The AP's Tales Azzoni reported tennis player Rafael Nadal yesterday criticized the ATP for “not doing enough to protect players' health, saying the increase in hard-court events will lead to long-term injuries that will affect players after they retire." Nadal said, "The ATP worries too little about the players. It should care more for them." He also “complained about the tour's attempt to strictly enforce the 25-second rule between serves, saying it will not benefit the sport.” Nadal: “People like to see great rallies, long matches, and for that to happen, the 25 seconds are not enough. ... I think the players in the locker rooms are not very happy with that rule" (AP, 2/12).
SAFE FOR NOW: FOXSPORTS.com's Jon Paul Morosi reports the participation of Brewers LF Ryan Braun and Nationals P Gio Gonzalez in the World Baseball Classic is "unlikely to be affected" by MLB's ongoing PED investigation into the Biogenesis clinic of South Florida. Sources yesterday said that any discipline arising from the investigation is "unlikely to be announced soon enough to impact the WBC, which begins March 8 for Team USA" (FOXSPORTS.com, 2/13).
CHANGE NEEDED: NBC's Bob Costas appeared on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning" today and talked about the future of the NFL. He said, "It’s clear that Roger Goodell ... thinks it’s not sustainable in its present form. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be undertaking the initiatives in terms of changes in rules and the tens of millions of dollars -- if not hundreds of millions -- that the NFL is devoting towards studies at various universities and equipment changes and whatnot" ("Mike & Mike,” ESPN Radio, 2/13).
ON THE UPSWING: Red Bulls F Thierry Henry said MLS has "improved a lot" during his two-plus years in the league. There are a “lot of teams having their own stadium, the fans are turning to all the games." Henry said when he sees "how many fans are watching the games on TV, it’s kind of refreshing.” He also noted a "lot of good players are coming” into the league from overseas. Henry said if Chelsea MF Frank Lampard comes to the league, as has been speculated, it "can only be a massive plus for the league” ("Chronicle Live," Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, 2/12).
K.C. KICKOFF: In K.C., Sam McDowell notes the National Women's Soccer League will “make its debut” on April 13, with FC Kansas City hosting Portland Thorns FC “to kick off the inaugural season" of the eight-team league. Each of the NWSL’s teams will "play a 22-game schedule with 11 home games.” A four-team playoff will "begin Aug. 24, with the league championship scheduled for Aug. 31” (K.C. STAR, 2/13).