Ken Griffey Jr. is in Peoria, and talks about M's chances, his role, and Prince Fielder
|6th October 2012 14:03|
Jay-Z christens Barclays Center with Brooklyn love
The newly built Barclays Center is the home of the Brooklyn Nets, and the team's co-owner, Jay-Z, christened the venue Friday night in uniform, sporting a Nets hat and jersey as he rapped two dozen jams onstage in front of thousands.
Jay-Z performed for an excited and rowdy crowd of 18,000, wearing a jersey that featured his last name, Carter, and the number four. It was his first of eight shows at the venue.
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As he emerged onstage, a video highlighting some of Brooklyn's historical moments - like when it was named an official borough of New York City - played in the background. There were also pictures of famous faces who were born in Brooklyn, from Michael Jordan to Al Capone to Aaliyah to Adam Yauch of Beastie Boys.
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Jay-Z opened the show with the hometown anthems "Where I'm From," a song about his upbringing in Brooklyn's Marcy projects complex, and "Brooklyn Go Hard." He followed that with a tribute to one of Brooklyn's icons: the late Notorious B.I.G. He performed some of the rap vet's hit "Juicy" as the crowd joined in.
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"Sing loud so he can hear you in heaven," said Jay-Z, who also held a moment of silence for the rapper, who was shot to death in 1997.
Another Brooklynite - Big Daddy Kane - made an appearance, performing songs like "Ain't No Half Steppin'" and "Warm It Up, Kane." He received a roaring cheer from the crowd when performing old-school dance moves with two dancers in all white.
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Jay-Z said Friday's concert was incomparable to most of his other top-level performances, including the Grammys, Glastonbury or Coachella.
"Nothing feels like tonight," he told the crowd multiple times.
The audience was excited and wild, cheering on Jay-Z as blue laser lights beamed across the venue. A seven-piece band was placed a level above Jay-Z, who paced from left to right while performing jams like "Empire State of Mind," "I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)," "Izzo (H.O.V.A.)," "99 Problems" and many others. Videos played on screens behind and above Jay-Z, while screens for fans in the higher sections - though not large enough - showed the rapper's performance on the left and right sides of the stage.
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"I want to thank you, Brooklyn, New York City, for making me the man I am today," he said. "Like I said, everybody's from Brooklyn tonight."
A fan in the front section held up Jackie Robinson's Brooklyn Dodgers jersey, immediately grabbing Jay-Z's attention. He asked the fan for it and said: "I promise I'll give it back."
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"Brooklyn had their heart broken," he said as he held up the jersey and referred to the Dodgers leaving for Los Angeles after the 1957 baseball season. "We cried for so many years. ...Look how far we've come."
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Jay-Z will perform at Barclays through Oct. 6 with the exception of Oct. 2 ---Online:<a href="http://www.jordanheelsonlinecheap.com">www.jordanheelsonlinecheap.com</a><hr>
Lionel Messi and More Superstars Gamers Will Love Using in Video Game
Now that FIFA 13 has been released, gamers will immerse themselves into the soccer video game for the next couple weeks. While there's no shortage of teams and players to choose from, a couple sides are likely to become a lot more popular than others.
The main reason being star players. Everybody likes playing with one of the most dynamic goal scorers on the planet for obvious reasons. The fact most of them play for top clubs, including the three discussed below, certainly doesn't hurt, either.
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The game's cover athlete, Messi and his Barcelona teammates are set to wreak havoc again. No player can match the Argentine star's combination of quickness, agility and offensive instincts, which make him nearly unstoppable in the game.
What makes Messi such a great player to use is his ability to make something out of nothing. He can gain possession around midfield and weave his way through the defense to create a great scoring chance, something he's done quite a bit in the real world, as well.
It's no surprise that the most entertaining player to watch on a weekly basis is also the best to use in FIFA. He's just on a different level, no matter what angle you look at it from.
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Any time somebody mentions Messi, it's only a matter of time before Ronaldo joins the conversation. The two are linked not only as La Liga scoring rivals, but also in the yearly race to get named player of the year.
