Here you go, and pay special attention to the Newberg Night Details below…
Everson Walls proving to be a great friend …
Everson Walls made a career out of making big plays for the Cowboys.
Now, Walls, who has the second-most interceptions in Cowboys history, could be making a play to save a former teammate’s life.
Former Cowboys running back Ron Springs is in dire need of a kidney transplant and Walls has been identified as a match.
“He has been tested and he is a match,” Springs said from his home in Plano on Tuesday. “But nothing has been decided. I’ll know more on Friday.”
Walls did not return phone calls Tuesday.
But those who know Walls best said he would do anything to help his best friend. Walls, a former cornerback, and Springs were Cowboys teammates from 1981-1984.
Springs, 50, has hereditary type-2 diabetes and had a foot amputated because of a staph infection. Kidney failure was brought on by muscular fibrosis.
“It’s major,” former Cowboys running back and teammate Tony Dorsett said. “He has been through an awful lot. He needs a transplant badly.”
It happens 5 times a year, and it happened last night: Turco wets the bed …
Just when it seemed Stars goalie Marty Turco had been taken off the hook for an uncharacteristic turnover, he got hung out to dry Tuesday night.
In a 3-1 loss to Columbus — the Blue Jackets’ first win ever in 11 contests in Dallas — Turco lost control of the puck on the game’s first goal and seemed destined to pay for that mistake as the Stars’ power play couldn’t bail him out despite multiple opportunities.
Then Philippe Boucher struck with a rocket from the blue line, tying the game early in the third, and Turco appeared to be out of trouble. Until 40 seconds later, when a Dallas neutral-zone turnover sprung Anson Carter, and Turco bobbled Carter’s shot right to Dan Fritsche for the close-range backhand winner.
“They were just errors and gift-wrapped goals,” Turco said, “that we just ... I grab 100 pucks a day like that. I just can’t have couldn’t have happen. ... that. The guys need me to field those pucks and move it clean or freeze it. I usually make things look easy, and tonight I made it look pretty difficult.”
One great man, Lamar Hunt fights for his life …
American soccer and football pioneer Lamar Hunt was fighting for his life in a Dallas hospital Tuesday, and friends and family of the 74-year-old owner of Major League Soccer and NFL teams were hoping for "miracles."
Hunt has battled cancer for several years and was hospitalized Nov. 22 with a partially collapsed lung. Doctors discovered that the cancer has since spread, and Hunt has been under sedation since last week.
"They're trying to make him as comfortable as possible," said Carl Peterson, president and general manager of Hunt's Kansas City Chiefs. "He's battling a very courageous fight. We'll continue to hope that miracles will happen."
A founding member of the old North American Soccer League as owner of the Dallas Tornado in 1967, Hunt also started the Columbus Crew and Kansas City Wizards as a charter investor in Major League Soccer. He later bought FC Dallas in 2003 before selling the Wizards earlier this year.
If you love soccer or football, this should bum you out. It was a pleasure to meet him a few times. One of the kindest celebrities you will ever meet.
Laura Gainey, as written by Red Fischer …
In his years in hockey, glory has not been a stranger in the Gainey household. Neither has grief.
I have never met Laura Gainey, but I know a lot about her, starting with a call her father received about 16 years ago.
It was after a pre-game skate, and the youngest of his three daughters was on the line. Colleen, who was only 5 at the time, was crying. She had been kept home from school because she wasn't feeling well.
"We'll have a nice nap together," Bob's wife, Cathy, had promised her daughter. "You'll feel lots better. I'll be with you in a minute."
Seconds later, Colleen heard a crash, and when the child rushed toward the noise, she found her mother unconscious on the bathroom floor.
Now, a terrified Colleen wailed over the telephone: "Daddy! Daddy! Mommy is on the floor in the bathroom. She's not moving ... she's on the floor. What do I do, Daddy?"
The news was as bad as it gets: a brain tumour. Malignant. Cathy's only slim hope for survival was massive surgery, followed by five weeks of radiation, five days a week.
Five years later, after more major surgery, after too many weeks of chemotherapy and discomfort and tears, Cathy Gainey was taken away from her family. She was only 39.
