Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Friends Join Sweethearts for Soldiers

Congrats to my friends, Bonnie-Jill, Taylor and Harmony for making the Sweethearts for Soldiers squad for 2010.

Sweethearts for Soldiers is a non-profit organization that provides troop entertainment, care packages and produces an annual charity calendar. The group is comprised of former NFL and NBA cheerleaders who have a strong passion for supporting our military. The mission of the Sweethearts' is to help raise morale and bring a touch of home to the brave men and women fighting for our freedoms.

So do your part to support our troops by checking out the website and donating to the cause. The 2010 calendar will be out shortly!

Oregon CB Thurmond done for season

You may not find a stronger proponent for higher education than yours truly. I believe the college experience--from both the educational to the social aspects--is invaluable to young people, especially today. Those who believe it's a waste a time and/or money have no idea what they are missing.

However, I am also a realist. College is not for everyone, or perhaps more accurately, a college degree is not for everyone.

The number one goal of going to college is to develop skills to help you ensure a successful and productive life once your school days are done. I often use that argument when today's student-athletes are faced with the decision to leave school early for the professional ranks or to stay in college for another season or two.

Granted, every case is different, but for the upper echelon of uber talented athletes, staying in school sometimes has its consequences, and Oregon's Walter Thurmond III is the latest example.

Thurmond, who came extremely close to entering the 2009 NFL Draft, suffered a season-ending knee injury in Saturday's win over Cal. Instead of rehabbing that knee with a professional team, who would be paying him while doing so, Thurmond must now try to get back to a level of strength and conditioning by January so he can work out for NFL teams with hopes of someone taking a chance on him.

Once a guaranteed lock for a high draft pick, Thurmond is now viewed as damaged goods by professional scouts and talent evaluators. Instead of determining where he should be picked in the draft, some teams will soon determine whether he should be drafted at all.

Here's hoping that Thurmond's work ethic and desire will help him prove to NFL general managers, coaches and scouts that he is still worthy of a chance.

UPDATE: It's hard for kids to reject hip hop culture

Jason Whitlock adds some perspective to the recent events at Kansas, where the football and basketball teams engaged in some on-campus brawls.

It's hard for kids to reject hip hop culture - Kansas City Star

UPDATE: Another one of my sports journalism colleagues, Justice Hill, adds even more insight and perspective to what transpired on the KU campus. However, unlike Whitlock, Hill argues that "What this fighting means in a larger context isn’t simple to discern."

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Stafon Johnson's fitness saved his life, doctor says --

As tragic as this story is, and could have been, it is also incredibly amazing. Doctors have been telling us forever that the healthier and fitter we are, the better our chances are of living a longer life. However, I don't think this example is exactly what doctors had in mind.

Way to hang in there, Stafon!

Stafon Johnson's fitness saved his life, doctor says --

UPDATE: Pete Carroll posted the following message from Stafon Johnson on his Twitter page this evening: "This is stafon...thank you all 4 the prayers and love I truly feel it... We ride 2gether we die 2gther umma TROJAN 4 LIFE...."

Carroll also said tonight that Johnson will join Twitter sometime tomorrow so he can communicate with his friends, family and fans.

John Calipari Hanging Out With Larry Brown

One of the reasons John Calipari has won so many games on the collegiate level is because he has never professed to knowing everything about basketball. His ego does not get in the way of his learning.

From the time he first picked up a whistle, Cal has never had a problem asking other coaches for their advice on new schemes, strategies or systems. It's one of the reasons he's been so effective and molding his system to fit his personnel.

Case in point, Mike Cranston wrote today that Cal was in Charlotte taking in part of the Bobcats training camp:

"Long after the players had left the court following the morning practice, (Larry) Brown was jogging through the lane and Kentucky coach John Calipari was setting an imaginary screen from the left wing as they discussed a play. Calipari, a longtime friend of Brown, was in town watching the workout with several other college coaches."

Wildcat Tipoff 2009-2010 Is Ready!!

Hey, UK Basketball fans, heads up! Wildcat Tipoff 2009-2010 is now ready for pre-orders. I was asked to write a column for this year's season preview, which includes some great insight I received from John Calipari.

Click on the Sea of Blue link below to order your copy!

