In the end, Carmelo Anthony said his heart was in New York. It didn’t hurt that $122 million was there, too.The Knicks star forward shunned the Chicago Bulls and other suitors and inked a five-year, $122-million contract to return to New York, where surely there will be pressure to perform with that kind of money going into his direct deposit.He actually took less than the max of $129 million the Knicks could have offered, to allow the team some salary cap flexibility.“I will always remember this chapter in my life. In the end, I am a New York Knick at heart,” Anthony said in the statement. “I am looking forward to continue my career in orange and blue and to work with Phil Jackson, a champion who builds championship teams. Madison Square Garden is the mecca of basketball and I am surrounded by the greatest fans in the world.”Said Jackson, the team’s president: “He did exactly what we kind of asked him to do. Give us a break in the early part of his contract so that when we have some wiggle room next year, which is hopefully big enough wiggle room, we can exploit it, provide a more competitive team for our group.”Luol Deng Bolts Cavs For Heat; He’s LeBron’s ReplacementLuol Deng surely would not like to be called LeBron James’ replacement. But, in essence, that what he signed on for when he agreed to a two-year, $20-million deal to join the Heat.Dallas, Atlanta and Phoenix had been in consideration for Deng, according to ESPN sources. He is entering his 11th NBA season, having spent almost his entire career with the Chicago Bulls, who traded him to Cleveland in January.Chris Bosh On LeBron Going To Cleveland: ‘No Hard Feelings’LeBron James’ move back to Cleveland broke of the erstwhile “Big 3” in Miami. But his decision did not move Bosh to bolt, too, despite a four-year, $88-million offer from Houston.“[There were] very enticing offers,” said Bosh, 30, who re-signed with the Heat for five years and $112 million. “There was some surprising advances made in everything, but I ultimately decided to stay in Miami. I think it was the right choice. I benefit from it, the team will benefit from it, from here. My heart was in Miami. I wanted to be there and keep my family there and build relationships and really keep building on something special.”Bosh said there were “no bitter feelings” about James leaving Miami.“We’re all making decisions to make ourselves happy and our families happy,” Bosh said . “That doesn’t take away what we’ve done together and the special bond that we created and the special bond that we have and just all the memories that we had together. That will never change. As you move forward, you appreciate those moments and keep going forward.”
You don’t have to like basketball or be a fan of the NBA or even care about Derrick Rose. But if you have a heart and love a story of redemption, you almost have to root for the Chicago Bulls’ point guard.He is an athletic promise that has been denied total fulfillment in the most cruel fashion: injury. Three times.Other great talents have had their bodies fail them, but few cases have been as polarizing as Rose’s. For some reason, countless NBA fans have, instead of empathizing or even feeling sorry for Rose, have called him “soft” and selfish as he endured rigorous rehabilitations.Mind you, none of these “critics” had gone through playing in the NBA and overcoming a torn ACL, then suffering from a torn medial meniscus and then aggravating that injury and requiring a third surgery in three years. How was Rose “soft” for not coming back until he believed he was ready? How can someone judge how someone else’s body feels?In fact, Rose should have been credited for not rushing back, for taking control of his career and not succumbing to outside pressure. Instead, he was criticized by people who apparently do not understand the mental and physical toll major injuries take on a world-class athlete.All that, and there was Rose this weekend, stronger than ever, if not physically, certainly mentally. He played brilliantly and explosively in the Bulls’ Game 1 first-round playoff victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. He scored 23 points and displayed the kind of dynamic speed, power and quickness that made him the league’s MVP just four years ago.When he left the game to a standing ovation at the United Center, it marked a triumphant end of an emotional return, a return his naysayers hardly believed would happen this year when he was felled about three months ago.“I only had, like, three goals,” Rose said of his first playoff game in three years, “and that was to have fun, have no expectations and to compete.”That’s another thing about Rose. Despite all the criticism, he remained centered and humble, always resisting the urge to fire back. That takes strength.“I’m grateful to be playing with my teammates,” Rose said. “They allow me to play the way I normally play. It’s an honor. I’m really fortunate because I think, anywhere else, it wouldn’t be the same.”Maybe Rose will never return to NBA MVP form. Here’s the thing: He doesn’t have to be that player again. He can be just what he was Sunday and still rank among the game’s best.“You’re talking about a guy now who’s sort of in the middle of his career,” Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He’s been through a lot. I think early on, you’re 22 years old, you’re the M.V.P. of the league, and there weren’t many bumps in the road. He’s hit a few bumps. He’s gotten through those.”That’s the other thing: Those who called Rose “soft” got it backward. He showed strength in coming back after the first injury. He empowered himself by creating a timetable that worked for him. People didn’t like that he said he wanted to be healthy enough to play with his kids when he quit basketball—a noble gesture from here. He showed enormous strength in coming back after the second injury, when he could have emotionally collapsed. And to suffer a third surgery a few months ago, only to return before the season’s end, and to play as he did in Game 1. . . strength.Of course, there are many who will stick to their original position on Rose. But they will be missing the fact that Rose is still here, still playing, still has his head up. For all he has gone through, that’s hardly soft.
