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MVP Kris Bryant pranked by Hall of Famer Greg Maddux

Kris Bryant got pranked by a Hall of Famer during a recent commercial. And that’s no bull.

>> Read more trending news

Greg Maddux disguised himself as a bearded, scraggly TV sound man for a Red Bull commercial and bent a few curves past the National League’s reigning Most Valuable Player, the Chicago Tribune reported.

 "This sound guy has got a good curveball. What is this?" Bryant said after taking one of Maddux's pitches. "He's pretty good."

The prank was set up by Red Bull, one of Bryant's sponsors. The company revealed on its website that Bryant "was under the impression he was going through a basic workout routine at the College of Southern Nevada before leaving for spring training.

"Little did he know that the sound guy with the boom stick, long hair, mustache and goatee was none other than Maddux, a four-time Cy Young Award winner and fellow Las Vegas comrade," Red Bull posted on its website.

Maddux, known as “Mad Dog” and “The Professor” during his 23-year major-league career, won 355 games and struck out 3,371 batters. But on this day, he was just the “Sound Guy.” And his pitches made a humming sound as he zipped them past Bryant, who was becoming more impressed with every pitch.

Maddux had taken over for the batting practice pitcher, who suddenly got a call to "run study hall" on campus. When Bryant objected to a “novice” pitching (“I don’t want any of you guys throwing”), Maddux assured him that “I throw to kids all the time” and “I throw to my Little League team.”

Maddux finally revealed his true identity when he asked the Cubs’ third baseman to autograph his bat for “Greg Maddux.”  He then took off the beard as Bryant laughed out loud.

<iframe width="390" height="219" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/axkik-8oFTs" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Police file charges against Jets CB Darrelle Revis

 Charges have been filed against New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis in connection with an altercation over the weekend in Pittsburgh’s South Side neighborhood, authorities said.

 >> Read more trending news

Revis, 31, faces two counts of aggravated assault, one count of felony robbery, one count of conspiracy and one count of making terroristic threats, police said. 

Revis' attorney, Blaine Jones, told ESPN that he was trying to reach the four-time All-Pro by phone Thursday night to arrange for him to surrender to police. Jones wouldn't say when Revis, an Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, native would turn himself in, but noted it would be "rather soon." Jones told The Associated Press that once a warrant was issued, he would arrange for Revis to turn himself in.

A Jets spokesman said Thursday that the team was aware of the incident and had spoken to Revis, ESPN reported. NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the league would look into the matter. 

Pittsburgh police said officers were called at 2:43 a.m. Sunday in Pittsburgh’s popular South Side neighborhood for a report of two men who had been knocked unconscious. 

According to the investigation, a 22-year-old man from Kittanning, Pennsylvania, was walking along a street when he spotted a man who resembled Revis. The man told police that he asked if the man was Revis, and the player confirmed his identity. 

The man began recording the interaction on his cellphone and continued following Revis, police said. "At some point, Revis snatched the cellphone away and attempted to delete the video," the police statement said. 

 A 21-year-old man from Ross Township, Pennsylvania, attempted to help the 22-year-old retrieve the cellphone, and Revis tossed it onto the roadway, police said.  

Authorities said a verbal argument followed and a fourth man came to assist Revis. Both the 22-year-old and the 21-year-old told officers that they were punched and then remember waking up to talk to police.  

Witnesses stated that the two men were unconscious for about 10 minutes. Pittsburgh police said they viewed the cellphone video recorded by the 22-year-old man and confirmed that the person involved in the altercation was Revis.  

Jones said the two men were taunting Revis while he was visiting a place in the South Side that he is developing. He said Revis told the men he played football and that he didn’t want any trouble. 

Revis was a star player at the University of Pittsburgh before he went to the NFL. 

Jones said Revis had returned home to Pittsburgh to visit family and friends and stopped by a location on the South Side that he's in the process of developing. Asked by reporters Thursday night why Revis was there at such a late hour, Jones said his client "didn't want to be around a lot of people" while looking at the real-estate investments and "kind of wanted to do it on his own terms."

Jones said Revis was "physically assaulted while at the location by a group of at least five people," ESPN reported.

"It's my understanding that when Darrelle turned around he wasn't sure whether it was a weapon or a phone," Jones told reporters. "He didn't know. He just knows he left, these guys were saying his name, he turns around and sees an object and he wasn't sure what it was or whether he was going to get robbed or assaulted or what.

"He feared for his safety."

Revis, one of the NFL's most accomplished players, is facing an uncertain future with the Jets, ESPN reported. After a disappointing season — he called it the worst of his career — the 31-year-old Revis could be a salary-cap casualty in the coming weeks; he's due a $2 million roster bonus on March 11, plus another $13 million in base salary (including $6 million guaranteed).

