Friday, July 30, 2004

BostonHerald.com - Other MLB News: With a typical shoulder shrug, Maddux goes for 300With a typical shoulder shrug, Maddux goes for 300
By Associated Press
Friday, July 30, 2004

CHICAGO - Fresh-faced and eager, 20-year-old Greg Maddux got his promotion from the minors and pulled on a Chicago Cubs [stats, schedule] uniform for the final month of the 1986 season.

Six days after reaching the big leagues, he threw a complete game for what would be the first of many wins - the start of a career that has flourished for nearly two decades.

Now, all these years and victories later, an older and wiser Maddux heads to the mound Sunday at Wrigley Field to face Philadelphia with the chance to join one of baseball's most prestigious fraternities.

If he becomes the 22nd pitcher to notch 300 victories, it will be with the same cerebral style of pitching - of changing speeds and varying locations - that has established him as one of the game's most consistent winners. First with the Cubs, then for 11 years with the Atlanta Braves [stats, schedule] and now back again in Chicago.

With a shoulder shrug and a typical low-key approach, the 38-year-old Maddux insists he's not been counting the wins needed to reach the milestone.

``When it's all said and done, yeah, you might look back and pat yourself on the back. Right now for me personally, I would much rather win 15 games and have a chance to pitch in the postseason. That means more to me than winning 300,'' Maddux said.

``I know in order to do that I'll bypass that (300) somewhere along the way. It's hard to say it's just another game, but it is.''

Roger Clemens got to 300 on his fourth try on June 13, 2003, and no NL pitcher has reached the magical number since Steve Carlton in 1983.

``You have to get to the big leagues at a young age to have a chance,'' Maddux said. ``Obviously, you have to stay healthy. And you have to pitch good. It's easier to retire early now with the money guys make. There are a lot of reasons not to get there.''

There are so many numbers that tell Maddux's story - a major league-record 16 straight seasons with at least 15 wins; four consecutive Cy Young Awards; 13 straight Gold Gloves; a career ERA under 3.00; an NL record for most consecutive innings without a walk (72 1-3).

All that for a guy who did not even make his major league debut as a pitcher.

Maddux got into his first game as a pinch-runner for Jody Davis in the 17th inning, then gave up a home run to Billy Hatcher in the 18th and took the loss as Houston beat the Cubs 8-7 at Wrigley.

His first victory came at Riverfront Stadium on Sept. 7, 1986, when he gave up 11 hits in an 11-3 win over Cincinnati. Born on the day that Pete Rose turned 25, Maddux got an autograph from the Reds' player-manager before beating them.

These days, Maddux doesn't have the pop on his pitches he once did. Then again, overpowering hitters has never been what he's about.

``He's just, with a capital P, a professional pitcher,'' said Braves closer John Smoltz, who joined Maddux and Tom Glavine to form one of the greatest rotations ever.

``He sets up hitters better than anybody in the game. He's just ahead of the hitters constantly and he's just the most well-informed, organized pitcher there is,'' Smoltz added.

Maddux has an encyclopedic mind for pitching built on experience and his knowledge of hitters. He's specialized in keeping batters off-balance with darting deliveries that cut corners and feast on weaknesses. And he works quickly and economically.

Even before he turned pro, Maddux began to understand what mixing up his pitches could do. His coach at Valley High School in Las Vegas, Ralph Medar, impressed upon on him that making the ball do certain things was as essential as blowing it by the hitter.

``He's the one who taught me how to pitch when I was 14, 15 years old,'' Maddux said.

``He passed away my senior year, but he's the one who taught me movement was more important than velocity. He taught me my fastball that I still try to throw well today.''

Maddux's love for baseball is unwavering - he recently went to watch a softball game in Chicago -as is his reputation for being a great teammate with a unique insight.

``Greg is fun to be around, actually loves to watch a game when he's not pitching. He's really free with his knowledge helping other players, period. Not just other pitchers but hitters, too,'' Braves manager Bobby Cox said.

``He figures things out that other people can't.''

Cubs reliever Mike Remlinger, also a teammate in Atlanta, said it's Maddux's ability to observe and form conclusions that has made him great over the years.

``It's kind of mind-boggling. There are times he just throws stuff out there, stuff you'd never think of, and you realize it makes perfect sense,'' Remlinger said.

Maddux left the Cubs after winning his first Cy Young in 1992 in a salary dispute, helped the Braves win 10 division titles and a World Series in 1995 and then returned to the Cubs this season with a three-year contract.

