Postseason Anthem! The Giants get some support from the bluegrass world

15 Oct

I've often said the one area where Big League Stew really falls short is that we don't feature enough bluegrass music on the site. Think about it: Have you ever seen someone whaling away on a washboard and not had your day brightened? There's no way BLS wouldn't jump to the next level if Dave Brown starts bringing a juice harp to every Answer Man session.

Until then, we'll just have to enjoy this postseason anthem from Hot Buttered Rum, a great group of bluegrass musicians who are getting their inner Andy Bernard on in support of the San Francisco Giants. The video above is the NLCS version of "The Penannt" while the successful NLDS edition is embedded below. They're actually very good songs, especially if you're riding the Mumford & Sons bandwagon just as hard as you are the Giants. 

Previous postseason anthem: Ernie Harwell's "Tiger, Tiger",  Cardinals and Taylor Swift

Are you ready for the postseason?
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Tour Report: First Tee special set for Golf Channel (PGA Tour)

08 Oct
  On Monday night at 9 p.m. ET, the Golf Channel will air a live one-hour special focusing on The First Tee, which announced that $106.2 million in gifts and pledges have been made in support of The First Tee Campaign for 10 Million Young People. Rich Lerner will host the special, which will include [...]
Tags: campaign, first tee, Golf Channel, , , , , Rich Lerner, ,
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Colts and Packers pay tribute to Chuck Pagano with ‘CHUCKSTRONG’ campaign

07 Oct

The Indianapolis Colts had a bye last week, which gave the franchise a bit more time -- if nothing else -- to deal with devastating news. First-year head coach Chuck Pagano was diagnosed with leukemia in late September, and the team made that news public on Monday, Oct. 1.

While Pagano has been undergoing treatment at IU Health Simon Cancer Center since Sept. 26, he's been sending emails to his team, studying game tape on his iPad, and staying upbeat.

Per Ian Rapoport of, Pagano sent a specific message to his team.

"My condition will not determine my position. I understand the condition but choose to focus on my position. That is to stay positive and SERVE.



Pagano also sent a missive to the fans.

Dear Colts Fans,

On behalf of the Pagano family, we want to say thank you for all the love and support that you have shown.

All the cards, gifts, emails, success stories and prayers that we have been showered with give us a tremendous amount of peace and strength.

We could not get through this without you.

Coach P

In response to their coach's courage, the Colts have put the #CHUCKSTRONG meme just about everywhere in Lucas Oil Stadium in preparation for Sunday's game against the Green Bay Packers. Rachel Nichols of ESPN tweeted out some great pictures from the stadium on Sunday morning.

According to the team's official site, "The Colts are giving fans an opportunity to show their support and send their well wishes to Coach Pagano and his family, as well as raise funds for leukemia research through a CHUCKSTRONG campaign."

That campaign includes the sale of T-shirts, posters, and a collection, to raise money for leukemia research at the IU Simon Cancer Center. And in the pregame preparation, it was clear that everybody was on board -- even the Packers' players. Many on the Green Bay roster took to the field with "CHUCKSTRONG" T-shirts in Packers colors.

"It shell-shocked a lot of people on the team, including me," Colts quarterback Andrew Luck told the NFL Network of Pagano's diagnosis on Friday. "I don't think I fully grasped the situation, but we also try not to let it affect football too much, which may sound very cold, but I view it as an obligation to coach Pagano that we're still bringing the same intensity, dedication, focus to practice, to meetings and any Colts-related event.

"For him, he wouldn't want us falling off the emotional cliff or starting to do uncharacteristic things because he's not around. But it's a tough deal, and I think we'll learn a lot about ourselves as we go through it."

Colts interim coach and offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who waged a successful war against prostate cancer in 2007, echoed the message that his team must stay on the path.

"He will do fine," Arians told The Associated Press. "I know him. He's a fighter. He's survived tough times already in his life ... As a cancer survivor myself, I know that these first few days are really hard on you, but as he and I talked yesterday, it's just a matter of time."

"We always talk about 'God, Family, Football' in that order, and certainly this has been difficult for him and for his family," Colts owner Jim Irsay said of Pagano when the team announced Pagano's condition. "Knowing Chuck, his first concern is always going to be for his children, his grandchildren, and for his wife.

"I feel with every fiber of my body, and I know Chuck feels the same way, that he can beat this thing."

Pagano will have tough times ahead, but if he ever questioned the support of his own team, or of the NFL in general, the NFL has certainly responded with an affirmative response.

"Don't worry, coach... we got this."

Tags: , CHUCKSTRONG, , , , , , IU Health Simon Cancer Center, , , ,
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Colts will get CHUCKSTRONG to support Chuck Pagano and leukemia research

04 Oct
by in Fantasy Football, General

#CHUCKSTRONG is already a popular hashtag on Twitter, but the campaign of support for Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano is about to get a lot more visible.

