Friday, November 17, 2006

What a Sports Weekend!

A big Sports weekend. With all due respect to the Stars trip to Atlanta, the Mavs home and home with Memphis, and OU-Baylor, we are focusing on 3 major sporting events at Bob’s Blog. Well, actually 4, but since we are pretty sure New England will trounce the Pack on Sunday (is there any chance New England loses 3 straight games?), I won’t beat you down with that one.

Major Sporting Event #1:

Michigan – Ohio State

The Game has always been more than just another game. This year, though, the stakes are higher than they've ever been.

It's No. 1 and unbeaten Ohio State facing No. 2 and unbeaten Michigan, and if this one feels different, it's because it is different, very different. This one has been elevated to a new level in the storied rivalry that many call the greatest in college football. No. 1 vs. No. 2 has never happened in this series.

But that's what will occur Saturday afternoon at raucous Ohio Stadium. Michigan and Ohio State have met three times before as undefeated teams, in 1970, 1973 and 1975, but never before has so much been riding on The Game.

The Big Ten has been decided in 20 of the meetings between the teams, and 42 times the game has had some impact on the conference title.

This time, though, Michigan-Ohio State will not only decide the Big Ten champion, but the winner earns the opportunity to play for the national title Jan. 8 in Arizona.

"This game Saturday -- Michigan at Ohio State -- is a Super Bowl game," ABC analyst Paul Maguire said. "The BCS championship game is something else. This goes beyond all championships.

"This is a game that if you don't watch, there is something wrong with you. I don't care if your team is playing on television someplace else. You better watch this game, because it's going to be a tremendous defensive struggle."

This week’s college football TV slate

Major Sporting Event #2:

Colts at Cowboys

Coach Bill Parcells has a sense of what Sunday's game against Indianapolis might do for his team.

If the Cowboys can upset the undefeated Indianapolis Colts (9-0), it could have a huge impact on the rest of the season.

It could build momentum and change the attitude of his team.

To have a solid shot at a playoff berth, the Cowboys probably need to finish 10-6, which would mean going 5-2 in the remaining seven games.

"We're playing good teams by and large most of the way, and I think this win would do us a lot of good confidence-wise," Parcells said.

A victory could also give the Cowboys back-to-back victories for just the second time this season since knocking off Washington and Tennessee. The Cowboys are also seeking some home-cooked confidence.

They are 2-1 at home this season and haven't been home since a demoralizing 36-22 setback on Oct. 23 to the New York Giants. Dallas also has the luxury of playing five of the final seven games at Texas Stadium.

"You need to start adding them up right now," Parcells said. "This is the time of year you've got to start doing something."

Glenn ready to go

Cowboys veteran wide receiver Terry Glenn expects to return to the starting lineup Sunday against the Colts.

Glenn practiced for the second consecutive day after missing last week's game because of cartilage irritation under the right kneecap.

Glenn said the rest last week helped the recovery and said the pain he had when running and cutting is gone. He is listed on the injury report as probable.

Do the Cowboys depend completely on Flozell Adams

Bill Parcells often speaks with certain players about how important their production will be against a particular opponent.

This week, the Cowboys' coach talked with left tackle Flozell Adams.

Indianapolis defensive end Dwight Freeney, who is considered one of the top linemen in the NFL, will line up against Adams on Sunday at Texas Stadium.

Freeney doesn't have a lot of sacks, only 1½, but he does have a team-leading 22
quarterback pressures – and that concerns the Cowboys.

Parcells has raved about Freeney, explaining that his sack total is down because of constant double- and triple-teams. Adams will receive some blocking help from a running back or tight end.

But mainly, it's Adams against Freeney.

If we are going to constantly point out that Peyton Manning is 3-6 in the playoffs, shouldn’t we also recall that Tony Dungy is 5-8 ? Let’s not forget he was a playoff choker in Tampa Bay first…

If the Indianapolis Colts need another cause to champion a title run, here is one to consider: If they win, they will prove that a good-guy coach who stands for something more important than football is capable of shepherding a team to greatness.

The questions will be there until Dungy wins it, just like the questions will dog Peyton Manning until his day comes:

Is Tony tough enough? Mean enough? Inspiring enough? Is it possible to be a normal person and not a control-mad workaholic with a chip on his shoulder? It's impossible to look at his checkered postseason history -- and the fact Jon Gruden won it all just a year after he left Tampa Bay -- and resist the temptation to ask those questions.

I look at the kinds of coaches who have had success in the post-salary cap era, and they all fall under similar headings. All of them are control freaks. Most of them are fiery orators who can wound a player with one word and rebuild his self-image with the next. Mike Holmgren. Mike Shanahan. Bill Cowher. Belichick.
The only man who comes close to Dungy, at least in the sense that he gives respect and receives it in return, is the retired Dick Vermeil.

"With Tony, it's like when you disappoint your father,'' said guard Jake Scott. "He doesn't scream and yell, but you know, just by how he's looking at you, that he's really disappointed in you. You don't want to let him down.''

