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Michael Young named as a preseason candidate for the Karl Malone Award

Yeah, I know - go figure, right? No, I hadn't heard of the Karl Malone Award, either.

That's mostly because it's a relatively new award. Created by the Naismith Hall of Fame in 2015, this is only the third season the award will be given. The Karl Malone Award, given to the top power forward, is one of five positional awards give by the Hall of Fame.

The others are the Bob Cousy Award (top point guard), the Jerry West Award (top shooting guard), the Julius Erving Award (top small forward), and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award (top center).

Young is one of 20 players on the list and with most of these things, he will probably have a difficult time winning it. That's particularly true this season with the Panthers returning so many key players. Young should be the best player on the team but I'm not sure he'll be able to dominate the ball as much as other players will.

But still great to see the recognition.

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.

King of the Hill: ACC Football Power Rankings (Week 8)

Here are the most recent rankings after this week's ACC action. This past weekend, may teams, including the Panthers, were on bye weeks. But there were still several games, so as usual, we've got movement.

One thing to note is that while North Carolina State and Virginia both suffered some ugly losses, they didn't fall in the standings since they beat the two teams ranking right behind them in head-to-head matchups. Pitt had a chance to move up a spot but with the Hokies looking so impressive against Miami, they deserved to leapfrog the Panthers.

The previous week’s rankings are in parentheses and as always, let me know what I got right/wrong in the comments.

  1. Clemson (1) / 7-0: On a bye week
  2. Louisville (2) / 6-1: Dominated North Carolina State, 54-13
  3. North Carolina (3) 6-2: After a slow start, pulled away for a 35-21 win against Virginia
  4. Florida State (4) / 5-2: On a bye week
  5. Virginia Tech (7) / 5-2: Impressive 37-16 win over Miami
  6. Pitt (6) / 5-2: On a bye week
  7. Miami (5) / 4-3: Lost to Virginia Tech
  8. North Carolina State (8) / 4-3: Ugly loss to Louisville but remain ahead at No. 8
  9. Wake Forest (9) / 5-2: On a bye week
  10. Georgia Tech (10) / 4-3: On a bye week
  11. Syracuse (11) / 4-4: 28-20 win over Boston College
  12. Virginia (12) / 2-5: Lost to North Carolina
  13. Duke (13) / 3-4: On a bye week
  14. Boston College (14) / 3-4: Lost to Syracuse
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.

Fans petition for Bob Uecker to call the World Series

Cleveland fans have already been denied "Wild Thing" making an appearance, so they've now turned to another fictional "Major League" character to improve their World Series mojo.

More than 12,000 fans have signed a petition to replace Fox's Joe Buck with Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker.

>> Read more trending stories 

Fans must be expecting Uecker's alter-ego, Harry Doyle - the lovable Indians broadcaster from the 1989 movie in which a laughable Cleveland team beats the odds to make the playoffs.

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Fans must've missed the sequel in which it is revealed the Indians didn't make the World Series, losing to the White Sox in the ALCS.

But that was Hollywood and this is reality.

Charlie Sheen, who portrayed pticher Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn in the film, was denied his request to throw a ceremonial first pitch by Major League Baseball. 

Uecker was a catcher with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves in the 1960s. He has served as the Milwaukee Brewers' announcer for more than four decades. His signature home run call is "Get up! Get up! Get outta here! Gone!" 

The Indians have been to the World Series twice since 1995, losing both times. The Chicago Cubs have reached their first World Series in 71 years. They have not won one since 1908.

Weekly Kickoff: Pitt to be tested by Virginia Tech defense

After a week off, Pitt hits the ground running with a Thursday night game against Virginia Tech.

The Hokies have grabbed quite a bit of attention after all of the talk had mostly been around Clemson, Louisville, and Florida State. After pounding North Carolina 34-3, they did have a head-scratcher in losing on the road to Syracuse. But after crushing Miami this week, 37-16, it's safe to say that they're mostly for real.

Virginia Tech, of course, isn't elite. With that loss to Syracuse and an early-season 45-24 rout to Tennessee, it's clear that they're not a Top 10 team. But this is going to be a great test for Pitt, who is still trying to figure out exactly where they are in the ACC hierarchy, too.

