Another pitcher is (officially) off the Major League Baseball market. This one ending a month or so of uncertainty.
Francisco Liriano signed a one-year contract with Pittsburgh on Friday night according to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, which reports the deal is for $1 million in 2013 but could bloat to $3.75 million. The team also has a vesting option for 2014.
Hang on .... the pre-holiday clouds are starting to part.
But ... didn't Liriano already have a deal with the Bucs? Well, yes and no.
The former Twins' lefty agreed to terms with the Pirates in late December. However, he then broke his right arm in a bathroom fall according to a newspaper in the Dominican Republic. That forced the Pirates to re-work the contract, and Liriano finally passed his physical on Friday - 48 days after the first agreement.
The latest in a long list of "lasts" for the WCHA comes this weekend when the Gophers make the short trek to St. Cloud for one final regular season series with the Huskies. If you already have tickets - good for you. It should be a heckuva series between the top-ranked Gophers and No. 8 Huskies, who lead the WCHA race by three points.
If you're on the lookout for seats ... well, take it from St. Cloud State Center Ice Club President Bill Prout who told the St. Cloud Times this week, "You pretty much have to tell people this weekend, it's not possible."
About 50 seats in the 5,371-seat arena were left as of Wednesday for Friday night's tilt. You can bet those have been gobbled up, and it's a safe wager the bulk of the 750 standing-room tickets are gone as well.
St. Cloud drew anncounced crowds of more than 6,000 three times in a span of eight days last season, according to the same article. You can bet it will be more of the same this weekened.
The Gophers lead the all-time series 51-27-12 with St. Cloud State since the Huskies joined the WCHA in 1990.
Brian Burke sat down Friday with the Toronto Star to share his feelings after his firing 48 hours earlier. He was as shocked as many hockey observers were.
“I was floored, and I still am stunned. I’ve never been fired before,” he said about Wednesday’s announcement. “How am I doing? I’m doing okay."
Burke isn't playing the sad sack. The article notes he was walking about with no sunglasses or hat and was dressed in a Providence College sweatshirt -- his alma mater.
He also says he isn't going anywhere, except maybe to the New England Patriots playoff game against Houston this weekend. But he's planning to stay in Toronto -- and get to work as a senior adviser.
“I think I can help,” he said. “I’ve been at this for a while. I have my name on the Stanley Cup. I’ll do whatever I can.”
But as interesting as his firing were the days after, as Deadspin notes from reading the interview, and enjoy the Canadian spellings:
This was his second visit to his favourite Starbucks of the morning — he was up at 4:30 a.m. to work out, then out for his first coffee at 5:30 a.m. — and came after a neighbour had pointed out to him that the back window of one of his cars had been smashed in.
“I don’t know if it was a disgruntled fan or not,” he said in his first interview since being dismissed. “But they didn’t steal anything.”
If the double dose of coffee wasn't enough of a treat, Burke took in a matinee showing of "Jack Reacher." Said Burke: "First time in my life I’ve ever been to a midweek matinee. First time I’ve ever gone to a movie alone."
Burke will talk more Saturday, when he plans a news conference.
St. Paul native Jack Morris wasn't returning calls Wednesday when he again fell short of the Baseball Hall of Fame. But in interviews Thursday with MLB.com and MLB Network Radio, the Game 7 hero of the 1991 World Series for the Twins shared his thoughts. Here are the highlights:
How about the folks over at Mariucci Arena, who had to contend with the "help" detailed in this video?
Before heading back to organized workouts, former Gophers Paul Martin of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Keith Ballard of the Vancouver Canucks showed off how they had been spending some of their time in the Twin Cities during the lockout. The fun video, first shown during the Gophers-Notre Dame game, was posted a day later on YouTube.
If you think that was a stretch, how about NBC hockey announcer Mike Emrick? According to the New York Times, Emrick found himself calling a girls 12-and-under game in Michigan -- at the suggestion of NBC News anchor Brian Williams.
Emrick found some help in his preparation from Minneapolis native, former North Star and 1980 Olympian Mark Johnson, now coach of the University of Wisconsin women's team who also coached the 2010 U.S. women's Olympic team. So what did Johnson tell Emrick? According to the Times:
What should he look for? Emrick asked. “A lot of smiles through wire,” Johnson told him. Also, he said, “Two or three on each team will be dominant; for that handful, the light has gone on, because they have the confidence and the skills.”
Emrick also found one main difference from calling a women's game vs. a men's: Sometimes, the ponytails obscure the players' numbers. His call was featured Thursday night on Williams' "Rock Center" show. Here's the segment:
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