CARACAS, Venezuela — Former major league pitcher Ugueth Urbina was sentenced to 14 years in prison for the attempted murder of five workers on his family’s ranch, a local newspaper reported Wednesday.
Urbina, a former pitcher with the Philadelphia Phillies, was also found guilty of illegal deprivation of liberty and violating a prohibition against taking justice into his own hands during a dispute over a gun on Oct. 16, 2005, El Universal reported.
The 31-year-old free agent was accused of joining a group of men in attacking and injuring workers with machetes and pouring gasoline on them at his family’s ranch, located about 25 miles south of Caracas.
Urbina repeatedly has denied involvement with the violence, saying he was sleeping at the time of the attack.
Levi Draher, 16, walked to the front of the Navarro High School gym in early March and picked up the microphone before a hushed audience of fellow teenagers.
œI died and came back, he said.
Levi was found by his mother last Oct. 28, clinically dead, suspended on a rope he had slung across a bunk-bed frame. He had pushed his neck onto the rope, he told the rapt audience, aiming to achieve a surging rush as his brain was starved and then replenished with blood just before the point of unconsciousness.
The rush is the appeal of the choking game ” or space cowboy or cloud nine or any of a dozen other names. In most schools and families it remains a subject of deep shadow and denial, students, parents and health professionals say.
œI did it because it felt good and I didn™t think I™d get caught, said Levi, a slow-talking, sardonic skateboarder and hockey player from San Antonio. œDo I consider myself a miracle? asked Levi, who told the students he had played the game three times before his accident. œYes, I do.
While asphyxiation games have been around for many years, a series of locally publicized deaths around the country over the last few years, coupled with a realization that teenagers are seeing the game on Internet sites like YouTube, and playing it in more threatening variations ” more often, like Levi, alone with a rope ” are sparking a vigorous and open discussion in schools and among parents™ groups, summer camp administrators and doctors.
I’m sure you’re all as shocked and dismayed as I am. They named a high school after Dave Navarro?
If your tastes run towards the cinematic rather than David Wright’s hit parade, be advised that Rob Perri’s terrific short film / achievement in copyright infringement, “I’m Keith Hernandez” will be shown at New York’s Anthology Film Archives, Thursday evening (3/29) at 7:45.
Pete Segall sends along a terrific article from the Washington Post that catches up with former Maryland star Byron Mouton, an unsung hero of the 2002 NCAA Champion Terps who’s currently eating poorly and earning worse while biding his time with the ABA’s Wilmington Sea Dawgs.
“Everybody on our team was shocked when he didn’t [get drafted],” said Juan Dixon, a former Maryland point guard who plays for the Toronto Raptors. “It didn’t seem fair. Without Byron, we don’t even get close to winning it in 2002. He might have been the best all-around guy on that team, but that’s the story of his career. He just gets overlooked.”
A few times during the last six months, Mouton has considered quitting. This season, he’s slid deep into the backwash of professional basketball. He played for a team in Montana that folded in December. Then Mouton joined an ABA team in Cape Cod that never paid him and played its home games at a middle school. Wilmington…provided Mouton’s opportunity to escape.
Mouton invests himself emotionally in Wilmington’s success, which his teammates generally view as pathetic. In a league that comprises players obsessed with building stat lines that please scouts, Mouton prides himself on leadership and self-sacrifice in pursuit of winning. During a pregame meal at Chick-fil-A in late February, Mouton tried to excite his teammates for a game against the Jacksonville Jam.
“I’ve been looking on the ABA message boards,” Mouton said. “Jacksonville is like number eight in the league power rankings. That’s a few spots ahead of us.”
“Nobody cares about this league, man,” said Terrence Todd, Mouton’s teammate. “Eat your chicken nuggets.”
Terrence Todd, your agent’s phone is ringing. There’s a lot more in the piece, some of it depressing (the 250-strong crowd at a Sea Dawgs home game), some of it frightening (a Chinese league in which games were played outdoors, sometimes in the rain), and some of it poignant. And then there’s this:
Mouton spends much of his time in Wilmington talking about his plans for this summer. During a two-hour conversation with a teammate late one night, he outlined his possibilities: to take real estate classes, which will facilitate a transition to his next career; to intern at the tobacco company where his brother works; to play in a Puerto Rican league that pays $15,000 per month; to play in a California summer league frequented by NBA scouts.
He loves talking about his future. It’s the easiest way not to get stuck in the past.
“You know what else I want to do?” Mouton said. “I want to enter some of those professional bass fishing contests. Man, I love fishing. I love it. And the thing is, you just never know. Maybe 10 years from now, people will be remembering me as the king of bass.”
That brother would be former Texas star Brandon Mouton, by the way. As for the “king of bass” part, Byron should probably check with this guy before claiming that title.
On the matter of Stephon Marbury’s economy kicks (the latest model, shown above, image swiped from The Association), exclusive retailer Steve & Barry announced today that Ben Wallace (middle, shown with Rick Mahorn to his right, homeless man to his left) has signed on as part of what they optimistically dub “The Starbury Movement.”
Showing the sort of initiative he demonstrated when he chewed on ‘Zo’s leg almost asked out Jodie Foster, Rockets coach Jeff Van Gundy proposes a bold way to uh, prevent Doc Rivers from throwing any more games. From the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen.
Weeks before accusations could begin that teams were tanking games to improve their chances of landing either of the season’s celebrated college prodigies, Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, Van Gundy offered a solution. Make the entire first round a lottery. One through 30. Put every name in a hat and let luck determine the draft order.