Florida Marlins199771-256-327 New York Yankees1939438153-285 Last year’s Chicago Cubs were an overwhelming team, riding one of the most impressive run differentials in recent history to a world championship. But this season, the Cubs have struggled to lift themselves above .500 despite playing in a mediocre division. Chicago should watch out — if it keeps playing this poorly, the Cubs will end up undergoing one of the largest drop-offs ever suffered by a World Series winner.Teams often struggle after a championship. Even the most exceptional roster can get pushed back toward average through some combination of a World Series hangover and regression to the mean. But the Cubs’ slide is uncommon even by those standards. According to run differential, only five other champs in history have declined as much as Chicago has this year1For teams that played fewer than 162 games — including the 2017 Cubs — I pro-rated their run differentials to a 162-game schedule.: Detroit Tigers193527153-218 Of the 10 teams on the list, seven played before 1950, when baseball was a very different sport. In the current era (since 1988), the Cubs drop-off is the third worst, trailing only the 2013 Red Sox — more on them later — and the infamous fire-sale 1997 Marlins. Chicago had more room to fall than most champs — only 19 World Series winners matched the 2016 Cubs’ +252 run differential — but that just makes their current mediocrity stand out all the more starkly.Boston’s decline between 2013 and 2014 provides the best recent precedent for Chicago’s slump. Just two years after current Cubs President Theo Epstein left the Sox, Boston won the World Series with a core roster that Epstein mostly assembled. The following year, however, the Red Sox disappointed their fans by scraping together a woeful 71-win season. This was part of a multi-season trend of the Red Sox zig-zagging between contention and mediocrity, and that stretch wound up being the most extreme set of year-to-year swings in MLB history.But unlike the 2014 Red Sox or the ’98 Marlins, the 2017 Cubs have fallen apart while fielding a roster that’s largely unchanged from the year before. The Red Sox lost a star in Jacoby Ellsbury, along with an everyday catcher (Jarrod Saltalamacchia) and some bit players; the Marlins turned over nearly their entire team after winning it all. By contrast, Dexter Fowler counts as the Cubs’ only notable subtraction, and a healthy Kyle Schwarber (fresh off his World Series heroics) was supposed to offset Fowler’s loss. Instead, Schwarber floundered so much that he was was sent to the minors. (Granted, Fowler hasn’t been impressive with his new team, either.)It’s unlikely that the Cubs will continue to be this bad for the rest of the year. Even with their poor play through the season’s first 83 games, most projections call for them to rack up many more wins over the second half. They ought to sneak into the playoffs in a division with few strong contenders, and once they’re there, anything can happen. But even if you credit Chicago with the elevated run differential that these projections expect over the rest of the season, rather than simply pro-rating their differential so far, the Cubs would still end the year with the eighth-largest decline in history. No matter what happens, the Cubs’ 2017 performance will have been just as historic as it was a year earlier, even if it’s not nearly so impressive. Chicago Cubs201625225-227 Chicago White Sox191719914-185 RUN DIFFERENTIAL St. Louis Cardinals1931211-34-245 Pittsburgh Pirates190926583-182 Los Angeles Angels2002207-7-214 All run differentials are based on a 162-game schedule.Source: Lahman’s Baseball Database Cleveland Indians1948282106-176 Boston Red Sox2013197-81-278 The Cubs’ decline is historic Boston Red Sox191226823-245 TEAMYEARCHAMPIONSHIP YEARFOLLOWING YEARDIFFERENCE
It’s hard to imagine things going more right for the Boston Red Sox than they did last season. Boston jumped out to a scorching 17-2 start, was 38 games over .500 by the All-Star break, posted the most regular-season wins (108) by an MLB team in 17 years, and then steamrolled through the playoffs with an 11-3 postseason record en route to a World Series title. Statistically, it was probably the most impressive performance any major team had in 2018.1Among teams for which we had have game-by-game Elo ratings and predictions — in men’s pro and college football and basketball and Major League Baseball.But now the calendar has flipped to 2019, and as spring training warms up for the Sox in Fort Myers, Florida, Boston must focus on defending its crown — and staving off the inevitable regression that comes in the wake of a season as charmed as the one the Red Sox just enjoyed.As a rule, clubs that win a crazy number of ballgames in one season tend to come back