Review Category : National Sports

Griffey Jr., Piazza Inducted Into Baseball Hall of Fame

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images(COOPERSTOWN, N.Y.) – Two players from the same state, but whose baseball careers began worlds apart, shared the stage at the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, seeing their names and faces engraved in plaques that will stand on display forever.

The class of 2016 included arguably the best hitting catcher of all time, Mike Piazza, and one of the game’s most exciting players, Ken Griffey Jr. Each of them born in Pennsylvania nearly 50 years ago, couldn’t have been less similar in their career arcs. Griffey was the top pick in the 1987 amateur draft and the only number one overall selection to be inducted, while Piazza, a 62nd round pick in 1988, was the lowest drafted player to ever be enshrined.

Piazza even highlighted the differences in his induction speech, saying that “about the only thing [the two] had in common as ballplayers was two arms and two legs.”

Griffey was named on a record 99.32 percent of the ballots cast by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, falling three votes shy of unanimous induction. He won 10 gold gloves in his career, hit 630 home runs, and was known for his sweet swing and his flair – regularly wearing his baseball cap backwards.

In a 22-year career with the Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati Red and Chicago White Sox, Griffey was nicknamed “The Natural.” He hinted at that view of him as one of two major misconceptions he mentioned in his speech. The misconceptions? “I didn’t work hard and everything I did I made look easy,” he explained.

“Just because I made it easy doesn’t mean that it was. You don’t become a Hall of Famer by not working, but working day in and day out,” Griffey added.

He enters the hall wearing the Mariners logo that adorned his jersey for 13 of his 22 seasons.

Both Griffey and Piazza offered heartfelt thanks to their fathers in their speeches. Griffey credited his father, a star ballplayer in his own right, with teaching him “how to play this game, but more importantly, he taught me how to be a man, how to work hard, how to look at yourself in the mirror each and every day and not to worry about what other people are doing.”

Piazza was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in part because then-manager Tommy Lasorda was a close friend of Piazza’s father. Piazza noted in his speech that his father “dreamed of playing in the major leagues,” but that “the realities of life” got in the way.

He also touched on one of the defining moments of his career, a game-winning home run in the first baseball game in New York City after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. “To witness the darkest evil of the human heart…will forever be burned in my soul,” Piazza said. “But from tragedy and sorrow came bravery, love, compassion, character and eventual healing.

“Many of you give me praise for the two-run home run in the first game back on Sept. 21st, but the true praise belongs to police, firefighters, first responders that knew that they were going to die, but went forward anyway. I pray that we never forget their sacrifice.”

Piazza played 16 seasons for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Florida Marlins, New York Mets, San Diego Padres and Oakland A’s. He hit 427 home runs, including a record 396 as a catcher. He also appeared in 12 All-Star games and won 10 Silver Slugger Awards. While he spent about the same amount of time with his first team, the Los Angeles Dodgers as he did the New York Mets, it is with the latter team that he will be enshrined.

The Hall of Fame estimated that about 50,000 people attended the induction ceremony, tied for the second-most all time. The highest figure, estimated at over 80,000 was in 2007 when Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn were enshrined.

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‘God Put Me in the Right Place,’ Says Linebacker Who Stopped Alleged Sexual Assault

ABC News(GAINESVILLE, Fla.) — University of Florida linebacker Cristian Garcia said “God put me in the right place at the right time” to stop the alleged sexual assault of a young woman behind the bar where he works.

Garcia, a Miami native who will be a junior and was a walk-on with the football team last season, described his night at the bar, 101 Cantina in Gainesville, Florida, as being “typical” before witnessing what appeared to be the sexual assault of a 19-year-old woman.

Garcia, who was “working security” at 101 Cantina that night, said that he was taking out the trash early Friday morning when he noticed the woman “pinned up against a dumpster” behind the bar, and that her body was limp, which indicated to him that she was unconscious. He said the man with her told him that she was his girlfriend, but that her condition told him that a sexual act was taking place without consent.

He said that friends of the man were standing around witnessing what he believed was a sexual assault.

“Nobody deserves this to happen to them,” he said.

