TIME celebrities

Justin Bieber Gets Boxing Lessons from Floyd Mayweather

Mayweather wrote on Twitter that he had a "good time"

Justin Bieber is getting boxing tips from world champion fighter Floyd Mayweather.

The 20-year-old singer posted a shirtless video to his Instagram account, in which he tosses practice punches in Mayweather’s direction and ducks the boxer’s slow returns.

No word on why Bieber is training to fight or why a world champion boxer would give lessons to a pop star, but given the celebrities’ numerous posts to social media, they both seemed to enjoy it. Mayweather wrote on Twitter that he had a “good time.”


Former New Orleans Saints Wives Say NFL Covered Up Their Abuse

The NFL logo is displayed on the turf on September 14, 2014.
The NFL logo is displayed on the turf on September 14, 2014. Doug Pensinger—Getty Images

Two former New Orleans Saints wives have come forward to tell their story of abuse, fear and how the NFL tried to keep them quiet

If you’re looking to marry into the NFL, two former wives of players have some advice for you: keep your mouth shut when he hits you. That’s not their playbook, it’s the one they were handed when they were put in abusive situations during their husbands’ playing days.

On Friday, The Washington Post ran a story that detailed the horrifying lives of two women who were married to New Orleans Saints players in a time period between the 1990s and present day. To highlight how tight of a grip abuse still has on them, only one woman was willing to use her name publicly.

Dewan Smith-Williams, who was married to New Orleans Saints player Wally Williams in the 1990s and 2000s, detailed her abuse and how then-head coach Jim Hasslet nudged her towards keeping her mouth shut. Smith-Williams notes that Hasslet told her that taking the fall for her husband was not a good idea, which years later caused her to silence herself about her husband’s illegal activities even after he took a baseball bat to their entire house.

“We’ve told agents about it, called the NFL Players Association when things were really, really bad,” Smith-Williams recalls. “They would say, ‘Oh, we’re really sorry that you are going through this. We’ll look into it.’ But you never heard back. There’s no one available for the wives.”

The wife that wanted to remain nameless detailed an even more horrifying incident in which she was violently abused by her NFL husband only to have no one care. She notes that the police were called by the neighbors, who proceeded to joke with her husband and ask for autographs. But the most horrific and spine chilling details came in the days after.

After the incident occurred, the New Orleans Saints called the house to not so much offer assistance but to make sure she wasn’t going to go public with what happened. If that doesn’t paint a terrifying enough picture, the woman then noted that her husband refused to take her to the hospital and drove her around to make sure she told everyone that she had been in a car accident

“I learned to listen and not speak,” she says. “He would remind me of that night, how no one would care if I was gone and how the cops did [not care]. It was all about him. He reminded me that I was alone and disposable.”

This unnamed woman is still shackled in chains of an abusive relationship as her anonymity is on account of her abuser is still associated with the NFL in enough capacity that she is scared to say her name.

As if the NFL didn’t already have a big enough problem with abuse, this highlights just how deep the roots are. You can’t hear these stories and not feel sick. All of this happened over the last decade, which means the NFL needs to stop cowering behing the facade that abuse is a ‘societal problem’.

Abuse in the NFL being a societal problem is like saying obesity is a problem because gym memberships cost too much. There’s correlation but pretty transparent correlation. The NFL needs to stop hiding behind machismo and answer to what is very clearly a societal problem that the largest sports business in the world is enabling.

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Baseball

Ishikawa’s 3-Run Home Run Sends Giants to World Series

NLCS Cardinals Giants Baseball
St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Daniel Descalso, left, and San Francisco Giants' Travis Ishikawa watch the game-winning home run in the ninth inning in San Francisco on Oct. 16, 2014 Randy Pench—AP

The Giants will face the Royals in an all wild-card World Series that begins on Tuesday night in Kansas City

(SAN FRANCISCO) — It was the Shot That Shook the Bay.

Travis Ishikawa hit the first homer to end an NL Championship Series, a three-run drive that sent San Francisco to a 6-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Game 5 on Thursday night.

These every-other-year Giants will face the Royals in an all wild-card World Series that begins Tuesday night in Kansas City.

A journeyman who began the season with Pittsburgh, Ishikawa connected for the first game-ending home run that sent the Giants into the World Series since perhaps the most famous drive in baseball history — Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” in a 1951 playoff.

“It’s gratifying,” Ishikawa said. “If there’s an organization I’d want to do it for, it would be this one.”

A role player during the Giants’ World Series win in 2010, Ishikawa was with Milwaukee in 2012 when San Francisco won another championship.

Pablo Sandoval singled to start the ninth inning against Michael Wacha, making his first appearance of the postseason for the Cardinals. After an out, Brandon Belt walked to bring up Ishikawa, who drove a 2-0 pitch into the elevated seats in right field to set off an orange towel-waving frenzied celebration.

“These guys have been through it,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “They have been battle-tested and they know how to handle themselves on this type of stage, and then add to that the kids that we brought up, and then Ishikawa.

“I mean, what a great story,” Bochy said.

Ishikawa knew right away on his first career postseason homer, raising his right arm into the air as he watched his ball sail into the seats. He emphatically threw his helmet down to the dirt in triumph and joined his jubilant teammates at home plate as fireworks shot off from the center field scoreboard.

