Say What?

Djokovic denies he cheated with illegal coaching

Novak Djokovic, world’s No. 1 ranked tennis player who has advanced to the Wimbledon quarterfinals, denied claims he’s received illegal coaching during matches.  But he admitted that players try to stretch the rules to their advantage.  Suspicions arose when his coach, Boris Becker, told reporters at Wimbledon that he and his support staff “have our ways” to signal to the player “to tell him it’s good or it’s bad.”  ATP rules forbid communication of any kind, “audible or visible, between a player and a coach” during a match.  But Djokovic contended the rule has loopholes.  ‘There are special ways of, I would say, communication.  The way you look at each other, the way you ‘feel’ your box. . . Also there are times when the team of the player communicates with the player when he gets to go and take the towel in the corner. . . There’s situations when it happens, and not just with the top players, but everybody.“  Some observers believe he positions himself a certain way to signal a tactic, and then looks at Becker to subtly indicate approval.


Schilling: Strasburg ‘should be 100,000 times better’

Curt Schilling, six-time All-Star pitcher who’s a television analyst for ESPN, believes Washington’s Stephen Strasburg has the best arm in baseball but lacks tenacity and resilience.  “I’m disappointed he hasn’t gotten farther, from a maturation and progression standpoint,” Schilling said.  “From the outside looking in, you can never tell a person’s pain threshold.  But a lot of young pitchers get confused between soreness and pain.  Part of pitching in the big leagues is going out there with the aches and pains.”  Schilling wondered if Strasburg could have pitched, instead of going to the disabled list, when he had a stiff neck in May.  Schilling would like to see a stiff spine.  “He’s a guy who should be 100,000 times better than he is.”  Schilling said all this before Strasburg, 5-5 with a 5.15 ERA, went to the DL again, this time with a “strained oblique.”


Bobby Bonilla at 52 is Mets’ 9th-highest-paid player

On July 2 the New York Mets paid Bobby Bonilla his annual player’s salary of $1.2 million, which makes him at age 52 the ninth-highest-paid player on the team.  The check is for deferred salary relating to a 1996 contract with the Florida Marlins.  Bonilla will be 72 when he gets the last of his $29.8 million from that contract, which was passed on to the Dodgers (1998) and Mets (1999).  In his 60 games with the Mets, Bonilla batted .160 and hit 4 home runs.


Cards’ top scout fired for hacking, blames Astros

Chris Correa emerged as the St. Louis Cardinals’ employee who apparently hacked into the Houston Astros’ scouting database.  But Correa, through his attorney, insisted he did nothing illegal:  “The relevant inquiry should be what information did former St. Louis Cardinals employees steal from the Cardinals’ organization prior to joining the Houston Astros. . .”  The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Correa, 34, hacked into the Astros to see what proprietary information GM Jeff Luhnow had seized before leaving the Cardinals.


NFL star Pierre-Paul injures hand with fireworks

Jason Pierre-Paul, Pro Bowl defensive end of the New York Giants, suffered severe burns to the palm of one hand and three fingers, one of which may have nerve damage.  The injuries occurred when he was lighting fireworks on the Fourth of July.  Neighbors said the player rented a U-Haul and filled it with fireworks to put on an extravaganza at his home in Deerfield Beach, Fla.  Paul, who was hospitalized with his injuries, is negotiating for a new contract, and he declined to attend team workouts for fear of injuring himself and reducing his contract value.  He was offered a one-year franchise tender of $14.8 million, but he has not signed it.  ESPN reported that some team officials worry that the injuries could affect the player in the early weeks of the regular season.  Pierre-Paul also could face criminal charges in Florida for using highly explosive fireworks without a permit.


Kessler faulted for eating a hot dog every day

Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons felt the Maple Leafs were wise to trade their leading scorer, Phil Kessel, to the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Simmons had many reasons for thinking Kessel should be gone, including his fondness for hot dogs.  “The hot dog vendor who parks daily at Front and John just lost his most reliable customer.  Almost every afternoon at 2:30, often wearing a toque, Phil Kessel would wander from his neighborhood condominium to consume his daily snack.”  Simmons used the hot dog as a symbol of Kessel’s lack of interest in physical conditioning.


DeAndre didn’t get the high-fives he wanted from Paul

A key factor in DeAndre Jordan jumping from the Los Angeles Clippers to the Dallas Mavericks was, according to multiple media reports, the refusal of point guard Chris Paul to reward him with high-fives.  Paul apparently withheld his enthusiasm because he felt Jordan didn’t put enough effort into improving his free-throw shooting, which is among the worst in the NBA at 40% accuracy.  ESPN’s Kevin Arnovitz said Jordan “was tired of Paul’s constant barking and petty gestures, like distributing high fives to the other three guys on the floor following a timeout, but somehow freezing out Jordan.”

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