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So Paid: An Unfocused Look at the Past Week in the World

And let heads explode in 3…2…1.

I can only promise you one thing. This Week in Review will be better than last week’s effort.

Mother Nature has decided to have an apparent bonfire in Tampa this week as the temperatures continue to reach record highs. The thermometer has read like defensive tackle numbers: 96, 97, 94.

I can hear Buccaneer players quivering at the idea of training camp starting in one week from my living room. But that could also be the sound of me quivering at the thought of watching them take the field.

Regardless, it’s Friday. Let’s do this.

I’m actually going to start this post out on something of a serious note. Ridiculous idea, I know.

Last Thursday, a man by the name of Warren Cason passed away at the age of 85. Simply put, Mr. Cason (as I always referred to him) was the man. He grew up in the strawberry fields of Plant City, Fla., and carried the humble demeanor that those fields produce with him throughout his entire life.

He would go on to become a lawyer and create a very good life for himself and his family. But more than anything, he dedicated his life and his general well-being to the University of Florida.

I came to know Mr. Cason in his later years when he became a customer of my dad’s air conditioning company. It’s cliché to say, but I’m pretty sure he bled orange and blue. He was one of the most highly noted “Bull Gator” athletic boosters and also a regular donor to the university’s academic programs. He spoke of names that are immortalized on campus – Ben Hill Griffin, Stephen O’Connell, etc. – in a matter-of-fact manner. One of his four children wanted his granddaughter to go to Harvard instead of UF. He kind of groaned at the idea.

Seats on the 50-yard-line and fourth quarter passes to his sick skybox were a perk, but listening to him talk about Gator football made him sound like a kid.

My senior year of high school, he offered to take my paper work and turn it in himself to the UF officials to assure me a spot at the only school that I had ever wanted to attend. My mom said no, something about a “D” in physics and “fairness.” A couple of years later, I got into Florida anyways via community college.

So long, Mr. Cason. You’ll be sorely missed both in Tampa and on the 2,000 acres of land that the University of Florida calls home.

To read a great write-up about Cason from legendary Tampa sportswriter Tom McEwen, click here.

Now onto my attempts at humor.

Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly getting married to awesome Russian model Irina Shayk. I mean this sounds like a perfect pairing. He’s a 20-something-year-old athlete who is in his prime and at the absolute peak of his sport. She is a gorgeous model taken by his pure greatness. Wait a second… Wait a second… RUN FOR YOUR LIFE, IRINA! THIS IS GOING TO END TERRIBLY!

"I'm warning you."

Two anchors at New York City’s local Fox station made people hate them even further this week when someone decided that it would be a great idea to have them interview veteran international soccer superstar Thierry Henry without any form of noticeable preparation or research. The interview was set to preview Henry’s big debut with the New York Red Bulls of the MLS. If you enjoy awkward moments and the downfall of major market media, you can watch it here.

Among the questions asked:

  • So you just won the World Cup, right? (Uh, no he’s French.)
  • We like blowouts in America. What was the biggest lopsided victory you ever had? 3-0? (Ugh.)
  • Did you like those horns? Were they distracting? (Really? You can’t at least Wiki “vuvuzelas” before you go on air.)

Did I mention that this is in NEW YORK FREAKING CITY and not some low rent station in southeast Nebraska?

The other Celtics.

In other soccer news, the sport attempted to destroy the fabric of America by holding two of the biggest sporting events that the country had to offer on the same Wednesday night. Celtic Football Club took on Sporting Clube de Portugal at the little green dump known as Fenway Park while Manchester United was busy playing the Philadelphia Union at Lincoln Financial Field.

Manchester United impressed well, um, no one by defeating an expansion MLS team just 1-0. I’m assuming Celtic just got really drunk and voted illegally because I love stereotypes.

In his best efforts to not become the illegitimate child-breeding Karl Malone of the 21st century, Carl Crawford took one for the team (well, not really) and returned to first base leading with his left foot instead of his right during a pickoff attempt by Orioles pitching. Insert a one-liner of your own after clicking here.

Whammy

Tiger Woods is apparently still America’s favorite athlete according to some mysterious poll. This should come as no surprise to anyone. We also love James Bond, John Shaft and Vinny Chase.

Lou Piniella has announced that he will retire at the conclusion of this season. If his final game does not involve him beating umpire Joe West over the head with third base, then I will be sorely disappointed.

Louis Oosthuizen won the 2010 Open Championship on Sunday. No, I don’t have an opinion about it either.

The annual media days of the Southeastern Conference are taking place this week which means two things. A – I am furious that SC was not invited to partake in this year’s festivities; and B – It is suddenly nullifying and trendy to refer to sports agents as “pimps.”

Holt and Hilson: Not in this picture.

