Category: Sports Written by Aubrey Bruce
“And now, the end is here and so I face the final curtain. My friend, I’ll say it clear, I’ll state my case of which I’m certain. I've lived a life that's full I traveled each and ev’ry highway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way. Regrets, I’ve had a few, But then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption. I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway. And more, much more than this, I did it my way.” (Recorded by Frank Sinatra.) As I sit here again continuing to contemplate how the Pittsburgh Pirates 2013 season will progress, my mind continues to wander back and forth from the players who take the field daily to the “power brokers” that determine who will suit up every day. The Pirates GM Neil Huntington and Field Skipper Clint Hurdle are still in the lab trying to come up with an antidote to the past poisonous bait and trade policies of ex-GM or VP Dave Littlefield. His official title does not matter because in the end he will be remembered by most baseball fans and scribes who chronicle the game simply as a “loser.” When the 2010 baseball season began in Pittsburgh I said then and I repeat it now that if the Pirates weren’t careful, their heads would wind up in the trophy cases hanging on the walls of a few MLB franchises. They began that season by honouring then Pirate outfielder Andrew McCutchen as the 2009 Baseball America Rookie of the Year.
In those days McCutchen still had an innocence about him. I caught him around the batting cage on opening day and he told me that, “Just to be able to wake up and say I’m in Pittsburgh and I’m opening up at home is great. It’s a dream come true for me just because it’s something new. I really can’t map out my No. 1 moment because it’s all been great—from opening day to just being in a Pittsburgh Pirate uniform. It’s all been an honor. It’s all been a dream.” At the time I stated that, “[I hoped] that [his] dream didn’t turn into a nightmare for the Pirates or their fans.” One of the big chunks of the puzzle that was snatched from McCutchen’s possible supporting cast was infielder/hitter extraordinaire Freddy Sanchez.
The San Francisco Giants upgraded their offense in the middle of a hot pennant race by acquiring three-time All-Star Freddy Sanchez from Pittsburgh for “pitching prospect Tim Alderson in 2009.” Sanchez had won the National League batting title in 2006. Sanchez had to change clubhouses to join his new team, which is in the thick of the NL wild-card race. In a few hours he went from loser to winner. The Pirates traded outfielder Jason Bay. He went from loser to winner. In July of 2009 The Pittsburgh Pirates, swapped outfielders successive seasons, sending starting left fielder Nyjer Morgan to the Washington Nationals. The Pirates, spurred to trade because their farm system has been unproductive, acquired Milledge and reliever Joel Hanrahan from the Nationals for the fleet Morgan and left-handed reliever Sean Burnett, a former first-round draft pick. H’mm where in the hell, sorry, I meant where in the world is Carmen San Diego. Well, he is helping Joel Hanrahan get use to his new digs in “Beantown.” Speaking of Carmen San Diego what is “pitching prospect” Tim Alderson doing now days? Ya know the guy that they gave away Freddie Sanchez for. Let’s hope the “philanthropic era” of the Pirates is over and that Pittsburgh “cooks what it keeps.”
Another man who does it “his way” is the head coach for the University of Pittsburgh men’s basketball team Jamie Dixon.
According to a press release by the university [Dixon stated that he intends to]; “finish his career at the University of Pittsburgh,” Jamie Dixon reinforced his commitment to Pitt last week when he signed a 10-year contractual agreement that runs through the 2022-23 season. Dixon owns the highest winning percentage in school history (.753) with a 262-86 record from 2003-13. He has led the Panthers to nine NCAA Tournaments in 10 seasons, the most NCAA appearances by a Pitt coach. “Pitt and Pittsburgh are home,” Dixon said. “My family and I feel blessed to be part of such a great institution and wonderful city. It is the people who truly make a place special. I could not be surrounded by better players, staff and administration. These aren’t just people I work for and with every day. First joining Pitt as associate head coach in 1999, Dixon has constructed one of the countries most successful and durable men’s basketball programs. Pitt is one of only seven teams nationally to advance to the NCAA Tournament in 11 of the past 12 seasons (2002-13). That elite group includes Duke, Gonzaga, Kansas, Michigan State, Pitt, Texas and Wisconsin. I must be the first to congratulate Coach Dixon for his new deal but I must also reprimand the Panthers AD and the schools administration for signing such a tenuous long term agreement.
In 1999 “little” Gonzaga advanced to the “Elite Eight” in the NCAA tournament by beating No. 7 seeded Minnesota in the1st round, No. 2 seeded Stanford in the 2nd round and defeated No. 6 seeded Florida in the “sweet 16” round to advance to the final eight. The nickname of the Gonzaga b-ball team is the Bulldogs. From Dave Wannstedt to Todd Graham to whomever.
