• After Mickey told us that Bill Parcells has been to work everyday this week, I have no choice but to assume that he is the coach of the Dallas Cowboys in 2007. And, since he is who he is, it might be silly for us to await an announcement for him to declare that he intends to live up to his contract.
• The Houston Rockets are dangerous. They have 2 franchise players, but will they ever be healthy enough to realize their potential? And like I said when the season started, is it possible the Rockets are the third best team in the state AND the third best team in the NBA?
• Weathermen know less than talk show hosts.
• Sammy Sosa proves that it never gets dull around here.
Another crazy night of Mavs hoops …
The Mavericks' 109-96 victory over the Rockets at American Airlines Center was the latest example of why this team owns the league's best record. The Mavericks took McGrady's best shot and overcame a 13-point, third-quarter deficit in the blink of an eye.
For those of you keeping track, that's 18 victories in the last 19 games. The Mavericks have lost only once in the last 36 days.
And to think, the Rockets beat the Mavericks by 31 points in the second game of the season.
"We are a different team," said Josh Howard, who continued his All-Star push with 28 points and seven rebounds. "We've just got great team chemistry right now."
McGrady challenged that chemistry for a large portion of the evening. His 3-pointer with 7:45 left in the third quarter opened a 65-52 lead for the Rockets.
A little more than four minutes later, the score was tied. The Mavericks finished the quarter with a 24-9 rush and opened an 11-point lead midway through the final period.
The report from Houston is that Avery won the game …
The Rockets had knocked the Dallas Mavericks into a 13-point hole. Tracy McGrady had smacked them with an offensive blitz from the opening tip. The NBA's most irrepressible force was pushed toward the brink.
With that, Mavericks coach Avery Johnson, having tried so many of the options given him by a ridiculously deep roster, found the one that left the Rockets' Jeff Van Gundy with two choices — both bad.
The Mavs pulled their center, put Devean George on the floor and came up with a lineup mismatch the Rockets could not handle. With that, Dallas turned the game around, then took off on a second-half surge to a 109-96 victory on Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.
With the Rockets holding their largest lead, George replaced Erick Dampier, forcing
Van Gundy to put Dikembe Mutombo on either Dirk Nowitzki or George, or to pull Mutombo and surrender the boards.
Van Gundy stuck with Mutombo for two Dallas possessions, both ending with George 3-pointers. And when Chuck Hayes was sent in for Mutombo, Dallas destroyed the Rockets on the boards, helping the Mavs score 57 points in the last 18 minutes and improve their record to a league-best 32-8.
"The second half was a different ballgame," said McGrady, who had a season-high 45 points to go with seven assists and five rebounds. "We came out strong in the third quarter, but I think their intensity went up, and they took the game from us."
McGrady's back tightened with 3:20 left, and he exited the game at the 2:10 mark with the Mavericks leading 104-92. That prompted Van Gundy to clear his bench.
"It stiffened up," McGrady said. "Nothing major. Just tightness."
Still, a night that began with McGrady looking so strong ended with his leaving the floor for the locker room early.
"I always consider him day-to-day," Van Gundy said. "We'll see where it goes every day."
And if you thought that game was crazy, did you notice what happened with Texas-OSU last night? Triple Overtime Thriller …
Texas' Kevin Durant may soon be headed for the NBA. But on a chilly Tuesday night, Oklahoma State senior Mario Boggan showed the flashy freshman how to win tight Big 12 barnburners.
Durant seemingly sealed victory for No. 21 Texas with a three-point play. But Boggan got the ball near mid-court, raced to the left wing, spun through traffic and drained a clutch 3-pointer with 3.2 seconds remaining to clinch a 105-103 triple-overtime thriller.
The wild shot capped a wild night that ended with OSU students storming the Gallagher-Iba Arena floor. ESPN cameras caught OSU coach Sean Sutton practically fainting. Boggan racked up 37 points and 20 rebounds, both career highs, as the 12th-ranked Cowboys (16-2, 2-1 Big 12) maintained a perfect 11-0 home record.
