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President Barack Obama will throw out first pitch at Nationals game

compiled from staff, wire, MLB and Nationals info

Barack Obama 44th U.S. President (file photo)

Barack Obama will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Washington Nationals home opener, marking the 100th anniversary of a presidential pitch to start the season.

Ohioan William Howard Taft first did it on April 14, 1910.  This will be the 48th time a president has made an opening-day pitch in the nation’s capital.

The Washington Nationals will open at home on April 5 against the National League champion Philadelphia Phillies.

Commissioner Bud Selig said, “I am proud that President Obama will continue the long presidential tradition of throwing out the first pitch of opening day in Washington, D.C.”

President Obama will be throwing to a catcher who is experienced in catching presidents. Nationals catcher Ivan Rodriguez is a 14-time All-Star and when he played for the Texas Rangers, he twice caught ceremonial pitches from President George W. Bush, a former Rangers owner. This will be President Obama’s first time in attendance at Nationals Park.

Barack Obama threw out the first pitch at last year’s All-Star game in St. Louis, wearing a White Sox jacket. An interesting note is that the Nationals will be playing host to the White Sox this season for a three-game series, June 18-20 and everybody wonders who the president will be rooting for?

Ernie Els is carrying the PGA Tour in Tiger’s absence; wins Arnold Palmer Invitational

compiled from staff, wire reports and PGA Tour information

Ernie Els ended up wearing the blue blazer given to the winner of the Arnold Palmer Invitational. On Monday he made two clutch putts for par and escaped trouble from bunker. He said after the tournament he can see himself winning a green jacket in a few weeks at the Masters.

The South African overcame a few anxious and nervous moments with four solid pars to wrap up a 1-under par 71 and win by two shots at Bay Hill in Orlando, Florida, giving him back-to-back wins for the first time in seven years and setting himself up as one of the top favorites at Augusta National.

Els won a four-shot victory in the World Golf Championships at Doral two weeks ago. But he had his work cut out for him at Bay Hill, to be able to claim his 18th career victory on the PGA Tour.

Golfer Ernie Els (creative commons/wfe photo)

He had a five-shot lead Sunday afternoon with six holes remaining until hitting into the water on number 13 for a double-bogey and hitting into the sand on the next hole for a bogey. Then came the thunderstorms, halting the final round until it resumed on Monday around 12 noon.

Els felt pressure as he was lining up a 6-foot putt for par and he went ahead and sunk it.

With him nursing a one shot over Kevin Na, his iron shot came up short of the 17th green and was on the front of the bunker. Els got out out of that jam and made par.

He finished the tournament at 11-under par 277 and moved to number 7 in the world rankings. Els earned $1.08 million, giving him more than $3 million for the year and puts him atop the PGA Tour money list.

Kevin Na closed with a 69 and shared second with Edoardo Molinari of Italy, who also had a 69. Retief Goosen (69) and Chris Couch (71) tied for fourth. Ohio native Ben Curtis, who started the final round one shot out of the lead, closed with a 74 and finished sixth.

This was Els’ second victory at Bay Hill, the other coming 11 years ago in a 36-hole Sunday because of rain. Els became the first player since Tiger Woods in 2001 to win twice on the Florida PGA Tour swing.  Woods won at Bay Hill and the Players Championship, then made it three in a row when he captured the Masters.

Denny Hamlin edges Joey Logano to win Martinsville race

compiled by megasportsnews.com staff

NASCAR's Denny Hamlin (Getty Images for nascarmedia.com)

There were eight laps to go on the “Paper Clip” track at Martinsville Motor Speedway when Denny Hamlin and his crew chief Mike Ford had a huge decision to make to try and win the race. There was a caution out on the track at the time. The thinking was to stop at pit road while the other cars stayed out on the track with old tires.  Or if they kept on racing, the rest would stop and pit, get fresh tires and would run them down.

They decided to pit and Hamlin made all of that complicated thinking work as he worked his way to a fantastic and exciting finish at Martinsville Speedway, advancing from ninth place by basically playing “bogart”, bull-rushing and steamrolling his way through the field on the shortest, oldest track in NASCAR.