You see, this year’s rendition of SEC media days just happened to come at the epicenter of everyone flipping out about players, agents and money. Robbie has already discussed this controversy in a somewhat lengthy manner, so I’ll keep my analysis very short and concise.

Maurkice Pouncey didn’t do a damn thing wrong. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Get that cash.

M.O.B… Go Gators.

New fight song?

Get rowdy this weekend. Do it for A.J. Green.

-Bryan

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Rocco Baldelli, But Why?

Class A's Finest

There’s been plenty of sappy stories written on this topic. This isn’t really one of them.

Rocco Baldelli made his big another return to baseball on Monday night. This time it was for the Charlotte Stone Crabs, the Single-A Florida State League affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.

The last time that Baldelli took the field as a player, he was in a Boston Red Sox uniform, the team that he idolized as a child growing up in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. This time he faced the Daytona Cubs and struck out all four times that he came to the plate.

Baldelli signed a minor league contract with the Rays the same day that he made his return to baseball against Daytona. The move was the first official step to a process that most saw coming from a mile away.

The background of Baldelli is very well documented. He was the “Pride of Woonsocket,” the first-round draft pick with all the potential in the world. He carried the unique blend of power and athleticism, even drawing premature comparisons to Joe DiMaggio from a number of veteran scouts.

The Good Ole' Days

All of that ended when a long string of injuries resulted in doctors insisting that Baldelli undergo some medical tests. They discovered a mysterious mitochondrial disorder that most doctors still aren’t quite sure what to think of.

Baldelli has been somewhat able to fight through the disorder, but it has definitely been a very ginger fight. Managers are forced to count the amount of times that he swings the bat like it’s a star pitcher’s pitch count. They are forced to conserve him as much as possible, rarely letting him play an entire game or on consecutive days.

The generic disorder that Rocco has makes many routine things a challenge. His muscles tire after the lightest of workouts or activities. The deeper he goes into a game or workout, the more and more chances skyrocket of a serious injury. It was said during his occasional contributions during the Rays’ 2008 playoff run that his legs would often begin shaking badly if left in past the sixth inning or during long innings.

But when effective, Baldelli is special. This is why the Rays continued to give him a chance in 2008, and why the Red Sox surprised some by giving him a $500,000 chance in 2009.

Boston’s gamble didn’t pan out. Baldelli appeared in 62 games, registering 150 at-bats, meaning that he was paid a little over $3,333 for every at-bat.

Rocco in Boston

When there was no interest in free agent Rocco after 2009, the Rays brought him back as a “roving instructor.” His job was supposedly to travel to the Rays’ various minor league outlets and coach prospects on baserunning and outfield defense. However, it became clear that the title was something of a cover-up early in the 2010 season. When the Rays were at the Trop, Rocco often was too. When the Rays took batting practice, Rocco was usually involved.

The Rays are firing up another attempt at a Rocco comeback, but why?

Baldelli was a slight asssett to the team in 2008 during both its regular season pennant race and playoff run. But to many, the 2009 season proved that he still is heavily crippled by this medical issue that doctors shake their heads at.

The Rays feel an obligation to Baldelli. The franchise is known for being painfully loyal to players, and its treatment of the once-promising centerfielder is a glaring example of that loyalty. This is why they signed him to a minor league deal and started discussing hopes that he could contribute down the stretch when rosters expand.

Loyalty is the only way to explain it.

Tampa Bay possesses one of the deepest and most fruitful farm systems in baseball. The Rays have excessive amounts of talent to draw upon when baseball allows them to extend their roster in September. From Desmond Jennings to Jeremy Hellickson to Fernando Perez, these are all players that can contribute every day, play in versatile roles and not need the constant personal attention of a team physician.

Only a matter of time.

But they’re not Rocco.

They’re not the man who stood in a press conference on March 12, 2008, and made an entire room teary-eyed as he questioned his condition, his career and his life. They’re not the man who Rays’ players all grew out beards in honor of as they awaited his return from the disabled list during that same season. They’re not the Pride of Woonsocket.

The March 12 Presser

Whether it’s right or not, some things get treated as more than a baseball decision. Sure, Rocco is worth pulling for. But to what extent?

-Bryan

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Brooklyn Decker: An Unfocused Look at the Past Week in the World

Because this week was boring.

Not a whole lot to say. Robbie is already here

In America we have traditions.

On New Year’s Eve, we drink our faces off. On the Fourth of July, we blow things up. On Thanksgiving, we eat too much. On the week of MLB All-Star break, we rake our eyes out with boredom.

For many, baseball serves as the unappreciated girlfriend during the summer months. She’s not beautiful, sometimes you feel like she needs to change things up and you occasionally find yourself waiting for something better to come along (read: NFL). But dammit all if she’s not the most reliable young lady in the world.