Revis acknowledged he reported to training camp last season out of shape, contributing to his slow start. He has vowed to rebound in 2017, even saying he's willing to switch to safety.

Revis, who spent one year apiece with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots, returned to the Jets in 2015, signing a five-year, $70 million contract. Since then, he has struggled to reach the standard he set from 2007 to 2011, when he was regarded as the best cornerback in the league.

"He was not the aggressor that night. He was 1 thousand percent the victim!"#DarrelleRevis attorney clearing the air on @WPXI 11 @ 11. pic.twitter.com/AvwkZeWlXz— Mike Holden (@WPXIMikeHolden) February 17, 2017 <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Attorney Jones on #Revis assault charges right now.... @WPXI pic.twitter.com/mchDTHCqRr— Mike Holden (@WPXIMikeHolden) February 17, 2017 <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Pitt softball jumps into rankings with 5-0 start to the season

The Pitt softball program continues to make dramatic strides under head coach Holly Aprile. In 2015, the Panthers posted their best season reaching the regional finals in the NCAA Tournament. Last year, the team didn't make the NCAAs but had another solid year (31-21) and Sarah Dawson pitched the first perfect game in program history.

This season, the team is off to a good start in the quest for the NCAA Tournament again. The Panthers are 5-0 on the season and, for the first time in the history of the program, are ranked in the polls, checking in at No. 24 in the USA Today poll and No. 25 in the ESPN poll.

That ascension to the rankings came mostly on the two wins they scored against No. 20 Kentucky in the UCF Knights Invitational last weekend. In addition to those wins, the Panthers also knocked off Central Florida twice and beat Florida A&M. Pitt won by at least two runs in each contest.

The pitching rotation consisted of freshman Brittany Knight and junior Kayla Harris. Dawson, who threw that aforementioned perfect game, has come on in relief so far. She was an incredible 8-0 last year, so I have to imagine she might have chances to start later. Both starters were incredible over the weekend and Knight has yet to give up an earned run. Behind a perfect 3-0 record and a complete game, she was named the ACC Pitcher of the Week.

The staff looks formidable to say the last. Knight, Harris, and Dawson have combined for a 1.17 ERA through five contests (two against a ranked Kentucky team). I'm always encouraged to see teams with strong starting pitching in the college ranks because you really only need two good ones to be competitive in baseball where the rotations consist of three guys. And in softball with teams often going with only two starters, Pitt's situation looks even better. The Panthers look like they have three competent starters and, offense aside, should be in games merely because of that.

This weekend, the women head to the ACC/Big Ten Challenge (yes, those are in softball, too) to face Nebraska in a pair of games and Northwestern in a pair of games down in Florida while the weather warms up around these parts. It's early, but so far, the Panthers have a promising start to the year.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

President Trump won't fill out NCAA brackets on ESPN

President Donald Trump will be skipping March Madness this year.

>> Read more trending news

The White House said Wednesday that the president will not pick brackets for the 2017 men's and women's tournaments, ESPN reported.

"We expressed our interest to the White House in continuing the presidential bracket,” ESPN said in a statement. “They have respectfully declined."

In an email to the Washington Post, White House spokesman Hope Hicks said: "We look forward to working with ESPN on another opportunity in the near future."

Former President Barack Obama, a big basketball fan, had agreed in previous years to fill out brackets for the men’s and women’s tournaments and discuss his choices on ESPN’s “SportsCenter.”

Spasms force Tiger Woods to back out of news conference

Tiger Woods’ back problems have forced him to back out of a news conference

>> Read more trending news

Woods withdrew from the Dubai Open on Feb. 3 due to back spasms, and they also caused him to pull out of this week’s Genesis Open. A question-and-answer session with the media scheduled for Tuesday was delayed for 24 hours, and then was canceled altogether, ESPN reported. His agent, Mark Steinberg, said late Tuesday the 14-time major champion was skipping the news conference for “precautionary reasons.” 

“After receiving daily treatment the last several days on his ongoing back spasms, Tiger Woods has again been advised by doctors to limit all activities and will not hold a press conference Wednesday,’’ Greg Bell, a member of the tournament’s PR team, said in a statement.

Woods, 41, withdrew from the event on Friday. The tournament is being run by the Tiger Woods Foundation. Woods traveled to California over the weekend, Steinberg said, in an effort to take part in foundation and tournament activities. 

Woods has had back surgery three times. He returned to the PGA Tour in January after an 18-month layoff and shot rounds of 76-72 to miss the cut at the Farmer Insurance Open at Torrey Pines for the first time in his career at that course. He withdrew from the Dubai tournament, an event he has won twice, after posting an opening-round 77. 

Jason Day, the world’s top ranked golfer, told USA Today that Woods was facing a “double-edged sword.”

