Manchester United, the New York Yankees of the English Premier League, has a new sponsor for their kit (fancy word for jersey) this season. That sponsor is American car company, Chevrolet.
Not gonna lie, it was weird seeing the Chevy logo on that red, Manchester United shirt.
While you may not be a fan of Man U or a company that took government bailout money, Chevrolet made a pretty neat commercial showcasing the history of the club's jerseys over the years. It features Wayne Rooney and a few other current Manchester United players at the end. Rooney has the speaking part.
You'll be humming "Glory, Glory Man United" if you watch it enough. This is the 60 second version. The 30 second version can be seen on television. That's how I discovered it.
Across the National Football League this week, and in the next few weeks college and high school football teams will be starting their camps to get ready for the upcoming season.
This is the slowest sports week on the calendar.
The Major League Baseball All Star Break brings us the Home Derby on Monday and then the annual midsummer classic on Tuesday. Following the game, two days of quiet across baseball occurs. Of course, that void was partially filled by the star-studded ESPY Awards in Los Angeles Wednesday night.
While these events celebrated the achievements of athletes in baseball and other sports, there was also another theme with both events: cancer awareness.
On Monday night during the Home Run Derby, Major League Baseball had it's "Stand Up To Cancer" event in which fans at Target Field held up signs with the name of a friend, family member who has been affected by cancer.
Mixed into the spectacle that is the ESPYs, throughout the entire day Wednesday leading into the award show, ESPN and ESPN Radio were raising money for the Jimmy V Foundation that was started by Jimmy Valvano, who lost his battle with cancer two months after giving his famous "Don't Give Up. Don't Ever Give Up" speech at the 1993 ESPYs.
This years recipient of the Jimmy V Perseverance Award was Stuart Scott. The SportsCenter anchor has been fighting cancer for almost seven years, and gave a moving speech that left very few dry eyes in the Nokia Theater and those who were watching at home, and has become one of the most watched videos online in the last 24 hours.
Between these two events, you had the MLB All Star Game. This year, the focus was on the great Derek Jeter. The Yankee second baseman is calling it a career at the end of the year. Much like his former teammate, Mariano Rivera, the farewell tour makes a stop during the midsummer classic and Jeter had his special moment when he was pulled from the game in the top of the fourth inning. That moment included a standing ovation from the Minneapolis crowd and an extended curtain call.
While the night was about Jeter, FOX and Major League Baseball missed an opportunity to remember another great player who is no longer with us.
FOX Sports and the league are taking heat for making no in-game mention of late Padre Tony Gwynn Tuesday night. Gywnn lost his battle with throat cancer on June 16. Throat cancer that was caused by chewing tobacco, a substance that has been banned in the minors but is still used by players in the majors.
There was backlash from many, and FOX and Major League Baseball gave this response to the criticism they received:
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, an extraordinary individual whose memory we have honored in numerous ways in recent weeks," the statement read. "The Baseball family has sadly lost a number of people this year -- including Hall of Famer Ralph Kiner, Frank Cashen, and former All-Stars Jerry Coleman, Jim Fregosi and Don Zimmer -- and did not want to slight anyone by singling out one individual."
They don't want to leave anyone out? Well, they could've done a nice 30 second montage of ballplayers that are no longer with us. ESPN took 30 seconds to remember all the athletes and those in the sports world who have died in the past year.
Tony Gywnn did not need all the pomp and circumstance that Derek Jeter received. "Mr. Padre" deserved a quick 15-30 second tribute coming back from commercial break.
Joe Buck acknowledges Gywnn's passing, maybe Harold Reynolds says something about him, you show a graphic of Tony's face with "1960-2014" on the bottom. After that, you go back to calling the game. That's it. That's all FOX had to do.
Now, FOX also responded by saying that they paid tribute to Gywnn on Fox Sports 1's "America's Pregame" during their All Star Game edition of the show. If you have seen the cable channels ratings, many who watched the game on FOX didn't watch "Pregame" on FS1.
Everybody knew that the All Star Game was going to be Derek Jeter's night. Tony Gywnn did not need to be the center of attention, but he did deserve to be recognized for just a few seconds.
Gwynn played 20 season with the San Diego Padres, had a career .338 batting average, and compiled 3,141 hits and was a likeable guy throughout the league. He was an idol for young ballplayers in the 80s and 90s, and although he wasn't eye candy for the ladies and marketing campaigns for Nike's "Jordan" line like Jeter is, he is still a Hall of Famer who also lost his life to a disease caused by an unhealthy habit that Major League Baseball has not banned from the game.
Cancer awareness was a theme during the All Star festivities and the ESPY Awards over the past three days.
It's just too bad that FOX Sports and Major League Baseball could not take at least 15 seconds to remember one of its own who lost his battle. They did not "Stand Up To Cancer" Tuesday night. They simply ignored it.
This is what Notre Dame football fans have anticipated since Jack Swarbrick announced Notre Dame Stadium would be getting field turf for 2014.
"What will the field look like?"
Well, here it is:
Well, just two things really.
