Thursday, March 31, 2005

What was the real problem, part 2

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Rangers pitching staff’s performance , as we tried to establish “what was the real problem in 2004”. The reason was that various media types were giving various reasons about what was the ultimate downfall of the Rangers. It was my opinion that it was too simplistic to say it was all the pitching staff’s fault (see part 1), or that it was the bat’s fault. The fact is, there is a bit of truth to both theories.

But, let us investigate the performance of the Rangers’ bats in 2004, because they were not without fault. First, check the American Ranks for the Rangers’ bats for the last 7 years. As you can pretty plainly see, this is no longer a team that destroys pitching like it could a few years back. A team that once finished in the top 3 or 4 in the American League, now finishes in the bottom 3rd of the AL in both batting average and on-base percentage.

Year Avg/OBP/Slug AL Ranks
1998 1st/2nd/3rd
1999 1st/3rd/1st
2000 4th/6th/7th
2001 3rd/4th/1st
2002 6th/6th/1st
2003 9th/8th/3rd
2004 10th/11th/3rd

The Rangers finished ahead of 3 teams in the American League in 2004 in OBP. Only Kansas City, Tampa Bay, and Toronto had more trouble getting on base than the Rangers. This is particularly alarming because the Rangers bats are offered this huge ballpark advantage that serves as a huge disadvantage to the pitching staff. 81 games a year are played in the most offensive ballpark aside from Coors Field in Denver.

In fact, in the 81 games played away from the Ballpark in Arlington, the Rangers finished dead last in Average (.246), last in OBP (.309), and Hits (699). Somehow, their power was still present on the road as they hit the 5th most road home runs, and finished 8th in slugging on the road. But, they struggled on the road because they never could get runners on the base paths.

On the road, they scored 4.55 runs per game, while at home, they scored 6.06 runs per game.

In fact, take a look at some of the splits for the big bats the Rangers employ:

Hank Blalock:
Home: 16 HR, 63 RBI, .311 avg, .386 OBP
Away: 16 HR, 47 RBI, .239 avg, .323 OBP

Mike Young
Home: 9 HR, 57 RBI, .346 avg, .386 OBP
Away: 13 HR, 42 RBI, .280 avg, .320 OBP

Kevin Mench
Home: 14 HR, 33 RBI, .299 avg, .365 OBP
Away: 12 HR, 38 RBI, .256 avg, .299 OBP

Alfonso Soriano
Home: 12 HR, 47 RBI, .317 avg, .360 OBP
Away: 16 HR, 44 RBI, .244 avg, .291 OBP

Mark Teixeira
Home: 18 HR, 64 RBI, .298 avg, .397 OBP
Away: 20 HR, 48 RBI, .264 avg, .343 OBP

As you can see, the HR numbers show almost no difference home vs. road. But the average and the OBP have substantial differences when the Rangers are on the road. The Home Runs and extra base hits do not drive in runs because no one is on base.

So which is the Real Rangers line-up? How can they score with the best at home, and score with the worst on the road? In the past, the Rangers bashed the ball very well on the road. But, in the last 2 years, it has dried up. Is it possible that the young hitters have not learned to show the patience that the old cast with Pudge, Juan, and Raffy did?

One other thought, given the lack-luster performance of the Rangers’ bats, why exactly was there such panic when Rudy Jaramillo was flirting around with other teams? The Rangers lack of patience at the plate, and the reluctance to work counts and draw walks generally reflects on a hitting coach. Except here. I am sure Rudy is great at what he does, but I have always wondered why no one ever questions his ability to preach the plate discipline to his troops.

I might suggest one place to start is to find someone to leadoff that is not allergic to walks. Soriano’s OBP of .291 on the road hardly qualifies him to be in the line-up at all, let alone to lead-off.

Anyway, as I said, to blame the pitching staff is to give the hitters a free pass (which they obviously don’t like given their lack of walks). Conversely, the hitters should not receive blame when you consider that the starting staff pitched fewer innings than anyone. Bottom line again, both departments needed reinforcements this winter, and neither really received them.


Dirk Dominates in Boston

As we wrote the other day, Marquis Daniels appears to be the odd man out

The odd man out as the rotation evolves could be Marquis Daniels. With Josh Howard, Michael Finley and Jerry Stackhouse the first three options at small forward and shooting guard, Daniels' opportunities could be limited, although coach Avery Johnson said Daniels will play.

"But I don't have 40 minutes for four guys," he said. "It's a great problem. Where you got a problem is when you're down in my hometown."

That would be New Orleans, which is talent shy. The Mavericks have plenty of players, just not enough minutes.

Galloway on the pitching situation …As the Rangers break camp…

Big feature on Big Tex

Rangers trade for Matt Riley, in what seems to be a worthy idea. Although his track record and his price suggest we should not hold our breath on his future… The Baltimore Sun summary of Matt Riley’s stay in their city

Riley was disciplined by the club in 2000 after a spring training arrest for disorderly conduct outside a Fort Lauderdale nightclub. He also stirred up controversy in spring training 2003 for removing a bottle of Xenadrine, an ephedra-based drug, from Steve Bechler's locker and throwing it in the trash after the pitcher collapsed during a workout and later died of heatstroke.

The Timing is interesting on this story, given what I wrote above about Jaramillo: DeRosa cracks on Rudy ...

Utility infield candidate Mark DeRosa , who has an out in his contract that expires tonight, had not heard yet on his roster status even though he is expected to make the team. DeRosa, who snapped an 0-for-18 slump with two hits Tuesday, said he is satisfied with the health of his right knee after playing in three straight games before Wednesday.

DeRosa also said the swing adjustments he has made with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo are more to blame for his hitting woes.

I cannot imagine that is a good idea for DeRosa. Sometimes you need to edit yourself for the sake of your job.

Solid story on Hank the Tank ...

USA 2, Guatemala 0 …And Eddie Johnson scores a beauty…

Although he may have a future in Europe, Johnson still plays in Dallas. And Donovan is leaving Bayer Leverkusen, for which he has faltered twice, to come home to M.L.S., presumably to Los Angeles.

Many of the United States players have some soccer in their family history, but Johnson, from rural Florida, came to understand the world's favorite game while traveling overseas for a junior tournament, at 16.

Johnson showed his quick mind and quick feet on Sunday in the forbidding conditions of Azteca. With the United States down by two goals, Donovan served Johnson a long ball on the right side.

In this situation, most players - even the wise old ones - panic and unload a screamer, just to show their moxie. Instead, Johnson flicked the softest little pass to the left, to Donovan, who distributed the ball leftward to the left-footed Eddie Lewis, who banged it home.

Johnson finished Sunday's game looking like a man who had been on the grill 15 minutes too long.

"It took a lot out of me," he said Tuesday in the generous air of Alabama. "That was a great test for me. It showed me where I need to be. You take the bad out of a game like that as well as the good."

Baseball Prospectus on Matt Riley

Amazing Race episode recap …And despite some level of sorry-ness, I still cheer for Rob and Amber…

Carlos Ruiz joins FC Dallas

D Magazine features Chris Young

Mort features super freak Matt Jones on Bud Grant

Aggies Rap

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Bledsoe links from today's episode

Bledsoe cracks the media ...

Bill Burt cracks back at him ..

Bledsoe is the most overrated quarterback ever.

Yes, ever.

Bledsoe is correct; he is among the fastest quarterbacks in NFL history to reach 40,000 yards (he has 39,808), but that's never been the issue. Transforming those yards into touchdowns and wins is.

In fact, rather than comparing himself to Marino and Favre as a passing sensation, I've got two names that he appears more in line with: Jon Kitna and Trent Dilfer.

That's right. When it comes to converting yards into touchdowns, Bledsoe ranks among the worst of all-time. Yes, all-time!

Despite his gaudy yardage numbers, Bledsoe has struggled mightily throughout his career.

Among quarterbacks that have thrown for 10,000 or more yards (which means they were starters for at least three full seasons), Bledsoe ranks about 120th all-time, behind Jeff George, Trent Dilfer and Jay Schroeder, averaging 180.1 yards per touchdown.

Bledsoe ripped on ...

The Look of Confidence

Things are getting interesting for the Rangers as they attempt to nail down the final spots on their opening day roster before starting the season next Tuesday night in Anaheim. The latest news from the final week in the Cactus league begins with Chan Ho Park getting shelled .

And just when they thought it was safe to embrace Chan Ho Park, he showed an old side of himself. It's the side that regularly left the Rangers queasy.

Park allowed six runs in five innings in a 13-12, 10-inning loss to San Diego on Tuesday. The scary part for the Rangers was the first inning, in which he walked the first two batters, hit another and allowed four runs. It was vintage Park.

Hardly a shock, but his spot in the rotation is cemented somehow. Like many spots on this roster, it appears more out of default than merit. Nevertheless, Park will throw the first game in Seattle, which is game 4 of the season.
Meanwhile, the attempt of the Rangers to enjoy a cheap off-season of risky signings appears to be failing. Pedro Astacio has pitched in one game the whole spring, and will likely begin the season on the Disabled List. This is hardly a surprise if you realize that Astacio has spent most of the last few years injured.

