Month: October 2014

Still Fighting For Life

Devon Still and his daughter Leah fighting the good fight.

Devon Still and his daughter Leah fighting the good fight.

by Richard McBane

Money can buy happiness.

At the very least it can for the Cincinnati Bengals’ Devon Still and his family. The third year defensive tackle had struggled all off-season, both on and off the field, dealing with injuries and recovery from a January back surgery. But most devastating of all was the news he received on June 2nd that his four year old daughter had Stage IVcancer.

Leah Still was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, the most common cancer found outside the brain in young children. Leah was given a 50% chance of survival,a development that spiraled Devon and his family’s world out of control. Football instantly became a trivial part of Still’s life as his daughter would be fighting for her own.

Essentially deciding to hang up his cleats indefinitely Still said “when I found out, I told my family I was done. I didn’t feel comfortable leaving my daughter while she’s going through this”. He spent the next three weeks sleeping next to his daughter at the hospital despite having back problems of his own after his recent surgery. He said “’I’m not worried about my back right now,” “I’m worried about my daughter’s health.”

Situations like these often put things into perspective how little importance football can have in times of struggle. Still said “she’s fighting for her life. Sports is not more important than me being there while my daughter is fighting for her life.”

Still even shaved his head in support of his daughter, refusing to grow his hair until hers returns.

Understandably, Still’s mind was not committed to football and he was consequently cut from the Bengals’ 53-man roster. However, in light of Still’s situation, the Bengals signed him to the team’s practice squad to keep him on salary so that he could pay for his daughter’s cancer treatments.

Still and Channing Smythe, Leah’s mother, decided to bring their daughter to Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital, where one of the nation’s top neuroblastoma surgeons works. He decided this would be a positive move for his daughter as he could reach out to the Bengals community for support. Still even started a campaign to fund research and help other families affected by the disease.

You can contribute to help wipe out pediatric cancer by donating at pldgit.com

While on the practice squad, Still’s story spread throughout the NFL community and beyond, filling the hearts of a nation of supporters. People began buying Still’s jersey in support of his situation. The Bengals organization agreed to use the revenue from the jersey sales to contribute to the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and pediatric cancer research. Public response to this was so immense that over $400,000 in Still’s jersey sales were made in just four days after this announcement.

Overnight, Still’s jersey became the most sold jersey in a 24-hour span in Bengals’ history. Recently, the charity  racked up nearly 15,000 jersey sales totaling over $1.25 million, all of which will be donated to the Children’s Hospital and pediatric cancer research to help families with children living with these diseases. The money will be presented to the hospital after the first quarter of the Bengals Thursday November 6th game against the Cleveland Browns.2

In September, while this heartwarming story was developing, Leah underwent successful surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from her abdomen. Given a 50-50 chance of survival, this beautiful little girl is now in the midst of weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatments that aim to destroy the cancerous cells in her body.

Hopes are high for Devon Still’s daughter, thanks in part to what seemed like a minuscule idea of purchasing a jersey; in the end it became much more than that. Still could have given all of his efforts to his daughter’s battle with cancer, but what he did on October 21st shows what kind of character he really has. Still visited terminally ill basketball player Lauren Hill of Mount St. Joseph University. At 19-years old she has been diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor but has decided to continue to play basketball and dedicate her time to raising awareness. Still visited the team’s practice on Tuesday, leaving Leah a signed game worn jersey of his own with the hashtag #BeatCancer.3

Leah’s story will be told in a documentary, “One Last Game”, set to air on November 2nd.
While most of the media’s attention is focused on  the NFL’s negative situations –  Ray Rice, Josh Gordon Adrian Peterson, etc…It is stories about the Devon Stills and Lauren Hills of the sports world that truly help us gain perspective on life and what truly matters. Their struggles remind us how fortunate many of us really are.

 

1 – cincinnati.com

2 – USAtoday.com

3 – sbnation.com

 

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Richard McBane  is a U of Albany Alum, and an avid Yankees and Giants supporter. He can be reached Twitter at @RichieeMC

A Chat With Indians Great Kenny Lofton

Kenny Lofton showing off some of the skills that earned him four Gold Glove Awards.

Kenny Lofton showing off some of the skills that earned him four Gold Glove Awards.

