Above, my best play of the game. A Catch in warm-ups. The QB Bowl was last night at Reunion, and Team Staubach beat my Team Aikman. What a blast. My finger is pretty screwed up, but that was a small price to pay to get the chance to try to block Herschel Walker.
Meanwhile, I really wanted a chance to see the Rangers in a save situation last night to see what Buck would do, and then what CoCo would do. Well, it happened! and look who trusted their fastball again ….
If anything, Cordero actually seemed to be refreshed in the ninth inning Thursday. At least his fastball seemed to be. He used it over and over, hitting 96 mph, in a 1-2-3 inning. The Rangers ended their nine-game West Coast road trip 5-4 before catching a red-eye charter back to Dallas.
"Being able to get back out there and go 1-2-3 was important to me," Cordero said. "Everybody is going to be able to enjoy going home a little more. Last night, I lost with the pitches I wanted to throw, but I didn't throw them where I wanted to. Tonight, I made better pitches."
The better pitches were mostly fastballs. On Wednesday, he missed badly with sliders and the Mariners took advantage. In blowing a 6-4 lead Wednesday, he faced five batters in his 12-pitch outing. Four reached base. All four reached on sliders.
Earlier Thursday afternoon, Cordero discussed the Wednesday outing. He insisted he hadn't forgotten his fastball. Then he backed up his words to end the strange game.
"His fastball had some bounce to it," Showalter said.
The Rangers had bounce, too. They bounced back after blowing a 3-0 lead. The Rangers lost the lead in the eighth when Joaquin Benoit and Brian Shouse created other bullpen concerns.
By the way, some props to Padilla. He had 5 days to think about the 3 Home Runs on 3 pitches in Oakland, and it was going to be interesting to see how he could bounce back from that. He bounced back very, very well and deserved a win last night. 2 out of 3 in Oakland, and 2 out of 3 in Seattle have everyone feeling good about a winning road trip.
NBA Playoff Predictions
Just the West. I am sorry, but I may have watched fewer than 5 games all year that have been played between 2 Eastern Teams.
Spurs over Kings in 7
Suns over Lakers in 6
Mavs over Grizzlies in 5
Nuggets over Clippers in 6
I will go on record and give you the Mavs in 5 over the Grizzlies. I think they will be tough and scrappy, but the Mavs should be ultimately win in the 4th Quarters.
In the Memphis paper, the growing up of Pau Gasol …He isn’t soft.
"The natural thing for most international players who come into the NBA is a reluctance to try and take over a situation, out of respect for the people who are already here," Fratello said. "Like the natural evolution of a Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas, an international player grows into the game. They get to a point where they understand they have to become more involved. Pau has accepted the responsibility that he has to be effective night in and night out if we're going to win."
Gasol is playing more physical than in the past. Those detractors who previously labeled Gasol "soft" are curiously quiet.
"People always say players who come from Europe are soft, and Pau's not soft," Grizzlies' owner Michael Heisley said. "He grew up playing in a different style of basketball where fouls are called. He's had to adjust to different standards and I think he's mastered the system. I also believe Pau came back with a lot more determination this season."
Gasol said he grew tired of the "soft" label.
"I'd get asked every training camp about that," Gasol said. "I might not be the most physical player, that's not my nature. But I am a competitor and I play as hard as I can. Some guys are more physical, but I have some qualities and advantages they don't have. I feel like I can compete against any physical player."
Today’s NHL on TV isn’t that popular column …
NBC's 1.0 rating (about 1.1 million households) is down a bit from ABC's two years ago. But OLN's 0.2 (118,175 homes) is off 60 percent from ESPN's in the 2003-4 season; OLN's viewership is down even more sharply because it is available to nearly 30 million fewer subscribers than ESPN. OLN's first-round broadcasts, which start tonight, are blacked out in the teams' home markets.
"People aren't in the habit of watching the N.H.L. on OLN," said Gavin Harvey, the president of OLN. "They're used to going to ESPN or to the regional sports networks."
At the Fox Sports Net confederation of regional networks, hockey ratings for 19 teams have fallen by an average 10 percent. While Sidney Crosby's sensational rookie season fueled a near doubling of Pittsburgh Penguins ratings, the Detroit Red Wings' ratings tumbled by nearly 33 percent.
