Posts Tagged ‘Xavier Nady’

Jets Extend Pavelec, Quick Extension, Charlie Sheen on Raw

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

NHL

– According to the LA Times, the Kings have begun discussing a contract extension with G Jonathan Quick in hopes of getting it done “before next season.” The 26-year-old has 1-year/$1.8M remaining on his contract before he hits free agency. GM Dean Lombardi told the NHL Network, “The one thing I do sense is that I do think that both sides want to get something done. And that goes without saying. A lot of times the deals don’t come together because people aren’t ready to make deals. … But in this case, I get the sense that we have a chance to get something done here before next season.” LA is very likely to re-sign one of the league’s best goalies.

– The Jets have signed G Ondrej Pavelec to a 5-year/$19.5M contract extension. Pavelec was reportedly seeking a 4-year/$17M deal, while the Jets were looking at 3-years/$12M. Pavelec appeared in 68 games, compiling a 29-28-9 record, 2.91 GAA and .906 SV%.

– The Avalanche have signed D Ryan Wilson to a 3-year/$6.75M contract extension. Wilson will make $2M in 2012-13 and $2.375M in each of the final two seasons of his contract. Wilson registered one goal and a career-high 20 assists in 59 games last season for the Avalanche. He led all Colorado defensemen with a plus-11 rating, and also recorded 97 hits and 70 blocked shots.

– According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Penguins are no longer “actively” shopping D Paul Martin. Dave Molinari has it on “rock-solid authority” that Martin is not being offered around the league. The Penguins are rumoured to be primed to make a run at impending UFA F Zach Parise and/or D Ryan Suter come July 1, and clearing Martin’s $5M cap hit for the next three seasons would go a long way towards helping them sign one of the top free agents available.

– The Oilers have extende qualifying offers to forwards Sam Gagner, Linus Omark and Chris VandeVelde, along with defenceman Theo Peckham, Jeff Petry and Alex Plante, and goalie Devan Dubnyk. They will now all become RFAs on July 1. The 22-year-old Gagner finished fourth on the Oilers with 18 goals and 47 points. The London, Ontario native completed his fifth season with the Oilers in 2011-12. Dubnyk, a native of Regina, Saskatchewan posted a 2.67 GAA and .914 SV% and led the Oilers with 20 wins in 47 games in 2011-12. The 26-year old has started 91 games for the Oilers over parts of three years. The 24-year-old Petry is coming off his first full season with the Oilers. The native of Ann Arbor, Michigan recorded 25 points in 73 games last season.

– The Wild have re-signed F Chad Rau to a 2-year deal and F Stephane Veilleux to a 1-year deal. Veilleux returned to the Wild in a trade deadline deal with the Devils in February. He played his first six seasons with Minnesota. Rau scored two goals in nine games with the Wild last season.

– Devils’ D Mark Fayne (wrist) underwent surgery last week to repair a ligament, and will miss the next 4 months. Fayne, who had the injury on his left wrist, had three assists and was a plus-5 in the post-season. He had 30 shots on goal and 31 hits. In the regular season, he had four goals and 17 points.

MLB

– Dodgers’ manager Don Mattingly said Monday that OF Matt Kemp (hamstring) likely won’t return until the second half of the season. Kemp quickly aggravated his hamstring injury in just his second game back from his first DL stint earlier this season. He’s been running sprints without incident, and could be ready for the first game following the All-Star break.

– Red Sox’ RHP Josh Beckett (right shoulder inflammation) threw a bullpen session Monday, and could be cleared to return from the DL Friday against the Mariners. The 32-year-old has been sidelined since June 11.

– The Orioles have released INF Miguel Tejada, per his request. The 38-year-old signed a minor league deal in early May and batted just .260 with four doubles, zero homers and a .617 OPS over 147 plate appearances with Triple-A Norfolk.

– Cardinals’ RHP Chris Carpenter (right shoulder) didn’t throw to hitters Monday as scheduled after feeling weakness. The team discussed the possibility of a rehab assignment if his throwing session went well on Monday, but those plans will be put on hold. He won’t throw again until the team returns home later this week.

– Brewers’ RHP Shaun Marcum (right elbow) said he still felt soreness while playing catch Monday. ”Still sore. Going to shut it down until it gets better, I guess. A little bit (better). Some of (the soreness) could have been 10 days without throwing, some of that stiffness and stuff in there. Hopefully it goes away and we’ll be good to go.” The Brewers were hoping that Marcum would be ready to return by the end of the week.

– According to Shannon Drayer of ESPN 710 in Seattle, the Blue Jays have signed LHP Jamie Moyer to a minor league contract. Drayer hears that he will be with the organization’s Triple-A affiliate on Thursday. Moyer recently asked for and was granted his release by the Orioles after posting a 1.69 ERA and 16/0 K/BB ratio in 16 innings with Triple-A Norfolk. It’s not a bad destination given Toronto’s recent injury woes, but Moyer in the AL East spells nothing but trouble. The 49-year-old southpaw posted a 5.70 ERA in 10 starts with the Rockies earlier this season.

– Rangers’ LHP Derek Holland (shoulder) will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Round Rock Wednesday, and will be limited to 50 pitches. He’s scheduled for a second outing the following Monday. Holland is expected to need three rehab outings before returning, putting him on track to be back at the start of the second half.

– Orioles’ OF Nolan Reimold (neck) underwent a successful discectomy Monday at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. The surgery involved removing a bulging disk from his neck and fusing two vertebrae together to alleviate pressure on a nerve. It’s believed to be similar to the procedure that Broncos’ QB Peyton Manning had last year. He’ll likely miss the remainder of the season.

– The Nationals have placed OF Xavier Nady (right wrist tendinitis) on the 15-day DL retroactive to June 24. Nady was batting .157 with three home runs and six RBIs in 40 games.

NBA

– Magic’ F Dwight Howard won’t stay with the Rockets after the upcoming season if he’s indeed traded there, according to NBA.com’s David Aldridge. The Rockets were said to be trying to acquire two top-10 draft picks to acquire D-12, who is under contract for next season. Aldridge also reported that G Kevin Martin and G Kyle Lowry have been placed on the trade block, with Martin drawing some interest from the Wolves. Stay tuned.

– According to ESPN, the Wolves are reportedly “set to offer” free agent F Brandon Roy an undisclosed 2-year contract. Wolves’ beat writer Darren Wolfson cautions that “there’s a strong belief Roy favors a championship contender.” Roy’s knees are still a mess, so unless he’s had a major epiphany, there’s no way he’ll be worth the risk the Wolves are apparently willing to take. Wolfson adds that the Wolves are still watching G Jamal Crawford, who will likely opt out of his deal and become a free agent.

– The Kings made a qualifying offer to F Jason Thompson on Monday, giving them the right to match any offer on the RFA. Thompson continues to improve in the league, and should draw interest from a number of teams. Thompson averaged 9.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists playing mostly off the bench last season.

– The Blazers extended a qualifying offer to RFA G Nicolas Batum on Monday. Batum and his agent, who had a falling out with Blazers management last season, have indicated that they will go with the first lucrative offer. Batum has averaged 10.2 points and 3.9 rebounds over four seasons with the Blazers. Stay tuned.

– The Mavericks and Celtics will play exhibition games next season in Europe, including a homecoming in Germany for F Dirk Nowitzki. The NBA announced Monday that the Mavs will play eight-time German champions Alba Berlin at Berlin’s O2 arena on October 6. The Celtics will open the NBA Europe Live tour Oct. 5 in Istanbul against five-time Turkish champ Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul. Boston will then move to Milan, Italy, to face Italian power EA7 Emporio Armani on October 7. The NBA says the Mavericks will play an additional game in Spain, with details still to be announced. The Europe Live series, featuring exhibition games between NBA and Euroleague teams, is in its sixth year.

– Check out Heat’ F Chris Bosh giving himself a champagne facial after his first ever NBA Championship victory:

– Check out this new Nike shirt in honour of Heat’ F LeBron James’ first ever NBA Championship victory:

– Mitch Lawrence of the NY Daily News reported that Donnie Walsh has reportedly been hired by the Pacers.

WWE

– Actor Charlie Sheen will be attending WWE’s 1,000th RAW Celebration on July 23 and will serve as the “Celebrity Social Media Ambassador” for the three hour broadcast. During RAW, Sheen will give his unique perspective in 140 characters or less about the action. WWE.com wrote about Sheen’s role:

“During the three-hour milestone event July 23 at 8/7 CT on USA Network, the “winning” actor will entertain his 7.5 million Twitter followers and the WWE Universe all night long with his unique 140-character analysis of the action.”

Sheen will be promoting his new show, Anger Management, which premieres this Thursday on FX.

– WWE Champion CM Punk will defend the title against Daniel Bryan at next month’s Money in the Bank PPV.

– Friday’s episode of WWE SmackDown did a 2.0 cable rating, with 2.97 million viewers. Those numbers are both up big from last week’s rating and viewership and were the most for both since March 9th. The show ranked #1 among the adult male demographics, #2 among male teens and was up big in all key demographics, according to PWInsider.com.

– The upcoming The Rock vs. John Cena: Once In a Lifetime DVD set will be released on September 11th, 2012.

– Despite being advertised for Monday’s RAW, Kelly Kelly was not there. She Tweeted a message from Cabo, where she is vacationing with her boyfriend, Stars’ D Sheldon Souray. Kelly is taking time off from WWE.

LeBron Set to Sign with Wade & Bosh in Miami, Shaq to Spurs, Kings Close Door on Kovalchuk Again, Cliff Lee Trade Update, Lilly to Mets

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

NBA

– From Alan Hahn’s twitter account, he covers the Knicks for Newsday

“Multiple sources are telling Newsday that LeBron James has decided to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. The new Big Three is here.”

We have speculated that the three have had a pact to play together for some time, and this report is from a fairly reliable source in Hahn and Newsday. Later, ESPN’s Chris Broussard said the same thing via Twitter. There’s still a chance LeBron could change his mind at the last minute, but as of now, it looks like he’s going to Miami to play with Wade and Bosh. And don’t be surprised if this is enough to bring Pat Riley back to the bench next season.

In addition, the latest rumour swirling in Miami is that LeBron put down a deposit on a $49M estate here in Coral Gables and was seen around town yesterday.

Wow. If this is true (don’t take it as fact until he says it on ESPN), expect an Instant Classic ripping into this whole situation.

– AOL Fanhouse is reporting that F Shaquille O’Neal’s “first choice” is to win a championship with the Spurs. The Spurs are said to be interested in him as well.

– AOL Fanhouse reports that the Heat are trying to bring back G Jason Williams. J-Will won an NBA title with the Heat in 2006.

NHL

– Contradicting an earlier report, the Kings are not interested in signing UFA F Ilya Kovalchuk according to team governor Tim Leiweke. The problem the Kings have is that they will need to sign talented players like D Drew Doughty etc. to long-term deals soon, and they won’t have the cap space to do so if they give Kovalchuk the $8M+ annually that he’ll command on a long-term contract. The two sides were done with each other this past Sunday and then Kovalchuk’s agent “re-engaged” the team in conversations, the paper reports. The agent, Jay Grossman, sent a proposal to the team Wednesday that didn’t leave enough salary-cap space in the team’s budget to keep the younger players it has been grooming to be building blocks for the organization, according to the Times. “We really would love to add Kovi to our team, but not at the cost of our good young players. Dean (GM Lombardi) is trying here, but we know what we need in cap space going forward to keep our nucleus together. We can’t let one guy throw us into panic in a year or two. It is not about cash. It is about cap.” It looks like the Devils for Kovalchuk if he stays in the NHL, if not, the KHL. Stay tuned.

– The Wild have re-signed F Robbie Earl to a 1-year/2-way contract. Earl was looking for a one-way deal, but couldn’t find one with any NHL team so he re-signed with the Wild. He will get $550K when he is in the NHL and $105K as a minor leaguer.

NHL

– According to MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan, discussions are “heating up” between the Rangers and Mariners involving M’s ace LHP Cliff Lee. Add another team to the growing list. The Reds have reportedly exchanged names with the Mariners, the Twins may or may not have made an offer, and the Mets and Yankees are at least kicking the tires on Lee. Texas definitely has the prospects to make a deal work and the money exchanged should be a non-issue, even with the murky situation surrounding the Rangers’ exchange of ownership. Lee, who has fanned 89 batters and walked only six, is owed just about $4M.

– According to Newsday, the Mets “like the idea” of bringing Cubs’ LHP Ted Lilly back to the team. If they can afford it, the team would pick up the $6M left on his deal so that it wouldn’t have give up too much in the prospects department in order to get the 34-year-old with the 3-7 record and 3.76 ERA. Other Cubs being mentioned on the trade block include SS Ryan Theriot, 2B Mike Fontenot, INF Jeff Baker, 1B Derrek Lee, OF Kosuke Fukudome and OF Xavier Nady.

