So tune in this week on your radio dials at ESPN 1490AM/105.7FM in New Bern/Craven County or ESPN 1400AM in Jacksonville/Onslow County or worldwide at rfenc.com
Karexon Sanchez blasted a homer and drove in two runs to push the K-Tribe to a 5-1 win in their rubber game against Winston-Salem on Wednesday afternoon at Historic Grainger Stadium. Sanchez went 3-for-5, coming up a triple short of the cycle.
Kinston got on the board in the first inning against Winston-Salem starter Dylan Axelrod. Karexon Sanchez smoked a double to right field and scored on an RBI single by Chun Chen to make it 1-0. It was the first time in the series that the K-Tribe took the first lead of the game. The K-Tribe added on more in the second inning. Juan Diaz led off the frame with an infield hit and Donnie Webb followed with a single to right. The next batter, Doug Pickens, lifted a fly ball down the right field line that dropped just fair, allowing Diaz to score. Two batters later, Sanchez beat out a grounder to third to score Webb and give the Indians a 3-0 edge. Sanchez continued his hot day in the fourth inning, when he lined a home run to right center field. It was his team-leading ninth of the season, and gave him a team-best 39 RBI. Sanchez has four RBI and four runs scored in the last two games.The Indians put together a big start to the fifth inning but came away with just a run. Chen doubled and Kyle Bellows singled before Juan Diaz delivered an RBI single to right. However, Dash reliever Jake Rasner came on to get the final two outs and keep the K-Tribe's lead at 5-0.
Kinston starter Austin Adams (2-0) pitched five shutout innings on two hits for the win. He walked one and struck out two before giving way to Marty Popham. The Dash got on the board in the eighth inning off of Popham. Jon Gilmore reached on an error by Ronald Rivas and moved to second on a wild pitch. Seth Loman's RBI single cut the Indians lead to 5-1. Axelrod (5-2) struggled in the loss, giving up five runs on 12 hits, no walks and four strikeouts. Popham picked up his thrid save of the season, giving up four hits and an unearned run in four innings.
The K-Tribe win ended a three series losing streak. Kinston has beaten Winston-Salem in both of their rubber games this season. The Northern Division-leading Wilmington Blue Rocks come to town on Thursday to start a four game series. Thursday's game will be a 7 pm start, and lefty T.J. McFarland (9-2, 2.45) will take the mound for the K-Tribe.
Saunders, considered one of the top tight ends in the country, is close friends with Tar Heels defensive end Marvin Austin, who was also recently questioned by investigators.
On Thursday, a source said that UNC football players — including Austin — were being interviewed by the NCAA this week and asked questions about agents and whether anyone had received gifts or extra benefits.
The source also said that the NCAA's questions to players were intended to "make sure no Reggie Bush stuff is going on."
"I'm not really sure what's going on right now in terms of who's in trouble and how much," Saunders said Sunday.
Another source who has visited with Saunders said Sunday the NCAA is interested in time Saunders spent with Austin in South Florida this spring and who paid for hotel rooms and travel.
University of South Carolina athletics director Eric Hyman issued a statement Sunday acknowledging the NCAA's inquiry.
"The NCAA has been in contact with us regarding a possible rules violation in one of our programs," the statement said. "We have and will continue to cooperate fully with their inquiry. We have confidence in our compliance program and will work with the NCAA to bring this matter to a resolution in a timely fashion."
Coach Steve Spurrier told The (Columbia) State that he has no knowledge of Saunders breaking any rules.
Calls and messages from The Associated Press to Spurrier, returning from a celebrity golf tournament in Nevada, were not immediately returned. Calls to Saunders' father, Barry, a news columnist at a Raleigh, N.C., newspaper, also were not returned.
The investigation began with a phone call from the NCAA, North Carolina athletic director Dick Baddour said Thursday, though he declined to say when the call came or when investigators had visited the Chapel Hill campus.
A second source said Thursday that the NCAA asked all of UNC's projected NFL draft picks, many of whom elected to stay in Chapel Hill, to provide phone records so investigators could see which agents they had spoken with.
The players were also asked who paid for the travel, who paid their rent and which agents they had met with and when, according to the second source. Austin recently tweeted about a trip to Miami.
Joe Schad is a college football reporter for ESPN. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
VANCEBORO — In 31 seasons as head football coach of West Craven High School, Clay Jordan collected more than 250 victories, won 16 conference championships, made 19 playoff appearances and three trips to the 3-A Eastern Regional Finals.
