FBI uncovers referee game fixing? …
The FBI is reportedly investigating an NBA referee who was allegedly betting on basketball games, including games he worked in the past two seasons.
The New York Post first reported Friday that the year-long investigation is focusing on allegations that the referee bet on games and was making calls that affected the point spread on games. The newspaper reported that according to sources, an arrest of the referee was imminent and that NBA Commissioner David Stern is aware of the investigation.
According to the Post, the referee's name was withheld.
The the head of the referees union said it was aware of the probe, Bloomberg News reported.
"These accusations, if true, are extremely serious and we have been in discussions with the NBA regarding this matter,'' Lamell McMorris, head of the NBA Referees Association, told Bloomberg News. "In light of the fact that this is an ongoing federal criminal investigation, we have nothing further to say at this time."
Bloomberg reported that an NBA spokesman and league executive Stu Jackson, who oversees referees, phone messages seeking comment Friday morning. The Post reported that the FBI declined comment on the investigation.
Teixeira’s last homestand ? …
Privately, Teixeira has been seeking an exit from Arlington for some time. He made it public with his recent criticism of the organization.
There is simply no way he is going to sign with Texas when he becomes a free agent after the 2008 season. But he should have solid market value now because a trading team gets his services for a season and a half.
Plus if that team fails to re-sign him after 2008, they would be eligible to receive two draft picks, so it's reasonable to think that a team would part with a legitimate player and a couple of top prospects for Teixeira.
That has to be priority No. 1.
Although Daniels has been criticized for expecting too much in return, he said before Thursday's game that he has kept some of the more laughable offers he's received from being made public.
"I'm taking the high road," he said.
Getting something for Sosa or Lofton ranks farther down the list than moving Teixeira. There's something kind of fun about seeing Sosa winding down his career with the team that initially signed him.
But if there is a market out there for a guy who's going to drive in more than 100 runs even while having an on-base percentage below .300, Daniels has to tap into that, too.
I'm less enthusiastic about dumping Lofton, even if he doesn't exactly cover center field the way he did in Cleveland a decade ago. He's still getting on base at the top of the order and swiping bases, and I can see him doing that next year, when the team hopes to be competitive again.
The calls I hope Daniels isn't taking are the ones from teams seeking bullpen help.
Otsuka was pretty much eliminated from trade consideration when he was placed on the disabled list Thursday. He has been shut down with a forearm injury and probably won't pitch again until around the deadline.
You don't trade a pitcher of his caliber when his trade value has sunk.
And Gagne also should be a keeper. Once a regular All-Star as a Dodger, Gagne has battled back from injury to be an efficient closer. He has 14 saves, a 1.23 ERA, a .157 opponents' batting average.
Gagne also has quietly expressed a willingness to give the Rangers a home team discount to re-sign here after this season.
Neither of these guys are kids. Gagne is 31, and Otsuka is 35.
But the one "must" for the Rangers if they are ever to return as division champions
is a deep bullpen.
The heat and the Ballpark's characteristics make it virtually impossible for this team ever to have a great rotation. But it can have a great bullpen, and a healthy Gagne and Otsuka can provide exactly that.
What they're doing for a team that is 15 games out of first place doesn't matter so much as what they could do for it in 2008.
Loe returns to Loe standards …Rangers lose…
The Rangers' offense had no problem figuring out Cleveland Cy Young candidate C.C.
Sabathia on Thursday night.
Unfortunately for Texas, the Indians had an even easier time against Rangers right-hander Kameron Loe.
Loe went six innings Thursday -- 3 1/3 more than he lasted in a start against the Los Angeles Angels last week -- but surrendered six earned runs as the Indians pulled away for a 7-5 victory.
Texas' offense battered Sabathia, the big Cleveland left-hander, for nine hits in his six innings and touched him for four runs, but it couldn't muster the knockout blow.
"All you can do is put the ball in play," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "You can't guide them. We put them in play pretty good tonight.