He said that he and his co-worker, Leroyea Simmons, were forced to make a decision when they recognized what was happening. Simmons filmed the incident, and Garcia tangled with the man in breaking it up, he said.

He said that he grabbed the man “by the shoulders” and that he engaged in a physical altercation with him in a nearby alley. He said the man “began to get violent” and threw punches before he slipped and “busted his face on the floor.” He said that the man and his friends ran away after the fall.

“It was fight or flight and I just reacted,” Garcia said of his efforts to defend the woman.

He said that he appreciates the positive attention he has received for his actions, but implied that the focus should be placed on the gravity of sexual assault.

“The attention has been cool, but a horrible act happened that night,” he said.

Garcia spoke highly of the football program at the University of Florida, and said that it was focused on making “great men.”

Shaw, 34, was in Alachua County Jail with bail set at $500,000. He was charged with sexual battery and had not entered a plea, but according to the arrest report denied the allegation.

Garcia recommended that anyone who might find him or herself in the same position he did should show common sense and call authorities, because of the danger of breaking up a violent act.

“Act cautiously,” he recommended.

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White Sox Pitcher Chris Sale Suspended After ‘Clubhouse Incident’

Scott Clarke/ESPN(CHICAGO) — White Sox pitcher Chris Sale has been suspended for five days after Saturday’s “clubhouse incident.”

“Chris has been suspended for violating team rules, for insubordination and for destroying team equipment,” said White Sox general manager Rick Hahn in a statement. “While we all appreciate Chris’ talent and passion, there is a correct way and an incorrect way to express concerns about team rules and organizational expectations.”

Sale was scratched from Saturday’s game and sent home after the incident. According to the team, the suspension runs through Wednesday.

Sources originally told ESPN that the confrontation was over “something silly” with a front-office member that apparently turned into a bigger argument. Multiple reports said the argument was over Sale wearing the White Sox throwback jersey and he destroyed his uniform in protest as well as some other teammates’.

Matt Albers started instead of Sale and was booed by the crowed when his name was announced, according to ESPN.

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Olympic Panel Declines Total Ban on Russian Athletes for 2016

iStock/Thinkstock(MOSCOW) — The International Olympic Committee has voted not to impose a blanket ban on Russia’s participating in this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro over the country’s state-directed doping of athletes.

In a statement released Sunday, the IOC declined to impose a total collective ban as recommended earlier by the World Anti-Doping Agency, instead requesting that the international federation for each Olympic sport should evaluate which Russian athletes can be considered clean enough to compete.

Those athletes from Russia’s national Olympic team wishing to compete will now have to pass examination by the international federation of their sport, meeting criteria set by the federations that will prove they are clean.

That decision means that it is likely that at least some of Russia’s 387 athletes from its national Olympic team will compete in Rio though there remain steep practical challenges to their passing individual evaluations, with the games just two week away.

Speaking in a conference call to reporters, IOC president Thomas Bach said the decision had been unanimous, with one abstention. He said the decisive factor had ultimately been the fate of athletes who would have been punished by a blanket ban despite having clean records.

“At the end of the day you have to be able to look into the eyes of the individual athlete concerned by your decision,” Bach said.

“The message is very clear– given these serious allegations, given all the information they have to assume a collective responsibility for such a system. On the other hand, it is a message of encouragement for the clean Russian athletes, that they have the chance to show they are clean and to participate in the Olympic games.”

A number of international federations, including the International Gymnastics Federation, have already said they oppose a blanket ban, suggesting that they will welcome the IOC decision.

The decision resembled the conditions imposed by the IOC on Russia’s track and field athletes, who were barred totally from the Olympics by their international federation, the International Association of Athletics Federations in June. The IOC then decided that those athletes able to meet criteria imposed by international federation would be allowed to compete.

The federation set extremely tough criteria, with only one Russian athlete so far successfully passing meeting it — long jumper Daria Klishina, who trains in the United States. Today’s IOC ruling appeared to leave the ban on Russian track and field athletes’ unaffected.

