Felger: Who's hot and who's not


Felger: Who's hot and who's not

By Michael Felger

Time for one of those "hot-not columns where I skip right to the good stuff.




NFL Owners

These guys have no shame. Check out the latest Forbes list of the 50 most valuable sports franchises in the world and tell me what you see.

Not only does the NFL hold down 11 of the top 15 spots, but every single team in the league makes the list. To repeat: EVERY SINGLE TEAM. Theres not a single weak sister. Even the Raiders, who havent done much of anything right, on the field or off, for over a half-decade, make the list. By comparison, major league baseball has only five teams on the list (and after the Yankees at No. 2, it doesnt have an entrant until the Red Sox at No. 35), the NBA has but two (the Lakers and Knicks at Nos. 49 and 50, respectively) and the NHL, predictably, has none.

In other words, NFL owners possess the most lucrative sports properties on earth and theres not a close second. For them, making money is as simple as rolling out of bed. And in the case of Al Davis, he doesnt even need to do that.

Yet these men have the gall to tell the public that the players are making too much money? They look at the camera with a straight face and say the system is broken? The Patriots, ranked way up with the big boys at No. 5, whine about uncertainty while jerking around their franchise quarterback yet again on a new contract?

Am I the only one who finds that outrageous?

Jacoby Ellsbury

I could give a rats behind where Jacoby Ellsbury did his rehab in June. Unlike some of his teammates, I dont think its a big deal he was in Arizona. Thats not the issue. The issue is simply the amount of time its taken him to get back on the field. Its gone from ridiculous to embarrassing.

Were talking 15 weeks and counting from the time he originally suffered the fractures on April 11. Were talking nine weeks and counting from when he aggravated something related to the injury on May 22. It doesnt matter that the Sox thought they were bruised, the treatment is exactly the same: rest. The return time for fractured ribs is usually around six weeks.

Take, for example, the case of Jeremy Hermida. He was placed on the DL with five fractured ribs on June 11. He returned to the lineup over the weekend in Seattle, a span of exactly six weeks. Meanwhile the Sox continue to wait on Ellsbury. What a joke.

Red Sox TV ratings

Maybe theres good news in these numbers.

Maybe Red Sox ownership will realize that their astronomical television and radio ratings are no longer a given and that, from this point forward, the big numbers will only come when fans believe the team has a legitimate opportunity to win a championship.

The Nation just never felt that way about the 2010 Sox. It started with the acquisitions of Mike Cameron, Adrian Beltre, Jeremy Hermida and John Lackey, a group that fans never embraced or seemed particularly interested in. The Sox were then an easy team to ignore while the Bruins and Celtics were doing their thing in the playoffs. And when the attention went back to the Sox in June it just wasnt an interesting team to watch.

The lack of "star power on the team is one thing, but I dont believe its the definitive factor. To me, fans heard the term bridge year and got the message early on. Even though John Henry didnt mean what fans thought he did, the cat was out of the bag. And the Sox were never able to put it back in.

Email Felger HERE and stand by for the next installment of the mailbag on Aug. 12. Felger will post another column early next week. Listen to him on the radio weekdays, 2-6, p.m. on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

Lance Stephenson goes back at Isaiah Thomas for recruiting Paul George on Instagram

Lance Stephenson goes back at Isaiah Thomas for recruiting Paul George on Instagram

Isaiah Thomas keeps recruiting players on Instagram. It was only a matter of time before somebody got pissed. 

Thomas, who on Wednesday commented on a photo of the disbanding Clippers telling Blake Griffin to come to Boston, was up to his old tricks again later in the day. With Paul George almost a certainty to be dealt this offseason, Lance Stephenson posted a picture of he and George pleading with him to stay in Indiana. Thomas wasn't exactly polite in his comment, leading to a back-and-forth.

"Blasted" might be a stretch, but the Celtics did indeed go 3-0 against the Pacers last season, though none of the wins were by large margins. George dropped 37 points on the Celtics in Boston's 109-100 win on March 22. 

MLB ump saves woman attempting to jump from Pittsburgh bridge


MLB ump saves woman attempting to jump from Pittsburgh bridge

PITTSBURGH -- John Tumpane can't explain why he approached the woman as she hopped over the railing of the Roberto Clemente Bridge on Wednesday afternoon.

The woman told Tumpane she just wanted to get a better view of the Allegheny River below. The look on her face and the tone of her voice suggested otherwise to Tumpane, a major league baseball umpire in town to work the series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Tampa Bay Rays.

So the 34-year-old Tumpane reached for the woman even as she urged him to let her go.

"It was just pure instinct," Tumpane said . "You hear kind of stories of this all the time, different scenarios, people aiding and situation where I was lucky enough to be there to help and try to think of everything I could do, hanging on to her. At times she wanted to go the other way. I was like, 'not on my watch, please.' We were just hanging on."

And saving a life.

Tumpane secured one of her arms. A bystander walked up and grabbed the other while another -- Mike Weinman, an employee for the Rays -- clutched her legs and pinned them to the railing while Tumpane mouthed to someone in the crowd to call 911.

What followed were chaotic moments of panic, fear and ultimately, grace.

"I couldn't tell you how long we were waiting for everyone else to get in place," Tumpane said. 'Obviously another power comes into be when you're hanging on and you know what the alternative is of you letting go and not having other people to help you."

Tumpane, Weinman and the third volunteer clung to the unidentified woman until emergency responders arrived. A police boat raced up the river to the iconic yellow bridge named for the Pirates Hall of Famer who died on Dec. 31, 1972, when a plane making humanitarian deliveries to earthquake victims in Nicaragua crashed. Now, 45 years later a crowd thrust together by fate brought a complete stranger back from the brink. Together.

"Once they were able to secure her, we were able to talk her back to help us out and we got her back on this side," Tumpane said. "After that I went up to her, she said, 'You'll just forget me after this' and I said, 'No, I'll never forget you.' This was an unbelievable day and I'm glad to say she can have another day with us and I'm glad I was in the right place at the right time."

Tumpane, who grew up in the Chicago suburbs, got into umpiring as a teenager, made his major-league debut in 2012 and received his full-time MLB commission in 2016, stressed he's no hero.

"I just happened to be there," he said. "I think I've been a caring person in my life. I saw somebody in need, and it looked like a situation to obviously insert myself and help out."

The aftermath was a bit surreal. After the woman was taken away, Tumpane called his wife, his arms still shaking.

"Not too many times you call your wife and say you helped save somebody's life," he said. "A really special moment."

One that stayed with him even as he prepared to call balls and strikes behind home plate Wednesday night. During breaks in the action his eyes would drift to the bridge just a few hundred feet behind the center field wall at PNC Park.

"It's also hard when you stand back behind home plate and look and you see the bridge in the distance, In between innings and whatnot, just thinking of how things could have maybe been," he said. "Glad it was this way."

Tumpane has no experience in crisis management or suicide prevention. He's spent 16 years living the nomadic life of an umpire. Asked what was going through his head while he tried to coax the woman back to safety, Tumpane just shrugged his shoulders. How do you explain the unexplainable?

"I happened to be in the right spot at the right time," he said. "Tried to be as comforting as I could and talk her through it. Thankfully that was the outcome."