Cardinals ride Yadier and Suppan to victory? …Who knew? Seriously. With all of the stars in the series, who knew it would come down to Endy Chavez and Yadier Molina?
The ball kept climbing, then hanging and, finally, it fell.
And when it landed a dozen or so feet beyond Shea Stadium's left-field wall with one out in Thursday night's ninth inning, Yadier Molina's six months of struggle magically transformed into an indelible marker within an increasingly improbable season.
Molina, a precocious defensive talent often left to feel self-conscious about his hitting, shoved the Cardinals into their 17th World Series by turning New York Mets righthanded reliever Aaron Heilman's breaking ball into a two-run home run. The blast snapped a 1-1 Game 7 tie and gave the Cardinals a 3-1 lead that nervous rookie closer Adam Wainwright clung to for the franchise's second pennant in three years.
"It stayed there a long time. I didn't know where it was coming down," Molina said. "When it came down, I just looked into my dugout and saw everybody jumping up and down screaming. It's the best feeling I've ever had."
Wainwright survived consecutive singles to begin the ninth and a bases-loading two-out walk by striking out Cardinals nemesis Carlos Beltran on three straight pitches. The third, a sharp-breaking curve, froze Beltran for a called strike three.
Meanwhile, even though it happens Monday Night, I am gearing up already for Giants-Cowboys:
Tiki is the whole story there …
As amazing as some of his touchdown runs have been, Tiki Barber has now done the impossible. It's Giants-Cowboys week and he's taken the spotlight away from Terrell Owens.
Word that this could be Barber's last season went from old news to bombshell in one day once the running back shifted from "leaning" to "for all intents and purposes, this is it." And as a result, it was the Giants who were answering questions about possible distractions yesterday.
For the record, Barber vehemently disputed the suggestion that his pending retirement would take away his teammates' focus as they head into Big D for an important Monday night game with T.O. and the Boys.
"It's not a distraction to my teammates, because this is purely personal," he said. "This has nothing to do with what we're going to do the next 11 weeks of the season. Maybe it affects the New York Giants for 2007, but it does not affect the 2006 Giants. For anyone to suggest that this is a distraction to my teammates or my coaches, they're off-base."
NY Times on Owens – Parcells ….
Owens has long been the N.F.L.’s most controversial player, and Parcells its most interesting coach. Owens signed with the Cowboys in the off-season, after stints with the 49ers and the Eagles. His time in San Francisco and in Philadelphia ended with controversy and fractured locker rooms.
Watching the relationship between Owens and Parcells has been a popular voyeuristic sport in Dallas and around the league.
“It’s been interesting, from time to time,” Parcells said. “But things are starting to slow down a little bit.”
Viewed from afar, Owens is less a football player than a string of headlines. The news he has created has been as mundane as a hamstring pull and as jolting as a report of a suicide attempt. The hamstring pull kept him out of most of training camp, and he dismissed the suicide report in September as a regrettable and accidental result of combining painkillers and nutritional supplements.
Fans remain on an oddly fascinating watch, waiting for the Cowboys’ implosion, with every incident seen as another charge going off.
After Owens had a couple of shouting matches last week with Todd Haley, the passing-game coordinator, Owens said he would no longer talk to Haley. He used a similar tactic with the Eagles, and it hastened his falling-out with the team.
But in Dallas’s 34-6 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday, Owens caught three touchdown passes, embraced Haley and celebrated on the star at the middle of Texas Stadium. With the 49ers in 2000, Owens first posed on that star before being toppled by an angry Cowboys player, creating an uproar that looks almost quaint by the standards now applied to Owens.
Parcells said that shouting matches with his players occurred regularly, suggesting that a chronicle of those debates would fill volumes. But he said that the attention Owens draws was emblematic of the way an increasing number of players react to authority.
“Every once in a while,” Parcells said, “you run into a guy that, for some reason — I don’t know what they all are — they have certain opinions on things, and sometimes it’s an inflated opinion of their own ability.”
He added, “I do think there are guys — you see it in all sports now — they are pretty outspoken about everything.”
But Parcells did not apply that assessment directly to Owens. The Cowboys, despite the headline-making ability of Owens, are playing down the distraction angle. That is easier to do when the team has a winning record.
I guess my source was right in Mavericks land. He keeps his job as The Mavs and Howard come to a swift agreement …
The last lingering matter was resolved Thursday when Josh Howard agreed to a four-year contract extension that will pay him about $40 million and keep the Mavericks' three most important players together through the 2010-11 season.
