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Tim Tebow homers in first professional at-bat


Tim Tebow’s first professional baseball game, of sorts, yielded an immediate highlight as the telegenic Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion quarterback hit a home run on the first pitch he saw in a game against a team of St. Louis Cardinals farmhands.

Tebow, 29, is likely the oldest player populating instructional league games in Florida, and the 255-pound outfielder did not waste time showing he’d like to advance with some dispatch through the New York Mets system, hammering a pitch just to the left of dead center field in Port St. Lucie, Fla.

The home run came on the first pitch off a fellow former Southeastern Conference athlete - John Kilichowski, 22, who was selected in the 11th round of June's draft out of Vanderbilt. Kilichowski posted a 3.38 ERA in 11 games - nine starts - at rookie level State College (Pa.) and low-A Peoria (Ill.).

“It was fun. I just wanted to have the approach that I was going to be aggressive,” Tebow said.

“That’s something that we’ve been talking about here every day and practicing it.”

Kilichowski was 12 years old when Tebow helped the University of Florida to the first of two national championships in 2006.

Tebow ended up 1-for-6 on the day with no strikeouts and played left field for five innings.

“I liked a lot of my at-bats today,” Tebow said. “I hit the ball really hard four out of the six times. … Four of the at-bats I felt really, really good about. Didn’t swing at any breaking balls, didn’t feel like I got fooled seeing it out of the (pitcher's) hand.”

Tebow received a $100,000 bonus to sign with the Mets, an arrangement that this fall enables him to keep his commitments as an analyst for the ESPN-owned SEC Network. He had not played organized baseball since his junior year of high school in 2005, in Florida.

“It feels good to hit a home run,” Tebow said. “First game you’re competing you wanna win. You’re with all your teammates.

"Honestly, the reception was fun, too.”

Contributing: Luis Torres of The Treasure Coast Palm, part of the USA TODAY Network

Coachella Classic: A Festival for Rock Giants and Their Aging Fans

Preparations for Desert Trip in Indio, Calif., where the Coachella festival is also held. Credit Jaime Kowal for The New York Times
One day in February, Paul Tollett, the promoter of the Coachella music festival, was summoned to Mick Jagger’s dressing room in Buenos Aires.

The Rolling Stones were on tour there, and Mr. Tollett had traveled from California. The band’s involvement was vital to Mr. Tollett’s idea for a new event: a once-in-a-lifetime festival of rock giants, including Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, the Who and Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, all performing over three days at the same spot in the Southern California desert where Mr. Tollett had built Coachella into the concert world’s most successful franchise.

Mr. Jagger listened to the pitch, and then shot back, as he later recalled in an interview on SiriusXM radio, “You mean it’s like Coachella for old people?”

Mr. Jagger was intrigued, though, and thus was born Desert Trip, along with its stereotype as a boomer-ready version of a 21st-century pop festival, with a telegram-from-1969 lineup and an elaborate complement of on-site luxuries. The average age of the headlining performers is 72, leading to the mocking nickname “Oldchella.”

Snark aside, however, Desert Trip — which begins the first of its two weekends on Oct. 7, at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, Calif. — has already taken its place as one of the most ambitious, and potentially most lucrative, music festivals in history. In part that is thanks to the buying power of older fans, a demographic that has often been overlooked in the concert industry’s festival boom.

Its two weekends, which will each feature two acts a night, will draw a total of about 150,000 concertgoers. Sales of tickets and amenities like camping and food passes will reach an estimated $160 million — far more than any other festival around the world, and nearly double the $84 million take from last year’s Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, according to Pollstar, a trade publication that tracks concert industry data.

Concert executives estimate that Desert Trip, which is put on by Mr. Tollett’s company, Goldenvoice, a division of the global entertainment company AEG Live, could cost $100 million to stage, including what representatives of several of the acts said were extraordinary paydays for the performers.

Mr. Tollett declined to comment on the specific finances of the festival, but said in an interview that he was deliberately paying the performers a premium given the historic nature of the lineup. “The bands are getting what they deserve,” he saidThe financial scale of Desert Trip has raised eyebrows throughout the industry. Tickets range from $199 for general admission on a single day to $1,599, the highest tier for weekend passes to one of 35,000 assigned seats. On average, attendees will spend more than $1,000 each — a remarkable sum given that the average ticket price to the top 100 tours in North America is about $75, according to Pollstar.

“Whatever ceiling there was in the concert business in terms of economics just got blown out of the water,” said Marc Geiger, the head of music at the William Morris Endeavor agency.

Satisfying an affluent crowd that skews toward middle age has become one of the promoters’ main concerns. There is an extensive menu of high-end food, including a $225 four-course meal by chefs like Dominique Ansel and Marcus Samuelsson, and an afternoon-long, all-you-can-eat “culinary experience” for $179. Mr. Tollett said that he and his team had been laboring over logistics to minimize patrons’ time waiting in line, and spent months scouring the region for more than 1,000 flushable toilets.

“We pretty much wiped out everything into Texas,” Mr. Tollett said of the hunt for rentable restroom trailers, which will supplement the more than 300 toilets already on the site.

When asked about the demographics for the show, Mr. Tollett said that all ages were expected, but acknowledged that the crowd would lean heavily toward the baby boomer generation. The festival’s own marketing videos illustrate this, with gray-haired revelers feasting on gourmet food and dancing in the pastel light of the desert dusk.

