A – Alberto and Andy. The lack of kuth in this Tour de France has not just been limited to head-butting bikers (more on that later). Former Tour leader Andy Schleck expressed anger not just because his chain came loose during the 15th stage but also because defending champion Alberto Contador did not wait for him to catch up. This is tantamount to a linebacker losing a cleat and a running back waiting for him to catch up so he would have a chance to make the tackle. Fans booed Contador as he donned the yellow jersey after gaining an eight-second lead over Schleck. Thanks to this lack of sportsmanship there may finally be some drama as the Tour winds down this week.
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B – Bengie Molina. Perfect games are rare; there have only been 19. Hitting four homeruns in a game is even more rare; that has only happened 15 times. But Molina managed to top both of those feats on Friday. He became only the ninth player to hit for a cycle with a grand slam in an 8-4 win over the Rangers.
C – Cleveland Browns. The Cleveland Browns, who are usually the last team to get things going in the regular season, will be the first to get things started in the offseason. When the Browns rookies report to Berea, Ohio, for training camp on July 23, the 2010 NFL Training Camp schedule will officially be underway. By August 1 all 32 teams will be in training camp with the notable exception of Brett Favre.
D – Dean, Julian. The lowlight, or perhaps even highlight, of this year’s Tour de France came during Stage 11 when Julian Dean found himself on the business end of three consecutive head butts from competitor Mark Renshaw, who was attempting to push Dean out of the way to clear room for teammate Mark Cavendish. Apparently Renshaw’s coach urged him to use his head during this stage and the cyclist took it literally. The amazing thing was that Renshaw delivered three perfectly executed head butts in succession without so much as losing balance or speed. Using your head in cycling is the equivalent of using your hands in soccer apparently as Crenshaw was removed from the race. Dean remains in the Tour de France, albeit barely. He is in 155th place and nearly three hours off the leader through 15 of 20 stages. If he never got head butted Crenshaw could be up to 154th place or even 153rd, but we will never know.
E – ESPYs. We will remember this year’s award show for the New Orleans Saints, especially Drew Brees, cleaning up with awards and Seth Meyers bringing the house down at the expense of Tiger Woods and LeBron James. Some of Meyers’ best lines included his monologue closing shot at Woods, who was getting ready for the British Open. “So give it up for Tiger Woods…if you haven’t already.” On James’ ESPN one-hour announcement special he said “Did it really need to be an hour? Somebody time me, Miami. How long did that take? A second.” And he took one final shot at James with this gem, “Literally every team that has ever won an NBA championship has done it without LeBron James.”
F – Fedor and Fabricio. It’s the rematch everyone wants to see. The undisputed top MMA fighter in the world, Fedor Emelianenko, was stunned in 69 seconds by Fabricio Werdum in a Strikeforce show in San Jose last month. Everyone wants to see the rematch, except for Strikeforce officials who want to put Emelianenko in the octagon against another opponent first before seeing Werdum again.
G – Greg LeMond. The soap opera that is United States cycling took another turn for the worse when LeMond, the former American cycling hero and three-time Tour de France champion, was subpoenaed to testify in the trial against current American cycling hero and seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong. LeMond has been a major critic of Armstrong lately and is prepared to implicate Armstrong. Although Armstrong fired back at LeMond, challenging him to “tell the truth about 1989,” potentially referring to LeMond cheating during his second Tour de France victory.
H – Henry, Thierry. In one of the most important free agent signings in United States history, the New York Red Bulls (yes, named after the drink) have lured over Henry from Barcelona. Henry is 32 years old but appears to still have a few more years of peak soccer left. He signed a four-year deal with the Red Bulls and landed in the states on Thursday. This is the anti-Beckham signing. Henry’s deal will be nowhere near the $250 million that Beckham received, but Henry is here to play soccer, not to land on tabloid pages and boost his wife’s celebrity status. Also unlike Beckham, who made numerous trips back to England and Italy on a rental basis, Henry appears to be here to stay and to win.
I – Interpol. The international police organization took more than 5,000 people into custody after a crackdown on illegal World Cup gambling in Asia. Police seized over $10 million during the operation that conveniently went from June 11-July 11, the exact length of the World Cup. More than $155 million in bets came in and $117 million was the amount of funds the illegal operations generated. Considering the profit margin it appears the Asian bettors all bet on North Korea.