That would help the ratings of the draft lottery show. The NBA could get Howie Mandel, 30 models and briefcases and draw better ratings than the Stanley Cup finals.
“I think every team should have an equal chance at winning the lottery, from the best team all the way down,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t want to accuse anyone of anything. I would say to take away any possible conflict of interest, everyone should have an equal chance at the top pick all the way down. That way there would be absolutely no question by anybody about anything.
“If it’s better for the game, they should do it. I never quite understood why losing is rewarded, other than (for) parity.”
Last week, weeks after Van Gundy’s suggestion, Boston coach Doc Rivers did not play Paul Pierce and Al Jefferson in the fourth quarter of a loss and questions immediately arose that he was beginning a late-season dive for lottery position.
“I was not tanking the game,” Rivers said after it appeared he was. “I was not throwing the game or anything like that.”
But that should not even need to be answered. And with players going out with injuries, fans should not have to ask if players are hurt, or helping their teams lose. The Bucks are loaded with season-ending injuries that some will suggest would not have been season-ending had Milwaukee had reason to win. Ray Allen could be ready to shut it down in Seattle. Pierce has begun talking about calling it a season in Boston.
There will be more incidences to raise suspicions, though few could match the Timberwolves last season having Mark Madsen launching 3-pointers in an effort to improve draft position or stress-test the rims.
Of course, it is easier for Van Gundy to make his proposal with his team having won a weighted lottery, moving up from fifth to first to get Yao Ming. He works in an arena with a pair of championship trophies won a decade after the Rockets successfully tanked to the top pick, Hakeem Olajuwon.
Much as I love Jeff’s idea, why do I get the feeling Isiah Thomas still would’ve taken Renaldo Balkman if the Knicks had the no. 1 overall pick?
The former All-Star only got 12 minutes in a stinging loss to the Orlando Magic last night. He launched four shots and missed them all, finishing with one measly point.
œIt™s hard, man, Francis said in the locker room afterward. œIt™s definitely hard being a veteran going from last week playing 44 minutes to this week playing 2 minutes.
Francis probably deserves credit for coming back with one healthy leg and helping the Knicks postpone the inevitable. Despite the injuries, they did get a chance to play in some meaningful games.
It sounds like the alleged buyout offer is coming making a comeback.
Knicks coach Isiah Thomas started Mardy Collins in the second half Monday against Orlando, and stuck with the rookie down the stretch.
œI liked the way Mardy was playing, he said. œHe had a good game going, and I thought he would give me more.
Francis questioned the lack of playing time last week in Cleveland, as well. Maybe this was payback. Either way, bickering isn™t going to stop the Knicks from sliding right off the playoff map.
While there’s been no shortage of speculation surrounding Florida’s Billy Donovan and the Kentucky vacancy, this item from Florida Today’s Peter Kerasotis is the first hint I’ve seen of Donovan replacing Doc Rivers in Boston. Of course, the Celtics could always hire Dickey Barrett and see if anyone could tell the difference.
In some contexts, adventurous might seem like a boast. In a Casual Encounters ad on Craigslist, for instance. But as the Royals’ Emil Brown explains to Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star, it’s a bit of a slur for a prideful outfielder.
Emil Brown glanced at the lineup card Sunday morning in the Royals™ clubhouse, turned and observed to anyone within listening distance:
œI guess my defense is good enough for me to be in right field today.
The words came out as a challenge and borderline belligerent. The message was unmistakable. Brown has had it with those who label him œan adventure, or worse, in the outfield, on the bases or anywhere else.
His irritation centers on the media, first and foremost, but not exclusively. His fed-up list includes anyone trashing his skills, be they players or officials with other clubs ” or within the Royals™ organization.
œI hear it all of the time, Brown said. œHe™s an adventure out there. Why? Because I™m actually trying to make plays happen?
œIt isn™t an adventure for (Twins outfielder) Torii Hunter when he dives for a ball and misses it. Then, it™s, ˜Oh, he just missed it.™ He gets the benefit of the doubt because he™s a Gold Glover. But it™s an adventure when I do it.
Brown has been slow-cooking this rant for two years now, and it comes to full boil at the suggestion he might be ticketed for platoon duty after leading the club in RBIs in each of the last two seasons.
œNo, I wouldn™t be (happy), he said. œI™m not going to pretend. I want to be out there. That™s why I™m here. I can™t see how you™re going to have much success in a platoon situation when you can have a (productive) guy out there who can get comfortable in a regular role.
œI think I should be out there every day ” wind, sleet or snow, he said. œI™m a playmaker. If I haven™t shown that yet, I will. Leading the team in RBIs, but even going further than that, there are other things I do besides driving in runs. Just leave me alone and let me play.”
Of the suspended Guillermo Mota, Captain Red Ass tells Newsday’s David Lennon, “”You name me one profession where there ain’t something – where everything is hunky dory and cushy – and I’ll give you a zillion dollars. It’s over with. There’s nothing we can do about it. You’re innocent until you’re proven guilty and you go on with life. There’s guys in jail that probably didn’t commit crimes. There’s also guys on the street who’ve committed crimes. Life ain’t perfect. Deal with it.”
Indeed, there’s all kinds of non-hunky dory behavior out there. Some guys use drugs to obtain a competitive advantage, others try to fuck every teenage girl on Long Island. What are you gonna do?