Sunday, December 30, 2007

Humorous Longoria anecdote

I found this amusing in today's Chicago Tribune:

Shortly after Tampa Bay drafted him two years ago, third baseman Evan Longoria asked a club official a question that revealed his naivete.

"When was the last time you were in the playoffs?'' he asked during a drive, almost causing the car to swerve off the road.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fund raises almost $13,000 for Montoyos

More than 60 families and individuals, including minor- and major-league players, donated to the Alexander Montoyo Fund, and the Montoyos will receive almost $13,000.

Donations totaled $12,756, which includes a $5,000 donation by the Biscuits, for former Biscuits manager Charlie Montoyo and his family. Newborn son Alex is still at the UCLA Medical Center more than two months -- and two open-heart surgeries -- after he was born with a heart defect.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Rays, Floyd (finally) agree to terms

They've apparently been haggling over the final details for a few days, but the Rays and outfielder Cliff Floyd finally announced a one-year contract, with a one-year team option, today. Floyd fills the hole the Rays have been seeking to fill for a left-handed hitter who plays outfield. He's a 15-year major-leaguer.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Edmonds trade clears path for Rasmus

Russell County High's Colby Rasmus appears to be a clear winner in the trade Friday that sent Jim Edmonds from the St. Louis Cardinals to the San Diego Padres.

Edmonds, a center fielder and an eight-time Gold Glove winner, was signed through next season and was a roadblock to Rasmus, St. Louis' top prospect who spent all of 2007 at Class AA Springfield. Now, Rasmus is the heir apparent.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Cubs, affiliates extend relationships

The Chicago Cubs have extended the player development contracts with five of their minor-league affiliates, including the Tennessee Smokies, through 2012.

MLB announces first post-Mitchell suspension

Texas Rangers minor-leaguer Julio Gonzalez is the first player suspended after the Mitchell Report's release. Major League Baseball announced the 50-game suspension today for a positive test for a performance-enhancing substance.

Mayor pledges $100 for Montoyo

Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright said he's giving $100 to the Alex Montoyo Fund. The Biscuits set up the fund this week to help former Biscuits manager Charlie Montoyo and his family while infant Alex is treated for a heart defect.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

One Alabamian, plenty of former Rays in report

Hartselle native Steve Woodard and at least seven former Tampa Bay Rays were among those mentioned in the Mitchell report.

Woodard is listed on page 305 of the 409-page PDF (actual page number is 257). Former Tampa Bay players Tim Laker (PDF page 207), Denny Neagle (235), Adam Piatt (247), Jim Parque (271) and the infamous John Rocker (302) are also in there. Jose Guillen is mentioned -- forgot he played with Tampa Bay.

Of course, there's plenty of Jose Canseco, who is talking about writing a second book and selling movie rights. I heard that on an XM radio interview.

Here's what the report says of Woodard ...

In a September 7, 2007 article, the New York Daily News reported that Steve Woodard, a former pitcher who played with four different major league clubs over seven seasons ending in 2003 (the Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, Texas Rangers, and Boston Red Sox), received a shipment of steroids and human growth hormone from The Health and Rejuvenation Center, the same Palm Beach Gardens anti-aging center that reportedly supplied St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel. The article did not state when the shipment to Woodard allegedly occurred.

Neither I nor any member of my investigative staff had any prior knowledge of any allegation about Woodard.

Jack Cust is in there and why do I mention him? He had signed with the University of Alabama before he was drafted in 1997.

UPDATE: There are nine former Rays mentioned. I'll turn things over to the noted experts at the Tampa Tribune and St. Pete Times.

Balfour, Glover sign one-year contracts

Relief pitchers Grant Balfour and Gary Glover and the the Tampa Bay Rays avoided arbitration and agreed to one-year contracts today.

Mitchell report out

Gentlemen, start your asterisks.

Top players implicated in steroid report

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Miguel Tejada among those named.