Pinch-hitter Michael Morse homered leading off the eighth against Pat Neshek, who replaced Adam Wainwright to start the inning, to tie it 3-all.

Morse — relegated to a reserve role because of a lengthy oblique injury — was batting for Madison Bumgarner, crowned NLCS MVP.

“It’s unbelievable,” Morse said. “This team has been on the same page since the beginning.”

After taking a 3-1 lead in the series on wild throws the past two days, the Giants used the long ball to advance to their third Series in five years by knocking out the defending NL champions.

Rookie Joe Panik hit a two-run drive in the third inning off Wainwright for the Giants’ first homer in seven games.

“Just a gutty effort through all this and I couldn’t be prouder of these guys. They just don’t stop fighting,” Bochy said.

Ishikawa was the Pirates’ opening-day first baseman, but was soon cut. He re-signed with the Giants, his original team, on a minor league deal and went to Triple-A before making it back to the majors. He moved from his natural first base spot to play left field for the injured Morse.

“He signed a minor league contract, he more or less picked us,” general manager Brian Sabean said. “I’m not surprised he hit a home run, I’m not. I’m surprised he’s our starting left fielder. That’s amazing to me. That’s the kind of commitment he had to wanting to get on the field.”

Ishikawa took a winding journey to his winning home run, too. Earlier in the game, he misplayed a flyball to left field that cost his team a run. He more than made up for it with his final swing.

“I think a lot of us forgot that we had to let him touch home plate,” Bumgarner said. “We wanted to run and tackle him around second base. We were excited.”

Bumgarner did not allow a hit after Tony Cruz homered to give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead with two outs in the fourth, working eight efficient innings. Matt Adams also went deep in the fourth.

Adams drew a one-out walk and Daniel Descalso entered to pinch run. Randal Grichuk singled and Descalso reached third on Kolten Wong’s grounder.

Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford snagged the chopper that glanced off diving third baseman Sandoval’s glove, then Crawford threw to second for the force.

Cruz walked to load the bases with two outs after consecutive pitches near his head, and Bochy lifted Santiago Casilla for Jeremy Affeldt. Pitching for the fourth straight day, the lefty retired pinch-hitter Oscar Taveras on a grounder that Affeldt fielded and sprinted to first.

Affeldt earned the win.

Out to prove himself, Wainwright rediscovered his old postseason rhythm after a couple of rough October outings, and that still wasn’t enough once the bullpen took over with a one-run lead.

Once Wainwright left the game, the Giants grabbed their chance.

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny turned to Neshek after Wainwright reached 97 pitches and retired his final 10 batters.

“I was running low on gas,” Wainwright said. “I think he made the right call.”

For the bottom of the ninth, Matheny made a move that will be second-guessed all offseason. He went with Wacha, the hard-throwing MVP of the 2013 NLCS. But Wacha had missed much of the summer with an injury and last pitched on Sept. 26.


The Giants and Royals have played 12 times since interleague play began, with Kansas City winning nine — including all three this season. Affeldt pitched for the Royals the last time they visited San Francisco — that was in 2005, when Barry Bonds was still the giant name in orange and black.


Three players have homered to end an AL Championship Series: Chris Chambliss (1976) and Aaron Boone (2003) did for the New York Yankees, and Magglio Ordonez (2006) for the Detroit Tigers.

Pittsburgh’s Bill Mazeroski (1960) and Toronto’s Joe Carter (1993) are the only players to win theWorld Series with a home run.

TIME Baseball

The Kansas City Royals Are the Future of Baseball

Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jason Vargas pitches during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles in Game Four of the American League Championship Series at Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri on Oct. 15, 2014.
Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Jason Vargas pitches during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles in Game Four of the American League Championship Series at Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri on Oct. 15, 2014. Dave Kaup—EPA

In baseball, power is out. Speed and defense are in. And the Royals play small-ball best

Updated on Oct. 15, 7:18 p.m.

Sure, the Kansas City Royals are an intriguing tale for the typical rags-to-riches reasons. A team that hasn’t made a post-season appearance in 29 years becomes the first team in baseball history to win its first eight games in the playoffs. On Wednesday afternoon, the Royals beat the Baltimore Orioles 2-1 in Game 4 of the American League Championship Series, completing a sweep and sending the team to the World Series.

But the Royals are more than just an enchanting small-market success story. They represent the changing game of baseball.

In the post-steroid era, the game is going through a remarkable transition. Power is out. Pitching, speed and defense are in. Home runs per game are at their lowest levels since 1992. Teams scored 4.07 runs per game during the 2014 regular season, according to stats site Baseball-Reference.com–the lowest total in 33 years. Runs-per-game are down 15% since 2007, and off 21% from their steroid-era high of 5.14 in 2000. Players are striking out 7.7 times per game, an all-time record, breaking the prior high of 7.55 set last season. In fact, in each of the past seven seasons, baseball set a new all-time high for strikeouts per game.

Enter the Royals. The Royals had the fewest home runs in the majors this past season, with 95. But no team had more stolen bases, and the Royals have kept running this post-season. The team has stolen 13 bases so far: seven of them came in Kansas City’s wild 9-8 comeback win over the Oakland A’s in the AL Wild Card game.

