‘The Simpsons’ Spares the Knicks – Thanks to Kristaps Porzingis

Kristaps Porzingis

The New York Knicks aren’t exactly good again, but they have reclaimed some of their old swagger – and it’s all thanks to Kristaps Porzingis.

With the rookie sensation dunking on fools and hitting 3-pointers like he’s the second coming of Stephen Curry, the revitalized Knicks look like they can remain in contention for a playoff spot in the East. And as such, they’ve managed to avoid becoming a punch line – not just in the NBA, but in popular culture as well. That’s what the Philadelphia 76ers are for.

Case in point, in the opening moments of Sunday night’s episode of The Simpsons, the show took a swipe at the Sixers. Superintendent Chalmers is looking to buy some sunscreen at the Kwik-E-Mart, but thanks to parade-day prices, the tube will cost him $30. Or, as Apu informs him, he could cover his head with a 76ers cap for free. A mortified Chalmers quickly forks over the loot. That’s how bad things are in Philly.

Originally, though, it was supposed to be a Knicks logo on that cap. But as Simpsons writer Michael Price revealed

Guus Hiddink not satisfied despite unbeaten Chelsea run

Diego Costa

Guus Hiddink has urged Chelsea to demonstrate their unbeaten run under his interim stewardship has not been a deception by undermining Arsenal’s title challenge at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

The champions travel across London having won only six Premier League games this season, albeit one against the leaders, who had been reduced to nine men, in September. They hover only four points above the relegation zone.

Hiddink has not lost any of his six matches in charge, though four draws from his five league matches – with leads surrendered in three of those encounters – have been a source of frustration.

“Everyone knows where we were in December,” said the Dutchman. “On the one hand, so far we are unbeaten. But I’m not sitting here proudly saying: ‘We haven’t lost a game.’ I’m not fully satisfied with the results. We have to make the next step, moving away from the inconsistency where we’ve had half a game that was good and the other half not so.

“We’ve had some half results but we want full results. We can’t be patient, saying

Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero ‘When I’m fit, goals will flow’

Sergio Agüero is certain that once he regains full fitness he will become even more prolific after scoring four times in his past five games following recent heel and knee injuries.

Last season Agüero collected 32 goals in all competitions for Manchester City. His 26 in the Premier League won him the competition’s golden boot.

Agüero injured a heel in November’s victory over Southampton and then suffered a knee strain a month later in his first match back, the defeat at Arsenal. Despite these and other problems this term the Argentinian has scored 13 times in 21 matches, including twice in last Saturday’s 4-0 win over Crystal Palace, but he believes there is more to come.

“As time goes on I’m getting to feel better and better physically, and I’m getting my full fitness back,” the 27-year-old said. “Obviously as I get back to full fitness, the goals will start to flow. It’s all about

Two Senators Urge NFL to Resolve Labor Disputes

With labor troubles looming over the National Football League season and the prospect of a football lockout next spring, two Republican senators have sent letters to the league and the NFL Players Association urging a quick resolution to behind-the-scenes wrangling, CNBC has learned.

The letters appear to be the first time Congress has weighed in on the lockout issue publicly, although members of Congress frequently speak to lobbyists for the NFL and the players association.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) urged the league and its union to conclude negotiations before the end of the season.

And, in a letter dated September 27, Graham offered a bit of a brush back to all the football lobbying he’s seen on the Hill:

“As with many issues that should be resolved in private negotiations, both your organizations have been canvassing Capitol Hill seeking support for your position should there be a labor dispute next spring,” Graham wrote. “I encourage you in the strongest possible terms to settle your dispute without congressional involvement.”

In a letter dated August 6, Senator George LeMieux (R-FL) argued that the country can’t afford the layoffs that would come with an NFL

Nickname Just Call Broncos’ Defense One of the Best Ever

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The Denver defense was so dominant this season that part of the prelude to a Super Bowl in which the Broncos were officially the underdogs included in-depth discussions about what the defense’s nickname should be if the team managed to win.

