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Gordon says he felt alienated during suspension

BEREA, Ohio (AP) As his teammates and coaches went about their season, Josh Gordon felt like an outsider.

He was exiled on his own team.

Unable to practice or play during his 10-game NFL suspension, the star wide receiver was so isolated that he said it felt as if he had contracted an illness. No one wanted to be near him. He was alone, on a separate schedule and Gordon said he felt relationships change. He knew he had to prove himself again.

What Gordon didn't realize was that his standing inside the locker room had been unshaken.

"I don't think he ever lost our trust," Browns Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas said. "He made some poor choices, I'm sure he'll admit to them. But throughout his suspension, with the things that he did and the way he conducted and handled himself and came back in shape, he proved that he was a new person that had grown up from the situations."

Gordon came back from his suspension for marijuana abuse last week and shined in his first game. He caught eight passes for 120 yards in Cleveland's 26-24 win over Atlanta, a victory that shoved the Browns (7-4) into the thick of the AFC playoff race.

It was a welcomed return for Gordon, who did it with such ease that Thomas had no idea he had been so productive.

"I went home and my wife said, `Wasn't it great having Josh back?"' Thomas said, "and I said, `He didn't really do anything, right?' She said, `He had 120 yards.' I'm like, `Really?"'

Gordon didn't speak with reporters on Wednesday, excusing himself from a crowd gathered around his locker by walking a down-and-out route through the exit door.

Earlier, in an interview with former teammate Nate Burleson for the NFL Network, Gordon said the "lowest point" of his suspension was when he felt friends - and the Browns - distance themselves from him.

"I don't want to throw names around but I can see it," Gordon told Burleson, who was with Cleveland during training camp and became close with Gordon. "I'm definitely really observant so I see how people might just be more standoffish as they were before. It's kind of like a disease. People they want to see it but they don't really want to touch it."

Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer can relate to Gordon's feelings of separation. While he was rehabbing a season-ending knee injury in 2013, Hoyer felt similarly secluded despite being with a team.

"When you're in the building but you're not really a part of the team, you kind of feel like things are going on without you. It's a terrible feeling," he said. "You see your teammates going about the business that they do every day and you want to be a part of it, but you're really not."

Browns coach Mike Pettine said it would be natural for anyone to feel as Gordon did. Although he may have been around, Gordon, who was not permitted to practice or lift weights with his teammates during his ban, was not part of the weekly buildup for a game. He didn't feel as if he belonged.

"I can just see from a human nature standpoint maybe feeling that way," he said. "Knowing the quality of the people in this building, I doubt there would be any overt maliciousness. I know Josh is well liked by his teammates."

Like Thomas, Hoyer said Gordon doesn't have to earn back anything.

"He's done his time," Hoyer said. "We welcomed him back with open arms, not just because of the player he is, but we all know the type of person Josh is. He's a great guy. He's a great part of this team and he's a big part of this locker room. We knew he'd come back humble, hungry, and you can see it on the field."

NOTES: Pettine has not seen the video of quarterback Johnny Manziel's "scuffle" in a downtown hotel last week. Police were called to a luxury hotel where Manziel has an apartment early Saturday morning to break up a fight. Pettine said Manziel's playing status remains the same. "Are we disappointed? I think we've already expressed that," Pettine said. "But to me it doesn't affect his status." ... LB Karlos Dansby (knee) hopes to play this week in Buffalo. Dansby missed last week's game, but has been making steady progress. LB Jabaal Sheard (foot) and S Tashaun Gipson (knee) did not practice. Pettine said the team can wait another week before deciding whether to put Gipson, who leads the NFL with six interceptions, on injured reserve.

Wed, 26 Nov 2014 23:00:00 +0000
Report: Tomas in process of deal with Arizona

Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas is in the process of agreeing to a $68.5 million, six-year contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, according to a person familiar with the negotiations.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the deal had not yet been completed. The person said several additional steps were necessary but the agreement was likely to be finalized in the next few days.

MLB.com reported Wednesday a deal had been agreed to.

Tomas, 24, hit .375 (6 for 16) for Cuba with two homers and five RBIs in last year's World Baseball Classic.

