coach Javier Aguirre showed his relief after his team's 2-1 victory over the United States on Wednesday in a critical World Cup qualifier.

"Today is a day to celebrate, drink a few tequilas, and then get back to work," Aguirre said after Miguel Sabah's goal in the 82nd minute gave Mexico the come-from-behind victory. "Everybody will go to bed tonight a bit more relaxed."

The victory -- driven by a patient rally -- eased the pressure on Mexico, which has been struggling in World Cup qualifying. The loss for the United States was almost expected. The United States has played 24 times in Mexico and lost 23. The only tie was a 0-0 draw in 1997.

The Mexicans are fourth in CONCACAF qualifying, with only the top three teams automatically advancing. Costa Rica, a 4-0 loser Wednesday night against Honduras, leads the group with 12 points, followed by Honduras and the United States with 10, and Mexico with nine.

The United States should stay on course to qualify if it wins its two remaining home games.

"I think it's a tight game and a fair score," U.S. coach Bob Bradley said. "It's tough loss to have so many guys work so hard and then give up a late goal. The feeling inside is one of great disappointment."

Added forward Landon Donovan: "This wasn't a live-or-die game for us. It was for them."

Sabah, who came in 3 minutes earlier, was all alone in front of the net when he took a feed from Efrain Juarez and beat goalkeeper Tim Howard. Defender Jay DeMerit made a key tackle on Juarez in the area, but the ball, instead of bounding out of bounds, went to Sabah, who put it away.

"The guy turned on it quickly and smashed it has hard as he could," Howard said of Sabah's goal.

The Americans nearly silenced the piercing drone of horns, drums and high-pitched screams in the ninth minute when Charlie Davies gave the United States a 1-0 lead on a world-class goal, the fourth of his career.

Donovan turned near midfield and threaded a pass through three Mexicans on the left side to Davies, who timed a perfect run and scored just inside the far post from 15 yards.

It was the first time the Americans led a match at Azteca Stadium, which opened 43 years ago.

"This is what you live for, especially as a striker scoring bigtime goals," Davies said.

The U.S. edge lasted only 10 minutes. In the 19th, Cuauhtemoc Blanco found Israel Castro, who equalized on a wicked 27-yard shot off underside of the crossbar and just over a leaping Howard's outstretched hand.

The goal turned up the volume again for 105,000 fans in sold-out Azteca, where almost every touch of the ball by a Mexican player was greeted by cheers of "Ole! Ole!"

Mexico won the Gold Cup last month using many of the same players. But the U.S. team the Mexicans routed 5-0 in the final was a lesser squad than the one on the field at Azteca.

"We did a good job starting the game well and scoring," Donovan said. "They made one play at the end that made the difference.

"It's hard to play here, man," said Donovan, referring to the 7,400-foot altitude. "It wears you out. It's just exhausting."

In the 74th minute, tempers flared. With Davies down on the field -- apparently with cramps -- several Mexican players tried to pull him off the ground. That angered Benny Feilhaber, who shoved several Mexicans as Howard came out of goal to separate the sides.

Three American defenders -- Oguchi Onyewu, Jay DeMerit and Carlos Bocanegra -- drew yellow cards in a game that became increasingly physical. Onyewu carried a yellow into the match, meaning he will miss the next qualifier on Sept. 5 against El Salvador in Sandy, Utah.

The Americans play Sept. 9 at Trinidad and Tobago. They end qualifying on Oct 10 at Honduras and at home with Costa Rica on Oct. 14.

Mexico plays at Costa Rica on Sept. 5 and is home to Honduras on Sept. 9. Mexico will wrap up qualifying on Oct. 10 at home with El Salvador and at Trinidad and Tobago on Oct. 14.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Beckham confronts fan in home return with Galaxy

CARSON, Calif. -- Boos rained down and fans sent negative messages with their homemade signs. Things sure got ugly when David Beckham came back to town.

Beckham downplayed the rough reception in his first home game with the Los Angeles Galaxy, a 2-2 tie with AC Milan in which his corner kick set up his team's second goal, although his halftime confrontation with a fan indicated otherwise Sunday night.

"I'm not disappointed. It doesn't affect me," he said. "You can't be liked by everyone."

Anti-Beckham sentiment ran high as the English star returned after missing half of the Major League Soccer season while on a five-month loan to the Italian club. He was the target of frequent booing and derisive banners held up in a corner of the stadium, where one of the team's fan groups sits.