The famous monogram "ND" will make it's first appearance on the 50 yard line.
If you look closely, you will see shamrocks on the 35 yard line where the football is placed for kickoffs.
What Didn't Change?
For those expecting an extravagant paint job in the endzone, you are disappointed in this design because nothing changed.
There is a reason behind the lines in the Notre Dame Stadium endzones. Remember how we always talk about the Irish and tradition? Well, here is a little tradition for you.
There are nine lines in each of the endzones. 9x2=18. Each of the 18 lines are at a 42 degree angle. Combine those two numbers and you get 1842. This was the year that the University of Notre Dame was founded. Multiplication, geometry and history all in one paragraph.
So, no. It's not Jack Swarbrick and the athletic department looking to save a buck (if you didn't notice, Notre Dame is not strapped for cash, hence the $400 million stadium renovation that has just begun).
So, did Notre Dame get it right with their field design?
Whether you call yourself a traditionalist or someone who looks into the future of college football, Notre Dame found common ground in the design.
For those who wanted field turf, they got it. For those who wanted to keep the grass, the university did them a favor by not going all out with an extreme makeover of a blank canvas that is the new field. A nice logo at the 50 and shamrocks at each of the 35-yard lines were two nice touches to an already well recognized college football field.
For those who were expecting blue or gold painted endzones with "Notre Dame" and "Fighting Irish" in the endzones and a larger version of the ND monogram on the 50, you should have known better.
20 years ago today, on July 12, 1994, the 65th Major League Baseball All Star Game was held at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh. While it had all the bells and whistles of any modern day Midsummer Classic, it also had one of the best finishes in any All Star Game over the last two decades.
Since the game in Pittsburgh, there has been a baseball strike, Interleague play, and a tie at the 2002 All Star Game in Milwaukee that lead to the current rule that the winning league's team gets home field in the World Series.
The only other All Star Game since 1994 that could rival this one would be the 2008 All Star Game at the old Yankee Stadium that went 15 innings, with the American League winning 1-0. Goes to show you it's hard to find a game that compares to the '94 game in Pittsburgh. If you enjoy pitching matchups, you might have hated the one we're gonna talk about here.
The Place: Three Rivers Stadium
It was the second time that Major League Baseball held the midsummer classic at Three Rivers Stadium. By 1994, the concrete, cookie cutter stadiums were slowly becoming a thing of the past. The stadium met the blasts of dynamite on a cold, sunny February morning in 2001. Not the best place to watch a baseball game, but people bought seats in the last row of the 600 level just to say they were there.
The First Pitch: Willie Stargell
Only 15 years removed from their last World Series title, the man who was the anchor of that '79 team was the right choice.
Your National Anthem Singer: Meat Loaf
Probably one of the best renditions of the "Star Spangled Banner" ever done at a baseball game. Meat Loaf may not have the looks of a rock star, but he can sure sing like one.
Your Starting Lineups
What made it great?
There were numerous lead changes in this All Star Game.
The National League took an early 4-1 lead, but the American League scored three runs in the top of the sixth to tie it 4-4. The National League retook the lead 5=4 in the bottom half of the inning. The American League took 7-5 lead with 3 runs in the top of the seventh.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, the National League avoided a double play when American League third baseman Scott Cooper hesitated on the throw to second base, leaving the N.L. with a runner on first base.
Pinch hitter Fred McGriff of the Atlanta Braves came to the plate and hit a game-tying home run to tie the game 7-7. The game was off to extra innings.
In the bottom of the tenth, the late Tony Gwynn hit a lead-off single. Montreal's Moises Alou then hit a double. Gwynn rounded third and was waved home, leading to a dramatic play at the plate. It wasn't Rose barreling over Ray Fosse at the 1970 All Star Game, but it was still exciting as Gwynn slid under the tag from Pudge Rodriquez to give the National League an 8-7 win in ten innings. The first win for the N.L. in six years. (Also, Pudge would have been called for "blocking the plate" in today's game).
What else made it significant?
1994 was a lost season. Everything that transpired after the game that summer seemed to change the future of the midsummer classic.
The players strike began exactly one month after the thriller at Three Rivers Stadium. The 1994 World Series would be cancelled. It would be the second Series to never happen. The last one before that being 1904, when the New York Giants refused to play the American League Champion Boston Americans. Then-Giants manager Chuck McGraw must have been rolling in his grave when Major League Baseball introduced Interleague play in 1997.
In 1994, the Montreal Expos were the best team in baseball at the time. Five players were selected to the National League All Star team that summer. Moises Alou had the game-winning RBI that night.
When the season came to a halt due to the strike, the Expos were a league best 74-40 and had a six game lead on the Braves in their division. Montreal never got the chance to win the National League Pennant and possibly the third straight World Championship by a Canadian baseball club, and the first for the franchise.
Was the 1994 All Star Game in Pittsburgh the last great midsummer classic to be played? For a game that had offense, several lead changes, a dramatic ending and Meat Loaf, it's probably safe to say...
Other Notes and Facts:
-Fred McGriff of the Atlanta Braves was the MVP. Had the game-tying home run in the ninth.
