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Tag: american sport

Why quitting fantasy NFL has renewed my love of the sport

For many years I have been a fantasy sports junkie. I have had fantasy football teams obviously but never was able to stick at it due to my terrible initial selections and I just couldn’t be bothered. Throw in Fantasy F1, Fantasy Basketball, Fantasy NFL, Fantasy Baseball etc… and you’ll see a deep rooted pattern.

However I made a decision this year to change this up and cut my teams down to just one – the Fratton Yankees in a fantasy baseball league that I have been a member of for now seven years and that would be that. I won a fantasy NFL league last season which was good fun and all but fantasy games are there to make the game more exciting they say – just like betting. Incidentally you can click here for online betting at Top Bet.

My issues with fantasy sports though are I found myself watching the players and fantasy stats more than I did the game itself. This season I have been able to just enjoy the games and root for the teams that I want to root for. I don’t have to think ‘oh I want the Broncos to win but I hope Peyton Manning stinks as my opponent has him’ and that is the type of issue you have fantasy wise.

With my fantasy baseball team practically all the games are in the early hours so I see so few live so it doesn’t ruin my enjoyment of the game but also I have been part of this particular league for as I said seven seasons. That is one of the main reasons I have stuck with it. I even have kept the same original name even though deep down I wanted to change it to the Fratton Yankee Posada’s in homage to the now retired and borderline Hall of Famer Jorge Posada.

Going back though to the original concept of this blog post I can now sit back and enjoy a game of American Football for what it is. I’m not concerned about those stats and whilst I can see why many believe it enhances their enjoyment of the game – remember this is a multi-billion dollar industry in the States – for me I can be more of a purist and just watch and enjoy a game.

Last year was a strange year for me as I had no real rooting interest. My team stunk (and still does) and after a few years of rooting for the old man quarterback (Kurt Warner, Brett Favre) last year I had nothing. At least this year Peyton Manning is back and looks like he can do something and I have been rooting hard for him and the Broncos. Apart from that though there aren’t any storylines that are grabbing my attention and yet I did don’t miss the fantasy aspect of the game. Maybe it is just a down couple of years for me NFL wise (although the Jags are coming to the UK next season) but at least the college game has been insane. Notre Dame being the only undefeated team in the country? Not sure anyone saw that one coming…

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St Louis Rams to play in London in 2012, 2013 and 2014. The Patriots await them in 2012.

NFLUK has just announced that for the next three years the St Louis Rams will play in London for one game each season and for the 2012 season it will be the Golden Boy himself Tom Brady and his New England Patriots who will be their opponents.

I must say I think this is a genuine step forward and a step towards seeing if there is a real viability to having a team play permanently in the UK – most likely in London. By having a team committed to playing here for three successive years the league will be able to see if that team gets a following and whether or not the novelty factor will wear off on British fans.

The St Louis Rams have just appointed a new Head Coach in Superbowl winner Jeff Fisher and with owner Stan Kroneke also being the majority shareholder of Arsenal FC it is exciting times for the franchise and the fan base around the world. I’m not sure how the St Louis fans will be taking this news and it would have been wiser for maybe a franchise who really struggle to sell out such as the Jacksonville Jaguars to be the guinea pig but its a start.

The 2012 game with the Patriots is one that will excite the UK fans big time. The Patriots are without a doubt one of the most exciting teams in the game with a sure fire Hall of Fame QB who boasts three rings at the time of writing but that might well be four by the time this game is played. The Pats have been to London befre and the fact they are happy to return shows that they enjoyed the experience, which no doubt other players and owners will notice.

This is without a shadow of a doubt a precursor to a permanent franchise based in London. The big question is whether it’ll be a 33rd team or a current franchise relocated. With the LA market still vacant it is unlikely a new franchise will come to London until after the LA issue is fixed but for Roger Goddell no doubt London is #2 on his wish-list.

Speaking of the commish he has this to say on the announcement, ‘The response to NFL games in the UK among our British fans has been exceptional, We are confident that having the Rams host one game in the UK in each of the next three seasons will allow us to better serve the growing popularity of our sport beyond the borders of the United States.’

Sounds to me like him saying, ‘if they are sell-outs and the game continues to grow in the UK then we’re coming there permanently’.

