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New York bowler rolls perfect game in 86.9 seconds

CORTLAND, N.Y. — Bowling a perfect game is difficult, but rolling a 300 game in less than 90 seconds is mind-boggling.

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Ben Ketola of Preble, New York, rolled 12 consecutive strikes at 281 Bowl in Cortland on April 5, racing from lane to lane and finishing in 86.9 seconds, Syracuse.com reported.

The 23-year-old, who works at 281 Bowl, used a different ball on each lane and collected strikes on each of the alley’s 10 lanes. Then he ran back to lanes 1 and 2 to complete the unusual perfect game.

“It was fun to do. I honestly wasn't expecting to do it,” Ketola, who averages 225 per game, told Syracuse.com. “I just wanted to see how quickly I could get across the house and get strikes.”

There is no official speed category in the official United States Bowling Congress' record books, but Ketola wanted to try to beat what had been billed as the world’s fastest game by professional bowler Tom Dougherty. Ketola had watched a 2015 YouTube video posted by Dougherty, who threw 12 strikes over 12 lanes in 1 minute, 50.99 seconds. 

“One day while I was practicing I decided I wanted to give it a try and see if I could do it,” Ketola told Syracuse.com.

Ketola, who said he bowls at least 50 games a week, tried three times April 1 but his best effort was seven strikes in a row and 11 out of 12 in 1:35. On April 5, co-worker John Bishop challenged Ketola to try for the record again after their shift was over. Bishop filmed the attempt on his cellphone camera.

Ketola didn't see most of his strikes as he sprinted to each lane for his next shot. He used eight of his own bowling balls and two house balls to set the record, Syracuse.com reported.

“I saw it as a challenge,” Ketola told Syracuse.com. “Next time I may set up all spares on the lanes and see how fast I can make those.” 

1876 documents that launched MLB headed for auction

It could be called the Ten Commandments of Major League Baseball, even though it’s 74 pages long. Or perhaps, since it has just been discovered, it could be baseball’s version of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

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Regardless, the 1876 “Founding Documents and Original Constitution of Major League Baseball” are a valuable piece of sports memorabilia. The documents will go on sale May 24 in online bidding sponsored by SCP AuctionsSports Collectors Daily reported.

The artifact is a handwritten document that officials from California-based SCP Auctions claim is of “unprecedented historical significance.” The contents became part of baseball’s early bylaws, but the location of the original documents had been a mystery. They had been in the possession of the family of a longtime National League executive and had been passed down through the generations, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

“This is a huge revelation,” SCP Auctions Vice President Dan Imler told USA Today. “This is not a document that has made the rounds publicly. It’s never been exhibited in a major institution. It’s never been sold previously in a prior auction. It has never appeared anywhere.”

Baseball became a professional sport in 1869 thanks to the barnstorming tour of the Cincinnati Red Stockings, and in 1871 the National Association was formed. But after the 1875 season, baseball owners realized that more rules and structure were needed to make baseball more successful and profitable. In a meeting held on Feb. 2, 1876, in New York, Chicago White Stockings owner William Hulbert proposed a blueprint for operating professional baseball.

The other owners hammered out a plan and a new association was formed, dubbed “The National League of Professional Base Ball Clubs.” The league’s inaugural franchises would be located in Chicago, Boston, Cincinnati, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Hartford and Louisville.

Copies of the plan were given to each club but the one coming to SCP Auctions is the first original known to have survived, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

“Very few documents of this importance exist in tangible form,” Imler told USA Today.

“It's really remarkable to think that a document of such historical importance has never been unearthed until now," SCP Auctions spokesman Terry Melia said Sunday. "We're just excited to see what kind of reaction the original MLB constitution gets from the collecting community when our online bidding starts May 24.

“We expect it will be very strong." 

Authenticating the constitution took several months, as experts confirmed the age of the ink and the paper. The handwriting was analyzed and baseball historian John Thorn added his expertise as a consultant, USA Today reported. 

