PALMERSTON NORTH, New Zealand – The Bucketheads are changing their colours for the Rugby World Cup.
Fans of the rugby team from Manawatu province, which bases itself in this provincial city which is half varsity town, half rural depot, call themselves the Bucketheads, for the plastic buckets they use as headware at local games.
Usually those buckets are green and white, the colours of Manawatu, but when Georgia plays Romania in a World Cup pool match on Wednesday the Bucketheads, 5,000-strong, will adopt the colours of those teams.
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“It’s beautifully quirky and I think it will be a roaring success,” Rugby World Cup chief executive Martin Snedden said. “It will add hugely to the flavour of the night.”
The match between European rivals Georgia and Romania will be the first Rugby World Cup match played in Palmerston North since 1987. The township has a population of 75,000 but already the 14,000 tickets to Wednesday’s match have been sold and a further 12,000 tickets have been sold to a downtown fanzone where people will watch the match on big screens.
While neither Georgia nor Romania can qualify for the World Cup finals, Snedden said the match was of considerable importance to both teams which have a long and well-established rivalry.
Georgia Prime Minister Nikolaz Gilauri will attend the match at the Manawatu Arena and will stay in the town until Monday.
“For Romania and Georgia to win a game at the Rugby World Cup is a massive achievement. There’s just a huge amount of pride on the line,” Snedden said. “These are relatively close neighbours in eastern Europe and they would love nothing better than to get one up on the other.”
Snedden said the willingness of New Zealanders to support the World Cup’s smallest nations had been impressive.
“The attitude of people at matches has been absolutely outstanding. People are getting dressed up, the noise in the grounds is like nothing I’ve heard at New Zealand grounds before,” he said.
Palmerston North hasn’t always had a great reputation as a tourist centre. Monty Python star John Cleese performed in the town in 2006 and was scathing in his review of the place.
The town responded by naming the city dump after Cleese.
AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Happy faces were hard to find among Rugby World Cup teams on Tuesday.
Italy laboured to a 27-10 win over the United States from 20-10 at halftime in Nelson, and Japan conceded a 23-23 draw with Canada in Napier, blowing a chance in its last pool match to end a Cup-record 17-match winless streak since 1991.
Canada scored eight points in the last five minutes to salvage the draw with Japan, but dropped a chance to place some real pressure on a chaotic French side for a quarterfinals berth.
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One of France’s veterans shot down rumours of a player revolt against testy coach Marc Lievremont, while Argentina and Australia lost key players for the rest of the tournament to leg injuries.
History-chasing Italy needed a win and bonus point against the U.S. to ensure the clash with Ireland this Sunday will be a playoff for the quarterfinals. Italy can make the last eight for the first time with a win, while Ireland can advance with at least a draw.
The Italians made victory on Tuesday hard on themselves in a dour display. They notched three tries by halftime and looked good. But in the second half Italy bombed numerous try-scoring chances in the face of a tenacious Eagles defence.
Only while American flanker Louis Stanfill was in the sin-bin did the Italians score the fourth try they badly wanted, when the brave but short-handed Eagles scrum conceded a penalty try.
“We needed five points, it doesn’t matter how we got it,” Italy prop Martin Castrogiovanni said.
Japan, a competitor at every World Cup but a winner of only one match, looked set to end the winless streak when it led Canada 23-15 with five minutes to go before a sellout crowd.
Then Canada flyhalf Ander Monro scored a try, missed the conversion, but landed a more difficult penalty goal in the 79th minute to repeat their draw in the 2007 Cup.
“This is no good; we drew with them last time,” said Japan’s Hirotoki Onozawa, playing in his third Cup. “It kills me that we weren’t able to win. I had told myself not to get too emotional, but I did. I’m just so sorry for all the fans who have backed us.”
Canada No. 8 Aaron Carpenter was also disappointed without.
“Japan seems to be a bogey team when it comes down to the last five minutes,” he said.
Still, Canada has a temporary hold on third place in Pool A. Third place gives them an automatic spot in the 2015 World Cup. Tonga can overtake them with at least two points from France on Saturday in Wellington, but that’s a tall order. Canada will also expect no more points when it faces New Zealand, also in Wellington, the next day.
