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Posted on: May 23, 2009 4:18 pm
 

Cuddyer legs out Cycle

Twins right fielder Michael Cuddyer has always been known for his hustle -- whether that means sliding hard to break up a double play or using every bit of speed he has to stretch a single into a double.

So it only seemed right that to complete his first career cycle Friday night, Cuddyer was given another test of that hustle. This time, the outfielder had to leg out a triple on a broken-bat grounder down the left-field line in order to accomplish the feat.

Cuddyer became the second Twins player to hit for the cycle this season and the 10th player in team history to accomplish the feat with his 4-for-5 performance in Friday night's 11-3 win over the Brewers at the Metrodome.

It took Cuddyer just four plate appearances to tally the cycle, as he hit a home run in the first inning, delivered a ground-rule double in the third, ripped an RBI single in the fourth and then hit his broken-bat triple in the sixth. His lone out came in the eighth inning on a groundout.

For Cuddyer, Friday night's performance meant a little more, considering what he's battled through in recent seasons.

Cuddyer spent most of last season on the disabled list, playing in just 71 games due to injuries to both index fingers and a broken bone in his foot. He also played through a thumb injury in the second half of 2007 that hampered his hitting.

Cuddyer came to Spring Training eager to get a new season started, and after batting just .224 in April, he's seen things turn around this month. He's hitting .354 in 21 games in May. Six of his seven homers have come during that time, and he's been able to play a crucial role for the offense, delivering 23 RBIs so far this month.

Cuddyer joined Jason Kubel as the second Twin to hit for the cycle this season. Kubel delivered his cycle against the Angels on April 17 at the Metrodome. The last team to have two players hit for the cycle in the same season was the 2003 Montreal Expos, when Vladimir Guerrero and Brad Wilkerson each accomplished the feat.

It's also the third cycle the Twins have recorded in the past two seasons. Carlos Gomez hit for the cycle in a contest against the White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on May 7, 2008. Prior to Gomez's cycle, it had been nearly 22 years since a Twins player had hit for the cycle. Kirby Puckett hit for the cycle at the Metrodome on Aug. 1, 1986, against Oakland.

Cuddyer began his cycle with a bang, belting a three-run homer to left-center field in the first inning off Brewers starter Manny Parra. It marked his third straight game with a home run, the first time he's done that in his career.

Cuddyer then led off the third inning with a ground-rule double to left-center field off Parra. In the fourth, Cuddyer added an RBI single to center field to cap off a four-run inning for Minnesota.

That single left Cuddyer just a triple short of the cycle. And in the sixth inning, he delivered that triple. As the barrel of his bat flew down the left-field line along with the ball, Cuddyer hustled to third base in time to beat the throw from Braun.

While cycles are always special, the Twins wanted to make this one a little more fun. That's why they surprised the outfielder by having him walk into an empty clubhouse after his big day. Hiding in a back room, they all jumped out at Cuddyer when given the word that he was there.

Category: MLB
Posted on: April 16, 2009 4:43 pm
 

John Madden retires from NBC after 30 seasons in

 John Madden is going out on top. After calling one of the most thrilling Super Bowls of all-time, the 73-year old analyst-turned-video-game-icon is retiring from the broadcast booth, NBC announced today.

It won't feel the same without Madden calling games on any network this year (he's been employed by each of the four major broadcast channels since he began calling games in 1979), but it's the right time for Madden to hang up his microphone.

After it seemed like he was slipping in his final few years at FOX, Madden seemed reinvigorated in 2002 when he joined Al Michaels in the Monday Night Football booth (and then, eventually, on NBC's Sunday Night Football). To go out now is to go out with his legacy in tact.

Whatever you thought of him (and emotions ranged from love to hate), Madden's presence always made the game feel more important. Watching clips of him and Pat Summerall in the 1980s still gives me goosebumps. Madden loved football and that passion was always present in his broadcasts.

The news of the Madden retirement isn't entirely surprising, as there had been some recent signs to suggest it might happen. Madden NFL '09 was the first version of the game since its introduction in 1993 not to feature Madden's voice providing in-game analysis. And in October he took his first NFL weekend off since 1980. His replacement for that game, Cris Collinsworth, is Madden's most likely successor in NBC's booth.

When it's written, there will be three main chapters to the John Madden story. First, was his time spent as Oakland Raiders head coach (Madden owns the highest winning percentage in NFL history). Last will be the legacy he leaves with his video game franchise. The middle chapter is the most important. The NFL's television presence in the 1980s helped catapult the sport past baseball into becoming America's past time. And John Madden was a big part of that ride.