Mitchell report available to view

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rays release spring training schedule

You can start planning your trip. Next spring will be the team's last at Al Lang Field. Times Eastern.

29 at Cincinnati Reds, 1:05 p.m.
1 Toronto Blue Jays, 1:05 p.m.
2 at Pittsburgh Pirates, 1:05 p.m.
3 at Detroit Tigers, 1:05 p.m.
4 Minnesota Twins, 1:05 p.m.
5 Houston Astros, 1:05 p.m.
6 at Philadelphia Phillies, 1:05 p.m.
7 Philadelphia Phillies, 1:05 p.m.
8 at New York Yankees, 1:15 p.m.
9 Cincinnati Reds, 1:05 p.m.
10 Cleveland Indians, 1:05 p.m.
11 at Minnesota Twins, 1:05 p.m.
12 New York Yankees, 1:05 p.m.
13 at Boston Red Sox, 1:05 p.m.
14 Toronto Blue Jays, 1:05 p.m.
15 at Atlanta Braves (split squad), 1:05 p.m.
15 at New York Yankees (split squad), 1:15 p.m.
16 Detroit Tigers, 1:05 p.m.
17 off
18 at Philadelphia Phillies, 1:05 p.m.
19 Philadelphia Phillies, 1:05 p.m.
20 Cleveland Indians, 1:05 p.m.
21 at New York Yankees, TBD
22 Pittsburgh Pirates, 1:05 p.m.
23 at Cincinnati Reds, 1:05 p.m.
24 Pittsburgh Pirates, 1:05 p.m.
25 at Toronto Blue Jays, 1:05 p.m.
26 at Minnesota Twins, 1:05 p.m.
27 at Cleveland Indians, 1:05 p.m.
28 Cincinnati Reds, 1:05 p.m.
29 at Cincinnati Reds, 1:05 p.m.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Dukes in running for Deadspin award

Elijah Dukes is in an online tournament for the Sportshuman of the Year. Here's your chance to support the former Biscuit. Dukes, seeded fourth, has already advanced to the second round and faces stiff competition from Gilbert Arenas.

Former major-leaguer joins Montgomery coaching staff

Former major-leaguer Ben Oglivie will be the Montgomery Biscuits' hitting coach in 2008.

Oglivie was a 16-year major-leaguer and had a .273 career average. He led the American League with 41 home runs in 1980 for the Milwaukee Brewers, played in the 1982 World Series and was a three-time All-Star.

Manager Billy Gardner, pitching coach Neil Allen and trainer Jimmy Southard will return for a second season. The Biscuits will be trying for a third straight Southern League championship.

"It would be wonderful if we do that," Gardner said. "Anytime you go into a season, a championship is what you shoot for."

Hector Torres, Montgomery's hitting coach this year, is going to be a coach at Rookie-level Princeton. Longtime Princeton manager Jamie Nelson is filling Tampa Bay's newly created catching coordinator position. Jared Sandberg, a former Tampa Bay major-leaguer, will be a coach at short-season Hudson Valley. The Rays will have three coaches at Hudson Valley and Princeton.

Durham -- manager Charlie Montoyo, pitching coach Xavier Hernandez, hitting coach Gary Gaetti, trainer Mark Vinson
Montgomery -- Billy Gardner, Neil Allen, Ben Oglivie, Jimmy Southard
Vero Beach -- Jim Morrison, R.C. Lichtenstein, Brady Williams, Joel Smith
Columbus -- Matt Quatraro, Bill Moloney, Ozzie Timmons, Nick Medina
Hudson Valley -- Joe Alvarez, Rafael Montalvo, Jared Sandberg, coach Michael Johns, trainer Jeff Dill
Princeton -- Joe Szekely, Marty DeMerritt, Rafael Deleon, Hector Torres, trainer TBD
Minor-league coordinators -- Jim Hoff, Dick Bosman (pitching), Steve Livesey (hitting), Skeeter Barnes (outfield/baserunning), Jamie Nelson (catching), Nick Paparesta (rehab and training), Chris Tomashoff (assistant training), Trung "T.C." Cao (strength and conditioning), Tim McKechney (equipment manager)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Biscuits raising money for Montoyos

The Biscuits have started a fund for Alex Montoyo. Donations can be made at the team's front office, at any MAX credit union or over the team's Web site. The Biscuits are matching the first $5,000.

