May 11, Week in Sports
:: Manny Ramirez Suspended for Using Banned Substance (Pro. Baseball)
:: Broken Foot Knocks Yao Ming Out of the Playoffs (Pro. Basketball)
:: Brett Favre Considering Return to NFL (Pro. Football)
SAY IT AIN’T SO, MANNY
Manny Ramirez, the Los Angeles Dodgers slugger and one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game, was suspended by the league after failing a drug test. Ramirez has already started serving his 50-game suspension–nearly one third of the 2009 season.
Ramirez did not test positive for steroids, but he did test positive for human chorionic gonadotropin, a female fertility drug that is often used to rebalance the amount of testosterone in the body after steroid use. After news of the suspension broke, Ramirez released a statement saying that a doctor had prescribed HCG to him and that it was all just a big misunderstanding. Of course, the sports world has long since grown weary of such implausible excuses, and nobody in the media even pretended to believe Manny’s statement. Losing Ramirez is a painful blow to a Dodgers team that has gotten off to a tremendously hot start, currently holding the best record in all of baseball.
In March of 2009, Ramirez signed a two-year, $45 million contract with the Dodgers, after a long and drawn out contract negotiation process. During his suspension, Ramirez will not be paid, which means that he will lose out on approximately $8 million.
Quote of the Week: “The best and brightest neighborhood in the Los Angeles sports landscape is a very different place today. Mannywood has officially gone to hell.” — Bill Plaschke, L.A. Times
Further Reading: “Dodgers’ Manny Ramirez suspended 50 games after failing drug test ” — Dylan Hernandez, L.A. Times
YAO-UCH! ROCKETS LOSE THEIR STAR CENTER
After struggling throughout Game 3 of the series between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets, Rockets center Yao Ming discovered that he had a fracture in his left foot. The injury means that Yao’s season is over, and the Rockets will face an up-hill battle without their center.
Through Game 3, when the Rockets lost Yao, the Lakers had fought their way to a 2-1 series lead, but it hadn’t been easy. The series has not only featured Yao’s injury, but it has also been marked by flagrant fouls, ejections, suspensions, and very physical play on both sides. The dirtiest play of the nasty series took place during Game 2, when Derek Fisher of the Lakers was ejected for crashing into Luis Scola with his head and shoulders. Fisher received a one-game suspension for the play. NBA bad boy Ron Artest, who plays for the Rockets, has also been involved in the action as well. Artest was in line for a suspension for a late-game flagrant foul, but the league has since reduced that penalty and Artest will not be further disciplined.
With Yao out for the series, everyone has pretty much counted out the Rockets. Yet the Rockets responded strongly on Sunday, blowing out the Lakers to even the series at 2-2. With the series tied up and the bad blood boiling, this series promises to be the most exciting of the second round of the playoffs.
Quote of the Week: ”I think everyone but us got the memo that we weren’t supposed to show up today without Yao.” — Shane Battier, Rockets player
Further Reading: “Yao injury raises Rockets doubts anew ” — J.A. Adande, ESPN.com
SURPRISE, SURPRISE: THE COMEBACK KID HINTS AT A RETURN
This week, rumors began swirling that future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre was considering a return to the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings. If Favre were to return, it would be the second year in a row that he retired only to immediately come out of retirement to suit up for the start of the season.
After Favre originally retired from the Green Bay Packers at a tear-filled press conference, he changed his mind and returned to the league, only to wind up playing for the New York Jets in 2008. That entire event was such a media circus that Favre became a laughingstock in the sports world, especially after his poor performances in the final games of the regular season kept the Jets out of the playoffs. All in all, his return to the league was regarded as an amusing, if not successful, experiment. After his relationship with the Jets ended, Favre once again announced his retirement. However, Favre has always expressed an interest in playing for Minnesota, a team with a great defense, strong running game, and no strong quarterback. It appears as though the Vikings brass will offer Favre the position, but whether or not Favre will take it is unclear.
Though Favre has recently denied any interest in playing in the NFL this year, everyone is confident that we would at least strongly consider it, especially given his penchant for flip-flopping about his career. Over the weekend, sources claimed that Favre’s medical records had been sent to the Vikings for review. If that is true, and if the 39-year old Favre is healthy enough, it is likely that the Vikings will at least make him an offer sometime soon.
Quote of the Week: ”The Boy Who Cried Retirement” — Dashiell Bennett’s nickname for Favre (Deadspin)
Further Reading: “Source: Tests a factor in Favre’s future ” — ESPN.com News Service, via ESPN
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEK
:: PRO. BASKETBALL: The NBA playoffs continue this week. Check out the schedule at www.nba.com.
:: HOCKEY: The Stanley Cup playoffs continue this week. The Pittsburgh Penguins currently lead the Washington Capitals 3 games to 2 in the most anticipated matchup of the second round. Game 6 of that series will be played on Monday. The rest of the schedule is available at www.nhl.com.
MLB (Pro. Baseball): The 2009 season is underway, and it runs through October. [Official MLB Website]
NBA (Pro. Basketball): The 2008-09 NBA playoffs are currently underway. [Official NBA Website]
NCAA MEN’S BASKETBALL (College): “The Tournament” is now over. The University of North Carolina won the 2009 national championship over Michigan State. [CBS Sports]
NFL (Pro. Football): Now that the NFL Draft is over, things will be relatively quiet until training camp begins in the middle of July. [Official NFL Website]
NCAA FOOTBALL (College): The college football season is now over, with Florida defeating Oklahoma in the national championship game. [NCAA Football, ESPN]
MEN’S GOLF: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Major Championships: The Masters, U.S. Open, The Open (The British Open), and the PGA Championship. The next Major Championship is the U.S. Open. [Official PGA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Tiger Woods, Phil Mickelson
NHL (Pro. Hockey): The Stanley Cup playoffs are currently underway. [Official NHL Website]
MEN’S AND WOMEN’S TENNIS: While there are professional tournaments throughout the year, the most important tournaments are the four Grand Slam tournaments: the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. The next event is the French Open, which takes place in May. [USTA Website]
NOTABLE PLAYERS: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Ana Ivanovic