NFL

– LB Antonio Pierce has officially announced his retirement from the NFL and will be joining ESPN as an NFL analyst. The writing was on the wall for Pierce, who would have needed surgery on his neck in order to continue his playing career. The former undrafted free agent finishes his career with 687 tackles, nine sacks and seven interceptions. Pierce “will appear on NFL Live, SportsCenter, ESPNEWS, and 1050 ESPN New York, and he will provide weekly analysis on ESPNNewYork.com, ESPN’s home for New York sports news and information.” He said in a statement that “After nine years of having the privilege of playing in the National Football League, today I’ve decided to end my playing days…I am extremely excited about contributing my knowledge and experience in this new endeavor to the championship team at ESPN.”

WWE

– Multi-time WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at Saturday’s Blue Jays/Red Sox game. The game takes place at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario.

TNA

– According to the Wrestling Observer, former WCW star “Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan met recently with TNA President Dixie Carter about joining the company’s creative team. During that meeting, Sullivan presented an angle that involves a year-long main event storyline that would require them signing a top star who the company would likely have difficulty getting. In addition, TNA did, in fact, quietly part ways with writer Ed Ferrara a few weeks ago. Ferrara left a teaching position and was brought into the company several months ago around the time that Jim Cornette not-so-quietly parted ways with them, in large part due to that hiring. Of course, Ferrara also served as Vince Russo’s right-hand man for the WWF during the Attitude Era.

– One third of the Knockout Tag Team Champions, Velvet Sky, recently signed a three-year contract with TNA Wrestling. She also received a pay raise, bumping her salary from $300 per show to $600 per show. As a result, she is among the company’s top female earners.

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Marc Valeri – captaincharisma@hotmail.com
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Izzo Declines Cavs, Raps Trade Rumours, Amare, Chipper Jones Retiring?, MLB Rumours, NHL News & Rumours, TNA Releases Hall, Flair Making Four Horsemen Stable

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

NBA

– Tom Izzo has officially declined the five-year/$30M contract offer from the Cavaliers to remain with the Michigan Spartans. Izzo acknowledged that being unable to speak with James played a part in his life- and career-altering decision. The Cavs’ search for a head coach will likely focus on Byron Scott (who may wait for the Lakers and Clippers to settle their benches before deciding), as well as Mike Woodson and Brian Shaw.

– Steve Kerr will not return as president and GM of the Suns next season and will likely return to a job as a TV analyst. The Suns went 52-28 this season and reached the Western Conference finals, but team owner Robert Sarver reportedly wanted Kerr to take a pay cut. “I wouldn’t say it’s a big surprise. It boiled down to a number of things, including lifestyle and the opportunity. I was hoping to have him back.” Kerr is only 44 years old, so he may very well return to an NBA front office someday.

Kerr’s resignation “could have dramatically negative impact on [the Suns'] ability to re-sign Amare,” according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski. Kerr just met with Amare’s agent last week, and Amare had a “strong belief” in his abilities to build a championship team. The Suns apparently wanted Kerr to take a pay cut, but their stinginess may end up costing them in the long run.

– The Toronto Star reports that the Raptors are looking for potential suitors for F Hedo Turkoglu, and could make a package deal involving G Jose Calderon, G Jarrett Jack and their #13 overall pick in the draft. On top of those options, the Raptors can still work a sign-and-trade deal to get some value if F Chris Bosh skips town. We may not have to wait long for GM Bryan Colangelo’s first move, as beat writer Doug Smith feels that “all signs point to some kind of transaction coming down the pike before the draft.”

– ESPN reports that a Game 7 win by the Lakers will give coach Phil Jackson an extra $2M in addition to his $12M salary. Jackson’s contract runs out July 1 and he has said he will take a few weeks to see his doctor and decide whether he is returning to the Lakers next season for a likely lower salary or retiring.

– A Celtics team source said Tuesday night that Celtics’ F Kendrick Perkins (knee), who suffered a right knee injury in the first quarter, was “done.” Officially, Perkins and the Celtics are awaiting results of an MRI, and while there’s still a chance he could play in Thursday’s Game 7, it appears to be a foregone conclusion that he suffered a serious injury and is out. At this point, good news would probably mean he didn’t tear his ACL or MCL, but either way, he doesn’t sound at all likely to play in Game 7.

– Raptors’ G Jarrett Jack has expressed interest in remaining with the Raptors. “Obviously there’s a level of frustration with it, being that you want to put some core pieces around you and know that you have those pieces in place and try to build around that. And when one of those pieces kind of goes awry after that, it’s tough, especially after just one year. But I have confidence in coach and the front office that they’ll put out the best product possible.”"

MLB

– According to the AP, Braves’ 3B Chipper Jones hinted that he’d retire at season’s end. “It’s obvious that it’s something I’ve been thinking about. I need to go through the proper channels. Once those have all been taken care of, everybody’s questions will be answered.” Chipper is owed $28M in guaranteed money he’s owed for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. After chatting retirement options with Braves management Tuesday, though, Jones Jones has canceled a tentatively scheduled meeting with the media. In other words, he’s not going to discuss his future plans at the moment. Chipper is struggling this season, both at the plate and with his own health, but the Braves are sitting atop the NL East standings and don’t need any distractions. November, not June, is the time for retirement talk.

– The Chicago Tribune reports that the Cubs haven’t talked to any teams about making trades yet but will begin the process if the losing goes on for the next two or three weeks. On the list for potential trades are 1B Derrek Lee, LHP Ted Lilly, OF Kosuke Fukudome, LHP Tom Gorzelanny and OF Xavier Nady. Lee and Fukudome have no-trade clauses; the team has not asked them to waive the clauses yet.

– A source tells Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports that the Rangers are “getting closer” to acquiring Astros’ RHP Roy Oswalt. The major hurdle, of course, is that the financially-strapped Rangers are trying to convince the MLB to allow them to take on Oswalt’s salary. The players “are more or less agreed to,” according to Calcaterra. Oswalt is still a major financial commitment — nearly $27M, including the prorated portion of his $15M salary for this season, $16M for 2011 and at least a $2M buyout on his $16M option for 2012 — so it shouldn’t be assumed that Major League Baseball will see it their way.

The Fort Worth Stat-Telegram, however, says a Rangers official has told the paper that there is no truth to this rumour, but the team is trying to add some offense and has spoken to the Orioles about 3B Ty Wigginton and the Marlins about 1B Wes Helms.

– The Athletics have acquired 1B Conor Jackson from the D’Backs for RHP Sam Demel. Jackson has been a fairly consistent hitter throughout his career with the Diamondbacks, at least when he’s not battling Valley Fever. He will step into a rotation in the Oakland outfield and will probably hold just about the same amount of fantasy value as he did in Arizona.

– Orioles’ 2B Brian Roberts (back) will be out for an additional four-to-six weeks. Roberts has been sidelined since the first week of the season and there’s been nothing but setbacks since then.

– The Dodgers have placed RHP Chad Billingsley (groin) on the 15-day DL retroactive to June 13.

– The Yankees have placed RHP Sergio Mitre (oblique) on the 15-day DL retroactive to June 5.

– The Yankees have placed OF Marcus Thames (strained right hamstring) on the 15-day DL.

– Cardinals’ RHP Brad Penny (back) will be out until at least the end of June, and it could be much longer, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. An examination on Monday showed that Penny’s upper back strain has yet to completely heal. A few weeks ago it looked like this injury wasn’t going to be a big deal, but it’s already been lingering for a month, and is showing no signs of going away.

NHL

– The Leafs have officially named D Dion Phaneuf their captain. The Leafs have been without a captain since F Mats Sundin in 2008. Phaneuf is the 18th captain of the Maple Leafs and the 22nd in Toronto franchise history.

– Hockey Hall of Famer Cam Neely will be named the president of the Bruins. The Bruins have scheduled a “major announcement” for Wednesday. The Bruins have not had a president since Harry Sinden stepped down in 2006 after 17 years in the position. Neely played the last 10 years of his career in Boston and twice helped the Bruins reach the Stanley Cup finals. They have not been back since 1990.

– The Boston Globe reports that the odds of the Bruins acquiring Senators’ F Jason Spezza for the #2 overall pick in the 2010 entry draft are slim to none. The Globe points out that the Bruins already have a strong core of centers in Marc Savard, David Krejci, and Patrice Bergeron. More importantly, the Bruins have cap concerns as it is and they’d be hard pressed to find a way to acquire Spezza and stay under the cap. The Blue Jackets were also initially mentioned as a possible trading partner for Spezza, but it seems equally unlikely that Columbus would hand Ottawa the #4 overall pick.

– D Rob Blake is expected to officially announce his retirement on Friday. Blake, 40, was one of the league’s best defensemen over his career with the Kings, Avalanche and Sharks, making seven All-Star teams and winning the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenseman for Los Angeles in 1998. He is 10th on the career list with 240 goals as a defenseman, went to the Stanley Cup finals in 1993 with Los Angeles, won the Cup in 2001 with Colorado, won a gold medal for Canada the following year and helped the Sharks post the best regular-season record in the Western Conference in each of his two seasons in San Jose.

– The Edmonton Journal reports that the Oilers may buyout captain F Ethan Moreau, F Patrick O’Sullivan and F Robert Nilsson. O’Sullivan is due to make $2.95M next season while the other two each have $2M left on their deals. The Senators are also considering a buyout for F Jonathan Cheechoo ($3.5M). If a player is 26 or older, the team has to fork over two thirds of the money left on the deal. If the player is younger than that and gets bought out, though, he only gets one third of the money left on the deal.

– Canucks’ F Alex Burrows (torn labrum in shoulder) underwent surgery last week and he may miss some time at the start of next season. “He may not be ready to play until sometime in October or November,” said his agent Paul Corbeil. The shoulder of Burrows had reportedly been bothering him since the second half of the regular season, but he wanted to play through it. The injury is thought to be the same as the one that F Pavol Demitra had this past campaign. The Canucks will have their fingers crossed that the recovery of Burrows goes smoother, as Demitra had to miss the first 47 games after a second surgery was required. Burrows will be evaluated again sometime in the next two weeks to see where he is at in his rehabilitation. Stay tuned.

– The Canadiens have bought out the final season of F George Laraque’s three-year/$4.5M contract. He was banished from the team that day because Laraque had become a distraction. He remained on the roster for the rest of the season, but was not seen at games or practices. Laraque, who was in and out of the lineup in recent seasons because of back problems, had one goal and two assists in 28 games this season. In two seasons with the Canadiens, he had one goal and four assists in 61 games.

– The Canucks have re-signed D Aaron Rome to a two-year/$1.5M deal. Rome will make $700K next season and $800K the following year.

– The Stars have signed G Brent Krahn to a two-way contract. Krahn played 22 games for the Texas Stars of the AHL this season, winning 17 games with five shutouts and a 1.83 GAA.

– The Blue Jackets have fired former interim head coach Claude Noel, assistants Gary Agnew and Gord Murphy and strength and conditioning coach Barry Brennan.

NFL

– NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora reports that the Seahawks are “quite interested” in Bills’ RB Marshawn Lynch, should they decide to trade him. This disputes an ESPN report from late last week that Lynch “has zero trade value.” Seattle is an excellent fit on paper following the release of LenDale White. The Seahawks also use a zone-blocking system similar to what Lynch played in at Cal. Still, they might not offer more than a late-round pick. Lynch joined his Bills teammates on the practice field for the start of this week’s OTAs on Tuesday. Smart move – if he wants to escape his current third-string role in Buffalo, he’s going to have to clean up his act and show some dedication.

– Redskins’ DE Albert Hayneswoth is still pushing for a trade and will not attend the Redskins’ upcoming minicamp after all. “The Redskins are trying to establish a new regime with new schemes at Redskins Park, and it is not an organization that Albert would have ever been attracted to just a short year ago – regardless of the money,” said Haynesworth’s agent. Haynesworth believes his talents are wasted in a 3-4 scheme. Coach Mike Shanahan’s attempt to take a hard-line stance on his best defender’s absence from voluntary offseason activities has exacerbated the situation. The Redskins will have to consider fining Haynesworth for missing mandatory work.

– The Saints have re-signed RFA RB Pierre Thomas to a one-year/$1.684M contract. The Saints threatened to reduce Thomas’ salary by $1.1M if he didn’t sign the tender, which would’ve been significant for a player who’s never made more than the NFL minimum. Instead, Thomas is showing good faith that the team will work with him on a long-term deal up to his expectations. While Thomas won’t get Steven Jackson money, a Michael Turner-like deal in the $5-6M range annually over 4-5 seasons could be realistic for the 25-year-old.

– A day after assuring that he’s not “mad” at the Titans organization, RB Chris Johnson took to his Twitter account to express frustration with his contract situation. “Just got off the phone with my agent, and it’s not good news. I’m feeling like Darrelle Revis right now. At least they’re offering him something. [The Titans are] not offering me nothing.” The primary issue here is that CJ2K has three years left on his contract, and the Titans are leery of setting a precedent that other players will use against them. There’s no telling how this will play out until training camp starts.

– Chargers unsigned RFAs Vincent Jackson and Marcus McNeill have reportedly made “financial preparations” in advance of executing lengthy holdouts that could last through Week 10 of the regular season. Updating a previous item, the players’ one-year tenders have not yet been formally reduced, leaving a “slight chance” that Jackson and McNeill could still sign at some point Tuesday. Should V-Jax fail to report until after Week 10, he’d stand to lose a whopping $3.062M. The same course of action by McNeill would cost the four-year starting left tackle $2.956M.

