Saturday night fights at the ballpark
Boxing is back at Yankee Stadium - and it just may be the star of Saturday's show.
Yankee Stadium, which hasn't seen a fight since Muhammad Ali beat Ken Norton at the old "House that Ruth Built" on Sept. 28, 1976, will host a title fight between junior middleweight champ and aspiring rabbi Yuri Foreman and Miguel Cotto, a former titleholder beloved by millions of Puerto Rican fans.
The old stadium was once a popular venue, hosting such icons as Jack Dempsey, James Braddock, Jake LaMotta, Rocky Graziano and Sugar Ray Robinson. Joe Louis had a record 11 bouts there, and Rocky Marciano won four straight there in the 1950s.
Boxing, however, fell out of favor at the old ballpark after the Ali-Norton fight for a number of reasons: the rise of casinos and arenas as places to have top bouts; George Steinbrenner's anger over the infield's ruin by the ring; and the fact that when Ali and Norton fought on that late September night, a time when violence was already rampant in the Bronx, the NYPD was on strike. Thousands of fans getting off the elevated train looked down at the chaos surrounding Yankee Stadium, turned around and went right back home.
Plenty has changed since then. The city has grown safer, boxing has become a niche sport, and the new stadium has been designed to host a variety of events.
No word on when Yankee Stadium will host the NHL's Winter Classic.
Don't call them lucky devils
For an expansion team, the Tampa Bay Rays have had stunning developments in their short history.
Two years after they dropped "Devil" from their name, and went to the World Series, they face opportunities galore in the amateur draft.
The Tampa Tribune reported Wednesday that the Rays own two first-round selections (compensatory picks because they didn't sign their first two picks last year), as well as three of the top 42 picks, five of the top 79 and six of the top 98.
The good fortune comes at a time when the Rays hold the best record in the majors, and have a 21/2-game lead over the New York Yankees.
Yankees catcher Jorge Posada's first assignment after coming back from the 15-day disabled list is as DH. The 38-year-old Posada, however, will be the DH for a while, forcing the team to keep three catchers on the roster.
Texas Rangers righthander Tommy Hunter is scheduled to make his first start of the season against Tampa Bay on Saturday. Hunter was slowed in spring training with a left oblique strain.