How the brain learns to see:
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Under discussion: The weekend’s football and hurling championship action.
Chatting are: Trevor Giles, Ray Silke, Fintan O’Toole, John Fogarty, Brendan O’Brien and Terry Reilly.
TERRY REILLY (Irish Examiner assistant sports editor): Yesterday was the busiest weekend of the GAA calendar and it may have established football's top four — Kerry, Dublin, Kildare and Cork?
JOHN FOGARTY (Irish Examiner GAA correspondent): There’s a top three, in my opinion. The likes of Kildare, Donegal and Tyrone are on a plateau below Cork, Kerry and Dublin. Very disappointed with Tyrone’s performance yesterday. Kildare should make the last eight but they have to ask themselves why they were four points behind with just over a minute to go yesterday. If they seem themselves as peers of Dublin they need to improve through the backdoor.
FINTAN O’TOOLE (Irish Examiner sports writer): In that sense Donegal are the big winners of the weekend that they’ve now moved up to a level just behind the big three. Question marks remain over Kildare or Tyrone’s ability to break into the elite this season.
BRENDAN O’BRIEN (Irish Examiner sports writer): I don’t know about Kildare. I’m beginning to think the mystique surrounding McGeeney is disguising the fact that they may have reached a plateau and that Geezer has already got the best out of a good but far from great bunch of players. They can still do damage this year but they’re no Dublin and certainly not a Kerry or Cork.
TREVOR GILES (Irish Examiner columnist): Tyrone have slipped out of the top three, with their age profile they are vulnerable in the last quarter and things wont improve if they get to Croke Park.
RAY SILKE (Irish Examiner columnist): Many of those Tyrone players — their best ones have been on the go since 2001/2002 and time catches up with every team. Cavanagh, Ricey, Stephen O’ Neill & Dooher are not the men they were. 2008 is a while back now.
JOHN FOGARTY: Well it’s a fourth season with nothing to show for Kildare unless they make a most remarkable recovery. Can’t see that. Donegal are rising, Mayo are a bit further behind but they’ve done away with the romance and replaced with practicality. Hard-nosed practicality but it’s working for both of them.
TERRY REILLY: On McGeeney’s hype, has Kildare’s failure masked how good Dublin have become at chisselling out results?
FINTAN O’TOOLE: Dublin impressed me with how they coped with adversity. They were resilient after O’Gara was sent off and the big difference since the league final was how much better the defence looked with Rory O’Carroll there. Paul Conlon did a good job as well.
JOHN FOGARTY: Dublin’s full-back line, which has come in for its fair share of criticism over the last while, was impressive. Rory O’Carroll was just behind Alan Brogan and Paul Flynn for me as man of the match. Paul Conlon was targeted by Kildare but performed admirably. It’s a line that needed attention. I’m not saying it’s a problem fixed but there are signs for encouragement.
TREVOR GILES: Dublin were much better than Kildare, they kicked their 45s which Kildare couldn't, they created four clear goal chances to Kildare’s one and were more economical-missing nine chances to Kildare’s 17.
JOHN FOGARTY: Gilroy was a little short-sighted in starting Eoghan O’Gara, though. He’s just too unpredictable. For a guy like Kevin McManamon, who works his behind off and has been known to take the scoring burden off the Brogans, to be dropped for O’Gara was a mistake.
FINTAN O’TOOLE: Surely McManamon will be back in for O’Gara now?
TREVOR GILES: Dublin need to play McManamon at 11 and Connolly at 14 and not take them off, by all means take off the two wing forwards and two midfielders when they have their shift done.
TERRY REILLY: With that in mind it looks like Wexford are cannon fodder in the waiting?
JOHN FOGARTY: Not cannon fodder with the attack they have. But Carlow showed in the first-half what a disciplined defence can do to them even if they couldn’t sustain it. Others will.
FINTAN O’TOOLE: I don’t think this is going to be the massacre that the 2008 final was. For starters Wexford are far better now than they were then, particularly in the breadth of attacking options available to them. Encouraging yesterday that Barry and Lyng only scored a 0-1 between them, yet the team still scored 4-12. It’ll suit Jason Ryan that Wexford’s first-half performance was poor yesterday. He’ll bring his team firmly back to earth over next two weeks and they’ll revert to the role of underdogs that they’re happier with.
JOHN FOGARTY: Shane Roche stood out for them yesterday. Took the game to Carlow in the first-half when Wexford looked to be running out of ideas on a good few occasions.
BRENDAN O’BRIEN: Dublin beat Wexford by 23 points in the final three years ago but Wexford aren’t the same babes in the woods now. The thing is though, it’s hard to tell how good or otherwise they are after three cakewalks on what was a simple side of the draw.