The last big-league club to reach the World Series while finishing last in home runs, but first in swipes, was the 1987 St. Louis Cardinals. Those Cardinals teams of the 1980s played an exciting brand of “small-ball” throughout the decade: the ’82 Cards finished second in steals, and last in home runs, and won it all (the ’82 Oakland A’s finished first in steals, thanks to Rickey Henderson’s 130 swipes, a modern-era, single-season record that still stands).

For the Royals, that speed pays off in the field too. According to FanGraphs.com, Kansas City players collectively finished with the highest Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) – an advanced metric that measures defensive value – in the majors. Kansas City’s outfield, with three-time Gold Glove winner Alex Gordon in left, Lorenzo Cain in center, and defensive replacement Jarrod Dyson shoring up center field in the late innings (Cain then usually moves to right), have baseball analysts raving. “Let’s be clear what we’re talking about here,” wrote Sam Miller of Baseball Propectus. “We’re not just talking about a good outfield, or a great outfield. We’re talking about what one might decide to argue is the greatest defensive outfield of all time.”

The Royals have found a winning formula. These days, if you swing for the fences, you’re more likely than ever to strike out. So just put the ball in play – Royals hitters have both the lowest strikeout rate in the majors, and the lowest walk rate – and take your chances with your legs. Steal bases to eke out those diminishing runs.

Since today’s pitchers are better keeping balls in the park, if your opponent does make contact, make sure you have players who turn these balls into outs. (Like third baseman Mike Moustakas diving into the stands). Let the big-market New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels overpay for aging sluggers who will inevitably depreciate at the back-end of their ludicrous contracts (Alex Rodriguez, Josh Hamilton, Albert Pujols). Small-ball is cheap, and effective. This is where the game is heading. The Royals just do it best.

Read next: The 7 Greatest Trick Plays in Sports Movie History

TIME Sports

Why Wayne Gretzky Is Still ‘The Great One’

Simply the Best
The March 18, 1985, cover of TIME TIME

Wayne Gretzky became the all-time NHL career scoring leader on Oct. 15, 1989

Correction appended, Oct. 15, 2014, 1:45 pm

If you grew up in a hockey house like I did, your parents might’ve worshipped Wayne Gretzky as if he were the Messiah on Skates. And in a lot of ways he was: The Great One played a full two decades of NHL-level hockey, starting in 1979 with the Edmonton Oilers and ending with my hometown heroes, the New York Rangers, just before the turn of the century, racking up some 2,857 points in 1,487 regular season games. (NHL scoring gives individual players one point for a goal and one point for an assist, but those numbers don’t mean squat for the game at hand.)

Those 2,857 points made him — and still makes him — the League’s leading scorer. Gretzky toppled another hockey legend, Gordie Howe (1,850 points), to first take that title on Oct. 15, 1989, 25 years ago Wednesday.

Gretzky’s points total is impressive to say the absolute least. But as a kid who grew up loving hockey in Gretzky’s twilight years, it’s really this stat that stuck in my mind: If you take 2,857 points and subtract the points he got for goals, he’s still got more assists than any other NHL player has total points. (The next guy down, point-wise? Gretzky teammate and Rangers legend Mark Messier.)

As a young hockey fan, that fact instilled a simple lesson: Greatness can sometimes come from being the guy who puts the puck in the back of the net. But even more often, it comes from knowing whom you can count on to help you get that job done even better than you can. “How long Gretzky and [NBA star Larry] Bird play at the top and stay at the fair will help determine their ultimate reputations,” TIME wrote of Gretzky in a March 18, 1985 cover story about athletes at the peaks of their careers.

Gretzky stayed at the top for many seasons after that, but 25 years later his ultimate reputation is this: A life lesson that, while being the hero is nice, you don’t always have to shoot — sometimes it’s smarter to pass.

Read a 1981 story about the then-20-year-old hockey star, here in TIME’s archives: Hockey’s Great Gretzky

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the number of individual points an NHL player gets for a goal. The number is one.

TIME Soccer

Drone Invasion Halts Serbia-Albania Soccer Game

Mini drone carrying flag depicting so-called Greater Albania is flown over the pitch during their Euro 2016 Group I qualifying soccer match against Albania at the FK Partizan stadium in Belgrade
A mini drone carrying a flag depicting so-called Greater Albania, an area covering all parts of the Balkans where ethnic Albanians live, is flown over the pitch during their Euro 2016 Group I qualifying soccer match against Albania at the FK Partizan stadium in Belgrade on Oct. 14, 2014. Marko Djurica—Reuters

The two countries historically have had political tensions

Updated Wednesday, Oct. 15

Officials abandoned a soccer match between Serbia and Albania Tuesday after a drone carrying an Albanian banner was flown into the stadium, sparking brawls among players and fans.

The flag flown over the Euro 2016 qualifier game depicted Greater Albania, a conceptual state formed from all territories where ethnic Albanians live, according to Reuters. Yet many Serbs believe the region should still be united as Yugoslavia.

The banner, which was flown into the stadium near the end of the match’s first half, was soon pulled down by Serbia’s Stefan Mitrovic as punches were exchanged between players. Some fans started throwing garbage at the Albanian players.