What did I do This Summer? Well, I Edited a Kentucky Basketball Annual - A Sea Of Blue

Sports Journalism Institute: Application

The 2010 Sports Journalism Institute is a nine-week training and internship program for college students interested in sports journalism careers.

The Institute is designed to attract talented students to print journalism through opportunities in sports reporting and editing and enhance racial and gender diversity in sports departments of newspapers nationwide.

The program will run from June 4 through Aug. 6, 2010.

Sports Journalism Institute: Application

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Pacific student outranks college football's BCS - FOX Sports on MSN

Maggie Wigness, a 22-year-old computer science whiz at Pacific University, has created a formula she promises is more accurate at determining college football rankings than the controversial BCS method.

Pacific student outranks college football's BCS - CFB News - FOX Sports on MSN

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bill Plaschke: Slick Rick Neuheisel looking solid at UCLA --

If you needed more proof of just how determined Rick Neuheisel is about returning UCLA to national championship level, check out Bill Plaschke's most recent column.

How many coaches do you know who take helicopters to high school games?

Slick Rick Neuheisel looking solid at UCLA --

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Clippers Individual Game Tickets to go On Sale Saturday, October 3

The Los Angeles Clippers announced Thursday that individual game tickets will go on sale Saturday, October 3rd at 10:00 AM online at, or by calling 800-4NBA-TIX. Tickets can also be purchased at the STAPLES Center Box Office, Ticketmaster Centers including Ritmo Latino and Macy's beginning at 10:00 AM.

CLIPPERS: Clippers Individual Game Tickets to go On Sale Saturday, October 3


All area residents are invited to recycle their 'gently worn' shoes for people in need from October 5th to October 12th

LaCanada, CA – Every 9 seconds, Soles4Souls, Inc. gives away another pair of shoes to someone in need. The shoe charity has earned glowing endorsements from Hollywood stars and professional athletes, but the people that truly make the non-profit organization effective are those who clean out their closets to personally drop off their ‘gently worn’ shoes.

Soles4Souls and Sport Chalet will be collecting your gently worn footwear to ship the shoes to a person in need, whether they are victims of a natural disaster or subject to living in extreme poverty. It is estimated that Americans have 1.5 billion pairs of unused shoes lying in their closets. The charity can use each and every one of these pairs to make a tangible difference in someone's life. In return for donating a pair of gently worn shoes, Sport Chalet will give you a 20% off coupon good for a new pair of shoes during their event!

“We can use the shoes taking up space in your closet to change the world one pair at a time,” said Wayne Elsey, Founder and CEO of Soles4Souls. “We need more partners like Sport Chalet to 'STEP UP' and get behind our call for action. It’s one of the most simple yet profound gifts you can make, because it will greatly improve someone’s life in the most difficult of times,” he said.

“With the current economic conditions, we find that now, more than ever, is the time to partner with organizations like Soles4Souls and give back to those in need,” said Craig Levra, Chairman and CEO of Sport Chalet. “Our goal is to reach out and engage our most loyal customers to make this more than a rewarding experience for all. We encourage everyone to visit any of the 55 Sport Chalet retail locations throughout California, Arizona, Nevada and Utah. Each store will have drop off baskets and special offers for those who bring in their gently worn shoes during the Soles4Souls event,” he said.

Visit for a store near you.

People and companies interested in donating can visit the organization’s website at, and follow the instructions.

About Soles4Souls®
Soles4Souls is a Nashville-based charity that collects shoes from the warehouses of footwear companies and the closets of people like you. The charity distributes these shoes free of charge to people in need, regardless of race, religion, class, or any other criteria. Since 2005, Soles4Souls has given away over 5.5 million pairs of new and gently worn shoes (currently donating one pair every 9 seconds.) The shoes have been distributed to people in over 125 countries, including Kenya, Thailand, Nepal and the United States. Soles4Souls has been featured in Runner's World, Ladies’ Home Journal, National Geographic’s Green Guide and The New York Times. It has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, FOX, BBC, CNN and thousands of regional news outlets across North America. Soles4Souls is a 501(c)(3) recognized by the IRS and donating parties are eligible for tax advantages. Anyone can join our cause, and we need your help. Visit for more information.

Adopt a Shelter Pet Month

Assemblymember Ted Lieu Announces "Adopt a Shelter Pet Month"

Assemblymember Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) urges Californians to consider adopting dogs and cats from local animal shelters to relieve overcrowding and save these animals from certain euthanization.