"I bet if he goes out tomorrow and does the same thing," UT coach Rick Barnes said with a grin, "I bet he doesn't make one out of 10."
Boggan said: "Well, I don't know about one out of 10. I'll probably make four or five out of 10. But it was a luck shot."
Durant tied his career high with 37 points, but it wasn't enough as Texas (13-4) slipped to 3-1 in league play. On top of everything else, the Longhorns couldn't fly home because of bad weather. They were planning on flying to Dallas and staying the night.
Bears call out the Saints …
Did Hunter already make the Bears the hunted this week?
No, but outside linebacker Hunter Hillenmeyer's honesty in assessing the Bears' chances of stopping New Orleans' top-rated offense could be interpreted in some Cajun corners as bulletin-board material.
"They're a great offense, but they haven't won every game this year [and] we have a better record than they do, so there are ways to beat them," Hillenmeyer said Monday. "They're a team we match up well with. If we do our responsibilities, it doesn't matter who we're playing, whether we're playing the best or worst offense in the league."
He's right, and his words are more insightful than incendiary. Hillenmeyer realizes that, more than any other offense and quarterback the Bears have faced, the Saints and Drew Brees will force the Bears to play responsibility football.
Brees will expose each nook and exploit every cranny in the Cover-2 scheme. Anyone counting on the winter weather to affect the Saints' game plan, forget it.
Nobody should expect a guy named Brees to wither in the Windy City, especially not a quarterback who won a Big Ten title at Purdue, where it has actually been known to snow too. In fact, Brees has thrown only two interceptions in 258 passes during games outdoors this season compared with nine in 296 attempts under the roof.
The Bears' best chance of containing the Saints' passing game will come down to their defensive backs tackling better than they have lately against a Saints receiving corps that lives off the short pass.
Of Brees' 556 pass attempts this season, nearly half (275) traveled between 1 and 10 yards in length, according to STATS. The Saints' philosophy revolves around the idea of using Brees' accuracy to get their playmakers the ball in the open field and letting them create.
Anthony Henry is no Soriano …He will change positions to help the team…
The agent for Cowboys cornerback Anthony Henry said that he believes his client still has several good seasons left at the position but that Henry would not object to a potential move to free safety.
Cowboys owner/general manager Jerry Jones has said moving Henry from corner to safety is a possibility.
Henry played some safety as a collegian at South Florida. A move there might give the Cowboys better coverage at the position, allowing strong safety Roy Williams to play closer to the line of scrimmage.
"We do believe Anthony has several years left as one of the league's best cornerbacks," said Henry's agent, Jerrold Colton. "But, if the Cowboys feel it would be best to move Anthony to safety, he would do it."
Gregg Easterbrook weighs in with Tuesday Morning QB …
Television announcers, will you please stop saying, "It was almost intercepted" whenever a defender barely touches the ball?
"That was nearly picked off by Chicago's Chris Harris!" proclaimed Joe Buck of Fox during the Seahawks-Bears game -- about a pass that bounced off a defender who was falling down out of bounds. (And when Fox cuts to a view of its football announcers, why do we see them facing away from the field? Maybe this explains a lot of the coverage.) During the Colts at Ravens collision, Dan Dierdorf of CBS gravely intoned, "This is the second Peyton Manning pass that should have been intercepted, both were sure picks." You go catch that "sure" pick! Calling the Eagles at Saints game on Fox, Dick Stockton decreed, "Josh Bullocks of the Saints just dropped two consecutive interceptions." On both, Bullocks barely got his hands on the ball. During the Bolts-Patriots game, Jim Nantz of CBS proclaimed after a pass bounced away from a defender's chest, "It should have been picked off, that was an easy catch." As Han Solo said to Princess Leia following their escape from the Death Star, "Easy! You call that easy?"