On Wednesday, old rivals Romania and Georgia meet in Palmerston North in the one match both teams targeted as winnable in Pool B. Romania leads their history of head-to-heads but Georgia has won four of the past five clashes.
“We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. It will be a war,” said Romania fullback Iulian Dumitras.
France lock Lionel Nallet fronted up at his team announcement to reject rumours of player unrest. Lievremont has been under severe pressure for the past week for his selections, and criticized the French media on Monday for creating a “detestable atmosphere” at news conferences.
“I have been hearing stories, rumours about little uprisings by the players and a lot of nonsense like that,” Nallet said. “At the moment there is a very good atmosphere in our squad and we are all united with each other.”
Nallet was retained in the side to play Tonga, along with Morgan Parra’s controversial retention at flyhalf.
Argentina suffered a major blow when vice captain and flanker Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe was ruled out of the rest of the tournament with a left knee injury which will require surgery.
Australia was also disappointed to withdraw No. 8 Wycliff Palu with a recurring left hamstring strain.
With a chance to enlighten New Zealanders of his unusual try-scoring celebration, All Blacks fullback Israel Dagg instead continued to mystify.
Dagg marked both of his tries in the 37-17 win over France last Saturday with cryptic hand and arm gestures. Asked on Tuesday to explain what he was doing, Dagg offered only clues.
“The first clue is the dog meows,” he said. Then he added, “The laughing bear drives a motorcycle. That’s my last clue for today.”
AUCKLAND, New Zealand – Coach Andy Robinson has been watching with admiration as his Scotland players recover from their Rugby World Cup defeat to Argentina.
The Scots could have been severely downhearted after a late try by Lucas Gonzalez Amorosini earned a 13-12 win on Sunday and made the Pumas favourites to advance to the quarterfinals alongside Pool B leader England.
But although Scotland has only a slim chance to maintain its proud record of reaching the last eight at every World Cup, the players are still optimistic.
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Scotland must beat England by more than seven points at Eden Park on Saturday or hope for an unlikely win by Georgia over Argentina the next day in Palmerston North.
“We had 24 hours to get rid of all our frustrations, emotions, and people do it in different ways,” Robinson said Tuesday. “It’s important to go there because the guys put a lot of hard work in their performance and it was disappointing to lose a game. Particularly in the manner that we did.
“But we’ve got through that. Today is really the first day that we now start focusing on England and there is a real vibrancy about the team.”
Scotland has a poor away record against England but is unbeaten in its last three home games against its oldest rival.
“Everybody understands that it is still in our control,” said Robinson, a former England coach. “We’ve got to go out and put in a top performance Saturday against England.”
Robinson said the support of Scots in New Zealand had been crucial in lifting his players. After three weeks in Dunedin, England is well used to coming under friendly fire from Scotland fans.
“Some of us went to the ambassador’s to have a drinks reception with her and she was very good,” Robinson said. “And a number of Scottish people that were there, the supporters that were in Wellington.
“It’s important to share your emotions and some of the guys are pretty down.”
Scotland’s rivalry with England goes back centuries. Its rugby union rivalry with its neighbour goes right back to the first international in 1871, which Scotland won 3-0.
But scrumhalf Rory Lawson said the identity of Scotland’s opponent was immaterial. All that matters is getting a win and progress to the next round.
“The scenario we are in, you can be putting anyone in front of us and we go in with the same attitude,” Lawson said. “We know what we have got to do and we are in control of that. Obviously the media will hype it up as being the big Scotland and England showdown.
“But ultimately we respect and look at the challenges England are going to give us and work out what we are going to do at the back of that.”
Long ago, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts professed their love for rock ‘n’ roll. It’s time to see if the feeling runs both ways.
The iconic rock act is on the list of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees for the 2012 class released Tuesday. Women who rock feature prominently among first-time nominees. Joining Jett, whose “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” remains a classic rock standard 30 years after its release, are sister act Heart and Rufus with Chaka Khan.
