GMJ with a historic night …
On Wednesday, he even added the freakish, sideshow equivalent by becoming the third Ranger to hit for the cycle in an 11-3 bashing of Detroit. The win also featured another strong performance by Kevin Millwood, who improved to 15-10 in his first year as a Ranger.
But cycles are even rarer than quality outings from Rangers pitchers. Matthews accomplished his with sleek elegance: He got each hit in progression, from single to homer. He became the 13th player in history to pull off that orderly superfecta; Brad Wilkerson – yes, that Brad Wilkerson – was the last one in 2003.
And this is something not even his dad, former major leaguer Gary Matthews, can discuss with him. Sarge never accomplished it.
"This is definitely one thing I've got on him," Matthews said.
But the more important thing to Matthews than family bragging rights is carving out his niche as a productive player. He's taken multiple steps in that direction this season as he heads into free agency for the first time in his career.
So, while the cycle was a big deal – hey, Matthews got a beer shower in the clubhouse and somebody somewhere found an old Big Wheel tricycle to place in front of his locker – it was perhaps more important to Matthews that this be more like just another night.
"It's important for me to finish strong," said Matthews, whose averaged had fallen 20 points since the All-Star break, to .307 Wednesday morning. "I feel like I've really gotten a better idea of what I need to do as a leadoff hitter in the second half. Sometimes you get too results-oriented, and I just want to have good at-bats."
hitting for the cycle research …Here is the list of all 13 ML players to hit the natural cycle:
September 13, 2006 Gary Matthews, Jr. Texas
June 24, 2003 Brad Wilkerson Montreal
April 27, 2000 Jose Valentin Chicago (AL)
May 18, 1996 John Mabry St. Louis
September 15, 1979 Bob Watson (2) Boston
April 22, 1976 Tim Foli Montreal
July 17, 1966 Billy Williams Chicago (NL)
June 16, 1964 Ken Boyer (2) St. Louis
July 3, 1943 Leon Culberson Boston (AL)
May 27, 1939 Charlie Gehringer Detroit
June 3, 1932 Tony Lazzeri New York (AL)
September 26, 1926 Bob Fothergill Detroit
October 6, 1910 Bill Collins Boston (NL)
Is the Cowboys game a must win Sunday Night? …
The prospect of starting 0-2 has even led some Cowboys to label it a must-win affair.
"For the most part, it is," cornerback Anthony Henry said. "All of them are, but for it to be a division game against a rival, it's a must-win for us."
Not really, Parcells said.
"I don't think it's a season-making or season-breaking game," Parcells said. "But I know everybody would like to have it be that."
The Cowboys' schedule doesn't appear to favor a quick turnaround should the team start 0-2. After next week's bye, Dallas plays five of its next seven games on the road, a stretch that includes outings against division foes Philadelphia (Oct. 8), the New York Giants (Oct. 23) and Washington (Nov. 5).
Still, Parcells doesn't seem worried. Perhaps he remembers that the 2004 Green Bay Packers started 1-4 before winning nine of their last 11 games en route to their third-straight NFC North title.
"Everybody else has kind of got the hearses out," Parcells said. "I don't think there's any funeral taking place any time soon."
Receiver Terrell Owens agreed.
"We are going to rebound from this," Owens said, referring to the 24-17 loss to Jacksonville on Sunday. "I have tons of confidence in the defense and the offense. We will get this thing turned around."
This weekend in College football, we have the following games of interest:
Oklahoma at Oregon, ABC, 2:30 – very interested – Sooner is in dogfight
Texas Tech at TCU, OLN, 4:30 - very interested
Texas vs. Rice, ESPN 2, 5 - not interested much
Nebraska at USC, ABC, 7 - expecting USC route
Texas A&M vs Army, ESPN 2, 8:15 – Finally Aggie gets on TV!
Raider looking to shake Road reputation …
Do the math and you'll notice that the Red Raiders were only 2-3 when playing away from home last season. Included was a 24-17 loss at Oklahoma State that provided the Cowboys their lone Big 12 triumph.
Through the years, Leach's teams have dropped at least two road games every season. The yearly average for losses outside of Lubbock is 3.3.
To reach this year's Big 12 Championship Game, No. 24 Tech (2-0) must break that habit. An upset of No. 8 Texas in Lubbock will mean nothing in the long run if it's trumped by multiple losses at places such as Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Colorado and Iowa State.
Often, road success is more of a mental than a physical challenge. The Red Raiders have a chance Saturday to alter their thinking in such situations, to begin viewing themselves as road warriors instead of road worriers.
Tech's psyche will be tested in Fort Worth against No. 20 TCU (2-0), the team with college football's longest active winning streak. Win that one, and the Raiders will have steeled themselves in consecutive weeks with road victories over 2005 bowl teams.
Lose it, and the same questions will surface when the going gets tough in Norman, Okla., or Ames, Iowa.
Tech linebacker Brock Stratton said the trip to Cowtown "will only make us stronger" in the long run. Defenders, he said, are poised to correct the mistakes that contributed to UT-El Paso's 495 total yards in Tech's 38-35 overtime victory over the Miners in El Paso.
