Vick Story Continues to Amaze …
Lawyers representing Michael Vick on federal dogfighting charges are trying to negotiate a plea agreement that would include less than the year of prison time that prosecutors have offered, ESPN learned on Tuesday.
A source also said that Vick's attorneys have recommended that the embattled quarterback accept a deal if it includes less than a year of jail time, but he has not decided whether to fight the charges.
Vick's situation became more tenous on Monday night when two more co-defendants decided to cooperate with the government. Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips are scheduled to appear in federal court in Richmond on Friday to accept plea agreements. That clears them to testify against Vick.
Collins R. Spencer III, a spokesman for Vick's lawyers, said they were surprised by the plea deals.
"They didn't see it coming," Spencer said.
Legal expert answers questions about Vick’s buddies rolling on him …
What do these anticipated guilty pleas mean for Vick?
These developments are terrible news for Vick. He already was caught in a bad situation with five witnesses ready to testify against him. The five included four who cooperated early with the government and helped federal prosecutors with the devastating details in the 18-page indictment. Then, two weeks ago, Tony Taylor, another of Vick's co-defendants, agreed to admit guilt and testify against Vick. Taylor, according to the indictment, worked with Vick to establish the dogfighting operation less than eight weeks after Vick signed his first NFL contract. Adding Peace and Phillips to these five witnesses leaves Vick in a legal checkmate. He is surrounded by hostile forces. There might be no escape from the brutal charges against him. Peace and Phillips are mentioned a total of 94 times in the indictment. Their testimony puts Vick in the middle of the scheme from its beginning in June 2001 until it ended with a police raid this past April.
With seven witnesses lined up against him, what should Vick do?
Vick should be assessing the same realities that led Peace and Phillips to plead guilty. Sources have told ESPN that Vick is deciding whether to consider the possibility a jail sentence of less than one year. Government prosecutors want a jail sentence of more than one year, according to ESPN sources, and Vick's lawyers have suggested to him that he seriously consider a jail sentence of less than one year. Vick has a difficult decision to make. Unless he is caught in some level of denial or delusion, Vick must be looking hard at the idea of admitting guilt and considering an outcome that would allow him to preserve some fraction of his career in the NFL. Vick has the money and the lawyers to put up a powerful fight, but they are up against a massive and impressive investigation as well as the seven witnesses. Billy Martin, Vick's lead lawyer, has done wonders in a courtroom, but the government's case against Vick provides scant opportunity for creating the kind of "reasonable doubt" that can lead to a not guilty verdict. A jury likely would be outraged by the brutality of the evidence and impressed with its substance and its gravity. It would not be a big surprise if Vick entered a guilty plea within the next several days.
Why would Vick's friends and cohorts in the alleged dogfighting enterprise decide to admit their guilt?
It must have been difficult for Peace and Phillips to decide to admit their culpability and agree to testify against Vick. It was Vick's name and money that made the alleged operation possible. Peace and Phillips are high school dropouts who, according to the indictment, performed various chores for Bad Newz Kennels for six years, enjoying the excitement of the dark side of celebrity. Without Vick, none of it would have been possible. Both must have felt they owed Vick something, but both decided to help themselves even if it meant hurting Vick. Their decisions will allow them to avoid the cost and the agony of a trial and reduce their possible time in prison. Their decisions were based on difficult realities. If the case goes to trial, the prosecutors will suggest that their decisions were painful acts of integrity that will help eradicate dogfighting in America.
And now THIS! …
Embattled NFL quarterback Michael Vick, facing federal charges related to his alleged participation in dogfighting, has been hit with a "$63,000,000,000 billion dollar" lawsuit filed by a South Carolina inmate who alleges the Atlanta Falcons star stole his pit bulls and sold them on eBay to buy "missiles from Iran," FOX News has learned.
Jonathan Lee Riches filed the handwritten complaint over "theft and abuse of my animals" on July 23 in the U.S. District Court in Richmond, Va.
Riches alleges that Vick stole two white mixed pit bull dogs from his home in Holiday, Fla., and used them for dogfighting operations in Richmond, Va. The complaint goes on to allege that Vick sold the dogs on eBay and “used the proceeds to purchase missiles from the Iran government.”
The complaint also alleges that Vick would need those missiles because he pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda in February of this year.
“Michael Vick has to stop physically hurting my feelings and dashing my hopes,” Riches writes in the complaint.
Riches wants $63 billion dollars “backed by gold and silver “ delivered to the front gates to the Williamsburg Federal Correctional facility in South Carolina. Riches is an inmate at the facility serving out a wire fraud conviction
Rangers Win! And pull even with the Royals in the standings …
Two Rangers batterymates took important steps toward redemption in Tuesday's 5-3 win over Kansas City.
Kevin Millwood, who hasn't looked like an ace for much of the season, put together his best outing in a month. He allowed one earned run in seven innings with nine strikeouts and one walk. Maybe it's a sign he's figured out how to fix the problem with his mechanics.
