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Morning Sports Report; Sept. 30, 2010

NEW DETAILS IN UNC FOOTBALL INVESTIGATION

Thanks to Petey Pablo for this piece: Some fine investigative reporting by Yahoo! Sports has revealed more details in the Marvin Austin saga at UNC, including receipts for a hotel stay in California that cost more than $1,800 and various other nuggets.

My takes (and I have several): First off, my journalistic hat is off to Charles Robinson of Yahoo! for his work on this investigation. He has gone well beyond the call of duty and has done some good ol’ fashioned reporting here — which is disappearing more and more in my industry.

But it begs the question — with all the fine sports journalists in the Triangle (and there are some of the best in the nation there), why is a faceless, almost-foreign entity like Yahoo! Sports breaking all these developments on this story? As much as I play with the Tar Heel faithful here on the blog, I respect UNC as much or more than any professional in the field today. The folks I have dealt with in Chapel Hill in the past two decades – from the coaches to the athletes to the supporters and the media relations staff — are among the best in the country.

But is there a fear in the Triangle of covering this story for backlash? I can’t help but feel that if this was N.C. State, Duke or Wake Forest (or heaven forbid, ECU), that this story would be covered harder by the media up there.

As for this specific case, I think you can pretty much bank on that Austin will never appear in a UNC jersey again. And remember, this is just the tip of an iceberg — there are still other athletes who have allegedly dealt with this agent and others.

MCNABB EXPECTING CHEERS FROM EAGLES FANS

Washington Redskins QB Donovan McNabb (damn, it feels weird typing that!) said he expects a warm reception from Philadelphia Eagles fans on Sunday when he plays in Philly for the first time since being traded in the offseason.

My take: Quite honestly, that’s what he should get — he gave 11 years of his life to the Eagles, took them to the NFC championship game five times and one Super Bowl.

But remember — these are the same Eagles fans who booed Santa Claus, and what the heck did HE ever do to them?

My gut says he’s going to be lustily booed because Eagles fans — among the smartest fans in any sport — are going to do their best to get in his head. McNabb has always been a little too touchy-feely to me and I think being booed will affect him. Of course, I hope I’m wrong.

COWBOYS’ DEZ BRYANT STUCK WITH $55,000 DINNER BILL

Dallas Cowboys’ rookie WR Dez Bryant took his teammates out for dinner Monday night — and was left with a $54,896 bill from a steakhouse. It appears it was payback from Bryant’s veteran teammate, Roy Williams, for Bryant not carrying his shoulder pads in training camp.

My take: You know, it would’ve been cheaper for Bryant just to carry the pads. I know Bryant has more than $8 million in guaranteed salary, but a $55,000 dinner bill still stings!

And how did Coach Wade Phillips — who makes me look skinny — not get in on this?

The iPod shuffle

Rock And Roll All Nite — Poison

Talking In Your Sleep — The Romantics

Pink Houses — John Mellancamp

Believe It Or Not — Nickelback

Party Like A Rock Star — Shop Boyz

Morning News Report; Sept. 29, 2010

‘STAR WARS’ TO BE RELEASED IN 3D

George Lucas’ six “Star Wars” franchises will begin hitting the big screen in 3D in 2012. The films will start with “The Phantom Menace” and be released a year apart.

My take: I’m a peripheral “Star Wars” fan, but even I’m pretty excited by this — I’m pretty sure you’ll see me at a couple of these showings.

‘FERRIS BUELLER’ PRINCIPAL IS A REGISTERED SEX OFFENDER

The principal from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” Jeffrey Jones, is in trouble with the law for failing to register as a sex offender. Evidently Ol’ Principal Rooney likes ‘em young — and male: he was convicted of enticing a 14-year-old boy to pose for nude photos seven years ago when he was 57.

My take: Wow. What a perv.