– The Broncos have re-signed RFA OLB Elvis Dumervil to a one-year/$3.168M contract. The sides will continue to work on a long-term deal. Dumervil, 26, set or tied career highs in tackles (48), sacks (17), and forced fumbles (4) last season.

WWE

– Monday’s episode of WWE RAW with actor Mark Feuerstein as guest host did a 3.42 cable rating, up from last week’s 3.09. The show averaged 4,883,000 viewers and did hours of 3.36 and 3.5.

– NBA legend Michael Jordan was backstage at Monday’s WWE RAW from Charlotte. It’s been rumoured for some time that WWE wants Jordan to host an upcoming episode of RAW, so you can bet the idea was pitched this week.

– With next year’s WrestleMania 27 still 9 months away,WWE officials are already working with city officials from Atlanta, Georgia, the host city.

– Actress Florence Henderson, who played “Carol Brady” on the classic Brady Bunch television show, will be guest hosting the July 12 Raw from Lexington, Kentucky. No guest host has been announced for next week’s RAW, the night after no Fatal 4 Way.

TNA

– Scott Hall has reportedly been fired by TNA Wrestling. He was written off of storylines at last night’s television taping for Thursday night’s episode. TNA stripped The Band — Hall, Kevin Nash, and Eric Young — of the TNA Tag Team Championship and set up a mini-tournament. The winning team will face The Motor City Machineguns for the vacant titles at next month’s Victory Road PPV. Last month, Hall was arrested outside of Orlando, Florida two days before Sacrifice. He worked the event and reportedly did not inform management of his arrest. He was charged with disorderly intoxication and resisting arrest after being arrested at the Hitching Post Bar. Hall has since pled not guilty to the charges. His next scheduled court date is July 1 in Seminole County court.

– At Monday night’s TNA iMPACT! tapings (set to air Thursday night on Spike), Ric Flair announced that he was reforming the Four Horsemen in TNA, except the new group would be known as “Fortune.” The group consists of AJ Styles, Desmond Wolfe, Kazarian and Beer Money. During the show, Flair has a confrontation with Jay Lethal, who came out dressed like Flair and acting like Flair. After Lethal wrestles Desmond Wolfe later in the show, Ric Flair comes out and helps Wolfe attack Lethal. Hulk Hogan comes out and asks Ric Flair to reveal his big announcement. Flair says he’s coming out of retirement once again – and will be wrestling Jay Lethal at TNA Victory Road on July 11.

– Updating a previous item, sources indicate that TNA’s “major changes” will be that the company will be dropping the monthly PPV format and instead would be running live specials on Spike TV. It’s still possible that TNA would keep 2-3 PPV events a year on their calendar, but the monthly PPV format has proven to not be profitable for TNA and the company could actually make more money from Spike TV paying them for these live television specials. Again, this is still a rumour, but it does jive with Dixie Carter’s comments about Spike TV President Kevin Kay being “all in” and on board with TNA’s major changes. Stay tuned for the latest on this developing story.

– As seen last night at Slammiversary, Roxxi agreed to put her TNA career on the line against Madison Rayne and her Women’s Knockout Championship. Rayne retained her title, after hitting Roxxi with the championship belt, ending her TNA career in the process. Sources within TNA indicate she is indeed through with the company. Roxxi was not informed of her release from the company until yesterday, according to f4wonline.com. She was visibly upset prior to and after her Slammiversary bout. The decision garnered much heat backstage as many feel TNA could have handled the situation better. Considering Angelina Love and Daffney have been cleared to wrestle, it appears as if TNA no longer needs or has any creative plans for Roxxi, hence her abrupt departure from the organization.

– ODB posted the following on Twitter on Monday afternoon:

“thanks tna fans for all the support but tna and odb have parted ways.it was a decision I made.bamm bitches”

– Tommy Dreamer, who made his TNA debut at Sunday’s Slammiversary pay-per-view, wrote the following on Twitter following his appearance:

“TNA THANKS SO MUCH I AM ON A MISSION HOPE WE ALL ENJOY THE RIDE”

VoV

Marc Valeri – captaincharisma@hotmail.com
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Jays Back After Delgado?, Lecavalier Asked to Waive NTC?, Damon Turns Down Yankees, Verlander, Dunn, BG James Back to WWE?

Friday, January 29th, 2010

NHL

– The NHL has reportedly talked with Jeffrey Vinik about a possible agreement to buy the Lightning for $170M. The report also suggests that Vinik would want F Vincent Lecavalier to waive his no-trade clause in an effort to cut costs. Lecavalier is in the first season of an 11-year deal that will pay him $10M in each season between 2009-10 and 2015-16. Stay tuned.

MLB

– According to SI.com’s Jon Heyman, the Yankees offered OF Johnny Damon a one-year/$6M contract late last week and he turned it down. Half of the contract would have been paid out in deferred sums over the next few years. Damon, who hit .282/.365/.489 with 24 home runs, 82 RBI and 107 runs scored last year, is holding out for something better. So far the A’s, Rays, Tigers, Reds, Braves and Blue Jays have expressed interest in the 36-year-old outfielder.

– According to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston “spent time lobbying” for the club to bring back 1B Carlos Delgado on Thursday. The Mets inked IF Fernando Tatis to a contract on Thursday and appear set at first base, leaving few remaining options for the 37-year-old Delgado. “If there’s some way to bring Carlos back here, I’d love to see him back here because he can do a lot of things as far as helping the young kids about knowing about hitting.” He batted .298/.393/.521 with four home runs and 23 RBI last year in the 26 games he was healthy.

– Twins’ manager Ron Gadrenhire told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale Friday that contract extension discussions with C Joe Mauer “couldn’t be going better.” “It would be [a[ massive upset if Mauer['s] contract extension isn’t resolved by spring,” writes Nightengale. That’s obviously great news for Twins fans and the organization. Mauer, 26, hit an incredible .365/.444/.587 in 2009 with a career-high 28 home runs and 96 RBI. He also won a Gold Glove.

– Bill Ladson of MLB.com reports that the Nationals and OF Adam Dunn are “talking about” a contract extension. Dunn batted .267/.398/.529 last season and paced all Nationals with 38 homers and 105 RBI while earning $8M. He is under contract for the 2010 season at a salary of $12M. The slugger just turned 30 and could help the Nats build a respectable ball club over the long term.

– A source told Yahoo’s Jeff Passan that the Tigers are working with RHP Justin Verlander on a five-year contract extension worth around $75M. The Detroit ace is apparently asking for a six-year commitment, but GM Dave Dombrowski isn’t likely to go that high. Either way, the extension would cover his last two seasons of arbitration-eligibility and at least three years of free agency. Verlander, 25, went 19-9 last season with a 3.45 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and an AL-leading 269 strikeouts.

– Larry Stone of the Seattle Times reports that the Mariners have signed OF Eric Byrnes to a one-year contract. The oft-injured 33-year-old was cut loose by the Diamondbacks earlier this month and will join the Mariners at the major league minimum.

– According to Jayson Stark of ESPN.com, RHP Mark Prior (shoulder) is throwing off a mound in California. His agent, John Boggs said,”Mark has been through so many timelines, at this point I’m almost allergic to the word. But he’s out there. He’s getting himself ready. And when he’s ready, I’m sure you’ll hear a lot about him. Then we’ll invite teams to come watch him throw. And hopefully, he’ll be the next Ben Sheets.” He won’t come anywhere close to the salary that RHP Ben Sheets landed with Oakland. Prior, 29, hasn’t thrown a pitch in the majors since 2006.

– Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that 1B Mike Sweeney still wants to play this season. Sweeney, 36, batted .281/.335/.442 with eight home runs and 34 RBI with the Mariners last season, but was bothered by his balky back early on. The .298 lifetime hitter is almost exclusively a DH at this point, limiting the pool of teams who could afford to sign him.

– The Rangers and RHP Scott Feldman avoided arbitration on Friday by agreeing to a one-year/$2.43M contract. It’s just south of the midpoint submitted by the two sides last week. Feldman, who turns 27 next month, was a pleasant surprise with the Rangers last season, finishing 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA and 1.28 WHIP.

– Brewers OF Jim Edmonds told KSLG 1380 in St. Louis on Friday that the Brewers have told him he will “get a chance to play every day” against right-handers. Edmonds initially expressed interest in returning to baseball with the Cardinals, but they didn’t have enough at-bats available to him. The 39-year-old batted .250/.362/.521 with 19 home runs and 54 RBI in 292 at-bats against righties back in 2008, so he might have a decent amount of impact if used correctly.

– The Cardinals and Rockies are among teams ‘in the mix’ for free agent 2B Felipe Lopez. We haven’t heard a whole lot about Lopez this winter, despite him coming off one of the better seasons among the entire class of free agents. Lopez, who turns 30 in May, batted .310/.383/.427 with nine home runs, 57 RBI and 88 runs scored between the Diamondbacks and Brewers last season.

– The Marlins have signed RHP Derrick Turnbow to a minor league contract. With the deal comes an invitation to spring training, where Turnbow really needs to put on a show in order to secure a place in the Marlins’ bullpen. The last time we saw him in the major leagues, the right-hander posted a 15.63 ERA and a 5/13 K/BB ratio in eight appearances (6 1/3 innings).

– The Cubs have signed OF Xavier Nady to a one-year/$3.3M contract. The deal also contains another $2M in performance incentives based on games played. Nady, 31, is expected to serve mostly as a fourth outfielder for the Cubs but should see a good amount of starts against left-handed pitchers. He hit .305/.357/.510 with 25 homers and 97 RBI with the Pirates and Yankees in 2008, his last truly healthy season.

– Troy Renck of the Denver Post reports that the Rockies have contacted the representatives for free agent RHP Kevin Gregg. Gregg would serve as a seventh- or eighth-inning setup man in Colorado behind Huston Street. The 31-year old had a 4.72 ERA in 72 games last year for the Cubs and converted 23-of-30 save opportunities during the time that he owned the role. It’s not exactly clear what his contract demands might be at this point, but, as Renck notes, “the Rockies aren’t going to overpay.”

– The Mets have signed UTIL Fernando Tatis to a one-year contract. Terms of the contract weren’t released, but he could earn up to $1.5M with incentives, close to the salary he made last season. Tatis, 35, has batted .289/.352/.458 with an 811 OPS over the past two seasons with the Mets.

NFL

– Eagles WR DeSean Jackson’s agent plans to approach the Eagles for a new four-or five-year contract for his client, according to Comcast SportsNet in Philadelphia. The writing has been on the wall since Jackson switched to Drew Rosenhaus during the season. Jackson is still working under his slotted second-round contract, which has two years remaining at a combined $1.025M with roughly $800K in bonuses. The team’s most dangerous weapon on offense and in the return game is deserving of a raise, and the team will likely attempt to lock him up long-term.

WWE

– TNA star Jeff Hardy has commented on the news of Jeff Hardy and Gregory Helms’ getting arrested this week for public intoxication. Hardy wrote on Twitter:

“Sure tmz picked up their mug shot..big deal..their awesome &why should that be second guessed over an extremely simple situation?Love Je …”

He added, “They got arrested…it’s a shame they care or think it makes them look bad..their amazing employees…..&”

Jeff’s girlfriend Beth, who is good friends with Helms and Matt, wrote on Twitter:

“WOW! MMH made the TMZ headlines! He’s on the scoreboard now! So hilarious that the story is about nothing…TMZ is in the entertainment business also, keep that in mind. Funny thing is, Matt wasn’t even drinking & didn’t have any involvement. Classic TMZ sensationalism. Actually, I was asked to post that. And, to clarify, he wasn’t DRUNK. Better?”

Cincinnati.com had an article up yesterday evening about the arrests of Hurricane Helms and Chris Jericho. They noted that around 4AM on Wednesday, an Erlanger police officer patrolling Crescent Springs saw a group of five people being rowdy in a shopping center parking lot. The officer told the group they needed to leave and some of them got a taxi. This was shortly before the taxi driver pulled over and called 911 after the incident in the backseat. While other reports have came out since then, Cincinnati.com noted that Helms ran and was later found by police but Matt Hardy couldn’t be found by them. It’s been mentioned now that Hardy was not sober and the woman involved is now claiming that the whole thing was blown out of proportion.

A conviction on the misdemeanor charge of public intoxication carries a fine of $25 and court costs of $134. Helms and Jericho can appear in court on February 16th to challenge the charges or they can have the charges dismissed by paying $159 total before court date. WWE released a statement to the paper saying that they assume the authorities will take proper action if necessary but declined further comment.

TNA

– Former WWE & ECW Champion Rob Van Dam was interviewed by FanHouse.com to promote this weekend’s WrestleReunion event in Los Angeles. Some highlights:

How to “Spice Up” Today’s Wrestling: “I would say bring back the day of the jobber. When I was a fan, when I was younger, wrestlers were larger than life because I would watch them totally annihilate some local scrub, some guy that was in the ring, I didn’t know who the jobber was. We called those enhancement matches and they hardly ever do them anymore. That to me was how you build the wrestler, and when I found out two of these superstars would be battling each other, whether it was near me at a live show or when it was on Saturday Night’s Main Event, that was huge and it drew great interest and enthusiasm because I got to see these two big wrestlers who I’ve seen just destroy everybody actually face each other.”