Category: NFL
Posted on: April 15, 2009 5:11 pm
 

Yankees RF Nady to go on DL

 New York Yankees right-fielder Xavier Nady will be put on the disabled list with a right elbow injury and could be sidelined for an extended period.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Wednesday that the initial report from an MRI exam on Nady's elbow "is not good."

Nick Swisher will replace Nady in right field.

Nady felt a sharp pain while making a throw in the seventh inning of Tuesday night's 7-2 win over Tampa Bay. He had elbow ligament replacement surgery on Sept. 29, 2001.

Also, Girardi said it's possible that injured third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who had right hip surgery just over five weeks ago, could start taking batting practice by this weekend. A-Rod is expected to rejoin the team by May 15.

Struggling right-hander Chien-Ming Wang, who is 0-2 with a 29.38 ERA in two starts this season, threw a 21-pitch batting practice session. He has had trouble keeping his pitches down in the strike zone, and worked on slowing down the left leg during his delivery.

Third baseman Cody Ransom, filling in for Rodrgiuez, and designated hitter Hideki Matsui were both out of the lineup against the Rays for the second straight game. Ramiro Pena started at third, while starting catcher Jorge Posada was the DH.

Left fielder Johnny Damon started Wednesday after missing one game due to illness.

 

 

Category: MLB
Posted on: April 14, 2009 9:07 am
 

Harrison Gets 51 Mil. contract

 

Steelers linebacker James Harrison cashed in on his incredible 2008 season by agreeing to a new contract Monday that is worth $51.175 million over the next six seasons.

Harrison was the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year last season and had a 100-yard interception return before the half in the Steelers' Super Bowl victory over the Arizona Cardinals. He was scheduled to make $1.4 million this season, the final year of his contract.

Included in the contract, which will be officially announced Tuesday, is about $20 million in bonuses.

Harrison rose from being an undrafted player cut a few times into one of the best defensive players in professional football. The 30-year-old Harrison had 16 sacks in 15 regular-season games last year and he had 8½ sacks in 2007. He took over a starting job after the departure of Joey Porter following the 2006 season and has 199 tackles during his two seasons as a starter.

The contract extension for Harrison was considered one of the main goals for the Steelers during the offseason. The team wanted to reward him for last season along with preventing him from hitting the free-agent market in 2010.

Posted on: April 13, 2009 6:29 pm
 

Wow. Dwayne Wade Explodes for 55

 Dwayne Wade has done it again. This was a monster game for him, what with 55 points, 9 rebounds, 4 assists, and a block.   Wade's big night got started with a 16-point first quarter, which was his highest-scoring period since putting up 19 in the first quarter against Phoenix on March 4. Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley had a big nights too, with Chalmers posting 9 assists, 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals in 39 minutes and Beasley having pulled down 16 rebounds, the most in the game, 1 assist, 2 blocks, and 28 points. For the Knicks, Al Harrington had the best night, posting 6 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block. With this win, the Heat have secured the number 5 spot in the East. If I was Atlanta and whoever would be covering him, I'd be pretty scared right now. He went 19-30 from the field and had a career high 6 3-pointers. He was also 1 point shy of breaking Glen Rice's Heat record of 56 points in a game before the Heat coach, Erik Spoelstra, with 1 minute remaining in the 4th quarter. After the game, Spoelstra said, "He's broken every other record. Let's leave one of them to Glen Rice." The Knicks also got an 11 point, 11 rebound night from David Lee. The pretty disgusting thing about this game was the fact that, thru 3 quarters, Wade had 50 points and the rest of the team had 47. Wade became the first player since Kobe Bryant in a 2006 game against the Jazz to score 50 points before the 4th quarter. When the game was over, the Heat huddled around a TV in the training room to see the Raptors beat the 76ers, which clinched the number 5 spot for the Heat.     

 

 

 

 

Category: NBA
Posted on: April 13, 2009 5:49 pm
 

Harry Kalas dies at 73

 

WASHINGTON -- Longtime Philadelphia Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas, who punctuated innumerable home runs with his "Outta here!" call, died Monday after being found passed out in the broadcast booth before a game against the Washington Nationals. He was 73.

"We lost our voice today," team president David Montgomery said, his voice cracking. "He has loved our game and made just a tremendous contribution to our sport and certainly to our organization."

Kalas was discovered by the Phillies director of broadcasting about 12:30 p.m. and taken to a local hospital, Montgomery said.

Kalas had surgery earlier this year for an undisclosed ailment that the team characterized as minor. He looked somewhat drawn last week as the Phillies opened the season at home.

Kalas joined the Phillies in 1971. Before that, he was a member of the Houston Astros' broadcast team from 1965-70.

In 2002, he received the Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award for his contributions to the game.

"Players come and go, but 'Outta here!' -- that's forever," said Scott Franzke, a Phillies radio broadcaster.

