• Report: Texas close to finalizing deal with Shaka Smart

    Virginia Commonwealth head coach Shaka Smart is close to making his move to Austin to be Texas’ next men's head basketball coach, according to multiple reports.

    Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman reported Wednesday night that Smart’s deal with the Longhorns is still ongoing but close to being finished. 247Sports also reported that sources said a deal could be finalized Thursday.  

    Smart, who has been with the Rams for the past six seasons, has been a familiar name thrown around Texas’ search to replace former head coach Rick Barnes. Texas let go of Barnes on Sunday after 17 seasons with the Longhorns, which made him the winningest head coach in program history.

    Smart, 37, has led VCU to an NCAA Tournament appearance in each of the last five seasons. In addition, the Rams claimed a CBI Championship in 2010 and had a Final Four run in 2011.

  • PGA Tour makes stops in Texas

    As is usual, the PGA Tour will make a couple of stops in Texas before the highly coveted Masters Championship gets underway later this month.

    The first tournament of the Texas swing was the Valero Texas Open in San Antonio, which was played late last month. It was played at the five-year-old TPC San Antonio.

    The two courses of TPC San Antonio, the AT&T Oaks and AT&T Canyons Course, are consistently rated as two of the hardest courses on the PGA Tour by scoring average. Their long distance and brutal winds make birdies a lot harder to come by than most PGA Tour venues.

    Texas native Jimmy Walker won the event with a 11-under-par 277. Other notables in the field included 2014 FedEx Cup Champion Billy Horschel, Jason Dufner, Jim Furyk, Harris English and Jimmy Walker. Former Longhorns Jordan Spieth, Justin Leonard, Jhonattan Vegas and Lance Lopez also competed.

    Notably, this was be Lopez’ first PGA Tour start. After a successful college career, he has struggled to translate his game to the professional level. That changed when he shot a 6-under 66 at the Monday qualifier to make the field for the tournament. Lopez looked to take advantage of the opportunity to help him gain access to even more PGA tournaments.

    Spieth came into the event fresh off of his win at the Valspar Championship in Palm Harbor, Florida two weeks ago. Before the event, he was ranked ninth in the FedEx Cup rankings and was a favorite to win. However, he finished four strokes behind Walker for second place. 

    Leonard is the veteran of the Longhorn trio as his 21-year career and 12 PGA Tour wins show. His season has gotten off to a slow start with only one top-10 finish and he has been cut from five of the ten tournaments he has played in.

    Next, PGA Tour will head to the Golf Club of Houston for the Shell Houston Open.

    The course has traditionally served as a warm-up for the Masters with the golf course set up to emulate many of the same features as Augusta National.

    Last year, Matt Jones won the event, which was his first win on the PGA Tour. His 15-under-par total forced him into a playoff with Matt Kuchar whom he would eventually defeat.

    Notables in the field include Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Jordan Spieth, all of who are ranked in the top-10 in the World Golf Rankings.

    Play will get underway on Thursday, April 2. It will be televised on the Golf Channel.

  • The art of trash talk in the MLB

    When many people think of trash talking in sports, the first sports that come to mind are football, hockey and basketball.

    Although baseball isn’t as rough or as physical as other sports, trash talk is still very present, with phrases such as “infield in” to “easy out.” Running your mouth, egging on opponents and being an annoyance are just some of the aspects of baseball many fans tend to forget.

    Many players use trash talk to motivate themselves to play better by ridiculing the skill and toughness of their opponents. The goal of the art form is to get inside your opponent's head to try to take them out of the game mentally. If an opponent's mind is thinking about the trash talk, then he is not thinking about following his team’s game plan.

    Many players are specifically known for their trash-talking abilities.

    Atlanta Braves catcher A.J. Pierzynski has a mouth that has gotten him ejected from many games, and baseball great Satchel Paige, who was completely confident in his own abilities, would make his defense sit in the dugout while he retired the side.

    Former MLB pitcher Carlos Zambrano, who played for the Chicago Cubs and the Miami Marlins, had quite a mouth as well, getting into plenty of arguments with umpires and players. Zambrano was also known to “hold the mound” for an extended period to get underneath the batter’s skin.

    The tension of rivalry games, such as the ones between the Red Sox and Yankees or Cubs and White Sox, always brings some of the most exciting in-game action. It also brings out the best trash talk.

    Former Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martínez, who was elected to the Hall of Fame this year, was a master of trash talk, and his biggest rival was former Yankees catcher Jorge Posada. Martínez admitted to making fun of Posada’s ears, calling him “Dumbo” after the famous cartoon elephant whose ears were so large that it enabled him to fly.

    But Posada wasn’t shy either when it came to trash talk.

    Martínez said there was bad blood between them after the catcher mentioned Martínez’s mother in a negative light. The bad blood eventually led to an all-out brawl in the 2003 playoffs, when Martínez threw then-72-year-old Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground. 

    “Then he let it go a little bit too far with the Zimmer incident,” Martínez said on the 'Daily News Live' show earlier this year. “I did not appreciate that.”

    Trash talk, at least for Martínez, sometimes resulted in intentional beanings as well.

    After former Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens pegged a Red Sox player, Martínez didn’t hesitate with his retaliation and hit the next two batters he faced.

    Throughout most of his career, Miami Marlins right fielder Ichiro Suzuki struggled to talk trash to opponents because he only knew his Japanese. Many players thought Suzuki could only speak English through his interpreter to reporters.

    Suzuki, however, learned to speak Spanish through conversations with his teammates, so he could talk smack with some players in the MLB. 

    Although he still can’t fluently speak Spanish, he was able to pick up some of the common trash-talking phrases.

    “We don't really have curse words in Japanese,” Suzuki told the Wall Street Journal. “So I like the fact that the Western languages allow me to say things that I otherwise can't."

    Baseball players get an adrenaline rush from the competition of the game, and competition fuels the fire of trash talk. Ultimately, the common bond between trash talkers in baseball is simple: It’s for the love of the game and winning.