INDIANAPOLIS -- In the winter of 2006, Frank Vogel took a call from an old friend: Louisville head coach Rick Pitino. Nearly a year earlier, Vogel had been part of a purge in Philadelphia that saw Jim O'Brien fired, and Vogel, his promising young assistant, pushed out along with him. Pitino, who had just lost one of his top lieutenants, Kevin Willard, to the University of Delaware, was calling to offer Vogel, his former video coordinator in Boston, a job on his staff. Vogel was ready to accept -- until Delaware rescinded the offer to Willard, citing a DUI arrest in 2004.
The Walk-Off is your end-of-the-day collection of news and gossip from the world of baseball, plus the best of the blogosphere and other assorted goodness.
IMPORTANT: MLB is moving forward with new posting system, but it's still unclear whether Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka will come to America for the 2014 season. [Yahoo Sports]
GOSSIP: After getting Mark Trumbo, the Arizona Diamondbacks aren't done yet. They're determined to add a front-line starter before leaving the winter meetings. [MLB.com]
GOOD READ: The Rays will deal David Price, the question is when. The Mariners are still the most likely destination. [Tampa Bay Times]
GOSSIP: Red Sox have pulled out of Matt Kemp trade talks. [@JonHeymanCBS]
COMING UP: Home-plate collisions will be discussed Thursday in front of the Playing Rules Committee. Some think a ban might be coming. [MLB.com]
THE CARDINAL WAY: St. Louis skipper Mike Matheny wants to help newly signed Jhonny Peralta "move on" from PED controversy. [MLB.com]
TRADE REACTION OF THE DAY: With apologies to Adam Eaton, Twitter funny man/new Rockies pitcher Brett Anderson wins. [@BrettAnderson49]
Peyton Manning and I are going to become best friends...fact.
- Brett Anderson (@BrettAnderson49) December 10, 2013
Excited for a fresh start with the Rockies...I bet I look good in purple. - Brett Anderson (@BrettAnderson49) December 10, 2013
SHENANIGANS: Ranking the MLB managers by handsomeness. [Hardball Talk]
BLAST FROM THE PAST: We ranked MLB's GMs by sexiness last year. [Yahoo Sports]
LOOK AT THIS: The left-field wall in Wrigley without ivy. [Reddit]
QUOTE OF THE DAY: I learned it from watching you, Jim Leyland. [@amandarykoff]
McClendon jokes about learning from Leyland: "I've learned how to smoke cigars in my underpants." #Mariners
- Amanda Rykoff (@amandarykoff) December 10, 2013
GOOD READ(S): Baseball writer Roger Angell won the J. G. Taylor Spink Award, earning him recognition in the Hall of Fame. Read some of his best work. [The New Yorker]
The Washington Redskins lead the league in drama over the past couple weeks, and Mike Shanahan will invite in some more in the form of a controversial quarterback move.
Kirk Cousins will start over Robert Griffin III at quarterback, according to multiple reports including ESPN and the Washington Post. The Post said the plan to start Cousins was "tentative." Fox Sports reported that Griffin will have a chance to state his case and change Shanahan's mind. Because, sure. Only with the Redskins.
Shanahan brought up the possibility on Monday when asked, and said if Griffin were to sit down it would be for health reasons. He has taken a lot of hits in the past few weeks, and Shanahan said he wanted to make sure Griffin gets through the season healthy so he has a full offseason to work on his game. Shanahan said if Cousins starts this week, and it appears that's his choice, then Griffin would be shut down for the rest of the season.
That makes sense, but there's also a valid question of whether Shanahan is doing this now as some kind of final act of defiance or as a passive aggressive way of getting himself fired. Shanahan is clearly on the hot seat after a 3-10 start and it's hard to imagine he's back next year to enjoy the benefits of Griffin's full offseason. However, Shanahan did say Monday that he discussed the possibility of shutting down Griffin with owner Daniel Snyder.
Shanahan does have a point, and one would like to think he's doing this to benefit his young star, the 2012 NFL offensive rookie of the year. Griffin tore his ACL in a playoff loss last year. He spent all offseason rehabbing his knee instead of learning the nuances of the quarterback position, which basically sentenced him to a second rookie season in terms of his progress. He didn't have a chance to improve in areas like diagnosing coverages and making progression reads, because he barely practiced all offseason. That's not his fault, of course, but a full offseason to do that should put him righ
Ottawa Senators defenseman Jared Cowen needs a time out.
His elbow that concussed Pavel Datsyuk last month was seen by the NHL Department of Player Safety as "a natural reflex for a defenseman and not a "predator-like elbow. Essentially, they gave Cowen the benefit of the doubt on a play that injured one of the Red Wings' star players.
Cowen squandered that reprieve on Tuesday night against the Buffalo Sabres, with a head shot on Buffalo Sabres center Zemgus Girgensons in the third period. Girgensons remained in the game, and there wasn't a penalty, but Cowen has a Department of Player Safety hearing on Wednesday for this hit (found at 1:15 of the following video, via Kukla's Korner):
No question that the head is the principle point of contact there.
Meanwhile, the NHL will also have a hearing for Richard Panik of the Tampa Bay Lightning, for crushing Washington Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner along the boards in the Caps' shootout win. He was given a 5-minute major:
Rather blatant, rather reckless, given Alzner's distance from the boards.
We'd expect this one to earn Panik two games, as that's been the going rate for boarding calls. As for Cowen, no less than three games would be a surprise, given the warning we imagine he received after the Datsyuk "reflex.
It is undeniable that we all get excited to attend any sports event. But it is also true that a proper knowledge of the game makes it even more interesting. Motor races are not any exception. You can get the most of it only when you know what is happening. So check out for some proper strategies.
Roberto Di Matteo's reluctance to deal with dissent in the Chelsea dressing room is both surprising and worrying for his future at the club. After Saturday's 2-1 defeat at West Brom, it was very surprising to hear him admit it ... Continue reading ...
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