Pagano was recently diagnosed with leukemia, and the Colts organization, through its CHUCKSTRONG campaign, is giving fans an opportunity to show their support for Pagano and help in the fight against leukemia.

CHUCKSTRONG T-shirts will go on sale Friday at the Colts Pro Shop. They'll be $20 and proceeds will benefit leukemia research. CHUCKSTRONG wristbands will be distributed outside of Colts games for a suggested donation of $1. Proceeds, again, go to leukemia research. CHUCKSTRONG posters will be available to those who give blood at the CHUCKSTRONG blood drive and at Indianapolis area Huntington Banks. More information on all of that, plus collection campaigns at Lucas Oil Stadium, is available here at the Colts website.

The campaign is inspired by Lance Armstrong's LIVESTRONG campaign, which supports the fight against cancer, partially through the familiar, omnipresent yellow LIVESTRONG wristbands. The Colts are asking fans to wear their CHUCKSTRONG bracelets all throughout the season, as Pagano takes time away from the team to recuperate.

The Colts face the Packers this weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium at 1 p.m. ET.

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Tags: campaign, , CHUCKSTRONG, , , Colts Pro Shop, , , leukemia research, LIVESTRONG, , ,
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NHL 2012-13 Campaign Preview: New York Islanders

27 Sep

Yes, indeed, despite the promise of impending labor Armageddon and a prolonged work-stoppage, your friends at Puck Daddy are previewing the 2012-13 NHL season (whenever the heck it starts). Why? Because this is the most important election in the history of all-time ever, and you need to know the candidates — like the New York Islanders.

Wade Dubielewicz's pokecheck on Sergei Brylin on an Easter 2007 afternoon was the last bit of excitement regarding the Stanley Cup playoffs for the New York Islanders. After bowing out to the Buffalo Sabres in 5 games in the following week, the Islanders haven't come close to returning to the postseason. In the five seasons since, they've finished No. 13, 15, 13, 14 and 14 in the Eastern Conference as GM Garth Snow's rebuild continues with the franchise stockpiling top-10 draft picks.

Last season, there might have been a change in leadership with a healthy Mark Streit taking over for the retired Doug Weight as team captain, but injuries were the same old story. After leading the NHL in the "man-games lost" category in 2010-11 with 614, the Islanders ended the 2011-12 campaign with players missing 351 games -- an improvement, but still one of the highest in the NHL. It was another season where the idea of the "future" was being pushed and Islanders fans were still wondering where their team might be playing after 2015.

Hoping for good health, can the Islanders make strides up the standings in the Eastern Conference?

"Either you're with us or you're asbestos..."

The two biggest moves made by Snow during the off-season were bringing in defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks and signing Brad Boyes. Visnovsky was acquired during a trade on Day 1 of the NHL Draft and after a dispute over whether or not his no-trade clause still existed, he's officially Islanders property. Boyes, a 43-goal scorer in 2007-08 with St. Louis, signed on for one season at $1 million. It's a simple "low risk, high reward" signing that's worth the gamble if he can reclaim his scoring touch.

P.A. Parenteau took advantage of being on a line with John Tavares and netted 120 points in two seasons on Long Island. That success allowed him to sign a 4-year, $16 million contract with the Colorado Avalanche after negotiations with the Islanders couldn't get anywhere.

Two of the key players in the Feb. 2011 brawl with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Micheal Haley and Trevor Gillies, will not be back. Haley signed a 2-year deal with the New York Rangers, while Gillies took his talents to Vityaz Chekhov of the KHL, where he should fit right in. The Islanders replaced that toughness by bringing in Matt Carkner and Eric Boulton, who know a thing or two about dropping the gloves.

With the likes of Kevin Poulin and Anders Nilsson coming through the system, netminder Al Montoya was expendable and signed on with the Winnipeg Jets. Also not re-signed were defensemen Mark Eaton (UFA), Milan Jurcina (UFA) and Dylan Reese (Pittsburgh). Veteran forward Steve Staios, who played his 1,000th NHL game in April, retired and joined the Toronto Maple Leafs front office.

At forward … Talking about the Islanders' offense begins and ends with John Tavares and Matt Moulson. The pair have been Nos. 1 and 2 in points in each of the past two seasons. Moulson has blossomed since coming to Long Island and has put up the quietest 97 goals since 2009-10. Tavares has done nothing but improve since his rookie season in, coincidentally, 2009-10. He's made linemates in Moulson and the departed Parenteau better and he'll face the same task if Boyes ends up on his wing.

