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[Posted Wed. a.m.]
Alabama Football Quiz: A friend and I were chatting about the NFL draft, I looked something up, and just kind of stumbled on this, which I grant you is sort of out of season. Name the eight Alabama players who ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. All are well known to any football historian, but if you have four brain cells left, such as moi (I have two), good luck getting all eight. [Hints: One was pre-1960, two were offensive lineman.] Answer below.
--So when the stories emerged that an ownership group led by Derek Jeter and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush was trying to buy the Marlins, some said the Marlins were playing them in an attempt to get a higher bid. But wouldn’t ya know, Jeter and Bush won the auction.
Good for them. Jeb’s brother was of course an owner once (the Rangers), and Jeter’s transition to retirement has suddenly sped up. I like it. [But I don’t like that they are in the same division as my Mets!]
Ian O’Connor / ESPN
“Derek Jeter won the auction for the Miami Marlins, but you already knew that. In fact, the moment you heard Jeter was involved in a group pursuing the purchase of the Marlins, you probably figured muscle memory would rule the day and that No. 2 would finish No. 1.
“Jeter wins. It’s what he does – in baseball, in business, in life, in love. How many people on the face of the earth are better at something than Derek Jeter is at winning?”
But the bid that Jeter and partner Bush came up with, $1.3 billion, still needs financing, and Major League Baseball, which has to approve the sale, needs to see proof of financial wherewithal from the ownership group. [MLB apparently will want at least 60% of the purchase price paid up front, and no more than 40% financed, so that’s where Jeb Bush’s rich buddies come in.]
Current Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, by the way, purchased the team in 2002 for $158 million. Not a bad investment, I think you’d agree.
--For those of us in the Northeast, February was an awesome weather month. But since March 1, there have literally been about four nice days in the ensuing two months. After off days on Monday, the Mets and Yankees’ respective games were rained out Tuesday, which for the Mets was just as well.
But there was some interesting action around baseball on Tuesday.
Washington’s Trea Turner, who got off to a dreadful start, is on fire, hitting for the cycle in Colorado as the Nationals outlasted the Rockies 15-12. Turner drove in a career-high seven runs in the process.
Houston’s Dallas Keuchel is now 4-0, 1.22 ERA, after tossing a complete game against Cleveland on Tuesday, 4-2. The Astros are flying...14-6, matching Washington for the best record in baseball.
Detroit blasted Seattle 19-9 as the Tigers had 24 hits, knocking out the Mariners’ King Felix after just two innings (4 earned on 6 hits). Hernandez is off to a 2-2, 4.73 start.
Minnesota (10-10) owes its somewhat surprising start to one man, pitcher Ervin Santana, who Tuesday moved to 4-0, 0.77, with 7 innings of one-run ball in the Twinkies 8-1 win over the Rangers.
And Clayton Kershaw is now 4-1, 2.29, after he threw 7 innings, allowing one run, in the Dodgers’ 2-1 win in San Francisco. L.A. is just 10-11, but the Giants are a sickening 7-14 and without...well...we’ll let him tell the story....
--The Giants’ Madison Bumgarner spoke publicly for the first time on Monday about his dirt bike accident. He said he had nearly finished a ride of more than two hours in the mountains outside Denver when his rented bike slipped on the trail and took Bumgarner to the ground directly onto his pitching shoulder.
Bumgarner said he suffered bruised ribs and sprained the AC joint in his pitching shoulder. He said he was with two family members, not speeding or racing the bike, and wearing a helmet when he spun out.
“I’m not exactly sure what happened. It was a surprise to me, too,” he said. The pitcher said he immediately called Giants head trainer Dave Groeschner and went to the emergency room once back in Denver.
“It’s terrible. Obviously that was not my intention when I set out to enjoy the off day. I realize that’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made,” he said.
An early look by a doctor back in San Francisco said there didn’t appear to be any structural damage to the shoulder.
Bumgarner admitted his contract lists prohibited activities, though he didn’t offer any specifics.
--Thru Monday, Tim Tebow was hitting .213 (13-61, 2 homers, 9 RBIs) at the Mets’ Low-A Columbia (S.C.) Fireflies franchise, though last week he went 6-for-21, which ain’t all bad. Yes, he turns 30 soon, but he hasn’t played since high school. I do still maintain, however, that if he isn’t showing even more progress by mid-season, he could decide to shelve the project.