Anyhoo, referencing my favorite movie of all time gives me the opportunity to share a theory our good friend — and Free Press education reporter — “The Kid” (Justin Hill) shared with me about Ferris: the whole thing was a figment of Cameron’s imagination, a la “Fight Club.”

If you’ve never seen the movie, none of this will make sense to you, but check out the above link — it’s a pretty good theory and certainly makes some sense.

REDS, RAYS, YANKEES EARN PLAYOFF BERTHS

The Cincinnati Reds are in the playoffs for the first time since 1995, while the defending World Series champion N.Y. Yankees and the fan-less Tampa Bay Rays

My take: Loved all the discussion yesterday, but I agree with resident genius Randy Capps’ take — there’s no reason two players on the Yankees should make more than five or six franchises.

Don’t get it twisted — I’ve watched more live MLB games in the past five years than NFL or NBA games; live baseball is the best to me. But it’s just frustrating to know that there are only two, three or four MLB franchises that can win a title in a given year.

The iPod shuffle

Rock Of Ages — Def Leppard

Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down — Puff Daddy & The Family featuring Mase

Where It’s At — Beck

Billie Jean — Michael Jackson

The Safety Dance — Men Without Hats

Pick these games, Week 7

Prep

Kinston at Wilson Beddingfield

Swansboro at South Lenoir

Parrott Academy at Northeast Academy

Greene Central at North Pitt

Jacksonville Northside at East Duplin

College

East Carolina at UNC

Virginia Tech at N.C. State

Georgia Tech at Wake Forest

Notre Dame at Boston College

Miami at Clemson

Pro

Baltimore at Pittsburgh

Seattle at St. Louis

Houston at Oakland

Chicago at N.Y. Giants

New England at Miami

Standings after Week 6

Eastern had a spectacular 12-3 week — two games better than Heelatious, Purplehaze, Shandshp and … JDawson (yes, freaking JDawson!) — to jump into second place overall, one game back from B (Brent Pelletier). Eastern’s only misses were Kinston over SW Edgecombe in preps, Army over Duke in college and St. Louis over Washington in the NFL.

Eastern shouldn’t feel bad about that St. Louis-Washington game, though; all 42 pickers last week picked Washington! Other than that wretched game, the other tough game was Chicago’s upset of Green Bay on Monday Night Football — only Eastern, Shandshp, JDawson (freaking JDawson!) and Comet65 got that one right.

No one was perfect in preps or the NFL, but TrumpetingPenguin, Purplehaze, PeteyPablo and B were the only 4-0 players in college.

Here are the standings — and as always, thanks to the wonderful Hot Blonde for helping me put this together!

Rank (LW)                               OA wins        This week

1. (1) B                                      64-26 (.711)       9-6 (.600)

2. (T3) Eastern                       63-27 (.700)       12-3 (.800)

T3. (T9) Heelatious                60-30 (.667)       10-5 (.667)

T3. (T3) Jacque Strapp         60-30 (.667)       9-6 (.600) 

T3. (2) Lesboulez                    60-30 (.667)       7-8 (.467)

T6. (T3) Deep Run Dynasty 59-31 (.656)       8-7 (.533)

T6. (T3) Jeff Howard             59-31 (.656)        8-7 (.533) 

T8. (T9) Bealestbuc               58-32 (.644)       8-7 (.533)

T8. (T9) Diamondheels            58-32 (.644)       8-7 (.533)

T8. (T3) Jourbet                      58-32 (.644)       7-8 (.467)

T8. (T9) PeteyPablo                 58-32 (.644)        8-7 (.533)

T8. (T16) Purplehaze               58-32 (.644)       10-5 (.667)

T13. (T9) Jagshouse                 57-33 (.633)       7-8 (.467) 

T13. (T16) JWade                     57-33 (.633)        9-6 (.600)

T13. (T3) Kelly Rouse              57-33 (.633)       6-9 (.400)

16. (T14) Comet65                   56-34 (.622)       7-8 (.467)