Infant Montoyo battles heart problem

One of the toughest parts of this job is when sad things happen to people who have become good friends.

Talked to Charlie Montoyo tonight.

I apologize beforehand, but I'm not going to share everything we talked about. I'd heard about the situation from others, but I didn't feel I should post anything before talking to Charlie. He also doesn't know I'm posting anything now -- so I hope he isn't offended.

Charlie and wife Sam had their second son in mid-October and Alex has yet to see home.

Born with a heart problem, Alex was taken by air from Tucson to Phoenix on the day of his birth. He's since been moved to Los Angeles and the UCLA Medical Center.

Alex has had two open-heart surgeries in less than two months but is fighting hard. He's been on and off a ventilator, can grasp his parents' fingers and likes watching a rotating toy that's above his bed.

Charlie, Sam and their first son, Tyson, are living in an apartment a short walk from the hospital, so Alex has family continually by his side.

Pray for him.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Goodbye, Nashville ... I'm out

Just took my "victory lap" around the Gaylord Opryland and sent my stories for Friday's paper. Look for a Michael Coleman story in a few days, too. With that, time to head home.

Rays trade Lahey for $$$

The Rays sent Rule 5 pick Tim Lahey to the Chicago Cubs for big bucks, no whammies ... and no players. Figure is a reported $150,000.

Wright stunned by Houston pick

Wesley Wright was watching a little TV, and not tracking the Rule 5 draft, when a Houston Astros scouting supervisor called.

Crosschecker Clarence Johns, who originally drafted Wright for the Dodgers in 2003, told Wright that the Astros had picked the left-handed pitcher today.

"I said, 'Are you for real?'" Wright said. "He said, 'Yeah, you can get out of bed now.'"

"It's a dream come true for all of us. ... It still really hasn't hit me yet. Maybe it will in the next day or two."

"You never know what an organization is looking for. All you can do is go out and do the best you can. I feel I've improved every year and I feel I have the ability, but I didn't know how things would work out."

"I knew I had a chance to get picked up, but I didn't know anything for sure. I was prepared for anything. I was ready to go to spring training with the Dodgers and do the best I could. Now, I'm looking forward to going to Kissimmee and doing good things for the Astros."

"It's exciting and it's a big thing, too. I know what I have to do and it's in front of me. I'm anxious to talk to them and see what they want out of me."

On his Arizona Fall League performance ... "People will see you enough on your good days that you hope it outweighs your bad days. With baseball, the biggest thing is being seen and I think the fall league was a good opportunity for me to be seen."

On his 2007 season, which lasted from the start of spring training until mid-November and left him mentally drained ... "Right now, it seems worth it. I don't look back with any regrets."

Rays take 3 in minor-league Rule 5

The Rays took three more players in the minor-league phase of the Rule 5 and lost nobody.

Rashad Eldridge -- Outfielder was with the Minnesota Twins. Hit .291 with seven home runs and 41 RBIs at Class AA New Britain this year. Likely to start next year with the Biscuits.

Julio Puentes -- Right-handed pitcher played in Venezuela this year for the Astros. Finished 5-3 with eight saves and a 2.25 ERA in 40 innings.

Jose Mejias -- Right-handed pitcher played in Venezuela this year for the Mets. Was 4-5 with two saves and a 3.20 ERA in 56 1/3 innings.

Rays send Lahey to Cubs

The Rays traded pitcher Tim Lahey to the Chicago Cubs within an hour of picking Lahey in the Rule 5 draft. Not sure of the full package yet.

