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Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter dies at 57

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Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter, whose single for the New York Mets in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series led to perhaps the most famous comeback in baseball history, died Thursday. He was 57. Carter was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor in May.

Carter spent 11 seasons with the Montreal Expos but reached his greatest fame during his five-season tenure for the Mets. He was an 11-time All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner and was the first player to go into the Hall of Fame with an Expos cap on his plaque.

Carter played for the Dodgers in 1991.

PHOTOS: Notable deaths of 2012

“It is with profound sadness that we mourn the loss of Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter,” said Jane Forbes Clark, chairman of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. “Gary’s enthusiasm, giving spirit and infectious smile will always be remembered in Cooperstown. Our thoughts are with Sandy, Christy, Kimmie, DJ and the entire Carter family on this very sad day.”

Carter, 57, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2003.

“When you think of the great baseball field generals, you think Gary Carter,” said Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson. “He ran the game from behind the plate with strong leadership and passion. The Kid's contribution to our national pastime is big, but his heart was even bigger. We’ll always remember his caring way, ever-present smile and strong devotion to family, community and the Baseball Hall of Fame.”

Carter earned the nickname "Kid" as an eager teen in his first major league camp and the label stuck for the rest of his career.

"An exuberant on-field general with a signature smile who was known for clutch hitting and rock-solid defense over 19 seasons," reads his Hall plaque.

Carter diedtwo weeks after finishing his second season as coach at Palm Beach Atlantic University.

"I am deeply saddened to tell you all that my precious dad went to be with Jesus today at 4:10 p.m." Carter's daughter Kimmy Bloemers wrote on the family website. "This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write in my entire life but I wanted you all to know."

You can read Carter's complete obituary at latimes.com/obits.

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-- Houston Mitchell

Photo: Gary Carter tags Jim Rice out at the plate during Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Credit: Peter Southwick / Associated Press

Kevin Youkilis reportedly engaged to Tom Brady's sister

Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis is reportedly engaged to Tom Brady's sisterWell, it's not exactly on the level of the high-profile-celebrity pairing of Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen, but there's news of another Boston-related pairing with high-profile connections.

According to the Boston Herald's Inside Track, Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis and Patriots quarterback Tom Brady are about to become brothers-in-law. Youkilis is reportedly engaged to Julie Brady, one of the quarterback's three sisters.

The website says that Julie Brady is a teacher in California and will move to Florida to be with Youkilis. They spent time together in Indianapolis to watch the Super Bowl, which Tom Brady's Patriots lost to the New York Giants. It will be Julie Brady's first marriage.

According to ESPN, Youkilis took part in a marriage ceremony with Enza Sambataro in 2008, but the two never were legally married before separating. Sambataro reportedly dated Hollywood Red Sox fan Ben Affleck.

Youkilis has been known as a gritty, hard-working player and an excellent fielder in his eight-year career with the Red Sox.

The three-time All-Star batted .258 with 17 home runs and 80 RBIs in 2011.

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-- Austin Knoblauch

Photo: Boston Red Sox first baseman Kevin Youkilis attends The Maxim Party at the Indiana State Fairgrounds on Feb. 4. Credit: Daniel Boczarski / Getty Images

USC football: Mitch Mustain signs baseball contract with White Sox

Mitch

Former USC quarterback Mitch Mustain dreamed of one day playing in the Super Bowl. But now Mustain, who has not pitched since his sophomore year in high school, is thinking about the World Series after signing a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox.

“This is my one shot and I have nothing to lose,” Mustain, 24, said in a phone interview.

Mustain will report to the White Sox’s spring training facility in Arizona in March. He will take part in the extended spring training program and, if he progresses, will likely be assigned to a rookie league team after the June draft.

It's the latest chapter in an athletic career that has featured many twists and turns.

Mustain was a high school football legend in Arkansas and started eight games as a freshman at the University of Arkansas in 2006. That season, however, was full of controversy surrounding Mustain, former Coach Houston Nutt and others, and Mustain was among several players who left the program.

