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Monday, May 9, 2011

Ten reasons to love this season - OHio State's Tressel set to attend NCAA compliance seminar -

OHio State's Tressel set to attend NCAA compliance seminar

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- As part of his punishment for not revealing his knowledge of his players' NCAA violations, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel will attend a five-day compliance seminar in June in Tampa, Fla.
Ohio State spokesman Jim Lynch confirmed Saturday that Tressel would take part in the NCAA-sponsored event June 6-10 at a resort hotel on the waterfront.
One of the topics of the compliance seminar -- one of two put on by the NCAA this summer -- is "Division I Major Infractions."
Meanwhile, Ohio State's director of compliance is reviewing at least 50 car sales to Buckeyes athletes and relatives to see if they met NCAA rules, The Columbus Dispatch reported Saturday.
Tressel was notified in April 2010 via emails from a Buckeyes fan and former player that Ohio State players were trading signed jerseys and other memorabilia to a Columbus tattoo parlor owner for cash and reduced-price tattoos. Even though his contract and NCAA rules required him to notify athletic director Gene Smith, Ohio State President E. Gordon Gee or the university's compliance department, Tressel did not do that.
It was not until more than nine months passed -- and five players including quarterback Terrelle Pryor had been suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season - that Ohio State officials discovered the emails and confronted Tressel. He finally admitted he knew of the players getting improper benefits.
Tressel was originally suspended for two games - later extended to the first five games this fall to match the punishment of the five players -- and was fined $250,000, required to make a public apology and receive a public reprimand and to attend an NCAA compliance seminar.
The NCAA is still investigating the actions of the 10-year coach of the Buckeyes. Ohio State and Tressel are scheduled to appear before the NCAA's committee on infractions Aug. 12.
The Dispatch reported that a car salesman who received game passes from Ohio State athletes handled many of the deals at two different dealerships. Ohio State has since taken the salesman, Aaron Kniffin, off the pass list.
Athletes are prevented from receiving special deals not available to other students. They are not permitted to trade autographs for discounts. Both dealerships display signed Ohio State memorabilia in their showrooms.
One car, a 2-year-old Chrysler 300 with fewer than 20,000 miles, was titled to then-sophomore defensive player Thaddeus Gibson in 2009. Documents show the purchase price as $0. Gibson said he did not know why the title showed a zero for the purchase price and said he was still paying for the car.
State law requires dealers to report accurate information about all car sales for tax purposes.
School officials have seen no evidence of players getting special treatment in vehicle sales, Douglas Archie, associate athletic director for compliance, said in a statement Saturday.
"Consistent with our standard procedures, we are nevertheless reviewing these sales to assure ourselves that our policies were adhered to," he said.
Pryor's mother and brother also purchased cars from the dealerships. Kniffin loaned his own car to Pryor for a three-day test drive to Pryor's home in Jeannette, Pa.
Kniffin and the owner of one of the dealerships he worked for, Jason Goss, have attended seven football games as guests of players, including the 2007 national championship game and the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.

Ten reasons to love this season
By David Schoenfield
A great article by David on MLB. espn.com

My father-in-law posed this challenge to me Sunday night: “If you can make sense of this baseball season, you’re a smart man.”
I don’t think I can do that. But I can list 10 reasons I’m having a blast following this crazy, unpredictable season.

