jueves, 28 de junio de 2012

Tiger seeks record at Congressional

BETHESDA, Md. — Rory McIlroy won’t be around, but his shadow will be looming over Tiger Woods when the AT&T National tees off today at Congressional, site of McIlroy’s runaway victory last year in the U.S. Open.

Woods wound up missing the middle two majors in 2011 to fully recover from injuries to his left leg, so all he could do was watch from home as McIlroy shattered his U.S. Open scoring records. Woods previously was the only player to finish a U.S. Open in double figures under par (12 under), and he tied the Open scoring record at 272.

McIlroy, who will be playing in the Irish Open this weekend, beat both those marks by four.

HUNTING FOR A TITLE: Tiger Woods heads the field teeing off today in the AT&T National at Congressional, site of <a href=Rory McIlroy’s victory in last year’s U.S. Open." title="HUNTING FOR A TITLE: Tiger Woods heads the field teeing off today in the AT&T National at Congressional, site of Rory McIlroy’s victory in last year’s U.S. Open." width="300" height="300" src="/rw/nypost/2012/06/28/sports/web_photos/28.2s052.Tiger--300x300.jpg" />


HUNTING FOR A TITLE: Tiger Woods heads the field teeing off today in the AT&T National at Congressional, site of Rory McIlroy’s victory in last year’s U.S. Open.

In some respects, Woods can consider himself the defending champion. The last time the AT&T National was played at Congressional was in 2009, when he closed with a 67 to finish on 13-under 267 for a one-shot win.

But this isn’t the same course. It was played as a par 70 in 2009, with the sixth hole a long par 4. Now, the course is playing the same length as the U.S. Open, a par 71 at 7,569 yards, using some of the new tees the USGA had built for its premier championship.

That includes the 466-yard third hole, the 470-yard fourth hole, and a 523-yard hole on the 18th.

“I like it quick because it certainly puts a premium on shaping shots, and more than anything, keeping the ball under the hole,” Woods said. “We’ve seen what this place can do when it gets soft, and what the guys can shoot.”

Woods was asked what he would like to see as the winning score, and he cut off the question when a reporter said, ‘Would you like it to be below . . .”

“Below 16 under?” he said, smiling in reference to McIlroy’s record score.

“As long as I’m that person,” Woods added, “yes.”

Woods is coming off a U.S. Open at Olympic Club, where he took a share of the 36-hole lead, only to stumble badly on the weekend and tie for 21st.

“I’ve won major championships, and I haven’t done it since ’08,” Woods said. “We all go through periods where that doesn’t happen. Some periods are entire careers. But I think I understand how to win major championships. The key is just giving yourself chances.”

Nick Watney is the proper defending champion, winning last year at Aronimink near Philadelphia, where the tournament went for two years. The field also includes Hunter Mahan, a runner-up to Woods in 2009, Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott.

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martes, 26 de junio de 2012

Phony concern for Sandusky victims puts the ‘less’ in bless

headshotPhil Mushnick


So what was the final score in the Jerry Sandusky scandal? Who won, the Thoughts or the Prayers? Or was it a tie?

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims.”

Geez, if I heard that — issued in countless statements — one more time I was gonna retch. I had no idea that college football coaches and athletic directors — those who knowingly recruit high-risk characters to their campuses, lest the other guys recruit them to their campuses — were so thoughtful and prayerful.

And college presidents and administrators — academic and social fraud enablers — hired and paid to look the other way while counting the house money, the TV money and the Nike money — apparently now suppose we believe that they’re immersed in thought and bowed in prayer.

MONSTER’S INK: “Statements” pledging that college football programs’ thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of Jerry Sandusky (above) are disingenuous coming from such corrupt entities, says Phil Mushnick.


MONSTER’S INK: “Statements” pledging that college football programs’ thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of Jerry Sandusky (above) are disingenuous coming from such corrupt entities, says Phil Mushnick.

Seems that if the authorities in and around Penn State — in and around all football and basketball insane asylums — had been more thoughtful when it counted, they wouldn’t now have to be so prayerful.

And let’s not forget that prayer, along with patriotism and charity, is among the last refuges for scoundrels.

Sandusky was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts of child sexual abuse! And we hadn’t yet heard from his son, who was set to testify that he had been a victim. You can keep the lid on anything if you press — or suppress — hard enough. Almost anything.

But big-time college sports — and the media and the TV and radio deals and the yahoos and freaks who keep it moving lower every day — are accomplished at not seeing what’s impossible to miss.

For crying out loud, the star of this past season’s University of Rhode Island basketball team, a 20-year-old freshman, was wanted for a strong-arm robbery in Florida!

And that was before he entered URI. And that only came to light after he was arrested for videotaping sexual encounters he had with two URI students.