Whenever a player can score 46 goals in 38 games against elite competition, like Ronaldo did in league play last season, you know they are going to be awesome in FIFA. Few, if any, players have a better finishing touch than No. 7 on Real Madrid.
Since Los Blancos have so many talented midfielders, the task of working the ball to Ronaldo should be pretty simple, and he'll have no problem taking care of the rest.
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Robin van Persie
Arsenal fans will probably avoid van Persie like the plague when it comes to FIFA 13, but other gamers will probably cherish the opportunity of getting to use the Manchester United's new acquisition. He fits in well with the Old Trafford squad.
Like Ronaldo, van Persie has made a name for himself by scoring goals at an eye-popping rate, and that's one thing that always transfers over well to video games. When a player has a nose for goal, the creators usually do a nice job of replicating it.
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The Red Devils are destined to become one of the game's most used teams once again, and the presence of van Persie will make them a more appealing choice than they already were.<a href="http://www.nikesoccercleatsmvp.com">www.nikesoccercleatsmvp.com</a><hr>
Michael Phelps admiration of Michael Jordan a little short sighted (Letter)
Michael Phelps recently became the most accomplished swimmer in Olympic history. After his last race he was interviewed about his sporting idols, with this question he explained that he looked up to Michael Jordan essentially because he was the best ever in his sport. There is one problem with Phelps’ statement: Jordan isn’t the best ever.
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Why would anyone think that Michael Jordan is the greatest ever? Is it because he has six championship rings? That wouldn’t make sense because Bill Russell has 11 and three of those were as a player and a coach at the same time.
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Well, maybe because he is the best scorer ever? If this is true how come Wilt Chamberlin has the four highest scoring seasons and is the only person ever to score 100 points in a game. Jordan doesn’t even have the second highest single game total; that goes to Kobe Bryant with 81.
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But it was Jordan’s all-around game that makes him the best right? Well then wouldn’t that make Oscar Robertson or Magic Johnson, both champions; who both averaged about double the assists and two more rebounds than Jordan per game. Robertson averaged almost as many points per game with four less shots per game.
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Magic averaged about ten less points but on nine less shots. All were considered good defenders, but Jordan may have an advantage there. A good barometer of all-around play is the triple-double and Jordan at 28 isn’t even on the planet with Magic’s 138 or Robertson’s 181, the top two in the NBA record books.
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So, Phelps definitely looked up to a great player. Probably the greatest of his generation and a player who definitely changed the game, but maybe he should look at all the facts before deciding who the best player ever really is.
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NICK WORSLEY/Sparta, A Western Michigan University student<hr>
Charles Barkley Thinks LeBron Can Surpass Jordan
The discussion on whether LeBron James can be better than Michael Jordan is back, and guess who's fueling the debate?
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Yes, the opinionated and outspoken Charles Barkley once again says James could someday surpass Jordan and be better than 'His Airness' by the time LeBron's career comes to an end.
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According to <a href="http://www.jordanheelsonlinecheap.com">www.jordanheelsonlinecheap.com</a>, Barkley made this comments in the first episode of NBA TV's "Open Court," back for its second season. The show features former NBA players — who also work for TNT as television analysts — going back and forth on various topics in a round-table format.
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"I do think he can be better than Michael," Barkley said. "I thought I would never compare somebody to Michael Jordan. But this guy, LeBron James, he does everything well. Michael did everything well. LeBron James is just bigger, stronger, faster. That's the only difference."
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The debate is nothing new. Jordan often is regarded as the greatest player of all time, but James and his freakish God-given gifts and abilities have made many think he could someday surpass the former Chicago Bulls superstar.
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LeBron is coming off a summer where he won his first NBA Championship with the Miami Heat and won a gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. After many years of falling short in the postseason and the subsequent attacks on his mental strength, the feeling is that these triumphs could be the spark to propel James past Jordan in the "GOAT" conversation.
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Statistically, James is without question the greatest player that we've ever seen, but any conversation about who is the greatest ever — at least in the modern era of basketball — begins and ends with championships won. In a team sport where individuals receive all the glory, the greatest players are judged by how many times they can lead their team to the mountain top.