Older fans represent a steady portion of the concert audience, but have been an afterthought for festivals, which have become the concert industry’s fastest-growing area since Coachella’s arrival in 1999. That matches a wider blind spot in entertainment media about older consumers, said Robert Love, editor in chief of AARP The Magazine and a former editor at Rolling Stone.

“The truth is that there is a lot of advertising and media in general that tends not to focus on people over 45,” Mr. Love said, “even though the people who spend the most money on computers, cars, CDs and movies are older.”

AARP The Magazine, which last year drew headlines around the world for publishing a rare interview with Mr. Dylan, will be sending three reporters to Desert Trip, Mr. Love said. Other media coverage will include a station on SiriusXM devoted to music from the acts on the festival.

Mr. Tollett said that his work on Desert Trip began in May 2015, when he started checking in with the acts and their business representatives — a delicate dance, that, given the stature of the performers, took months.

“None of these artists are easy,” said Marsha Vlasic, Neil Young’s longtime booking agent. “Getting answers from Bob Dylan, getting answers from Neil Young, getting answers from the Rolling Stones — that’s all a workout.”

To win over the Who, Mr. Tollett met with Pete Townshend backstage at Madison Square Garden. “I was like, ‘I want to put a show on, maybe the best of all time,’” Mr. Tollett recalled. “‘Can you help?’”

The participation of the Rolling Stones was crucial, and once Mr. Jagger signaled his interest in February, the lineup came together quickly. Mr. Tollett said that the event was mostly confirmed by March, and news of it began to leak in April, just as Coachella was starting its first week.

At that point the event had no official name; the idea, Mr. Tollett said, was that the names of the artists were branding enough. But a website was needed, and Desert Trip eventually went from simply the web address to the name of the festival itself.

In March, Goldenvoice began selling tickets for a new festival in New York called Panorama, and demand was soft. Spooked by that experience, the company decided to go big in marketing Desert Trip, buying newspaper ads in 17 countries and a festival trailer that played in movie theaters. 

Initially advertised for one weekend only, demand was such that a second weekend was quickly added, and most of the tickets to both weekends sold out within a few hours. (A small number of additional tickets, released after seating configurations were completed, were released two weeks ago.)

The festival’s extraordinary lineup — and the ever-present sense that many of the acts may be nearing the end of their touring days — has been the biggest driver of sales. But Mr. Tollett said, as a promoter, that it was also simply about putting on a good show.

“To me,” he said, “the main story is just that it’s three days of great rock ’n’ roll.”

Uber plans self-flying drone taxis to beat city traffic

The Ehang 184, a passenger drone Credit: Ehang

If you summon an Uber in 10 years’ time, you will probably get a car that drives itself. But then again, you may not be travelling in a car at all.

The taxi-hailing app is working on technology that would allow airborne passenger drones to fly its users short distances around cities, it has emerged, raising the prospect of a future in which skylines are dotted with Uber aircraft shuttling commuters back and forth.

Jeff Holden, Uber’s head of product, told technology website Recode that the company is researching “vertical take off and landing” (VTOL) technology. Instead of the helicopter-style rotor blade drones, VTOL aircraft have fixed wings like planes, enabling them to fly silently, while taking off and landing vertically. 

Amazon’s delivery drones, currently being tested in Cambridgeshire, use a similar technology to cut down on noise and extend their range.

Holden said Uber wanted to “offer our customers as many options as possible to move around” and that the technology could be available within a decade.

“It could change cities and how we work and live,” Holden said, pointing out that moving traffic from the road to the air could dramatically cut down on congestion and the time it takes to cross cities. He said he envisages aircraft taking off from and landing on the roofs of buildings.

Uber driverless car
Uber is already testing driverless cars Credit: AFP
While the idea may seem far-fetched, Uber is not the only one researching passenger drones. Earlier this year Ehang, a Chinese company, unveiled the 184, an autonomous quadcopter drone designed to carry a single passenger, with a battery life of 23 minutes. The 184, which has been slated for release as early as this year, is expected to cost up to $300,000 (£232,000).

Google founder Larry Page is one of the major believers in flying cars, putting $100m of his own money into startups developing the technology.

However, filling our skies with passenger drones within 10 years is an ambitious undertaking, and would require hundreds of pages of new regulations, not to mention consumers who would be willing to put their life in the hands of a small self-flying aircraft. It would also, presumably, be incredibly costly to develop.

But Uber is already at the forefront of developing self-driving technology. Earlier this month it began testing a driverless car service in Pittsburgh.

Marlins pitcMarlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, 2 others killed in Miami boat crash

FOX News

Miami Marlins ace pitcher Jose Fernandez was killed Sunday morning after a boat crash in Miami Beach, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Fernandez was one of three people killed in the early morning accident.

"The Miami Marlins organization is devastated by the tragic loss of Jose Fernandez," a team statement said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this very difficult time."

Fernandez posted a photo of his girlfriend sporting a "baby bump" on his Instagram page last week, announcing that the couple were expecting their first child.

"I'm so glad you came into my life," Fernandez wrote in that post. "I'm ready for where this journey is gonna take us together."

Marlins manager Don Mattingly was in tears and visibly shaken during a Sunday afternoon news conference.

"I see such a little boy," Mattingly said. "The way he played, there was just joy with him when he played."

When leaving the news conference, leftfielder Christian Yellich and second baseman Dee Gordon wrapped their arms around each other and walked out somberly with other team members. Earlier, Gordon had walked out to the mound at Marlins Park, where the grounds crew had painted a "16" -- Fernandez's number -- and placed a Marlins cap. Gordon stood looking at the tribute before kneeling down in a moment of silent reflection.