He would join an outfield hampered last season by injuries to Mark Trumbo (stress fracture in left foot) and A.J. Pollock (broken right hand), who both missed about half the season. Trumbo, Ender Inciarte and Cody Ross have been Arizona's top projected corner outfielders.

Arizona went a major league-worst 64-98 last season, fired manager Kirk Gibson and reassigned general manager Kevin Towers, who left to becomes a Cincinnati Reds' special assistant. Former big league pitcher Dave Stewart was hired as the Diamondbacks' GM under Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa and Chip Hale took over as manager.

In Stewart's first major move, Arizona acquired pitcher Jeremy Hellickson from Tampa for a pair of minor league prospects.

In total dollars among Cuban players, Tomas' deal would fall just short of the $72.5 million, seven-year contract agreed to in August between outfielder Rusney Castillo and the Boston Red Sox. The $11.42 million average would be just above first baseman Jose Abreu's $11.33 million average in the $68 million, six-year deal he agreed to with the Chicago White Sox in October 2011. Abreu went on to win AL Rookie of the Year.

Thu, 27 Nov 2014 00:06:00 +0000
No. 6 Louisville holds on as Pitino wins 700th career game

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Montrezl Harrell had 15 points and 13 rebounds and No. 6 Louisville beat Cleveland State 45-33 on Wednesday night for coach Rick Pitino's 700th college victory.

One of five active Hall of Fame coaches and among four in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Pitino is 700-245 overall and 346-117 in 14 seasons with the Cardinals.

Chris Jones added 11 points, and freshman Chinanu Onuaku blocked seven shots for the Cardinals (5-0), who needed a lot of defense to put away the determined Vikings two nights after beating Savannah State by 61 points.

Cold shooting and missed free throws by Louisville allowed Cleveland State (2-3) to stay close throughout and trail just 33-29 with 12 minutes remaining.

But the Vikings made just two of their next 14 shots after that, and the Cardinals pulled away despite their lowest scoring output this season.

Thu, 27 Nov 2014 02:16:00 +0000
Sherman calls out NFL in presser with Baldwin

RENTON, Wash. (AP) With the help of a cardboard cutout, the Seattle Seahawks' Richard Sherman and Doug Baldwin took digs at the NFL during a news conference on Tuesday after the league issued a $100,000 fine to teammate Marshawn Lynch for not speaking to the media.

Sherman and Baldwin made mention of everything from the league's sponsorship deals with major beer companies to their own personal endorsements that are not affiliated with the NFL, to the talk of player safety with the Seahawks about to play their second game in five days.

The point of their performance seemed to be that whatever they said - real or satirical - it would not be a violation of the league's media policy on speaking with reporters.

"The other day Marshawn Lynch got fined $100,000. Did you know that, $100,000?" Sherman said. "And it's like they wouldn't have paid him $100,000 if he had talked. If he had spoken, Doug do you think they would have paid him $100,000?"

Baldwin responded, "No, they sure wouldn't have."

The duo spoke for about 2 1/2 minutes ahead of Thursday's NFC championships game rematch against San Francisco. Baldwin hid behind a cutout of himself, with Sherman standing to the side of the podium and taking the lead as the pair bantered.

Sherman took only one question, and after the pair referenced a number of personal sponsors - many of which are not NFL sponsors - walked off without speaking about the matchup with the 49ers. The pair prepped briefly and notified the companies they were going to mention ahead of time.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll told San Francisco reporters he had not seen the performance.

"It's fun to use your time in the NFL to speak about something you care about, right? Right?" Sherman said in his back-and-forth with Baldwin. "Because then you don't get fined $100,000. You don't get fined at all for this. This is how they want us to talk, right? This is what they want us to do. They want us to advertise, right Doug?"

Their targets were wide ranging, including headphones, soup, clothing, sandwiches and juice. The cardboard cutout of Baldwin was actually an advertisement that's also on display at Subway restaurants in the Seattle area.

Sherman immediately mentioned his endorsement deal with Beats by Dre. The league has an agreement with Bose.

The league has told players they cannot wear unauthorized equipment until 90 minutes after the completion of games. San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick was fined earlier this year for wearing Beats headphones during a postgame news conference.

