Giants receive World Series rings

 In an elaborate ceremony that fans and players of the San Francisco Giants have been waiting for ever since the ballclub moved from New York to the West Coast 53 years ago, the team was presented with their 2010 World Series championship rings before Saturday night’s game at AT&T Park.

The first 20,000 fans entering the ballpark received replica ring key chains, with many also proceeding to buy the special gold-lettered hats and jerseys that the Giants players themselves were set to wear later during the ceremony and game.

Major League Baseball teams that win the World Series have received rings to commemorate their achievement almost as long as the Fall Classic has been played.

The first modern World Series was played in 1902, and teams have given out rings since 1922, said Jeff Idelson, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Visiting AT&T Park today for the ring ceremony, Idelson explained that before 1922, players would often receive other items to mark their World Series win, and brought with him several rare Giants artifacts from the Hall’s museum in Cooperstown, New York.

The Giants had won the World Series five times previous to last year’s victory, and Idelson shared a pin from 1905, and a pocket watch fob from 1921, both of which were given to players on those respective teams.

“In 1922, the Giants actually made the first ever World Series ring,” Idelson said.

An example of that first ring, along with one from 1933 and 1954, the last year the Giants won it all before the 2010 season, were also brought to today’s festivities by Idelson, who wore white gloves and handled each of the items with extreme care.

Before the ceremony, Idelson visited with the current Giants team, showing them the priceless collection of baseball memorabilia, something he has done several times with other World Series champions over the years.

“It helps add to a team’s history, and allows them to embrace their history and sort of celebrate a little more deeply,” said Idelson. “The 1/8Giants 3/8 players have seen them, the players love them.”

Giants’ announcer Renel Brooks-Moon kicked off the start of the ceremony at 6:15 p.m. by greeting the sold-out crowd and initiating the “procession of the rings,” in which a trio of classic cars carrying the ring bearers was paraded around the outfield warning track to the area behind home plate.

Led by a group of police motorcycles with lights flashing and officers mounted on horses, the moving column was given a live musical soundtrack by members of the San Francisco Symphony New York Yankees Hats , situated on the side of the infield.

Long-time Giants announcers Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper were introduced as the masters of  Wholesale Cheap Hats  ceremonies, and both men, wearing tuxedos, took their place behind podiums in the infield.

“Tuxedos, rings…if you think we’re here to renew our vows you’re mistaken,” Kuiper joked.

“This ceremony symbolizes a lot of things to these players, and it symbolizes a lot of things to you fans,” Krukow said in a more serious tone.

Giants’ Managing General Partner William Neukom and team president Larry Baer took positions on a large circular orange carpet over the home plate area, flanking the World Series trophy, and with some help from an assistant prepared to give out the rings, each to be presented on a silver platter to the recipient.

The first person to be announced and the first to come onto the field to get his ring was Giants’ clubhouse manager Mike Murphy, who has been with the team since they first moved to San Francisco back in 1958. Walking out from the dugout on an orange carpet, Murphy, who started with the team as a bat boy, was greeted with a roar of recognition from fans.

“Definitely some tears came to my eyes. It’s been a great thrill to get a World Series ring; I’ve been a bridesmaid three times, but now I’m a bride,” Murphy said after the game, referring to the team’s three prior unsuccessful appearances in the World Series.

General manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy were next, and they joined Neukom and Baer to greet all of the Wholesale Baseball Hats  players that followed, each introduced in numerical order according to their jersey number.

As members of the 2010 champion team made their way onto the field, they tipped their hats to the crowd, received their rings, and shook hands and hugged the four presenters before taking their places lined up between the bases.

Images of the beaming players were shown on the scoreboard screen, showing off the rings on their fingers, with the crowd starting to chant “Let’s go Giants!” after the last player, Barry Zito, reached his position.

Next, four former Giants players, all Hall of Famers, were escorted onto the field by four current players, to receive honorary, special 2010 World Series rings: Gaylord Perry, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, and Willie Mays, who were all greeted with thunderous applause from the stands.

The proceedings came to a close with the ceremonial first pitch, delivered by four former athletes representing other Bay Area champion sports teams — Al Attels from the Golden State Warriors, Jim Otto from the Oakland Raiders, Steve Young from the San Francisco 49ers, and Reggie Jackson from the Oakland A’s, who were joined by Giants star pitcher Tim Lincecum.

After the game, which the Giants won in a dramatic, come-from-behind fashion in the bottom of the ninth inning, several members of the team reflected on what the day’s events meant to them.

“It’s just a great day, an emotional day for all   Wholesale hats us to get the rings; now not only will we remember getting the rings, but the game itself, because what a game they played tonight,” Bochy said.

Relief pitcher Sergio Romo, proudly showing off his new ring to the media in the Giants’ clubhouse, put it in perspective when he said, “In all reality, this is why we play right here.”

