Congratulations, Rangers Fans, you have Sammy Sosa …
Sammy Sosa has come full circle.
Sosa is on the verge of signing with the Rangers, the team he began his career with as a 16-year-old in 1985. He was a minor leaguer then, and will be inking a $500,000 minor league contract now, with an invitation to major league spring training and a lot of incentives.
A source close to negotiations confirmed Wednesday that the Rangers and Sosa are expected to finalize a deal in short order. Sosa worked out for the Rangers at Ameriquest Field in Arlington on Monday and had dinner with owner Tom Hicks and general manager Jon Daniels. Neither Sosa nor his agent, Adam Katz, could be reached Wednesday.
On the Rangers' side, though, there was excitement over adding a player with 588 career home runs, even though Sosa didn't play in 2006.
"All he ever wanted was an opportunity," Rangers manager Ron Washington said, "and I'm happy the Texas Rangers are giving him an opportunity to come in. He has a great attitude. It's hard to say how things are going to be in the season. But what I've seen, I've been impressed with. With his pedigree, I think we would be remiss if we didn't try to bring him in."
Is Dirk the MVP? …no way! We must give it to Steve Nash again! He has invented basketball since he moved to Phoenix, just ask Bill Simmons!
The debate, however premature, has begun once again. As we near the halfway point of the season, who is the NBA's MVP?
Survey those in these parts, the overwhelming answer is Dirk Nowitzki. Mavericks coach Avery Johnson admits he probably didn't campaign enough for his franchise player last season.
Well, not this time around.
"I don't like to false-promote guys," Johnson said this week. "I think if a guy is worthy of something individually, I'll say it."
Nowitzki, as Johnson has repeated with more frequency lately, is worthy.
"He's up there with what he's doing," Johnson said. "Just watch the games."
Johnson wasn't about to slight the obvious candidates, quickly listing Steve Nash, Gilbert Arenas and Tracy McGrady. Throw in Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, and the MVP talent pool is pretty deep.
Quite a group, but Nowitzki is the only choice for Johnson.
"There are a lot of guys out there," he said. "What he's doing night in and night out, I wouldn't take anybody else over him."
This is getting ridiculous: Spurs Lose AGAIN …
Their season having reached a new low, the Spurs trudged off the AT&T Center floor Wednesday night with another loss, unable, among other things, to count to five, let alone beat a Los Angeles Lakers team missing two starters.
With Kobe Bryant scoring 34 points, more than a few of which he accumulated by pounding the ball over Tim Duncan's head, the Lakers held on for a 100-96 victory. The loss was the Spurs' seventh at home, equaling their total from last season.
The loss also once again raised questions about the direction of the team and the makeup of its roster. The Spurs looked tired at times, rudderless at others, committing 19 turnovers and missing 16 3-pointers — none of which approached the level of embarrassment as when the team took the court for the fourth quarter with
only four players.
"Our attitude was not the best," Manu Ginobili said. "We were hanging our heads, feeling sorry for ourselves, getting upset with the refs.
"If we really want to make it to the end and be the team we usually are, we need to step up and play better — and more professional."
Hitting a few shots also would help. Duncan scored 26 points and Tony Parker 25, but the Spurs made only 6 of 22 3-pointers. In Monday's loss in Chicago, they made 6 of 23.
"We've got a lot of guys who have shots who aren't taking them and taking some shots that are contested," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "We're just really out of whack as far as the shooting is concerned."
Bill Simmons – Suns lover …
The Phoenix Suns.
I watch all of their games. I rewind plays to see what they're doing and how they're doing it. I learn about basketball from them. I revel in their splendidry, and I don't even think splendidry is a word. They're the most consistently entertaining basketball team in 20 years. They have a chance to be historically good. You could be bouncing your grandkids on your lap someday and telling them that you watched the 2007 Suns.
Naturally, nobody's talking about them. Everyone's tired of hearing about Nash at this point, and since they don't have the best record in the league, there isn't any urgency to make a fuss about them. But if you care about basketball at all, if the sport has ever meant anything to you, if you remember the Magic-Bird Era fondly in any way, if you're remotely interested in watching a professional sports team peak ... then you need to follow the Suns. They're sniffing at true greatness. I'm not saying it will happen, just that it could. You never imagined that an NBA team could score 111 points a game, shoot 51 percent from the field, shoot 81 percent from the line, make 40 percent of its 3s, double as the best transition team since the Showtime Lakers and still manage to be half-decent defensively, right?
