Thursday, March 15, 2007

Dallas loses, the City Freaks!

Look, everyone needs to simmer down. I just got this email:

Hey Now,

The Mavs will never win the championship with Dirk. He is a great player that cannot get it done. There is no evidence on the positive side. There is game 3 in 2006 on the negative side.

Last night w/Dirk: He missed a free throw to clinch at the end of the game, he missed a shot in OT to win, and he missed a shot in 2OT to tie. He can't get it done.

I am bummed out and realize that the Mavs championship is 5+ years away.

Jim in Plano

I am not here to pick on Jim. I got a dozen emails just like this one. But let’s all simmer down. Yes, you blew a lead. Yes, you missed clear shots to win. Yes, you let Steve Nash do whatever he wanted late in the game.

But what conclusions can be drawn? Other than the MVP, what was lost last night?

Please, understand it drove me crazy, too, but let’s….all…breathe….and read the calendar.

Don’t you remember the painful headaches and sleepless nights from last spring? They will be back. So prepare yourself.

Suns win a double overtime thriller

Wednesday night at American Airlines Center is the best of what the NBA has to offer. Two championship contenders, two MVP favorites, two unbreakable wills refusing to give an inch for 48 minutes. Or 53. Or 58.

"It's up there," Mavs coach Avery Johnson said when asked if the game was as intense as any he's seen in the regular season.

"It just shows how our guys really didn't have any quit in them."
When the final drop of sweat fell, the conference race suddenly became that much tighter. Phoenix (50-14) pulled within 2 1/2 games in the race for the conference's top seed.

The Mavs (52-11) now own something they didn't have since that infamous 0-4 first week of the season, a losing streak. Their franchise-record 17-game winning streak was snapped in Monday's 117-100 dud at Golden State and Phoenix snuffed out the 23-game run at home.

"I'm ready to play again on Friday [against Boston]," Josh Howard said. "I'm ready to get this game behind us. We're not a team that dwells on the past."

Howard and the rest of the Mavs don't want to dwell on the fourth quarter -- they had a 15-point lead to open it -- and the last 33 seconds of regulation, especially.
In the final half-minute, Howard missed a free throw and fouled Steve Nash on a 3-point attempt. Dirk Nowitzki missed another pair at the line, allowing Nash to make up the last three points of a six-point deficit with a dagger from beyond the arc with 2.7 seconds left.

The Suns quickly took the lead in the first OT, only to watch Jason Terry nail a line-drive 3-pointer over Nash to tie it at 120 with 4.9 ticks remaining.

Gramps view

This deep into the NBA regular season, the contending teams with serious postseason aspirations usually welcome a rare flash-point game, if for nothing else, just to size up the situation.

Under those guidelines, Wednesday night was a perfect pairing.

Mavericks and Suns.

The Western Conference has three super powers, and this was a tango for two at the downtown arena, while the idle Spurs watched with interest from afar.

But for those addicted to entertainment, this is your matchup, the best matchup in the league when it comes to fun and gun. David Stern will certainly second that motion after Wednesday night's treat for a national TV audience.

Then again, a local shrink alert has been issued for all precincts. Be on the
lookout for an outbreak of rampant paranoia after the Mavericks somehow blew a victory in regulation and then lost 129-127 in double overtime.

Mark Cuban may be the first patient this morning. He was shaken enough at the final
buzzer to shove an ESPN camera while stomping off the floor in a huff. So much for the new and subdued Cuban, huh?

The Mavs have had nothing close to a crisis for the entire season. It's been a
continuing fiesta for this team since mid-November.

But ...

No, it's not yet a crisis. Instead, call it a sudden sweat.

The Suns have pulled to within 2 1/2 games of the Mavs in the battle for the No. 1 playoff seed in the West.

The top seed doesn't guarantee anything in the postseason, but if the Mavericks, with 19 games to go, somehow lost that jewel, would doubts start creeping around at playoff time?

