For most Little Leaguers, memories of hits, throws and catches accompany them to adulthood. For 13-year-old Matthew Migliaccio of Manchester Township, N.J., a lawsuit against him may be his defining Little League memory.

Two years ago, Matthew, a catcher, was warming up his pitcher in the bullpen before a Manchester Little League game. Matthew, then 11, overthrew his pitcher, sailing a ball over the fenced-in bullpen area along the third base line. Elizabeth Lloyd, who was sitting at a picnic table watching her son play, was hit in the face by the ball.

Matthew did not ignore the situation.

"I ran over to see if she was all right," he said in an interview, with his father at his side, with The Asbury Park Press. "She said she was OK. I was just on with warming the pitcher up, and I was not horsing around."

Lloyd, who was taken to the emergency room, sustained multiple fractures and later underwent reconstructive surgery and suffers from headaches.

And now, she is suing Matthew for $500,000 in damages.

The 45-year-old Manchester woman filed a lawsuit April 24 in state Superior Court, Law Division against Matthew after negotiations for a settlement with insurance companies failed. The lawsuit claims the Little Leaguer intentionally struck Lloyd and left her with permanent injuries.

"He throws his best fast ball over the bullpen into the picnic area, striking my client in the face," Riaz A. Mian, Lloyd's attorney, told the Asbury Park Press. "Life is now different for my client."

(No news on how Mian will claim a catcher was trying to throw his best fastball at his pitcher.)

For Matthew, baseball is more than a hobby. The youngster, a Yankee fan, plays on three different teams, including the middle school team. His father, Bob Migliaccio, hopes this will not affect his passion for the game.

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By Peter Martin
International Business Times

Jurgen Klinsmann embarked on his first great test as head coach of the American National Soccer team this past week when the squad kicked off World Cup Qualifying against Antigua and Barbuda on Friday and Guatemala Tuesday.

It can be difficult to judge the American team based on their qualifying in CONCACAF thanks largely to the level of skill elsewhere in the conference.

Mexico and team USA are clearly the class of the conference with each team qualifying for every single World Cup dating back to 1994. But the remainder of the group is a group of countries known more for drug kingpins, off-shore accounts and drug kingpins than high level athletic competition.

This means that it is very difficult to judge Klinsmann based on his team's efforts in the CONCACAF stages. Team USA will, barring some unthinkable miracle, advance from this group to the final stage and then qualify from that group for the World Cup.

The question Klinsmann will be judged on by many people is what he does when he arrives in Brazil in 2014, but the games his team is playing now will give fans a keen insight into that next step.

The first thing many fans noticed was the complete culture changes in the way the America team plays.

Team USA has been a boring, fundamental, defensive team for decades. American teams have long had to deal with their lack of talent relative to their European and South American opponents, but that may finally be changing.

Players like Clint Dempsey, Landon Donovan, Michael Bradley, Maurice Edu, Tim Howard, and Jozy Altidore are starting to have success in club leagues at the highest levels.

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Klinsmann is trying to take advantage of that newfound, high level talent with the introduction of a new and more offensive minded system.

In both of their qualifying games so far Klinsmann has abandoned the traditional 4-4-2, or 4-5-1 in favor of a 4-3-3 look that has paid dividends.

The 4-3-3 allows Klinsmann to push talented wings like Edu, Bradley or Jose Torres forward to join Donovan, Altidore and Altidore at the top of the formation. The design relies on quick passing through the midfield to create opportunity, something that team USA has never done.

The question is can the American players actually carry off that style of play?

Through two games of qualifying, and nine other games under Klinsmann, the answer seems to be sometimes.

Against Antigua, the American's had some wonderful chances and dominant ball possession through the first half thanks to beautiful one-touch passing. The play that led to the second goal, when Donovan left a beautiful ball in front of Donovan was unlike anything anyone has ever seen from an American team.

Team USA's third goal against Antigua also came off pretty passing and a great run.

The problem has been when the style breaks down the whole thing falls apart. They have been very vulnerable to counter-attacking moves that have forced some impressive saves from Howard, as well as led to the only goal scored against them in qualifying so far.