She’s there when you’re bored at home and she’s there when you need a little entertainment while out on the town. It’s only when she’s gone that you realize how gaping of a void she can produce.

So baseball took it’s annual “do you appreciate me now?” leave of absence this week and left us with nothing but an awards show and golf in a giant field.

Americana.

As most know, there was pretty much one big story this week and it was kind of tragic. I’m going to make my job even more difficult by not mentioning that particular story. Wish me luck. Let’s do this.

I’m going to begin the campaign now. I want to be Rory McIlroy when I grow up.

No, I don’t care that he is technically two months younger than me or that he didn’t have a great second day at The Open Championship. He is the man, and I am thoroughly jealous of him.

One can only imagine a day in the life of a 21-year-old Irish golf star. I’m guessing something like this:

  • Wake up, go to the driving range.
  • Come home, eat an Irish person kind of breakfast. First girl of the day.
  • Go play a practice round of golf. Wind down with second girl of the day.
  • Go to a local pub, go through a couple of glasses of Jameson. On the house, of course.
  • One  more trip to the driving range. Avoid legions of girls on the way to your car. Find one good one, make her the third girl of the day.
  • Go out at night. Rinse and repeat.

Good for you, Rory. Good for you.

Pre-whiskey binge

The ESPY Awards took place on Wednesday night. I personally was not able to watch the show, but general consensus points to two important factors in the vent. The first being that Jeremy Shockey thought that everything was absolutely hilarious. Much like this post, that may or may not have been the direct result of alcoholic products.

The other groundbreaking piece of information is that Brooklyn Decker is one of the single most incredible individuals on the face of the earth. This is one of the most serious statements that you will ever read on Sports Casualties and it cannot be stressed enough.

Umm, did I mention there’s a golf tournament going on in Scotland?

I could kill some time by talking about wrestling… Didn’t watch any of that this week either.

Remember when Rick Reilly was a somewhat entertaining sportswriter and not a destructive menace to all of television?

I personally think that it’s very nice that ESPN pays Scott Van Pelt a respectable amount of money to re-create the same job that he once held on the Golf Channel.

Speaking of the Golf Channel, there are some pretty good-looking women on the new season of “The Big Break.”

I’m currently watching the Marlins-Nationals highlights. I think I might have just seen Robbie in the stands, but it could have just been one of the other 200 people in attendance.

He's there!

On Thursday night, I saw Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman out at MacDinton’s Irish Pub, it took everything in my power to not set up a ridiculous plot to destroy his ACL.

Southern Methodist University has declined a couple of football prospects because of their academics, and the football program is not too happy about it. Craig James says that he knows exactly what everybody needs to calm the situation.

“Jersey Shore” returns to television on July 29. Who’s excited? ME! ME! ME!

Robbie may or may not be in an episode of the new season. You’ll only know if you watch.

The Yankees blew the All-Star game and ruined the awesome streak of the American League. Oh sure, play your sappy mourning card. Like that’s going to work.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m struggling pretty bad to dig any relevance out of this week. This is not good.

I think I’m going to quit now.

Brooklyn Decker.

This is funny, I think.

-Bryan

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David Reutimann Comes Full Circle

No. 00

David Reutimann kisses his wife Lisa and climbs into his No. 00 car which is covered in advertisements for Tums. He will be starting in seventh in the Saturday night Lifelock.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Just outside of Tampa is a small town by the name of Gibsonton. In Gibsonton is East Bay Raceway Park, a 1/3 mile dirt track located beside a phosphate pit. The track is dubbed “The Clay by the Bay” by some and is mildly famous for its Ybor City restarts and its annual Winternationals event.

On most Saturday nights, East Bay is home to the best people-watching in Hillsborough County, two announcers who seem oblivious to the fact that their microphones are turned on and a driver that is simply introduced as “The Living Legend.”

The Legend.

The Living Legend drives a No. 00 open-wheel modified car sponsored by Aaron’s. It’s very rare that anyone gives him much of a fight. It’s even more rare to see him not win a race. He has the best equipment and the most fans. His name is Buzzie Reutimann and he is the 69-year-old father of current NASCAR Sprint Cup driver David Reutimann.

While not nearly as nationally prominent as an Earnhardt, a Petty or an Allison, the Reutimann name is famous at race tracks all over the state of Florida.

David’s grandfather, Emil Reutimann, Jr., was a regular at short tracks throughout Central Florida. He especially raced frequently at Tampa’s three old local tracks: the fair grounds, Phillip’s Field and Golden Gate Speedway. Tampa was a given for the family’s drivers as the Reutimanns were based roughly 40 minutes away in Zephyrhills.