Michael Grabner cashed in on a contract season with 34 goals (6 shorthanded) and 52 points, but came back to Earth last season finishing with 20 goal and 32 points, with just one shorthanded tally. He, along with Frans Nielsen (17 goals, 47 points) and Kyle Okposo (24 goals, 45 points) will be part of an important second line for the Islanders. Unless they get support from their depth players, the top-six will once again be carrying most of the weight offensively.

Two of the Isles' recent top-10 picks haven't fared so well. Nino Niederreiter, No. 5 overall in 2010, struggled mightily in his first full NHL season potting just one goal in 55 games, while Josh Bailey, No. 9 in 2008, was the only forward outside of the top-six to score more than 10 goals. Fans have been waiting for Bailey to break out one of these seasons and while he produced only 32 points, he did net 18 of them in the final 20 games of the season after moving to the wing, giving some hope for this season.

Finally, can Matt Martin break his own single-season hits record after dishing out 374 of them last season?

On defense … Mark Streit will get some offensive support in the form of Lubomir Visnovsky and another puck-moving blueliner to add to a top-10 power play.

The Islanders were 27th in the league last season in defense allowing 3.06 goals per game, but have enough players in the system to better that ranking in the near future. The duo of Andrew MacDonald and Travis Hamonic provide a solid shutdown pairing and will continue to be relied upon in tough minutes.

Carkner will provide the sandpaper and a mix of Matt Donovan, Calvin de Haan, Ty Wishart and Aaron Ness will fill in on the third pairing.

In goal … It's Evgeni Nabokov's net for now as Poulin and Nilsson get more seasoning in both Bridgeport and in spot duty with the big club. The 37-year old signed a 1-year extension in March and took over the starting role from Al Montoya after being sidelined with a groin injury in November. Meanwhile, Rick DiPietro played just eight games last season as injuries once again derailed his attempt at completing a full season. His presence will continue to be background noise as his contract remains on the Isles' books, but with two kids almost ready for primetime, what DiPietro's future holds is a question mark. Amnesty (if negotiated into a new CBA)? Buyout? Permanent backup?

Remember the glory days...

Jack Capuano was brought back as head coach after taking over for Scott Gordon and drastically improving the team in the final months of the 2010-11 season. With a mix of veterans and young players, Capuano isn't afraid to hold anyone accountable. Remember when he iced five defenseman during a shift in April after the forward group weren't carrying their weight? But knowing expectations aren't all that high, how long of a leash does he get?

Snow has been rebuilding the Islanders for five years now, but his hands have been tied by owner Charles Wang. As the team searches for an arena solution with their lease at Nassau Coliseum running out in 2015, the purse strings have been tightened and the payroll has been barely above the salary cap floor. Inexpensive solutions and young players have been used to fill voids in the roster with the inability to lure bigger free agents blamed on the Coliseum's outdated facilities.

Whenever the Islanders name a captain after Mark Streit leaves (his contract is up this season), John Tavares is likely in the drivers' seat to have the "C" attached to his jersey. His offense has improved in each of his three NHL seasons and when the he signed a 6-year, $33 million deal in 2010, it signaled that the 2009 No. 1 overall pick would be the face of the franchise for a long time to come.

One day, we're all going to wake up and Frans Nielsen will have won a Selke Trophy. One day, my friends.

Visnovsky had a very busy off-season, one that gave the impression he didn't want to play on Long Island. He said all the right things to the press and he'll have plenty to prove in the final year of his contract. But after a freakish 18-goal, 68-point season in 2010-11, he ended up with 6 goals and 27 points last season after a broken finger cost him time. Will this just end up being another Evgeni Nabokov place with Visnovsky enjoying his time (and role) with the Islanders and contemplating an extension after this season?

[Male Narrator]

"The fishing industry. Unpredictable. Unstable. From season to season, never knowing whether there will be a bounty or a bust on the treacherous seas.

"Aquafresh toothpaste. Not Crest. Not Colgate. Struggling for market share every quarter, hoping to keep workers making multi-colored mouth cleaner.

"The New York Islanders used to celebrate these American institutions. Now, it's all about black hockey jerseys and unapologetic greed.

"The Fishsticks Jerseys. Bring'em back, for their sake.

"Paid for by Trawlers for Healthy Teeth."

While they're trying to allow some of their youngsters to gain experience, the results will be hard to come by playing 24 games against their Atlantic Division rivals. The Islanders will need better starts -- it was in the double digits the number of times the Islanders allowed a goal on their first shot faced -- if they're to scrape themselves off the bottom of the conference. But without any significant investment in acquiring upgrades up and down the lineup, it'll likely be another cellar-dwelling season. The only positives to come out of the 2012-13 campaign will be good news on the arena front and the continued development of their bevy of prospects. Oh, and Hockey Canada finally calling up Matt Moulson for World Championships duty.

