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NEWS ALERT ... NFL commish under fire

Roger Goodell's story regarding Ray Rice isn't adding up, which is embarrassing for a leader making $44 million a year.

I keep hearing this will be a bad World Series — those people are so wrong


I keep seeing references to what a bad World Series this is going to be. Even seen a few claiming it will be the worst World Series ever.

That’s the worst thing about the Internet age. All kinds of clowns who could’ve never written for a publication a decade ago can now act like they are experts.

All I know is I see an American League team in the World Series that hasn’t lost since September. You know, three whole weeks ago.

That would be the Kansas City Royals, who are an attention-getting 8-0 this postseason. And this is Kansas City’s first trip to the World Series since 1985.

Amazing story, no matter how you slice it.

Then I see a National League team that is in the World Series for the third time in five seasons. Repeat, three times in five seasons.

Heck, the San Diego Padres have only gone to the World Series twice in their entire history. Seems there shouldn’t be an issue with the Giants playing in late October.

Another solid story.

The Giants are managed by Bruce Bochy, who managed the Padres to one of their two World Series appearances. Bochy is four victories away from knowing he’s headed to the Hall of Fame.

San Francisco has solid hitters in catcher Buster Posey, third baseman Pablo Sandoval and right fielder Hunter Pence. The Giants surround them with role players, including Travis Ishikawa – now forever known for hitting the game-winning three-run homer to finish off the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Championship Series.

The Giants have a pretty solid bullpen – Santiago Casilla being the best of the bunch – but it is nothing like Kansas City’s collection of arms. The nation now understands why Royals closer Greg Holland is considered the best closer in the majors.

The Royals have some solid offensive players in first baseman Eric Hosmer, left fielder Alex Gordon and designated hitter Billy Butler. Then they have defensive stalwarts and fast pinch runners everywhere.

Manager Ned Yost isn’t considered as being on par with Bochy and he does some downright weird stuff. The funny thing is a lot of the wacky moves work. That’s actually amazing too.

The starting pitching will probably decide this series so one guy on the spot is Kansas City Game 1 starter James Shields. He somehow has landed the nickname “Big Game James” and nobody knows why.

He has a 5.63 ERA this postseason and only lasted 5 1/3 innings per start. Compare to that to San Francisco Game 1 starter Madison Bumgarner, who has a 1.42 ERA while averaging 7.9 innings. (See stellar Game 1 preview here —

What does this tell me? Look for “Big Game Mad Bum” to win Game 1 and then watch the Kansas City Royals do their thing.

Look for Kansas City to win the series in six games.

Chargers deliver a crushing victory over Seahawks and suddenly 4-1 seems possible


The San Diego Chargers have developed a reputation for letting fourth-quarter leads get away.

The problem that occurred way too often last season reared its ugly head in the season-opening loss to the Arizona Cardinals as an 11-point lead gave way to an 18-17 defeat.

So we know what the prevalent thought was when the Chargers took a six-point lead into the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks.

You figured the reigning Super Bowl champions would put forth a frantic comeback, putting San Diego in position to have to fight off a heavy assault.

But guess what – the Chargers just continued on with their game-long domination and posted an impressive 30-21 victory over the Seahawks – see stellar recap here:

There was a lot to like about this San Diego victory. Quarterback Philip Rivers was sharp and efficient and the team didn’t commit a single turnover. Tight end Antonio Gates turned back the clock with three touchdown receptions while having his way with the Seattle secondary.

The Chargers possessed the ball for 42 minutes, 15 seconds – almost as if they were pushing around a high school team and not the top NFL squad from 2013. San Diego ran off 75 plays and Seattle was on the field for a measly 40.

Apparently getting worked over by the Chargers is a bit annoying and hard to handle. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman refused to speak to reporters afterward.

Anytime you can shut up Sherman, you know you are having a good day.

And then second-year receiver Keenan Allen rubbed it by telling reporters that Sherman “isn’t really a shut-down corner.”

Beating the Seahawks and then popping off. What has gotten into these Chargers?

Either way, it only counts as one win in the standings and now coach Mike McCoy needs to get his team ready to deliver another strong performance.

The Chargers visit Buffalo next Sunday and then return home to face Jacksonville and the New York Jets. Record a win in Buffalo and San Diego will have a strong chance of opening up 4-1.

That’s quite different than what most people thought after the season-opening loss. But one impressive win over the defending champions has changed how the club is viewed.

And in a very good way.

Boise needs a new ballpark for its minor-league team — here is my preferred site


site.eagle.fairviewThe corner of Eagle and Fairview is a pile of weeds in September but would make a perfect home for a new ballpark for the minor-league Boise Hawks.

