Today in sports: the power outages during last night's Monday night football game have NFL conspiracy theorists buzzing, the Atlanta Braves don't want any of Pixar's magic rubbing off on them, and Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish is headed to Texas.
Last night's game between the San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers was delayed for a total of 35 minutes after the lights at Candlestick Park went dark on two separate occasions, first right before kickoff after a generator exploded and then again early in the second quarter. "The 49ers have been fighting to get a new stadium for years, and earlier this month secured funding to build a new ballpark in Santa Clara, 45 miles south of San Francisco. The team isn't slated to move in until 2015, which means they have another three seasons left in decrepit Candlestick, which was built in 1960 for baseball and is one of football's oldest stadiums. The team and the city have battled for years over who should pay for improvements to the facility to make it habitable. Now, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio -- who has a habit of being right about these things, even if what he's right about doesn't make much sense -- says he's hearing "rumors in league circles that the blackout was aimed at assisting the stadium effort by demonstrating that Candlestick Park is outdated and unfit." Since the Santa Clara move is all but a done deal, it's unclear how creating a spectacle on Monday night football would help the club, unless the goal is to spend as little as possible on maintaining the stadium for the next three years, or possibly hitting the city with another hefty maintenance claim down the line. [Pro Football Talk]
The Atlanta Braves are objecting to many of Disney's trademark requests for the upcoming Pixar's new movie, Brave, According to the Disney blog Stitch Kingdom, the team is convinced "damages will occur as a result of Disney's trademarks being approved as they have used the singular form before on merchandise" and also "insist it is common for fans, media, et al to use the singular form when referring to a single player, whereas the pluralized form refers to the entire team." First of all, what kind of business operation doesn't want to have some Pixar magic rub off on their brand? Also, we assumed the title of the movie was using brave as an adjective -- for bravery. And it's a well-established fact that the Atlanta Braves use the word as a noun, and an excuse to partake in racially offensive stadium cheers. [Stitch Kingdom via Slash Film]
We mentioned two weeks ago that the NFL Players Association wasn't totally sold on giving union boss DeMaurice Smith a $1 million year-end bonus, even though he worked for $1 during the lockout, negotiated what's generally thought to be a pretty solid deal with owners, and reportedly deferred his first two year-end bonuses until after a new collective bargaining deal was in place. Now Mike Freeman of CBS Sports is reporting that Smith will step down as union head if the NFLPA executive committee doesn't sign off on the bonus. Smith's contract is up in March anyway, according to Freeman he's "growing weary of increasing drama within the union hierarchy and could opt to leave" anyway, but that timetable will accelerate if he's denied the bonus. Freeman notes that Smith, who was a litigator at D.C. law firm Patton Boggs before taking over as head of the NFLPA in 2009, has butted heads with active players who have resisted his attempts to "change the union culture, make it more professional" along with his efforts "to make the union resemble a more efficient corporate structure," with fewer players directly involved in negotiations. [CBS Sports]
The Texas Rangers won the right to negotiate with long, tall Japanese starting pitcher Yu Darvish after his Japanese team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, accepted the Rangers $51.7 posting bid. Texas now has 30 days to hammer out a contract with the 23-year-old right-handed starter, which former Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden expects will be for five or six years, and be worth between $60 million and $80 million.That could bring the team's financial commitment in the untested international phenom north of $130 million, which make him one of the three highest-paid pitchers in major league baseball. It's a risk, but one the Toronto Blue Jays gladly would have taken. They were believed to have the inside track on landing Darvish, but according to the New York Post, Toronto's bid was "above $40 million and possibly close to $50 million." [Yahoo Sports]
Authorities in Italy have arrested 17 people -- including former Italy midfielder Cristiano Doni -- and accused them of conspiring to fix soccer matches with gamblers based in Singapore and Eastern Europe. The arrests somewhat overshadowed a proclamation from Roberto Di Carmino, prosecutor in the town of Cremona, where the investigation began, that he's identified a global crime ring "divided from the West, to the Far East, to South America and they arrange with their men how to change the outcome of football matches." If he really has cracked the match-fixing epidemic -- or just identified some very big fish -- FIFA should give him a medal. [BBC Sport]