Several different directions we can go in today, but I had no idea 24 hours ago that I would lead with the Cowboys this morning. But, here we go Peter King says the Cowboys win the Super Bowl this winter! …
I like Dallas because it has answered every question I have for them but two: Is the offensive line good enough and will the secondary have any more meltdowns like the one it had in the last two minutes of the Washington game last year? We'll see. And I like the Cowboys even though they may have to win a road game or two in the playoffs to get to Miami because they just might go 3-3 in the toughest division in football right now.
There's some risk, to be sure, because Owens is a living, breathing incendiary device. But all kinds of silly chemistry things can happen once the year begins. What I like about this team is it addressed almost every one of its major needs entering the off-season. The Cowboys got a kicker with some clutch misses on his resume, Mike Vanderjagt, but he's better than any guy they've had in years. They got the best player in free-agency in Owens, who's also one of the five best offensive forces in football when he's mentally right.
They got a second blocking/catching tight end in the second round in Notre Dame's Anthony Fasano. They got the kind of stonewallish strongside linebacker in the draft -- Bobby Carpenter -- Parcells must have to play the 3-4 the way he wants. That's a really good 3-4 right now, and it could be superb if DeMarcus Ware provides the kind of pass-rush his potential says he can.
Wow. Just when you thought the Mavericks were closing in on a once-in-a-lifetime chance at a title, The Cowboys go and steal the spotlight again…
Now, on to the lead story that was bumped to 2nd: The Suns try to get back to being the Suns in a “must win” game …
Should they fail to find that in Game 4 tonight at US Airways Center against Dallas, the Suns would fall into a 3-1 series hole that no team has escaped in Western Conference finals history.
These Mavericks are not the Lakers, whose inferiority was exposed with time. Faced with Dallas' dominant Dirk Nowitzki and dollar-driven depth, Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni proclaimed tonight to be a "must-win game."
"We're kind of in the doldrums, which is impossible to be that way in the Western Conference finals," Suns co-captain Steve Nash said. "We've got to get our spirit picked up. We've got to be a lot more enthusiastic and have a lot more belief in ourselves."
They can't look over their shoulders for Raja Bell, who will not play tonight but has been targeted for a Game 5 return. They are 1-4 without Bell.
The pile of excuses grows. Fatigued? The only thing they are tired of is hearing that they are tired.
"We don't believe in that," D'Antoni said, although Shawn Marion acknowledged being "mind tired."
"It's more of an 'Oh, man, here we go again,' " said D'Antoni, whose team is 9-8 in five weeks of playoffs. "It's more of a thinking that maybe we can't get it done. It's a mental thing that we'll change. . . . We won't fold. We will be back."
Long rebounds and deflections spur the Suns. Phoenix's conservative, packed-in defense held Dallas to 41 percent shooting Sunday, but the Suns did not get a steal all night. They gave up 19 pace-killing offensive rebounds despite Dallas dropping three to four men back on defense after Mavericks shots.
The Suns, who posted 12 fast-break points in Game 1's first four minutes, had two fast-break buckets in Game 3 - both in the second quarter.
Meanwhile, this would be the lead story if the Cowboys and Mavericks did not exist (thankfully, they do): The great John Rheinecker (and his beard) are fabulous last night in win …
Rheinecker needed only 110 pitches to get through 8 1/3 innings against the Mariners, who came in batting .225 against lefties. He began the ninth, but Rangers manager Buck Showalter pulled him after he hit a batter and, one out later, allowed a single. Rick Bauer recorded the final two outs.
"John was outstanding, obviously," Showalter said. "He was down in the zone, used four pitches....He has the right kind of chip on his shoulder."
Rheinecker had hoped to pitch Sunday against the A's, who traded him to Texas just before Opening Day. He wanted to show them they had made a mistake.
In that three-team trade, the Rangers dealt Juan Dominguez to the A's and wound up with Rheinecker and ex-Cub John Koronka, who is 4-2 with a 4.06 ERA.
Rheinecker's performance Monday had a few teammates saying, "What a trade" and "Where's Mingy now?" Dominguez is 4-5 with a 6.22 ERA for Triple A Sacramento.
So far, Jon Daniels appears to have a win in that trade….
Check out these sweet quick hits on the Rangers, including a mind blowing stat from Mike Young …
• John Rheinecker earned a victory in his second major league start in the Rangers' 2-0 win over the Mariners. Rheinecker came within two outs of pitching a shutout, before Rick Bauer notched the save. Four current pitchers (active or disabled) threw a shutout in their first start in the majors (Pedro Astacio, Jason Jennings, Mike Remlinger and Doug Waechter); two others did it in their second start (Ervin Santana and Scott Schoeneweis).
