2011

Brazilian icons Kaká and Oscar Schmidt share Orlando City moment

SANFORD, Fla. – When it comes to sports in Brazil there’s no bigger name in soccer than Ricardo Kaká and no bigger basketball icon than Oscar Schmidt.

On Tuesday at the Orlando City Soccer Club’s training facility the two friends took a moment to chat while Schmidt was in town with family just as Kaká was preparing to head out for a U.S. Open Cup match in Chicago.

Kaká presented the Naismith Memorial Basketball and FIBA hall of famer with a personalized No. 14 OCSC jersey before the two shared stories of how they met many years ago.

( – Click here for J.C.’s story on Orlando City SC for Orlando Sentinel – )

Kaká, a former FIFA World Player of the Year, is in his first season in Major League Soccer. He’ll captain the MLS All-Stars against Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur next Wednesday.

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Cleveland Indians shortstop Jay Bell & MLB’s rookie one-swing wonders

Imagine waiting three years for your one big opportunity. Then imagine knocking it out of the park on the very first pitch.

Jay Bell on 1988 Topps card #637

Jay Bell on 1988 Topps card #637

That’s how the first Major League Baseball swing played out for Cleveland Indians shortstop Jay Bell in 1986 when he connected for a homer off Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven in his first trip to the big league plate.

It turns out that after being called up from the instructional league in September of that year Bell got some solid advice from future Indians manager Mike Hargrove, who advised the struggling hitter on the way to the airport to swing at the first pitch he sees as it would likely be a fastball.

The irony was likely not lost on the baseball fans in attendance that day.

After being taken with the No. 8 overall pick out of high school by the Minnesota Twins in 1984 Bell was part of a minor league package shipped to Cleveland in exchange for Blyleven.

Cleveland also received pitcher Curt Wardle and outfielder Jim Weaver up front in the deal, and later pitcher Rich Yett. The man affectionately known as the Frying Dutchman would go on to help the Twins win a championship in 1987 just as Bell’s career was getting started.

Can you imagine how rare it must be to hit a major league home run off of the first pitch hurled your way?

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New soccer-specific stadium plans fire up Orlando City SC faithful

( – The following is a story I wrote for the June 15, 2015 edition of Lions Roar, the gameday magazine of Major League Soccer’s Orlando City Soccer Club, touching on the excitement surrounding new plans for a soccer-specific stadium – )

There has been plenty of excitement to go around locally throughout the first three months of the Major League Soccer season. But not even wins, losses or draws have sparked such passion from Orlando City SC supporters as that of the status of a new soccer stadium.

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No matter the forum, there remains a lingering sense of anticipation and excitement renewed each time an update is provided on the Orlando City Soccer Club’s new venue.

Club officials made quite the splash at a press conference on May 29 by proclaiming the development of a soccer-specific stadium in Orlando’s Parramore area ready for liftoff.

That the club will privately fund its new stadium not only assures fans the project will indeed get off the ground, but also serves as a reminder of just how close the dream is to becoming reality.

This much is certain, no matter the details from here on out, there will be no more worrying about the specifics for the Orlando City faithful.

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Four teams remain in Stanley Cup Playoffs and none are from Canada

I hardly have time to care too much about the National Hockey League. There’s just too many other things going on in the world of sports to consume my attention.

But now we’re down to the final four teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. That’s reason enough to start paying attention, right?

What’s interesting about the upcoming matchups this weekend is that there’s no hard feelings stemming from previous postseason clashes to help get the excitement brewing. Instead we’ve got one team in the mist of a marginally lengthy Stanley Cup drought and, in comparison, three others still cleaning up confetti from recent triumphs.

On Saturday it’s the top-seeded New York Rangers and the No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning meeting in the Eastern Conference. Sunday it’ll be the No. 1 Anaheim Ducks hosting the No. 3 Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference.

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Hanni El Khatib grooves out on new “Moonlight” album

I’m not even sure how to pronounce his name. Guess I’ll learn soon enough though after spending Tuesday’s release day listening to the San Francisco native’s impressive new Moonlight album.

It’s the third release for Hanni El Khatib since debuting with Will The Guns Come Out in 2011. Head in the Dirt followed two years later with an assist from Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, so you can imagine what some of these new songs might sound like: bluesy guitar-driven grooves accompanied by boastful drum sounds that carry a shadowy mood throughout.

Having never heard either of those previous albums I had no preconceived notions before giving this one my full attention. And after having had my fill of Auerbach and the Keys over the years I can say I was hardly surprised when I read about their connection after spinning through this for the first time. Moonlight possesses some of the signature sounds of The Black Keys but comes to an end before drowning in that style.