Meanwhile, Greg Colbrunn is hurt, too . Again, this is only a surprise if you didn’t realize Colbrunn has been injured for most of 2003 and 2004. A wise man, Ralph Strangis, once told me, “The bad thing about injury-prone players, is that they tend to get injured a lot”. It sounds painfully obvious, right? Then how come the Rangers thought they could fill out their DH spot and a key spot in their rotation with two guys who only received contract offers from 1 team each because of injuries?

This is why the phrase, “you get what you pay for” was once coined. I’d like to predict big things for 2005, even though I predicted 100 losses last year, but I just feel like they have way too many question marks that have no answers on this roster. I would love to be wrong.


Gruden on Chris Simms

As reported in The Tampa Tribune, Gruden said the young quarterback, entering his third year in the league, needed to ``tune out'' the hype surrounding him and concentrate on hitting open receivers.

``I did hear about his comments,'' Simms said. ``Some people I know called me up and asked if I had read the newspaper to see what coach had said. As far as the comments go, he's my head coach. He's been doing this a long time and knows what is best for the team. There was some truth to what he said.''

Last season, Simms played in five games, with two starts and completed 42 of 73 passes for 467 yards, while throwing one touchdown and three interceptions. He was sacked 10 times, including four times in the season finale against Arizona.
Gruden singled out that game in his critique of Simms, saying he ``did not play well against Arizona, partly because they are a handful on defense.'' The coach also brought up Simms' status as their 2003 third-round draft selection.

``We're the only team that drafted Simms, OK?'' Gruden said. ``He was the last pick of the third round, so get your head out of your rear end. We're the only team that drafted him. Everybody else in the league had opportunities, not once, not twice, but three times.''

Gruden went on to add that Simms has ``got to keep coming on ... try not to listen to the elevator music and these chat sessions.''

That's one item Simms wished to dispute. He said he doesn't sit in front of a computer screen reading glowing reviews from fans.

``I'm not a computer guy, you can ask my wife,'' Simms said. ``I wouldn't know how to get into a chat room.''

For now, Simms is focused on the team's offseason conditioning program and is excited about Tampa Bay's 12 draft picks next month and the possibilities they provide. He will take a break from football in May when he and wife Danielle, whom he married just before training camp last year, take a belated honeymoon trip to Italy.

As for Gruden's comments, Simms has filed them away and plans to use them as motivation.

``I'm sure he's sick of answering questions about me,'' he said. ``I'm going to try to take what he said as a way of motivating me. Anytime anyone questions my ability or my desire to play, my competitive nature takes over and drives me to get even better.''

A fair amount of Gabe Kapler ink in the last few days. First, a flattering walk down memory lane in Red Sox camp

Many days last season, Millar, Varitek, Doug Mirabelli, and Gabe Kapler could be spotted hitting together in the cages under the center-field bleachers at Fenway Park. This summer, Kapler will be in Japan, making $2.7 million with the fabled Yomiuri Giants.

"They just threw so much at him that he couldn't pass it up," Mirabelli said. "He's at an age [29], he needed to do it now or he wasn't going to do it. He e-mails us a lot.

"Right now, this whole team -- no disrespect to other players on this team -- but just from a friend standpoint, everybody misses Kapler. I hear it almost daily: `Hey, I wish Kapler was here.' Everybody on this team loved Kapler. It's hard to look forward, but I just hope when he comes back from Japan he comes back here. Everybody says that."

Kapler made $750,000 last season, hitting .272 with 6 home runs and 33 RBIs in 290 at-bats. He played all three outfield positions as well as DH. His replacement is Jay Payton, who is making $3.5 million. Payton has a team option for 2006 at $4 million, though the Sox could buy him out for $500,000.

Meanwhile, not to be outdone, The Yomiuiri News with a story on Kapler

DMN on Deron Williams’ roots

Mavs prepare for Antoine Walker

So you have always wanted a Greg Biffle license plate, right?

The latest on Landon Donovan

By the way, here is the latest on Ruiz to Dallas, Donovan to Los Angeles (read Saturday’s blog if you don’t know what I am talking about, and yet care enough to find out). Carlos Ruiz is holding this deal up to get more money. I don’t blame him. The league needs Ruiz to be a good soldier and move to Dallas so that the “cash cow” Landon Donovan can return to MLS. Ruiz is perhaps the top player in this league, and yet has never received any level of compensation close to Landon or Freddie Edu. Well, finally, Ruiz has some leverage, and plans on using it. Without him moving to Dallas, Donovan cannot play in the MLS (where he wants), so Ruiz is going to milk this for a while and even threaten to not report to Dallas. FC Dallas is wise to not make the deal until they are sure Ruiz is pleased. This may take a bit to sort out, but I still understand that this is still going to happen…

Wilbon on a great day 24 years ago in the tournament

Despite the Browns finishing 32nd in stopping the run, The Broncos have acquired 3 of the 4 Browns D-Linemen now that they have traded for Ekuban

60 Minutes to bust the Panthers tonight

Adam blogs about Adrian Gonzalez

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Defense in Detroit

That was a monster win for this team that once again demonstrated the intestinal fortitude of the 2005 Mavericks. The third quarter was not a pleasant one for the Mavs as Detroit turned up their physical play and dunked on the Mavs repeatedly. The Wallace brothers (who are brothers, but not brothers) dominated the meek Mavs front line. But, to our delight, the Mavs turned it around with big shots (Devin Harris nailing a 3 at the 3rd quarter buzzer) and big defense. The way they closed the deal in the 4th quarter on the home court of the world champion gives you reason to believe in these guys once again. Very nicely done, boys.

Since the coaching adjustment, some have really taken huge strides forward. For example, Keith Van Horn, who most of us thought would not get off the bench once Nelson left, has seen his production soar:

11 games under Nelson = 24.8 minutes, 10.3 ppg, 5.1 rebounds
6 games under Johnson = 24 minutes, 17.1 ppg, 4.1 rebounds

Look at the numbers of Devin Harris, the rookie point guard, under each coach:

Nelson: 15.3 minutes per game, 6.0 ppg, 2.2 apg, 43% FG
Johnson: 19.1 minutes per game, 11.0 ppg, 3.0 apg, 59% FG

Meanwhile, Marquis Daniels has taken an odd step backwards. In his last 5 games, he is still playing decent minutes (20.6 min per game), but his numbers have greatly declined. For the season, he has averaged 10.4 ppg and 4.1 rpg while shooting 43.6%. However, in his last 5 games, his numbers have dropped to 3.8 ppg and 1.8 rpg while shooting 29% from the field. He had 0 points, 0 rebounds, and 0 assists in 15 minutes last night, and with Stackhouse about to return you have to wonder where Daniels is going to play if his productivity continues to disappear.


DMN on the Mavs win

Detroit News not impressed with Pistons effort

It was the third bad loss in four games for the Pistons, the second in the last three at home, which drew boos from the sellout Palace crowd.

"You can't spot that team (17 points) unless you are going to play perfect basketball the rest of the way," acting head coach Gar Heard said.

They weren't perfect, but they were pretty good from the 1:57 mark of the second quarter to the three-minute mark of the third. They outscored the Mavericks 32-16.

They were within two with 3.6 seconds left in the quarter when Devin Harris took the inbounds pass, sped right past Carlos Arroyo and drained a 26-footer as time expired.

Rangers ponder the future of Kinsler

What am I going to do with this kid?" manager Buck Showalter asked after watching Ian Kinsler slash a double into the right-field corner during a hit-and-run drill Sunday. It is becoming an increasingly difficult question to answer.

Obviously, the Rangers prefer to send Kinsler to Triple A -- a level he has yet to play -- for a little more seasoning. But Kinsler's ability to seemingly do everything right and veteran infielder Mark DeRosa's slow spring have Showalter and the Rangers considering all options, including keeping Kinsler to start the season.
Kinsler went into Monday's Cactus League game against San Francisco hitting .349 with eight doubles, a homer and seven RBI in 43 at-bats. DeRosa was hitting .206 with two doubles and an RBI in 34 at-bats.

Kinsler does make the Rangers a better team, but bet on DeRosa. The Rangers realize that with third baseman Hank Blalock, shortstop Michael Young and second baseman Alfonso Soriano all expected to play 150-plus games, there would be little chance for Kinsler to get at-bats.

Chris Young grabs #3 in the rotation

Atkins cracks Kobe …Then backs off and blames the media…

First-year Lakers guard Chucky Atkins was asked before Sunday night's game against the Philadelphia 76ers what offseason moves he'd make to improve the team.

"I ain't no GM. Ask Kobe. He's the GM. It's his team," Atkins said.

The 30-year-old Atkins seemed to backtrack almost immediately. Following the Lakers' 96-89 loss to the 76ers, he acknowledged that while confidence and morale were down, team members were "too professional to point fingers."

Following Monday's practice, Atkins acknowledged it was "very possible" that what he meant to say wasn't what came out, although he insisted the reporter questioning him had been trying to get him to say something negative about Bryant for weeks.

"I don't think you should try to divide my team," Atkins said. "We're not going to splinter. Kobe's my man. Me and Kobe have developed a relationship where anything I have to say to him, I can say to his face. I'm in a no-win situation."

Los Angeles has dropped eight straight, the second-longest losing streak since moving from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1960.

