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This Week in Balls - March 7, 2012

The big balls keep bouncing on. This week we talk injury bounties in the NFL, baseball's Spring Training, and a would-be heartwarming hockey story that ends in a blowout.
Κείμενο Lou Doggs

Not everyone has the time or the inclination to follow sports full-time, or even real-time. Thankfully, we’ve combed the latest, greatest, and bestest stories from the world of sports this past week—Spring Training, some football stuff again, and Clipper Darrell—so you can hobnob with the weird regular people at the office, your doorman, or your minions, if you have minions.

Word came out sometime in the fall that the Saints defense pooled their money to pay out bounties to injure opposing players last season. Its then-defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, is likely going to be the subject of some very stern discipline, though he probably won’t go to jail (that’s how serious this is, that he might go to jail). The coverage has been a bit overwhelming, even by football standards, so it’s worth keeping it short here. That said, it’s not surprising at all that teams have done this stuff—the Giants were plainspoken about keying in on 49ers return man Kyle Williams in the NFC title game because of his concussions. It’s also not insane that Gregg Williams or Saints head coach Sean Payton didn’t seem to give a shit about the spate of concussions in the game, since they get paid to win, not to make sure all their players can walk off the field. But it looks like the bounty system is responsible for Peyton Manning’s neck injury that is holding the Colts hostage. It’s bad news for sure, and excessive NFL coverage in March is generally worse than any number of concussions, but there’s a chance, however slight, for real change here. The NFL imposed the “forcible contact” rule after Tom Brady got his ankle destroyed on a tackle in 2008. Peyton Manning is as high profile. Expect some rule changes ahead.

Spring Training is underway—games started Saturday, and thank god for that—and the 2012 championship season is underway, for two innings a day, at least. That front is mostly business as usual, though Daniel Kim, a New York baseball columnist, reported on his Twitter last week some strange news out of Korea. HJ Park, a promising young starter on the LG Twins, a Korean professional team, has admitted to intentionally walking hitters. As in, not intentional walks like offered to Barry Bonds, but walking hitters on purpose to make money on the side—Park’s walks were somehow a prop bet on Korean betting sites. Kim notes that Park didn’t throw any games or pitch especially poorly during the stretch of strange, strange cheating, just that he walked guys occasionally for a take, mostly early in the game. It’s an amazing development, since this kind of tangential gambling seems almost exclusively associated with big events like the Super Bowl. Korean baseball is not that: the league’s average salary comes in at $84,000.

Unless you live in Sault Ste. Marie, OHL news does not compare with NHL news (you might even have to google “OHL”), but this story might be the best one of the week (that doesn’t involve Tiger Woods and Navy SEALs). The Erie Otters, an American team that plays in the Ontario Hockey League (don’t ask), only dressed one goalie on Sunday—the backup was injured—and 1:45 into the game, the starter was taken out of the game after a collision with an opposing IceDog player. Faced with a possible forfeit, center Connor Crisp put on the backup goalie’s skates—“three times too small”—and his pads and promptly proceeded to give up 13 goals. He also stopped 32 shots, which is a decent day’s work for any goalie. It would be a Disney-grade heartwarming story if they didn’t lose by nine goals.


Previously – February 28, 2012