down to earth quickly in the next. Of the 32 teams that cracked the century mark in wins (per 162 games)2We’re including teams in strike-shortened seasons — like the 1994 Montreal Expos — whose wins would prorate out to at least 100. since 1990, 28 had an inferior record the next year,3One team — the 101-win 2003 Yankees — compiled the same number of wins the next season. and 24 failed to return to the 100-win club. (Thirteen failed to break even 95 wins.) On average, these 32 triple-digit winners declined by 9.6 wins the following season. And the Red Sox could be running out of time to make the most of their current core. By 2021, Betts, Bradley, Chris Sale, Xander Bogaerts and Rick Porcello (plus potentially Martinez, who has an opt-out clause) will have all hit free agency. And team president Dave Dombrowski built 2018’s champion in part by bucking MLB’s prospect-hoarding trend and emptying out the farm system’s next generation in favor of short-term wins, so reinforcements aren’t exactly on the way.The result of Dombrowski’s moves was a championship, and one of baseball’s all-time great single season performances, so I’m pretty sure it was worth it. The question now is how steep the drop-off will be in 2019 — and beyond. In many ways, Boston caught lightning in a bottle last season, enjoying the kind of magical year that comes along only once every decade or so. But if history is any guide, the follow-up will have trouble coming close to matching the original. Red Sox15649567+136744110 Rays15278676+5042153 TeamElo RatingWinsLossesRun Diff.Make PlayoffsWin DivisionWin World Series Yankees15669567+13774%41%10% Blue Jays14837587-521331 Avg. Simulated SeasonChance to… Teams that won substantially more than 100 games have tended to regress even harder. The 2002 Mariners, for example, won “only” 93 games after the 2001 squad tied a major league record with 116 wins; the 1999 Yankees won 98 a year after the team took home 114. The inescapable truth is that few major league teams actually have 100 wins of “true talent” on their rosters, much less 108. Most of these huge winners were aided by some not-insignificant amount of luck along the way.And it’s hard to argue that the Red Sox weren’t one of the luckier teams in baseball last season. According to the Pythagorean expectation, a team with Boston’s runs scored and allowed should have won four games fewer than it actually did. Furthermore, a team with Boston’s particular statistical profile (its singles, doubles, walks, etc. — both for and against) should have had a Pythagorean record five games worse than it actually did. Add up those two categories, and the Red Sox benefited from an MLB-high 10 extra wins of luck, whether through prevailing in the relative toss-ups of close games or through stringing hits together (or stranding opposing runners) in an unusually favorable manner.On top of all that, there’s another way a team can have everything go right for it, and that’s at the player level: Did everyone outperform their expected levels of performance at once? Injuries can often play a role here — though the Red Sox were in the middle of the pack in terms of man-games lost to the injured list. More pertinently, Boston also saw a number of players post career-best seasons last year, from American League MVP Mookie Betts (10.6 wins above replacement)4Averaging together the versions of WAR from Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs. to blockbuster free-agent signing J.D. Martinez (6.1), plus young up-and-comers such as Andrew Benintendi (4.1) and even longtime puzzles such as Eduardo Rodriguez (2.7).Altogether, 12 of Boston’s 21 regulars (those who played at least 2 percent of the team’s available playing time)5As measured by plate appearances and (leverage-adjusted) innings pitched, scaled to maintain WAR’s implicit 58/42 split between position players and pitchers. exceeded their established level of WAR, with only Jackie Bradley Jr., Eduardo Nunez and the catching tandem of Sandy Leon and Christian Vazquez significantly undershooting their previous production levels during the 2018 regular season.6You could also argue that more should have been expected of Rafael Devers, who had 1.1 WAR in a partial season at age 20 in 2017 but produced only 0.5 WAR with more than double the playing time in 2018. But Devers was also only 21, playing his first season as an MLB regular.And this is to say nothing of the unexpected performances the team received in the postseason from the likes of Steve Pearce — a fizzled-out former prospect who arrived in Boston via a midseason trade and ultimately won World Series MVP — or Nathan Eovaldi, another castoff who had a 1.61 ERA in 22 1/3 postseason innings. (Or, in general, the amazingly fortuitous splits the team had in crucial playoff situations.)All