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Sports is following along with the changing world


Last updated 4/4/2012 at Noon

This first week of April annually features the start of the major league baseball season and golf’s first major tournament—the Masters.

And as these two great professional sporting events kick off another year, they both have a couple of addendums in place for the first time ever.

Several major league baseball organizations are restricting beer drinking in the clubhouse during or after the games. This has been especially true for the stadiums sponsored by beer companies—St. Louis Cardinals Busch Stadium, Colorado Rockies Coors Field and Milwaukee Brewers Miller Park.

Much of this came to light last month when Boston Red Sox new Manager Bobby Valentine announced that his team also would be going dry.

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times last weekend, officials from the commissioner’s office last fall considered a league-wide ban on alcohol in the locker room. This idea is still under discussion, a baseball official confirmed last week.

With the season starting this week, a total of 18 teams have agreed to ban alcohol from their respective clubhouses.

Besides protecting the players, the zero-tolerance policies are also sending a positive and socially responsible message, the article points out.

“In general, society has changed, which has changed baseball,” commented Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly, who played for the New York Yankees at a time when post-game beers were as much a part of the baseball culture as chewing tobacco and sunflower seeds.

The Dodgers, like a handful of other teams, relax their rules on the road, where players generally take a bus back to the hotel.

And there will be more seasoned veterans (greybeards) starting the 2012 season than ever before. Heading the list is 49 year-old Jamie Moyer who has made the Colorado Rockies’ starting rotation and will probably pitch this weekend against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. Moyer is the active major league leader in victories with 267.

Toronto’s Omar Vizquel, who turns 45 on April 24, will become the oldest shortstop in major league history, according to STATS, LLC.

Mariano Rivera, the 42-year-old who is considered the greatest reliever in major league history, will begin his 18th and probably his final year with the New York Yankees.

Others in their 40’s playing a young man’s game include Philadelphia’s Jim Thome and Jose Contreras, Colorado’s Jason Giambi, Arizona’s Henry Blanco and Takashi Saito and Toronto’s Darren Oliver and Vizquel.

When the Masters tees off tomorrow (Thursday) at Augusta National Golf Club, the famed exclusive golf club will be faced with a touchy problem for the first time since it opened in 1933.

IBM is a long-time corporate sponsor of the Masters, and its last four CEO’s have been invited to be members. On Jan. 1 IBM introduced its new CEO—Virginia Rometty-Big Blue’s first woman to be chief executive in the 100-year history of IBM.

Now the big question is will the Augusta National Golf Club, with its exclusive all-male membership, follow suit and extend a membership to Ms. Rometty?

Martha Burk, who unsuccessfully led a campaign 10 years ago to admit a female member told the Associated Press last weekend, “What IBM needs to do is draw a line in the sand—‘We’re either going to pull our sponsorship and membership and any ancillary activities we support with the tournament, or the club is going to have to honor our CEO the way they have in the past’.”

Club officials have declined comment, citing its policy that membership issues are private. IBM has not returned phone calls, according to the AP.

Augusta does allow women to play as guests during the months it is open (October to May).

Although the NFL’s new rule for post-season overtime has never come into play, team owners voted 30-2 last week to expand the rule for the regular season as well. All games that go into overtime now cannot end on a first-possession field goal.

The opposing team must get one series, and if it also kicks a field goal, the extra period continues. Of course, if it fails to score, it loses. And if it gets a touchdown, it wins.

The rule has not been a factor since it was instituted in 2010, with only two playoff games going into overtime. One ended on the first play—Tim Tebow’s 80-yard touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas for a Denver victory over Pittsburgh.

The other had several possessions for each team before the NY Giants beat San Francisco in the NFC title game this season.

KWICKIES…It was almost as if the fourth time was the charm as the Lamar Cardinals baseball team finally won a Southland Conference series last weekend after going 1-8 during the first three weekends of conference play. After losing Friday’s opener to Southeastern Louisiana 2-1, the Redbirds came back to down the visitors from Hammond 6-4 Saturday and then won the series Sunday with a solid 4-1 victory. Lamar now stands at 3-9 in SLC action and 10-17 overall and will travel to play Stephen F. Austin in a three-game series beginning tomorrow (Thurs.).

The Texas Longhorns wrapped up their football drills with their spring scrimmage Sunday, after which Head Coach Mack Brown refused to publicly name his starting quarterback for the 2012 season. Brown said he’s confident either sophomore David Ash or junior Case McCoy could lead the Longhorns next season. Those on hand to watch the annual game thought that Ash had earned the right to call himself the starter, but McCoy still could challenge for the job if he can eliminate costly turnovers. Ash threw only six passes—one for a touchdown—and directed three early scoring drives. McCoy was 9-for-15 for 139 yards with a touchdown, but he also threw two interceptions in the end zone.

The Houston Astros broke spring training camp Monday with five position players who will be on Friday’s opening day roster for the first time.

Shortstop Marwin Gonzalez, the 23-year-old Venezuelan Rule 5 acquisition, leads the parade of youngsters that includes second baseman Jose Altuve, outfielders Brian Bogusevic and J.D. Martinez and catcher Jason Castro.

First baseman Brett Wallace, who was on the Astros’ 2011 opening day roster, was optioned to Class AAA Oklahoma City where he will get regular time at third base, where he spent much of his time this spring.

The Astros will play the Colorado Rockies Friday at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

Fox Sports Houston will air 150 Astros games—all in HD-- in its final season as the Astros’ broadcast partner.

Hunter Mahan overtook South African Louis Oosthuizen and Sweden’s Carl Petterson in Sunday’s final round of the Shell Houston Open at Redstone Golf Club in Humble to win the $1.08 million first place check. Mahan joins Dustin Johnson as the only PGA members under 30 years of age to have five career victories.

JUST BETWEEN US…College basketball fans were treated to the ultimate in entertainment for the men’s and women’s NCAA national championship games Monday and Tuesday.

Monday night’s game between Kentucky and Kansas was a history-filled match-up between the two winningest programs in college basketball history and a title-game coaching rematch between John Calipari and Bill Self—a high-stakes meeting between one team whose founder, James Naismith, invented the game and another that likes to claim its legendary coach Adolph Rupp perfected it.

Kentucky led Monday night’s game wire-to-wire and became National Champions with a 67-59 victory over the Jayhawks.

Baylor went into last night’s championship game at 39-0, one victory from becoming the seventh women’s team to finish undefeated and had a chance to become the first squad in NCAA history to win 40 games in a season.


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