• Michael Young snapped a 0-for-14 streak with a first-inning single for Texas; he hasn't had a longer streak of consecutive at-bats without a hit since May 2002 (0-for-19). Young has a total of 2,655 at-bats since then, the third-most for any current player since last suffering through a hitless streak of at least 15 at-bats. Mike Sweeney has accumulated 4,196 at-bats since last going 0-for-15 (in 1996); Placido Polanco has 3,169 at-bats since his last "0-for-15" (in 1999).
Eric Nadel locked up for life …
Nadel's extension means he'll go over the 30-year mark with the club. Nadel, who turned 55 earlier this month, is in his 28th year with the club. He declined to reveal the exact length of the contract but did acknowledge it takes him to an "age at which many people retire."
It also will put him alongside his boyhood heroes – Mel Allen and Red Barber – in longevity. Both Hall of Famers broadcast more than 30 years each, though neither did it exclusively with one team.
"To me, this means that I've developed a relationship with the fans," Nadel said. "As a young fan, that's something that really appealed to me about this business. We always felt Mel Allen was part of our family at home.
"I feel like I've been able to have something like that with the fans here. That's the most satisfying part of this job. Because regardless of who pays my checks, whether it's the Rangers or a radio station, I've always felt like, in essence, I'm working for the fans."
Meanwhile, since we have ignored it altogether, Here is some Barry Bonds stuff since he passed 715. By the way, I was hoping for a bit of a break from Bonds now that he passed 714, but nope. Now, ESPN insists on the chase for Aaron news despite the fact that he needs a mere 40.
I am pretty sure this guy is not pleased with Bonds getting any love …
Barry Bonds hit his 715th home run Sunday. But every overblown ESPN news break-in couldn’t drown out the sad reality of the moment. It was as awkward as it was historical. Some wanted to watch. Most wanted to cover their eyes.
This wasn’t a player punctuating greatness. This was the most vilified sports star we’ve ever seen affirming his place among the five darkest moments in baseball history.
Count them. Like plagues:
1. Eight members of the Chicago White Sox are banned for conspiring to throw the 1919 World Series.
2. Pete Rose, the game’s greatest hitter, agrees to a lifetime ban for betting — on baseball.
3. Baseball cancels the 1994 World Series, not because of natural disaster but rather mutant labor negotiators.
4. Congress holds steroid hearings. Among the Murderers Row giving testimony: Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco — who ironically turns out to be baseball’s shining light.
5. Bonds passes the great Ruth and closes in on the great Hank Aaron. But he’s the poster child of the steroid era, and his baggage and personality have led him to become the sport’s greatest pox instead of ambassador.
Meanwhile, In what is almost fitting, the KNBR mic stopped working for the home run …
It was not the moment for posterity that KNBR had in mind, but it was unforgettable nonetheless.
KNBR broadcaster Dave Flemming was making the call on Barry Bonds' historic 715th home run Sunday when his microphone went dead, leaving the radio audience with crowd noise for more than 10 seconds until fellow broadcaster Greg Papa rushed on the air to pick up the proceedings and describe the achievement.
"If you'd only heard the rest of it, it was an unbelievable call,'' said Flemming, who was initially unaware that he wasn't being heard over the air. "It's too bad we don't have proof. I have to joke about it because it's too painful to think about."
KNBR program director Lee Hammer, also serving as the game's engineer, was equally tortured by the technical glitch that denies the team's longtime flagship station one of the most significant calls in the history of the franchise and the game.
With the Pistons, one game from elimination, Don’t bank on Ben Wallace being a given to resign in Detroit …
For most of the season it has been assumed that Ben Wallace, a free agent this summer, will re-sign with Detroit. The Pistons have said all along that they want to keep their 6-foot-9 center, and Big Ben has said he is happy in Motown. Given that the Pistons can offer Wallace more money than any other team, it seems like a no-brainer.
But money often complicates simple matters. And the Big Ben situation is going to involve a lot of money. Perhaps as much as $100 million over six years.
Are the Pistons really willing to shell out that much for a soon-to-be 32-year-old whose game is so dependent on athleticism and energy? Won't GM Joe Dumars at least have to wonder if an aging Wallace can play at such a high level three or four years down the road? Keep in mind, any new deal for Big Ben might push Detroit over the luxury tax next season, and almost certainly will in 2008 or '09.
Throw in a possible early Pistons' flameout in this year's playoffs, and it could get even more interesting.
Streaker fun …
Greatest Wedding Cake EVER! …
More on the Dateline Series “To Catch a Predator “ ….
Remember the ABA …
Here is the Cleveland Library story we referenced on the show yesterday …I am sure we will do it on the show soon, so act like you didn’t know about it then…