American Football might not be just ‘American’ any more…

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When grown men laugh uncontrollably at swearing because it is in all honesty quite simply hilarious

Last Saturday during the Heads Gear selection by Lee Corso he dropped an F Bomb. Presenter hris Fowler laughed, analyst Kirk Herbstreit laughed and former Olympic Gold Medal athlete Carl Lewis laughed (and clapped a lot like a seal). It was truly funny but not just because of the old man dropping the F Bomb. It was how he did it and how the other presenters reacted that made it proper laugh out loud funny (well to me and most of the American sporting media anyway).

Here is a clip.

Proper funny. Sadly the big wigs up at ESPN HQ didn’t think it was so funny and forced Corso to make an on-air apology soon after.

I hope Corso is lying and that he does do it again. People swear. It’s part of life and when it is just so funny I think we should not worry too much about it eh…?

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Joe Paterno has lung cancer

A fortnight ago the whole world of Penn State blew up. Allegations of unspeakable proportions were alleged to have happened within the institute. Charges were filed against senior administrators accused of covering up. The legendary head coach who until a fortnight ago was believed not just one of the greatest football coaches but also one of the greatest men to have ever worked in college athletics was accused of not doing enough and was forced from his job. The university handled the situation about as badly as any institution can ever handle anything.

It has just been a desperate time for all. I have already written many things about the rush to judge without all the facts has been a total disgrace. How people can form an opinion on some of the story from one half of the ledger is beyond me. We all know that the Grand Jury testimony goes a lot further than what has been released to the press. We’ve found out this week according to sources to ESPN that the full Grand Jury testimony says that Mike McQueary actually did intervene and stop an alleged incident in the Penn State showers. That has come out this week but his reputation has already been dragged through the mud.

Having read certain things from people close to the Paterno’s it seems that Joe Paterno may well have evidence that he acted both legally and morally regarding the Jerry Sandusky allegations. However he is unable to talk at this juncture as it would affect the Jerry Sandusky criminal case. I’m willing to wait for everything to play out before I come to any judgements but then we get the news that we got today.

Joe Paterno has lung cancer.

His son Scott Paterno confirmed today that his dad has treatable lung cancer and they are hopeful of a full recovery. Talk about a punch to the stomach. I think my utmost thoughts are that he fights and beats this demon. I want this for two reasons. Firstly Joe Paterno is a prosecution witness in this case and should Paterno not make it then the Sandusky case gets hurt. Secondly I hope he beats it so he can live long enough to tell his side of the story and then everyone can make up their minds with all the evidence.

It might sound crazy that I can sit and type and fully believe that Joe Paterno will be completely vindicated and exonerated for how he handled that 2002 incident. Those close to the Paterno’s seem to feel confident when the truth comes out people’s perceptions will change. Also the fact Paterno was willing to speak at that Press Conference but Graham Spanier cancelled it a mere 40 minutes before because Paterno was going to talk and say the truth is rather fishy. Whether Curley, Schultz, Spanier et al handled the situation well is very much up in the air – as it is for Paterno and McQueary but I wouldn’t be completely surprised if their stories are wildly different when it all comes out.

Lastly the amount of people that are saying this is karma that Paterno has this evil disease makes me want to puke. The AP in America ran a poll asking who was accused of these unspeakable crimes and 30% of the American public answered Joe Paterno and still many members of the media are saying they acted responsibly and treated the story how it deserved to be treated. Either they didn’t and/or 30% of American’s are so stupid it’s insane.

Jerry Sandusky is accused of these unspeakable acts. Not Joe Paterno. The media are terrible and the rush to judge without even half the story just sums up people today. I for one wish Joe Paterno the best in this battle and a long and healthy forced retirement. Until someone gives me cold hard facts and not conjecture that Paterno valued his job/his university over the sexual abuse of boys then I’m going to hold off judging. I am in the minority I know but hey it’s better to stand for what you believe than follow a crowd who act in a way you disagree with.

As for those wishing Paterno a slow and painful death. I have no words.

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Mike McQueary moved into protective custody

I hope that my blogging surrounding this story will wane in the coming weeks and months. No doubt at some point is will flare up but I hope to be blogging again on political matters and random stuff that pops into my fron soon. Heck it was the Southend Lib Dem AGM on Monday and I have exciting (well semi exciting, well news, well something) I have reaction to that and other stuff that really should be blogged about but other things have been the priority this week.