Ninety percent of the time when an announcer says a pass "should" have been picked off, the ball barely grazed a leaping defender's hands, or the defender was falling down or going out of bounds. Announcers, of course, constantly yak about what might have happened -- "If he hadn't been tackled, he could have gone all the way!" But often declaring passes "should" have been intercepted shows a lack of knowledge about the sport, since a defender is much more likely to drop a pass than a receiver. First, the receiver knows when and where to expect the ball, while the defender does not. Second, receivers have more experience catching passes -- I wince when some announcer declares that a linebacker "should" have caught a pass he was barely able to get his fingertips on. Third, many almost-interceptions have been tipped and are wobbling as they reach the defender. Finally, there's a difference in physics. Offensive players are usually moving away from the quarterback when a pass arrives, while defenders are usually moving toward the quarterback. The zip on the ball increases if you are moving in the direction of the passer; it's simply harder to catch a pass when you cut in front of someone than when you are striding upfield. Think it's "easy" to make an NFL interception? Try running with your back toward the person with the ball, then suddenly turning around and running full speed in the direction of a pass delivered at NFL velocity. Perhaps half of possible interceptions are dropped, while only a small number of possible offensive receptions are dropped. There are reasons why this is universal across all teams.
Questions abound about Sammy …
It wasn't until the fifth question that someone asked about the Rangers' interest in Sammy Sosa, and assistant general manager Thad Levine tried to put it in perspective.
"We have a lot of internal options," Levine said. "Jason Botts will be competing for that, Victor Diaz, Marlon Byrd. [Sosa] would be competing for a spot with those guys and whoever won the job won the job."
The Rangers expect to hear from Sosa in the next few days, but if he does not accept their contract offer, they are comfortable with the group competing but might look for another right-handed hitter to compete for the DH spot in spring training.
If there was one interesting tidbit in the town meeting, which was held at an Academy Sports & Outdoors in Fort Worth, it was the Rangers' plan to take a look at top prospect Joaquin Arias in center field. Arias is a natural shortstop, but with Michael Young in the lineup every day, the Rangers don't have a lot of playing time available.
"We don't want to waste his talent," Levine said of Arias. "We think he's one of the top defensive shortstops in baseball. We'd like to see how he can do in center field and see if he might develop into a super utility guy."
Strahan needs money …perhaps a bake sale?
The same guy who inked a four-year, $32 million contract with the Giants -- of which $12 million was guaranteed -- is the same one who signed one of the worst prenuptial agreements in the history of modern professional athletics.
Who negotiated Strahan's prenup? A Fraggle? He signed a prenup that entitled the former Mrs. Strahan to 50 percent of the couple's joint marital assets and 20 percent of his yearly income for every year the two were married. All of a sudden Billy King taking on the humongous contract of Chris "No Knees" Webber seemed like a stroke of genius.
I'm no divorce specialist, but I thought the point of a prenuptial agreement was to prevent one party from making out like the gang in "Ocean's Eleven" when the marriage is over. And any prenup that guarantees half of anything -- I don't care if it's half the Oreos -- is a bad deal.
To make matters worse, Strahan put up a defense in court that was as ridiculous as the one Tyson's lawyer presented at Tyson's rape trial (I'm an ignorant savage, but I'm not a raping, ignorant savage); as asinine as R. Kelly's explanation for filming himself urinating on a teenager (Your Honor, that was my brother!); and as stupidly illogical as sprinter Dennis Mitchell's excuse for why he had an excessive amount of testosterone in his system (five beers, four rounds of sex with the wife).
Strahan's lawyer told the judge his client shouldn't be forced to uphold the terms of the prenup because Jean Strahan didn't ask for her 20 percent each year of their marriage. She didn't ask for it, so no way she deserved it -- never mind that an ironclad document showed otherwise.
Now how on Earth could Superior Court Judge James Convery not be blown away by that logic? I, for one, can't wait to use a similar defense with bill collectors. Clearly Michael Strahan was out of his league in this one. His wife questioned his sexuality, labeled him a cheapskate, and walked away with half of his money. That's a flying elbow off the top rope.
And now, some quick email:
Check out the information below. This is just another one of the 445 reasons that I wish for the Spurs and their fans to suffer for at least our lifetime on this earth. I found it on the dallasbasketball.com boards. Interesting stats about the division I thought your Sports Sturm brain would like.
Blow Me Up Dog!
