Afternoon Sports Report; April 10, 2012

Wrapping up the weekend…

BUBBA IS YOUR 2012 MASTERS CHAMPION

He owns the General Lee I from the “Dukes of Hazzard,” he’s never had a golf lesson … and his name is Bubba Watson. He’s also the 2012 Masters champ.

My take: Admittedly, I’m not a huge golf fan. Also, I wasn’t particularly pulling for him when I picked up the Masters with about 10 holes to go. But if you weren’t a little misty-eyed when Bubba was hugging his caddy and then his mama, you aren’t human.

THIS is the kind of story golf needs, instead of incessantly asking Tiger when he’s going to return to normal.

What I really liked about Bubba’s story (and there were about a dozen awesome angles to it) was that he got on Twitter and tried to personally thank as many of his followers that he could who had taken the time to congratulate him after his victory. Who does that in this self-absorbed day and age? I’m a fan now.

OZZIE GUILLEN SUSPENDED FIVE GAMES FOR CASTRO COMMENTS

Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen was suspended five games for his comments about Fidel Castro, in which Guillen admitted his admiration for the Cuban dictator.

My take: I really thought it might be a little longer than five games, especially when you consider all the extenuating circumstances, i.e., the Marlins new stadium is in Little Havana, etc.

When do you get to the point that “Ozzie being Ozzie” isn’t enough of an explanation?

INTERIM SAINTS COACH WON’T BE BILL PARCELLS

The New Orleans Saints — without a head coach because of Sean Payton’s one-year suspension for player bounties — will also not have former N.Y. Giants/Dallas Cowboys head coach Bill Parcells as their interim coach.

My take: Back to the drawing board for a franchise that, combined with the suspensions and loss of draft picks, could fall off considerably this season. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Saints go 4-12 or worse this year.

The iPod shuffle

Communication Breakdown — Led Zeppelin

Heartland — U2

A Day In The Life — The Beatles

The Journey — Boston

Dirty White Boy — Foreigner

Morning News Report; March 13, 2012

UNC FOOTBALL PROGRAM HIT HARD

The NCAA finally came down with its punishment against the UNC football program yesterday for its multiple violations, including scholarship reductions (15 over three years), a postseason ban and forfeiture of wins.

My take: While there were some who thought this was too gentle, I thought it was pretty fair, especially considering the Tar Heels had already self-punished itself leading up to this.

VIKINGS CELEBRATE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP

The Kinston boys’ basketball team celebrated their third state title in five years by giving coach Wells Gulledge a Mohawk haircut at a pep rally yesterday.

My take: It was a fun time, that’s for certain — and you have to give Gulledge points for allowing his team to do this to him.

It’s also very possible Gulledge can schedule these type of haircuts for several more years — although the team is graduating some key parts (including Angelo Keyes, C.J. Bradshaw and Kyle Brown), some of the strongest cogs (Josh Dawson, Denzel Keyes, Andrew Lopez and Brandon Ingram) return next season.

And Alex Bass — a statewide prep basketball analyst — states that freshmen Ingram and Darnell Dunn (the son of former North Lenoir star and coach Paul Dunn III), along with sophomores Lopez, Trevon Jones and Qwarri Ham, will keep KHS fighting for 2A titles for the next two to three years.

GLEN RICE JR. KICKED OFF RAMBLIN’ WRECK

Glen Rice Jr., a HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational alum and the son of the former NBA star, has been kicked off the Georgia Tech basketball team. Rice, who led the Yellow Jackets in scoring and rebounding, had been suspended three times this season.

My take: I met Rice a few times when his high school team played in the Holiday Invitational and — in the short times we talked — had no idea he would have this in his future. Here’s hoping he gets his mind right and turns this mess around (if he doesn’t end up in jail).