Ok so if you’ve read this blog or read, seen or heard any type of news bulletin in the past week you would have heard about the Penn State Sex Scandal. The latest news on this is Mike McQueary has been placed into protective custody according to a PennLive report after having received what the police are determining as ‘numerous threats’ on his life. For those who don’t know Mike McQueary is the key prosecution witness in the Jerry Sandusky sexual assault trial. He allegedly saw Sandusky sodomising a boy of around ten years-old.

Now there are people angry that he didn’t do more. I can understand that but people please take a step back here and try not to act like idiots. The media have whipped this up into a storm and when journalists like Professor JA Adande are saying that the media’s reaction has shown us how great the media are my heart sinks. This is a man who is teaching the next generation of journalists but hey – as I wrote earlier – being fair doesn’t sell newspapers.

You have guys like Mark May – who most self-respecting college football fan knows is a grade A moron saying essentially that Mike McQueary by not running into that situation and saving the boy doesn’t deserve to live – that he isn’t human. That is basically what he said on live national TV. Now it turns out that the police believe McQueary’s life is in danger and yet wait for this…

The man accused of these crimes doesn’t need protective custody. He is living in his martial home with no police guards stationed outside of it. So the person accused of these heinous crimes is free to live his life with no seeming immediate fear but the person who is the key witness to putting this seemingly evil monster inside if left to fend for himself would probably be murdered for not doing enough.

The media have driven this story so hard that they have clouded the public’s perception for who the real villains are. If the baying mob want to kill McQueary then the likelihood of Sandusky being convicted of these crimes falls dramatically. Not a little. Dramatically.

So what do the mob want? Do they want justice for the victims or do they want to seek their own revenge on the key witness and ensure that these victims do not get full justice.

They two things are mutually exclusive. If the mob gets to McQueary then Sandusky in all likelihood walks free to possibly sexually abuse more boys. Is that really what the mob wants? Of course it isn’t but it is what the media bandwagon has driven them to.

The mob and the media cannot see the wood for the trees. Jerry Sandusky is the man accused of these crimes but no-one cares because the media have told them not to care. The media told them to care about Joe Paterno and now Mike McQueary and I genuinely fear for both their lives. I fear I’m going to wake up to the news that one or both of them will be butchered in cold blood by someone and if that happens then the blood stains will be all over ESPN and the rest of the media who have driven this story so far down the nation’s throats that people are choking on it and can’t see the reality, just the perception given to them by the media.

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How can you react when the man you idolise turns out not to be perfect?

Few people that read this blog know me. Few people in fact truly know me. I am a loner. I live alone and I don’t let anyone get too close to me. Think Clubber Lang aka Mr T in Rocky III. I have always been this way. I do things my own way and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I like the idea of setting out my life to my own set of goals. I don’t like risks. I like doing the right thing. I like living a quiet life. I have never ever truly looked up to someone…until a few years ago.

Several years ago my life was at an extremely low ebb. I had finished university and didn’t have a clue where my life was going. Then someone walked into my life. A person I have never met, never spoken to, someone who doesn’t even know I exist. However this person moved me with his teachings and the way he had handled his life. It led me to doing more research on the way he worked and the way he lived his life.

That man was Joseph Vincent Paterno.

There are a few people who read this and even know who he is or why I revered him so. He is (as of writing) an American Football coach. He is (as of writing) still the Head Coach of Pennsylvania State University Men’s Football Team. A job he has held since 1966. He has been on the staff at Penn State for well over half a century. 61 years he has given to the university. He taught a simple mantra ‘doing things the right way’ and he had the motto of ‘success with honour’.

This wasn’t just on the football field. This was in life. He taught all his kids that in life you have to do things the right way. There are no short-cuts. If you break the rules then you have to pay the consequences. He was dubbed ‘Saint Joe’ by the media. The university is one of only two major programmes in the States to have never fallen foul on any level of the NCAA (the other being Stanford). He had turned a small university in the middle of nowhere in central Pennsylvania into the university with the largest alumni base in the country. No-one else did he. He did it through his teachings and through football.