Racing became a staple for the Reutimanns. By the age of 13, Buzzie was working on race cars even though his mother was firmly against it. He soon began following in his father’s footsteps, running Chevrolets on a regular basis at Tampa’s trio of short tracks. He lived for short tracks and even made one appearance in a NASCAR race, a tenth place finish in the only NASCAR event ever held at Golden Gate Speedway on November 11, 1962.

One thing remained consistent for all of the racing Reutimanns. They all drove cars adorned with the No. 00.

In 1970, the Reutimanns welcomed the member of the family who would go on to carry their legacy the highest. But David was born just three years before tragedy struck. In 1973, Emil was driving on Highway 301 in Tampa on his way to a race. His youngest son Dale and Dale’s good friend Gordon Stone were also in the car when a drunk driver crossed into the opposite lane. The crash killed all three of them.

In the early going of the Lifelock.com 400, Jimmie Johnson is dominating. Looks like another predictable night at the track.

David Reutimann first flirted with the more glamorous side of stock car racing in 2002 when he raced in a handful of events for the then Busch Series. In 2004, he began his first stage of a partnership with the Waltrip family when he signed on to race in the Craftsman Truck Series for Darrell Waltrip Motorsports.

As part of the initial movement to usher Toyota vehicles into NASCAR, Reutimann was rather successful in his introduction to trucks. He was able to finish 14th in points in 2004, a feat good enough to earn him Rookie of the Year honors. However, in an evolving NASCAR where stars are made at 18 and drivers are considered grizzly veterans by their early 30s, a 34-year-old truck series rookie is not exactly ideal.

In 2005, Reutimann had what would be his first and only victory in the truck series at Nashville Superspeedway. Maybe the biggest legacy that he would leave in the truck series was from some of his crashes. Plenty of commercials for the truck series featured video of his No. 17 truck getting destroyed in a bad wreck.

Quite a legacy.

Reutimann made his name slightly more well-known in 2006 when he was not only able to finish third in the truck series final standings, but he also managed to run in 15 Busch series races, finishing in the top 10 four times.

During the 2006 season, I met him at a sponsor event before a Busch race at Daytona. Having been at the truck race the night before, I talked to him about that before briefly shifting the conversation to his family. I told him about how my grandpa used to watch Buzzie, Emil and his Uncle Wayne race in Tampa and how it was only natural for our family to become fans of his.

As humble as most anyone that I’ve ever met, he seemed genuinely surprised that anyone knew his name, much less his background.

After three somewhat successful years in a truck, David moved from Darrell Waltrip’s truck team to Michael Waltrip’s Nextel Cup team. Michael’s group was an upstart team and one of the few proponents of Toyota during its controversial first year in the Nextel Cup.

Reutimann would be driving a car with a split sponsorship between Burger King and Domino’s Pizza. However, what was more important than the sponsor was the number that adorned the car. No, 00, just like Emil and just like Buzzie.

Jimmie Johnson slides through the grass, drops to 24th and then soon hits the wall to drop two laps down. Meanwhile Reutimann is consistently running in the top five.

The 2007 Nextel Cup Series rookie class consisted of a 27-year-old Paul Menard, a 22-year-old David Ragan, a 26-year-old A.J. Allmendinger and the 37-year old man from Zephyrhills.

Michael Waltrip brought in Reutimann to be a catalyst for his new team along with veteran Dale Jarrett. The move was the NASCAR equivalent of adopting the pimply 16-year-old in an orphanage full of adorable toddlers. And, to be honest, there were plenty of days when the move didn’t seem completely logical.

Reutimann failed to register a single top 10 finish during the 2007 season. To make matters worse, Michael Waltrip Racing’s three cars failed to qualify for a combined 39 races in 2007 and none of them were able to achieve a top five finish.

Fun while it lasted, or not.

Domino’s and Burger King left MWR after the season, leaving Reutimann in search of a sponsor. Dale Jarrett left Reutimann his No. 44 UPS car after he retired a few races into the season. This shifted the No. 00 car, now sponsored by Aaron’s, over to rookie Michael McDowell.

But UPS signed into NASCAR because they wanted a big name like Jarrett representing their company, not a low-profile guy without a top 10 finish on his resume. Reutimann was able to get 4 top 10 finishes in 2008, but it wasn’t enough to impress UPS, who left for a team that MWR had recently become an arch rival of, Roush Fenway Racing and driver David Ragan.

Now in second place, Reutimann trails only Jeff Gordon. Crew chief Rodney Childers encourages David to wait for Gordon to make a mistake.

“Are you kidding?” Reutimann replied. “He’s Jeff Gordon. When’s he going to make a mistake?”

Reutimann is able to take the lead on lap 213.

Reutimann was brought back to familiarity in 2009. Painfully loyal to David, Michael Waltrip gave him back the No.00 Aaron’s Dream Machine car in 2009. The result was a fresh breeze of success. He finished the 2009 season with 10 top 10 finishes, five top five finishes and one bittersweet Monday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C.