"Sadly, the brightest lights are often the ones that extinguish the fastest," Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria said in a statement.

Sunday's game between the Marlins and the Atlanta Braves in Miami was cancelled after the death of the star right hander. MLB announced a moment of silence would be held for Fernandez before each game on Sunday.

"All of baseball is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said in a statement. "He was one of our game's great young stars who made a dramatic impact on and off the field since his debut in 2013. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, the Miami Marlins organization and all of the people he touched in his life."

Chief Petty Officer Nyxolyno Cangemi told The Associated Press that a Coast Guard patrol boat spotted an overturned boat at 3:30 a.m. on a jetty near Government Cut. The bodies were discovered a short time later. Officials said no one was wearing a life vest.

Because the boat was on a jetty, the Coast Guard notified Miami-Dade police, which turned the investigation over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Fernandez was on a 32-foot vessel that had a "severe impact" with the jetty, said Lorenzo Veloz of the Fish Commission.

Veloz said the boat was found upside down. Two bodies were found under the vessel and one was found in the water by divers. The boat was traveling full speed and was demolished.

There was no evidence of alcohol or illegal substances being a factor in the crash.

The names of the other two individuals are being withheld pending notification of relatives, the Coast Guard said.

"It does appear that speed was involved due to the impact and the severity of it," Veloz said. "It does appear to be that they were coming at full speed when they encountered the jetty, and the accident happened."

The boat was owned by a friend of Fernandez's, Veloz said.

"It does pertain to a friend of Jose who is very well connected with several Marlins players and I have stopped that boat before for safety inspections with other Marlins players on board," Veloz said. "We know that this boat knows the area. We just can't answer why this happened."

City of Miami Fire-Rescue workers were seen carrying bodies, draped and on stretchers, at the Coast Guard station after sunrise Sunday.

Fernandez was born in Cuba and he attempted to defect three times before finally reaching the U.S. in 2007 with his mother.

Marlins Team President David Samson recalled a common refrain Fernandez would utter to those who were born in the U.S.: "You were born into freedom, you don't understand freedom."

During his journey at sea, Fernandez's mom, Maritza, fell off the boat. Fernandez dove into the ocean to save her.

“I dove to help a person not thinking who that person was,” Fernandez told The Miami Herald in 2013. “Imagine when I realized it was my own mother. If that does not leave a mark on you for the rest of your life, I don’t know what will.”

He played in just 27 games in the minor leagues, reaching the Single-A level in 2012 before he was selected to the Marlins' Opening Day roster in 2013 at the age of 20.

In 76 career games, Fernandez was 38-17 with a 2.43 ERA and 589 strikeouts in 471 1/3 innings.

A two-time All-Star, Fernandez won the National League Rookie of the Year award in 2013. He appeared headed for another stellar season in 2014, but after eight starts his year was derailed when it was revealed Fernandez would need Tommy John surgery. He returned from the procedure to make 11 starts in 2015.

Fernandez was 16-8 with a 2.86 ERA and an MLB-best 12.6 strikeouts per nine innings in 2016. He was considered a strong contender for the NL Cy Young Award.

Fernandez's final game was Sept. 20 in Miami against the NL East division champion Washington Nationals. He pitched eight shutout innings, allowing just three hits and striking out 12. It was his ninth game of the season with at least 11 strikeouts. He was due to pitch Monday against the New York Mets.

Fernandez's death was not the first time an MLB pitcher died during a boating mishap. In 1993, two Cleveland Indians pitchers – Steve Olin, 27, and Tim Crews, 31 – were killed in a boating accident on Little Lake Nellie in Clermont, Fla., The Plain Dealer reported. Bobby Ojeda, a third Indians pitcher, suffered serious scalp injuries, but lived.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Vin Scully is a voice for the ages

For the people of Los Angeles, he is not merely the announcer of baseball games, he is a daily harmonic reminder of the Southern California dream.

he plane lands at Los Angeles International Airport, the shuttle stops at your car, the long trip is over, but everything feels a little strange until you turn on the radio and hear the voice that wraps you in a welcome.

“Hi everybody, and a very pleasant good evening to you, wherever you may be.’’
Now that Vin Scully is leaving, how will we know we are home?
The easy chair creaks, the TV is turned up, the Dodgers are playing, and you are bobbing to the rhythm of a man describing a baseball play as if it’s set to music, whole notes followed by quarter notes, punchy lyrics flowing into a grand finish.“High drive into left-center field and deep … back goes Pederson … a-way back … it’s gone!’’

Now that Vin Scully is leaving, who will sing to us?

The batter and third baseman each have extraordinary beards. In the middle of an ordinary game, the two are looking at each other and everything slows and you’re about to change the channel when a voice starts telling a story between pitches, a story that will only last as long as the batter stays alive, a wondrous story about those beards.

“One ball and one strike the count … then, of course, you come to Abraham Lincoln, who was clean-shaven, and a little 11-year-old girl named Grace Bedell, she said to Mr. Lincoln: ‘If you would grow a beard, my daddy has a beard and my mother will tease him to vote for you.’ So Abraham Lincoln grew a beard.’’

Now that Vin Scully is leaving, we’ll never again cheer so hard for foul balls.

