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Posted at 12:47 AM ET, 10/25/2014

Google exec breaks records by space-diving from 25 miles up

Remember Felix Baumgartner? You know, the Austrian daredevil who did that insane sky dive — well, space dive is more like it — from 24 miles up, breaking the sound barrier along the way?

Yeah, that was so 2012.

On Friday, Google executive Alan Eustace managed to one-up Baumgartner’s jump, dropping from a height of more than 25 miles over the Earth, that much closer to the very edge of our atmosphere. According to the Associated Press, Eustace took just over two hours to reach his maximum height of 135,890 feet, where he enjoyed the view for about half an hour.

From there, he had a four-and-a-half-minute freefall, topping out at a speed of 822 mph, before deploying a parachuting at about 18,000 feet. Eustace said he couldn’t tell when he broke the speed of sound, but the sonic boom could be heard by his team on the ground.

Unlike Baumgartner, whose feat was widely publicized amid high-profile sponsorships from the likes of Red Bull, Eustace planned and carried out his mission in relative secrecy. The Senior Vice President of Knowledge at Google Inc. took a sabbatical to work with Paragon Space Development Corp. on the project.

“It was amazing,” Eustace told the New York Times. “It was beautiful. You could see the darkness of space and you could see the layers of atmosphere, which I had never seen before.”

Whereas Baumgartner went up in a capsule attached to a balloon then stepped off a platform, Eustace hung beneath his balloon and untethered himself in order to begin his descent. From the New York Times report:

Mr. Eustace said he gained a love of space and spaceflight while growing up in Orlando, Fla., during the 1960s and 1970s. His family crowded into a station wagon to watch every launch from Cape Canaveral (known as Cape Kennedy during some of that time). A veteran aircraft pilot and parachutist, he worked as a computer hardware designer at Digital Equipment Corporation for 15 years before moving to Google in 2002. …


Alan Eustace is carried aloft by a balloon for his leap from the edge of space over the southern New Mexico desert. (Paragon Space Development Corporation via Associated Press)

The company, through its Stratospheric Explorer division, is seeking to develop what it calls “a self-contained spacesuit and recovery system that would allow manned exploration of the stratosphere above 100,000 feet.” There would be both scientific and commercial (think near-space tourism) applications.

By Des Bieler  |  12:47 AM ET, 10/25/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Alan Eustace

Posted at 11:19 PM ET, 10/24/2014

Game 3 of the World Series began with an unfortunate flag malfunction


Lots of green poking through the red, white and blue. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Before Game 3 of the World Series on Friday, there was the usual pomp and circumstance, not to mention an appearance by Bay Area legend/cheeseball Huey Lewis. There was a flyover by military jets and a tribute to five Giants Hall of Famers (Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey and Willie Mays). Then a huge flag was unfurled across most of the outfield at AT&T Park.

There was just one problem.

Heavens to Betsy Ross! That’s the most high-profile hole in the ol’ Stars and Stripes at a major sporting event since the notorious Super Bowl halftime show in 2004, when Kid Rock decided that the national flag would make a dandy poncho.


Actually, that guy’s guitar kind of steals the show. (Elise Amendola/Associated Press)

Kid Rock’s outfit earned him plenty of criticism, including some choice words from Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.): “The thing that yanked my chain the hardest was seeing this ignoramus with his pointed head stuck up through the hole he had cut in the flag of the United States, yelling about having ‘a bottle of Scotch and watching lots of crotch.’ ”

Of course, that was not what was so notorious about that halftime show. Two words (for those who need reminding): Wardrobe malfunction.

By Des Bieler  |  11:19 PM ET, 10/24/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  San Francisco Giants, World Series

Posted at 11:05 PM ET, 10/24/2014

A couple of knuckleheads actually met for a fistfight over fantasy football


It’s all fun and games until a couple of guys decide to swing at each other. (2010 file photo by Al Behrman/Associated Press)

I’ve played fantasy football since 1999, and I would guess that longtime league-mates might describe me as somewhat cantankerous. Lord knows I’ve had my share of interactions with fellow league members, usually about trades, that left me kind of irritated. But I have never come close to getting into a fistfight. And I certainly have never scheduled a fight with anyone over anything (at least since grade school).

That was the case Friday in Allentown, Pa., though, as chronicled over Twitter by Joe Fortenbaugh, a writer for National Football Post:

Fortenbaugh confirmed to me via email that the loser of the fight does, indeed, have to quit the league. He also provided a little background:

“The two involved have disliked each other for quite some time, so this was a situation where it was something minor, but happened to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. They’ve been trash talking each other for years on the message boards and finally decided to have it out.”