of those different ingredients explain how a team that won 93 games in 2017 suddenly exploded for 108 and won the championship a year later. But again, the pull of baseball’s gravity is strong. Based on data since 1990, we’d expect a team that improved by 15 games between seasons to give back about 5.2 wins the next season. It’s just another data point to toss onto the heap of statistical indicators that foretell a decline for the Red Sox heading into 2019.The good news for Boston is that if your starting point is a 108-win team, you have a ton of room to regress and still be one of the best teams in baseball. Even if the Sox didn’t truly have 108 wins of talent on the roster last year, they still played like a 98-win team according to their underlying statistics, and almost all of that team will be back this season (with the notable exception of closer Craig Kimbrel). According to an early preseason version of our 2019 MLB projections,7Not including Tuesday’s news of Manny Machado signing with the San Diego Padres, although that move has minimal implications for the Red Sox. we rate Boston as the third-best team in baseball, with a 95-67 projected record and a 10 percent chance of repeating as champs, which is also tied for third-best in MLB.Trouble is, that might make the Red Sox only the second-best team in their own division. Our simulations consider the archrival New York Yankees just as likely as Boston to win the World Series and actually think that New York is ever-so-slightly better talent-wise. Although the Sox got the better of the Yankees last season, winning 13 of 23 games (including an August sweep and a four-game division series victory), for all intents and purposes, our projections have the two teams in an absolute dead heat as we look ahead to 2019: The Red Sox still have a Yankees problem on their handsHow our preliminary Elo ratings are forecasting the 2019 AL East race Based on 100,000 simulations of the 2019 MLB seasonSources: Baseball prospectus, Fangraphs, Clay Davenport, Caesar’s Palace Orioles142160102-1981<1<1
On Friday night, the Miami Heat buried the Indiana Pacers under a barrage of 3-pointers, taking Game 6 by 25 points and advancing to the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive season. The Heat were 11 of 26 from behind the 3-point arc (the third game in this series that their 3-point makes hit double-digits). Outside shooting is a central pillar of Miami’s offense, but the degree to which it used these shots to beat the Pacers was surprising.The Pacers had one of the stingiest defenses in the NBA during the regular season, and defending the 3-point line was one of their biggest strengths: the Pacers both discouraged 3-point attempts and held down their opponents’ 3-point accuracy. The Heat, meanwhile, were one of the most frequent and accurate 3-point shooting teams during the regular season.With a great defense matching up against a great offense, competing strengths dancing around a specific facet of the game, we would expect the results to fall somewhere in the middle.Not so much. In the Eastern Conference finals, the 3-point battle was won, emphatically, by the Heat’s offense.The Pacers didn’t limit the Heat’s 3-point attempts. The Heat took more. And those 3-point shots weren’t forced. They came within the framework of Miami’s offense; the Heat even pushed their accuracy past their own regular-season mark.The Heat’s 3-point shooting from the corners was particularly important. Other than a shot at the basket, no other location, on average, yields a higher expected value than a corner 3-pointer. Against the Pacers, the Heat took nearly twice as many of these shots as the Pacers’ defense allowed during the regular season.This 3-point bombardment came from just about everywhere. Six different Heat players made six or more 3-pointers in the series, and six different players made at least one corner 3-pointer. Six different Heat players assisted on a 3-pointer. In short, the load was shared in making and facilitating these shots.In their half-court offense, the Heat almost always have their eye on an open 3-point look. The Heat’s opponent in the NBA Finals is still to be determined. Both the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder present stout defenses. But the Thunder were roughly middle of the pack in the regular season in limiting 3-point attempts and makes. The Spurs, on the other hand, were among the league’s best — similar to the Pacers. Of course, the Heat have just shown they can get the shots they want against an elite defense keyed toward stopping them.Correction (May 31, 8:00 p.m.): A previous version of this post incorrectly counted the number of Heat players to make seven or more 3-pointers and at least one corner 3-pointer in the Eastern Conference finals.