Scully, who is retiring after 67 years as the radio and television voice of the Dodgers, is the greatest announcer in the history of broadcasting. But he doesn’t belong to the Dodgers or to broadcasting.
What makes this farewell so poignant is that Scully, 88, is that rare Los Angeles sports monument who actually belongs to us.

The players don’t hear him on the field, the big shots rarely hear him from their box seats, and the rest the country only hears him through their wireless. Since the Dodgers arrived here 58 years ago, Scully has spoken almost strictly to us, Angelenos in our cars and in our homes, millions who grew up with his voice in their kitchens and have grown old with it at their bedsides. He is the teacher of our children, the bleacher buddy of our teens, the wise neighbor on our cul-de-sac, and the dear companion of our aging and infirm.

For the people of Los Angeles, he is not merely the announcer of baseball games, he is the soundtrack of our lives, the dignified and graceful accompaniment of endless sandy summers, a daily harmonic reminder of the Southern California dream.

“It’s tiiiime for Dodger baseball!’’

Now that Vin Scully is leaving, will that ever feel so true again?

It is our last interview before he retires. It takes place in the middle of a week when the Dodgers are on the road, when Scully can relax at his San Fernando Valley home without being swarmed by the multitudes of fans who crowd outside the press box each night in this final season, hoping for a glimpse of his red hair and ruddy smile, straining to hear a smattering of his farewell words.

Scully and I have spoken for 30 years in dugouts and press box dining rooms and golf course restaurants, and there is seemingly little he can say that I haven’t heard, but I just want to be around him a little while longer. I can’t help it.

For this final chat, I ask for 15 minutes. He gives me nearly an hour.

“I don’t have any doubts, I know this is the time to retire,’’ he says. “I’m going to be 89 in November and I thought, ‘Gee whiz, how can I be doing the games next year, looking forward to my 90th birthday?’ Something just doesn’t sound right there.’’

We wouldn’t care. We wouldn’t notice. But Scully, who missed last year’s postseason with an illness, is weary of tempting time and fate. He wants to spend as many moments as possible with a family that includes wife Sandi, five children, 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
“God has been so generous to allow me all this time, when I look back and I think, ‘I’ve had so many yesterdays, but I’m not sure how many tomorrows,’” he says. “I feel it’s best to see if I can enjoy whatever tomorrows are left.’’

He is still so sharp that this week he was describing the pendant on the chain around the neck of San Francisco reliever Will Smith. He’s still so engaged that his description of the shouting match between Yasiel Puig and Madison Bumgarner went viral. He’s not leaving because he’s lost anything. 

He’s leaving because he knows there are greater joys remaining in his life, and he wants to find them while he still can.

“I’ll miss it, I’ll miss it a great deal,’’ he says. “But they’re precious, whatever tomorrows are left.”

Everyone has a favorite Vin Scully story, but they are rarely about baseball. More often, they are about us, how he’s comforted, or enlightened, or entertained, or simply been part of the connective fabric of our lives.

My Scully stories began when I was a young reporter covering the Dodgers for this newspaper in the late 1980s. I would sneak a radio to my place in the Dodger Stadium press box and stick headphones into my ears and listen to him broadcast the final three innings. I was typing so furiously under deadline pressure I couldn’t really watch the games, so Scully watched them for me, and taught me baseball in the process.

Another of my Scully stories involves the time I met him at a restaurant for a magazine interview. I pulled up to the valet parking space and pulled out my wallet when the valet stopped me.

“Mr. Scully has already paid,’’ the man said.

I met him at the table and enjoyed a long lunch filled with typical Scully tales of love and laughter, and then waited for a bill which I could put on my expense account.

Only when Scully had excused himself did a waiter come up and put his hand on my shoulder.
“Mr. Scully has already paid,’’ he said.

Scully later told me the lunch was his ‘‘honor,’’ which says a lot more about Scully than it does about me.

While I was reporting that same article, Scully asked me not to call his children because he didn’t want them to be bothered, and I obliged. I was in the middle of writing the piece when my phone rang. It was his daughter Catherine.

“I don’t care what my father said, I cannot let you write a story without telling you how great he is,’’ she said.

Catherine told of her dad standing in the shallow end of the family swimming pool every afternoon as he made his first sports call of the day, announcing her jumping into the pool.

“Ladies and gentleman, now presenting the infamous Catherine Anne Whale!’’ he would intone as she leaped giggling into his arms.

I wrote down the story, thanked Catherine, hung up, and the phone rang again. It was another one of his children with another story. Then another one called. And another one called.

There was the story of Vin giving wife Sandi a cassette tape for Christmas. It wasn’t from one of his Broadway heroes. It was of him singing “Wind Beneath My Wings.” Sandi wept when she received it, and it remains a prized possession. 

There was the story of Scully, who used to smoke, taking a pack of cigarettes out of his shirt pocket and replacing it with a family photo, which he would touch and examine and cherish for eight months, until he finally kicked the habit.

“He is not some myth,’’ Catherine told me that day. “He is real.’’

It was Vin Scully Bobblehead Night at Dodger Stadium earlier this week, with a rare midweek sellout crowd of 53,621 crowding Chavez Ravine for a chance to acquire the collectible.

Yet when Scully announced the unusual attendance, he never mentioned the bobblehead.

“Even a little rhubarb like last night involving Bumgarner and Puig, I’m sure that brought a lot of people here, absolutely,’’ he said.

