Sunday, April 27, 2014

Gee throws eight shutout frames to top Fish



NEW YORK -- The Mets keep chugging right along. Unfazed by a rare pitching blip in Saturday's loss to the Marlins, they rebounded behind Dillon Gee for a crisp 4-0 win in Sunday's series finale at Citi Field.

Gee continued living up to his role as de facto staff ace, firing eight shutout innings to deliver his third consecutive quality start. He did not allow a hit until the fourth, and though he routinely found himself in trouble after that, he generated two key double plays to stall promising rallies in the middle innings.

The former, off the bat of Marcell Ozuna, helped Gee work around a pair of walks in the sixth. The latter, from Adeiny Hechavarria, ensured that Gee would not melt down late in the game, as he made a habit of doing early this season.

Gee struck out six and walked four, allowing three hits.

It helped that by the middle innings, Gee was pitching with a comfortable cushion. Chris Young's two-run homer in the fifth gave the Mets a four-run lead off Marlins starter Tom Koehler, who needed 109 pitches to complete five innings. Koehler, a New York native who attended SUNY Stony Brook, also gave up RBI doubles to Lucas Duda and David Wright in the second and fifth innings, respectively.

Gee's long outing allowed the Mets to save their bullpen -- something they have been unable to do throughout the young season. His eight innings marked the longest outing by any Mets starter this season, and with an off-day on Monday, the Mets will begin a nine-game road trip through Philadelphia, Colorado and Miami with a completely fresh bullpen.

Marlins blanked by Mets in series finale

NEW YORK -- Streaks seemed to come to an end for the Marlins this weekend against the Mets.

On Sunday afternoon it was Tom Koehler's turn to run into a rough patch.

Chris Young belted a two-run homer, and Koehler allowed four runs in five innings as the Mets blanked Miami, 4-0, at Citi Field.

Mets starter Dillon Gee struck out six and scattered three hits over eight shutout innings.

Koehler arguably has been Miami's second best starter, behind Jose Fernandez. A New York native who attended SUNY Stony Brook, Koehler had gone at least six innings and allowed two runs or fewer in his first four starts.

With four such outings, Koehler matched Kevin Brown (1997) for the most consecutive starts by a Marlin to open a season.

In taking two of three in the series, New York put an end to Christian Yelich's hitting streak at 17 games, and Steve Cishek's stretch of consecutive saves at 33 games.

Koehler entered the game having thrown 18 straight scoreless innings against the Mets, and he bumped it up to 19 after retiring the side in order in the first inning.

But in the second inning, Koehler had trouble finding the plate, and it led to New York grabbing the early lead.

Daniel Murphy walked to open the inning, and Young was hit with a pitch. Lucas Duda's opposite-field ground-rule double put New York on the board.

At that point, Koehler had thrown 29 pitches, just 13 of them for strikes.

Despite laboring to throw strikes, Koehler worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the second.

Gee, meanwhile, held Miami without a hit until Marcell Ozuna opened the fourth inning with a single.

Command issues caught up to Koehler in the fifth inning, when New York put up three runs, two on Young's homer.

A leadoff walk to Curtis Granderson to open the inning set the tone before David Wright ripped an RBI double off the wall in left field. Wright now has 106 RBIs against Miami. The only team he has more against is the Phillies (107).

The crushing blow, however, was delivered by Young, who capped an 11-pitch at-bat with his drive to left.

Driver sues boy she struck and killed

A woman who hit three teenage boys on bikes while driving, killing one and injuring the other two, is suing the dead teen for the emotional trauma she suffered.

Mother-of-three Sharlene Simon, 42, is also suing the other two boys and the dead boy’s family for $1.35 million in damages due to her psychological suffering, including depression, anxiety, irritability and post-traumatic stress.

The claim follows the accident which killed 17-year-old Brandon Majewski when Simon struck him from behind in her SUV as he rode along the Innisfil Beach Road on Oct. 28, 2012 about 1:30 a.m.

Majewski’s friend Richard McLean, 16, was seriously injured in the crash, breaking multiple bones including his pelvis. Another friend, 16-year-old Jake Roberts, was knocked off his bike but luckily escaped with only scratches.

In a statement of claim filed in a Canadian court, Simon blames the boys for negligence, the Toronto Sun reports.

“They did not apply their brakes properly,” the claim states. “They were incompetent bicyclists.”

Simon is also suing the County of Simcoe for failing to maintain the road.

Majewski’s mother Venetta Mlynczyk told the Toronto Sun she was devastated by the lawsuit.

“I’m in shock … she killed my child and now she wants to profit from it? She says she’s in pain? Tell her to look inside my head and she will see pain, she will see panic, she will see nightmares,” she said.

Simon was not charged over the accident but a police reports says she was traveling at 55 mph in a 50-mph zone.

She told police she did not see the teenagers or any reflectors on their bicycles.

Brandon’s family is also suing Simon over the accident, alleging she was speeding and may have been intoxicated and talking on her phone.

Both parties claims have not been tested in court.

This story originally appeared on News.com.au.

Tanaka gets first look at Angels in series finale

He's tangled with Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, gone toe-to-toe with Chris Davis and Adam Jones of the Orioles, and stared down Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz of the Red Sox.

On Sunday, Masahiro Tanaka will face a new challenge: Mike Trout and Albert Pujols of the Angels.

It's still all new to him.

"I've been playing in Japan for the past seven years, so to be honest with you, I'm not really familiar with basically any of the batters here," Tanaka said through a translator on Saturday, leading up to Sunday's series finale against the Angels from Yankee Stadium.

"I can tell that they're really good batters, but the truth is, I haven't had the chance to face them yet, so it's hard to make any type of assessment. Looking at tape and film, yeah, they're really good."

And so is he.

The 25-year-old right-hander enters his matchup with Garrett Richards with a 3-0 record and 2.15 ERA in his first 29 1/3 innings in the U.S. His 35 strikeouts are a Yankees record for a pitcher's first four career starts, easily topping the 28 that Al Leiter (1987) and Orlando Hernandez (1998) put up, and the fourth-highest total through a pitcher's first four starts in Major League history.

Opponents are batting .314 against Tanaka the first time through the lineup, then only .149 after that.

And dating back to his time with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, Tanaka hasn't lost a regular-season game since Aug. 19, 2012, going 31-0 since.

"We've only seen video on him," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said, "but obviously, he has a terrific arm, and he looks like he knows his way around the mound and how he wants to pitch and what he wants to do."
Richards is there, too.

The 25-year-old right-hander established himself down the stretch last season, with a 3.72 ERA in 13 starts.

And he has seemingly taken it to another level in 2014 now that he has a guaranteed rotation spot for the first time, going 2-0 with a 2.52 ERA while striking out 24 batters in 25 innings.

"He's very confident right now," Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher said, "and when you're confident like that, you want to ride it out as long as you can."


Angels: Scioscia may load up on righties
Sunday may not be a good day for Raul Ibanez, Ian Stewart or any other left-handed bat available to Scioscia, even though the Angels are facing a right-hander. Tanaka entered Saturday ranked sixth in the Majors in opponents' batting average versus lefties (.164).


Yankees: Jeter still producing
Derek Jeter, who had an 11-game hitting streak snapped on Wednesday, has hit safely in 16 of his 19 games this season. On Saturday he played in a day game after starting a night game for the first time this season and finished 1-for-4 with a strikeout. His batting average is .292.


Worth noting
  • Richards has a 5.54 ERA in two career starts at Yankee Stadium. Last season, though, he pitched eight innings of two-run ball in the Bronx.
  • The Yankees have beaten the Angels in 21 of the last 29 games at the current Yankee Stadium (including the playoffs).

How 7 minutes could cost a trooper’s widow millions

On Dec. 7, 2009, New York State Police narcotics investigator Richard O’Brien fell off a ladder while fixing his mother’s roof.

He lived for only three more hours after the fall — but in that brief time, fellow troopers tried to have him retired on disability.

Now, Stephanie O’Brien, his widow, is fighting in court, saying a faulty fax machine and a measly seven minutes mean she and the couple’s daughter would get a $342,000 death payout — rather than lifetime benefits that could total in the millions.

The case is the first involving an officer filing for a disability retirement on the day of his death, lawyers said.

Fellow troopers rushed to the emergency room at St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital in Newburgh, where O’Brien, 42, lay mortally injured and unconscious following his off-duty repair accident at 3:34 p.m. They immediately asked State Police Headquarters in Albany to send retirement forms — though it took the ER’s faulty fax machine several tries to receive them, causing the first in a series of delays.

The troopers helped O’Brien’s wife fill them out.

“I was in the shock of my life,” she told The New York Post. Married five months earlier, the couple was expecting. “I remember signing the document, I remember being advised, but I don’t remember the details.”

The form she signed checked off a payment option in which Richard would get 75 percent of his $90,000 salary for life. If he died, his beneficiary, Stephanie, would receive the same $67,500-a-year for life.

It then took 10 tries — an 18-minute delay — to fax the papers back to a State Police supervisor, who finally received them at 6:19 p.m.

The supervisor took 11 minutes to review the application and formally file it by fax to state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli at 6:31 p.m.

Meanwhile, O’Brien had died at 6:24 p.m.

At that point, the 14-year police veteran became ineligible for retirement. The state Comptroller’s Office offered Stephanie a death benefit — three times O’Brien’s last 12 months of pay. But the disability benefits could have amounted to much more — $3.3 million if Stephanie, now 36, lives to age 86.

Dick Dadey, of the civic watchdog group Citizens Union, called the troopers’ actions “understandable but unseemly.”

“He was gravely injured, his death imminent, and they jumped through hoops to bring about his retirement to extend this benefit. Retirement is a planned event, not a technical act made on someone’s behalf while dying,” Dadey said.