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And LeBron James, for as great as he is, still has a long way to go in catching MJ in that regard.<hr>
Ken Griffey Jr. caps three-run ninth as Mariners end losing streak
This wasn't the first time the Mariners have seen a game end with Ken Griffey Jr. getting his bat on a ball.
But it was the first occasion in recent memory in which the Mariners began a winning rally because their manager flapped both his gums and arms with equal vehemence. History will note that manager Don Wakamatsu received his first major-league ejection an inning before his team rallied for three runs in the ninth for a stunning 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
Wakamatsu getting tossed, on the day of his 100th career victory, seemed to ignite a Seattle lineup that had spent much of the previous eight frames looking poised to lose for the sixth consecutive time.
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"In hindsight, it sparked us," said Mike Sweeney, who opened the ninth with a single off Toronto closer Kevin Gregg. "Wak is our captain, our leader. We told him after the game he was going to get a beer shower for getting tossed for the first time in his career."
A crowd of 20,452 at Safeco Field, which seemed to consist mostly of Blue Jays fans for the first eight innings, roared to life in the at-bats that followed. Jose Lopez added a single to right after Sweeney, followed by a huge walk to Milton Bradley with the count full that loaded the bases.
Casey Kotchman hit a ball grand-slam distance but pulled it several feet wide of the right-field foul pole. But he laid off some tough pitches and worked a walk that got the Mariners within a run.
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Josh Bard then tied it with a sacrifice fly to left, and Griffey, pinch-hitting for Josh Wilson, roped a 2-1 pitch down the right-field line for the game-winning single.
It was an emotional moment for Griffey, batting just .183 when he came up and dogged by questions about whether he'll retire in-season. The Griffey saga has taken on a life of its own and dominated all talk surrounding a last-place team that had lost 15 of 18 coming in.
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"We're probably not going to go through a two-week period like this again," Sweeney said. "Considering how hard it's been and yet we've stayed so close together."
The walkoff win was the first by the Mariners all season. They had 13 such victories last year.
Griffey declined to comment and didn't stick around long after the game.
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"The last couple of weeks have probably been the two toughest weeks of his career," Sweeney said. "He knew he had the backing of every guy in that clubhouse. It's no different than when he went up there in the ninth inning this afternoon. He had every single person in this clubhouse cheering for him. And I'm sure he had every single person in this city cheering for him."
The cheers were fairly muted early on. A two-run homer to left field by Jose Bautista in the fifth, off Seattle starter Jason Vargas, turned a 1-0 lead into a one-run deficit for the home side. Edwin Encarnacion then hit a sacrifice fly to left to make it 3-1 in the seventh to end the day for Vargas, and things looked bleak indeed.
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But after Ichiro was caught stealing to end the eighth on a play where he looked to be safe, Wakamatsu left the dugout. His argument with second-base umpire Andy Fletcher wasn't all that dramatic, but it kept going until Wakamatsu finally got the thumb he appeared to be looking for.
Seems like that was all his team had been looking for as well.
"As a team, we've been talking about the fact that good teams make their own breaks," said Bard, who had two of Seattle's four hits before the ninth — a single and a double — along with the tying sacrifice fly. "We've been kind of sitting around here waiting for something to happen."
Not this time.
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"Now, they're saying I've got to go every eighth or ninth inning," Wakamatsu joked afterward. "Obviously, you see how they reacted to it."
Wakamatsu had been tossed numerous times during his minor-league career, but never in the majors. That fact had caused consternation among some fans, who believed he could be doing more to visibly stand up for — and even ignite — his players.
"It's a play where, you look at the reaction of Ichiro and you go out and defend him," Wakamatsu said. "The big thing that I was arguing about was that even though the ball beat him, I still thought he got his foot in there."
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Instead, it was the Mariners who wound up getting their foot in the door just before another game slammed shut on them. They'll need a whole lot more, from Wakamatsu, Griffey and others, to erase the damage the past two weeks have caused to their season.<hr>
Ken Griffey Jr. to receive commissioner's highest award
Former Mariner great Ken Griffey Jr. will receive the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award at a press conference prior to Game 4 of the World Series tonight in Arlington, Texas.