No, not even close. The fans were there for Scully, who is the most important Dodger in Los Angeles history and second only behind Jackie Robinson in Dodgers history. But Scully’s humility is as deep as it is real. His work is for us, not him. When he makes a memorable call, he never purposely listens to it again.

 “I’m not much for looking back, I treasure the experiences and don’t look at them again,’’ he says. “I have it all on DVDs, and they’re filed away, and when I go in a puff of smoke, the grandkids have record of granddad doing this and that.’’

When he is needed to announce a special pregame event, the Dodgers must coax him down to the field. Once there, instead of waving to the crowd, he claps for the crowd. In a hey-look-at-me era, 
Scully is always only looking out for us.

“I’m just another grain of sand on the beach,’’ he says. “Years ago I said to people, ‘I need you more than you need me,’ and I meant that from the bottom of my heart.’’

Scully will never admit that he has fans. In that context, he doesn’t even use the word.

 “I don’t use the word ‘fans’ ever, because it’s short for fanatic,’’ he says. “I always use ‘friends’ because I think of them as friends, and people seem to think of me as friend, for that I’m humbled by the thousands.’’

He’s so humble that, because he refused to stand under much of a spotlight in this final season, his farewell tour came to him. It has long been a tradition that umpires, before the first game of every series at Dodger Stadium, look up at the booth and uniformly salute Scully. But this season, both players and umpires, sometimes in uniform, have taken elevator rides to the fifth floor to visit his booth to simply say thank you.

Most of them were Southland-born kids who listened to Scully while growing up. But some of them had never even heard Scully call a single pitch.

“The Dodgers are extremely popular, whoever would have sat in my chair and had been blessed to have worked all these years would be in the same position,’’ Scully says. “I would use the word ‘overwhelmed.’ I’m an ordinary man who can’t believe it.’’

Scully not only sings his play-by-play, he actually sings. Driving around town, he punches up old showtunes like “The Music Man’’ and belts them out, songs fueled by gratitude and hope.

“I honestly feel that through the grace of God, I have gotten what I dreamed to do as as child. It was given to me at a very young age, and I was allowed to practice it all these years,’’ he says. 

“I’ve known every minute, every day of every year, that I could lose everything in the blink of an eye. People having strokes, people dropping dead. I have lived with that thought all my life, how blessed I’ve been, and how I could lose it all in a second.’’

He knows about pain. He understands loss.

His first wife, Joan, died in 1972 of an accidental overdose of cold and bronchitis medicine. His son Michael died in 1994, at 33, in a helicopter crash.

Is it any wonder he so often peppers his broadcasts with sweet comments about families in the stands, particularly children?

“My main thing, I want people to remember me as a good man, a good husband, a good father, a good grandfather, that’s the most important thing of all,” he says. “Broadcasting is part of my life, but not a part that should be overblown in any way, shape or form.”

It is those between-innings comments about kids that cast Scully not only as Los Angeles’ soundtrack, but also the city’s grandpa. He’ll coo at babies, giggle with toddlers, hoot with little boys, and, yes, even gently remind everyone to mind their manners.

This week during a game against the Giants, the camera caught a young girl standing and smiling with her father before suddenly sticking her finger in her nose. Scully remained honest as always.

“Ah yes, shine on my dear,’’ he said, pausing. “And no nose picking, not on camera, oh no!”

“It’s just different, it’s just me’’ he says. “Being around 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, I’m instinctively pulled in that direction. It touches my heart. I see a little girl dancing in an aisle, children eating, it elicits a response from me, I just can’t look at that and let it go.”

Vin Scully is our most trusted public figure, no surveys required.

For years, folks attending Dodger Stadium would listen to Scully on their transistor radios and react to his voice. Fans didn’t believe what they saw as much as they believed what Scully said. Long fly balls were never cheered like home runs until Scully’s voice rose into home-run tenor because he was always fair and usually right.

He has never tried to homer a homer. He has never openly rooted for anybody. He has never shown bias toward anybody. During a time when announcers everywhere are scolded by their team’s ownership for not being positive, Scully has connected with fans by being impartial.

“The No. 1 thing I’ve tried is to be accurate,’’ he says. “The man in the stands, if he wants a home run in the bottom of the ninth, and a Dodger hits a fly ball, he’ll look at that fly ball with his heart even though it’s only a fly ball. I cannot afford to do that. I look with my eyes or I lose my accuracy.’’

For 67 years, Scully has remained objective through all sorts of Dodgers outrageousness, both good and bad, even when it affected him directly.

During the last three years, a greedy stalemate has kept the Dodgers off television in more than half of Los Angeles-area homes, costing fans a chance to say good-bye to Scully until a deal was struck that KTLA would broadcast the team’s final six regular-season games. Through it all, Scully has openly acknowledged sadness but refused to show anger or place blame, and fans have not complained about his lack of intervention. They want him to be neutral. They love him for who he is.

It only makes sense that the most compelling sounds in his three favorite calls have been silence.

When he announced Brooklyn’s first world championship in 1955 — “Ladies and gentleman, the Brooklyn Dodgers are the champions of the world’’ — he immediately went quiet.

“I could not have said another word or I would have broke down and cried,’’ he recalls.

Also on the list of his most memorable calls was Hank Aaron’s 715th home run in 1974, during which he announced the homer and then remained silent for one minute and 44 seconds while fans cheered and fireworks boomed. When he finally spoke again, his words were poetry.

“What a marvelous moment for baseball. What a marvelous moment for Atlanta and the state of Georgia. What a marvelous moment for the country and the world. A black man is getting a standing ovation in the Deep South for breaking the record of an all-time baseball idol, and it is a great moment for all of us,’’ he said.