Serbian officials on Wednesday accused Olsi Rama, the brother of Albania’s Prime Minister, of flying the drone above the field and causing the disruption, and authorities in Belgrade have arrested him, RTS reports. However, AFP reports that a source close to Rama said he had not been arrested in Belgrade.

The atmosphere was politically charged even before the match began, Fox Sports reports. The two countries have had a tense relationship since the conflict around Kosovo, the predominantly ethnically Albanian province of Serbia that was declared independent in 2008.

Serbia did not acknowledge the independence, and mediations under the European Union in 2013 led to Serbia abolishing nearly all of its political institutions in Kosovo. The game, held in the Serbian capital of Belgrade, was also Albania’s first match in the country since 1967, according to the Union of European Football Associations.

The game was abandoned after 45 minutes of unrest. The score was 0-0.

[Fox Sports]

TIME health

Football Players Have More Concussions Than Are Diagnosed, Study Suggests

From left: Head Coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers and the medical staff check out Eric Reid after he received a concussion during the game against the Carolina Panthers on November 10, 2013 in San Francisco, California.
From left: Head Coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers and the medical staff check out Eric Reid after he received a concussion during the game against the Carolina Panthers on November 10, 2013 in San Francisco, California. Michael Zagaris—Getty Images

‘Dings,’ ‘bell-ringers’ ... regardless of what they’re called, a new Harvard study reveals that potential concussions are being ignored at the line of scrimmage

The collisions that draw the most attention are usually the ones that happen in the open field: A receiver streaking across the middle gets blindsided by a safety, for instance. In the trenches, the hazards are less obvious but, perhaps, even more prevalent. Offensive linemen engage with an opponent on pretty much every play—when they don’t, it usually means they’re not doing their job.

“We’re backpedaling while someone is coming at us full speed,” Giants right tackle Justin Pugh says. “You use your technique, you try to use your hands as much as possible, but obviously the head gets put into that, and there is a lot of hand-slapping [against the helmet]. A lot of stuff goes on in the trenches you can’t get penalized for, and probably a lot of guys get hit or hurt.”

Part of changing the culture around brain injuries in football is gaining greater understanding of how they’re most likely to occur, and a new research study yielded interesting findings about the number of potential concussions that go unreported, particularly among offensive linemen.

The study, authored by Harvard Ph.D. student Christine Baugh, is based on a 2013 survey of more than 700 college players from 10 Division 1 FCS schools. Players were asked to respond with numeric answers to three questions based on both the previous football season (2012) and their entire playing careers: 1) How many times have you been diagnosed with a concussion by a medical professional? 2) How many times have you sustained an impact that you suspect was a concussion but was never diagnosed? 3) How many times did you get a ding or get your bell rung?

Players reported having about six times more suspected concussions than diagnosed concussions during the 2012 season, and about 21 times more “dings” or “bell ringers.” While offensive linemen didn’t have significantly more diagnosed concussions than the average for all players, they reported about 62% more suspected concussions and 52% more “dings” or “bell ringers” than their peers at other positions. (When providing numbers for their entire football careers, running backs reported significantly more “dings” or “bell ringers” than the average).

Those words—“ding” and “bell ringer”—are often used as code words for hits that may be potentially concussive. Players in this survey were more willing to admit absorbing these kinds of hits, though the words may have different meanings to different players. That highlights a central issue: No two head injuries are the same, yet much of proper treatment and recovery management relies on players self-reporting.

Not all of the suspected concussions reported in this survey would be diagnosed as concussions, nor would all the “dings” or “bell ringers,” but the results show top-level athletes are playing through impacts that may result in brain injuries. “Even in the era of concussion awareness, if we treat the diagnosed concussions properly, will that make a difference in the long-term?” says Chris Nowinski, co-founder of the Sports Legacy Institute and co-director of the BU CTE Center. “It also shows, in a sense, no matter how many changes the NFL game makes we’ve still got these potentially unfixable problems at the levels below.”

In recent years, the NFL has employed measures like the “eye in the sky” athletic trainers, who serve as injury spotters from a perch above the field, to catch more potential head injuries. The controversy at the University of Michigan, though, in which Wolverines quarterback Shane Morris was allowed to re-enter a game for one play despite showing signs of a concussion, emphasizes that the process can be better at all levels of the game.

For offensive linemen in particular, the study provides a different perspective on the subconcussive hits—lower impact, but with higher frequency—that players on the front lines absorb. Players were asked to report how often they experience concussion-related symptoms after a hit. Compared to most other position groups, offensive linemen reported more frequently experiencing symptoms that were not likely to be externally observable, such as dizziness, headaches and concentration difficulties. The responses also showed that offensive linemen, on average, returned to play while experiencing symptoms after a hit more frequently than their peers during the 2012 season.

The research paper suggests that many of the hits considered “subconcussive” may in fact be symptomatic impacts left unreported. Perhaps because they are more routine; offensive linemen may also be less likely as a position group to self-report, for any number of reasons, whether it’s less attention being paid to head injuries among their position-mates or a pride that they rarely come out of the game.

“Since there are normally just five guys that play the offensive line position, a lot of times you just don’t want to come out of the game at all,” Pugh says. “As a defensive lineman, you can come out for a few plays, and you rotate, so it is part of the norm. With us, I won’t say it’s frowned upon, but no guy wants to come out of the game and hurt the chemistry of the team or hurt a good drive.”