Kenny Lofton enjoyed a successful 17-year Major League career with 11 different organizations. Of course, he is best known as a member of the Cleveland Indians, a team he spent parts of 10 seasons with on four different occasions (1992-1995, 1996, 1998-2001, 2007). His speed and grace helped earn him four Gold Glove Awards and the .299 career hitter was a member of six All-Star teams.

Our Jim Monaghan recently sat down with Lofton to talk about his career in baseball, the World Series, and life after baseball in the film industry.

JM: Just a terrific Major League baseball career that you had Kenny. 17 seasons in the Major Leagues; in the postseason 11 times; in the World Series twice; an Indians Hall of Famer. You had quite the career.

KL: Yeah, it was fun. I had a great time. I mean I enjoyed every minute and the experiences I had with different teams that I played for. And my 2 greatest moments were the World Series (’95 w/Indians, ’02 w/Giants) I played in. They were pretty fun.

JM: The team I associate you most with, of the 11 you played with, is of course the Cleveland Indians. And you played with them for one good chunk of time and then came back with them a few other times. The KC Royals this year, Kenny, remind me an awful lot of that Cleveland Indians team in 1990s. That team you played on, the Indians team, you played on in the 1990s. That Indians team you played on was just so much fun to watch. And the Royals team really recaptured that spirit for me in this postseason. Guys like Lorenzo Cain and Nori Aoki.

KL: Well you know I think we had a combination of pretty much everything. We had speed, defense, we had power…we had it all. We didn’t have the best starters in the world, but we had a team that was very steady, you know we got the job done. We all worked together, and had a great bullpen. We had an all-around great team, but I think our speed and defense stood out and that’s what’s going on with Kansas City. Their speed and defense is standing out right now. When you get in the playoffs, you get on a roll and that’s what Kansas City has done, has gotten on a roll and they have not stopped.

JM: Yeah, sometimes it’s not the best team that wins (the World Series), it’s the team that’s the hottest. And that may be what this San Francisco team is walking into, because this Kansas City Royals team has been incredible.

KL: Oh yeah, they’re (the Giants) in trouble. They (the Royals) have this attitude. They’re very confident in what they’re doing, and what it means for them to play defense and when they get on base they use their speed. There’s no team in baseball that SF has faced this year like this. There’s going to be a rude awakening for them once the process all starts.

JM: Safe to say Kenny that you’re picking Kansas City in this World Series?

KL: I like Kansas City because of that reason. That was my style of play. They’re doing what I liked to do. And baseball had gotten away from all of that because of the steroids and all that. But baseball is back to the way it’s supposed to be. Fun, speed, defense…so you know that’s the reason I’m liking them, because they play my style of game.

JM: You played with a very controversial player in your career, Albert Belle. I actually know somebody who roomed with Albert when he was coming up in the Cleveland system early in his career. He said that Belle was completely misunderstood. Do you think that’s going to keep Albert out of the Hall of Fame?

KL: With the Hall of Fame you don’t know how it’s going to…how they go about the process with the Hall of Fame, because it’s very tricky in who they want in and who they don’t want in. So, I don’t know, I think you know what, your on-field numbers should show up and your “off-field” numbers are in a separate category. Just like Pete Rose. Pete Rose should be in the Hall of Fame

His numbers on the field is what depicts what goes on. What you do a little bit off the field should kind of weigh a little bit, but his numbers are above and beyond anybody I have ever seen ever. So if you’re going to look at it, Pete Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame. But I don’t think, again, with Albert, you can’t look at how someone’s attitude, or what it’s like. Look at Eddie Murray. People complained about Eddie Murray, and he was a first ballot Hall of Famer. So it’s about the numbers. It’s about what you put up in the game. So that’s what the people should look at, not all that other stuff.

JM: You just mentioned about a team getting hot at the right time. We’re at the 10-year anniversary of that 2004 Red Sox team that came back from three games down against the Yankees. You were on that Yankees team. As you were watched those four games unfold after that 19-8 clobbering, what was going through your mind and the mind of your teammates at that point? Could you really believing what was happening as that Red Sox team got hot?

KL: Well I was on the bench. So I felt like I was a guy that should have been on the field and wasn’t. So I was sitting on the bench and it was tough to where I know what it’s like to play in those situations and I felt I should be in the game and I wasn’t.

But you could saw it coming and unfolding, and nothing. And the tough part about the whole thing, I was upset, because there was nothing I could do about it. I wasn’t in the game. That’s what kind of made me feel like I know what I can do and what I could bring to the table. Just watching it unfold and you got your hands are tied and couldn’t do anything about it. Actually, it was a sad feeling for me to sit there and watch it.