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They’re joined by Guns ‘N Roses, hip-hop pioneers Eric B. & Rakim, glum glam Goths The Cure and The Small Faces/The Faces, which includes Rod Stewart. Bluesman Freddie King and The Spinners are also first-time nominees on the ballot for the hall’s 2012 class.
Previous nominees up again include The Beastie Boys, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Donna Summer, Laura Nyro, Donovan and War and its an eclectic group, running from lush British folk to classic early beats and bone-crushing power rock.
An act must have released its first single or album 25 years ago to qualify for induction. More than 500 voters will determine who makes the hall. New members will be inducted at a ceremony at the hall of fame in Cleveland on April 14.
Guns ‘N Roses is the headliner of the first-timers group. The L.A. bad boys were easily the largest hard rock act of the 1980s and early ’90s, featuring siren-voiced lead singer Axl Rose and Slash playing muscled riffs on lead guitar. GnR’s “Appetite for Destruction” was a game-changing album and they went on to sell more than 100 million albums. Their iconic hits like “Welcome to the Jungle” and “Paradise City” remain a radio staple.
The leather-clad and tough-as-nails Jett was an early icon for women rockers. A founding member of the all-female The Runaways, she went on to become a chart-topping success after forming the Blackhearts in 1982.
Heart similarly made an indelible mark on the rock scene of the 1970s and ’80s. Among the first women to front an aggressive rock band, singer Ann Wilson and her sister, guitarist Nancy Wilson, cut some of the era’s most memorable songs, from “Barracuda” to “Magic Man,” and inspired a generation of women along the way.
Then a teen, Khan burst on the scene with the Chicago-based Rufus in the 1970s. She defied easy categorization, moving easily between R&B, rock and disco before going onto an enviable solo career.
ARLINGTON, Texas – Tony Romo’s broken rib hurt so much he needed a second pain-killing injection. His centre had a tendency to snap the ball too soon or to the wrong spot. And he couldn’t get into the end zone no matter what, not even with a first down on the two-yard line.
Yet Romo and the Dallas Cowboys did the only thing that mattered. They won.
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Dan Bailey kicked six field goals, including a go-ahead 40-yarder with 1:52 left, and linebacker Anthony Spencer forced a fumble that teammate Sean Lee recovered with 28 seconds left, giving the Cowboys an 18-16 victory over the Washington Redskins on Monday night.
“It feels good right now because we won,” Romo said, smiling and wincing. “I’ll be all right.”
Romo was 22 of 36 for 255 yards. His best stat was simply lasting all four quarters.
The fact that he needed a second injection could explain the quarter-sized blotch of blood that appeared on his jersey above his left hip during the game. After the game, he joked that his new bride forced him to play, saying, “I can’t have a weak husband lying around the house.”
“I want to play,” Romo said. “We only get to go out and do this 16 times, 16 days out of 365 days a year. You want to be out there. You put so much effort, when you go, you go.”
Romo was hardly hit in the first half, then the Redskins got in several crushing blows starting just after halftime. That’s also when the snaps became an issue. He couldn’t hide his frustration with new centre Phil Costa, and clearly wasn’t happy with receiver Kevin Ogletree after an incompletion at the end of the drive that reached the two-yard line; that failure forced Dallas to settle for its fifth field goal and a 16-15 deficit instead of a go-ahead touchdown.
Rob Ryan’s re-energized Dallas defence got the ball back quickly, and Romo took advantage. Another bad snap left the Cowboys with a third-and-21, and Romo followed with a rollout to his right and a deep pass to Dez Bryant for a 30-yard gain. Another 15 yards were tacked on because of a facemask penalty on the beaten defender – cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who last week said he was hoping “to put my helmet on whatever’s hurt” on Romo and all other wounded Cowboys.
Hall had plenty more to say after the game. In an expletive-filled interview, he questioned the eight-man front on Bryant’s catch and the official’s decision to flag him.
“I told the ref after that call, that might have been his worst call of the game,” Hall said. “He’s going to get demerit points for that call. Because that wasn’t no facemask.”