JOHN FOGARTY: But isn’t a worry just how much attrition there is for Dublin around the centre, Trevor? It’s like Bryan Cullen and Paul Flynn expect to be taken off now.
TREVOR GILES: Yeah but Cullen and Flynn are around long enough to handle being replaced when their shift is done, I just feel Pat Gilroy needs to give Connolly and McManamon a bit of love and they will blossom.
JOHN FOGARTY: But is it an advantage for another team to know the wing-forwards will always be replaced?
RAY SILKE: Cormac Reilly could have shown a wee bit of love to Andriú Mac Lochlainn.
JOHN FOGARTY: The country and his mother are judging the Mac Lochlainn/Brogan exchange on the basis of video footage which is inconclusive. Watching it from the Hogan Stand, Mac Lochlainn did commit a foul. You wouldn’t usually see it given but it doesn’t detract from the fact Brogan was fouled.
RAY SILKE: Don’t like Reilly’s style of referring. Foul or not he is not my cuppa tae.
TREVOR GILES: Cormac looked to get that one wrong unless he saw an early jersey tug that the camera didn’t, but when you lose there is always a load of reasons for it before you get down the list to the ref being the reason.
JOHN FOGARTY: Mac Lochlainn had checked Brogan’s run. Reilly, technically, was correct. But there’s the common sense argument etc.
TREVOR GILES: Crazy stuff from Kildare playing John Doyle as spare man in half-back line, surely some one else could have done that and put Johnny up front.
TERRY REILLY: It made some contrast to the game in Castlebar, what’s happening with Galway?
RAY SILKE: Unfortunately — and this is not a state secret — Galway are very, very poor at the moment. We were cleaned out in the middle. Young Hehir taken off, Hanley at midfield will not work. How Ó Flatharta left Higgins to be cleaned out on the breaks by Dillon for the full game was mystifying. And confidence is down in their socks.
TREVOR GILES: Have Galway much pace? Because that will trouble Meath if they have. And how did Jason Doherty play? He made quite a name for himself in the league.
RAY SILKE: Feck all pace in Galway attack. PJ was never a speedster, Bane is a good shooter but no speedster and Conroy is a midfielder at 14. Bradshaw is a wing back at wing forward. Square pegs — round holes. Doherty was ok but was Dillon, Moran and Freeman did the damage.
TERRY REILLY: So Ray, Trevor if ye were still playing with the county team who’d be happier with the draw this morning?
TREVOR GILES: I'd fancy myself to get two points off Ray!
RAY SILKE: From frees only!
TERRY REILLY: What about Mayo, can they play that defensive game or is it another accident waiting to happen, probably in Croke Park?
JOHN FOGARTY: It’s a defensive style in infancy so there’s the worry there for Mayo. Aside from that, they’re moving in the right direction. Factor in those nine or so wides in the first-half and you wonder just how more comprehensive their win could have been.
RAY SILKE: Mayo are a limited outfit too. They have major free taking problems — Trevor could give them a few evenings — don’t see them getting too far. But they are improving, a little. Only for Galway keeper and they would have two more goals.
BRENDAN O’BRIEN: Enough about Galway-Mayo already. Bad game. Full stop. What I want to know is how will the Connacht final play out?
JOHN FOGARTY: Interesting game in store in the Hyde. Rossies are a big side and Cathal Cregg’s work-rate really provides the foil to Kilbride and Shine. But this is so unusual for Mayo, going into a game against the Rossies as likely underdogs. They’ll thrive on that.
TREVOR GILES: You are right about Cregg, he is the main leader on that team and Mayo need to curb him big time.
RAY SILKE: McGarrity can be a big player in that game. He would be well able for Michael Finneran and the two O’ Sheas did well at midfield too. Would not rule Mayo out at all. They will come on a lot from yesterday and set up for them in many ways for Connacht final.
JOHN FOGARTY: Cregg’s more dynamic than Alan Dillon but Dillon has so much going for him. He’s a match-winner, he knows the big games. The frees didn’t go right yesterday but he’ll make amends. O’Shea brothers certainly put paid to David Brady’s remark about them last week. The pair of them can play football, that’s obvious.
RAY SILKE: Seamus O’ Shea is a super young fellow. Taught him in Castlebar and he has a super attitude and engine. Injuries have held him back over the past few years.
TERRY REILLY: Up north it looks like Tyrone are on the way out, do you think Mickey Harte can turn them around a la Brian Cody and inject some of that youth into the squad?
FINTAN O’TOOLE: Too much reliance on that old guard by Harte and if they all go together, that will leave a huge void for the likes of Harte, McKenna and Coney to fill.
BRENDAN O’BRIEN: I think Harte has left it too late. Introducing young players should be a drip-drip thing but he has stuck with the older players who served him so well for so long now that major changes are going to have to be made in one fell swoop sooner or later. Interesting that O’Neill, Dooher and Brian McGuigan were all called ashore yesterday.
