Rangers have been let down by the veterans …but is it changing?
"The last two years, we've started out and been in the race into July and even August and then fallen flat. I'd much rather peak late than early."
As long as there's a peak mixed in there somewhere.
Yes, Gerald Laird, Brandon McCarthy and Nelson Cruz have all struggled at times, but while Daniels won't say it, his biggest disappointment has to be with the veterans.
At one point late in April, top two starters Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla were a combined 2-7, Michael Young was hitting under .200, while Mark Teixeira was barely above that and Hank Blalock had one home run. These are supposed to be the team leaders. They're the ones who clamored for a change in managers and celebrated when Ron Washington was hired. They have no excuses left.
"I have a tough time singling anybody out offensively right now outside of Ian [Kinsler] early on and Sammy [Sosa] early on," Daniels said. "Nobody has done what they're capable of doing. For whatever reason, we've been in a top-to-bottom slump.
"I think that was the biggest surprise in April, the way the offense turned off. Even in the middle of it, you knew that couldn't continue. We have to get more production out of the outfield spots."
Kenny Lofton's .243 batting average is the highest among the Rangers' outfielders. Frank Catalanotto will drag a .140 batting average with him when he comes off the disabled list next week.
There are signs that Young, Teixeira and Blalock are finally snapping out of it and just as encouraging is the string of five straight quality starts the rotation has reeled off. Of course, it would be best to see them get through this series in the Bronx before anyone sets off any fireworks.
"The last few games, the guys you knew would hit and carry us have really gotten going," Daniels pointed out.
Washington looks in the mirror ….
The Showalter era ended last season. The Rangers were 10 games under .500 during his four-year tenure. But in the last three years they were 10 games over .500, and during that time, their worst record at any point in the season was nine games under .500.
Washington was hired in part because he is a prototypical player's manager -- the anti-Showalter, if you will, and the results were expected to be apparent immediately.
After the first 28 games of the Washington era, however, the Rangers were eight games under .500 with a team that management had said was much improved from 2006. And from the time Washington was hired in November, he exhibited the bravado of a boxer talking smack before a big bout.
"I wouldn't want to go into a season thinking that I didn't have a chance for the postseason," he said shortly after being hired. "If it doesn't happen, I'll be shocked. It's just that simple."
When the Rangers were pursuing free-agent pitcher Barry Zito, Washington was asked why Zito would want to sign in Texas.
"Because we're going to win here," Washington said. "I mean, if he wants to be on a team watching in October, he can go somewhere else. I mean that with all my heart and soul."
The Rangers took baby steps against a submissive Toronto team, winning three consecutive games over the weekend. Still, the Rangers were an 80-82 team last year, and an objective view of their personnel losses and additions would indicate they have about the same talent level as they did a year ago.
And here we go into Yankee Stadium for 3 …
Tue. at NYY 6:05 FSNSW Mike Wood (0-0) Andy Pettitte (1-1)
Wed. at NYY 6:05 FSNSW Robinson Tejeda (3-2) Mike Mussina (1-1)
Thur. at NYY 12:05 Ch. 27 Brandon McCarthy (2-4) Chien-Ming Wang
In Phoenix, The Suns fear losing both games at home to start the series, so Nash is speaking up …
Nash, still the NBA's reigning Most Valuable Player, said the Suns have known all season that the Spurs present their toughest matchup. That, he said, makes it inconceivable they did not match the Spurs' passion and willingness to work hard for all 48 minutes of Game 1.
"I'm at a loss for why we think that we can go out there and not out-hustle them and outwork them and win games.
"All any team really has at the end of the day is how hard they worked, how bad they want it. We want it really bad for a long period of time, and then we let up for a couple of plays, and that can be the difference in a really close game.
"To me it's just the scrap, the desire and the fight and having that ability to combat their strengths and desire and their experience."
Nash's teammates were in no position to take umbrage. Their leader had tried to re-enter the game despite a gash on his nose that required six stitches to close. After Nash collided with Spurs point guard Tony Parker with 2:53 left, Suns trainers bandaged the gash. Nash returned to the court and hit a 3-pointer, but when the bandage on the gash proved insufficient, Nash was forced from the game for good by the NBA's blood-control rules.
Raja Bell, the Suns' defensive standout whose intensity never is questioned, said his teammates need to weigh Nash's words and respond appropriately.
"I think that's pretty accurate," Bell said of Nash's criticisms. "At this point in the season it is a desperate time. If you lose you go home, so I think he was pretty much on the money with that comment."
Suns coach Mike D'Antoni would have preferred it if Nash had aired his emotions to teammates inside the team's locker room, but could not disagree with his conclusions.
"I don't really (like it)," D'Antoni said, "but everybody has a right to do that. It's born out of frustration, and it might even juice himself up. We're at a point we need to not take any prisoners, so it's OK."
Meanwhile, we may have to alert headquarters, as another sworn enemy, the Detroit Red Wings, are approaching a Stanley Cup. We, of course, may need to mobilize and make sure this doesn’t happen, either.