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Men’s hats are hot again

Jason Ursua has been sporting   Cheap Hats baseball caps his whole life. But about two years ago, the 28-year-old expanded his hat collection to include cadet caps and wool fedoras. He now owns 10 “grown up” hats from Berkeley, Calif.’s Goorin Bros., and tosses them on to complete his evening looks.

“It’s a fresh, mature look,” said Ursua of Pinole, Calif. “And everyone’s wearing them now.”

He’s right. From the recent runway shows of Milan and Paris to the men of hip-hop and Hollywood, hats are hot. But the current hat culture is different from that of the pre-1960s, when men didn’t leave the house without a long brim fedora. Experts say it was more about conformity and etiquette then, and that today’s man wears hats — from bombers and fedoras to cadets and newsboys — to showcase his style and individuality.

Jason Avery of San Francisco says he selects which hat to wear  Cheap Baseball Caps  depending on his mood. He owns seven fedoras ranging in price from $60 to $230 and says for him, spending time in a hat shop is not unlike a woman in a shoe store. He could roam around for hours.

“If it’s a suit night, I’ll wear a black fedora,” says Avery, 38. “But if we’re going out dancing, I’ll go with a lighter weight gray one with a blue rim.” On summer days, he’ll go even lighter, with a white-trimmed oatmeal-colored hat.

“For me, it goes back to my cultural roots,” says Avery, who is half African-American and grew up in New York. “When we’d go out as a family on the weekends, my grandpa always dressed up and wore a hat.”

But hats are not just for dressing up. As the co-owner of Jorcal Hat Co. in San Jose, Calif.’s Westfield Oakridge Mall, Rick Callender sees a range of  Cheap Baseball Hats  customers and their hat expressions.

“You’d be surprised how many guys I see at the mall in jeans, a T-shirt, and a fedora,” says Callender, who opened his shop in 2009. He says he was looking to open a business that was on the cutting edge of fashion.

“In mid-2008, I was looking at stars who wear hats, like Usher, Brad Pitt and Justin Timberlake,” continues Callender, who sells a lot of driving caps at the moment. “And it was then that I said, ‘This accessory is going to make a comeback.'”

That’s the thing — now, hats are a fashion accessory, says Macy Torres, the store manager at Berkeley’s Goorin Bros., a San Francisco-based Wholesale New Era Caps  company that’s been in the business since 1865. “Hat culture has totally changed,” she says. “It’s not about etiquette or taking your hat off in front of a lady anymore. It’s about fashion. And in a tough economy, it makes a lot more sense to buy a $45 hat than an expensive suit or new outfit.”

Goorin Bros., which has four locations in the Bay Area, has done its part to casualize and modernize hats by shortening brims on fedoras and offering cotton blends and a broad range of patterns. Some are made with recycled materials and are designed by local artists.

Not exactly the vibe you get from watching AMC’s “Mad Men.” Hats made their slow exit when President John F. Kennedy showed up to his 1961 inauguration with a bare head, says Michael Carbaugh, an instructor in the School of Fashion at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University. The counterculture took off, roof clearances on cars were reduced, and hats became a symbol of conformity, almost a nuisance, he adds.

“Men who wear hats in contemporary society are celebrating their personalities,” says Carbaugh, who was particularly fond of the big, broad-brimmed Borsalinos at the Lanvin show in Paris last month. “Wearing a hat says, ‘I’ve got style.'”

The current hat culture may be fueled by fashion and celebrity trends, but hat lovers like Carmelo Santiago of Castro Valley are happily stuck in the past.

Every time Santiago reaches for his bowler or fedora, he is reminded of his father, who wore his hats pulled down low in the front, or his grandfather, who never left the house without a cowboy hat.

“When you find the right one, it’s like wearing a suit,” Santiago says. “You feel like a million bucks.”

If you shop at Paul’s Cheap Hats Works in San Francisco, where handmade beaver fur felt hats start at $650, you could spend close to a million on a hat collection. Hat maker Abbie Dwelle and her three co-owners took over the shop and its 93-year legacy in 2009.

They source all materials, from the felt and leather to the ribbon bands New Era Hats that wrap around fedoras, in the United States, and hand sew everything to order in the shop. Recently, she’s seeing a lot of young faces.

“We’re starting to see high schoolers coming in looking for short brim fedoras with Mom’s assistance,” Dwelle says.

But the majority of her customers are men who are not shocked by the sticker price and understand the value and quality of their hats.

“I see men who realize, ‘Hey, I look really smart and classy and this is not a   Wholesale Baseball Hatsso I look more like a man,’ she says. —”‘I want more.'”

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Ulster policing enters new era

 

A NEW era for Ulster policing begins this morning as the 50:50 ‘positive discrimination’ comes to an end – but Protestants previously rejected on the grounds of religion will see their hopes tempered by news  Wholesale Fitted Caps of a recruitment freeze.