Stephanie, a special-ed teacher, gave birth to a daughter, Abigail, six months after O’Brien’s death. She appealed the decision by the state Comptroller’s Office, but a panel of judges this month voted 3-1 to uphold it.

Stephanie’s lawyer, Alan Sash — whose firm, McLaughlin & Stern, took the case pro bono — denied any effort to “game the system.”

“This was the benefit of his bargain to risk his life every day as a State Police officer,” Sash said of O’Brien, who also served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is asking the state Court of Appeals to review the case.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Exclusive: Tech meltdown cripples deportation cases

A computer meltdown is crippling the nation’s immigration courts — creating an overwhelming backlog of deportation cases, The New York Post has learned.

The problem began April 12, when five servers that help power a nationwide computer network failed and shut down the entire system, an insider at the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement revealed.

Without access to the electronic records, court proceedings have slowed to a crawl and officials are resorting to old-fashioned methods — including paper, pens and cassette recorders — to keep track of cases.

One illegal alien who was ordered deported to his native Brazil following a DWI conviction even got to skip a scheduled flight home Friday due to the problem, the ICE source said.

He claimed to have filed a last-minute appeal, and prosecutors couldn’t check to see if he was lying — so he was released under an “order of supervision” that relies on him to check in with deportation officers, the source said.

That man, who was not identified, came to the United States illegally in 1988 and has a history with ICE of skipping out on bond.

The parts needed to repair the busted servers — located in Fairfax, Va. — aren’t expected to arrive for at least two weeks, the source added.

A veteran immigration lawyer, Alexander Cane, predicted the glitch would help aliens, possibly even leading to their release over “due process” issues caused by delays.

Court workers are prioritizing cases and struggling to make and maintain official records without their computers.

At the immigration court in lower Manhattan on Monday, officials openly complained about the problem.

Judge Alan Page, who was presiding via video from Newark, set a follow-up date for one case, then noted ruefully, “I guess we’ll have to put it in manually.”

“Everything is accumulating. We just have boxes and boxes,” a clerk responded.

Another immigration lawyer, Eva Kozlowska, said the problem was wreaking havoc with her practice because she can’t check online about the status of cases.

“Furthermore, the toll-free, 1-800 number that gives information about respondents, their court dates, what judges they are before and other information is also not working,” Kozlowska said.

A statement posted on the Department of Justice Web site said, “A hardware failure has resulted in the agency’s inability to perform some functions related to its computer system.”

An ICE spokesman said, “The immigration courts have developed alternative solutions and have continued to schedule and hear immigration cases brought to the courts by ICE.”

Lauren Alder Reid, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office for Immigration Review, added, “EOIR is not making any decisions regarding the release of detainees outside of normal court processes.”

Lululemon — and CEO — not in great shape

Lululemon’s new boss has failed to define more than just financial targets.

Shares of the struggling yoga-clothes retailer dropped more than 5 percent Monday, as Wall Street critics blasted a presentation last week from new CEO Laurent Potdevin as overly vague about the company’s turnaround plans.

“Management spoke of building an ‘authentic relationship’ with the guests, creating an ‘authentic global voice,’ ” Sterne Agee analyst Sam Poser said.

But Potdevin’s team refused to update the company’s financial targets with hard numbers, and offered “no explanation of what being ‘authentic’ means,” Poser said.

Meanwhile, some investors who attended the meeting said they were surprised to see that Potdevin, in his first major public appearance since he took the helm in January, didn’t exactly look the part of a fitness mogul.

“He was kind of … dumpy,” one shareholder said, noting that Potdevin wore baggy clothes with an untucked shirt that failed to hide a bulging stomach.

“If he’s a competent leader, he’s a competent leader,” another investor said. “But you’ve got to ask whether this guy is really in touch with the mind-set of his core customer in the athletic space.”

A third investor said Potdevin’s less-than-chiseled frame might be a good thing for the brand, given last year’s furor over comments from founder Chip Wilson, who blamed see-through yoga pants partly on oversize customers.

“Quite frankly, some women’s bodies just actually don’t work for” Lululemon’s yoga pants, Wilson had said last November. “It’s really about the rubbing through the thighs, how much pressure is there over a period of time.”

A Lululemon spokeswoman didn’t respond to requests for comment Monday.

Lululemon shares lost $2.64, more than 5 percent, to close at $49.07.

Cardinals send their ace to face Mets' Gee

It's no surprise to Terry Collins that the Cardinals, through 20 games, again sport one of the better records in the National League.

As manager of the Mets, Collins has long admired the Cards from afar -- particularly the way they have developed their homegrown core of players, including Yadier Molina, Matt Carpenter, Allen Craig and a host of young pitchers.

Collins would prefer to view from a distance. Instead his team has another date on Tuesday with the Cardinals, who will send ace right-hander Adam Wainwright to the mound at Citi Field.

"They've done a great job," said Collins, whose Mets beat the Cards, 2-0, in Monday's series opener.

"When you look at their club, obviously they've got some very, very good players that they signed and raised on their own. But they've gone out and done a nice job of adding some help. There's not one thing that really sticks out. They all are just good, solid players."

The Mets will counter with right-hander Dillon Gee, who rebounded from a tough start to the season to blank the D-backs over seven innings last week in Phoenix. Though Gee threw just 72 pitches in the game, Collins was unwilling to give him a chance to falter late, as had become Gee's habit earlier in the month.

Gee understood the decision, noting that he has to earn back his coaching staff's trust.

The upshot is that he should be plenty fresh when he takes the mound for Tuesday's game, perhaps giving him an advantage. But unlike Gee, Wainwright has been consistently sharp this season, pitching a shutout against the Nationals his last time out.

"Waino has been around for a long time," Molina said. "The other team has a pretty good idea what Waino brings to the table. That's what makes Waino good, because he can do different things in different at-bats.
One at-bat, he can get you out with a curveball. The other at-bat, he can get you out with a cutter. He's hard to hit that way."


Mets: Tejada looking to get rolling
The Mets are slowly starting to see returns from Chris Young, Travis d'Arnaud and other hitters who'd either slumped or endured injuries early this season. But they have not enjoyed much production from shortstop Ruben Tejada, who finally broke through with a big game -- mostly on the defensive side -- on Monday.

Tejada's early struggles opened the door to criticism of the front office, considering that the Mets declined to upgrade the position through free agency -- Stephen Drew is still available -- or trade over the winter. But Collins believes his shortstop is on the cusp of returning to his 2011-12 form, which saw him hit .287 with a .345 on-base percentage.

Since that time, Tejada has hit just .201 with a .266 OBP in 73 games, missing significant time due to injuries and a Minor League demotion. But he did make two fine plays on Monday, finishing 1-for-3 with an intentional walk.

"I don't feel upset about sticking with Ruben," Collins said. "He's put some good at-bats together. ... Would you like it to be better? Well we'd like everybody to be better. But right now he's the guy, and we've got to continue to try to get him to improve."


Cardinals: Ellis over Wong, but not forever
The Cardinals played veteran Mark Ellis over Kolten Wong at second base for Monday's series opener against the Mets, though that arrangement is far from permanent. Manager Mike Matheny feels that Wong is on the verge of breaking out despite a rough start to the season, which includes his current 2-for-18 funk.

"I think he is doing a better job than what we were seeing in Spring Training of not feeling good but not wearing it on his sleeve," Matheny said on Monday. "He is making good strides toward getting it remedied. I talked to him at length today about some of the things he is looking to do, and he has a real good approach to how to fix it. I am anxious to get him back out there."

Wong, who is historically better against right-handed pitching, is a good bet to return to the lineup on Tuesday versus Gee.


Worth noting
  • Forty-year-old Bobby Abreu joined the Mets on Monday, and he could start in the outfield at some point this week. Abreu, who was hitting .395 in a short spell with Triple-A Las Vegas, will serve mostly as a left-handed pinch-hitter.
  • Mets third baseman David Wright extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a broken-bat RBI single in the third inning on Monday. It is the franchise-record 18th double-digit hitting streak of Wright's career. 
  • Cardinals pitchers struck out at least seven batters in a game for the 15th time Monday. That mark is second only to Washington (16) in the National League.
  • Mets second baseman Daniel Murphy has owned Wainwright throughout his career, going 6-for-11 with two doubles, a triple and a walk. Outfielder Lucas Duda has also seen plenty of success against Wainwright, with a double, a homer and six RBIs in eight at-bats. As a roster, the Mets sport a lifetime .301 batting average and .845 OPS against the Cardinals ace.

‘Save us!’: Terrified boy made first call from sinking ferry

The first distress call from a sinking South Korean ferry was made by a boy with a shaking voice, three minutes after the vessel made its fateful last turn.

He called the emergency 119 number which put him through to the fire service, which in turn forwarded him to the coastguard two minutes later. That was followed by about 20 other calls from children on board the ship to the emergency number, a fire service officer told Reuters.

The Sewol ferry sank last Wednesday on a routine trip south from the port of Incheon to the traditional honeymoon island of Jeju.

Of the 476 passengers and crew on board, 339 were children and teachers on a high school outing. Only 174 people have been rescued and the remainder are all presumed to have drowned.

The boy who made the first call, with the family name of Choi, is among the missing. His voice was shaking and sounded urgent, a fire officer told MBC TV. It took a while to identify the ship as the Sewol.

“Save us! We’re on a ship and I think it’s sinking,” Yonhap news agency quoted him as saying.

The fire service official asked him to switch the phone to the captain, and the boy replied: “Do you mean teacher?”

The pronunciation of the words for “captain” and “teacher” is similar in Korean.

The captain of the ship, Lee Joon-seok, 69, and other crew members have been arrested on negligence charges. Lee was also charged with undertaking an “excessive change of course without slowing down”.