The Hokies are solid on both sides of the ball. Offensively, they've scored about 36 points - only a hair less than Pitt. Like the Panthers, Virginia Tech doesn't make a lot of mistakes at quarterback. Jerod Evans has 19 touchdowns against only two interceptions and he leads the entire ACC in passing efficiency. Evans, in fact, is in the top ten in the nation in that category, so don't expect him to make a ton of mistakes. He will also get out and run a little. Evans is second on the team in rushing with 417 yards.

In other words, not a great thing to see.

Defensively, though, is where Virginia Tech really makes their mark. The Hokies are 11th in the nation, allowing only about 300 yards per game, and they are 16th in scoring defense giving up just 18 points per game. Pitt's offense has mostly done what they wanted this year, so that's going to be a great matchup to watch. What the Panthers want to do is run the ball, but that's where the Hokies excel, ranking 11th in the nation there, too, allowing just over 100 yards per game.

Throwing against Virginia Tech is no picnic, either. Linebacker Terrell Edmunds and defensive back Greg Stroman are tied for second in the ACC with three interceptions. Overall, the team ranks 32nd in the nation allowing just under 200 passing yards per game. Because of what they do on defense, it will be interesting see how Pitt's run/pass balance shakes out.

One specific area where the Hokies stand out is on third down and if you're looking for a key to the game, that might be it. Virginia Tech is fifth in the nation in third-down efficiency on defense with teams converting those for first downs less than 25% of the time.

All of that sounds pretty difficult, obviously. But don't count the Panthers out just yet. For whatever reason, the Panthers always hang with Virginia Tech for the most part. That's no reason to expect Pitt to play well in any given year, but it's just been one of those things. More importantly, Pitt gets the game at home and on a Thursday night, should have a pretty good atmosphere if the weather holds out.

One more thing, too. While they haven't faced a team as good as Virginia Tech defensively, I still expect them to score points. Georgia Tech is a Top 30 defensive team and the Panthers scored 37 points. Outside of that, Pitt hasn't really been tested by great defensive squads, but I still believe this is an offense that will score against just about anyone. As usual, the question will be how they can slow down a decent passing attack.

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.

Celebrities, athletes react as Cubs clinch first pennant since 1945

The Chicago Cubs on Saturday clinched their first National League pennant in 71 years, beating the Dodgers 5-0 in Game 6 of the NLCS. Next stop: The World Series, where the Cubs will face the Cleveland Indians.

>> Sheen offers to throw out first pitch at World Series

>> Cubs' comeback: Social media reacts to Chicago's dramatic NLDS win

After the historic win, celebrities and athletes took to Twitter to celebrate. 

>> Click here or scroll down to see what people were saying

>> Read more trending stories

<iframe src="//;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe> <script src="//;border=false"></script> [View the story "Celebrities, athletes react to Cubs clinching National League pennant" on Storify]

Pitt link dump and college football open thread

Had sort of a hectic week so Pitt's bye came at just the right time for me. The Panthers are off today but I wanted to throw up an open thread, anyway, since I imagine many of you will be watching other games.

Also today is the basketball team's open scrimmage up at The Pete. Like I mentioned earlier, it's a great idea to give fans something to do with the football team off.

The next game for Pitt is obviously a big one. And Virginia Tech has looked terribly impressive this year. Short of an unlikely two-touchdown loss to Syracuse and the loss to Tennessee earlier this year, they've dominated everybody else, including North Carolina and last week, Miami.

A few other quick hitters related to Pitt this week:

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.

Charlie Sheen won’t throw out first pitch at World Series

“Wild Thing” has been relegated to the bullpen for the World Series.

>> Read more trending stories

Actor Charlie Sheen, who played Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn in the 1989 movie "Major League," offered to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before one of this year's World Series games. But Major League Baseball said the choices already have been made.

A spokesman told The Associated Press on Friday that MLB has worked with the Indians to identify "former franchise greats" to throw out the first pitch for the games in Cleveland. An announcement is expected early next week.

The Indians host Games 1 and 2 on Tuesday and Wednesday. If necessary, Cleveland will host Games 6 and 7 on Nov. 1-2.

