Alex Rodriguez: I Was Pretty Naive … Young and Stupid

Anybody catch the A-Rod press conference? Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post asked a very good question: Why if you didn’t think what you were taking was wrong, why were you so secretive and so reluctant to ask about proper procedure during the 2001-03 seasons? Rodriguez paused for a while before answering: “That’s a good question. I knew what we were taking weren’t Tic-Tacs. I knew that it was, potentially could be something that perhaps was wrong.” Was Alex Rodriguez credible at today’s press conference?

TAMPA, Fla. — Alex Rodriguez expanded on his admission last week that he used a banned substance earlier this decade, saying a cousin injected him with an over-the-counter drug designed to give an “energy boost.”

The New York Yankees star third baseman said using the banned drug that he said he obtained from the Dominican Republic was a “stupid mistake.”

“I knew we weren’t taking Tic Tacs,” Rodriguez said.

Ready to ask questions — many questions — were the 150-200 reporters on hand at Steinbrenner Field, where satellite trucks for live transmissions already were set up at dawn. At the outset of the news conference, Rodriguez said he was “a lot nervous” and quickly added he understands the long road ahead toward earning back others’ trust in him.

Sports Illustrated broke the story on its Web site Feb. 7 that Rodriguez tested positive for a pair of steroids during baseball’s anonymous survey in 2003. Two days later, baseball’s highest-paid player acknowledged that fact in an interview with ESPN.
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McConnell picks baseball’s best ever

Jim McConnell, who writes a weekly Then & Now column, writes about the San Gabriel Valley’s best baseball players of all time. It’s a must read.


Above: The great Jackie Robinson would bat leadoff on McConnel’s all-time SGV team. Hey Orange County folks, why don’t you try coming up with a better team than this? That’s what I thought.

Here’s the starting lineup for “your” San Gabriel Valley All-Stars:

1. Jackie Robinson (Muir Tech, PCC) 2B
2. Jim Edmonds (Diamond Bar High) CF
3. Nomar Garciaparra (Whittier) SS
4. Mark McGwire (Damien High) 1B
5. Ralph Kiner (Alhambra High) LF
6. Fred Lynn (El Monte High) RF
7. Cecil Fielder (Nogales High) DH
8. Darrell Evans (Muir, PCC) 3B
9. Lance Parrish (Walnut High) C
Starting Pitcher: Ewell Blackwell (Bonita High)

Here’s the remainder of the roster:

Starting pitchers: Hank Aguirre (Keppel); Mike Garcia (San Gabriel); Mike Krukow (San Gabriel); Mike McCormick (Keppel).
Relief pitchers:Rick Aguilera (Edgewood of West Covina); Bill Campbell (Mt. SAC); Jim Gott (San Marino); Jim Merritt (West Covina); Dan Quisenberry (University of La Verne); Todd Worrell (Maranatha).
Reserve infielders: Jack Clark (Gladstone); Bobby Knoop (Montebello); Bobby Lillis (Pasadena).
Reserve outfielders: Tom Brunansky (West Covina); Johnny Lindell (Monrovia); Irv Noren (Pasadena); Albie Pearson (El Monte).
Reserve catchers: Andy Etchebarren (La Puente); Jamie Quirk (St. Paul).

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Robledo: CIF tweaks playoffs, again

FRED ROBLEDO

It’s time to scratch your head again, because the CIF-Southern
Section tweaked the boys and girls basketball playoffs in the first
of another two-year trial run. For many years the Southern Section playoff divisions were
organized by enrollment, which brought its share of problems.
Remember a few years back when Keppel had one of its best boys teams
ever, only to run into the unfair challenge of having to face Mater
Dei early in the playoffs because their enrollment numbers were
similar? There were many other cases like that, too.

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Boys Soccer: 10 area teams headed to the playoffs

Wild-card games begin Wednesday. First-round games begin Friday. All games 3 p.m.

DIVISION I
St. Francis (Mission 4) at Tesoro (South Coast 1)

DIVISION II
Alhambra (Almont 3) at Quartz Hill 1)

DIVISION IV
Winner wild-card G (Rio Mesa-Oak Park) at Pasadena (Pacific 1)

DIVISION V
Blair (Rio Hondo at-large) at Righetti (Pac 7 1)
Arroyo Grande (Pac 7 3) at Monrovia (Rio Hondo 1)
Temple City (Rio Hondo 3) at Pacific (San Andreas 1)
San Gorgonio (San Andreas 3) at La Canada (Rio Hondo 2)

DIVISION VI
Thacher (Condor 2) at Pasadena Poly (Prep 2)
Maranatha (Alpha 3) at Chadwick (Prep 1)
Beaumont (Mountain Pass 2) at Rosemead (Mission Valley 2)

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Girls Soccer: FSHA earns top-seed, Alverno gets bye

Wild-card games begin Tuesday and first-round Thursday.

