***EARLY BEANBALL WARS***
Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins, was beaned taking batting practice by top prospect Jose Fernandez. Stanton says he's okay and commented, "It should only happen to Jeffrey Loria."
Eduardo Nunez was hit in batting practice by Joba Chamberlain. Chamberlain said he was sorry, he mistook Nunez for Kevin Youkilis.
***THE NEW CONFERENCE***
Seven Catholic schools have left The Big East to form their own basketball conference. They are DePaul, Georgetown, Marquette, Providence, Seton Hall, St John's and Villanova. I believe they need one more team. I suggest they approach Notre Dame to join. Then they could call it the All Saints Conference and all they'd need is a commissioner. How about Pope Benedict? I'll bet he could use a part time job.
## Speaking of All Saints, Bobby Valentine has been named Athletic Director of Sacred Hearts University in Fairfield Connecticut. He probably doesn't have to worry about beer, but I wonder if they serve fried chicken in the cafeteria?
## The Yankees are experimenting with shifting Granderson to left field and moving Gardner to center. I think they would have tried this last season if Gardner hadn't gotten hurt and missed all but 16 games. I was glad to hear Girardi's comments on the switch. Girardi said his decision was not based on such stats as UZR, FSR or TZL as much as what his own eyes tell him. "For me, it's visual perception and what I thought might help us," he said. I still have only marginal confidence in these "contrived" stats such as UZR or WAR. Their basis always begins with some kind of assumption and builds off of that. My Logic Class professor in college would have laughed himself silly over any attempted proof of those stats.
## Diasuke Matsuzaka, one-time heavily sought after pitching prospect, has completed his original contract with the Red Sox, and was a free agent this winter. After producing only 50 wins in six years with Boston, no team seemed particularly excited about signing him and he ended up signing a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians, where he'll have to deal with former manager Terry Francona again. Is this good or bad? For Terry or Dice-K?
## MLBPA union head, Michael Weiner (interesting last name) has warned the media against jumping to any conclusions about reports from the Miami clinic accused of distributing PEDs. He also discussed the fact that drug testing will take place during the season this year, however, he did stress that there were restrictions in place. For example, no blood will be drawn BEFORE games, only after. Players are also excused for health-related issues and, I love this one, WEATHER/HEAT related situations. Let me understand this: if it's hot out, you can use PEDs? Oh yeah, this makes Weiner's next statement all the more interesting. "Players understand it's important to have the strongest program possible." I think I really like his last name, now.
## It's make-or-break time for the 8th ranked Syracuse basketball team. Their next three games are against #11 Georgetown, #17 Marquette and #10 Louisville. We'll know an awful lot more about the fortitude of this team in a week.
***THEY SAID IT***
"The minor-league Omaha Storm Chasers' ballpark will boast an added accoutrement this season — an 8-foot statue of hard-nosed Cardinals pitching great Bob Gibson. Poetic justice? Local pigeons are already hatching plans to come in high and tight." -- Dwight Perry
"The next pope could be the cardinal from Boston: "If he gets the job, he'll be the first pope to make you kiss his 2007 World Series ring." -- Conan O'Brien
"Dallas owner Jerry Jones motored into Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine in style — aboard a new $2 million luxury bus. Reflecting the Cowboys' recent fortunes, it stalls on most drives." -- Dwight Perry
"The International Olympic Committee has decided to eliminate wrestling from the 2020 Olympic Games. When you look at the sports they're keeping, I'm pretty sure the “I” in IOC is for “Idiot.” -- Brad Dickson
" The NFL apparently wants to move their combine, the start of free agency, and the draft, to early March, April and May respectively. This so the league has one “big event” each month during the offseason. Well, other than arrests." -- Janice Hough
"Can you just imagine the wall-to-wall coverage by NBC if Tiger travels to Sochi, Russia, next year to cheer Vonn on in the Winter Olympics? ESPN would have to start a new channel just to cover that." -- Houston Mitchell
"Sports Illustrated says Kate Upton is their first back-to-back cover model since 1997. Shouldn't that be front-to-front?" -- RJ Currie
"The Shrine Circus is in town. As if that Friday commute isn't going to be strange enough, now we're going to see a car pull up and 18 clowns climb out." -- Brad Dickson