Why you should still root for every Spurs loss!
- Mavs lead Division by 1 with 10 games left
- Mavs go 7-3, Spurs go 9-1
- Spurs win Division by 1 game, 58 wins to 57
- Mavs lead Division by 2 with 10 games left
- Mavs go 6-4, Spurs go 8-2
- Spurs win Division by 0 games (3-1 head to head), 60 wins each
- Spurs lead Division by 3 with 10 games left
- Mavs go 8-2, Spurs go 10-0
- Spurs win Division by 5 games, 57 wins to 52
- Spurs lead Division by 4 with 10 games left
- Mavs go 9-1, Spurs go 6-4
- Spurs win Division by 1 game, 59 wins to 58
- Spurs lead division by 2 games with 10 games left
- Mavs go 6-4, Spurs go 7-3
- Spurs win Division by 3 games, 63 wins to 60
* Spurs have won the last 5 divisions by 10 total games.
* Three of the division champs were by one game or less
* The Mavs have two 60 win seasons - each time the Spurs have also won 60+
(they have only three total)
And now one on MLS:
I like soccer. I would be happy and excited to see soccer grow in popularity in the US, and would be overjoyed to see the quality of professional soccer in the US improve. As I read internet reports of the David Beckham transfer to MLS, I am astounded that this absurd move hasn't been universally ripped.
I am too lazy to do extensive research about the business model, current profitability, and potential revenue streams for MLS. But according to http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/sports/mls/longterm/2006/mls.salaries.html, Beckham's $50M annual salary is roughly double the sum of every other player in the league. The wikipedia entry for MLS claims that only Dallas and LA have teams that turned a profit last year, and the league as a whole has been hemorrhaging money since its inception.
Is MLS honestly counting on Beckham's star power to sell enough tickets to pay the rest of the league's salaries, much less his own? Or maybe they'll make it up in jersey sales?
Let's for a moment consider other athletes in the US reputed to have "saved" or "made" a sport. I'm thinking right now of Wayne Gretzky and Tiger Woods. No question, the sports' respective popularities exploded when these guys came on the scene and captured the attention of the casual fan (and in many cases, indifferent humans), eventually converting many of these to the die-hard hockey fans and golf watchers we have today. They also have the star power and charisma that gets people that are still casual fans or indifferent humans to watch. But I'd suggest that in both of these cases, the public fell in love with guys who everyone could tell had once-in-a-lifetime talent, who were doing things that no one had ever done before, and who were young. As a nation, we're suckers for the teenager with superhuman abilities.
It is universally acknowledged that Beckham is on the downhill side of his career. While he still may possess skill superior to most MLS competition, he's far, far from the best in the world at his position, much less in the whole sport. Will he be able to dominate soccer and revolutionize the game the way the truly iconic American sports heros have in the past?
Of course not. The big draw, the only reason MLS would consider investing that kind of money in any player, is that my wife knows who he is. Probably every Insider/Entertainment Tonight/E! watcher knows who he is.
That's all well and good, but just what in the [bleep] good does that do soccer? Chicks who watch E! are not going to be lining up to catch a glimpse of David Beckham at Pizza Hut Park. The only advantage of having him in America is that it'll be easier for the American paparazzi to get pictures of him.
Will the casual soccer fan line up to see him? Maybe. The same people who were excited to see Landon Donovan come to town, or Carlos Valderrama. So what? MLS already had these fans in their pockets.
I simply don't see how this move is going to benefit American soccer. I believe that the quality of play in MLS is almost certain to suffer, as the cash-strapped league won't be able to import other quality players from Europe to raise the level of talent league-wide. In fact, the league may find itself in the position of having to accept uber-low transfer bids from European clubs for its existing talent to raise money.
I was going to rant on some more, but i'm getting tired of typing and this email is already too long. Suffice it to say, I am perplexed and upset by this move, and I hope that with the benefit of hindsight and perspective that it doesn't turn out to be the laughingstock failed bit that it feels like it will.
Jason in Memphis (formerly of Lewisville)
Reggie Bush is jacked up