Nothing says hockey to me than the controversial Don Cherry. He is hockey. And he has never been seen in the US on TV. Tonight, although in a very small role, he is here. I will have my Don Cherry sweater on tonight.
Grapes comes to the States! …
Don Cherry says he's ready for America. But is America ready for him?
That question will be answered Monday night when the star of Coach's Corner makes his U.S. network television debut on NBC.
The network announced yesterday that Cherry will appear during the second intermission of Monday's Stanley Cup final. A commentator exchange between CBC and NBC, involving Cherry and Brett Hull, was announced earlier this spring.
Hull will appear on the CBC broadcast during Saturday night's first intermission.
During an earlier conference call, Cherry indicated it will be business as usual
when he thrusts himself on the American public.
"A lot of people have written that what I say up here I would never get away with it down in the States," he said.
"I'll just go on and do what I have to do."
Cherry recalled making an appearance on a Pittsburgh broadcast a few years ago and referring to Mario Lemieux and a mullet-sporting Jaromir Jagr as "Mario and his daughter."
"That was my last time in the States," he said.
The big question is what will Cherry wear and will it pass FCC standards?
Though Cherry has yet to announce his wardrobe for Monday, he did give some advice to Hull for his appearance: "Get some plaids."
Rangers lose 3 of 4 to the Mariners …Nice gloves, boys.
Remember how, a day or so ago, it seemed like the cause of the Rangers' rotten record was starting pitching?
Well, not anymore.
The fielders, particularly scrappy Matt Kata, reminded everybody why the Rangers have the worst record in baseball. It's not because of a failure in any particular area. It's because of a failure across the board.
And so, after an 11-6 loss to Seattle dropped the Rangers to 20-37, rookie manager Ron Washington was left to explain another ugly loss. A few minutes after the game, Washington was sitting in his office with the heel of his hands digging into his forehead as if he was trying to alleviate a migraine.
Nope. It was just the pain of watching the Rangers lose again.
"We lost that one today with defensive miscues," Washington said. "Two innings cost us the game today. We had a miscue and they ended up making us pay for it."
OK, first the disclaimer: Tejeda wasn't particularly good, either. He was charged with seven earned runs in 5 2/3 innings and nudged the starting rotation's ERA to 6.58, the fifth consecutive day it went up. The worst ERA by a full-season rotation is 6.64 by the 1996 Detroit Tigers.
Tejeda even made a throwing error in the first inning, which led to Seattle's first run. But the Rangers rallied to tie the score and then took a three-run lead in the bottom of the fourth.
Despite loading the bases by allowing a single, a walk, and a hit batsman, Tejeda had a chance to get out of the fourth and induced a chopper from Jamie Burke. Kata, who made three errors in his other start at third base at Seattle this year, got to the ball late and bobbled it, allowing Burke to reach on what was ruled an RBI infield single.
Tejeda, who said he was a "little" bothered by the misplay, walked Ichiro Suzuki to force in a second run and then allowed a three-run double to Jose Lopez.
"He came back and made a pitch, and we didn't make the play," Washington said. "If we made that play, we would have gotten out of the inning."
Washington has urged his fielders to use their backhand on balls to their sides, suggesting it will allow more momentum to carry them to first base and make for easier throws. Washington said Kata tried to get in front of the ball and simply didn't have enough time to do that.
"It bothered me a little," Tejeda said. "It was kind of a routine play. In the situation we are in right now, we have to make those plays."
Draft day is the only game the Rangers have left …
Members of the Rangers' draft team have spent the past few days in silent mode, and that's likely to continue until Thursday, when the 2007 First-Year Player Draft is held.
There were rumors that the group actually would take time out for things such as lunch and perhaps a visit to restroom facilities, but in terms of communicating with the outside world or the media, it'll likely remain Team Quiet.
Which could be good news for Rangers fans. With the team playing poorly and little help available because the organization has not infused the farm system with quality players in recent years, tunnel-vision focus is probably a good thing.
This is an important draft for Texas. Because of key free-agent losses during the off-season, the Rangers have five of the first 54 picks. Their first choice will be at No. 17 and then they have picks at 24, 35, 44 and 54.
"It's a great opportunity for us," said general manager Jon Daniels, who surfaced from the "war room" briefly and actually returned a phone call.
The 2007 draft is being touted as one of the deepest in recent years. Baseball America, considered the "bible" of scouting reports and the draft, evaluates it in this manner:
"The talent comes in all shapes and sizes: power-hitting outfielders, pure middle infielders, high school pitchers with eye-popping strength, and an intriguing crop of college left-handers."