-Bob Costas, Bob Uecker and Joe Morgan called the game on NBC.
-Paid attendance was 59,568
-Jim Joyce, who blew the call at first base to ruin Armando Galarraga's perfect game in 2010, was the third base umpire that night.
-10 current hall of famers played in the 1994 All Star Game
-Margo Timmins, the lead singer of the Canadian band Cowboy Junkies, sang the Canadian National Anthem. (She's good, but she's no Meat Loaf).
- It was the third time Pittsburgh hosted the MLB All Star Game (1944, 1959, 1974, 1994). The Pirates and Indians had hosted four All Star Games at that time, the most by any single baseball club in one city. Pittsburgh would host another one in 2006 at PNC Park and Cleveland hosted the 1997 game at Jacobs Field. Both baseball teams have each hosted five All Star Games.
Anthrocon is back in Pittsburgh for another weekend of furries downtown.
Most don't know how to describe the people who like dressing up as "humanized animals" and going to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center to mingle with other anthropomorphic enthusiasts.
Now, you can make an argument that a large number of sports mascots could moonlight as furries when not cheering their teams onto victory.
Here are a few that could blend in at the convention this weekend in Pittsburgh.
Harvey The Hound (Calgary Flames)
With that tongue, Harvey would be the Gene Simmons of Anthrocon. Any Kiss Army Soldier Furries out there?
Jazz Bear (Utah Jazz)
If he went to Anthrocon, he might be mistaken for Michael J. Fox's "Teen Wolf" character.
K.C. Wolf (Kansas City Chiefs)
K.C. has rocked a variety of different pants at Arrowhead Stadium over the years. Imagine him showing up in those floral pants or these pants.
JaxSon De Ville (Jacksonville Jaguars)
I feel like he would be asked to leave during Day 1 of the convention.
Ranger Captain (Texas Rangers)
There are people in horse costumes at Anthrocon. Ranger Captain would fit in. I guess.
Hip Hop (Philadelphia 76ers) Former MAscot
Hip Hop has been unemployed for a while. Wouldn't be surprised if he shows up to Anthrocon and catches a Pirates-Phillies game at PNC Park this weekend.
A lot of sports mascots look like furries. Name some other mascots you know that could pass as furries at this weekends Anthrocon. Comment below.
On a Tuesday afternoon, Americans packed city centers, parks and even football stadium like Soldier Field and AT&T Stadium in Dallas to watch a soccer game. Yes. A soccer game.
While many will claim it was a longer than expected case of "World Cup Fever," a good number of Americans were glued to a television or radio to see how the United States would do in the round of 16 against Belgium. Despite a 16 save performance by goaltender Tim Howard, the Belgians finally broke through with two goals in extra time to take a 2-0 lead, holding on to a 2-1 victory even after a goal by Julian Green in the 107th minute.
So, what now? It's all over. Team USA made it through the "group of death" and fell short in the knockout round of 16.
Which direction is the game going in after this World Cup?
The most obvious answer would be: Right back to where we were before the World Cup started.
Soccer falls into the same realm as the Olympics. We find ourselves caring about certain sports for a few weeks every four years, and then once it's over, our patriotic duties are fulfilled and we go on with our normal day.
In no way is this intended to disparage the game, but if it's not Team USA playing, most people will not care. Much like hockey, soccer is a regional sport. The game is popular in cities like Seattle and Portland, but in a city like Pittsburgh, it's not as important. Goes without saying, national pride will get anyone to watch anything.
Most of the country is content with sports like football, baseball and basketball. Soccer and hockey always seem to fall into a tie for fourth place. Those two sports gain more popularity and television viewers when a championship or international tournament comes along. As mentioned in a previous post, the United States vs. Russia in Olympic hockey.
But did soccer leave any mark on the country going forward? It might be too early to tell.
In regards to exposure, NBC Sports landing the Barclays Premier League last year gave fans in the United States an outlet to watch more of the leagues games than ever before. On the final day of the season, all 10 matches were shown on 10 different channels on the NBC family of networks (even though only 2 games mattered that day).
The country's biggest professional league, the MLS, sent 31 players to play for their respected countries in the World Cup. The MLS doesn't compare to the Premier League. NBC also has television rights for that league, as well as ESPN.
The MLS is already overshadowed by the big three sports leagues in the United States. If the league wanted to try and compete with the elite league across the pond, they would have to get on the same schedule which begins in the late summer and ends in late spring. That puts them up against all three leagues, which is bad news for ratings.
So with ESPN's wall-to-wall World Cup coverage, The United States making it to the Round of 16 and the second season of Premier League coverage coming up on NBC, there's still no indication that soccer will rise in popularity.
If anything, the World Cup created some household names. Tim Howard is one. The American goalkeeper kept the Americans in their final match against Belgium and made World Cup history, making the most saves in a game since the 1966 World Cup and Clint Dempsey has become the Landon Donovan of this World Cup.
Here's hoping the 2014 FIFA World Cup created some new interest in soccer. If not, see you in four years.