Wesley Wright headed to Astros

Goshen High graduate Wesley Wright was taken by the Houston Astros with the eighth pick of today's Rule 5 draft.

Wright was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The left-hander was 6-2 with a 2.49 ERA in 30 games at Class AA Jacksonville and 1-2 with a 9.18 ERA in 14 appearances with Class AAA Las Vegas. Wright logged 21 1/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League and was 0-1 with one save and a 5.06 ERA.

Former Auburn University pitcher Steven Register went to the New York Mets with the 13th pick. Register was 1-3 with 37 saves at Class AA Tulsa in the Kansas City organization this year.

Pajama-clad Meek surprised by pick

Evan Meek, who lives in Seattle, was still in pajamas -- "Heck, I still had sleep in my eyes. I'm never up this early." -- when he heard the Pittsburgh Pirates took him with the second pick of today's Rule 5 draft.

"I'm excited. It's hard to find words right now."

"I thought there was a chance I might go, but I didn't expect to go with the second pick. I was watching it on and, when I heard my name, I thought I was hearing things."

Meek didn't give up a run in the regular season with the Biscuits after Aug. 9 and had an 0.93 ERA in the Arizona Fall League.

"I was fortunate to do well there. Everything just came together. The last month of the season and in the fall league, everything came together."

"I talked with my agent (former major-leaguer Joe Sambito) after Tampa didn't protect me. He said, 'I don't want to get your hopes up, but I think there's a good chance you'll be selected in the Rule 5."

"I hadn't heard anything at all. I wake up today, I knew the draft was at 10 o'clock Eastern, I turn on the computer and start watching it. All of a sudden, 'Wait, what?' I'm just happy Pittsburgh is going to give me a shot."

"Today is a good day, but there's a lot of work to be done."

Meek was originally an 11th-round draft pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2002. Comparing it to that day ... "This is more exciting. Much more exciting because of everything that's happened in my career. I've had all the ups and downs, and this lets me know there's some light there."

"I had a good first year with the Twins, but then I had some control problems. It's taken a lot of hard work to get out of that. Just knowing that someone thinks I can be a major-leaguer is awesome. I can't tell you how excited and ready I am for this opportunity."

Meek had a fitful night last night. "I didn't sleep at all. I tried to, but I couldn't sleep because I knew this was this morning. I hoped for the best and hoped to be picked, but there are no guarantees."

Meek had to go to run an errand. He had to drive his little brother, seventh-grader Bryce, to school.

Meek drafted by Pirates; Rays grab Twins' Lahey

Former Biscuits pitcher Evan Meek was taken by the Pittsburgh Pirates in today's Rule 5 draft.

Meek must stay on Pittsburgh's 25-man active roster for all of the 2008 season or the Pirates must offer him back to Tampa Bay.

The Rays had the No. 1 pick in the Rule 5 and took right-handed pitcher Tim Lahey from the Minnesota Twins. The Pirates had the second pick and grabbed Meek.

The Pirates have to pay the Rays $50,000 for Meek. If Pittsburgh send Meek back to Tampa Bay, the Rays return $25,000.

Meek, a right-hander, was 2-1 with a 4.30 ERA and one save in 44 relief appearances for Montgomery this season and helped the Biscuits win a second straight Southern League championship. The 24-year-old caught attention in the Arizona Fall League, going 1-0 with an 0.93 ERA in nine games.

Lahey was 8-4 with a 3.45 ERA and 13 saves in 50 appearances for Class AA New Britain.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

O'Conner elected president of minor leagues

Pat O'Conner, who once said Montgomery couldn't support a Class AA team, was elected president of Minor League Baseball today. O'Conner was the top aide to Mike Moore, who has been president of the mionrs since 1992, and will take over for Moore on Jan. 1.

O'Conner also ended one of Montgomery's flirtations with organized baseball in 2000. Montgomery was considering whether to go for a possible Class AA team or embrace a Class A team being offered to the city.