The Chicago Cubs have dropped the Boise Hawks from their list of minor-league affiliates.

I didn’t see the decision as anything shocking as the Cubs hinted strongly over the past few years that decaying Memorial Stadium didn’t fit the bill.

I remember there being some action a few years back per the Hawks getting a new ballpark but that talk has been quiet lately. I would think it would suddenly percolate since Boise wants a relationship with a new major-league team.

And whichever team picks up the Hawks – the Colorado Rockies, San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres are among the possibilities – you would expect the new major-league team to lodge the same concerns over the shaky condition of the ballpark.

I’m not sure where the process lies – this is Boise so there are no newspapers doing enterprise/investigative journalism (my specialties). And that only hurts the Hawks as there is nobody pushing the narrative and getting people talking about the possibilities.

I drive past a great site for the ballpark all the time – Hawks general manager Todd Rahr can send me a finder’s fee – at the corner of Eagle and Fairview.

The intersection is the busiest in the state and the Village of Meridian shopping mall recently opened across the street. Talk about a win-win for people who want to eat prior to a game or go have a cocktail afterward. Build a pedestrian bridge over the road to keep people from having to walk down to the corner.

There is a gigantic parcel of unused land so perhaps the owner is just waiting for a financial windfall someday. But I would much rather see the ballpark built there than perhaps three or four car dealerships or another 100 homes that can be built anywhere.

Perhaps the problem is that land is in Meridian and not Boise. But as anyone paying attention knows, the center of the Treasure Valley is no longer in Boise. It is in Meridian and it is going to continue to move west with all the home construction in Meridian.

Another problem could be that we’re talking a short-season Single-A league. That’s only 38 regular-season games a year.

Is the cost of a ballpark – likely between $20-25 million to construct – not worth the return? If I was covering this like a journalist – like when the San Diego Padres were looking to get approval of a downtown ballpark – I’d make a few calls and find out the answer.

But my instincts tell me no when you consider the Hawks draw less than 3,000 fans per game.

I occasionally go to a Hawks’ game – looks like I didn’t attend any in 2014 – and it really isn’t about the baseball.

The most-anticipated event of the night is always the “Beer Batter.” If that person reaches base, people flood out of the stands to buy a beer for $1.

For children, the big deal is seeing the mascot – named “Humphrey the Hawk.” You know how most mascots are scary looking and weird? Humphrey actually seems OK.

As for the game itself, nobody really gets all that worked up over whether the team wins or loses. There are some die-hards but the majority of people are just fine with three hours of entertainment.

Remember, I lived most of my life in a major-league town. So going to watch a bunch of kids just out of high school will always seem a bit weird to me.

But this is Boise’s plight in the baseball world. The Hawks are an important entity. And at some point, a city (Boise? Meridian?) needs to invest in a better facility.

Doesn’t matter if it is my preferred site at Eagle and Fairview or somewhere in the heart of town, Boise needs a better ballpark than the dreary place it currently calls home.

TMZ Sports comes through, shows disgraced puncher Ray Rice is face of domestic violence


It took video evidence for the NFL to get a clue per the Ray Rice situation.

Good thing the outlet TMZ Sports has better investigators than the NFL and were able to secure the video that shows Rice pummeling his then-fiancé, Janay, in the face.

Previously we saw Rice dragging Janay outside the elevator – which should have been damning enough evidence. Did NFL commissioner Roger Goodell think she stumbled playing hopscotch in the elevator? Maybe fell on her head counting her money?

Remember, the commish – well behind the times when it comes to domestic violence – gave Rice a two-game suspension.

So the guy that runs the NFL isn’t smart enough to know a woman doesn’t just fall unconscious for no reason in an elevator?

But once the video was seen on Monday, the NFL no longer could control the situation. Nor could the Baltimore Ravens engage in spin control – a favorite pastime of all 32 NFL teams.

The video was graphic as Rice delivered his best Mike Tyson punch and knocked out his then-fiance. It has given domestic violence a face – that of Ray Rice – moving forward.

The Ravens quickly did an about-face, going from supportive of Rice to releasing him with three years left on his contract. The NFL piled on and changed Rice’s suspension from two games to indefinite.

The NFL sure wanted it known that it had never seen the video prior to Monday. Who knows whether that is true or not. Sporting leagues and individual teams lie about minor things all the time. So a big deal like this is sure something worth trying to cover up.