JM: Kenny, last week I spoke with Dean Cain (TV’s Lois and Clark) last week about this new movie he’s working on, “My Last Christmas”. There’s an indie funding project that’s tied in with it. What’s your role with this film, with Dean?

KL: I’m good friends with Dean. I brought the project to him from a guy who works with me. I’ve got a company called, “Film Pool” that I’ve had since 2004. The guy that works with me brought the project and said, what do you think of the project? I liked it and took it to Dean and a few other people. It’s a project that I’m very passionate about. You go to indiegogo.com/mylastchristmas and it was a film about a form of a cancer, Myelodysplastic Syndrome  (MDS), that a lot of people don’t know about. It’s very rare and if you’re multi-racial there’s a good chance you could come up with this cancer.

We hooked up with a company called “Project Race”. They’re a company that goes out and tries to get people to register for bone marrow (to donate.) Because you need this type of bone marrow… you’ll need to find a match. We felt very strongly about it. I talked to Dean he was very passionate about it and he liked it, because family members and friends he knows as well, besides me, that are multi-racial. If something was ever to happen and you can’t find that match you’ll feel very sad. When you have that opportunity to go out there and make awareness to this form of cancer and that’s what this film is all about.

JM: And your college degree was actually in film studio production, right, at University of Arizona? And what is the website again for the film.

KL: Yes it was and I had an opportunity to start up my company in 2004 and this is where I am right now. The website is My Last Christmas and you can also go check it out on Twitter.

JM: Best of luck to you and Dean on this film. Thanks Kenny, and continued success to you.

KL: All right, thanks a lot!

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Jim Monaghan can be heard Monday through Friday mornings on the WDHA Morning Jolt from 6-10AM & Sundays from 7-10AM with “All Mixed Up.” He’s also an instructor at Professional Baseball Instruction in Upper Saddle River. Follow him on twitter – @Monaghan21.

Breaking News: Maddon Steps Down As Rays’ Manager

maddon

Joe Maddon is looking for a new job.

by D4Assignment Staff

As reported by ESPN’s Buster Olney, Joe Maddon has decided to exercise an opt-out clause in his contract and is no longer the manager of the Tampa Rays. With the Minnesota Twins firing of manager Ron Gardenhire, Maddon was the second longest tenured manager in the Major league’s with nine years at the helm in Tampa. Only the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Scioscia (15 seasons), for whom Maddon served as bench coach prior to his hiring in Tampa, has been managed longer.

Speculation began last week when Rays’ GM Andrew Friedman left to take a new position as President of Baseball Operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers. At that time, Maddon told reporters he had no intention of going anywhere.

“I’m a Ray , I’ve said it all along, I want to continue to be one,” Maddon told Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “‘I still believe … it’s the best place in all of baseball to work but I also stand by fact that ballpark needs to be improved.”

Maddon said there “no rush” to get an extension done as he wants to give the revised administration time to get comfortable. “I don’t really look to go anywhere else,” Maddon said. 1

Though no reason was given for the change of heart, Maddon’s contract was set to expire after the 2015 season and one would think he would not return next season without an extension. Owner Stu Sternberg told the press that the two sides had been working on an extension prior to Maddon’s decision to leave.

“We tried diligently and aggressively to sign Joe to a third contract extension prior to his decision,” Rays owner Stuart Sternberg said in a statement Friday. “As of yesterday afternoon, Joe enabled himself to explore opportunities throughout Major League Baseball. He will not be managing the Rays in 2015.”

It will be interesting to hear the reaction of Evan Longoria, who has played his entire career under Maddon and is signed through the 2023 season. Dave Martinez, Maddon’s bench coach since 2007, is the early favorite to replace his mentor.

1 – CBSsports.com

2 – ESPN.com

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Kreider’s Play Is Just What The Sather Ordered

kreider

Rangers Chris Kreider and Rick Nash have found their scoring touch so far this season

by Drew Sarver

Before the season started we previewed the current New York Rangers squad. One of the biggest question marks for the season was, where will scoring come from?  Two names came to the forefront as players that needed to step up in order for the Rangers to build on last season’s success as Eastern Conference champions. Veteran Rick Nash, a former two-time 40-goal scorer, was one of the players mentioned and the other was 23-year old Chris Kreider.