The signs all had messages directed at Beckham. "Go home fraud" read one, with a red slash through his No. 23 jersey number. Another said, "23: Repent," while another read, "Hey Becks, Here Before You, Here After You, Here Despite You." Another read, "Is evil something u are...or something u do."

At halftime, Beckham walked toward the L.A. Riot Squad section and motioned to a fan to come closer. A man jumped down from the seats and was subdued by security before being taken away.

"One of the guys was saying things that wasn't very nice. It was stepping over the line," Beckham said. "I said, 'You need to calm down and come shake my hand,' and he jumped over."

The man was arrested by Cal State Dominguez Hills police for trespassing because he left the seating area, a Home Depot Center spokeswoman said.

"I know there was some turmoil in the corner but I didn't see it so I can't comment," Galaxy manager Bruce Arena said. "Obviously, there were some dissenters in the early going but I think he won over a lot of people by the end."

Beckham was the last player to take the field after halftime. He hugged several of his former AC Milan teammates and then turned toward the rowdy fan section and clapped his hands before making a gesture.

The banners weren't displayed as often in the second half, when a line of yellow-jacketed security personnel stood below the fans.

"A lot of people predicted this kind of reaction," Beckham said.

In the 65th minute, Beckham walked toward the fan section to take a corner kick. He sent a bending kick at Bryan Jordan, who headed the ball in from 7 feet to tie the game 2-2.

Beckham didn't join in the play. Instead, he turned and faced the fans who had been riding him all game and spread both arms wide as if to say, "What do you want?" He then gestured before walking away.

"Sometimes the supporters don't understand the situation," AC Milan coach Leonardo said.

Beckham left the game in the 75th minute and clapped his hands as he walked off to a mix of boos and cheers. He waved to fans offering a smattering of cheers in an opposite corner before sitting on the bench.

"The cheers in the end drowned out the boos, which was nice," he said.

It marked the end of a rough week for Beckham that began with him and team captain Landon Donovan accusing each other of being unprofessional. Donovan sparked the dispute with comments he made in a new book "The Beckham Experiment."

Arena mediated the clash during a sit down with both players, who later said they had patched things up.

"That's beyond my control," Donovan said when asked about the crowd's reaction to Beckham.

AC Milan dressed a half-strength lineup as it began a four-game preseason tour of the U.S. The seven-time European champions visited the Galaxy as part of the deal that allowed Beckham to remain on loan with Milan through the end of the Serie A season on May 31.

"You don't want to look silly and we definitely didn't look silly," he said about the Galaxy's play.

Beckham has said he again wants to return to Milan after the MLS season.

"We would be happy if he came back because he did really well. He's incredible," Leonardo said. "The precision he has is something very, very special. He never missed the ball. He controlled the ball. The way the Galaxy plays is very, very important. They see that every ball begins with him."

Thiago Silva put AC Milan ahead 1-0 in the 16th minute. The Galaxy tied the game in the 30th minute on a goal by Alan Gordon, assisted by Donovan and Beckham.

The Rossoneri took a 2-1 lead in the 61st minute when Filippo Inzaghi scored against Galaxy backup goalie Josh Saunders off assists by Mathieu Flamini and Ronaldinho.

"He was integral in both goals," Donovan said about Beckham. "There's not another player on a team in this league that can make those plays. It was an exciting game."

Beckham will play six more regular-season home games.

Earlier this year, Beckham said he wanted to remain with the Italian club rather than return to the Galaxy because he believed the level of play was much better in Europe and would help him achieve his goal of playing for England in the 2010 World Cup.

"If it's possible, I think it could be a very good thing for us," Leonardo said about getting Beckham back. "He knows everyone. Everyone loves him in our club."

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Roethlisberger denies civil allegations of sexual assault

Posted by Mike Florio

NFL_roethlisberger2.jpgIn a complaint that reads like the rape allegations made several years ago against NBA star Kobe Bryant, Harrah's employee Andrea McNulty alleges sexual assault against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in a lawsuit filed last week in Washoe County, Nevada.

But lawyer David Cornwell strongly denied the allegations Monday night, in a statement released to PFT. "Ben has never sexually assaulted anyone; especially Andrea McNulty," Cornwell said.

In the civil suit, which Cornwell confirms was served on Roethlisberger over the weekend and a copy of which our own Gregg Rosenthal has obtained, McNulty alleges that Roethlisberger asked her to come to his hotel room to fix the television, and that he thereafter forced her to have sex with him.