“Junk”0000041– PHRASECBS SPORTSS.I.ESPNFOXOLD MEDIA*NEW MEDIA*ALL OTHERSTOTAL “Crotch”1000022– *Old media: NY Times, WSJ, AP, Reuters. *New media: Deadspin, SB Nation, Bleacher Report “Nuts”0001059– “Between the legs”0300042– “Below the belt”4124024– It’s the oldest laugh in sports: Some poor schmoe takes a sports ball to the crotch, keels over and, once we’re reasonably sure no lasting damage has been done, the TV announcers deadpan some dad jokes while the camera pans around to giggling teammates. It’s as much a familiar sports yuk as other not-all-that-uncommon oddities, like a field player on the mound or the fat guy touchdown, only with funnier GIFs.At least, that’s how things work when the hit comes in a relatively low-stakes setting. But what happens when the stakes are raised? And just as important, when reporters are forced to write about sportsmen kicking each other in the nuts, what do they write? This week has provided some answers.In the hours after Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, the entire NBA-watching universe found itself poring over various angles of Draymond Green kicking Steven Adams right in the penis. Green was at risk of being suspended for Game 4, and suddenly the punchline was vital to the outcome of the NBA playoffs.1In a lot of ways, this is a fitting absurdity to afflict the NBA pundit class. When the assumption is that complex, instinctual movement can be studied in slow-motion to reveal some very specific truth — when the angle of Andre Iguodala’s arm is a measureable gauge of defensive sophistication — maybe spending 18 hours Zapruder-ing intent out of Vines of a kick to the penis is the proper antidote.Just as suddenly, reporters had to describe what had happened. Different outlets have different comfort levels when writing about the crotch. The New York Times, for example, threw idiomatic English out the door on first reference: “Exhibit A was that Green picked up a flagrant-1 foul — while hacked in the act of shooting — with 5 minutes 57 seconds left in the half by flailing a leg between those of Steven Adams, who wound up doubled over.” The New York Daily News, writing after the situation had resolved itself, was less weighed down by compunction: “Green will not be suspended for kicking Thunder center Steven Adams in the nuts during Game 3 of the Western Conference finals on Sunday, the league indicated in a release.”Clearly, a more thorough linguistic examination is in order. Out of practicality, when searching for the terms used by news outlets to describe the incident, I limited the search to online articles, and not broadcast or radio. I used Google’s advanced search function to look for articles in the last week about Adams or Bismack Biyombo, who was punched in the genitals by Dahntay Jones in the Eastern Conference Finals the night before Adams crumpled, and counted up who wrote what.The sample includes articles from mainstream sports news sites such as ESPN, Yahoo, CBS Sports, Fox Sports and — for strictly liberal-media, East-Coast-bias reasons — a few of the New York tabloids. I threw in some old media standbys (The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press) as a control group, as well as general sports blogs like SB Nation and Bleacher Report for more or less the opposite effect. I also sought out the most partial participants: local newspapers for each team, plus dedicated blogs for each team — Daily Thunder (the TrueHoop Network’s blog for the Thunder), Golden State of Mind (SB Nation’s for the Warriors) and Deadspin, a Warriors fan blog based in New York City.2Disclosure: I used to work for Deadspin, where I was made to write Warriors propaganda.Here it is, in table form: “Low Blow”6010034– “Dick”0000080– “Private area”5101005– “Balls”0000063– “Penis”0000010– “Groin Area”1050000– “Nether region”1011002– He kicked him where? Other phrases822411341– “Groin”2219181592342– “Midsection”1000120– In 96 articles, totaling a little more than 50,000 words, “groin” was used 148 times across headlines, body and photo captions. Of course, in sports, groin injuries can mean something