On June 21, 2000, O'Conner sent Mayor Bobby Bright a letter "unconditionally withdrawing" the offer. Wilmington, N.C., eventually landed the team, which later moved to Albany, Ga., and then to Columbus, Ga.

Rays, Biscuits to talk PDC extension

The Biscuits are entering their first "contract" year in 2008, but the team and the Tampa Bay Rays may soon talk about an early extension on their formal relationship.

Montgomery's player development contract with Tampa Bay runs out after next season. Neither side would commit to an early extension today but negotiations -- perhaps short ones -- could begin quickly.

"They're great partners and we love having them," Biscuits GM Greg Rauch said. "We've loved seeing them here at the winter meetings and celebrating a second straight championship. We're looking to do a third straight next year."

The Rays have experience with early extentions. Two years ago, in January 2006, Tampa Bay and Class AAA Durham agreed to continue their relationship for the 2007 and 2008 seasons.

The Biscuits verbally agreed to stay with Tampa Bay through 2008 when Tom Dickson and Sherrie Myers bought the Orlando Rays from Tampa Bay and moved it to Montgomery in 2004.

"Throughout the years, we've had a great relationship with Tom and Sherrie and Greg," Rays farm director Mitch Lukevics said. "We're excited to work with them, we have a good relationship and we hope to continue that great relationship."

Rays named 'Topps Organization of the Year'

The Tampa Bay Rays won the "Topps Organization of the Year" award today at baseball's winter meetings.

The award, which Tampa Bay has never won, is based on a points system that includes four minor-league categories: All-Star players, Players of the Month, each league's MVP award, the Topps overall Minor League Player of the Year award, and major-league rookies who made the Topps Rookie All-Star team.

The Rays drew points from ...
Delmon Young -- Rookie All-Star
Justin Ruggiano -- August player of month, All-Star
Jae Seo -- July pitcher of month
John Jaso -- August player of month, All-Star
Evan Longoria -- May player of month, All-Star
Chris Mason -- All-Star
Fernando Perez -- All-Star
Dale Thayer -- All-Star
Desmond Jennings -- June player of month
Maiko Loyola -- All-Star
Mike McCormick -- All-Star
Jason Ragan -- All-Star
Emeel Salem -- All-Star

Topps has handed out the award every year since 1966. The Dodgers, Brewers and Yankees have won five times each.

Twins manager likes Delmon

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said today that he's excited to have former Biscuit Delmon Young in the outfield.

"His past doesn't worry me at all," Gardenhire said. "I've known Dmitri (Delmon's older brother) for a long time. He plays the game, has fun, and watching this young man play was the same way. He went out and played the game. He worked hard. He was at the ballpark early. Those things bode well for our ballclub. We like that kind of player."

Also ...
"He's got a clean slate. He's with the Minnesota Twins now, and we are very, very excited to have him," Gardenhire said.

Walking in Memphis, err, Nashville

Making a play on that song from (when?) 1991, I think, and how it relates a writer's day at the baseball winter meetings.

Picked this up Tuesday night from C. Trent Rosecrans, a buddy who covers the Cincinnati Reds for the Cincinnati Post (and a former Alabama beat writer). Trent bought a pedameter at the start of Day 2, hooked up it and put the results on his blog.

He finished Tuesday at 15.1 miles. When I saw him about 10:30 -- just before my final lap, in which I came upon a group of Devil Rays, Biscuits and Durham Bulls officials engaged in friendly conversation -- he was at the 12-mile mark.

Former Biscuit Coleman opens business

Michael Coleman, the MVP in the 2006 Southern League championship series, has opened his own baseball academy in Nashville.

Just got back to the Gaylord Opryland resort from the M3 offices and Coleman has a lot of his old pictures -- including the one of him spraying champagne after the Biscuits won the title -- on the walls. Coleman just opened the doors about a month ago and said he already has 70 kids signed up for lessons. When I left, he was waiting on a parent to stop by and check out Coleman and the facilities.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Brazell signs with Japanese team

Montgomery native Craig Brazell, who led the minor leagues with 39 home runs this season, has signed to play next year for the Seibu Lions in Japan’s Pacific League.