He gave his life to the university and to his kids as he saw them. Parents sent their kids to Penn State because Joe Paterno was there. A man with the impeccable moral compass – or so we thought.

The world collapsed around Paterno on Saturday after his former defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was indicted on 40 charges of sexual abuse against children. That couldn’t topple Paterno but then it came out that he knew something but didn’t stop it. What he knew we don’t know. I think we will know and we will hear in time. However that time frame isn’t clear. I have blogged on this already so I’ll keep this brief.

In 2002 Mike McQueary walked in on Jerry Sandusky allegedly anally raping a ten-year old boy in the showers at Penn State. Sandusky was no longer a coach but still used the facilities. McQueary was 22 years-old at the time. What he did next is something that is causing much heartache. He ran. He didn’t step in and stop Sandusky. He rang his dad and his dad told him to come home. He then informed Paterno what he saw and in turn Paterno informed his superiors what had been relayed to him. Both McQueary and Paterno did their legal requirement but the question of what they didn’t do morally is the pertinent question.

I will come out and say this. I can’t defend what Mike McQueary didn’t do but unlike most of the disgusting US media I can understand it. The US media is full of very macho men and strong women who know exactly what they would have done. They would have gone in there and stopped the sexual encounter and twated Sandusky and called the police. Obviously that is what we all hope we would have done but I have no idea what I would have done as a 22 year-old in that situation. I don’t know how as a 28 year-old I’d deal with that situation. I want to know how I would but I don’t know. None of us do. Would we freeze and run or would we intervene? Until you arrive into that situation you can’t know so I will not bury Mike McQueary over his initial reaction.

It is clear that McQueary, his father and Joe Paterno all should have gone to the police. In all honesty Mike McQueary should have done this and if he was unsure it is his father who should have encouraged him to do so. I know Joe Paterno is a father figure but he isn’t Mike’s dad and I think that this person should not be overlooked. Witnessing such an act is mentally scaring.

The fact is after Joe Paterno reported it to his superiors then they too failed to do anything. There was a witness who allegedly saw one of the most heinous crimes you could ever witness and yet no-one spoke to someone wearing a badge. Yes the man with oversight for the police was informed but he wasn’t a police officer. This is the decision that has toppled a man who taught me so much.

I am not saying I was off the road or bereft of morals before I learnt about this man. I in fact had and I do believe still have a very strong moral compass. However this man epitomised everything that I could ever aspire to be. He was a football coach but that was secondary – first of all he was a teaching and leader of young men. Many a wayward kid passed under the tutorship of Paterno and came out the better for it. He (and his family) pretty much built the library on Penn State’s campus with their own money. They gave back more to that community than I can put into words. They instilled something in everyone who passed through the gates into Happy Valley. Being a Penn Stater meant something.

Obviously I never went to Penn State. I’m not American so I went to an English university. However I wear Penn State hoodies not because of the fashion and not because of the football team but because it reminded me of doing the right thing. ‘Success with honour’ is one of the most wonderful things I have ever heard. To have success without any honour is meaningless. Success is secondary to honour.

In no form of life (to my knowledge) have I ever acted with dishonour. I have let people screw me over and back-stab me not because I am weak but because I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I treat people the way that I’d like to be treated whether they are friend or foe. There are people who have come into my life through various means but I have always been professional and courteous with them – even though at times it was extremely hard.

I have ambitions in life but I won’t get them any other way but the right way. I won’t stab people in the back or use people to get where I want to be. I will get there if that is where I’m meant to be. I would prefer not to do everything in my life that I wanted than get everywhere and everything that I wanted but leaving a trail of being a bad human being behind me. This is something I had in me anyway but this bespectacled grumpy football coach re-enforced those core beliefs in me.

Joe Paterno knows that he should have done more. It is something he will have to live with for the rest of his life. He isn’t perfect and maybe I should have realised that earlier. No-one is perfect. His mistakes were huge but I still firmly cling on to the belief that his inactions were not in any way part of a deliberate cover-up by the man. If it was then that would be totally devastating to me and I just can’t see it. I still believe he did wrong but not through any form of malice. It is something we all do. We make wrong decisions all the time despite trying to do our best but sometimes those wrong decisions can have catastrophic consequences and for young boys and families Joe’s seem to have done so.