Roethlisberger faces one civil count of assault, one civil count of sexual assault and battery, one civil count of false imprisonment, one civil count of false pretenses, one civil count of fraud, and one civil count of intentonal infliction of emtional distress.

McNulty also claims that the coworkers named in the complaint thereafter defamed her by making allegedly false and inflammatory statements, and by allegedly serving as aiders and abettors of Roethlisberger's alleged misconduct after the fact.

Cornwell, a finalist for the position of NFLPA Executive Director who has represented in the recent past Saints running back Reggie Bush and Browns receiver Donte' Stallworth, points to the fact that no criminal complaint has been filed, and that no criminal investigation has occurred.

"The timing of the lawsuit and the absence of a criminal complaint and a criminal investigation are the most compelling evidence of the absence of any criminal conduct," Cornwell said. "If an investigation is commenced, Ben will cooperate fully and Ben will be fully exonerated."

It's unknown at this point whether McNulty ever has attempted to file criminal charges as a result of the incident, which allegedly occurred in July 2008.

"Ben will not be baited into a public discussion about his personal life, but we will defend
him vigorously," Cornwell said. "The limited value that Ms. McNulty derived from public disclosure of these viciously false allegations is the only value she will ever receive from Ben in this case."

Regardless of how this one turns out, it has the potential to serve as a significant distraction for Roethlisberger as the 2009 season approaches, especially if the lawsuit triggers a criminal probe.

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South Florida kicker Bonani falls 35 feet from Busch Gardens ride

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- A University of South Florida football player was recovering at a hospital after falling 35 feet from a gondola ride while working at Busch Gardens in Tampa, team officials said.

Team officials identified the player as Maikon Bonani, 20, USF's starting kicker. The park did not immediately release the employee's name or the extent of his injuries, said spokeswoman Jill Revelle.

The employee was working Saturday at the Skyride attraction. After sending passengers on a gondola out of the station, the employee thought the door might be unlocked and held onto the door to check it while guests sat on the ride, according to a park statement. He held on as the gondola took off -- then 35 feet above the ground -- let go and dropped into a landscaped area, the statement added.

"He was trying to make sure they were safe," said Revelle of those on the ride. She added that no one else was injured.

Park management was reviewing safety procedures. No further information was released Sunday by the park.

Revelle said the employee was responsive but taken to a hospital as a precaution. He was listed in fair condition at St. Joseph's Hospital.

USF football coach Jim Leavitt told the St. Petersburg Times that he spoke to Bonani by phone and later visited him. Leavitt said Bonani may have injured his vertebra.

"He's in pain, but doing fine and resting," Leavitt said.

Bonani grew up in Brazil and moved with his family to Lake Wales in Polk County at age 11, the Times reported. He learned English when he was 11, and played football, soccer and tennis in high school. He was valedictorian of his senior class, the newspaper said.

There was no phone number listed for a Maikon Bonani of Lake Wales.

Copyright 2009 Associated Press.

MMA's 10 best pound-for-pound fighters

This is a big summer for MMA's pound-for-pound big three.

Georges St. Pierre was first on deck at UFC 100 and made his case as to why he should be seen as the sport's top pound-for-pound fighter. Throwing even more dirt on his April 2007 loss to Matt Serra, St. Pierre dominated another elite challenger in Thiago Alves for the balance of 25 minutes. St. Pierre's victory was so consummate that it left many wondering if it was worth his time and talent to stick around at 170 pounds.

The next move belongs to heavyweight ruler Fedor Emelianenko, who will finally square off with Josh Barnett at Affliction "Trilogy" on Aug. 1 in a bid to prove he's the sport's supreme being. A week later, at UFC 101, incumbent king Anderson Silva will have his chance to answer his fellow pound-for-pound stalwarts when he looks to add a third division of brilliance to his career résumé in a super fight against former UFC light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin.

1
UFC middleweight champion
Record: 24-4

With another brilliant performance from Georges St. Pierre, and another top heavyweight on the slate for Fedor Emelianenko, the pressure is on Silva to prove he is, in fact, the sport's pound-for-pound king. At UFC 101 on Aug. 8, his 205-pound bout with Forrest Griffin will afford him a unique opportunity: A win over the former UFC light heavyweight champion would make Silva the first man in the sport's history with top-five-caliber victories across three weight classes. He started his career as a standout welterweight before becoming the most dominant middleweight in mixed martial arts history.


