Thursday, April 24, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Sports rings out the year with some odd bounces

By
January 01, 2014 | Leave Comment

The story had all the elements of a Cold War thriller: a wealthy American businessman, Russian leadership at the highest levels, diplomatic intrigue and purloined jewels.

Regrettably, there was no romantic subplot. But if the movie rights on this are ever sold, that will be an easy addition to the script.

The mystery of Robert Kraft’s wayward Super Bowl ring was one of many odd places sports wandered into in 2013:

A suspect in Vancouver’s 2011 Stanley Cup riots was identified as a former Miss Congeniality beauty pageant winner; a top high school girls’ basketball team in Iowa featured four sets of sisters; ski star Lindsey Vonn was called off a New York red carpet at a Lincoln Center fashion gathering for a random drug test.

The Tigers’ Torii Hunter missed a game because of an Achilles tendon injury caused by wearing dress shoes that were too tight; Jets coach Rex Ryan ran with the bulls in Pamplona, his team unable to run with the Bears, Broncos and Bengals; and the world’s oldest marathoner, Indian-born Fauju Singh, decided enough was enough and stopped running at 101.

“I will miss it,” he said.

Kraft’s saga begins in June in one of New York’s finest hotels. The owner of the New England Patriots is speaking at a gala where he is being honored. He regales the guests by telling them how one of his Super Bowl rings wound up on display at the Kremlin.

Kraft says he was visiting St. Petersburg with a business delegation in 2005 when he was introduced to Vladimir Putin and showed the Russian president the diamond-encrusted ring.

“I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket,” Kraft said, as quoted by the New York Post. “And three KGB guys got around him and walked out.”

At the time, Kraft said it was a gift but would later say he wanted the ring back. The White House, he suggests, thought it best for him to say this was indeed a gift and not stir political relations.

Days later, the story shifts across the Atlantic. Putin is in London and his spokesman is asked about the Tale of the Ring. Dmitry Peskov tells The Associated Press he was there when Putin met Kraft. Peskov dismisses the entire episode as a matter better suited for a “detailed talk with psychoanalysts.”

Or comedians.

Kraft spokesman Stacey James calls this an “anecdotal” story the owner plays for laughs. Putin soon weighs in dryly on this “complicated international problem.” He says, in fact, he doesn’t remember Kraft. But, Putin adds, if this ring is “so valuable,” he’s happy to make amends and order him some jewelry.

This was not the only puzzling intersection between sports and politics in 2013.

Dennis Rodman, of course, landed in the unlikely spot of North Korea. The former NBA star, for whom flamboyance is an understatement, was wined and dined during his mission of basketball diplomacy by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Rodman, who knows about winning titles with the Chicago Bulls, later seemed miffed he did not win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Also miffed was Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov. During a Russian league soccer game he became incensed that the captain of Terek Grozny was ejected. Kadyrov grabbed a microphone and roared to the fans: “The ref’s been bought off! You’re an ass!” On reflection, he called his response “a cry from the soul.”

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came in peace to a Knicks game last January at Madison Square Garden. A courtside waitress stopped by to take orders, although it’s not clear if it was for the mayor. Stephen Jackson of the Spurs crashed into the waitress and left the game with a sprained ankle. Bloomberg shortly after was seen eating popcorn.

The law found some players in curious spots, notably Kobe Bryant.

The Lakers’ star became entangled in a lawsuit involving his mother. At issue was whether a New Jersey auction house could sell some of his memorabilia his mother offered for sale. The parties settled, but there was this entry in court papers: “Mom, I never told you that you could have the memorabilia,” and Pamela Bryant responded, “Yes, but you never said you wanted it, either.”

Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison was charged under one of the more obscure laws on the books — barking at a police dog. According to authorities, Morrison was walking by an open window of a police car. He decided to bark at the dog; the dog decided to bark back. A deputy arrested Morrison. The charges were dropped, and it was acknowledged a warning to the barking player would have been more appropriate.

Two Australian Rules football players thought they’d have some good fun. Josh Caddy and Billie Smedts donned ski masks and broke into a teammate’s house. One problem: Caddy and Smedts were at the wrong address. Police, with guns drawn, soon arrested them.

Embarrassments, not just from pranks gone wrong, came in all forms.

The commissioner of Japanese baseball, Ryozo Kato, introduced a new, livelier ball. There was, however, an omission. He didn’t notify the players. Kato apologized and said he would have to “carefully reflect on my responsibility to the game.”

A fourth-division Brazilian soccer club was tossed from the playoffs after its masseur jumped on the field. The masseur, Romildo da Silva, took his spot in the vacated goal and proceeded to make two key saves. Opposing players chased him off the field, and police arrested him for his own protection.

Nigerian soccer had its own mess. Two lower-league games that ended in scores of 79-0 and 67-0 were found to be fixed. Lifetime player bans and team suspensions followed. The Nigerian federation decried the games as a “mind-boggling show of shame.”

Most athletes serve up boilerplate cliches in postgame comments. But some reveal perhaps more than they should.

Consider mixed-martial arts fighter Nick Diaz. While discussing his loss in a title bout in Montreal, he talked about his financial situation.

“I just have to invest a little bit more, now that I have a little bit more money,” he said. “You know what? I’ve never paid taxes in my life. I’m probably going to jail.”