Jordan, who has West Craven’s football stadium named after him, is an icon throughout the town of Vanceboro.
He was starting quarterback for West Craven, where he graduated in 1974. Four years later, in 1978, Jordan was named the head coach of the Eagles. He helped 51 athletes turn into college football players.
After guiding the Eagles to a 15-1 record and a trip to the state championship game following the 2008 season, Jordan retired and handed the reigns over to his protégé, Kevin Yost.
For the Eagles’ faithful, it’s difficult to imagine Jordan wearing any other colors than the red, white and blue.
But the nightmare has turned into fruition for West Craven fans. Jordan will be the offensive coordinator for county rival New Bern this season.
Jordan was in Vanceboro Wednesday with the Bears in a 7-on-7 passing league with West Craven, Eastern Wayne, Riverside and Ayden-Grifton.
“It’s painful. It’s pretty awkward, but we still love him,” said Yost, who enters his second season as coach of West Craven. “(Clay) did a lot for this school. He made a decision and he thought that was going to be best for him. I support him.”
Yost was an assistant coach under Jordan in the 2008 season before taking complete control prior to the 2009 campaign. The Eagles went 10-3 in Yost’s first season.
But with some scrutiny surrounding Jordan’s decision, Yost is adamant that he still remains close with his mentor.
“He really built me into being a head coach and I’m thankful for him,” Yost said. “He knows a ton of football, so he is someone who is really special to me. We are still friends and we talk all the time. He’s been nothing but help for me.”
According to a New Bern source, one reason Jordan returned to the sidelines is his desire for the game of football. Another aspect is that he didn’t want to be an assistant at West Craven and overshadow Yost.
According to a West Craven source, everyone he’s talked to is against Jordan’s decision.
West Craven assistant coach Garrick Suggs, who played his final year for the Eagles in 1999, isn’t upset with his former coach moving to the opposite side of the county.
“It’s going to be fun. I know a lot of people have different feelings, but him and I are still very close, so it doesn’t bother me. It’s not going to affect our relationship,” he said.
With less than a month until the first day of practice, Jordan has made an immediate impact for New Bern, especially for rising sophomore Josh Taylor, who started the final four games at quarterback for the Bears last season.
“He’s been great. We’ve been working on my throwing a lot and my arm motion,” said Taylor, who threw for 416 yards and four touchdowns in 2009. “My arm’s gotten a lot stronger. (Coach Jordan) has been putting in his plays and with the talent we have on offense, it should be pretty exciting.”
With Jordan calling plays on offense, the Bears are expected to run the spread offense — a formation Jordan ran with success at West Craven.
The new-style of offense impresses New Bern’s versitile standout Jerrell Armstrong, who plans on playing some quarterback, wide receiver and running back in Jordan’s system. Along with the multi-talented Tyrell Lindsey, the Bears hope to have an explosive offense.
“Now we really get to use our speed. Last year, we were running a more power-type offense,” said Armstrong, who is being looked at by Division I colleges like ECU, Duke, Wake Forest, UNC and South Carolina. “(Coach Jordan) is spreading the field out, so I really like that. This is the most fun I’ve had here. I really like this offense.”
According to New Bern’s defensive coordinator Steve ‘Doc’ Lovitt, Jordan’s hiring will even make his defense that much stronger just by competing against the offense every day in practice.
“When you bring somebody in like Coach Jordan, he’s done everything you can do in the game and knows the ins and outs of coaching, it’s going to do nothing but help you,” he said. “We are going to be better defensively because we have to face his offense everyday in practice.”
While West Craven people are hesistant to talk about Jordan, the New Bern coaching staff is ecstatic about the possibilites he will bring to the Bears, who were just 5-6 last season.
Wide receivers coach Jeremy McDaniel recalls Jordan taking him to the East-West All-Star game in Greensboro during his senior season of high school.
“He wanted to come and be a Bear. We are welcoming him with open arms,” said McDaniel, who was a standout wide receiver for the Bears from 2001 to 2004. “I’m taking in everything I can take in. (Jordan) likes to throw the ball. He’s going to be a great addition to the New Bern High School football team.”
Neither team will have to wait long until another chapter of the bitter rivalry unfolds. West Craven travels to New Bern in the second game of the season on Aug. 27. New Bern escaped with a 19-13 win over the Eagles last season at Clay Jordan Stadium in Vanceboro.
