– The 25th anniversary of the Royal Rumble is just days away! According to the PWInsider, employees at WWE headquarters were recently polled an asked what former WWE superstars they think would make a big impact at the Rumble (ie Kevin Nash in 2011). Most of the names mentioned were legends, including Hall of Famers Ricky Steamboat and Dusty Rhodes. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan is also a possible legend that could enter the Rumble. Duggan has a biography coming out in the next few months, and WWE plans to re-introduce him on TV in the coming weeks to promote its release. As far as who could win the Rumble, three names we’ve heard from reliable sources are Chris Jericho, Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler.
– According to Shi Davidi of Sportsnet.ca, the Blue Jays have signed RHP Brandon Morrow to a 3-year/$20M extension with a $10M option for a fourth year or a $1M buyout. The new deal would buy out his final two years of arbitration and his first year of free agency. Morrow, 27, requested $4.2M and was offered $3.9M from the club when arbitration figures were exchanged last week. Morrow was 11-11 with a 4.72 ERA and 1.29 WHIP in 30 starts last season, but had a 203/69 K:BB ratio.
– According to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com, the Red Sox have signed OF Cody Ross to a 1-year/$3M contract. The deal includes bonuses based on plate appearances. Ross wanted a 3-year contract this winter, but was never going to get anywhere close to that. He’ll likely platoon against lefty pitchers, which is good news for his righty bat at right-field-friendly Fenway Park.
– Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com reports that the Blue Jays have signed SS Omar Vizquel to a 1-year contract. Vizquel, 45 in April, batted .251/.287/.305 with seven doubles and eight RBI in 182 plate appearances with the White Sox last season. He’s entering his 24th season. The 44-year-old actually pre-dates the Rogers Centre–he made his MLB debut on April 3, 1989, and the then-SkyDome was opened on June 5, 1989.
– Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports that the Orioles have signed 3B Wilson Betemit to a 1-year contract, pending a physical. Betemit gives the team another option at third or first, but because of his lack of defence, could easily become the new starting DH. The 30-year-old batted .285/.343/.452 with eight home runs, 46 RBI and a .795 OPS over 359 plate appearances last season between the Royals and Tigers.
– The Padres have signed LHP Clayton Richard to a 1-year/$2.705M contract. The 28-year-old was 5-9 with a 3.88 ERA and 53 strikeouts over 18 starts in 2011 before undergoing season-ending surgery on his left shoulder on July 29.
– Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times reports that the Angels, Orioles, Phillies and Blue Jays are targeting free agent RHP Francisco Cordero. Cordero could close in Baltimore, but would probably be a setup man anywhere else.
– Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Rangers are discussing RHP Koji Uehara with multiple teams, including the Blue Jays. The Orioles were reportedly trying to re-acquire Uehara, but it’s not known whether they are currently in the mix. While the 36-year-old struggled after joining the Rangers last July, and was left off the World Series roster. Uehara is under contract for $4M in 2012.
– The Padres have voted in favour of baseball commissioner Bud Selig’s 2-year contract extension. Selig’s latest agreement was finalized in a 30-0 vote, the commissioner’s office said Monday. Because it was not on the agenda when owners met January 12 in Arizona, unanimous consent was needed for approval. San Diego owner John Moores, upset the Padres’ sale to Jeff Moorad’s group was not approved, voted no. Owners then decided to have a vote conducted by return ballot over 10 days, which fulfilled the notice requirement. Selig has been in charge of baseball since September 1992. He turns 80 in July 2014 and would pass Kenesaw Mountain Landis in September 2016 as the longest-serving commissioner. His latest term runs through Dec. 31, 2014.
– New Astros’ owner Jim Crane is considering changing the name of the franchise as well as its uniforms. Crane says the team will conduct a study to decide whether or not to change the name, and that switching uniforms is something they are “highly considering.” Any changes wouldn’t happen until 2013 when Houston makes the move from the NL Central to the American League.
– Capitals’ F Alex Ovechkin has been suspended 3 games for his charge on Penguins’ D Zbynek Michalek. Ovechkin left his feet for the hit before making contract with Michalek’s head. Ovie will not be eligible to return until February 4 due to the All-Star break, and will forfeit $154,677.75 in salary. After a slow start, Ovechkin is beginning to heat up, recording 12 goals and 21 points in his last 23 games.