“He has to come out and play and play tournament golf,’’ Day said Tuesday. “But you have to watch also your back and make sure that's healthy, because you have to play golf to get tournament ready and get the competitive rounds under your belt and get those juices flowing again. But also, in the same regard, (what) you have to be wary of is (whether) your back (is) 100 percent.’’

Woods, who has won 79 PGA Tour events, began having back woes toward the end of the 2013 season, when he won five tournaments. He had his first back surgery in March 2014 and returned three months later. He played in five tournaments in 2014 and 11 times in 2015 before being shut down by surgeries in September and October of that year.

"He is just having a hard time getting these spasms to calm down,'' Steinberg told ESPN.”And he's working on that on an hourly basis. He's got personnel working with him to help pacify that."

A look at Pitt's new defensive line coach, Charlie Partridge

I never got around to it but Pitt and defensive line coach Tom Sims parted ways earlier this month right after National Signing Day. KDKA's Richie Walsh had it first, I believe.

The Panthers' line was, I thought, pretty strong all year long. They were eighth nationally against the run and also eighth in sacks. If you ask most fans about the biggest problem areas of the team, defensive line would be pretty far down, I imagine. The timing, too, was a little interesting in that it came right after National Signing Day when players were already on board. And that Sims is a Pitt alum that played in the NFL makes it a little more curious. Interesting all the way around, to say the least.

To replace Sims, Pitt brought back a familiar face in former assistant Charlie Partridge. The Panthers have the pro-Partridge view here.

Experience? Check. Partridge has 20 years of that sprinkled across college football. A good chunk of that was in the FBS. He was at Iowa State as a football operations guy, at Pitt for five years on the defensive line and with linebackers and special teams, and coached defensive lines for Wisconsin and Arkansas.

Partridge then left Arkansas to take a head job at FAU, which, if we're being honest, was a disaster. He was 9-27 there and won only three games each year while playing in Conference USA. He was fired this past season after going 3-9 and only 2-6 in the conference.

And if you're the type of fan that likes stability, you could have it here with Partridge. No assistant is ever safe, but given his recent FAU stint, he isn't likely to get a head job right away. Defensive coordinator? Maybe, I suppose.

There's no getting around that head coaching job but Pitt isn't hiring him in that role. If you take that out of the equation, it's hard to find much fault with hiring him as a position coach. I've got zero problems with the hire and the fact that he coached here before and is going to be familiar with the recruiting territory, etc., means there's less of a learning curve. He's got a lot of experience, has been around major programs, and has some head coaching experience. To get a guy like that as a position coach is hard to quibble with.

I'm not sure what happened with Sims and head coach Pat Narduzzi, but in terms of a replacement, this one seems pretty solid.

Thoughts?

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Kate Upton lands cover of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue for third time

Sports Illustrated fans will see a familiar face on the cover of the 2017 swimsuit issue.

>> PHOTOS: Kate Upton through the years

The magazine announced early Wednesday that Kate Upton landed the coveted spot, gracing three different covers of this year's issue. She was the cover model for the 2012 and 2013 swimsuit issues, as well.

>> See all three versions of the cover here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised)

According to The Associated Press, Christie Brinkley, Tyra Banks and Heidi Klum also appeared on the cover three times. Supermodel Elle Macpherson landed five covers.

Kate Upton lands 2017 'Sports Illustrated' swimsuit issue cover, EN-15WE pic.twitter.com/IMTZOYdDUQ— CNN Newsource (@CNNNewsource) February 15, 2017 <script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Pitt falls to Virginia Tech at home, 66-63

"In position to steal one on the road."

Truer words could not be spoken. Those were the words from one of the announcers near the end of the game. And steal it, the Hokies did.

For all intents and purposes, Pitt had their game against Virginia Tech on Tuesday night won. The Panthers raced out to an early double digit lead and held a comfortable lead for most of the game. For around 30 minutes, Pitt clearly outplayed Virginia Tech. I don't even think they trailed until past the midway point of the second half. Still, the Panthers couldn't hold on and lost to Virginia Tech, 66-63.

If you're looking for the deciding stretch in the game, look no further than a pretty unfortunate foul by Michael Young. Typically, one foul doesn't change the course of a game. And if we're being fair to Young here, his foul was hardly the only thing that cost Pitt. Pitt had a four-point lead late in the game and on the final possession, had three different looks from the three-point line to tie things up. Young's foul hurt (a lot) but certainly wasn't the only reason Pitt lost tonight.

But in terms of finding the biggest game-changer tonight, well, it was easily that sequence.

If you missed the game and need a recap, here goes. Up six points in the second half, Virginia Tech had a fast break going. Instead of giving up an easy layup, Young fouled. Unfortunately, the Hokies made the shot anyway. Not only that, but Young was assessed an intentional foul call, which also gave Virginia Tech two free throws and the ball. They knocked down both shots at the line then hit a three-pointer.