That silence reappeared on what Scully said was his most theatrical call, of Kirk Gibson’s game-winning homer in the opener of the 1988 World Series. After calling the homer, Scully was quiet for one minute and eight seconds while Gibson rounded the bases and the crowd roared and the organ played.

Only after that long pause did he recite the memorable, “In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.’’

Twenty-eight years later, in a year that has been so improbable, the impossible is once again about to happen.

Vin Scully is leaving, and the silence will be deafening.

Contact the reporter | Twitter: @BillPlaschke
Credits: Produced by Lily Mihalik

Golf’s most beloved figure, Arnold Palmer, dies at 87

Arnold Palmer points to his name on the press ten scoreboard showing his four under par total for 72 holes for the National Open tournament in Denver, Colo., June 19, 1960. Palmer won the tournament with a score of 280. (AP Photo) (AP Photo)

Arnold Palmer, a seven-time major winner who brought golf to the masses and became the most beloved figure in the game, died Sunday, a source close to the family confirmed to Golfweek. He was 87.

Reaction poured in from “Arnie’s Army” of admirers in the world of golf.

“We loved him with a mythic American joy,” said Palmer biographer James Dodson. “He represented everything that is great about golf. The friendship, the fellowship, the laughter, the impossibility of golf, the sudden rapture moment that brings you back, a moment that you never forget, that’s Arnold Palmer in spades. He’s the defining figure in golf.”

No one did more to popularize the sport than Palmer. His dashing presence singlehandedly took golf out of the country clubs and into the mainstream. Quite simply, he made golf cool.

“I used to hear cheers go up from the crowd around Palmer,” Lee Trevino said. “And I never knew whether he’d made a birdie or just hitched up his pants.”

Golfweek subscriber Bob Conn of Guilford, Conn., in a letter to the editor, captured the loyalty and devotion that the public felt for Palmer.

“If Arnold Palmer sent me a personal letter asking me to join the cleanup crew at Bay Hill, I would buy a green jumpsuit, stick a nail in a broom handle, grab some Hefty garbage bags and shake his hand when I arrived.”

It wasn’t just the fans. His fellow competitors revered him, and the next generation and the generation after that worshiped him. When reporters at the 1954 U.S. Amateur asked Gene Littler to identify the golfer as slender as wire and as strong as cable cracking balls on the practice tee, Littler said: “That’s Arnold Palmer. He’s going to be a great player some day. When he hits the ball, the earth shakes.”

Palmer, of Latrobe, Pa., attended Wake Forest University on a golf scholarship. At age 24, he was selling paint and living in Cleveland, just seven months removed from a three-year stint in the Coast Guard when he entered the national sporting consciousness by winning the 1954 U.S. Amateur at the Country Club of Detroit.

“That victory was the turning point in my life,” he said. “It gave me confidence I could compete at the highest level of the game.”

Palmer’s victory set in motion a chain of events. Instead of returning to selling paint, Palmer played the next week in the Waite Memorial in Shawnee-on-Delaware, Pa., where he met Winifred Walzer, who would become his wife of 45 years until her death in 1999. On Nov. 17, 1954, Palmer announced his intentions to turn pro, and golf would never be the same.

In his heyday, Palmer famously swung like he was coming out of his shoes.

“What other people find in poetry, I find in the flight of a good drive,” Palmer said.

He unleashed his corkscrew swing motion, which produced a piercing draw, with the ferocity of a summer squall. In his inimitable swashbuckling style, Palmer succeeded with both power and putter. 

In a career that spanned more than six decades, he won 62 PGA Tour titles between 1955 and 1973, placing him fifth on the Tour’s all-time victory list, and collected seven majors in a seven-year explosion between the 1958 and 1964 Masters.

Palmer didn’t lay up or leave putts short. His go-for-broke style meant he played out of the woods and ditches with equal abandon, and resulted in a string of memorable charges. At the 1960 U.S. Open at Cherry Hills near Denver, Palmer drove the first green and with his trademark knock-kneed, pigeon-toed putting stance went out and birdied six of the first seven holes en route to shooting 65 and winning the title in a furious comeback.

“Palmer on a golf course was Jack Dempsey with his man on the ropes, Henry Aaron with a three-and-two fastball, Rod Laver at set point, Joe Montana with a minute to play, A.J. Foyt with a lap to go and a car to catch,” wrote Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray.

Even Palmer’s setbacks were epic. He double-bogeyed the 18th hole at Augusta in the 1961 Masters after accepting congratulations from a spectator he knew in the gallery. Palmer lost playoffs in three U.S. Opens, the first to Jack Nicklaus in 1962; the second to Julius Boros in 1963; and the third to Billy Casper in 1966 in heart-breaking fashion. Palmer blew a seven-stroke lead with nine holes to go in regulation at the Olympic Club and lost to Casper in an 18-hole playoff the next day.

Arnold Daniel Palmer, born Sept. 10, 1929, grew up in the working-class mill town of Latrobe, in a two-story frame house off the sixth tee of Latrobe Country Club, where his father, Milfred “Deacon” Palmer, was the greenskeeper and professional.

Though for decades Palmer has made his winter home in Orlando, Fla., he never lost touch with his western Pennsylvania roots in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains.

“Of all the places I’ve been, there isn’t any place that I’m more comfortable than I am right here,” he told Golfweek in 2009 in Latrobe ahead of his 80th birthday.