Authorities are also investigating the Yoo family, which controls the company that owns the ferry, Chonghaejin Marine Co Ltd, for possible financial wrongdoing amid growing public scrutiny.

An official at the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) told Reuters it was investigating whether Chonghaejin or the Yoo family engaged in any illegal foreign exchange transactions. The official did not elaborate.

Another person familiar with the matter told Reuters that prosecutors were looking into suspected tax evasion by the firm, its affiliates or the Yoo family with assistance from the National Tax Service. A spokesman at the tax agency declined to comment on the matter.

“There are lots of reports in the media, so as the regulator we need to check if they are true,” another FSS official said.

Neither the Yoo family nor the company was immediately available for comment.


Only obeying orders
Several crew members, including the captain, left the ferry as it was sinking, witnesses have said, after passengers were told to stay in their cabins. President Park Geun-hye said on Monday that instruction was tantamount to an “act of murder”.

Many of the children did not question their elders, as is customary in hierarchical Korean society. They paid for their obedience with their lives.

Four crew members appeared in court on Tuesday and were briefly questioned by reporters before being taken back into custody. One unidentified second mate said they had tried to reach the lifeboats, but were unable to because of the tilt.

Only two of the vessel’s 46 lifeboats were deployed.

Two first mates, one second mate and the chief engineer stood with their heads lowered and it was impossible to tell who was speaking.

One said there had been a mistake as the boat made a turn. Another said there was an eventual order to abandon ship. He said the crew gathered on the bridge and tried to restore balance, but could not.

“Maybe the steering gear was broken,” one said.

Media said the ship lost power for 36 seconds, which could have been a factor.

Public broadcaster KBS, quoting transcripts of the conversation between the crew and sea traffic control, the Jindo Vessel Traffic Services Centre, said the passengers were told repeatedly to stay put.

For half an hour, the crew on the third deck kept asking the bridge by walkie-talkie whether or not they should make the order to abandon ship, KBS said.

No one answered.

“We kept trying to find out but … since there was no instruction coming from the bridge, the crew on the third floor followed the instructions on the manual and kept making ‘stay where you are’ announcements,”
KBS quoted a crew member as saying. “At least three times.”

Lee was not on the bridge when the ship turned. Navigation was in the hands of a 26-year old third mate who was in charge for the first time on that part of the journey, according to crew members.

In a confused exchange between the sinking Sewol and maritime traffic control released by the government, the crew said the ship was listing to port.

“Make passengers wear life jackets and get ready in case you need to abandon ship,” traffic control said.

The Sewol answered: “It’s difficult for the passengers to move now.”

Ellsbury makes first trip back to Fenway in pinstripes

The road gray uniform with "NEW YORK" across the front is starting to feel more normal to Jacoby Ellsbury, who has not seemed to have much difficulty adjusting to his new surroundings through seven weeks of Spring Training and three weeks of regular-season contests.

Even having his old Red Sox teammates visit Yankee Stadium earlier in April did not register much of a blip on Ellsbury's radar. But the atmosphere might change quite a bit when the center fielder returns to Fenway Park on Tuesday -- seeing the ancient red-brick corridors for the first time as an enemy competitor.

"Every situation is different," Ellsbury said. "I can't compare it with other guys' situations, but I'm definitely aware of it. I've seen it. I've seen how passionate they are. I think they're all wondering what's going to happen.

"I'm not going to think about it too much, because it's out of my hands. I gave [that] organization everything I had every time I stepped on the field."

Ellsbury's return to Fenway won't be the only compelling storyline in this one. Japanese rookie Masahiro Tanaka, who is off to a strong start with the Yankees, will make his first start in baseball's most storied rivalry.

"I'm looking forward to seeing him pitch," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "I think anyone who is a fan of the game is going to look forward to watching a highly-touted guy coming to the Major Leagues here. We know that he's got a well-above-average split-finger fastball. We're looking forward to seeing him on the field and across the field from him."

And Boston will counter with ace Jon Lester, who has pitched well in all of his starts this season. In his last time out, Lester outdueled Chris Sale in Chicago.

Ellsbury, meanwhile, will be a focal point every time he steps to the plate. He signed a seven-year, $153 million contract with the Yanks after winning the World Series with the Red Sox last season. Ellsbury received his second World Series ring earlier this month, hand-delivered to the Bronx by Farrell and general manager Ben Cherington.

"I always enjoyed playing there, I had a great time, my time being a Red Sox [player]," Ellsbury said. "I still have a lot of friends over there. I'm looking forward to it. I'll have some family there [at Fenway], as well."

But how warm of a reception can Ellsbury really expect? He was in the Boston organization back in 2006 when Johnny Damon clipped his long locks to accept a big contract with New York -- and Damon was booed by the great majority when he returned to Fenway.

Despite the obvious parallels between the two situations -- and the fact that Damon and Ellsbury chatted last week -- Ellsbury said that he still hasn't given too much thought to what it will be like to be back at Fenway.

"You can't think about what they're going to do," Ellsbury said. "In this game, you can really only focus on what you can do, not worry about all that other stuff that you can't control.

"We'll see what happens. I gave the organization everything I had for a third of my life. Nine years in an organization -- drafted by them, came up and won two World Series. I left it all on the field."

Ellsbury will look to make his presence felt against Lester, who will get the ball for the Red Sox in the opener.


Yankees: Tanaka's first taste of Fenway
  • Tanaka said that he used to park in front of the television to watch some of those epic Yanks-Red Sox showdowns, beamed to Japan from a half world away.
"I've seen the two teams play, and I understand there is a certain rivalry between the two teams going into the game," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I'm sure the fans will be heated up a bit, and it should be a good experience going up on the mound that day. I'm very much looking forward to it."

Tanaka, who is looking for his third Major League victory, is coming off eight superb scoreless innings against the Cubs last time out and owns a 2.05 ERA. He has recorded 28 strikeouts in 22 innings, with just two walks. Tanaka said that he is not concerned by the Green Monster in left field.

"I understand that if you give up fly balls, it might be dangerous, so I think the best thing to do is try to get as many ground balls as possible," Tanaka said.


Red Sox: Victorino on the mend
  • Right fielder Shane Victorino, who took Sunday off after opening his rehab assignment on Saturday, will continue playing for Triple-A Pawtucket on Monday and Tuesday.
Victorino could be back in Boston's lineup as soon as Wednesday, for the middle game of this three-game series.

The return of Victorino will create a tough roster decision, considering the logjam in the outfield. One possibility would be optioning Jackie Bradley Jr. back to Pawtucket. Otherwise, a move would have to be made involving Mike Carp or Daniel Nava.

"Those [discussions] have been ongoing," said Farrell. "Those talks aren't going to initiate when [Victorino's] deemed ready to come back to us. We've looked at every available combination of outfielders that are here with us -- and, ultimately, there will be a roster decision made. We'll get to that in the coming week."


Worth noting
  • Tanaka has recorded at least eight strikeouts in each of his first three Major League starts, joining Stephen Strasburg (2010 Nationals) as the only two pitchers since 1900 to accomplish the feat. Tanaka's 28 strikeouts are a new Yankees record for a pitcher in his first three starts, shattering Al Leiter's record of 25 set in 1987.
  • Since allowing a leadoff home run to Melky Cabrera in his Major League debut against the Blue Jays on April 4, Tanaka has allowed only six left-handed batters to reach base (5-for-44, one walk). He has struck out 18 of the 37 right-handed batters he has faced this season (48.6 percent). 
  • The Yankees and Red Sox are 14-14 in the last 28 meetings between the teams, since Sept. 12, 2012. The Yanks were just 6-13 against the Sox last season -- their most losses to Boston in a single season since 1973 (4-14). The Red Sox won six of the nine games played at Fenway Park in 2013.
  • Dustin Pedroia could be on the verge of getting hot for Boston. He's had three straight multihit games.

Monster 11-foot, 805-pound shark caught on Florida beach

A fisherman standing on the waterfront has caught a monster 805-pound, 11-foot-long mako shark in Florida, in what may be a record for land-based fishing.

Joey Polk reeled in the shark after an intense, hour-long workout in which the shark pulled out 2,700 feet of line. Makos are the fastest of all sharks and can swim at speeds up to 60 mph.

Polk, from Milton, Fla., told the Houston Chronicle: “She was pulling line out of my reel at easily 60 miles an hour. We call that ‘smokin’ the drag’ round here.”

“When I saw it, I knew it was a big fish. I’ve been fishing since I was a little kid, but I thought it was maybe 700 pounds or so, then when we weighed it, it came in at 805! It was amazing,” said Polk.

The shark, which was too big to fit in the back of Polk’s truck, is not the largest catch for Polk, a third-generation shark fisherman. He also pulled in a 950-pound tiger shark in 2010.

Polk took the fish home and cooked it for his neighbors, providing food for around 200 people. He said he returns most of his catches to the sea, but that this one was too injured to be released.

This article originally appeared on News.com.au.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Knicks fire coach Mike Woodson, rest of staff

The Jax ax finally fell on Woody.

Mike Woodson, after last season delivering the Knicks their first Atlantic Division title since 1993-94, was let go as head coach Monday in a move that was anticipated even prior to Phil Jackson taking over as president last month.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mike Woodson and his entire staff,” Jackson said in a press release. “The coaches and players on this team had an extremely difficult 2013-14 season, and blame should not be put on one individual. But the time has come for change throughout the franchise as we start the journey to assess and build this team for next season and beyond.”

Woodson, who met with Jackson early Monday, was packing his belongings at the training facility in Tarrytown and declined comment.

“I’ve got to clear my head first before making any comments,” Woodson told The Post.