Let’s assume the NFL never saw the video until Monday. In that case, how funny is it that TMZ can get its hands on a tape that the all-powerful NFL can’t. Makes you wonder a little, doesn’t it?

Perhaps the guy running the NFL is a bit over his head, huh? If not for TMZ, Rice would be completing a light suspension on Thursday and back on the field in Week 3.

Instead, Rice likely won’t play for any team in 2014. No organization will risk drawing the ire of its fan base by signing him this season.

Rice will likely be back on the field in 2015. But know this: that good-guy reputation he previously had will never return.

Rice is now the face of domestic violence – the type of person none of us like or want to be around. None of us.

Thumping by Ole Miss continues new Boise State tradition: Losing as often as you win


Looks like they have a new football tradition at Boise State.

Instead of winning all the time, it is called losing anytime the Broncos play anyone decent.

Boise State wilted badly in its 2014 season-opening contest, allowing 28 fourth-quarter points as Mississippi recorded a 35-13 victory in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Classic in Atlanta (see stellar game recap here –

That gives the Broncos six losses since the beginning of the 2013 season. To provide proper context, consider this: Boise State lost five total games in a five-season span from 2008-12.

Repeat: Five.

The Broncos had a future College Hall of Famer in quarterback Kellen Moore during the first four of those years and former coach Chris Petersen was still highly motivated in making sure Boise State was top-notch.

That’s in contrast to last season’s “Coach Pete,” who was in talks with USC about its opening midway through the season and then highly interested in Washington’s gig once Steve Sarkisian was hired as the Trojans’ coach.

I pointed out how Petersen was outcoached and outprepared after one Boise State loss and some dude on Twitter felt bold enough to tell me that wasn’t true. Kind of laughable as I am the one living in Boise who gets to see and hear what’s going on and there was clearly a lack of fire in Coach Pete’s mannerisms and actions most of last season.

Those facts also are why it is a good thing that Bryan Harsin is now the head coach of the Broncos. The former Boise State offensive coordinator can provide a fresh look at how things have been done and put his own stamp on the program.

He inherits a team with nowhere near the talent of some those recent powerhouse squads – running back Doug Martin, receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis, defensive ends Tyrone Crawford and Demarcus Lawrence, linebacker Shea McClellin, and cornerbacks Kyle Wilson and Jamar Taylor were among the standouts taken high in the NFL Draft – and it will take a while to rebuild the talent level.

The good thing for Boise State is that is still toils in the Mountain West, a weak football conference that is one of the sports’ have-not leagues. So the schedule will eventually turn weak and opponents like New Mexico and Wyoming will prove to be the easy walk-over wins that fans in Boise are accustomed to seeing.

Ole Miss was easily the toughest team on the 2014 schedule. A mid-September road game at Connecticut and a late-October home game against Brigham Young are the toughest nonconference games left on the docket.

There is plenty of time for Harsin to get his team in gear and win a lot of games. But there is also just as good a chance that the Broncos win only eight games again this season.

Assuming a bowl game, that would make back-to-back five-loss seasons. Or twice as many defeats in a two-year span as that five-year period in which Boise State went 61-5.

Perhaps going 8-6 over 14-game spans is the new future for the Broncos. If so, it will be interesting to see how their fans act. They didn’t handle things so well when they were thumped 38-6 by Washington last season.

You learn a lot about a team’s fan base when things aren’t going so well. Especially in Boise.

Padres’ decision to honor Bud Selig makes me want to dig up this brick and throw it


There is a brick that honors my late father in the courtyard behind and below the Western Metal Building at Petco Park.

It is always an awesome feeling to go to this area when I visit San Diego. But unfortunately, I might have to throw up the next time I visit the stellar ballpark.

Because I will see this name adorned in the area: Selig Hall of Fame Plaza.

Really? Naming something after outgoing commissioner Bud Selig? Why?

Sounds like some sucking up by the latest ownership of the Padres – who might want to focus on putting a better product on the playing surface than naming something after the commissioner infamous for closing his eyes during baseball’s steroid era.

Selig has nothing to do with San Diego and there is no reason to name anything at Petco Park after this guy.

Just last month, the guy didn’t even feel honoring the late Tony Gwynn during the All-Star Game was a worthwhile thing to do.

And I saw some spin control saying Selig saved baseball in San Diego. Wow.

I was one of the reporters covering the process that got the downtown ballpark built and Larry Lucchino – with a decent amount of help from John Moores – saved baseball in San Diego.

And baseball fans in San Diego are very much aware of that.

To name something after Bud Selig is just further proof that the Padres are a franchise with no clue what the public or the fans think. Because this is one big swing-and-a-miss.