That said, I also told you how crowds in Columbia were massive the first week, and now David Caraviello of the Post and Courier reports that Columbia’s attendance is up roughly 2,000 fans per game from last year, which isn’t chopped liver at this level. And the Fireflies are selling out on the road.
As Caraviello writes, it doesn’t matter that Tebow quarterbacked South Carolina’s rival, Florida, there’s no, “I’m not going to see Tim Tebow play because I hate Tim Tebow.” Fireflies President John Katz said, “I think, overwhelmingly, people want to see him succeed.”
And with all the s--- going on in the world today, I continue to maintain there is nothing wrong with that!
But, the Fireflies, as you can imagine, are also selling gobs of Tebow merchandise. The Mets knew this when they signed him. What I didn’t understand, though, is that the Mets don’t own Columbia, so aren’t profiting from the sale of jerseys and such.
Ergo, the talk is Tebow could shortly be promoted to the Mets’ High-A affiliate, St. Lucie (Fla.), which they do own. And, of course, it’s Florida and you have that QB/national title angle. And the increased gate revenue and merchandise sales would go to the Mets.
--College Baseball Poll (Baseball America, 4/24)
1. Oregon State...yet another reminder to always have some Beaverwear on hand, just as we do here in the home office of Bar Chat. It’s feisty garb.
3. North Carolina
7. Texas Tech
8. Mississippi State
9. Long Beach State
17. Wake Forest*
22. St. John’s
24. Mercer! [Macon, Ga.]
*Wake played at Clemson last weekend and lost 2 of 3, but this didn’t hurt them in the rankings.
--The Rockets eliminated the Thunder on Tuesday, 105-99 in Game 5 to take the series 4-1. Russell Westbrook had 47 points, but was just 5 of 18 from three, and 12 of 17 from the foul line.
--After shockingly losing two in Memphis, the San Antonio Spurs returned home for Game 5 and won 116-103 behind Kawhi Leonard’s 28 points. The Spurs now lead 3-2. Game 6 is back in Memphis on Thursday.
--Fans in Washington are very concerned as the Wizards, after beating the Hawks in the first two of their series, suddenly lost two in Atlanta, including 111-102 on Monday. Game 5 is tonight in Washington (bizarre 6:00 p.m. starting time).
--There is a report out there that Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo just might play in Wednesday night’s critical Game 5 of Bulls-Celtics, the two teams knotted at 2. Rondo has a fractured right thumb and ailing wrist but held a stealth practice session Tuesday night in Boston.
--Golden State coach Steve Kerr is suffering from excruciating back pain, even after his second surgery that was supposed to fix a screw-up during the first surgery.
Kerr, who missed Game 4 of the playoffs Monday acknowledged he could miss the rest of the playoffs, owing to this ongoing problem from a cerebrospinal fluid leak, that has led to debilitating pain, which in turn has led to severe headaches and nausea, going back to his first surgery in July 2015 and then his second in September of that year.
According to ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, going back to last year, “For months, he was a shell of himself, battling intense pressure headaches and searing pain behind his eyes....Kerry had no answers. It wasn’t his back that hurt, it was his head. He felt sick, weak, tired and dizzy.” [Cindy Boren / Washington Post]
As Boren writes: “Kerr has tried everything, including conventional medicine, yoga, meditation, marijuana, exercise and sheer willpower.”
Kerr offered the following Sunday for those who have back problems.
“I can tell you if you’re listening out there, stay away from back surgery. I can say that from the bottom of my heart. Rehab, rehab, rehab. Don’t let anyone get in there.”
I know I’ll never have it, though I’ve had friends my age who are just fine after it. I’ll go the rehab route.
At least Golden State dispatched of the Trail Blazers in four games, winning 128-103 on Monday.
I turned this game on before I went to bed and saw it was 35-9! Golden State outscored Portland 45-22 in the first quarter. Good lord.
Did I tell you before the season started that the Trail Blazers were going all the way this year? Never mind....