Mustain transferred to USC in 2007 but never won the starting job. He started only one game — the Trojans’ 2010 loss to Notre Dame at the Coliseum.

Mustain had hoped to play in the NFL, but his prospects for getting drafted or signing as a free agent were not helped by a February 2011 arrest in the San Fernando Valley on suspicion of selling prescription drugs. He completed a pre-file diversion program and did not face misdemeanor charges.

Mustain had a brief stint with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League last summer. The Georgia Force of the Arena Football League announced in October that it had signed Mustain.

Those plans, however, were put on hold after a recent pitching session that Mustain said occurred “as ironic as it sounds” in a bullpen at the University of Arkansas.

Mustain had been working out last year in preparation for a possible shot at baseball, but stopped throwing in November.

“I didn’t think it was going to happen,” he said.

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Rangers' Josh Hamilton visits MLB doctors after alcohol relapse

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After his alcohol relapse last week, Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers visited doctors for Major League Baseball and the players’ association Monday in New York.

Texas General Manager Jon Daniels told the Associated Press that Hamilton was accompanied by Shayne Kelley, whose job includes being in a support role for Hamilton.

Hamilton admitted to having several drinks last week in Dallas, saying he had a “weak moment” that stemmed from “personal reasons” involving a family member.

Daniels said the Rangers probably would not punish Hamilton, but was unsure as to how MLB would handle the situation. “I think it’s kind of based on what the doctors find, and what they recommend, whether they feel like this was something bigger,” Daniels said.

The Rangers have put talks of a contract extension with Hamilton, whose contract expires after the 2012 season, on hold. 

Kelley was hired by the Rangers last week to mainly become Hamilton's accountability partner, replacing Jerry Narron, who left the Rangers after last season to become hitting coach in Milwaukee.

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-- Houston Mitchell

Photo: Josh Hamilton of the Rangers during a news conference Friday in which he discussed his alcohol relapse. Credit: Max Faulkner / Associated Press

 

Josh Hamilton holds news conference to address alcohol relapse

Fabforum

Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton said Friday that he had a relapse and had “three or four” drinks Monday at a bar in Dallas, calling it a “weak moment” and that he is taking steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

At the news conference he held in Arlington, Texs, to discuss his relapse, Hamilton said he has not taken any illegal drugs, has been tested twice since Monday and will meet with doctors from Major League Baseball soon.

“You all know how hard I work on the field, I give it everything I have. When I don’t do that off the field, I leave myself open for a weak moment. I had a weak moment on Monday night.

"... “[I] ended up ordering a drink ... probably had three or four drinks, ended up calling Ian Kinsler, to just kind of ...  hang out with me. Ian did not know I had been drinking.”

Kinsler is a teammate of Hamilton's on the Rangers.

When the Rangers acquired him from the Cincinnati Reds in December 2007, they were aware of Hamilton’s off-the-field problems. He is tested for drug use three times a week and has had an accountability partner to support him in his recovery — though that job is now vacant.

Hitting coach Jerry Narron was Hamilton's accountability partner, but he left the Rangers in November to become the hitting coach for Milwaukee.

Last month, the Rangers hired Hamilton’s father-in-law, Michael Chadwick, as a staff special assistant to be his accountability partner, but Chadwick has since decided against accepting that position because of “family considerations.”

Last summer, Hamilton threw a foul ball toward fans in the left-field seats at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, and a man fell to his death as he lost his balance trying to make the catch. The man's young son was standing right next to his father when he fell. When the playoffs began, the son, 6-year-old Cooper Stone, threw out the ceremonial first pitch to Hamilton, his favorite player.

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-- Houston Mitchell

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Josh Hamilton at his news conference on Friday. Credit: LM Otero / Associated Press

Josh Hamilton relapse: Show some compassion

Fabforum

It's time to show Josh Hamilton a little compassion. Hamilton, the Texas Rangers' outfielder and a recovering addict, drank alcohol at a Dallas area bar Monday night, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The Rangers released a statement saying they are "aware of a situation, but we do not have further comment at this time."