DIVISION II
Winner WC “A” (Beckman-Eisenhower) vs. Flintridge Sacred Heart at St. Francis High
Arcadia (Pacific 2) at Valencia/V (Foothill 2)

DIVISION III
Estancia (Orange Coast 2) at Westridge (Prep 2)
Flintridge Prep (Prep 3) at ML King (Big VIII 2)

DIVISION IV WILD CARD

La Salle (Del Rey at-large) at Cabrillo/Lompoc (Los Padres 4), Tues., 3 p.m.

DIVISION V
Monrovia (Rio Hondo 2) at Marymount (Sunshine 2)
Ramona Convent (Sunshine 3) at Maranatha (Olympic 1)
San Marion (Rio Hondo 3) at Garden Grove (Garden Grove 1)
Orange (Golden West 3) at La Canada (Rio Hondo 1)
WILD-CARD
N. Torrance (Pioneer at-large) at South Pasadena (Rio Hondo at-large), Tues., 3 p.m.

DIVISION VI WILD CARD
Keppel (Almont 3) at Xavier College Prep (Freelance), Tues., 3 p.m.

DIVISION VII
San Gabriel Mission (Horizon 2) at Duarte (Montview 2)
Alverno bye. Next: St. Matthias-Rolling Hills Prep winner at Alverno, Feb. 24

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A-11 offense banned; horse-collar tackle penalized in many NFHS rule changes

This from Yahoo Sports: “Sad news to end the week: Everyone’s favorite crazy gimmick offense, the “All-11,” was effectively declared illegal today by the far-reaching National Federation of State High School Associations, which closed the “scrimmage kick” loophole the A-11 exploited for its existence,” reports Yahoo Sports and Rivals.com.

INDIANAPOLIS – The horse-collar tackle has been added to the list of illegal personal contact fouls in high school football.

This addition to Rule 9-4-3 was one of 10 rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Football Rules Committee at its January 24-25 meeting in Indianapolis. The rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

Effective with the 2009 season, it will be illegal to grab the inside back or side collar of the runner’s shoulder pads or jersey and subsequently pull the runner to the ground. The penalty will be 15 yards from the succeeding spot.

Julian Tackett, assistant commissioner of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association and chair of the NFHS Football Rules Committee, said the committee felt the need to continue to address risk minimization issues for the runner.

“Risk minimization continues to be one of the most important fundamentals to the rules-writing process of the NFHS,” Tackett said. “Though this play does not happen often, we must ensure that our coaches and officials understand the importance of penalizing this act.”
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Girls Basketball: Muir, Monrovia earn first-round byes

Take on a tough schedule and you can run the risk of getting drubbed, or, at season’s end, get rewarded.

The latter happened to the Muir High School girls basketball team when the CIF-Southern Section playoff pairings were released Sunday.

The Mustangs (20-3, 14-0) are the area’s highest-seeded team at No. 3 in Division III-A and earned a first-round bye. They will host the winner of Thursday’s Palm Desert-Irvine game. Saturday’s second round game is slated for 7:30 p.m.

Muir is hoping to make a long run in the playoffs after adding junior Taylor Gomez to the roster this season. She averages 11 points per game, and her deft touch complements the area’s best tandem in Eliza Pierre and Brittany Henderson.

The Mustangs, however, were not the only team to earn a first-round bye. Monrovia (17-6, 9-1) is the No. 5 seed in Division III-A. They will host the Bonita-Beckman winner Saturday.

Five area teams earned at-large berths: Flintridge Sacred Heart (Division IV-A); Maranatha (IV-A); San Marino (IV-A); Blair (IV-A); and Rio Hondo Prep (VI-AA).

Five other area teams will play home games Thursday: Alhambra (I-A); Rosemead (III-A); La Caada (IV-AA); La Salle (V-AA); and Pasadena Poly (VI-AA).

South Pasadena will visit Citrus Hill in Division IV-AA. Flintridge Sacred Heart (at 29 Palms) and Duarte (at Harvard Westlake) are on the road in Division IV-A. Flintridge Prep (at Woodcrest Christian), Westridge (at Fairmont Prep) and Marshall (at Calvary Murrieta) also hit the road in Division V-AA, respectively.

Keppel (17-10, 10-0) won its 14th straight Almont League championship and puts its 14-game winning streak on the line when they host Westlake.

The Aztecs started the season 3-10 but did not panic. They showed steady progress as the season went on and Aztecs coach Ib Belou took notice after each game.

“They didn’t give up,” he said. “Progress was being made each and every time we were on the court and to me that was the most important thing, whether we won or lost, because we knew that at some point we would get it together.”

Despite the resurgence and yet another dominating league season, Belou said Keppel, who lost in the second round last season, has yet to peak.