--In college basketball, North Carolina received a pleasant surprise as point guard Joel Berry II pulled his name from the NBA draft and announced he would return for his senior year. But I’m still expecting the Tar Heels to be placed on probation for next season, assuming the NCAA finally wraps up its investigation into the academic fraud scandal at Chapel Hill.
I’m looking forward to Thursday night for one reason...I’m very curious what my team, the Jets, does with the No. 6 pick. I’ll be happy with just about anyone they take on defense, but I’d have no problem if they went for Deshaun Watson as their hoped for franchise QB. As my buddy Mark R. suggested to me, it better not be Mitch Trubisky.
I loved Mark R.’s thought about the Steelers, though, and how with the No. 30 pick they should select Notre Dame QB DeShone Kizer as the eventual replacement for Roethlisberger.
One guy I don’t get is Stanford running back / return man, Christian McCaffrey. He seems to be top 15 on everyone’s list. I’m pretty good at these things over the years. I told you Jordan Howard, the Bears’ star rookie back from this past season, was the steal of the draft last year, taken in the fifth round.
I’ll say today that McCaffrey, clearly headed for a high first-round contract, will be a middling NFL player.
--NFL insider Adam Schefter said the other day that New England quarterback Jimmy
Garoppolo isn’t going anywhere. ‘His name continues to surface in trade rumors and speculation – not happening.”
It would have to be a helluva deal, starting with a first-rounder, for the Pats to give him up.
--The Tiger Woods saga continues...because it is Tiger Woods. Woods has now had four surgeries/procedures on his back in the last three years.
Tom Erdington / DogLeg News:
“This fourth one has nothing to do with golf and everything to do with living a normal, pain-free life. Woods knows it, everyone knows it even if there are those who won’t admit it.
“This fourth surgery came out of desperation, not necessity....
“Just listen to the testimony of Jack Nicklaus after he sat close to Tiger at the Masters Champions dinner a few weeks ago.
“ ‘He was miserable.’
“Nicklaus made that point last week at Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri, where ironically, Woods showed up on Tuesday and tried to hit a couple of short wedge shots. Look at the video and you see a man in pain. Despite that, Woods still gave the false report that his back ‘was progressing.’
“He left out four key words that would have revealed the truth, that his back: ‘was progressing toward a fourth surgery.’
“It’s done. He’s going to be home and on the shelf. Another lost year....
“(But) someone who once spent a lot of time with Woods is pouring some cold water on the notion of Woods wanting to come back.
“Let’s listen for a moment to swing instructor Hank Haney.
“ ‘I don’t believe Tiger is that enthralled with this whole comeback idea. I think that’s something people have wrong. That’s one of the biggest misconceptions, I think, that he’s just snowed the media on. The media know that when Tiger says something, you can’t take it for just what he said because he’s not giving you everything. But they still believe that he’s got this burning desire to come back and play. I don’t think he does.’....
“With this latest development in the ongoing Tale of the Tiger, it’s hard to say what is real and what isn’t.
“The way golf works, the stars rarely sit down and conduct a ‘retirement announcement.’
“This is a sport where the biggest names have slowly faded from the limelight, often conducting something akin to a ‘farewell tour’ as far as the majors go....
“Haney may be right. You wonder if there is any more ‘burning desire?’”
The thing is, as I’ve pointed out before, Tiger still has all these endorsements. He has to stay in the public eye in one form or another.
--Rory McIlroy and Erica Stoll were married on Saturday at Ashford Castle.
Stevie Wonder was there to perform. So was Ed Sheeran. Most of the Euro Ryder Cup team attended, including Sergio Garcia and his future bride.
But security was super tight, like “visiting heads of state” tight, as Tom Erdington put it, and Rory even hired an anti-drone company to eliminate any photo drones flying over the estate.
It was a three-day event, starting Friday, and by all indications was pretty awesome if you were invited.
But a lot of the Irish papers were highly critical. Here’s a fact. Rory was two-faced, like a lot of today’s modern superstar golfers, and athletes for that matter. They love, and thrive (thru endorsements) on the media and PR, but at moments like these, the press is shut out.
I don’t know if Rory had someone from People or whatever on exclusive, I hardly give a damn, but I agree with those saying, hold on....
Rory is an interesting dude. He’s gotten very prickly the past few years, after bursting on the scene as this incredibly talented, innocent, wide-eyed, honest, golfer. But he’s changed. I’ve read a ton about him from the Irish press and he’s frankly become kind of a bore.