In tournament news, here are some listings for Channel 11

Thursday's games (March 15)
NCAA: Boston College vs. Texas Tech, 11:25 a.m. (Ch. 11)
NCAA: Texas A&M vs. Pennsylvania, 2 p.m. (Ch. 11)
NCAA: Vanderbilt vs. George Washington, 4:10 p.m. (CSTV)
NCAA: Duke vs. Virginia Commonwealth, 6:20 p.m. (Ch. 11)
NCAA: Indiana vs. Gonzaga, 8:45 p.m. (Ch. 11)

Friday's games (March 16)
NCAA: Virginia vs. Albany, 11:15 a.m. (CSTV)
NCAA: Memphis vs. North Texas, 11:30 a.m. (Ch. 11)
NCAA: Wisconsin vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, 1:45 p.m. (Ch. 11)
NCAA: Texas vs. New Mexico State, 6:25 p.m. (Ch. 11)
NCAA: Arkansas vs. Southern Cal, 8:45 p.m. (Ch. 11)

Aggies distraction

Two nights before the Texas A&M men's basketball team opens as the No. 3 seed - its highest ever in the NCAA Tournament - in the South Regional, Wright's comments were aired on HBO's CostasNOW, College Athletics and Academics.

Wright, who in 2005 opted for the NBA draft after his junior season at A&M, was one of two professional athletes whose comments were used in the Tuesday evening show to help debate whether athletes are truly students at their respective institutions. Wright has not graduated from the university.

"In certain classes you see, you know, a quarterback, me, a running back and then a farmer. So, it definitely was a little bizarre," said Wright, who was drafted No. 15 by the Nets. "But we're all in poultry science for a reason. We're in this class because we need to get this grade. We're not really trying to learn about chickens."
A&M athletics director Bill Byrne was in Lexington on Wednesday for the Aggies' first-round game against Penn on Thursday afternoon.

While watching the Aggies practice, Byrne told a handful of media members that he didn't see the show hosted by Bob Costas but had been made aware of Wright's comments.

"It's unfortunate it would come across like that. What I understand from Antoine, because we had one of our people talk to him, was that he is very remorseful about this [show]," Byrne said. "He said it was a lengthy interview [and] that only a few minutes was used. I don't know because I haven't seen it."

A&M basketball coach Billy Gillispie said he was unaware of the issue when asked minutes before his team took the floor to practice at Rupp Arena on Wednesday.
Gillispie, who is in his third season at A&M, coached Wright during the 2004-05 season.

Byrne said things have changed under Gillispie, which is something he said Wright told Costas, though that part wasn't aired.

"What he said was there was a change when the new coaching staff came aboard, and when the new people came on board there was much more emphasis on academic preparation and graduation," Byrne said. "Since we made the coaching change, I think virtually every one of our athletes who are on track to graduate are either graduating or on track to graduate. All of our seniors will graduate in the next six months."

Byrne said no one from the Costas show tried to contact him, but he wasn't surprised by the timing.

"I was surprised we didn't get a phone call about it, but that is very typical of this time of year," Byrne said. "You understand there is going to be a variety of stories and slanted stories. There is always going to be an academic story at this time of year."

See the video here -

The Red Wings caught Nashville

The Detroit Red Wings surged past Nashville in both the NHL and Central Division standings with a pair of wins.

Less than a month before the playoffs, Detroit coach Mike Babcock isn't sure that matters.

"Is there a team we want to play in the first round?" Babcock asked Wednesday following a 4-2 victory over the Predators. "No. They're all too good.

"In the Western Conference last year, the top four seeds lost in the first round. Well, the West is even closer than it was last year."

Jiri Hudler scored twice, including the go-ahead goal, a night after his goal was the winner in Detroit's 5-2 win in Nashville.

"I thought we did a good job against their top guys," Predators coach Barry Trotz said. "[Pavel] Datsyuk didn't really hurt us in the two games.