Hamlin passed Ryan Newman, Matt Kenseth and race leader Jeff Gordon following the final restart to earn his third career victory at the southwest Virginia track.

Hamlin dangerous moved through the first turn, forcing a three-wide racing which is tough on the 0.526-mile race track moving into fourth place before his teammate Kyle Busch spun out, causing a key and timely caution.

Then a two-lap sprint was going to win the race. Hamlin on the re-start when right past Newman then went past Kenseth and Gordon who were both on older tires and he slid underneath for the win.

Joey Logano, Hamlin’s teammate with Joe Gibbs Racing, finished second, followed by Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Martin Truex, Jr.  Jimmie Johnson was nowhere to be found and finished ninth.

Will Power wins second straight IRL race

compiled from Indy Racing League and wire reports

Will Power is showing that he is going to be a force in 2010 in the Indy Racing League.

Seven months ago after breaking his back in a horrifying crash, Power continued his comeback Monday by winning the rain-delayed Honda Grand Prix in St. Petersburg, Florida.  It was his second victory in as many IndyCar events this season.

Power went to the front of the pack after a restart on the 78th of 100 laps, and was entrenched in that position the rest of the race and held off Justin Wilson who finished second.

Will Power on a hot streak (creative commons/wfe photo)

Power, who is  Australian, is the first driver to start an IndyCar season 2-for-2 since Sam Hornish accomplished the feat on his way to the series title in 2001, and he already has a 44-point lead in the standings over series champion Dario Franchitti, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Wilson.

Power led a huge day Penske Racing. Ryan Briscoe was third and Helio Castroneves finished fourth.

Runner-up Justin Wilson had a fantastic race at St. Petersburg for the third straight year, but never could make a serious run at Power in the final laps.

Dario Franchitti was fifth, Alex Tangliani sixth and Danica Patrick rose from her starting position of 21st, advanced all the way up the ladder to finish a respectable 7th.

Turner selected First Team Associated Press All-American

compiled from staff, wire reports and Ohio State Athletics

The 2009-2010 Associated Press All-American basketball was announced on Monday and it includes two freshman.

Kentucky’s John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins join Ohio State junior Evan Turner, Syracuse junior Wes Johnson and Villanova senior Scottie Reynolds.

With the 2008-2009 season passing and no freshman being selected, Wall and Cousins are the ninth set of teammates to be selected and the first since Duke’s J.J. Redick and Shelden Williams in 2006.

The 6’4 Wall averaged 16.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 6.4 assists.

The 6″11 Cousins became one of the nation’s top big men and was the only player selected to the team who averaged a  double-double with 15.3 points and 10.1 rebounds. Wall and Cousins helped the Wildcats reach number 1 for one week.

Ohio State's Evan Turner (osu)

As a 6’7 point guard, Turner is considered to be one of the best all-around players in recent seasons, received all but one first-team vote from the 65-member national media panel that selects the weekly Top 25.  Turner missed six games after breaking bones in his back when he fell after a dunk in December.  The Buckeyes went .500 without him and then went on to the Big Ten title when he returned. Says Turner, “I’m definitely honored to be a part of a team like that and to be recognized. It’s really cool.”

Wall received 62 votes, while Johnson had 45, Reynolds 32 and Cousins 26 in voting conducted before the NCAA tournament.

Johnson, a transfer from Iowa State became an instant star with Syracuse this season.  The 6’7 forward averaged 16.0 points and 8.4 rebounds in leading the Orange to its number 1 ranking since 1990.

The 6’2 Reynolds averaged 18.5 points and shot 40 percent from 3-point range in becoming Villanova’s go-to-player with several spectacular second-half efforts.

James Anderson of Oklahoma State was sixth in the balloting with 27 votes and was joined on the second team by Sherron Collins of Kansas, Greivis Vasquez of Maryland, Jon Scheyer of Duke and Da’Sean Butler of West Virginia.

The third team was Greg Monroe of Georgetown, Cole Aldrich of Kansas, Damion James from Texas, Luke Harangody from Notre Dame and Darington Hobson of New Mexico.

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