But the Wings have just eliminated the Sharks …
All season, teams have been picking against the Red Wings. Monday night, they had a bit of an opportunity to answer those critics.
The 2-0 series-clinching victory over the San Jose Sharks was an answer to the analysts who didn't think the Wings were to going to win this series.
"The big thing all year has been the fact that, when you don't get picked to be very good, and then you're pretty good through the regular season, then someone says you're not a playoff team," coach Mike Babcock said. "We played two big, strong teams and we've done pretty well."
Patience was the key for the Wings Monday, said Babcock.
"We thought if we were patient, they would overpinch, and be overaggressive, and we would get 2-on-1s and get our opportunities, and in the end, that's what happened," Babcock said.
On the other side, Sharks coach Ron Wilson was bewildered after the game.
"I'm shocked where we put ourselves in the series and how we let it get away," Wilson said. "But I'm not shocked that Detroit beat us. They finished ahead of us in the standings and they had a great season."
Elias Says …
• When the Red Wings have had a chance to eliminate an opponent from the postseason in recent years, they have not delayed. With a series-clinching win over the Sharks on Monday, the Red Wings have now won their last 11 games when they could eliminate an opponent, extending the longest streak in NHL history. No other team has won more than eight in a row in possible elimination games.
Dominik Hasek has won the last six games in which he could eliminate an opponent, with a 0.94 goals-against-average, 95.4 save percentage and three shutouts.
• The Red Wings have reached the conference finals for the first time since 2002, the year they won their last Stanley Cup. This is the Wings' sixth trip to the third round of the playoffs in the last 13 years (1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2002), tying them with Colorado for the most over that span by any team. New Jersey and Philadelphia have reached the conference finals four times since 1995, and Buffalo clinched its fourth trip yesterday.
Youtube provides illegal boxing coverage …can’t we just ignore copyright laws on youtube? Isn’t it for the greater good? Blogging? I kid, but I don’t kid.
It took Floyd Mayweather Jr. 12 rounds Saturday night to defeat Oscar De La Hoya during a championship boxing match in Las Vegas. But YouTube users needed only a few hours to knock out HBO's plan for an exclusive rebroadcast Saturday of the pay-per-view fight.
The original broadcast featured on HBO's pay-per-view channel was available later in the weekend on YouTube. Some of the fight action seemed to have been culled from a poor-quality foreign-language broadcast. But one YouTube user uploaded a relatively high-quality copy of the 12-round fight that included announcer Jim Lampley's call and the post-fight decision.
Viewers were able to watch the fight in its entirety until shortly after 4 p.m. Monday, when the footage was replaced by a notice that the video was "no longer available due to a copyright claim by Home Box Office Inc."
HBO spokesman Ray Stallone said that "we take our copyright issues very seriously. We consider it extremely valuable programming and we reacted quickly when we saw that it was available." A YouTube spokesperson declined to comment on the fight video.
Interest, however, seemed to be somewhat tepid. Although the YouTube video that seemed to have been culled from a foreign feed drew several thousand hits, the relatively high-quality reproduction of HBO's broadcast drew, at best, a few hundred hits per round.
He is surely the best pitcher of our lifetime, but he also is “special exemption Roger” ..
Roger Clemens has a big challenge ahead of him to get in shape and take the mound for the New York Yankees. But some around baseball think the Rocket is getting off
According to his contract, Clemens will not be forced to travel with the team when he isn't scheduled to pitch. He had the same deal with the Houston Astros. David Wells, a Yankees teammate of Clemens' in 2002 and 2003, doesn't agree with that.
"I don't think I would ever do it because of the fact I personally think it would disrespect the team and your teammates," Wells said, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. "You look at the other players. How are they going to respect you? What are they going to think if you're not there pulling for the team?"
Future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux agreed with his San Diego Padres teammate.
"I can't imagine doing that," Maddux said, according to the Sun-Sentinel. "I like the game. I like the atmosphere. I appreciate what it has to offer. I want to play the whole year."
Wells was part of the trade with the Toronto Blue Jays that brought Clemens to the Bronx. The pair were then Yankee teammates beginning in 2002. Although Joe Torre said he cleared Clemens' arrangement with his veteran players, Wells told the Sun-Sentinel, "That's not the Yankee way. The Yankees have changed."
As you look for your offseason moves, you will need to see the Mavericks salary situation here …
Gordon emailed me – not that Gordon. And he wanted to make sure I mentioned “Clint Dempsey and his $120,000,000 Goal”….
I think you ought to mention Clint's goal. The first native Texan to score in the EPL as well as it saved Fullham from relegation.
He is right. Clint Dempsey is a fine Texas product, who showed up for the US National Team in the World Cup, did very well in the MLS, and now is living his dream playing for Fulham in England. They were on the brink of relegation which basically means they would play next year in AAA and lose $120M which each team gets in TV revenue from playing in the premiership. But, that is where Deuce scored this goal:
Dempsey: Fulham 1-0 Liverpool
Man City and Man United don’t like eachother
Bunny Show Jumping