Van Dam feels that the Monday night wars forced both companies to abandon jobbers and always put on marquee matches, but looking back, it’s hurt the companies’ ability to build stars and the overall product.

“Ever since Monday Night Wars, every single match from the bottom to the top of the card seems like it has to be main-event quality – superstar vs. superstar, superstar vs. superstar – and then you gotta find a political way to go into the finish, you know, to try to deck one guy while doing what you want with the other. It’s a bunch of bulls**t I think. You know, I really think that the enhancement matches were what brought everybody into WWE in the ’90s.”

The possibility of returning to WWE or going to TNA: “I mean, it’s possible that I could be interested in either TNA or WWE if it was the right amount of work vs. pay ratio. That’s basically what it is, and I haven’t had that deep of conversations with anyone yet, really. So I don’t know if it’s out there or not, since I haven’t been the active one out there pursuing, you know, the information comes to me as it comes when they’re reaching out to me.”

– During an interview with InYourHeadOnline.com, BG James (a.k.a. Road Dogg) said he recently spoke to WWE officials about returning to the organization, but noted, “it wasn’t meant to be.” James said he feels he’s too old to keep up with the younger wrestlers, but believes he can contribute behind the scenes. He said his best memories in the industry took place during the Attitude Era, mentioning selling stunners for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.

– TNA President Dixie Carter was interviewed for the latest issue of the UK’s Fighting Spirit Magazine. Carter spoke at length about Hulk Hogan’s new role in TNA, where she sees the company going and more. Here’s what she said about:

Dealing with Big Egos In TNA: “To me, it’s not hard at all I feel if you treat somebody with respect, that’s the only way you can win it back. If you work hard, that’s the way to expect other people to work hard. I don’t have tiered systems of how I treat different people, I treat everyone as the same. don’t care if you’re Kurt Angle or the newest guy on the roster, you’re gonna be treated with the same level of respect, and I expect that back. To me, that’s the easiest way to keep individual egos in check, because I’m not playing a game with different people or favouritism.”

Her Leadership Style vs. Vince McMahon’s: “I have a philosophy and it may not be right, but I feel that if people are happy personally, they’ll work harder for you than if you motivate them through fear. I want to make TNA a place where they bring their families, where their wives are welcome, where their husbands are welcome, where their children are. It creates a different type of atmosphere backstage, but it creates a place where we are all in this for the same goal.”

VoV

– Email – captaincharisma@hotmail.com
– Twitter – @VoiceofValeri
– Facebook – facebook.com/thecanadianrage

Twins Sign Thome, A’s Sign Sheets, Padres Sign Garland, Mets After Smoltz, Souray NTC List, Ray Allen, Royal Rumble & WM26 Spoilers, Reed Returning to Ravens

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

MLB

– The Twins have signed DH Jim Thome to a one-year/$1.5M deal. Thome can earn an additional $700K in incentives. It’s a perfect bargain-basement signing by the Twins, who add a still-dangerous bat at a cheap price. Thome, who turns 40 later this season, hit .249/.366/.481 last year with 23 homers. The Twins have DH Jason Kubel firmly entrenched at DH and Justin Morneau at first base, so finding Thome playing time could be tricky. Adding a hitter of Thome’s pedigree at this price was a no-brainer, though. Moving Kubel into the outfield in lieu of OF Delmon Young while giving Thome the majority of DH at-bats against right-handers would give the team it’s most dangerous lineup, but it’s currently unclear if that will happen.

– The Athletics have signed RHP Ben Sheets to a one-year/$10M deal. Incredibly, the four-time All Star could earn up to $12M with incentives, quite a nice haul for someone who didn’t throw a pitch in the major leagues last season after elbow surgery. The Athletics won’t be responsible for all of the cash if they’re successful in dealing him at the deadline come July. The 31-year-old right-hander is 86-83 with a 3.72 ERA and 1.20 WHIP over eight major league seasons, all with the Brewers, and is one of the game’s best when healthy. The problem is that those days have been few and far between.

– The Padres have signed RHP Jon Garland to a one-year contract. Terms are not yet known. It’s somewhat of a surprising destination for the veteran, but not many teams appeared willing to shell out a lucrative contract for a guy who provides 200 middle-of-the-road innings. Garland, 30, was 11-13 with a 4.01 ERA, 1.40 WHIP in 33 starts with the Diamondbacks and Dodgers last season. He’ll likely be moved at the trade deadline.

– The Orioles have officially signed IF Miguel Tejada to a one-year/$6M contract. He has the opportunity to earn more with incentives, but he won’t come near the $13M he made last season. Tejada, who turns 36 in May, will make the transition to the third base upon his return to Baltimore, a position he has never played in the majors. The veteran batted .313/.340/.455 with 14 home runs and 86 RBI with the Astros last season, so he still adds plenty of value with the bat, but he’s nothing more than a one-year stopgap until top prospect 3B Josh Bell is ready to take the reins at the hot corner.

– The NY Daily News reports that the Mets are heavily targeting RHP John Smoltz. The Mets’ interest in Smoltz has been well documented this winter. Chances are Smoltz will cost less than Garland, but there’s no promise he can provide the number of innings the Mets seek for a middle-of-the-rotation type. The team is also internally discussing either C Yorvit Torrealba and C Rod Barajas.

– According to the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, OF Jim Edmonds is talking seriously with two teams and the Cardinals are not one of them. Edmonds told a St. Louis area radio station last week that the Yankees had some interest in signing him, but it’s not clear if they are still in the running. The 39-year-old outfielder did not play in the majors last season but he posted a .937 OPS and hit 19 home runs over 250 at-bats with the Cubs in 2008. It’s reported that “negotiations could be completed within the next two to three days.”

– Buster Olney of ESPN.com hears that the dialogue between the Athletics and free agent OF Johnny Damon is continuing, even after the signing of RHP Ben Sheets. Fairly or unfairly, he won’t get anywhere near the guarantee Sheets just got, despite being far more durable, but it may ultimately be a reflection of the market. With the Yankees reportedly holding firm on $2M, and no other team stepping up, a $4-5M guarantee with Oakland might be the best deal he can get.

– SI reports that the Cubs and Rays are looking into RHP Chan Ho Park.

– The Red Sox have signed OF Jeremy Hermida to a one-year/$3.35M deal.

– The Cubs have signed OF Xavier Nady to a one-year/$3.3M deal. Nady will serve as a fourth outfielder in Chicago. He had a second career Tommy John surgery last season but he’s expected to be fine by the start of spring training. The 31-year-old hit .305/.357/.510 with 25 home runs and 97 RBI between the Pirates and Yankees in 2008, his last fully healthy season.

– Mets LHP Johan Santana (elbow) vowed Monday that he will be ready for Opening Day. “At this point I feel way ahead of what I was last year at this point. Definitely. There’s no question about it. I can’t wait to be out in spring training and see where we’re at to put everything together for Opening Day.” He battled triceps tendinitis at the start of last season. The Mets ace finished last season with a 13-9 record and a 3.13 ERA in 25 starts. He will throw off a mound Tuesday.

NHL

– Oilers D Sheldon Souray has handed the Oil a list of 10 teams that he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause for. One of the reasons he signed his five-year deal with the Oilers back in 2007 was because it would be easy for him to fly to L.A. from there to see his kids. It is believed that the 10 teams are all teams on the west coast for the same reason. Stay tuned.

– Devils second-round pick F Patrice Cormier was suspended Monday for the remainder of the QMJHL season and playoffs for a violent hit on an opposing player. Cormier, a 19-year-old forward the Devils selected in the second round of the 2008 draft, was suspended by the QMJHL for elbowing F Mikael Tam, sending the Quebec defenseman into convulsions. QMJHL disciplinarian Raymond Bolduc took more than a week investigating the Jan. 17 incident and called the hit “dangerous and intolerable.” The 18-year-old Tam spent two days in the hospital because of brain trauma. Cormier, who was captain of the Canadian world junior team, signed a three-year, entry-level contract with the Devils last summer.

Cormier would not be allowed to play for the Devils – or their AHL affiliate – until his team, Rouyn-Noranda, is eliminated from the QMJHL playoffs. There was a chance he could surface in a lower-tier professional league, but New Jersey general manager Lou Lamoriello closed the door on that option. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said in a statement,

“We will honor the league’s suspension, have not considered, and will not explore other avenues for his return this season. We are pleased to hear Mikael Tam is doing well. Our thoughts are with him for a full recovery.”

NFL

– According to the National Football Post, CB Ed Reed is “definitely expected to play” to return to the Ravens in 2010. Aaron Wilson, who doubles as a Ravens beat writer, says it will take a “major setback” with Reed’s nerve impingement or ligament tears in his hip and groin to force him into retirement. Reed recently indicated that he’s “feeling good” but isn’t yet ready to announce a decision.

NBA

– The Bulls have traded F Aaron Gray to the Hornets for G Devin Brown. The Daily Herald predicts that the team will send either G Kirk Hinrich or G John Salmons packing in exchange for an expiring contract. The hope is to get as much salary cap space as possible by the time the February 18 trading deadline comes in order to have a good chunk of room to add a big free agent this summer.

– The Boston Globe reports that Celtics G Ray Allen wants to remain with the team beyond this season.

– Suns G Leandro Barbosa (wrist) is out six weeks.

– The Jazz have signed G Sundiata Gaines for the rest of the season. Pierce has a $21M player option for next season that he’ll likely choose. And Garnett is signed until 2012. The paper suggests that Allen would take a two-year/$20M contract right now if the team wanted to try and keep the threesome together for two more years. The 34-year-old Allen is making $19M this season, a number he won’t reach anywhere else. “I am a loyalty person. If the opportunity presented itself to get a deal at the current moment as we speak, I would be all over it,” Allen said.

– Wizards G Javaris Crittenton pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge Monday, explaining he had a pistol because he feared teammate G Gilbert Arenas would shoot him or blow up his car after the two argued over a card game. D.C. Superior Court Senior Judge Bruce Beaudin sentenced Crittenton, 22, to a year of unsupervised probation after Crittenton pleaded guilty to misdemeanour possession of an unregistered firearm. Beaudin ordered Crittenton to mentor young people in Washington and to help with relief efforts for Haiti. Crittenton must also pay a $1K fine and $250 into a victims’ fund.

– Nuggets F Kenyon Martin has been fined $35K for being ejected from Denver’s game against Charlotte.

WWE

– Although plans can change very quickly in WWE, the idea over the weekend was that Triple H is the favorite to win the Royal Rumble and receive a title match against Sheamus at WrestleMania 26.

His DX partner, Shawn Michaels, is expected to face Batista at No Way Out to determine who will battle the Undertaker at WrestleMania.

At one point, there was talk of Triple H and Shawn Michaels both winning the Royal Rumble (Bret Hart and Lex Luger back in 1994), which would have allowed HBK to chose the Undertaker and HHH to chose Sheamus as their respective WrestleMania opponents. The idea was seemingly dropped after creative came up with the idea of Hunter winning by himself. Then the big interbrand match at WrestleMania would pit John Cena against Batista.

– With Conan O’Brien’s departure from the Tonight Show being one of the top stories in the entertainment industry, WWE is reportedly interested in bringing in the comedian to host WWE RAW. While the terms of his departure from NBC prohibit O’Brien from hosting his own television show until September, there is no word on whether he would even consider the role, but considering USA Network is owned by the same company as Conan’s former home NBC, it seems unlikely he’d work for them again.

– Gary Stokan, President of the Atlanta Sports Council, said this week on The Sports Buffet show that Atlanta and Miami are the two choices for WWE’s WrestleMania in 2011. The announcement will be officially made on February 1, the day after the Royal Rumble PPV in Atlanta.

If Miami is chosen, Sun Life Stadium, which holds approximately 76,500 fans, would host the event. If Atlanta is chosen, the Georgia Dome which holds 71,000 would host the event. It’s worth noting that the 2010 Survivor Series is already set for Miami.

– Rob Van Dam mentioned in his latest blog post at RobVanDam.com that WWE is paranoid he’ll wind up working for the competition:

The constant rumors that I am or have signed with one of the wrestling companies seems to be getting stronger still. Last week, WWE locked me out of my profile page at WWE Universe because they believed I had signed with TNA!

RVD is arguably the hottest free agent in the industry and would surely make some waves if he showed up in TNA. It also shouldn’t be ruled out that Van Dam makes a surprise appearance at Sunday’s Royal Rumble, as we saw last year.

Just last week on the “Busted Open” Sirius satellite radio show, Van Dam said, he’d be open to working for WWE again, but only if the conditions were right. He said, “I can tell you for sure that I have no interest in returning to a full-time schedule like I did before. That’s not going to happen.” Van Dam continues to wrestle for various independent promotions across the world and could return to the national wrestling scene at any time. With TNA bringing in so much new talent and a work schedule that is far less demanding than WWE, it could be an attractive option for RVD.

– WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross is back with another blog update at his official website, JRsBarBQ.com.

Dule Hill’s Job Hosting RAW: “USA’s Psyche star Dule Hill has tons of talent and charisma and was fun to watch host Raw Monday night. Hill has a bright future in television and film, without question. I plan on watching Psyche for the first time Wednesday night when John Cena guest stars.”

Cena’s Interaction with Vince McMahon: Ross called the segment “spot on” and some of the best verbal confrontations he’s seen in a long time. Ross said, “The dialog between Cena and the Chairman of WWE was organic, emotional, and really has me anxious to see Raw next week when Bret “Hitman’ Hart returns to confront McMahon.”

DX’s Promo On RAW: “The serious nature of winning the Royal Rumble match and what it means individually to every competitor was underscored with Monday Night’s DX in ring promo. This was another verbal exchange that captured my interest. DX in a serious tone really captivated my attention.”

Our Thoughts: Dule Hill had several entertaining segments and held his own with some of WWE’s best talkers. Cena’s performance showed just how good he can be on the mic and the confrontation felt special. As does Sunday’s Royal Rumble. It’s one of those years where you could see a number of superstars coming out on top and there are several storylines in place that will all come to ahead on Sunday.

VoV

– Email – captaincharisma@hotmail.com
– Twitter – @VoiceofValeri
– Facebook – facebook.com/thecanadianrage

Canseco Calls McGwire and La Russa Liars, MLB & NBA Rumours, Souray Wants Out of Edmonton, WWE News, WrestleMania 26 & Royal Rumble Spoilers

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

MLB

– Jose Canseco says Mark McGwire is still lying about his use of steroids and his former manager Tony La Russa isn’t telling the truth either. McGwire admitted Monday that he used steroids for a decade, including when he hit 70 homers in 1998, but denied Canseco’s claims that he injected himself and McGwire with steroids in bathroom stalls.

“I’ve defended Mark, I know a lot of good things about him. I can’t believe he just called me a a liar. Umm, there’s something very strange going on here. I even polygraphed that I injected him, and I passed it completely. So I want to challenge him on national TV to a polygraph examination. I want to see him call me a liar under a polygraph examination.”

In Canseco’s 2005 book, “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big,” Canseco claimed he introduced McGwire and other stars to steroids and performance-enhancing drugs. He wrote about injecting himself and McGwire in bathroom stalls, and how the effects of the drugs were the reason he hit 462 career home runs.

– Free agent C Bengie Molina has apparently lowered his asking price from three years to two years, which has kickstarted interest with the Mets once again, although the Mets are still trying to sign him to a one-year deal. The market for Molina doesn’t seem busy, so he might have to bite the bullet.

– MLB.com reports that the Nationals are talking with 2B Orlando Hudson for a one-year/$9M deal. Washington reportedly wants to give Hudson a similar contract to what Giants 2B Juan Uribe signed for: one-year/$3.25M.The 32-year-old hit nine homers, stole eight bases, and had 62 RBIs last year. If the team can’t get Hudson, the rumor is that it will turn to 2B Adam Kennedy.

– Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that 1B Adam LaRoche rejected a two-year/$17.5M offer from the Giants. It is probably the most lucrative offer he has seen all offseason and it’s doubtful he can do much better. LaRoche, 30, hit an impressive .325/.401/.557 with 12 home runs and a .957 OPS in 212 at-bats for the Braves last season (.277/.355/.488 overall) but he has to realize what kind of market he’s swimming in. He’s reportedly seeking a three-year contract.

– The Astros have officially signed RHP Brett Myers to a one-year/$3.1M contract with an $8M mutual option for 2011. He’ll get a $2M buyout if the Astros decline the option, so he’s guaranteed at least $5.1M. It’s probably not the ideal landing spot for Myers to get his career back on track, but it’s not like he’s leaving Petco Park behind. Myers, 29, missed three months last season after undergoing right hip surgery to repair a torn labrum, but was 4-3 with a 4.84 ERA, 1.37 WHIP and 50/23 K/BB ratio in 18 appearances (10 starts). He has a 4.40 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and 7.5 K/9 during his eight-year career.

– According to the NY Post, the Yankees “only have $2M” to spend on their open left field spot, which isn’t nearly enough to sign OF Johnny Damon. Damon came into the offseason looking for a three or four-year worth $13M annually. The Post speculates that the Yankees will look at OF Xavier Nady, OF Reed Johnson, OF Rocco Baldelli, OF Jerry Hairston Jr. and OF Marcus Thames.

– The Detroit News reports that the Tigers will offer RHP Jose Valverde to a two-year deal. Valverde recorded 25 of 29 save chances, with 56 strikeouts in 54 innings. He’s a Type A free agent, meaning the Tigers would lose a first-rounder by signing him.

– The Marlins have reached an agreement with the players’ union to increase spending in the wake of complaints the team payroll has been so small as to violate baseball’s revenue sharing provisions. The deal was announced Tuesday in a joint statement by the Marlins, the union and Major League Baseball. The parties did not comment beyond the statement, and it was unclear how much the Marlins’ payroll might increase. The agreement runs through 2012, when the Marlins’ new ballpark is scheduled to open.

– The Indians have signed 2B Mark Grudzielanek to a minor league deal.

NBA

– The Mavericks made an offer to the Jazz last week that would have saved Utah a boatload of money and sent F Carlos Boozer to Dallas, according to ESPN. The Mavericks supposedly offered F Drew Gooden’s partially guaranteed contract, which the team waived last Wednesday, as well as the expiring contracts of F Kris Humphries and F Shawne Williams, who the team eventually traded to the Nets, in the hopes of landing Boozer and saving the Jazz millions of dollars. Boozer will likely be moved before the trade deadline.

– The Detroit News speculates that the Pistons could move F Tayshaun Prince. F Rip Hamilton, G Ben Gordon and F Charlie Villanueva are also available at the right price.

– The Nets continue to shop F Josh Boone. He has $2M remaining on his contract.

NHL

– The Hockey News reports that Oilers D Sheldon Souray has asked the team for a trade and has let them know that he will waive his no-trade clause. Souray signed a five-year/$27M contract in 2007, and has a cap hit of $5.4M, which will make it hard for the Oil to move him. Early rumours indicate that he will remain with the team for the season, but will be moved in the summer.

– The NHL has fined Canucks F Alex Burrows $2500 for his remarks about referee Stephane Auger.

NFL

– The AP has named Titans RB Chris Johnson the Offensive Player of the Year. Johnson received 38 1/2 out of the 50 votes, with Drew Brees’ nine votes coming a distant second. Johnson became just the sixth player in NFL history to run for more than 2,000 yards and set the record for most total yards from scrimmage with 2,509. He ran for 100 or more yards in a ridiculous 11 straight games and totaled 16 touchdowns for a team that started 0-6.

– The AP has named Packers CB Charles Woodson the Defensive Player of the Year. His 28 votes doubled the number received by Jets CB Darrelle Revis. Woodson, still dominant at age 33, tied for the NFL lead with nine interceptions, forced four fumbles, broke up 18 passes, and returned three of his picks for touchdowns. The Pack finished No. 5 overall in pass defense under first-year coordinator Dom Capers.

– Jets WR Braylon Edwards is likely to be suspended for at least one game during the 2010 season, according to PFT. Edwards pleaded “no contest” Tuesday to aggravated disorderly conduct charges that stemmed from an incident outside a Cleveland nightclub last October. It’s likely equivalent to a guilty plea in the NFL’s eyes, though he won’t face punishment in the playoffs. Edwards, 27 next month, is an impending restricted free agent. He’ll likely stay with the Jets next season.

WWE

– Expect CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio at WrestleMania 26, pending Mysterio’s knee holding up. The idea is it would be a mask vs. hair match, which is why Punk is shaving heads. It’s almost certain that Rey will win, as WWE is reluctant to remove his mask.

– While Vince McMahon was no-selling Jeff Hardy appearing on TNA’s three-hour iMPACT! broadcast last week backstage, it’s been said that he was “privately seething” over the former WWE Champion’s decision to jump ship to the competition. As noted earlier, WWE promptly removed Hardy from its opening video montage. WWE officials were hoping his legal issues would be settled in time for a match with CM Punk at WrestleMania, but with those plans now out the window, they’ll likely go with Punk vs. Rey Mysterio in a Hair vs. Mask Match.

– ECW champion Christian will defend the ECW Title against Ezekiel Jackson at the Royal Rumble PPV after Jackson “ECW Homecoming” challenge. Jackson won the #1 contender eight-man battle royal in the main event of Tuesday’s ECW. Here’s the latest card:

Royal Rumble Match. Announced participants include:
- Cody Rhodes
- Ted DiBiase
- Evan Bourne
- Mark Henry

WWE Title Match:
Sheamus defends against Randy Orton

World Heavyweight Title Match:
The Undertaker defends against Rey Mysterio or Batista (will be decided on SmackDown)

ECW Title Match:
Christian defends against Ezekiel Jackson

– In an interview with Canada’s SLAM! Sports, former WWE superstar The Brian Kendrick Kendrick speaks out against the “backstabbers, power hungry people, suck ups, weak people” in WWE. Kendrick told SLAM! that his time on the Raw brand, his final run with the company, was miserable.

“I am a good wrestler, I did a good job. I also know that certain behavior was encouraged, some actions were frowned upon, and I didn’t care. TV sucked because you saw a circus, backstabbers, power hungry people, suck ups, weak people. Also lots of really great, nice, funny people. But I felt like a tool sitting in the bleachers waiting in case they need my skills for something.”

Kendrick admits that his rebellious attitude and marijuana use were part of the reason he was underutilized and released from WWE. He thinks WWE Executive Vice President of Talent Relations John Laurinaitis acted “cowardly” by firing him over the phone.

“Is it the pot fines?’ I had a script for it, I had heated discussions with Dr. Black, I had to refuse a test to get him to call me at one point. He wouldn’t admit to that. I wanted honesty, maybe I got it, but I think more likely I am dealing with a coward. He did fire me over the phone after all.”

– Monday’s Raw featuring Mike Tyson as the special guest host drew a 3.7 cable rating, up from last week’s 3.6 number. The show scored hours of 3.72 and 3.73.

– WWE has signed luchador Super Nova to a developmental contract. He is headed to FCW. Super Nova worked in an ECW match a few weeks back against Trent Baretta and Caylen Croft. Reports suggest that WWE see Nova’s potential to be the “new Rey Mysterio.” It is expected that WWE will continue to allow Super Nova to use his mask.

TNA

– Earlier, FWOnline reports that Spike TV had given the green light to another live Monday night TNA show. While the exact date that is has yet to be revealed, the deal had been finalized. This report stemmed from Brooke Hogan telling radio host & TNA interviewer Bubba the Love Sponge that she would be in Orlando next Monday night for a live TNA taping. Sponge responded by saying Brooke had inadvertently slipped up and “let the cat out of the bag” that TNA is planning another live show on Monday.

New reports, however, have come out that there is are no plans for a live show next Monday or on any Monday for the next few weeks. After Sunday’s TNA Genesis Pay-Per-View, TNA will be taping four weeks of iMPACT! over the following three days. The months worth of advanced television tapings are being produced for when TNA goes overseas for a tour of the United Kingdom later this month. While Spike TV was very pleased with the rating for the Janaury 4 special and have given the green light to future live Monday night shows, they won’t be taking place in the near future.

– Scott Hall is working on a short-term deal as company officials want him to prove himself before they invest. While he’s not in the shape he was in during his peak, many feel he’s in better shape than in years past.

– The former X-Pac, Sean Waltman, is also on a short-term deal and there was some heat on him for being late to last Tuesday’s television taping.

VoV

– Email – captaincharisma@hotmail.com
– Twitter – @VoiceofValeri
– Facebook – facebook.com/thecanadianrage

John Cena vs. The Undertaker at WrestleMania 26?, WrestleMania 27 to be Held in Toronto, Cardinals Not Pursuing Jason Bay

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

VoV

-– You can keep up with VoV through Twitter by clicking here.

WWE

– The Undertaker vs. John Cena is one of the planned main-event’s for WrestleMania 26, according to F4WOnline.com. The groundwork for potential matchup was set on this past Monday’s RAW when Cena received a tombstone after the main-event match had ended.

– According to sources, WrestleMania 27 is looking to be held in Toronto at the Rogers Centre. WWE is still weighing other options including Miami, Indianapolis and Atlanta and an official decision should be made soon.

MLB

– Cardinals GM John Mozeliak indicated Tuesday that the Cardinals will not pursue OF Jason Bay, even if they miss out on OF Matt Holliday. Mozeliak said, “We’ll see how the market develops. Is (Bay) a possibility? Sure. But right now it’s fair to say he’s not one of our top priorities.” The Cardinals are reportedly intrigued by free agent OF Xavier Nady and would rather spend major cash on bolstering their infield and starting rotation if Holliday moves on. Bay is drawing heavy interest from the Red Sox and Mets.