California Assemblymember Ted Lieu Representing the 53rd Assembly District - Adopt a Shelter Pet Month

High School Football Player Refuses To Score

Just when I was starting to lose faith in America's collective sense of common decency, comes this story about a teenager knowing exactly the right thing to do at exactly the right moment. - Ark. player ends game with noble gesture

Kobe Named Player of the Decade

Los Angeles Lakers guard and 2009 NBA Finals MVP Kobe Bryant is Sporting News‘ NBA player of the decade.

The honor is part of a 14-page tribute to the athletes, coaches and teams of the 2000s in the new issue of the magazine, which arrives this week at all Barnes & Noble, Borders and Hudson Retail outlets. SN honored one athlete in each sport and enlisted the help of teammates, coaches and legends to make a case for both the winner and runner-up.

Said former teammate Shaquille O’Neal of Bryant: “The thing about Kobe is that, over the course of my career, I have never played with anyone who was as fierce as he is. By fierce I mean just having that extra killer instinct that you know when the game is on the line he is not going to shy away from the big shot, he is not going to make excuses. If we would go into the fourth quarter, playoffs or just some game in the season and we were within a little bit of the other team, Kobe was not going to shy away from the challenge of getting the win. He was going to take the shots.”

Bryant was SN’s player of the year in 2008. But 2009 was his favorite. “This year meant a lot,” he told SN. “We won a championship. It was satisfying, very satisfying, because we put in a lot of time and effort to fix things and get better. It’s a great memory. I feel that we just had such a great team, such a fun team, from our chemistry to the way we executed. We went through some years and years of frustration to get to that point.”

Bryant also made SN’s NBA all-decade team:

G Steve Nash
G Kobe Bryant
F Tim Duncan
F LeBron James
C Shaquille O’Neal

G Allen Iverson
G Dwyane Wade
F Dirk Nowitzki
F Kevin Garnett
C Yao Ming

Report: USC's Barkley to start vs. Washington St. - FOX Sports on MSN

No real surprise here, considering how much the Trojans passing game struggled against Washington. Matt Barkley may not be 100%, but Pete Carroll believes the true freshman gives USC the best chance of winning. And he's just not talking about Saturday against Washington State.

If the Trojans are to make it back to a BCS bowl game or even the national championship, they can't afford to lose another game.

Report: USC's Barkley to start vs. Washington St. - FOX Sports on MSN

SPORTSbyBROOKS: Steve McNair Death Mocked by Amusement Park

As if you needed any more proof that we, as a society, are steadily losing all sense of decency, check out one of the most disrespectful Halloween displays you likely have ever seen.

SPORTSbyBROOKS: My Former Colleague Bus-Under-Throws Himself

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Oregon football coach Chip Kelly refunds fan for Boise State trip | Seattle Times Newspaper

Some fans can be pretty ridiculous at times. So this Oregon fan sends a critically sarcastic letter to Ducks head coach Chip Kelly demanding a refund on his expenses for attending Oregon's road game against Boise State.

But when Kelly actually sends him the check for his "troubles," the guy returns it and makes an about-face telling Kelly "Your kids must want to run through walls for you."

So let me get this straight, the fan thought so little of Kelly as a coach that he demands a refund for the cost of his support, but when Kelly grants the refund, the fan now thinks Kelly is the greatest coach in the world?

Bud Withers | Oregon football coach Chip Kelly refunds fan for Boise State trip | Seattle Times Newspaper

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Another Story About Ron Artest And Hasidic Jews | The New Republic

Another Story About Ron Artest And Hasidic Jews | The New Republic

Ailing USC quarterback Barkley shows improvement - LA Daily News

USC quarterback Matt Barkley's bruised shoulder will probably not be 100 percent by Saturday's game against Washington State, but the freshman made a surprising number of passes during Monday's practice and no longer altered his throwing motion.

But USC coach Pete Carroll said he will wait to see how Barkley responds before naming him the starter.

"I'd love for him to come back and start if he is ready," Carroll said. "He did all right (Monday)."

Barkley was given Monday off but insisted on throwing and took more snaps than last week's starter, Aaron Corp.

Ailing USC quarterback Barkley shows improvement - LA Daily News

Burress gets two years at sentencing for gun case - NFL News - FOX Sports on MSN

NEW YORK (AP) - Former Super Bowl star Plaxico Burress was sentenced Tuesday to two years in prison for possessing a gun at a night club.