"I thought we attacked Sabathia pretty well, but they kept coming. We could have used some luck tonight."
The Rangers' offense bailed Loe (5-8) out after he gave up a four-run second inning by scoring three runs in the bottom of the inning and another in the fourth to tie the score.
But the fourth inning came to an abrupt end when Kenny Lofton lined a bases-loaded grounder that second baseman Josh Barfield speared to start a double play.
Loe ran into trouble again in the fifth inning, facing eight batters, but the Rangers couldn't answer.
All-Star outfielder Grady Sizemore opened the inning by putting a Loe offering into the stands in right-center.
Ryan Garko brought in another run on a fielder's choice grounder to make it 6-4.
Mavericks are saved from themselves; Steve Francis signs with Houston …
Things remain quiet for the Dallas Mavericks during free agency as guard Steve Francis on Thursday decided to return to the Houston Rockets, his agent said.
Agent Jeff Fried said Francis agreed to a short-term deal with the Rockets over the Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat because of his comfort level with the franchise and the city.
"The West just got tougher," Mavericks general manager Donnie Nelson said. "We've got two pretty good point guards. We just didn't have the playing time to accommodate him."
Francis played the first five years of his career with the Rockets, including three All-Star seasons. Fried said other teams offered more money, but Francis has considered Houston his home since he entered the NBA in 1999.
Francis, who has averaged 18.4 points during his eight-year career, spent the last three seasons with Orlando and New York. He averaged a career-low 11.3 points per game for the Knicks last season.
He became a free agent after Portland bought out the final two years of his contract for $30 million after acquiring him in a draft-night trade with the Knicks.
MLS All-Stars beat European bully for 3rd straight year …Toja scores…
It's the overall quality of play that figures to make or break this league, as soccer aficionados decide whether to pay attention and top soccer players decide whether they want to forgo established leagues around the world to play at places like Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City.
A crowd of 18,661 saw the MLS boys put on a pretty good show against Celtic FC, which is still working its way into form but is, nevertheless, the two-time defending champs of the Scottish Premier League.
"We've come a long ways in 11 years," said MLS coach Steve Nicol of the New England Revolution. "We've really reached a point where we're ready to take that extra step. I think it's great when players like Juan, David and some of these other guys coming in. It's going to be a great example of the professionalism that Juan shows, all the young guys in the game are going to get better."
In the 36th minute, Angel scored his goal after taking a pass from Dwayne De Rosario, switching feet as goalie Artur Boruc rushed him, then tapping the ball to the back of the net with his left foot.
Later in the first half, a free kick led to a scramble, and Juan Toja – also from Colombia and also joining the MLS from overseas this year – came up with the ball and converted a wide-open look to make it 2-0.
Boruc made a pair of point-blank saves in the first half and turned away Eddie Johnson's penalty kick to keep the game from getting further out of hand. Johnson and De Rosario spent much of the night distributing in the Celtic end. MLS finished with 13 shots, eight of them on goal, while Celtic had only five and two.
This marked the third straight year that MLS' best has beaten a team from overseas in its All-Star Game, a point that certainly won't get lost among commissioner Don Garber and the rest of the league brass as they pitch the quality of their product.
The Celtic guys certainly were impressed.
"Excellent. I think they've done their homework," coach Gordon Strachan said.
Beckham out for Saturday, most likely …
Los Angeles Galaxy general manager Alexi Lalas insists the club will not take any chances with David Beckham's fitness after the former England skipper admitted he is unlikely to start against Chelsea tomorrow.
Beckham has been in a race against time to make his Galaxy debut in a friendly against Chelsea as he looks to recover from an ankle injury.
The 32-year-old was in Denver, Colorado, last night as a guest of Major League Soccer for the MLS All-Star Game against Celtic where he gave a live interview at Dick's Sporting Goods Park to match broadcasters ESPN Television.
Beckham said: 'I've been having a lot of treatment but at the moment it doesn't look good, I'm afraid. The swelling's still there.
