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Today in sports: The New York Yankees are on the verge of elimination from the playoffs, the University of Missouri prepares to make a pivotal decision, and the Superdome adds a corporate sponsor.

  • The New York Yankees are one loss away from being knocked out of the playoffs. Through three games, the team's struggles have been blamed on the weather, third baseman Alex Rodriguez's struggles at the plate, bad umpiring, and the sheer dominance of the Detroit Tigers pitching staff. In advance of tonight's game, the second-guessing is already underway about Joe Girardi's decision to stick with much-maligned, hair bleaching free agent bust A.J. Burnett (above) as his game four starting pitcher. In Girardi's defense, he doesn't have any other rested arms. Burnett for his part told reporters yesterday that he planned "just let A.J. loose out there," which may or may not have been intended as athreat. [The Newark Star-Ledger]
  • Time Warner and Cablevision are the only distributors that still haven't given in and reached a deal to carry the 8 year-old NFL Network. Since 144 cable operators now offer the network, this position makes increasingly less sense, but it's been undeniably effective at cutting off public support for the league-owned broadcasting arm, to the point that there's now talk the network may wave the white flag and sell off the broadcast rights to the eight Thursday night games it airs every year. [The New York Times]
  • The University of Missouri's board of curators is meeting today in St. Louis to discuss the possibility of the school moving out of the Big 12 conference, and their decision could be the tipping point that determines just how seismic the shifts to the NCAA landscape will end up being. The board needs to endorse an arrangement the Big 12 member schools agreed to yesterday that would divvy up revenue generated by the league's television deal equally among conference member schools. But the board can also give to give school chancellor Brady Deaton the go-ahead to start looking for a new conference, with the SEC seeming like the most likely suitor. Complicating things further is that nobody--not even the board members--appear to have any sense of how things will shake out. An announcement isn't expected until this evening. [Kansas City Star]
  • The Superdome will officially be known as the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The automaker has reached a ten-year deal with the State of Louisiana and the Saints for the naming rights to the facility, and will reportedly pay somewhere between $6 million to $10 million each year for the rights. The New Orleans Times-Picayune says the revenue from those payments will be enough to ensure that the state no longer has to pay subsidies to team owner Tom Benson, who received an average of $18.5 million annually from the state from 2001 to 2009. [The New Orleans Times-Picayune]
  • Grantland will begin quarterly volume of its best pieces for the low, low price of $19.95 starting in November. The press release for the first installment, which is being sold through the McSweeney's online store, promises the first volume set will include baseball cards, original fiction from Jess Walter, a new essay by editor Bill Simmons, and most intriguingly, "a cover that looks and feels like you're holding a football." Sadly, unlike your Instapaper account, the hard copy will not feature the site's terrific oral histories about Friday Night Lights, the 1987 middleweight championship fight between Marvin Hagler and Sugar Ray Leonard, and the short-lived sports daily The National.  [New York Observer]

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