The former New York Giants star tearfully told his family goodbye as he surrendered to begin his prison stint for attempted criminal possession of a weapon after accidentally shooting himself in the thigh.

Burress gets two years at sentencing for gun case - NFL News - FOX Sports on MSN

Lamar Odom engaged to Khloe Kardashian (update: They are getting married Sunday.) | The Fabulous Forum | Los Angeles Times

Lamar Odom isn't a free agent off the court either.

After a whirlwind six-week courtship, the Lakers forward is engaged to be married to reality TV star Khloe Kardashian.

"Khloe and Lamar want to get married before Lamar has to go away for training, and the season starts up [this fall]," a source told Us Weekly. "They are hoping to pull together a wedding within the next few weeks so they can get married and have a honeymoon."

Lamar Odom engaged to Khloe Kardashian (update: They are getting married Sunday.) | The Fabulous Forum | Los Angeles Times

Ron Artest says blame him if Lakers fail to repeat --

Team's major off-season acquisition says, 'Everybody in L.A. expects a second ring. And if we don't then yeah, they should point it right at me.'

Ron Artest says blame him if Lakers fail to repeat --

Friday, September 18, 2009

E! Online: Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian Talking Marriage

I have to admit I was a bit stunned by this news. Not so much about the marriage, I just assumed he was still dating Taraji Henson. But oh well, good for them. That is, if it's true.

Insiders tell E! News exclusively that Khloé Kardashian and her NBA star boyfriend Lamar Odom are already considering tying the knot.

Odom, a forward for the L.A. Lakers, and Khloé recently have been "talking about rings," says a source close to the couple.

Members of the Kardashian family are neither confirming nor denying the wedding plans or a date. A rep for both stars have declined to comment.

E! Online: Lamar Odom and Khloe Kardashian Talking Marriage

NBA ready to move ahead with replacement refs

This may be the most under-reported, significant story of the last few weeks. People have long complained about the quality and consistency of NBA refs, and now they are going to use replacements?

I believe it would be in the best interest of the NBA Players Association to get involved. Not only would it be one union supporting another, but if you were an NBA player, would you rather have the best of the best officiating your games or replacements?

NEW YORK (AP)—The NBA will hold training camp next week with replacement officials, saying the referees union has rejected its final contract offer.

The National Basketball Referees Association has been bracing for a lockout since talks first broke down last week, and lead negotiator Lamell McMorris called it “imminent and unavoidable” after no deal was reached Thursday.

A statement from the NBA on Friday made it clear the lockout was under way.

“It is extremely disappointing that the NBRA has ignored the economic realities, rejected our offer, and left us with no choice but to begin using replacement referees,” executive vice president and general counsel Rick Buchanan said.

Yahoo Sports: NBA Ready To Move On With Replacement Refs

John Clay: Three in a row for UK would be 'huge'

Having witnessed so many disappointing losses during my time as a student at UK as well as a sportscaster covering the team for WKYT, I can't tell you how much I am hoping that Kentucky beats Louisville this weekend. Such a streak would not only be huge for bragging rights within the state, it would equate to some much-deserved payback for long-time suffering UK fans.

Check out John Clay's column talking about the significance of a potential 3-game winning streak against the Cards.

If we know anything about Rich Brooks, we know Rich Brooks is all about doing at Kentucky what hasn't been done in a long time at Kentucky.

Or doing what has never been done at Kentucky.

Saturday is all about another chance to do just that.

Since the Governor's Cup series was launched in 1994, Kentucky has never beaten its cross-state rival Louisville three times in a row.

"That would be huge," Jorge Gonzalez, UK's senior center, said Wednesday.

John Clay: Three in a row for UK would be 'huge'

Clippers Name John Lucas Assistant Coach

The Los Angeles Clippers today added coaching veteran John Lucas as an assistant coach to Head Coach and General Manager Mike Dunleavy’s staff.