Standouts include the title track, “The Teeth,” “Chasin’,” “Mexico,” “Servant,” and “Two Brothers.” But don’t just settle for the official album. Be sure to check out the Moonlight album mixtape by J.Rocc for a different twist that’ll keep you going until the sun comes up.

NFL Playoffs 2015: Previewing The Wild Card Weekend

The regular season is in the books and the National Football League’s Wild Card weekend will be here before we know it. Or in other words, before we can fully recover from our New Year’s festivities.

The New England Patriots (12-4) and Denver Broncos (12-4) finished the regular season by claiming the top spots in the AFC while the Seattle Seahawks (12-4) and Green Bay Packers (12-4) hold those same positions in the NFC.

On Saturday it’s Arizona at Carolina and Baltimore at Pittsburgh followed by Cincinnati at Indianapolis and Detroit at Dallas on Sunday in matchups that’ll advance winners to the divisional round.

Below is a breakdown of the wild card games this weekend. My predictions are included at the conclusion of each summary.

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Music from the vinyl collection: Bobby Womack, Johnny Cash, Gang Starr, The Stepkids

I considered rushing out to local record stores Friday morning to pick up exclusive Black Friday vinyl music releases. Then I started flipping through my existing collection, deciding instead to stay home and spin the stuff I already own.

Albums by Bobby Womack, Johnny Cash, Gang StarrThe Stepkids randomly made the rotation. Sample some of the best tracks from each below.

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Carnahan Coverage: Orlando City Soccer Club trades for Houston Dynamo goalie Tally Hall

The Orlando City Soccer Club is a long way away from being ready for the start of the 2015 Major League Soccer season. Finding MLS experience to fill out the roster is a top priority this offseason as the Lions make a move from the minor leagues to the top division in North America.

Last week I caught up with OCSC general manager Paul McDonough and president Phil Rawlins about the pending acquisition of Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall, who started in back-to-back MLS Cup matches in 2011 and 2012.

(– Click here to read J.C.’s story on Tally Hall coming to Orlando for MLSSoccer.com –)

Carnahan Coverage: Orlando City Caps Final USL PRO Regular Season Match with Win

The Orlando City Soccer Club played its final USL PRO regular season game Saturday, winning 1-0 over Richmond on a goal by Kevin Molino in the 23rd minute.

The win improves the Lions to 45-4-10 all-time in league matches at home, setting them up in good position for a run at their third championship in four years with home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

( – Click here to read J.C.’s recap of Orlando City vs. Richmond for Orlando Sentinel – )

( – Click here to read J.C.’s preview of Orlando City’s regular season finale for Orlando Sentinel – )

Carnahan Coverage: Kevin Molino Sets New USL-PRO Record For Goals Scored in a Season

I talked to Orlando City Soccer Club’s Kevin Molino and a couple of his teammates who’ve played alongside him over the past four years for a feature on the midfielder for the Orlando Sentinel.

Molino, who set a new USL PRO single-season record for goals scored last Saturday, is one of five current players looking to wrap up their third title in four years with the Lions when the playoffs open next month.

As much as I’ve already written about Molino this season, it turns out there was even more to be expressed. Not all of the quotes I gathered from Molino, Orlando City coach Adrian Heath, goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo and defender Rob Valentino could fit into the story. So I’ve provided them below. Enjoy.

( – Click here to read J.C.’s feature on Kevin Molino for the Orlando Sentinel – )

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Michael Cuddyer Hits For the Cycle For Second Time in MLB Career

It’s hard enough for players to hit for the cycle at least once in their Major League Baseball careers, never mind becoming just one of three big-leaguers ever to do so in both the American and National leagues. What makes the only cycle of the 2014 season so interesting is the familiarity involving a couple players and a pair of games.

Late Sunday night Colorado Rockies outfielder Michael Cuddyer accomplished the feat with a huge grin on his face when he belted a double down the third base line off of Manny Parra in the eighth inning of a 10-5 win at home over the Cincinnati Reds.

While with the Brewers on May 22, 2009, Parra gave up three of the hits Cuddyer would need for his first cycle (while with the Minnesota Twins) before going on to finish it off at the Metrodome with a triple off of Jorge Julio, who had played for the Rockies two years earlier.

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Carnahan Coverage: Orlando City Gets by Charleston In Matchup of USL Pro Champs

The Orlando City Soccer Club and Charleston Battery have won each of the past four USL Pro titles, with the Lions claiming championships in their inaugural season (2011) and again in 2013.

But the rivalry hasn’t been as close on paper as it appears on the pitch.

Orlando City’s 1-0 win on Saturday gives the Lions a 9-1-3 record in the all-time series, including a 7-0-0 mark at home. Major League Soccer loanee Brian “Cobi” Span of FC Dallas scored in the 73rd minute on an assist from Adama Mbengue.

– (Click here to read my recap for the Orlando Sentinel) –