'I'm here for five years, I'm not here just for the game on Saturday. It's great that Chelsea are here with great players and a great manager but it's more important for me personally that my ankle's right.
'Maybe I will play some part towards the end of the game if it's all right but we'll see.'
Now Lalas has moved to insist the club will not take any risk with Beckham's well-being.
He said: 'We are not going to risk it if we believe the amount of time that he does or does not play is going to affect him further on down the line.
'It's a big game, it's an important game, but guess what? There is going to be another one next week and another one the following week.'
In other news, during the pregame show for the MLS All-Star game (yes, I watched that, too) rumors were swirling about a few new internationals joining Beckham in MLS.
The man linked with FC Dallas is the great ball magician Denilson …
Denílson broke the record when Real Betis paid São Paulo €32 million (UK £21.9 million or US $40.5 million) for his services. Denílson had been with São Paulo since 1995. In 1999/2000 he went on a brief loan to Flamengo. After becoming a World Cup winner in 2002, Real Betis sold the Brazilian in 2005 to French club Bordeaux for an undisclosed amount.
Despite a slow start at Bordeaux, Denilson managed to find his form in the second part of the season, but his excessively high wage demands prevented the french club from extending his contract. His contract expired in 2006, and he had been linked with free transfers to Tottenham Hotspur, Vestel Manisaspor and Celtic. Even with UEFA Champions League football next season, Bordeaux struggled to match the winger's wage demands, and he left to sign for Saudi Arabia's Al-Nasr. Current rumours strongly link him with a move to Major League Soccer, with FC Dallas appearing to be the favourites to get his signature, despite some late interest by Argentinian side Newell's Old Boys.
Big 12 Football Media Vote says Longhorns …
Oklahoma has quarterback questions, and Texas A&M has a daunting road schedule this fall. So reporters who cover the Big 12 picked Texas to win the South this season in the preseason media poll.
Missouri, led by former Southlake Carroll quarterback Chase Daniel, was picked to win the North division for the first time, according to the league office.
The predictions were unveiled just before all 12 coaches and the media converge in San Antonio for Big 12 media days. The annual event, which kicks off the season, runs Monday through Wednesday at the Wyndham St. Anthony Hotel.
The last time the Longhorns were the preseason favorites was 2005, the year they won the national title. UT has 13 starters back from a squad that finished 10-3 last year and beat Iowa in the Alamo Bowl.
Texas had 16 first-place votes, Oklahoma had seven and A&M received one.
Nebraska has been the preseason North favorite most years since the Big 12 started in 1996. Missouri was picked dead last that year. Now the Tigers are on top after finishing 8-5 last year, which included a loss to Oregon State in the Brut Sun Bowl.
Nike halts the new Vick shoe …
Nike has a new statement out, which I have just received. They are suspending the release of the Vick V shoe, which was scheduled to be in stores on Aug. 23.
Here is the text:
"Nike is concerned by the serious and highly disturbing allegations made against Michael Vick and we consider any cruelty to animals inhumane and abhorrent. We do believe that Michael Vick should be afforded the same due process as any citizen; therefore, we have not terminated our relationship. We have however made the decision to suspend the release of the Zoom Vick V and related marketing communications. Nike will continue to monitor the situation closely and have no further comment at this time."
While I originally thought that Nike could still come out with this shoe quietly, after a day full of news and reaction, I realize that this is the right decision. They have to do this. And I'm sure there won't be one retailer that will be upset with Nike's judgement.
Update: The decision to suspend the launch of Michael Vick's new training shoe was a no-brainer. Sources tell me that, if the shoe never comes out, Nike will lose less than $1.5 million. Assuming Nike sells the shoes to retailers for half of the retail price ($100), that would mean that there are about 30,000 pairs of shoes that were prepared to hit the shelves. Vick's training shoes are made in fewer numbers than the Vick cleats, which are already on the market and will stay on the market.
Kobayashi and his Guns
Millennium Falcon with Legos