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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 10/22/2014

Here’s why Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, Rob Riggle and Eric Stonestreet love the Royals


Billy Butler of the Kansas City Royals with actor Paul Rudd. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Sure the Los Angeles Lakers may have Jack Nicholson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Denzel Washington, but where’s the fun in that? Comedic actors seem to prefer Midwestern baseball. In the last few weeks, Paul Rudd, Eric Stonestreet, Jason Sudeikis and Rob Riggle have all publicly thrown their support behind the baseball team from Missouri that is not the St. Loius Cardinals. Yes, the Royals are enjoying some celebrity guests at their official World Series coming out party.

But… why?

Besides just about everyone falling in love with the underdog story of that is the Royals, these four actors all have Kansas City connections. Stonestreet, who’s most famous for his Emmy-winning role on the sitcom “Modern Family,” is from Kansas City and Sudeikis, Rudd and Riggle all went to college nearby.

Stonestreet is actually a pretty avid Cards fan but when his redbirds went out against the Giants, he bought a first-class seat on the Royals bandwagon. Of course, that could have less to do with Missouri loyalty and more to do with hatred toward the Giants.

In 2011, famous Cardinals fan Jon Hamm joined his buddies Rudd and Riggle, all decked out in Royals gear save for the hat, to “essentially root against the Cubs,” as he put it.

But simple allegiance to the basic bylaws of baseball fandom — that you cheer for the home team and/or the team that’s against the team you hate the most — might not just be what’s going on here.

The Royals dugout has become a destination for fun. Look here, in 2010, when Will Ferrell joined Rudd, Riggle, Sudeikis to cut it up at the game.

Now, let’s look at famous Royals hater’s Rob Lowe‘s experience as a Los Angeles Dodgers fan. MLB.com has never ever documented Lowe cracking jokes in the dugout with his friends.

Or when’s the last time you saw Ben Affleck sharing a belly laugh with Matt Damon in the Boston Red Sox dugout?

Does John McCain giggle with his friends at Arizona Diamondbacks games?

Call it quirky Midwestern charm, but the Royals have long-offered something different than exists in other parts of the country. It’s even different than other Midwestern teams. It’s a je ne sais quoi that attracts fans, or at least fan, from more than 6,500 miles away for no specific reason other than that Royals baseball is fun — especially off the field.

By Marissa Payne  |  12:00 PM ET, 10/22/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:16 AM ET, 10/22/2014

NBA draft lottery reform was expected to pass at the owners’ meetings. Then it didn’t.


(Associated Press)

The NBA’s owners were expected to pass draft lottery reform with something resembling ease on Wednesday in New York. Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowkski, who knows things, reported Tuesday that officials from the Philadelphia 76ers and Oklahoma City Thunder — the two leaders of the anti-reform movement — “have already given up” on hopes that they would get at least six other teams to join them in voting no on the measure.

But then they had the vote on Wednesday, and …

The issue was up for a vote because of rising anti-tanking sentiment in the league, perhaps spurred by the recent actions of the Philadelphia 76ers, who have crafted a losing team that’s fairly obviously geared toward rebuilding in the draft.

In the simplest terms, the reforms would have meant that the team with the league’s worst record would no longer have the best chance at securing the most ping-pong balls in the lottery if the reforms are passed. Instead, the teams with the four worst records would have had an equal chance at securing the No. 1 pick. Odds for the other lottery teams will even out, as well.

Wojnarowski had a good explainer:

Gone will be a weighted system where the worst team has 25 percent of the pingpong balls for the No. 1 overall pick and a guarantee it’ll drop no lower than fourth in the draft order. Now, the worst four teams have a 12 percent chance at the first pick, No. 5 has an 11.5 percent chance, No. 6, 10 percent, and on down. What’s more, the worst team can drop as far as seventh in the draft order, the second worst can drop to No. 8, and so on.

The proposal needed approval from 23 of the league’s 30 owners.

Apart from Philly, which obviously didn’t want any lottery reform to be immediately enacted, Oklahoma City General Manager Sam Presti tried to warn his fellow small-market executives about the coming changes. He’s worried about the further erosion of competitive balance between the league’s big-money and small-money teams. Per Wojnarowski:

Presti declined comment to Yahoo Sports, but his case, laid out to others, is this: The big-market teams badly want this change because it’ll give them one more advantage over small markets in securing top talent. Big-market teams have an advantage signing superstar free agents and an advantage trading for them because those players are far more apt to agree to sign a contract extension. And, now, the big market teams will get better access to top players higher in the draft.