The team is now finished with their qualifying work until September when they face Jamaica on September 7 and 11 in a home-and-home series. With a pair of wins, the Americans could lock up a spot in the next round.

Klinsmann will also get his second chance at Mexico when the Americans travel to Estadio Azteca in August. The jury is still out on Klinsmann and his style, but the picture becomes clearer every time the American's take the field.

-- To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, email Peter Martin

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By Vineeth Purushothaman
International Business Times

The 2011-12 season was arguably the most successful season ever for Chelsea. After spending around $2.8 billion, bringing in 66 world-class players and sacking eight managers as Chelsea's owner, Roman Abramovich finally got a taste of the first Champions League Cup (read the Holy Grail) since he took over the London club in 2003. Many pundits thought of the victory at Allianz Arena as the end of Roman era.

Controversy theories were flowing across the globe about the disinterested Russian oil tycoon pulling the plug as the prize that the oligarch coveted the most was already in the bag. To the surprise of many, Abramovich decided to splash the cash again and revamp the current squad, starting with the purchase of one of the most highly sought after attacking mid fielders in Eden Hazard.

For almost eight years, Peter Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba formed the back bone of the Blues. They took the fans through mesmerizing clashes and almost landed the Champions League trophy in 2008, if it were not for a fatal penalty miss by Terry. However, now all these players are on the wrong end of age and recently Drogba announced his departure.

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The 2012 season was a mixed one for Chelsea with the appointment of a new manager in Andre Vias Boas, strained relationships between managers and core players, the sacking of Boas and the reinstatement of Roberto Di Matteo as manager. However, all was forgotten after their amazing turnaround.

Even though Chelsea finished sixth in the Premier League, winning the Champions League pushed them back into the 2013 mix (courtesy of an UEFA rule). The time was ripe for Abramovich to press the reset button. And that's exactly what the club has been doing for the past few months.

Even though Chelsea is still waiting to announce its new manager for next season (Di Matteo's contract expires in June 2012), the club has already made some significant signings with Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois, Marko Marin and recently, Eden Hazard. There are very strong rumors of Hulk joining the ranks as well which could make the attacking force of Chelsea a serious threat (imagine the trio of Hazard, Juan Mata and Hulk feeding Fernando Torres) in Europe.

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Most of these new recruits are under 23 with their primes ahead of them. Rather than rely on a flurry of transfer players, Chelsea took a different approach of sticking more to youth and value. By doing so, Chelsea can develop these youngsters by loaning them out to other EPL clubs or giving them playing time for FA and Carling cup matches. Eventually they can also take over the seniors over a period time.

At the same time, Chelsea is also bringing in players who can add value to the team immediately. The Blues have also released players such as Kalou, Bosingwa while Malouda is almost on his way out. Frank Lampard looks to be destined to be playing more of the double pivot role alongside Mikel while Essien is struggling to force his way back to the starting 11. Utility players in Ramires, Miereles & Romeu will add to the versatility of the European Champions. In short, one will see a new look Chelsea capable of challenging in all competitions for the 12-13 season.

While Chelsea is rebuilding its core group, others are also not far away. Manchester United recently signed Shinji Kagawa from the German champions, Borussia Dortmund,and 18-year old Chilean striker Angelo Henriquez. Both the Manchester clubs are also linked with a host of prominent players like Luka Modric of Tottehnham, Javi Martinez of Atheltico Bilbao and Edison Cavani of Napoli, to name a few.

For soccer fans across the globe, the growing competition among the big four (add Tottenham and Brendan Rodgers' Liverpool as dark horses to make it six-way fight)is sure to produce another season of heart stopping dramas & classic matches. At the end of the day, despite the looming Financial Fair Play rules and accusations of inflated player fees, football and fans stand victorious. All Chelsea fans and detractors can do is sit back and enjoy the spectacle.

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A marginal former NFL player announced last week that he was gay, sparking new interest in the status of homosexuality in sports. Player reaction to the news was largely positive, which represents a sea shift in player attitudes. Athletes at every level seem ready to support their teammates with a different sexual orientation. It wasn't always like this.

For most of the forty years I've represented professional athletes, homosexuality has been a frightening taboo. This is the reason that virtually no team sport athletes have ever "come out" during their careers. At one point in the 90's when I was asked whether I would encourage a gay client to announce his sexual preference publicly, my response was "not on your life."