TREVOR GILES: He can of course turn them around but not this year, hasn’t blooded enough of them during the league but no better man than Harte.
JOHN FOGARTY: I tipped Tyrone for Ulster thinking there’d be a major kick in them. Like Kerry, a few boys are putting off retirement for one more crack at it. Fair enough, an Ulster isn’t their main objective but they’ve made their job so much more difficult now.
FINTAN O’TOOLE: Very poor scoring return by them yesterday it seemed, not even reaching double figures.
BRENDAN O’BRIEN: Very poor return by both teams Fintan! I went to Clones with a bout of food poisoning yesterday and I didn’t feel much better after watching that!
TREVOR GILES: Croke Park, if they get there, isn’t the place for an ageing team to find their form.
JOHN FOGARTY: Ulster final’s like the poorer half of the Leinster SFC now. Everyone thinks they can win.
TREVOR GILES: Have to say the pitch in Croker was very good seeing as it was just laid down during the week.
RAY SILKE: Trevor is 100% right. McMenamin, Gormley, Jordan, Hughes, S Cavanagh, Dooher, Mulligan, O’Neill, McGuigan, Hughes all played in 2003 final. Don’t think they have the legs or drive to win big games in Croker Park anymore. Time to bring on some new blood and hard for Mickey to turn it around. Same voice syndrome has to be a factor at some stage.
TERRY REILLY: Donegal are impressive under the Jim McGuinness revolution, Paddy Bradley won’t get much space in that game. Is an Ulster title enough for this year or should they realistically target Sam?
FINTAN O’TOOLE: In his first year, an Ulster title would be good progress by Donegal as stringing together a consistent run of victories has been beyond them in recent years.
BRENDAN O’BRIEN: Donegal have already come a long way under McGuinness in his first year and an All-Ireland is probably a step too far. I hate to say it but I think they’re flatpack defensive plan will prove too much for Derry in the Ulster decider.
JOHN FOGARTY: Karl Lacey has been talking about McGuinness having big plans for Donegal. They have the surprise element going for them but winning Ulster would be such a relief. Qualifiers is not the time to be trying out new blood, though. Longford won’t shy away from them in Pearse Park. The old dog needed for the old road there.
RAY SILKE: What happens if the old dogs have lost their teeth?
JOHN FOGARTY: They’ve paws!
BRENDAN O’BRIEN: Longford in Pearse Park was probably the worst draw they could have got. I’ve seen Longford beat Derry, Kerry and Mayo there and give Dublin an awful time of it too. That’s the pick of the qualifiers without a doubt.
JOHN FOGARTY: Ah, Brendan, you’re dismissing your own Laois again. Kildare v Laois — unquestionably the tie of the second round.
TERRY REILLY: Surely Kildare v Laois and Galway v Meath are the standout games in the qualifiers, London have a realistic chance of beating Waterford too. They’re surely the darlings of this year’s championship?
RAY SILKE: At 2/1 to win last Saturday they were the Darlings for many, many punters.
BRENDAN O’BRIEN: The beauty of the qualifiers is the sniff of an upset and Longford could well pull it off on their home turf. Kildare-Laois and Galway-Meath are undoubtedly juicy ties too but if I was the TV boys I’d have the cameras in Pearse Park.
JOHN FOGARTY: Galway and Meath is only a standout because of the counties’ rich traditions. Laois and Kildare brings the Armagh boys together and two managers who’d sing off the same hymn sheet in charge of teams who don’t particularly like one another. Game on.
RAY SILKE: Ye two boys could do some WWF at half-time. My money is on the bigger man (physically)!
BRENDAN O’BRIEN: It’s called WWE now, old man!
JOHN FOGARTY: If Wicklow had got Armagh in Aughrim, Micko could possibly have another northern scalp. London have a great chance again. They won’t be 2/1 next time, rest assured. Down have got another decent draw but didn’t came away from Clare unscathed. Much room for improvement there.
TREVOR GILES: We can’t forget about Down, should beat Leitrim and would have a touch of momentum just like last year, they only lost All-Ireland by one point.
RAY SILKE: Will Saturday’s defeat see Kevin Walsh still with Sligo in 2012?
JOHN FOGARTY: Surely Kevin Walsh doesn’t want to finish like that. David Kelly was missed bad. Surely, Eamon O’Hara will hang up the boots now?
TERRY REILLY: Sligo were poor. Kelly came on but wasn’t well and O’Hara’s legs weren’t up for it against James Stafford. Wicklow would have loved a home draw but can’t see them going far now.
BRENDAN O’BRIEN: Am I right in saying that we’re at the end of June now and no manager has yet stepped down? Isn’t that unusual?
JOHN FOGARTY: No manager and not a replay in sight. We’re in an equinox or something.