"Hudler is not the first guy you think of, but he really hurt us. He was the difference in both games."

Hudler made it 3-2 early in the third period after tying the game with 3:37 left in the second.

Both teams competed with postseason-like intensity and that led to plenty of checking, shoving, swinging gloves and trash talk.

"It's always tough to play against them because the games make a difference,"
Nashville's Kimmo Timonen said. "It's like a playoff game for us -- and for them."

Check this out – both teams are very injured. Not exactly how you want to enter the playoffs.

Detroit was without Zetterberg (back), Todd Bertuzzi (back), Dan Cleary (knee), Johan Franzen (upper body), Tomas Kopecky (shoulder), and Danny Markov (upper body), and lost Valtteri Filppula (lower body) during the game. ... Zetterberg hopes to return before the playoffs begin April 11, but isn't really confident he will. "I've never had a back injury before," he said. ... Nashville was without Forsberg (upper body), Martin Erat (knee), Scott Hartnell (foot), Scott Nichol (thumb) and Steve Sullivan (back). ... Erat will miss up to four weeks after injuring his right knee colliding with Arnott on Tuesday night.

CC Sabathia on the lack of the black man in baseball

C.C. Sabathia looks around Cleveland's clubhouse and sees something missing.
"There aren't very many African-American players, and it's not just in here, it's everywhere," Sabathia said Wednesday between morning workouts. "It's not just a problem -- it's a crisis."

Sabathia, the only black player on the Indians' 25-man roster last season, feels baseball could be doing more to promote its game to inner-city kids who are gravitating toward basketball and other sports.

"I go back home to Vallejo," Sabathia said of his offseason time in California, "and the kids say, 'What's baseball?' It's not just an issue for my hometown, it's an issue for the whole country. I think Major League Baseball should do something about it. I don't know exactly what they could be doing, but I know it's not enough."
According to a 2005 report by the University of Central Florida Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, only 8.5 percent of major leaguers were African American -- the lowest percentage since the report was initiated in the mid-1980s. By contrast, whites comprised 59.5 percent of the majors' player pool, Latinos 28.7 percent and Asians 2.5.

Sabathia appreciates some of the steps baseball has taken to make itself more appealing to young blacks such as the Urban Youth Academy, which opened last year in Compton, Calif. Also, there's the RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) program, which has attracted more than 120,000 kids worldwide.

Still, it's not enough to Sabathia, who along with Florida's Dontrelle Willis are the only prominent black starting pitchers in the majors.

"That's amazing. That's unbelievable," he said. "I don't think people understand that there is a problem. They see players like Jose Reyes and Carlos Delgado and just assume that they're black."

Gary Matthews denies knowing anything about anything

Gary Matthews Jr. ended more than two weeks of silence Wednesday after being linked to a steroids investigation, denying for the first time that he took human growth hormone.

Matthews allegedly was sent HGH in 2004 from a pharmacy that is part of a widespread steroid investigation.

Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno and commissioner Bud Selig had been pushing Matthews to address the issue.

"I have never taken HGH — during the 2004 season or any other time," Matthews said in a statement. "Nobody has accused me of doing so, and no law enforcement authority has said I am a target of any investigation for doing so."

Angels general manager Bill Stoneman was glad Matthews addressed the issue.

"We're finding out at the same time you are," Stoneman said. "We're happy to find out that he's saying that he never used HGH. We're an organization that feels there isn't a place in our game for any of these illegal substances."

HGH was not banned by baseball for players with major league contracts until 2005. This investigation appears to be targeting the suppliers of the substances, not those who might have received anything from the suppliers.

Stoneman said the team had no plans to discipline Matthews. Selig said it was inappropriate to comment while his office is investigating the case.

Matthews explained the delay in his denial by saying he and his representatives needed to determine how he got linked to the story.

