Obama, Romney weigh in on the replacement refs

833309.jpg

Obama, Romney weigh in on the replacement refs

From Comcast SportsNetWASHINGTON (AP) -- The embarrassing NFL referee saga and the disputed call that gave the Seattle Seahawks a victory over the Green Bay Packers on Monday night has reached the campaign for the White House, with President Barack Obama deeming it "terrible" and declaring it was time to get regular officiating crews back on the job."I've been saying for months we've got to get our refs back," Obama said as he returned to the White House from an appearance before the United Nations. In a tweet that went out under his initials, Obama said: "NFL fans on both sides of the aisle hope the refs' lockout is settled soon."In a rare moment of agreement with Obama, presidential rival Mitt Romney and GOP running mate Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin native, also said it was time to bring back the "real refs." The NFL locked out the officials in June after their contract expired. The league has been using replacement officials, who have come under increasing criticism over the way they handled some games."I sure would like to see some experienced referees, with NFL experience, come back on to the NFL playing fields," Romney said in an interview with CNN.Ryan added a partisan note, using the referee imbroglio to make a case for kicking the president out of office."It reminds me of President Obama and the economy," Ryan said in Cincinnati. "If you can't get it right, it's time to get out. I half think that these refs work part-time for the Obama administration in the budget office. ... They're trying to pick the winners and losers, and they don't even do that very well."Seattle won 14-12 over Green Bay after referees ruled a Seattle receiver caught the ball amid a pile of bodies in the end zone on the game's last play. The NFL conceded that a Seattle penalty in the course of the play went uncalled and cost the Packers the victory, but the league upheld the catch itself and the Seahawks' victory. Legions of football fans watched the play and the referees' call in disbelief, and buzzed about it all day Tuesday.Typically, Obama, a diehard Chicago Bears enthusiast, is not one to wish the rival Green Bay Packers well.But besides being an avid sports fan, Obama recently has redoubled efforts to win in the Packer's home state of Wisconsin. His campaign recently started airing ads in the state and Obama held a rally Saturday in Milwaukee, his first visit to the state since February.White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One that Obama watched the Monday night game and "thinks there was a real problem with that call.""He said that what happened in that game is why both sides need to come together, resolve their differences so that the regular refs can get back on the field so we can start focusing on a game that so many of us love rather than debating whether or not a game was won or lost because of a bad call," Carney said.Obama said in a phone interview Tuesday with The Des Moines Register that he doesn't blame the replacement refs."They've been put in a tough situation," the president said. "But the fact is this is a fast, tough game to control. And it doesn't make sense to me for a league that's been so successful not to want to put their very best out there."

Quick Links

Raptors dealt big blow with Kyle Lowry's wrist injury, as Toronto chases Wizards in NBA's Eastern Conference playoff picture

Raptors dealt big blow with Kyle Lowry's wrist injury, as Toronto chases Wizards in NBA's Eastern Conference playoff picture

The Wizards have returned from the All-Star break with two consecutive losses and a very difficult schedule ahead of them, beginning with the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday. But Washington doesn't have to search far to know that it could be much worse.

The Toronto Raptors, who are one seed behind the Wizards in the Eastern Conference at fourth, were handed a significant blow on Monday as All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry had surgery to remove loose bodies in his right wrist. The hope now is that he can return for the playoffs, meaning it's very possible he will miss the remainder of the Raptors' 23 regular season games.

Lowry, 30, is a key player for the 35-24 Raptors who are behind the 34-23 Wizards based on a slim margin in winning percentage. The Wizards are in third with a .593 winning percentage, while Toronto is just behind them at .593. The two teams square off twice in a back-to-back with a game in Toronto on Wednesday and a rematch in Washington on Friday.

[RELATED: NBA Power Rankings: Post trade deadline outlook]

Lowry is having his best year with career-highs of 22.8 points per game and a 46.3 field goal percentage. His loss is a major obstacle for the Raptors who will now turn to others. They have two backup point guards listed on their roster, Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet, but they have a combined one year of NBA experience.

The timing of Lowry's injury is also tough, given the NBA trade deadline just passed last Thursday. They added Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker through trades, but neither play the point guard position.

The Raptors losing Lowry doesn't guarantee anything for the Wizards or anyone else in the East, but it does weaken one of the biggest threats at the top as the season gets closer and closer to the home stretch where playoff seeding will become more important.

[RELATED: Beal on Durant: 'I didn't think he was going to come here']

Quick Links

This year's Nationals roster is stacked with glorious facial hair

This year's Nationals roster is stacked with glorious facial hair

The following is a list of things the 2017 Washington Nationals appear to have: A talented outfield led by Bryce Harper and Adam Eaton. A rising superstar at shortstop in Trea Turner. A possibly major hole at closer.

The following is a list of things the 2017 Washington Nationals appear to not have: Razors. Shaving cream. A desire to groom their faces.

A fun tradition at each team's spring training is the annual photo day, because photo day forces professional athletes to pose in front of cameras like they're being featured in the poster of an upcoming blockbuster movie. And after poring through the snapshots from the Nationals' photo day, a single trend emerged.

This year's team is a hairy bunch.

Among that bunch are the usual suspects, such as Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth:

But there are some surprises, most notably of which is Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander tends to keep his mug 100-percent clean-shaven, but for now, at least, he's allowed his face to become quite fertile:

Then there's newcomer Adam Lind, who has a goatee that Duke's Blue Devil logo would be forced to respect:

Shawn Kelley, meanwhile, who's pictured below, has a beard that looks like...

...Derek Norris' beard, before Derek Norris' beard hit puberty and grew up to be the strong, mature beard it is today:

There are scraggly ones, such as Daniel Murphy's:

And fuller, more complete ones, like Eaton's (full marks, by the way, for the trade acquisition's ability to seamlessly connect 'stache to beard):

The most wild photo of all, however, was this one of Turner. Is this the Nats stud, or a picture of Leonard DiCaprio from a scene in The Revenant? Hard to tell with all that stubble the infielder's cultivating:

One potential positive of this team-wide movement: If Turner and his teammates keep what they're growing down in Florida going throughout the season, their faces will be plenty warm by the time playoff baseball comes around. 

RELATED: HARPER GOES YARD IN FIRST AT-BAT OF THE SPRING