FINTAN O’TOOLE: Twelve months ago Sligo were the favourites for the Connacht final. Since then they’ve lost four championship games on the trot and suffered relegation to Division 3. Remarkable swing in fortunes.
TERRY REILLY: One game won, one drawn this year. Shocking stuff. What about Cork and Offaly, anyone see that coming?
BRENDAN O’BRIEN: John Gardiner did, if his comments last week were anything to go by, but I don’t think they really thought that Offaly would put it up to them like they did. Never thought I’d say this as Laoisman but I was delighted to see Offaly perform after a week when Laois were pummelled and the two counties’ U21s were savaged as well. Hurling in the midlands needed a lift.
TERRY REILLY: It seems unfair that Cork and Antrim lose in the first round and go to the third round of qualifiers after beating an easier team while Galway and Clare, Limerick and Wexford face a knockout game?
JOHN FOGARTY: Said that when the hurling structure was redesigned a couple of years back. Best to lose in the first round of Munster than in the semi-finals.
FINTAN O’TOOLE: Phase 3 is where Cork will be judged, always were going to win the games the last two weekends.
Monday, June 27, 2011
FRANKFURT, Germany — On a day of wonderful goals and woeful goalkeeping, Mexico had reason to celebrate at the Women's World Cup.
A 30-yard blast from Monica Ocampo gave Mexico a 1-1 draw against England on Monday in Wolfsburg, the biggest surprise so far after two days of the three-week tournament. Earlier, a curling free kick from star player Aya Miyama sent Japan past New Zealand 2-1 in Bochum.
The deft scoring touch of Ocampo and Miyama was offset by the play of the goalkeepers for New Zealand and England that was hardly the stuff of brilliance.
Ocampo hit a dipping drive from far out in the 33rd minute. Still, goalie Karen Bardsley had time to react. She trotted slowly to her right corner and put out her hands. It was too late.
England coach Hope Powell said the ball might have swerved, but she was forced to draw an inevitable conclusion: "She should have saved it. … We need to work hard to try and get out of the group."
Having already shocked the United States in regional qualifying, Mexico now has a realistic chance of reaching the quarterfinals. Playing in sweltering early evening heat, the Mexicans pushed until the end.
Ocampo's goal was Mexico's first at a World Cup in a dozen years, lifting the team after Fara Williams had scored on a header in the 21st minute to briefly give England the lead.
"I didn't like the beginning of it," Mexico coach Leonardo Cuellar said in assessing the match. "I liked the end."
After the first round, Japan leads Group B with three points. England and Mexico have one and New Zealand none.
Japan, ranked fourth in the world, did not play like the favorite. The taller New Zealand players put on a physical performance, often smothering the superior skills of Japan.
Yuki Nagasato took a deep pass from Shinobu Ohno as New Zealand goalkeeper Jenny Bindon rushed out, then lobbed the ball over her head into the empty net.
It remained a tight game until Miyama curled a 17-yard free kick over the wall and past Bindon.
The stadiums in Bochum (12,538) and Wolfsburg (18,702) were not sellouts but well more than half full.
Sides could not close enormous gap in positions during meeting today. Collective bargaining agreement expires at midnight. Lockout will shut down all business.
NEW YORK, New York -- Union chief Billy Hunter says owners are locking out players after failing to reach a new collective bargaining agreement, potentially putting the 2011-12 season in jeopardy.
Despite a three-hour meeting Thursday, the sides could not close the enormous gap that remained in their positions. The CBA was due to expire at midnight.
All league business is officially on hold, starting with the free agency period that would have opened Friday, and games eventually could be lost, too. The last lockout reduced the 1998-99 season to just a 50-game schedule, the only time the NBA missed games for a work stoppage.
Union executive committee member Matt Bonner says "we tried to avoid the lockout; unfortunately we couldn't reach a deal."
Mike Svetina found Oxford to his liking in the spring, so he decided to go back in the fall.
Ron Klain, former chief of staff to both Al Gore and Joe Biden, thinks President Obama needs to make more of a show of fighting for job-creating policies. ?The greatest risk to the president will be if the American people believe the administration isn?t trying hard enough to tackle the jobs problem,? he writes. ?That is why it is imperative for the administration to do more ? proposing new ideas, initiatives and job-creation programs ? and without delay. It may not succeed, but it must get ?caught trying? to do more to spur job creation.?
This advice appeals to me. It?s what I?d like to see happen. But I also think it?s wrong, and if I were advising President Obama, I?d advise him not to take it.
Let?s agree that what matters isn?t how many jobs you ?get caught trying? to create, but how many jobs you actually create. There?s virtually no evidence that if Obama makes more speeches on jobs, his poll numbers will go up or the labor market will improve. There?s lots of evidence that if he passes policies that create more jobs, his poll numbers will go up and the labor market will improve. The question, then, isn?t how Obama can get ?caught trying.? It?s how ? or whether ? he can succeed.