"The league doesn't let me say anything about them. Why is that?" Sherman asked.

Baldwin's response: "I don't know. Sounds kind of hypocritical to me."

Sherman made note of Campbell's Soup - another personal endorsement - and how it could be helpful with cold and flu season approaching.

"Speaking of health, how do you feel about the NFL making you play two games in five days?" Baldwin asked.

"I almost didn't realize that because they've been talking about player safety so much," Sherman responded. "It's like two games in five days doesn't seem like you care about player safety. It's a little bit much for me."

Wed, 26 Nov 2014 01:13:34 +0000
Red Sox introduce new signings Sandoval, Hanley Ramirez

BOSTON (AP) Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez spent the last two seasons as NL West rivals. Now they're teammates in Boston, the result of a $183 million spending spree the Red Sox are hoping will lift them out of the AL East cellar.

"It's exciting for me to be with Hanley and David Ortiz," Sandoval said Tuesday at Fenway Park after finishing up a five-year, $95 million contract that adds him to a lineup he called "The Three Amigos."

About five hours later, the Red Sox completed their day-night news conference doubleheader by announcing Ramirez's four-year deal, which is worth $88 million. A former Red Sox prospect, Ramirez was traded to the Marlins nine Thanksgivings ago in a deal that brought Mike Lowell and Josh Beckett to Boston.

"Why not go back where you belong?" Ramirez said. "It worked out for the both of us: You guys won a couple of world championships. I haven't won any, but that's what I'm here for."

Sandoval helped the Giants win three titles, earning the World Series MVP in 2012 and the nickname "Kung Fu Panda" that helped cement him as a fan favorite. He thanked the Giants for bringing him up as a big leaguer and Giants' fans for their support.

"I want a new challenge. I need a new challenge," he said at his afternoon news conference. "I know that I had a great career in San Francisco. But I'm going to have a new one here."

Sandoval helps fill a hole in the Red Sox lineup for a third baseman and a left-handed bat. Ramirez, who played shortstop and a little third base with the Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers, is expected to move to left field.

"You're always trying to get a sense of where they might fit in," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We're not even at Thanksgiving yet. The potential for some other additions might exist."

Sandoval's deal includes a team option for 2020 and Ramirez's contract has a vesting option for 2019.

A 28-year-old Venezuelan listed at 5-foot-11 and 248 pounds, Sandoval was seen as a potential replacement at designated hitter when Ortiz retires. But Sandoval said he plans to manage his weight so he can remain in the field.

Both players praised Ortiz, and Ramirez also said Dustin Pedroia helped recruit him to Boston.

"He said, `I've got two rings. You don't have any. I want some more,"' Ramirez said. "That kind of thing pumps you up."

Sandoval said Ortiz gave him advice when he was in the minor leagues that he has carried with him. Having a chance to play with Ortiz, who was the Series MVP in 2013, was a factor that attracted him to Boston.

"To be Papi's teammate - 162 games, all that with him - for me, it's going to be a very exciting time," said Sandoval, who had dinner with Ramirez on Monday night. Ramirez agreed, saying Ortiz was "like a big brother to me."

Sandoval is a career .294 hitter who had 16 homers and 73 RBIs in the regular season this year and then hit .366 in the postseason while helping the Giants win their third World Series in five years.

"He really embodies a lot of what we care about," Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington said. "He's been a big winner. He's been a performer when it counts the most. He's respected as a teammate, loves to play. We think he fits what we're all about here. We're excited to have him."

A 30-year-old infielder who has never played the outfield in 1,634 professional games, Ramirez batted .300 with 13 homers and 71 RBIs for Los Angeles this year. Cherington, who watched Ramirez learn to play shortstop in the minors, said he is confident Ramirez can take on a new position.

For now, the Red Sox are overloaded with outfielders and short on pitchers, having acquired Allen Craig and Yoenis Cespedes at the July trade deadline while shipping off four-fifths of the rotation.

"We've got a ways to go in the offseason," Farrell said.

To clear the roster spots, the Red Sox designated first baseman-catcher Ryan Lavarnway and infielder Juan Francisco for assignment.

Wed, 26 Nov 2014 00:34:00 +0000

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