I almost would hesitate to include it, because it’s so pathetic, but yes— there’s video. Here you go [sigh]:

Yup, just two guys attempting to put the MMA in “immature.”

By Des Bieler  |  11:05 PM ET, 10/24/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Fantasy Football

Posted at 09:43 PM ET, 10/24/2014

PGA head fired over sexist comments


Ted Bishop disparaged British golfer Ian Poulter as a “Lil Girl” and “a little school girl.” (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Ted Bishop presumably thought he was just being a boisterous golf fan when he criticized Ian Poulter on two separate social media platforms Thursday. On Friday, Bishop learned that his use of sexist terminology had gotten him fired from his position as PGA of America president.

Bishop had been taking issue with comments Poulter had made about the Ryder Cup captaincies of  Tom Watson and Nick Faldo in an autobiography, “No Limits,” released this week. Bishop apparently felt that Poulter, who has yet to win a major tournament, had no standing to criticize the pair, who won 14 Grand Slam events between them. From a report earlier Friday by the Associated Press:

PGA President Ted Bishop was with Faldo on Thursday at The Greenbrier for the “Faldo Series” junior program when he tweeted to Poulter, “Faldo’s record stands by itself. Six majors and all-time RC points. Yours vs. His? Lil Girl.”

In a separate posting on his Facebook page, Bishop lamented that athletes who had “lesser records or accomplishments in a sport never criticized the icons.” He mentioned Watson’s eight majors and 10-3-1 record in the Ryder Cup, and Faldo’s six majors and record with most Ryder Cup points in history getting “bashed” by Poulter.

“Really? Sounds like a little school girl squealing during recess. C’MON MAN!”

Bishop’s gender-based attempts to belittle Poulter proved his undoing. PGA Chief Executive Officer Pete Bevacqua had this to say in statement on the PGA’s Web site:

“The PGA of America understands the enormous responsibility it has to lead this great game and to enrich lives in our society through golf. We must demand of ourselves that we make golf both welcoming and inclusive to all who want to experience it, and everyone at the PGA of America must lead by example.”

The PGA will pick a new president at its annual meeting on Nov. 22, when Bishop’s two-year term had been set to expire. Vice President Derek Sprague will serve as interim head, and he made this statement:

“The Members and Apprentices of the PGA of America must uphold the highest standards and values of the profession, as well as the manner in which we conduct ourselves at all times. We apologize to any individual or group that felt diminished, in any way, by this unacceptable incident.”

According to The Telegraph, Poulter wrote that Ryder Cup players had “lost respect” for Faldo. During this year’s competition, the latter described Sergio Garcia as “useless during the 2008 Ryder Cup.”

“It makes me laugh,” Poulter wrote. “That’s the Ryder Cup where he was captain. That’s the Ryder Cup where the Europe team suffered a heavy defeat. And he was captain. So who’s useless? Faldo might need to have a little look in the mirror.”

Poulter added in his autobiography that Watson’s decision to bench Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley on the Saturday of this year’s event “completely baffles me.” Mickelson himself caused some controversy by criticizing Watson’s strategies in the immediate aftermath of the loss by the U.S., its eighth in the past 10 Ryder Cup competitions.  

Before Bishop’s firing, Poulter made a statement that the Golf Channel described as being “released exclusively” to the media outlet:

“Is being called a “lil girl” meant to be derogatory or a put down? That’s pretty shocking and disappointing, especially coming from the leader of the PGA of America. No further comment.”

Prior to that, Poulter had this Twitter exchange:

By Des Bieler  |  09:43 PM ET, 10/24/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  PGA, Ted Bishop

Posted at 07:11 PM ET, 10/24/2014

The Rock looks like a pebble compared to this Chinese basketball player


Dwayne Johnson attends the Chinese premiere of “Hercules” last week in Beijing. (Xiaolu Chu/Getty Images for Paramount Pictures International)

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was in China to promote his film “Hercules.” And thus he did what athletic celebrities apparently do when they are in China — pose for photos next to exceptionally tall basketball players. Johnson was there last week, but he just posted this picture to his Twitter account Friday:

It’s hard to imagine that Sun is a helluva miniature anything, but we’ll take The Rock’s word for it. It’s also hard to imagine the 6-5, 260-pound Johnson being dwarfed by another human, but dang, does he look small here.

Sun played most recently for the Beijing Ducks, with whom he won the 2012 Chinese league title. That team also featured two-time NBA all-star Stephon Marbury, who helped the Ducks win another championship in March.

By Des Bieler  |  07:11 PM ET, 10/24/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)
Tags:  Dwayne Johnson

 

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