Nash has done his part so far – entering play on Wednesday night, he led the NHL with eight goals. The speedy, aggressive Kreider showed flashes of brilliance over the 89 games he played in his first year-plus in the league, but his 37 points in 66 games last season was a disappointment. He finished 10th in the Rookie of the Year voting, a “mere” 1,100 votes behind the Calder Trophy winner, Colorado’s Nathan McKinnon. Expectations for this season are high for Kreider and so far #20 has come through.

Tuesday night the Rangers met one of their arch rivals, the New Jersey Devils, for the first time this season. Down 3-1 on the road the Rangers rallied to tie the game in the third period, with Nash getting the goal that knotted things at three apiece. Kevin Klein wristed the game winner past Devils’ goalie Corey Schneider at 2:04 into overtime, But it was the play of Kreider that made things happen. The left winger picked up the puck behind his own net and skated it out of the defensive zone. He made a give and go pass with Chris Mueller  as they crossed the red line and then charged towards the Devils’ net. He turned his back to Schneider and fed the puck on to Klein’s stick.. The defenseman, trailing on the play, beat Schneider with a swift shot for the game winner.

It’s that type of play, a mixture of speed and strength that team President/GM Glen Sather was counting on when he selected Kreider with the 19th overall pick in the 2009 NHL entry draft. A product of  Masconomet Regional High School and Phillips Academy, the Massachusetts native played three seasons at Boston College and was a member of the 2010 NCAA squad that beat Wisconsin for the national championship. Kreider found the back of the opponent’s net 49 times in 114 regular season collegiate games and finished his college career with just under a point (112 total) per game average. He also amassed 129 penalty minutes as part of the physical part of his game.

Kreider added to his amateur resume with six goals in the 2010 World Junior championships won by the US. He added four more tallies when the US finished in third place a year later.  With Kreider ready to go pro and the Rangers lacking scoring as they entered the playoffs, the team added the then-20-year old to their postseason roster. Though he was on the ice for just 51 minutes in the opening seven game series with Ottawa, Kreider scored his first NHL goal – the game winner – in a 3-2 victory in Game 6.

With five one-goal games and two overtime games in the first round, coach John Tortorella increased Kreider’s play in the quarterfinal match with the Washington Capitals. The Rangers once again emerged victorious in a closely played, seven games series. Kreider played over 93 minutes, but was limited to a goal and an assist and was -4 for the series. His goal was another game winner (He became the first rookie to score back-to-back game winners in the postseason),  in a 3-1 Game 1 triumph, but Kreider’s contribution on offense in the series was minimal. He had just nine shots on goal in a series that saw six games decided by one goal.

If the first two series were considered tightly played, everyone knew the conference final against the New Jersey Devils was going to be even tighter. The Rangers led the best-of-seven series 2-1, but the Devils won three straight games to capture the series. Adam Henrique got the series game winner just 1:03 into overtime in Game 6. Again, Tortorella increased Kreider’s playing time in hopes of finding more scoring. Kreider, who had turned 21 during the Washington series, scored goals in each of the first three games, including a pair of power play goals. However, he and much of the rest of the squad couldn’t solve Martin Brodeur for the rest of the series.

Kreider had a less than stellar 2012-2013 season with 12 goals in 48 games for the Connecticut Whale of the AHL and just two goals in 23 games for the Rangers, though much of the latter can be attributed to his assignment to the fourth line. The Rangers won another seven games series with Washington to open the playoffs, but were dominated by the Boston Bruins in the conference semis and were eliminated in five games. With his ice time limited, Kreider managed just a goal and an assist, though the goal was an overtime winner in Game 4 that kept the Rangers from being swept.

A mundane 2013-2014 season was cut short by a hand injury that required surgery and caused Kreider to miss the first 10 games of the playoffs. Fans were beginning to wonder if Kreider was the real deal.  Upon his return from the injured list, he registred five goals and eight assists in 15 games as the Rangers returned to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 20 years. The Rangers knocked off division rivals in the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins, and then topped the Montreal Canadiens in a conference final in which Kreider left his mark.

Kreider’s impact in the series was both good and bad, and may influence how referees handle him this season. Specifically, the BC product’s collision with Montreal goalie Carey Price which caused the netminder to miss the remainder of the series. (The Rangers and Canadiens meet on Saturday for the first since the series.) The Canadiens wanted Kreider suspended for the hit, but league officials did not agree.