Seems URI, in recruiting 20-year-old Jonathan Holton to be a freshman, was leading with its prayerful side as opposed to its thoughtful one.

Who cared why Holton was available or anything else about him; at 6-foot-9, he was irresistible, the temptation was too great.

Now, no doubt, URI’s thoughts and prayers go out to his victims.

Yep, “This puts everything in perspective.” Yeah, sure it does. What time does Midnight Madness start?

What’s your guess? After dozens of official declarations that “our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims” following the Sandusky explosion, what percentage of those represented in those statements actually spent time thinking of the victims — children — and/or praying for them? Gimme the under.

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Jerry Sandusky, Sandusky, college football coaches, thoughts and prayers, thoughts and prayers, college football programs, victims, victims, University of Rhode Island basketball


lunes, 25 de junio de 2012

It's OK to Root for Germany

[image] Reuters

German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger (center) may have the best name in sports.

Somewhere between Gdansk and Warsaw

A very strange thing happened the past two weeks as I traipsed through Poland covering the Euro 2012 soccer tournament.

There I was oohing over the latest Mario Gomez goal for Germany, salivating over the way Mesut Özil quarterbacks the German attack from the middle of the field with grace and calm, and screaming "SCHWEINSTEIGER" inside my head (there is no better name in sports right now) each time the steely midfielder plants for one of his lightning strikes at the goal.

And don't get me started on the Germans' dashing, Zen master coach Joachim Löw—the George Clooney of international soccer, only better looking, and seemingly more humble and philosophical.

To understand just how weird a development this is, understand that for Jewish-Americans of a certain age (I'm 42), rooting for Germany isn't how our fathers, grandfathers and Hebrew School teachers raised us.

Growing up in the 1970s, the wounds of World War II were still raw. I have friends whose parents were Holocaust survivors. They almost never talked about their experiences, but their silent memories hung in their homes. One of my parents' closest friends spent the war first in the Lodz ghetto in occupied Poland, then survived a concentration camp by lying about his age. His father, mother and brother were killed there. Every so often a local temple would circulate a flier inviting people to come hear another talk from a survivor. "Never forget," we were told.

For most Americans, the Soviets were the great enemy on the playing fields of international sports during this era. We Jews felt this, too. The Russians hadn't been very nice to us either, driving so many of our grandparents and greatgrandparents from their villages in Eastern Europe and making it difficult for those still there to practice their religion.

But for young Jewish-Americans, the athletes from what was then democratic West Germany remained a group we met with deep suspicion. Something about the pressed uniforms, the perfect physiques and the trademark efficiency of their performances made them a little scary, even if their political leaders garnered our admiration. Pulling for Willy Brandt and Helmut Kohl was fine. Rooting for Karl-Heinz Rummenigge wasn't.

And yet, 30 years later, here I am feeling downright giddy at the prospect of the Germans winning their first European title since the 1990s. They play Italy in the semifinals Thursday.

For starters, they are a wonder to watch. While Spain's "tiki-taka" triangular passing style remains the game's intellectual apotheosis, the Germans are nothing short of thrilling, combining creative passing with lightning speed and astounding athleticism. If the essence of quality soccer is the "one-two," the equivalent of basketball's give-and-go, the Germans have become the masters of the one-two-three-four-and-five.

Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger (say it loud! With your best German accent!) wins the ball with a perfect slide tackle. He feeds Özil in the midfield, who passes to a cutting Sami Khedira, who touches it to Jerome Boateng overlapping on the wing, who sends a cross in to Gomez, who heads the ball to Lukas Podolski, who volleys into the net.

No team can deliver the ball from their own end to the back of the opponent's net so often with the speed of the Germans.

It wasn't always this way. For years, the Nationalmannschaft, as the team is known, was a pillar of organization and fairly boring soccer played by a homogenous group.

Now the Germans feature a lineup that includes Özil, who is Turkish; Boateng, whose father is Ghanaian; Gomez, who is of Spanish descent; Podolski, who was born in Poland, and Miroslav Klose, who is half-Polish.

Since 2006, this diverse group has been molded together by Löw, the subject of my embarrassing man-crush. Wearing his dapper tailored slacks and open-collared shirts, he celebrates goals with the joy of a child, his hair flopping over his forehead.

Then, just when the Germans appear they are becoming a too predictable and efficient machine, Löw sends out a lineup for the quarterfinal against Greece with three of his stars—Gomez, Podolski and Thomas Muller—on the bench. "We needed to be unpredictable," he explained. "It's OK to be cheeky."

Löw somehow manages to come off more as a supportive parent than a cocky national coach declaring superiority. "I thought we were wonderful tonight," he said after the win Friday over Greece. He appears the antithesis of all those top college and professional coaches in the U.S. who seem to use their jobs as a means to building a personal brand and gaining $100,000 appearance fees to motivate corporate sales forces.