When presidents take a strong stand for or against policies, they polarize the policies. Under unified control of government ? particularly under unified control of government with a filibuster-proof majority ? that can make the policies easier to pass, as it consolidates party support. Under divided control of government, it makes them harder to pass, as it creates or hardens minority-party opposition.
A lot of observers wondered why the Obama administration didn?t push a payroll-tax cut in the 2010 elections. The reason, insiders said, was simple, if frustrating: If they did that, the Republican Party would publicly oppose it and they wouldn?t be able to pass it after the election. By staying quiet on the payroll-tax cut, they made it possible for Republicans to support it as part of the 2010 tax deal.
Recently, the Obama administration has been pushing an expansion of the payroll-tax cut. They want to extend it to employers, not just employees. But they?ve been more public about it. And sure enough, the GOP is suddenly finding itself opposed to a tax cut on business ? man, polarization is a powerful force ? and gripped by a sudden and, one imagines, soon-to-be-abandoned belief that tax cuts should be paid for.
All of which suggests that if any further jobs measures are going to pass, they?re going to have to start in backroom negotiations and only go public as part of a deal. Taking them public first in the hopes that you can then get them as part of backroom negotiations won?t work. So though I agree with Klain that the right political move for Obama is to push harder on jobs, if I were advising the president, I?d tell him to keep any policies that his legislative team thinks could actually pass out of his speeches. Because the right politics, in the end, won?t do him much good in November. The right jobs numbers will.
Yesterday, I linked to a study showing that most states are producing far more lawyers than they have job openings for lawyers. The exceptions were Nebraska, Wisconsin and the District. But both Wisconsin and D.C. allow you to practice despite having passed the bar in another state. Economic Modeling Specialists, the group behind the study, updated their work today, noting that the special rules in Washington and Wisconsin suggest that ?there might not be any states with a shortage.? Here?s their graph:
The bottom line? ?On the national level, there were nearly twice as many bar exam passers (53,508) in ?09 than openings (26,239).?
I speak fairly frequently with college students who are trying to figure out what to do after college and tell me they?re thinking of starting out by going to law school, ?just in case.? My primary advice to them is to avoid law school unless they actually want to practice law. If you?re using law school as a fallback, why not wait until after you?ve actually fallen? But though this data probably doesn?t say much about the job prospects of graduates from top law schools, it is reason to be skeptical of the idea that a law degree is a sure path to a secure career ? even if you actually do want to become a lawyer.
Monday, June 27, 2011
Dodgers 15, Twins 0
MINNEAPOLIS — Matt Kemp had four hits, including his NL-leading 22nd home run, and Los Angeles set season highs for runs and hits (24). Chad Billingsley cruised through six innings, combining with three relievers on the Dodgers' seventh shutout of the season. Minnesota lost its sixth straight game since an eight-game winning streak.
By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Sunday, June 26, 2011
HOUSTON — Matt Joyce had been ready since the early innings, when the Rays got the sense it was going to be one of those games with the Astros. As rapidly as the runs were piling up and as quickly as the Rays were going through their bench and their bullpen, he knew he'd be used as a pinch-hitter.
He just didn't expect to hear his name then, as Sean Rodriguez was headed from the on-deck circle to the plate with the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth, the Rays a run down in what had already been a wild afternoon and no other position players left. But manager Joe Maddon made what he admitted was a very difficult and frenzied decision, and Joyce scrambled to pull on his batting gloves, pop on a helmet and grab his bat.
He took two balls from closer Mark Melancon then swung and missed twice. And then he delivered a two-run double, the biggest hit on a day of big ones as the Rays outlasted the Astros for a hard-earned 14-10 victory.
"To win it the way we did and battle it out is definitely a testimony to the team's determination and character and how bad these guys want to win," Joyce said. "Today was definitely a big win."
The win capped a sweep of the worst-in-baseball Astros, extended the Rays' run through this segment of interleague play to 8-1 and pushed them to a season-high 10 games over .500 at 44-34.
"These are the kind of games that we need to win," Evan Longoria said. "Just find a way to win."
Joyce had the biggest hit, but Longoria (who also turned a key double play) was in the running. Going without batting gloves for a third straight game, he hit a two-run homer in the sixth to tie it at 7 and a three-run shot in the ninth that provided a needed cushion. For the series, he was 8-for-14 with three homers and 10 RBIs, and though his batting gloves were sitting on top of his equipment bag, he doesn't expect to put them on any time soon.
"It feels pretty good right now," Longoria said. "It's all in the way my swing's feeling. It just so happened that it started happening without the batting gloves. And it's going to continue until either my hands go or I've got to change it up again."