So I sit here typing away as I come to the realisation that nobody is perfect and that his legacy will be tarnished by his inaction on this. He did so much good for so many people for only 60 years. I’m not just talking about the football players he coached but for the whole university, for everyone who came through the doors of Penn State, for people all over the world who tried to follow ‘the Penn State way of success with honour’ that he taught. He touched so many lives and yet now all anyone wants to do is crucify him for a mistake or more he made and all his good work should be forgotten because it isn’t important.

That makes me so sad it is indescribable. I know that Joe Paterno did nothing wrong. I think I know that anyway. No-one has said he did yet but he didn’t do things right either in this episode. I am in total shock and up most disgust with how the US media are handling this story. They have forgotten that Jerry Sandusky did these crimes and not Joe Paterno. They don’t care though as they have a lynch mob mentality. They want to take down ‘Saint Joe’. I saw a piece by the LA Times columnist Bill Plaschke today and in the middle of a column calling Joe Paterno everything under the sun he wrote the words ‘This is not about Joe Paterno’ and yet that is all he wrote about.

This is a horrific story of a seemingly vile man using his position of trust and his personality and cult status as one of the greatest Defensive coordinators in history to attack and prey on young men. It is also a story of how some people failed to act to stop it is a seamless fashion. There is plenty of blame to be thrown around but Jerry Sandusky if he did these unspeakable crimes is the man who deserves the ire. Joe Paterno failed but there are plenty of other people who failed to a larger degree but they aren’t the story because they are not Joseph Vincent Paterno. The media are driving this one and they will not let it go because the media are now our moral concious. Something that I believe is one of the biggest problems we face as a society but that is an issue for another day.

For now I am deeply saddened and troubled by this whole situation. I am troubled that so many lives were affected when it could have been stopped at so many points along the path but also I am saddened that this is how the Joe Paterno era is going to end. I have no idea if Joe Paterno will still be the Head Football Coach at Penn State by the time I wake up in the morning. If he is then I suspect he coaches on Saturday. The Board of Trustees are meeting tonight to discuss whether they should fire him. It could go either way.

I fear it will go down that they fire the man who made them every single thing are they are as a university because of the behaviour of one seemingly vile man and the inaction and mistakes of many others. Paterno will be the fall guy not only because he is the very public face of the university but because that is what the media wants.

Nobody is perfect. Not even Joe Paterno. That to me is like a new world order and it is something I am going to have to live and deal with. Yet I still would trust him with everything I have and if I ever have kids or grand kids then I’m 100% positive that they could not have a better role model in life than Joseph Vincent Paterno.

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Further thoughts on the Jerry Sandusky sexual abuse case

Here is a comment I posted over at Black Shoe Diaries. I’m not a lawyer but I have been the foreman of a jury is a sexual abuse case against a minor so I have a little insight into how a jury operates in such a case.

From a legal PoV a lot still has to play out.

As far as we know the whole case against Sandusky will not include any hard physical evidence. There will be no physical evidence presented in court against him. The jury will have to decide who they believe – the accusers or Sandusky.

The only two first-hand witnesses for the prosecution will be Big Red and the Janitor. The defence will only have to discredit them or push either of their testimony to the ‘questionable’ pile and Sandusky may well be found not guilty.

As far as I’m aware Sandusky has a wife and several of these alleged incidents happened under the marital roof. From all we know the wife will not take the stand for the prosecution and will be a key defence witness. If she takes the stand and says she knows nothing, she saw nothing, heard nothing and is perceived as a credible witness she is a very key witness in this case.

Also the charges stem back what 17 years, it will only need the defence to discredit two or three of the accusers – heck even one – and the jury will suddenly shift to being far more concerned. The fact that no-one filed police charges until 2009 will also concern the jury. If it comes out under oath that the accusers told their parents and the parents did nothing then a jury will struggle with this as why should they believe testimony when their parents didn’t even believe it when it first came up.

I don’t like being that guy but I was the foreman of a jury in a very similar case and we found the defendant not guilty on all charges (it was a step-dad charged with abusing his step-children) and as a jury we could not get over the fact the mother didn’t believe her own child and only reported the case weeks later after she confided in other parents what her daughter had said.

