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Baseball

The life-altering link between Neil Walker and Roberto Clemente

Thirteen years before Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Neil Walker was born, an event occurred nearly 2,000 miles away from his eventual hometown that would forever change his life. “I obviously owe a lot to Roberto Clemente,” he recalls. Yes, that Roberto Clemente. The Hall of Famer member that spent 18 seasons with the Pirates, winning National League MVP honors in 1966. The one who registered his 3,000th hit in the final game of his career….

Basketball

The Detlef Schrempf generation

After his 2011 NBA championship win especially, momentum continues to mount in the argument for Dirk Nowitzki as one of the greatest power forwards in NBA history, already widely regarded as the greatest German basketball player of all time. Though well deserved, as time moves on, it can be easy to forget players of the past, even some of the best. While Nowitzki has dominated the league the last decade, it was fellow German power…

Basketball

The Big Smallville: Shaquille O’Neal and Superman Explained

Let’s talk candidly about the last son of Krypton. Let’s talk about the life and legacy of the timeless brand from the launch of its unprecedented 1930s comic book series to its resuscitated film trilogy in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Or maybe let’s talk about the death of Kal-El that followed shortly after, not at the hands of Dan Jurgen’s Doomsday, but in the eyes of the public who simply had no more…

Baseball

The Dirk Hayhurst Gospels

The unfiltered afternoon sun roasts the concrete behind the visiting team bullpen at the Toronto Blue Jays practice facility in central Florida. With neither cloud nor canopy to temper the pounding heat, the long walk from the players’ dugout down the dusty left field line and out to the away team clubhouse is an arduous one. Dirk Hayhurst has made treks like this before, but not this one exactly. On January 21, 2011, Hayhurst signed…

Baseball

Danny Hultzen and the 2011 MLB Draft

With all of the attention surrounding UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole and Rice infielder Anthony Rendon as top draft picks in tonight’s MLB Draft, no player has had as dominant – and consistent – of a season this year as the University of Virginia’s left-handed phenom Danny Hultzen. As a freshman, Hultzen, a good line-drive hitter that grinds out at-bats, hit .327 with eight doubles, 29 walks, and an .829 OPS. Hultzen’s at-bats were greatly reduced…

Football

Jim Tressel’s complicated Ohio State legacy

One of the biggest stories in football in the last weeks has been of Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel. Tressel put up a 106-22 record with the Buckeyes over the past 10 years, taking them to the 2003 national championship with a Fiesta Bowl victory over the Miami Hurricanes and earning appearances in two other national championship games. The team also made Bowl Championship Series bowls in eight of those seasons and went 5-3…

Football

The NFL’s battle for Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a force on the American cultural, entertainment and sporting scenes. The City of Angels itself held 3,831,868 people in 2009, with the metropolitan area containing 15,250,000. Two NBA teams, one MLB team and one NHL team make their homes in the city, with another MLB and NHL team in nearby Anaheim and two MLS teams playing close by at the Home Depot Center. However, the NFL, the biggest sporting behemoth on the American…

Football

Offensive innovation, the NCAA and the NFL

One of the most notable differences between the NCAA and NFL brands of football is how distinct the offensive systems are. In the college game, you have everything from the run-focused triple option used by Army, Navy and Georgia Tech to the high-tempo spread options of Auburn and Oregon to passing-focused offenses like Hawaii and Houston. Few of those systems have made it to the NFL, though, and while each NFL team has its own…

Hall of Fame

Theo Fleury’s atypical post-NHL journey

It was February 15, 2011, when Theoren Fleury glided off the ice for a short breather during intermission at a charity old-timers’ hockey game. In a dim hallway, the Stanley Cup andOlympic champion calmly addressed local media types about the impact Playing With Fire(2009) has had on his life. “I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into when I wrote the book, but after 18 months of some pretty extensive touring — lots of media and stuff — there’s…

Football

The NFL, Twitter and Osama bin Laden

The social media juggernaut that is Twitter has caused a great many NFL headlines of late, but just how many of these headlines have come about solely as a result of the ongoing lockout is debatable. There’s a school of thought that ESPN and other mainstream sports sites are grasping at anything even remotely resembling news to fill the typical offseason void. Another, however, believes that what athletes say in the public sphere is fair game and entertaining news…