Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Sports Chowdah Update for September 6- Sox Jay-Walk Away In Toronto; North by Northwest- BC Drops Season Opener in Chestnut Hill; Coming Soon- PAC 14?

9/7 UPDATE: At least 40 people are feared dead after a Russian jet carrying players from the KHL hockey club Lokomotiv Yaroslavl crashed while taking off from the Yaroslavl airport Wednesday. The team was flying to Minsk, Belarus for their KHL season opener against Minsk Dinamo on Thursday.

A spokesman from the Russian Emergency ministry said that the Yak-42 crashed shortly after takeoff from the city of Yaroslavl some 150 miles north of Moscow. Authorities haven't determined a cause of the crash yet.

Lokomotiv had won three previous championships, the most recent being in 2003. Their 2011-2012 roster includes former NHL-ers Ruslan Salei, Pavol Demetria and Josef Vasicek as well as Canadian head coach Brad McCrimmon.

RED SOX: Determined to prove that the outcome of the late August series against Boston in Arlington, TX was a fluke, the Texas Rangers came into Boston and took two out of three from the Sox before the Olde Towne Team was slated to head north to Toronto for a 4-game series that began on Labor Day in the Rogers Centre.

Monday's game seemingly ripped the heart out of the Sox, with Josh Beckett leaving the scoreless game in the 4th inning due to an ankle sprain. While the bullpen stepped up tremendously- including 3 ⅔ innings from Alfredo Aceves- the Jays were throwing shutout baseball behind starter Henderson Alvarez. The game would remain scoreless until the bottom of the 11th inning when Dan Wheeler gave up a 2-out walkoff solo homer to Jays 3B Brett Lawrie for the 1-0 Toronto win.

Tuesday was a slightly different story with Jon Lester getting plenty of run support early and often while striking out 11 Jays batters and allowing just 3 hits and one walk in 7 complete innings of work. The Sox jumped all over Toronto starter Luis Perez for 4 runs in the top of the first and seemingly never let up afterwards. After just 2 and ⅔ innings, the Red Sox jumped out to an 8-0 lead and chased Perez from the mound. SS Marco Scutaro went 4-5 with 4 RBI and Big Papi went 4-6 with 2 RBI on the night. The Red Sox win this one going away by a final of 14-0.

Prior to Tuesday night, the Red Sox had only won one out of their last 5 games, putting them two and a half games behind the Yankees for 1st in the AL East. After a lengthy rain delay on Tuesday night, the Yankees beat Baltimore by a 5-3 final in Yankee Stadium to keep the gap at two and a half games

Wednesday night's game will have Tim Wakefield (6-6; 4.95 ERA) going up against Brandon Morrow (9-10; 4.78 ERA). Wakefield, as you may recall, is stuck on career win #199 and has been on a Groundhog Day-esque quest for #200 for the last month or so.

OTHER RED SOX NEWS: While He's expected to miss a start for the Sox, an MRI on Josh Beckett's ankle found no serious damage. Beckett returned to Boston on Tuesday to have his ankle examined by team doctors.

Right-handed rookie Kyle Weiland (8-10; 3.58 ERA with AAA Pawtucket this season) is expected to get the start on Saturday against the Rays in Beckett's place.

PAW SOX: The Pawtucket Red Sox clinched their first playoff berth in three seasons and their first IL-North division title since 2003 with a 12-7 win over the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees on Saturday night. They then closed out the regular season at McCoy Stadium with a 7-3 victory over the Rochester Red Wings.

The Paw Sox will travel to Allentown, PA to take on the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs for Game 1 of the first round of the IL playoffs.

EVEN MORE RED SOX NEWS: Perhaps looking to close their budget shortfall, Hall of Famer and Red Sox slugger Ted Williams will be featured on a postage stamp to be issued by the US Postal Service next year.

The set of stamps will also feature Larry Doby, Willie Stargell and Joe DiMaggio and be denominated in the 'Forver' rate (i.e. it would cost 44 ¢ at the time of issue, but could still be used if there were any rate increases). Ted Williams was the last hitter to have a single-season batting average above .400- hitting .406 in 1941- and although he missed several seasons while serving as a Marine Corps pilot in WWII and the Korean War, Williams was inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1966.