Meanwhile, this has brought out the worst in some commenters all across the Internet, with many laughing at Hamilton's professed belief that Jesus gives him strength, or thinking "What do you expect from an addict?"

Apparently, teammate Ian Kinsler went to the bar Monday in an attempt to convince Hamilton to leave, which shows you at least one teammate thinks he is worth trying to help.

All we know for sure right now is that Hamilton relapsed for one night. He is tested for drugs three times a week. He had an accountability partner, former coach Jerry Narron, to support him in his recovery, and it's probably no coincidence that the relapse comes after Narron left the team to become the Milwaukee Brewers' hitting coach. His accountability partner leaving is just one of a couple of bad things to happen to Hamilton in the last year.

Last summer, Hamilton threw a foul ball toward fans in the left-field seats at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, and a man fell to his death as he lost his balance trying to make the catch. The man's young son was standing right next to his father when he fell. That had to have had an effect on Hamilton. Add that tragedy to the disappointment of losing in the World Series for the second year in a row, followed by his accountability partner leaving, and it's easy to see how all those things could lead to a moment of weakness.

But this is the time for people to rally around Hamilton and support him. To understand that he is human, just like the rest of us, and while he made a mistake, it doesn't have to be the end of his world. That we have all had moments of weakness, and we have all needed people to support us during those times, not make fun of us. That we applaud his years of sobriety, and don't add "but you let us all down" to his thought process as he tries to find the right path again.

A little compassion goes a long way. Many people are rallying around Hamilton today, but for those who want to use this to attack him, look in a mirror, and ask yourself if you will ever need anyone to support you one day. 

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--Houston Mitchell

Photo: Josh Hamilton of the Rangers during the 2011 season. Credit: Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press.

Josh Hamilton reportedly has alcohol relapse

Josh-hamilton_600

Josh Hamilton, the Texas Rangers' slugging outfielder and a recovering addict, drank alcohol at a Dallas area bar Monday night, according to the Dallas Morning News.

The Rangers released a statement saying they are "aware of a situation, but we do not have further comment at this time."

Hamilton, a four-time All-Star and the American League most valuable player in 2010, has been sober since October of 2005. While a top prospect in the Tampa Bay organization, he missed the entire 2003-05 seasons because of suspensions related to his drug and alcohol use.

The 30-year-old is tested for drugs three times a week and until recently had an accountability partner, former coach Johnny Narron, to support him in his recovery. Narron, who was also a batting instructor for the Rangers, left the club after last season to become the Milwaukee Brewers' hitting coach.

The only other time Hamilton broke his sobriety was in 2009 when he said he questioned his Christian faith and it led to a night of drinking at a bar in Tempe, Ariz.

Hamilton has helped the Rangers to two consecutive appearances in the World Series, but last summer he was part of tragic events at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, when he threw a foul ball toward fans in the left-field seats and a man fell to his death as he lost his balance trying to make the catch.

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Photo: Josh Hamilton. Credit: Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

Roy Oswalt to play for St. Louis Cardinals ... or some other team

Roy Oswalt

Roy Oswalt likely is heading to the St. Louis Cardinals -- that's if you believe an unnamed source on ESPNBoston.com rather than the Cardinals' general manager.

The source said late Friday night that the free-agent pitcher likely will sign with the defending World Series champions "soon." But with Oswalt's history of back problems, the source added that the deal is "not yet 100 percent."

St. Louis General Manager John Mozeliak responded Saturday morning in an email to ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick. "These are just rumors, and nothing more," he wrote about the Oswalt reports.

Other teams hoping to remain in the hunt for Oswalt are said to include the Boston Red Sox, Washington Nationals and Texas Rangers.

CBS.com reported Friday night that Oswalt had turned down a one-year offer for around $10 million from the Detroit Tigers, who landed another big-name free agent in first baseman Prince Fielder earlier in the week.

Oswalt, an 11-year veteran, made 23 starts for the Philadelphia Phillies last season, posting a 9-10 record and 3.69 earned-run average.