Harvey is upbeat about the enhanced public profile that the N.H.L., a major sports league still in outpatient rehabilitation from the lockout, has added to its diet of hunting, fishing, cycling and bull riding.
"It's a piece of the puzzle we lacked," he said during an interview Tuesday at the OLN studio in Stamford, Conn. "Everything changed with the N.H.L." He added: "We believe in hockey more now than ever. What we do is get fans fully immersed in their sport."
That belief is visible in improved production for its games, a flashy studio set (the first one used was a design flop) as well as in the doubling of ratings and male demographics for hockey games, compared with what they replaced.
But those improvements came at a steep price: OLN is paying the league $65 million this year, the most it has spent for programming, and will pay $70 million next season. And if its number of subscribers passes 80 million (from 63.4 million), OLN must pay $15 million more.
Hockey Playoff Predictions
I only do the West, because that is the only conference I usually watch.
Calgary beats Anaheim in 7
Detroit beats Edmonton in 6
Dallas beats Colorado in 6
San Jose beats Nashville in 6
I think the Stars must not wait to get involved in this series. Much like Calgary, they may only get the edge in the series because of home ice. If they do not make that count with wins in games 1 and 2, then this series could turn quickly.
Denver Post explains the Avalanche …
And yet, it was not like the Avs of this season were a boring, trapping team that won 2-1 every night. Detroit was the only Western Conference team to score more goals (305) than the Avs, and Colorado finished fourth overall in league scoring with 283. The NHL's new rules aided scoring, but nobody expected the Avs to be one of the teams that would most benefit - especially after the loss of stars Forsberg, Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne.
Perhaps because of those departures, former role players such as Ian Laperriere, Antti Laaksonen, Marek Svatos, Brett Clark and Andrew Brunette saw themselves as more important players and had career years.
"In the past, there were always two lines that were doing all the scoring," left
wing Alex Tanguay said. "This year, it's been a little more spread out throughout the lineup. But we knew at the start of the year, losing a lot of high-priced players and a lot of talent, that it was going to be different. When we play a good team game, we're as capable as any team in the league right now."
Laperriere, a likable veteran from Montreal, embodies this team. He's tough, works hard and has the skill to show off a bit, too.
"But we still had our leaders on this team leading us," said Laperriere, who scored a career-high 21 goals. He cited Sakic, Tanguay and Blake as examples.
"For sure, we don't have as much skill as we did before," Laperriere said. "It's tough to take a Peter Forsberg away. But as a team, we did a pretty good job of getting everybody to chip in here and there. This team was very close."
Over at TheBoysblog.com, the guys have averaged many ratings for a full list …this blog is solid everyday, and well worth your bookmark…
Gil Lebreton examines the Cowboys plans …
But the Cowboys might have plugged more holes in the winter of 2005 than any other NFL team. And Parcells might have done it again.
The offensive line, for example. The gang that brought the '05 playoff drive to a halt appears better, even with future Hall of Famer Larry Allen gone.
Tackle Flozell Adams returns from season-ending knee surgery, and Rivera is also expected to finally be healthy. Rob Petitti is likely to go from starting 16 games at tackle as a rookie to being an experienced backup.
For those reasons, including signing tackle Jason Fabini from the Jets, it is difficult to imagine the Cowboys selecting an offensive lineman with their first pick.
Free safety might be off the early board as well, after signing free agent Marcus Coleman and re-signing Keith Davis.
If not a blocker or a safety, then, what?
Probably not a quarterback, Jones said. Owner Jones, of course, could start a new league, just with Quarterbacks Who Tried to Replace Aikman.
He's dropped hints that the team wants to take one last long look at Drew Henson, currently exiled in Germany. Plus, there's the annual fascination with Tony Romo.
Whatever. Parcells barely acknowledges his backup quarterbacks.
Do you like making fun of Favre? So do these people …
Mullets in Hockey …
Saturday, 2 big games in my life: Game 1 of the Stars series, but more importantly on PPV, Liverpool v. Chelsea in the FA Cup Semifinal …