Recent NFL history suggests that fear can work, if it's properly utilized. The coach of the Colts' opponents this Sunday, Bill Parcells of the Cowboys, is an absolute master at using creative tension to bring out the best in his players.

With the Colts, though, you're looking at a team whose veteran leaders are self-motivated by nature, who don't need threats to sustain them. If a man like Dungy is ever going to win it all, it will come with this group.
This year.

Peyton’s Amazing numbers

Lebreton on the Colts move from Baltimore …good stuff…

Baseball Free Agency rolls On

The biggest splash came overseas, in Japan, and the buzz surrounding the Red Sox’ $51.1 million bid for pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka began dwindling only when the Blue Jays agreed in principle to a lavish two-year contract with the free-agent slugger Frank Thomas.

The deals completed in between — namely the left-handed reliever Jamie Walker’s three-year, $12 million agreement with Baltimore and the infielder Mark DeRosa’s three-year, $13 million contract with the Cubs — were, in their own ways, just as lucrative.

“What is the definition of wild?” Mets General Manager Omar Minaya said. “I don’t think there’s enough in the free-agent market to fulfill those needs, so the only option is for trades. And I think there’s going to be a lot of activity there.”
But that will not necessarily stop the Mets or the rest of baseball’s big spenders from throwing loads of money at what is viewed as an average free-agent class. Minaya said he had extended contract offers to a few free agents. He declined to specify to whom, though the Mets are seeking another second baseman, like Julio Lugo, and want to upgrade their starting pitching.

For the first time in a few years, the Mets and the Yankees will probably be competing for the same players. Both teams are interested in Barry Zito and may seek similar fall-back options among the second-tier pitchers.

In Colorado, The Rockies may move Jason Jennings …Go Get Him, Rangers! Home town boy who can pitch, stay healthy, and not cost a fortune! Get him!

Colorado, our beloved AAA½ team masquerading as a major-league franchise, is listening to trade offers for Jennings.

What, are the Rockies crazy? Cheap? Or both?

Looking to find a center fielder and a relief pitcher at bargain-basement prices, O'Dowd might be forced to trade Jennings, a 28-year-old right-handed starter and one of the few players who has been in a Rockies uniform long enough for us to know his name without a scorecard.

Despite such weak hitting behind him that Jennings could have sued the Rockies for lack of support, he grew into a man in full last season. He's the character guy that Generation R professes to be about. Jennings, about as fancy as a pickup truck and every bit as hard-working, is underappreciated by fans and team management, according to teammate Todd Helton.

Major Sporting Event #3:

Matt Hughes vs. Georges St Pierre

Forget Michigan-Ohio State. Saturday's real battle between No. 1 and No. 2 takes place in the octagon at Arco Arena in Sacramento.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight title match between champion Matt Hughes and challenger Georges St. Pierre just might be the perfect mixed martial arts showdown.

Rarely have two opponents at the top of their game offered such an intriguing blend of contrasts and complements as those possessed by Hughes, one of the greatest champions in the history of the sport, and St. Pierre, considered by many his heir apparent.

Hughes takes on Canada’s military history

Prior to the first Hughes-St. Pierre fight in October 2004, Hughes said "Who wants to lose to a Canadian in a street fight?" St. Pierre has alleged more slurs prior to this bout.

Hughes was asked by a Canadian reporter Thursday if such comments were mere pre-fight hype and whether he wanted to clarify his attitude towards those north of the border.

"Well, if you look back at history, I don't think Canada's had big wars or anything like that. They're not a violent country, can we say that? Would you agree?" the 170-pound champion asked the reporter.

Told Canada had done its bit, Hughes responded: "You've done your bit. Well I'm from America and I think we're fighters, as a country. Look where we're at, we're all over. That's what I was talking about."

So Canadians aren't fighters, Hughes was then asked.

"I don't see you guys venturing out trying to help the world out, we'll say that," he responded.

UFC president Dana White chimed in: "Put that in the headline, Matt Hughes hates Canadians. Pay-per-view Saturday night," said White.

Hughes kept going.

"Some of you guys definitely like to twist your words around, we'll see if that's what you do. But I've got no problem with Canada. I like Canada, as my website goes I've got a lot of people in Canada who like me, ordering this, ordering that or just showing their support."

"That just ended, that's over." said White to laughs.

St. Pierre then entered the fray.

"If Matt thinks there is no warrior in Canada, he's going to be in a war Saturday night, I can tell you that right now."

St. Pierre did not seem irked at Hughes' take on Canada's world relations. But he has clearly not appreciated some of Hughes' other comments.

"There is some stuff you can tease a person (about) in public. Some stuff you can say and some stuff you can't," he said Thursday.

St. Pierre said last month that Hughes had told a Los Angeles station that "Georges is French and the French didn't make war with us. They don't have a real warrior spirit. They don't have any heart. So the fight is going to be easy. Georges is going to give up because of that."

So, My Picks:

Ohio State 27, Michigan 19
Indianapolis 27, Dallas 20
Matt Hughes Submits St Pierre, 3rd Round

And, I could easily go 0-3.

Small of the Back

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