Palmer was 3 years old when his father wrapped his hands around a cut-down women’s golf club in the classic overlapping Vardon grip, and instructed him to, “Hit it hard, boy. Go find it and hit it hard again.”

Palmer’s combination of matinee-idol looks, charisma and blue-collar background made him a superstar just as golf ushered in the television era. He became Madison Avenue’s favorite pitchman, accepting an array of endorsement deals that generated millions of dollars in income on everything from licensed sportswear to tractors to motor oil and even Japanese tearooms. Credit goes to agent Mark McCormack, who sold the Palmer personality and the values he represented rather than his status as a tournament winner. Palmer’s business empire grew to include a course-design company, a chain of dry cleaners, car dealerships, as well as ownership of Bay Hill Resort & Lodge in Orlando. 

He even bought Latrobe Country Club, which his father helped build with his own hands and where as a youth Palmer was permitted only before the members arrived in the morning or after they had gone home in the evening. Palmer designed more than 300 golf courses in 37 states, 25 countries and five continents (all except Africa and Antarctica), including the first modern course built in China, in 1988.

Palmer led the PGA Tour money list four times, and was the first player to win more than $100,000 in a season. He played on six Ryder Cup teams, and was the winning captain twice. He is credited with conceiving the modern Grand Slam of the Masters, U.S. Open, British Open and PGA Championship during a conversation with golf writer Bob Drum on a flight to Ireland for the 1960 Canada Cup. 

Palmer won the Masters four times, the British Open twice and the U.S. Open once. It was Palmer who convinced his colleagues they could never consider themselves champions unless they had won the Claret Jug. Nick Faldo, during Palmer’s farewell at St. Andrews in 1995 may have put it best when he said, “If Arnold hadn’t come here in 1960, we’d probably all be in a shed on the beach.” Mark O’Meara went a step further. “He made it possible for all of us to make a living in this game,” he said.

In 1974, Palmer was one of the original inductees into the World Golf Hall of Fame. As he grew older, a shaky putter let Palmer down, but his popularity never waned. The nascent Senior PGA Tour hitched its star to golf’s first telegenic personality when Palmer turned 50. He relished winning again and became a regular on the senior circuit, remaining active until 2006.

Palmer maintained a high profile in the game, presiding over the Arnold Palmer Invitational every March, the only living player with his name attached to a PGA Tour event. He also served as the longtime national spokesperson for the USGA’s member program, and was an original investor and frequent guest on Golf Channel. To countless others, he became known for his eponymous drink consisting of equal parts iced tea and lemonade.

On Sept. 12, 2012, Palmer was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. He became just the sixth athlete to receive the honor. Coupled with the Presidential Medal of Freedom that he was awarded in 2004, gave him both of the highest honors that the U.S. can give to a civilian.

Palmer, who gave up his pilot’s license in 2011, had been in deteriorating health since late 2015. A ceremonial tee shot at the 2015 British Open was his last public golf shot. Palmer looked increasingly frail in public appearances at the API in March and as an onlooker instead of an active participant during the opening tee shot at the 2016 Masters in April.

“Winnie once said to me, ‘When Arnold Palmer gives up flying his airplane and his ability to hit a golf ball, he won’t be with us long,’ ” said Dodson, the biographer.

Palmer is survived by his second wife, Kit, daughters Amy Saunders and Peggy Wears, six grandchildren, including Sam Saunders, who plays on the PGA Tour.

As a measure of his popularity, Palmer, like Elvis Presley before him, was known simply as “The King.” But in a life bursting from the seams with success, Palmer never lost his common touch. He was a man of the people, willing to sign every autograph, shake every hand, and tried to look every person in his gallery in the eye. 

'Get the Hell Out' Kaepernick! There's Nothing to Protest, Anyway

Legendary NFL coach Mike Ditka says Colin Kaepernick should stop disrespecting the U.S. ... and just "get the hell out" of America if he doesn't like it here.

Ditka appeared on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas Friday morning when he was asked about Kaep's protest ... and he didn't hold back ... at all.

“Anybody who disrespects this country and the flag,” Ditka says, “If they don’t like the country, they don’t like our flag, get the hell out."

Not only does Ditka have no respect for the way Kaepernick is protesting ... he doesn't believe there's a reason to protest at all.

"I don't see all the atrocities going on in this country that people say are going on." 
Check out the clip ... it's clear Ditka's fed up.

Dog stabs owner with knife in Hudson, family in disbelief

by Oscar Contreras
HUDSON, Colo. -- They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but a young dog in Hudson may have accidentally learned something new after stabbing her owner with a knife on Wednesday. 

No, you're not reading that wrong. 

Celinda Haynes, the owner of a one-and-a-half-year-old Chesapeake Bay retriever dog named "Mia," was rushed to the hospital Wednesday morning after Mia reached over her and stabbed her left forearm with a paring knife.

"[Mia] likes to grab whatever she can to get people to play with her," explained Haynes' daughter, Chanda Stroup to Denver7. 

As it turns out, Mia is rather large for her age and was able to climb to the kitchen counter, where she found her new sharp toy.

Trying to get Mia to let go of the knife, Haynes reportedly put treats on the ground and in her excitement, Mia reached over her arm and stabbed the owner when she went for the treats. 

"I need to go to the hospital," Haynes told her daughter. "Mia just cut my arm with a knife!"