Griffey becomes the 12th recipient of the award, which was created in 1998 to recognize achievements and contributions of historical significance. Commissioner Bud Selig has not bestowed the award since 2007, when Rachel Robinson, widow of Jackie Robinson, was honored.
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Two of the previous winners, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr., were given their award in Seattle at Safeco Field during the 2001 All-Star Game. Ichiro was honored in 2005 for breaking the single-season hits record the previous year, and the 2001 Mariners received the award for their 116-win season. Other recipients were Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Roberto Clemente and Rickey Henderson.
Griffey was a 13-time All-Star who achieved his initial, and greatest, success with the Mariners before being traded to the Reds prior to the 2000 season. He returned to Seattle as a free agent in 2009, and retired June 2, 2010. Griffey hit 630 home runs, won the 1997 MVP Award in the American League, was named to MLB's All-Century team in 1999, and scored the most famous run in Mariners history on Edgar Martinez's double in 1995. Griffey also came up with the idea to wear No. 42 on Jackie Robinson Day, which Selig expanded in 2007 to allow on-field personnel throughout MLB to wear the number. The tradition has continued annually.
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"Ken Griffey Jr. was a gifted all-around player with a perfect swing, a brilliant glove and a childlike joy for the game,'' Selig said in a release. "From the time he was just 19, Ken represented Major League Baseball with excellence and grace, and he was one of our sport's greatest ambassadors not only in Seattle and Cincinnati, but also around the world. I am most appreciative for all of Ken's contributions to our national pastime."
According to the release, the trophy, which stands 12 inches tall, has a sterling silver base with a baseball mounted at the top. The words "Commissioner's Historic Achievement" are engraved around the base of the trophy with the Major League Baseball silhouetted batter logo above the type.
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Griffey, who now works for the Mariners as a special assistant, hasn't yet been honored at Safeco Field by the ballclub since his retirement.<hr>
Ken Griffey Jr. is in Peoria, and talks about M's chances, his role, and Prince Fielder
Ken Griffey Jr. arrived in Mariners camp today, watching from behind a fence near the third-base dugout as his former team played an intrasquad game. Griffey, as always, was a magnet for former teammates, the media, team personnel and well-wishers of all sorts.
This is Junior's second year in his role as a Mariner special advisor, and he says we'll see more of him this year than last. He plans to once again take trips to all the minor-league affiliates as well as picking up the major-league team several times through the season.
"I'm mainly coming back here now to get to know the guys,'' he said.
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"We'll have a couple of talks,'' he said, saying it was good to see "Ichi, Figgy, Smoaky, the Condor" -- references to Ichiro, Chone Figgins, Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders. Don't read that as a slight on the others, however -- he had a smile (or wisecrack) and good word for just about everyone on the team.
Of the 2012 Mariners, Griffey said, "I think we're going surprise some people. We have some good kids. The first question I asked is, how'd they come in? Everyone was real surprised how good shape guys came in."
I asked Griffey if he tried to recruit free agent Prince Fielder, who lives nearby in Orlando, to the Mariners. His answer was enlightening and shed some light on the Mariners' pursuit of Fielder.
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"That's what everyone thinks because he lives right by me,'' Griffey said. "That's what everyone thinks. Nah. Prince is his own man. You can't jeopardize relationships. If he had asked me about it, I would have talked about it. My main thing with him was to maintain the same relationship we always had. I don't get into anybody's business financially.
"Jack (Zduriencik) said, 'Hey, we're pursuing him.' I said, 'OK.' He said, "If he talks to you, you'll talk to him?' I said, 'Yeah, but I'm not going to seek him out. That's not fair to either one of us.' ''
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And, Griffey said, Prince never asked. Griffey said he was as surprised as everyone else when Fielder signed with Detroit.
"Nothing in this game surprises you any more, but I didn't think it would be Detroit. I thought it would be someplace else."