Tennis star Richard Gasquet took a deep philosophical turn after his five-set loss to Stanislas Wawrinka at the French Open. When asked to describe where the pain from the defeat hurt most, he said: “In the soul, for sure.”

Sports promotions came in all sizes and tastes.

Kansas State lured fans to its women’s basketball opener by giving away 300 pounds of bacon. The Florence Freedom, a Kentucky minor league baseball team, saw the Manti Te’o fictional girlfriend story as too good to pass up. It was offering a bobblehead of the “girlfriend.” The boxes, however, would be empty. The minor league Lehigh Valley IronPigs enticed fans with a free funeral in a promotion the club said represented not outside-the-box thinking, but “inside the box.”

Sometimes, in sports, it’s all about luck. It sure didn’t start out that way for Mark Mihal. With winter ending, the mortgage broker was looking forward to the year’s first round of golf.

He was playing in Waterloo, Ill., outside St. Louis, and doing well. But while he was considering his next shot from the fairway of the 14th hole he plunged into an 18-foot sinkhole. He was trapped in darkness and mud, and screaming. It took about 20 minutes before his friends could yank him out with a rope.

Mihal wound up with a busted shoulder but knows it could have been a lot worse. He has played this layout many times. Now he wonders if he’ll be back.

“I love the course,” he says. “But I would have a tough time walking down that hole again.”

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Travis lines up 2 days of aviation excellence

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Congressman talks Travis, water

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Appreciate how good we have it now

By Angela Borchert | From Page: A2

 
 
Dixon May Fair has deals on advance tickets

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Garamendi talks love, pro football and Peace Corps

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

All Things Art Festival organizers seek artists, vendors

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Author to sign books at Vacaville Museum

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

Kroc Center women schedule inaugural Taster Tea

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Theme park welcomes seal pup

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

Mother’s Day fair returns to Suisun waterfront

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A4

 
Docents to lead paddling tour in marsh

By Adrienne Harris | From Page: A4

Juneteenth committee extends vendors, exhibitors deadline

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Congressional Art Competition is back

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Spilled tomato juice case set for trial

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
Fairfield police log: April 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: April 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: April 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: April 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Weather for Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B12

 
.

US / World

Syrian activists accuse Assad of new gas attacks

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
Airport official: Teen had no clue he was in Maui

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Murder charge for Vallejo man in head-on crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California bill reignites affirmative action fight

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Andy Lopez protest leads to school campus lockdown

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
Navy Cross bestowed on heroic Marine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Bashtag: NYPD Twitter campaign backfires

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Soldier convicted in WikiLeaks case gets new name

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

US weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Gun carry rights expanded in Ga. under new law

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

First lady announces one-stop job site for vets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Rail safety effort marred by squabbling

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Small Wyoming town evacuated after gas explosion

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Camilla’s brother dies in US after head injury

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Lawyer: US man held in Cuba seeks to go home soon

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Captain who left doomed ferry had 40 years at sea

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Russian social media CEO quits, flees country

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Amid Russia warning, Ukraine is in a security bind

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Palestinian rivals to try again for unity deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
State senators get ethics training after scandals

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12, 2 Comments

.

Opinion

Some Earth Day boos and cheers

By Jay Ambrose | From Page: A11

 
Question of the week: Will Flight 370 be found?

By Daily Republic | From Page: A11

Be the first and give specifics

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

 
What we can do about crime

By Kelvin Wade | From Page: A11, 3 Comments

Castro at odds with mentor on deportations

By Ruben Navarrette | From Page: A11

 
.

Living

Today in History for April 24, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 24, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

When Joe’s mad at me, he also ignores my 7-year-old son

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes for April 24, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Amazon snares classic shows in deal with HBO

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Jodie Foster weds artist Alexandra Hedison

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Singer Chris Brown’s DC trial delayed for months

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Performing dogs go big after $1 million TV prize

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
.

Sports

Girls soccer update: Armijo, Vanden on way to playoffs

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Mustangs swim to sweep of Indians

By Marcus Lomtong | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Warriors, Clippers to meet in Oakland for Game 3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Sharks confident with chance to sweep LA Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Perez helps Rangers sweep A’s with 3-0 win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Party a century in the making for Wrigley Field

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

A’s reject 10-year Coliseum lease offer

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Prep softball: Vanden rolls to 14-0 win over Fairfield

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Prep badminton: Unbeaten Mustangs cruise past Crushers

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

Prep boys golf: Vikings suffer SCAC loss to Panthers

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Sanchez’s slam in 11th helps Giants beat Rox 12-10

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

Prep track: Armijo girls get win in MEL 4-way meet

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

 
Emmert supports more efficient, effective NCAA

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Phelps having fun in his return to swimming

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Suns’ Dragic honored as NBA’s Most Improved Player

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Seahawks to open NFL season vs. Packers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Oldest living ex-MLB player dies in Cuba at 102

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

 
.

Business

Wellness programs grow more popular with employers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Apple increases stock buyback, will split stock

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Sales of new US homes plunge 14.5 percent in March

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Buffett disapproves of Coca-Cola’s pay plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Amazon snares classic shows in deal with HBO

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
US stocks edge lower after a six-day rise

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Facebook 1Q results soar; CFO to step down

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
.

Obituaries

Phyllis J. Miller

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Jean Sophia Ruckdeshel

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Robert James Carty Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Dondi Martin

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard Of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9