– Free agent right-hander RHP Jason Marquis told the New York Post Tuesday that he’s a “perfect fit” for the Mets. “There’s definitely interest there. We’ll see what direction they want to go.” Marquis, 31, went 11-6 with a 3.65 ERA during the first half of the season but 4-7 with a 4.56 ERA after the break. He signed a three-year/$21M deal when he hit the free agent market last year and is thought to be looking for a similar contract this winter.

– According to the NY Post, the Red Sox have requested medical records on free agent LHP Mike Gonzalez and RHP Rafael Soriano. Gonzalez, 31, went 5-4 with a 2.42 ERA this season and converted 10 of 17 save chances. Soriano, 29, was 1-6 with a 2.97 ERA in 77 games and racked up 102 strikeouts in 75 2/3 innings. He converted 27 of 31 save chances. Both would serve as excellent setup men in the Boston bullpen.

– According to FOXSports.com, LHP Jarrod Washburn senses “mutual interest” in a possible return to the Mariners. “Not saying it will happen, but I know I enjoyed my time there, my wife and kids loved it there, and I think they have some interest. So, I see that as a possibility.” The 35-year-old Washburn was 31-49 with a 4.17 ERA in parts of four seasons in Seattle, but was 8-6 with a 2.64 ERA in 2009 before getting dealt to the Tigers at the trade deadline. Washburn could also see the Twins and Brewers as a potential fit since they are close to his offseason home in Wisconsin.

– Rockies skipper Jim Tracy was named the NL Manager of the Year, earning 29 of 32 first-place votes. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t even a manager at the beginning of the season. Tracy took over the gig in May after Clint Hurdle was fired and guided Colorado to a 74-42 record and the NL Wild Card in one of the most rapid turnarounds in major league history. Along with the playoff berth, the Rockies established a new club record with a 92-70 record. Tracy becomes the first Rockies manager to win the award since Don Baylor in 1995. Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa (2) and Dodgers manager Joe Torre (1) were the only other two managers to receive first-place votes.

In light of this, the Rockies have signed Tracy to a three-year contract extension. Tracy, 53, had an extension coming for some time now. In addition to the deal, Tracy’s entire staff will return for 2010.

– Angels skipper Mike Scioscia was elected the AL Manager of the Year, after receiving 15 of 28 first-place votes. Scioscia led the Angels to their third straight division title, their fifth in the past six seasons, despite a rash of injuries and the tragic death of pitcher Nick Adenhart in early April. Though the Angels fell to the Yankees in the ALCS, Scioscia is the first manager to lead his team to the playoffs six times in his first 10 years as manager. This is Scioscia’s second AL Manager of the Year award, as he won with the Halos back when he won the World Series in 2002. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire came in a close second, earning six first place votes, while Yankees manager, Joe Girardi, M’s manager Don Wakamatsu, Rangers manager Ron Washington and Togers manager Jim Leyland rounded out the AL ballot.

NBA

– CBS Sports’ Clark Judge and ESPN’s Adam Schefter both report that the Vikings are on the verge of signing coach Brad Childress to an extension. Judge reported on October 20 that the deal would be completed “within 2-3 weeks” of that date. Childress is currently the lowest paid head coach in the NFC North, but is expected to make twice as much as his current $2M salary via the new deal. He is 32-25 with one playoff berth in 3 1/2 years as Vikings head coach.

NBA

– Blazers F Travis Outlaw (foot) is expected to miss three-to-five months after undergoing surgery on Wednesday. Initial reports had him returning sometime in January, but this updated timetable changes things dramatically.

NBA

– Lakers G Kobe Bryant hit 17-of-29 shots and a 3-pointer for 40 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals in Tuesday’s win over the Pistons. This was Kobe’s 100th 40-point game, putting him behind Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan on the all-time list. He’s also suffering from a groin injury.

TONS of NHL Rumours – Lecavalier, Heatley, Bouwmeester, Nabokov, Sedins, Jason Bay and Matt Holliday Updates, MLB Rumours

Sunday, June 28th, 2009

NHL

– Lightning GM Brian Lawton said that F Vincent Lecavalier will stay in Tampa Bay. Lecavalier’s new eight-year/$85M contract kicks in on Wednesday with a no-movement clause, sparking speculation that the Lightning would deal his contract before then, but Lawton dispelled those rumours. “I can say he’s with us and I expect him to be with us. There is nothing going on that would make me suggest he would not be with us next season. You know what? No more comments from me about Vinny. I’m leaving it alone.” Sounds like Lecavalier will stay in Tampa Bay. Or not?

– The Canucks and the Sedin twins appear to be growing further apart in their contract talks. ‘Nucks GM Mike Gillis and the twins’ agent JP Barry met at the draft on Friday, but failed to get on the same wavelength in the negotiations. Gillis did not even table a counter-offer to the identical 12-year/$63M deals proposed by the Sedins’ camp. The team has apparently had five-year contracts on the table for them for some time, but are reluctant to go higher than that. This doesn’t bode well in BC. Stay tuned.

– The Ottawa Sun is reporting that the Senators have allowed F Dany Heatley’s agents to speak with other teams interested in trading for their client. Heatley has demanded a trade out of Ottawa, but the Senators are not getting offered anything close to the on-ice worth of Heatley. It is the second time in his NHL career that Heatley has asked to be traded and that has to make other GMs wary of the two-time 50 goal scorer.

The Sens received an offer from the Rangers including F Nikolai Zherdev and D Michal Rozsival, and rumorus are circulating that the Kings have pulled out because of the steep price tag. The Wild, Canucks and Sharks are still believed to be interested, as would the Blackhawks if they were able to trade D Brian Campbell’s massive contract in exchange for Heatley’s. Heatley is due to receive $4M bonus on July 1, and the Sens do not want to pay it if he won’t be in their lineup come October. Stay tuned.

– The Flames and D Jay Bouwmeester have not started negotiating a new deal yet, but they are set to meet soon. J-Bo’s agent Bryon Baltimore said, “We’ve had no discussions whatsoever. I just talked to [Flames' GM] Darryl [Sutter] today to set up a meeting. That’s it. That’s the system. That’s the way it is. They traded for the right to talk. We’re going to listen to what Calgary has to say, then sit down and decide what’s best for Jay.” Calgary acquired the rights to Bouwmeester on Saturday for pending UFA D Jordan Leopold and a third-round pick. The Flames will have exclusive contract negotiation rights until July 1 when he becomes fair game around the NHL.

– According to sources, the Sharks have placed G Evgeni Nabokov on the trade block. The Sharks were taking offers for their No. 1 goalie at the draft, but nothing materialized. Nabokov has one year left on his current deal with San Jose and for a team seeking a culture change to try and get deeper into the playoffs, he could very well be on his way out. If the Sharks manage to sign Swedish G Jonas Gustavsson, one would have to think that that would be Nabokov’s ticket out of town. Stay tuned.

– According to a source, the Thrashers are going to shop either G Kari Lehtonen or G Ondrej Pavelec. The Thrashers have the benefit of being deep in net, but the team has a ton of other holes around the ice, necessitating the trade of either Lehtonen or Pavelec. G Johan Hedberg will definitely be the backup goaltender to whoever is not traded. Lehtonen has always been highly regarded, but has been injury-prone in his brief NHL career, while Pavelec is one of the top-rated netminders not in the NHL. Either goalie should bring in at least one good player. Stay tuned as Lehtonen is an RFA on July 1.

– The Devils could name their new head coach as early as Monday. Former Devils coach Jacques Lemaire is the favorite at this time and if he is chosen, the Devils will go back to an even more defensive style of play.

MLB

– The Cardinals have acquired 3B Mark DeRosa from the Indians for RHP Chris Perez and a player to be named later. DeRosa, who the Indians acquired from the Cubs in a trade last offseason, was hitting .270 with 13 homers and 50 RBIs. Great add by the Cards. While getting back at the division rival Cubs by adding a Chicago fan-favorite, the Red Birds also scooped up a versatile position player that can slide in at third base or play the outfield.

– The Red Sox will soon begin contract negotiations with OF Jason Bay. Bay leads the AL in RBIs, and given that there is no one who can replace him, he has the upper hand. The Red Sox are believed to have used Nationals’ OF Adam Dunn’s two-year/$20M contract as a starting point with Bay during spring discussions that went nowhere. Bay, 30, currently is earning a base salary of $7.5M in the final year of his contract. He could realistically command double that on the open market in a three or four-year deal. According to a reliable source, Bay is likely to sign a four-year/$60M or a five-year/$70M deal. Bay has said he wants to stay in Boston, but these kind of talks usually take a while anyway. Stay tuned.

– The Cardinals will make a heavy push for A’s OF Matt Holliday. The team is unhappy with where their offense sits, and the team believes that Holliday, 29, can back 1B Albert Pujols and OF Chris Duncan as a very strong 3-4-5 in the order.

The Cards were reluctant to commit a multi-player package to the Rockies for Holliday last November, but now, the Cardinals are open to sending a similar package to Oakland for him. Holliday, the 2007 NL batting champion, would have a return package including the likes of OF Ryan Ludwick; either RHP Jason Motte or RHP Kyle McClellan; plus a prospect.

– According to the St. Louis Dispatch, the Cardinals and representatives for 16-year-old Dominican OF Wagner Mateo have agreed in principal on a signing bonus that would make Mateo the franchise’s highest-priced amateur acquisition out of the Caribbean. GM John Mozeliak refused to confirm a deal being in place, citing baseball’s prohibition against officially signing players out of the Caribbean until July 2. ESPN reports that the offer is worth roughly $3.1M.

– The Nationals are looking to add some outfielders, primarily for defence, and have eyed Pirates OF Nyjer Morgan and Braves OF Jordan Schafer. Schafer went down to Triple-A to make room for OF Nate McLouth, but it’s unknown what stance the Braves have on him as a member of their organization.

– The Dodgers, Mets and Brewers have inquired about Indians LHP Cliff Lee. Lee will make $6M this season with a $9M club option for 2010.

– The Marlins have inquired about Padres RHP Heath Bell and Royals RHP Joakim Soria, but neither are available.

– The Red Sox could soon be shopping SS Julio Lugo. With the impending return of SS Jed Lowrie, the BoSox have a suitable backup in Nick Green, who also makes $8.5M less than Lugo. Stay tuned.

– The Yankees have interest in Rockies RHP Huston Street.

– Mariners 3B Adrian Beltre will undergo surgery before the All-Star break to remove bone chips from his right shoulder. The exact date hasn’t been decided, but he’ll be out up to eight weeks once he goes under the knife.

– The Tigers have placed LHP Nate Robertson (elbow) on the 15-day DL.

– According to SI, second Tommy John surgeries have “as low as 20%” chance of success, which is terrible news for Yankees OF Xavier Nady.

NBA

– A representative for Wolves G Ricky Rubio’s agency in Spain says that Rubio is receiving offers to play for Real Madrid and a team in Turkey, which would decrease the likelihood of him playing in the NBA next season. The offer from Turkey is expected to be about $1M, with another $2M going toward Rubio’s buyout with his current team, DKV Joventut. Unless the Wolves trade him to the Knicks, it looks like Rubio will remain overseas for at least one more season.

– Cavaliers F Shaquille O’Neal will wear a 4-XL No. 33 jersey next season. Originally “The Big Aristotle”, the Cavs have cleverly re-nicknamed him “The Big Witness” to correspond with F LeBron James’ “Witness” slogan.

– Speaking of Shaq, according to SI, he nixed a trade to the Trail Blazers involving F Raef LaFrentz before last season’s trade deadline back in February.

The Bobcats exercised a qualifying offer of about $5.5M for G Raymond Felton, making him an RFA on July 1. The team is very high on Felton, specifically Michael Jordan, so the team is likely to match any offer sheet that Felton should sign. Now the question becomes what the Bobcats are willing to offer in a long-term extension.

NFL

– Raiders QB JaMarcus Russell’s work ethic continues to be called into question, according to the National Football Post. Russell scored surface points with his plans to host an extra minicamp for his receivers, but that good impression didn’t last long. Russell reportedly went AWOL on the last day of the team’s minicamp after urging teammates to step up their efforts and finish out the OTAs on a positive note.

WWE

– According to the PPV schedule on WWE.com, WWE has changed the names of two upcoming PPVs.

The No Mercy pay-per-view on October 4th has been renamed “Hell in a Cell”. The company had been thinking of doing a Hell in A Cell-themed event in recent weeks with the top matches featuring the company’s premiere gimmick match.

It would appear that the Cyber Sunday-themed PPV has been dropped, as the October 25, 2009 event has been renamed “WWE Annihilation.”

It was also reported a few weeks ago that WWE had changed the name of Unforgiven, renaming it “Breaking Point.”

Flyers Acquire Chris Pronger, Tons of NHL, MLB, NFL and NBA Rumours, Ric Flair Update

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

VoV

– It’s my birthday. What!

– The Peep Show has been updated.

NHL

– With the first overall selection, the Islanders picked F John Tavares. The Lightning took D Victor Hedman at No. 2 and the Avalanche took F Matt Duchene at No. 3. The Leafs took F Nazim Kadri, Tavares’ teammate.