The iPod shuffle

Say Goodbye To Hollywood — Billy Joel

Somebody To Love — Queen

Come Back To Me — Janet Jackson

The New Style — The Beastie Boys

Will You Still Love Me? — Chicago

Morning Sports Report; Feb. 17, 2012

EASTERN PLAINS 2A CHAMPIONSHIP NIGHT AT VIKING GYM

Kinston’s boys and girls — each a No. 1 seed — play host to the Eastern Plains 2A tournament championship tonight. The girls tip off the night with a game against Farmville Central at 6 p.m.; the boys face surprising Tarboro at 7:30 p.m. in an attempt to win their sixth straight conference tournament title.

My take: While it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine a Kinston/Farmville Central girls matchup, NO ONE would’ve thought Tarboro — the seventh seed in the seven-team EP2A — would’ve upset second-seeded North Pitt and third-seeded Wilson Beddingfield in the first two rounds of the tournament.

And why would they? Tarboro was 1-11 in the league and 4-20 overall entering the tournament. They’re playing for a chance to make it to the 2A state playoffs with nothing to lose — and that’s always a dangerous combination.

And don’t get it twisted — there’s a lot of raw talent on that Tarboro hoops team, which includes several members of the 2A football championship squad.

My predictions for tonight: Kinston’s girls win 53-41; the Kinston boys win a good ‘un, 73-66.

And come on out to the game: I’m giving away two sets of tickets to the Freedom Classic, which takes place next weekend at Grainger Stadium between Air Force and Navy. In fact, the first person who comes up to me at the scorer’s table and says they read this on the blog will get two free tickets to one of the games.

DUKE BREAKS SOME WUFFIE HEARTS

Duke did it again to a Tobacco Road rival last night as the Blue Devils rallied to down N.C. State, 78-73, at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Duke trailed by 20 points with less than 12 minutes in the game and outscored the Wuffies 37-12 to close the game.

My take: Combined with last week’s unbelievable comeback and upset at the Dean Dome, it’s been a great time to be a Dookie.

THE KID’S LAST GAME WAS AN AWESOME WIN

Thanks to Deadspin for this — Gary Carter’s final hit was a game-winner for the Montreal Expos:

My take: Awesome — just awesome. I’ve watched the video five times and it gives me chill bumps every time. I’m not nearly the baseball fan as some of you are here, but if you can watch that and it doesn’t move you, you have no soul.

And what makes it better is that Harry Carey called it. Freaking awesome.

NBA DUNK CONTEST LEAVES A LOT TO BE DESIRED

Four guys you probably haven’t heard of will participate in this year’s NBA Slam Dunk competition as part of the All-Star weekend activities in Orlando.

My take: No pun intended, but I think it’s finally time for the NBA to admit this concept has finally jumped the shark (see what I did there?). Last year’s event was pretty cool with Blake Griffin participating, but if the best you can do is Iman Shumpert … what the hell are you doing, David Stern?

I’d rather see one-on-one contests between LeBron and Kobe or a hottest cheerleader competition than this. For example — who is hotter, these Charlotte Bobcats cheerleaders:

Or these Miami Heat cheerleaders?

You decide. I report. You click on the photos for a better view.

MARIO WILLIAMS READY FOR FREE AGENCY

Former Richlands High School and N.C. State star Mario Williams is arguably the best free agent on the NFL market this year after leading the Houston Texans to the franchise’s first playoff game and win this season.

My take: And now I begin my prayer — Please, Lord … let Dan Snyder sign Mario to my Redskins. Pretty please. Amen.

The iPod shuffle

In Da Club — 50 Cent

Hello Goodbye — The Beatles

Smokin — Boston

Cool The Engines — Boston

Brass Monkey — Beastie Boys

Afternoon Sports Report; Feb. 15, 2012

LINSANITY GRIPS NEW YORK, THE NATION

Jeremy Lin has had an historic few weeks for the New York Knicks – and “Linsanity” has surpassed Tim Tebowism in its national fervor.