FC Dallas gain Vanney and and lose Corey Gibbs on the back line for ’05

Fun with vasectomies

A good column questioning Landon Donovan’s spine

Rivera and Johnson reach deal over jersey number

Cowboys center Al Johnson has agreed to let veteran right guard Marco Rivera have No. 62 for an undisclosed amount.

"Let's just say it wasn't free," said Johnson, who will now wear No. 55.
Regarding his new number, Johnson said, "I just thought it looked cool."
Johnson wore No. 72 at Wisconsin.

Also, defensive tackle Jason Ferguson will wear No. 66, and cornerback Anthony Henry will be No. 42.

Monday, March 28, 2005

On to the Final Four

There was very high drama in the NCAA Tournament this weekend. If you had Michigan State and Louisville in your brackets arriving in St Louis next weekend, you are clearly smarter than I am. If you had Illinois and North Carolina meeting in the finals, your brackets are identical to mine. But, how they all arrived in the Final Four was pretty special.

Michigan State survived two overtimes and that controversial three-point call at the end of regulation to beat Kentucky, after closing out Duke on Friday. Clearly the least likely team to win its region, they certainly help the Big 10 puff out its chest as the conferences compare accomplishments this spring.

Louisville had a furious comeback to beat West Virginia on Saturday. If you watched that game, you had to believe that the Cardinals were in big trouble when West Virginia couldn’t miss in the first half. Again, overtime was required and Louisville earned their trip.

North Carolina had the easiest regional final in their win over pesky Wisconsin. I swear North Carolina looks like a team right out of the NBA. Just athlete after athlete come off that bench and grind down the opponents will. But make no mistake; the key to that thing is big Sean May. He is a force in the paint that will surely take those great hands to the next level.

But there can be no question that the moment of the tournament happened at the Rosemont Horizon Saturday evening. Arizona was on the verge of pulling a pretty stunning upset of Top-seeded Illinois. They hit two free throws with 4:00 left to take a 75-60 lead. Surely, a 15-point lead with less than 4 minutes to play is somewhere between impossible and unthinkable. But they did it. The fighting Illini came all the way back to force overtime and ultimately win. I was not sure what I thought of Illinois before this game, but now I am a huge admirer.

Put that one shining moment comeback right next to Loyola Marymount’s unlikely run after Hank Gathers death, Tate George’s shot, Danny and the Miracles shocking Oklahoma, Christian Laettner’s turn-a-round to beat Kentucky, and so on. That was a comeback you will never see. Now, the Illini seem like a team of destiny. That was awesome.


Dirk gains confidence

"San Antonio still does all the little things to win and they don't have a really tough schedule left," he said. "So I think they're going to finish first. For us, it's about staying in fourth. I don't know who we'll play, probably Houston or Sacramento. But that really shouldn't matter. When we're healthy, we can beat them both. We shouldn't be afraid of anybody."

US dominated in Mexico …That was most disappointing. Surely, we can do better than that!

Lebreton on the scene in Mexico

Rhoden on Illinois big night

More on Landon Donovan’s future

Juan makes the Indians ...

Rumor mill not high on Derrick Johnson

Linebacker Derrick Johnson is another Texas Longhorns player apparently dropping on NFL draft boards. The Cowboys, for one, question his ability to take on blocks and tackle from the backside. They don't see him as a first-round player.

This may prove that Save is fake. Here is Kill

Snopes weighs in on Save

Sunday, March 27, 2005

AFC North Draft Notes

Part four of an eight-part series as I prepare for the draft by jotting notes of each team's current situation. Today, the AFC North completes the AFC homework.

AFC North

Baltimore Ravens 9-7

Offense 31st (20th in points scored)/ Defense 6th
AFC Worst Passing Offense in 2003, 2004
Kyle Boller has been poor, OL poor in pass protect
Defense 34 takeaways - Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Terrell Suggs
Lost Gary Baxter CB, C Rabach (Wash), E Hartwell (ATL)
Add Samari Rolle CB, Derrick Mason WR (96 catches in 04), G K Vincent (started every game for Pitt)
Baltimore only team in league without WR to catch 40 passes in 2004!
Lost Mike Nolan (49ers job) at DC Rex Ryan in, lost OC, too- Added Fassel as OC, Neuheisel is QB coach- Switching back to 4-3 Defense

Needs: More at WR opposite Mason, Replace Hartwell, OL depth

#22 pick in draft: Mark Clayton? Kevin Burnett LB Tenn?

04 Draft: Poor Draft: C Moore - 6th round WR was good, no one else did much of anything

Cincinnati Bengals 8-8

Offense 18th/ Defense 19th
Defense 28th in 2003, 26th in 2004 against the Run
CB's: Tory James and Deltha O'Neal are key of that Defense
Franchised: Rudi Johnson
Carson Palmer improving, WR corps solid: Warrick, Houshmanzadeh re-signed, C Johnson
Added: B Robinson, DT (Chicago)
Lost K Richardson P, D Weathersby CB
Needs: Defensive Front 7, TE
New Defensive Coordinator:Chuck Bresnahan

Pick #17: Heath Miller? UVA

04 Draft: C Perry (nothing), Ratliff and Williams (2nd rounders) 2 DB's that contributed, L Johnson (3rd round) LB with 11 starts

Cleveland Browns 4-12

Offense 28th/ Defense 15th
Added Trent Dilfer QB to start (pending draft) for 4th rounder, Luke McCown still there. OG Joe Andruzzi added from NE, OG Cosey Coleman (TB), Gary Baxter CB (Balt), J Fisk DT, P K Richardson
Lost: Garcia, Northcutt, Holcomb, A Henry, G Warren, C Brown, R Griffith
Offensive Line gave up 41 sacks
William Green and Lee Suggs a fine combination in the backfield
Dead last against the run
Added Romeo Crennell as Head Coach, Phil Savage (Balt) to be GM
Crennell will switch Defense to 3-4
Needs: Corner opposite Baxter, Run Stoppers, Pass Rushers

Pick #3 in 1st Round: Alex Smith or Antrelle Rolle

04 Draft: Winslow (hurt early), Sean Jones DB (hurt all season)

Pittsburgh Steelers 15-1, lost to New England in AFC Championship game

Offense 16th/ Defense 1st (Pts against 1st)
#1 in AFC Rush Offense, #1 in Time of Possession
Lost Plaxico Burress, LB K Bell, C Scott CB, J Riemersma TE, T O Ross, G K Vincent
Added Cedrick Wilson WR (SF)
Ben Roethlisberger developed nicely, rough playoff
Allowed 35 sacks (too many) - lost RG, RT
Re-signed W Williams CB
Looks like Bettis is back to platoon with Staley
Needs: Depth at CB, WR, need a TE, RB?

Pick #30: Roddy White UAB WR, Alex Smith TE Stanford ?

04 Draft: Big Ben, R Colclough, M Starks (10 games - will replace O Ross)

Previous Previews:

AFC South

AFC West

AFC East

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Just because you look like him...

Anyone else think this guy (Texas Rangers Pitcher Ricardo Rodriguez)

Is trying to look like this guy (New York Mets Pitcher Pedro Martinez)?

Only problem: Looking like him does not mean you can pitch like him! Last night, I watched as he was Shelled by Arizona …Check out these Non-Pedro numbers:

R Rodriguez 4 1-3 IP,12 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

Not sure if he is the last man to make the rotation, but if they ever do have a “who most resembles Pedro on the Rangers staff” contest, I will take Ric-Rod…

Rumors are swirling (that I have confirmed) that Carlos Ruiz is soon to be traded to FC Dallas. The 3rd Degree and So Cal Matchnight have both written about the rumors.

Basically, it appears that my favorite US player, Landon Donovan, has had enough of Germany already. According to German press, he wants out of his commitment to Bayer Leverkusen after only returning there in December, and is plotting a return to the USA, and more importantly to him, Southern California. It has always bothered me that he hasn’t cared to excel in Europe, because I believe a player should always want to be the best of the best. Donovan appears to enjoy being the best in the US, reap all the benefits of that, but not seek stardom on the world stage. I am not sure I get that. It would be like Dirk Nowitzki staying in Germany his whole life.

Anyway, how does that affect FC Dallas? They are first in line to receive the next major player allocation that arrives in the MLS. Donovan will not play in Dallas, and since he has all the leverage, as the league needs him, they work it out where Dallas is heavily compensated, and Landon returns to the league under his terms. This is done by virtue of the LA Galaxy sending one of the most lethal strikers in the US today, the Guatemalan Forward, Carlos “the little fish” Ruiz. He has been the leading scorer in the league in 2002 and 2003, and finished 1 goal off the lead in 2004, despite missing 10 games for various reasons.

He is moody, and tough to figure out as a man, but as a player he is flat out genius around the goal. Combining him with Eddie Johnson and Ronnie O’Brien up front gives FC Dallas perhaps the finest strike force in MLS in 2005. We shall see.

I am told there is still a small chance Donovan changes his mind, but if that doesn’t happen, look for this to be officially announced on Monday. On Wednesday, the United States National team will play Guatemala in a World Cup Qualifier which would match Ruiz versus Johnson on ESPN 2.

Ruiz Player Page with the Galaxy

And if you want to see great soccer, The US travels to Mexico on Sunday at noon, ESPN 2. This will be intense…


Saints still trying to deal Darren Howard …Dallas still in the mix?

