Friday, December 20, 2013

Pitchers' helmets might be optional in MLB by 2014

Could we see pitchers wear protective head gear in Major League Baseball as early as next summer?

Speaking to Fox Sports Wednesday, Arizona Diamondbacks hurler Brandon McCarthy said the league is moving towards legislation that would allow non-mandatory head gear.

"They're coming," McCarthy said. "From everything I know (the head gear will) be available this year. I don't believe they're going to be mandatory. Actually, I'm almost certain they won't be mandatory."

A spokesperson for Major League Baseball told the TV station that "one product that has passed the testing standards should be available to players for next season."

The league is in talks with the players' association about the optional piece of equipment, while continuing to evaluate several products, the spokesperson added.

McCarthy is particularly interested in the matter because he took a line drive to the head in 2012 when he was pitching for the Oakland Athletics. He suffered a skull fracture.

As for the potential look of the head gear, McCarthy didn't exactly give a rave review. "It looks ridiculous and we get so used to the way things look," he said.

It may look ridiculous but maybe it can reduce the danger of having an incident like Toronto Blue jays pitcher J.A. Happ had last season when he was hit in the head by a line drive.

Jim Kelly says Bills fans should take it easy on EJ Manuel

It's not easy being a rookie quarterback in the NFL. Especially when you're a high draft pick and have so many expectations placed upon you by fans that are hungry to see a struggling franchise have some success.

Buffalo Bills fans are probably spoiled by the run of success the team had in the early 90's when Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly commandeered the Bills' high octane offense and led them to four straight Super Bowls. Bills fans have been longing for the glory years for quite a while now.

When the Bills took quarterback EJ Manuel with the 16th pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, there were whispers about Buffalo taking a risk by making Manuel the draft's first quarterback to come off the board. At 6-4 and 237 pounds and possessing a strong arm with mobility, the Bills figured Manuel was too good to pass up.

Bills coach Doug Marrone named Manuel his starter and hitched the Bills future to his first round quarterback. A few fluky knee injuries has taken Manuel away from the field and now Bills fans are already growing impatient with the rookie. Manuel has shown flashes of being the man to lead the Bills but he does  make a few head scratching mistakes.

In a phone interview, Kelly said that bills fans shouldn't rush to judgement on Manuel and that injuries have hurt his development.

 "There are so many things a young quarterback has to learn, and there's only one way to do it -- by being out there," Kelly said. "You can't learn by standing on the sidelines and just staring."

“You know what? Training camp for a rookie quarterback is so, so essential,” Kelly said. “It’s where they learn. It’s where they can make their mistakes. It’s where they really get to know their receivers, their running backs, and their system. He missed half of that.

“The mental approach at quarterback is so key. And for a young guy coming in trying to master a playbook that’s five times thicker than a college playbook, and the defences with all the ways they disguise — it’s a tough transition even if he never gets hurt.”

Manuel missed the last half of training camp in August after suffering an injury to his left knee which was revealed to be a meniscus tear. Manuel had corrective surgery on the knee.

Manuel later sprained the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee. He missed four games. The Bills were 2-2 at that point in the season. This past Sunday he sprained his knee in a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars but completed the game.

“I definitely think EJ is doing a good job,” Kelly said. “There are times, yeah, where you think, ‘What’s he doing?’ or ‘That mistake shouldn’t happen.’ But I think he’ll get better, and when he gets another year under his belt, he’ll be all right.”

Manuel didn't have the luxury of sitting behind an established veteran and learning the system like an Aaron Rodgers or Philip Rivers. He was brought in to be a savior.

"The quarterback gets too much of the blame and too much of the praise. I know that's an old cliche, but that's just the way it is now -- moreso even than it was 20 years ago."

Whether Manuel likes it or not, the fans want him to perform and will call for his head when he doesn't. it may not be fair, but that's the nature of the business.

Grizzlies' Tony Allen auctioning off shoe that kicked Clippers' Chris Paul

Michael Jordan's flu-game shoes have been sold for more than $140,000. If you envy the winner of the auction for owning such precious shoes, there's another pairs of live game kicks you can bid for.

