Yankees suffer devilish sinking feeling despite heroics of Japan's risen son
MOAN, moan, moan is all that New York Yankees fans seem to do. For all their success in the World Series, few more miserable bunches exist than the Pinstripe Prima Donnas, so they complained like hell when they had to get up at 5am to see their team’s opening game of the season against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, live from the Super Dome in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The decision to move Major League Baseball’s opening day overseas grated with many, but not fans of Hideki Matsui, the Yankees’ Japanese idol who swept home triumphantly. He is such a superstar that the council in his hometown of Neagari-cho offer 160 towards travelling costs to residents heading for the USA to watch him play - provided they produce passport and match ticket.
Even in batting practice, the announcers were calling out his every hit, and when the game began, 55,000 devotees chanted for him to blast a run. He obliged with two, but the Bronx Bombers nosedived 8-3 to the Devil Rays to be condemned to the bottom of the standings for 24 hours.
Something more for the fans back home to moan about...
WHILE so much attention is focused on tomorrow night’s climax of the men’s NCAA college basketball tournament, the women’s event reaches its Final Four stage this evening in New Orleans. Among the coaches, the odd man out is Connecticut University’s ebullient Geno Auriemma, the lone male in charge in the surviving quartet.
He is also the most successful, and highest paid, at $1m a year. In five seasons, his team have won 167 times and lost just five games, and in 18 years at the university he has picked up four titles, and built up such a cult following for the Huskies that virtually every home game is an 18,000 sell-out.
By his own admission, Auriemma can be chauvinistic and over-bearing, perhaps something to do with being brought up in Italy until the age of seven. He has rules and demands respect, and he is so omnipotent on campus that any offer from a leading men’s college would be met with a firm no.
"I’ve tried to use the Broadway analogy with a lot of kids. You’re a performer, and in women’s basketball, this has become Broadway," said Auriemma, whose team will take on Minnesota in the semi-finals. "It’s where the most fans are, and the most attention. So, why would you want to ply your trade anywhere else other than Broadway?"
OVER the years, the Mc- Donald’s High School All-America Game has provided a first televised platform for some of the NBA’s future superstars. Consider these winners of its parallel Slam Dunk contest: LeBron James (2003), Carmelo Anthony (2002), Vince Carter (1995) and Jerry Stackhouse (1993).
On Tuesday night in Oklahoma, the latest in the line of aerial adolescents was crowned after jamming spectacularly with the right hand while covering eyes with the left.
And 17-year-old Candace Parker, who stands at around 6ft 4in and is a student at Naperville Central High School in Chicago, became the first female to win the event.
"It was totally unexpected," she revealed. "I was just trying to get out there and get one down."
Bear this in mind: on only five occasions has a female dunked in a college game, and only once in the WNBA. Parker’s emergence could be a real phenomenon, then.
WHEN players join a new club, there is usually a period of softly-softly ingratiation before they dare to upset any apple carts. Not in the book of Clinton Portis.
Recently arrived at the NFL’s Washington Redskins in a $50m deal, the running back immediately set his sights on the No. 26 jersey of team-mate Ifeanyi Ohalete.
When a simple request by the former Denver Broncos star was rebuffed by the incumbent, Portis offered to get out his chequebook and buy the jersey from him. And when that approach failed, Clinton moved to plan C - a boxing match.
Oelete respectfully declined.
TO illustrate their charitable activities, the PGA Tour are screening a set of advertisements showing leading players doing good deeds.
So Ernie Els is teaching sums to youngsters, while Chad Campbell is building sandcastles with them. As for Jesper Parnevik, he is donating some of his clothes to the Salvation Army.
And let’s face it, the Sally Army are probably the only folk on the planet who would gratefully accept clobber from the flamboyantly dressed Swede.
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