The Rays tied their season high with 19 hits, and it seemed they needed every one of them because they didn't pitch very well, starting with Jeff Niemann lasting only three innings.
"We knew it would be a dogfight," B.J. Upton said. "We knew it would be a long one. We just didn't know how long."
Upton had a key hit, a three-run homer in the first, marking the second time in his career he'd gone deep in three straight games. So did Casey Kotchman, who followed Joyce's double with a two-run single that expanded the lead from 9-8 to 11-8. Johnny Damon had four hits. Heck, even two pitchers got hits — the first time that has happened in 2,181 Rays games — as Niemann singled in the second and Wade Davis, as a pinch-hitter, singled in the ninth.
The game had gone back and forth so much — the Rays leading 3-0, trailing 5-4, tied at 5, down 7-5, tied again at 7, down 8-7 — that Maddon figured he had to take his chance with Joyce in the eighth.
Even though it meant he would be out of hitters and could be forced to have a pitcher bat second in the ninth down a run, and even though it meant he had no one to catch in the event of emergency, he called for Joyce.
"That's a pretty tough decision right there in a sense," Maddon said. "You're thinking all that, but at the end of the day the one thought that was overriding was, the bases are loaded, two outs, this is your best chance to win the game right there. And that's what I went with."
"I didn't know," Joyce said. "Honestly, I didn't have my batting gloves on. I didn't expect to hit for Roddy because I kind of expected to hit for a pitcher in the later innings. With how it worked out and a big opportunity like that, he definitely made the right decision."
Nearly four hours after they started, it worked out that way.
Marc Topkin can be reached at email@example.com
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Mets 8, Rangers 5
ARLINGTON, Texas — Jose Reyes had four hits and three runs and rookie Dillon Gee pitched six effective innings for New York. In his first appearance against Texas, Gee recovered from his only loss, when he walked a career-high six over four innings. The Texas native has given up only eight earned runs in five June starts.
By Tom Jones, Times Staff Writer
Monday, June 27, 2011
World Series classic: 5 p.m. on ESPN Classic. A replay of Game 6 of the 1977 World Series between the Yankees and Dodgers — the game in which Reggie Jackson homers three times.
Who's No. 1?: 10 p.m. on ESPN Classic. A look at the greatest knockouts in boxing history.
Jimmy Kimmel Live: Midnight on Ch. 28. NFL player Dhani Jones is one of the scheduled guests.
By Rodney Page, Times Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Wimbledon: 7 a.m. on ESPN2. It's men's quarterfinal action, with top-notch players such as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray still alive.
Reds at Rays: Noon on Sun Sports. It's getaway day at Tropicana Field, which means we get to watch baseball at work. Or, if you work out of your car, you can listen to Dave Wills and Andy Freed on 620-AM, which isn't bad, either.
2011 Sugar Bowl, Arkansas vs. Ohio State: 8 p.m. on ESPNU. It's a slow sports night, so check out Jim Tressel's last game as Ohio State coach and Terrelle Pryor's last game as quarterback. And perhaps Ohio State's last bowl game for a while.
French Finance Minister replaces Dominique Strauss-Kahn amid scandal and Europe?s intensifying debt crisis.
By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, June 25, 2011
HOUSTON — With the halfway point of the season coming Wednesday, executive vice president Andrew Friedman is for the most part pleased with what the Rays have done.
He considers the starters "real solid," says the bullpen has pitched "extremely well" and calls the defense "as good as it's ever been, if not better."
He feels they're "a better offensive team than what we've shown" and figures that since several players "haven't performed up to their watermarks," there will be "organic improvement." (And he has only praise for the work the coaches and players are doing.)
But with five weeks until the trading deadline — and their standard stance of not being classified buyers or sellers — he is also looking to make the team better.
"We're going to explore the market," Friedman said. "If we can add to the core that we have, we'll be aggressive to do so."
One need is for another high-leverage reliever to take some of the workload off right-handers Kyle Farnsworth and Joel Peralta.
"We'll be fairly aggressive in combing the relief pitcher market," Friedman said. "Ideally it's a long-term fit, but if it's a short-term fit, we'll factor it in accordingly." (Mets right-hander Francisco Rodriguez, who says he'd waive his no-trade clause for a setup role with "good teams like the Yankees or the Rays," is unlikely given his $11.5 million salary and potentially vesting $17.5 million option/$3.5 million buyout.)
The other is for a bat, either a DH (that sounds familiar) or an outfielder. That's more likely, given the limited options and extensive cost, than significant upgrades at catcher (where they continue to rave about the job Kelly Shoppach is doing with the pitchers) and shortstop (where they need Reid Brignac to produce more).