Some swings and misses?
The Rangers have not fared well in the draft in recent years. A look at some of players the Rangers have selected recently with high draft picks:
Kasey Kiker (2006, first round, LHP) Got first pro victory last week after seven losses. Struck out 17 in two games for Class A Clinton. Only 19, so best-case scenario is he would be in Arlington for the 2010 season.
John Mayberry Jr. (2005, first round, OF) Hitting .232 for Class A Bakersfield but has 15 home runs. Does not look like major league player at this point.
John Whittleman (2005, second round, 3B) May be team's top position prospect besides the injured Joaquin Arias. Hitting .339 for Clinton. Still two or three years away.
Taylor Teagarden (2005, third round, C) Former UT catcher leading Bakersfield in hitting at .339. Still, has never been higher than Class A.
Thomas Diamond (2004, first round, RHP) Currently sidelined after Tommy John surgery. Has never pitched above Double A.
Eric Hurley (2004, first round, RHP) Top hope for the future after the departure of John Danks. Will the Rangers test his major league readiness?
K.C. Herren (2004, second round, OF) Playing well for Clinton, but has never been higher than Class A, while Hunter Pence, taken 13 picks later in the same draft, is blossoming for the Astros.
As we wait for Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday-
Cavaliers – Spurs get it on with plenty of connections …
More so than even the Dallas Mavericks, coached by former Spurs point guard Avery Johnson, the Cavaliers followed Popovich's blueprint for building a championship organization.
In 2005, the Cavaliers hired former Spurs player and director of basketball operations Danny Ferry as general manager. He brought Spurs scouting director Lance Blanks along and named him assistant GM. Then Ferry made Brown, a Popovich assistant for three years, his head coach. At the time of his hire, Brown had spent two seasons as Indiana Pacers associate head coach under Rick Carlisle.
One of Brown's first moves was to hire Hank Egan, his coach at the University of San Diego, as his top assistant. Egan, who also coached Popovich at the Air Force Academy, had spent eight seasons as one of Popovich's most trusted Spurs assistants.
Soon after, the Cavs came to be known as "Spurs East."
In fact, the ties between the two finalists are both tight and enduring. The final horn in the Cavaliers' 98-82 victory over the Detroit Pistons hadn't sounded Saturday when Ferry, Blanks and Brown received text messages from Spurs front office members offering congratulations.
"It's a great opportunity to play against guys for whom you have the ultimate respect," said Spurs general manager R.C. Buford. "You've been through the battles and won together and reached the pinnacle together. That bond doesn't happen very often. So when you have that with guys like Mike and Lance and Danny, their success is almost as important as your own.
"You take great pride in sharing their successes with them, knowing how hard they approach their jobs and the integrity with which they approach their jobs."
In this instance, familiarity breeds not only respect, but imitation. The Cavaliers aren't built around a dominating big man, as the Spurs are, but their basic approach under Brown begins with a Spurs-like commitment to defense and offensive execution — even if the offense is more perimeter-oriented.
Pronger suspended for Game 4, tonight on NBC …
Throughout his nearly two years as the Ducks' general manager, Brian Burke has made it clear that his team will be big and tough and will back down from no one.
He added muscle and character to a formidable reserve of talent. He weeded out soft players and old players and those who played smaller than their size.
And in what was considered a potential Stanley Cup-winning coup last summer, he acquired defenseman Chris Pronger from Edmonton for two promising young players, two first-round draft picks and a second-round pick.
The price was high but worth it for the Ducks, who had run out of determination and scoring spark in losing the Western Conference finals to the Oilers last spring.
Pronger, 6 feet 6 and seemingly able to span the width of the rink, is the rare intimidating presence who can make opponents change their thoughts or direction. He has averaged 30 minutes 44 seconds per game during the playoffs and is the top-scoring defenseman in postseason play, with three goals and 14 points.
But the team that has lived and thrived on toughness might die by it now because Pronger allowed his temper to prevail over his prodigious talent again.
By giving in to impulse Saturday and wielding a vile forearm that briefly knocked out Ottawa forward Dean McAmmond, Pronger earned the wrath of the NHL and jeopardized the Ducks' chances of winning the Cup. He won't be allowed to play today in Game 4 of the finals, an absence the Senators will be eager to exploit as they try to win a second successive home game and assume control of the series.
That blow also cemented Pronger's reputation as a cheap-shot artist, a shameful choice for someone who has the talent to be so much better.