Lucas joins the Clippers after last serving as the Head Coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers from 2001-03. While in Cleveland, Lucas coached current Clippers Ricky Davis and Brian Skinner. Lucas came to the Cavs after working as an assistant coach for the Denver Nuggets for three seasons. John Lucas Named Assistant Coach


ANAHEIM, CA – Angels Baseball, currently vying for a third-straight American League Western Division title, announced today that tickets for all 2009 Division Series playoff games at Angel Stadium will go on sale Wednesday, Sept. 23, beginning at 10:00 a.m. Tickets will be available only through the Angels website ( and through Ticketmaster’s phone lines (714-663-9000). There will be no tickets available for sale on site at Angel Stadium or any Ticketmaster Ticket Center.

Division Series tickets for a possible total of three home games will be available for sale. Fans will be limited to a maximum of four tickets per game, per household.

For more information about Postseason tickets, please call the Angel Stadium Ticket Office at (714) 634-2000 or visit

Thursday, September 17, 2009

UCLA basketball: Coach Ben Howland has surgery -- Los Angeles Times

UCLA basketball: Coach Ben Howland has surgery | The Fabulous Forum | Los Angeles Times

Clippers Announce 2009-10 Broadcast Schedule

The Los Angeles Clippers today announced the team's 2009-10 regular season broadcast schedule.

PRIME TICKET and its sister network, FOX Sports West will regionally telecast a total of 79 regular season and two preseason games during the upcoming season. The remaining three contests not televised on PRIME TICKET will air nationally on TNT, resulting in all 82 regular season Clippers' games being televised in Los Angeles.

The Clippers national television package includes a total of 13 games scheduled to be televised nationally on TNT (three games), ESPN (five games) and NBA TV (five games).

In its 14th season overall as telecast partner - and the first season as the sole television home for the Clippers - PRIME TICKET and FOX Sports West will provide all game telecasts in High Definition (HD). This marks the first complete HD Clippers season for the regional sports network.

Clippers Announce 2009-10 Broadcast Schedule

Dad for a day: Vince Young surprises Steve McNair's sons

What an impressive gesture by Vince Young. We can all take a lesson from this story.

Dad for a day: Vince Young surprises Steve McNair's sons - ESPN

Loss to Red Sox has even Mike Scioscia shaking his head --

I don't normally join the "Umps Cost Us The Game" crowd, but Angels closer Brian Fuentes definitely should have gotten the strike out call against Nick Green in the bottom of the ninth. And he should have gotten it on two different pitches during the at-bat.

Loss to Red Sox has even Mike Scioscia shaking his head --

Monday, September 14, 2009

McKnight, Carter and Forbath Named Pac-10 Football Players of the Week - PAC-10 OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE

Tailback Joe McKnight of USC and linebacker Reggie Carter and kicker Kai Forbath of UCLA have been named Pac-10 Players of the Week in football.

McKnight, Carter and Forbath Named Pac-10 Football Players of the Week - PAC-10 OFFICIAL ATHLETIC SITE

Kobe Bryant Open To Playing In China?

During his most recent visit to China, a reporter asked Kobe if he could one day seen himself playing in China. Would you be shocked if he said he was open to it?

Kobe Bryant Motivates Tech Companies in China - Business Center - PC World

Beer Sales Make a Comeback at College Stadiums -

Here's another example of moral standards getting trumped by financial needs.

Beer Sales Make a Comeback at College Stadiums -

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Emerald Bowl Extends Agreement With PAC-10, Announces New Tie-ins

SAN FRANCISCO - The Pacific-10 Conference and the Emerald Bowl today renewed their agreement through at least 2013, and the Bowl announced three new affiliations that will provide the Pac-10 with a unique set of future opponents in San Francisco.

The Emerald Bowl, now in its eighth year, will match the Pac-10's No. 6 pick against top teams from the Western Athletic Conference, Navy and Army during the next four-year bowl cycle [2010-2013].

“We're thrilled to extend our affiliation with the Pac-10,” said Emerald Bowl Executive Director Gary Cavalli. “Having the Pac-10 as our anchor conference has helped grow the game and build the Emerald Bowl's stature and visibility on a national scale. With the Pac-10 in the game the last three years, we've drawn two sellout crowds and become one of the highest rated bowls on television.

“We're also excited about our new partnerships with the WAC, Navy and Army. These agreements guarantee a high quality matchup for our fans, title sponsor and television viewers around the country. This combination of opponents gives us a perfect blend of local and national appeal, top-notch football and pageantry.”