I have no idea if Sandusky is guilty or not. I’m just saying the legal process has to play out and all the defence has to do is discredit one or two people to the point where a jury doesn’t believe their testimony and they’ll find him not guilty.

As for JoePa. Reading the national writers today they all think he should go. They though like you or I don’t know what Paterno did or didn’t do beyond the fact that legally he did everything right. Did he follow up with Curley/Schultz? We don’t know but until I see a reason to blame JoePa on any moral ground then I’ll fully back him.

Innocent until proven guilty is a very important motto – and legally that word proven is vital and something I think most people overlook unless they are actually sitting as a juror. Thinking he’s guilty after the evidence isn’t enough. They have to believe it.

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Jerry Sandusky charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse. Others implicated in a potential cover-up

Well. This might be the hardest blog post I’ve sat down and written since I started this blog. It might be the hardest piece of writing I have ever sat down to do. Whenever you are writing about such serious crimes it is going to be hard and I’ve read the indictment in full…

Yesterday a Grand Jury indicted Jerry Sandusky with forty counts of sexual abuse against children. I doubt many (if any) regular or even semi-regular readers of this blog know who this man is so I’ll tell you. He was the former Defensive Coordinator at Penn State and was considered to be the natural heir to the man to whom I have more respect than any other person alive today that I have never met – Joe Paterno.

67 year-old Sandusky was on Joe Paterno’s staff for thirty years and was the person who led Penn State’s defense in the national title years of 1982 and 1986. The defensive scheme in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl is still to this day the greatest defense I have seen on a football field. The greatest offense ever seen in college football was shutdown by Penn State. Heisman Trophy winner Vinny Testaverde was intercepted five times that night including on 4th Down and Goal with nine seconds remaining. It was Sandusky who created ‘Linebacker U’ but his on field achievement seem so worthless today.

The charges and the Grand Jury’s indictment is ugly and to be honest a horrific account of long-term abuse against minors. Within 24 hours though the story moved on as others have been implicated. The AD at Penn State Tim Curley has been charged with perjury as has Gary Schultz the vice president for finance and business. As part of his job Schultz was also responsible for overlooking university police. Their charges stem from an incident in 2002 which sadly will taint Joe Paterno despite him not doing anything wrong.

That incident revolves around a grad assistant witnessing Sandusky abusing a boy on the Penn State campus. That grad assistant may well have been Big Red Mike McQueary but that isn’t gospel but it seems like the case. The grad assistant informed his father to what he witnessed and his father told him to come home. The next day McQueary visited the Paterno home and told the coach what he saw. The coach then informed both Curley and Schultz as he was meant to. This is all from Paterno’s testimony to the Grand Jury from earlier this year. I must point out that coach Paterno has not been charged with anything to do with this case and will not be according to the Grand Jury.

Curley and Schultz have also been charged with failing to notify the authorities of a potential sex crime which is illegal under Pennsylvania law although it terms of seriousness it is not serious enough to warrant jail time. Paterno has not been charged because he did not witness the alleged assault and he did inform both his superior and the person in charge of the university police. Legally he has done nothing wrong. Indeed it seems extremely likely that Paterno and the grad assistant will be prosecution witnesses in these cases.

The evidence seems overwhelming against all three charged. Curley and Schultz’s testimony in front of the Grand Jury was essentially the polar opposite to coach Paterno’s version of events as the two charged never believed a serious crime had been committed. It reeks of a cover-up and the main question is who was involved. As more comes out it does look as though one of my biggest idols is in the clear but maybe we’ll never know.

In 1998 there was an alleged incident of sexual abuse investigated by university police against Sandusky which never resulted in a criminal case. At this point the coach was still very much seen as the natural successor to Paterno. Within twelve months he had been forced into retirement by Paterno and Penn State. Paterno had told him that he wanted to make changes and that he was out. Considering how loyal Paterno is to his staff it smelled like something was up. To me it smells like Paterno knew something wasn’t right and wanted up out of there. However as part of his retirement agreement with the university he still had access to the facilities.