The rest of the coaching staff — assistants Jim Todd, Herb Williams, Darrell Walker and LaSalle Thompson, plus shooting coach Dave Hopla — also were relieved of their duties by Jackson. According to a source, Jackson did not bother speaking to the assistant coaches, and the staff came in to collect their things after Woodson got the word. Williams, though, may return in some capacity.

Woodson had one season left on his pact at about $3.3 million, but his ouster was a foregone conclusion when Jackson came aboard, looking to bring in his own staff, perhaps angling toward a triangle-themed offense. Steve Kerr and Derek Fisher, former Jackson point guards with no head-coaching experience, have been mentioned as potential candidates whom Jackson can mold.

Kerr has emerged as the frontrunner, with a source telling The New York Post’s George Willis last week Kerr “absolutely expects” to get an offer. Other candidates for the Knicks staff are Derek Fisher, Ron Harper, Kurt Rambis, Jim Cleamons and Bill Cartwright, with Jackson looking for people familiar with the triangle.

Woodson still felt he was the man for the job, saying after Jackson was hired that he would like to install the triangle with Jackson’s assistance.

Fans first started chanting “Fire Woodson’’ back in November when the Knicks sputtered to a 3-13 start. But Knicks owner James Dolan stuck it out with Woodson across this disappointing season that saw the Knicks finish at 37-45 and miss the playoffs in shocking fashion.

Woodson’s record as Knicks coach in his 2 ½ seasons goes down at 109-79. His .580 winning percentage ranks third in franchise history behind Pat Riley (.680) and Jeff Van Gundy (.590).

Woodson, who played his rookie season for Red Holzman in New York, was 18-6 in his first season in 2011-12 after being promoted from defensive assistant when Mike D’Antoni resigned.

Woodson then guided the Knicks to a 54-28 record last season, acquiring the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference and earning third place in Coach of the Year voting. However, the Knicks’ second-round playoff ouster by the Pacers didn’t sit well with Dolan, who felt Woodson was outcoached by Frank Vogel.

After Glen Grunwald, Woodson’s buddy and former University of Indiana teammate, was fired four days before training camp, things went downhill. The Knicks’ injury-riddled roster had Amar’e Stoudemire, J.R. Smith and Kenyon Martin sidelined or limited in the early going. In recent days, the former Hawks coach made an allusion to the season’s troubles stemming from training camp.

“Coming out of camp, we weren’t sharp based on the injuries,” Woodson said last week. “It was an ugly camp. I didn’t feel good about where we were as a basketball team. We didn’t get much out of camp. I didn’t have the bodies to push guys where they needed to be, whereas the year before, everyone was flying around. My staff and I was willing to coach and do what we need to do. It’s done. We got to figure out where we go from here.’’

Scouts say Woodson’s offense was too predictable and didn’t fool anyone in end-game situations — which could explain why the Knicks lost so many close contests this season. But the Knicks never quit on Woodson and made a hard charge for the eighth seed in the final 1 ½ months after falling 19 games below .500 in early March. The Knicks won 16 of their final 21 games.

However, it was not enough. The end for Woodson was inevitable.

Robbery suspect shot in court after lunging at gang witness

SALT LAKE CITY — A U.S. marshal shot and critically wounded a defendant on Monday in a new federal courthouse in Salt Lake City after the man rushed at a witness with a pen, authorities said.

Defendant Siale Angilau, 25, was hospitalized with at least one chest wound, FBI spokesman Mark Dressen said. Under standard procedures, Angilau was not restrained in the courtroom, the FBI said.

Perry Caldwell, who was in the courtroom with his adult daughter, said Angilau was shot several times as he lunged toward the witness stand and tried to strike the witness.

At least six shots were fired, he said.

The witness, who was not injured, appeared to be in his mid-20s and was testifying about gang initiation, Caldwell said. The person was not identified.

Caldwell and his daughter were in court to support his mother, Sandra Keyser, who was punched in the face during a holdup in 2002 and was scheduled to testify.

“It was kind of traumatizing,” Sara Jacobson, Caldwell’s daughter, said of the shooting.

Angilau was one of 17 people named in a 29-count racketeering indictment filed in 2010 accusing gang members of conspiracy, assault, robbery and weapons offenses.

Prosecutors said Angilau robbed convenience stores in Salt Lake City and assaulted clerks on five occasions from 2002 to 2007. A clerk was shot in the final robbery, according to the indictment.

Angilau was accused of assault on a federal officer with a weapon and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence on Aug. 11, 2007.

Angilau was the last defendant in the case to stand trial, U.S. attorney’s office spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch said.

A mistrial was declared after the shooting by U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell. The order said members of the jury were visibly shaken and upset.

Angilau’s attorney, Michael Langford, declined to take questions as he left the courthouse. He said he was concerned about Angilau’s well-being and didn’t know his condition.

Angilau was in Utah state prison from September 2007 until he was handed over to U.S. marshals on Friday, said Utah Department of Corrections spokeswoman Brooke Adams.

He was arrested in August 2007 for a probation violation and pleaded guilty a year later to obstruction of justice and failure to respond to a command of a police officer, court records show.

His trial in the robbery case was among the first at the new $185 million federal courthouse opened just one week ago in downtown Salt Lake City next door to a century-old federal courthouse. The towering building isdesigned to withstand blasts and also contains bulletproof glass in some areas.

The security measures include separate routes in and out for judges, prisoners and the public. In the old courthouse, they all used the same hallways.

The courthouse was temporarily closed after the incident and reopened later in the day.

From mullet to math genius after a concussion

When Jason Padgett pours cream into his morning coffee, this is what he sees:

“I watch the cream stirred into the brew. The perfect spiral is an important shape to me. It’s a fractal. Suddenly, it’s not just my morning cup of joe, it’s geometry speaking to me.”

Padgett’s world is bursting with mathematical patterns. He is one of a few people in the world who can draw approximations of fractals, the repeating geometric patterns that are building blocks of everything in the known universe, by hand. Tree leaves outside his window are evidence of Pythagoras’ theorem. The arc that light makes when it bounces off his car proves the power of pi.

He sees the parts that make up the whole. And his world is never boring, never without amazement. Even his dreams are made up of geometry.

“I can barely remember a time,” the 43-year-old says, “when I saw the world the way most everyone else does.”

Flash back 12 years: Padgett had dropped out of Tacoma (Wash.) Community College, and was a self-described “goof” with zero interest in academics, let alone math. The only time he dealt in numbers was to track the hours until his shift ended at his father’s furniture store, tally up his bar tab, or count bicep curls at the gym.

With his mullet, leather vest open to a bare chest, and skintight pants, he was more like a high-school student stuck in the 1980s — even though it was 2002, and he was a 31-year-old with a daughter.

He would race his buddies in a freshly painted red Camaro. His life was one adrenaline rush after another: cliff-jumping, sky-diving, bar-hopping. He was the “life of the party.” The guy who would funnel a beer before going out and would slip a bottle of Southern Comfort in his jacket pocket to avoid paying $6 for mixed drinks.

“I thought it would go on that way forever,” Padgett says.

Party time came to end the night of Friday, Sept. 13, 2002, at a karaoke bar near his home. There, two men attacked him from behind, punching him in the back of the head, knocking him unconscious.

He fell to the ground as the two men punched and kicked him, stopping only when he handed over his worthless jacket.

He was rushed to the hospital, where a CT scan revealed a bruised kidney. He was released that same night.

The next morning, while running the water in the bathroom, he noticed “lines emanating out perpendicularly from the flow. At first, I was startled, and worried for myself, but it was so beautiful that I just stood in my slippers and stared.”

When he extended his hand out in front of him, it was like “watching a slow-motion film,” as if ­every slight movement was in stop-motion animation.

Days went by, but the visuals remained.

Padgett, who had scored relatively high on IQ tests in elementary school but reached only pre-algebra in high school, soon became “obsessed with every shape in my house, from rectangles of the windows to the curvature of a spoon.”

When he looked at numbers, colorful shapes superimposed over them.

He stopped going to work and began to read anything he could get his hands on about math and physics. He developed a fascination with fractals and pi.

The doctors called what happened to him a “profound concussion.” Little did they know just how profound it was.

Padgett is one of only 40 people in the world with “acquired ­savant syndrome,” a condition in which prodigious talents in math, art or music emerge in previously normal individuals following a brain injury or disease.

Acquired savants like Padgett raise remarkable questions about the rest of us average folk: Do we all have inner Einsteins just waiting for the right bop on the head to be set free? Do we possess inner greatness?

“I believe I am living proof that these powers lie dormant in all of us,” Padgett writes in his memoir, “Struck by Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), out Tuesday.

“If it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone.”

After Padgett’s brain was shaken up, so was his perception of the world.

“I noticed the light bouncing off a car window in the form of an arc, and the concept came to life,” he writes.

“It clicked for me ­because the circle I saw was subdivided by light rays, and I realized each ray was really a representation of pi.”

Overcome by his realization, he began to draw out the images. Although he never had an aptitude for art before, now it was as if “someone else were clutching my fist and guiding my hand.” Drawings had to be perfect. Sometimes they took days; a few took weeks.

During one of his meditations, he came to the conclusion that “circles don’t exist.”

“It was like a bomb went off in my mind. In a matter of minutes, I was no longer just a receiver of geometric imagery or a researcher; I was a theorist,” he writes.

The New York Post showed some of Padgett’s drawings to Tim Chartier, a math and computer-science professor at Davidson College in North Carolina and author of “Math Bytes” (Princeton University Press).

“It’s remarkable that he sees the world this way without any real training,” says Chartier. “Is that genius? I think you have to be careful when you use that word, but, yes, to be able to see that. That’s just wild.”

Padgett reminds Chartier of Srinivasa Ramanujan, an early-20th-century mathematician who significantly contributed to number theory despite never receiving formal training.