Last year's Emerald Bowl, which matched Cal vs Miami, drew a record crowd of 42,268 and a TV rating of 4.6, the 8th highest audience among the 34 “The Pacific-10 Conference is very pleased to extend its relationship with the Emerald Bowl,” said Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott

“The setting in AT&T Park in downtown San Francisco has made the Emerald Bowl a very attractive destination for the Pac-10 teams that have earned a berth in the game and a favorite of fans who follow those teams.

“We believe that the future of the Emerald Bowl is very bright and commend the leadership and staff of the bowl for making the game a truly memorable experience.”

The Pac-10 team's opponent, Cavalli said, will be the WAC's 1st, 2nd or 3rd place team in the years 2010 and 2013, with Army coming to San Francisco in 2011 and Navy in 2012.

“This is a great arrangement for the WAC and its nine football teams,” said commissioner Karl Benson. “The Emerald Bowl has established itself as a premier bowl in a great city. I am sure our fans will love to travel to San Francisco.

“We look forward to bringing nationally prominent teams like Boise State and Fresno State to the Emerald Bowl,” Cavalli said. “San Francisco is a short distance away from many of the WAC schools. This affiliation will give WAC fans a chance to see their teams play in one of the world's greatest cities.”

Navy will return to the Emerald Bowl in 2012 after having beaten New Mexico in the 2004 game.

“Based on our visit in 2004, we have seen first-hand that the Emerald Bowl is a magnificent overall environment and event,” said Naval Academy Director of Athletics Chet Gladchuk. “San Francisco, the stadium, community, hospitality, bowl administration and the beauty of Northern California present as fine a postseason experience as we could possibly enjoy.

“The Academy is sincerely grateful to Gary Cavalli and his staff for inviting us back and setting the stage for our team to earn an enjoyable trip to the West Coast and an inspiring matchup versus the Pac-10.”

“We had a fantastic experience with Navy in 2004 and have been looking for an opportunity to bring them back to San Francisco ever since,” Cavalli said. “They've won at least eight games for the past six years and become of the most desirable bowl teams in the country. They bring not only an outstanding football team, but 20,000 fans, unmatched tradition and great pageantry.In the year 2011, Army [if bowl eligible] will meet a Pac-10 team in San Francisco. The Cadets are the only service academy that has not yet appeared in an Emerald Bowl [Air Force played in the inaugural 2002 game].

“We couldn't be more excited about the opportunity to showcase our football program in the Emerald Bowl in 2011,” said Army Director of Athletics Kevin Anderson. “We feel the tradition and pageantry of the Army football program is second to none and would provide a tremendous spectacle for the people of San Francisco during the holidays.

“I'm certain our fans, graduates and the Corps of Cadets will be very excited to travel to Northern California to face a Pac-10 Conference team in December and support the Black Knights.”

“Great things are expected under new coach Rich Ellerson,” Cavalli said. “I think we're out ahead of the curve in inviting a program that is destined to become highly successful and sought after by many post-season bowls.”

This year's Emerald Bowl, matching teams from the Pac-10 and ACC, is set for Saturday, December 26, 2009 at AT&T Park. Kickoff is 5:00 p.m. [PST]/8:00 p.m. [EST]. It will be carried nationally via ESPN and ESPN Radio. Tickets for the game are now on sale and may be obtained through the game's official website,


(DENVER, COLO) Torii Hunter, star centerfielder of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, has been named the winner of the 2009 Branch Rickey Award. Roland Thornton, president of the Rotary Club of Denver, made the announcement today at the Denver Athletic Club.

Hunter, 33, will be inducted as the 18th member of the Baseball Humanitarians Hall of Fame during a banquet on Saturday, Nov. 14 at the Marriott City Center Hotel in downtown Denver.

Created by the Rotary Club of Denver in 1991, the Branch Rickey Award honors individuals in baseball who contribute unselfishly to their communities and who are strong role models for young people. Each year, Major League Baseball teams nominate a player, coach or executive for this nationally acclaimed award. All of the nominees personify Rotary International’s motto, “Service Above Self.”

Hunter was chosen by a National Selection Committee, comprised of 300 members of the sports media, past award winners, baseball executives and Rotary district governors. All 30 Major League teams submitted a nominee for the award.