The Pitt athletic department always seems to get bulldozed when it comes to these overpaid, underperforming coaches. Don’t get me wrong, Dixon is one of the best coaches in Pitt and NCAA history in regards to the “regular” season.” But we all understand that it is the post season that brings in the real dough…later
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 10:12
Category: Sports Written by Courier Newsroom
AND THE WINNER IS—Titus O'Neil raises his arms in victory after winning a match on Smackdown. (Photo courtesy of WWE)
by Abdul Al-Nakhli
For New Pittsburgh Courier
This past December, World Wrestling Entertainment held their yearly awards show, the Slammys, on Monday Night RAW.
During the show, they award their superstars with distinct honors such as Match of the Year, Superstar of the Year, and Best catchphrase. That night, the latter category went to WWE Superstar Ryback for his phrase, “Feed Me More!”
This didn’t sit well with Titus O'Neil, a WWE superstar and one half of the tag-team, The Primetyme Players,who felt his catchphrase, “Millions of Dollars, Billions of Dollars,” which wasn’t even nominated, was much more impactful with a stronger message.
“One day me and my partner (Darren Young) were riding in his car on our way to a show, and he was driving pretty fast. Because of that I told him, ‘Hey you gotta slow this down, you know what's sitting beside you right? Millions of Dollars!’”
“With that said, we said hey let’s use it the next time we’re on TV, and its stuck ever since. I feel it’s a powerful phrase and it (the phrase) can be used by anyone. Everyone should feel they are worthy and no matter what they do, should believe they are the best and worth millions,” said O’Neil.
This sentiment symbolizes everything O'Neil strives for. The former University of Florida linebacker desires to become one of WWE's high market draws. He believes in becoming one of the best, and striving for excellence in every area of life.
O’Neil signed with the company to a developmental deal in 2008, and appeared on WWE's NXT in 2010, a show designated for the “rookies” on the roster to seek guidance from a current WWE superstar.
After his time on NXT, O’Neil started teaming with Darren Young, making appearances starting last spring on RAW and Smackdown. Paired with former manager Abraham Washington, they were in contention numerous occasions for the WWE tag team championships, and once were the No. 1 contenders for the titles.
The duo, in O’Neil’s opinion, has helped bring a fresh and unique dynamic to the tag team division.
“I definitely, while we (O’Neil and Darren) can't take full credit for the new life in tag team wrestling in WWE,” he said. “We definitely feel we bring something to the table. We truly believe there isn't a team more qualified for a shot at the tag team titles than us.
“Even as a bad guy team, we still get a great reaction from the crowd, whether they cheer or boo us, most of the time more cheers. To me that means a lot to see the fans appreciate what we do and are excited for us, because they want to see good tag team wrestling in the WWE again.”
During the summer of 2012, the group had a slight setback when Washington, after making controversial remarks regarding Kobe Bryant’s infamous sexual assault case on a live broadcast, was promptly released from his contract from WWE.
Without Washington as part of the pact, O'Neil felt empowered to take his career by the reigns.
“We loved working with him (Washington), and when he was released it did set us back somewhat, but it was also an opportunity for us to prove to ourselves and the world what we could really do,” said O’Neil, “It forced us to take our careers and take charge to ensure we would reach the goals we set out for ourselves.”
This time last year, O’Neil set a goal between himself and Young to be on the card of the company’s four major pay-per-view broadcasts. With Wrestlemania 29, WWE's major show, on the horizon, O’Neil is close to realizing his goal.
“I made a goal between myself and Young that I wanted to compete on what we call the Big 4, and so far we have done that,” O’Neil said. “We competed at Summerslam, was on the card for Survivor Series, and I was in the Royal Rumble match. Now we want to compete on the grandest stage of them all, and we hope to challenge Team Hell No! (WWE superstars Kane and Daniel Bryan) for the tag team title.”
This year's Wrestlemania, taking place April 7 from Metlife Stadium in New York, is set to be electric, as WWE Champion Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson defends the WWE Championship against John Cena, in a rematch tagged as, “Greatness vs. Redemption.”
O'Neil, not ignoring how immense this rematch is, has his own predictions on who will leave Metlife Stadium as champion.
"It's a match most never thought would ever happen again, let alone the first time, which goes to show anything can and will happen in the WWE," he said.
"With that said, I'm not sure if he (Rock) is as prepared for the fight he is getting, and with that said, I think this time Cena is going to redeem the loss from last year and once again become champion."
For O’Neil, having a long legacy in WWE is the ultimate goal, and being remembered as one of the elites.
“I want to be remembered as one of the guys that gave it his all every night, and entertained the fans in the process. I have a long career ahead of me and I'm ready for the ride.”