The depression that preceded and followed her mother's death put Colleen into a clinic for a month. Laura, who was 14, plummeted into the ugly, mind-bending culture of hash, marijuana, acid and speed. She was only a teenager, but in its own clawing, gnawing way, in her mind these terrible drugs were the only way out.
"What she was doing was burying feelings of anger and depression," Gainey told me in a gripping, one-on-one interview on one of his visits from Dallas. "Anger over her mother's illness. Isolation. Abandonment. The kids, I think, take something like what happened to Cathy ... as being deserted. They know on a conscious level that their mother didn't ... wouldn't desert them, that the last thing in the world she'd want to do is leave them.
"Laura bottled up some of the emotions. Others, she acted out in the wrong way. She started to cover the pain by dropping out on drugs for a few hours at a time, and that slowly increased until it was almost constant."
There was denial, Bob told me. He would bring up the subject, and then there would be more denial.
More anger. More drugs.
Laura, the teenager, eventually won the fight of her young life. She was a volunteer on the Picton Castle, whose captain described her as a "a well-loved crew member, very dedicated, very hard-working and very passionate about being on the ship."
Gainey is strong. He is brave. He played through more pain, I think, than any athlete I have ever known. How, though, does he get through this? How does any parent?
He is a private person who picks his friends carefully and always has made it a point to do the same with words when he's not completely comfortable with people he doesn't know well. But few people I know have a better way with words when the occasion demands it.
The Astros beat the Rangers to the Jason Jennings punch …
Just four days after losing pitcher Andy Pettitte to the New York Yankees, the Astros on Tuesday landed Colorado Rockies righthander Jason Jennings in a trade that cost them three young players.
Jennings, whom the Astros will plug into the No. 2 spot in the rotation behind ace Roy Oswalt, was acquired along with righthander Miguel Asencio for outfielder Willy Taveras and pitchers Taylor Buchholz and Jason Hirsh.
"It's obviously a big piece of our puzzle that we've tried to solve all offseason, get that solid No. 2 starter and put him in our rotation," Astros general manager Tim Purpura said.
Jennings, 28, owns a career 58-56 record and 4.74 ERA in six seasons with the Colorado Rockies, including 9-13 with a 3.78 ERA last season. A product of Baylor University, he was the 2002 National League Rookie of the Year. Jennings made his major league debut in 2001 but did not pitch enough to lose his rookie status.
The Dallas native will be a free agent following next season when he'll make $5.5 million. The Rockies offered a three-year, $24.5 million extension with a club option, but Jennings was reluctant to sign based on the escalating free-agent market.
"I'm excited to go to a good ballclub, a team that has playoff aspirations every year, which is something I've yet to experience," Jennings said. "At the same time, I've been in Colorado my whole career and have had a lot of good relationships up there. It's definitely a business, and I understand that, but I'm looking forward to a new opportunity with a new team."
Taveras, 24, started in center field for the Astros the past two years, hitting .278 with 33 stolen bases last season. The 25-year-old Buchholz (6-10, 5.89 ERA), and Hirsh (3-4, 6.04 ERA) split time between the Astros and Class AAA Round Rock last season. Hirsh, 24, was expected to be part of the Astros' rotation next year.
Taveras, Buchholz and Hirsh nearly were traded to the White Sox last week for Jon Garland, but the deal fell apart.
Hirsh would be the Astros equivalent of Danks, so I am not saying it was a cheap move. But I thought he was the type of pitcher that would really make sense for the Rangers. Of course, this Zito thing keeps dangling out there…
Kapler is now a minor league manager? …who knew?
Popular Red Sox outfielder Gabe Kapler today announced his retirement, though he is going to stick with the organization.
The Red Sox named Kapler the manager of the Greenville Drive, the team’s Single-A team in South Carolina (which plays in the South Atlantic League). Kapler replaces Luis Alicea, who has joined the major league staff as first base and infield coach, as Greenville’s manager.
"I have been thinking about this transition for many years, and believe this to be the right time,” said Kapler. “This will afford me the opportunity to make an impact in the lives of young men, not only to help them develop as baseball players, but also more importantly, as human beings. "
“I had ample opportunity to continue my playing career, but feel that I can give so much more as a manager and a leader. I feel this decision will be extraordinarily fulfilling to me personally and professionally and look forward to tackling the challenges that lie ahead. I am ecstatic that the Red Sox, which I think is the best organization in baseball, believe in me enough to give me this opportunity.”