If the Rays get a DH, he'd have to be a big enough bat for them to be comfortable with Johnny Damon in leftfield. If they get a corner outfielder, he has to be enough of a two-way player to not diminish their defense. Promoting Desmond Jennings or Brandon Guyer is an option, but realistically neither is likely to immediately have a major impact.
Keystone junior pitcher/infielder Kenzie Conrad elevated her game during crunch time because that's the only way she knows how to play.
By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, June 25, 2011
ST. PAUL, Minn. — It was not by chance the Lightning drafted three Russian players, a huge number considering only eight Russians were among the 210 players drafted.
"We talked about it as a strategy," GM Steve Yzerman said Saturday as Rounds 2-7 completed the two-day draft. "These are high-end players."
There has been a hesitation recently throughout the league to draft Russians because of the pressure it is perceived they feel to stay home and play in the KHL. But Al Murray, Tampa Bay's director of amateur scouting, said of the team's draftees, "They've all indicated to us they want to be National Hockey League players."
The Lightning believes it hit future home runs with first-round pick C Vladislav Namestnikov, second-round pick W Nikita Kucherov and fifth-round pick D Nikita Nesterov.
"All three we had very highly ranked on our list," Murray said. "We see three guys who, had they not had last names ending in 'ov,' would have been drafted in the second round at the latest."
Namestnikov is almost more North American than Russian. Though born in Russia, he and his family moved to Detroit when he was 8 months old, and he plays for London of the junior Ontario league.
Kucherov, 18, had a record 21 points in this year's under-18 world championship. He will next season play for Russia's CSKA senior team. Nesterov, 18, a puck-moving blue-liner, played for the Chelyabinsk junior team last season and next might play for Tri-Cities of the junior Western league.
Nesterov was adamant he wants to play in the NHL.
"I would like to play for Tampa Bay in North America," he said through translator and agent Garry Greenstin. "My goal is to play in the NHL."
"There is a lot of hesitation with these players to bring them over, which is understandable," Yzerman said. "But we feel that the three we selected are a good gamble. We believe they will be here, and they will be here sooner rather than later.
"Any player you pick in the second round is three or four years away. In three or four years, if they're good players, they'll be here. All the good ones eventually come over from Russia."
SMALL WONDERS: In a league with players who generally have gotten a lot bigger, the Lightning drafted five skaters averaging 5 feet 11, 168 pounds, including LW Matthew Peca (5-8, 155).
"We wanted the best players," Murray said. "We had some bigger guys that were ahead of some of the guys on our list, but other teams took them.
"You can reach back and take some bigger players who aren't as talented or take guys you feel have a real high talent level. In the case of the guys we took, who are smaller players, we feel they have elite talent level."
NUMBERS: The four-year contract signed Friday by D Eric Brewer breaks down like this: $3.75 million next season, $4 million in 2012-13 and 2013-14 and $3.75 million in 2014-15 for a total of $15.5 million.
ODDS AND ENDS: Qualifying offers to keep negotiating rights of restricted free agents are due Monday. … Tampa Bay's rookie camp is scheduled for July 6-13 at the Ice Sports Forum in Brandon. … Canada led the draft with 79 players selected. The United States was next with 64.
The Los Angeles Dodgers have filed for bankruptcy protection, and blame Commissioner Bud Selig.
LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Dodgers filed for bankruptcy protection in a Delaware court Monday, blaming Major League Baseball for refusing to approve a multibillion-dollar TV deal that owner Frank McCourt was counting on to keep the troubled team afloat. (See earlier version of this story.)
The Chapter 11 financing permits the Dodgers to use $150 million for daily operations and buys time for the team to seek a media deal and ensure the team's long-term financial stability, the Dodgers said in a news release. A judge would need to approve use of the money and a hearing is set for Tuesday.
"There will be no disruption to the Dodgers day-to-day business, the baseball team, or to the Dodger fans," the statement said.
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced last week that he wouldn't approve a Dodgers television deal with Fox Sports that reportedly was worth up to $3 billion. That left McCourt cash-starved and facing the prospect of missing the team payroll this Thursday, leading to an MLB takeover.
McCourt defended his running of the team, saying he had made it profitable and successful. He also said the Dodgers have tried for almost a year to get Selig to approve the Fox transaction.
"He's turned his back on the Dodgers, treated us differently, and forced us to the point we find ourselves in today," McCourt's statement said.
MLB spokesman Pat Courtney did not immediately respond to an email message. McCourt spokesman Steve Sugerman said Frank McCourt would not be available to comment Monday.
Among the 40 largest unsecured claims listed in the bankruptcy filing are former Dodger slugger Manny Ramirez at nearly $21 million; Andruw Jones at $11 million; pitcher Hiroki Kuroda at $4.4 million; and the Chicago White Sox at $3.5 million.