Pugh was sidelined during his rookie training camp with a concussion after he collided with a teammate while pulling out in space. He now checks himself after every collision, using that experience as his context for what the symptoms of a brain injury feel like. Not every player has that context, though, nor does every concussion feel the same.

Many rule changes have focused on those big open-field hits, but this study suggests a wider lens in making the game safer. Nowinski recalls a visit to the University of Miami last year to discuss head trauma with coach Al Golden, after which the coach had his team wear baseball caps during a non-contact practice to ensure that the linemen were not continuing to knock helmets.

For now, proper technique is one way linemen can lessen the frequency of collisions in the trenches.

“The best way to pass block is to see your opponent,” Giants left tackle Will Beatty says. “Keeping your head up; keeping your eyes on your target. It is physical, but you are not out there head-butting people each play. You want your helmet to be clean. You want to use power from your arms and your chest rather than trying to use your head in a block. Even though you are in the trenches, you can still protect yourself.”

This article originally appeared on SI.com

TIME Baseball

The Ump Who Blew the ’85 World Series Wants a Rematch

Don Denkinger
St. Louis pitcher Todd Worrell (facing) argues with first base umpire Don Denkinger in the 9th inning of Game 6 of the 1985 World Series in Kansas City, Missouri. Kerwin Plevka—Bettmann/Corbis

The umpire who made a famous blown call in the last World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals and Kansas City Royals speaks out

If anyone should be rooting against a rematch of the “Show Me” World Series — featuring an all-Missouri St. Louis Cardinals-Kansas City Royals battle — it’s former major league umpire Don Denkinger. Back in 1985, Denkinger’s infamous blown call at first base in the bottom of the ninth inning of Game 6 helped the Royals rally to a 2-1 victory, forcing a seventh game against the Cards. The Royals won that one in an 11-0 laugher. So if the Royals can hold their 2-0 lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Championship Series, and the Cardinals can knock off the San Francisco Giants in the NLCS – that series is tied at 1-1, and both Game 3s are on Tuesday – Denkinger is sure to get a million calls from media members asking him to relive the worst moment of his professional life.

Denkinger, however, wants to see a replay. “I . . . wish they had the replay rule that night, so we could have gotten it right,” Denkinger says from his Phoenix-area home. Denkinger, an Iowa native who still spends part of the year in Waterloo, Iowa, is rooting for Cardinals-Royals out of Midwestern pride. “We don’t get a lot of participation from two teams at the same time from the Midwest,” says Denkinger, 78. “Let’s shake it up a little bit.” The last all-Midwest series was in 2006, when St. Louis beat Detroit in five games. Prior to that, you have to go all the way back to 1987 to find two Midwestern teams in the Series: Minnesota-St. Louis, which the Twins won in seven.

Even if the Royals alone make it to the Series, he knows the onslaught will be coming. “I don’t think I’m sick of talking about it,” says Denkinger. “Though I’m not soliciting calls, that’s for sure.”

Denkinger seems at peace with his undistinguished place in baseball history. “The call will never go away,” Denkinger says. “It’s going to be there forever.” On October 26, 1985, the Cardinals, who were up 3-1 at one point in that series, were three outs away from winning their second title in four seasons. They were leading Kansas City 1-0 in Game 6, when the Royals came up in the bottom of the ninth for one last chance. Pinch hitter Jorge Orta squibbed a grounder towards first; Cardinals first baseman Jack Clark charged in and tossed the ball to reliever Todd Worrell, who ran to cover the bag. Orta was clearly out, by a half-step. Denkinger called him safe.

“I looked up and saw [Worrell] catch it,” Denkinger says. “When I looked down, I saw [Orta’s] foot on the bag and called him safe. Now, had I been farther away from the play, and I could have gotten them both in my peripheral vision, I would have liked to think I’d make a different call. Just that matter of time to look down created him to be safe.”

“I looked up and saw [Worrell] catch it,” Denkinger says. “When I looked down, I saw [Orta’s] foot on the bag and called him safe. Now, had I been farther away from the play, and I could have gotten them both in my peripheral vision, I would have liked to think I’d make a different call. Just that matter of time to look down created him to be safe.”

Fans tend to forget that the call itself didn’t decide the game. (I, for example, always thought it came with two outs. In fact, Orta was the leadoff man). Big Steve Balboni, the next Royals hitter, hit a foul pop-up near the steps of the Royals dugout: Clark misjudged a ball he should have caught, and it dropped behind him. Balboni, in turn, singled, putting runners at first and second. Jim Sundberg tried a sacrifice bunt: the ball bounced hard off the artificial turf to Worrell, who threw out Orta at third. With one out, a passed ball allowed two runners to move into scoring position; the winning run was now at second base. Worrell walked Hal McRae to load the bases. Then, pinch hitter Dane Iorg looped a single to right field; the tying run came in from third, and Sundberg, a catcher, rounded third and chugged towards home. Andy Van Slyke unleashed a rocket from right; Sundberg, sliding head first, barely beat the tag. Royals win.

“There were a lot of opportunities for the Cardinals to bail me out,” says Denkinger. “But they didn’t.”

