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A dog’s tale:

Clooney Surprises as National Top Dog

 

Scarlett is a 3-year-old female Boxer and one of 2,000 dogs who competed at the National Dog Show hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia and presented by Purina. Over 179 different breeds were on display at this prestige event, making the choice of Best in Show more difficult than ever.

Scarlett certainly had the credentials, with over 52 all-breed Best in Show victories in a star-studded career. But there were other challengers as well. In the terrier group, there was a 2-year-old female American Staffordshire Terrier named Maddy who had nine Best of Show awards.

Beyoncé strutted and Johnny-Be-Good was, well, good

Others who had impressive auditions were Beyonce, a 3-year-old female Australian Shepherd, and Hickory, a 4-year-old female Scottish Deerhound. There was Johnny Be Good, a 6-year-old male Schipperke, and Joe, a 3-year-old male Affenpinscher.

At the end, Irish eyes were smiling

But the surprise winner was Clooney, a 3-year-old male Irish Setter coming out of the sporting group, who was this year’s Best in Show.

 

Clooney was not shy about being voted the best. His handler, Peter Kubacz, was interviewed (along with Clooney) after the show. When Kubacz was asked if Clooney knew he was top dog, Clooney nodded “yes.”

 

The National Dog Show is one of the oldest benched conformation shows in the U.S. and has been held annually since 1933. A confirmation dog show presents breeding stock, and a benched show allows those attending to mingle with the dogs between scenes.

Maradona fired as coach of Argentina’s National Team

The decision was final: “No.” The Argentine Football Association (AFA) followed the unanimous vote of its executive committee in saying that the Maradona’s contract would not be renewed.

 

After 21 difficult months of turmoil, Maradona’s leadership of the National Team ended with an ignominious 4-0 loss to Germany in the World Cup quarterfinals and elimination from the tournament.

Part of the turmoil was the demand by Maradona that he be given a 4-year contract through the World Cup games of 2014, and that his entire staff be kept intact. That made it easier to let him go, because AFA president, Julio Grondona had asked that several of Maradona’s assistants be replaced.

Grondona felt that Maradona’s vision of the future of Argentine football was not shared by the AFA. The executive membership agreed with Grondona, voting to move out Maradona some three weeks after Argentina’s ouster from world competition.

 

The AFA announced that youth team manager Sergio Batista would be the interim coach for the friendly game with Ireland Aug. 11 in Dublin.

The Great Secretariat

was an American racehorse who, in 1973, became the first Triple Crown winner in 25 years. His record-breaking victory in the Belmont Stakes, which he won by 31 lengths, is widely regarded as one of the greatest races in history. He is in the Hall of Fame.

What is Fastest Game?

Baseball pitchers can throw at 101 mph. Bobby Hull hit a hockey puck at 118 mph. Phil Mickelson’s golf ball travels on average 78 mph, with 148 mph typically on impact, slowing to 47.5 on landing.

 

“Big Bill” Tilden, an American tennis player, hit a tennis ball at 163 mph in 1939. But there is an even faster sport.

It was once called “Pelota Vasca” when it originated in Spain three centuries ago. We know it better as “Jai Alai” where the small ball (“pelota”) can travel at speeds of 188 mph when hit against a front wall (“Fronton”). The name Jai Alai originated in Cuba where the game migrated in 1898. It means “merry festival.”

 

It was Jose Ramon Areitio who hit the pelota 188 mph at a tournament in Newport, RI, in 1979.

 

The wicker-basket glove is called “Xistera” in Basque and “Cesta-Punta” in Spanish and was first used in 1860. A longer version was introduced in Argentina in 1888.

In the early 20th century, Jai Alai was sweeping the globe, popular almost everywhere. But since then, its popularity has waned, with tournaments now played mostly in northern Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Italy, Brazil, Indonesia, China, Egypt, the Philippines and parts of the southern United States.

The Jai Alai ball (pelota) is the hardest ball used in any sport. About ¾ the size of a baseball, the rubber ball is shrink-wrapped in two layers of goat skin and said to be as hard as a rock.

Smashed against the hard surface of the front on at speeds up to 188 mph, each pelota has a life expectancy of 20 minutes before splitting and having to be replaced.

Caddyshack enjoys 30th anniversary

One of the great sports movies of all time, and one of the greatest golf films, Caddyshack, is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The movie starred comedic geniuses Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and Rodney Dangerfield.