– The Flyers have acquired D Chris Pronger and F Matt Dingle from the Ducks for F Joffrey Lupul, D Luca Sbisa, first-round picks in 2009 and 2010 and a conditional third-round pick in 2010 or 2011. The 34-year-old Pronger, who had 11 goals and 37 assists in 82 games last season, is going into the final year of a contract that will pay him $6.25M next season. Lupul, 25, returns to Anaheim after scoring 25 goals and 25 assists in 79 games with the Flyers last season. He’ll make $4.25M next season in the first year of a four-year contract extension he signed last July.

– Ducks’ D Scott Niedermayer has confirmed that he will return to the Ducks next season. This prompted the Pronger trade to the Flyers. The defenseman, who turns 36 in August, informed GM Bob Murray of his decision Thursday evening. Murray called Niedermayer “irreplaceable” after the Ducks were eliminated by Detroit in the second round of this season’s playoffs. A Ducks spokesman said the team hopes to sign Niedermayer to a new contract soon. See Mats Sundin, *that’s* how you make a decision!

– The Rangers are very interested in Sens’ F Dany Heatley, but as of this writing, no one has yet to make a serious offer. Heatley is owed a $4M bonus on July 1, after which it’s likely that many teams will begin offering.

– There is a report out of Chicago that the Blackhawks have re-signed second-line F Dave Bolland to a five-year/$18M deal. Bolland had a breakout season in 2009 with 47 points in 81 games.

– Ducks’ GM Bob Murray is not likely to trade G Jean-Sebastien Giguere despite rumours to the contrary.
Murray told reporters that he was not actively shopping the goaltender and that he would not be part of a trade that might take place Saturday involving picks to get a big-bodied forward.

– Speaking of the Ducks, the return of D Scott Niedermayer to Anaheim has made it more likely that F Teemu Selanne will play one more season for the Ducks. GM Bob Murray wasted little time in contacting Selanne to discuss the speedy winger’s plans.

But, the acquistion of D Luca Sbisa in the Chris Pronger deal makes it more unlikely the Ducks will re-sign soon-to-be unrestricted free agent D Francois Beauchemin. The Ducks now have Scott Niedermayer, Ryan Whitney, Sbisa and most likely James Wisniewski to anchor their defense and will be strapped under the cap to come up with the money for Beauchemin. Look for Beauchemin to sign with another club after July 1.

– A group led by Chicago Bulls and Chicago White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf has offered to buy the Phoenix Coyotes for $148M and keep the team in Arizona. The offer, submitted in bankruptcy court documents on Friday afternoon, is $64.5M less than the bid by Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie, who wants to move the franchise to Southern Ontario. Reinsdorf’s offer calls for a new Jobing.com Arena lease with the city of Glendale and unspecified new agreements with other creditors, including the NHL, which has been funding the club.

– Kings’ D Brayden Schenn is eventually expected to be a leader on the Kings. GM Dean Lombardi had this to say about the Kings’ first round selection, “He needs to work on his skating, but his hockey sense is top-notch. He has the ability to make those small, smart, little plays and has no fear going into traffic. He’s a real competitor, and I think he’s got a chance to grow into some leadership.” Schenn will likely have a difficult time breaking camp with the Kings this upcoming season. He is, however, only a few years away from being a difference-maker.

– The Red Wings want a new deal to play at Joe Louis Arena. The team says it will not exercise an option to renew its lease at the arena, but wants to continue talks with the city on a new deal. Ilitch Holdings Inc. President and Chief Executive Christopher Ilitch said Friday that the current lease is 30 years old and not competitive to other arena leases in the NHL or professional sports. He says the team is looking for a new lease that is “fair and equitable for all parties.” The team had until next Tuesday to notify the city of its intentions before a 20-year option automatically kicked in. Ilitch said the team will continue evaluating all options for a new arena.

– According to rumours, the NHL salary cap is going to drop to a ceiling of $56.8M with the floor being $40.8M.

NBA

– The Knicks have offered G Nate Robinson and No. 8 pick F Jordan Hill to the T’Wolves for disgruntled No. 5 pick G Ricky Rubio. Rubio is reportedly unhappy about being drafted by the Wolves.

According to the NY Times, the Knicks are still interested in Wolves’ G Ricky Rubio. Interestingly, Wolves GM David Kahn wrote a letter to fans saying he’ll wait as long as it takes for Rubio to come and play in Minnesota, and that he plans on using Rubio and G Jonny Flynn extensively on the court together. Rubio is likely to force a trade, buy Kahn may have tied his own hands here. As far as I know, Kahn is still the only person in North America who thinks the young duo can really play together.

– The Mavericks are expected to have a very busy summer ahead of them. Since the Lakers and Spurs have all made moves to better themselves this offseason, the Mavs are expected to follow suit. It will almost definitely be a trade involving F Jerry Stackhouse and his $7M contract ($2M buyout) and F Erick Dampier’s expiring $11M contract.

– As reported here earlier, F Hedo Turkoglu has officially opted out of his contract. Turk was due $7.3M next season in the final year of his six-year/$36M deal with the Magic. Turkoglu averaged 16.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.9 assists last season. Turk is expected to sign with the Pistons.

NFL

– According to reports, Titans’ QB Vince Young is likely on his way out of Tennessee.

– The Jaguars have traded WR Dennis Northcutt to the Lions in exchange for S Gerald Alexander. The deal is contingent on both players passing physicals and will not be official until Monday.

– Commissioner Roger Goodell has notified WR Plaxico Burress that the league is beginning a review of incidents involving Burress that fall under the personal conduct policy. Goodell had been waiting for Plax’s legal process to play out, but the trial delay has spurred him into action. As much as Plax’s team of experts wants us to believe that he’s not eligible for suspension unless he’s found guilty, that’s not necessarily the case. Goodell is sure to take prior history into account here. ESPN’s Chris Mortensen predicted on his Twitter account that Plax would receive a four game suspension, with Goodell reserving the right to extend it pending the trial outcome.

– Former Cleveland Browns WR Joe Jurevicius is suing the team and the Cleveland Clinic, accusing doctors of negligence over a staph infection in his right knee that kept him off the field last year. It alleges that team physicians failed to warn Jurevicius that therapy equipment was not always cleaned at the team’s training facility. Jurevicius has said he contracted staph following arthroscopic surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in January 2008. Jurevicius was released by the Browns in March.

MLB

– Yankees’ 3B Alex Rodriguez has hit his 564th home run, moving past Reggie Jackson into 11th place on the career list.

– Astros’ 1B Lance Berkman has reached his 1,000 RBI plateau, putting him with Astros legends Craig Biggio and Jeff Bagwell as the only ‘Stros to do so.

– The Cardinals are once again pursuing A’s OF Matt Holliday. The return price is expected to include OF Ryan Ludwick and one of the following; RHP Jason Motte, RHP Chris Perez, and RHP Kyle McClellan; and a prospect. Holliday will make about $13.5M (roughly $7.6M left) this season before becoming a UFA. Ludwick has about $2M remaining on his contract this year. He’s under team control through 2011 as an arbitration-eligible player.

– According to Fanhouse.com, the Nationals and Pirates are discussing a deal. The deal would see Pirates’ OF Nyjer Morgan swapped for Nats’ OF Lastings Milledge, but that talks stalled when Pittsburgh asked for RHP Craig Stammen as well.

– The Cubs have confirmed interest in Indians’ 3B and ex-Cub Mark DeRosa. DeRosa expects to be traded by the July 31 non-waiver deadline, and the Cubs could find themselves in position to re-acquire him depending on the asking price and ownership’s willingness to take on about $2M in salary.

– The Dodgers are eyeing Mariners’ LHP Jarrod Washburn.

– According to the NY Post, Yankees’ OF Xavier Nady will require Tommy John surgery to repair his right elbow and is done for the season. Nady is also questionable for most of 2010. He’s a free agent after this season, so it’s probably safe to assume his time with the Yankees is up.

– The Jays have placed C Rod Barajas (groin) on the 15-day DL.

– The Jays have placed RHP Shaun Marcum (shoulder) on the 60-day DL.

WWE

– “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair is currently working for WWE without a contract, according to the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. The company has opted not to sign Flair because they want complete control over their talent and as of this week, Ric Flair is sending out press releases stating he’s not exclusive to WWE and is still seeking bookings.

– Tennessee’s WBBJ-TV is reporting that former WWE tag champion, Brian “Grandmaster Sexay” Christopher, has been arrested for public intoxication. Brian Christopher Lawler, son of Jerry “The King” Lawler, was arrested just before 3:00 am Friday at a convenience store. The store clerk told officers Lawler fell over a cooler outside the store before coming inside. According to the police report, “Mr. Lawler was very unsteady on his feet, had slurred speech and once placed in custody became very belligerent. The officer said cursed and threatened him as he arrested him. At one point, the officer stated Lawler threatened to rip off his head.” Lawler is currently in the Madison County Jail and will appear in Jackson City Court on Monday. This is his second arrest this year – he was picked up for disorderly conduct back in February.

TNA

– Former TNA wrestler/referee Shane Sewell has apparently joined WWE. He reffed a match between Alex Riley and Bo Rotundo at last night’s FCW TV taping in Tampa. FCW usually doesn’t use talent on their television shows unless they are under contract to WWE. Following his release from TNA last month, Sewell returned to the World Wrestling Council promotion in Puerto Rico.

Niedermayer, Gaborik Updates, WWE Releases Candice Michelle and Sim Snuka, Favre Update, Kobe/Lakers, Wade/Heat, Lesnar/Steroids, Kurt Angle Back to WWE?

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

NHL

– As reported here earlier, the Blues have signed F Keith Tkachuk to a one-year deal. Tkachuk guided the Blues to their first playoff run since 2004. Now 37, he’s a five-time All-Star who has spent eight of his 17 NHL seasons with the Blues, though he was traded to Atlanta for 18 games at the end of the 2006-07 season before re-signing with St. Louis. He had 25 goals, 24 assists and 61 penalty minutes. He has 525 goals and 508 assists for his career, along with 2,163 penalty minutes.

– D Scott Niedermayer plans on advising the Ducks about his intentions for the upcoming season within the next six days. He will decide if he wants to play another season or retire before the entry draft this coming Friday. Even if Niedermayer chooses to continue his career, it is not a slam dunk he will return to Anaheim. His brother Rob is a free agent and will likely not be re-signed by the Ducks which will influence him to a degree, as the two wanted to play together again. Both brothers have been rumoured to want to finish their careers with the Canucks, which is near their hometown of Cranbrook, BC. On the other hand, Niedermayer and his family are settled in California and seem happy there. Stay tuned.

– Avalanche’ F Joe Sakic told reporters that he is feeling “real good” lately and will make a decision about his hockey future within two weeks. The 40-year-old star, who missed the majority of the 2008-09 season with a variety of serious injuries, has been working out regularly and has benefited from a pilates program. It sounds to us as if Sakic is leaning towards playing one more season. Stay tuned.

– According to F Todd Bertuzzi, the Flames have not contacted him about a new contract. The power forward, who will become a UFA on July 1, wants to return to Calgary, but is perplexed as to why the Flames have made no effort to contact his agent. GM Darryl Sutter may not have been happy with Bertuzzi’s defensive play, an area he wishes to shore up this offseason. If Bertuzzi does not return to Calgary, he will likely play somewhere on the east coast.

– Wild’ GM Chuck Fletcher has been making phone calls about a trade involving F Marian Gaborik. Gaborik has not given the Wild any indication of re-signing, and Fletcher has been clear he does not want to lose the free agent star for nothing. Look for this to come to a head next week.

– Kings’ GM Bob Murray intends to try and match any offer extended to free agent D Francois Beauchemin.
Murray is a big fan of the underrated blueliner and will do his best to bring him back. That said, Beauchemin will be in demand and Murray will be hard pressed to match an agressive offer given the Ducks’ salary cap situation.

– The Maple Leafs would like to participate in the Calgary Flames’ outdoor game if Calgary gets permission to host it on New Year’s Day. President and CEO Richard Peddie said, “We’re very interested. If the National Hockey League invited us, we would jump at it. Any chance we have to bring the Leafs across Canada, we support.” Calgary’s outdoor game would be the second part of a proposed doublehitter which would also feature the Boston Bruins hosting an outdoor game in Fenway Park. The NHL is expected to announce their plans for their next outdoor game in mid-July.

– The Coyotes have traded F Steven Reinprecht to the Panthers for F Stefan Meyer. The Panthers have also signed Reinprecht to a new three-year deal. Phoenix is in bankruptcy proceedings and did not plan to re-sign Reinprecht. The 33-year-old scored 14 goals with 27 assists in 73 games with the Coyotes last season.

– The Coyotes have signed F Petr Prucha to a two-year deal. Terms were not disclosed. Prucha, 26, scored six goals and had 13 assists in 47 games with the Coyotes and Rangers last season. He joined Phoenix on March 4 in the deal that sent D Derek Morris to the Rangers.