My take: The NBA has to be absolutely LOVING this, especially coming off the strike. This reminds me of the MLB strike in 1994, when Cal Ripken Jr. brought many fans back to the game with his consecutive games streak. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa’s steroid-fueled home run derby helped MLB, too.

But this is a fascinating story in which you have to pull for this kid. I’m not exactly going to run out and buy his jersey (although A LOT of people are), but I’m looking forward to seeing him play this weekend on national TV.

FOUR FOOTBALL PLAYERS AMONG 17 TCU STUDENTS ARRESTED ON DRUG CHARGES

Seventeen TCU students — including four football players — were arrested today for selling drugs.

My take: Frankly, I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often on college campuses; drugs are plentiful and kids want ‘em, creating the supply and demand I learned in 10th grade at North Wilkes High School.

The players’ names haven’t been released yet, but more arrests are coming. Interested to see who they’ll be.

EP2A SEMIFINALS TONIGHT AT KHS

One side of the semifinals of the Eastern Plains 2A basketball tournament are tonight at Kinston High School; the top-seeded Vikings girls face Wilson Beddingfield while the top-seeded boys take on Farmville Central.

As you prepare yourself for those games, check out this awesome story by Ryan Herman on Nakeil Williams and Andrew Lopez – whose fathers are serving or have served our country.

My take: Should be a pretty good atmosphere at Viking Gym tonight — and kudos to Nakeil and Andrew’s fathers for raising such great young men.

The iPod shuffle

Down And Out — Tantric

We Didn’t Start The Fire — Billy Joel

Pop Goes The Weasel — 3rd Bass

Hooked On A Feeling — B.J. Thomas

Synchronicity 2 — The Police

P.S.: Check out this excellent column by Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy on the DOJ decision. All I can say is: Amen. Outstanding observations.

Afternoon Sports Report; Dec. 5, 2011

PREP CHAMPIONSHIP REDUX

It was a bit of a disappointing weekend as all three teams from The Free Press area lost in their state championship games. Kinston saw a 14-0 lead disappear against West Stokes in the 2AA game; Ayden-Grifton rallied but didn’t have enough against Swain County in 1AA; and Jones Senior blew a 6-0 lead to fall to Murphy in 1A.

My take: I was at Friday’s 1A final and Saturday’s 2AA final — and it was eerie how closely the two games were. Both Jones Senior and Kinston jumped out to leads and dominated the first half of play, only to see Murphy and West Stokes take the momentum away … and ultimately, the victories.

Kinston, in particular, was painful because the Vikings had three touchdowns called back on penalties. Although KHS coach Nick Anderson can’t say it, I will — at least two of those called back were sketchy at best.

Momentum is a crazy thing. Kinston was up 14-0 late in the first quarter and appeared ready to blow out West Stokes when it had 1st and goal twice — but couldn’t convert because of multiple penalties. The Wildcats took advantage and momentum shifted to them.

Likewise, Jones Senior dominated virtually the entire first half before mistakes — two turnovers — shifted momentum to Murphy. As a result, the Bulldogs took advantage and ran away with the 21-6 win.

Regardless of the defeats, it was a heck of a weekend in Raleigh and Winston-Salem — and the players and coaches from Kinston, Ayden-Grifton and Jones Senior have NOTHING to be ashamed of.

A few years ago, I wrote in a football preseason preview about how there was no football tradition in Lenoir County and our area. I hope this weekend shows the tradition has started and that 20 years from now we look back on this as being the beginning.

K WINS SI SPORTSMAN OF THE YEAR

Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was named the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year this morning. His counterpart at Tennessee, Pat Summitt, was named the Sportswoman of the Year.

My take: Extremely deserving — not just because of the victories, but because of the way both have climbed to the top of their profession. Neither has had any sort of significant NCAA investigation and both are universally respected by their peers (if not by their opponents!).

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, but K and Summitt are the best in their fields.