Kalas lent his sonorous voice to everything from puppies to soup. He did work for NFL Films, was the voice for Chunky Soup commercials and Animal Planet's annual tongue-in-cheek Super Bowl competitor, the Puppy Bowl.

Cincinnati Reds broadcaster Marty Brennaman, a contemporary of Kalas' and a fellow Ford Frick Award winner, said Kalas' legacy will extend beyond the broadcast booth.

"I always find it interesting when a celebrity passes away and people are so quick to say, 'He was a great actor,' or, 'He was a great broadcaster.' Harry Kalas was a great person,'' Brennaman told ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. "As much as we will remember Harry as a broadcaster, many of us will remember him even more as being a hell of a guy.''

Brennaman said he spoke to Kalas by phone late last week. The friends talked for 45 minutes, and among other things, they discussed the importance of eating right, getting enough sleep and dealing with the hectic lifestyle of a major league broadcaster at an advanced age.

"I considered Harry a very good friend, and I was concerned about his health. I talked to him about getting the proper amount of rest and the things that we need to think about at our ages,'' said Brennaman, 66. "I was very concerned about him, but he sounded good. When I found out about it today, I was shocked. It's very, very sad.''

Kalas joined the Phillies radio and TV broadcast team the year the club moved into its former home, Veterans Stadium, replacing fan favorite Bill Campbell.

He wasn't immediately embraced by Phillies fans, despite being paired with Richie Ashburn, a Hall of Famer as a player, and longtime announcer.

But Kalas evolved into a beloved sports figure in Philadelphia. He and Ashburn grew into a popular team, and shared the booth until Ashburn's death in 1997.

"Major League Baseball has lost one of the great voices of our generation," commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement. "Baseball announcers have a special bond with their audience, and Harry represented the best of baseball not only to the fans of the Phillies, but to fans everywhere."

Kalas fell in love with baseball at a young age, when his father took him to Comiskey Park to see the Chicago White Sox play the Washington Senators.

It was a rainy night, and Kalas sat with his dad behind the Washington dugout.

"Because of the rains, the field was covered," he told The Associated Press. "There was no batting practice, so the players really didn't have anything to do. Mickey Vernon popped out of the dugout, saw this wide-eyed kid -- me -- picked me up, took me in the dugout, gave me a baseball, introduced me to his teammates, and thus began my love of baseball and the Washington Senators."

He maintained that enthusiasm for the game throughout his career.

The son of a Methodist minister, the Naperville, Ill., native graduated from the University of Iowa in 1959 with a degree in speech, radio and television. He was drafted into the Army soon after he graduated.

In 1961, he became sports director at Hawaii radio station KGU and also broadcast games for the Hawaii Islanders of the Pacific Coast League and the University of Hawaii.

Very sad story. My heart goes out to all Kalas' friends and family.

Category: MLB
Posted on: April 12, 2009 8:03 pm
 

Cabrera grabs his first green jacket

 

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- The Masters delivered the show everyone wanted and a champion no one expected.

Angel Cabrera became the first Argentine to win the green jacket at Augusta National on Sunday by surviving a wild final round that began with a supercharged duel between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and ended with a stunning collapse by Kenny Perry.

Indeed, this Masters had it all.

Two shots behind with two holes to play, Cabrera fought his way into a three-way playoff when the 48-year-old Perry, on the verge of becoming golf's oldest major champion, bogeyed the final two holes.

Even in a playoff, Cabrera looked like the odd man out.

He drove into the trees, hit another shot off a Georgia pine, but still scrambled for par with an 8-foot putt. He won with a routine par on the 10th hole when Perry missed the green badly to the left and made yet another bogey, this one the most costly of them all.

"I may never get this opportunity ever again, but I had a lot of fun being in there," Perry said. "I had the tournament to win. I lost the tournament. But Angel hung in there. I was proud of him."

Cabrera, who won the U.S. Open at Oakmont two years ago, finally earned a green jacket for Argentina.

It was 41 years ago when Roberto de Vicenzo made one of golf's most famous gaffes, signing for the wrong score that denied him a spot in a Masters playoff.

De Vicenzo gave him a picture of a green jacket two years ago when Cabrera returned home as U.S. Open champion and told him to go for it. On this turbulent day, it took everything Cabrera had.

He closed with a 1-under 71 to get into the first three-man playoff at the Masters in 22 years.

Chad Campbell closed with a 69 and was eliminated on the first playoff hole when he found a bunker from the middle of the 18th fairway, then watched his 6-foot par putt lip out of the hole.

The final hour was almost enough to make a dizzy gallery forget about the Woods-Mickelson fireworks hours earlier.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com