So Denkinger, who spent the rest of that inning convinced he made the correct call, had a rough night – and years – ahead of him. He retreated to the umpire’s dressing room, where commissioner Peter Ueberroth was standing outside the door. “I just said to him, ‘did I get it right?’” Denkinger says. “And he just shook his head no. That’s when I knew that I missed it. I couldn’t have felt more sick.”

Denkinger was behind the plate for the deciding game. After the Royals jumped out to a big lead, Cardinals pitcher Joaquin Andujar — on in relief — charged towards Denkinger to challenge his strike zone. Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog argued with Denkinger too. He told Denkinger that if he hadn’t blown the call the previous night, they wouldn’t be playing a Game 7. “I said, ‘if your team were hitting better than .120 we wouldn’t be here,’” Denkinger says. (The Cardinals finished the Series with a .185 average). “He said, ‘you’re nothing but a so and so.’” Denkinger tossed Herzog out of the game.

The ump remembers one death threat. A few years later, Denkinger says, someone wrote him a letter threatening to “point their .357 Magnum at me and blow me away.” Denkinger, who continued to umpire until retiring in 1998, reported the letter to MLB security. “The postcard itself was never stamped, so we didn’t know where it came from,” says Denkinger. The FBI came to Denkinger’s house to look through a stack of other mail: the feds noticed that the perp misspelled the word restaurant — Denkinger owned one in Waterloo at the time — in the exact same way as a man who had previously written Denkinger. That prior letter had a St. Louis address on it. The authorities told the guy he’d be prosecuted if he ever corresponded with Denkinger again.

Denkinger’s career spanned nearly 30 years, and it had many memorable — and less humiliating — moments. He disliked arguing with managers, with one exception, which involved the irascible Earl Weaver, the Hall of Fame Baltimore Orioles manager from 1968-1982, and again in 1985 and 1986. “I guess the night Earl Weaver decided to eject all four of us was probably kind of humorous,” Denkinger says. “He started at the mound, got the home plate umpire and said ‘I’m going to show how stupid you guys are.’” So then he ran down to first, he threw the first base umpire out. He ran down to second, threw him out. I was at third, he threw me out. I said, ‘Earl, you done? Because you’re the only one who’s going to leave.’ He just looked at me.”

He was behind the plate for the famous Bucky Dent game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in 1978. He umped the 1974 World Series, between the Oakland A’s and Los Angeles Dodgers, and the 1980 World Series, between the Royals and Philadelphia Phillies. “That was the hemorrhoids Series, right?” Denkinger says. “Didn’t George Brett have hemorrhoids?” (Indeed, Brett removed himself from Game 2 of that series, which the Royals lost, because of hemorrhoids).

After the ’85 debacle, Denkinger even got another World Series nod. He was the home plate umpire for Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, a 1-0 classic won by the Minnesota Twins on a walk-off hit. “Life went on,” says Denkinger, who celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary two years ago.

Still, much like, say, Bill Buckner, one mistake will always overshadow Denkinger’s successful run. If Denkinger gets his wish, a Royals-Cardinals redux, he’d have to be rooting for the Cardinals, right? So Cards fans can maybe finally shut up about ’85? “That would never shut them up,” Denkinger says. “And that’s just fine.”

TIME movies

The 7 Greatest Trick Plays in Sports Movie History

'Little Giants' in 1994 Warner Brothers

The runner-up from Little Giants celebrates its 20th anniversary today. See what beat it out for the top spot

If far-fetched premises and sentimentality are the meat and vegetables of sports movies, trick plays would be the dessert. There’s no rule saying that every sports film has to have a trick play, and for some (Million Dollar Baby, The Natural), they would be wildly out of place. Given the right context, however, a trick play can ultimately be what audiences remember the most, perhaps for years and decades after the movie’s release.

There’s no great science to determining the greatest trick plays in sports movie history (though quite often those plays involve some level of science—physics, psychology, biology—themselves). If you start breaking them down too much, it inevitably ruins their magic and makes them depressingly implausible rather than charmingly implausible. That said, there are certain components of the plays that are worthy of examination when putting together a list like this. How much fun is the trick play? Does it work? Could it conceivably work in the real world? How intricate is the play? How much fun does it look like the team performing it is having? How crucial is the play in the team’s ultimate and—however unlikely—inevitable triumph?

The Little Giants unveiled “The Annexation of Puerto Rico” 20 years ago today, on Oct. 14, 1994, but Danny O’Shea’s greatest claim to fame couldn’t quite reach the top of our list. See where it and six other worthy contenders fell in the rankings:

7. Remember The Titans: Fake 23 Blast with a Backside George Reverse

The play that won the T.C. Williams Titans the 1971 Virginia state championship lives right on the border of what one might consider a “trick” play. It doesn’t have a traditionally “fun” name, nor does it brush right up against what many would deem illegal—two prevalent hallmarks of this list. But what it lacks in outlandishness, it makes up for in implausibility. Here’s the situation: Down in the waning seconds of the game, the Titans need a score to win the championship. Coach Ned Yoast (Will Patton) tells head coach Herman Boone that the Titans will, “Have to throw something at” the opposing team that they’re not ready for.