T17. (T16) PantherFan2         55-35 (.611)       7-8 (.467)

T17. (T16) Randy Capps         55-35 (.611)       7-8 (.467)

T17. (T16) Smokin’ Aces          55-35 (.611)       7-8 (.467)

T17. (T16) Taplie Coile             55-35 (.611)       7-8 (.467)

T21. (30) Blake H.                     54-36 (.600)       9-6 (.600) 

T21. (T14) Hanks                      54-36 (.600)       5-10 (.333)

T21. (T26) Horns                      54-36 (.600)       8-7 (.533)

T21. (T24) John Q. Awesome 54-36 (.600)       7-8 (.467)

T21. (T24) Greg Melvin           54-36 (.600)       7-8 (.467)

T26. (T26) Canyoureadthis        52-38 (.578)       6-9 (.400)

T26. (T26) RA Jones                 52-38 (.578)       6-9 (.400)

T26. (T26) Johnny Kennedy    52-38 (.578)       6-9 (.400)

T26. (T16) Sparetime               52-38 (.578)       4-11 (.267)

T30. (T32) The Kid                     51-39 (.567)       8-7 (.533)

T30. (T34) TrumpetingPenguin 51-39 (.567)       9-6 (.600)

T32. (31) Ryan Herman               50-40 (.556)       6-9 (.400)

T32. (T32) JDog                           50-40 (.556)         7-8 (.467)

T32. (T34) Rousehouse               50-40 (.556)       8-7 (.533)

T35. (36) Jackson                         48-27 (.640)       7-8 (.467)

T35. (T16) Omega_07solo         48-27 (.640)       —–

T35. (T37) RJarman                   48-27 (.640)       9-6 (.600)

T35. (T37) TAH&KDH 7/6/10  48-27 (.640)      9-6 (.600)

T39. (T40) COliver                      44-31 (.587)       7-8 (.467)

T39. (43) ECPirates11                 44-31 (.587)       9-6 (.600)

T39. (T40) GWhitley                   44-31 (.587)      7-8 (.467)

42. (T37) TwinFan                       39-21 (.650)       —–

43. (T40) TateMooring               37-23 (.617)       —–

T44. (47) JDawson                        34-26 (.567)       10-5 (.667)

T44. (44) Southside53                  34-26 (.567)      —–

46. (45) DeepRunPirate               32-28 (.533)       —–

47. (49) Shandshp                         28-17 (.622)      10-5 (.667)

48. (46) JonMassey                      27-18 (.600)       —–

49. (48) Highway 24                     22-8 (.733)       —–

50. (50) Bward                              12-3 (.800)       —–

51. (51) Antoinem45                     10-5 (.667)       —–

52. (52) Heelsfan                             7-8 (.467)       —–

Morning News Report; Sept. 28, 2010

ATHEISTS, AGNOSTICS KNOW MORE ABOUT RELIGION THAN BELIEVERS

In a study, it was discovered that atheists and agnostics are more knowledgeable about religion than those who follow their religions.

My take: Actually, this doesn’t surprise me a bit.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist household, where I was taught that it was heresy to question the Bible or God. But when I got out on my own and realized there were inconsistencies in the Bible — and religion in general – I was able to come to my own realizations and developed my own faith.

Am I saying the Bible, the Judeo-Christian faith or faith is wrong? Not at all — but people should know what they are worshipping instead of blindly following something because their mama and daddy do. And there are A LOT of people who do it for just that reason.

PHILLIES WIN NL EAST … AGAIN

It’s becoming a rite of fall, much like Jon Dawson’s “Plucking of the Nosehairs” — the Philadelphia Phillies won the National League East again with a win in Washington last night. It’s the fourth straight NL East title for the Phils.

My take: Ho-hum … but, really, why wouldn’t they? They have essentially turned themselves into the Yankees of the NL with their payroll. It’ll be fun to watch them crash and burn again in the playoffs — but it’ll probably not happen until the World Series where they’ll lose to the Bronx Bombers.