Gerald Laird, who is fighting for his job at catcher, delivered the key hit in the victory.
His three-run homer down the left-field line in the sixth put the Rangers ahead for good. It was an important blast for Laird, who has continued to sparkle on defense but has not shined at the plate. He was batting .232 coming into Tuesday's game.
"I know I can do it, I just have to relax and make the swings," said Laird, who was supposed to bunt but saw the wheel play was on and instead swung away on a 1-0 fastball to hit it out. "My defense is fine. I want to hit the ball better. I can do that if I don't put pressure on myself."
Millwood settled down after giving up a run in the first. He retired 12 consecutive batters at one point. He threw 102 pitches in seven innings. Millwood pitched from the first-base side of the rubber in his last start and did it again Tuesday. He said it allows him to free his arm up and stay more accurate.
"It felt good getting used to the adjustments each time," Millwood said. "I'm locating the ball better and it is helping the breaking ball. I felt like I threw the ball where I wanted to. I kept them off balance."
Millwood allowed two unearned runs in the sixth thanks to two errors on the same play by first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The 22-year-old couldn't field a ground ball that probably would have ended the inning. He then scurried after it and threw wildly home. Two runs scored. It's all part of the learning process as he gets used to first base.
Blake Beavan is in the fold …
No wonder Blake Beavan sounded relaxed as he began a round of golf Tuesday afternoon.
The Irving right-handed pitcher and Rangers first-round pick was just hours away from signing with the club. The announcement was made official in the seventh inning of Tuesday's 5-3 win over the Royals.
"It feels great," said Beavan, who will receive a signing bonus of about $1.5 million. "We finally got the deal done, and now it's time to move on and soak it all in and then start my job. It's very exciting. I'm ready to go out and play and face some hitters instead of throwing bullpens.
"I want to go out there and help the team out and work on things and try to pursue a major league career."
The Rangers had until 11 p.m. today to sign Beavan, taken 17th overall in the June draft. Negotiations with Beavan's agent, Alan Hendricks, picked up the last few days. Beavan had a physical with the Rangers medical staff Monday, and general manager Jon Daniels had expressed optimism a deal would get done.
No other contract details were released, but under the Major League Baseball "slotting" system to limit bonuses, Beavan was supposed to fall at just over $1.4 million.
Beavan will go to Arizona on Thursday and start a strength-and-conditioning program designed by the club. He'll play in the Instructional League in Arizona later this year.
The Rangers' representatives went to Beavan's house and had him sign the contract during the game. That's one advantage of drafting a hometown player.
Beavan said the report of Rick Porcello's four-year, $7.285 million deal with Detroit, put together by agent Scott Boras, did not affect his negotiations. Porcello, a right-handed pitcher, dropped to Detroit at 27th overall because teams were worried about how much it would cost to sign him.
"If he gets that money, good for him," Beavan said earlier Tuesday. "I'm not trying to get anywhere close to what he's asking for. I'm asking for what I deserve."
Beavan felt like he got that. He said he will focus on making his slider better each year and getting his change-up to being a dominant third pitch. Beavan wouldn't handicap when he might arrive in the majors, saying only that he wasn't in a rush.
"I expected that we'd get him signed," Daniels said. "I'm happy that he's under contract and this part is behind us and he can focus on getting ready to start his career."
Signing Beavan more than 24 hours in advance means Texas can concentrate on its remaining unsigned picks today.
Daniels said some of the Rangers' picks – he wouldn't specify which ones – already had physicals. That's important because the club must agree to terms and the player has to pass a physical before tonight's deadline. That allows negotiations to go to the final minute if necessary.
Daniels and his staff are busy talking with agents of their top picks. Daniels is optimistic about signing right-handed pitcher Neil Ramirez, the 44th overall pick. He remains hopeful on outfielder Julio Borbon, selected 35th overall and represented by Boras.
Gil on Left Field …
For nine seasons, Rusty Greer faithfully manned the vast expanse known as left field at The Ballpark in Arlington.
The Rangers had no complaints.
By the time his career was cut short by injuries in 2002, Greer had become a lifetime .305 hitter and a cherished local icon. He was rightfully honored last weekend by being inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame.
But when Rusty departed in 2003, left field became The Black Hole of Arlington.
Since Greer left the starting lineup for good on June 2, 2002, 39 men have played at least one inning for the Rangers in left field. David Murphy last weekend became No. 39.
The Rangers’ eternal quest for starting pitching is a given. Any dollars that owner Tom Hicks spends on free agents need to be first directed at filling the club’s rotation.
But after that, the attention has to turn to the yawning abyss at the ballpark that lies between left and center fields.
Think back. Remember back to when the Rangers won their three division titles.
Greer was no Carl Lewis in left field, but his hustle and canny ability in playing the position left no doubts that left field was in good hands.