Rory is rich...very, very rich. Nothing wrong with that, for sure.
But for everyone like this, they have but one example of how to conduct themselves around the rest of us schmucks. It’s Arnie.
--Men’s Division I College Golf Rankings (Coaches poll, April 21)
2. Oklahoma State
10. Wake Forest
This survey was taken before the ACC Tournament and other conference championships this past weekend. Wake Forest finished third, behind winner Duke and Clemson. But third doesn’t hurt the Deacs.
Bottom line, everyone is waiting for the NCAA tournament selections on May 4, with the Regionals conducted May 15-17.
--Jimmie Johnson won the rain-delayed Monster Energy Series race at Bristol, Monday...his 82nd career win and the eleventh time he has won back-to-back, Johnson having won the last race at Texas Motor Speedway.
I caught a lot of it and Bristol is on my bucket list, but the August night race, not the spring one.
One other item on the race. Great to see Clint Bowyer finish second for the Stewart-Haas team, some of us rooting for “Smoke,” Tony Stewart.
--Well, I said Dale Earnhardt Jr. would retire after the Daytona 500, first writing this last summer when he was forced to sit out the second half of the NASCAR season after a series of concussions.
Tuesday, he announced he was retiring at the end of this year, which to me means he could walk away at any moment. Frankly, good for him. Protect your health, Junior. But what a blow to the sport. Jeff Gordon...Tony Stewart...Dale Earnhardt Jr. ...not good. [I need to get me some Dale Jr. wear for the sports drawer. I have a terrific t-shirt from ages ago but it is fading. I do keep Dale Sr.’s hat in circulation.]
--I forgot to note that Lionel Messi scored his 500th Barcelona goal to put them on top of La Liga with an injury-time winner against 10-man Real Madrid (and Cristiano Ronaldo) on Sunday in El Clasico at Real, final score 3-2 in what sounds like an awesome contest. Messi has 31 goals in the La Liga season.
Real Madrid has won the Champions League in two of the past three seasons, but they are without a La Liga title since 2012, with Barcelona taking the trophy three times and Atletico Madrid once since then.
[Barcelona and Real are tied at 75 points, but Barca leads in goal differential, though Real has a game in hand.]
--In Premier League action on Tuesday, Chelsea beat Southampton 4-2, so if my Tottenham Spurs stumble on the road today at Crystal Palace, the race for the title is essentially over.
--In reading the 5/8/17 edition of ESPN The Magazine, I saw that Maria Sharapova was making her return to tennis after being suspended 15 months for PED use today at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany. As Shaun Assael writes, Sharapova isn’t likely to receive a warm reception.
It’s about how she is returning.
“For players who don’t have the points or ranking to automatically qualify for an event, tournament organizers dole out a limited number of wild-card passes to their main draws, usually for hometown favorites who need the ranking points that come with winning matches at premier events. Without that wild card, players have to fight through exhausting qualifying-round matches. But Sharapova – the richest female athlete in the world, worth an estimated $285 before her suspension, according to Forbes – is invoking a WTA rule allowing grand slam winners to get wild cards, and in the process muscling aside other players, some of whom have battled for years to get a shot at qualifying for premier events like the one in Stuttgart.
“Fellow player Caroline Wozniacki argues that Sharapova should make her way through the qualifiers. ‘When a player is banned for drugs, I think that someone should start from the bottom and fight their way back,’ Wozniacki told reporters at Indian Wells in March.
“That Sharapova is not taking that path only adds to her reputation as the kind of player who will do anything to gain an advantage, and it helps explain why the current l’affaire Sharapova has grown into something larger, and nastier, than it ever should have been.”
--I was going through some files the other day and came across this historic nugget. I don’t know why I had it stashed away but it’s a good one.
The famous speech delivered by Oliver Cromwell to members of Parliament on April 20, 1653.
Angered by political infighting, he stood up and ordered that Parliament be dissolved.
Forty armed musketeers then stormed into the House and removed the MPs by force.
It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money. Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess?
Ye have no more religion than my horse; gold is your God; which of you have not barter’d your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?
Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defil’d this sacred place, and turn’d the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices?
Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation; you were deputed here by the people to get grievances redress’d, are yourselves gone!
So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors. In the name of God, go!
--I posted a new All-Species List on Monday that reflects ‘Man’ dropping 10 notches to No. 361 after trampling wild flowers in California, and then on Tuesday, I see a highly disturbing situation in South Dakota and I’ll be demoting Man even further.
As reported in the Rapid City Journal, “Federal officials said Monday that 15 people have been indicted for illegally trafficking eagles and other migratory birds after a two-year undercover operation potentially involving hundreds of birds.”
The investigation is focused on the trafficking of eagles and eagle parts and feathers for profit. At least 100 eagles, and as many as 250, were killed, in what U.S. Attorney Randy Seiler described as a “chop-shop for eagles” in which eagle feathers were stuffed into garbage bags. Talons and beaks were also treated as merchandise.
Seiler said, “There was no cultural sensitivity. There was no spirituality. There was no tradition in the manner in which these defendants handled these birds.”
The eagles were primarily shot.
One of the Rapid City men arrested, Troy Fairbanks, was charged with conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking and violations of the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act, Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Lacey Act.
“Fairbanks, 54, allegedly sold or traded eagle parts to an informant, including a golden eagle head for $250, a trade involving about $5,400 worth of legal merchandise for eagle parts and selling two sets of eagle wings for $900....a whole eagle carcass would generally sell for between $1,000 and $1,200.”
In 2015, undercover agents said Fairbanks told them he had 19 people in the Los Angeles area who wanted to buy eagle parts from him.
Upon conviction, I’d line these dirtballs up against a wall and...you can guess the rest.
Actually, it would be quite fair to stick them in a pit with some hungry grizzly bears.
And so I’m dropping ‘Man’ to No. 367. The fact there are still some good people going after the bad ones keeps Man from falling even further.
--It happened again...another shark attack the other day near a remote British island in the South Atlantic. A woman was swimming near Ascension Island, part of the territory of St. Helena, and one source told the Times (of London) her husband punched the shark to scare it away. The woman, who works for the St. Helena government, was treated locally but later airlifted to the U.K.
The remote islands of St. Helena, Ascension and Tristan de Cunha are roughly midway between Africa and South America, so this forces me to get out of my chair and go to my world map....goodness gracious! They truly are remote, and the distance between Ascension and Tristan da Cunha is the same as New York to Denver.
The government has warned swimmers entering the water in this area that they do so at their own risk.
I mean these islands are so remote, anything could be in the water there. [The Brits used Ascension in 1982 as a staging ground for their operation in the Falkland Islands, too.]
No word on the woman’s condition, by the way, or what kind of shark it was.
--“Three Islamic State militants setting up an ambush in a bitterly contested area of northern Iraq were killed by a herd of stampeding boars, local leaders say.
“Sheikh Anwar al-Assi, a chief of the local Ubaid tribe and supervisor of anti-ISIS forces, told The Times of London the militants were hiding on the edge of a field about 50 miles southwest of Kirkuk when the boars overwhelmed them Sunday. Five other militants were injured, al-Assi said.”
Al-Assi said the militants had previously executed 25 people attempting to flee ISIS’ would-be caliphate in the days before the boars attacked.
Remind me not to become a sheep herder or farmer in this part of Iraq.
‘Wild Boar’ moves up to No. 103 on the ASL.
Top 3 songs for the week 4/24/76: #1 “Disco Lady” (Johnnie Taylor) #2 “Let Your Love Flow” (Bellamy Brothers) #3 “Right Back Where We Started From” (Maxine Nightingale)...and...#4 “Boogie Fever” (Sylvers...ugh...thankfully, back end of this list saves the week...) #5 “Sweet Love” (Commodores) #6 “Only Sixteen” (Dr. Hook) #7 “Welcome Back” (John Sebastian) #8 “Show Me The Way” (Peter Frampton) #9 “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Queen) #10 “Fooled Around And Fell In Love” (Elvin Bishop...in my top three all time...)
Alabama Football Quiz Answer: Eight who ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
John Hannah, Don Hutson, Joe Namath, Ozzie Newsome, Ken Stabler, Bart Starr, Dwight Stephenson, Derrick Thomas.
Next Bar Chat, Monday.