Any discussion of Pronger's career requires mention that he was the NHL's most valuable player and its best defenseman in the 2000-01 season. That he was a three-time Canadian Olympian and five-time All-Star.
It also demands mention that the suspension levied on Sunday by Colin Campbell, the NHL's chief disciplinarian, was the seventh of Pronger's career and second in two playoff rounds. He previously sat out one game for striking Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom in the head with his forearm in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals; that hit, like the blow to McAmmond, wasn't punished during the game but was judged illegal after video review.
As a repeat offender, Pronger might have been punished more severely had he done this during the season or early in the playoffs. He got off lightly only because Campbell, a former NHL player and coach, considers the Cup finals sacred and a one-game suspension to be harsher now than at any other time.
"You do put some thought and lots of weight into that aspect," Campbell said. "This one took a lot of thought…. It didn't jump out right away at us. But there were some simple aspects to it.
We’re coming for you Kobayashi …
A San Jose man smashed the world record for hot dog eating at a contest Saturday,
gobbling up more than 59 franks in 12 minutes.
Joey Chestnut, 22, shattered the record held by Takeru Kobayashi of Japan by downing 59 1/2 "HDBs" - hot dogs and buns - during the Southwest Regional Hot Dog Eating Championship at the Arizona Mills Mall in suburban Tempe.
Kobayashi's old record of 53 3/4 was set last year at Nathan's Famous Fourth of July Hot Dog Eating Contest, held at Coney Island in New York, said George Costos, who helps runs the regional contests for Nathan's.
Chestnut placed second in last year's world championships, consuming 52 hot dogs.
"He's unbelievable - he just keeps on going," said Ryan Nerz, who works for Major League Eating, which he describes as "a world governing board for all stomach-centric sports."
"These guys' numbers have just been going up at a tremendous clip," Nerz said. "I always thought there was a limit - a limit to the human stomach and a limit to human willpower - but I guess not."
Chestnut won a free trip to New York, a year's supply of hot dogs and a $250 gift card to the mall.
Beckham plays so good that they don’t want him in MLS now …
Former England captain Alan Shearer has said David Beckham is too good to be joining Major League Soccer in the United States.
Beckham returned to international football on Friday, crossing for John Terry's goal in the 1-1 draw with Brazil at Wembley, and is expected to retain his place for the Euro 2008 qualifier with Estonia on Wednesday.
However, his England renaissance may be short-lived lived because of his move to Los Angeles Galaxy after his contract with Real Madrid expires at the end of the month.
Shearer said: "I don't know if David is regretting going to Los Angeles Galaxy. But he's better than that standard, without a shadow of a doubt.
"He showed that with his performance against Brazil. I wouldn't worry about him taking part in the rest of the qualifiers, though.
"Yes, there are some long flights involved. But he can handle that and he won't have forgotten how to compete in the space of three months."
However, Shearer feels a trip to Austria and Switzerland for next summer's championships could be beyond the 32-year-old.
"The problem might come when Steve McClaren gets round to assessing his squad for the finals, provided we qualify. Then there will have to be a judgment made," he said.
"Yet I don't think Steve will be concerned about that right now. It's not time to think about what happens over Christmas and January, when David will not be playing any football.
"All Steve wants at the moment is to make sure England qualify - and Beckham can help him do that."
Is it ever too early to have Goose’s power poll for the NFL? …
15. Dallas Cowboys
A new coach brings a new attitude on defense. Wade Phillips is going to turn his young speed loose, so you'll see a more aggressive scheme in 2007 than under Bill Parcells in 2006. But any success by the Cowboys will depend on which quarterback shows up – the Tony Romo who flourished in November or the Romo who floundered in December.
Final 2006 rank: 13
Comedy from the Office: Creed’s blog …
The worst part about Raisin Bran is the bran. Hands down.
I saw a man fishing bottles out of a garbage can yesterday and it reminded me of a funny story.
I don’t like hockey. They should get rid of the pucks and put those shoe blades on their sticks – then you’d have a game on your hands.
To be a good pick pocket, you’ve got to look like a regular Joe. Don’t dress up in fancy colors or jewelry. That’s where the Gypsies have it wrong. Pair of slacks, t-shirt, hat – that’s all you need. And it helps to have tiny hands, too.
I’ve had enough of this LBJ character.
If I had to pick between a chimp and a spider, I’d take the chimp. Harder to forget where you left it.
Mississippi Braves Manager loses his melon
Jonnie Morton knocked out in MMA debut