Just as importantly, Greer was flanked in center field during the winning years by Otis Nixon, Damon Buford, Darryl Hamilton and Tom Goodwin. All could run.
The motto of this story: If you want your pitchers to be effective at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, you have to give them rangy, savvy defensive help in left and center fields.
“It’s the biggest part of the ballpark,” general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday, more or less agreeing with the premise.
Make no mistake, that was big news late Tuesday night when Daniels announced that the club had come to terms with No. 1 draft pick Blake Beavan of Irving.
As Kevin Millwood showed against the Kansas City Royals, pitching is still the Rangers’ only way out of their fourth- and third-place ruts. Beavan is a pitcher, a 6-foot-7 right-hander who struck out 124 in 66 innings last season for Irving High.
What were you worried about? Daniels and Beavan’s agents came to an agreement with about 25 hours to spare.
I’m being flippant, of course. The Rangers once lost a highly regarded draftee pitcher because they refused to budge on an alleged $40,000 bonus difference. That pitcher, Barry Zito, went back into the draft and signed with Oakland the next year.
Daniels couldn’t let that happen with Beavan for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that Beavan hails from the neighborhood. Failing to come to terms with Beavan by tonight’s 10:59 p.m. deadline would have landed Daniels on the front page of the local sports sections for all the wrong reasons.
After tonight, Daniels can turn his attention back to the other pressing needs — like figuring out who’s going to play left field.
It’s roomy. A left fielder at Rangers Ballpark has to be able to manage balls hit into the narrow corner, have the smarts to handle bounces off the chicken-wire that covers most of the out-of-town scoreboard, and then be able to race into the sprawling alley near the visiting bullpen.
“It’s big out there,” said Frank Catalanotto, who started in left Tuesday night. “It helps if you can get a guy in center field with speed who can help cover that gap.”
“It’s a little different here,” said Brad Wilkerson, who has also started in left this season. “It’s bigger and there’s a lot more ground to cover. At this ballpark, I tend to play more toward the gap, so I can cover that. Most of the balls hit down the line are going to be doubles, anyway.”
Once the injuries began to take their toll on Greer, a procession of would-be successors manned the ballpark’s left field.
The long list since 2002 includes Kevin Mench, Gabe Kapler, Todd Hollandsworth, Shane Spencer, Carl Everett, the second coming of Ruben Sierra, Eric Young, Brian Jordan, Mike Lamb, Todd Greene, David Dellucci, Chad Allen and, for a 51-game stretch in 2006, Carlos Lee. During the same period, the center field list has included, among others, Ruben Rivera, Calvin Murray, Ryan Christenson, Doug Glanville, Ramon Nivar and Laynce Nix.
Switzer to Join Fox NFL Sunday …No report to what this does to Frank Caliendo…
Once, Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson were college football coaching rivals. Then Switzer inherited Johnson's two-time Super Bowl champion Cowboys teams and, after a one-year hiatus, coached the franchise to its third NFL championship of the 1990s.
Now, they will be working together.
Fox Sports announced Tuesday that Switzer will be joining its NFL pregame show this season where he will work a weekly "Coaches Corner" show alongside Johnson, who is entering his eighth season with the network. No further details were immediately available.
Switzer earned critics' praise after he worked alongside Johnson during Fox's studio show at the New Year's night Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, in which Boise State posted a 43-42 victory over Oklahoma.
Tuesday Morning Quarterback Returns …
Beckham to play tonight …
David Beckham said he'll play for the Los Angeles Galaxy on Wednesday night.
The English superstar practiced Tuesday for the first time since joining the team a month ago. He appeared to move well laterally and got off a few long kicks toward the end of a scrimmage.
"Good to at least get out on the field and have a bit of practice," he said.
The 32-year-old midfielder's nagging left ankle injury isn't completely healed, although Beckham pronounced himself "about 78 percent" ready to go.
"It's not perfect yet, but I think I can at least play half a game tomorrow," he said, wiping sweat from his face. "It still feels unstable to a certain extent, but it feels stable enough to actually play in a game and see how far I can take it."
Beckham predicted he could play 45 minutes, which would be welcome news to Galaxy fans, who have only seen their new superstar in action at home for 16 minutes in his July 21 debut against Chelsea.
"I can at least play half a game tomorrow, which is important for me and it's important for the team that I at least get on the pitch because it's been quite a while since I arrived," he said.
Beckham said the biggest remaining issue is his ankle's strength, although he still has slight pain in his Achilles tendon and under the ankle.
"It's still a case of seeing how it reacts and seeing that it doesn't flare up on the day off, which it did the other night when I played," he said.
Beckham has yet to start for the Galaxy since signing a five-year, $32.5 million contract to leave one of the world's top leagues and give the sport a boost in the United States.
The Is Only One Steven Gerrard – his winner from Saturday
I think this will hurt your anchoring career