And THAT is why I can’t get into MLB as much as I can the NFL (or even the NBA): when the MLB season begins, you know there are only three or four teams that have a legit chance of winning the World Series. In the NFL, 26 of 32 teams enter any given season with the possibility of winning the Super Bowl. Until something happens to even the playing field with the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies, this is not going to change.

ARTIE LANGE BEGINNING COMEBACK

Artie Lange, Howard Stern’s sidekick on Stern’s satellite radio show, appears ready to make a comeback after attempting suicide last year.

My take: I know there aren’t a lot of Stern fans here, but I’ve enjoyed his show for about a decade — and I loved when Artie became a full-timer on it, although — at times — he’s a bit too much of a sycophant to me. But he’s funny as hell and I’m glad it appears he’s getting his stuff together. I hope Stern gets him back on the show soon.

The iPod shuffle

Magna Cum Nada — The Bloodhound Gang

Mrs. Robinson — Simon & Garfunkel

Message In A Bottle — The Police

One — U2

Get On Your Boots — U2

P.S.:Kinston’s Chris Hatcher appeared in his third game as a pro last night, drawing an intentional walk as a pinch-hitter against the Braves in Atlanta. Hatcher’s Florida Marlins continue their series tonight in the ATL.

Come see me, Jon Dawson, et. al, at the Living the Good Life Expo

You know you’ve wanted to meet Jon Dawson and run your fingers through his long, curly locks. You know you’ve wanted to meet me and ask me to hold a $20 for you.

Well … here’s your chance — Jon Dawson and myself, along with other folks from The Free Press — will be manning a booth at the Living the Good Life at Vernon Park Mall tomorrow. We’ll have some Free Press goodies and I’ll be posting from the blog live … so come on out and we’ll throw some pictures up on the blog.

Dawson and I will be out there from 5 to 6 p.m.; Free Press veteran photographer Charles Buchanan will be there from 3 to 4 and Free Press Den Mom and Assistant Managing Editor Nancy Saunders will be there from 4 to 5.

Blog Survivor Pool after Week 3 (and make your pick for Week 4)

Wow — we have some good pickers here on the ol’ blog! Only one player was knocked out this week, Jeff Howard, who went with my Redskins. The other 16 players — you’re still in!

We had six eliminated (Canyoureadthis, Jagshouse, Lezboulez, Purplehaze, Jourbet, John Q. Awesome) before this week … but I still haven’t received your $5 entry fee yet. Please mail it to me at 2103 N. Queen Street, Kinston NC 28502, or just bring it by the office.

Last week saw eight of us pick New England (hey! Go with who is playing Buffalo!), six pick Baltimore, and one pick Indianapolis, Minnesota and Washington.

Now, on to the fun! The remaining 16 players, you can select any winner this week other than the teams in parentheses; I’ll post your pick when you get it to me.

1. Hanks (N.Y. Giants, Green Bay, New England): New Orleans

2. Horns (Tennessee, Kansas City, Baltimore): Houston

3. BHatcher (Tennessee, Green Bay, Baltimore): New Orleans

4. Hot Blonde (Chicago, Green Bay, Indianapolis): New Orleans

5. Flagan (Chicago, Philadelphia, New England): Green Bay

6. Heelatious (N.Y. Giants, Green Bay, New England): New Orleans

7. Beale St. Buc (Chicago, Atlanta, New England): New Orleans

8. The Kid (Chicago, Atlanta, Baltimore): Green Bay

9. Mrs. John Q. Awesome (Miami, New Orleans, New England): Green Bay

10. Jonathan Massey (Tampa Bay, Green Bay, New England): Houston

11. Randy Capps (N.Y. Giants, Green Bay, Baltimore): New Orleans

12. Shanna Capps (Chicago, Atlanta, Minnesota): Green Bay

13. Clay Howard (N.Y. Giants, Atlanta, New England): New Orleans

14. Brent Pelletier (N.Y. Giants, Green Bay, New England): New Orleans

15. Lee Wetherington (Tennessee, Green Bay, Baltimore): New Orleans

16. Darren Becton (Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore): Cincinnati

ELIMINATED (WITH WEEK OF ELIMINATION IN PARENTHESES AND TEAM IN STRIKETHROUGH THAT KNOCKED YOU OUT)