He started slowly this April, struggling with the strike zone and some of the fickle weather in the early season. But now he's won his last three starts with two complete games and is 10-7.

His second major league win all those years ago came against the team he'll face Sunday, the Phillies, and another pitcher named Maddux - his brother Mike, now the pitching coach of the Milwaukee Brewers.

Glavine is less than 50 wins from 300, but Mike Maddux says his brother could be the last of a breed on several fronts.

``It's a power game. The finesse pitcher is getting weeded out,'' Mike Maddux said.

``I think you are looking at the last guy who will ever do it (300 wins). The game is so offensive-oriented. All the rule changes have gone to the hitter. Ballparks are smaller, balls are livelier, players are bigger and stronger. Much like golf, equipment has gotten better.''

Known for his unemotional demeanor on the mound, Maddux credits early teammates Scott Sanderson, Rick Sutcliffe and Goose Gossage as influences. Gossage, he said, taught him how to pitch and then put the performance - good or bad - behind him.

Former Braves teammate Chipper Jones plans to call Maddux and offer congratulations once he does reach 300.

``I never doubted that he would eventually get there, I just wished he would be a teammate when he did it,'' Jones said.

``It's a special time, and I don't think he's gotten enough credit for winning 300 games.''

Maddux, with a career record of 299-170, doesn't want credit, he just wants the ball every fifth day with no distractions.

``I'm just glad I'm still playing. When you're a young player, you always say, ``If I can get to 10 years that would be pretty good,''' Maddux said.

Whacko Jacko goes out shopping for toys! - News Details, Webindia123.comPop star Michael Jackson took by standers by surprise when he went shopping for toys.

According to the Daily Mail, the singer bought stuffed animals and toys from a shopping center in Houston, Texas. He was also approached by fans who wanted his autograph.

The "Dangerous" singer has been charged with child abuse for which he will be facing trial in January. He has, however denied the allegations, terming them a "big lie,"

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Reedsburg Times-PressOh, the sweet sound of a great T-shot - a hurried woosh followed by that distinct crack. Debbie Douglas and Lois Andres love that sound, and they're going to hear it a hundred times over when they work the PGA Championship in Kohler, Wis. August 9 through 15.

As volunteer hole marshals, the LaValle residents will hush crowds and direct pedestrian traffic. They'll stand feet away from golf idols like Tiger Woods and Ernie Els. They won't get paid, and they won't come home disappointed.

Like girls getting ready for prom, the two have purchased their outfits and attended preparatory classes for the premier golf event.

Andres marshaled a similar event in 1999 and demonstrated the coolness of a seasoned professional when describing the upcoming championship.

"Our job is basically crowd control," she said.

Douglas, new to the marshal scene, swims with electricity when talking about her expectations.

"It's like a dream come true. I never though I'd be on the same course as Phil and Tiger and all these famous golfers," she said.

Both ladies are avid golfers and play in a women's league. They say they became infatuated with the game after an affair with softball dwindled.

"I was getting too old, so I had to go to golf," Andres said.

The PGA Championship will take place at Whistling Straits golf course on the shores of Lake Michigan. Douglas and Andres will man the 14th hole with 10 other hole marshals.

Marshals help maintain order at each hole as golfers compete. They calm the crowd, make sure the press has space to operate behind the ropes and help locate balls in the event of a poor shot. Marshals also become advocates of the golf course by answering spectator questions.

Andres said that was one of her favorite aspects of being marshal - getting to know the crowd.

"It's so great because the people cheer so much for everybody. The same people come back to your hole, and it's like a big family.

"They ask you who think is going to win, or how is this one playing today; where's the bathroom? And they always ask, 'How do you get to do this?'"

Lucky for Douglas, Andres had the scoop on how to become a marshal.

Large corporations usually sponsor holes in a PGA championship. Hole sponsors frequently find marshals for the hole they sponsor. Andres happens to know the right person and was called to help. She invited Douglas to join her.

Andres did not hesitate. "I was like are you kidding!"

The two do not get paid for helping and even had to purchase their own uniforms. But the reward is all too exciting to pass up for these lady golfers.

"Just to see these golfers close up.... I love to watch golf even on TV. You get excited just watching them," Douglas said.

"Being right up next to Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson and possibly getting their autograph is worth it," Andres said.

While on hole 14 the two women, both in their 50s, will work for about five hours, rotating every 45 minutes between the fairway, green and T-box. They are scheduled to help four days of the seven-day event.

Neither have golfed Whistling Straits but are familiar with the talk surrounding this year's championship.

"I've heard (the competitors) are going to hate it. The rough is terrible. There's a lot of crosswinds off the lake. Our hole is pretty close to lake.

