Fresno Grizzlies to wear “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” gear
This is shaping up as an epic season for minor league baseball.
Already there are the newly-renamed El Paso Chihuahuas and the Akron RubberDucks. The Lehigh Valley IronPigs have their bacon-themed togs and the Toledo Mudhens their “Ghostbusters” unis. Now, the Fresno Grizzlies have jumped into the fun with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles uniforms.
At the moment, the team says only the caps will be available online. Jerseys will be auctioned off for charity.
Elsewhere, the Chihuas have an inspired “Fear the Ears” campaign.
It’s been busy all day at 303 N. Oregon St. Suite 120 in downtown El Paso pic.twitter.com/J1zDdWBDZo— El Paso Chihuahuas (@epchihuahuas) October 23, 2013
The RubberDucks went with Akron’s well-known history.
And Lehigh Valley, in its “Smell the Change” campaign, answers the question, “Who doesn’t like bacon?”
Rashard Mendenhall retires from NFL at 26 -- but not for the usual reasons
Rashard Mendenhall announced his retirement from the NFL on Sunday and the running back did it in the most unlikely way: with a thoughtful, eloquent column.
Mendenhall had two 1,000-yard seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers before joining the Arizona Cardinals and was expected to become a free agent when the open period begins at 4 p.m. EDT Tuesday, but now he will quit, “grateful that I can walk away feeling as good as I did when I stepped into [the game].”
“[W]hen they ask me why I want to leave the NFL at the age of 26, I tell them that I’ve greatly enjoyed my time, but I no longer wish to put my body at risk for the sake of entertainment,” he wrote on Huffington Post. “I think about the rest of my life and I want to live it with much quality. And physically, I am grateful that I can walk away feeling as good as I did when I stepped into it. As for the question of what will I do now, with an entire life in front of me? I say to that, I will LIVE! I plan to live in a way that I never have before, and that is freely, able to fully be me, without the expectation of representing any league, club, shield or city.”
Mendenhall said he plans to travel and write and will relish being out of the modern spotlight that often brings all manner of hatred down upon athletes.
“Imagine having a job where you’re always on duty, and can never fully relax or you just may drown. Having to fight through waves and currents of praise and criticism, but mostly hate. I can’t even count how many times I’ve been called a ‘dumb [n-word]‘. There is a bold coarseness you receive from non-supporters that seems to only exist on the Internet. However, even if you try to avoid these things completely -- because I’ve tried -- somehow they still reach you. If not first-hand, then through friends and loved ones who take to heart all that they read and hear. I’m not a terribly sensitive person, so this stuff never really bothered me. That was until I realized that it actually had an impact my career. Over my career, I would learn that everything people say behind these computer and smartphones actually shape the perception of you -- the brand, the athlete and the person. Go figure!”
In his five seasons, Mendenhall writes that “the business of entertainment” has changed the game and the NFL.
“Today, game-day cameras follow the most popular players on teams; guys who dance after touchdowns are extolled on Dancing With the Starters; games are analyzed and brought to fans without any use of coaches tape; practice non-participants are reported throughout the week for predicted fantasy value; and success and failure for skill players is measured solely in stats and fantasy points. This is a very different model of football than the one I grew up with. My older brother coaches football at the high-school and youth level. One day he called me and said, ‘These kids don’t want to work hard. All they wanna do is look cool, celebrate after plays, and get more followers on Instagram!’ I told him that they might actually have it figured out.”
NFL free agency: Hakeem Nicks wants long-term deal
Hakeem Nicks will become a free agent on Tuesday and the New York Giants’ wide receiver is moving forward with a specific set of goals in mind.
He wants a long-term contract, says he can be the “missing link” for a team ready to step up into the top tier in the NFL and has a list of quarterbacks he thinks he’d mesh well with.
“Ideally this is what I want,” Nicks told ESPN’s Josina Anderson on Sunday. “I want to go to a team where I’m the missing link. There are a number of teams that I have my eye on once I hit the market.”
Specifically, likes the Indianapolis Colts, Carolina Panthers and San Diego Chargers.
“I know if I went to a place like Indianapolis, I would be dangerous with a quarterback like Andrew Luck,” Nicks said. “I can see myself catching passes from Cam Newton or even Philip Rivers.”
Nicks, 26, caught 56 passes for 896 yards and zero touchdowns in 15 games last season, his fifth with the Giants. Although he was hampered by foot and knee injuries, Dr. James Andrews has cleared him to play and he’s rated the fifth wide receiver available in free agency by CBS Sports.com. Earlier, he’d said that he’d take a one-year deal, but he walked that back Sunday.
“Players have already started to reach out to me from other teams saying they would love for me to come join them,” he said. “I just want to make it clear that I want a long-term deal and I want to be happy. I’m excited about talking to teams and making it work.”
