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Today in sports: A bizarre communication mistake gives the Texas Rangers a 3-2 World Series lead, West Virginia is set to join the Big 12, and Theo Epstein can't stop saying goodbye to Boston.

  • West Virginia is poised to defect from the Big East conference and join the Big 12. A source tells New York Times college sports reporter Pete Thamel that the school already "applied and are accepted," while Chuck Carlton of The Dallas Morning News is reporting the conference isn't going to officially extend a bid until "Missouri's inevitable departure to the Southeastern Conference becomes official after a timetable (2012 or '13) and exit fees are negotiated." (According to the Kansas City Star, Missouri chancellor Brady Deaton told reporters earlier today that that announcement could be coming in "days or possibly a week or two.") Assuming the West Virginia move goes through, the Big East will have just five football schools: Connecticut, Cincinnati, Rutgers, Louisville, and South Florida. Thamel anticipates the conference will respond by continuing its push to add "Air Force, Navy and Boise State in football and Houston, Southern Methodist and Central Florida in all sports," plus Temple as a replacement for West Virginia. [The New York Post]
  • St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa blamed bad dugout-to-bullpen phone service and a loud Texas Rangers home crowd for the confusion that resulted in Cardinals closer Jason Motte not being available to face Rangers catcher Mike Napoli the bases loaded and the score tied in the bottom of the eighth inning. La Russa claimed he called bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist twice during the inning and told him to get Motte loosened up. Lilliquist apparently misheard him twice and failed to get Motte warmed up, forcing the Cardinals had to stick with left-handed specialist Marc Rzepczynski against Napoli, who delivered a tie-breaking two-run double. If that sounds unfathomable and spectacularly silly, it was. Writes Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci: "It was like being stuck in a gigantic corn maze. Blindfolded. At midnight. After getting spun around 38 times. Every explanation led to another turn that led to another dead end or false exit." New York magazine's Will Leitch (a Cardinals fan) says the worst part of last night's debacle was seeing La Russa -- one of baseball's most hands-on managers, for better or worse -- lose the plot entirely. Writes Leitch:

"I've always liked having the guy as Cardinals manager, because I always knew he was on top of things, that even when he made a mistake, it was because he was on top of it, because he was too involved with the game to step back and stay out of the way. But that's not what happened last night. Last night Tony just lost track of what was happening. Last night, Tony just couldn't handle it."



  • Former Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein was introduced as director of baseball operations for the Chicago Cubs at a press conference this afternoon. Before he left, he took the time to write Red Sox nation a very nice breakup letter in the opinion section of the Boston Globe. He said all the right things about how how he was leaving for the right reasons, not because of "power, pressure, money, or relationships," all of which reportedly did play a factor in his decision to exit. If Red Sox fans still hold a grudge, at least Epstein did his part: he also took out a full-page thank you ad in the Globe on Sunday. [The Boston Globe]
  • In documents filed with a Delaware bankruptcy court, Major League Baseball accused Los Angeles Dodgers owner Frank McCourt of "looting" $189.16 million from the team. That's the first time the league has attached a specific dollar amount to the funds it accused McCourt of "siphoning" from the club. According to the documents, $61.73 million was used to service personal debts, while $55 million went to "personal distributions." Next week's ruling by the bankruptcy court on whether McCourt can auction the team's TV rights is expected to essentially decide whether MLB can seize control of the team. [The Los Angeles Times]

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