The baseball constitution continues a trend of originating documents that have come to auction. In 2016, SCP Auctions sold a set of 1857 documents representing the original rules of baseball for $3.26 million on auction, Sports Collectors Daily reported. James Naismith’s original 13-page “Rules of Basket Ball” sold for $4.34 million in 2010 by Sotheby’s to a consortium put together by Josh Swade, who chronicled his quest in his 2013 book, “The Holy Grail of Hoops One Fan’s Quest to Buy the Original Rules of Basketball,” and in an ESPN documentary.

The SCP auction for the baseball constitution documents will close on June 10.

Pitt wrestling coach Keith Gavin talks facilities, assistants, and a regional training center

In case you missed it, Pitt wrestling coach Keith Gavin had a pretty good media interview a few days ago after the announcement of the program hosting the 2019 wrestling championships. Gavin spoke at length about a great many subjects and you can hear the full interview here.

One thing that Gavin was asked about was the wrestling facilities and if the program was planning upgrades. You might remember that this was something that came up quite a bit when fans were wondering if Pat Santoro could be lured here. Gavin's response? While there are some plans to upgrade the Field House that it wasn't likely going to be anytime soon. He also said that while there would be some upgrades to the wrestling room, it didn't sound like a major overhaul by any means:

"I think we're going to dress up the wrestling room ... put some graphics on the wall, maybe some new mats, things like that," Gavin said.

Wholesale upgrades to facilities, in other words, don't seem to be happening anytime soon.

Another thing Gavin talked about was that building his staff was the top priority. He didn't indicate that assistants Matt Kocher and Drew Headlee would be back and, while they may be candidates, Gavin appears to be at least looking elsewhere.

Gavin also called Pitt his dream job and also a career goal. One of the things I liked about Santoro was that he was a guy that could potentially finish his career here. And while Gavin doesn't have his experience or success since this is his first head coaching job, if he's successful, it's hard to imagine him wanting to go elsewhere.

Finally, one thing that will be music to the ears of wrestling fans is that Gavin plans to establish a regional training center. As he discussed, that's something a lot of top programs have and it allows you to host guys that are training for events such as world championships or the Olympics. The draw is that they are at your facilities, training your wrestlers, etc. Gavin added that 'you can't really win without one.' He also said that he would have loved to stay here and do that after his wrestling career but that it wasn't possible since that wasn't established here.

I'll say this. As I wrote before, I think that Pitt would have been better off with attracting a proven head coach here and getting a guy that has had experience. But I'll also say that, after listening to the interview, I'm a little more sold on Gavin than I was before. He's young and inexperienced, sure. But he also has a good idea of what it will take to win and be successful here. I get the sense that he knows what he needs and that the real issue will be if Pitt's athletics department is willing to commit to that in terms of providing resources, etc.

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.

ESPN.com says pass defense Pitt's weakness in 2017

Pitt managed to win eight regular season games last year despite one of the worst pass defenses in the nation. And while there's really only one place to go (up), it's still a massive question mark for 2017.

ESPN put together a list of all of the reasons why each ACC team won't win the conference title in this year. And, surprise, the Panthers' secondary is what they say will keep them from contending:

The good news is, the pass defense can’t be any worse. The bad news is, it’s going to need to be a lot better if Pitt wants to win the ACC in 2017. Of course, as bad as things were last year, Pitt was the only team to knock off Clemson in 2016, so maybe those ACC championship hopes aren’t so crazy. It’s just tough to get excited about a defense that allowed 35 points or more seven times last season, including 61 points to Syracuse.

Not a surprise and my guess is that most fans would say the same. To get much better secondary play, Pitt will need the younger guys to step up and make plays. And that, right now, is certainly no given.

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.

Pitt tennis wraps up disappointing regular season finishing 3-15

The Pitt tennis team lost their final regular season match of the year on Saturday, falling to North Carolina, 7-0. It's not over yet as they will travel to the ACC Tournament this week, but in all, it's been a pretty disappointing year for the program. They finished 3-15 on the year, were winless in the conference, and haven't won since defeating Dayton nearly six weeks ago.

That is a significant step down when the team was 7-14 last year and the program hasn't been competitive since joining the ACC. The program is an unfathomable 1-55 (not a typo, I swear) in ACC play and has only won a total of 16 matches since joining the conference.