 

Although the movie made only $40 million the year it was released (compared with Star Wars Strikes Back at $290 million), the film has endured with sports lovers of many generations.

It has become a cult classic, with many movie-goers, including sports enthusiasts from all genres, able to recite many of the movie’s quotes.  Bill Murray’s comedic battles with the gophers at Bushwood  are among the more memorable scenes in the movie.

Today’s professional golfers, including Tiger Woods, can recite many of the movie passages. Woods says he has seen the movie “pretty close to a hundred times.” Woods also starred in a commercial, playing the character Carl Spackler who was played in the movie by Bill Murray.

The betting world is stunned:

Paul the Octopus, R.I.P.

 

The most famous predictor of World Cup matches, Paul the Octopus, has passed away at the age of 2 ½, according to officials at Sea Life Aquarium in Berlin. He died peacefully, in his sleep.

Paul became known around the world for his accuracy in correctly predicting the winner of every World Cup match including Spain’s victory over the Netherlands in the Final game and Germany’s victory in the Consolation game.

 

Paul was a Facebook favorite

Having many Facebook pages dedicated to him, and thousands, perhaps millions, of followers throughout the world, his passing is being mourned by bettors everywhere.

 

Sea Life Aquarium spokeswoman Ariane Vieregge said in Oberhausen that Paul seemed fine Monday night but was found dead in his tank Tuesday morning. He died of natural causes. Octopi usually live between 2 and 3 years.

He tickled TV viewers with tentacled tips

A television celebrity, Paul the tentacled oracle correctly picked every World Cup match, with many bettors walking in to betting parlors saying “I’ll take whatever the Octopus picked.”

 

Paul opened a box decorated with the Spanish flag to eat his mussels, indicating to a world television audience that Spain would win the Championship. He was correct in 7 out of 7 predictions.

The wannabees were left in his wake

There are other wannabes in the animal and bird kingdoms who may lay claim to being the world’s best predictor of future events. Mani, the Psychic Parakeet of Singapore is one. But he did not foresee Spain’s victory (nor did he predict the untimely demise of Paul).

Then, there is another German of note, Lorenzo the Parrot of Hannover. And we can’t leave out Dirty Harry, the saltwater crocodile who predicted not only Spain’s World Cup win but also the Australian general election by grabbing a chicken carcass dangling next to a caricature of the prime minister.

But there was only one true oracle, Paul the mollusk.

Cephalopod conspiracy theories abound

There were of course many theories as to how Paul actually died. Some thought it was the Germans who were angry about Paul’s selection of Spain over Germany. This is just one of many conspiracy theories.

One bettor said “not agreeing with Paul cost me $5.” He said he will definitely “pay more heed to prognosticating cephalopods in the future.”

Another observer thought it was time to honor Paul by making some good calamari out of him and sending it to the Spanish national team. A bit harsh, but intended to be in good taste.

While he was here, Paul was well cared for. According to Stefan Porwoll, manager of the aquarium where Paul lived, “We are consoled by the knowledge that he enjoyed a good life here.”

And now, it’s time for Paul to move on to that big sushi table in the sky, while the world awaits the next true prognosticator of professional sports.

R.I.P., Paul, R.I.P.

Headaches Continue for NFL and its Players

There are one-to-two concussions per game in the NFL. And it is almost impossible to prevent them. Helmet manufacturers try to improve their product but there is nothing on the drawing board that will prevent concussions.  The NFL is trying fines and suspensions to change the culture of the game. But nothing so far seems to be the right solution for a growing safety problem.

The biggest reason for the head injuries is that a concussion is not an injury to the skull but to the brain – which is shaken violently inside the skull when a player is hit in the head. Sometimes, if a player sees the hit coming, he can tense his neck muscles to reduce the head movement and thus the brain vibration from the hit, but that is not a solution.

The brain is like a moving yolk inside a shell. You can’t put a helmet on the brain.

It’s a collision sport

There are many people, including former players, who feel hard-hitting is a necessary part of professional football.

D.J. MacLean is Director of Sports Marketing at a company called Schutt , one of the helmet manufacturers. He says “For somebody to say that there is such a thing as a concussion-proof helmet is incorrect. It's a misinterpretation. Football is a collision sport. When it's played well, it's a violent collision sport. Concussions will happen."

MacLean added. "The only way to not get one is to sit in the stands."

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