Today in sports: the St. Louis Cardinals do not want to be the team with a ballpark that's overrun with rodents, the Patriots will talk about how they can't talk this week, and Kevin Garnett is the union's enforcer in the NBA lockout talks.
Game three of the NL Division Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies was briefly delayed Tuesday night when a squirrel got loose on the field at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals lost, but a meme was born, and a fake BuschSquirrel Twitter account was active by the end of the night. Then on Wednesday, with the Cardinals facing elimination, a squirrel -- "possibly the same squirrel," per the AP -- ran across home plate after Phillies ace Roy Halladay delivered a pitch. St. Louis went on to win and force an elimination game tonight in Philadelphia. A resident lucky squirrel -- or possibly multiple lucky squirrels -- is the kind of thing superstitious baseball fans dream of, but Busch Stadium officials see it as a nuisance and possible liability risk. Which is why the grounds crew has covered the field with seven traps to
killhumanely capture the squirrel so it can be set free at another location. The good news: Cardinals PR director Ron Watermon told the St. Louis Dispatch that if the traps didn't work, the team would not turn to "more drastic measures, such as pellet guns," because manager Tony LaRussa is a staunch animal rights activist. [STLtoday]
- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has forbidden his team from saying anything to the media this week that provide the New York Jets with extra motivation when the two teams play Sunday. He reemphasized that point this week, a fact the public learned when an unnamed player -- yes -- talked to a reporter from the New York Post. "You ain't gonna hear nothing from us, that's for damn sure," said the anonymous player. Boss' orders." Which violates the first rule of media gag rules: don't talk about media gag rules. [New York Post]
- The Boston Red Sox have until midnight to pick up the 2012 option on general manager Theo Epstein's contract. Red Sox owner Jon Henry didn't make retaining Epstein sound like a high priority Friday morning during an interview on Boston's WEEI. "162 games, it’s a long season and the pressure here is 365 days so," Henry mused. "Theo is not going to be the general manager forever...he's the guy now, he's been the guy, we've had tremendous success." Not a ringing endorsement, or a comment that suggests Epstein will still be the guy come Saturday morning. [The Boston Globe]
- The then-unprecedented $126 million contract extension Kevin Garnett signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1998 was held up by owners during the last NBA lockout as the kind of contract teams (and, by association, their fans) simply could not abide. Eleven years later, Garnett's again a key actor in the labor talks, this time as the union's go-to strongman and hardliner. When there were talks of concessions during a closed door meeting earlier this week in New York, a witness says Garnett became"apoplectic" and screamed an appeal about how the union had to hold strong for "the next generation" of players. So far, his message has resonated. [Yahoo!]