And yet, there is a part of me that is stricken with guilt about this. Somewhere Tevye from "Fiddler on the Roof" is telling me some traditions must not change. After all, a major part of international soccer—especially European soccer—is the bizarre way it brings up the old geopolitical rivalries from the middle of the 20th century. That can be scary, too, as when Russian fans unfurled the massive banner of a warrior against words "This Is Russia" before the match against Poland earlier in the tournament.

With that in mind, I shared my guilt-ridden admiration for the Germans with my father, who knows nothing about soccer but a lot about history. To my surprise, he said he felt this generation of Germans has earned our forgiveness, and even our support in sports. They had decided to build an education center and monument about the Holocaust on some of the most expensive land in Berlin. That was the turning point for him.

In other words, make room on the German bandwagon. I want a seat.

Sort of.

—Jason Gay is on vacation.

A version of this article appeared June 25, 2012, on page B8 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: A New Take on Germany.

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mario Gomez online, Germany, Poland, Poland, Poland, international soccer, international soccer, Lukas Podolski, Germany, George Clooney, international sports, the Germans


viernes, 22 de junio de 2012

New Greek finance minister hospitalized after fainting

ATHENS -- Incoming Greek finance minister Vassilis Rapanos was admitted to the hospital Friday, the government said, with unconfirmed reports saying the 65-year-old senior banker had fainted.

The chairman of leading Greek lender National Bank, Rapanos was taken to a private hospital in Athens, a government spokesman said, hours before he was expected to take his oath of office.

The hospital said Rapanos was brought in with "strong stomach pains, vertigo, nausea, sweating and fatigue."

Doctors have stabilized his condition and he is undergoing tests.

The state-run Athens News Agency said Rapanos had run a high fever while at his office at National Bank ahead of his swearing-in ceremony.

A former economics professor who served in the economy ministry when Greece joined the euro in 2001, Rapanos was named finance minister on Thursday in a conservative-led coalition seeking to revise the country's bailout terms.

Newly-elected Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was briefly in another Athens hospital Friday after being diagnosed with a retinal detachment.

He returned to his office according to state television, but will be admitted on Saturday to undergo an operation.

As a result, Samaras will be unable to attend his country's Euro 2012 quarter-final game against Germany later on Friday.

He also cancelled his party's first parliamentary meeting.

The coalition government, backed by conservative, socialist and moderate leftist parties, is under intense international pressure to implement the terms of an EU-IMF bailout package that has kept the indebted country's economy afloat for two years.

Pressure is mounting in view of Monday's upcoming visit of European Commission, IMF and European Central Bank inspectors, who return to Athens to resume discussions suspended because of Greece's two-month political deadlock.

Incoming Greek finance minister Vassilis Rapanos, National Bank, Athens News Agency, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, government spokesman, finance minister, Rapanos, Athens, coalition government


jueves, 21 de junio de 2012

Sports Shorts

MLB: Rays’ reliever ejected for too much pine tar

Rays reliever Joel Peralta was ejected in the eighth inning of last night’s 5-4 win over the Nationals without throwing a pitch for having a “a significant amount of pine tar” on his glove, according to umpiring crew chief Tim Tschida.

Peralta entered at the start of the eighth, but as he was warming up the umpires gathered at the mound and examined his glove. An umpire walked with the glove off the field and Peralta was ejected.

Afterward, Rays manager Joe Maddon called Nationals manager Davey Johnson “cowardly” for requesting the check of the reliever who pitched for the Nationals in 2010.

“Insider trading, man. It’s bush,” Maddon said. “It’s bogus.”

Phillies rookie infielder Freddy Galvis has been suspended 50 games by for using a banned substance. Galvis is currently on the disabled list with a back injury and will begin serving his suspension immediately. MLB said Galvis tested positive for a metabolite of Clostebol, a performance-enhancing substance.

NFL: Leaf receives addiction treatment sentence

Former quarterback Ryan Leaf was sentenced to nine months of lockdown addiction treatment followed by time in a pre-release center after pleading guilty last month to breaking into a house and illegally possessing painkillers. District Judge Kenneth Neill of Great Falls, Montana, sentenced Leaf to seven years with the Department of Corrections, with two years suspended.

ETC.: Liberty beat Dream on road

Cappie Pondexter had 14 points and a season-high 13 assists and Essence Carson added 14 points as the visiting Liberty beat the Atlanta Dream, 73-60.

The NHL Board of Governors approved unanimously the sale of a portion of the Maple Leafs by Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board to Rogers Communications, Inc. and BCE, Inc.