2
UFC welterweight champion
Record: 19-2

On paper, Thiago Alves was supposed to be St. Pierre's most dangerous challenger to date in the welterweight division. However, "Rush" dealt with Alves just as he has dealt with other elite welterweights, as he dominated him from bell to bell in an impressively one-sided unanimous-decision win over yet another top opponent. St. Pierre's performance was such that many have started to question whether or not a move to middleweight should be in the cards. However, the next challenger for the sport's welterweight ruler will come from either Mike Swick or Martin Kampmann, who will square off in a title eliminator at UFC 103 in September.


3
Affliction heavyweight champion
Record: 30-1, 1 NC

Emelianenko's long-awaited bout with Josh Barnett will headline Affliction "Trilogy" on Aug. 1. Though many have criticized the relative dearth of top heavyweight talent and Emelianenko's opponent selection as knocks against his pound-for-pound status, his fight with Barnett will mark the Russian's third consecutive match against a top-10 former UFC heavyweight champion. However, in unfortunate news for MMA's heavyweight king, the fan-proposed guerilla tactic of chanting Emelianenko's name at UFC 100 never got off the ground.


4
UFC light heavyweight champion
Record: 15-0

With his brilliant display of dominance in capturing the UFC light heavyweight title and the 205-pound mantle in May, Machida had already built instant anticipation for a showdown with Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. However, Jackson instead opted for a second coaching stint on "The Ultimate Fighter," which will set up a bout with Rashad Evans. Yet in a testament to the depth of the UFC and the 205-pound division itself, consensus "Fighter of the Year" Mauricio "Shogun" Rua emerged as Plan B for Machida's first UFC title defense at UFC 104 in October.


5
WEC bantamweight champion
Record: 37-1

There's little rest for a king, and bantamweight ruler Torres is proof positive. After emerging victorious in his thrilling 25-minute war with Takeya Mizugaki in April, Torres will take on undefeated challenger Brian Bowles at WEC 43 on Aug. 9. That show will also feature a de facto title eliminator between hot up-and-comers Joseph Benavidez and Dominick Cruz, the winner of which figures to meet Torres before the year ends -- just like clockwork.


6
WEC featherweight champion
Record: 22-4

Of any pound-for-pound entrant on this list, Brown may be the least vibrant and least tailor-made for stardom. However, the 33-year-old American Top Teamer remains, without question, the king of the 145-pound world, and reaffirmed it in June when he earned a second win over Urijah Faber. Despite gritting out a 25-minute unanimous verdict over The California Kid, Brown's biggest test may be yet to come. His next title challenger come November will be brutal Brazilian dynamo Jose Aldo, possibly the most dangerous fighter the division can offer.


7
UFC light heavyweight
Record: 30-7

Many fans and critics still see Jackson through the prism of July 2008 vehicular insanity. However, whatever poor judgment he has exercised outside the cage, inside it Jackson is 4-1 against five straight top-10 opponents in one of MMA's deepest divisions. Now, the colorful and charismatic 205-pound standout will captain his second squad of TUFers on Season 10 of "The Ultimate Fighter," which will lead up to a high-profile December showdown with fellow former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans.


8
UFC lightweight champion
Record: 13-5-1

Talent has never been lacking in Penn, only his desire and focus. His desire to move back up to 170 pounds to challenge Georges St. Pierre in January was not only unsuccessful; it also put the UFC's lightweight class on an extended hiatus. However, the division is poised to get back on track come Aug. 8, when, at UFC 101, Penn will take on a top-five challenger, Kenny Florian, in the second defense of his lightweight mantle.


9
UFC light heavyweight
Record: 13-1-1

The first defense of Evans' UFC light heavyweight belt in May was disastrous, as he was dominated from pillar to post by Lyoto Machida. Fortunately for the Greg Jackson pupil, he remains in a star-laden and talent-rich division. Better still, Evans' comeback fight will come in a high-profile showdown against a fellow pound-for-pound entrant, as he will take on fellow "The Ultimate Fighter 10" coach Quinton "Rampage" Jackson in December.


10
UFC welterweight
Record: 19-3, 1 NC

Though seldom flashy, Fitch wins. By gritting out a unanimous verdict over tougher-than-expected and previously unbeaten Brazilian Paulo Thiago at UFC 100, Fitch upped his record in the UFC to an impressive 10-1. More importantly, those 11 fights have come in arguably MMA's deepest and most talented division. He might not ever make "SportsCenter's" Top 10, but he will likely remain in the welterweight top 10 and keep on beating elite opponents for a good while.

With Fitch's win over Paulo Thiago and Thiago Alves' loss to Georges St. Pierre, the formerly ninth-ranked Alves falls just outside the top 10.

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