very different from your basic knee to the crotch. So at best, this creates unnecessary ambiguity in order to demur from coarser language. The next most frequently used was some form of “below the belt” with 17 appearances, followed by “nuts” with 15, “low blow” with 14, a few variations of “private parts” totaling 12, “between the legs” with 10 and “balls” with nine. “Other” variations appeared 71 times, though this number is heavily skewed by a single Yahoo article that used 30 non-standard variations. This category includes a wide range of phrases — “nads” and “cobblers” and “Adams’s apples” alongside recitations of Green’s own softening quote, in which he repeatedly referred to the penis area as “down there.”But the taxonomy of dong euphemism goes beyond basic totals. ESPN, for instance, is almost uniformly “groin” and “groin area,” while CBS clusters around “below the belt” and “low blow” and SB Nation is heavy on “between the legs.” Deadspin carries both “dick” and “balls,” frequently daisying the two as a complex noun.Omission is just as much a function of the editorial hand as diction. In six articles appearing on NewsOK.com and Daily Thunder — both Thunder-leaning publications — some term for genitals was used 21 times; in six on SFChronicle.com and Golden State of Mind — Warriors rags — there were 14 mentions.Perhaps most concerning, the word “penis” appeared just once, in an SB Nation article; the lone appearance of “testicles” came from a CBS podcast teaser; “scrotum” appeared once, pluralized. Any of these, and many of the others, would be preferable to “groin.”CORRECTION (May 24, 5:45 p.m.): A previous version of this article misidentified the publishing network affiliated with the Daily Thunder blog. It is part of the TrueHoop Network, which is owned by ESPN, and is not an SB Nation blog.
The No. 7-ranked Ohio State field hockey team’s main goal entering the 2010 NCAA Tournament Saturday is simple: win the first two rounds of the tournament and advance to the Final Four. “Even from preseason, our biggest goal was making the Final Four,” senior back Bri Doak said. “If we play like I know we can play, I don’t see why we won’t be in the Final Four next weekend.” OSU (16-4) will play the No. 15-ranked University of Albany (16-5) in the first round of the tournament. Because the bracket for the tournament was not released until Tuesday night, the OSU coaching staff has had little time to scout Albany. However, OSU coach Anne Wilkinson has seen enough to know Albany will be a tough challenge for the Buckeyes. “They’re strong. They’re very, very strong with their tackling,” Wilkinson said. “They have great individual skills and they are very disciplined with the way they play.” The Buckeyes enter the NCAA Tournament coming off a disappointing loss to the Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament Finals. Before the loss to UM, OSU had a 10-game winning streak. With the winning streak gone, OSU players are now looking at the NCAA Tournament as a fresh start. “The Michigan game was a disappointing loss for us,” senior forward Jena Cacciatore said. “The NCAA (Tournament) is a new season. We are 0-0 across the board, so anything can happen.” Cacciatore is excited for Saturday’s game against Albany for more than a chance to make up for the UM loss. Albany’s senior midfielder Sarah Deane is Cacciatore’s good friend and former high school teammate. “I’ve been asking coach to play her for years. When I found out, I knew it would be bittersweet because one of us will get knocked out,” Cacciatore said. “It’s taught me I better be careful what I wish for.” The game will be special for Doak as well. She will be making her 80th career start, setting a new OSU record. “When (Doak) came in as a freshman, she kind of flew under the radar, but she’s always been a constant for us,” Wilkinson said. “She came in with great fitness and has maintained it. She has earned every minute.” OSU plays Albany at 2 p.m. Saturday in State College, Pa. The winner will advance to the second round and play at 2 p.m. Sunday against the winner of Penn State and Syracuse.
