National Sports Weekly: Verlander Just Misses 3rd Career No-Hitter

National Football League: After three Detroit Lions players were arrested for marijuana-related incidents this off-season alone, ESPN analyst Lomas Brown has released a report that estimates that over 50% of NFL players smoke marijuana.  Brown, a former NFL player himself, stated that this number is actually an improvement, stating that in 1985, when he began his NFL career, the percentage was closer to 90%. provided additional insight, reporting that 4 of 10 draft-eligible prospects have failed a school-administered drug test and that 2 of 10 (included in the 4 of 10) have failed a school-administered drug test on multiple occasions.  ESPN reports that 70% of prospects at the NFL combine had admitted to using marijuana at least once.  In 2009, NCAA reported that 26.7% of college football players had admitted to using marijuana over the past twelve months.

Major League Baseball: Justin Verlander had a no-hitter going into the 9th inning on Friday, but a 1-out single by Pirates designated hitter Josh Harrison ended that bid as Verlander settled for a 6-0 win in a one-hit shutout.  Andy Pettite earned his first win since 2010, striking out nine and allowing just five base-runners through eight shutout innings against the Cincinnati Reds on Friday.  Chicago Cubs fan-favorite Kerry Wood made the hardest decision of any athlete’s career on Friday, hanging up the cleats mid-season after a final outing against the Chicago White Sox.  Wood struck out Dayan Viciedo, the only batter he would face as the Cubs lost 3-2 to the White Sox.  Wood struck out 1582 batters in 1380 innings in his career.

Canadian Football League: With CFL action dormant, the CIS East West Bowl was held for Canadian College prospects, as the East beat the West 24-16.

Major League Soccer: The big story line of the past week was Chivas USA acquiring Juan Agudelo for Heath Pearce.  Rivalries will be fierce this weekend, as the Vancouver Whitecaps FC host their neighbors from across the border, the Seattle Sounders FC.  The resurgent New England Revolution have something to prove as they host the defending Eastern Conference champions Houston Dynamo.  The Chivas USA and Los Angeles Galaxy will also host their local derby match at 9:30 CDT on ESPN2.  Perhaps the biggest story though, will be if D.C. can move up to 1st or 2nd in standings, while Toronto FC has yet to earn a point in standings, with no wins, eight losses, and no draws.

National Hockey League: The Los Angeles Kings entered the post-season with the lowest seed in the Western Conference and nobody would give them a chance.  They defeated the first seed Vancouver Canucks in five games in the first round, swept the second seed St. Louis Blues, and now find themselves up three games to none against the third seed Phoenix Coyotes in the Western Conference Finals.  The Kings are 11-1 in the post-season, and 7-0 on the road.  The sixth seed New Jersey Devils and first seed New York Rangers are tied 1-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

National Basketball Association: In the Western Conference, the first seed San Antonio Spurs lead the fifth seed Los Angeles Clippers 2-0, and the second seed Oklahoma City Thunder lead the third seed Los Angeles Lakers 2-1 in the Western Conference Semifinals.  The eighth seed Philadelphia 76ers, one of a select group of eighth seeds to ever eliminate a first seed, as they beat the Chicago Bulls without Rose and Noah in six games, and the fourth seed Boston Celtics are tied 2-2, while the third seed Indiana Pacers lead the second seed Miami Heat 2-1 in the Western Conference Semifinals.

English Premier League: After Manchester City came back in stoppage time to defeat the Queens Park Rangers and win the Premier League for the first time, their first top-division championship in 44 years, the Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, and Wolverhampton Wanderers were relegated to the Football League Championship.  Replacing them are Reading, Southampton, and one of Blackpool and West Ham United to be determined via a Saturday playoff.

United Football League: There has yet to be any news as to whether the UFL will play in 2012.

National Lacrosse League: The Edmonto Rush finished the regular season at 6-10, while the Rochester Knigthhawks finished 7-9.  Yet both sneaked into the playoffs and now find themselves fighting for the championship.  The NLL Championship Game will be Saturday at 6:30 PM CDT as both teams play for the Champion’s Cup.

Arena Football League: The San Jose SaberCats lead the league at 7-2, while the Philadelphia Soul follow at 7-3.  The Chicago Rush and San Antonio Talons are tied in their division at 6-3, while the final division leader is the Georgia Force at 6-4.

Women’s National Basketball Association: The Los Angeles Sparks defeated the Seattle Storm 72-66 to open up the WNBA season on Friday.  The New York Liberty host the Connecticut Sun Saturday, while the Indiana Fever host the Atlanta Dream, the Washington Mystics the Chicago Sky, and the San Antonio Silver Stars host the Tulsa Shock.  The final teams to begin their seasons will be the Minnesota Lynx and Phoenix Mercury Sunday, live on ABC from Minnesota at 12:30 PM.

Major League Lacrosse: The Boston Cannons and Denver Outlaws lead the league at 3-0, while the Charlotte Hounds found their first win in franchise history with a current record of 1-2.  The Ohio Machine, who entered the league with Charlotte this season, have yet to do so, going 0-2 so far.  The former Chicago Machine, the Rochester Rattlers are in Ohio Saturday, facing the Ohio Machine, who assumed the Chicago Machine’s history.

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