Unionists have welcomed an end to the controversial 50:50 policy, with one DUP politician calling on Protestants to re-apply in numbers when recruiting resumes, and the Alliance Party also saying it was unhelpful.

Alliance MLA Stephen Farrydescribed a decade of 50:50 recruitment as a “source of deep grievances”.

A News Letter investigation last year found that almost 1,000 Protestants who reached the required entry standard had been rejected by the PSNI. During the same period (up until January 2010) not a single Catholic who passed the selection tests was turned away.

Following a decade of the Patten report-recommended initiative, which ensured that Catholic and non-Catholic officers were recruited in equal number, a major review is under way to find a suitable replacement model.

The 50:50 scheme has seen the percentage of Catholics rise from just eight per cent in 1999 to almost 30 per cent at present.

In contrast to the unionist welcome for the end of 50:50, several  Wholesale Fitted Caps nationalist politicians claim the process should have been continued until a target of at least 40 per cent Catholic representation was reached.

Police recruitment is now at a temporary halt with a PSNI spokeswoman saying the whole process will be subject to “a review against value for money initiatives”.

The spokeswoman said it would include “an appraisal of pre-entry criteria” but would most likely still comprise an assessment, medical, vetting, and substance misuse testing stages, prior to offers of appointment based on merit.

Commenting on the plight of those who have already completed the current selection Cheap Baseball Hats process, she said: “The police service still holds a list of suitable candidates from the last recruitment process in 2010, but there are no plans to make further appointments from this list after the temporary provisions are withdrawn at the end of this month (March).”

DUP Policing Board member Jonathan Bellwelcomed the end of 50:50, saying: “State sponsored sectarian discrimination was unjustified when it began and the ending of this unjustifiable practice is a positive move for policing.

“Many of our young men and women bear the scars of having proven themselves worthy and achieved their place in the merit pool but received their rejection letter because they hung their hat in a Protestant church on a Sunday morning.”

Mr Bell added: I urge them to re-apply.

“We need their skills and expertise. Today the gates of fairness have been opened up. Today is a good day for the merit principle.”

Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott also welcomed the end of what he called the “deliberate bias” of 50:50 selection.

“Nowhere else in the democratic world would have tolerated such discrimination for so long and I’m glad that the provisions have finally ended and the principle of merit restored,” Mr Elliott said.

“Our party was incredibly disappointed when the last Labour Wholesale New Era Caps government decided to extend the provisions for a further year and we are glad the current administration has the common sense to see that these measures can no longer be justified.”

Alliance justice spokesperson Stephen Farry described the current process as a “source of deep grievances”.

Mr Farry said his party favoured other means to ensure balanced representation and added: “Alliance is committed to a professional and representative police service. 50:50 recruitment was never the best method to ensure this.

“It was a departure from the merit principle, and became a source of deep grievances.

“It was itself a blunt instrument that worked against the interests of women and members of ethnic minorities, and would never assure genuine balance right across the community.”

However, the SDLP’s policing spokesman said the secretary of state was “making a serious error” by ending the controversial scheme.

Dominic Bradley said: “The Patten report did not put any limit to the length of time that 50:50 recruitment should last and regarded 30 per cent as a floor, not a ceiling. We believe it should continue until we have a fully representative police service here.

“The SDLP believes that the percentage of Catholics in the Cheap Baseball Hats PSNI should be between 40 and 44 per cent.”

Sinn Fein policing board member Alex Maskey said there was a “continued need” for the PSNI to be truly reflective of the broader community and added: “Twenty nine per cent representation of those from a Catholic background is not a satisfactory reflection.”

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Stat Speak: Opening Day old hat for Buehrle

 

For every ballgame, the statistics that are accrued, the plays that are made, the wins and losses that are recorded. It offers the opportunity to reflect on the past and inspires questions concerning the future. With the possible exception of one-game playoffs and postseason games, no single day or week provides as many opportunities for these discussions and reflections as Major League Baseball’s Opening Day.

Scorecards and ledgers are clean on Opening Day, waiting for the first pitches and swings that will begin to write the story of the ensuing baseball season. For all of us, Opening Day represents a clean slate and the opportunity to add new chapters to an always evolving encyclopedia of moments, memories and achievements.

Perhaps the most poignant symbol of this new beginning resides in the selection of the Opening Day starting pitcher. There is an honor and responsibility set upon the ace pitcher for each team as he is handed the ball for that first start of the season. It’s a directive that says, “Get us started off right. Set the tone for the season. Show us what you can do.”

Buehrle’s scoreless start
4/5/10: Mark Buehrle hurls seven shutout innings, striking out three and making an incredible defensive play
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And as aces toe the rubber for the first time in 2011, we — emboldened by the sight of our guy peering in for that first sign — will feel the hope and the expectancy of what is to come.