Tags: , , Gillies, John Tavares, , , , Preview, , Wing
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The tumor North Carolina coach Roy Williams had removed was benign

25 Sep

Six days after Roy Williams underwent surgery to have a tumor removed from his right kidney, the North Carolina coach received some good news.

An analysis of the tumor by doctors showed it was benign and will not spread.

Williams will undergo a biopsy next week on the tumor on his left kidney. Assuming that tumor is also benign, doctors believe he will not require a second surgery and will be able to return to everyday team activities soon.

"I want to express how overwhelmed I have been by the outpouring of support, concern and good wishes by everyone, especially members of the Carolina Basketball family," Williams said in a statement Tuesday. "I've just been blown away by the calls, cards, prayers and well-wishes from people all around the world in and out of the basketball community. My family and I are thankful to all that have expressed your concerns.

"I also want thank the entire medical team and staff at UNC Health Care.  The treatment and care were exceptional. My family and I also deeply appreciate the support shown to us."

Williams reportedly hasn't been cleared to travel yet, but he has been in the basketball office to visit with players and staff. Doctors said last week they expect Williams to not only be on the bench for North Carolina's season opener but also "to coach this season and for years come."

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Watch hockey hero Jack Jablonski throw out first pitch before Twins-Yankees game (VIDEO)

25 Sep

Nine months ago, Minnesota high schooler Jack Jablonski was checked into the boards during a hockey game for Benilde-St. Margaret's and paralyzed. Since then, he's become an inspirational story and been shown support from all over the sports world as he continues rehabilitation.

On Monday, Jablonski was at Target Field in Minnesota to throw out the first pitch before the Twins hosted the New York Yankees. First baseman and hockey fan Justin Morneau played catcher and was part of a pregame ceremony that saw the organization donate $10,000 to the Jack Jablonski Fund.

September has been a huge month for Jablonski and his family. He returned to Benilde-St. Margaret's to attend classes and also managed to stand with assistance for 22 minutes as the ABLE program continues to help Jablonski make huge strides. His story has reached so many people that he was named a finalist for the America's Choice Honoree Courage in Sports award.

From the Caring Bridge online journal kept by Jablonski's mother:

It was only months ago that he was lying in a hospital bed with a halo on. My hopes were dim and at times, the days seemed long and dark. Practically hopeless. But Jack's determination has propelled him to a level of progress that we only hoped and dreamed of. He truly is an inspiration and the reason that we continue to smile and BEL13VE that he will walk again.To think that he's still a contender in "Courage In Sports" (remember to vote every day!) is huge.

To think that he's going to throw out the first pitch during the Twins vs. Yankees game next Monday (9/24) is exciting. To see him open a drawer on his own is thrilling. To watch him text on his iPhone is beyond impressive. It's progress and it's all unexpected, yet it's the result of Jack's determination to be independent. Wondering when he'll master the art of doing laundry ; )

He's spent some time with the Stanley Cup thanks to Davis Drewiske, now thrown out the first pitch before a baseball game. Everything's coming up Jack Jablonski lately. Now if only the NHL can hear his Twitter plea to end the lockout...

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

Tags: courage, hero, , Jablonski, Jack Jablonski, , , , schooler, , , Twins-Yankees
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Steve Stricker of the U.S. reacts after sinking a putt on the ninth green during the third round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, August 11, 2012. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Steve Stricker, a 12-times winner on the PGA Tour who is known for his gracious demeanor and good sportsmanship, was named the recipient of the 2012 Payne Stewart Award on Tuesday. The honor is given annually to a player sharing Stewart's respect for the traditions of the game and his commitment to uphold golf's heritage of charitable support. "For years, Steve Stricker has epitomized everything that the Payne Stewart Award represents," Tour commissioner Tim Finchem told reporters at East Lake Golf Club on Tuesday ahead of this week's Tour Championship. ...

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ATLANTA, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Steve Stricker, a 12-times winner on the PGA Tour who is known for his gracious demeanour and good sportsmanship, was named the recipient of the 2012 Payne Stewart Award on Tuesday. The honour is given annually to a player sharing Stewart's respect for the traditions of the game and his commitment to uphold golf's heritage of charitable support. "For years, Steve Stricker has epitomised everything that the Payne Stewart Award represents," Tour commissioner Tim Finchem told reporters at East Lake Golf Club on Tuesday ahead of this week's Tour Championship. ...
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Buffalo Bills DT Dareus returns to practice (Yahoo! Sports)

13 Sep
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) -- Grateful for the support he's received from fans and teammates during his time of loss, Bills defensive tackle Marcell Dareus is focused on preparing to play in Buffalo's home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs this weekend.
Tags: Buffalo, , Dareus, , , Marcell, Marcell Dareus, , , ORCHARD PARK, ,
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