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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Indians legend Bob Feller dies at 92 - Diebler Dials in 9 Threes - 24/7 Penguins/Capitals an instant classic

Diebler Dials in 9 Threes
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Nine straight times Jon Diebler flicked his wrist behind the arc, and every time the ball swished through the net.
It was one of the greatest shooting performances ever for an Ohio State player.
Diebler matched an Ohio State record with those nine 3-pointers, scoring a career-high 29 points and leading the second-ranked Buckeyes past Florida Gulf Coast 83-55 on Wednesday night.
"I knew I missed my first two of the game and Coach told me I wasn't ready to shoot and to just get ready and get my feet set," the senior guard said. "I started doing that and they started falling for me."
Boy, did they. After hitting nine in a row, he stayed in another 4 minutes but missed his last three attempts at the record. That made him 9 for 14 overall on 3s.
"When he let it go, you felt good that it was going to go in," coach Thad Matta said. "Even the last couple he missed I thought were pretty good looks and had a chance."
Matta said it was more than just a sharp night.
"The thing about Jon, and I've said this since the day he got here, for every nine he made, he's probably shot 90,000 in the offseason," he said. "To see him shoot the ball like this is rewarding because the work's paying off."
Diebler passed another former Ohio State star, Jay Burson, to become Ohio's leading high school scorer four years ago. The nine 3s were a Value City Arena record and tied the school mark previously held by Burson.
"We can't get away from each other, I guess," Diebler said with a grin.
He now has made a school-best 291 shots behind the arc. With his second 3 of the game, Diebler moved past Indiana's A.J. Guyton (1997-2000) into seventh place all-time in 3-pointers made by Big Ten players.
FGCU coach Dave Balza said it was the best 3-point marksmanship he had seen since one of his own players, Ryan Hopkins, had a similar game in 2002.
"(Hopkins) was here in the building tonight," Balza said. "After the game, as I was walking by him, I said, 'Well, that's the best shooting performance I've ever seen.' Just to rub it into him a little bit."
William Buford became the 47th Buckeye player to reach the 1,000-point career mark, finishing with 17 points. Jared Sullinger, the Buckeyes' 6-foot-9 center, added 11 for Ohio State (9-0). He had scored 40 points, a freshman school record, just two games ago.
"Eventually we're going to have to put it together," Matta said. "That's a thing we're still striving for. That's kind of how we preach to our team, that we want to be able to strike inside and outside."
Chase Fieler had 12 points and Anthony Banks 10 for the Eagles (2-6), playing their first game after an 11-day break.
Diebler made three 3-pointers in an 11-0 run in the first half that put the Buckeyes in command.
The Eagles were intent on preventing Sullinger from going off on them. As a result, they tried to pack the middle whenever possible.
"Ohio State does such a good job of taking what the opponents give them," Balza said. "We spent a lot of time watching IUPUI because it's one of the few teams that really zoned Ohio State for the majority of the game. And obviously Sullinger had 40 (points) and 17 (rebounds), so he had a career night that night. You kind of pick and choose which poison with Ohio State."
The Buckeyes took control early and never let up, thanks to Diebler. They led 7-0 after the opening 2 1/2 minutes. After Fieler hit a 3 to put the Eagles on the board, Ohio State ran off the next 11 points - with Diebler hitting three 3s in that run.
The second half was never close as the Buckeyes led by 32 while trying to blend in their six freshmen with four veteran starters.
When it was over, Matta told Diebler he was lucky.
"I told him afterward, 'You're just fortunate I didn't have a chance to play in this building,"' he said, laughing.

Indians legend Bob Feller dies at 92
A great article from espns Tim Kurkjian
CLEVELAND -- Teenage pitching sensation, World War II hero, outspoken Hall of Famer and local sports treasure. Bob Feller was all of them.
One of a kind, he was an American original.
Blessed with a right arm that earned the Iowa farmboy the nickname "Rapid Robert" and made him one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, Feller, who left baseball in the prime of his career to fight for his country, died Wednesday night. He was 92.