While the team kicked around ideas like Orange Rush, a reference to Denver’s Orange Crush teams of the late 1970s, it will take some time for a nickname to build momentum. But after powering a team with almost no offense to Sunday’s 24-10 win over the Carolina Panthers, the highest-scoring team in the N.F.L., the Broncos’ defense clearly deserves one. It would not seem a stretch to include Denver on a list of the most dominant defenses in N.F.L. history, alongside the 1985 Chicago Bears, the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, the 2013 Seattle Seahawks and the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers.

Peyton Manning heaped praise on the defense while congratulating Von Miller for being named the game’s most valuable player.“Von earned it,” Manning said. “He’s been awesome. I’m just glad I’m on the same team as our defense.”


Newsflash Girls Can Play Baseball Too

While Jackie Robinson’s achievements as the first African American major league baseball player are well documented, very few people know about Ila Borders – the first female pitcher in integrated men’s professional baseball and the first woman to win a men’s professional game in the independent leagues. Nor do they know about the 17 girls that have played in the 68-year history of the Little League World Series. But thanks to 13-year-old pitching phenom Mo’ne Davis, that has all changed.

With knee-buckling curveballs and 70 mph fastballs, the five-foot teenage pitcher who plays for Philadelphia’s Taney Dragons doesn’t just play with the boys, she dominates them. Davis and 12-year-old Kayla Roncin who plays for Tom River Little League in New Jersey, first garnered the world’s attention in early August, as the only two girls among the hundreds of kids on the 52 teams in the regional finals.

While Roncin’s team was not among the 8 US teams that made it to the 2014 Little League World Series in South Williamsport, PA, Davis and her Taney Dragons were just a game away from the World Championships, when they lost to Chicagoon August, 21st. But

NLRB says Northwestern football players can unionize

It’s hard to imagine how the National Labor Relations Board could become any less popular among Republicans, but it certainly seems to be trying. On Wednesday, Peter Sung Ohr, the board’s regional director in Chicago, ruled that football players at Northwestern University were employees of the school with the right to unionize, and he pledged to schedule a vote on unionization at a later date.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a former president of the University of Tennessee, quickly denounced the ruling in a statement. “Imagine a university’s basketball players striking before a Sweet Sixteen game demanding shorter practices, bigger dorm rooms, better food and no classes before 11 a.m.,” Alexander said, showing that he’s lost track of college students’ priorities. “This is an absurd decision that will destroy intercollegiate athletics as we know it.”

The next step almost certainly will be a review of the ruling by the full NLRB. But Northwestern’s prospects seem little better there, considering that the board (most of whose members are Democrats appointed by President Obama) has been notably more sympathetic to unionization than the NLRB was under President George W. Bush.

Ohr found that

College football players have right to form a union, NLRB rules

Northwestern University football players have the right to form a union, a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board ruled Wednesday, setting the stage for potential dramatic change to the college sports landscape.

Peter Sung Ohr, in Chicago, ruled that “players receiving scholarships from the employer are ’employees'” and ordered that an election be conducted to determine whether Northwestern players wanted representation by the College Athletes Players Assn. for the purposes of collective bargaining.

Northwestern will appeal the decision to the NLRB in Washington. That probably will not be the final step in a process, that could eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

If the ruling stands it could affect other private universities such as USC. The NLRB does not have jurisdiction over public universities.

Ramogi Huma, president of CAPA, which has pushed for changes in college sports and was the petitioner in the case, said, “Obviously, we’re very pleased” and that he was confident the Northwestern players would prevail. The players’ case has been underwritten by the United Steelworkers union.

“Sixty years ago, the NCAA invented the term ‘student-athlete’ to avoid this

Klingler Has NCAA-Record 11 TD Passes

HOUSTON — David Klingler threw an NCAA-record 11 touchdown passes and tied the NCAA season record of 47 scoring throws in a season, leading No. 12 Houston to an 84-21 victory over Eastern Washington on Saturday.