But Padgett is not the next Stephen Hawking. This ability allows him to see the world in a unique way — but it’s highly ­unlikely that his ability will land him a Fields Medal.

“He needs the help of a trained mathematician,” says Chartier.

There were downsides that came along with the new Padgett. Once gregarious and outgoing, he now refused to leave the house. He nailed blankets to the window and refused visitors. He became obsessed with germs and washed his hands until they were red and raw.

He couldn’t even hug his own daughter until she washed her hands.

He began to fear that this wasn’t a gift at all — that it all was a sign of mental illness.

Reassurance came from a BBC documentary that featured Daniel Tammet, who could recite pi to the 22,514th digit. Tammet is an autistic savant, as well as a synesthetic one, which means that multiple senses are evoked — such as “smelling” colors or, in Padgett’s case, matching numbers and colors.

“That’s it! That’s what’s going on with me. Oh, my God! Someone else can see what I see!” Padgett recalls thinking.

He began to Google and found that there were others — people, unlike Tammet, who had ­acquired their “gifts.”

There was Orlando Serrell, who, after being struck by a baseball at age 10, could suddenly tell you the day of the week of any given date; Dr. Anthony Cicoria, who began expertly playing the piano after he was struck by lightning; and Alonzo Clemens, who was a child with an IQ of 40, yet, after falling on his head, could sculpt any animal out of clay down to the most minute detail after seeing it only briefly.

Padgett reached out to Wisconsin psychiatrist Dr. Darold Treffert, the world-recognized expert on savantism who had studied Kim Peek, the inspiration for “Rain Man,” and championed use of the word “savant syndrome” instead of “idiot savant” in 1980.

Via e-mail — and later in person — Treffert diagnosed Padgett with acquired savant syndrome, one of only 30 people identified at the time. (The number has since risen to 40, Treffert tells The Post.)

Padgett wasn’t alone, and this comforted him. He tore the blankets off the windows and enrolled in a local community college.

Further reassurance arrived in 2011, when Dr. Berit Brogaard, now director of the Brogaard Lab for Multisensory Research at the University of Miami, invited him to Finland for a three-day ­research work-up.

She used fMRI machines and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to find that the right side of Padgett’s brain had been compromised and that there was greater activation on the left side. She noted significant increased activity in the left parietal lobe — which is where neuroscientists say “math lives.”

The parietal lobe is involved with many complex computations used in our daily lives. Reach out for a cup of coffee while reading, and your brain is making seriously complex calculations (charting the distance, the weight, the velocity of movement, etc.) — all of this without our realizing it.

“One could speculate that [Padgett] has better access to these areas than the rest of us,” Brogaard says.

This supports emerging research that shows that bilateral involvement in the parietal lobe (meaning both sides are activated) actually is correlated with worse math abilities. The brain likes to be specialized — and Padgett is ­hyper-specialized.

But how did it get this way? How did the brain know to specialize after an injury?

Theories involving neuroplasticity, or the ability of the brain to make new connections, abound. Brogaard hypothesizes that the trauma of the event flooded the brain with neurotransmitters, which ultimately changed its structure.

Treffert believes that the structural changes allow Padgett to tap into his “genetic memory” — the same kind of instinctual memory that guides birds to fly in a “V” formation — freeing up areas that are inhibited in healthy brains.

“It shows us that ordinary people have untapped abilities,” says Brogaard. This sentiment is one that every researcher interviewed by The Post repeated.

In a series of studies at the University of Sydney in Australia, people wearing a “thinking cap,” a device that immobilizes parts of the brain, were able to draw in greater detail and complexity, find mistakes in written language, solve complex puzzles and more accurately guess the number of objects in a large sample size. But these advances happen only while wearing the cap and fade an hour later.

It’s enough for author Allan Snyder to conclude, “Savant skills are latent in all of us.”

The truth is we know very little about our 3-pound organs, says Dr. V.S. Ramachandran, director of the Center of Brain and Cognition at the University of California, San Diego.

“All the progress and advances we’ve made in neuroscience over the years, yet we know precious little of higher brain functions. These anomalies, as scientists call them, show the depth of our ignorance,” he says.

But do we even want to know? Would we be happier as savants?

Asked whether Padgett would go back to his old life if he could, he responded:

“No.”

Then, after a pause, he added, “though sometimes I do miss the blissful ignorance of life before.”

Netflix plans ‘$1 or $2’ price increase

Video streaming service Netflix reported higher profit that beat Wall Street expectations and said it intends to raise the monthly subscription price for new customers, sending its stock up 6.5 percent in after-hours trading.

Net income for the quarter that ended in March reached $53 million, Netflix said on Monday, an increase from $3 million a year earlier. Earnings-per-share came in at 86 cents, topping the average forecast of 83 cents, according to analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Netflix said it added 2.25 million customers to its U.S. streaming business during the quarter, in line with the company’s earlier guidance.

The company, in a quarterly letter to shareholders, said it plans to impose “a one or two dollar increase, depending on the country, later this quarter for new members only.” It did not name the countries. Existing customers would keep their current price “for a generous time period,” it said.

Shares of the company jumped 6.5 percent to $371.26 in after-hours trading, up from their earlier close of $348.49 on Nasdaq.

At the end of March, Netflix reported 35.7 million U.S. streaming subscribers. In international markets, its customer base reached 12.7 million, a gain of 1.8 million during the quarter.

“It was an impressive quarter,” FBN Securities analyst Shebly Seyrafi said. “They came through on the bottom line and the net subscriber ads were solid.”

The company has “room to raise prices” because “they’re still seeing a lot of demand” for the service, Seyrafi said.

Netflix suffered from a consumer backlash and stock plunge after it announced an unpopular price increase in July 2011.

Mets face another tough foe as Cards come to NY

The Mets will swap out one postseason contender for another Monday.

New York played host to the Braves over the weekend and will match up against the defending National League champion Cardinals over the next four days. St. Louis, trailing Milwaukee in the NL Central, comes to New York with a 7-5 mark in its past 12 games.

St. Louis has qualified for the playoffs in three straight seasons, but the Mets are 9-11 against the Cards over that span. Monday's matchup will feature two promising young pitchers, as Jenrry Mejia pitches for the Mets and the Cards' Tyler Lyons comes up to make his first big league start of the year.

Lyons, 26, went 2-4 with a 4.75 ERA in 12 appearances for the Cardinals last season, and he's entering the rotation as a replacement for injured starter Joe Kelly. Lyons, a former ninth-round draftee, went 2-0 with a 3.32 ERA in his first three starts for Triple-A Memphis this season.

"He was very good last time out," said St. Louis manager Mike Matheny of Lyons, the only lefty in the rotation. "We just hope he can carry that momentum forward here [Monday]."

To make room for Lyons, the Cards optioned pitcher Jorge Rondon back to Memphis. That gives them a seven-man bullpen, and Lyons will be able to pitch with the knowledge that he belongs in the Majors.

"He did a great job for us when he got the opportunity," said Matheny of Lyons, who has a career 3.96 ERA in the Minors. "And we go with that hot hand. He had a good start last time."

The Mets, meanwhile, are hoping that Mejia can shake off an injury to continue his impressive start. Mejia, 24, has two solid outings in his three starts, but he left his last outing early with a blister on the middle finger of his throwing hand. The Mets believe he's all right, though, and Mejia will be monitored closely as he takes on the heart of the Cardinals' batting order.

The Cardinals, playing through a stretch of 20 games in 20 days, will arrive in New York fresh off a hard-fought four-game series against the Nationals which the teams split. After they play against the Mets, the Cards will return home for two tough series against Central foes Pittsburgh and Milwaukee.


Cardinals: Traveling by train
For the first time since 2009, the Cardinals traveled to their next stop on this road trip by Amtrak. Following the Cardinals' series finale in Washington on Sunday, the team boarded a train headed for New York City's Penn Station. It was the only train trip for the club this year.

The last time the Cardinals used the railways to travel was in making their way from Washington to Philadelphia on July 23, 2009. The next day, the Cardinals acquired outfielder Matt Holliday from the A's in a trade that sent Clayton Mortensen, Shane Peterson and Brett Wallace to Oakland.


Mets: Granderson moves up in order
The Mets placed Curtis Granderson to the No. 2 slot Sunday, but the veteran continued his slow offensive season. Granderson went 0-for-6 against Atlanta in Sunday's game, though he delivered a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 14th inning of a 4-3 victory. He's batting .127, but he's confident that the results are nothing more than an early-season aberration.

"Obviously, you want things to be better," he said Saturday night. "But you realize that there's a lot of baseball to be played and a lot of at-bats to be had. ... Continue to swing the bat, continue to do the work that you need to do. Stay focused, stay ready, stay aggressive. Eventually, things will turn."


Worth noting
  • Matheny has been aggressive in finding days off for his regulars during this stretch of 20 games in 20 days, and Sunday was Holliday's day to sit. The Cardinals' left fielder is expected back in the lineup for Monday's series opener, which will push Allen Craig back to right field.
  • Because of an overlap with the St. Louis Blues' NHL playoff game, the Cardinals' telecast Monday will be moved to FOX Sports Midwest Plus in the St. Louis area. 
  • The Mets scored again in the first inning Sunday, and they have more first-inning runs (14) than all but one other NL team. The Giants have scored 15 times in the first.

Bode Miller reaches deal in messy custody battle

Olympic ski champ and California resident Bode Miller hatched an 11th-hour custody agreement with his Manhattan baby mama that includes “virtual” daddy time with his 14-month-old son through Skype.

But Miller’s ex, Sara McKenna, pooh-poohed the push by Miller to include Skype chats as part of their pact.

“He’s interested for 45 seconds, then he’s off,” McKenna said of their young son, Samuel Bode Miller McKenna, outside Manhattan court Monday.