There seems to be a carry over in confidence and maturity from last season’s playoffs for Kreider. Through seven games this season, Kreider has a pair of goals, four assists, and is a +5. He’s also amassed 23 penalties, which may or may not be connected in some way to his crash with Price. The most important thing is that Kreider has been in the mix around the net and not afraid to continue his speedy, physical style of play. The Rangers will most certanly benefit from it.

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Drew Sarver is the founder, publisher, managing editor, and a contributor for Designated For Assignment. He can be followed on twitter at @mypinstripes and @d4assignment or contacted by email at dsarver@d4assignment.com.

Ishikawa’s Blast Solidified Bochy’s Hall Of Fame Entry

Champagne showers or not, Bruce Brochy belongs in Cooperstown.

Champagne showers or not, Bruce Brochy belongs in Cooperstown.

by Drew Sarver

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy can easily identify with Travis Ishikawa, his sparingly used first baseman. Bochy appeared in just 358 games during a nine-season Major League career. Ishikawa has played in 444 games in his seven-year Major League career. Bochy hit 26 career home runs, while Ishikawa has hit 22 career home runs during the regular season.

But last Thursday night Ishikawa sealed Bochy’s entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a manager. Ishikawa, who played one game with the Yankees last year, struck out twice and was booed off the field, smashed a walkoff three-run home run to give the Giants a 5-2 NL pennant winner over the St. Louis Cardinals. The blast off of St. Louis Cardinals reliever Michael Wacha sent the Giants to their third World Series in the last five years.

The Bochy-led Giants won the championship in 2010 (vs. Texas) and 2012 (vs. Detroit) and will now face the Kansas City Royals, who have become America’s darlings. This is the first time a Bochy squad has made it to the finals as a wild card entrant. Madison Bumgarner pitched a complete game in the Giants 8-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the one game NL wild card showdown.

As a player, Bochy was best known for the size of his head. Whenever the Houston Astros, New York Mets, or Padres were on television and Bochy was in the lineup at catcher, the conversation would invariably lead to the larger than normal sized pate atop Bochy’s neck and the custom made batting and catching helmets and cap he needed. Apparently the, reportedly, 8 1/8-size baseball cap holds a lot of brains beneath it. You don’t get to the World Series three times in five seasons merely on talent alone. There’s been plenty of teams with talent that never get to the World Series.

The career .239 hitter was hired to skipper the Padres in 1995, eight years after he had retired as a player. Bochy took over a team that had finished a combined 63 games under .500 with manager Jim Riggleman in 1993-1994 and led them to a 70-74 in his first season, which was shortened by the strike that overlapped from the prior year. A year later, the Padres won 91 and the NL West, and advanced to the playoffs for the first time since the team won the NL pennant in 1984.

They were swept in three games by the Cardinals, losing a one-run game and a pair of two-run games. After a subpar 1997 season, the Pads won 98 games, beat the Astros in the NLDS (4-1), and the Braves in the NLCS (4-2) to capture the second NL pennant in club history. The Padres had the unfortunate task of then going up against the New York Yankees, who had won 114 regular season games. After  blowing a 5-2 lead in Game 1, the Padres were swept by the Yankees in four games.

San Diego didn’t make it back to the playoffs until 2005, where they were swept in the NLDS and lost three of four in the following year’s NLDS as well. After the 2006 season and 12 years at the helm in San Diego, and with one year remaining on his contract, the then-51-year old Bochy decided it was time to move on. The Padres granted permission to the Giants to talk to Bochy about their managerial opening and he agreed to a three-year deal to move to northern California.

The Giants had lost the 2002 World Series to the Angels in seven games, but made the playoffs just once more in the next four seasons under manager Felipe Alou. Bochy kept Alou’s pitching coach Dave Righetti, bullpen coach Mark Gardner, hitting coach Joe Lefebvre, and bench coach Ron Wotus. All four remain in their position today (Lefebvre moved to the front office as a senior advisor and serves as an assistant hitting coach to Hensley Muelens) as does Tim Flannery, who joined Bochy as third base coach in 2007 after having served in the same position for part of Bochy’s time with the Padres.

After 71- and 72-win campaigns, the Giants won 88 games in 2009 and were World Series Champions a year later. Two years later they captured 94 victories and their second title under Bochy. Though he has won only one Manger of the Year Award, he certainly has been deserving of more (perhaps this year he’ll add a second).