As a rule, the US Postal Service doesn't issue stamps depicting an individual until a decade after their death. An exception to the rule is made for former US Presidents.

OTHER MLB NEWS: Washington Nationals starting pitcher Stephen Strasburg made his first MLB start in over a year on Tuesday night, going 5 scoreless innings and allowing just two hits in a 7-3 loss to the LA Dodgers in the Nation's Capitol. The Nats rookie left mid-season in 2010 with shoulder problems and had Tommy John surgery in the offseason.

Strasburg began his rehab assignments with the Class A affiliate Hagerstown Suns in the South Atlantic League in August and allowed just one hit in six shutout innings with the AA affiliate Harrisburg Senators of the Eastern League.

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: In a surprise move, the New England Patriots cut safety Brandon Merriweather. The two-time pro bowler will likely be replaced by Josh Barrett or Sergio Brown. RB Sammy Morris, WR Brandon Tate, DT Ty Warren and TE Alge Crumpler were among the 15 players released by the Pats at the end of preseason.

Warren was picked up by the Denver Broncos while Merriweather was signed by the Chicago Bears.

The NFL regular season starts Thursday night with the Defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers hosting the New Orleans Saints. New England's season doesn't begin in earnest until Monday night, where they travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins in Game one of a Monday Night Football doubleheader.

OTHER NFL NEWS: NFL Hall of fame Defensive End Lee Roy Selmon passed away from a stroke on Sunday, September 4th at the age of 56. Selmon was born and raised in Eastern Oklahoma and played for the Oklahoma University Sooners with his two brothers in College.

In 1976, Selmon was the first-ever draft pick for the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and remained with the team until his 1984 retirement, notching 742 tackles and 78.5 career sacks.

After his playing days, Selmon remained in Florida and participated in a number of charities and started up a chain of sports bars in the Tampa area.

BOSTON COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Well- that could've gone better. Although both teams headed into the lockers at the half toed 10-10, The Northwestern Wildcats would come back out and get two TDs to put them up 24-10.

Boston College would pull to within a touchdown after Andre Williams capped an 80 yard BC drive with a 1-yard TD run, but that would be it for the offense. Andre Williams would have 22 carries for 106 yards and 2 TDs while Eagles QB went 24-44 with 351 yards and an interception.

The Wildcats' QU Kain Colter would go 17-24 with 197 yards and one TD, but no turnovers either. The Wildcats would also get TDs from RB Mike Trumpy and Adonis Smith in Northwestern's 24-17 win.

The Eagles will next travel to Orlando, FL to take on the University of Central Florida Knighs at 8 PM ET.

UCONN FOOTBALL: To nobody's surprise, the UConn Huskies rather handily defeated the Fordham Rams in their E. Hartford home opener by a 35-3 final. This sets up a meeting in Nashville with Vanerbilt on Saturday wit a 7:30 ET kickoff.

OTHER NCAA NEWS: The Texas A&M Aggies are expected to officially announce that they will be moving to the SEC beginning in 2012. The move would make the Aggies the third school in 15 months to depart the Big 12, with Colorado going to the Pac 12 (formerly Pac 10) and Nebraska going to the Big 10.

Oilman and Oklahoma State booster T Boone Pickens the demise of the Big 12 conference within a few years, claiming that Oklahoma State and Oklahoma might be departing for what's now the Pac-12 conference. Oklahoma university officials in Norman, OK are expected to make a decision on whether or not to remain in the Big 12 conference in the next couple of weeks.

Former Jayhawks coach Don Fambrough with teammate Marvin Small at Reunion in 2008. Photo- Nick Krug
ELSEWHERE IN THE BIG 12: Former University of Kansas Jayhawk player and coach Don Fambrough died after sustaining injuries from a fall while working on his Lawrence, KS home.

Frambrough played for the Texas Longhorns for two seasons before joining the US Army Air Corps in WWII. After serving in the military, one of his Army buddies coaxed him to go to Kansas after the war. There he was on the first Jayhawk team to be invited to a Bowl game- the 1947 Sugar Bowl where they lost to Georgia Tech 24-10.

Fambrough also coached the Jayhawks from 1971 to 1982 where he amassed a record of 37-48-5 record and remained active with the program after his coaching days, often delivering firey anti-Missouri pep talks before the annual 'Border War' games against Mizzou.

Fambrough was 88.

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