Looking back on Andy Pettitte's 1st start of 2012

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Looking back on Andy Pettitte's 1st start of 2012

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Andy Pettitte stood on the mound at Yankee Stadium with his hat pulled down low, peering in at the catcher over the glove held high in front of his face. It's an image Yankees fans know well. This time, though, No. 46 was back on a big league mound for the first time in a year and a half. It was hard to tell. Pettitte pitched effectively into the seventh inning Sunday, but gave up a pair of two-run homers in New York's 6-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners. "To me, he looked like he hadn't missed a beat," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. Nearly lost amid the excitement over Pettitte's first major league appearance since retiring after the 2010 season was party crasher Kevin Millwood's performance for Seattle -- helped by three double plays. The 37-year-old Millwood (1-4) gave up three hits in seven innings and got his 2,000th career strikeout as Seattle avoided a three-game sweep. The Yankees tried to prevent their old pal Pettitte from taking the loss with a rally in the eighth against four Seattle relievers. Robinson Cano was walked with two outs by Charlie Furbush with the bases loaded to make it 4-2. Mark Teixeira, though, struck out to end the inning. The lovefest for Pettitte (0-1) began when the lefty appeared with several players in videos welcoming fans to Yankee Stadium after batting practice. The cheers grew as he strolled out to the bullpen for warm-ups and fans rose for a standing ovation when the five-time World Series champion followed his teammates onto the field for the first inning. "I just cannot believe how comfortable this is for me," Pettitte said. "I don't know how to explain it." The Core Four member who turns 40 next month even got special treatment from the Bleacher Creatures. They broke protocol after their roll call and started a chant for Pettitte that most of the 41,631 in attendance joined. The Creatures rarely include the starting pitcher when calling out player's names in the first inning. The stadium got awful quiet when Casper Wells homered in the sixth to give Seattle a 4-1 lead with his first of the season, an opposite-field drive off the netting on the right-field pole. Justin Smoak homered for Seattle's first hit with two outs in the fourth. "I thought it was so awesome. I was so excited. I know we lost today and that's what a lot of people are going to focus on -- I could really care less about that," Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher said. "We got our boy back." Pettitte's return had become more important to the Yankees because their rotation had been struggling, with Freddy Garcia demoted to the bullpen. But through the first five games of this homestand, the team's starters were 4-0 with a 1.31 ERA and Girardi thought their performance would take some of the pressure off Pettitte. The broad-chested Texan appeared calm as ever in his first big league start in 573 days, since Game 3 of the AL championship series against Texas on Oct. 18, 2010. He sat out last season before deciding in mid-March to make a comeback. After Swisher caught leadoff batter Dustin Ackley's fly to right with a leap at the wall, Pettitte walked Wells. He then got Ichiro Suzuki to ground into a double play. Pettitte walked Alex Liddi with two outs in the second but Mike Carp grounded out to end the inning. Not having allowed a hit two outs into the fourth, Pettitte walked former Yankees prospect Jesus Montero and Smoak lined a homer to left. Pettitte showed characteristically little emotion on the mound. Wells homered following Ackley's leadoff single in the sixth. The Mariners then loaded the bases with one out on three straight singles but Girardi stuck with Pettitte, and Carp grounded to first. Teixeira stepped on the base and threw home, and catcher Russell Martin tagged a sliding Montero. Pettitte returned for one batter in the seventh and induced his 12th groundball out. He left to a loud ovation despite trailing 4-1 and waved to fans as he entered the dugout. "There is not a question in my mind how this is all going to play out for me," Pettitte said. "It's not about this one start. I'll measure if this was a successful return or not at the end of October."

Denzel Washington liked Bulls' Denzel Valentine's name, so the actor tracked him down

Denzel Washington liked Bulls' Denzel Valentine's name, so the actor tracked him down

What happens when you share the same name as Denzel Washington? You get tracked down by him.

After Denzel Valentine was selected by the Bulls in Thursday's NBA Draft, Washington made it a mission to find the Michigan State product.

"I actually talked to him," Washington told TMZ. "I talked to him. I tracked him down cause how many Denzels do you meet?"

We assume not a lot of them, but the actor is probably a reason that there are more Denzels in this world. At least that's the case with Valentine, who was named after his father's favorite actor.

Washington's three Golden Globes and two Academy Awards are a few of his honors throughout his acting career.

Maybe Valentine could follow his footsteps and help deliver some hardware for the Bulls in the future.