Heather Lyke surely has other concerns about the athletics department but if the goal is to be competitive across the board as former AD Scott Barnes said while he was still here, then at some point you have to look at the tennis program and figure out what can be done to improve.

Head coach Alex Santos hasn't had an easy time of things here but he was once heralded as the sport's top assistant coach. He was the ITA Assistant Coach of the Year in 2013 before coming here so his hiring seemed to be a nice grab. But even if Santos isn't the problem, the school has to decide how they can be more competitive.

I've written about this before, but many people are not aware that the tennis program doesn't even have its own facility. Currently, they play at Alpha Tennis and Fitness, which is nearly a half hour away from Oakland. I can't imagine that's too attractive for recruits, though, I can't speak to the number of other schools that face a similar situation.

The tennis program has really taken a nosedive since joining the ACC. In the Big East, they were competitive, finishing around .500 in the last few years before the move. As Pitt is finding out, competing in the ACC is a significant step up in competition in most sports. But the mentality of saying there is a learning curve, etc., can only last so long. At some point, you have to figure out how to compete.

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.

WalterFootball.com has four Pitt players in mock NFL Draft

Mock drafts are flying off shelves and one that caught my eye this weekend was WalterFootball.com's. Theirs is interesting because, while other mocks chart the first couple of rounds, they take a stab at the whole thing.

Their recent mock draft has four Pitt players being selected. The site has Nathan Peterman going in the second round to the Cleveland Browns. Then, in a pair of intriguing picks, they have James Conner going to the Eagles in the third round and Dorian Johnson teaming up with Aaron Donald with the Rams. Finally, in the fifth round, they have Adam Bisnowaty going to the Arizona Cardinals.

All four of those guys are locks to be selected in my mind. The question (in addition to seeing where those guys go) is if a team takes a flyer on any other Pitt players. There are plenty of intriguing guys like defensive linemen Ejuan Price, Shakir Soto, and Tyrique Jarrett. Price, in particular, was just so disruptive. He's older but was very effective at Pitt so it wouldn't surprise me if he was selected, too.

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.

Family leaves heartwarming note after sitting behind NFL receiver on flight

You never know who is watching or how you can influence them.

Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu learned that after getting a note from someone who sat behind him on a flight.

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Sanu tweeted a photo of the note saying, "This definitely put a smile on my face."

The note reads:

"Hi! You don't know us, but we wanted to thank you. Our son sat behind you on this flight and watched you. He saw you studying your plays, watched you make healthy choices with your snacks, food and drink. He watched how polite you were to everyone. He is only 10 but just made an elite hockey team and we are on our way to training in CT. You are an inspiration to children and for that you should be proud! Thank you and Best of Luck!"

The note is signed, The Family That Sat Behind You.

The tweet was liked by more than 2,000 people.

The Atlanta Falcons tweeted a response saying Sanu is a role model on and off the field and they are "proud to have this guy on our team."

Kevin Stallings having a nightmare of an offseason for Pitt basketball

With a 16-17 record last year, new Pitt basketball coach Kevin Stallings had a bad season. Unfortunately, so far, he's having an even worse offseason.

Many fans blamed Stallings for a rough year and figured the team should have been more competitive. Some wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt and allow him to rebuild. Problem is, that he's having a difficult time even doing that.

It could be argued that Stallings' woes for next season really began during the year with the loss of freshman point guard Justice Kithcart. Kithcart's dismissal, however, was disciplinary-related and, unless the punishment didn't fit the crime, calling Stallings out for that isn't really fair. Unfortunately that was just the beginning.

Most people realized that after such a rough year, Pitt's roster was going to be in for some changes even beyond the guys graduating. That happened relatively quickly. Crisshawn Clark left the team to little fanfare but the departure of true freshman Corey Manigault raised a few more eyebrows simply because of his potential.

Next up was the bombshell, though. Cam Johnson decided enough was enough and, with several high-profile program calling, decided to jump ship. Johnson's loss hurt because he was clearly the team's best player coming back and the only returning starter left. If you're looking for a single event this offseason that caused this snowball to swell to uncontrollable levels, well, that's it.