ARod’s interview dissected further

For once Rodriguez didn't come across as plastic or whiny. He was straightforward, unequivocal, succinct. There wasn't a whiff of griping or -- here's another upset -- psychobabble. Go listen to it. He took responsibility for his failures. He admitted he felt "lost" and "confused" last year as the catcalls at Yankee Stadium rained down and his failures mounted. He said as embarrassed as he was, he had only himself to blame when Torre demoted him to eighth in Game 4 against the Tigers. He said the booing got to him, all right, he was miserable, and he was guilty of pressing too much, especially in the clutch. He said he knows that he needs to change.

"I can't be concerned with [the fans'] reaction," he said.

If that's true, it wasn't the only sign Rodriguez may finally be learning. The other sign came when he was twice asked about Jeter and twice said, "I'm not going to talk about Derek Jeter."

What? No more fodder for the sideshow debates about who should be Yankee Prom King?

Rodriguez has made some monumental gaffes since arriving here. But the WFAN interview was not one of them. That doesn't mean Rodriguez won't flub something big tomorrow. I'm just saying, for one blessed day, anyway, even the main quote that was plucked out and waved around on a spit as further proof of how self-involved Rodriguez is sounded different when heard live and in its entire context.

Rodriguez was talking about the juncture he sees himself at now entering his fourth season as a Yankee, knowing he can opt out of his contract at season's end. He'd just finished owning up to all his past miseries, and what he said next seemed uttered out of hard-won realism, not vanity. It didn't remotely sound like one of his cheap grabs for affection. Or a threat.

"It's a do-or-die situation," Rodriguez said. "At some point either New York is going to say, 'I've had enough of this guy, get him the hell out of here' -- and we have an option -- or New York is going to say, 'Hey, we won a world championship, we had a big year, you're a part of it, we want you back.' "

And really, what part of that logic is wrong? Spanking him for it feels gratuitous.

Rodriguez was immediately asked if he wanted to finish his career in New York and he shot back, "One hundred percent. That's exactly what I want to do. But I also want to make sure fans, management, I'm wanted here ... I'm not running away."

The last comment was the false note in the interview. No matter how well this year goes, it would be a huge surprise if Rodriguez doesn't exercise his option and hit the open market again. That's just smart business. But he should shut up about it from now till November rather than pretend otherwise.

Turning the tables on WFAN hosts Mike Francesa and Chris Russo now, A-Rod asked them, "What would you do if you were me? Just quit? Go home?"

And both took turns giving him advice. Don't think so much, they said. Just let your talent take over. Laughing now, Francesa added: "The other thing I'd do is tell people to kiss your rear end."

"That's pretty much where I'm at now," Rodriguez said.

If only that would come true.

Dan McDowell loves football

Sparky and Me


Robert Bentley said...

Attention city of Dallas and its residents:
Do not release parade plans early. Do not start chanting "MVP" until the game is all the way in the bag.
Kidding aside, last night was only a dress rehearsal for June, and I have a feeling our boys will be fine. Remember, they scratched back from 13 down to even get into position to choke it away. Hopefully this loss will add to the chip on the team's collective shoulder that helped get them this far.

Brad C said...

"I'm here with Sparky Anderson, manager of the Detroit Tarheels..."

artfromtex said...

the Mavs are doomed. they won't make it out of the West.

i've had that feeling all along. as great as this regular season has been, it means nothing. NOTHING! at the end of the day the Mavs are not that good on defense. better than the Nellie era? yes, but still weak inside. Damp and Diop can't finish a play offensively. they both have bad hands, so passing it to them down low is a waste of time. and when push comes to shove; Dirk, Stack, Terry and the rest would rather shoot fade-away jumpers than take it to the hoop. in the playoffs that gets you beat. the Spurs/Suns/Heat go to the line because they go to the hole.

the Mavs are still P's. we gotta hope that Stoudemire gets hurt again and that the Spurs are worn down by the time we play them. if those two things don't happen- "bye-bye".


artfromtex said...

btw, it's not really knee-jerking. it's more like seeing that little fear that's been in the back of your mind for 4 months come to life in the form of that big bad ass from Lord Of The Rings. all along it's been "what about the Suns and Spurs", especially now that the Suns have Amare back. we saw it last night. how many points in the paint? ridiculous.

fickle said...

