- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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By the Seattle Storm, the only female-owned team in the WNBA, a second title. A perennial preseason favorite since winning its first championship in 2004, the Storm has been hampered by injuries in the six years since and lost in the first postseason round five times. But this year, buoyed by a healthy Lauren Jackson at center, the Storm tied a regular-season WNBA record by winning 28 games and was 7--0 in the playoffs. In the finals Seattle swept the gritty Atlanta Dream (a record-setter of a negative sort for its 30-loss season just two years ago) by a total of eight points over three games, during which Jackson (above), the finals MVP, scored 67 points. After its clinching 87--84 road victory Storm president Karen Bryant addressed the future, saying, "We built a lot of momentum in '04 but weren't able to sustain it. That's not gonna happen again."
During postmortem tests on the brain tissue of Penn All--Ivy League linebacker Owen Thomas, who hung himself in April, that he had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a condition often linked to depression among football players. According to research released last week by Boston University (one of the leaders in connecting football-related concussions to brain disease), Thomas was in the early stages of CTE. Dr. Daniel Perl, a professor of pathology at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, says he came to a similar conclusion after reviewing slides of Thomas's brain tissue. Reported Perl, "It's not unreasonable that aspects of [Thomas's] behavior were related to the underlying brain disease that was detected."
Not guilty to battery and assault charges after he allegedly punched a man in the face on a Southern California golf course, 1989 National League MVP Kevin Mitchell, who hit 234 home runs for eight teams over 13 seasons. Mitchell was released on $25,000 bond last week and ordered by a San Diego judge to stand trial for a July incident in which he is said to have repeatedly punched and subsequently concussed a fellow golfer at the Bonita Golf Club. (According to The San Diego Union-Tribune, Mitchell was set off by disparaging remarks made by the plaintiff.) If convicted, Mitchell could face up to four years in prison. Previously he had been arrested for rape (charges were dropped) and for hitting his father; and he was suspended for a combined 16 games for punching a third base coach and a minor league owner during separate baseball-related brawls in 2002.
From a heart attack suffered hours after his team beat Notre Dame 34--31 in overtime last Saturday, Michigan State football coach Mark Dantonio. The 54-year-old Dantonio, whom one doctor referred to as being "in excellent shape," was at his home in East Lansing when he experienced a tightening in his chest around midnight Sunday, at which point he was taken to nearby Sparrow Hospital. There a metal stent was used to open up a blood vessel leading to his heart. No timetable has been established for Dantonio's return to the sideline nor has a definitive cause been cited, but his operating surgeon did refer to the possibility of stress as a trigger. With his team trailing by three points in overtime, Dantonio decided against kicking a tying field goal, instead calling a trick pass play that he'd installed earlier in the week—and then saying "a little prayer," he admitted after the game. On Sunday the Spartans were rewarded by the AP with a No. 25 ranking in its latest poll.
As the successor to Dodgers manager Joe Torre, the team's hitting coach, Don Mattingly. Last Friday, Torre announced his intention to step down at the end of the 2010 season from the position he accepted three years ago with the Dodgers, who have been weighed down by the messy divorce of owners Frank and Jamie McCourt (SI, Sept. 13) and the team's sub-.500 performance. If he stays away from the game, Torre—who wouldn't rule out a return—is sure to be a quick Cooperstown inductee. In 29 seasons with five teams he has a 2,319--1,992 regular-season record, and he won four championships with the Yankees. Into his spikes steps 1985 AL MVP Mattingly, who has coached under Torre (in New York and L.A.) every year since 2004. Said Torre of his successor, "This ball club needed a ... younger voice, and there's nobody I feel more secure about turning it over to than Donnie."