Bochy has compiled a 1618-1604 regular season record (18th all time in wins) in 20 Major League seasons, 2 World Series titles so far and four pennants. 12 of the 17 managers that have won more games than Bochy have been elected to the Hall of Fame. Of the five not in the Hall, only Ralph Houk matches Bochy’s two World Series titles. None of the five can match the four pennants that Bochy-led teams have won.

Other than the ’98 Padres, which featured Greg Vaughn, Kevin Brown, Tony Gwynn, and Trevor Hoffman, Bochy’s teams in San Diego were not talent laden. Ownership was more into keeping a low payroll than obtaining/keeping talent. The 2000 San Diego roster was drastically different than the 1998 squad despite just two years between.

Bochy has had more to work with in San Francisco, especially when it comes to the Giants’ pitching staff. He also has an ownership that will spend a little extra money here and there, and a front office, led by GM Brian Sabean, that has done a good job of development of home grown talent.

Whether Bochy wins or loses this year’s “Fall Classic”, he should have already earned his place in Cooperstown.

Perhaps on a larger plaque.

 

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Drew Sarver is the founder, publisher, managing editor, and a contributor for Designated For Assignment. He can be followed on twitter at @mypinstripes and @d4assignment or contacted by email at dsarver@d4assignment.com.

NHL Suspends Kings D On Domestic Violence Allegation

Slava Voynov in happier times.

Slava Voynov in happier times.

by D4Assignment Staff

Having learned from his NFL counterpart’s mistakes, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has suspended Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov for an undetermined amount of time due to allegations of domestic violence.

Bettman moved swiftly after Voynov was arrested early Monday morning. Yoynov’s suspension, as announced by the NHL, comes under Section 18-A.5 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which provides that, during the pendency of a criminal investigation, “The League may suspend the Player pending the League’s formal review and disposition of the matter where the failure to suspend the Player during this period would create a substantial risk of material harm to the legitimate interests and/or reputation of the League.”1

Voynov will be paid during the period of the criminal investigation. He’s in the second year of a six-year, $24MM contract extension signed in June, 2013. The 24-year old defenseman was a fourth round draft choince in 2008 and is in his fourth year with the Kings. He was arrested at 3:45 am on Monday by Redondo Beach (CA) police.

ESPN contacted Voynov’s agent, Rolland Hedges, but he could not comment at that time.2


Update – 3:40 EDT

Several media outlets are reporting that the woman allegedly abused by Voynov was hospitalized due to the injuries she received. The woman, who said she was in a relationship with Voynov, was being treated in the emergency room of the Little Company of Mary Hospital in Torrence, CA when the staff called the police. Voynov accompanied the woman to the hospital where he was subsequently arrested.

Voynov was scheduled to be in court on Wednesday, but since he was released on $50,000 bail, the date was moved back to December 1. (No one has ever said that justice moves quickly.) Voynov’s lawyer tried to downplay things:

“We’re conducting our own investigation,” Craig Renetzky, Voynov’s attorney, said. “We don’t have anything to comment on quite yet. There should be no rush to judgment, and we’ll see what we find out.”3

The police had received a call on their business line earlier in the evening with reports of a woman screaming and crying, but the caller could not provide an address.

1 – NHL.com

2 – ESPN.com

3 – ocregister.com

 

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The 3 Most Memorable Giants Wins Over Dallas In The Manning-Romo Era

Jason Pierre-Paul's block preserved a 37-34 Giants win.

Jason Pierre-Paul’s block preserved a 37-34 Giants win in 2011.

by Drew Sarver

The New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys meet today in a 4:25 PM EDT contest on Fox Sports. The NFC East rivals have met 105 times so far with Dallas holding a 59-43-2 edge and are the winners of the last two meetings.

The first time the Giants’ Eli Manning and the Cowboys’ Tony Romo faced off against each other was October 23, 2006, the first of 16 meetings between the two quarterbacks. The Giants took that first game with a big 36-22 road victory, but would finish 8-8, while the Cowboys were 9-7. The Cowboys gained a split of the series with a 23-20 win in December.  Dallas dropped their playoff opener to Seattle when Romo dropped the snap as the holder on a potential game winning field goal against Seattle. He’s been much maligned ever since. (His dating Jessica Simpson didn’t help either.)

But this is about the the three most memorable wins for the Giants over the Cowboys since Manning and Romo became their team’s starting QBs.