Tony Allen of the Memphis Grizzlies is auctioning his pair of shoes. Allen may not be as big of a star like Jordan but the kicks he's selling carries a story that is of the same weight as the Flu Game shoes, sort of.

The 31-year old shooting guard has decided to put the shoes he used to unintentionally kick Clippers' Chris Paul to support a charity.

As posted in eBay advert:

"The shoe that Tony Allen wore when he inadvertently kicked Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul in the face on Nov. 18 will be auctioned online to benefit Youth Villages. Allen, who was ejected from that game and suspended, donated the shoe to the national nonprofit organization headquartered in Memphis. Youth Villages is auctioning the shoe online as part of an effort to raise $15,000 to buy presents for children receiving help on its residential campuses and group homes. The shoe is autographed by Allen and is mounted in a custom Memphis Grizzlies display case. The eBay auction runs through Sunday. All proceeds generated from the sale of the shoe will be matched by an anonymous donor up to $10,000."

Proceeds will be used to ensure that kids who are not with their families experience the joy of the Christmas season.

Youth Villages is home to more than 1,000 vulnerable children and families. Most of these children are served through in-home and community based efforts.

Starting bid prize for the shoe is $750, with the auction expected to end Sunday. Sources also revealed that an anonymous donor will match the final price of the shoe once it is sold.

Allen served a one game suspension for the incident but hopes that the shoe can create Christmas memories for Memphis area kids.

“I’m glad that the shoe will be creating something special for kids in Memphis. Everyone deserves to have a Christmas to remember. I’m glad I can be a part of their memories,” Allen said.

Notre Dame will play Boston College at Fenway Park in 2015

Notre Dame will begin playing five games per season against ACC opponents beginning next season due to their agreement that permits the Irish to play in the league in other sports. That won't keep the Fighting Irish from having a high profile national schedule like they always do.

The Irish have scheduled a "home" game against ACC member Boston College to be played at the home of the Boston Red Sox, Fenway Park.  The game will be part of the Shamrock Series. The Irish will also begin a home and home series with the Texas Longhorns and will not play a Big Ten opponent for the first time in more than 100 years. With a college football playoff on the horizon Notre Dame is looking to boost it's strength of schedule.

"Our schedules the next three seasons, combined with our 2012 and 2013 schedules, truly exhibit Notre Dame's intention to celebrate our independence," says Notre Dame vice president and director of athletics Jack Swarbrick. "We will be playing in virtually every corner of the country and will have a strength of schedule that will serve us well in the new College Football Playoff format."

“We play coast to coast. Jesse Harper made that decision a hundred years ago. It changed the trajectory of the football program and the university, and we’re not going to stray from it,” Swarbrick said.

Here's a look at Notre Dame's schedules from 2014-2016.


Aug. 30, RICE


Sept. 13, vs. Purdue (at Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis)

Sept. 27, vs. Syracuse (at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.)



Oct. 18, at Florida State

Nov. 1, vs. Navy (at FedEx Field, Landover, Md.)

Nov. 8, at Arizona State



Nov. 29, at USC


Sept. 5, TEXAS

Sept. 12, at Virginia



Oct. 3, at Clemson

Oct. 10, NAVY

Oct. 17, USC

Oct. 31, vs. Temple (at Lincoln Financial Services Field)

Nov. 7, at Pittsburgh


Nov. 21, vs. Boston College (at Fenway Park, Boston)

Nov. 28, at Stanford


Sept. 3, at Texas

Sept. 10, NEVADA


Sept. 24, DUKE

Oct. 1, vs. Syracuse (at MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.)

Oct. 8, at North Carolina State


Oct. 29, MIAMI

Nov. 5, vs. Navy (site TBD)

Nov. 12, vs. Army (at Alamodome, San Antonio)


Nov. 26, at USC

While it's true that Notre Dame will get a boost from a national schedule, the Irish should leave the patsies like UMass, Nevada, Army and Rice off the schedule. I guess you have to fit in some wins somewhere.