Well, it's happening. And it's an exceedingly relevant development for two reasons:
1. We're in a weird time in sports right now. There isn't a dominant football, baseball, basketball or hockey player. There isn't a dominant boxer. Our two transcendent athletes are a tennis player (Roger Federer) and a golfer (Tiger Woods). We haven't seen a dominant team since the Patriots rolled off 31 of 33 victories during their last two Super Bowl seasons ... and as much I loved that team, there was never a point where you could have definitively said, "That team is playing on a higher plane than everyone else." Ever since MJ retired (the second time) and the Yankees got old, there's been a greatness drought with team sports.
2. The last great basketball teams were the Lakers and Celtics from the mid-'80s. Both were blessed with selfless superduperstars (Bird and Magic), genuine Hall of Famers (McHale and Parish for Boston; Worthy and Kareem for the Lakers) and valuable role players (DJ, Ainge and Walton for Boston; Cooper, Scott and Green for the Lakers). And both teams reached heights that haven't been approached since. They were the last two teams that dominated in a competitive league and routinely submitted those occasional "not only are we winning this game by 25 points, just send the tape to Springfield after it's over" games.
In a related story, the Suns are 26-2 in their last 28 games. Here were their two losses:
Dec. 22: They lose to the Wizards in OT (144-139) in a game that Arenas tied with a 3-point play in regulation, then Nash missed a wide-open 3 that could have ended it.
Dec. 28: They lose in Dallas by two (101-99) when Nowitzki made a jumper with 0.1 seconds left.
With two reasonable breaks (Nash making the 3-pointer, Nowitzki missing the jumper), the Suns could be working on a 28-game winning streak right now. I've mentioned that to three people over the last 48 hours and all of them said the same thing: "Wait a second ... whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat??????"
It's true. You can look it up.
Clarifying the Beckham contract …
Is Beckham's contract with the Galaxy really worth the reported $250 million?
No, and it's not even close. Leiweke refused to discuss the details of Beckham's deal, but league sources confirmed that Beckham's guaranteed salary will be around $50 million over the entire five-year length of the contract. That's hardly chump change, but it's still less than the salaries of a lot of U.S. sports stars.
Nor will Beckham's salary bankrupt MLS. Per the league's new designated-player rule, MLS's owners (who otherwise share the costs for all player salaries) only have to contribute $400,000 a year for each of the league's 13 designated-player exceptions. (Right now Beckham is the only one.) The rest of Beckham's salary comes from Galaxy owner Phil Anschutz. The result: Anschutz is on the hook for around $48 million guaranteed with Beckham, while MLS owners only have to pay $2 million.
Don't worry about Uncle Phil's ability to pay: He has a net worth of $7.8 billion, according to Forbes.
There is more to Beckham's deal than the guaranteed salary, however. Beckham will also earn 40-to-50 percent of Galaxy jersey sales and an undisclosed share of ticket revenues. And that's not all. "There are certain aspects of the deal that are ultimately about the upside value of the league as a whole that David can participate in," says Leiweke. "Our partners all had to sign off, and they did. We had a couple of interesting board calls, but they did."
Long story short: Beckham may or may not earn $250 million over the next five years,
but the majority of his income will continue to derive from endorsements and not from the Galaxy or MLS. From my perspective, it's a shame that the phrase "$250 million contract" became gospel in the media, because it's terribly misleading and just not correct.
In any case, Leiweke feels confident about the agreement. "This is an economic deal that makes sense for everybody," he says, and as long as Beckham doesn't suffer a serious injury or become a total bust on the field, I'm inclined to believe he'll be worth the investment.
Stars with two important wins this week; beat Calgary last night …1 more game until the All-Star game…
The Stars dominated for large parts of the game but had to survive a late push from the Flames. The line of Lundqvist, Barch and Mathias Tjarnqvist proved a handful for the Flames defense, forechecking hard and forcing turnovers. Lundqvist scored his first NHL goal after Calgary defenseman Andrei Zuyzin made a bad pass across the crease.
When that line wasn't doing physical damage, the trio of Eriksson, Stefan and Jere Lehtinen was skating the Flames into the ice. Mix in a strong performance from the Finnish line of Niklas Hagman, Jussi Jokinen and Antti Miettinen, and you had a Stars team that was firing on all cylinders.