BOWL-A-RAMA

It’s on: LSU and Alabama will face again this season, this time for the BCS national championship.

Somehow, the ACC got two teams in BCS games: Clemson vs. West Virginia in the Orange Bowl and Virginia Tech vs. Michigan in the Sugar Bowl. Clemson, the No. 15 team in the final BCS standings, earned its game by winning the ACC championship game against Virginia Tech, which finished 11th in the BCS standings.

My take: I have no problem with LSU-Alabama, although the critics are pointing out the Tide shouldn’t play for a national championship if they couldn’t even win their own league. So I guess that means teams that don’t win their conference in NCAA basketball should be ineligible for the NCAA tournaments? No, I don’t think so, either.

And anyone with half a brain — and any football acumen — knows that LSU and Alabama are the two top teams in NCAA football this year. Should be a heck of a game.

I am bewildered, though, how Virginia Tech received a BCS at-large bid. Seriously? There are literally four to five other teams that deserved it more than the Hokies.

The iPod shuffle

Not Enough Time — INXS

Summer Love/Set The Mood Prelude — Justin Timberlake & Timbaland

Basket Case — Green Day

Chain Hang Low — Jibbs

Crying In The Chapel — Elvis Presley

Afternoon Sports Report; Nov. 18, 2011

KINSTON, A-G, JS ENTER 3RD ROUND OF PLAYOFFS

As I mentioned on this week’s Free Press High School Football Podcast (listen to it! It’s awesome!) and Herman wrote in his preview today, tonight’s three prep football playoff games — Bunn at Kinston, SW Onslow at Ayden-Grifton and Jones Senior at North Edgecombe — all involve a bit of revenge.

Kinston and A-G lost in last year’s playoffs to tonight’s opponents while Jones Senior was eliminated from the postseason two years ago by NE.

My take: I’ll post my picks in a bit, but as you’ll see then — I think all three teams have an excellent opportunity to get some vengeance tonight.

If you’d like to keep up with the games tonight, follow me on Twitter at BCHanks — I’ll be updating all three games; I’m at North Edgecombe, Herman’s at A-G and I’ll have someone feeding me updates from Kinston … could it be you? Let me know and I’ll promote your Twitter and you here on the blog.

Also, I continue to dominate WCTI ABC-12′s Brian North and Chris Miller, Rick Scoppe and Mike Boaz from the Jacksonville Daily News in the JDN’s picks contest (read Miller’s column, but scroll to the bottom for the standings). It ain’t easy, but it sure is fun.

KINSTON’S JONES NAMED NCPREPS.COM 2A PLAYER OF WEEK

In last week’s 53-20 second-round win against Topsail, Kinston’s George Jones had a performance that has had him named the We-It Athletics/NCPreps.com 2A player of the week.

From NCPreps:

George Jones of Kinston High School has been selected as the We-It Athletics/NCPreps.com 2A Player of the Week for Playoff Week 2. Jones ran 9 times for 129 yards with 3 TDS and returned an INT for a score in the Vikings’ 53-20 win over Topsail.

My take: Congrats to George and the Vikings!

ANOTHER CHILD-SEX/COLLEGE SPORTS SCANDAL

This time, it’s at Syracuse; an assistant basketball coach is being accused of molestation of two ball-boys more than 20 years ago.

My take: This was investigated by ESPN and a local newspaper in Syracuse several years, but both organizations came to the conclusion there wasn’t enough there to run a story.

I’m thinking with all the ongoing Penn State drama, it makes this more “relevant” — and if I know anything about newsgathering organizations, it’s this: everybody wants a story. Not saying it did or didn’t happen (and SU coach Jim Boeheim is denying it did) but everyone wants that story.

And here’s some irony for you — the guy accusing the SU coach is named Bobby Davis, who is 39 years old. But no, it’s not our Bobby “Heelatious” Davis — who is also 39 — who said it’s been a “freaky” couple of days.