At this point how I must stress that everyone is innocent and I have seen many a Grand Jury indictment lead only to a Not Guilty verdict in a Court of Law despite there seeming to be damning evidence. All we have heard so far is the prosecutions side of the story and this is one thing I can’t get about the US legal system – the Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly has come out and said, “This is a case about a sexual predator who used his position within the university and community to repeatedly prey on young boys,It is also a case about high-ranking university officials who allegedly failed to report the sexual assault of a young boy after the information was brought to their attention, and later made false statements to a grand jury that was investigating a series of assaults on young boys.”

I just don’t get how an Attorney General come out and call Sandusky a sexual predator without having a guilty verdict in a Court of Law but hey maybe the US prefer a Guilty until proven Innocent stance from their legal officials. Why not say a man has been charged and then try him on the crimes? I often find that the more that comes out outside of the trial then the like likely it is the prosecution will get a conviction. That is just my own opinion though – I do not have the facts to back that up but in several very high-profile cases Stateside recently the more the public has apparently known the less chance the jury has convicted.

I have zero knowledge as to these charges and how it will play out in court. Lying to a Grand Jury is pretty nasty stuff however Barry Bonds is not sitting in a jail cell today, nor is Roger Clemens. So Curley and Schultz have hope even though it seems like they did lie under oath (and really why do that? They knew Paterno was going to say the truth so why lie to try and cover up your own either a) inadequacies or more alarmingly b) your own cover-up).

As for Jerry Sandusky who knows. He has strenuously denied all wrongdoing and the legal process will play out in due course.

What makes me sad at this moment is that Penn State has an almighty black-eye today and it is without a doubt the darkest day in the universities history. Coach Paterno who is a truly great man has a black eye just by association despite not doing anything wrong but all this pales into insignificance if the allegations are true because plenty of young people’s lives have been ruined by a sexual monster. Sexual abuse never leaves you.

For now though I shall stick by my old-fashioned ‘Innocent until proven Guilty’ motto and hope like anything that this is all untrue. I fear it isn’t but I stand by that motto. What it means for the future of Joe Paterno and the Penn State Football programme and the university as a whole I don’t know but what I do know is it’s a bleak day whatever happens from here on in.

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‘I don’t believe what I just saw!’

I am sitting here in complete disbelief. I have been for about 15-20 minutes now. To invoke the memory of Jack Buck means that something just incredible must have happened and it did overnight. I have seen many things in the world of sport. Not a lot can phase me but seriously the way the baseball gods ended the American League regular season was just completely off the charts. I started writing this blog post over two hours ago and I still genuinely cannot believe what I just (well a couple of hours ago) saw.

The scenario was simple. The Rays and the Red Sox were tied in the wildcard standings. If they both won or both lost they would play a one-game playoff for the right to travel to Texas to play the Texas Rangers in the ALDS. If one of them won and the other team lost then skip the one-game playoff and go straight to Texas. Simple enough.

The Red Sox were in Baltimore to face the Orioles who had nothing to play for except to act as spoilers. The Rays were at home to face the Yankees who had already clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs and knew they were flying home to face the Tigers on Friday night.

Both teams were expected to win.

Then the Yankees pounded David Price and took a 7-0 lead with scrubs pitching. It was just a shock to everyone in baseball. The Red Sox had scratched out a 3-2 lead going into the late innings but then the baseball gods awoke and decided it was time to have some fun. The storm system that had been circling around Baltimore’s Camden Yards finally encroached and dropped its liquid over the playing field. The game went into a rain delay. As that was going on the Rays were mounting a furious rally and were back within one but down to their final strike. As the grounds crew removed the tarp in Baltimore Cory Wade’s 2-2 pitch was launched to right field and smashed off the foul pole. Down to their final strike and they tied it.

With the Yankees not risking any of their premier relievers to ensure they got in sufficient rest everyone knew the Rays were winning this game so it was all down to Boston. They inched their way to holding on to that lead and the Orioles were down to their final out when they got a double so the trying run was on base. They were down to their final strike when Nolan Reimold swatted a Papelbon fastball into the alley to tie the game. Three pitches later a soft liner that Carl Crawford should have caught dropped and the Orioles went berserk. The game meant nothing to them but they treated it like their World Series win.