Reutimann won the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR’s longest event and one of its most prestigious. It was his first career victory in the now Sprint Cup Series. However, the race that Reutimann won was actually the Coca-Cola 340.5, a rain-shortened event that ended with little celebration or satisfaction.

He said all the right things after the win. He’d take whatever he could get. It was a shame they couldn’t run the whole thing, but a win is a win. But deep down, the victory would kind of haunt him for the next year. He had reached the crowning moment for a family that revolved around racing, but plenty said that it wasn’t legitimate.

So one year, one month and 15 days later, Reutimann came to Chicagoland Speedway, still in the unique process of gaining redemption for a win. He drove the same No. 00 Toyota Camry, this time with secondary sponsor Tums plastered across the hood. He carried the same humble demeanor that has become linked with a slightly more fiery nature.

David Reutimann holds off Carl Edwards to cleanly win the Lifelock.com 400. There are no drivers calling it illegitimate, only guys talking about what a great guy David is and how deserving he is of this win. The only rain comes in the form of confetti and a variety of liquids in victory lane.

Brad Keselowski finishes in 18th. This is important because, as my grandpa would say, as long as Keselowski is running, David is only the second ugliest driver.

The moment is emotional. Crew chief Childers tells reporters that he doesn’t have a lot to say about this, but his tears say it all.

The post-race becomes the first notable stage for media to bring up Reutimann’s free agent situation. After the 2010 season, his contract with MWR is up, and he is free to go wherever he would like. On the heels of the LeBron “Decision” nonsense, plenty of jokes are made during the late television coverage.

But this is not a selfish superstar, this is the hard-working product of generations of drivers who never made it this far. He pledges his loyalty to MWR and insists that they have made a “handshake deal” that will soon be translated to paper.

“I’m not going anywhere,” Reutimann said. “I’m going to be at Michael Waltrip Racing. I may be cutting the grass, but I’ll be at Michael Waltrip Racing.”

In a word, refreshing.

-Bryan

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Witness: An Unfocused Look at the Past Week in the World

Ugh

Not sure exactly what happened this week. Thanks, LeBron. Robbie is already here.

A part of me doesn’t even want to write the major portion of this Week in Review that I am about to type. After all, you’ve seen enough about it, you’ve read enough about it and you’re probably as generally disgusted as I am… But I have to do it.

Thursday night, LeBron James engraved his spot as the most self-centered, egotistical and bloviating athlete in sports.

I’d agree with the comments of my esteemed co-author and say that this entire thing made me sick, but that would not be entirely true. You see I make it pretty clear around here that I am not much of a fan of the NBA, so for me, this was something of an “I told you so” moment.

What was last year a slightly above-average Heat team will now become the official all-or-nothing championship seekers because of two additional names. Not quite as bad as the Celtics in the past but still proof that free agency has corrupted basketball more than any other sport.

Before the LeBron variety hour began, I made a comment saying that I would respect James much more if he stayed in Cleveland, but I admitted that it was not necessarily what I wanted to see happen.

In a way, I was pulling for him to change but not because of some rooting interest or desire to see him win a title. I was pulling for change the same way that I pull for narcissistic reality show families to fall apart into cold pieces. I wanted chaos, and I got it.

Too easy.

The funny thing about this hysteria is that it really should have surprised no one.

As most know, LeBron James was born and raised in Akron, Ohio, just 39 miles south of Cleveland. Now I know that many people feel differently about hometowns, I can only speak for myself when I say that mine means everything to me.

But for LeBron that was never the case. He grew up the epitome of a gutless, bandwagon sports fan. He was a “loyal” fan of the Chicago Bulls, New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys, three franchises that have won a combined 14 championships during LeBron’s life. The definition of a bandwagon sports fan.

"Suck it, Cleveland!"

So when it came time to make a “decision” on Thursday night, it was only appropriate that he went with the bandwagon choice.

Lane Kiffin received tons of public hatred in January when he left a town that he had no real personal relationship with to return to coaching at a school of which he was familiar.

On Thursday night, LeBron James burned the only community that he has ever truly known to the ground and relieved himself on its ashes. He is the biggest traitor in sports.

As James said toward the end of his nauseating run of the some of the worst television in recent memory, he did “what was best for LeBron James.” Maybe he did do what was best for the happy-to-be-third-person-referential athlete, but there is no denying what he did to Cleveland. The city where he once had the opportunity to be an iconic figure and do something special is left deserted. There is no dream team, no South Beach celebrations, no sun-kissed celebrities lining up to buy courtside season tickets.