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 10:12
Category: Sports Written by Associated Press
by Tim Reynolds
FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Sherwood Brown only wanted a bagel.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 26 March 2013 09:16
Category: Sports Written by Ulish Carter
PLAYER OF THE YEAR—Jasmine Myers, Westinghouse (Photos by William McBride)
The New Pittsburgh Courier 2013 All-City Girls Basketball Team is a mirror of the top teams in the reduced number of league teams this season. Obama, Westinghouse, Carrick and Allderdice were the best teams placing the most players on the team.
There is only one player returning from last season’s First Team, Jasmine Myers from Westinghouse. She not only repeated on the First Team but was almost a unanimous choice as the Player of the Year.
Joining Myers on the first team are two players from last season’s Third Team, Aaquila Youngblood from Obama and Chardonnay Littlejohn from Carrick. Also making the First Team is Brittany Jackson from Westinghouse and Sierra Fordham from Allderdice. Sydnee Abernathy from Allderdice barely missed the First Team. The only other repeats were: Latosha Fortson from Perry who moved from Third Team last season to Second Team this season, and Sierra Fordham from Allderdice who moved from Honorable Mention to First Team, receiving one vote for Player of the Year.
In the past it has been the Westinghouse Bulldogs and the Allderdice Dragons battling for the City League titles, with the ’House appearing in the last 18, but this year Obama moved ahead of both in the regular season with an impressive 8-2 league record. But when it came to the playoffs it was once again the Dragons, 6-4 regular season, looking for a 3-peat, and the Bulldogs, 7-3 regular season, looking to end their three year drought in their 19th straight championship game appearance. The ’House won easily 54-42.
Leading Westinghouse were Myers, Jackson, Tiarra Gordon (Third Team) and Lashay Stinson (Third Team). Their strength once again was defense, holding their opponents to just 389 points which was the lowest in the city, with Obama being a close second at 396. But they were the only winning team who scored under 500 points, with just 464 points compared to Obama 550, Carrick 605 and Allderdice 632.
Even though Allderdice and Carrick were the top offensive teams in the city, their defenses allowed 487 and 546 points which were only topped by the two losing teams, Perry 2-8 and Brashear 0-10.
Carrick was the surprise team in the city moving from last to a tie for second which led to coaches selecting Coach Robert Tennant as Co-Coach of the Year with Phyllis Jones from Westinghouse. The top players from Carrick were: Littlejohn, Keisey Brooks,Third Team, and Sierra Williams, Third Team.
Obama was probably the deepest team in the city with all five starters making the All-City Team. Youngblood on the First, Samone Rainey and Temisha Gibson on the Second; Alex Bowens on the Third and Kennedy Bowens an Honorable Mention.
Perry had two: Lateshia Fortson, Second; and Asia Sims, Third, with Brashear only having one. J. Cunningham an Honorable Mention. Their best player from last year, Samone Rainey transferred to Obama.
Allderdice had a great collection of athletic players last season as they went undefeated in League play, but this year, even though talented, they didn’t have a lot of height. Led by their two stars Fordham, and Abernathy they had a great offense, and solid support in Maria DiDonato and Breanna D. Garcia, but their defense suffered.
Only Westinghouse had a winning record outside of the City, they were 17-10 overall and 10-7 outside the city.
The honor of Coach of the Year was a tie between Coach Robert Tennant who led Carrick from 3-11 last season to an impressive 7-3 this season. He tied with Phyllis Jones who once again led her team to a winning season and second place in the City, and the City Championships in the playoffs. She is without a doubt the greatest coach in Girls City League history, and one of the greatest to step on the court.
Congratulations to all 20 players who made the team this year, and the two coaches.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 09:22
Category: Sports Written by Associated Press
RECLAIMS TOP SPOT--Tiger Woods waves to fans as he walks off the 18th hole after winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament, March 25, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — The moment was vintage Tiger Woods, and so was his reaction.
Seconds after Rickie Fowler made a 40-foot birdie putt on the 12th hole to pull within two shots of the lead, Woods posed over his 25-foot birdie putt until he swept the putter upward in his left hand and marched toward the cup as it dropped for a birdie.
Fowler, standing on the edge of the green, turned with a slight smile as if to say, "What else can I do?"
Woods won the Arnold Palmer Invitational on Monday and returned to No. 1 in the world for the first time since October 2010, the longest spell of his career. After all that time, after so much turmoil with his personal life and his health, Woods looks as good as ever.
"It's a byproduct of hard work, patience and getting back to winning golf tournaments," Woods said.
He essentially wrapped up his eighth title at Bay Hill with an 8-iron out of a fairway bunker on the par-5 16th that easily cleared the water and landed safely on the green for a two-putt birdie. Woods dangled his tongue out of his mouth as the ball was in the air, another sign of his swagger.