Friedman sure Price will start in minors

Rays general manager Andrew Friedman said he "absolutely" expects that pitcher David Price will start the season in the minor leagues. He wouldn't give a hint where Price might head to out of spring training.

"We don’t want to place undue pressure on him," Friedman said. "He’s very polished, he’s a great competitor, and we’ll figure out where he’ll start the year. We expect him to develop quickly. What that means in terms of timing is difficult to say. We’re not going to rush the process, but as soon as we feel like he is ready, he’ll be in the big leagues."

Price unsure where he'll start

David Price, who is at the Gaylord Opryland for Baseball America's awards luncheon, said he isn't sure where he'll make his professional debut. Of course, he hopes it's in the big leagues with the Rays.

"I don't know," Price said. "They haven't told me anything."

Price just started throwing again, has been working out with former teammates at Vanderbilt and knocked out some classes toward his sociology degree this fall.

Maddon high on Longoria, Price

Here are a few highlights from Rays manager Joe Maddon's talk to the media that just ended ...

**He said he didn't know if Evan Longoria will start 2008 in the major leagues, but third base is being cleared for him. The Rays fully play to play Aki Iwamura at second.

"He's begun the quest to become an All-Star second baseman," Maddon said. "We're pretty much committed to the fact that Aki is the guy there. We'll put him at second base and leave him there whether Evan is ready to do his thing or now, so we aren't bumping Aki all over the place."

**He said David Price, Tampa Bay's No. 1 draft pick in June, could reach the major leagues by the end of next season. He said he didn't know where Price may start his professional career -- Montgomery? -- but said the Rays should be conservative with it.

"He could come quickly," Maddon said. "I've heard that it's possible within the next year. ... Guys like him, you really want to make sure. He's going to show us or tell us when he's ready to be here."

**Also on Longoria: "This guy is a major league-caliber person and I think he'll fit in very quickly," Maddon said. "He gets it."

Allentown team swaps mascot name

The Allentown IronPigs, who play their inaugural season in 2008, have changed their mascot's name after receiving complaints that the name was inappropriate. The mascot, announced this weekend as PorkChop, will instead be called Ferrous.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Rays have two openings on 40-man roster

Besides Elijah Dukes' trade, the Rays also lost shortstop Josh Wilson today when the Pirates claimed him off waivers. That leaves just 38 players on Tampa Bay's 40-man roster.

With Delmon Young's trade last week, the Rays have lost two major-league outfielders and Tampa Bay has the No. 1 pick in Thursday's Rule 5 draft. One of the top available players in the Rule 5 is an outfielder -- Cleveland's Brian Barton.

White Sox, Mets to play in Civil Rights Game

The Chicago White Sox and New York Mets will play in the second annual Civil Rights Game in Memphis, Tenn., on March 29, 2008, Major League Baseball just announced. The St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Indians played in the inaugural game this spring.

Rays pick up Gibson for Dukes

Left-handed pitcher Glenn Gibson is headed to Tampa Bay from Washington in exchange for troubled outfielder Elijah Dukes, a former Biscuit.

Gibson was a fourth-round draft pick in 2006 and was 4-3 with a 3.10 ERA in 12 starts this season at short-season Vermont. He's the son of former major-league pitcher Paul Gibson, who had a nine-year career with Detroit, the New York Mets and New York Yankees.

Dukes, who was drafted in 2002 by Tampa Bay, was sent home in 2004 by the Rays, was suspended twice with the Biscuits by the Southern League in 2005, was sent home again and caused an uproar with comments in USA Today about Class AAA Durham in 2006, and made his major-league debut in 2007. He was placed on the inactive list June 22 and didn't return.