Take your own survey at the ballpark. Fans will suggest it be named after Gwynn or late broadcaster Jerry Coleman.

If you had asked this question last week and told fans it could be named after anybody in baseball, it’s hard to fathom even five people saying “Hey, name it after Bud Selig.”

It’s such a stupid notion that I wouldn’t mind digging up the brick to honor my father right now.

The problem with that is I would be tempted to throw it at either executive chairman Ron Fowler or CEO Mike Dee.

Then again, hitting them in the head with a brick might make them think more clearly.

Only Tony Stewart can reveal his true intentions in tragic death of Kevin Ward Jr.


There is no way to look inside of the mind of Tony Stewart and know if there was true intent.

Nor is there anything that can be done to bring 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. back to life.

What happened at Canandaigua Motorsports Park on Saturday night can’t be undone and Stewart is going to be forever stained by the incident in which he struck Ward with his car and killed the young man.

You’d like to hope that Saturday’s incident wasn’t intentional but only Stewart truly knows. Because of his past – which includes many on-track examples of anger issues – there will always be doubt when it comes to Stewart’s intentions.

And a rich and famous NASCAR driver like Stewart has the influence and resources to sway any legal procedures. But he is powerless when it comes to public opinion.

This is one situation that isn’t going away anytime soon.

I watched the video of the incident – I will not post it here as I’m not one of those online entities begging for page views – and it certainly was stunning.

Ward was upset after spinning into a wall due to contact with Stewart’s car. He was angry and apparently wanted to yell at and confront Stewart on his next pass around the track.

He ventured toward Stewart’s car and Stewart struck him with the right back of his car. It is a horrible sight to see and Ward went flying and his limp body lay prone on the track.

Medical personnel scurried out to assist Ward and you can immediately see their panic when they reach him. They instantly know it’s a very, very dire situation.

The angle of the video doesn’t provide enough of a view to tell if Stewart moved his car into Ward’s direction but there are witness accounts that claim Stewart pumped his throttle as he approached Ward.

So perhaps Stewart was trying to send Ward a message and merely scare him. You would like to think a veteran driver like Stewart wouldn’t care too much about some 20-year-old yelling at him but it’s that track record of his that provides people with such doubt.

Again, I can’t see inside Stewart’s head so who knows what he thought and felt in that exact moment.

I don’t doubt that he feels bad now – he rightfully withdrew from Sunday’s NASCAR race at nearby Watkins Glen – and is probably deeply affected by what happened.

Authorities are investigating the incident and the District Attorney’s office stated “there is no evidence to support criminal charges or intent at this time.”

Sheriff Philip Povero also said there are no charges pending but he also is requesting that eyewitnesses with video of the crash contact his office.

So we will wait on the authorities to see if charges are brought against Stewart. And we will wonder why Ward couldn’t have been a little less agitated and not put himself in such a situation.

When it comes down to it – there is only one person who can tell us what really happened.

That is Tony Stewart.

Do tell, Tony. Your reputation depends on it.

People calling David Wilson a bust don’t understand the physical demands of football


I see the social-media “experts” are terming David Wilson as a “bust.”

You know, all those people who know football through their televisions … or fantasy-football stats … or their “Madden” teams.

In other words, not the type of people who played the game for a living … or have attended hundreds or thousands of football practices … or have seen up close the physical toll playing football takes on someone’s body.

So there they are – calling David Wilson a bust because the career of the New York Giants’ running back lasted just two seasons before being cut short by a serious spinal condition.

A bust? Really? For suffering a career-ending injury before his career even got moving?

Seriously, nobody really has a clue how Wilson – who recently turned 23 – was going to develop as a player. There is a difference between a guy being a bust – hey there Ryan Leaf and Brian Bosworth – as opposed to someone getting hurt and never really getting the opportunity to show whether or not he could play at the NFL level.

It is perfectly fine if you were disappointed in Wilson’s 2012 rookie season output of 358 rushing yards. It’s not the first time a guy struggled in his first NFL campaign but obviously his production didn’t live up to the standards of a first-round pick.

It didn’t help that Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie Doug Martin – a back I thought should have been selected before Wilson, not after – rushed for 1,454 yards and 11 touchdowns that same season.

Wilson got hurt last season and played just five games. He underwent major neck surgery and having a neck issue is never good for any human, let alone one in a profession that calls for repeated physical collisions at high speed.

So when Wilson recently suffered a setback early in training camp, it was surely a concern. During the examinations, doctors determined he has spinal stenosis – a narrowing of the spinal canal – and advised him to give up the sport.