First, it was guard Jason Terry, who wrapped up a $57-million deal. Then it was Dirk Nowitzki's turn, tacking three years and $60 million onto his contract.
"Sometimes, Indiana math was different than Wake Forest math," Cuban, a Hoosier, said of negotiations with the former Demon Deacon. "But Josh has been great for this organization, and we're glad to have him for five more years. It's nice to get it out of the way.
"It's not like it was critically important. It's just one of those things that's just nice to get out of the way. Josh is going to work hard no matter what. That's the kind of guy he is. But now it's all done and we just have to get back to where we need to be."
Had Howard, who earns $1.6 million this season, and the Mavericks not come to an agreement by Oct. 31, he would have been a restricted free agent next summer.
The Mavs still could have retained him by matching any offer Howard received.
"It's a blessing for me and my family, so I'm going to take it and run with it," Howard said. "I love the city and love the fans. And money's not going to change me. I'm going to continue being the same guy no matter how much I make."
That he will be the same guy alongside Nowitzki and Terry was as important to Howard as it was to Cuban.
"That's one thing that Cubes has always stressed – keeping this core together," Howard said.
"I probably could have saved money by waiting," Cuban said. "But I thought I owed it to Josh to try to get it done now."
Does Texas own Nebraska? …And will they after tomorrow?
In a strange way, you can blame UT for relegating the Nebraska to second-tier status.
Since the formation of the Big 12 in '96, the Longhorns are 5-1 against the Cornhuskers. Mack Brown is 4-1 in his tenure, twice snapping lengthy home winning streaks at Nebraska's Memorial Stadium.
That includes a 20-16 victory in Lincoln in 1998 that helped propel the Longhorns back onto the national stage a year after going 4-7.
The Cornhuskers wouldn't mind the tables turning this time around.
Brown being Brown, he bristles at the notion that UT somehow magically has Nebraska's number. The game he mentioned most this week? The 1999 Big 12 title game, which Nebraska won 22-6.
"And it could have been 100-6," Brown said. "One thing we've learned, it doesn't matter what happened two years ago, or four years ago or eight years ago. It's about who is better on Saturday."
The message Brown will impart to his team this week?
"We have to really be careful that we haven't won so much," he said, "that we just expect to win."
Texas? Going into Nebraska and guarding against overconfidence? Somewhere back in 1996, our heads just exploded.
Telfair shot Fabolous???…
New York City police sources tell ESPN's Jeremy Schaap that Boston Celtics guard Sebastian Telfair is being investigated for a possible role in the shooting of rapper Fabolous.
Skylar John Jackson, 28, also known as Fabolous, was shot and wounded in the left thigh Monday night outside of Justin's, a New York club owned by hip-hop mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs. Telfair was outside of the same club Monday night, and the shooting occurred shortly after a $50,000 chain was ripped from Telfair's neck.
Telfair was observed making a phone call after the chain was stolen.
"We're investigating whether there's a connection between the reported robbery and the shooting," New York Police Department spokesman Paul Browne told The Associated Press.
After the incident, four men, including Fabolous, were arrested and charged with having unregistered, loaded weapons in their SUV.
Liverpool visits Manchester United Sunday, and with Liverpool out of form and ManU hitting on all 8, this could be unpleasant…
Liverpool go into what is already a make or break showdown at Manchester United - even in October - with an injury crisis at just the wrong time.
Skipper Steven Gerrard missed the midweek Champions League game in Bordeaux with a hamstring injury sustained during last weekend's home draw with Blackburn.
Liverpool are hoping intensive treatment while his colleagues were away in south west France will leave Gerrard fit to lead out his side at Old Trafford, where the Reds go into the game eight points behind the Premier League leaders and knowing that a defeat and an 11-point margin will be virtually impossible to claw back.
But boss Rafael Benitez also has Robbie Fowler (back) and Daniel Agger (broken hand) out of action and also unlikely to face Sir Alex Ferguson's men.
Striker Craig Bellamy believes the squad have just got to get on with things, while insisting that Liverpool have a big enough squad to cope.
Following the encouraging if not hugely entertainingt Champions League victory away to Bordeaux on Wednesday, the Welshman said: 'We have taken some criticism this season, even with the Champions League away victory we still have a poor away record despite being unbeaten at home, and we know what is at stake at United.
'But you have to get on with it and show character. There's enough players with a lot of character at this club to handle the situation.
'After the Champions League we now have Manchester
Sports Leila is big time …Good job, Leila.
Classic Leprechaun by popular demand 3:30
Wayne Rooney Motion Capture – 1:00
Crocop – Bob Sapp