No, there are blue-collar people left dazed by a man that they once called a civic hero. They have nothing but an angry demeanor, a giant LeBron “WITNESS” billboard taunting their every move and an owner making empty promises to try and keep attendance over 10,000 next season.

Pain, thy name is Cleveland.

LeBron said he doesn’t expect Cavs fans to give him a warm welcome whenever he returns to Cleveland in a Heat uniform. Uh, you’re damn right.

I hope he gets showered with boos everytime he touches the ball. I hope he tries to do his little chalk trick and gets splattered with $8 beers. I hope the Cavs beat the living hell out of him.

Because what he did was wrong.

With just over one hour of self-congragulatory programming, LeBron went from being a well-liked figure in the NBA to public enemy No. 1 in many circles. Everyone except Heat fans likely left last night with a distaste for LeBron James, and even they were probably pretty sick of him until he said that he would be “taking his talents to South Beach.” He will be hated in a vast majority of the arenas that he travels to next season, something that is new for him.

In case the past 686 words haven’t made you feel the need for a shower, the Yankees are reportedly very close to bringing in Cliff Lee.

Much like Robbie, I don’t feel the desire to talk about much else, but I’ll do it anyways.

Jeremy Green, ESPN scouting analyst and the son of Dennis Green, was arrested Thursday on charges of both child pornography and a variety of drug charges. In Green’s defense, scouting is part of his job description.

Seven to 10 Tennessee Volunteer football players were involved in an eight to 11 man fight inside Cumberland Avenue’s own Bar Knoxville on Thursday night. The group of underachieving football players reportedly beat up on one man inside the bar, a “fight” that culminated with players attempting to swing bar stools.

Oh, Bar Knox.

Once the fight was broken up, they of course did what all logical college athletes would do. They went outside and stomped down an off-duty police officer in the middle of Cumberland Avenue. Head coach Derek Dooley pretended to be disappointed when asked about the incident, but did ask for permission to make next season’s Florida game an 11-on-1 handicap match to bring out his team’s strengths.

On Sunday, the Netherlands and Spain will meet in the 2010 edition of the World Cup final. I’m pulling for Netherlands, but mainly just because I want to see live video of the Red Light District looking like my local shopping mall on Black Friday.

A team that may or may not play roughly 30 minutes from my house is on a five-game winning streak, but I refuse to mention its name in fear of the SC Jinx. If they don’t win tonight, I will consider never even giving this much of a mention about them on SC ever again.

-Bryan

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50 Things You Should Know About Tampa

The obligatory water/skyline picture.

The belated response. Why? Because we’re not a damn Miami blog. That’s why.

50) Yes, we know it is confusing, but the St. Pete Times Forum is located in downtown Tampa. If you hear someone call it anything other than the Ice Palace, they’re not from here.

49) For the last time, this is TAMPA, not TAMPA BAY.

48) Ybor City is our way of:

  • A: Chasing off tourists that we don’t like.
  • B: Funneling all sketchy residents into one condensed area.
 

 

Don't go there.

 

47) For safer and more enjoyable nightlife, try Channelside District, the South Howard Avenue (SoHo) bars, or any assortment of the more laid back North Tampa pub scene.

46) If country music is more your thing, I’ll see you at the excessively large Dallas Bull, or the more quaint and authentic Round-Up.

45) The city splits into North Tampa and South Tampa at Kennedy Boulevard. Much like Florida, the further south you go, the further north you go.

44) John Lynch, Warren Sapp, Derrick Brooks and Mike Alstott could all still run for mayor and win.

43) I may or may not have gotten goosebumps writing those four names.

 

 

Mr. Mayor?

 

42) Nobody is actually from here, except me. Third-generation Tampa native and damn proud of it.

41) While driving to a Tampa Bay Rays game from North Tampa you will pass:

  • George M. Steinbrenner Field
  • Yankee banners on street lights
  • An assortment of giant signs reminding you of how many titles and pennants the Yankees have won.

40) If you at all frequent Starbucks or Carrabba’s, you will eventually see Derek Jeter. But if you’re lucky, you’ll see Minka Kelly.

39) Speaking of Jeter, at 30,875 square feet, he is currently having the largest home in Hillsborough County built on Davis Island. It comes complete with a giant wall scandal that’s pissing off fine neighbors everywhere.

Casa de Jeter

38) Jeter’s house may not have its own zip code, but Idlewild Baptist Church does.

37) Residents are technically supposed to be called “Tampans.” We avoid that title for obvious reasons.

36) Tampa has the highest population of UFC fighters in the nation. Everywhere you look there are people wearing crazy Affliction and TapouT T-shirts. Wait, those aren’t UFC fighters? My bad.

35) Miami has Little Havana, Tampa has little New England. You might know it as the University of Tampa.

34) The University of South Florida’s football program began play in 1997, proving that it was possible to have a team with even lower academic and behavioral standards than “The Big 3.”