In every season from 1968-1977, the New York Yankees Hats Mets handed the ball to Tom Seaver on Opening Day. He was the franchise, the All-American boy from California who came to New York and almost immediately helped change the fortunes of a moribund franchise. And for 10 straight years, Tom Seaver pulled on his jersey with the number 41 and strode to the mound to begin the Mets’ season.

For a symbol of all that is possible, Tom Terrific was the perfect choice. Over the course of those 10 consecutive starts, Seaver recorded a 6-0 mark, and the Mets went 7-3. Facing the likes ofCheap Baseball Hats  Juan Marichal, Steve Blass, Steve Rogers, and Steve Carlton, Seaver took the ball and delivered — driving toward the mound, right knee scraping the dirt, throwing high fastballs, breaking off darting sliders, baffling hitters — on the promise of Opening Day.

Seaver would go on to make a Major League record 16 Opening Day starts and would finish his Hall of Fame career with a 7-2 record and 3.13 ERA in those 16 opportunities. His career mark seems safe for a good while, for no active pitcher has made more than eight Opening Day starts.

From that list above, Mark Buehrle, Roy Halladay, CC Sabathia and Livan Hernandez are all ticketed to make the Opening Day start for their respective clubs in 2011. Ben Sheets and Wholesale New Era Caps Kevin Millwood have not signed with any team, and Roy Oswalt, who received the Opening Day assignment in each of the past eight years with the Astros, must now patiently stand behind his Phillies’ teammate Halladay and wait his turn.

Buehrle’s Opening Day assignment in 2011 will mark the ninth time in the past 10 years that he’s had the honor of starting out the White Sox season — the only hiccup came in 2007, when Jose Contreras got the nod. Buehrle’s ninth Opening Day start will extend his franchise record. Last season, Buehrle passed Billy Pierce for the most for the White Sox. Buehrle is one of only three active pitchers who own the franchise high for Opening Day starts (since 1920) and is still currently with that team — James Shields (three with the Rays) and Wholesale 59Fifty Hats Aaron Cook (two with the Rockies) are the other two.

After Buehrle’s start Friday, only six pitchers will have made more Opening Day starts for one team since 1920.

One name missing from all of these mentions and lists is the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez. If Hernandez makes his expected start on Opening Day in 2011, it will mark the fourth time in his career he has gotten the call. Hernandez — who is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA in his three previous Opening Day starts — will still be 24 years old when he takes the mound on April 1 for the Mariners.

Some other Opening Day-related trivia:

• Only one active pitcher has thrown an Opening Day Wholesale Cheap Hats shutout. On March 31, 2002, the Indians’ Bartolo Colon held the Angels scoreless on five hits and Cleveland won its opener, 6-0.

• Since 2001, Randy Johnson holds the mark for the most pitches thrown in an Opening Daystart. On April 3, 2001, Johnson threw 133 pitches in seven innings and struck out 10 while recording the win in the D-backs’ 3-2 victory over the Dodgers.

• Among active pitchers, the highest game score achieved in an Opening Day start was an 86 by Hernandez in 2007. On April 2 that year, Hernandez threw eight shutout innings on three hits and struck out 12 in the Mariners’ 4-0 win over the Athletics. Hernandez’s 12 strikeouts in that outing are the most by any active starter on Opening Day. The second-most belong to Josh Beckett, who struck out 10 batters for the Red Sox in 09.

• Last year, the highest game score was Wholesale New Era Caps produced by Tim Lincecum. In the Giant’s first game, Lincecum went seven innings, allowed no runs on four hits and struck out seven — good for a game score of 76.

• For the first time since 2005, Johan Santana won’t be making the Opening Day start for his club. The lefty had been given the honor with Minnesota in 2006 and ’07, and then had started the past three Opening Days for the Mets. His call in 2006 snapped a streak of seven straight Opening Day starts for Brad Radke.

• Sabathia’s Opening Day start in 2011 will be his sixth in a row. Halladay’s Opening Day start will be his ninth in a row.

• The 30 Opening Day starters in 2010 combined for a 10-10 record and 4.94 ERA (91 earned runs in 165 2/3 innings) and averaged 92 pitches.

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FULL-TIME: Norwich City 6 Scunthorpe United 0

 

NEW manager Alan Knill was given an immediate insight into the task facing him at Scunthorpe United as his side crashed to an embarrassing defeat in his first game in charge.
Grant Holt’s hat-trick, coupled with a second-half treble from substitute Simeon Jackson saw the 10-man Iron blown away by high-flying Norwich City.

 

The visitors already trailed to Holt’s 10th minute opener when defender Paul Reid Wholesale Fitted Caps saw red for a foul on the imposing Canaries striker in the penalty area.