Free agency begins at 4 p.m. EDT.
Phil Jackson to Knicks? Report says he’ll decide today
The New York Knicks may be about to hire a man to head up their front office who is closing in on 70, has roots in Los Angeles and has never held a front-office job.
Ordinarily, this might be the most Knicks move ever under mercurial, meddlesome owner James Dolan, but “ordinarily” hardly fits this situation because the man in question is Phil Jackson, possessor of 11 NBA championship rings as a coach and two as a player -- with the Knicks. Jackson, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, is leaning toward becoming the team’s president of basketball operations.
Jackson is expected to tell the Knicks of his decision Monday, the New York Daily News reports, roughly two weeks after turning down an offer to coach the team.
Jackson, 68, most recently coached the Los Angeles Lakers and seemed miffed when he was passed over for the job in the fall of 2012 in spite of his success with the team and his long engagement to Jeanie Buss, who runs the team’s business operations. Of course, there was a considerable amount of drama involving Jackson and the Buss family the last time the Lakers’ job was open. The Zen Master wouldn’t be trying to send a message, would he?
“The Knicks and Phil are getting exactly what they want out of this,” an unnamed general manager told Frank Isola of the Daily News. “The Knicks are showing that they want to do something and this is a chance for Phil to get the Lakers to make a move. If they don’t, he can take the Knicks’ money.”
If, as ESPN reports, Jackson is “ready to go back to work,” a front-office job in which he has full control, a la Pat Riley in Miami, would seem ideal because Jackson quit coaching because of health problems in the spring of 2011. He’s healthy after a couple of surgeries and, as Riley did with the Heat a couple of years ago, he might find that he has one year of coaching left in him -- despite turning down the Knicks’ coaching offer. A job like the Knicks’ would give him flexibility, which is very, very Zen.
In any event, his priority would be fixing the Knicks roster and his top task would seem to be persuading Carmelo Anthony to stay with the team rather than become a free agent. Just as Riley has been known to do, he has convincing bling to display.
There are any number of ways this could play out and some of them end badly, like so many Knicks’ seasons under Dolan. The key issue for a guy like Jackson would be control, Mitch Lawrence of the Daily News writes:
Jackson will get a pretty penny for coming back to the franchise that gave him an NBA start as a player for Red Holzman. If he’s been offered the keys to the store, would he put up with Dolan’s constant meddling? The answer is no.
So maybe this entire story goes away next week when Jackson does his due diligence on Dolan and the Garden’s corporate world and finds that the front office is overstaffed with lieutenants who aren’t going anywhere. Then Jackson will tell the Knicks, thanks but no thanks.
That’s the answer we expect, based on a few conversations with people who know Jackson fairly well. They say he’d never agree to come in and try to rebuild the Knicks, if Dolan insists on continuing to think he’s another Jerry West.
“Phil would have to get assurances that Dolan would remove himself, entirely,” said one source. “Dolan gave up a lot of control with Donnie. He would have to give up even more with Phil.”
Donnie Walsh came in with all sorts of promises from Dolan that he would get “full autonomy,” only to find his boss working behind the scenes to bring Anthony to New York a little more than three years ago. Walsh had basically nothing to do with the deal and was horrified when he saw the extent to which Dolan, working in deep secrecy with Isiah Thomas, gutted the team for a limited superstar.
Oscar Pistorius vomits as graphic testimony ends telecast
The judge presiding over the murder trial of Oscar Pistorius shut down live broadcasting and tweeting of the trial because of graphic testimony by the pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Reeva Steenkamp, who was shot by Pistorius in February 2013.
As the evidence was described in the Pretoria, South Africa, courtroom, Pistorius, who is accused of deliberately shooting his girlfriend, vomited, according to BBC and Sky News reports, and the trial was briefly halted. Gert Saayman, the head of the forensic medicine department at the University of Pretoria, said that “very personal” details of his testimony had “the potential to compromise the dignity of the deceased. I think that it goes against the good morals of society for us to make information of this nature available in a manner that vulnerable or unsuspecting people in society may be exposed,” he said (via the Associated Press).
The ban by Judge Thokozile Masipa was “not a question of press freedom,” prosecutor Gerrie Nel said.
The judge ordered before the trial began that proceedings could be partly televised, with audio broadcast in its entirety. However, witnesses can choose not to be shown on the broadcast. Last week, the judge extended her order, saying that still photos of witnesses who so requested cannot be published or disseminated for the duration of the trial, even if they were obtained from sources outside the courtroom. Her ruling came after photos of a witness were taken from a website and shown by media organizations.
Pistorius, the 27-year-old Olympic “blade runner” who is a national hero, contends he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder when he shot her in the middle of the night on Valentine’s Day. The prosecution contends the couple had quarreled earlier.