Partnering with the Heart of a Champion Foundation and the Angels, Hunter created the “Torii Hunter Project Education Initiative” to provide college scholarships and character development to students in California, Arkansas, Nevada and Minnesota. He is particularly active with the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy in Las Vegas, along with Derek Jeter of the Yankees and Derrek Lee of the Cubs. Last year, he helped fund construction of a youth softball field (Torii Hunter Field) in Placentia, CA. To honor the legacy of Jackie Robinson, Hunter supports Major League Baseball’s “Breaking Barriers” program. He established the Torii Hunter Project, partnering with Little League Baseball’s Urban Initiative to help maintain and improve baseball diamonds in urban cities. He is also involved with Big Brothers and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

Hunter was selected as the 2007 Marvin Miller Man-of-the-Year, given annually to the player whose on-field and off-field performances most inspires others to a higher level of achievement.

Last year, Hunter helped guide the Angels to their fourth division crown in five seasons in his first year with the club. He received his eighth consecutive Gold Glove after not committing an error in 137 games in center field (354 total chances). He has not committed an error since August 31, 2007. He has been voted to the American League All-Star Team twice. In 2002, Hunter was named by as the Player-of-the-Year.

The late Branch Rickey, known to millions as “Mr. Baseball,” is credited with breaking the color barrier in the Major Leagues in 1945 when he signed Jackie Robinson, the first modern day African-American player. He also hired the first Hispanic player, Roberto Clemente.

Rickey helped develop the farm system in baseball and stimulated the sport’s expansion into more cities. Always an advocate for underprivileged children, he spearheaded the development of the famous “Knot Hole Gang,” to allow kids to attend big league games.

Previous recipients of the Branch Rickey Award include: Dave Winfield, Toronto Blue Jays; Kirby Puckett, Minnesota Twins; Ozzie Smith, St. Louis Cardinals; Tony Gwynn, San Diego Padres; Brett Butler, Los Angeles Dodgers; Craig Biggio, Houston Astros; Paul Molitor, Minnesota Twins; Al Leiter, New York Mets; Todd Stottlemyre, Arizona Diamondbacks; Curt Schilling, Arizona Diamondbacks; Bobby Valentine, New York Mets; Roland Hemond, Chicago White Sox; Jamie Moyer, Seattle Mariners; Tommy Lasorda, Los Angeles Dodgers; John Smoltz, Atlanta Braves; and last year’s winner, Trevor Hoffman of the San Diego Padres.

Winfield, Puckett, Smith, Molitor, Gwynn and Lasorda, as well as Branch Rickey, have also been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Branch Rickey Award is a 24-inch bronze sculpture, The Player, created by internationally prominent sculptor George Lundeen. A 13-foot tall bronze sculpture was dedicated in front of Coors Field at 20th and Blake on June 2, 2005 in celebration of Rotary International’s Centennial Year.

Tickets for the Branch Rickey Award banquet are $200 per person and may be reserved by calling the Rotary Club of Denver office at 303-893-1919. For more information about the Branch Rickey Award, visit

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Billy Gillispie Checks Into Rehab

Check out the article below regarding the report that former Kentucky coach Billy Gillispie has checked into a rehabilitation center in Houston. I have two immediate responses: 1) Finally!! 2) What took so long?

Having said that, I sincerely hopes he gets the help he needs.

Billy Gillispie Checks Into Rehab

U.S. Open Darling Oudin Booted From NYC Hotel

This story is only a story because Melanie Oudin outplayed even her own expectations, and that's awesome! She's been the story of this year's U.S. Open thus far.

However, it was her camp who dropped the ball on extending her hotel stay once she kept advancing. I think it's rather shallow for her agent to claim that his agency will never send any other players to this particular hotel because they could not accommodate Oudin beyond her reservation. The hotel didn't make the mistake, Oudin's handlers did.

Maybe next time, they won't book her stay through Expedia!

Melanie Oudin Kicked Out Of NYC Hotel

NBA Worthy Dunk?

Check out Guy Dupuy. He wants to be invited to the NBA Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend. Do you think this dunk warrants an invite?

Obama on Health Care: 'Open to New Ideas'

In an interview with ABC's Robin Roberts, President Obama says he will not sign any health care reform bill that adds $1 to the national deficit.

Obama on Health Care: 'Open to New Ideas'

Meanwhile, R.E.M. says millions of Americans can't wait around while Washington politicians play games with health care reform.

R.E.M. Rallies For Health Care Reform