“The Red Sox are very pleased that Gabe Kapler has decided to stay in the organization as he begins his post-plating career,” commented Boston’s Director of Player Development Mike Hazen. “We feel that Gabe will be a big asset to the Red Sox as he works with some of the younger prospects in our system.”
Kapler appeared in 72 games for the Red Sox last season, batting .254 with two homers and 12 RBIs after recovering from a torn Achilles' tendon. Kapler played a backup role for parts of each of the last four seasons in Boston.
The following will hurt me more than it will hurt you. I love hockey. But, I fear for hockey. I was there last night, and for the um-teenth time since the season began, I found myself pretty bored by the National Hockey League. I plan on writing a bit of a longer essay about this on vacation, but, here is what I am finding in the newspapers of America from other journalists who seem to fear the downfall of hockey. Again, these are not from the media that don’t care for hockey. These are from long time hockey writers, who like me, love the sport but fear for the future based on the present:
Boston Globe says Hockey needs fighting back …
Note to NHL: Bring back the fighting, as fast as possible, I'm begging you.
In the spirit of full disclosure, it is without question that my sentiments are influenced by watching what most often has been an emotionally bankrupt Bruins team here in 2006-07. Even when there is the rare case of group indigestion along the boards, I have taken to murmuring in the press box, "Please, don't anyone get mad down there. Whatever you do, don't throw a punch! Gentlemen, above all -- manners."
They must be listening, because, golly gee, I've yet to even hear a discouraging word uttered, never mind witness a right cross to someone's kisser. Did all the skating suits lose their spit and vinegar when they walked away from the humiliating beating they took at the collective bargaining table? Sure looks that way.
Honestly, isn't the politeness of the product killing you? If you are of a certain age, maybe 30 or older, you must remember when every lineup had at least a couple of guys who showed up each night just aching for a fight. Bob Probert come to mind? Terry O'Reilly? Tiger Williams? Games had a pulse, oozed passion.
No doubt, the whole thing got carried away, to the point that we had to witness the sad spectacle of staged bouts that really had no context within the, uh, battle. The whole fight theme got beaten to death, if you will, and wasn't so much disgusting as it was downright silly and boring. A true fight was a spectacle. A staged bout was a farce. If you watched enough, you knew the difference, as sure as you knew art from pornography.
So the Lords of the Boards went about cleaning it all up, tossing the boxers out with the turnbuckle, with the hope that the game would capture the imagination of America's TV-viewing public. To do that, the Lords believed, they couldn't have the cavemen carrying cudgels and beating one another into the ice surface. And that thinking had some merit around 1990.
But look where American TV has gone since then. There is no taste standard. There is no dignity factor. The uglier and the gorier, the more outlandish and the more prurient, the better. Hate entices, blood simply sells. And we can't wait to watch. (Save yourself the e-mail, because you don't have an argument, unless your clicker got frozen on Cartoon Network or Animal Planet.)
In Vancouver, horrible news about the television audiences in each city falling further …
It's some of the other cities where the news is exceptionally disturbing. Take Florida, for example, where there was the expectation of a 1.0 share for the Panthers on FSN Florida and it came in down a whopping 77 per cent.
If that wasn't bad enough, along came the numbers from SportSouth in Atlanta, where the Thrashers have an excellent team this year and one would think the numbers would be significantly higher simply because of where the team is in the standings. Not so. The numbers were down a 10th of a rating point and fully 70 per cent below expectations.
In New York it's so bad the Islanders, who appear on Fox New York, are virtually to the point where the viewership does not even rate a number, although this was before coach Ted Nolan got the troops going and one would expect this to improve. But the whole city was down as both the Devils and the Rangers suffered pretty significant decreases as well.
Detroit was another sore spot. Traditionally one of the strongest hockey markets for obvious reasons, the Wings got hammered early this season.
Obviously some of the downturn can be attributed to the success of another Mike Ilitch-owned franchise, the Tigers, who made the World Series, and the Wings haven't been as entertaining in the regular season as they were under previous coach Dave Lewis.