 

Once the one-time Iron target had converted the spot kick, there was never going to be any way back for a visiting side that again failed to look threatening in the opposition box.
But the way they capitulated must be a massive worry for their new manager on a day in which Preston’s win over Swansea saw United crash to the foot of the table.

 

 

Caretaker boss Tony Daws picked the team for the game and made five changes to the starting line-up as Scunthorpe United returned to Championship action at Norwich City.

 

Goalkeeper Joe Murphy was back in action for the first time in three months  Cheap Baseball Caps  on the back of ankle injury, meaning Josh Lillis dropped to the bench.

 

Reid, Michael Raynes and Michael Collins were also recalled, while there was a debut for Ramon Nunez up front alongside Joe Garner.
Nunez was far from the only new face at Carrow Road also of course.
New Iron manager Knill was in the dugout for the first time since leaving Bury on Thursday, but had taken a back seat when it came to team selection.

 

He saw his side start brightly enough, with Nunez at the centre of someCheap Red Bull Hats  decent early play.

 

But in the 10th minute, the visitors were behind, Grant Holt stretching to flick a shot past Murphy on the back of some good play between Andrew Surman and Dani Pacheco.
After soaking up a spell of decent Canaries pressure, the Iron tried to look to find a way back into the game.
But apart from Nunez, rarely did they create anything as an attacking force.
The Honduran was only inches away from getting a header on target after a clever one-two with Eddie Nolan and he also brought a fantastic fingertip save from John Ruddy in the 19th minute with a cracking long-range drive.
It was always the home side, looking a good bet for automatic promotion, that dictated the pace of the play though and United’s afternoon went from bad to worse shortly after the hour mark.
Reid was woefully late with a kick at Holt as the Canaries front man bustled into the box and the one-time Iron target doubled his own and his side’s tally from the penalty spot.
To compound the visitors’ misery, Reid was sent off by referee Oliver Langford – a decision about which they could have no complaints.
The pattern of play after the break was exactly the same.
With sometimes nine men behind the ball in a bid to try not to capitulate, Scunthorpe had only Joe Garner as an outlet going forward.

 

It meant the majority of the clash continued to be played in the visiting half New Era Hats  ,  with Liverpool loanee Dani Pacheco attempting a cheeky 40-yard lob after robbing Michael Nelson, one to which Murphy was alert.

 

A third Norwich goal always looked likely. The biggest surprise was that it took until the 61st minute to arrive.
Andrew Crofts was allowed time to bring the ball under control wide on the right and when he lifted a pinpoint cross into the six-yard box, Holt was allowed a free header to complete his hat-trick.
Just before the goal, midfielder Hoolahan had been unlucky with an effort that crashed off the outside of Murphy’s right-hand post.
And the woodwork again came to the visitors’ rescue as the game entered the final quarter as the Irishman pushed a rasping drive from full-back Marc Tierney onto the other post.
It wasn’t the end of the onslaught though.
Substitute Jackson – on as a replacement for the lively Dani Pacheco – netted twice in as many minutes on the back of some shocking Iron defending.
It was no more than the home side deserved.
First he capitalised on some hesitant play by Michael Raynes, robbing the centre-back as he was about to pass back to his keeper before than racing forward and dinking a shot over the onrushing Murphy from the edge of the 18-yard box.
Then he stabbed the ball home at the near post after ex-Iron loanee Henri Lansbury had crossed from the right flank.

 

And in injury-time, he also completed Cheap Hats his treble, sweeping home a shot on the turn after again being allowed time and space in the penalty area.

 

It completed a woeful afternoon to what was a new era for United.
At least though the new manager can have no doubts as to the hard work that lies ahead.
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‘Obama can wear a baseball cap in Golden Temple’

US President Barack Obama

Sikh Americans, who were ecstatic that United States President Barack Obama will make a stopover in Amritsar and visit the Golden Temple, are still hopeful about him doing so despite rumours that he may forego this visit because of ‘logistic issues’. Some reports indicate that Obama may have been advised that wearing a head-scarf inside the temple may lead to image issue misperceptions and give the conservative   Yankees caps  Christian right-wing even more fodder to pound him with allegations that he is not really a Christian. 
 
Dr Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education and executive director of the Guru Gobind new era hats Singh Foundation, said the head priest of the Golden Temple had informed him that the Obamas can wear anything on their head when they enter the temple and this should not be an issue at all.
 
Singh told rediff.com, “I have just talked to the president of the highest Sikh organisation and the people who make the decisions and talked to the highest priest of the Golden Temple about President red bull hats Obama’s visit, and they have categorically stated that there is no problem in President Obama wearing any kind of head covering.” 