But while that was the move that really got the angst flowing, it was hardly the end.

One of the team's few bright spots left was the acquisition of Troy Simons earlier this year. Simons was the top JUCO scorer in the nation last season and, while it wasn't clear how good he could be, he at least had the ability to put the ball in the basket. He committed to the Panthers just last month but this week, it was announced that Pitt was no longer pursuing him. The early talk was about a problem with his grades but his coach later took exception to that and said that Pitt was no longer interested in him. Considering that they were as recently as last month, that made a strange situation even stranger.

The most recent domino to fall, of course, was the loss of Aaron Thompson yesterday. Thompson was considered one of the team's better recruits in the group of seven that they had coming in but he was just given a release from his letter of intent indicating he wants to go elsewhere. Like the loss of Johnson, this one seemed odd. Unlike some of the other players that left town, Thompson was Stallings' first recruit. As I said in yesterday's article, his departure signals not only a concern about rebuilding, but rebuilding under Stallings.

Regarding the Thompson stuff, keep in mind the time frame we're talking here. While he committed to the team last May, he signed his Letter of Intent just in November. In other words, he was completely on board with the program and it took him only six months to bail. For what reasons? You'd have to ask him. But that's a horrific look for Stallings who lost the faith of Thompson just like that.

Further compounding the problem is that Pitt has yet to start bringing in grad transfers that they are targeting. The team is still waiting on their first commit there and with at least five open scholarships (there could, after all, be more) it's pretty clear that much of the roster is going to be built on those types of players.

The silver lining here I suppose is that there's still time to assemble a decent roster (well, decent in terms of 'not a complete and utter dumpster fire'). Depending on what grad transfers he gets, the team could even have some solid experience on the roster. But the clock is ticking and there is no group of players that is going to magically transform this squad into a great team.

Stallings had a rocky season in which he lost to Duquesne, openly complained about players to the media on more than one occasion, and missed the postseason altogether. That is starting to pale in comparison to the ridiculous offseason he's having.

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.

Ilie Nastase under fire for comment about Serena Williams

Tennis great Ilie Nastase could face censure after apparently making a racist comment about Serena Williams' pregnancy, ESPN reported.

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At a news conference to tout Romania’s Fed Cup playoff against Great Britain, Romania's captain apparently made a comment about Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion who announced she was pregnant with her first child Wednesday with fiancé Alexis Ohanian.

"Let's see what color it has,” Nastase said, according to ESPN. “Chocolate with milk?"

Williams, who won the Australian Open in January, said she was taking time off from the tour to have her baby. Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, is white.

Nastase was not directly asked about Williams, but made the comment, in Romanian and clearly audible, to the other players while team No. 1 player Simona Halep was answering a question about Williams.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) said it has launched an investigation. In a statement, officials said that “The ITF does not tolerate discriminatory and offensive language and behavior of any kind. We are aware of alleged comments made by Romanian captain Ilie Nastase and have begun an immediate investigation so that we have the full facts of the situation before taking further and appropriate action."

The Romanian tennis federation declined comment.

It’s the second time in a month that Nastase has made controversial comments about Williams, ESPN reported. After being appointed Romania’s Fed Cup captain in October, Nastase made unsubstantiated allegations of doping against Williams, based entirely on her physique.

Serena Williams shares another shot from Mexico vacation

Tennis star Serena Williams announced she was pregnant on Snapchat earlier this week as she shared — and then deleted — a photo of her baby bump with the cryptic caption “20 weeks” from her vacation in Mexico.

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The world’s top-ranked female player shared another shot from her getaway with fiancé and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian on Instagram, Today reported. The 35-year-old is looking out over the Caribbean Sea at the edge of Mayan ruins in Tulum. Earlier, Williams posted a photo of herself and Ohanian horsing around in New Zealand last January.

Williams has won 72 career WTA titles during her career. She has won 23 Grand Slams in singles competition and has 14 in women's doubles. She also won two Grand Slam events in mixed doubles.

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