That was huge for Dallas as it allowed the Stars to finish a four-game homestand with two wins and put some space between itself and the teams fighting for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference. The Stars, who are sitting in sixth place in the conference, improved to 28-18-1 (57 points), while Calgary fell to 24-17-4 (52 points). Dallas has another tough game Saturday against a Minnesota team that is 24-20-3 (51 points).
Aikman on Favre …
When you ask Troy Aikman if he thinks Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre will return to play another season in the National Football League, he chuckles.
He chuckles not because the issue is trivial or irrelevant, but because it has become an annual ritual in pro football for so many years.
"Brett is a friend of mine," Aikman said during a conference call with reporters on Wednesday. "We have had great competitions over the years back when I was playing. We have had conversations since I got into being an analyst with Fox about some of the things he has gone through as a quarterback and when you start winding down your career."
Aikman recalls retirement talk attaching itself to Favre as far back as the 1996 Super Bowl in New Orleans.
"Going into that game that he was getting ready to play against New England, he had commented at that time if he won that game he may in fact retire. So we have been talking about Brett's retirement for a decade now."
It doesn't make sense to Aikman for anyone to offer an opinion about whether another player should retire or not.
"It really comes down to what he wants to do," Aikman said. "If he can be productive and play at the level he wants to be able to play at, and he still loves doing it, why would he not do it? I don't know why it is when a player gets to a certain age, everybody is quick to say this guy should retire."
Aikman, who will call the NFC Championship game telecast between the New Orleans Saints and host Chicago Bears on Sunday, personally thinks Favre will return.
"But it's not something I've given a lot of consideration to simply because we have talked so much about it," Aikman said.
Aikman, the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last summer, said as far as he is concerned, Favre's skills are at a high enough level to help his team win games.
"It wasn't that long ago he was throwing for 4,000 yards," Aikman said, referring to Favre's 2004 season. "I've always believed that various weaknesses within teams get exposed through the quarterback position. If your defense isn't playing well, then you are constantly playing from behind as an offense, forcing throws and doing things you might not otherwise do. If you are not running the ball particularly well, then you have to throw the ball all the time and that's not good overall for a quarterback."
Aikman said the Packers' weaknesses as a team in the 2005 season resulted in Favre's ineffectiveness.
"If he was 25 years old they'd be saying, 'Hey, he had a tough season but he's shown us in previous years how great a player he can be.' But when you get to a certain age, immediately down years start being construed as 'This guy can no longer do it.' I believe he still can be a productive quarterback, as I believe he was this year. But it's true of all quarterbacks, regardless of age, you have to have good players around you. That's even more true when you start getting older, because you cannot carry a team like you could when you were younger."
Sturm -- Didn’t know if you’d seen the most recent list of best-selling NBA jerseys (see below). No Mavs made the list. Not really surprising, I guess. Have a good weekend. -- Chris
NBA’s Best Selling Jerseys
1. Kobe Bryant, Lakers
2. Dwyane Wade, Heat
3. LeBron James, Cavaliers
4. Allen Iverson, Nuggets
5. Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets
6. Steve Nash, Suns
7. Vince Carter, Nets
8. Gilbert Arenas, Wizards
9. Shaquille O’Neal, Heat
10. Stephon Marbury, Knicks
Best Selling Teams:
1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Miami Heat
3. New York Knicks
4. Chicago Bulls
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
6. Boston Celtics
7. Denver Nuggets
8. Philadelphia 76ers
9. New Jersey Nets
10. San Antonio Spurs
This has nothing to do with performance, scheme or Parcell's preferences for bigger linebackers. I was just curious if it is totally out of the questions to suggest Roy play linebacker because of his size. I did pick some linebackers I knew were smaller just for comparison.
According to nfl.com:
Roy Williams 6'0" 229 lbs.
Derrick Brooks 6'0" 235 lbs.
Tedy Bruschi 6'1" 247 lbs.
Bradie James 6'2" 250 lbs.
Dhani Jones 6'1" 240 lbs.
Lofa Tatupu 6'0" 238 lbs.
Zack Thomas 5'11" 228 lbs.
Jonathon Vilma 6'1" 230 lbs.
Al Wilson 6'0" 240 lbs.
I also glanced through the sizes of strong safeties. There are some that are similar in size to Roy, but most are in the 5-10 to 6-1 and 195-210 lb range. I doesn't look like his height is much of a factor. Why wouldn't the Cowboys suggest he either bulk up or trim down so he wouldn't be a tweener?
I wouldn’t do it
Hold your wee for a Wii