When Washington quarterback Rex Grossman’s fumble was recovered by Lee, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett dropped to a knee and pumped his fist wildly. He had good reason to celebrate: Dallas was about to be 2-1, guaranteeing no repeat of last year’s miserable 1-7 start. The Cowboys are even tied for first place in the NFC East, along with Washington (2-1), which was seeking its first 3-0 start since 2005.
“We’re better than last year – already,” Dallas linebacker Bradie James said.
This was the second straight game that a Romo-Bailey tandem pulled out a victory. Against San Francisco a week ago Sunday, Bailey made a tying field goal at the end of regulation, then the winner in overtime.
Bailey’s other kicks Monday night covered 41 (twice), 32, 27 and 23 yards.
“We had good snaps, good holds, great protection. I had the easy job,” said Bailey, an undrafted rookie who was named the nation’s top kicker in college last season at Oklahoma State. “Whenever you can string a couple of kicks together, it’s a confidence booster.”
Romo wasn’t the only Dallas player who gutted it out.
Bryant missed the previous game with a thigh injury, yet had four catches for 63 yards. Felix Jones, who separated a shoulder against the 49ers, ran for a career-high 115 yards and caught three passes for 40 more. Jason Witten fought through a rib injury to catch six passes for 60 yards.
“It wasn’t a perfect performance by any means, but enough to win the game,” Garrett said.
The Dallas defence limited the Redskins to field goals on two of their first three drives, the latter reaching the Dallas nine-yard line.
Grossman really only had one solid drive, a 76-yarder capped by a one-yard touchdown pass to Tim Hightower that put Washington up 16-9. The Redskins never even crossed midfield after that, punting on three straight drives then losing the fumble.
“It feels like the waste of a week,” tight end Chris Cooley said. “We’re capable of winning a division game on the road. I’m disappointed with the way we finished.”
Grossman was 22 of 37 for 250 yards. He was sacked three times – once by DeMarcus Ware, his NFL-leading fifth – and threw an interception.
Explaining his game-deciding fumble, Grossman said, “I was trying to make a play. I felt like I could get the ball to Santana (Moss). I obviously couldn’t.”
Most of the Redskins’ points came from Graham Gano, who made field goals of 50, 46 and 27 yards. Another was blocked after a poor hold.
“We’re going to find out what type of football team we have,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “When you lose like that it hurts. We don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself.”
Notes: This was Dallas’ ninth straight game decided by three points or less. … Dallas improved to just 9-8 at Cowboys Stadium. The Redskins are 0-3. … Bailey had the most field goals for Dallas since Billy Cundiff kicked seven in 2003. … Washington’s LaRon Landry had four tackles and forced a fumble in his first game since November because of injuries. … This was the 15th Dallas-Washington game on a Monday night. The only teams that have met more are Denver-Raiders, 16 times.
MANCHESTER, Conn. – When Keith Wearne goes grocery shopping, checking out with a cashier is worth the few extra moments, rather than risking that a self-serve machine might go awry and delay him even more.
Most shoppers side with Wearne, studies show. And with that in mind, some grocery store chains nationwide are bagging the do-it-yourself option, once considered the wave of the future, in the name of customer service.
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“It’s just more interactive,” Wearne said during a recent shopping trip at Manchester’s Big Y Foods. “You get someone who says hello; you get a person to talk to if there’s a problem.”
Big Y Foods, which has 61 locations in Connecticut and Massachusetts, recently became one of the latest to announce it was phasing out the self-serve lanes. Some other regional chains and major players, including some Albertsons locations, have also reduced their unstaffed lanes and added more clerks to traditional lanes.
Market studies cited by the Arlington, Va.-based Food Marketing Institute found only 16 per cent of supermarket transactions in 2010 were done at self-checkout lanes in stores that provided the option. That’s down from a high of 22 per cent three years ago.
Overall, people reported being much more satisfied with their supermarket experience when they used traditional cashier-staffed lanes.