Feller, who won 266 games in 18 seasons -- all with the Indians -- died at 9:15 p.m. on Wednesday night of acute leukemia at a hospice, said Bob DiBiasio, the Indians vice president of public relations.
Kurkjian: A proud life
Bob Feller's numbers are spectacular, but they don't tell you everything you need to know about one of the best pitchers of all time, writes Tim Kurkjian. Story
Remarkably fit until late in life, Feller had suffered serious health setbacks in recent months. He was diagnosed with leukemia in August, and while undergoing chemotherapy, he fainted and his heart briefly stopped. Eventually, he had pacemaker implanted.
In November, he was hospitalized with pneumonia and recently released into hospice care.
Even as his health deteriorated, Feller continued doing what he loved most -- attending Indians games deep into last season.
"Nobody lives forever and I've had a blessed life," Feller said in September. "I'd like to stay on this side of the grass for as long as I can, though. I'd really like to see the Indians win a World Series."
Feller, in fact, was part of the rotation the last time the Indians won it all -- in 1948.
Fiercely proud and patriotic, Feller was an American original. Blessed with a fastball that could make any hitter look silly, Feller began his major league career at the tender age of 17. His win total remains a Cleveland team record, one that seems almost untouchable in today's free-agent era.
"Bob Feller is gone. We cannot be surprised," Indians owner Larry Dolan said in a statement. "Yet, it seems improbable. Bob has been such an integral part of our fabric, so much more than an ex-ballplayer, so much more than any Cleveland Indians player. He is Cleveland, Ohio.
"To say he will be missed is such an understatement. In fact, more to the point, he will not be missed because he will always be with us," he said.
Feller was part of a vaunted Indians' rotation in the 1940s and '50s with fellow Hall of Famers Bob Lemon and Early Wynn. He finished with 2,581 career strikeouts, led the American League in strikeouts seven times, pitched three no-hitters -- including the only one on opening day -- and recorded a jaw-dropping 12 one-hitters.
The first pitcher to win 20 games before he was 21, Feller was enshrined in Cooperstown in 1962, his first year of eligibility.
The Indians retired his No. 19 jersey in 1957 and immortalized the greatest player in franchise history with a statue when they opened their downtown stadium in 1994. The sculpture is vintage Feller, captured forever in the middle of his patented windmill windup, rearing back to fire another pitch.
"When you think Cleveland Indians, you think Bob Feller and vice versa," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "He was a genuine patriot and a big-time Hall of Famer. Boy, he loved the Indians and we all loved him back."
Baseball was only a part of Feller's remarkable story.
Stirred by Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, Feller enlisted in the Navy the following day -- the first major league player to do so. He served as a gun captain on the USS Alabama, earning several battle commendations and medals.
Never afraid to offer a strong opinion on any subject, Feller remained physically active in his later years. At the end of every winter, he attended the Indians' fantasy camp in either Florida or Arizona. One of the highlights of the weeklong event was always Feller, in uniform, taking the mound and striking out campers, some of whom were 50 years younger.
Another rite of spring for Cleveland fans was seeing Feller at the Indians' training camp. Before home exhibition games in Winter Haven, Fla., or more recently in Goodyear, Ariz., Feller would throw out the ceremonial first pitch. Introduced to a rousing ovation every time, Feller delivered the throw with the same high leg kick he used while blazing fastballs past overmatched hitters.
"We have all lost a friend and the nation has lost an icon," former Indians manager Mike Hargrove said. "Bob was always there with a word of advice or a story. The thing is that they were always relevant and helpful. I will never forget before the first game of the '97 World Series, Bob came up to me and patted me on the back and told me how proud he was of me and the team, then gave me a buckeye and said it was for luck.
"I don't think that Bob ever believed in luck, just hard work and an honest effort. I will miss Bob very much. He was my friend," he said.