Nascar Ratings up in Dallas big

In Fort Worth-Dallas, the FOX telecast of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race on March 13 in Las Vegas posted a whopping 6.9 rating, up dramatically over the 3.8 rating in this market in 2004. Through the first three races of the 2005 season, NASCAR ratings locally were up 33 percent from a year ago. The Samsung/RadioShack 500 at Texas Motor Speedway has annually been one of the top-rated sports telecasts on FOX.

The network's coverage of the Las Vegas race was the most-watched sporting event nationally with a 6.4 rating, easily outdistancing NCAA college basketball conference tournament championship games and the NCAA Men's Basketball Selection Show.

Revo suggests Adrian Gonzalez and Ian Kinsler make the team

Gerrard insists he is not leaving Liverpool …sort of…

Leonard Little’s trial begins

DeLamielleure says he never roided

"I never took one in my life, and if Haslett took them like he said he did, he must have been getting placebos because I played against him and he wasn't that strong," DeLamielleure told host Randy Cross, a former All-Pro guard for the San Francisco 49ers.

Hardball Times looks at the Rangers

Saturday Tournament Selections: Illinois and Louisville
Record to date: After another rough 2-2, I stand at 39-17. Yawn.

Friday, March 25, 2005


We got killed last night in the Charity Challenge, 7-2. I (above, bottom) was HORRIBLE. The Girls dominated. See all the pictures you want here, but they don’t tell the full story. If you listen closely, Green Day is playing...

Sadly, Dave Lane (below, right) had his face sliced open.


Mavericks drop badly in the 4th Quarter , lose to Peja and the Kings. Make no mistake, they will be a tough match-up in Round 1 of the playoffs...

Tech is bounced from tournament

Rangers claim to have options at DH

Galloway lauds Rivera

Lakers lose 7th straight, longest streak in 11 years

College Basketball All-American Teams

AP All-Americans


Andrew Bogut, Utah, 7-0, 240, sophomore, Melbourne, Australia, 20.4 ppg., 12.2 rpg., 62.9 FG pct., 1.9 blocks.
J.J. Redick, Duke, 6-4, 190, junior, Roanoke, Va., 22.1 ppg., 37.3 minutes, 40.5 3-pt. FG pct., 93.7 FT pct.
Chris Paul, Wake Forest, 6-0, 175, sophomore, Lewisville, N.C., 15.3 ppg., 4.5 rpg., 6.6 apg., 83.4 FT pct., 47.4 3-pt. FG pct., 2.4 steals.
Wayne Simien, Kansas, 6-9, 255, senior, Leavenworth, Kan., 20.3 ppg., 11.0 rpg., 55.2 FG pct., 81.6 FT pct.
Hakim Warrick, Syracuse, 6-8, 209, senior, Wynnewood, 21.4 ppg., 8.6 rpg., 37.5 minutes, 54.8 FG pct .


Dee Brown, Illinois, 6-0, 185, junior, Maywood, Ill., 13.2 ppg., 4.5 apg., 50.8 FG pct., 44.6 3-pt. FG pct.
Sean May, North Carolina, 6-9, 266, junior, Bloomington, Ind., 16.8 ppg., 10.8 rpg., 55.4 FG pct.
Salim Stoudamire, Arizona, 6-1, 179, senior, Portland, Ore., 18.6 ppg., 51.1 FG pct., 51.3 3-pt. FG pct., 91.4 FT pct.
Ike Diogu, Arizona State, 6-8, 250, junior, Garland, Texas, 22.6 ppg., 9.8 rpg., 36.4 minutes, 57.5 FG pct., 2.3 blocks.
Luther Head, Illinois, 6-3, 185, senior, Chicago, 15.7 ppg., 4.0 rpg., 3.8 apg., 41.0 3-pt. FG pct.


Deron Williams, Illinois, 6-3, 210, junior, The Colony, Texas, 12.1 ppg., 6.6 apg.
Shelden Williams, Duke, 6-9, 250, junior, Forest Park, Okla., 15.4 ppg., 11.3 rpg., 58.5 FG pct., 3.8 blocks.
Nate Robinson, Washington, 5-9, 180, junior, Seattle, 16.6 ppg., 3.9 rpg., 4.6 apg.
Raymond Felton, North Carolina, 6-1, 198, junior, Latta, S.C., 12.6 ppg., 4.0 rpg., 7.0 apg., 44.1 3-pt. FG pct.
Joey Graham, Oklahoma State, 6-7, 225, senior, Brandon, Fla., 17.5 ppg., 6.1 rpg., 53.2 FG pct., 46.0 3-pt. FG pct., 88.9 FT pct.

Poll shows Bonds and McGwire Hall of Fame chances

Haslett says Steelers were juiced ...

Miami debates what to do at #2 in the Draft

The Dolphins already have turned their attention to the April draft that will offer them three basic courses of action.

The team could fill its need at running back, with some NFL people believing Miami would use its second overall pick on Auburn's Ronnie Brown.

The team could fill its need for a future quarterback, with Alex Smith being the likely leftover choice because San Francisco seems focused on picking California's Aaron Rodgers.

Friday Tournament Selections: Wisconsin (wishful thinking), UNC, Duke, and Utah.
Record so far: After going 2-2 last night, I drop to 37-15.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

I am not a football coach

But, I received this email the other day:

Dear Sports Bob,

I am embarrassed to admit that I do not understand the real differences between the standard 4-3 defense most teams in the NFL run, and the 3-4 defense that the Patriots and Steelers run which the Cowboys are possibly switching to. Could you help me out?

Anonymous in Sports Town

Dear Anonymous,

First and foremost, you should know that although I count football as my favorite sport (sorry, hockey, but it has always been true), I should disclose that I have never played a down of organized football at any level. With that in mind, many who read this may find themselves more qualified to answer this than me. However, I have taken the time to speak with some who are very familiar with the schemes, and here is what I can tell you about the differences between the 3-4 and the 4-3.

The 4-3 consists of 4 defensive linemen (RDE, RDT, LDT, and LDE) and 3 linebackers (ROLB, MLB, and LOLB). In this scheme, under normal passing situations, the 4 D- linemen will rush the passer, while the 3 LB’s will drop into pass coverage. The DE’s in the 4-3 are expected to be exceptional pass rushers, since they are expected to account for the lion’s share of the sacks (aside from blitzes). It is not necessarily key that the Linebackers be great pass rushers, but rather fine pass coverage players. The two defensive tackles generally line up opposite the offensive guards, and therefore, you will find the center uncovered.

Meanwhile, the 3-4 consists of 3 defensive linemen (RDE, NT, and LDE) and 4 linebackers (ROLB, RILB, LILB, and LOLB). In this scheme, under normal passing situations, you will still have 4 players rushing the passer. All 3 defensive linemen, plus an outside linebacker will attempt to apply pressure. The question is, which one? That is the benefit of the 3-4; the surprise attack of whether it will be the ROLB or the LOLB that will come on the rush, while the other one will drop into pass coverage. Therefore, having proper personnel is the key to the 2 outside linebackers. They must be perfect hybrids of defensive ends and linebackers. That type of player must be able to rush the passer (and take on an offensive tackle to get there – sorry, Dexter) and still be able to drop into coverage on a RB or TE.

Another element of the 3-4 is that the NT lines up directly over the center, and must be able to occupy “2-gaps”. Which, of course, are the gaps to each side of the center. That is why size is key to a solid NT, as he must be able to hold his ground against a double-team. The Defensive ends in this scheme must be more capable against stopping the run than their 4-3 counterparts, but not necessarily as potent at getting around the end to the QB on the pass rush (although they would love to have someone good at both).

Hopefully, that explains the differences a bit. Generally, as the Steelers and Patriots have demonstrated, to excel under the 3-4, your personnel must be quite versatile.


FWST’s Charity Challenge write-up

Hockey night

7:30 tonight, Fort Worth Convention Center

What: Radio personalities from KTCK/1310 AM (The Ticket) will face a women's team. Proceeds benefit the Dallas Stars Foundation.

Tickets: $13.10, available by calling (214) 467-8277 or online at About 1,000 remained late Wednesday.

Notable: Fans can get their pictures taken with the Stanley Cup for a $10 donation to The Greyhound Adoption League of Texas.

Gentler Knight advances Red Raiders

Rivera offers to return signing bonus

Chris Young with another fine start

Rangers starter Chris Young continued to make a case for a spot in the rotation after allowing two runs and two hits over 4 1-3 innings. He walked three and struck out four.

"The velocity on my fastball was pretty good; it had life," said Young, who developed a blister on his pitching hand in his last start. "That tells me my arm strength is coming. It's still about building up arm strength and getting my mechanics down."

Young was unable to throw his curveball the last time out. This time he was able to mix it in a little more.

"I threw some bad ones but I was pleased for the most part," he said. "The (blister) is something I will have to monitor."

5 things to know about the Rangers

A fairly eventful night in Oakland, as a shirtless Mike Dunleavy is ejected, a Warriors dancer gets hit in the face with a ball, Baron Davis tries to fight Dirk, Keith Van Horn plays his best game as a Maverick, and Pavel gets another minute, but through it all Avery is 3-0: Mavs beat Golden State 109-97

Dear Dirk, version 2.0

Tonight, despite the fact I predict failure,
NBC's The Office debuts
...It can't measure up to the BBC's gold version, can it?