Tune in to CSN Chicago or catch a live stream on CSNChicago.com at 11 a.m. as GM Gar Forman and head coach Fred Hoiberg introduce Denzel Valentine to the Bulls.

Big Ten vs. SEC: Penn State adds future games against Auburn

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Big Ten vs. SEC: Penn State adds future games against Auburn

Penn State is upping its strength of schedule ... come 2021.

The Nittany Lions announced a home-and-home series with Auburn on Monday, with games slated for the 2021 and 2022 seasons. Penn State will play host to Auburn on Sept. 18, 2021, and then travel to take on the Tigers on Sept. 17, 2022.

Not only will these games be the first regular-season meetings between the two schools, they will be the first two regular-season games Auburn has ever played against a Big Ten opponent.

Penn State has played Auburn twice in bowl games, winning the 1996 Outback Bowl and losing the 2003 Capital One Bowl.

"We are thrilled to be adding Auburn to our future football schedules," Penn State athletics director Sandy Barbour said in the announcement. "This is a great intersectional matchup, and there will be significant interest from alumni, fans and students of both schools to be a part of the electric atmospheres on both campuses. I am very appreciative of (Auburn athletics director) Jay Jacobs’ interest and efforts in making this home-and-home series a reality."

The Lions also announced Monday future non-conference games with Ball State and Buffalo for the 2019 and 2021 seasons, respectively.

Penn State's non-conference schedule could use a shot in the arm following the conclusion of the current decade. The highlight of the next four seasons' slates is an annual meeting with in-state rival Pittsburgh, not a bad team by any stretch but not a team such as the attention-grabbing Auburn, which is just two seasons removed from an appearance in the national championship game. The Lions also have future non-conference series scheduled with Virginia Tech and West Virginia.

The future games also provide a Big Ten-SEC matchup fans and observers always seem to crave, particularly when played between two higher-caliber programs. There are only 10 other regular-season meetings between Big Ten and SEC teams currently scheduled: this season's opener between Wisconsin and LSU, a Michigan-Florida tilt in 2017, a 2017-2018 series between Purdue and Missouri, a 2018-2019 series between Michigan and Arkansas, a 2019 game between Purdue and Vanderbilt, a home-and-home between Nebraska and Tennessee in 2026 and 2027 and another Purdue-Vanderbilt showdown all the way in 2029.

Bulls' Jimmy Butler named to Team USA for Rio 2016 Olympics

Bulls' Jimmy Butler named to Team USA for Rio 2016 Olympics

Jimmy Butler officially has been named to the Team USA basketball roster and will compete in the Rio 2016 Olympics, the Bulls announced Monday.

Butler reportedly accepted the invitation to compete last week and will mark the first member of the Bulls to compete in the Olympics since Scottie Pippen in 1996.

Butler is one of 10 players on the roster who will compete for Team USA in the Olympics for the first time. The only returning members from the 2012 Gold-medal team are Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony; Anthony also won Gold in 2008, and could become the first player ever to win three gold medals in basketball.

Joining Butler, Durant and Anthony in Rio will be Kyrie Irving, Harrison Barnes, DeMarcus Cousins, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Paul George, Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and DeAndre Jordan.

Though Team USA is still the prohibitive favorites to win gold for the third straight Summer Olympics, the team is void of some of the NBA's best current players including LeBron James, Steph Curry, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden and Russell Westbrook. Jordan is the only member of this year's All-NBA First Team on the Olympic roster.

Butler will compete with Team USA for the first time, but he's no stranger to USA Basketball. A groin injury prevented him from participating on the Team USA Select Team in 2014, but he was named to the USA Basketball roster the following summer. He was named one of 30 finalists for a spot on the Olympic roster in January.

Butler's inclusion on the team was no surprise after he averaged 20.9 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists for the Bulls a year ago. He also added 1.6 steals per game and was named to the All-NBA Defensive Second Team for the third consecutive season. Butler's passing improved as much as any aspect of his game this past season, and he averaged 6.1 assists per game after the All-Star break. That will come in handy in Rio, as Irving and Lowry are the only two true point guards on the roster.

Butler will be one of two Bulls competing in this summer's Olympics. Their second round pick, small forward Paul Zipser, is a member of the German national team and will compete for his country. Pau Gasol, who spent two years with the Bulls and will opt out of his contract this summer, will compete for the Spain national team, which won silver medals in 2008 and 2012.