ASTROS MOVING TO AL; ANOTHER WILD-CARD GAME ADDED

Following a sale of the team, the Houston Astros announced they will be moving to the American League in 2013.

Also, another round of the playoffs has been added to the MLB postseason — a one-game wild-card contest, and it could happen as soon as next season.

My take: The Astros move means there will be 15 teams in each league — meaning there will now be interleague games essentially every day of the season. The fabric of baseball has officially been ripped apart … thanks, Bud Selig.

And it continued with the addition of the playoff round. Before long, MLB — whose lone remaining charm was that not every team made it to the postseason — will be like the NBA and NHL, where if you finish .500 or better (or sometimes, NOT EVEN .500), you make the playoffs.

And MLB wonders why it continues to lose fans to the NFL, who gets it right — lesser is sometimes better. Sure, the NFL could go 22 or 24 games — but a nice 16-game season makes folks want more.

And don’t get me started on that NASCAR crap, where the season begins in February and ends in late November.

Morning News Report; Oct. 13, 2011

DOG IN STOLEN TRUCK FOUND, RETURNED TO OWNER

Here’s your feel-good story of the day: a dog that was in a stolen truck near Winston-Salem was found by an unemployed woman, who returned the pup to its owner.

My take: I over-simplified the story — so go check it out. But it does my heart good to know there ARE still good folks out there. Pay it forward, indeed.

BLACKBERRY SERVICES DOWN, BUT SLOWLY RETURNING

Blackberry owners the world over have been frustrated as their POS have been suffering through service interruptions for up to four days.

My take: This might very well be the death blow for the outdated Blackberries — but never fear, the iPhone 4S is on sale!

RED SOX SELF-DESTRUCTION

In news that brings a smile to Heelatious’ face, the Boston Red Sox have literally self-destructed over the past couple of months. Here’s a well-written and informative column by ESPN’s Howard Bryant on the sorry state of Red Sox baseball.

My take: It amazes me how a franchise can’t stay successful because of ridiculous egos. Need more examples? The Dallas Cowboys of the 1990s and the L.A. Lakers of the early 2000s immediately come to mind.

I guess winning that ring just ain’t enough, eh?

The iPod shuffle

The Way I Live — Baby Boy Da Prince featuring P. Town Moe

You Give Love A Bad Name — Bon Jovi

The Devil Went Down To Georgia — The Charlie Daniels Band

One Call Away — Chingy featuring J-Weav

Good Good Night — Roscoe Dash

Morning Sports Report; Sept. 23, 2011

WUFFIES HAMMERED IN CINCY

The N.C. State football team embarrassed itself on national television last night, losing 44-14 at Cincinnati.

My take: I really thought Tom O’Brien had the Wuffie Ship pointed in the right direction … but, wow. C’mon, Brent Pelletier and Wolfpack Nation — what the heck is going on in Raleigh? Is TOB going to survive this season?

MARLINS’ LEO NUNEZ ISN’T LEO NUNEZ

The Florida Marlins’ closer, Leo Nunez, who has 36 saves this year, has been suspended by MLB because, well, he isn’t Leo Nunez. It appears Mr. Juan Carlos Oviedo — his real name — has been playing under an assumed identity. He can’t return to the U.S. until this is cleared up.

My take: Frankly, I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more. The talent pipeline from Central America, Cuba and South America to MLB is a rusty one, at best, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more of this doesn’t come out in the upcoming weeks.

Can’t wait to talk to Chris Hatcher about THIS one…

NBA SET TO POSTPONE TRAINING CAMPS

With nothing resembling a deal in sight, the NBA is ready to start postponing training camps, which were set to begin Oct. 3.

My take: I’m as big an NBA fan as there is in Lenoir County, but if the league loses games — or even a season — to this mess, it’s going to lose me, too. The reason the NFL fixed their mess is because folks NEED their football. NBA folks, you’re NOT needed — and you’re going to realize this when you get your stuff fixed and no one is showing up to games unless you’re giving away tickets.