“I think it even heightens it (the rivalry),” Yost said. “Our kids are going to want to beat New Bern bad. I know some people harbor some feelings against him and his decision, but I am not. I think our kids understand this is football and it’s kind of a business and he’s going to do what’s best for his family.”
Once a Cleveland Cavaliers fan upset over a decision the team made e-mailed owner Dan Gilbert to complain. After an escalating exchange, Gilbert challenged him to a wrestling match.
After calming down, Gilbert later offered the guy a job.
This is a typical Gilbert story because it shows his competitiveness, his short temper, his stream-of-consciousness e-mailing style and even his business acumen. Often those traits, ones that serve him well yet sometimes undermine him, all come out at once.
All of that was there for the world to see late Thursday night with an extra, edgy layer, the product of being jilted by his superstar player and perhaps losing $200 million in franchise value at the same moment.
Gilbert's scathing and fierce response to LeBron James' nationally televised departure came in a statement to Cavs fans that had all the makings of a Dear John letter — and in comic sans typeface.
The moment Gilbert blasted it out to media outlets and had it posted on the team website, he probably didn't regret writing any of it. That's probably true of even the part where he seemed to deliriously yell — which can be assumed because the words were written in all capital letters — a promise that his Cavs would win a championship before the newly minted triumvirate of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh get one in Miami.
Gilbert may regret that part of the letter but his personality probably won't allow him to ever take it back. It is part of the aggressive optimism that he wears on his sleeve and demands in his various companies.
James' method of breaking up with the Cavs was much more high profile and calculated, if more emotionless, than expected. Cavs fans immediately picked up on the fact James did not offer a "thank you" but instead hoped for understanding when he returns to his hometown, which may not be until he comes back as a member of the Heat.
But even if Gilbert's missive may have been misconceived — some would call it a public relations mistake even if it played to the flowing anger of Cavs fans — he felt the anger had foundation. It isn't just because James decided to leave but because he seemingly couldn't give a legitimate reason as to why he was dropping the Cavs.
There is a great opportunity to win championships in Miami. But those, as James found out the past two seasons when he played on the No. 1-seeded playoff team, aren't guaranteed.
Meanwhile Gilbert was left to go back and look at the past three years, the term of James' most recent contract, and attempt to figure out what he could have done differently to get James to stay. The short answer is winning a title but James' own shortcomings contributed to that failure, especially his performance against the Celtics in the playoffs this past season.
In every trade Gilbert made, he took on more money than he sent out, his payroll spiraling into the luxury tax and then more deeply into the tax. Each, whether it was for Ben Wallace or Mo Williams or Shaquille O'Neal or Antawn Jamison, came only as James signed off. Yet when it was time to sign free agents, James would not commit to the future.
It left the team being forced to improve mostly through trades, deals they often made with the short term in mind that required them to give up future assets in the form of draft picks and prospects. Largely it worked, as the Cavs became one of the league's most successful teams.
Gilbert hired one of James' friends and paid him more than some assistant coaches to hang out with the team so James would be comfortable. Gilbert allowed members of James' management team to fly on the team jet. He spent $25 million to construct a practice facility that was located 20 minutes closer to James' home than the old one. He rebuilt the locker room. He hired a masseur to travel on the road because James likes massages.
He even fired his head coach, somewhat on spec, with the belief that James wanted a change.
It is because of all of that that James' decision to walk was such a gut punch to the owner. It wasn't that he didn't see it coming, it was he didn't know what he could do to stop it.
Gilbert thought that what James wanted in his team was a partnership. James' entire marketing company is branded as a partnership generator.
The owner thought a commitment that was deeper than the standard player contract and much greater than just the salary was the sort of partnership James wanted. For years, all the indications were that it was.
Until Thursday night.
Then the partnership was broken and Gilbert was left looking at a jagged piece, wondering how he could have prevented it. When he realized there wasn't a way and that James was probably going to bolt his hometown no matter what the owner had done, the anger rose to the surface and then spilled out onto the keyboard.
And Gilbert, who is known for pushing the envelope, may not be done with his ranting.
Had James been in the same room to deliver the news instead of having his friend call the team about two minutes before the announcement, Gilbert just may have wanted to wrestle.