In one sequence, you had a seven-point swing. That gave the Hokies a one-point lead and after trading leads back and forth, they prevailed.

My thoughts?

First, the old adage here certainly applies. If you're going to foul in that situation, you better make sure the guy gets a hard, clean foul so you're not assessed an intentional foul call and so the guy doesn't make the shot. Young did neither.

About that intentional foul, though. Perhaps I'm wrong on this but the call didn't look so clear cut to me. In watching the replay several times, it looked like Young very clearly fouled, but then reached out his arms to stop the Virginia Tech player from falling. What the announcers seemed to keep saying (incorrectly) was that Young grabbed the player as the foul. The foul came before that, then the grab, which seemed to be to concede the foul.

I don't know the nuances of the rule but they did flash it on the screen and it said something about grabbing a player triggering that call. I would argue, however, that it wasn't the grab that was the foul - rather, Young fouled before that.

I didn't see much complaining from Young with regards to that call so maybe I've got that one wrong. But if you watch the replay, you'll see exactly what I'm talking about. I can see why the call made because the refs are likely programmed to make that call if they see two arms wrapped around a guy but, to me, it looked Young was conceding the foul and merely not trying to hurt the guy because they were going at a pretty good speed towards the basket.

Final thought on the Young stuff. Regardless of how the call went, etc., Young has to either let the guy go there or foul without the intentional. Give a hard foul to the shooting arm and let it go at that. There's simply no reason to put yourself in that type of position and as a senior especially, you just have to know that.

The loss is particularly frustrating because Pitt seemed to be gaining some momentum. They weren't even completely out of the NCAA Tournament discussion according to some pundits because of their RPI. But to lose a game like this when you had such command of the game ... you just sort of want to pull your hair out, no?

Pitt had the game at home, had a nice lead, and was playing, mostly, pretty well. The Young sequence really changed things and Pitt could never get fully back on track. That's a lot of points to give up on one possession and in a conference game, every point often matters.

Also part of the problem was that Pitt's offense wasn't exactly firing on all cylinders. They played a good first half but their second half with only 23 points was one of their worst outputs of the year. Young and Artis weren't terrible tonight, but they scored 'only' 30 points on 13-34 shooting. That's about ten points less than they usually do and a lot of misses. While Cam's 17 helped, it wasn't enough on a team that is really a three-man crew in terms of offense.

Silver lining for me is that Cam Johnson appears to be stepping up more and more. He's the lone guy back among the starters next year and to see him taking on more of a role is encouraging. He even led the team with 12 rebounds, which is pretty insane. Johnson also nearly had a triple double with seven assists, including one really smart play when he tipped a ball to Artis for a layup on a fast break. I continue to maintain that he will get NBA consideration in two years and that's looking more and more possible with each passing game.

For now, though, this loss hurts. Had Pitt not shown much lately, it would be just another loss this year. But with the way they'd been playing coming into this one, it's just frustrating.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author and founder/editor @AnsonWhaley.

Against the Odds: Pitt gets the points over Virginia Tech

Due to recent events, Vegas has given Pitt points in their game against Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech is coming off a grueling double overtime win over in-state rival UVA. Pitt is coming off two straight wins and has looked like they actually care for the better part of the last few weeks. Add to this that the game this evening is at the friendly Pete with The Oakland Zoo behind the Panthers, and Vegas has given Pitt the favorite status by 3.5 points.

The game will begin at 7PM this evening and can be viewed on ESPN2. Buzz Williams will bring in the Hokies into this contest with a 17-7 record and 6-6 in the ACC. Williams is only in his third year in Blacksburg, but he’s taken VT from the conference laughing stock to a team no one takes lightly anymore. We all remember Williams’ dancing ways at Marquette, so Pitt will hope to keep him from doing a little shuffle in front of The Zoo on Valentine’s Day.

As mentioned, the Panthers are playing much better lately since that little 55 point embarrassment against Louisville a few weeks ago. They now stand at 14-11 and are 3-9 in the conference. Kevin Stallings seems to have gotten through to the team and Pitt is suddenly getting contributions from reserves too. Ryan Luther could also be very close to coming back as well, which could make Pitt someone that teams just don’t want to face in the ACC tournament.

The Panthers want to get one of those winning streak things going and will need a big win this evening to do it. The NCAA Tournament may just be a pipe dream for Pitt this season. They dug that hole way too deep to come out of it, but the competitive basketball has been much more fun to watch for fans. The Panthers need to keep it going this evening and could use a nice boost from the home crowd.

Be sure to join Cardiac Hill's Facebook page and follow us on Twitter@PittPantherBlog for our regular updates on Pitt athletics. Follow the author@BrunoPittsburgh

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