Down in Tampa the crowd went nuts as first they saw and heard the Orioles had tied it and then that they had indeed beaten the Sox. All they had to do was win and within three minutes Evan Longoria had hit a Home Run that creped over the lowered wall that had first been lowered for Carl Crawford who ironically was the guy who failed to mae the play for Boston just minutes earlier.

No-one could ever have written this script. I still cannot believe it happened. The September collapse of the so-called ‘best team ever put together’ is the worst in the history of the sport. I maybe a Yankees fan but I was rooting for an extra game as I always root for the extra game if it doesn’t directly effect my Yankees so I am disappointed.

I won’t rub salt into the wounds as I know how I’d feel if it had happened to my team. The only thing I will say is if they had to lose last night then I’m glad Papelbon was the one to blow the game for them. This is a guy who once thought he deserved to be the closer on an American League All-Star team in Yankee Stadium when Mariano Rivera was also in the bullpen. Yeah let me think about that Papelbon…

So no baseball today and the playoffs start on Friday.

But still I do not believe what I just saw…

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On Monday a kid from the slums became statistically the greatest ever

On late Monday afternoon EST a 41 year-old man finally stood alone as the greatest sportsman of his position in his sport. People will argue forever about who the greatest football player was, some will say Pelé, some with say Maradona and some will even say George Best. There is an argument for all three. Same with every other sport. It is one of the greatest things about sport that you can have these different viewpoints but in one sport one man stands so alone at the top of his tree that even the harshest critics from the bitter rivals concede that there is no debate. That man is New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera.

Recording that 602nd save made him statistically the greatest ever but everyone knew he was the greatest many years ago. His 42 postseason saves compared with a 0.71 ERA said everything.

Rivera grew up in a small fishing town in Panama called Puerto Caimito. He dreamed of being a professional football player but a series of injuries to his ankle put pay to those dreams. He used to play baseball with a milk carton as a glove and balls made out of fishing net. He came from a background so poor that the realities of what would await his future would be so stark to what was expected that it must have been nearly impossible to comprehend.

At the age of 17 he was playing shortstop and was passed on by scouts but a year later he pitched and a scout from the New York Yankees saw something in him. He described Rivera as ‘extremely raw’ but he saw something. He would sign for $3,000 which is absolute peanuts in the baseball world and he’d move to the States to start a career playing baseball. He took his time moving up through the minor leagues before setting up for John Wetteland in 1996 as his big break. He had nearly been traded twice by the Yankees but a radar gun showing of 96 MPH saved his bacon. He had heat and was lights out. He would go on to become the closer for the Yankees in 1997 and that is when everything changed.

‘It was a gift from God’ he would be quoted for years as saying. In 1997 Rivera was playing catch with follow Yankee Ramiro Mendoza when he picked up a ball and tried out a new grip. He threw the ball towards Mendoza and it moved wildly. Mendoza threw the ball back and he did it again, and again, and again. This day Mariano Rivera discovered his cut-fastball and baseball would never be the same. Not just for Rivera or for the Yankees but the whole of the sport.

Here as I write in 2011 Rivera still only throw one pitch – the cut-fastball. Every opposing hitter knows what he coming. He makes no pretence to throw anything else but still no-one can hit it. The pitch bores in on lefties and righties give up on it. Bats break and outs are recorded. This man has become the greatest relief pitcher of all time with no debate by throwing one single pitch time and time again which no-one can hit.

He has been nicknamed ‘The Hammer of God’ and nobody questions his position as Greatest of All Time. that is quite something for a kid from a small fishing port on the Panamanian coast. It just goes to show us all that if you have that drive and determination then you can be anything that you aspire to be. You can full the full video of Mariano Rivera’s 602nd save behind the link and the only thing that was wrong about the whole situation was that the first person to congratulate him was #55 and not #20. It should have been Jorge Posada behind the plate on Monday for that 9th inning but I suppose that is a moot point.

Mariano Rivera is the greatest there is and I would guess probably the greatest there ever will be. They are some accolades but they aren’t undeserving. He continues to be the greatest even as he approaches his 42nd birthday. Whether it was a gift from God or just dumb luck he found that grip and that pitch the results are the same. A small skinny kid from the slums grew up to become the greatest player ever in his position in the sport of baseball. I think there is a lesson in this story for all of us when we complain about just how hard life is…

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