Texas Tech song ….

Steroid enhanced hockey players?

Beckham’s kids being harassed by paparazzi

Thanks to Andrew’s Dallas Stars Page: Turco visits BaD Radio

Stars vs. Tornados …Sounds like a good time was had by all…

According to UK Fans, Adolph Rupp isn’t a racist …I guess that settles it….

Rogerio’s mom is kidnapped

What is the Potato Famine? ….


Just wanted to pile on about ESPN deciding men's and women's college basketball are the same and records can be mixed. By their logic, they need to run a special on college football head coaches. You can no longer claim Joe Paterno (307-80-3) the winningest coach when Division III's Joe Gagliardi is 421-117-11.

Where do we start in getting The Ticket to replace ESPN?


Careful, Meredith won’t like this…

Hey Bob,

On my daily stop by the mighty blog I saw that Turco is on BAD radio this afternoon. Thought ya'll would like to know, Marty is going to be doing a goalie camp at my hockey rink in Denton on April 9th. Check out for all the info.

I know that you like to play ice hockey, if you ever have any interest in playing inline you should let me know. Faster paced game, higher know, all that exciting stuff the NHL keeps trying to figure out. I've been a big fan of the show for years and would be happy to hook you up with a spot in one of my leagues.

Looking forward to hearing some hockey talk,


Please come watch us play hockey tonight in Fort Worth! We promise to make it good strong fun!

Added 9:30 am:

Thursday Night NCAA Selections: Oklahoma State, Louisville, Texas Tech, Illinois.
Record so far in tournament: 35-13

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


This is the third in our eight-part series on the NFL Draft. As I said before, I tend to concentrate on team needs more than the prospects themselves when preparing for the draft. Therefore, I write a small capsule about each team. We have already done the AFC West and AFC East. Scroll through the March Archives for those. This may be difficult to read, but they are my actual notes for draft day.

AFC South

Indianapolis Colts 12-4 Lost to the Patriots…again in AFC Semifinals

Offense 2nd (1st Scoring)/ Defense 29th
Franchised Edge James 8 million
Peyton Manning 50 TD’s
Lost TE Marcus Pollard (Det), I Bashir CB, R Demulling G, R Morris LB
Added: almost nothing
Defense: allowed 53 plays of 20 yards or more

Needs: CB, LB, DT DEFENSE!!!
Pick #29: DT Luis Castillo, Northwestern?

04 Draft: Bob Sanders S (solid), J David DB (4th)

Jacksonville Jaguars 9-7

Offense 21st (scoring 29th)/ Defense 11th
Signed DE Reggie Hayward from Denver (10.5 sacks in 04, 8.5 in 03)
37 Sacks last season, only 6 from DE in ‘04
John Henderson and Marcus Stroud awesome at DT –
1st in Red Zone Defense
Offense 16 points per game: Horrid.
Leftwich raised his numbers in every stat. Developing nicely.
Fred Taylor still rolling along.
New Off Coordinator Carl Smith (out B Musgrave)
Lost Juran Bolden CB, Dewayne Washington CB
Franchised S Donovan Darius – he wants out

Needs: Offensive Firepower, Pass Rushers, CB’s
21st pick: CB Justin Miller Clemson? Shawne Merriman LB?

04 draft: Reggie Williams (bust?) only WR in league to average less than 10 yards a catch, Darrell Smith LB, Jorge Cordova LB (3rd), J Scobee K, B McCray DE 7th

Houston Texans 7-9

Offense 19th/ Defense 23rd (13th rush)
Re-Signed Seth Payne NG
LB Sharper and Foreman have been allowed to seek a trade
Dead Last in NFL in sacks – only 24.
5th overall in interceptions (Dunta Robinson)
OL still struggled: 49 sacks against David Carr.
Andre Johnson (awesome) and Jabbar Gaffney developing nicely as WR tandem.
Signed M Greenwood LB 15 starts (Mia), L Sanders CB (Clev)

Needs: OL, weapons WR, More Pass rush, defense. Protect QB, Sack QB
13th Pick: Alex Barron LT, Marcus Spears DE

04 Draft: Robinson 16 starts, 6 INTs, LB Babin 16 starts, Glen Earl (4th) DB 9 starts

Tennessee Titans 5-11

Offense 11th/ Defense 27th (scoring 30th)
Lost 5 starters, K Carter, S Rolle, D Mason, F Miller, J Nedney all to the cap
McNair more INT’s than TD’s for 1st time ever, Volek played plenty
Found a RB in Chris Brown, Drew Bennett emerged.
27th in sacks, secondary struggled.
Added Norm Chow from USC to Off. Coordinator
Needs – On 3/1 were worst in NFL (32nd), WR’s, CB’s, New leaders and identity. They have no established TE, OL problems RT, LT

Pick #6 – ?Pac Man Jones, Mike Williams?

04 draft: traded out of 1st round – 12 of 13 still on roster. Plenty of DL help. Laboy, Odom, and Starks all contributed to DL. B Troupe TE 33 catches. J Bell G (5th round) had 14 starts.

Political Correctness hits the Record Books

We have to stop the insanity. I have no question that Pat Summitt is a great coach. I am sure she can really, really coach. Fine. But when she “passed Dean Smith” last night, I almost yacked. Are we so stupid now as a society that we are willing to claim that Pat Summitt’s accomplishments of compiling 880 wins in WOMEN’S basketball rates higher than Dean Smith’s 879 in MEN’S basketball? Not me. But here is how the wire is handling it:

Game Story from last night

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Pat Summitt stood at midcourt surrounded by her husband, son and 79-year-old mother, smiled and waved to fans who cheered the coach who stands alone at the top of NCAA basketball.

Summitt broke Dean Smith's career victory record Tuesday night, getting No. 880 in the Lady Vols' 75-54 win over Purdue in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Summitt tied Smith with an easy win over Western Carolina in the first round Sunday night and passed the former North Carolina men's coach with another convincing victory.

The 52-year-old Summitt improved to 880-171 in 31 years at Tennessee, while Smith was 879-254 when he retired in 1997 after 36 years with the Tar Heels.

In fairness to Summitt, she is easily the best in her game’s history. And, it is possible, that she could have been a fine men’s coach if we would have ever given her a chance. But it didn’t happen. So, PLEASE STOP THIS SILLINESS! There is no way her record should be compared to Adolph Rupp, Dean Smith, Bob Knight, or anyone else on the all-time victory list!

Should a small-track racer at a small track in Texas ever win 201 races, do we suggest he passed Richard Petty’s career record of 200 wins? What if someone in Japan hits over 800 home runs (it has happened)? Is he the all-time home run leader?

And let’s say the Arena League has a QB that throws over 600 TD’s (they do), when Dan Marino’s record is only 420. Is the Arena League star the all-time TD Leader? NOOOOOO!

So, sorry, but Sportscenter made me want to hurl last night with this absurd comparison.


Avery needs a contract

Brian Davis looks at the Knight Tenure in Lubbock

Revo defends Soriano

NY Times: We won’t have Barry to kick around anymore

"My son and I are just going to enjoy life," he said. "My family's tired. I'm tired. You guys wanted to hurt me bad enough, you finally got there."

This is typical of Bonds's aversion to accountability. Usually, it is his lawyers who do the finger-pointing for him. "It's always been the U.S. versus Bonds," Michael Rains, his lawyer, told The San Francisco Chronicle. "And they're always just gunning for the big guy."

But big-boy Bonds is the architect of his own trapdoor. He made choices about what substances to put in his body, about what to say to the Balco grand jury, about whom to trust as his mistress.

Now his choices may have caught up to him. Bonds's blame game yesterday sounded like the ramblings from a paranoid man who realizes he could possibly lose it all: his chase for Hank Aaron's record, the faith of his family and the joy of freedom.

Peter King follows up his MMQB

Can the US Soccer team snap its 0-21-1 record in Mexico? …They shall have their chance on Sunday…

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

The New Weapon Unveiled: Pavel

One of the truly subtle changes to the Mavericks under Avery Johnson is the inclusion of rookie Pavel Podkolzin in the line-up. The 7’5 center played his first minute on Saturday night against Charlotte, but then last night, in the win over the New Orleans Hornets it all happened: He scored his first point and grabbed his first rebound. No longer will Pavel have to admit to having straight zeroes on his all-time record. His career is on its way. All thanks to Avery. The Hall of Fame awaits.

It was sure nice to blow someone out. The Hornets had no chance, and honestly all look like they are miserable on the court. As we ponder the plight of the Mavericks, it is easy for us to forget that there are about 15 franchises with little to no hope whatsoever. It could be a lot worse...


Finley explains his silence

Art Garcia attempts to find out if Cuban was going to fire Nelson anyway

Canseco in Denton and on the Ticket

Travis Henry demands trade

Peter King MMQB

Spurs pounded by Knicks in first game without Duncan

And he could miss rest of regular season

Nascar Loving P1 Lew’s blog

Must See Video! Gary Cogill and Boogey Bob …You will be amazed at this video. Cogill steals the show with his effeminate attempts at “dancing”…

Fort Worth Napoleon Dynamite clone

If you watch Deadwood, you might find Calamity Jane (above, left) repulsive. But, she seems to be a fairly normal girl in real life (duh). Robin

Do Black Coaches have a shorter leash than whites in NBA?