"They probably go through it several other places, but it is a tough course. Others who have golfed it have said you better bring two dozen balls if you don't hit straight," Andres said.

The ladies will get the chance to just sit back and enjoy the championship when not working and have access to the course all week. They also have two passes to share with family or friends.

"Our husbands are both coming Tuesday. I think they're pretty proud, like, 'Wow. We wish would have done that.' They're probably jealous, but they're taking it in good stride," Douglas said.

Most all hotels in Kohler are booked and have been for months, so the marshal duo will stay with friends for the week.

They'll join an army of approximately 3,200 other volunteers and eat up every minute of their golf adventure.


Council sets hearing on speed limits.

Buswell announces candidacy for 50th seat.

LaValle sends marshals to PGA Championship.

Dairy gift basket auction sends youth to state.

Crime Stoppers needs information on robbery.

Reedikulus Days packed with sales, entertainment and fun.

Variety of Vehicles Day.

Crash victim identified.

Wal-Mart helps Reedsburg Public Library.

Model T's tool into Loganville.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

USATODAY.com - Armstrong takes victory lapPARIS — Now that Lance Armstrong has done what no cyclist has ever achieved in the Tour de France — win the race six times — the real work begins.

Lance Armstrong celebrates on the Champs-Elysees in Paris after his sixth straight Tour de France victory.
By Patrick Kovarik, AFP

He won't be going to Euro Disneyland, however. He's doing the usual media victory lap back in the USA with a round of morning talk shows and late-night celebrity gabs, but then it's home to Texas.

President Bush called Armstrong after Sunday's race, telling him: "You're awesome."

When Armstrong pulls into his Austin driveway, he'll find a mint-condition 1969 Pontiac GTO convertible, a Tour de France gift from rock-star girlfriend Sheryl Crow.

Perhaps he'll take the muscle car out for some long, fast drives in his beloved Texas Hill Country, where he can ponder what direction to take with his life and how, after reaching the highest peak in cycling, he can climb even higher.

Armstrong definitely won't quit while he's at the top.

"I'm enjoying the competition more than ever," he said after winning Saturday's penultimate stage, an individual time trial. "Not to make history or to make money, but just for the thrill of getting on my bike and race 200 other guys. This year that was something really special to me, and it's a big motivation for me."

Next year his mighty U.S. Postal Service team will become the Discovery Channel team, and he'll likely be back on the bike for the Tour de France and probably one of the other two Grand Tours in Italy and Spain.

He is the undisputed greatest rider in the Tour de France, but his critics have been eager to point out that he's a one-trick pony and should show his depth in the other major stage races.

"I haven't made a schedule for 2005," he said simply. "I've said that I'd like to do the Giro d'Italia (Tour of Italy) before I stop, and I stand by that because it's a beautiful race. There are a lot of things I'd like to do, but I'm 33 and time's running out, so I may have to say 'Whoops, I didn't do it.' But we'll see."

His mentor, Belgian legend Eddy Merckx, won all of the Grand Tours, the one-day spring classic races and was so dominant in the Tour de France that one year he won the overall winner's yellow jersey plus the jerseys awarded to the best sprinter and climber.

"Those days are over," says Merckx, who was known as "The Cannibal" for his voracious appetite for winning. "The level of competition now is higher, and it is necessary to focus on your big goals."

For the immediate future, Armstrong's goals will be more team-oriented than in the past. Under the rules of the newly formed elite professional cycling tour, teams must compete in all three Grand Tours, the spring classics and all of the World Cup races.

In return for that commitment, which will entail an investment of several million dollars, team owners have equity in their operations.

Before, if a team could not find a sponsor, it dissolved. Now the number of teams will be limited, and anyone seeking entry into that circle will have to purchase a franchise from an existing owner, as in American major league sports.

Armstrong, along with team director Johan Bruyneel and agent Bill Stapleton, is an owner and stands to reap significant benefits if the Discovery Channel team is successful. For several years he has taken a salary well below his market value to build his stake in the team. His long-term financial plan is to grow the value of the team instead of his weekly paycheck.

From bike to boardroom

But negotiating the world of business while still playing the game can be trickier than dodging rowdy fans on the roads of L'Alpe d'Huez.

Michael Jordan's failed foray into NBA team management is a textbook example of how success on the playing field doesn't always translate into success in the boardroom.

Right now, Armstrong is the most dominant U.S. athlete competing globally in an individual sport. Tiger Woods is in danger of losing his No. 1 ranking to Ernie Els and Andy Roddick has slipped on the tennis court, as has Serena Williams.