“It’s an inadequate substitute for being there — you can’t hug him or touch him,” McKenna, 28, said.
But she said Miller had insisted on the Skype clause — which was part of a last-minute deal between the pair just minutes before Miller was scheduled to give potentially embarrassing testimony about his rocky relationship with Bode Jr. and her.

McKenna said that when she has custody, she already typically sets up her iPad on a table out of the tot’s reach a few times a week so he can see and hear his father through the online messaging and video system.

The seven-page agreement gives the parents shared custody of their son through Aug. 28, with McKenna remaining the primary caretaker.

The parties are due back in court in September after a psychologist evaluates the child and his interactions with McKenna and Miller.

The two met through the high-priced matchmaking service Kelleher and dated for three months. Shortly after McKenna found out she was pregnant, Miller had met his soon-to-be wife, professional volleyball player Morgan Beck.

Miller, 36, had not even met his then-3-month-old son last spring when his lawyer tried to take the child from his mother, claiming that New York was an “inconvenient forum” for the custody trial because he lived on the opposite coast.

McKenna, a former Marine and firefighter, moved to New York City to study at Columbia University on the GI Bill.

When Family Court Justice Fiordaliza Rodriguez asked the parents if there were any conditions such as lack of sleep or working a double shift that would impair their judgment regarding the parenting plan, Miller grumbled, “I haven’t slept.”

He flew in from California on a red-eye flight in case the agreement fell through and he had to testify.

Rodriguez approved the deal, finding, “It does appear to be in the child’s best interest inasmuch as it provides for substantial time with each parent.”
The six-time Olympic medal winner had no comment for reporters as he left court.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Parents, kids don’t want first lady at HS graduation

TOPEKA, Kan. — If expanding the guest list to include Michelle Obama at graduation for high school students in the Kansas capital city means fewer seats for friends and family, some students and their parents would prefer the first lady not attend.

A furor over what the Topeka school district considers an honor has erupted after plans were announced for Obama to address a combined graduation ceremony for five area high schools next month an 8,000-seat arena. For some, it was the prospect of a tight limit on the number of seats allotted to each graduate. For others, it was the notion that Obama’s speech, tied to the 60th anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education outlawing segregation in schools, would overshadow the student’s big day.

“I’m a single mother who has raised him for 18 years by myself,” said Tina Hernandez, parent of Topeka High School senior Dauby Knight. “I’ve told him education is the only way out. This is one of the biggest days of their lives. They’ve taken the glory and shine from the children and put on Mrs. Obama. She doesn’t know our kids.”

Hernandez was among the parents and students who spoke Thursday at a school board meeting and urged district officials to reconsider their decision to invite Obama. Ron Harbaugh, spokesman for the Topeka school district, said Friday discussions were under way to work out the logistics and planning for the event, including how many tickets each family would be allotted.

“We will have a clearer picture of what’s going on,” Harbaugh said.

Harbaugh said officials asked the president or first lady to speak at graduation as a tie-in with the anniversary of the Brown decision, which outlawed school segregation. The district plans to place a priority on seating students and their families, and could broadcast the event to an overflow room at a hotel adjacent to the graduation arena for those unable to find a seat inside.

That’s not good enough for Taylor Gifford, 18, who started an online petition Thursday evening to urge the district to reconsider its plans. She and the more than 1,200 people who had signed it expressed concern that Obama’s visit would limit the seating options for family and friends.

“I really would like it to have a peaceful solution, but there is so much misinformation going on,” Gifford said.

Gifford said her initial reaction to the news was excitement, saying she was “freaking out” about the prospect of the first lady speaking at graduation. When rumors of limited tickets surfaced, Gifford felt like the focus was being shifted from the students to Obama.

“People think it’s a great opportunity, but it’s the graduates’ time. They are getting that diploma that they worked so hard for,” Gifford said. “Families are feeling that they are being cheated out of the loved ones special day.”

Abbey Rubottom, 18, a Topeka High senior, described herself as a “die-hard Democrat” but doesn’t like the idea of Obama sharing the stage with graduates.

“No disrespect for the first lady, and it’s amazing that she wants to come speak, I just think it doesn’t belong at graduation,” Rubottom said.

Rubottom suggested separate ceremonies with Obama speaking at one and the address being replayed at the other.

Some people have said bringing in the first lady politicizes the graduation. Others have suggested that if she wants to mark the Brown anniversary, she could just visit the historic site that commemorates the decision, which is just few blocks from the graduation venue.

The Brown site is housed in a former all-black school where the lead plaintiff’s daughter and another plaintiff’s child in the desegregation case were students. It tells the story of the 1954 Supreme Court decision.

Messages seeking comment from the first lady’s office in Washington were not immediately returned Friday.

Student suspended for asking Miss America to the prom

Totally worth it!

A Pennsylvania teenager suspended from school for three days for asking Miss America to prom says he wouldn’t take back the gutsy move.

“I was set on doing it. It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance. It was a cool way to go out with a bang for senior year,” Patrick Favres, 18, of Manchester Township, told The New York Post on Saturday.

Word spread around Central York High School that Favres planned to pop the question at a school assembly on Thursday , where beauty queen Nina Davuluri spoke about diversity.

School administrators caught wind. Ten minutes before the assembly started, they warned Favres not to do it.

Favres — a popular class clown, who plays the drums — went ahead with his plan, and handed Davuluri a plastic pink flower that made her laugh and students cheer.

Instead of a date, Favres says, he was booted out of the assembly and slapped with three days of in-school suspension for “deliberately defying” school administrators.

Students and other supporters quickly took to Twitter to blast the school for the too-harsh punishment, spawning the hashtag #freepatty.

“The Administration needs to get over its overly rigid self. How shameful!,” Tweeted @Maryannaville.

“Given the opportunity I would’ve tried the same thing, 3 days ISS for asking Ms. America to prom is ridiculous,” wrote @ChaseNeiderer.

But Favres says he deserved the punishment and has “learned a lot.” He hopes he didn’t offend Miss America, who was “a good sport about it,” he said.

His mom, Anne Favres, 58, said, “ He deserved some discipline but three days is a little harsh.”

“He’s a cool kid … he’s a very trust worthy. I don’t have to worry about him, ” she added.

Favres attends wants to study media at Point Park University next year.

School officials didn’t return a requests for comment on Saturday.

Former cop fatally shoots wife: police

A former cop fatally shot his wife Saturday morning as their two young children watched in horror, law enforcement sources, said.

The sources identified the suspect as Kevin Canty, 43, and said the violence took place at the couple’s home on 104th Street in Ozone Park, Queens.

A neighbor said he was at a nearby deli when he saw the kids run from the house yelling, “Daddy shot Mommy!”

The 40-year-old victim suffered gunshot wounds to her abdomen and died in an ambulance rushing her to Jamaica Hospital.

Police caught up with Canty near 97th and Centreville streets — about a mile from his home.

Another neighbor described Canty as “scary looking an intimidating.”

He had had worked as a Manhattan transit cop before retiring last year with a disability, police sources said.

Another resident told The Post he was in the bathroom when he heard the woman’s screams. “I heard a woman yelling, saying ‘No, no, no!’” he said. “It sounded like it was on TV.”

Police caught up with Canty near 97th and Centreville streets — about a mile from his home.

Canty worked as Manhattan transit cop before retiring last year with a disability, police sources said.

In 2012, he was lauded on the City of New York’s and NYPD’s Facebook pages for helping to save the life of a man who had a heart attack in Union Square.

Neighbors described the ex-cop as quiet and intimidating.

“He was kind of a silent guy who looked scary and intimidating,” said Danny Ali, 30. “He doesn’t really talk to people too much. You have to talk to him first.”

Shaheed Skates said he saw the wife taking their children to day care.

“Lately she seemed happier,” said Skates, 18. “She started opening up more, and talking to neighbors more.”

Others said the pair often fought in public.

“They were not a happy couple,” said Joanne Bagley, 52. “They fight all the time on the block. I guess it was inevitable.”

Up against Nova, Archer expects fresh start

Chris Archer is trying to put a disappointing outing into the rear-view mirror. Ivan Nova wouldn't mind reliving a performance like his last one, which concluded with a standing ovation at Yankee Stadium.

Those storylines will come together at Tropicana Field on Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET, as the Yankees and Rays will play the third act of a four-game series between American League East rivals.

Archer is coming off a disappointing outing against the Orioles on Monday that saw him allow a career-high seven runs and 12 hits, the most by a Rays starter since Matt Moore allowed 12 last June 9 against the Orioles.

"I thought he was more up [with his pitches] than normal," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I looked at the report that we get after every game regarding the pitchers, the velocity, the movement, that kind of stuff. I thought he was up, and that verified they were up. The thing is, they weren't missing."

Archer said that he did not look at any film of that Baltimore start, but the Rays' coaching staff brought some tips to his attention that he hopes will produce better results against the Yankees.

"Twelve hits tells me I wasn't locating," Archer said. "Up, down, in, out, pitch execution period. Everything's a learning experience."

Nova is coming off an outing in which he commanded the Red Sox, holding them to two runs and eight hits over 7 1/3 innings.

The right-hander said that this night was done after seven innings, but Nova was pleased that manager Joe Girardi asked him to get one more out in the eighth, which he recorded on a flyout.

"First, [it means] confidence," Nova said. "In a one-run game, to go out there in the eighth inning when I thought I was done for the game. He said, 'I want you to get me one more out.'"

Archer is 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA in three career starts against the Yankees. His three wins against the Yankees last season made him the first rookie with three wins over the Yankees in a season since Kevin Brown turned the trick with the Rangers in 1989.

Nova is 2-1 with a 4.56 ERA in five appearances (four starts) against the Rays at Tropicana Field. The Yankees were 6-0 in his first six starts against the Rays but are just 2-4 in his last six.