Mariotti is all over Knight

Cardinals announcer scrambles to save face

Random Football Card of the Week:

Dallas Cowboys Rookie RB Duane Thomas 1971.


Yesterday was the biggest traffic day yet on Bob's Blog. Thanks for your visits, and thanks for spreading the word!

And make sure you read the Nelson essay I posted last night if you so desire (below)…

Monday, March 21, 2005

New Dallas Sports Page Column

I must be living in a parallel universe. Because in my world, when a coach who has had a huge hand in building everything in front of him quits as his creation rounds turn 4 and heads down the home stretch, I think it is somewhere between shocking and ridiculous. But, when it happened in Dallas on Saturday, as Don Nelson decided on March 19th that he had enough, everyone treated it like it was a roast for a hero returning home from his finest conquest.

I read the newspapers, and they tell me this was the perfect time. They tell me Nelson made the right move at the right time. They tell me that Nelson was burned out and really could not offer his team anything more.

****STOP!**** This is the point of the column where I must stop and qualify the premise of my scribbling. If there is a major health concern in his family that is not being publicized that has caused him to realize there is more important things that demand his attention, then I wish Nelson the very, very best and hope everything works out well.

Now, back to the column.

I am not against the switch. Heck, in this very space, I suggested it was time for this last summer. I thought that we had pretty much played this thing out, and it was time to head in a different direction. I also was very suspicious when the company line from the Mavericks headquarters was “Nelson has promised to reemphasize defense in 2004-05”. And if you want the honest truth, I was all for that different direction when Mark Cuban bought the team in the first place.

But, since I wield very little power over there, they carried on with The Don.

And they did with an impressive amount of success. But, as I heard how he was going to reemphasize defense, I watched Avery Johnson run EVERY practice I saw this season. By most reports, he ran almost every practice. Does anyone think that would fly elsewhere? Try hearing this from your radio: “Bill Parcells was not at practice today as the Cowboys prepared for their crucial match-up with Philadelphia. Mike Zimmer ran the defensive practice while Sean Payton ran the offense.” Right. I am sure that would go over well.

And while I am at it, how exactly does one reemphasize anything if they are not present. But all the while, the media acted like it was normal. Nothing was out of place. It makes perfect sense that the head coach is not running practice.

Living in my parallel universe is fun.

So now, with fewer than 20 games to go, the Mavericks are handed over to a guy who tried to make this team in training camp! Not saying that Avery Johnson isn’t the right man for the job, because I think he is. But how crazy is it that a guy who was signed on the last day of September as an option at point guard is now the man in complete charge of this contending team? And again, the media all agree that this is a fine move.
Sometimes, when you have an opinion that no one shares, you stop yourself and wonder if you are the one voice of dissention then perhaps you are off base. I did. And I am not.

This is crazy! If you felt that Avery was the best man to succeed Nelson, could we at least do it at a time when the team was healthy and at full strength? With all of the injuries, your rookie coach will have about 5 minutes to prepare this team for the playoffs. You tell me, isn’t this a job for someone with 28 years of coaching experience?

If Nelson felt that he was done coaching or that he has lost his passion for it, then couldn’t he have made that decision in a month? Or last summer? If you heart isn’t in it, and you leave your team at the proverbial alter, shouldn’t at least one media person think it is insane?

If you can sign a player in September, and by March you are convinced he is a better coach then the guy you are paying $5 million a year to coach your team, shouldn’t at least one media person think it is ridiculous?

If a coach suggests “a little bit of him died when Steve Nash left”, wouldn’t we normally tell him to suck it up and do his job? I am not trying to be harsh here, but would this fly with Dave Campo?

Again, I am not against this move in theory. The new coach will seem to focus on defense more, minutes for Keith Van Horn will be properly small, and the nucleus of this young team will have a voice that they hear every day in their ear. But I cannot tell you how amazed I am that this is being passed through the papers and airwaves as if this unordinary event was incredibly ordinary. The move might be great, but the timing was certainly not.

I swear, as I read the local scribes assure me everything is normal and perfect, and as I hear Nelson tell me that he would still be coaching if he were going to have to walk away from $5 million bucks, I cannot tell you how absurdly these things are being treated in my parallel universe.

Monday Links and E-Mail

Ricardo Rodriguez continues his bid for the rotation with a great outing

Lebreton on Cordero, Pedro

From the Rangers Blog, A solid essay on Hank Blalock’s production

Carl Edwards nips Jimmie Johnson at the line

Down the backstretch, Edwards kept inching closer. But Johnson was still clear as they came through Turn 3 and into the final turn. Off the final corner, Johnson came back down off the high line he'd tried the previous time around. That left Edwards just enough room to get outside of the No. 48 Chevrolet, and from that point it was a drag race.

Edwards won it by 28 one-thousandths of a second - maybe two feet.

"I am disappointed, I hate losing," said Johnson, who could perhaps find consolation in the fact that his fourth straight top-five finish of 2005 leaves him 82 points ahead of Biffle in the points standings - even with the 25-point deduction he suffered for a rules violation found in inspection after his win last weekend at Las Vegas.

Knight twists off on Indiana

Kravitz says to not get carried away on Knight

Duncan hurts ankle

Golf coach in big trouble after hiding in ceiling of girl’s lockerroom

A Parrott Middle School golf coach was arrested Friday, accused of hanging from the ceiling in the school gymnasium and watching a 20-year-old female gym teacher and two students undress.

Dan Madril, 39, of 2507 Ambassador Ave., in Spring Hill, faces three counts of voyeurism, all misdemeanors. He was being held in the Hernando County Jail Friday with bail set at $1,500, a jail spokeswoman said. The Hernando County School Board suspended Madril without pay on March 16.

He is currently still under investigation by the school board, officials said.
Detective Carlos Douglass of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office wrote in a report that on March 9, a 20-year-old gym teacher at the school entered an equipment room in the school gymnasium in order to retrieve a jump rope.

The lights were off, so she did not see anything.

Realizing she had the wrong jump rope, she went back and heard a noise above her head, the report said. She turned on the lights and saw Madril climbing down from a shelf leading up to the ceiling, Douglass wrote.

After asking why he was in the ceiling, Madril told the teacher he was going to scare her and two other students by throwing basketball at them.

The teacher told authorities that Madril did not have a basketball in his hands.
Just before the incident, the teacher had just been to the bathroom and an 11-year-old student and a 13-year-old student were changing clothes.

From the position of where Jensen was in the ceiling, he could observe the female locker room and showers, authorities said.

Doug Christie’s wife, Jackie’s website: Jackie

Napoleon Dynamite at the X-Games

West Wing back for Season 7?

Buy Pedro’s House if you don’t mind living in Idaho

Best Comedy movie of all-time?

Thanks to Gerrard (above), Liverpool overcomes Milan Baros’ poor decision to take a red card

And now, some killer E-mail:

Hey Bob, do you remember that article, I think it was on Mack Brown's website, from a couple of year's ago when one of his players wrote about how they watched Legally Blonde and had a pillow fight on the team bus? This story is legendary to me and I would really like to find the link to it if it still exists.



I had to look for a while, but I did find it! This is a classic.

Longhorns admit to very odd road-trip activities

On the way to Iowa on the plane, it was clam. Everybody fell asleep or watched movies. But on the way home, we had pillow fights and guys were throwing stuff all over the place. I was trying to watch a movie on the way back, but (Associate AD for Football Operations) Cleve (Bryant) picked the worst movies. He tried to say it was someone else, but we weren't buying it. They were "Foreign Affair," which was ridiculously boring. Then, on the way to Iowa we watched "Legally Blonde 2." It was a whole football team watching "Legally Blonde 2" and one of the worst movies I had ever seen in "Foreign Affair." We got on the loud speaker and convinced the stewardess to say, 'These movies are horrible. Everyone wants the movies to be better next week or we're going to bring the movies.'

How amazing. Can we rule anything but gay?
Here is Email #2:


I don't know if you watch the sports news on the local channels, but last night Babe Laufenburg had an interview with John Hart. In the interview, John Hart was quoted as saying something to the effect that he doesn't respect certain people in the local media and that it was the lowest thing on his list of priorities to keep the media happy.

This was his excuse as to why he remains out of the public eye. Well he and Mr. Hicks are certainly not improving the team very much, I wonder how he does spend his time. I can't stand this "new regime". Does he not realize that the media is the direct connection to the fans? We listen to you guys on the radio and read the paper to follow the team. I don't think any fan cares about whether he has a problem
with any media member, we want to know what's going on with our team.

I loved it when Doug Melvin was GM and would come on and talk about an acquisition or trade that was just made. Not all of Melvin's moves were spectacular and he was often criticized, but at least he had the ability to explain himself. There is no attempt to connect with the fans anymore, and it is Hicks and Hart to blame. Tom Hicks wants 200,000 - 500,000 more of us to come watch? With this change in
spending habits of Tom Hicks, blaming us the fans for him not being able to turn a profit, I am totally turned off from wanting to pay to go watch a Rangers game as long as he owns the team. I long for the 1996-1999 years......