But even considering last season's first-round playoff ouster, this was a massacre, the numbers down almost 50 per cent over last year's figures. And last year's figures were a far cry from when the sport was going strongest in 2001.
The only good news is that these numbers are so discouraging, it appears there's nowhere to go but up.
In Forbes, the Sabres faced an empty arena a few years back. They had to drastically slash prices, and now they have huge crowds Are the Stars listening? …I cannot justify the Stars ticket prices, and the open seats are showing every night…
To help get the fans back, Quinn lowered season ticket prices to $1,160 from $1,600 and dropped per-game ticket prices from $68 to as low as $49 for a center-ice seat. Comparable seats start at $137 at a Toronto Maples Leafs game. "If we were wrong, we'd be looking at a 25% drop in revenue and I'd be looking for another job," says Quinn.
The new pricing strategy helped expand the fan base as more parents could now afford to bring their kids to the games. Attendance rose 13% in the 2003--04 season, despite a mediocre 37--38 record, including an eight-game losing streak in December that prompted the coaches to want to trade some players. Golisano said no, make it work with what you have--and spend more time practicing shots. The coaches added a half hour to each practice, and by the end of the season the Sabres had risen in scoring from 29th to 6th place.
But that momentum faded with the NHL owners lockout that canceled the 2004--05 season. Player salaries had been rising faster than revenues, and owners had demanded a salary cap. The players finally acceded but not in time to salvage the season. Golisano used the lockout time wisely, holding frequent meetings with players, coaches and management "so the players weren't disenfranchised with the owner, unlike other NHL teams," Quinn says.
With the new player contract came new on-ice rules aimed at making the game faster, higher-scoring and less of a street brawl. Hooking an opponent's skate with your stick is now outlawed, as is clutching (grabbing on to your opponent). The premium is now on skating--and speed.
So Golisano signed players who could flourish with that style of play, such as former Phoenix Coyotes captain Teppo Numminen, Chris Drury (Colorado Avalanche) and Kotalik (drafted from the Czech Republic). The team made it to the playoffs with a record of 52 wins and 30 losses, losing in the conference finals to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The playoff run and the team's $31 million payroll let the Sabres, a beneficiary of the new revenue-sharing pool, clear almost $4.6 million in profit last season. They could have earned a lot more but, unlike most teams, decided against raising ticket prices during the playoffs. "The previous owners jacked up prices for the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the community had a ripped-off feeling. We wanted to negate that," explains Golisano, who has poured roughly $20 million into the team for working capital.
The fans' goodwill has carried over to this season and season ticket sales increased 69%, to 14,860.
Forbes team Valuations for the NHL …
And their look at the Stars ledger …
The collapse of the Dallas Stars in the first round of last season's playoffs could not have come at a worse time for the franchise. The team has experienced declining ticket sales for two straight seasons as well as weak television ratings. A strong showing in the playoffs could have given the franchise, which has beefed up its marketing and sales department to sell more season tickets, a needed boost at the box office. Signing the concussion-prone Eric Lindros to a one-year deal for the 2006-07 season is not the fix the team needs for a run for the Stanley Cup.
Newberg Book Party – TONIGHT
What: Book release party for the 2007 Bound Edition of the Newberg Report
When: Wednesday, Dec. 13, 6pm - 9pm (but consider arriving closer to 5:00)
Where: Tin Star restaurant, 2626 Howell Street in the Uptown area, a few minutes north of downtown Dallas
What else: Ranger players Ian Kinsler, C.J. Wilson, Kameron Loe, John Danks, and Taylor Teagarden will sign autographs and will conduct a Q&A session as well -- the cost of autographs is simply the purchase of the 2007 Bound Edition ($25)
What else: Your purchase also gets you a voucher good for one complimentary Rangers ticket for each ticket you purchase at regular price for a regular season Rangers game in 2007 (with a few date restrictions); you may use it to buy one and get one free, buy two and get two free, and so on
What else: Tin Star will take 10% off your food and drink order (discount does not apply to alcoholic beverages) when you tell them you’re there for the Newberg Report event
What else: If you buy a $25 Tin Star gift card while you are there, you will get a free $5 gift certificate for yourself
What else: We will raffle off two baseballs signed by Michael Young during the event
Damon does Matt McC – brilliant!
Vince versus Hoge