FIVE COUNTY STADIUM/ZEBULON Checking in on the Carolina Mudcats, who start their penultimate long homestand of the season in good shape to make a run over the final month.
Danny Salazar (0-2, 2.96) will take on the Pelicans’ Randy Henry (5-6, 2.57) in the series opener.
The night turns out to be a great pitchers’ duel, and Salazar — who has been on a long road back from elbow surgery — gets his first win since 2010 in a 2-1 Carolina victory.
Former RailHawk Pablo Campos netted four goals to boost his league-leading tally to 15. Greg Janicki contributed two scores with the others coming compliments of Blake Wagner and Esteban Bayona.
The RailHawks, playing without team captain Kupono Low (red card suspension) and Brian Shriver (injury), were already trailing 2-0 when defender Austen King was sent off in the 32nd minute for taking down Campos during a goal-scoring opportunity. The straight red card means King will miss the RailHawks' next match on August 4 against the Tampa Bay Rowdies at WakeMed Soccer Park.
Carolina's record drops to 6-6-6 (24 pts.) on the season and its goal-differential goes from plus-3 to minus-5. More ominously, the RailHawks' record on the road—where six of the team's final 10 games will take place—sinks to one win, two draws and five losses.
You often encounter the word "mercurial" in the world of sports. Sports journalists slap the adjective in front of the names of inconsistent players. Mercurial athletes tantalize you with second-to-none play in one moment and devastate you by vanishing into oblivion the next. They're more than streaky; they're hair-losingly maddening. And they tend to wear out their welcome.
Semin's talent is hard to figure out. He scored 40 goals just a few seasons ago, seeming to have come of age into an elite scorer and point-a-game player, the kind of guy whose name you etch onto trophies. But over the last couple of seasons, his effort has waxed and waned. Coaches have benched him here and there to try to motivate him. Caps fans had come to jeer him more than cheer for him. He netted just three goals and one assist in 14 playoff games this year.
Many hockey fans would tell you there's something mercurial in the Russian nature. Alexei Kovalev, Alexander Ovechkin and former Cane Sergei Samsonov all fit the profile: wingers who appear to have the talent to score at will and skate circles around opponents, but that are as likely to turtle after a big hit and simply drift around the ice or need a map to find the defensive zone. Sometimes you forget that they're playing. Other times, they make you forget that anyone else is playing.
For Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford, it's a high-risk, high-reward move. Or is it? The risk is, in hockey terms, minimal and exactly quantifiable: $7 million. Semin's one-year deal makes a divorce easy if he underachieves, i.e. pots fewer than 35 goals.
Because that's what Semin does. He scores goals. He's not coming to Raleigh to vie for the Selke Trophy as best defensive forward. Jordan Staal's now here to combine backchecking with goal-scoring. Semin's here to uncork his incomparable wrist shot and pump his fist when it goes in.
Seven Triangle-area players have been named to the preseason All-ACC football team announced today by the conference following media voting at the ACC Kickoff on Sunday and Monday.
Two members of N.C. State’s secondary, junior cornerback David Amerson and senior safety Earl Wolff, were named to the squad. And Duke placed one player in senior wide receiver Conner Vernon.
The Tar Heels’ Bernard ran for 1,253 yards last season, the third best in ACC history by a freshman, and is on pre-season watch lists for the both Maxwell and Doak Walker Awards. Cooper and Hurst are on the lists for both the Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award, while Reddick his on the list for the Nagurski, Bednarik, Butkus and Lombardi honors.
The sanction also hit Penn State fans where it hurts—in the heart—by vacating all football wins since 1998 and dethroning Joe Paterno as the sport’s winningest coach. The sour feeling expressed by some Carolina fans after the football problems in Chapel Hill led two seasons to be vacated has been multiplied seven times over in (not-so) Happy Valley.
Nonetheless, some observers remain skeptical or uncomfortable with the NCAA’s actions. One of the most virulent arguments was forwarded by columnist Dave Zirin of Edge of Sports and The Nation fame, who called the NCAA’s actions a “crime…masquerading as a farce.”
I’ll put my cards on the table: I think the Penn State ruling was the most welcome, promising and appropriate move by an NCAA President in decades. It sent an unmistakable message that the football culture at Penn State must change permanently, and it sent a clear warning to other institutions where sports and coaches have become too big and powerful to challenge.
Here are four unpersuasive arguments forwarded by critics of the decision.
1. The NCAA didn’t have the authority to take this action.
This argument is plainly false. The NCAA is a voluntary association whose members agree to abide by the rules and policies of the association in exchange for the benefits of participating in NCAA-sponsored competition. Penn State did not and does not have to be part of the NCAA, but if it is, it must accept the NCAA’s authority to impose sanctions (as it in fact has). While the NCAA’s methods in this case are a departure from usual practice, they fall comfortably within the organization’s own constitutions and by-laws. To cut to the chase, the Sandusky scandal caused damaged not just to Penn State but to college sports in general and to the other member institutions. It’s entirely appropriate that a price be paid for such blatant violations of basic ethical standards and common decency.
