Say What?

NASCAR response to Ward death: ‘Stay in your cars’ 

Fingers pointed in multiple directions when one of America’s top car-racers, Tony Stewart, ran over and killed a fellow driver during a dirt-track race in Canandaigua, N.Y.  Stewart had bumped the car of 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr., knocking him out of the race.  Overcome by road rage, Ward stalked across the track, approaching Stewart coasting by under a yellow flag.  As the car swept by pedestrian Ward, the rear end fishtailed, striking him down.

A witness said Stewart accelerated – probably hoping to get past the furious Ward ASAP – causing the car to swerve.  Ward’s father, Kevin Ward Sr., accused Stewart of trying to hit his son.  Stewart, on advice of counsel, has not commented on the tragedy, nor raced since.

NASCAR’s response was to issue a warning to its drivers:  “Stay in your cars.”

Between the Lines: Kevin had it coming.  Nothing said about accelerating when the yellow caution is on.  The enduring absurdity of stock-car racing is that caution is interpreted so loosely.  But let’s remember, this was not a NASCAR event.


Matt Williams wants us to ignore what he says on the radio

As the Washington Nationals head to the home stretch of the baseball season in contention for the playoffs, they’re burdened by a super-talented but super-young (21) outfielder, Bryce Harper, with modest production.  On a call-in show, 106.7 The Fan, manager Matt Williams was asked if it was “a wacky idea” to send him to the farm.

Williams replied:  “I don’t think it’s stupid.  Generally, if you have young players that’s what you do.  But this guy is a special young player. . . ” 

Since Williams didn’t immediately shoot down the demotion idea, word went viral that he favored sending Harper away for a while and focusing on winning now.  So Williams at a media conference said: “It pisses me off . . . that somebody would take a comment I made on the radio and infer I am thinking one way or another.  I’ve had it.  Don’t do it anymore.” 

Between the Lines:  His general manager, Mike Rizzo, was not happy about his radio comments.


Is Commissioner-elect Manfred a baseball fan?

While praise was heaped on Rob Manfred for his legal expertise, his role in keeping labor peace and in cracking down on steroid use, Bob Ryan on ESPN’s Around the Horn wondered if the new baseball commissioner is actually a fan of the sport.  “We have no evidence this guy likes baseball.”


Dis-engagement resulted in McIlroy’s surge

Since canceling his wedding in May, Rory McIlroy has dominated golf, winning three consecutive tournaments, including two majors:  the British Open and the PGA Championship.  “I think what happened has been better in terms of my golf,” he said.  “I’ve put a bit more time in it and it has refocused me.  I mean, what else do I have to do now?”  So he spends more time at the gym and the driving range.

Jack Nicklaus, winner of a record 18 major championships, said McIlroy “could win 15 to 20 majors” if golf remains his top priority.


Foster, 28, ponders retirement, cites Campbell in a wheelchair

Houston Texans Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster, slowed by a sore hamstring, is pondering retirement after seeing Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell immobilized at 59.  “Looking at him in a wheelchair and seeing some of the effects from football . . . you’re just looking at what really matters here.  I’m going to walk away when I want to.”  Foster is 28, an age when many running backs begin losing speed.  He created another stir by tweeting:  “I don’t think I’ve ever not peed in the hot tub.  If you go in having any prior liquids in you, and you dip your whole body into warm liquid relaxing every muscle, it’s inevitable.”


Cowboys’ Scandrick saw no danger in MDMA

Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick didn’t think he could get into trouble for taking a powerful recreational drug, MDMA, which is the main component of the all too popular Ecstasy.  After he was suspended for the first four games of the upcoming NFL season, he said, “I didn’t do it knowing it would test positive.  I didn’t take anything to enhance my performance.”  Like all recreational drugs, this one does not enhance performance.  It creates a euphoric feeling that lasts an hour or two but has later undesirable effects:  insomnia, confusion, depression, anxiety, paranoia, addiction.  It’s classified by the DEA as a Schedule 1 controlled substance.

Dear Orlando:  You should know that other than alcohol, or marijuana in a few states, anything that makes you feel good is illegal and not acceptable by the No Fun League.


Phil Simms may decline to say ‘Redskins’ on the air

Phil Simms, who will be one half of the team announcing Thursday Night Football for CBS, said he’s considering refraining from using the word “Redskins” during the Week 4 Giants-Redskins game.  “My very first thought is it will be ‘Washington’ the whole game.”


Steve Smith says his Ravens are bullies

Baltimore Ravens receiver Steve Smith said:  “We build bullies. . . . When I think of a Baltimore Raven, is we go in there, we take your lunch box, we take your sandwich, we take your juice box, we take your applesauce. . . . That’s the bully way.  And that’s football.”  His embrace of the term “bully” offended some, in light of Jonathan Martin being bullied by Miami Dolphins teammate Richie Incognito last season and the more recent assault by Smith’s teammate Ray Rice on his fiancée.  Jason Whitlock of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption said:  “We think football teaches all the good values. . . . Not all the values preached in football are good values.”  On the same show, Miami’s Dan LeBatard, who closely covers the Dolphins, noted:  “There was not one voice in that locker room that looked to Jonathan Martin and offered support.”


Assistant coach Juan Casillas under fire again

Juan Casillas, whose maligned tenure as defensive line coach for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012 was one of the factors in venerable head coach Andy Reid losing his job, is under fire for destroying the Baltimore Ravens running game last season, when he was run-game coordinator.  The Raven averaged 83 yards per game and 3.1 per carry – worst in the team’s 18-year history.  Owner Steve Biscotti said Casillas “did come on too strong and ruffled some feathers.”  Casillas this year is the Ravens’ offensive line coach, replacing Andy Moeller.


Four Notre Dame footballers suspected of academic fraud

Notre Dame, ranked among the top American universities in academics as well as in football prowess, may be vacating some victories, pending investigation of academic fraud by four student-athletes.  KeiVarae Russell, DaVaris Daniels, Kendall Moore and Ishaq Williams are suspected of submitting schoolwork done by others.  Russell, a cornerback, has started 26 games and is an All-America candidate.  Daniels is the team’s best receiver:  49 catches last season for 745 yards and 7 TDs.  Williams is a projected starter on the defensive line, while linebacker Moore is a fifth-year senior.  The university has announced that if its investigation determines that players who should have been ineligible participated in Irish victories, those wins will be changed to losses.


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