I made the comment before Perestroika that someone could more easily announce they were a Communist than homosexual. I was protective of my clients and feared the harshness and prejudice of the locker room and the public. Frankly, no client ever admitted to me that they were gay.

I've always felt that there were less gays in professional sports than their percentage of the general population -- with good reason. When boys reach adolescence, they start to define themselves by what it means to be a man. In the past that meant being heterosexual. Teenage boys have traditionally scorned gays. The locker rooms have been filled with cruel remarks towards gays and crude imitations of lisping, effeminate behavior.

It had to be extremely uncomfortable for teens who were gay in that environment. Those gay teens chose to avoid the team sport dynamic in many cases. And those who chose to play those sports hid their sexual orientation well. Athletes in sports like ice skating and diving felt freer to live without prejudice.

The times they are a-changin'. Every poll shows that there is a distinct age diferential in attitudes towards gays. Younger people are dramatically more accepting of alternative lifestyles. This is a civil rights issue that is being raised some fifty years after the movement that freed blacks and other minority groups from official discrimination. Years have passed since certain NBA players threatened to boycott if they were forced to play against HIV sufferer Magic Johnson. His dramatic announcement shattered stereotypes in respect to AIDS.

Team sport athletes seem much less judgmental than in years past. There are large numbers of born-again Christians who may have religious reservations, but they may be able to separate that from respect for a teammate. The NFL operates in many ways like an army without the risk of mortality. They train together, bleed together and watch each other's backs. The real test of acceptance of a teammate is reliability and courage under pressure, that is what earns respect in team sports. If a player gives the team a better chance to win, respect is earned notwithstanding private orientation.

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The military has now abolished "don't ask, don't tell," and if soldiers in the same age group as athletes can accept diversity, so will athletes. The courage necessary for protecting our country is a higher standard than athletic performance.

Why is it important for gay athletes to be public about their sexual orientation? First, many athletes choose to keep their private lives private and no one is forcing this kind of revelation. Those of us who are straight give little thought to our orientation. Dating, marriage and other institutions reinforce heterosexual behavior. But to a gay teen who suffers depression and scorn from peers, public disclosure by an athlete gives them a role model and hope.

It would have been unthinkable for a President of the United States to endorse gay marriage until recently. That issue is much more divisive than an athlete admitting he is gay. The fear of the consequences of revealing different sexual orientation is now ready to fall. When the first professional athletes "come out" there will be major focus and publicity. In a few years it will be a non-event. I love sports because it teaches values like self-respect, self-discipline, teamwork and resilience. Adding tolerance to that list only enhances the character building opportunities for athletes.

-- Leigh Steinberg has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing and golf, including the first overall pick in the NFL draft an unprecedented eight times, among more than 60 first-round selections. His clients have included Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, and he served as the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire." Follow him on Twitter @SteinbergSports.

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The Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League are performing at a transcendent level in the playoffs. Despite being the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference, the Kings are on the way to win the championship of the sport. They have talented young players who are exciting. Their players are fan and media friendly and seem the nicest personalities (off the ice) of any team sport. They are up 3-1 in the Stanley Cup series with New Jersey and playing spectacularly. Why aren't they riveting SoCal fans and winning the heart of the region? What's different about hockey?

When the Dodgers were in their first World Series in 1959 there was Dodger-mania. The games were played in the afternoon then and they wheeled televisions into our elementary school classrooms so we could watch. When the Lakers were in their championship years, car after car had Lakers flags flying and downtown shut down for a parade. When USC football is successful, Southern California is festooned with banners and memorabilia.

When the Anaheim Ducks won the title several years ago my friend Warren Moon called me from Seattle and said, "It must be wild and rocking down there." I responded that I had just driven down Pacific Coast Highway and it was sleepy and calm.

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NASCAR fans are car fans, and the racing league and manufacturers like Toyota Motors Corporation (NYSE: TM) that compete in the Sprint Cup Series are betting that some design tweaks can energize that fandom as well as dealership sales.