A week ago, the Texas Longhorns beat Houston, 45-24, knocking the Cougars (9-1) out of a chance to win the national championship and ending their 12-game winning streak. Klingler wanted to put that behind them in a hurry.

“That (the record) is nice, something I might look back on, but what’s important is the won-loss and I wish we had that one last week,” Klingler said. “I wish we could switch weeks, but this is the best week I’ve had as far as accuracy.”

The Cougars scored on their first six possessions on passes by Klingler, who extended his NCAA record of most 400-yard passing performances in a season to eight.

“It was pretty much like practice,” receiver Tracy Good said. “We’ve had harder practices. Their defensive backs weren’t too fast. It was like a scrimmage, really.”

Eastern Washington hadn’t been beaten so badly in 68 years. Coach

Lonnie White dies at 49 Times sportswriter, USC football player

Lonnie White, a former USC football player who worked for two decades as a Los Angeles Times sportswriter, has died. He was 49.

White, who had a number of health problems over the last several years, died Saturday at Glendale Memorial Hospital, his sister Terri said.

White worked for The Times from 1987 to 2008. He covered the Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Kings, the NFL, UCLA football, USC basketball, high school sports and was a general-assignment reporter.

His work was recognized several times in the Associated Press Sports Editors annual writing contest and he wrote the book “UCLA vs. USC: 75 years of the Greatest Rivalry in Sports.”

“Lonnie was one of the truly good guys in our business, respected and liked by almost everyone who knew him professionally and personally,” said Times sports editor Mike James, who worked with White throughout his career at the newspaper and edited his book. “This is a very sad day.”

White was born in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 7, 1964, and grew up in New Jersey, where he starred in football and track and field at Asbury Park

Jury finds helmet maker not responsible for football player’s injury

It was a collision that rewrote the future of a young man: A football team captain on the verge of heading off to college would instead become a child-like invalid who struggled to tie his shoes.

Edward Acuna was 17 when he took the field for Pomona’s Garey High on an October night. In the fourth quarter, he sustained a helmet-to-helmet hit. When the defensive lineman eventually regained consciousness, he was partially paralyzed, was unable to utter simple words and had lost his short-term memory.

Four years later, a Los Angeles jury deliberated this week for less than 30 minutes and decided that Acuna’s severe brain injury could not have been prevented by his Riddell Revolution helmet. Acuna had sued the company, claiming it knowingly manufactured and issued a defective helmet pad.

An attorney for Riddell called the allegations “baloney.”

“It’s the helmet my son wore, in high school and college,” said James Yukevich in his closing statement. “It protects your head. It performs better than any standard that exists in the world.” Peyton Manning, he added, wore the Revolution in the Super Bowl.

Former Cowboy Richards Has Seen Life Become Anything but Golden Because of Drugs

SALT LAKE CITY — On his knees, his head aching, his body shaking, his stomach churning, Golden Richards, in a cold sweat, would hover in his bathroom over the toilet in desperate search.

He had to do something. There were no more painkillers–no more Percodan pills–in the medicine cabinet or under the bed or in whatever hole he had chosen as the latest hiding place for his drugs.

His demons demanded immediate satisfaction.

He had consumed the last of his stash. But it was morning and, as was its habit, his body was in the throes of rebellion. He couldn’t keep the damn capsules down.

So after retching, he would clutch the toilet bowl and search and pick for traces of the drugs he had taken minutes earlier. When he had salvaged what he could–sometimes he would be fortunate enough to find whole capsules–he would rinse his reclamation in the sink, pop it in his mouth once more and pray his stomach would not reject it again.

Then, when the aching and shaking and churning subsided and he felt whole and ready to face

St. John Bosco running back Sean McGrew shows his speed in track

It’s with great trepidation that I announce news that’s going to create more nightmares for the defensive coordinators who must figure out how to stop Bellflower St. John Bosco on the football field this fall: Sean McGrew is getting faster, stronger and even better.