Rays: Medical matters
Only three starting pitchers in the AL East are on the disabled list, and all three are Rays: Right-handers Jeremy Hellickson (arthroscopic right elbow surgery) and Alex Cobb (left oblique strain) and the left-handed Moore (pending Tommy John surgery).

Dr. James Andrews, the Rays' medical director, will operate on Moore on Tuesday in Pensacola, Fla.
Moore will become the first Rays Major Leaguer to undergo Tommy John surgery since right-hander Jason Isringhausen nearly five years ago (June 16, 2009).


Yankees: Help on the way
The Yankees announced after Friday's 11-5 loss that they designated left-hander Cesar Cabral for assignment, signing right-hander Matt Daley to a Major League contract and adding him to the roster for Saturday's game.

Daley, 31, is a product of Garden City, N.Y., and was 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in four appearances at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this season. He had a 0.88 ERA in seven appearances for the Yankees last September and has also seen big league time with the Rockies.


Worth noting
  • Archer averaged 95 mph on his fastball last season, according to FanGraphs, making him the hardest-throwing starter in the AL (minimum 100 innings). Lefty Derek Holland of the Rangers ranked second at 93.6 mph.
  • The Rays optioned right-hander Brad Boxberger to Triple-A Durham after Friday's game. A corresponding roster move will be announced on Saturday. 
  • The Yankees allowed 11 runs on Friday after allowing only 12 runs in their previous six games. It marked their first blown lead of four runs or more since a loss to the Red Sox on Sept. 6, 2013, when they led, 8-3, and lost, 12-8.
  • Sean Rodriguez homered off Adam Warren in the eighth inning on Friday. It was his first home run off a right-handed pitcher since July 3, 2012, when he went deep off Nova.

A Saudi Arabian princess reveals her life of hell

It was a life out of a fairy tale — until it became one they couldn’t escape.

Sahar, Maha, Hala and Jawaher Al Saud are daughters of King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi Arabian monarch who is worth an estimated $15 billion.

With such riches, the sisters, when younger, would take ski trips to luxurious resorts in Europe and go on endless shopping sprees, buying silk robes and jasmine oil, while their doting father bought them parures — matching jewelry sets — topped with jewel-encrusted tiaras.

The women roamed elegant tents, filled with fresh fruits and treats, on an 85-acre, $740 million compound that included a helipad emblazoned with the king’s initials.

Each of them desired a normal, albeit privileged life: To study abroad, travel the world, and eventually marry and have children.

Now they are prisoners.

Not only has the 89-year-old king forbidden any man to seek his daughters’ hands in marriage, he’s confined them, against their will, in separate dark and suffocating quarters at his palace.

The king’s eldest daughter, 42-year-old Sahar, spoke with The New York Post in a rare and surreptitious phone call.

“We are cut off and isolated and alone,” she says. “We are hostages. No one can come see us, and we can’t go see anyone. Our father is responsible and his sons, our half-brothers, are both culprits in this tragedy.”

Why are the princesses being held captive?

Because they believe women in Saudi Arabia, one of the most oppressive Islamic nations in the world, should be free. Their mother, Alanoud Al Fayez, long ago fled to London.

When the sisters openly spoke in opposition to women being illegally detained and placed in mental wards, the king had enough and no longer considered them his daughters.

“That was it for him. It was the end for us,” Sahar says.

“They once had a normal life for Saudi Arabia, but they are free thinkers, and their father hates that,” mom Al Fayez says. “They are compassionate about the plight of women in Saudi Arabia and throughout the Arab world. The injustices that we see are terrible, and someone must say something.”




Punished for having daughters

Al Fayez, a descendant of a well-to-do Jordanian family, recalls the first time she saw Abdullah. It was 1972. She was 15, he was 48, and she was told that he would be her husband.

“I was being given to him in marriage,” she says. “It was arranged.”

Despite the riches and the servants and the pampering, life quickly became “monotonous,” she says. Almost immediately, she got pregnant.

“After I was forced to marry him, Abdullah would come to my room as a visitor for a few hours every now and then,” Al Fayez says. “And then he’d go to his other wives, so you don’t even fight, you don’t even matter.”

Within four years of the wedding, Al Fayez had given birth to four girls. This was unacceptable: She was, in the king’s eyes, incapable of producing a son, and so she was worthless.

Abdullah, who has had 30 wives and fathered more than 40 children, finally divorced Al Fayez sometime in the 1980s — but she didn’t find out until two years later, through an intermediary. In Saudi Arabia, a husband can divorce his wife without her knowledge.

“Really, he had divorced me a number of times and he’d abuse me, beat me and had me beaten by guards,”

Al Fayez says. “And the more I took the abuse, the more I was abused.”

“The last straw, if you want to call it a last straw, really was that when my daughters got real sick, they wouldn’t let me supervise their care or participate in soothing them in any way.

“So that sparked my desire to break away and get to the West and tell the world about the abuses of women in Saudi Arabia.”

When it comes to the rights of women, Saudi Arabia has one of the worst human-rights records in the world.

Women don’t have a say in raising their children. They can’t go to school, travel, open a bank account, conduct any kind of business or get medical treatment — especially gynecological surgery — without male permission.

In public, everything except the eyes and the hands must be covered, and the slightest infraction can result in a death sentence.

With the help of one of Abdullah’s security guards, Al Fayez fled the compound in the dark of night to Jeddah airport, where, with the help of a women’s rights group, she eventually flew to London.

It was an agonizing decision. Al Fayez says she would have fled with her daughters, but Abdullah had already confiscated the women’s passports and separated them from Al Fayez.

She also said she thought he’d eventually release them to spare the embarrassment of Al Fayez going public with her charges. At the very least, she thought their lives would be better than hers — that he would not mistreat his own children.

“Leaving my daughters was very difficult, but I never thought they’d be subjected to this,” she says. “After all, they are [the king’s] daughters too.”




Prisoners in his home

Al Fayez was wrong.

In 2002, less than one year after her escape, Abdullah began tormenting his daughters. They are in intermittent phone contact with their mother and have told her that he’s drugged their food and water to keep them docile.

“They had felt some oppression before I left, but when he found that I had gone, he vowed that he would kill the girls, slowly,” Al Fayez says. “At one point, he tried to get me to come back, saying that he would take away the divorce and release them, but that wasn’t true and I know that I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t trust that.”

It was then, about 2005, that she first began to fear for her daughters’ safety, she said. “That’s when I thought, now he’d do anything, even punish them till they die, which is exactly what he’s trying to do now.”

The king locked Sahar and the youngest, Jawaher, now 38, in one area of the palace, while confining Mahar, 41, and Hala, 39, to yet another closet-sized and unkempt room.

Doctors aren’t even allowed in for checkups.

“The rooms they are locked in are so hot, they wilt from the desert heat,” Al Fayez says. They suffer from dehydration, nausea and heat stroke.

Her daughter, Sahar, says the king is starving them all to death. They haven’t had a full meal in more than a month, she says, and are forced to eat canned goods that they pry open with nail files.

“We are not angels dropped from the sky as a gift to our father,” Sahar says, “but I assure you that we didn’t commit a crime or do anything to deserve this.”

Power, running water and electricity are shut on and off at random, sometimes days or even weeks at a time.

Their rooms are overrun with bugs and rodents.

“Our energy is quite low, and we’re trying our best to survive,” Sahar says. Their “gilded cage” is only gilded on the outside. “We live amid ruins. You hear ‘palace,’ but we don’t feel like we’re in a palace at all.”

An official at the Saudi embassy in London tells The Post that the women are free to move about, but because they are royalty they must be accompanied by armed security guards.

Al Fayez says that’s a lie.

“That place was once a home,” she says. “Now it’s a cage . . . The king wants them dead and he wants them to die in front of the world, yet he will deny any of this ever happened.”

All four women are routinely tortured, sometimes by their own relatives.

“They come in, the men, our own half-brothers, and they beat us with sticks,” Sahar says. “They yell at us and tell us we will die here.”


Marriage isn’t an escape
Each daughter, says their mother, once dreamt of marrying a prince. But with no chance to meet men on their own, and with their father indifferent, they remained single.

“He won’t let anyone take them in marriage, and he’s threatened to kill anyone who would ask,” Al Fayez says. “It’s about psychological warfare and breaking them down.”

Al Fayez said she feels every bit of her daughters’ pain, yet she tries to remind herself of how strong and special each of her girls are.

“Sahar is very bright and has always made us laugh. She’s the eldest, and she’s an artist and a free-thinker,” Al Fayez says.

“Maha is sensitive but has a penchant for business and politics. Hala is compassionate and brilliant; she majored in psychology and graduated at the top of her class. She loves to play the piano and compose music. Jawaher, my youngest, is very similar in character to Maha. She also loves music and hopes to earn a degree in sound engineering.”

Her daughters, she says, have much to offer. She says she taught each of her them to be strong, to stand up to their powerful father, and now that has backfired.

“My children have been living in agony,” Al Fayez says, “And this is far too great to bear. They are wasting away.”

Curiously, Abdullah has other daughters from other wives who are treated far, far better.

Princess Adila, for example, is married to a well-to-do Saudi businessman; she often speaks on behalf of her father. Abdullah appointed another daughter, Aliya, to the lead post in a Jeddah social-service program.

Princess Maryam, says Al Fayez, “is a doctor in Europe and she stays away.” The king’s youngest daughter, Sahab, 21, was given in marriage to Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in 2011.

Why are these four different?

“His hatred stems from their outspokenness,” Al Fayez says. “But from the beginning, even when he paid attention to them, he was angry that I didn’t give him sons. The fact that they are like me bothered him.”