2. Collective punishment is wrong—why penalize players who had nothing to do with it?
There are two arguments in this thought. One is an argument that the football program at Penn State really isn’t responsible for what happened, and that fault lies with the key decision makers at Penn State. That argument in my view completely misses the point of what the Freeh Report demonstrated: that administrators made the decisions they did precisely out of deference to Joe Paterno’s exalted football program. The fact that the football program had gotten too big was a causal factor in the inaction of the university leaders. Also relevant are the unpleasant facts that Sandusky traded in on his relationship with Penn State football to take advantage of his victims and that he used university facilities to abuse children years after he was initially suspected as a pedophile.
No doubt Montoyo felt good about the win, about securing it by an adroit cobbling together of reliever-innings after Archer's planned early exit, about the way he was able to get a bunch of restless relievers some leveraged work, and, looking ahead, especially about Monday's scheduled starter. Matt Torra leads the Durham staff in innings pitched (107) and also in innings per start. That number happens to be only around 5 2/3 innings each time out, but never mind that, Montoyo must have thought to himself as he checked his phone for messages from Tampa, leaned back in his office chair, and sipped from a glass of Tablas Creek Esprit de Beaucastel Blanc 2004. For the last few years he had been patiently cellaring the wine in an underground cave built for him by the Bulls front office (its location is known to only two people). Montoyo suspected that this particular vintage might have a delayed renaissance, as some higher-pedigree Rhone-style whites do, because of the higher-than-usual percentage of Roussanne in the encépagement. Delighted, upon opening the bottle, to discover that his gamble on the wine had paid off handsomely, Montoyo sat savoring the the fully-integrated aromatics of...
Enough of that. Someone—let's say the team trainer—burst in at just that moment to let Montoyo know that Matt Torra was ill and would not be able to pitch the next night.
Montoyo spat out the wine in a spray of shock and disgust, ordered pitching coach Neil Allen into his office, and they shotgunned a couple of tallboys of Coors Light and got down to the business of figuring out how they were gonna map out Monday's innings.
GRANDOVER RESORT/GREENSBORO Just like last year — at least at the preseason press rouser.
Seventh-two voters said Jimbo Fisher’s Seminoles will win the Atlantic Division and 83 said Frank Beamer’s Virginia Tech Hokies will take the Coastal. And then 56 said the ‘Noles will take out the Hokies in the title game Dec. 1 in Charlotte.
Clemson was picked second in the Atlantic followed by N.C. State, Wake Forest, Boston College and Maryland. The Wolfpack actually got five votes to win the division.
Georgia Tech was picked second in the Coastal followed by UNC, Virginia, Miami and Duke. Two voters said the Tar Heels will win it.
Clemson receiver Sammy Watkins was picked to be ACC player of the year in a close vote over Virginia Tech’s Logan Thomas, Florida State’s E.J. Manuel and the Tigers’ Tajh Boyd, all of them within seven votes. N.C. State’s Mike Glennon and David Amerson received preseason player of the year votes along with UNC’s Giovani Bernard and Bryn Renner.
DBAP/ DURHAM—Henry Wrigley's RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning—which in a minor-league doubleheader is the last—broke a 3-3 tie to give the Durham Bulls a 4-3 win over the Rochester Red Wings and a split of their twi-night doubleheader on Sunday.
The Red Wings took the first game, 5-1, behind the starting pitching of Jeff Manship, who has been pitching for Rochester for parts of the last four seasons (and goes back in Bulls' lore at least as far as this game story from 2010). His name also provides levity, along with Reid Brignac's and many others', including former Bull Mitch Talbot, in this piece of what's-in-a-name drollery from Baseball Nation superstar writer Grant Brisbee. Enjoy.
A split is about what you would expect from these two teams. The Red Wings are an exactly .500 team (51-51). The Bulls are 47-56 but were playing at home. They lost meekly in the first game, and squandered a lead in the second before Wrigley's late game-winner.
GRANDOVER RESORT/GREENSBORO — It’s player interview day at the 38th annual ACC Football Kickoff, and also the day commissioner John Swofford gives his annual “State of the Conference” address followed by question time.
July’s news around the conference has been both good and bad.
The good news has been that both Syracuse and Pittsburgh will be released after paying exit fees to the Big East and become fully participating members of the ACC the next time July 1 comes around.
Syracuse will join the Atlantic Division where N.C. State belongs, while Pittsburgh will be a member of the Coastal with UNC and Duke.
In truth, it was a significant victory for the RailHawks (6-6-5, 24 pts.), who for the second time in just over a month defeated the Stars, the defending NASL champs. The victory preserves Carolina’s playoff position and fifth place in the NASL table.
The extent of the scoring occurred in the 10th minute. The ever-improving Breiner Oritz played a deft ball out to Mike Palacio on the right wing. Palacio delivered a textbook cross into the box to Zack Schilawski for the easy putaway past Stars’ keeper Matt VanOekel. It was a build-up and completion that RailHawks manager Colin Clarke called “probably the best goal we’ve scored this year.”