Melvin spoiled us all. It is a very interesting conversation about which area sports figures played nicely with the media, and which hated the media. I always think that it is very smart to at least fake your way through a nice relationship with the media.

Bob & Dan,

I'm disappointed in you for not doing your homework. Dan - in today's 12:10 segment you asked "why does congress have the right to stick their nose in baseballs business? Why not go after rock fans? etc"

2 words - Antitrust Exemption.

That is why baseball always bends over backwards when congress intervenes. That is what McCain threatened baseball with to get testing in place.

What is antitrust? Any business that operates across state borders -- and therefore participates in interstate commerce -- is subject to antitrust legislation. Attempts to control trade and monopolize may be deemed illegal by federal circuit courts under the Sherman and Clayton acts. Baseball has been exempt from these antitrust laws since 1922, when the Supreme Court ruled in its favor. The Supreme Court determined even though there was scheduling of games across state lines, those games were intrastate events since the travel from one state to another was "not the essential thing," Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote in the decision.

Why does baseball care about antitrust exemptions? Means a team can't move unless MLB allows it to move. No other sports have this exemption that is why you have what seems like teams moving every year. Before the Expos when was the last time a MLB team moved? 1972 with the Rangers. That's why the Giants didn't move in the early 90's to st. petersburg etc. etc. etc.

If congress revisited the exemption than - don't you think teams in small markets would move? Like the Twins or A's or Brewers?

I don’t think Dan was suggesting that he did not understand why Congress CAN hold these hearings. He was suggesting that that he did not understand why Congress SHOULD hold these hearings. Basically, the thought was “doesn’t Congress have anything better to do?” But, after seeing the hearings, I think we can all agree that Congress made a fine decision.

And finally, this:

Don Nelson has this way in games of getting ejected at certain point in a game so that his team will wake up enough to win the game. Do you think maybe this is a bigger extension of that? Like he has been seeing this thing develop through the whole year and realized that he needed to get the boot here, so that down the road the Mavs will be what they are supposed to be, instead of a disappointment, which would result in his firing anyways.

That is a very interesting angle. I will write plenty more on this soon.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Liverpool 2, Everton 1

We're coming for you, Everton.

It was a good day at Anfield. Through the injuries and doubt, Steven Gerrard keys the victory. We can still catch em.

8 games to go, 4 points back. Get it done.

Aloha Means Goodbye

Mark Stein with more on Nelson leaving

Colishaw puts a positive spin on the occasion

Either Cuban, Nelson, new coach Avery Johnson and assistant Del Harris did a masterful job of getting their stories straight, or there really isn't much to this other than Nelson thinking it was time to move on.

And it really was.

You don't see this much. The coach gets a golden parachute and the team gets a shot in the arm.

Or maybe a kick in the pants from Avery, but even that has a chance to achieve the same result.

David Moore suggests the change was soon anyway

Nelson has another year on his contract to coach after this one. But we all knew where this was headed.

Nelson leaves the team for 10 games early in the season to undergo shoulder surgery he could have postponed until the summer. He takes another three games off to be with his wife, Joy, to see her through surgery.

Avery Johnson goes 9-4 in those games. There were five other games Johnson coached that weren't announced. Nelson said his assistant won four of those games.

The time away allowed Nelson to disconnect from the team and make this move easier. More importantly, it allowed the Mavericks to become Johnson's team.

Johnson ran practice. He set the emotional tone. He was calm and decisive during games. This earned the respect of the players and the confidence of Cuban.
The owner said he would not have approved the change if Johnson hadn't handled himself so well during that 10-game stretch.

"I trust A.J., and I trust Nellie's judgment," Cuban said. "But seeing A.J. and how the guys responded to him and how much he absorbed from Nellie really made it easier for me to accept."

Galloway on the loss of a drinking buddy

More Sunday Links:

Lebreton on Soriano and Park

KRLD and the Rangers to divorce?

Gammons on Selig and Fehr

Ricky Williams to return to Miami?

The latest developments in the saga of retired Dolphins running back Ricky Williams is that he stopped avoiding the calls of coach Nick Saban by talking to Saban last week and said he stopped smoking marijuana more than a month ago.

Williams also is expected to stop his legal battle with the Dolphins over an $8.6 million judgment the team has against him for breach of his contract.

Whether that means Williams is considering a comeback to the NFL is speculative at best, but it made several people close to him believe that might be the case. Williams, who continues to take classes at a school for holistic medicine in Northern California, was in India this week.

Bonds’ ex-girlfriend says he used steroids

Liverpool needs to beat Everton this morning …Badly…

While putting my little baby boy to sleep last night, which means standing with him laying in my arms with his pacifier in his mouth and softly rocking him until he fades into slumber, I watched some NFL Films with the volume down and closed captioning on. The feature for a few moments was Red Badgro (above). He is one of those Hall of Famers I have never heard of, but I really enjoyed learning a bit about him.

Here is his biography from the Pro Football Hall of Fame

In 1981, Morris “Red” Badgro at the age of 78 became the oldest person ever elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame at that time. The 45-year span between his final game with the National Football League’s 1936 Brooklyn Dodgers and his election also was a record. The Badgro saga is even more unusual in that he wasn't even sure he wanted to play pro football and, in fact, retired after one year with the NFL’s 1927 New York Yankees to give pro baseball a try.

Red played in the major leagues for two years with the St. Louis Browns but eventually decided to give pro football another look. The football Yankees had folded so Red signed with the New York Giants. During his six-year tenure with the Giants that began in 1930, the team was a solid championship contender every year and Badgro, a two-way end, was one of the most honored stars. He was named to an all-league first or second-team in 1930, 1931, 1933, and 1934.

Badgro, who was born in Ordillia, Washington on December 1, 1902, was highly regarded as a sure-tackling defender and an effective blocker on offense but he was also a talented receiver. In 1934, he tied for the NFL's pass-catching crown with 16 receptions, a significant number in those defense-dominated days when most NFL teams concentrated on grind-it-out football. He also had the distinction of being the first player to score a touchdown in the NFL championship series that began in 1933.

Red made many other key catches that were converted into Giants' victories, including a 15-yard reception that was a key play in a long drive for the game’s only score in a 3-0 New York divisional title win. Badgro had his big defensive moments as well. Playing against the Boston Redskins in 1935, Red blocked a punt and returned it for a go-ahead touchdown. Badgro passed away on July 13, 1998 at the age of 95.

I was fascinated by a guy who was such a great athlete that he played one year of pro football, then left for two years in major league baseball, and then returned to compile a Hall of Fame career in the NFL. Also of major note was that he was the oldest player ever elected into the Hall, and had to wait 45 years to get inducted. 45 years! So much for feeling sorry for those not elected on their first ballot (Mike Irvin).

Badgro’s baseball stats

A nice article on Badgro from Football

He played Right Field for the St Louis Browns. On the feature last night, he talked about the occasion in which Babe Ruth hit a homer run ball over his head. Back in those days, if you knocked a ball down with a thrown glove, it was ruled an automatic triple. He tried, but the ball missed his glove, and Ruth had hit his 60th Home Run of the season. Any baseball experts out there want to share when that rule was changed?

Sunday Tournament Selections: Wisconsin, Duke, Michigan State, Ga Tech, Oklahoma State, UNC, Uconn, Florida

Record so far: 30-10

Saturday, March 19, 2005


Nelson resigns his post .

We did a segment this week where I told Dan that despite having no source or insider information, I expected Nellie to leave us this summer. It just seemed like a beat down with his health, his wife's health, his age, his team, etc...It looked to me that it was time that he spent his days in Maui full-time.

Well, I guess I was wrong. He left before lunch. Avery is now your leader.

Mark Stein offers some reasoning to the decision

"I see a little slippage as a team," Nelson said. "The team is just responding better to Avery at this point."

The 64-year-old Nelson also had the title of general manager, but most of those duties were done by his son, Donnie, the team's president of basketball operations. The elder Nelson will stay with the team as a consultant.

"Nellie has earned the right to approach this any way he wants," team owner Mark Cuban said. "I just wanted to be supportive of any direction he wants to go."

So, why did Nellie quit? The timing is curious. Theories abound from his wife’s health to Cuban becoming all the more annoyed by the recent home failures, to not wanting Avery to get away. Time will tell soon enough…

Friday, March 18, 2005

Saturday NCAA Selections

Winners: Texas Tech, Washington, Utah, Boston College, Arizona, Illinois, Wake Forest, and Kentucky

Record through Friday: 24-8.

Party On.

Baseball Gets Grilled

Sometimes, in this job you anticipate something being great and it lets you down. For instance, I cite the Super Bowl as being lots and lots of build-up, followed by a huge disappointment. But, then there are other times, when you expect nothing out of an event, and it ends up being wonderful.

I offer you the Congressional Inquiry on Baseball and Steroids. What wonderful television. I readily admit that it was a sad day for Baseball, and maybe just as disappointing was that it was a sadder day for Mark McGwire, but without even having the slightest interest in watching anymore than the highlights when the day began, I was sucked in like Princess Leia’s ship by the tractor beam on the Death Star.