January 13, 2008 Divisional Round of Playoffs

Dallas finished the regular season as the NFC leaders with a 13-3 record, three games ahead of the second place Giants. It earned Dallas a bye in the first round and the home field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

The two regular season meetings between the two squads resulted in a pair of Dallas wins – a 45-35 shootout on the first Sunday night of the season and a 31-20 Dallas win in week 10.

The final statistics of the playoff game showed Dallas with a 336-230 advantage in total yards and and 36 1/2 minutes of possession to the Giants 23 1/2. But the final score showed Giants 21 Cowboys 17.

The Giants took less than three minutes to get on the scoreboard first. Starting on their own 23, the Giants quickly moved towards midfield. Facing a 3rd-and-five from their own 43, Manning’s pass to Amani Toomer fell incomplete, but Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Ware was flagged for being offside. After Manning converted a 3rd-and-one, he found Toomer for what appeared to be a 10-yard completion.

But the Giants’ wide receiver slipped two tackles, got a big block from fullback Madison Hedgecock and raced to the end zone for a 52-yard touchdown. The drive consumed 2/3 of the Giants total yards for the day. The Cowboys answered back with a 96-yd drive that began late in the first quarter and ended on the first play of the second quarter when Romo found Terrell Owens in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown. It was a well thrown ball that went over the top of cornerback Corey Webster and settled in Owens hands just before he stepped out of bounds. The play was challenged by Giants’ coach Tom Coughlin, but was held up by review.

The Cowboys took the lead with 1:01 left in the first half on a Marion Barber 1-yard score, but the Giants move 71 yards in 36 seconds. Manning hooked up with Steve Smith on passes of 22 and 11 yards, with 15 more yards tacked on the latter play thanks to face mask penalty on DB Jacques Reeves. On 3rd-and-10, Manning found tight end Kevin Boss for 19 yards to the Cowboys’4-yard line where Manning found Toomer again to tie things up at 14 apiece.

Nick Folk‘s 34-yard FG gave the Cowboys a 17-14 lead after three quarters. After the teams exchanged punts, the Giants began the last scoring drive of the game. R.W. McQuarters returned the Cowboy’s punt 25 yards to the Dallas 37-yard line. Six plays later, Brandon Jacobs punched it in from the one to give the Giants a 21-17 lead.

The Cowboys were forced to punt in their first two possessions of the final quarter, but a Matt McBriar punt trapped the Giants back on their own 12-yard line with 3:46 left in regulation. The Cowboys defense got the job done – holding the Giants to a three-and-out – and took over at the Giants 48 after a Jeff Feagles punt. Romo found tight end/Giants killer Jason Witten for 18 yards to the Giants 22-yard line, but Dallas faced a fourth down after a short gain and two incompletions. Romo threw into double coverage in the endzone in attempt to find Terry Glenn, but McQuarters intercepted the pass to seal the Giants victory.

The Giants then beat Green Bay on the road and topped the previously unbeaten New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.


December 11, 2011

The week 13 matchup had a big impact on the three-way battle between the Giants, Cowboys, and Eagles for the NFC East lead . The Cowboys  entered the game at 7-5, while the Giants struggled their way to a 6-6 mark through 12 games. The game was about offense, with more than combined  700 total yards. Mannings’ 47-yard TD pass to Mario Manningham had given the Giants a 22-20 lead after three quarters.

But the Cowboys first drive of the 4th quarter resulted in a TD that took less than two minutes to complete. The big play was a 74-yard completion from Romo to receiver Laurent Robinson that set up a 6-yard TD pass to Miles Austin.

On the ensuing drive, the Giants moved from their own 20 to the Dallas 22, but Manning’s pass for D.J. Ware was picked off by Sean Lee and return 30 yards to the Giants 49. After a 1-yard loss, Romo and Dez Bryant hooked up on a 50-yard touchdown pass that put Dallas up 34-22 with just 5:52 to play. The Giants quickly countered back with a pair of completions to Cruz and another to Hakeem Nicks that moved the ball to the Cowboys 32. A 24 completion to Nicks gave them a first down at the Cowboys 8-yard line. Two plays later, Manning connected with tight end Jake Ballard to cut the lead to 34-29 with 3:20 left in the 4th.

The Giants had two timeouts and the two minute warning remaining when the Cowboys got the ball at their own 20-yard line following a touchback. The Giants got what they needed, a three-and-out series, and Coughlin used one of his remaining timeouts to stop the clock. A poor punt by McBride gave the Giants the ball at their own 42 with 2:12 left in regulation.