Idiots.

The iPod shuffle

F**k You! — Cee Lo Green

Dead And Bloated — Stone Temple Pilots

Pinball Wizard — Elton John

Clocks — Coldplay

Emenius Sleepus — Green Day

P.S.: Justin “The Kid” Hill and I have a little bet going on the poll on the front of Kinston.com – I said there would be significantly more ECU fans than UNC fans in our readership area while he said the opposite. Well … at this moment, he’s correct and I’m not as UNC is outpointing ECU, 36 percent to 25 percent, with 59 votes counted.

C’mon, Pirate Nation! Represent!

Morning Sports Report; Sept. 8, 2011

The long, dark summer is over — the NFL season kicks off tonight with the past two Super Bowl champions facing off as New Orleans travels to the not-yet-frozen tundra of Green Bay.

Thank you, Lord.

In that spirit, here are my division picks and Super Bowl predictions — and I correctly picked the Super Bowl champ last year, so I have that going for me. Here’s how I see the glorious NFL season shaking out, with my predictions and VegasInsider.com over/under for wins in parentheses

NFC East – Philadelphia 11-5 (9.5), Dallas 10-6 (9), Washington 5-11 (6.5), N.Y. Giants 5-11 (9)

NFC North — Green Bay 12-4 (11), Chicago 7-9 (8.5), Detroit 6-10 (7.5), Minnesota 5-11 (6.5)

NFC South — New Orleans 12-4 (10), Atlanta 11-5 (10), Tampa Bay 10-6 (8), Carolina 4-12 (4.5)

NFC West — Arizona 9-7 (5.5), St. Louis 8-8 (7), San Francisco 8-8 (7.5), Seattle 5-11 (6.5)

AFC East — N.Y. Jets 11-5 (10), New England 11-5 (11.5), Miami 6-10 (7.5), Buffalo 5-11 (5.5)

AFC North — Pittsburgh 11-5 (11), Baltimore 10-6 (10.5), Cleveland 7-9 (7), Cincinnati 6-10 (7)

AFC South — Houston 10-6 (8), Indianapolis 8-8 (9.5), Tennessee 6-10 (7), Jacksonville 5-11 (6.5)

AFC West — San Diego 10-6 (9.5), Kansas City 9-7 (7.5), Oakland 7-9 (7), Denver 6-10 (5.5)

NFC Playoffs:

Byes: Green Bay, New Orleans; 1st round: Philadelphia over Tampa Bay, Atlanta over Arizona; 2nd round: Green Bay over Atlanta, Philadelphia over New Orleans; NFC champions: Green Bay over Philadelphia

AFC Playoffs:

Byes: Pittsburgh, N.Y. Jets; 1st round: Houston over Baltimore, New England over San Diego; 2nd round: Houston over Pittsburgh, N.Y. Jets over New England; AFC champions: N.Y. Jets over Houston

Super Bowl: Green Bay 31, N.Y. Jets 24

I spent about 90 minutes on this, so it’s not like I dedicated a week to it; however, I wouldn’t be surprised if Houston defeats the Jets for the right to lose to Green Bay in the Super Bowl. One surprise for me was how high Vegas is on the Giants — they’ve lost half their starting defense, yet the bettors think the G-Men are going to win nine games? I was also shocked that Vegas has Arizona at 5.5; that is a super-weak division that, arguably, anyone can win — but I don’t see it being San Francisco. Throw me your picks!

TEXAS A&M HEADED TO SEC … MAYBE

The Southeastern Conference voted to add Texas A&M as its 13th member yesterday. A hold-up is a lawsuit brought against the SEC and A&M by Baylor University.

My take: And the dominos are starting to fall. I bet Terry Holland is burning up some cell phone minutes and frequent flier miles over the next few weeks working for a new conference for ECU.