J – John Daly. The ‘Wild Thing’ flirted with the top of the leader board after Day 1 at St. Andrews and captured the attention of the golfing world with his blue and pink paint-smeared pants. His golf game struggled after Thursday, but he still left us with some press conference gems. On his curious pants Daly said, “The good thing about them is you get dressed in the dark, any shirt is going to match.” And on his recent lap band surgery that dropped his weight to 185 pounds, Daly said. “The thing I miss most about having the band put in is I can’t drink the vitamin D milk, the whole milk. I used to drink a half-gallon of that a day. When you used to be as hungover as I used to be, it was great. Got rid of everything.”
K – Kovalchuk, Ilya. The NHL’s version of “The Decision” this offseason finally came to an end when Russian sensation Ilya Kovalchuk made a deal with the Devils. He signed with his current team, the New Jersey Devils, for a longer term than most American marriages. The eight-year veteran signed a 17-year deal for a reported $150 million. His other candidates were the Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders and SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL in Russia. The 2001 first overall pick in the NHL Draft came over to New Jersey in a deadline deal with the Atlanta Thrashers, the only other NHL team he had played for. It looked to be a rent-a-player trade at the time, but now the Devils have Kovalchuk until 2027 when he will be 44 years old.
L – Loyalty. Pictures of LeBron James are circulating around tabloids and on the Internet of James on vacation in Bahamas. The pictures of the shirtless James reveal a large “Loyalty” tattoo down his left torso. No word on when he plans on finishing the tattoo by adding “Dis” to the front of it.
M – Maurkice Pouncey. An investigation is underway involving former Florida Gator offensive lineman and the current Pittsburgh Steeler Pouncey. Sources have alleged that Pouncey was paid $100,000 by an agent after the Gators’ loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. Imagine if they would have won! If the former Florida lineman did in fact pounce on the cash, then he would have been ineligible and Florida may have to vacate its New Year’s Day win over Cincinnati. Needless to say, it’s doubtful the 6-foot-4, 300 pound lineman was the deciding factor in the Gators’ 51-24 win over Cincinnati, but this likely is the Big East’s best chance to win a BCS bowl game this decade.
N – New York Yankees. It has been a tough week for the New York Yankees. First long-time public address announcer Bob Sheppard passed away on July 11 and then owner George Steinbrenner passed away two days later. Both were commemorated in ceremonies at the All-Star Game and back home at Yankee Stadium when the Bronx Bombers returned home on Friday to a capacity crowd and delivered a 5-4 win over Tampa Bay.
O – Oosthuizen, Louis. The little-known South African dominated St. Andrews’ Old Course and won a British Open by seven strokes. The tournament had little suspense to it. The 27-year old stunned the field and earned $1,305,593 in his first major championship and became the fourth South African golfer to win a British Open.
P – Pacquiao, Manny. The best pound-for-pound fighter in the world appears to be headed to a fight against someone not named Floyd Mayweather Jr. The dream fight hit yet another snag when a self-imposed deadline came and went with no word from the camp of Mayweather Jr. Pacquiao has agreed to the extensive drug testing that was a sticking point of previous negotiations but now it appears as Mayweather Jr. is simply dodging Pacquiao at all costs. The fight, if it would happen, would be the richest fight in boxing history. Bodog currently has odds posted in case the fight happens this calendar year with Mayweather Jr. a favorite at -140 and Pacquiao listed at +110.
Q – Qwest Field. The World Cup may be over, but soccer interest remains in this country, especially in Seattle. The Seattle Sounders sold out Qwest Field with 36,091 fans the day after the World Cup Final. It was the 25th consecutive sellout at Qwest Field. A week later it hosted European club team Celtic in a friendly and expanded seating to fit 45,631 fans. The crowd was especially large for Seattle Sounders’ goalie Jordan Jennings, who just a day before the game against Celtic was playing in a developmental league game in front of an estimated 25-30 people.
R – Roy Halladay. The Phillies’ new ace pitched 148 innings before the all-star break. He is only the third pitcher in the past 15 years to have thrown as many innings before the break. Halladay leads all major league pitchers in innings pitched and complete games with seven. Despite his impressive stats that include a 2.40 ERA, Halladay was sitting at 10-8 for a struggling Phillies squad.