It was amazingly entertaining television. Especially, Panel 4, which included Commissioner Bud Selig, Players Association Director Donald Fehr, MLB counsel Rob Manfred, and ancillary figures Sandy Alderson and Kevin Towers.

What fun! Selig and Fehr were grilled repeatedly. They hung in there the best they could with their flimsy premises that are built around the idea that steroids are “not that big a problem”, but there was no surviving the onslaught. And then there was the smug Manfred, who offered a few angry faces for questions he did not appreciate. I so enjoyed it. There is something rewarding about watching people who live to make others squirm have to face the same treatment for the first time in a long time.

Meanwhile, McGwire offered one half of a sad Abbott and Costello routine where he suggested so weakly that “he would not talk about the past”. Try that defense when you are being prosecuted for a crime sometime and see how that stands up. Suddenly, Jose Canseco seemed more credible than McGwire! You could have won money on those odds 24 hours ago.

What is the next step? Perhaps MLB will now re-do their steroid policy, and try to reduce the five strikes to say, three. Or, perhaps we will begin the debate about McGwire seeing Cooperstown without having to buy a ticket. Either way, shame on me for not realizing how great a day of television this was going to be. I could hardly pay attention to college basketball until they called an end to the proceedings around 8:30. Congrats to Congress for some great television.


The Hearings Scorecard

Stark on McGwire’s demise

Once, he was compared to Babe Ruth.

Thursday, he was compared to Enron.

That's not what you call a great day on Capitol Hill. But that's the kind of day it was for a fallen living legend named Mark McGwire.

People are never going to look at him the same now. Not after a day of dodging questions the way he once dodged fastballs steaming toward his eyebrows.

Legally, of course, McGwire didn't have to answer those questions. Remember that. The men who wrote the Constitution handed him that right. So in a way, all he did was exercise his fundamental right to avoid ensconcing himself in a whole mess of trouble.

But a lot of good that will do Not So Big Mac with millions of people who once loved him, cheered him, froze their existences those four times a night when he walked toward home plate.

It was way too clear what he didn't want to talk about and why he didn't want to talk about it. Now he has to know, just as we know, what that means.
It means he drove his reputation off a cliff Thursday, and left his legacy irreparably splattered. Very possibly beyond repair.

Mavs beat Portland amidst boos …And believe it or not, 3 of the most maligned Mavericks saved the day: Without Van Horn, Bradley, and Finley’s games, the Mavs lose…

In one of the dumbest traditions in sports, Emmitt resigns with Cowboys for 1 day ….

Bat Girl reenacts the hearings

Champions League Draw revealed ...

Champions League quarter-finals draw:

LIVERPOOL v Juventus
AC Milan v Inter Milan
Lyon v PSV Eindhoven
CHELSEA v Bayern Munich

The first legs will take place on 5/6 April with the returns a week later.

Hockey’s owners offer the players another proposal that they know will never be accepted …As Hockey continues to die…

Lucas calls new Star Wars a titanic tearjerker ….

The Wire – back in 2006 for Season 4

Genius website of the day: Save Toby …Please…

Friday Winners: NC State, Florida, Villanova, UConn, Oklahoma St, Iowa St, UNC, S. Illinois, Mississippi St, Kansas, Ga Tech, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Duke, Syracuse, Louisville

Thursday Record: 10-6 (not that great)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Tournament forecasts from someone who doesn't watch much college basketball

I feel obligated as a talk show host to give you at least some half-hearted picks for the NCAA tournament. But, I also refuse to take part in the media tradition of lying to you about how much I know about this topic. So, before you consider my predictions, first, consider how little I have seen these teams. I will write a quick review of the top 16 seeds in this years tourney:

Austin Regional:

Team (times I have seen them play)
Duke (10+): I am not sure if this is the way college basketball is these days with the watered down talent, but this is one of the weakest #1 seeds I have ever seen. They have no depth, no consistent scoring, and their best player (Redick) cannot get his shot off when someone is locking him down. Sheldon Williams is nice in the post, but he gets into foul trouble, and there is almost nothing behind him. They are very beatable. And I consider myself a Duke admirer. But this is all Coach K. They are not that great this year.

Kentucky (0): Have not seen them play at all this year. Ashley Judd is cute. And the way Florida rolled them last week has anyone in their right mind concerned.

Oklahoma (10+): Wildly inconsistent. Like Gray and Bookout in the paint, but the guard play is spotty, and even Gray is hit or miss. They are on a decent roll, but again, they seem very beatable.

Syracuse (0): Carmelo Anthony would be a Junior this year. If he was, I would watch them a lot more. From what I understand that white guy from their National Championship team, McNamara, is now maybe their best player. How good could they be?

Syracuse Regional:

UNC (10+): I hate Carolina. Always have (except for Jordan and Mia Hamm). Anyway, they are awesome. The most talent in the country. Felton is great, McCants is a talent, and May is flat-out awesome in the paint. If I had to bet, I would say they are the team to beat in this whole tournament.

UConn (2): Haven’t seen much since last year’s Championship team. They lost Emeka and Ben Gordon, but still are decent. Calhoun is greatness.

Kansas (5-7): They are very talented, but any team that shoots that poorly from the line will not win 6 games in a row. Their best players are awful from the line.

Florida (0): Vernon Maxwell and Dwayne Schintzius were playing the last time I watched these guys regularly. Its been a while. Trust no game I predict involving Florida.

Albuquerque Regional:

Washington (0): I cannot name any player who has EVER played at Washington except Detlef Schrempf.

Wake Forest (3): They are very solid. Very balanced. But, I do tend to overrate the ACC.

Gonzaga (0): This regional has to be very weak if this is the #3 seed. I detest small schools getting high seeds.

Louisville (0): Rick Pitino is a snappy dresser. And Pervis Ellison was a fine Frosh.

Chicago Regional:

Illinois (10+): I really like their backcourt. Head, Williams, and Brown are fine talents, although I think Dee Brown is pretty over-rated. They are a popular pick, but I just cannot get past the fact that they are so dependent on the 3-pointer and have almost no inside game. They are really good, but there will no doubt be a night when the perimeter is not hitting. Then what?

Oklahoma St (8): Like this team a lot. They have Lucas at the point, along with the Graham twins. I really like the way they play defense. They will be tough to bounce.

Arizona (0): I cannot decide whether I watch less Pac-10 basketball or less SEC basketball in the regular season. Never have, except when LSU had Shaq.

Boston College (1): Never thought they were that good. They won’t see week #2 of this tournament.

My Final Four: Duke, UNC, Illinois, and Wake Forest (of course, I readily admit that Duke isn’t good enough to get there, but they were selected by default in that Austin regional.)

Thursday Winners from Bob (I also like calling it “Picking games between teams I really haven’t seen much”): Illinois, Texas, Alabama, Penn, UAB, Arizona, Washington, Pitt, Texas Tech, Gonzaga, Creighton, Wake Forest, Oklahoma, Utah, Iowa, Kentucky


Dallas Observer article on John Hart and Kenny Rogers …including a few paragraphs on why Rogers is grumpy these days:

The dispute stems from whether Rogers--who is in the final season of a two-year $6 million deal--threatened to walk out and retire if more money and/or more years weren't added to his contract. (None of that came to pass--the Rangers denied his request and Rogers reported to camp on time.) Rogers, through his interview with Grant, denied it went down like that. He said he never issued an ultimatum with an "I'll quit and screw you as a result" kicker. The Rangers, through a piece written by T.R. Sullivan in the Star-T (the first story to detail the private conversation thanks to a leak from within the organization), say otherwise--which is what pissed Rogers off and is why he isn't talking to the vast majority of the media here. In fact, Rogers was so livid that, when a reporter working for a different outfit called him on his cell phone shortly after the Star-T piece ran, Rogers allegedly threatened to kick his ass and called him a "motherf-----." (Again, Rogers declined comment.)

This isn't the first time that Rogers and the Rangers have had a falling-out. Despite the fact that Rogers is one of the longest-tenured Rangers in club history, he lashed out at them last season following the A-Rod trade, criticizing Hart for dealing one of the game's best and saying that it wasn't "what I signed on for."

As with anything else, there are two sides to this story. Somewhere in the middle is the truth. Or maybe the truth is forever lost, deleted and replaced with the selective memories of the parties in question. It's become a lot like that game we played as children--whisper down the lane. You line a bunch of people up in a row. The first person whispers a word into the ear of the guy sitting next to him--apple, let's say. By the time it reaches the person sitting at the end of the line, it's been twisted and reworked--maybe by accident, perhaps by design--so that it doesn't come out apple at all, but something radically different.

Mavs in holding pattern until Dampier returns

Drese fantastic in start

Amazing Race, Episode 3 recap …And as much as I want to hate Boston Rob, I just can’t.

Larry King = $7 million a year

CNN has inked a contract extension with Larry King, keeping the iconic interviewer at the news net through 2009.

Deal is worth close to $7 million a year, Daily Variety has learned, and assures the immediate future of "Larry King Live" while quelling speculation that King's sometimes stand-in Nancy Grace is being groomed as his replacement.

Replay to be expanded in NFL?

Good essay on Soriano

NFL’s Worst Free Agent Signings – Ever

Al Strachan frowns on blue ice

In Nascar, if you ain’t cheatin, you ain’t trying

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