Yes, he’s the same running back who rushed for 367 yards in 17 carries and scored seven touchdowns in the CIF Open Division regional bowl game against Corona Centennial last season.

Last month, he ran the 100 meters in 10.67 seconds, setting a school record. Not bad for a 16-year-old sophomore with scholarship offers from UCLA, Colorado and Washington State.

“It’s strengthening my legs and lengthening my stride and giving me more endurance,” he said of running track.

Last week, he experienced something he rarely has — defeat. He was beaten in the 100 by the state’s fastest runner, UCLA-bound Curtis Godin of Santa Ana Mater Dei, who set an Orange County record with a time of 10.42. McGrew ran 10.70.

“It was probably the second race in my entire life I’ve ever lost,” he said. “I knew I was

USC, UCLA athletes keeping eye on Northwestern unionization case

Don’t look for the union label around USC’s or UCLA’s football practice facilities any time soon.

Football players at both schools are aware that Northwestern players might unionize. But when asked about the issue recently during spring practice, several said they were only casually monitoring the situation.

“There has been some small talk around the locker room,” said UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley. “We’ll get a lot more information. Obviously, they are starting something.”

Northwestern players will vote Friday on whether to unionize. Last month, a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board cleared the way for that vote by ruling that Northwestern scholarship players were employees of the university, a decision the school has appealed.

The NLRB on Thursday granted Northwestern’s request for review. The players’ votes will be impounded until the review process is completed.

The NLRB has jurisdiction over private universities but not public schools. USC is one of 17 private institutions among 128 Football Bowl Subdivision schools.

Several USC players said they were aware of the unionization effort at Northwestern but they were not actively tracking it.

“No one really wants to focus on

Gabriel has taken his share of blind-side hits

The way Roman Gabriel tells it, the same characteristics that made him a great football player — bullheadedness, combativeness, stick-to-itiveness — served him less favorably in his personal life.

Three times divorced, the greatest quarterback in Los Angeles Rams history is estranged from his daughter and four sons and says he has not seen two of his three grandchildren in years. The other, he has never met.

“I haven’t been very good excelling as a father,” Gabriel says, describing himself as “too grouchy and too ignorant for anybody to stick around.”

The NFL’s most valuable player in 1969, when he led the George Allen-coached Rams to an 11-0 start and their second division title in three seasons, Gabriel is now 67 and lives alone in an apartment in Wilmington, N.C., about a 15-minute drive from where he grew up, the strapping son of a Filipino immigrant.

A two-time All-American at North Carolina State and the second pick in the 1962 NFL draft — he was the top pick in the AFL draft that year — Gabriel proudly calls himself “the only Filipino-Irish quarterback to play

Take a look, college football recruiters

College football recruiters have their GPS devices powered on as they begin visiting high schools to evaluate players over the next month. Let me provide a few suggestions on players who have been overlooked so far.

Maybe they don’t fit a height-weight requirement. Maybe they were injured last season. Maybe they don’t participate in seven-on-seven all-star passing tournaments. Maybe they play multiple sports.

Whatever the reason for not receiving early buzz, these players will be standouts in the fall, and it’s far more relevant how someone performs in a real game compared with how they look running around a red cone.

David Cooper, Los Angeles Loyola, 5-10, 192 pounds. Cooper was the backup running back to Nico Evans last season. “There won’t be a better player,” Coach Marvin Sanders said. Cooper has a 34-inch vertical leap and has run a 4.58 40 meters. “He’s the real deal,” Sanders said.

Aaron Haigler, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, 6-7, 230. Haigler also plays basketball and runs track. He’s a tight end and defensive end just beginning to reach his potential. Humble, hard working and a good listener, he’ll

Fixing college sports: In free agency we trust

The NCAA must be feeling a bit like Dr. Frankenstein these days: assailed by college football and men’s basketball players who reject the NCAA’s precious, but mostly mythic, notion that they are student-athletes.