Goldberg-Strassler in the house

Jesse Goldberg-Strassler, who interned with the Biscuits the last two summers, is here in Nashville trying to move up in the baseball broadcasting world. It's entertaining to watch Jesse work the room, maneuvering from person to person with his always-present smile. I know many of you never dealt with Jesse, but it's safe to say he's one of the more positive people you'll meet.

Dukes may still go to Nats

Just heard a rumor that Elijah Dukes may still be headed to the Washington Nationals, despite the Nats' recent acquisition of Lastings Milledge.

Veterans Committee adds 5 to Hall of Fame

The two Veterans Committees, one for executives/pioneers and another for managers/umpires, voted in ...
Barney Dreyfuss
Walter O'Malley
Bowie Kuhn

Billy Southworth
Dick Williams

The managers/umpires committee had 16 members, so a candidate needed 12 votes to get in. The voting: Billy Southworth 13, Dick Williams 13 ... Whitey Herzog 11, Doug Harvey 11, Danny Murtaugh 6, Hank O'Day 4 ... Davey Johnson, Billy Martin, Gene Mauch and Cy Rigler received less than 3.

The executives/pioneers committee had 10 members, so a candidate had to get eight votes for induction. The voting: Barney Dreyfuss 10, Walter O'Malley 9 ... Ewing Kauffman 5, John Fetzer 4, Bob Hawsam 3, Marvin Miller 3 ... John McHale and Gabe Paul had less than 3.

Earl Weaver, who played for the Montgomery Rebels in 1956, was here for the press conference. He remembered playing in Montgomery, but nothing else.

This was the first year of a revamped veterans selection process, splitting it into four separate ballots. This year's two categories will be considered every two years. Next year, players whose careers started after 1943 will be considered (and will be every two years). Also, players from pre-1943 will be considered (but they won't be considered again for five years).

Greetings from the winter meetings

Just arrived and got online from the massive Gaylord Opryland complex in Nashville, Tenn., site of this week's baseball winter meetings. The Veterans Committee will announce the results of its 2008 election in a few minutes.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Tuskegee-Virginia Union semi-LIVE blog

5:04 -- Little scrambles for a short gain. Ballgame. TUSKEGEE 58, VIRGINIA UNION 51, final.

5:04 -- Virginia Union recovers the onsides kick. One play left, 5.5 seconds to play.

5:01 -- Safety. Tuskegee's up 58-51 with 8.2 seconds left. Jarvis DeVaughn sacked the QB for a 13-yard loss to put it at the 6 and Jason Stanley picked up the 6-yard scraps for the safety.

4:58 -- Two-point conversion failed, but I'll repeat about that touchdown: Wow.

4:56 -- Touchdown, Tuskegee. Atkinson to English for a 57-yarder. Wow! There's 46-4 seconds left.

4:54 -- Tuskegee holding penalty on first down. Atkinson throws to Fitzhugh for a 10-yard gain and the Tigers take timeout with 57.2 seconds remaining. They have the ball at their own 43.

4:49 -- Touchdown, Virginia Union. Niles Rainey returns the fumble 50 yards for a touchdown. The all-important extra point ... GOOD. Virginia Union up 51-50 with 1:43 to play.
4:49 -- Fumble, Tuskegee's Atkinson.

4:48 -- Atkinson squirms out of pressure and finds English on the right sideline for a 9-yard gain.

4:47 -- Sack leaves Tuskegee facing a third-and-8 from the 37. Timeout, Virginia Union with 2:32 to play.

4:42 -- Touchdown, Virginia Union. Taylor catches a 22-yarder. Tuskegee's lead shrinks to 50-44 with 3:18 left.

4:35 -- Virginia Union recovers an onsides kick.
4:31 -- Touchdown, Virginia Union. Steven Miller 18 pass from Little. Extra point blocked. Tuskegee up 50-30 with 10:58 remaining.