Al Fayez says she’s had little help in trying to secure her daughters’ release. She’s hired British and American lawyers, but Abdullah has refused to be questioned.

“We know that the daughters have gone for 30 days without any food or water,” says Ali Al-Ahmed, the director of the human-rights group Institute for Gulf Affairs and a former Saudi political prisoner himself.

“They’ve been resourceful, putting away a little food here and there,” he says. “They are in survival mode.”
Sahar tells The Post that she’s constantly threatened by her father and has been told that death is the only way out.

“My father said that after his death, our brothers would continue to detain us and abuse us,” she says.

Al Fayez is frantic. Time, she says, is running out.

“My daughters want the right to see their mother, and I want to see my daughters,” Al Fayez says. “They are just trying to hold onto their sanity.

They are suffering . . . with no hope for salvation.”

Santana seeks to make quick work of Mets

When the Braves learned that they would lose right-handed starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy for the season, they moved quickly by signing another righty, Ervin Santana, to a one-year deal worth $14 million on March 12.

During his first two starts in an Atlanta uniform, Santana has shown off his own penchant for working quickly.

In fact, his 20.8-second Pitcher Pace -- the average amount of time taken between pitches -- this season is his slowest yet, according to FanGraphs. It's still quicker than the average pace of 21.5 seconds, and Santana ranks 43rd in the Majors among starters who have pitched 10 innings or more this season.

"I just like playing behind him," right fielder Jason Heyward said. "He likes to get the ball quickly. He likes to get his sign and go. He likes for hitters to put the ball in play. That's definitely fun to play behind defensively."

Santana, who took as little as 19.2 seconds between pitches in 2008, is quickly developing a reputation as a "blink and you'll miss it" kind of pitcher in Atlanta, but his most recent start got lost in the madness of an offensive explosion in the final innings.

Santana gave up one run and matched a career-high 11 strikeouts in six innings against the Phillies on Monday before he exited the game with a one-run lead. Five homers and 12 runs in the eighth and ninth innings reduced a second straight quality start to an afterthought.

"That almost seemed like two different games," manager Fredi Gonzalez said of that contest. "Santana pitches [a great] game and ties his career high in strikeouts, and the next thing you know, in the next two innings, 12 runs are scored."

No runs were scored when the Braves last faced Bartolo Colon, who will toe the rubber for the Mets on Saturday. Colon scattered six hits and struck out five in seven scoreless innings during Atlanta's home opener at Turner Field on April 8, but he stumbled in his most recent outing, giving up nine runs on 11 hits with two walks and three strikeouts in five innings in a loss to the Angels on Sunday.

The first three runs Colon surrendered came on back-to-back-to-back homers by Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and Raul Ibanez. One day later the Braves accomplished the same feat, with Evan Gattis, Dan Uggla and Andrelton Simmons stringing them together in Philadelphia.

"At that moment you're not thinking, 'Why is this happening?'" Colon said through an interpreter on April 13. "It's just part of the game."


Braves: Avilan returns to form despite losing combined no-hitter
After giving up five earned runs in that fateful game against the Phillies, left-handed reliever Luis Avilan could do no worse. And despite giving up a chance at a combined no-hitter with starter Aaron Harang, Avilan struck out two in a scoreless eighth.

Avilan has allowed a baserunner in five straight outings, but he has only let teams score against him twice in seven appearances. He posted a 1.52 ERA in 75 appearances out of the bullpen in 2013.
  • Since beginning the season in a 1-for-17 slump, with 10 strikeouts, center fielder B.J. Upton is batting .267 with eight strikeouts. He has also scored five runs and stolen three bases during the stretch.
  • Freddie Freeman hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning on Friday night, giving him five homers and 20 RBIs in his career at Citi Field. He has more home runs and RBIs on the road at the Mets' home than at any other road ballpark.

Mets: Davis traded to Pirates
New York freed up its logjam at first base by trading Ike Davis to the Pirates on Friday for right-hander Zack Thornton and a player to be named.

Davis, who batted .227 with 32 home runs and 90 RBIs in 2012, has hit just .205 with 10 homers and 38 RBIs since. His on-base percentage dipped from .351 in his rookie season to just .308 in 2013.

The Mets selected Davis in the first round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft.
  • Chris Young went 0-for-4 on Friday night in his first game back after recovering from an injured right quadriceps. The hitless outing lengthened his current slump, which dates back to last season. He is batting just .125 with one walk and 10 strikeouts since Sept. 16, 2013.

Worth noting
  • The Braves seek their first series win of the season over the Mets on Saturday. They claimed just one set from New York in 2013, taking two of three at Turner Field from Sept. 2-4.
  • Mets outfielder Curtis Granderson has by far the most experience against Santana among his teammates, batting .256 with five home runs, two doubles, nine RBIs, five walks and nine strikeouts.
  • B.J. Upton is batting .308 with a double, a triple, a home run, five RBIs, three walks and seven strikeouts against Colon.

13 bodies taken from Everest ‘death trap,’ 3 more still missing

KATMANDU, Nepal — The rescuers moved quickly, just minutes after the first block of ice tore loose from Mount Everest and started an avalanche that roared down the mountain, ripping through teams of guides hauling gear.

But they couldn’t get there quickly enough. No one can move that fast. Not even the people who have spent their lives in Everest’s shadow, and who have spent years working on the world’s highest peak.

By Saturday evening, the bodies of 13 Sherpa guides had been taken from the mountain. Three more were missing, though few held out hope that they were still alive, 36 hours after Friday’s avalanche. Four survivors had been flown to hospitals in Katmandu, Nepal’s capital, where they were in stable condition. It was the deadliest disaster ever on Mount Everest.

For the Sherpas, the once-obscure mountain people whose name has become synonymous with Everest, and whose entire culture has been changed by decades of working as guides and porters for wealthy foreigners, it was a brutal reminder of the risks they face.

Many gathered Saturday at the Boudha Monastery in Katmandu, where prayers were said for the dead.

“The mountains are a death trap,” said Norbu Tshering, a 50-year-old Sherpa and mountain guide who now lives mostly in Katmandu. With his white hair and dark, wrinkled skin, he looked far older than his age. In hands roughened by years of tough work, he worked a string of Buddhist prayer beads.

“But we have no other work, and most of our people take up this profession, which has now become a tradition for all of us,” he said.

The avalanche happened early Friday morning at about 5,800 meters (19,000 feet), as the Sherpa guides were hauling gear through the Khumbu icefall, a treacherous terrain of crevasses and enormous chunks of ice. The men were near an area known to climbers as the “popcorn field,” because if its bulging ice, when an enormous chunk broke away from a high glacier and came tumbling down the mountain, setting off an avalanche of ice, according to the website of International Mountain Guides, an Ashford, Washington-based company that had a team that witnessed the disaster.

Nepalese tourism officials said the guides had been fixing ropes — using clamps and special screws to attach miles of nylon cord used by the streams of climbers who begin heading for the summit this time of year. But guiding companies said the ropes had already been laid down, and the Sherpas were carrying loads of tents, oxygen tanks and other gear to the higher camps used by climbers as they approach the summit.

Special teams — known on Everest as the icefall doctors — had also already been through the Khumbu, fixing lines and rigging aluminum ladders over crevasses. They were quickly called back after the avalanche to start building a new path, though climbing had been halted for at least a couple of days.

International Mountain Guides said on its website that many climbers had been pleased by the icefall doctors’ work this year, since lines had been fixed in an area “that is normally not so exposed to the frequent slides.”

When the avalanche hit, dozens of climbers and guides raced from the base camp — the mini-city of nylon and prayer flags and nightly parties built every year for its hundreds of temporary residents — in search of survivors, said Prakash Adhikari of the Himalayan Rescue Association, which has a medical team at the camp.

But while the icefall is barely 500 meters (547 yards) higher than base camp, it can easily take a couple of hours to reach the popcorn field, even for the strongest climbers.

It’s unclear whether any of the dead could have been saved, even with immediate rescue. Many probably died instantly, hit by blocks of ice that can easily be larger than a car.

A day after the disaster, many Sherpa guides spoke of their work in ways that reflect the complexities of poor people working in a deeply hazardous place.

The work is dangerous — a year rarely passes without at least one death on Everest — but the Sherpas, who were once among the poorest and most isolated people of Nepal, also now have schools, cellphones and their own middle class.

All that is the result of the economy of Mount Everest, which brings tens of millions of dollars to Nepal every year.

“We have no problem with what we do. It is a job which helps feed our families, sends our children to school,” Dawa Dorje, 28, a mountain guide from Everest’s foothills, said in Katmandu, where he was picking up equipment for clients.

“We make more money than most of the people in the country. If the foreigners did not come, then we would be out of a job. They need us and we need them — it is a win-win situation,” he said.

While the average annual income in Nepal is just $700, a high-altitude Sherpa guide can make $5,000 during the three-month climbing season. Climbers, meanwhile, can easily pay nearly $100,000 for a chance to reach the summit.

And some of what happens on the mountain, Dorje noted, comes down to sheer luck.

“There have been concerns why so many Nepali Sherpas were killed in the avalanche. But they were there at the wrong time. If the avalanche had struck a few days later (when climbing teams begin working their way up Everest), then there could have been many foreign fatalities too,” he said.

However, the Sherpas are the ones who go first up the mountain. They break the deep snow, lay the fixed ropes and carry the heaviest loads. They face avalanches, altitude sickness, lack of oxygen and brutal cold.

“The risks for Sherpas on the mountain are twice that of the Western climbers,” said Nima Tenzing, a 30-year-old guide who also runs a shop for trekking gear in Katmandu.

Still, he shows no resentment.

“Death and injury on the mountain is part of our lives now. We have lost many of our people to the mountain. But we have to pull ourselves together and continue our work,” he said.