Armstrong's domination of the 2004 Tour provided no signs he is losing his edge.

His aggressive riding — he won three stages in head-to-head sprints this year — is more in the style of a young gunslinger looking to make a name for himself.

"Riding in a Grand Tour takes a lot out of a rider," says his longtime coach, Chris Carmichael. "Every Tour takes some longevity from your career, most of it from the preparation, stress and travel than from the race itself.

"Lance has been able to focus on just the Tour de France since 1999, and the results show how successful that plan has been."

His mother, who raised him as a single mom in Plano, Texas, says Armstrong isn't ready to hang up his cycling shorts.

"I can't see Lance as a director sportif (head team coach)," says Linda Armstrong-Kelly. "That's not active enough for him. He needs to keep moving; he can't stand still."

'Lance Chronicles, Part 2'

Armstrong's long-term future may be as a fixture on television.

The team sponsorship deal with the Discovery Channel includes generous provisions for Armstrong to become a television personality. Discovery has a global presence and reaches a billion viewers through its 35 cable and satellite channels.

The corporation has high hopes for its Discovery Health Channel, a natural fit for Armstrong and Carmichael. They've authored several training books, and Carmichael's new nutrition plan hits bookstores this week.

Armstrong will have another network promoting his brand next year. The Outdoor Life Network, which telecasts the Tour, also spent substantial airtime promoting Armstrong as a personality this year with a big build-up of programming in advance of the Tour.

The Lance Chronicles was a weekly show that offered an inside look at his preparations, while Road to the Tour covered the competitions leading to the world's biggest bike race.

OLN aired live broadcasts of the Tour this year as well as an array of prime-time shows that dissected the day's stage or took a wacky look at happenings in France.

Even though Armstrong will belong to Discovery, the rights to his races belong to OLN.

"As the leading destination for cycling sports and stories on television, OLN is pleased the team will have the support it needs to continue racing," says Gavin Harvey, president of OLN.

"Having a revered brand like Discovery come on board speaks volumes to OLN's long-held belief that the Tour de France — and cycling in general — is compelling and dramatic sports programming."

The duality of that somewhat touchy relationship was evident this year on the Postal team's jerseys: Both the OLN and Discovery Channel logos were included.

"Lance is capable of doing so many things," his mother says. "The Discovery Channel has a lot of potential for him, especially when it comes to health issues. But he can't be tied down to just one thing. He's always been an independent contractor and is most comfortable when he's in charge."

Fine, new romance

Off the bike, Armstrong's personal life is at peace after a tumultuous 18 months that culminated in a divorce from wife Kristin last December.

Their separation before the 2003 Tour added stress to his most difficult race ever, which he won by only 61 seconds after surviving severe dehydration and a serious crash.

In his life with Crow, Armstrong seems much more relaxed and at times like a love-struck schoolboy.

"She's nails," Armstrong says of Crow, bestowing his highest compliment. "Life is good with her. We can do normal things together."

Crow has adapted to the chaotic world of elite cycling with energy and a willingness to leave the rock-star life behind.

Instead of all-night partying, she's climbing Alpine ascents on her custom Trek Madone racing bike and schmoozing with five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault at the finish line.

"They're pretty sweet together," actor and Armstrong pal Robin Williams says jokingly. He's been hanging out at the Tour with Crow. "Makes my teeth hurt."

For her part, Crow says dealing with questions from the cycling media and autograph requests from race fans is much more fun than the paparazzi she faces as a rock star.

"They are really nuts," she says.

After Saturday's time-trial win, Armstrong handed Crow the stuffed lion he received for keeping the yellow jersey. His mom got the podium bouquet of yellow flowers.

Armstrong is building a new home in Austin to go with his beloved mountain bike ranch in the Hill Country. He and Crow also spend time at her canyon home near Los Angeles, where Armstrong rides the twisting, narrow roads above the Pacific.

One of the major issues in his failed marriage was the total focus he gave to winning the Tour, which made family time with son Luke, now 5, and twin 3-year-old daughters Grace and Isabelle, difficult to arrange. The children live with their mother, who also resides in Austin.

He tried a stint as an assistant soccer coach on Luke's novice team, but that too gave way to training time.

During this year's Tour, he decided to skip the Olympics in Athens next month so he could spend more time with his children.

"Luke looks just like his dad," proud grandmother Armstrong-Kelly says. "And of the twins, Isabelle is more reserved. Grace is the daredevil, always running headfirst into life. Guess where she got that?"

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