Supermarket chains started introducing self-serve lanes about 10 years ago, touting them as an easy way for shoppers to scan their own items’ bar codes, pay, bag their bounty and head out on their way. Retailers also anticipated a labour savings, potentially reducing the number of cashier shifts as they encouraged shoppers to do it themselves.
The reality, though, was mixed. Some shoppers loved them and were quick converts, while other reactions ranged from disinterest to outright hatred – much of it shared on blogs or in Facebook groups.
An internal study by Big Y found delays in its self-service lines caused by customer confusion over coupons, payments and other problems; intentional and accidental theft, including misidentifying produce and baked goods as less-expensive varieties; and other problems that helped guide its decision to bag the self-serve lanes.
Wearne, 39, a Tolland resident who owns a power-washing service, reluctantly used a self-serve lane at the Manchester Big Y to ring up granola bars and a 12-pack of Miller Genuine Draft but had to wait while a clerk checked his identification.
If he hadn’t seen the clerk standing there immediately ready to help, he said, he would have used the traditional lanes, as he usually does.
But for time-crunched Greg Styles, a self-described “get-it-and-go type of guy,” the top priority is paying and leaving without lingering in a checkout lane.
Styles, a 47-year-old South Windsor resident, says the convenience of the self-serve lanes fits into his busy life as a college lacrosse coach and father of 7-year-old twins.
“I’m not happy about it, not at all,” Styles said of the change, ringing up baked goods and chicken breasts on a recent afternoon at Big Y’s Manchester store. “I like to get in and get out. These lanes are quick and really easy, so I use them all the time.”
He’s not the typical shopper, though, according to research.
While some chains are reducing their self-serve options, others say they’re keeping it in place along with the traditional lanes because they think giving shoppers that choice is an important part of customer service.
“Our philosophy is giving customers options. People shop in different ways and we want to accommodate their preferences,” said Suzi Robinson, a spokeswoman for Stop & Shop Supermarket Co., which has self-serve lanes in about 85 per cent of its nearly 400 stores in the Northeast.
Another chain, Boise, Idaho-based Albertsons LLC, has said it’s phasing out self-service lanes. Kroger says it’s keeping the self-service option because customers like it, although one remodeled store replaced it with another quick-checkout method that uses a cashier.
Phil Lempert, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based food industry analyst, noted that supermarkets have a few other motivations to get rid of the self-serve lanes beyond customer service.
They will eventually need to replace their checkout computers to read newly emerging types of bar codes, so there’s little business sense in keeping and replacing those self-serve machines if they’re not well-used anyway, he said.
Perhaps more important, he said, the growing trend toward using bar code-reading programs on smartphones is likely to change everything in supermarket shopping over time.
Some scholars who follow the retail food industry say decisions by Big Y and others to do away with the self-serve checkout lanes aren’t necessarily the death knell of the trend. Home Depot and some other businesses, which cater to customers with a do-it-yourself mentality, report success with their self-serve lanes.
But not all supermarket shoppers share that mentality, and whether they embrace or reject the self-serve option may come down to demographics – such as whether they’re in a tech-savvy region – and other factors that the supermarkets cannot control.
“I think some of the stores are just deciding that, on the balance, it’s a negative. Other stores, because they have a different composition of shoppers, are deciding to keep it,” John Stanton, a professor of food marketing at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, said of the self-serve option.
“I don’t think this is as much a referendum on the technology as much as it is a match between the technology and the customer base,” he said.
The mayors of Montreal’s suburbs are asking AMT to reconsider proposed fare increases of as much as 20%.
To some borough mayors the recent decision by the AMT to re-zone train stations seems completely arbitrary. For Michel Bissonnet, the city’s point man on transit, fee hikes for some train users simply because the AMT has decided to revisit zoning is unacceptable.
“Particularly in Ville Lasalle, in Lachine, in St-Laurent, in Ahuntsic, there’s 4 stations there and the tariff is class number one.”
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The AMT wants to change the zoning classification for those sectors to class two. The reason? The stations are more than 8 kilometers away from the city. That means users who are accustomed to paying a lower rate because they’re closer to downtown could see the cost of their monthly passes increase by 21%. An increase that some borough mayors worry will be an even bigger financial burden on their citizens.
