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Dublin: 16 °C Friday 14 August, 2020
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Bin Laden death draws reaction from sports world

Rory tweets and US stadiums are draped in the flag since the news was announced last weekend.

YESTERDAY WE TOLD you about the strange atmosphere in Philadelphia as news of Osama bin Laden’s death spread through the stadium.

Philies and Mets players wore puzzled expressions on the field and in the dug-outs as a chant of U-S-A, U-S-A drummed up steadily.

Since then the rest of the sporting world has been reacting to the assasination of America’s Most Wanted.

Our own Rory McIlroy is very much a hawk when it comes to international relations it seems. The Holywood star tweeted his support for the dramatic swoop on bin Laden’s Pakistan lair and the American president’s subsequent announcement.

Before the top of the fourth inning on Military Appreciation Night at Nationals Park, last night meanwhile, the public address announcer encouraged everyone at the baseball stadium to cheer for the active or retired members of the service who were in the stands Monday, recipients of free tickets.

As Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” blared through the ballpark, and the message “Thank You for Your Service and Sacrifice” dominated the HD scoreboard, a group of military personnel seated a few rows behind home plate waved their red Nationals baseball caps.

Thousands of fans rose to applaud. Members of the Nationals, spread around the diamond, preparing to play defense — and wearing what the team called “patriotic” uniforms, with stars-and-stripes curly “Ws” on the chests of their blue jerseys — provided their own standing ovation. The World Series champion San Francisco Giants stood in the visiting dugout and bullpen, clapping, too.

While Washington’s players are used to being in the nation’s capital, of course, the Giants were excited to be in town — they toured the Supreme Court before Monday’s game. After playing four games in Washington at a historic time, they now open a three-game series at the New York Mets on Tuesday.

“We’re in our nation’s capital here, and we get that kind of news, and now we’re off to New York — Ground Zero,” San Francisco pitcher Brian Wilson said. “It’s going to be quite an emotional week for a lot of people — baseball being one of them, playing America’s sport here.”

In the wake of bin Laden’s death, security was a prime concern.

The NBA told all playoff teams to check fans with metal detector wands as they entered. The policy was in effect as crowds came to the United Center in Chicago on Monday night for the Eastern Conference semifinal opener between the Bulls and Atlanta.

Kristina Palacios of Chicago appreciated the extra measures, saying they “make you feel safe.” Her boyfriend, John Comia, said the search was “quick and efficient.”

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said the league had been “in contact with each of our remaining venues and they will be taking steps as they deem appropriate given the information we have.”

Major League Baseball said it would continue working with its teams and local law enforcement “to monitor what’s occurring on a day-to-day basis.”

Salutes to the military poured in throughout the sports world.

“I think that the word ‘heroes’ are used far too often when you talk about athletes and actors,” New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said.

“The real heroes are out on the battlefields, protecting our well being, allowing us the opportunity to play baseball or take our daughters or kids to the park. They’re the real heroes.”

Tweeted tennis star Andy Roddick: “Words cannot do justice to the amount of thanks we should bestow upon those whose life mission it is to keep the world safe. Thank you.”

Crowd swell

A day after Phillies fans shouted “USA! USA!” when the news spread during the New York Mets-Philadelphia game at Citizens Bank Park, Flyers rooters echoed the chant before the NHL playoff matchup against the Boston Bruins.

At Fenway Park, a large American flag was draped over the 37-foor Green Monster before Boston hosted the Los Angeles Angels. Members of the military lined up along the warning track in front of the wall and helped carry the flag off the field.

The Red Sox and Angels stood along the foul lines in for a moment a silence to honor the 9-11 victims and those who have been killed fighting for the country. The PA announcer also asked fans to thank those who have risked their lives.

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At San Diego Padres, who bill themselves as the team of the military, wore their camouflage jerseys for the game against Pittsburgh. The Padres normally put on the special tops for Sunday home games, but players requested that they wear them Monday night. The Navy SEALs train on Coronado, just across San Diego Bay from downtown.

“I think a lot of the fans are going to take it that we’re wearing it because Osama bin Laden’s dead. That’s not the reason we’re wearing it,” said Padres pitcher Mat Latos, who displayed a Team USA basketball jersey.

“We’re wearing it because we’re in support of out troops. That’s the reason my Team USA jersey is hanging up in my locker, for my friends that I personally know that are overseas right now,” he said. “This night is for our military troops, the men and women that protect and serve us. It’s not for Osama bin Laden, it’s not for the triumph or whatever you want to call it. It’s strictly for what those people have done for us.”

New York

Bin Laden’s death drew reaction from a trio of Yankees who were with the team when the terrorist attacks occurred on 11 September, 2001.

“All I said was, ‘Justice,’” closer Mariano Rivera said. “Justice prevailed. You do something like that, somewhere along the way, you’re going to pay, and this was the time.”

Said longtime star Jorge Posada: “I’m happy for the city of New York. I think the firemen and the policemen, and everything that we went through. I think this is one of those steps that we needed to cross, and it’s good to see.”

Captain Derek Jeter said he was in “disbelief” when he heard the news.

“I don’t know if this puts closure. I’m sure there’s no closure to someone losing a relative or a loved one, but in some sense I guess it is, from what I’ve seen in a lot of the interviews with people that lost family members. It sort of brings some closure to it. Not total closure, but some,” he said.

New York Jets coach Rex Ryan said he was watching “Celebrity Apprentice” with his wife Sunday night when NBC broke into the program to announce Obama was about to address the country.

“That thing came across,” Ryan said, “and I thought, ‘Whoa, this must be some big news here.”

The Jets open their season — if there is one this year with the NFL lockout currently in place — at home on the night of 11 September against the Dallas Cowboys. Ryan said it’s an honor to play that night, especially since so many fans who were personally affected will be at the game.

“Quite honestly,” he said, “I was happy we got him.”

Denial

One American sports star is not as sure as Ryan however.

Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall appears to fall into the “truther” camp of those who choose not to believe everything that the government tells you.

Mendenhall took to Twitter last last night, at first to bring a little compassion and perspective to the discussion.

What kind of person celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side…

Then it got weird…..

We’ll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style

He apparently deleted a follow up the tweet that basically admitted, he’s not buying the official story:

I’m not convinced he was even behind the attacks we have really seen no evidence to prove it other than the gov telling us

Mendenhall later posted that he just wants to encourage everyone to “#think.

- additional reporting AP  and Business Insider

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