The Senators said they have agreed to terms with Norris Trophy finalist Erik Karlsson on a seven-year contract extension worth a reported $45.5 million.

Police are investigating date rape allegations against Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty stemming from an encounter with a woman at a Southern California seaside bar. The District Attorney’s office is expected to decide this week whether to file charges.

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Joel Peralta, Joe Maddon, the Nationals, Freddy Galvis, MLB, Ryan Leaf, manager Davey Johnson, Nationals, Rays, District Judge Kenneth Neill, Essence Carson, Rogers Communications, Inc., Galvis


miércoles, 20 de junio de 2012

Value in Valdespin versatility

Jordany Valdespin knows his days on the Mets’ roster could be numbered as injured second baseman Justin Turner made his return to the lineup Tuesday night, and infielders Ruben Tejada, Ronny Cedeno inch closer to their respective returns. But Valdespin’s play makes it hard for his manager to take him out of the lineup, let alone send him back down to Triple-A Buffalo.

“He didn’t really get a very good chance his first time up,” manager Terry Collins said after the Mets' 5-0 win over the Orioles at Citi Field. “But when he went down, I talked to [Buffalo manager] Wally [Backman] about some things and he sat Jordany down and said, ‘This is the way it is going to get done here,’ and I think what we’re seeing is the results of the fact that this kid’s come back up with a different attitude and ready to play.”

Valdespin went 2-for-4. He scored on a Lucas Duda two-run home run in the sixth inning to make it 3-0, and also had a big two-run single to give the Mets two big insurance runs in the seventh inning. In his past four starts, Valdespin is now 7-for-17 with seven runs and six RBIs.



He was sent down to Buffalo on May 18, and spent 10 games there with two home runs and eight RBIs before being called back up on May 30.

“Jordany Valdespin is a very talented young man and he’s growing on the job,” Collins said. “He is learning on the job, he is maturing up here. I thought he’s handled himself very well up here so far. He is listening. He played well.”

Valdespin made his sixth start of the season starting in left field before shifting to second base in the eighth inning. Valdespin’s ability to play multiple positions (he has also played shortstop this season) is why Collins said he could play himself into more time even when Tejada and Cedeno are healthy. Turner returned to action last night pinch-hitting in the seventh inning after missing 19 games with an ankle injury.

Valdespin has made the most of his opportunity, and most importantly, the Mets are 4-0 in his last four starts.

“It’s good for me because I am helping my team. That’s what I want to do, play hard every day and try to win games,” Valdespin said after the game. “I am looking for my pitch. I’m a fastball hitter so he threw me a fastball, and then a slider right in the middle, and I swung and got a base hit.”


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Ruben Tejada, Ronny Cedeno, manager Terry Collins, Justin Turner, the Mets, Jordany Valdespin, Lucas Duda, Buffalo


martes, 19 de junio de 2012

Yankees winning, but still missing clutch hits

WASHINGTON — The Yankees have moved into first place, gotten terrific starting pitching and continue to hit home runs at a solid pace.

At first glance, it almost seems like everything is going their way.

But Mark Teixeira knows better.

After a 4-1 win over the Nationals yesterday, the first baseman raved about all the positive aspects of the team, but couldn’t ignore the problem that has been following them around virtually all season: a lack of hits with runners in scoring position.

“We’re still not happy about that,” Teixeira said after the Yankees went 0-for-12 in those situations yesterday. “I wish I could tell you the issue. I really [can’t]. We just have to be better.”



"We just have to be better."

It seemed to be a much more pressing issue when the Yankees were in last place and a handful of games out of first. Now that they have moved to the top of the division and — not coincidentally — gotten improved starting pitching, it’s easier to ignore.

Still, Teixeira admitted the offense won’t be able to get away with failures in the clutch all season.


“Our pitchers have picked us up,” Teixeira said. “If not for them being so good, we’re not in first place right now.”

And he couldn’t recall a team as talented as this one struggling for such an extended period of time with runners in scoring position.

“I wish I could explain it,” Teixeira said. “I guess you could call it ‘winning ugly.’ This nice run we’re on is because of pitching.”

It’s certainly not because of the 0-for-12 yesterday or the 3-for-18 in their 14-inning victory Saturday.

Instead, it’s home runs and the guys on the mound.

“We’re a home-run hitting team,” manager Joe Girardi said. “There’s no doubt about it. That’s how we’re going to score our runs. We won this game by hitting home runs.”

Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano both went deep at Nationals Park to help overcome the “offensive woes” as Derek Jeter jokingly referred to them recently in Detroit.

“We can score other ways,” Jeter said. “The other team isn’t just saying, ‘Here you go,’ and then throw it down the middle. ... Those are tough hits to come by.”

Especially this season.

“You find other ways to win,” Jeter said. “It’ll turn around.”


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