I don't understand - I'm looking at Bob Saget, and hearing Bob Sturm do a voiceover?

Jake said...

The only sunshine I saw last night was the greatness of Stack.

Antoine Walker is a jackass. So all the things they said about poultry science is true??? This class is about chickens???

Brandon said...

Is anybody else annoyed by Norm's continual on-air smacking?

Please, Fredo, don't let the man eat on the air anymore.

ST3 said...

The only thing that really gets my goat about last night is the over-fellatiating (invented a new word, there) of the Suns by ESPN. The way everyone's reacting, you'd think that the Suns won by 30, and Dirk was 1 of 25 from the field.

It ain't that bad. The Mavs have won 2 of 3 from Little Stevie and the Boys. The total difference in points is less than 10. So I'd say they're pretty even.

Calm down; step off the ledge. It's gonna be all right.

Rick Bentley said...

Call me in June, Mavs. You have now reached a level of sports expectation similar to the level the 90's Cowboys achieved. I do not care what you do until it is playoff time. At playoff time, you must destroy. If last night were part of a playoff series, the Mavs would be down 1-0. Still 6 more games to decide this thing. But it's not...and I can't bring myself to care that much about a regular season "L".

cracker1743 said...

Man, Dallas fans need to calm down. I've never seen so many fans in one city kneejerk so badly on their sports teams. I realize not everyone here's like that, but I've got a buddy up there who's echoing Art's comments, and is ready to check into a hotel in his dress blues. Good God. (Ok, so maybe I egged him on a little with the "introducing your 2006 playoff Mavericks!") Maybe Luis will come around again this year with his warm and fuzzy stream-of-consciousness to soothe the kneejerkers.

Oh, and I'm shocked, SHOCKED, to find out that big college sports programs offer gut courses to athletes. Certainly a world class university like A& how'bout Texas...nope? ah, USC?...ixnay? mebbe Georgetown?...nope? ok maybe Duke...yeah probably Duke...would ever do such a thing.

cracker1743 said...

^would NEVER do such a thing^

Ty Walker said...

I didn't realize Dan and Ben Rogers worked together in Ohio...

Brandon said...

At least we won't get beaten down by 70 win talk now.

Jay Clendenin said...


"i've had that feeling all along."

give me an effing break. and yes, it is knee jerking. pretty convenient that you've felt this way all along, but just now said so.

just realize that you knee-jerking idiots sound ridiculous.

Formerly Anonymous SOONER said...

Antoine Wright is just another example of Aggie cheating to do anything to win something in the conference.

Get a recruiting program up and running and you wont have to cheat your way through everytrhing.

artfromtex said...

Mr. Clendindininindinin

dude, alot of Mavs fans have had this fear all along. the fear that the win-streaks and the bad-ass regular season record were just fool's gold. i'm not claiming to be some great prognosticator, i'm just telling the truth. naturally when you play the one of the two teams that stand in your way and they rape you in the paint, it's going to sound the alarm. earlier in the year, the Suns were still getting used to playing with Amare again. remember, the dude's missed almost 2 full seasons.

it's not knee-jerking. if i had been saying "man, we're unstoppable" for the past 4 months, then, yes, this would be knee-jerking. but i think alot of Mavs fans have been apathetic to the regular season results. much like the Mavericks players. i think we've all been in a state of suspended animation since the end of Game 6.

can we just fast-forward to the freakin' playoffs?


FBombAndy said...

ZOMG, it took a near-perfect game from Amare, a great game from Nash with 2 chances at a 3, and missed free throws from Josh and Dirk. Oh, and Devean was out, and Amare jacked up Devin Harris early. Everything bounced Phoenix's way. Can they get that 4 times out of 7?