1. Parity. Baseball’s new secret weapon that will increase fan excitement throughout the summer. Right now, only the Indians, Phillies and Marlins are playing above .600 baseball, and only the Twins, White Sox and Astros are below .400. Last season, no team played .600 and only the Mariners and Pirates were below .400. The Indians and Marlins began the season ranked 26th and 24th in payroll. The Rays, currently tied with the Yankees, ranked 29th. The 30th-ranked Royals are above .500. Meanwhile, top-10 payrolls teams the Red Sox, the White Sox, Cubs, Mets and Tigers are all below .500. It all means that at about the one-fifth mark, every team is within 5½ games of the division lead or the wild card, except the Astros, Twins and White Sox.
2. The Rays start 1-8 but are now tied for first. Their first baseman is hitting .129, their shortstop .195, their cleanup hitter retired, their best player has missed most of the season, they have an entirely new bullpen from 2010 … and yet here they are, playing great defense (first in Defensive Efficiency and third in UZR entering Sunday), getting big hits from Ben Zobrist and the bullpen has an ERA under 3.00. Word of caution: Tampa has played the fewest games against above .500 teams of any team in the majors (five).
3. Roy Halladay. The Phillies’ rotation has lived up to its billing (25 quality starts, one more than Cleveland), but Halladay has been even better this season, if you can believe it. Every start of his has become must-watch TV, much like Pedro Martinez or Randy Johnson or Greg Maddux in their primes. He’s upped his strikeout rate from 7.9 per nine to 9.6 and he’s allowed just one home run, after allowing 24 last season.
4. Michael Pineda. The new young gun. Granted, I’m a Mariners fan, but this kid is dynamite, a big, intimidating 6-foot-7 flamethrower who weighs 250 pounds and averages 88.9 mph … on his changeup. His fastball has averaged 96 -- the best among major league starters. He pitches Tuesday against the White Sox. Check him out.
5. The Cardinals’ Fearsome Foursome. Stealing a nickname from the NFL’s past, this is the label I’ve given the Cards’ middle of the order: Colby Rasmus, Albert Pujols, Matt Holliday and Lance Berkman. The Cardinals have survived the loss of Adam Wainwright and a major league-leading nine bullpen losses to lead the NL Central thanks to these four guys (and Pujols hasn’t even heated up). The rejuvenated Berkman has been the one-fifth MVP (sorry, Lance, no trophy for that) with his .374/.452/.738 line. If you’re getting tired of all the 3-2 games, turn on the Cards to watch some raking.
6. Red Sox angst. Don’t take this that I’m rooting against the Red Sox -- that’s not the case -- but it’s been kind of fun watching Red Sox Nation squirm, whine and complain. I hope the rest of the AL enjoyed it, because I have a feeling the Sox are starting to heat up.
7. Indians joy. If my counting is correct, 45 individuals made predictions for ESPN.com in our season preview. Not one picked the Indians to win the AL Central.
8. All the pitching gems. From Josh Johnson to Dan Haren to Cliff Lee to Justin Verlander to Jaime Garcia to Felix Hernandez to Jered Weaver to Francisco Liriano, knowing any night can give us a no-hitter makes for riveting television and/or Internet watching. There’s never a dull day in baseball, that’s for sure. For what it’s worth, the rate of “great starts” is similar to last year. Using the Bill James Game Score method, there have been 36 starts of 80 or better this year, compared to 150 last season. The top five in average Game Score: Johnson, James Shields, Weaver, Halladay and … Kyle Lohse. (OK, I wouldn’t have guessed him either).
9. Joey Votto. Hey, I’ve admitted to my man crush on Votto. When Joey hits, I’m happy.
10. And all this ... Jose Reyes legging out a triple, Ichiro hitting infield singles, Jose Bautista mashing home runs, Andre Ethier’s hit streak, Trevor Cahill’s changeup, Jeff Francoeur defying the experts, Brandon Phillips’ and Sam Fuld’s Web Gems, Tim Lincecum’s movement, Derek Jeter’s two-homer game right as everyone pronounced him dead …

Tampa Bay at Cleveland

Tuesday: Andy Sonnanstine (0-0, 2.19) vs. Josh Tomlin (4-1, 2.43)
Wednesday: David Price (4-3, 3.26) vs. Jeanmar Gomez (0-1, 4.91)
Thursday: James Shields (3-1, 2.01) vs. Justin Masterson (5-0, 2.11)

Lots of great series this week: A’s-Rangers, Cardinals-Cubs, Red Sox-Yankees over the weekend, Phillies on the road at Florida and Atlanta … but this one is intriguing as the Indians head back home trying to extend their 13-game home winning streak. Sonnanstine makes his first start of the season for Tampa, which was won four in a row and climbed back into a first-place tie with the Yankees.

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