NASCAR and the car companies are in the process of a redesign to make the racecars look a whole lot more like production cars that fans can buy off the lot. The redesign is geared partly to improve brand visibility for carmakers, partly to improve fan engagement in the sport. NASCAR and the manufacturers hope to create fans of brands instead of just fans of particular drivers.

"The 2013 Camry will very definitely come closer to resembling the production car," Les Unger, national motorsports manager for Toyota said. "From a visual perspective, it makes it more fun to watch" races where the cars look like production cars, he said.

The 2013 Toyota Camry racecar is just the latest car to be revealed with the redesign. All four manufacturers (Toyota, Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F), General Motors Company's (NYSE: GM) Chevrolet brand, and Chrysler Group LLC's Dodge brand), that compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup were involved in the redesign effort. Ford, Dodge and Toyota have already revealed their redesigns, and Chevrolet's will be debuted later this season. The redesign was an all-or-nothing affair: All the manufacturers had to get behind it or or it wouldn't happen for any of them. Toyota, Ford, GM and Chrysler all decided that the engineering expense of redesigning the cars was worth it.

"I think it's unprecedented that the manufacturers would go this deep into developing a racecar," said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition for NASCAR. While the confluence of interest between the car companies and NASCAR is opportune, the burden on the manufacturers is fairly slight. Toyota, for its part, tasked its U.S. design studio to adapt the sale version of the 2013 Camry to the racetrack.

"The redesign is not what you would refer to as 'dramatic'," Unger said, because it is largely cosmetic.

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All of the cars in the NASCAR Spring Cup Series must meet the same safety standards, and the strength of one car over another largely rests with the teams and proprietary adjustments they make to vehicle suspension and other tuning changes. "If you're a racecar driver, you probably don't care what the car looks like on the outside so long as it wins the race," Pemberton said.

The redesign of the cars was fundamentally driven by the twin desires of enhancing fan involvement in the sport and selling more cars during the week, big motivators for both NASCAR and the car companies. The goal was to redo the cup cars with "a production theme, a production car look," according to Pemberton, to energize fans and re-engage manufacturers in the sport.

NASCAR's design tweaks were carried out to bolster the motorsport's "Win on Sunday. Sell on Monday." mentality. The thinking goes that the more the racecars look like production cars, the more likely racing fans are to buy them next time they are considering a new car.

Fans "want to drive a car that looks an awful lot like what they watch race," Pemberton said, adding that it was "good for dealership networks to show a car the manufacturer is racing on the weekend."

To make the racecars look more like production cars, the manufacturers' design studios have focused on bringing their shape and dimensions of the front ends, side character lines and rear bumper corners more in line with those on the production models, according to Unger. The redesign process began in December 2010, and NASCAR is expected to give its final approval in June or July.

While there is not a direct linkage between how the racecars look and sales, the fact that NASCAR fans buy cars based on their allegiances is fairly well established. NASCAR has a fan base of roughly 75 million.

"Thirty-five percent of new car intenders [i.e. consumers planning to buy new cars] are motorsports fans, and 78 percent of motorsports fans follow NASCAR," said Tim Duerr, Ford Racing's motorsports marketing manager. "Nearly 70 percent of Ford Racing fans will consider one of our products."

And that was before the redesign. NASCAR and the manufacturers are hoping the racecar redesign will help foster a greater sense of competition between the brands and not just the racing teams. Currently, most fans are fans of a specific team instead of a brand of car, but that has not always been the case. NASCAR was dominated by brand-based fans in the late 1980s and early 1990s, according to Pemberton, when rivalries among Ford, Chevy and Pontiac ran deep. The manufacturers and NASCAR are hoping that the redesign will once again play a role in creating brand-specific fans, and that this will make the racing more exciting.

"I think the [value of the redesign] is based on the fact that I think the fans wanted to get back in and engage with the automobiles that we race," Pemberton said. One way to do that is to make the racecars look more like the production cars on dealer lots, or so the thinking goes. But it remains to be seen whether the redesigned racecars will make production cars winners on the car lots.

"At the end of the day, basically our involvement in NASCAR is increasing the awareness that Toyota is part of the biggest motorsport in the country," Unger said. "From a branding perspective, it is always beneficial to have a car competing, particularly in stock car racing."

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