“Just realize that it’s close to $20 per month for an adult, 12 multiplied by $20. So you’re $240 just for 1 person, so a family of four its more than five, six hundred dollars per year. It’s like another tax finally,” says Lachine mayor Claude Dauphin.
The AMT announced the changes a couple of weeks ago, now the mayors of the affected boroughs, as well as a couple who don’t even have train service in their sectors yet, are speaking out.
The borough of St-Laurent, for example, has two stations in zone two and one in zone one. That zone one station is now slated to become zone two.
“It penalizes people who can least afford it,” says St-Laurent mayor Alan de Sousa, “it penalizes students it doesn’t make any sense at all that to raise the tariffs at Montepelier touches 632 thousand people.”
People, he says, who could instead take the metro from Cote Vertu and save themselves nearly $30 a month.
Lasalle is in the same situation. They’re trying to re-zone industrial land to develop housing, that would include bus and train service.
“So in this area people will be able to, you know, to use no car at all to go to work but now we are losing this incentive to move in this area because of the big increase in price,” says Lasalle mayor Manon Barbe.
The mayors hope that by challenging the rate hike, the amt will revisit its decision. They plan on presenting their motion to city council.
CHICAGO – Ozzie Guillen’s last game with the Chicago White Sox was quite the nailbiter.
Sergio Santos struck out Adam Lind with the bases loaded to preserve a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Monday night in Guillen’s final game as White Sox manager.
Rookie Dylan Axelrod threw six shutout innings to earn his first major league win and Tyler Flowers hit a three-run homer for Chicago.
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Guillen met with White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf earlier in the day. Before the game, Guillen said he repeated his request for a contract extension and expected Reinsdorf to take a couple of days to make a decision about his future.
The club then announced right after the victory that Guillen had been released from his contract per his request.
“I know they’re not going to forget me,” Guillen said. “They can’t. They walk through the ballpark and my picture is there. I hope they don’t take it down.”
Lost amid the frenzy surrounding Guillen’s surprising departure was Axelrod, who allowed three hits and struck out six. By the time the media was allowed into the clubhouse, Axelrod (1-0) had already departed.
Santos got the last three outs to become the eighth White Sox pitcher to record 30 saves. It also was his first save since Sept. 6.
David Cooper hit a two-run double to get Toronto within one before Santos walked Eric Thames and Jose Bautista to load the bases. But Santos then struck out Lind on his 44th pitch to end the game.
“We came back and battled off Santos at the end, but Axelrod early just kept us off balance and didn’t give us anything,” Blue Jays bench coach Don Wakamatsu said.
“What a huge hit by Cooper coming off the bench. (Santos) is a tough closer. To come up and hit a double and get us within a run. It was a disappointing loss but a good comeback at the end.”
Wakamatsu ran the club with manager John Farrell away to attend to a family matter. He is expected to manage on Tuesday.
Flowers made a rare start at first base and hit his fourth homer with two on in the second. Dayan Viciedo roped an RBI double in the seventh and A.J. Pierzynski added two singles for Chicago.
Toronto’s Dustin McGowan (0-2) allowed three runs and four hits in four innings, leaving after 73 pitches. McGowan has been limited to a strict pitch count as he works his way back from two shoulder surgeries.
“I think the one thing we’ve seen since he’s come back to start is he gets stronger as his outing goes along,” Wakamatsu said. “I think today was a similar case where he felt around with his mechanics a little early. It’s the first time he’s pitched in cold weather in three years.”
Lind drove in Toronto’s first run with a groundout in the eighth. Mike McCoy stole two bases for the Blue Jays, and Mark Teahen reached base three times in his first game against his former club.
The White Sox won for just the seventh time in their last 28 games against the Blue Jays. Toronto needs to win the last two games of the series to finish the season with a winning record for the fifth time in six years.
Axelrod pitched out of jam in the fifth, getting McCoy on a foul popup and striking out Thames with runners on second and third.