So what does Denzel do? He puts in his former starting quarterback (“Rev”) who’s missed nearly the entire season due to injury (and hasn’t played in months), and then runs a reverse from the team’s own 25-yard-line with the actual starting quarterback (“Sunshine”) as the lead blocker. Because this is a (supremely entertaining) movie where rampant racism can be solved by a few renditions of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and an early-morning jog to Gettysburg, Rev runs 75 yards untouched into the end zone. Titans win; racism loses. Actually, that is quite the trick, but the play still doesn’t have quite the “wow” factor to launch it into the top six.

6. Space Jam: Michael Jordan Dunk

Leaving aside the idea that virtually every moment of basketball played in Space Jam could be considered a trick play of some sort, one indelible moment reigns supreme: Michael Jordan’s (spoiler alert) game-winning dunk to vanquish the Monstars. The design of the play itself is rather straight-forward: MJ gets the ball near mid-court, and has to score with six seconds remaining.

The way he does this is to jump directly on top of the backside of an enormous Monstar and leap toward the net, quite literally running through the air. The airtime alone is remarkable, but what truly makes Jordan the greatest of all time is that he doesn’t allow the two Monstars who subsequently tackle him in midair to prevent him from reaching the basket. Instead, His Airness simply Stretch Armstrongs his way toward the rim and drops the ball right in there, giving the Looney Tunes a much-needed victory. (Never mind that Bill Murray was clearly wide open the entire time, and that Bill Murray was actually in Space Jam.)

5. D2: The Mighty Ducks: Imposter Goalie

You’re Gordon Bombay. Your team has fallen behind a dominant Iceland team 4-1 through the first two periods of the 1994 Junior Goodwill Games championship game. You’ve gotten the brother of your aging mentor to bring in new Ducks uniforms (of questionable legality) for a lackluster USA squad and crowd-sourced an inspirational “halftime” speech. Your team comes back out on the ice, and things are looking pretty good for the time being. You get a quick goal from Connie Moreau, but Iceland answers right back, so you turn things over to Coach-in-Training Charlie Conway who draws up his alley-oop play for Adam Banks. Somehow, that works and then Luis Mendoza successfully stops for the first time in his speedy career and your squad is down just one goal. Obviously, you’ll want to be turning things over to your best shooter, Russ Tyler, Man with the Knucklepuck. Problem is, the opposing coach, Wolf “The Dentist” Stansson knows he’s the shooter so he’s having his team swarm every time Russ touches the puck.

An average coach would try to exploit that tendency, but you’re Gordon Bombay and you are anything but average. Instead, you call a timeout. You have the team come over to the bench. Somehow you get Russ and your goalie, Greg Goldberg, to strip down and exchange uniforms right there in front of the referees, opposing team and an arena full of fans. No one sees a goddamn thing, because you’re the Minnesota Miracle Man, and performing miracles is what you do. You send the team back out on the ice with Russ Tyler as goalie. No way Iceland gets the puck back and shoots it on net. The Ducks control the puck in their own zone, just winding down the clock as you do when you’re losing a game in the waning seconds. Then you scream, “Now, Guy!” And then it begins. Your squad makes it about halfway to center ice, before dumping the puck off to “Goldberg,” who quickly reveals himself to not be Goldberg at all. Instead, it’s Russ Tyler, the shooter. You knew he was the shooter, but you really know it when Stansson screams, “The shooter!”

Anyway, Averman gives Tyler his stick because it would be way too far-fetched to think that Tyler could shoot with a goalie’s stick, and Tyler winds up and fires away well beyond center ice. The puck flies true—well, true for a knucklepuck, meaning it’s wobbling all over the place—and the Iceland goalie simply waves at the puck as it buries itself in the back of the net. Tie game. Penalty shots. Another miracle for the Minnesota Miracle Man. Damn, you’re good.

4. Happy Gilmore: 18th Hole Obstacle Shot

Happy Gilmore’s greatest weakness was always his short game (well that and his fondness for cut-off button-down shirts), so you had to know that his ultimate triumph over Shooter McGavin would come down to putting. (You’d also know that because putting is how a hole ends in golf, but that’s beside the point.) On his outing to a miniature golf course with Chubbs, Happy goes to his “happy place” and finds a way to sink an impossible putt. When an entire TV tower collapses in front of his ball on the 18th hole of the Tour Championship with Happy needing one putt to win the Gold Jacket, he has no choice but to do it again.

Well, he could just putt around the TV tower and go into sudden death overtime but that’s not the sort of thing that a guy with a golden hockey stick for a putter would do. Instead, Happy winds up and whacks the ball off the front of an old-school VW bug and into a Rube Goldberg-esque labyrinth of flags, grates and tubes on the TV tower. And wouldn’t you know it? The last of those tubes leads right into the hole. As far as trick shots go, that’s a pretty impressive one.

3. The Mighty Ducks: “The Flying V”

It’s no stretch to assert that “The Flying V” is the most iconic trick play in sports movie history. Gordon Bombay’s favorite pet play has always had a few things going for it. First, it’s tied to the team’s name and slogan (“Ducks fly together”). Second, it’s immediately recognizable visually, so much so that when the cast assembled for the 20th reunion of D2 last month, they all lined up for it. Third, it’s got a remarkably descriptive name. And finally, it worked so well in the first movie that it made it into the second—even though it’s easily stopped (thanks for ruining the dream, Iceland). It’s even legal, since Jesse Hall, who leads the V, always has possession of the puck as they cross the blue line. If you ever played hockey as a kid, there’s little chance that you or someone on your team didn’t try to convince everyone else that you could win all your games by just doing The Flying V over and over again.