Just like his other two wins this year, Woods never let anyone get closer than two shots in the final round. With a conservative bogey he could afford on the final hole, he closed with a 2-under 70 for a two-shot win over Justin Rose.
Woods walked off the 18th green waving his putter over his head — truly a magic wand at Bay Hill — to acknowledge the fans who have seen this act before. His eighth win in the Arnold Palmer Invitational tied a PGA Tour record that had not been touched in 48 years.
This win had extra significance. He's back to No. 1.
"If I get healthy, I know I can play this game at a high level," Woods said. "I know I can be where I'm contending in every event, contending in major championships and being consistent day in and day out — if I got healthy. That was the first step in the process. Once I got there, then my game turned."
A year ago, he came to Bay Hill without having won in more than 2½ years. He left this year having won six times in his last 20 starts on the PGA Tour.
Next up is the Masters, where Woods will try to end his five-year drought in the majors.
"I'm really excited about the rest of this year," Woods said.
Woods fell as low as No. 58 in the world as he coped with the collapse of his marriage, a loss of sponsors and injuries to his left leg. One week after he announced he was dating Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn, Woods returned to the top of golf.
"Number 1 !!!!!!!!!!!!!" Vonn tweeted moments after his win.
Asked if there was any correlation to his winning right after going public with his relationship, Woods smiled and said, "You're reading way too much into this."
Like so many other victories, this one was never really close.
Fowler pulled to within two shots with a 25-foot birdie putt on the 14th hole, but after he and Woods made bogey on the 15th, Fowler went at the flag on the par-5 16th and came up a few yards short and into the water. Fowler put another ball into the water and made triple bogey.
"I was swinging it well. I made a few putts, and trying to put a little pressure on them, let them know I was there," Fowler said. "Just would like to have that 7-iron back on 16. Just kind of a touch heavy."
Woods played it safe on the 18th, and nearly holed a 75-foot par putt that even drew a big smile from the tournament host.
Woods tied the tour record of eight wins in a single tournament. Sam Snead won the Greater Greensboro Open eight times from 1938 to 1965 at two golf courses. Woods tied his record for most wins at a single golf course, having also won eight times at Torrey Pines, including a U.S. Open.
"I don't really see anybody touching it for a long time," Palmer said while Woods made his way up the 18th fairway. "I had the opportunity to win a tournament five times, and I knew how difficult that was."
Rose, who played the first two rounds with Woods, closed with a 70 to finish alone in second.
He pulled to within two shots of Woods with a birdie on the 16th. Woods was in the group behind him in the fairway bunker on the par 5, and hit 8-iron over the water and onto the middle of the green for a two-putt birdie to restore his margin.
"He plays every shot like he plays them on Sunday," Rose said. "His intensity is the same on Thursday often as it is on Sunday, and that makes Sunday a lot less different for him. He plays in that kind of atmosphere far more regularly than a lot of guys do, and it's an adjustment for most of us. It's a known for him."
Fowler had to settle for a 73 and a tie for third with Mark Wilson (71), Keegan Bradley (71) and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (72).
Rory McIlroy had been No. 1 since he won the PGA Championship last August. He can reclaim the No. 1 ranking by winning the Houston Open this week. Woods heads home to south Florida for two weeks before the Masters.
Asked the last time he felt this good going to Augusta National, Woods replied, "It's been a few years."
This was the fourth time in his career that he already had three PGA Tour wins before the Masters — he didn't win a green jacket in any of the previous years (2000, 2003 and 2008). More telling, perhaps, is that Woods has won back-to-back starts for the first time since the Buick Open and Bridgestone Invitational in August 2009.
"I think it shows that my game is consistent," he said. "It's at a high level."
Woods finished at 13-under 275 and won for the 77th time on the PGA Tour, moving to within five of Snead's record.
Fowler, his first time playing with Woods in the final group, opened with eight pars when he needed to be making up ground. And when he finally had a few openings on the back nine, Woods refused to let him through.
Woods salvaged a two-putt par with a 7-footer on the 11th hole to keep a three-shot lead. On the next hole, Fowler looked to gain some momentum when he made a 40-foot birdie putt only for Woods to match him with that 25-foot birdie.
Woods produced some absurd statistics with the putter this week, making 19 of 28 putts from between 7 feet and 20 feet.
He walked off the green to share a handshake with Palmer, along with a big smile and some words that Woods said were best kept private. He left the course in that familiar blue blazer that goes to the winner.
And he left as the No. 1 player in the world.
It's the 11th time that Woods has gone back to No. 1, tied with Greg Norman since the ranking began in 1986. Still to be determined is how long Woods stays there this time.
Last Updated on Monday, 25 March 2013 21:58
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