Who’s on First? The Week in Sports

Guillen in hot water

Miami Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen is no stranger to controversy. However, his recent comments have stirred emotions far beyond the baseball diamond. In an interview with Time magazine, the Marlins skipper reportedly said, “I love Fidel Castro,” and went on to say that he respected him for staying in power for so long. Yes, the same Fidel Castro who is a Communist dictator and has been accused of killing tens of thousands of Cuban citizens. Predictably, Guillen’s comments created a firestorm in Miami, the hub of Cuban culture in the United States.

Guillen’s remarks set off a round of protests at the Marlins’ ballpark in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, as well as calls for Guillen’s immediate dismissal. Reacting to the mounting pressure, the Marlins suspended their skipper for five games on Tuesday. Later that day, the Venezuelan manager apologized to Cuban-Americans at a press conference as well, saying, according to the Associated Press, that he is “very sorry about the problem” and “will do everything in [his] power to make it better.” Guillen admitted his mistake, but also insisted that the comments he made were misinterpreted and didn’t come out the way he intended. The Marlins’ decision to suspend their manager after just five games was, in all likelihood, an attempt to quell the unrest in Miami, but it may not be enough.

When asked about Guillen’s comments, Cuban players around the league did what Guillen probably should have done: they kept their mouths closed, or offered the equivalent of a “no comment.” The controversy comes at a particularly bad time for the Marlins, who, despite a 2-3 start, had been riding a wave of good feelings from opening a brand new stadium and signing a few big names in the offseason.

Petrino shown the door at Arkansas

When it was reported on Apr. 1 that University of Arkansas football coach Bobby Petrino was involved in a motorcycle accident, the immediate reaction was one of concern for the coach’s well-being; few people were aware of the chain reaction Petrino’s accident was about to unleash. It was first reported that Petrino was the only individual involved in the crash. However, it turns out that Petrino was riding with a 25-year-old Arkansas employee named Jessica Dorrell, who had been given a $55,000 per year job by Petrino just days before the crash.

Details emerged indicating that Petrino, who is married with four children, had been carrying on a sexual relationship with Dorrell, a former Arkansas volleyball player, for some time. Sports Illustrated reported that Petrino misled Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long, insisting that he was riding alone. What started out as a motorcycle accident quickly blossomed into a scandal, and Long responded by firing Petrino on Tuesday. According to the Los Angeles Times, Long’s investigation revealed that Petrino had given Dorrell $20,000 on top of her recent job. Yahoo! Sports says Long fired Petrino due to his “conscious decision to mislead the public” and to what Long called a “pattern of misleading and manipulative behavior…both before and after the motorcycle accident.”

In a statement released on Tuesday night, Petrino said he was sorry for his actions and added, “I have no one to blame but myself.” Petrino’s disgraceful exit ruins what had been a successful tenure at Arkansas, as he led the school to its first Bowl Championship Series appearance in 2011 and a 21-5 record over the past two seasons.

Bubba masters Augusta

Let’s face it: golf has a reputation as being an elitist sport, and most professional golfers are stuffy, boring, and vanilla. And then there’s Bubba Watson, who started a boy band with some colleagues, has a YouTube account with videos of him smashing vegetables, owns a “General Lee,” and took the golf world by storm when he won the Masters, golf’s most prestigious tournament, in a sudden-death playoff on Sunday.

Watson’s dramatic hook shot onto the green earned him a tap-in for par, besting South Africa’s Louis Oosthuizen to give the 33-year-old the first Major championship of his career. Despite the loss, Oosthuizen actually hit one of the best shots of the tournament: a double-eagle, also known as an “albatross,” which is a two on a par five, on the second hole of the final round. Watson’s win has led to “Bubba Fever” around the sports world, and his endorsement deals are expected to skyrocket. Some pundits are claiming that the fun-loving Watson’s success will be good for golf as well, as his laid-back style may influence kids to pick up what many consider an older man’s game. Bubba Fever has already led to a surprising color popping up on the links: Watson, who used a pink driver in the Masters, has inspired golf supplier Ping to make 5,000 Bubba-style pink drivers available to the public. Let’s just hope Bubba’s success hasn’t inspired others to adopt the shirtless overalls look…

NHL playoffs kick off

Only 16 teams remain, and the battle for the right to hoist the Stanley Cup in June began with a three-game slate: first, the Philadelphia Flyers will visit Pittsburgh faced the Penguins in the most recent incarnation of their fierce in-state rivalry. Adding fuel to this series’ fire will be one of the team’s most recent meetings, in which Philadelphia’s Daniel Briere thinks he was injured on purpose and Flyers’ coach Peter Laviolette climbed onto the boards to shout at Pittsburgh’s coaches.

Later on, Detroit visited Nashville to kick off their series with the Predators, and the Los Angeles Kings traveled to Vancouver to face the Canucks, who will be without Daniel Sedin, still sidelined with a concussion. Four series started last night: the defending champion Boston Bruins, who will be without Nathan Horton for the remainder of the playoffs, welcomed Alexander Ovechkin and the Capitals to Boston; the Ottawa Senators traveled to Manhattan to take on the New York Rangers; the San Jose Sharks headed to St. Louis to take on the resurgent Blues; and the Chicago Blackhawks took to the desert to face the Phoenix Coyotes.

Finally, the eighth and final series will start tonight night, when the New Jersey Devils head to the Sunshine State to take on the Florida Panthers. The scheduling is a bit funny when one considers that the Panthers, who haven’t been in the playoffs in over a decade, are the last team to start the postseason. Someone at the NHL has a sense of humor…

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