 
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Clutch moments becoming old hat for Big Ben

PITTSBURGH – The Tennessee Titans called tails, the coin came up heads, and while 65,110 fans at Heinz Field roared their powerful roars and waved their Terrible Towels, Ben Roethlisberger(notes) sidled up to a ballboy and made a four-word request.

A brutally physical NFL hats season opener between the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers and Tennessee Titans was deadlocked and headed for overtime late Thursday night, and the quarterback’s statement carried an unspoken but obvious tagline: Get me my hat, because I’m about to take us down the field for the winning points, and I want to cover up my sweaty hair when I do that postgame interview with Andrea Kremer.

And what did the ballboy do?

“He got me my hat,” Roethlisberger said about half an hour later as he undressed at his locker, grinning like a schoolboy who’d just drained a game-winning jumper at the recess bell.

Smart kid, that ballboy. Clutch dude, that quarterback. Right now, with apologies to the NFL’s two reigning greats in New England and Indy, is there any passer you’d rather have with the ball in his hands and the game on the line than Big Ben?

Not on Thursday: Just as he’d predicted, Roethlisberger completed 5-of-7 passes for 60 yards in Pittsburgh’s lone overtime possession, Jeff Reed(notes)blasted a 33-yard field goal through the uprights, and the Steelers walked off with a 13-10 victory over the last team to have defeated them late in the ’08 season.

Much has changed since that December day when the Titans blasted Pittsburgh in Nashville and some of them offended the visitors by stomping on Terrible Towels on the sideline. At that point Roethlisberger was merely a top-notch quarterback with a three-year-old Super Bowl triumph under his belt and a well-deserved reputation for keeping plays alive and keeping cool under pressure.

And now? I don’t know how to put this, but he’s kind of a big deal.

Last February in Tampa, Fla., Roethlisberger engineered one of the most memorable drives in NFL history, hitting Santonio Holmes(notes) on a gorgeous, 6-yard touchdown pass to the corner of the end zone with 35 seconds remaining to give Pittsburgh a 27-23 victory over the Arizona Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII.

At that point, Roethlisberger became a mega-star with a clear path toward football immortality. At 27, he seems to be getting better, and the Steelers are so obviously his team that even a potentially severe left knee injury to star safety Troy Polamalu (coach Mike Tomlin said after the game he believes Polamalu has a sprained medial collateral ligament and will likely be out three-to-six weeks, which would be a terrific and relieving diagnosis if confirmed) became a secondary story Thursday night.

One other significant event in Roethlisberger’s life occurred since the most recent Super Bowl triumph: In July a Nevada casino worker filed a civil suit alleging that the quarterback sexually assaulted her in the summer of 2008. Roethlisberger, through his own words and those of his attorney, has steadfastly professed his innocence.

If there was a fear that the lawsuit would distract him on the football field, it was extinguished on Thursday. Despite being pummeled with regularity by a defense he called Ravenesque – even without departed defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth(notes), Tennessee still ranks with Baltimore and new era fitted hats Pittsburgh as the league’s most physical D – Roethlisberger shook off four sacks and a pair of interceptions to complete 33 of 43 passes for 363 yards and a pretty 34-yard touchdown pass to Holmes.

With all of that said, Big Ben was nervous before the game, something he insisted had nothing to do with any off-the-field drama.

“It was my first time being back out there in awhile – that’s all,” he said. “I definitely had the jitters. I told my coach in warm-ups, ‘Man, every one of my balls is high. I can’t throw it where I want to.’ At the start of the game, it showed.”

It was apparent on the game’s third play when, with the Steelers facing third-and-8 at their own 44-yard line, Roethlisberger gave a pump fake and threw deep down the middle to rookie wideout Mike Wallace(notes). “I had him for a touchdown,” Roethlisberger said. “I just missed the throw.” His short pass fell incomplete, and thanks to a pair of atypical missed field goals by Tennessee kicker Rob Bironas(notes) (one off a bad snap, one blocked), the game remained scoreless until shortly before halftime.

Roethlisberger changed that with 1:22 remaining in the second quarter when, on first-and-10 from the Titans’ 34, he dropped back in the shotgun, stared down Hines Ward(notes) and sold a gorgeous pump fake in the veteran wideout’s direction, drawing in former Pittsburgh safety Chris Hope(notes). That left Holmes, whose nine catches for 131 yards would exactly match his Super Bowl MVP stats from February, streaking across the middle of the end zone with plenty of room to catch Roethlisberger’s resplendent spiral.

In the process of absorbing the four sacks and wriggling out of many other potential takedowns, Big Ben hung in and frustrated his increasingly winded opponents.

“That big [expletive] is tough as hell,” Titans defensive  red bull caps end Jevon Kearse(notes), who had one of the sacks, said as he walked off the field following Reed’s game-winner. “He just stays alive. He takes sacks, but he also buys time to find receivers.”

After Roethlisberger drove the Steelers 56 yards on 12 plays to set up Reed’s 32-yard tying field goal with 2:57 remaining, he approached Pittsburgh’s defenders on the sideline and told them, “You get me the ball back, and I’ll win this game.”

PhotoDavid Thornton(notes) (left) and Jovan Haye(notes) get to Roethlisberger for one of the Titans’ four sacks.

(Scott Boehme/Getty)

He would have delivered, too, had it not been for a stunning occurrence: Ward, one of the league’s most reliable performers, fumbling inside the Tennessee 5 with 51 seconds to go. On first-and-10 from the Titans’ 34, Roethlisberger hit the wideout at the 18 and watched him race through the secondary and bull toward the goal line.

“I thought I was going in,” Ward said. “I figured, ‘The game’s a wrap.’ ”

But at that instant Tennessee safety Michael Griffin(notes)reached across from the side and dislodged the ball, and teammate Stephen  Oakland athletics hats Tulloch(notes) recovered at the 4, allowing the Titans to kill the remaining time and set up the fateful coin flip.

“Who would ave ever hought Hines Ward would fumble in that situation?” Roethlisberger said. “It’s like Jerome [Bettis] fumbling against Indy.” And we all remember who saved the day with a shoestring tackle ofNick Harper(notes) after The Bus’ goal-line cough-up in that ’05 playoff game, preserving what turned out to be a Super Bowl title run for the black-and-gold.

On Thursday, Big Ben was the savior again, producing his 20th career come-from-behind victory in the fourth quarter or overtime (playoffs included) with the poise that few others in his profession can match. The final blow on the white sox caps OT drive came when Wallace broke free over the deep middle and snagged a 22-yard rope from the quarterback before being tackled at the Tennessee 15.

Reed trotted onto the field, and Roethlisberger took off his helmet and looked for the ballboy, in search of a kinder, gentler form of head ware.

We know now that “Get me my hat” is the equivalent of Red Auerbach’s victory cigar – and that Big Ben is still coming up huge when it counts most.

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Starting a new era

ST. GEORGE – The Enterprise Wolves have been one of the most New Era Hats  consistently successful softball programs in Southern Utah. Within the last decade, the 2A program hasn’t experienced a losing record.

This season, however, Enterprise will strive toward another Region 13 championship under new  New York Yankees Hats coach Duane Wallin. Although it’s early in the season, Enterprise hasn’t missed a beat. 

 

 On Thursday afternoon, it proved its worth in dominating fashion after an impressive, 13-3 win over Desert Hills. 

 

 “The transition to a new coach was hard at first,” said starting Red Bull Hats  pitcher Kelsey Lee, who struck out nine Thunder batters in her complete game win. “But we’ve (players) adjusted quickly.”

 

The senior ace added the Wolves’ style of play will be somewhat different this spring as they plan on implementing more of an aggressive mindset on the base paths, a different strategy in years past. 

 “We want to put pressure on the opposition and force them to make mistakes,” Wallin said. 

 The Wolves’ newfound philosophy appears to be paying off. 

 

 The common theme to Thursday’s contest was Enterprise’s ability to put balls  Cheap Hats  in play and Desert Hills’ inability to field them with an out. 

 

 With those ingredients, Enterprise tabbed three runs in each of the first three innings to build a sizeable advantage. Even though Lee didn’t have her best stuff in the circle early on, it was enough to keep the home team to three runs during that same span.

 

Thunder hurler, Katie Beckstead, did do a solid job from the Wholesale Cheap Hats  circle in terms of giving her defense opportunities to make plays, but unfortunately for the righty, many of those plays didn’t pan out.

 

With a 6-1 lead entering the third, the Wolves didn’t ease up at the plate.

 

Dakota Robinson led off with a hard single up the middle. The Thunder’s Beckstead Cheap New Era Hats  countered by striking out Morgan Kennison and grounding out Tracy Nelson, but couldn’t get that elusive third out as Enterprise (2-0 overall) capitalized on its opportunities.

With Robinson on third, Shayley Farnsworth smacked an infield RBI single between Jandee Madsen and Sam Richardson to open the flood gates. Summer Terry followed with a single to left center, but a Desert Hills (1-2) throwing error on allowed Farnsworth to score from  Wholesale New Era Hats second and Madsen to move up a base. Lee then helped her team out from the plate with an ensuing RBI single to cap the inning.

 

Enterprise will look to keep their undefeated mark going at Lincoln, Colo., on March 22. Desert Hills hopes to bounce back in the 3A/2A March Warm-Up tournament against East at 8:15 p.m. today.

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Whitecaps ready to kick-start new era

 

VANCOUVER—Terry Dunfield wasn’t born when the  New York Yankees Hats Vancouver Whitecaps won the 1979 Soccer Bowl and 100,000 people filled downtown streets for a victory parade.

He was just a toddler when the North American Soccer League folded after the 1984 season, taking the Whitecaps, the Toronto Blizzard and seven U.S. teams with it.

But the 29-year-old Vancouver native is well aware of the  Red Bull Hats  importance of soccer in this city’s sports history. He remembers, as a 10-year-old, climbing a tree outside Swangard Stadium in suburban Burnaby to watch a sold-out playoff game of the Vancouver 86ers, the minor league professional powerhouse that eventually became the Whitecaps II.

“Saturday’s going to be a special day,” says the midfielder of the   Cheap Hats Whitecaps first game in Major League Soccer, a Canadian derby against visiting Toronto FC.

“It’s easy to say it’s just another soccer game, but it’s not,” says Dunfield, who spent more than a decade playing in England before joining the Whitecaps in the United States Soccer Federation Division 2 last season. “It’s going to be a whole occasion.”

The 2011 Whitecaps share more than Cheap New Era Hats   just a nickname with their forefathers.

Saturday’s match will be played at Empire Field, a new, smaller and temporary facility built on the same east end Pacific National Exhibition site that once housed Empire Stadium. In the late 1970s and early ’80s, sellout crowds of 32,000 were commonplace.

The Whitecaps, who are to move into the newly-renovated B.C. Place Stadium downtown later in the season, also feature two of the biggest stars from the past — Bob Lenarduzzi is team president and Carl Valentine is a club ambassador and does work for the team’s website.

But the links to glory end there. This is an expansion franchise. Some of the players have experience in MLS, others in Europe, and the majority of them are  Wholesale New Era Hats making the step up from second division. As a result, prognosticators see a low finish in the year ahead.

“Obviously, it’s a big step for us to take,” says Teitur Thordarson, a former Icelandic international who has been head coach since 2008. “Hopefully we will be ready from Day One.”

The fans certainly will be. The first 5,000 into the stadium Saturday will be given drums and everyone will get a white poncho in an attempt to make a “Whitecaps Whiteout” in the stands. The club has also opened 1,500 more seats to bring the capacity to about 23,000.

“I don’t think any of us know how big it’s going to be but I believe it’s going to be huge,” says Valentine, who as a 21-year-old rookie helped lead the Whitecaps Atlanta Braves Hats   to the Soccer Bowl title. “I believe this team is going to be embraced and it’s going to match what we had in 1979 and the early ’80s.”

The club’s owners, who shelled out $35 million to join fellow expansion side Portland Timbers in MLS for 2011, are equally enthusiastic. Majority stakeholder Greg Kerfoot, a former software executive, is said to be a soccer fanatic as are minority partners Steve Nash of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns, former Yahoo executive Jeff Mallett, also part owner of baseball’s San Francisco Giants, and Steve Luczo, a technology company executive whose holdings include a stake in the  Wholesale Cheap Hats  NBA’s Boston Celtics.

“We want to blow the socks off people in our home opener,” says Lenarduzzi, who grew up near the stadium and has been an integral part of the city’s professional soccer scene for nearly 40 years. “Your first impression is a very, very important one.”

Lenarduzzi says TFC’s slow start as a franchise — four losing seasons, no playoffs — gives the Whitecaps “extended goodwill” with fans if they don’t win out of the gate. But archrival Seattle’s smash success — league-leading attendance,   New Era Hats post-season both years — has set a new standard for expansion clubs and raises the pressure to win early, he says.

“We don’t want to waste that goodwill,” Lenarduzzi says. “We have to demonstrate, whether we’re an expansion team or not, that we’re going to give 100 per cent every game and, ideally, we’re going to get better with each game, each month, each season.”

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Cashman says nothing doing on trade front

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman says it’s “highly unlikely” he’ll make a trade for a starting pitcher before opening day.

Cashman told The Boston Globe on Friday that midsummer is a more realistic time for an acquisition.

Brian Cashman says a trade for a starting pitcher before opening day is “highly unlikely.” (AP Photo)

“Normally anything of quality doesn’t become available until after the June (amateur) draft. That’s why you try and get as much as you can get accomplished in the winter,” Cashman said, according to the Globe. “I know New York doesn’t handle patience very well. But I’m from Kentucky, so it’s a little easier for me to deal with.”

The Yankees have two open spots in their rotation, with Ivan Nova, Sergio Mitre, Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia among the pitchers vying for them. Colon pitched three scoreless innings Friday against the Boston Red Sox.

“We hopefully have the answers here. We do believe we have a lot of people who are capable and we hope they are up to the challenge,” the Globe quoted Cashman as saying.

There were rumors last week that the Yankees are scouting Minnesota Twins left-hander Francisco Liriano for a possible trade. Cashman responded that he hasn’t spoken with the Twins and no such players are available at this point.

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