White Sox slugger Adam Dunn went 0 for 2 with two walks and two strikeouts, dropping his average to .160 with 174 strikeouts. Dunn needs nine plate appearances in the final two games to finish with the worst qualifying batting average in big league history, surpassing Rob Deer’s .179 mark in 1991.
Dunn is 1 for 16 with 10 strikeouts against Toronto this season.
NOTES: In the last series of the season, the Blue Jays are making their only trip to Chicago in the 2011 season. Chicago and Toronto haven’t played each other since May 29 and hadn’t met in Chicago since May 9, 2010. … Colby Rasmus (flu-like symptoms) and Adam Lind (birth of his child) both returned the Toronto lineup. … Bautista went 0 for 3 with three walks after leaving Sunday’s game early because of a knee injury. Bautista leads the Yankees’ Curtis Granderson by two home runs in his bid to become the first player to lead the big leagues in homers in consecutive seasons since Mark McGwire in 1998 and 1999. … The Blue Jays will send Henderson Alvarez to the mound on Tuesday to face Mark Buehrle, who could be making his last start for the White Sox. Buehrle will be a free agent after the season.
CHICAGO – Ozzie Guillen’s eight years as manager of the Chicago White Sox were never dull. His pre-game briefings were great theatre. Opinions flew, so did four-letter words, brazen answers, often raucous laughter and interesting yarns.
Guillen did OK on the field, too, leading the White Sox to the World Series championship in 2005, their first since 1917. And even though Chicago has returned to the playoffs just once since that remarkable run, Guillen’s managerial talents didn’t seem to have diminished.
Certainly not in his mind.
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With the White Sox struggling through a disappointing season and Guillen signed only through next year after his option was picked up in January, he wanted a contract extension.
Owner Jerry Reinsdorf listened but declined to give Guillen the extra years and money he wanted. So Guillen asked to be released from his contract and the White Sox agreed to do so Monday night, ending a long relationship that began when Guillen spent 13 seasons as the team’s shortstop from 1985-1997.
“I told my wife I wouldn’t cry,” Guillen said – and he didn’t during his final news conference.
He said he did get emotional when he gathered his players before Monday night’s game against Toronto – the White Sox sent him out a winner, 4-3 – and told them he was leaving.
“No regrets, no regrets,” Guillen said. “Very disappointed in this year, yes.”
Next stop? He’s leaving for a vacation to Spain on Friday. But his name is being linked to the Florida Marlins with Jack McKeon announcing his retirement. Guillen was the Marlins’ third base coach under McKeon when they won the World Series in 2003.
“I like Ozzie,” McKeon said Monday. “I think he’s a very, very intelligent manager. He was a smart player. He’s a good man. I like him.”
If Guillen did become manager of the Marlins, it would cost Miami some sort of compensation.
The Marlins talked to Chicago last year about acquiring Guillen, but the deal never materialized. They could bring him in now to lead the club into a new ballpark next season.
Guillen said he had no idea where he might end up but he’s aware of the reports about the Marlins.
“It could be anybody. They sound like they are interested,” Guillen said. “They just let me go to talk to whoever I want, anyone I want. Right now, a lot of people are talking about Florida because as a team, a lot of rumours are out there.”
Guillen, who had a 678-617 record with the White Sox, will not be in uniform for the remaining two games this year. Bench coach Joey Cora will run the team.
Guillen has credentials. He’s the only manager in franchise history to lead the White Sox to more than one division or league title. Chicago also made the playoffs under Guillen in 2008.
He thought his body of work deserved more than being a lame duck manager next season. And he said his rocky relationship with general manager Ken Williams was really not the issue.
“It was my call and I appreciated the White Sox organization letting me do what I like to do and what is best,” he said.
“Maybe not the best, maybe it’s the worst. You don’t know what is out there. Maybe I’m dreaming. I might not appreciate what I got here. You don’t know. You have to close the page and move on. That’s life. Hopefully the next book treats me the way this book treated me.”
In the 2005 championship year, the White Sox nearly let a 15-game lead evaporate before rebounding in the final week of the regular season. Then they went 11-1 in the post-season, clinching all three of their series against the Red Sox, the Angels and the Astros on the road.
