A Grain of Saul: The things you missed

Isaac Saul | November 14, 2011    

While the Penn State child abuse scandal dominated the headlines for the last week, the rest of… While the Penn State child abuse scandal dominated the headlines for the last week, the rest of the sports world didn’t hit the brakes.

Hidden on the sidebars and second pages were a few interesting sports stories that flew under the radar — so in case you were absorbed by Jerry Sandusky and all that came with him, here is a little update on what you missed.

Wilson Ramos is kidnapped

In one of the most interesting and horrifying stories the MLB has seen in years, the Washington Nationals’ 24-year-old catcher Wilson Ramos was kidnapped at gunpoint from his home in Venezuela.

The story is straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster. Ramos was standing outside his home with his father and two brothers when an SUV with armed men pulled up and whisked him away. What ensued was a two-day, 200-person police search through the backcountry of Venezuela. After a shootout that lasted fifteen minutes, Ramos was found hiding on the floor of a room in the captors’ home.

As a gesture to the community, Ramos plans to stay in Venezuela and play in at least one game with the Aragua Tigers, his Venezuelan team, before returning to Washington for training.

The kidnapping is a reminder of the liberties that many American athletes hold and do not share with their foreign counterparts. Stories of Major League Baseball players’ families and friends being kidnapped for ransom pop up every few years. Even in Russia, there have been horror tales of mafia members extorting NHL hockey players. Fortunately, Ramos is safe and all but four of a large group of men involved in his kidnapping have been apprehended.

Tiger Woods finishes third at the Australian Open

Tiger Woods hasn’t made a headline for anything good in a while, but this was a start. After finishing third at the Australian Open, Woods moved up in the Official World Golf Ranking for the first time in seven months. He is now ranked 50th.

The high finish, coming on the heels of the Sandusky case, brought an interesting thought: Maybe Woods’ game will improve while America’s focus moves to a new villain. Suddenly cheating on your wife doesn’t seem so bad in comparison to child molestation.

My guess? Woods has found his stroke and will be back on the podium before you know it. I never thought his career was over, and I still don’t. Perhaps one of the sports world’s darkest hours will cause the rebirth of one of its greatest golfers.

The Raiders and Chargers kick off Thursday night football

Thursday night football started in 2006, and it is one of the best ideas the NFL has ever had. Since its conception, there have been 41 televised games on Thursday night.

Part of its appeal is that it only starts halfway through the season. For me, it just makes it feel like the weekend before it is the weekend -— an unbelievably nice way to end the school day.

On Thursday, Carson Palmer quietly played his first good game of football in a long time as he threw for two touchdowns and 299 yards, only turning the ball over once on an interception. The Raiders, now 5-4, break a two-game losing streak and find themselves back in the AFC playoff race.

NBA season on the verge of cancellation

In one of sports most prominent displays of greed and self-centeredness, the NBA lockout reached a new low point over the last week.

The players have begun to disband their union, making the possibility of not having a season much greater.

The move came after David Stern made an ultimatum-type final offer, leaving the players with little choice. According to union executive director Billy Hunter, the anti-trust action the players plan to file against the NBA is the “best situation where players can get their due process.”

The Penn State scandal

As far as the Penn State scandal itself, the backlash from public and internal uproar on campus has led to a few major developments.

The CEO of Sandusky’s The Second Mile organization has quit, Joe Paterno’s name has been removed from the Big Ten championship trophy, and Mike McQueary has been put on administrative leave.

While the story of the victims is much greater than sports, Penn State football will surely play a role in the healing process for the campus and the athletes in Happy Valley. We can only hope some of the victims can find solace in the weeks, months and years to come.

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