S – Sheard, Jabaal. The summer of collegiate football player misconduct and subsequent suspensions continues, but Pitt defensive end Jabaal Shear may have just topped the summer police blotter list. After a night of drinking in Pittsburgh’s South Side bar district, Sheard got into an altercation with another man as Saturday turned into Sunday. Police responded to the fight and began striking Sheard with batons while the 6-foot-4, 260 pound Sheard absorbed the blows and continued to pummel the victim. As police tried to break up the fight Sheard picked up the victim and threw him through the glass door of an art gallery adjacent to popular night club S Bar. He then followed the victim inside the gallery who was bleeding and lying on the ground and continued to punch him in the face. Sheard was finally subdued by pepper spray and taken to jail. Sheard has officially been suspended from the Pitt football team.
T – Texas. The University of Texas at Austin finished second in college football last season after a loss to Alabama in the BCS Championship Game, but when Playboy unveiled its annual rankings of top party schools, the Longhorns were first. The magazine cited Devil’s Cove, the football gameday atmosphere and the nightlife on Sixth Street in crowning Texas the nation’s top party school. The Longhorns finished just ahead of the professional partiers at West Virginia University. The Mountaineers earned the No. 2 ranking on the party school list and the magazine recognized the school for having better tailgating at its women’s soccer games than most schools do at its football games.
U – Usain Bolt. It was more of the same from the fastest man in the world this past week when Bolt ran away with the 100 meter crown at the IAAF Diamond League meeting held in Paris. Admittedly, Bolt did not run his best race. He was timed at 9.84 seconds, just ahead of fellow Jamaicans Asafa Powell (9.91) and Yohan Blake (9.95). Bolt’s crown could be in danger if he runs another poor race in an upcoming showdown against Powell and the American Tyson Gay. Powell is the last sprinter to defeat Bolt in his premier event, the 100-meter dash, and Bolt and Gay are the only humans ever to run 100 meters in less than 9.7 seconds while Bolt is the only one ever to break the 9.60-second barrier.
V – Velasquez, Cain. The next MMA fighter in line for a shot at Brock Lesnar is Velasquez. Most non-die hard UFC fans have not heard much about Velasquez, but these odds should open some eyes. Lesnar is only a -160 favorite at the fight, which is scheduled for Oct. 23 in Anaheim at UFC 121. Velasquez currently has odds at +130. The 27-year old former All-American at Arizona State is 8-0 after a first-round knockout victory at UFC 110 in Australia against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. He has never lost a round in MMA competition and Velasquez is ranked as the No. 4 heavyweight in the world by Sherdog, who ranks Lesnar No. 1.
W – Wade, Dwyane. Nine years after the attack, it is still, and may never be, safe to mention 9/11 or the World Trade Centers in a sporting context as Wade found out this week. He had to issue an apology on the following comment: “There's going to be times when we might lose one, two games in a row, maybe two games, three games in a row, you never know…You all are going to make it seem like the World Trade has just went down again.” In case New Yorkers did not have reason enough to boo the new Miami Heat trio, they sure do now.
X – Xavier Henry. The rookie out of Kansas was the No. 12 overall pick in the NBA first round, but in the race for Rookie of the Year, the former McDonald’s All-American has the sixth best odds on BetUS at +2000. The Memphis Grizzlies selected him in the draft. Memphis is originally where Henry planned on playing his collegiate basketball until coach John Calipari bolted for Kentucky. Henry’s odds are behind favorites Blake Griffin and John Wall, who are both +200. Wall was the No. 1 overall pick this year and Griffin was the top pick last year but he missed the entire season, meaning he is still considered a rookie this year.
Y – Yzerman, Steve. The Tampa Bay Lightning rookie general manager wasted no time in making an offseason splash when he sent defenseman Matt Walker and a fourth-round pick to Philadelphia for winger Simon Gagne. The wheels for this trade were set in motion a month ago at the NHL Draft when Yzerman first started talking to Flyers GM Paul Holmgren. Gagne was a lifelong Flyer, playing for them in 664 games. His 259 goals rank ninth all-time amongst Flyers. The veteran Gagne will help boost a young team that feature talented players like Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis.
Z – Zydrunas Ilgauskas. There was no live ESPN one-hour special, or jerseys lit on fire on Cleveland streets or rock throwing at billboards or profanity-laced tirades by Dan Gilbert, but on Saturday ZIlgauskas became the latest former Cavalier to bolt for South Beach where he will be reunited with LeBron James. With the signings of Mike Miller, Chris Bosh, James and now Ilgauskas, the Heat have added exactly zero players with an NBA championship on their resume.