33) Tampa has more strip clubs per capita than any city in America. The most famous of these is Mons Venus whose owner has run for public office.

 

 

A hefty slogan.

 

32) If you have ever been to Mardi Gras and thought “uh, this could use some pirates and boats,” then the annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest is for you.

Everybody's favorite holiday.

31) Where fans now park to go to Raymond James Stadium once stood Tampa Stadium. It was here that my persona was sculpted at an early age. For better or worse.

 

 

Pretty sure this is some kind of metaphor.

 

30) Yes, we wish they still wore creamsicle.

29) Don’t be alarmed when you go to a Tampa Bay Lightning game and fights are greeted louder than home team goals.

28) Our lives are miserable any time a Tampa team plays a team from the northeast.

27) Short list of people no longer welcome around town: Keyshawn Johnson, Tim Brown, Coco Crisp, Bill Parcells, Keyshawn Johnson.

26) Being educated and respectable decreases your chances with the women.

25) You want the Cuban food, trust me. For lunch, try the West Tampa “Boliche Row” restaurants by the stadium. These include Arco Iris and La Teresita. For dinner, take it up a notch and go to the historic Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City (but don’t wander around).

24) Teddy Roosevelt was a frequent customer at Columbia with his Rough Rider troops during the Spanish-American War. *Historically inaccurate.

 

Magnificent.

 

23) Tampa: Beaches! Tiki Bars! Palm Trees!… No, that’s St. Pete.

22) On May 5, 1973, Led Zeppelin played in front 56,800 people at Tampa Stadium in what was at the time the largest audience to ever see a single artist performance. They came back again in 1977 but were greeted by a cloud of tear gas.

21) Tampa is known as the de-facto headquarters of pro wrestling. I know, this explains a lot. Pro wrestlers that call Tampa home include: Hulk Hogan, John Cena, Edge, Chris Jericho, The Big Show and Batista.

20) If you see John Cena at Best Buy, give him a chair shot to the back of the head. He loves it.

19) Cigars are a great, great thing.

18) If you have a fear of bridges, you’re S.O.L.

 

 

The first Sunshine Skyway.

 

17) If you see a sign that says “Tampa Historic District,” run like hell.

16) Every parent whose kid plays baseball thinks that their son will be the next Tino Martinez, Fred McGriff, Doc Gooden, Gary Sheffield, etc.

15) I’ll tell you an awesome secret that you can’t tell anyone else: [whisper voice] Gino’s Bar and Restaurant.

 

 

You can thank me later.

 

14) Bucs games are somehow more enjoyable when the team is awful.

13) Dale Mabry Highway will take you just about anywhere that you need to go.

12) If you ask someone where they’re from and they say Tampa. Ask what part of Tampa. If they say “Brandon,” take them to the top of the Sunshine Skyway and toss them off.

11) Alcohol is legal at the Gandy Beach. Sleeves and non-denim clothing are not.

10) Typical weekend

Saturday Morning

Saturday Afternoon

Saturday Night

9) If you’re out at Channelside, be sure to stop by the Channelside Towers, luxury condos that serve as the pseudo dorms for Rays players without families.

8 – The city was happy when the Bucs won the Super Bowl. It erupted the week before when the Bucs beat the Eagles to get there.

7) If you have a house on Bayshore Boulevard, you’re stupid rich.

6) The brewery that my Grandpa was a career employee at is no longer here, but Budweiser is still king.

5) Busch Gardens and Adventure Island are nothing more than a giant daycare for 12-15 year olds who are hated by their parents.

4) We have a pirate ship in our football stadium. What do you have?

 

 

We win.

 

3) The most successful pro sports franchise in Tampa history plays on a 50-yard piece of carpet and kicks footballs off of nets.

2) There aren’t too many rules on a Seminole Indian Reservation. Thus the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino was born.

1) Life doesn’t get much better than a summer afternoon at the 1-800-Ask-Gary Ford Amphitheatre.

-Bryan

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Stadiums and Stirrups: An Unfocused Look at the Past Week in the World

It’s been a historic week. Time to cheapen it to the level of every other week.

It has been a magnificent week, Casualtists.

World Cup soccer has captivated the United States and left every strange soccer enthusiast that you once bashed saying “I told you so!” And the Tampa Bay Rays have devised an apparent solution to their current slump. No, it doesn’t come in the area of personnel or strategy. It is instead a revert back to 1980s baseball fashion.

More on both of these monumental moments later. Let’s do this,.

I will start off by saying that this will be my final post on Sports Casualties for the next nine days. On Saturday, I will be catching a low-budget flight to southeast Asia to take part in a very important mission trip. I hereby declare myself the Tim Tebow of SC.