Brian Windhorst covers the Cavs for the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
And now I'd like to present … The Column on The Decision, which was announced by The Egotist, who has lost The Respect of The Columnist for jacking around The Cavs, The Bulls, The Knicks, The Nets and The Clippers (yes, even The Clippers) before deciding on The Heat and milking it for every Favre-like minute as he talked about The King in The Third Person.
Please tell me it's over — or is LeBron James still blabbering away about the agony of free agency?
If nothing else, the James Team's manufactured saga makes you yearn for simpler times, like when Michael Jordan, who actually won things such as championships, announced one of his monumental career decisions in a concise "I'm back" fax.
But no, we got 27 minutes of TV appetizers, followed by eight seconds of LeBron steak ("This fall — man, this is very tough — um, this fall I'm going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat"), followed by 33-plus minutes of Worcestershire sauce. The whole thing was semi-ridiculous, although it did reveal a vain, self-absorbed side of James that's as attractive as braided nose hair.
Anyway, he's going to Miami to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh! Whooee!
Duh. Where else did you think he'd sign once Wade re-upped with Team Riley and Bosh followed? To Cleveland? Sure, because everyone wants to play for a team with little cap space and Mo Williams as your point guard. To the Bulls and a rookie head coach and a sometimes-dysfunctional front office? To New York and the countdown to Amare Stoudemire's next injury? To New Jersey and more question marks than in this paragraph? To Los Angeles and Donald Sterling and the shadow of the Lakers and Kobe Bryant?
The minute Wade and Bosh chose Miami is the minute The Decision was made. James can (and did) frame it any way he wants, but if winning a championship was his No. 1 priority — and he said weeks and weeks ago that it was — then the Heat made the most sense, followed closely by the Bulls.
Nearly five months ago, I wrote a column outlining how and why a James-Wade-Bosh signing could happen. At the time, the Knicks were the team best positioned to pull off the audacious move. But that was before Heat president (and eventual coach?) Pat Riley started dumping salaries into Biscayne Bay. Then he kept Wade, recruited Bosh and that was that.
I don't have a problem with James' choice. Had he selected anyone but the Heat or the Bulls, he would have backtracked on his free-agency campaign promise of caring only about wins, not money. By signing with the Heat, he'll get both — maybe not as much money had he stayed in Cleveland, but in the short and long run, he'll have a better chance at an NBA title.
What bothers me isn't so much the contrived nature of the announcement, but that James was such a willing participant — if not the creator — of the spectacle. He is an immensely gifted player, the best in the NBA, but he has won nothing. Zilch. Goose eggs. At least Wade has a championship ring. Whatever James won in high school doesn't count.
Can you imagine what Kobe was thinking as he watched Thursday evening's announcement? He must have been seething. He's probably already counting the months, weeks and days until the Lakers play the Heat during the regular season. Knowing how Bryant uses such things as motivation, he's almost surely hoping the Heat win the Eastern Conference and face the Lakers in the Finals.
James did the Heat, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (with a reported $2.5 million in donated revenue from the telecast of The Decision) and the Lakers a huge favor Thursday night. As for the Cavs, Bulls, Knicks, Nets and Clippers, those franchises deserve better than the dog and LeBron show.
If, as James said Thursday night, he made up his mind that morning, then he owed those franchises the courtesy of a phone call. If it leaked before the TV show, then it leaked. It's not like it was a secret. ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard reported ALL day and night that James was a virtual lock to join the Heat.
And is it just me, or is anyone else stunned that James informed the Heat of the decision minutes before the broadcast, but didn't do the same for the franchise that had been his only professional home?
This was a James production, filled with James-endorsed products, coordinated by James employees. Was it news? Absolutely. Was it narcissistic? Absolutely. Was ESPN a partner of sorts? Absolutely.
I don't think less of James' basketball skills, but I do think less of his instincts. He didn't grow his brand Thursday night; he grew his ego. It was clumsy, ill-conceived and unnecessary. I watched and winced.
In Cleveland, Cavs fans were burning his jersey. Dumb. Northeast Ohio ought to thank him for his seven years of loyal, blue-collar service, just as James thanked Northeast Ohio for its support. It is, as James has reminded us repeatedly, a business.
But the business of James has become a little less pure and a lot more mercenary. It wasn't who he chose, but how he chose them.
Maybe a championship, if he wins one, will make it all worthwhile. Maybe James will learn a lesson from this botched exercise in marketing. Until then, the way he handled his free-agency announcement will be known by two words: