FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats have an opportunity to take the lead in their current series with the Jacksonville Suns if they can win this one tonight.
Some more good news for the home fans is that lefty Tom Cochran (4-3), one of the team’s two aces, is on the hill for Carolina against Jeff Allison (4-3).
Cochran is one of six Mudcats who have been elected to play in the Southern League All-Star Game, which will be played July 12 in Huntsville. Also going from Carolina are right-handed pitcher Matt Klinker, outfielders Sean Henry and Dave Sappelt and infielders Jake Kahaulelio and Mike Costanzo. First-half champion Jacksonville also have six players — pitchers Daniel Jennings, Tom Koehler and Elih Villanueva along with infielders Matt Dominiguez and Tim Torres and outfielder Brandon Tripp — on the South Division roster.
Cochran has a high-quality outing and the Mudcats outhit the Suns 10-2 in a 6-0 romp.
No cutesy quips or memory-soaked remarks about his manic approach to working out or the primal scream he let out while lifting the Stanley Cup in 2006 — an image etched in the memory of North Carolina sports fans — will sum up what Rod Brind’Amour did for the Hurricanes over the last decade. From coming in (and not expecting to stay) under stressful circumstances to the few, frank words he uttered a few hours ago regarding his retirement, Brind’Amour did it his way.
“Get ready for the obvious,” Brind’Amour said wryly. “I will no longer be playing hockey, for the Hurricanes or anyone else.”
The former captain’s imminent retirement, while regrettable, was completely and totally necessary — like the proverbial band-aid that just needed to be ripped off. Though he insists he’s in the best shape of his life, the former two-time Selke winner was a baffling combined -52 in his last two seasons. They had already removed his captaincy and handed it to Eric Staal and the team was clearly looking to embrace a youth movement, but there were a few more pieces left to move. Going into tomorrow’s opening of free agency, Erik Cole — who was on hand at the press conference to support his former linemate — is an elder statesman on the Hurricanes team at just 31.
After his retirement, the Hurricanes bought out Brind’Amour’s contract and will pay him $2 million over two years. But according to Rutherford, it won’t free up any cap space. He is supposed to earn $3 million this season, and since he was 35 at the time he signed that contract, it remains on Carolina’s tab.
There was talk he might try another team for one final year if the ‘Canes bought him out, but Brind’Amour insisted that was never an option. It all happened as it should have, and his jersey will surely be up with his friend and mentor, Ron Francis, very soon.
English football fans tend to take one of two extreme postions. Some say the country, which is home to the world’s top professional league, is long overdue to add a second World Cup trophy to its vintage 1966 cabinet given the exceptional quality of the players and passion of the supporters. Others, such as our resident Englishman Paul Savery, seem to believe the national team is doomed to a future of failure. They point to the fact that the Three Lions have only advanced past the quarterfinals once since their 1966 victory and have lacked luck in losing all three times they’ve gone to penalty kicks.
The Carolina Mudcats waited out a pregame rain delay of over an hour, then rallied for three runs in the eighth for a 4-3 win over the Jacksonville Suns on Tuesday night.
Mike Costanzo had three hits with an RBI for the Mudcats, while Sean Henry added a double with an RBI in the six-hit attack.
Vinny Rottino doubled and singled for Jacksonville.
Lee Tabor (2-0) was the winning pitcher in relief of Scott Carroll, who came off the temporarily inactive list to make the start. Jerry Gil picked up his second save.
Former Mudcats Todd Doolittle (2-3) took the loss in relief of UNC product Andrew Miller.
DBAP/DURHAM The Durham Bulls continue their 11-game homestand tonight as the Louisville Bats begin their four-game series here.
That they did last season, with Durham winning the best-of-5 semifinal series in five games before winning the next four en route to their first Triple-A National Championship.
Being the Cincinnati Reds’ affiliates the Bats are chock full of former Carolina Mudcats, including Yonder Alonso, Chris Denove, Michael Griffin, and Philippe Valliquette from this season’s team.
Tonight will be a battle of pitchers on the comeback trail, as Virgil Vasquez (2-0) starts for the Bulls on his first day off the disabled list while Edinson Volquez is with the Bats on Major League rehab. And catcher Dioner Navarro, sent down from Tampa Bay, makes his first appearance as a Bull.
At game time, there might just be a threat of rain. Normally, that’s a bad thing. Alas, the rain never hits Durham.
Louisville outhits the Bulls 12-7, but Durham gets its second comeback win of the season — and second in as many days — in a 7-5 victory.
CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA — Cape Town, June 29, noon, and the streets are filling up with fans of Spain and Portugal wearing their scarves and wigs and jerseys, the national flags draped across their backs, faces painted. The vuvuzelas already blare, as they do almost every moment.
I am glad that FIFA President Sepp Blatter made the decision to let a thousand vuvuzelas blossom, or a million vuvuzelas blare, but the truth is that they are a one-note wall of sound blocking out all the other national chants and cheers and songs, and I am sorry about that. The vuvus only truly bother me, though, when someone blows one directly into my ear or fills a shuttle bus with the relentless mooing.
But that’s the only bad thing I have to say about being at the World Cup in South Africa. Without exception, the South Africans I have spoken to in my first week here are thrilled and proud of have the Cup here. They are excited to show off their country, to break the stereotypes their visitors have about their country and continent. And they want to talk about soccer. Taxi drivers compare Messi to Ronaldo. Grocery clerks want to tell me why the English will never win the Cup. Waiters want to analyze last night’s game and predict tomorrow’s.
RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA — It is difficult to piece together a consistent and coherent assessment of the average fan experience for this World Cup. On the one hand, even everyday folks that you meet will go to extraordinary efforts to help you out, but on the other hand they usually do so because some gaping hole in event planning has left said fan in a difficult position. In this sense, Saturday’s USA-Ghana match exemplified many of the highs and lows of South Africa’s 2010 World Cup.
FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON The Carolina Mudcats return home for the first time in the second half for yet another series against the first-half South Division Champion Jacksonville Suns.
The opener of the six-game series is going to be another hot one, with temperatures in the mid-90s at game time.
Jacksonville’s manager is Tim Leiper, a former Mudcats infielder and N.C. State assistant coach.
Lefty Travis Webb (2-5) will go for the Mudcats tonight against Tom Koehler (9-1), the winningest pitcher in the Southern League.
Koehler strikes again, getting one of his team's 12 hits as the Suns win 8-3.
J.J. Furmaniak made the best of his national TV time on Monday afternoon.
Pinch-hitter Jose Lobaton and Desmond Jennings singled in the ninth to set up Furmaniak’s game-winning hit and drop the loss on Ryan Vogelsong (2-5).
Darin Downs was the winner in his Triple-A debut, taking over after a 7 1/3-inning quality start from Richard De Los Santos.
Melvin Dorta led the Iron Pigs, which lost the series 3 games to 1, with three hits including an RBI double.
The Bulls continue their long homestand at Durham Bulls Athletic Park with the opener of a four-game series with the Louisville Bats on Tuesday night.
DBAP/DURHAM It’s Game 3 of the Durham Bulls’ four-game home set with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, and both teams are playing in their hottest game of the year.
The Bulls are in their familiar spot in the International League’s South Division, with an eight-game lead over the second-place Charlotte Knights.
Lehigh Valley is half a game better than the worst record in the league, and comes in looking to break a five-game losing streak.
Despite the oppressive heat there’s a great crowd in the house, announced at 8,130.
It’s a battle of lefties, as big Heath Phillips (6-6) takes the hill for the Bulls against Brian Mazone (4-7).
And the IronPigs take advantage of two unearned runs to win 4-2.