Fans had suggested on social media that Sheen throw out a first pitch and be part of pregame ceremonies. Sheen responded on Twitter, posting a photo of himself as Vaughn in an Indians uniform. He wrote that he would be “honored” to participate.

"Major League" is a fictional account of the Indians finishing in first place with an unconventional group of players including Vaughn, who couldn’t find the strike zone and warmed up to "Wild Thing," a No. 1 hit song in 1966 by The Troggs.

National anthem singer takes knee before Miami Heat game

The Miami Heat were caught by surprise Friday when the national anthem singer took a knee at midcourt at AmericanAirlines Arena before their preseason NBA game with the Philadelphia 76ers.

>> Read more trending stories

The performer, listed by the Heat as Denasia Lawrence, also opened her blue blazer to reveal a shirt that read “Black Lives Matter,” before she knelt to sing the anthem.

The Heat issued a statement near the end of the Sixers’ 113-110 victory that read: “We were unaware of it ahead of time.”

Heat players and coaches stood on the court with arms links and most with their heads bowed, as they have done most of the preseason, while Lawrence sang. Coach Erik Spoelstra said he noticed Lawrence on one knee toward the end of anthem.

“I just noticed when she was finishing up,” Spoelstra said. “We felt as a basketball team we would do something united so that was our focus. Throughout all of this I think the most important thing that has come out is very poignant, thoughtful dialogue. We’ve had dialogue within our walls here. And hopefully this will lead to action.”

Fans did not react one way or the other toward Lawrence.

“I saw her kneel and I understand where she’s coming from,” Heat forward Justise Winslow said. “I understand her opinion on it, but as a team we tried to show unity and respect for the flag. We also know there are social changes that need to happen in our community, but as a team we felt (we wanted) to pay respect to the flag while also showing unity and raising awareness for the issue at the same time.”

Said guard Wayne Ellington: “If she feels that the way she wants to stand for it, then more power to her.”

Lawrence is the second anthem singer during the NBA preseason to kneel joining Leah Tysse, who got down on one knee as she finished singing at a Sacramento Kings game.

Several NBA teams have taken a stance during the playing of the national anthem by players and coaches locking arms.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the issue Friday following the league’s board of governors meeting.

“All I can say is what we’ve seen in multiple preseason games so far is our players standing for the national anthem,” Silver said. “It would be my hope that they would continue to stand for the national anthem. I think that is the appropriate thing to do.”

The NBA and the union have had talks about the issue.

“We have had very constructive discussions about meaningful action that we can take collectively in our communities to help build trust between police officers and members of the community looking for constructive ways to address racial injustice, economic injustice,” Silver said. “I am very proud of the relationship we have built with the union, with the players on these issues. My expectation is that we’ll see into the regular season more of what we have seen in the preseason, which is a sense of, let’s deal directly with these important issues.”

The issue has become a hot button topic since San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick refused to stand for the national anthem during a preseason game as a protest against some of the country’s social and racial injustices. Other NFL players have followed by taking a knee or raising their fist.

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MMA fighter who died in hit-and-run had CTE

Jordan Parsons, the MMA fighter killed in a hit-and-run accident in Delray Beach in a hit-and-run accident last May in South Florida, has been posthumously diagnosed with CTE, according to the Boston Globe.

>> Read more trending stories

It is the first time the disease, which has been found in late former NFL players, has been diagnosed in a mixed martial artist, the Globe reported.

The Globe learned of the diagnosis from Dr. Bennet Omalu, who first discovered the disease in a former football player in 2002 and was the subject of the 2015 film “Concussion.”

Parsons, 25, died May 4 after he was struck by an SUV as he was crossing a major highway in Delray Beach during the early hours of May 1. Omalu said it was “impossible” for Parsons’ CTE to have been caused by the accident.

CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including concussions.

A Boca Raton man was arrested on May 7 and charged over the hit-and-run crash, in which he was alleged to have been driving his mother’s Range Rover Sport on a suspended license at speeds of 116 mph.

Police said friends of Dennis Michael Wright, 28, urged him not to drive that night after he had spent the day at Sunfest and then visited bars in Delray.

Parsons’ family has filed a wrongful death suit against Wright, who was denied reduced bond in August and is on home confinement.

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