Canyoureadthis (Week 1): Cleveland

Jagshouse (Week 2): Chicago, Carolina

Lesboulez (Week 2): Tennessee, Dallas

Purplehaze (Week 2): Tennessee, Carolina

Jourbet (Week 2): Chicago, Carolina

John Q. Awesome (Week 2): Tennessee, Minnesota

Jeff Howard (Week 3): Tennessee, Green Bay, Washington

OUT (BECAUSE HE FORGOT TO PICK; DOESN’T OWE $5)

Eastern

Morning News Report; Sept. 27, 2010

HATCHER MAKES FIRST START FOR MARLINS

Former Kinston High School baseball star Chris Hatcher made his first start for the Florida Marlins yesterday in their 7-1 loss at Milwaukee yesterday. He finished 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout.

Here’s a picture of Chris at the mound yesterday during one of the many pitching changes.

092710-hatch-in-game.jpg 

(Photo courtesy of Miami Herald)

Even more interesting, though, was — as noted in the Herald article — the 13 rookies were hazed after the game and had to wear, um, interesting wardrobes on the trip to Atlanta. Thanks to our ultimate insider, Bobby Hatcher, here’s what Chris wore:

092710-hatch-hazed.jpg

(If you are so inclined, click on the photo for a better and bigger view)

My take: The HB and I had a great time at the DugOut (the preferred spelling) watching the game in Rickie Killinger’s big ol’ leather recliners. In fact, that’s a pretty doggoned good place to watch any kind of game. Also had a good time seeing former Bethel Christian Academy/LCC/UNC-Wilmington star/Brewers farmhand Jared Sutton, who stopped by to watch the game.

By the by, here’s a link to a story I did on Chris and Jared in 2007 when both were in the minors.

And as for Chris’ outfit? Jon Dawson is PO’d — “That’s what I wore to church Sunday! Chris is such a copycat,” Dawson told me this morning on the phone.

METH LAB BLOWS UP IN LA GRANGE

An alleged meth lab blew up late Saturday night, sending four people to the UNC burn center.

My take: It’s hard to comprehend why someone would make this drug that has the possibility of killing you before you ingest one portion of it. My prayers go to the families of the victims of this stupid tragedy.

N.C. STATE CRACKS A.P. TOP 25 FOOTBALL POLL

The N.C. State football team, off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 2002, is No. 23 in this week’s Associated Press.

My take: Congratulations to the Wuffies and their fans, who have endured some pretty bad football over the past few years. They entertain Virginia Tech this weekend in a game that is going to let us know if they’re for real.

 The iPod shuffle

Bohemian Rhapsody — Queen

Oh Yeah (Work) — Lil’ Scrappy

Hey Mama — Kanye West

(Everything I Do) I Do It For You — Bryan Adams

Tha Mobb — Lil Wayne

Chris Hatcher to make first MLB start tomorrow!

Former Kinston High School and UNC-Wilmington star Chris Hatcher will be making the first MLB start of his career behind the plate for the Florida Marlins against the Milwaukee Brewers at 2 p.m. tomorrow.

If you don’t have the MLB package, you can’t watch it; however, I just talked to our good friend Rickie Killinger and he’ll be airing the game on his big screens at The Dugout (in the former Pastimes location). And not only can you watch Chris making history, you’ll be able to see all the NFL games on Rickie’s other TVs, too.

See you there — it’d be nice to have a good group of supporters at The Dugout to cheer one of our own on tomorrow!