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Mets Closer Billy Wagner Out for a Year

September 8, 2008 Comments off

After the uh-oh before last night’s rousing prime time victory over the Phillies… the uh-oh becomes reality.

From the NY Daily News:

Mets closer Billy Wagner has a torn ligament in his left elbow and will have surgery this week, meaning he’ll miss the rest of this season and likely all of 2009, too.

The surgery will repair a torn MCL ligament and a torn flexor pronator, and has a recovery time of at least a year, the Mets announced Monday. Since Wagner is currently in the third year of a four-year, $43-million contract, it’s possible he has thrown his last pitch for the Mets, though the team holds a $8 million option on Wagner for the 2010 season or there is a $1 million buyout on the deal.

Billy Wagner on mound for Mets

Categories: baseball, injury, Mets, Sports

Give that Fan a Hand… Job

September 8, 2008 1 comment

h/t to the Big Lead:

Most bizarre email this weekend: “During The UTEP/UT game they cut to fans sitting on nearby rocks watching the game. They focused on a guy and girl who was giving said guy a hand job. Bob Davies says, “Looks like they’re having a good time.” Circled it with telestrator.”

Categories: football, funny, Sports

RIP Don Haskins

September 8, 2008 2 comments

Haskins is best known for beating Kentucky for the national championship in 1966 (as chronicled, with some flourishes, in the movie Glory Road); he also won 719 games and got Texas Western, now known as University of Texas-El Paso, to the NCAA tournament 14 times in his years at the school (which has 16 total appearances).

Don haskins + Texas Western team, 1966

From Dan Wetzel at Yahoo! Sports:

The story of the 1966 Texas Western Miners was perfect for a Disney movie: On the night before the title game against Kentucky, Haskins decides to start five black players, they win and all is good.

Haskins liked “Glory Road.” He hated that part. He never said it publicly. He was above that. Fact is he had started five black players from Day 1, and the movie made Haskins look like he was afraid to do so. That pained him.

To pretend everything was great after the championship was a stretch, too. Racial slurs were never his greatest enemy. It was far more personal.

He was 36, with a wife and four kids. He had a low-paying job at a school no one had ever heard of. It had taken the family three years of living in the football dorm to save up for a house.

And he had a decision to make. A decision none of his coaching peers could understand why he was contemplating.

There was an old coaching axiom back then, when many college teams were still segregated. If you coached at a school that allowed black players, the joke went: “you played two at home, three on the road and four if you were behind.”

You never played five, especially in the South. Jackie Robinson had come along well before in baseball, but he was one black on a team full of whites. An all black team presented a different image to America.

Every coach knew it, including all of Haskins’ friends.

“They’d say, ‘Don, are you crazy?’ ” Haskins said.

By starting five black players, as he planned to do, the upward arc of his career would be over. He had started as a high school coach in a town of 253. He was a talented guy, big money and big opportunity awaited. Not this way though.

If he won, bigger, richer schools would see him as the coach of “the black team.” They’d never hire him. If he lost or, heaven forbid, there were any discipline problems with his players (there weren’t), he’d be fired and likely never work in the NCAA again.

“I understood what they were saying, I just said, ‘Piss on them,’ ” Haskins said. “Piss on them all. I brought these kids here; I’m playing my best players.’ “

The victory helped integrate not just schools but entire conferences – the ACC, SEC and Southwest Conferences were segregated at that point. Almost immediately the floodgates opened.

“He literally got thousands and thousands of black kids scholarships to college,” said Nolan Richardson, a former Haskins player. Later in life some of those players he had never met would approach him at airports and restaurants and thank him.

Haskins, as his friend’s predicted, got zero job offers. The only major school to ever try to hire him was his alma mater, Oklahoma State. Today if someone won an NCAA title at a mid-major, they’d choose their multimillion dollar job. Not in 1966. Not with that starting five.

He did get hate mail by the bucket. And the NCAA dispatched an investigator to look into the players’ academics (they were legit). He was shredded in much of the national media. Sports Illustrated even concluded he was exploiting blacks, not helping them, a charge his old players still bristle at.

“For a long time I said winning that championship in 1966 was the worst thing that ever happened to me,” he said.

In recent years he was no longer bitter about those days. He had come out on top in the end. The world had come around on the Glory Road he paved.

People began to appreciate that in a sports world filled with hyperbole, a young man gave up so much personally because it was the right thing to do. The thing no one else would.

More from ESPN.

Categories: college basketball, Sports

Last [2 Weeks] in the East Coast Bias

September 8, 2008 Comments off

College Basketball is just around the corner – as is my wedding, meaning that sometimes, the East Coast Bias’ posts will be intermittent. But while Tom Brady was getting hurt, MTV had some award show or something and Christina Aguilera (at left) looked like a young Elvira; while Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were brought BACK under government control (HANDOUT ALERT! MORAL HAZARD ALERT!); Christina Aguilera at Video Music Awardsand while ABC gets to be the first station to lob softball questions at the hopeful "VPILF", and attender of 4 undergraduate colleges before graduating, Sarah Palin…

+ Trevor Mbakwe suddenly transfers from Marquette, reminding this observer of Qa’rraan Calhoun’s sudden departure from St. John’s a year ago.

+An Olympic Recap? How long since I’ve done a blog roundup?

+ Watch the Rudy Fernandez dunk on Dwight Howard.

+ And if you’re in his district in Queens, vote Dave Kerpen for City Council.

+ The Red Storm were going to go to Cancun for a set of preseason games, but Hurricane Gustav knocked those plans out.

+ Norm Roberts coached in a charity tournament to benefit families of victims of the September 11th plane attacks in New York.

+ Oswald Cross and Kimani Young were formally introduced as members of the St. John’s coaching staff. Kimani Young will be head team manager/ video coordinator, and Oz Cross will be the administrative assistant.

+ The Red Storm 2008-2009 schedule is out. Athlon Sports has the team 16 (that would be bottom) in the Big East, and most other prognosticators have the squad in the bottom four of the league.

+ A recruit that St. John’s didn’t sign (by all indications it was St. John’s choice despite what the players people say) named Donald Williams will enroll and play at the University of Kentucky. Did St. John’s make a mistake and not sign an impact player? Time will tell. (I’m guessing on no.)

Categories: Sports, weekinreview