Makes perfect sense to me.

Something tells me risking paralysis isn’t a smart move. Wilson made the right decision by leaving the game (he didn’t officially retire yet, meaning he will be placed on injured reserve and be paid his 2014 salary).

So call him a bust if that makes you feel better about yourself. Let out that anger that the Giants selected him and not a different player.

But you know, there is nothing wrong with leaving the word bust out of the equation and simply looking at Wilson this way:

As a guy whose NFL career was cut short by injury.

Gregg Popovich says Becky Hammon is an NBA-caliber assistant coach — so she is


I still remember covering the Western Athletic Conference basketball tournament in Albuquerque, N.M. in 1996 and hearing the name Becky Hammon for the first time.

She played for Colorado State – which had absolutely zero tradition at the time – and we were amazed at what we were seeing. A freshman guard who grew up in South Dakota was so much more advanced than anybody on the floor, delivering pinpoint passes, draining long jumpers, being feisty on defense and always in the right place.

Then in the postgame interview session, Hammon could barely move while she politely answered questions. Turned out she was sicker than a dog while putting on such an amazing performance.

Hammon ended up leading the Rams to the NCAA tournament and enjoyed a great college career in which she is easily the best women’s college basketball player in Colorado State history. She has gone on to have a solid WNBA career and is now going to be known for more than the things she did on the court.

You see, Hammon was hired by the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant coach on Tuesday, making her the second female assistant coach in NBA history. Lisa Boyer was the first as an assistant for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2001-02.

There’s something about that Gregg Popovich guy. Always has a handle on things and not afraid to head in a direction that will make the organization better.

He was aware Hammon was interested in entering coaching and invited her to attend practices last season and even threw her into situations involving players and coaches. He saw what he needed to see to know that she could coach people of any gender – including veterans like Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.

“I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff,” Popovich said in a statement. “Having observed her working with our team this past season, I’m confident her basketball IQ, work ethic and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs.”

The 37-year-old Hammon is wrapping up her WNBA career – she’s in her 16th season and is a seven-time All-Star – and then will join the Spurs for the 2014-15 season.

I see no reason why this won’t be a good hire. I can see Hammon being on an NBA bench for a long time. If she later chooses to coach women players, this experience will only bolster her knowledge bank.

You see men coaching women’s basketball players all the time. So anybody who has issues about this is looking at it from a short-sighted view.

Hammon has long ago proved she knows the game and I’m sure she’ll be up to the task of coaching at the NBA level.

And if Popovich is saying she’s an NBA-caliber assistant coach, know this: She’s an outstanding coach.

Image of Paul George’s leg still on the mind; eventually he’ll be defined by his comeback


I’m finally starting to get the image of Paul George’s leg out of my mind.

Whenever we see an image of a leg twisting and contorting in the wrong direction, the stomach gets queasy and you can’t help but quickly look away.

It’s natural to want to unsee what the eyes just saw when that type of compound fracture occurs. It is simply a very gruesome sight to see a leg break apart like a twig.

At least this time the devastating injury occurred away from the spotlight – yes, I know the USA Basketball exhibition was televised by ESPN – and wasn’t being watched by millions like the 2013 Final Four in which former Louisville player Kevin Ware suffered a similar leg injury.

Or if you’re a bit older – at least it wasn’t live on Monday Night Football like the night in 1985 when Joe Theismann’s leg snapped in half while being tackled by Lawrence Taylor.

George is one of the NBA’s rising stars and was the prime reason why the Indiana Pacers were being viewed as the favorites in the Eastern Conference now that LeBron James left the Miami Heat to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The 24-year-old George is set to begin a five-year contract worth more than $90 million so he at least secured his financial future before having this setback. He will make nearly $16 million while sitting out the 2014-15 campaign.

That doesn’t make his recovery any less challenging, of course. But also think of this:

Do you know somebody who is dealing with a tough situation? One that is frustrating and maddening and hard to deal with?

I bet George would write a check for $45 million to trade situations with that person and have a healthy leg.

But since he can’t do that, I expect we will see George approach this situation with incredible passion.

Top-flight professional athletes like George don’t become All-Stars in their sports without having supreme mental toughness. Adversity like this becomes another challenge to overcome and surely George will undergo his rehab efforts with a fierce competitiveness and fully planning to regain his past stellar form.

And I don’t bet against athletes like that. There are so many examples of players who returned to form after a devastating injury so I see no reason why George wouldn’t do the same.

I just wish I could fully unsee that visual of George’s leg.


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