The wound -- a gash approximately 4-to-5-inches long and a quarter-of-an-inch-wide -- surprised medical staff at Platte Valley Medical Center, who did not believe the story at first. But they were not the only ones.

"I had to make sure I heard that right," said Brent Flot, the town Marshal. 

Deputies were dispatched to the hospital as well as Haynes' home to investigate a case of possible domestic violence. At the hospital, officials did not believe the story. Back at the family's home, Flot found blood everywhere, which prompted suspicion. 

Deputies contacted Haynes' husband to flesh out any suspicions of domestic violence, but he had been at the DMV renewing his license when the stabbing unfolded.  

By the end of the day, Haynes had several stitches on her arm and the family was laughing about the situation.

As for Mia? "She felt pretty bad," Stroup said.

Sharks bite 3 surfers at New Smyrna Beach, Florida

NEW SMRYNA BEACH, Fla. - Three people were bitten by sharks Sunday at New Smyrna Beach, Volusia County Beach Safety Ocean Rescue said.

A 43-year-old Longwood man was bitten on his lower leg/ankle shortly before 10:45 a.m. while surfing south of a jetty, VCBSOR Senior Capt. Tamra Marris said.

Shortly after 11 a.m., a 36-year-old Miami man was bitten on both hands while surfing in the same area, Marris said.

The man uploaded photos to his Facebook account of paramedics treating him. In the Facebook post, he said he was shaken up and was awaiting surgery.

Both men had significant lacerations and were taken to a hospital for treatment, but are expected to survive their injuries.

A 16-year-old New Smyrna Beach boy was bitten on his inner thigh shortly before 1 p.m. while surfing, Marris said.

The boy had a minor laceration and didn’t need to be taken to a hospital.

Doug Watson, an experienced surfer from Sanford, said he wasn't surprised to learn the news.

"So there's multiple sharks and tarpon and different sport fish that are feeding on the mullet run," he said. "So yeah, you run into them. You see 'em."

Watson said he's cautious given the seasonal fish migration along the coast, but he said Sunday's trio of shark bites won't keep him from the waves.

"You're gonna see 'em," Watson said. "It's part of it. You just respect them."

Signs warning of dangerous marine life were posted at most beach entrances, but Marris said the greater danger lurking in the water was the rip currents.

© 2016 Cox Media Group.

Ryan Lochte Gets Rushed by Protesters After Dancing With the Stars Performance

Ryan Lochte, Cheryl Burke, Dancing With the Stars

Unfortunately, Ryan Lochte's Dancing With the Stars debut was overshadowed by a scary event.

The Olympic swimmer, who was recently in the news for a robbery scandal in Rio during the Olympic Games, and dance partner Cheryl Burke were waiting to hear the response from judges tonight when chaos broke loose and protestors rushed the stage.

Carrie Ann Inaba was attempting to start the judging but became distracted by the commotion, which was never shown on-camera, however an eyewitness tells E! News that men wearing white anti-Lochte T-shirts rushed the stage in what looked to be an attempt to attack the Olympian, but the show's security team made sure nothing happened.

Host Tom Bergeron cut to commercial break, but upon return, a noticeably shaken Lochte said, "I'm doing good. So many feelings are going through my head right now. A little hurt. I came out here and I wanted to do something I was completely uncomfortable with, and I did."


E! News learns that there was a whole row of people with the anti-Lochte shirts on (plain white T-shirts with his name and a no symbol on top) that stood up when this happened. They were immediately kicked out from the show to the sound of the crowd booing the protestors. "Everyone was freaked out, especially Ryan and Cheryl. They were just frozen the entire time in utter shock," the insider tells us.

Once security cleared the area, the audience cheered, "We love you, Lochte," but the swimmer looked "very choked up" after the incident."I'm hurt for Ryan," Cheryl told Tom after the commercial break. 

"He's sweet, he's kind. He's working his butt off. I hope people give him a chance."

Ryan Lochte Gets Rushed by Protesters After Dancing With the Stars Performance

Ryan Lochte, Cheryl Burke, Dancing With the Stars

Unfortunately, Ryan Lochte's Dancing With the Stars debut was overshadowed by a scary event.

The Olympic swimmer, who was recently in the news for a robbery scandal in Rio during the Olympic Games, and dance partner Cheryl Burke were waiting to hear the response from judges tonight when chaos broke loose and protestors rushed the stage.

Carrie Ann Inaba was attempting to start the judging but became distracted by the commotion, which was never shown on-camera, however an eyewitness tells E! News that men wearing white anti-Lochte T-shirts rushed the stage in what looked to be an attempt to attack the Olympian, but the show's security team made sure nothing happened.

Host Tom Bergeron cut to commercial break, but upon return, a noticeably shaken Lochte said, "I'm doing good. So many feelings are going through my head right now. A little hurt. I came out here and I wanted to do something I was completely uncomfortable with, and I did."


E! News learns that there was a whole row of people with the anti-Lochte shirts on (plain white T-shirts with his name and a no symbol on top) that stood up when this happened. They were immediately kicked out from the show to the sound of the crowd booing the protestors. "Everyone was freaked out, especially Ryan and Cheryl. They were just frozen the entire time in utter shock," the insider tells us.

Once security cleared the area, the audience cheered, "We love you, Lochte," but the swimmer looked "very choked up" after the incident."I'm hurt for Ryan," Cheryl told Tom after the commercial break. 

"He's sweet, he's kind. He's working his butt off. I hope people give him a chance."