"I think we grew as a defense as far as learning to face adversity and learning how to go into a hostile environment...and overcome it and come out with a win," Stratton said. "I don't think we are concerned about [a second consecutive road trip]."
Leach is. Ideally, he said, all of Tech's nonconference games "should be at our place." He understands the ramifications of this road trip and what either result, victory or loss, could mean for games down the line.
Aggie concerned with relationship with Knight …
Grant Castleberry, A&M's head Yell Leader, says using "Black Knights" is the "most appropriate thing" to say.
He cited a basketball game in 2005 in which A&M played Saint Joseph's. Rather than urge the Aggies to "beat the hell" out of a saint, Yell Leaders used the opponent's nickname — the Hawks — as the subject of the yell.
"We thought that saying 'West Point' was kind of along the same lines as saying beat the hell out of Army," Castleberry said. "We wanted to make a distinction. The military backgrounds of both of our schools is cool. This game is going to be special."
Nick LaMantia, a walk-on from Mission who represents A&M's famed 12th Man on the kickoff team, said the Aggies hold great reverence for Army — normally.
"On the football field, an opponent is an opponent," LaMantia said. "On the field, we want to beat the hell out of whomever we play. Off the field, we love the Army. Both schools stress leadership, discipline, unity and togetherness. Army has it, and I know we have it. In a lot of ways, we're much the same."
I like Aggie. I really do. But, I also believe that Aggie spends way too much time on things sort of relating to football (names on jersey, yells, scoreboard size, ribbon boards) rather than football itself. These stories are once a week, I swear, and none have anything to do with football proper.
At the risk of too much baseball news, Houston targets Carlos Lee …
With up to $12 million to work with on the free-agent market, it's certain the Astros will make a strong run at free-agent-to-be Carlos Lee, the former Brewers outfielder now toiling for the Rangers. He'll be viewed as the power-hitting centerpiece the club has long coveted, especially with Minute Maid's short left-field porch, and would raise the offensive dynamic of the entire lineup.
Lee, who doubtless soothed the Astros' brass by recently deciding against switching to intractable agent Scott Boras, has a ranch near Houston and is thought to be very amenable to a move south. The Rangers and Padres, among others, also will be among the suitors.
Francisco Liriano hurt….badly …my favorite new player of 2006 could be looking at Tommy John. Not good.
Liriano threw three pitches to the Oakland Athletics in the third inning, and the pain was shooting down his forearm. He bent over as manager Ron Gardenhire and trainer Dave Pruemer rushed onto the field.
"I felt a little pop, and then it really hurt," Liriano said.
Liriano soon walked off the field for the last time this season, because the elbow pain that knocked him out of the rotation for six weeks returned.
The Twins lost 1-0 to Oakland, ending a five-game winning streak, which doesn't help their playoff pursuit.
Losing Liriano is worse. He was expected to join staff ace Johan Santana and give
the Twins two dominant lefties down the stretch.
"I was feeling good," Liriano said. "I didn't feel anything before the game. I just threw that one pitch, and then I felt something pretty bad."
Liriano remained with Twins officials to await the results of an MRI exam, while the rest of the team took off for a four-game series in Cleveland. When pitchers have elbow problems -- especially popping -- the worst-case scenario is ligament damage. And that can require a year of recovery.
"How many times did he tell you guys and tell me, 'It feels like I've got a new arm, it feels so good?' " Anderson said. "He threw two great innings. Everything was going.
"We'll just wait and see what the tests are."
Liriano, 22, finished the season with a 12-3 record and 2.16 ERA.
Brent Musburger drinking game ….
Snoop is clearly a girl …I guess…
Bizarre story of the day: Tonya and Nancy 2 …
In a scenario reminiscent of Tonya Harding vs. Nancy Kerrigan, the backup punter at Northern Colorado has been accused of stabbing his rival in the leg -- his kicking leg.
Mitch Cozad, a sophomore from Wheatland, Wyo., allegedly attacked Rafael Mendoza in a parking lot this week. Mendoza was treated and released at a Greeley hospital, but it wasn't clear when he would return.
Cozad was arrested on a charge of second-degree assault and freed Wednesday on a $30,000 bond.
The saga conjured up images of the 1994 rivalry between figure skaters Harding and Kerrigan. Harding was banned from the sport for life after her former husband, Jeff Gillooly, hired a hit man to smack Kerrigan with a baton.
"I guess the only identified motive [in the attack on Mendoza] at this point in time is the competition for that position," Evans police Lt. Gary Kessler said.
Head coach Scott Downing said he wasn't so sure.
Cozad and Mendoza were competitive, he said, but no more than players at other positions.
"No different than starting quarterback or starting right tackle," he said. "Everyone was held accountable to the same level."
Asked if there was any jealousy between the two players, he said, "I have no idea. That would all be conjecture."
Cozad was suspended from the university and the team and was evicted from his dorm room, university officials said. He had no listed phone number in Greeley, and a phone message left at his Wyoming address was not immediately returned.
David Thompson scares me
Halen88 sends another message to Dreadskin