An eight-time All-Star, Feller compiled statistics from 1936 through 1956 that guaranteed his Hall of Fame enshrinement. He led the AL in victories six times and is still the Indians' career leader in shutouts (46), innings pitched (3,827), walks (1,764), complete games (279), wins and strikeouts.
Despite losing his two starts, Feller won a World Series title with the Indians in 1948.
When he returned from military duty in 1946, Feller arguably had his finest season, going 26-15 with a 2.18 ERA and pitching 36 complete games and 10 shutouts. For comparison's sake, the Indians' entire pitching staff had 10 complete games and four shutouts last season.
Born Nov. 3, 1918, near Van Meter, Iowa, Robert Andrew William Feller was 16 when he caught the eye of Indians scout Cy Slapnicka.
Feller made his first major league start on Aug. 23, 1936, two months shy of turning 18. He never pitched in the minors, and when the Indians decided to use him in a relief role on July 19, 1936, he was the youngest player ever to pitch in a major league game. Many wondered if the kid -- who would later credit his arm strength to milking cows, picking corn, and baling hay -- was in over his head.
Using a fastball later dubbed "the Van Meter heater," Feller struck out 15 -- two shy of the major league record in his first game, beating the St. Louis Browns 4-1 -- a star was born. Later that season, Feller established the AL record by striking out 17 Philadelphia Athletics.
In 1938, Feller set the major league record by striking out 18 against the Detroit Tigers. The record stood for 36 years before being broken by Nolan Ryan in 1974. By the time he joined the military at 23, Feller had won 109 games and was well on the way to baseball fame.
In his day, nobody threw harder than Feller, who sometimes had trouble with his control. Because speed devices weren't as advanced as they are today, it's impossible to gauge precisely how fast Feller threw in his prime. There is famous black-and-white film footage of Feller's fastball being clocked as it races against a motorcycle said to be traveling at 100 mph.
Feller once said he was clocked at 104 mph.
Even in his later years, Feller could recall pitch-for-pitch duels with great hitters like Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio. He said his biggest thrill in the game was when he returned from the military to pitch a no-hitter against New York at Yankee Stadium.
“My father kept me busy from dawn to dusk when I was a kid. When I wasn't pitching hay, hauling corn or running a tractor, I was heaving a baseball into his mitt behind the barn. ... If all the parents in the country followed his rule, juvenile delinquency would be cut in half in a year's time.”
-- Bob Feller

"I had been away four years and people were saying I was washed up," Feller said. "They had a right to say it, too, since few come back after being away so long. But this game proved to me that I was still able to pitch."
He always credited his father, Bill, with encouraging his baseball ambitions.
"My father kept me busy from dawn to dusk when I was a kid," Feller said. "When I wasn't pitching hay, hauling corn or running a tractor, I was heaving a baseball into his mitt behind the barn. I couldn't repay my debt to him, but I wanted to pass along the thought that if all the parents in the country followed his rule, juvenile delinquency would be cut in half in a year's time."
Feller said the greatest hitter he ever faced, without question, was Williams, although Williams had only a .270 average against him.
"I was a little luckier against him than the others," Feller said. "But he beat me in more games than I care to remember. Joe DiMaggio was the only right-hander who hit me consistently. The fellow who hit me best, though, was Tommy Henrich, the Yankees' old reliable.
"Funny thing, I've run across a lot of former ballplayers who said to me, 'You know, Bob, I wasn't a great hitter, but I've always had pretty good success against you.' I must have kept a lot of .250 hitters in the game."
After retiring from baseball, Feller worked in the insurance business, but he never got completely away from baseball. In 1981, he returned to work for the Indians as a spring training pitching coach and in the team's public relations office.
As recently as last season, Feller was a fixture in the press box at Progressive Field. Sitting in the media dining area before games or in the same seat during them, he would offer his thoughts on any current event and, of course, give his assessment on how the Indians were playing.
Cleveland's chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of American recently asked the Indians to turn Feller's press box seat into a shrine area.
Feller didn't care for crowds and didn't particularly enjoy interacting with fans, but he often attended memorabilia shows to sign autographs for a nominal fee. Sometimes gruff, Feller would sign his autograph and listen as fans asked him questions and posed for pictures with an iconic man who meant so much to them.