According to the bankruptcy filing, the Dodgers began experiencing "cash flow difficulties" last year due to declining attendance, paying about $22 million in deferred compensation and revenue sharing.
The team's vice chairman, Jeffrey Ingram, said in court documents that the Dodgers are "on the verge of running out of cash, the result of a perfect storm of events."
"He's clearly running very low on options right now," said David Carter, executive director of USC Sports Business Institute. "What seems to be the case is a high-stakes chess game between Frank McCourt and MLB, and he's running out of pieces. This is one of the uglier weeks in Dodger history."
McCourt had hoped Selig would sign off on the transaction that would have provided him with $385 million up front and was vital to a binding settlement reached between him and his ex-wife and former Dodger CEO Jamie McCourt.
An email message left for Jamie McCourt's spokesman, Matthew Hiltzik was not immediately returned.
The McCourts have been embroiled in a contentious divorce where their lavish spending habits were detailed in court documents. The former couple took out more than $100 million in loans from Dodger-related businesses, records show.
In April, MLB took the extraordinary step of assuming control of the troubled franchise. Former Texas Rangers President Tom Schieffer was appointed to monitor the team on behalf of Selig, who said he took the action because he was concerned about the team's finances and how the Dodgers are being run.
The Dodgers' filing follows that of the Texas Rangers, who sought Chapter 11 protection in May of last year. The Rangers' filing successfully pushed through Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan's $590 million bid to buy the team. Creditors had stalled the deal for months, arguing that the team had rejected higher offers.
McCourt has maintained he met the criteria set forth by baseball officials in order for the TV contract to be approved and would amend the conditions if needed. The Dodgers' current TV deal with Fox expires in 2013.
The divorce settlement, now voided because of Selig's decision, called for a one-day "characterization" trial Aug. 4 to determine if title to the Dodgers is in Frank McCourt's name or if the team should be considered community property and sold. Robert Sacks, an attorney retained by Frank McCourt, said the trial may be shelved and Superior Court Judge Scott Gordon could decide how to handle the former couple's assets at a later date.
Gordon ruled in December that a postnuptial marital agreement that gave Frank McCourt sole ownership of the Dodgers was invalid. That cleared the way for Jamie McCourt, who served as the team's CEO and was fired by her ex-husband two years ago, to seek half the team under California's community property law.
?Higher tax rates do not necessarily lead to more revenue. Recent history has often shown just the opposite.? Thank Sen. Jon Kyl for voicing the committed supply-side position here. And, in a technical sense, it?s true. You can imagine a world where tax cuts increases revenues. But that?s a world where marginal tax rates are 95 percent, not 35 percent. As Bruce Bartlett details, in our world, raising taxes raises revenue. And Republicans know it. That?s why Rep. Paul Ryan ? as serious a supply-side as you?ll find ? is calling a further tax cut on employers ?a sugar high? rather than ?a responsible effort to reduce future deficits.?
?I don?t believe now is the time to raise taxes in light of our current economic situation.? Actually, this argument, which comes from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, is correct. But it applies with equal force to spending cuts. Just ask the Congressional Budget Office, which says that ?cuts in government spending or increases in taxes during the next few years would by themselves reduce output in employment relative to what would otherwise happen.? Tax hikes and spending cuts hurt the recovery in the same way: They suck demand out of an economy that has too little of it anyway. In a perfect world, we wouldn?t begin reducing the deficit until the recovery has clearly taken hold. But Cantor opposes any such delay. If he believed what he was saying about tax hikes, he wouldn?t want to start reducing the deficit till 2013 or 2014.
?The suggestion here is that this is all just some big quid pro quo exercise between the two parties. This is dangerous, and it?s wrong.? That?s Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissing the idea that this is some sort of negotiation as opposed to a hostage situation. But a few weeks ago, McConnell was singing a very different tune.
?I actually think it would be easier to pass a comprehensive plan,? he said. ?Ronald Reagan and Tip O?Neill fixed Social Security in 1983. It?s lasted for a generation. Reagan carried 49 of 50 states the next year. They did it together. Reagan and O?Neill did tax reform in 1986, Bill Clinton and Republicans did welfare reform in 1996, and Bill Clinton and Republicans actually balanced the budget for a number of years in the late 1990s.? Aside from welfare reform, every single one of the deals McConnell mentions exchanged spending cuts for tax increases ? the very deal McConnell has ruled out in this case.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Blue Jays 6, Cardinals 3
ST. LOUIS — Carlos Villanueva pitched six solid innings, and Juan Rivera's three-run homer was the only hit in a five-run third for Toronto. St. Louis starter Jaime Garcia kept his home ERA at 0.88 because four of the runs in the fifth were unearned thanks to third baseman Daniel Descalso's two-out throwing error. But the left-hander gave up Rivera's sixth homer the next at-bat and walked three in the inning.