Now he’s gone. Guillen said the fans would never forget him, he’d still keep a home in Chicago and he and Reinsdorf would always be friends.
The White Sox clubhouse will never be the same, but first baseman Paul Konerko – one of Guillen’s favourite players – said it was time for a change.
“This probably needed to be done, on both sides of it,” Konerko said.
“I’m happy for Ozzie. I think he’s been burned out on this whole thing and probably likewise on the other side. That’s how it goes. It doesn’t always have to be that someone’s right, someone’s wrong, this person’s right, this person’s wrong. Sometimes in sports – any business – but especially sports, a coaching staff or a manager, head coach, whatever it might be, that kind of regime runs its course and that’s what we have here.”
After teaming with general manager Ken Williams to end the 88-year title drought, their relationship has become strained over the last two years.
“Was it time for a change? I don’t think so,” Williams said. “I guess things were accelerated. We had no intention of firing him. This was kind of acquiescing to some of his desires more than anything. It is what it is.
“This is a case of a man making a business decision for himself and his family. And we respected it, we respected it enough to allow this to happen. Obviously we didn’t agree to the request for an extension.”
Williams said the White Sox are ready to move on and find a new manager.
“I will say very briefly that because of the warnings, we’ve had ample time to dwindle a list down to a few select candidates. We think that we can act swiftly,” he said.
The White Sox (78-82) were built to win this year but middle-of-the-order players like Adam Dunn and Alex Rios slumped all season and bogged down the offence.
Chicago had early losing streaks of seven and five games and by May 1, Guillen’s club was 10 games out of first. The White Sox pulled within 3 1/2 games of the lead on Aug. 17 but that was as close as they would get the rest of the way.
Guillen was a managerial trend setter with a Twitter account and a website. And social media, like his opinions expressed in other forums, got him in trouble at times.
After he was ejected this season at Yankee Stadium by umpire Todd Tichenoran, the manager went on Twitter and called his ejection pathetic. That got him a two-game suspension and fine, and it was the first time baseball has penalized a player, coach or manager for using the social networking site during a game.
Social media played a role in creating the tension between Williams and Guillen in 2010. Guillen’s son, Oney, left the team’s scouting department after posting some comments on Twitter that were critical of the team’s front office.
Since Guillen took over in 2004, there has been a long list of Ozzie blowups and tirades and opinionated rants.
In 2006, Guillen was fined and ordered by Commissioner Bud Selig to undergo sensitivity training after he described then Chicago Sun-Times columnist Jay Mariotti with a derogatory term.
VANCOUVER – With only four more days until a crowd of thousands packs into BC Place for the BC Lions game and the start of the retractable roof era, some serious concerns about how weatherproof that roof is.
It appears there are now some clear challenges making sure the 500-million dollar renovation is capable of sheltering event-goers from the elements when it’s supposed to.
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On the day one of the first of many fall rainstorms hit downtown Vancouver, it appeared all was well at BC place from a distance, but workers could be seen working feverishly in the downpour on the roof this afternoon.
On the inside, Global was able to obtain images of rain pouring in, the covered seats and floors sopping.
The jumbotron was still working, but electricity and water don’t mix.
The water was falling from the new roof, and even the artificial turf field was drenched with rain.
Global News received a tip from someone working on the project that the new roof had been closed and was leaking badly in the rain.
That with an opening weekend only four days away. On Friday night, the BC Lions will play the Edmonton Eskimos and on Sunday the Whitecaps play Portland.
“I saw the video of it opening. It looked pretty complicated, it looked like a lot could go wrong with it,” says one man.
Another woman says there are always things going wrong with big projects like that, so she is not surprised.
Pavilion Corporation representatives were too busy to talk on camera. Global was told they’ve been in non-stop meetings making plans for this upcoming weekend. But the PR firm working on their behalf says the roof is not leaking. It is still under construction and there is nothing to worry about.
They say they have plenty of time to finish the roof by Friday, and everyone who is planning to go to the Lions game is hoping they’re right.
Right now the forecast is calling for 60 percent chance of showers.