At Northwestern University, a group of football players scored a first-round victory before the National Labor Relations Board in a campaign to be recognized as “employees” eligible to unionize. For some college football fans, this evokes disturbing images of burly 18- to 22-year-old player-proletarians marching on picket lines instead of lined up on offensive or defensive lines, much less seated in classrooms.

Meanwhile, the lawyer who helped bring free agency to the NFL now seeks to do the same for college football and men’s basketball. Jeffrey Kessler filed suit in federal court last month. Jenkins vs. NCAA charges the association and its five “power conferences” with price-fixing and restraint of trade in violation of the 1890 Sherman Antitrust Act. College sports have “lost their way far down the road of commercialism,” according to the complaint.

But rather than undoing commercialism, Jenkins merely calls for making more room for players to come along on the road trip to

Even after José Mourinho’s exit Chelsea’s numbers are not looking good

The good news for Chelsea is that they are unbeaten since Guus Hiddink replaced José Mourinho as manager in December. The bad news is that 10 points from six league games is probably not a start that is going to close the gap on the top four – which stands at 14 points. The FA Cup remains a possibility but, unless Chelsea somehow win the Champions League, a change of manager alone will not have been enough to salvage the season.

The collapse of the champions is unprecedented in the Premier League era (which in this instance is a useful shorthand for saying since the economics of football dictated a self-perpetuating elite and rigid stratification). It is not necessarily to deny that Mourinho had become a toxic presence to point out that when something is not working at a club, the easiest solution is to sack the manager, who becomes a scapegoat, his slaughter symbolically absolving his people.
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It is a ritual that has been enacted, as James Frazer demonstrates in The Golden Bough, by various groups with various degrees of literalness for millennia.


All-seeing Cech lays to rest Arsenal demons of Chelsea’s Mourinho era

There was a time, not that long ago, when Chelsea’s eyes would light up at the prospect of a collision with Arsenal. This was an occasion to reimpose the recently established order in the capital, when mere mention of José Mourinho drew from Arsène Wenger that all too familiar world-weary look as the talk turned to pre-match handshakes, shoving matches in the technical areas and unwelcome reminders of a dismal record against his Portuguese rival.
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The nouveaux riches from the King’s Road would take reassurance from all the power and presence down the spine of the team and delight as opponents, whose spritely flair could so readily be throttled at source, shrivelled in inferiority. Even back in mid-September, when Chelsea already had an inkling their title defence might be flawed, a game with Arsenal had a galvanising effect and local rivals, preoccupied with the street-fighter in the home ranks, were left frazzled and, ultimately, overcome with relative ease. This was how it was. Chelsea, a side with a knack for accumulating trophies, were the nagging reminder of how the landscape in London had changed.

Liverpool set to raise bid for Shakhtar Donetsk striker Alex Teixeira

Liverpool are considering raising their €32m (£24.6m) bid for Alex Teixeira, as Jürgen Klopp admitted a new addition in January would have ramifications for his existing strikers in the summer.

Anfield officials remain in negotiations with Shakhtar Donetsk over Teixeira despite disparities in their valuations of the 26-year-old being made clear during talks in Florida this week. Shakhtar want €50m for the Brazilian forward and believe keeping the player until the end of the season, when more clubs will be in the market, would help secure that sum.

Liverpool are the only team to make an official offer for Teixeira so far but accept it may take an increased bid to test Shakhtar’s resolve over a player keen on a move to the Premier League.

Klopp kept his customary counsel over Liverpool’s transfer business on Friday and refused to discuss Teixiera, who has scored 22 goals in 15 league games for the Ukrainian club this season. The manager did, however, concede Liverpool’s injury list had “changed everything” regarding the January transfer window and that plans for