2. Little Giants: “The Annexation of Puerto Rico”

The main thing working against “The Annexation of Puerto Rico”—which celebrates its 20th anniversary Tuesday— is that it’s not an entirely original trick play. In fact, the “fumblerooski,” as it is better known, was invented by John Heisman himself. The basic idea behind the play is that the center hikes the ball, the quarterback covertly places it on the ground as he (or the running back(s)) runs to the left or right direction, and a nearby offensive lineman grabs the ball and runs the other way to (what theoretically would be) wide-open ground. There have been countless iterations of the play, mostly at the college level, and it was ultimately banned in 1992 as a forward fumble. Rules for Pee-Wee football, however, are different than those for college football, so when Danny O’Shea’s Little Giants found themselves tied with the villainous Cowboys on the game’s final play, Danny realized he had only one option from his own goal line.

Nubie had been touting “The Annexation of Puerto Rico” ever since John Madden came to town, and the Giants finally got to put it to good use. Using Becky “The Icebox” O’Shea as a decoy, Zolteck snaps the ball to Junior who immediately puts it on the ground, then fakes a reverse while Zolteck scoops up the ball, freezes and then starts running forward. The student of football that he is, Kevin O’Shea sniffs it out almost immediately and starts screaming, “Fumblerooski!” at the top of his lungs. Spike, being more dog than tween, pays little attention and goes after the Icebox. By the time someone catches Zolteck (and brings him down with an obvious horse collar tackle), the center has already flipped the ball back to Junior, who carries it another couple dozen yards before flipping it back to Tad, who more or less waltzes into the end zone.

It’s pretty epic, it’s a game-winner and it’s got an awesome, memorable name. People like it so much that they’ve tried to convince people that the Carolina Panthers pulled it off a couple years ago (that play was really more of a trick handoff than the illegal fumblerooski). If a certain baseball movie hadn’t been released three months prior, it would be the owner of the top spot.

1. Little Big League: Hidden Ball Trick (Remix)

In large part thanks to The Sandlot and the glut of other baseball movies in the late ’80s and early ’90s (Rookie of the Year, Major League, Angels in the Outfield among them), Little Big League has never gotten the recognition it very much deserves. It’s a rich film with actual characters—not simply parodies—who have genuine emotions and motives. Just as importantly, in the end, the good guys (the Minnesota Twins) don’t win. That they don’t win is no fault of Billy Heywood (Luke Edwards), possibly the finest manager in baseball movie history. He understands the foolishness of bunting, he can properly motivate his players (Mike McGreevey, Larry Hilbert) and he knew the perfect time to break out an absolutely epic trick play.

The hidden ball trick is nearly as old as baseball itself. The basic principle is that at the end of a play, an infielder holds onto the ball while the pitcher stays off the mound and pretends to have the ball. Then as soon as the unaware baserunner steps off the bag, the fielder tags him out. What the Twins pull off is basically the opposite of that.

It begins with Ken Griffey Jr., the closest thing the film has to a villain. Griffey is pretty spectacular in the Twins’ final showdown with the Mariners: intimidating, cool, arrogant. So when he reaches first base after a walk, Billy decides that now’s the time to unleash the Twins’ secret weapon. Everyone on the field is in on it, from the pitcher to the infielders, to the guys in the bullpen all the way on down to the security guard. After Bowers, the pitcher, attempts one pickoff at first base, Junior declares that he plans to steal “second, then third” and he “might even steal home.”

So when Bowers appears to throw over a second time, Collins appears to dive and miss the ball and the Twins’ bullpen in right field frantically points to the phantom ball, Junior strolls on over to second base. Only Bowers never threw the ball to first base at all, so all he’s gotta do is toss it to the short stop, who tags Junior out and gives him a wink.

The Twins don’t win the game, but the play itself is the culmination of everything the previous 90 minutes in the movie had strove to convey: teamwork, ingenuity and above all else, a desire to have fun. None of those things win a baseball game (clearly), but they do make for a once-in-a-lifetime trick play.


Tom Brady Has ‘Significant’ Ankle Injury

Brady played through the injury on Sunday

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady‘s ankle injury is “significant,” CSN New England’s Tom Curran reported Sunday, citing two sources familiar with Brady’s injury.

Brady played through the injury on Sunday, leading the Patriots to a 37-22 victory over their AFC East division rival, the Buffalo Bills. Brady had his best game of the season, completing 27 of 37 passes for 361 yards and four touchdowns.

Week 6 coverage hub | Fantasy Fast Forward: Week 6 takeaways

According to Curran, the 37-year-old Brady “needed a lot of therapy” to play in Sunday’s game. According to the report, Brady rolled his ankle in practice on Friday, which led him to be listed as “questionable” ahead of Sunday’s contest.

Earlier this month, there were reports that personnel and coaching changes have led to tension between Brady and the Patriots’ coaching staff. The rift, according to the reports, could reportedly lead to him finishing his career with another team.

This article originally appeared on SI.com


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