– Bruins’ G Tim Thomas opted against joining his teammates in their visit to the White House in celebration of their 2010-11 Stanley Cup championship. Thomas, who won the Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy, decided to boycott the event in protest because he feels the US government “has grown out of control.” He released the following statement:
“I believe the Federal government has grown out of control, threatening the Rights, Liberties, and Property of the People.
This is being done at the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial level. This is in direct opposition to the Constitution and the Founding Fathers vision for the Federal government.
Because I believe this, today I exercised my right as a Free Citizen, and did not visit the White House. This was not about politics or party, as in my opinion both parties are responsible for the situation we are in as a country. This was about a choice I had to make as an INDIVIDUAL.
This is the only public statement I will be making on this topic. TT”
Bill Daly then issued the following statement:
“While we do not agree with Tim Thomas’ position, the National Hockey League respects and supports his right to have a political view, and his right to express that view in the manner in which he chose.”
– Oilers’ F Jordan Eberle will replace Wild’ F Mikko Koivu (shoulder), and Penguins’ D Kris Letang will replace Jets’ D Dustin Byfuglien (knee) in the 2012 NHL All-Star Game. Wild’ F Nick Johnson will also join the Rookies team, replacing Oilers’ F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder).
– Free agent QB David Garrard (back) is expected to be 100% by the end of March following October surgery. Garrard, 34, missed the entire 2011 season rehabbing his back, and was forced to decline a number of mid-season contract from NFL teams in need of a capable quarterback.
– Vikings LG Steve Hutchinson plans to continue playing in the NFL. Head coach Leslie Frazier said, ”He’s doing fine. From what I was told, he’s passed that concussion that he had, and I know he wants to still play.” Hutchinson’s season was ended by a concussion. Beat writer Tom Pelissero considers Hutchinson “unlikely” to return to the Vikings. The 34-year-old is due a $6.95M base salary in 2012.
– Former NFL WR Sam Hurd has hired new lawyers to defend him against accusations he tried to establish a drug-dealing network. Hurd, 26, will plead not guilty this week to charges he tried to buy large quantities of cocaine and marijuana, said his new lawyers, Michael McCrum of San Antonio and Jay Ethington of Dallas. Authorities say they caught Hurd telling an undercover agent he and a co-conspirator already distributed cocaine throughout the Chicago area and needed more supply.
– ESPN First Take analyst Skip Bayless revealed that he had made a bet with Ravens’ LB Terrell Suggs for their AFC Championship game. If the Patriots won, Suggs had to wear an ‘I love Skip Bayless’ shirt–if the Ravens won, Bayless had to wear a Ravens jersey. Following the team’s loss, Suggs re-joined Bayless on First Take and called Bayless a “douchebag.” Check it out:
One day after losing the heartbreaker, Terrell Suggs joined Bayless on First Take today and his frustration boiled over. In Suggs defence, Bayless can definitely be a douchbag.
– Chael Sonnen explains why he is one of the few fighters that do not give honor to any God they believe in after a big win. His quote is as follows:
“You know, these guys want to talk about God. ‘Oh, I want to thank God. I want to thank God.’ Listen, I’m a God-fearing man, go to church every Sunday and have since I was a boy. But if I ever found out that God cared one way or another about a borderline illegal fist-fight on Saturday night, I would be so greatly disappointed that it would make rethink my entire belief system.”
– According to a report from The MMA Corner, UFC officials recently announced that they will now be banning all weapons-related sponsors, including companies related to guns, knives, ammunition, and hunting. The ban has been extended to all UFC events, not just those broadcast on the Fox family of networks, beginning January 23. The report is as follows:
Although the UFC’s seven-year deal with Fox is still in its infancy, the effects of the deal are beginning to trickle through the MMA world.
The MMA Corner has learned from sources close to the situation that the latest impact is that guns and ammunition sponsors, such as The Gun Store and Ammotogo.com, have been banned from events that take place on the Fox family of networks.