– Predators’ GM David Poile is not optimistic about re-signing any of his clubs’ unrestricted free agents including scoring star F Steve Sullivan. Poile continues to speak to the agents of Sullivan, Joel Ward, Vern Fiddler and Greg Zanon but seems resigned to the fact that all will test the free agent market come July 1. “It just feels like we’re going to July 1st with everybody unless somebody comes back to say they’re changing their positions. We haven’t had any of that. What we’re offering and what they’re asking for is a substantial difference, and that’s why those deals haven’t been done.” Sullivan, who has stated that he wants to return to Nahsville, is seeking a two-year deal and will have to leave some money on the table if he wants to play with the Preds, who will likely not be able to match other teams’ financial offers. Stay tuned.

– It is looking more unlikely that F Alexander Radulov will return to play for the Predators this upcoming season. Preds’ GM David Poile had this to say about the Radulov situation, “You have some hope he’s going to come back this year. But it seems a little — I don’t want to say comical — when he’s able to get out of our contract, but it seems a lot harder to walk away from a Russian contract. So maybe we should have a look at how their laws work.”

– It appears that the Oilers and F Ales Kotalik will soon part ways. There have been no contract talks between the club and the 30-year-old forward who registered 11 points in 19 games in Edmonton last season. Kotalik formed some chemistry on a line with star F Ales Hemsky, so it’s a bit surprising that the Oilers haven’t even offered him a contract.

– The Blue Jackets have allegedly informed F Jiri Novotny that they will not be extending a qualifying offer to him, thereby making him a UFA. The 25-year-old forward registered 29 points over 107 games and two seasons. The Jackets do seem likely to offer their other restricted free agents, namely Alexandre Picard, Marc Methot, Ole-Kristian Tollefsen and Dan LaCosta, qualifying offers next week.

– The Avalanche have hired former players Steve Konowalchuk and Adam Deadmarsh as coaches. Konowalchuk will be an assistant coach and Deadmarsh will be video and development coach. The hires were announced Friday. They join coach Joe Sacco and assistant coach Sylvain Lefebvre, who were hired on June 4 after the Avs fired Tony Granato and shook up their front office.

WWE

– WWE has released former Women’s Champion Candice Michelle and Sim Snuka.

Regarding Sim Snuka’s release, it likely was not a Wellness Policy-related firing but rather due to creative not having anything for him. Snuka was last seen on TV at WrestleMania 25 when he played a stunt camera man for Shawn Michaels to throw infront of Undertaker during a dive over the top rope down to the ringside floor. The spot was botched, and while it’s debatable whether Snuka was at fault or not, he ended up getting a little heat for it. He hasn’t been seen since and was given his release shortly after 5:00 PM on Friday, June 19, 2009.

Candice Michelle had been undergoing therapy to heal her injured ankle, and according to her Twitter posts, was under the impression she would return sometime this month. Reports had leaked several months ago that WWE wanted to use Candice to put over some younger divas while they could, and then release her due to her injury-prone reputation. Doctors cleared her to return this month, but she was greeted with a release by WWE which was announced just moments after Snuka’s.

– Last week, WWE released Umaga because he refused to enter a drug rehabilitation facility after violating the company’s Wellness Program a second time. This should explain why he was telling people he quit, since it was his decision to refuse to attend the rehab that was ordered. Umaga wasn’t exactly telling the entire story regarding his dismissal from the company, however, as he claimed his new deal (with his old deal expiring this January) was being negotiated and he was unhappy with the terms. Apparently, his unhappiness concerning the new terms of his contract made him quit six months early, if he is to be believed.

WWE’s announcement came one day after the company released a statement to The Sun that all performers who violate the company’s Wellness Program are reported publicly. The statement was apparently in response to a certain online report questioning whether the company was still adhering to the policy as some developmental wrestlers had reportedly been released as a result of Wellness Policy violations the week prior, but were never publicly announced.

There is some skepticism regarding the situation because the fact remains that WWE had not previously announced a drug test failure concerning Umaga, which should indicate that the company’s public policy of doing so was not being completely adhered to.

WWE officials released a statement to The Sun explaining the discrepancy by saying the delay in announcing his Wellness Policy violation was “due to the unusual nature of Umaga’s termination.”

Company officials knew Umaga had succumbed to a Wellness Policy violation at least by Friday, June 5th, two days before the Extreme Rules pay-per-view. Then, the result of the Samoan Strap match between Umaga and CM Punk was changed to Punk going over instead of Umaga. It is unclear whether they knew by the SmackDown taping on June 2nd, which saw Punk net a clean win over Umaga. All of this should explain why an announcement was not previously made. Although, it once again brings up the question where talent who violate the policy are still put on pay-per-views for the sake of storylines, thus delaying suspensions.

Umaga had one strike stemming from being named in the Signature Pharmacy scandal in August 2007, resulting in a 30-day suspension. Through a government raid, WWE officials learned he had received packages of somatropin, a growth hormone, between July and December 2006. His second strike would have been for a different drug as the company doesn’t send people to rehab for growth hormone (which can’t be tested for anyway) nor steroids.

There is a feeling in the locker room that management was out to get Umaga, with the idea they drug tested him when they knew there was a good chance of catching him. Also, there was some sympathy for him among talent because he was constantly informed of ideas enabling him to shine and then those decisions would change, leaving him with nothing.

NFL

– Vikings’ coach Brad Childress told a local radio station that he understands QB Brett Favre is “pain free” right now. Favre’s statement on Wednesday said that his arm isn’t yet NFL-ready yet. He has to work on endurance and stamina before he’s ready for training camp, but it sounds like the Vikings at least are unconcerned about the arm.

– According to the Baltimore Sun, the Ravens’ interest in Broncos’ RB Brandon Marshall is real.
That doesn’t mean that a deal is around the corner. The Broncos don’t appear to be interested in dealing Marshall unless they get bowled over by an offer. Though the Ravens want to take advantage of a Super Bowl window, they’re unlikely to meet the asking price for a player who doesn’t fit their new “high-character” approach.

NBA

– Lakers’ G Kobe Bryant said he plans to stay with the NBA champion LA Lakers even he if opts out of his contract this summer. Coach Phil Jackson said his health will dictate whether he returns as coach. The finals MVP can terminate the last two years of his contract and become a UFA on July 1. He’s spent his entire 13-year career with the Lakers, winning four NBA championships. He could get a new, longer deal if he opted out, but he wouldn’t necessarily make more money.

Jackson said he has a specific date in his contract in which he has to inform the Lakers of his decision, although he didn’t disclose the date. I’m still banking on Phil’s return to the bench next season, but it fully depends on his health.

A day after Heat’ President Pat Riley said the team could not go forward with a major personnel overhaul without his star guard first agreeing to an extension this summer, G Dwyane Wade indicated he might seek such action by the team before making such a commitment. “I’m there. Why not fast track this thing anyway while I’m there and let’s not give it a chance to get to 2010?”. I’m in my prime right now, playing the best basketball I’ve ever played, and I feel as good as I ever felt. So let’s not wait. Let’s do it now if we can do it. So it’s not about me signing a contract.” Riley, however, said it is about exactly that, that the Heat cannot move forward with a renovation amid uncertainty about the franchise’s foundation. Wade can extend his contract starting July 12, or can opt out and become a free agent following next season. Stay tuned.

– Rockets’ F Yao Ming has denied rumours of his interest in joining the Cavaliers, who have a minority Chinese owner.

In the inter view, with the blog NBA Web Sportiva, Cavs’ F Anderson Varejao is quoted in Portuguese as saying: “I’ve had two conversations with [Dallas Mavericks owner] Mark Cuban this month and he offered me a three-year deal worth $11M [about $19M]. But I told him that I would like to remain in Cleveland, unless they do not want [to] renew my contract and I can analyze the proposal of Dallas.”

The translation isn’t 100%, though. If Cuban or anyone from the Dallas organization had contacted Varejao before July 1, when he is expected to become a free agent, it would be tampering and subject to punishment by the NBA. A source close to Varejao said Friday that Varejao did not make those statements and that he has not talked to Cuban. Varejao is on vacation in Miami.

– According to the Chicago Tribune, the Bulls have had conversations with several teams trying to package their Nos. 16 and 26 picks for a single higher selection in the June 25 NBA draft. Several media outlets, including the Tribune, confirmed one of those teams is New Jersey, which owns the No. 11 pick.

It’s unclear which player the Bulls might want and believe might not be available at No. 16. Syracuse G Jonny Flynn, Duke F Gerald Henderson, Wake Forest G Jeff Teague and Wake Forest F James Johnson are among several players who have intrigued the Bulls.

– Several media outlets and sources are suggesting that Mark Jackson is the leading candidate to become the Timberwolves next head coach. One source has indicated that the decision has already been made, and it makes sense given the fact that Jackson and new GM David Kahn were both with the Pacers when Jackson was the starting point guard and Kahn was the team’s GM. He would also likely come at a bargain, as opposed to other candidates like Mike Fratello or Sam Mitchell, who also appear to be in the running.

UFC

– The latest issue of Maxim Magazine features an interview with UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar. Here are the highlights;

On why he’s in the UFC: “I like to punish people,” Lesnar said. “It’s a feeling you can’t get anywhere else, really. If I did it to somebody on the street, I’d get sued or arrested.”

On whether he’s on steroids: “I bet you I’ve taken over 60 steroid tests. In college I had 15 random drug tests in two years. I’ve taken drug tests for the NFL, the WWE, the UFC. I must be pretty good at masking steroids. God gave me this body: Are you jealous of it or what? Give me a break. I got the genetics of-not to get into racism or anything-but I’m built like a black man. Would you say so?”

The Maxim interviewer brought up an issue that angered Lesnar during that ESPN interview, saying “There’s a difference between saying, ‘I’ve never tested positive,’ and saying, ‘I’ve never taken steroids,’” the Maxim interviewer pointed out. Lesnar responded, “How isn’t it the same thing? It’s all genetics. I wouldn’t say we’re all created equal. That’s just to make the other guys feel good who don’t have what you’ve got.”

MLB

– D’Backs’ RHP Brandon Webb’s troublesome shoulder will require more tests and maybe even surgery, and the possibility exists that the organization’s most accomplished homegrown player has thrown his last pitch for the Diamondbacks. GM Josh Byrnes said Webb was sent back to Phoenix and was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on Friday to determine whether there is more structurally wrong with his shoulder than Webb and the club initially believed. The original diagnosis was a strained teres major, a muscle outside the shoulder joint, but with Webb continuing to experience stiffness and soreness, more tests are being done to determine whether there are problems with his rotator cuff or labrum.

– Free agent LHP Tom Glavine said Friday he plans to “hang out” for the rest of the summer but is not announcing his retirement. Glavine sent a text message to The Associated Press on Friday saying he won’t pitch this year. He says he will “evaluate things at the end of the season.” Who knew he knew how to text?

– According to ESPN, several teams walked away from RHP Pedro Martinez‘s workout yesterday unimpressed and uninterested in signing him. ESPN says that several teams would be interested in the future Hall of Famer if he decides to pitch for something close to the pro-rated minimum with incentives, and is willing to work his way back up through the minors.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has no plans to become a candidate again to own the Chicago Cubs, according to a report on ESPN.com. Cuban was a candidate to buy the club before the Ricketts family won exclusive bidding rights.

ESPN writes that Padres’ RHP Jake Peavy and Mariners’ LHP Erik Bedard are unlikely to be dealt prior to August 1 because of their respective injuries. Mariners’ LHP Jarrod Washburn remains the team’s trade bait.

– The Braves have signed OF Chris Burke.

– The Red Sox continue to shop RHP Takashi Saito.

– The Red Sox have contacted Angels’ SS Macier Izturis, but a deal is highly unlikely.

– The Mets are still looking for an outfield bat. Indians’ UTIL Mark DeRosa remains a top candidate.

– The Yankees are not shopping OF Nick Swisher or OF Xavier Nady.

– The Mariners are going to place OF Endy Chavez (knee) on the 15-day DL.

– The Padres have placed OF Cliff Floyd (shoulder) on the 60-day DL.

– The Mariners have moved RHP Carlos Silva to the 60-day DL.

TNA

– Kurt Angle recently informed the “Busted Open” SIRIUS satelitte radio show that his contract with TNA expires in a few months. Angle mentioned that he’s been doing movies lately but his wrestling career doesn’t expire with his contract. While Angle didn’t directly hint at a return to WWE, he did mention that he did not burn any bridges with the company and that he could return if he wanted to.

Slam Wrestling has an interview up with Kurt Angle where he compares MMA and pro wrestling, saying “You have to be crazy to do both. You have to have a certain talent to be a professional wrestler. There is an art form and psychology to it that is different than any sport of form of entertainment. Both are brutal but you train all the time for maybe two MMA fights a year. In wrestling, you are fighting every week, every year, for years and years. Nothing is more brutal than taking 20 bumps in a ring on plywood. I have seen great amateur wrestlers and MMA fighters not able to last when training for professional wrestling.”

– As reported a few weeks ago, Sheik Abdul Bashir’s contract with TNA Wrestling expires in a few weeks. There is some interest on the part of WWE in the former Daivari.

In late 2007, Daivari requested his release from the company, which was granted on October 16, 2007.