4:06 -- Punt, Tuskegee.
4:01 -- Turnover, Virginia Union.
3:57 -- This shows you how this game is going. The scoreboard was a point off after each of the last two touchdowns ... and I didn't notice. Tuskegee is ahead 50-24. End of third quarter.

3:52 -- Touchdown, Tuskegee. Virginia Union fumbled away the kickoff and Tony Forney went 5 yards on the next snap. Tuskegee 49-24. Might have to check in on Troy-FAU now. Uh-oh. So much for my reservations at the J.W. Marriott on Canal Street.

3:49 -- Touchdown, Tuskegee. Fitzhugh 1 run. Tuskegee up 42-24 with 1:22 left in the third.

3:37 -- Touchdown, Virginia Union. Steven Miller 18 pass from Little. (The two hooked up for a 24-yard gain on the previous play to convert a third-and-16.) Tuskegee 36, Virginia Union 24, 5:54 left in the third.

3:30 -- Tuskegee punts.
3:32 -- Missed field goal, Virginia Union.

2:45 -- Halftime.

2:43 -- Touchdown, Tuskegee. Antoine Mitchell 19 pass from Atkinson. Tuskegee 36, Virginia Union 17, 32.2 seconds left in the half.

2:37 -- Turnover, Virginia Union. Jeremy Obie returns the interception 27 yards, VU commits a personal foul and Tuskegee takes over at the VU 43.

2:30 -- Touchdown, Tuskegee. Jonathan Lessa 27 pass from Atkinson. Tuskegee 29, Virginia Union 17, 2:54 left in the half.

2:26 -- Virginia Union three-and-out. Tuskegee takes over at the VU 49.

2:20 -- Touchdown, Tuskegee. Atkinson 1 run. (Mario Jackson returned the free kick after the safety 52 yards to the 19.)

2:13 -- Virginia Union three-and-out. High snap goes out of the end zone. Safety for Tuskegee. Virginia Union 17, Tuskegee 16, 7:28 left in the half.

2:11 -- Turnover, Tuskegee. Jacary Atkinson should have taken a sack and instead threw an interception.

2:08 -- Fumble, Virginia Union. Jarvis DeVaughn causes a fumble while making his second sack of the series. Tuskegee recovers at the 29.

2:02 -- Touchdown, Tuskegee. Fitzhugh 3 run. (TD set up by a 25-yard pass-interference penalty. Yes, a 25-yard penalty.) Virginia Union 17, Tuskegee 14.

1:55 -- Punt, Virginia Union. Tuskegee at the VU 25.

1:49 -- Touchdown, Tuskegee. Richard Fitzhugh 2 run. (Jason English had a nice 37-yard catch to put Tuskegee at the 4.) Virginia Union 17, Tuskegee 7, 13:29 left in the first half.

1:36 -- Field goal, Virginia Union. Gil Hernandez 21 FG. (Hampton did catch a 30-yard pass to get it to the 3.) Virginia Union 17, Tuskegee 0, 2:45 left in the first quarter.

1:29 -- Punt, Tuskegee three-and-out. Low snap on punt. Blocked by Adidias Arrington. Va. Union takes over at Tuskegee's 33.

1:24 -- Touchdown, Virginia Union. Hampton 75 pass from Little. Virginia Union 14, Tuskegee 0.

1:19 -- Punt, Tuskegee. The Golden Tigers did get two first downs and cross midfield.

1:11 -- Touchdown, Virginia Union. Michael Hampton 84 pass from Lamar Little.

1:07 -- Tuskegee three-and-out.

12:53 p.m. CST -- Tuskegee won the toss and will receive.

11:58 a.m. CST -- Just arrived at Charlie W. Johnson Stadium in Columbia, S.C., for the Pioneer Bowl between Tuskegee and Virginia Union. Gorgeous day in the Palmetto State and sweet stadium, too. The CWJ just opened this year. I'll give sporadic updates on the game, though not as much as last week's Iron Bowl. Where we had five writers last week, I'm by myself today, so I won't have as much time.