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Team USA Announced with Record 292 Women Headed to Rio Olympics

International Olympic Committee via Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Despite Zika fears, the U.S. Olympic team was revealed Saturday with a record 292 women headed to Rio de Janeiro.

Team USA, which includes 555 athletes (263 men) in 27 sports, now has the most women who have ever competed for any country in the history of the Olympics.

The Rio Olympics have been plagued with worries over Zika, a virus linked to birth defects in infants. Several star athletes have said they would not be participating in the Olympics because of the mosquito-born virus.

Monica Rokhman, a gymnast from Illinois, said she trusted officials who said it was okay for women to participate.

“If they tell us it’s okay and we should go, then I trust them,” she said.

USA Women’s Basketball player Elena Delle Donne is also headed to Rio despite the Zika worries.

“No doubt in my mind you know we’ll be taken care of and it will be a great experience,” she said.

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White Sox Pitcher Chris Sale Sent Home After ‘Clubhouse Incident’

Scott Clarke/ESPN(CHICAGO) — White Sox pitcher Chris Sale was scratched from Saturday night’s start against the Detroit Tigers and set home.

According to White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, the five-time All-Star was involved in a “clubhouse incident” that was “non-physical in nature.” Hahn said the incident was being investigated by the club and “the White Sox will have no additional comment until the investigation is completed.

Sources told ESPN that the confrontation was over “something silly” with a front-office member that apparently turned into a bigger argument.

Matt Albers started instead of Sale and was booed by the crowed when his name was announced, according to ESPN.

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Report: Le’Veon Bell Faces Four-Game Suspension for Missed Drug Test

Andy Lyons/Getty Images(PITTSBURGH) — Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell has reportedly violated the NFL’s drug policy.

According to ESPN, sources say Bell, 24, is facing a four-game suspension for missing a drug test, and the appeals process is ongoing.

If the suspension isn’t overturned, according to ESPN, Bell will miss the first four games of the regular season.

The running back was suspended for the first four games of the 2015 regular season after he was arrested in the summer of 2014 on DUI and marijuana possession charges. The suspension was later reduced to two games after Bell filed for an appeal.

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Dennis Green, Former Coach of Vikings and Cardinals, Dies at 67

Ronald Martinez/ALLSPORT via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Dennis Green, former NFL coach of the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals, has died at 67.

Green spent 13 seasons coaching the NFL with eight playoff appearances under the Vikings. His best season with the team was in 1998 when the Vikings finished 15–1, a record at the time.

According to a statement from his family, he died due to complications of cardiac arrest.

The Vikings said they were “saddened” by the news of his passing.

“Denny made his mark in ways far beyond being an outstanding football coach,” the team said in a statement. “He mentored countless players and served as a father figure for the men he coached. Denny founded the Vikings Community Tuesday Program, a critical initiative that is now implemented across the entire NFL. He took great pride in helping assistant coaches advance their careers. His tenure as one of the first African American head coaches in both college and the NFL was also transformative.”

Green coached the Cardinals from 2004 to 2006.

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Cowboys Rookie Ezekiel Elliott Accused of Domestic Violence

Joe Faraoni / ESPN Images(DALLAS) — Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott is in hot water just weeks before the start of the preseason.

The 21-year-old rookie has been accused of assaulting a woman who claims to be his former live-in girlfriend, according to police reports obtained by ESPN. The woman says she was assaulted several times over the past week.

Elliott has denied the claims. The first-round pick has not been charged or arrested.

ESPN reports the Cowboys are aware of the accusations, and a league representative says the NFL will review the case.

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IOC Releases More Positive Doping Results

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — More athletes have been caught using banned substances ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on Friday that after reanalyzing samples from the previous two Summer Games — Beijing 2008 and London 2012 — 45 more athletes were found to have tested positive for prohibited substances. This brings the total number to 98 after two waves of reanalysis.

“The third and fourth waves are expected to continue throughout and after the Olympic Games Rio 2016,” the IOC said.

Of the 45 athletes who failed in the latest wave, 30 competed in Beijing, 23 of whom were medalists. The remaining 15 competed in London and represented two sports.

The IOC has not released the athletes’ names nor identified their countries.

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