In his final home game as coach of the Ohio State rugby team, Tom Rooney’s team displayed the toughness and rigidness of the coach’s more than 20-year career. The Buckeyes lost to 10th-ranked United States Naval Academy, 23-18, on Saturday in a tightly contested and physical game. The night was more significant than the final score as the game served as a celebration and remembrance of Rooney’s career. Sophomore scrumhalf Luke Hickey said the team will miss Rooney’s charisma and presence. “You know when he’s on the field because he’s always chirping in your ear, helping you out and telling you what to do,” Hickey said. Many in Columbus consider Rooney a Buckeye legend because of his resume. He was originally a wrestler at OSU and then played for the Columbus rugby team Scioto Valley RFC in 1982 where he was elected captain of the team. An injury forced him to redirect his focus on coaching in 1992 as an assistant with OSU. Rugby is not a Division I sport at OSU, but Rooney still made his presence known. “In Ohio and the Midwest, he’s become a legend of the sport,” Hickey said. Assistant coach Ron Bowers will take over the rugby program next year, and said he has learned a lot from working alongside Rooney. “He’s taught me how to conduct myself as a professional and how to lead by example as a coach,” Bowers said. Rooney was emotional after his final home game and talked about some of his favorite memories from coaching at OSU. He said he had a lot of memories, but his proudest moments were watching his team and players success over the years. “I was an assistant for two final fours here, there have been 23 All-Americans from the program. I’ve also had two kids named to the National team, and I got to travel to watch them compete internationally and represent our country,” Rooney said. Rooney said he was also proud of being involved with the development of the two rugby fields at the Fred Beekman Park. The university said it would turf the fields at the park but Rooney said the project has been delayed for the third time in a row. Rooney said he would like to see that project completed in the near future because it will help the team overall. “Not having the turf field is really going to make competition difficult for us,” Rooney said. “I think that’s a really unfair position for the university to have taken.” Even on his last day on the job, Rooney was looking out for his team to help them any way he could. As Rooney walks away from coaching to take on an administrative position, The OSU rugby team thanked him for his commitment to the program for more than 20 years. “We all loved playing for him and we’re really going to miss having him around here,” Hickey said. “OSU rugby and Coach Rooney go hand-in-hand.”
Ohio State softball’s sophomore pitcher Alex DiDomenico is making strides to be a star player for the Buckeyes after pitching her fourth complete shutout win of the season over the weekend at the Cherry Blossom Classic. In OSU’s game Saturday against Canisius in Fairfax, Va., DiDomenico struck out three batters and allowed one hit in six innings of play. The Buckeyes won, 8-0. DiDomenico received her first career Big Ten weekly honor of Pitcher of the Week Feb. 18. “It was very exciting for her, but I think most importantly it was the fact that what she did was a team effort,” said OSU softball coach Kelly Schoenly. The Youngstown native’s athletic journey began when she was young. “My dad got me into the sport when I was like 5, and my sister played, too,” DiDomenico said. “They love the sport and they are my biggest supporters, you know, it’s really important to us.” DiDomenico was also selected as an Ohio State Scholar-Athlete in 2012, an achievement that she said she credits to knowing her priorities. “It’s always tough, but really, it’s prioritizing your time and knowing how to put what’s important first,” DiDomenico said. When DiDomenico finds time to unwind, it is not unusual to catch her watching the movie “Pitch Perfect” with teammate sophomore catcher Shelby Pickett, catching up on needed sleep or keeping up with schoolwork. DiDomenico’s teammates also said they often play pranks on her because she has a good sense of humor. “We went around in a circle and everyone had to say ‘woof,’ and it had a name after it, and hers was ‘woof arted,’” Pickett said. “So when you put it together, it’s ‘who farted’ and she had no idea until the end and it was hilarious.” Schoenly said DiDomenico’s determination on and off the field is a characteristic that is hard to miss. “She’s a boxer, a fighter, she’s a bulldog, she’s all of those words,” Schoenly said. “She might get knocked down, might get a hit, but we say she’ll bend, but she won’t break. So she’s definitely got that, ‘You might hit me once but I’m going to come back harder, fighting harder,’ mentality.” DiDomenico said she’s keeping that intense focus on softball and school for the time being. “I would really like to become an All-American and just keep working towards that, you know anything is possible,” DiDomenico said. “I just want a good education, hopefully a good job, but I don’t know, wherever life takes me.” Schoenly said she expects great things in the future from DiDomenico. “I think she’s one of those young women that is going to go and conquer the world,” Schoenly said. “I really feel like she’s got kind of an inner drive where she’s going to do something special because she’s got that energy and desire that you can feel it coming out.” OSU is scheduled to play Indiana at Buckeye Field on Friday at 3 p.m. in the Buckeyes’ first conference game of the season.