Feller was critical of contemporary ballplayers. He viewed them as spoiled and felt they didn't work as hard at their craft as he and his peers. Feller never softened on his stance that Pete Rose, baseball's hits leader, should remain banned for betting on baseball and he was revolted by the idea that players who cheated by taking steroids could one day join him as a Hall of Famer.
Feller, who lived in Gates Mills, Ohio, is survived by his wife, Anne, and three sons, Steve, Martin and Bruce.
The Indians said details on a public memorial service will be announced in the near future.

24/7 Penguins/Capitals an instant classic
If you get a chance you have to watch this..... Simply amazing and I hate hockey!
by joe yerdon Great article on NHL HBO Series
I’m writing this review as the encore showing of the debut episode of HBO’s documentary series “24/7 Penguins/Capitals Road To The Winter Classic” is going. I’m watching it again because watching it the first time I found myself so mesmerized with what I was watching I got lost in the show. The backstage access provided to the cameras to see how things go down inside the rooms of both teams as things are going in very different directions.
What everyone will be talking about is how Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau found a way to outdo New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan when it comes to using colorful language when addressing his team. Ryan became known for throwing four-letter words around like they were going out of style during HBO’s “Hard Knocks” series during NFL training camp this year. Boudreau managed to top Ryan by slinging the f-bomb 15 or 16 times during a rant at his Capitals team between periods in their loss to the Florida Panthers. We were given the heads up that the language would be spicy and Boudreau did not disappoint. Of course when your team is mired in a losing streak when they should be one of the top teams in the league, these things will happen.
HBO captures the game the way it’s meant to be seen with beautiful video that makes the game stand out unlike how it’s ever been seen before. The ice level shots are gorgeous and make hockey even more worth watching. Providing a look at how the guys live life off the ice helps give you a sense of how tough it can be for these guys to part ways with their family when it’s time to hit the road. Getting a comparison of how a married guy like Pascal Dupuis goes about life and bachelor Maxime Talbot do things is fascinating to see. It’s reality television that’s actual real life that isn’t scripted at all. It’s seeing how our heroes go about daily life and yet we’re fascinated.
It’s the little things that were the most enjoyable to see. Seeing the Penguins players playing PSP against each other and chiding one another is a pleasant change from seeing them giving the same responses during post game press conferences. Basically, we’re excited to see the players being regular guys. Seeing the players busting each other’s chops verbally is fantastic to see because it all plays into the colorful personalities a lot of these guys have. HBO adding subtle nuances like using music from the movie “Slap Shot” to bring road trip scenes together help make you enjoy things all the more.
Getting to hear players on the ice that are miked up for sound provides incredible insight to see what’s going on. These aren’t the sound bytes you hear during the game when a guy is wired for sound. Hearing Leafs enforcer Colton Orr engage Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland for a fight using a battle of f-words is humorous and seemingly typical of fighting guys.
Hearing Alexander Ovechkin talk to officials after teammate Alexander Semin cross checked Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles and got kicked out of the game shows Alex’s skills as a one-liner master. As the referee described what happened to Liles after the cross check and that he started bleeding on his neck because of it, Ovechkin fires back saying, “Well maybe he’s got sensitive skin, no?”
The juxtaposition of the Penguins and their winning streak compared to the Capitals and their losing streak makes for incredible theater. The Penguins look light-hearted and affable enjoying the game, meanwhile the Capitals are downtrodden, frustrated, and downright depressing to watch. HBO doesn’t need to craft the drama, it’s all right there plain as day for us to see and now we get to see it up close and personal and most of all, we like it.
You too often hear that professional athletes don’t care as much as the fans do when the team struggles. That’s not the case here at all. These guys live and die by how things go on the ice and witnessing it up close, warts and all, thrills us. We want and crave more of it and right now, with there only being three more episodes of this to watch we’re going to eat this up and love every bit of it.

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