Today in sports: Bill Maher buys his favorite team, a NFL rookie is already in trouble, and the future of baseball is on display.
- Comedian Bill Maher has purchased a minority stake in the New York Mets. Financial details were not made public, but Maher — who grew up in New Jersey and is a lifelong fan of the team — is believed to be one of 12 limited partners who ponied up around $20 million each for a non-controlling share of club. Team owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz were forced to raise money after getting caught up in a lawsuit from victims of Bernie Madoff who claimed that the pair profited from Madoff's ponzi scheme. The owners recently settled the case, but still agreed to sell shares of the team to help pay their legal costs and shore up team finances. [Business Week]
- The NFL has another lockout on its hands. Having reached an impasse in its negotiations with the referees's union, the league has decided to begin hiring and training replacement refs for next season. While there's still plenty of time to work out a deal before the fall, there will be a lot less pressure on the league to make something happen, since the guys on the other side of the table are mostly unknowns who (mostly) won't stand in the way of football season happening. As long as the games get played, fans won't care who is blowing the whistle — they'll still think their favorite team is getting screwed. [NFL.com]
- Major League Baseball's amateur draft is tonight. The Houston Astros have the first pick and will likely face the classic general manager's dilemma: choosing between an established college pitcher or a raw high school outfield phenom. [Yahoo; MLB.com]
- Justin Blackmon, the Jacksonville Jaguars No. 1 draft pick, was arrested for DUI this weekend, putting a ugly mark on his NFL career before it could even start. Blackmon was selected fifth overall in the NFL Draft back in April, but has not yet signed a contract. He can still face discipline by the league, however, and may take a hit during his contract negotiations, since he's now proven himself to be a greater risk than the team would have liked. Blackmon, who was suspended one game in college after a previous DUI, reportedly blew a .24 on a breathalyzer test, putting him well above the legal limit. He has pled not guilty. [The Oklahoman]