Expect the issue to come up again.

By  |  11:16 AM ET, 10/22/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 11:07 AM ET, 10/22/2014

Little League wonder Mo’ne Davis’s new Chevrolet ad won’t affect her NCAA eligibility


Little League pitcher Mo’ne Davis walks outside the Baseball Hall of Fame last month. (Mike Groll/AP)

Most 13-year-olds do very few things that would cause one to wonder if their NCAA eligibility might be in jeopardy. But Mo’ne Davis isn’t like most 13-year-olds. She’s the Sports Illustrated cover girl from this summer who became the first girl to pitch a shutout in the Little League World Series (and she did it against an all-boys team).

Her talent combined with her cool demeanor shot her to fame and led her to land a Chevrolet spot, which aired on Tuesday night during Game 1 of the World Series between the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants. While the spot that aired on television was just 60-seconds, it was borrowed from the end of a short film called “Throw Like a Girl” made for Chevy by Spike Lee. The whole thing is worth the watch if you have 16 minutes:

No matter how interesting the spot is, though, some questioned whether being paid by Chevy would affect Davis’s future as an aspiring NCAA athlete. Davis has consistently stated that she wants to play basketball (not baseball) at Connecticut before heading to the WNBA. But after U-Conn. Coach Geno Auriemma found himself in trouble after reaching out to Davis in September, it might seem Davis, too, could face sanctions for testing NCAA rules.

Well, it turns out the whole thing is kosher in light of the changes made in January to the NCAA Division 1 membership guidelines. NCAA spokesperson Emily James explained to ESPN in a statement:

“Mo’ne Davis may be paid for appearing in the Chevy commercial without impacting her NCAA eligibility. The NCAA staff’s decision was made within this process and based on a combination of considerations. This waiver narrowly extends the rules — which allow Davis to accept the payment and still be eligible in any other sport — to include baseball. The NCAA staff also considered the historically limited opportunities for women to participate in professional baseball. In addition, Davis is much younger than when the vast majority of the prospect rules apply. While this situation is unusual, the flexible approach utilized in this decision is not.”

So what’s Davis going to do with her new-found celebrity endorsement cash? Absolutely nothing right now, according to Spike Lee. He told Mike Francesa’s WFAN radio show Tuesday (via ESPN) that the money generated from the Chevy ad all “goes into a trust fund.”

By Marissa Payne  |  11:07 AM ET, 10/22/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:12 AM ET, 10/22/2014

Hatred of Lane Kiffin in Tennessee mined for votes in state House race


(Brynn Anderson/Associated Press)

It’s safe to say that Lane Kiffin’s one-year tenure as Tennessee’s football coach is not remembered fondly in the Volunteer State. Kiffin went 7-6 as Vols coach in 2009 before bolting to USC.

So naturally, Kiffin is being used as a prop in a negative campaign ad for a Tennessee House of Representative race. The Tennessee Federation for Children PAC, which supports challenger Eddie Smith in his 13th-District race against incumbent Glorida Johnson, has put Kiffin’s hated mug on a mailer comparing his tenure as Vols coach to Johnson’s tenure as a representative.

The mailer continues with a photo of Kiffin above a photo of Johnson and the following chatter:

… And like Lane Kiffin,

And oh yeah, Kiffin is returning to Tennessee this weekend as Alabama’s offensive coordinator. The fourth-ranked Crimson Tide visit Knoxville on Saturday night.

Johnson has brought out the big guns in a television ad of her own, appearing with Johnny Majors, who was Heisman runner-up at Tennessee in 1956 and went 116-62-8 in 15-plus seasons as the Vols’ coach.

By  |  10:12 AM ET, 10/22/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 08:56 AM ET, 10/22/2014

Wait, is Justin Bieber actually good at hockey?


(Joel Ryan/Invision/AP)

Justin Bieber often takes a break from his job as a professional miscreant to pursue his favorite pastimes.

There’s basketball:

And boxing:

And now hockey, which shouldn’t be all that surprising, considering his Canadian-ness. TMZ just posted this:

And … that doesn’t seem bad, actually.

By  |  08:56 AM ET, 10/22/2014 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

 

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