Manning hit Ballard with a 21-yard completion and then the  Giants moved five more yards on Ware’s second offsides penalty of the game. With the ball on the Dallas 24-yard line and incomplete pass was negated by a defensive holding penalty on cornerback Frank Walker. The automatic first down moved the ball to the 19 and then Manning found Ballard again for an 18-yard gain to the 1. Now it was Dallas’ turn to burn their second timeout with one minute left in regulation.

On his second attempt, Brandon Jacobs carried the ball across the end zone for a go ahead touchdown. The Giants tacked on a two-point conversion when DJ Ware went through right tackle to find the end zone.  A 12-point deficit turned inito a 3-point Giants’ lead in four minutes-fifty seconds. The Cowboys would have one more shot to keep the game going on the leg of rookie Dan Bailey, who is still a member of the Cowboys today and one of the best kickers in the league.

With the aid of 22- and 23-yard completions to Miles Austin, Romo led the Cowboys from their own 20 to the Giants 29-yard line in 38 seconds. Romo spiked the ball to stop the clock with eight seconds remaining in the 4th quarter as Bailey trotted on to the field. Just before the ball was snapped, the Giants used their final timeout. Already in motion, Bailey kicked the ball right down the middle, but the field goal didn’t count. On his second attempt, the Giants’ Jason Pierre-Paul partially blocked the kick and the Giants had their victory.

New Years Day, 2012

The final game of the season would determine which team, the Giants or Cowboys, would go to the playoff and which team would go home. Both teams entered the January 1, 2012 contest with 8-7 records. The game was three weeks after the Giants surprise come from behind road victory in Dalass.

Unlike their previous meeting, however, this game was primarily in the Giants control.. With the game scoreless midway through the 1st quarter, the Giants got the ball on their own 4-yard line. Manning completed a 3rd-and-9 pass to tight end Bear Pascoe to keep possession of the football. In the previous week’s win over the New York Jets, Cruz took a short pass and turned it into a 90-yard TD reception. Against the Cowboys he did it again. On 3rd-and-1, Manning found Cruz at the Giants 31-yard line. With the help of a block, the sasa-dancing receiver blew past the defense and ran 74 yards for the first score of the day.

The Giants quickly got the ball back when defense held the Cowboys to a three-and-out. The Giants used a 10 play drive that spanned the first and second quarters to take a 14-0 lead. Ahmad Bradshaw finished the drive off with a 5-yard TD run.

The Giants last possession of the half resulted in another Bradshaw touchdown. The Gmen went 80 yards, thanks in part to a Bradshaw 29-yard run, and scored when Manning tossed a short pass to Bradshaw that resulted in a 12-yard TD. Bailey had a rare miss, from 52 yards, to keep Dallas off the scoreboard in the first half.

The Cowboys finally came alive in the third quarter. On their first possession, which began at their own 6-yard line, Dallas drove to the Giants’ 34. Romo then hooked up with Robinson for a 34-yard scoring play. The score would remain 21-7 until the 4th quarter when the Cowboys took over at the Giants 26-yard line after a short Steve Weatherford punt and a 13-yard Dez Bryant return. Three plays later, Romo and Robinson again combined for a score, this time a 6-yard TD pass. Up 21-14, the Giants suddenly found themselves in a much tougher situation.

A Lawrence Tynes‘ field goal added some breathing room and the Giants held the Cowboys to a punt on the ensuing possession aided by a Chris Canty sack. Chris Jones shanked the punt and the Giants got he ball at the Cowboys 45-yard line. After a couple of Bradsaw runs netted five yards, Manning threw to Nicks for a 36 yard gain to the Cowboys 4. After a Dallas timeout, Manning went to Nicks again for a touchdown.

The Cowboys got the ball back, down 10 with 3:46 remaining in regulation. The Cowboys got out to their own 46 before Justin Tuck strip-sacked Romo and the Giants’ Matthias Kiwanuka fell on the ball to  put the finishing touches on the Giants win.

The Giants topped the Falcons at home, Green Bay and San Francisco on the road, and topped the Patriots in the Super Bowl for the second time five seasons.

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Drew Sarver is the founder, publisher, managing editor, and a contributor for Designated For Assignment. He can be followed on twitter at @mypinstripes and @d4assignment or contacted by email at dsarver@d4assignment.com.