Today in sports: Mariano Rivera's visit to a surgeon to set a date to repair his torn ACL did not go well, Deadspin charts the emergence of Jose Canseco as punchline, and Joe Maddon is now baseball's most profilable manager.
Oh, dear: Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was supposed to visit with a surgeon today to set a date for surgery to repair his torn right ACL, which he injured shagging fly balls last Thursday in one of the more gruesome leg-buckling sequences of recent years. But according to Rivera's agent Fernando Cuza, the examination "ran into complications," which he wouldn't elaborate on. Neither would Yankees general manager Brian Cashman or Yankees team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad. "It was suspected," according to The Post "[that] the surgeons would concur with last week’s diagnosis in Kansas City that Rivera had a torn ACL and torn meniscus and plans for season-ending surgery would be made." But that didn't happen, which isn't going to do much to inspire confidence in fans that Rivera may have pitched his last game. [The New York Post]
Deadspin makes the case that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opened the floodgates to 22 years of Jose Canseco-based humor in March 1990, during a scene in which wisecracking mutant reptile Raphaele teases long-haired human Casey Jones about trying to beat his turtle skull in with a Jose Canseco signature bat. This brought Canseco jabs to a wider audience, no doubt, but the Jose Canseco Hot Line -- in which callers were charged $2 for the first minute and $1 for each additional minute to hear the slugger talk various topics, including "steroids, speeding and handguns," Hartford Courant columnist Alan Greenberg reported in October 1989. That same postseason, Bob Costas used Canseco's 900 number as a punchline during ABC's World Series coverage. [Deadspin]
Perpetual third starter Brad Penny signed a $4 million contract to pitch this season for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Japan's Pacific League, the biggest deal ever given to an American pitcher in his first year in Japan. With incentives, Penny could have earned an extra $8 million, but that won't be happening, now that he's been released a month after making his first and only start in Japan, before having to sit out with shoulder pain. Also, according to the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, Penny "hard time adjusting to living and playing in Japan." The good news is, he won't be unemployed in a strange country he's having trouble getting used to for long. A baseball source tells ESPN's Buster Olney that Penny has "offers to pitch both as a starter and a reliever in the major leagues and expects to make a decision soon on where he will sign." Hawks' manager Koji Akiyama called the situation "unfortunate," noting "part of it is his feelings and then there is also his shoulder. It cannot be helped." [CBS Sports and ESPN]
Now that Tony La Russa has retired, Joe Maddon can take his place as MLB's most-profiled manager. The New York Times has a very long piece about the various defensive shifts Maddon deploys over the course of a game, against nearly every hitter that goes up to the plate. There's a bit of gamesmanship to it, but it's vitally important to a team like Tampa, which has emerged as a contender in the AL East since 2008 with strong pitching, slick fielding, and less-than-formidable run production. John Dewan is the head of Baseball Info Solutions, a company which provides MLB teams about their defense. Dewan notes the 2011 Rays were exceptional in "defensive efficiency, a measure of how well teams turn batted balls into outs," to the extent it saved them 85 runs, which equated to 8 or 9 more wins. This year already, he says Tampa's savvy shifts have taken away 28 runs from the opposition. [The New York Times]
So it looks as if new Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck is not going to be able to bum rides on team owner Jim Irsay's private jet to go work out with future teammates scattered about the nation until June 7, the day of his final exam at Stanford. Remarkably, this rule -- which seems like the kind of pointless regulation the NCAA is usually behind -- is actually ""prohibited by the NFL's collective bargaining agreement," so Luck will have to make his own travel arrangements if he wants to go run routes with Reggie Wayne. (Note: the easy around this restriction -- and one a not inconsiderable number of pro-bound student athletes pursue -- is to drop out of school immediately following a bowl game or March Madness. Then they can train and ride on all the airplanes they want. A more viable alternative is to graduate early, which is what second overall pick Robert Griffin III did. He's been meeting with Washington coaches to learn the offense since February, and doesn't have any restrictions on practice time with his new teammates. Advantage Griffin! [Indy Star]