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Photo: Roy Oswalt. Credit: Matt Slocum / Associated Press

Is Prince Fielder worth $214 million? [Poll]

Prince Fielder

Prince Fielder will be getting paid quite handsomely for his services to the Detroit Tigers over the next nine years. The two parties reportedly have agreed to $214-million contract, subject to a physical.

That's quite a deal -- one that Times blogger Steve Dilbeck is glad the Dodgers didn't make:

I don’t trust that body (5-11, 280) to stay healthy and at the same productive level over the course of nine years, or even close. And do you really want to be shelling out $214 million to Fielder when you’re paying $160 million to Matt Kemp? And a big payday still looms for Clayton Kershaw?

It's only the fourth $200 million-plus contract in baseball history and the second this off-season, following the Angels' $240-million, 10-year deal with Albert Pujols.

Fielder could be well worth the price for the Tigers, who might be without injured designated hitter Victor Martinez for the entire 2012 season. Fielder hit .299 with 38 home runs and 120 RBIs last season and has averaged 40 home runs and 113 RBIs over the last five.

What do you think? Did the Tigers overpay for Fielder? Vote in the poll, then leave a comment explaining why you voted the way you did.

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-- Chuck Schilken

Photo: Prince Fielder. Credit: Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press

Jorge Posada: Is he a Hall of Famer? [Poll]

Jorge Posada
Jorge Posada announced his retirement Tuesday after 17 years in the major leagues, all with the New York Yankees.The 40-year-old catcher won five World Series, was a five-time all-star and finished with a .273 career batting average, 275 home runs and 1,065 RBIs.

It's all very impressive, and he's certainly going to go down as one of the all-time great Yankees. But is he a Hall of Famer?

There are 16 catchers enshrined in Cooperstown. Posada -- who also has 1,664 hits, 900 runs scored, an on-base percentage of .374 and slugging percentage of .474 -- is statistically pretty average when compared to those guys.

But that can be taken two ways -- it's true that Posada doesn't dominate in any particular category, but he definitely holds his own among the best who have ever played his position.

He also won no Gold Gloves, and his highest finishes in MVP voting were third in 2003 and sixth in 2007. As a point of comparison, Hall of Fame catcher Johnny Bench won 10 Golden Gloves and two MVPs.

But there's a lot to be said for those five World Series titles, including four during a five-year stretch from 1996-2000, and the role Posada played on those teams. And the fact that he played for so long and always wore a Yankees uniform -- those are the kinds of things statistics don't necessarily reveal but voters certainly must take into account.

So what do you think? Vote in the poll, then leave a comment explaining why you voted the way you did.

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Photo: Jorge Posada at a news conference to announce his retirement Tuesday. Credit: Mike Stobe / Getty Images

AT&T Wireless tops biggest national TV sports advertisers

Camera

The research firm Nielsen said Tuesday that AT&T Wireless was the biggest advertiser on national televised sports in the 12 months ended last Sept. 30, spending $423.5 million on national network and cable TV ads.

In its report "State of the Media: 2011 Year in Sports,"Nielsen said the wireless company's national TV ad spending was more than twice that spent by the second-place advertiser, Bud Light, the Anheuser-Busch beer that spent $210.2 million.

Wireless phone companies, in fact, accounted for three of the seven largest national TV sports advertisers. Verizon Wireless was third on Nielsen's list at $207.7 million and Sprint Wireless was seventh at $147.4 million.

The report did not break down ad spending by sport, but it did say overall national TV sports advertising climbed 5.8% in the year to $10.9 billion.

The increase was slightly above the 5% increase in the amount of live national TV sports content that was available on network and cable in the 12-month period, which totaled 42,500 hours, Nielsen said.

The other top advertisers: McDonald's, DirecTV, Geico, Southwest Airlines, State Farm Insurance and Miller Lite beer.

-- Jim Peltz

Photo: A television camera above the field in St. Louis before the NFL's St. Louis Rams played the Washington Redskins on Sept. 26, 2010. Credit: Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

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