And while I’m no Doug Gottlieb fan, you have to give the man credit — he called this thing a few weeks ago and was widely mocked for it. Guess he was right after all.

MANNING OUT FOR ‘AWHILE’

Indianapolis Colts’ legendary quarterback Peyton Manning is going to see his consecutive games start streak end this week because of his bad neck.

My take: I’m not particularly a Colts fan — but I respect the hell out of Peyton. Hope he hurries back.

NBA TALKS RESUME

While we are celebrating the return of America’s REAL pastime (the NFL), NBA negotiators are back at it trying to keep their season from falling apart. FYI: NBA training camps are supposed to begin Oct. 3.

My take: And that ain’t gonna happen. From what I read, the owners and players are light years apart. My gut says you aren’t going to see NBA action until January or February — if there even is a 2011-12 season.

The iPod shuffle

My Love — Paul McCartney & Wings

Rightstarter (Message To A Black Man) — Public Enemy

Animals — Nickelback

My Life — Billy Joel

Urgent — Foreigner

Morning Sports Report; Sept. 2, 2011

FAREWELL, K-TRIBE

After 25 years of being affiliated with the Cleveland Indians, the Kinston Indians play their final regularly-scheduled game at Grainger Stadium tonight. It is possibly the final professional baseball game that will ever be played in Kinston.

My take: Due to a familial situation, I won’t be able to attend tonight’s game – I said my good-bye at Wednesday’s game.

I’m anticipating a sell-out, but I won’t be surprised if there isn’t. What pisses me off the most about this whole situation is this — WE DID THIS TO OURSELVES. We had an opportunity this season to pack Grainger Stadium to show prospective new teams how much support this community has for professional baseball, but when there’s less than 1,000 fans at a beautiful Wednesday night game — TWO NIGHTS BEFORE THE FINAL GAME — there’s no excuse.

Wednesday was just a microcosm of the 2011 season. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I know the 20 or so games I attended this season, there were fewer and fewer asses in the seats than there have been in past seasons.

I seriously don’t want to hear any whining about Cam McRae — he put up with losing money with this team for a quarter-century to keep baseball here. He’s gone WELL beyond the call to keep the K-Tribe here.

Kinston and ENC — this one’s on us. When we’re watching Coastal Plains League baseball (or nothing but concerts and American Legion baseball) here next summer instead of High Single-A, blame yourselves.

CHRIS JOHNSON FINALLY SIGNS

Former ECU football star Chris Johnson is now the highest-paid running back in NFL history as the Tennessee Titans signed him to an extension that will pay him $30 million of guaranteed money in a $53.5 million contract.

My take: He’s certainly worthy of it — he’s been one of the top running backs in the NFL the past three years or so.

And I know there are fantasy football players all over the world breathing a sigh of relief right about now!

Here’s the funniest tweet I saw about Johnson’s signing last night, from Owen Good: “Chris Johnson just raised the average salary for ECU graduates to $5.16 per hour.” I don’t agree with it … but it seriously made me chuckle.

JUNIOR RE-SIGNS FOR FIVE YEARS WITH HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS

Dale Earnhardt Jr. signed a five-year extension with Hendrick Motorsports, which will keep him with NASCAR’s top team through the 2017 season.

My take: He does this while there are dozens of other drivers out there with infinitely more talent toiling at the lower levels. Sigh.

Junior is arguably the most overrated “athlete” in sports history, including Danica Patrick, Shawn Bradley, Anna Kournikova and Tony Romo. Throw me some more names out there — this might make a great “lists” blog entry.

The iPod shuffle

Sober — P!nk

Be Good To Yourself — Journey

Funky Donkey — Beastie Boys

Snoop D.O. Double G — Snoop Dogg

Intergalatic — Beastie Boys

P.S.: Guys and gals — please don’t forget to get your picks in for this week’s games. Missing a lot of our regulars in this week’s picks.