“Our goal was to play a perfect game,” he said. “We haven’t gotten there yet and we’re hoping it comes in our fifth game.”

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Boys Basketball: Was Blair robbed of CIF playoff berth?

There was a little bit of everything to go around, including both pleasant and unpleasant surprises when the CIF-Southern Section boys basketball playoff pairings were released Sunday.

The season continues for 18 area teams, including Keppel which was hoping to receive an at-large berth in Division II-A after a fourth-place finish in the Almont League, and it did.

First round actions begins Wednesday with all games slated for 7:30 p.m.

The Aztecs (16-10, 4-6) will visit Summitt, the Sunkist League champion.

“We’re trying to get as much experience as we can,” Keppel coach Hung Duong said, “and a chance to get to the playoffs will be a great experience for our young players.”

There was no surprise in that Pasadena, the area’s top-ranked team, earned the highest seeding of the 18 teams heading to the playoffs.

The Bulldogs (21-5, 14-0) earned a No. 6 seed in the rigorous Division I-AA, which includes the nation’s No. 1 team in the country, Mater Dei.

Alhambra’s gutsy performance, led by Aeric Allen’s 30 points, in the regular-season finale victory last week over Keppel propelled the Moors league champions and an opportunity to host a first round game against Roosevelt, the Big VIII League’s fourth-place team.

Despite finishing third in the Rio Hondo League and having its seven-year lock on the league title snapped, La Caada will host Santa Maria instead of making the trek.

Along with Keppel, Gabrielino (Division III-A), Don Bosco Tech (Division IV-AA), South Pasadena (Division IV-AA), Maranatha (Division IV-A) and Rio Hondo Prep (Division VI-AA) all earned at-large berths as well as St. Francis (Division IV-AA) who finished 10-15 overall and 3-11 in Mission League play.

But one team who missed out on an at-large berth was Blair (13-10, 4-6).

Of the 12 teams that earned at-large berths in Division IV-A, 11 teams finished with sub. 500 records.

The Vikings split with second-place Monrovia (Division III-A) and fifth-place South Pasadena (8-19, 3-6), which earned an at-large berth in Division IV-AA, a higher division that Blair which is based on school enrollment, a process that started this year.

Blair coach Gamall Smalley went to Rainer Wulf for answers. Wulf is an assistant commissioner in charge of basketball.

“I explained to him our situation and he said himself that it doesn’t sound right,” Smalley said, “but that they had a committee that made the decision and (Wulf) couldn’t really answer anything.

“He did try to go find answers, talked to some of the members of the committee, and they said we had lost to Banning. But we never played Banning. That goes to show whatever they’re using is wrong.”

Smalley wasn’t angry but was disappointed with how things came about.

“They can’t rectify it,” he said. “The only thing they can do is make sure the committee double checks next time. Obviously they missed the boat on this and it makes you wonder who sits on the committee.

“They said we lost to Banning and that really brought my curiosity up. I think they really made a mistake on this one.”

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CIF boys and girls basketball playoff pairings released

Click here for the entire basketball playoff pairings

Here are the matchups involving area teams. All games Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise noted.

BOYS BASKETBALL
DIVISION I-AA
Vista Murrieta (Southwestern 3) at Pasadena (Pacific 1)

DIVISION I-A
Roosevelt (Big VIII 4) at Alhambra (Almont 1)

DIVISION II-A
Keppel (Almont At-large) at Summitt (Sunkist 1)

DIVISION III-AA
Santa Maria (Los Padres 3) at La Canada (Rio Hondo 3)

DIVISION III-A
Gahr (San Gabriel Valley at-large) at Monrovia (Rio Hondo 2)
Gabrielino (Mission Valley at-large) at Harvard-Westlake (Mission 1)
Pacifica/GG (Empire at-large) at Temple City (Rio Hondo 1)

DIVISION IV-AA
St. Francis (Mission at-large) at Santa Paula (Frontier 2)
JSerra (Trinity at-large) at Rosemead (Mission Valley 2)
Don Bosco Tech (Camino Real At-large) at Inglewood (Ocean 1)
South Pasadena (Rio Hondo at-large) at Lompoc (Los Padres 1)

DIVISION IV-A
Chaminade (Mission 4) at Marshall (Delphic 3)
La Salle (Camino Real 3) at Bishop Union (High Desert 3)
Maranatha (Alpha at-large) at Salesian (Santa Fe 1)

DIVISION V-AA
Providence (Liberty at-large) at Flintridge Prep (Prep 1)

DIVISION V-A
San Gabriel Academy (Westside 4) at Aquinas (Christian 1)
Sherman Indian (Arrowhead 3) at Pasadena Poly (Prep 2)

DIVISION VI-AA
Rio Hondo Prep (Prep at-large) at California Military Institute (Majestic 2)

CLICK ON THREAD FOR GIRLS BASKETBALL PAIRINGS
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