Just kidding.

In truth, I am headed to Port Canaveral, Fla., tomorrow where I will be boarding a cruise ship bound for the Caribbean. The week that follows will take me to locales such as Cozumel, Jamaica and Grand Cayman, and through an unhealthy amount of gourmet food and alcohol.

Aside from World Cup games, I plan on doing my best to completely disconnect myself from all Internet and the world during this week, so expect me to be the Forrest Gump of sports commentary upon returning.

"That's my boat."

Robbie Hilson will hold the site down as he does so well as I sleep on pool decks and drink a Dos Equis for each and every one of our loyal readers.

I haven’t studied the bracket yet, but I am genuinely hoping that there is no possibility of the USA playing Mexico on the day that I spend in the country of Mexico. I’ll go ahead and guess that it wouldn’t just be the water that is unsafe for Americans to drink on that day.

Speaking of soccer, why jump into anything else?

Landon Donovan’s amazing-but-not-really-so-amazing game-winning rebound goal still has the USA buzzing about its national team’s chances in the round of 16. Yes, the goal cemented many people’s future plans to name their son Landon and generally made him a rock star amongst the Yank populace.

Iconic

But what his goal actually did is begin a period of historic adventure. For as big as Donovan’s goal seems right now, every moment in the upcoming game against Ghana will seem even larger. A couple of victories could truly make this a savory stretch that absolutely hypnotizes a nation.

The thrilling victory over Algeria and the possible deep run into the tournament has everyone in America feeling pretty damn jubilant. Everyone except Dave Zirin of “The Nation,” the bleeding-heart publication that overthinks everything as bleeding-hearts tend to do.

It reminded why these kinds of international competitions can leave me with such a sour taste. Why can’t we just recognize that Algeria played gallantly against a better US team, which won by the skin of its teeth? Why must an insanely miraculous athletic victory also be a reinforcer of cultural supremacy? It’s yet another reminder why it is so important for progressives to not just thrill to the joys of sport but be conversant in the politics of sport.

Fair and Balanced

Um, because it’s a damn sport not a conference on sociology. I’ve always leaned toward the “I live here, so I cheer for the team” model in international play, and quite honestly, I don’t understand people who don’t. I’m sure to”The Nation,” this makes me some kind of uncultural, ignorant jackass, but I could honestly care less. I also cheer for any team with any kind of a tie to Tampa. It’s what I do.

Suck it, “The Nation.”

In possible chick flick news, Donovan’s game-winning goal appears to be just what was needed to regain the affection of ex-but-not-really-ex-because-they’re-not-officially-divorced wife Bianca Kajlich. Donovan reportedly had an emotional phone call with the actress after giving her a strange shout-out on ESPN after his goal.

Oh sure, play the “I just scored the winning goal and became an American hero” card. Like that’s going to work.

Okay, it might work.

I’m going to guess that this was not how Bill Clinton and Carlos Bocanegra (posted at the top) spent their winning evening. Mr. Clinton, I don’t often agree with your politics or your taste for women, but damn, that’s an awesome picture.

On Monday, Rays’ owner Stu Sternberg announced that serious talks on a new baseball stadium need to begin immediately and noted that professional baseball cannot survive in downtown St. Petersburg. Translation: Move me to Tampa or get me the hell out of this place.

St. Pete Mayor Bill Foster basically responded by saying “tough s**t.” He said that the team and the city are bound at the hip until 2027 whether they like it or not, and St. Pete will not agree to any talks outside of Pinellas County. Sternberg says that he will sell the team if serious talks do not include Tampa and Hillsborough County. He also added that “the new owners would have no reason to keep the team here.”

I'm on his side.

Congratulations, St. Pete. Much like you are able to chase young kids off your front lawn with a cane in your whitey tighties, you are managing to chase off a professional baseball franchise. Seriously, St. Pete, I have a strong distaste for you and it is not improving.

In happier Rays news, the Rays won on Thursday, a rare feat during this recent miserable slump. The win can only be credited to one thing. That is the amazing striped stirrups that were ordered by the equipment manager and worn by no fewer than eight players and every coach on Thursday. Players sporting the great retro touch included Evan Longoria (who went 3 for 4), B.J. Upton (who hit a home run) and Willy Aybar (two RBIs).

Perfection

When asked what training camp is like, this was the response of Tampa Bay Buccaneers head freaking coach Raheem Morris.

When asked for comment, owner Malcolm Glazer said “What the hell are you looking at? I’m saving money!”

The funny thing is that Morris used the exact same line that Lawrence Taylor uses when he first picks up a hooker.

Because we’re supposed to cover everything: John Isner and Nicolas Mahut played a really long tennis match.

AND NOW, I BRING TO YOU…AMERICA.

Bring on Ghana.

-Bryan

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