As the story below indicates, there is just 1 year left on his deal, so you would like to keep him from having to be franchised. But, given your choices, I might lean that direction. If you lock him up now, you are rolling the dice that he is what you think he is. You will have to start negotiations with him at Matt Schaub’s deal (below, 6 years - $48 million), and if he fades in 2007, you will be stuck. However, if you let him play this year, and he is awesome, you will still owe him a ton of money, but you will then have almost 30 games of evidence to work with. It may cost you another $10-$15 million, but you would be happy to pay it.
Romo, of course, would like to do his deal now …
The Cowboys' regular season does not start until Sept. 9, but quarterback Tony Romo hopes to have a new contract completed by the time he attempts his first pass against the New York Giants.
"I'd definitely like it before the season began, but you never know how these things go," he said. "I know the Jones family. They know me. We'll come to a conclusion."
Speaking at the Dallas All Sports Assocation's Hall of Fame Luncheon at Maggiano's in Northpark Center on Monday, Romo said the Cowboys and his agent have discussed a new deal. Romo is entering the last year of his contract and will make $1.5 million this season.
Because Romo has started only 11 games, including one in the playoffs, finding a compromise might take some time. If they do not reach a deal, the Cowboys could place the franchise tag on Romo, which would pay him the average salary of the five highest-paid quarterbacks in the league. However, owner and general manager Jerry Jones has said he is optimistic a deal can be reached.
"I don't think about that stuff," Romo said. "Whenever they start talking [more], it'll play itself out the way it should. Whatever's fair is fair."
Schaub’s deal …
Matt Schaub's contract with the Texans is worth $48 million over six years. The deal contains roughly $7 million in guaranteed money.
Starter's money. He'll net $20 million in the first three seasons, before a $10 million option bonus comes due in March 2010.
The brilliant US Open is upon us… and here comes a 288 yard Par 3???? …
They had better bring plenty of mettle, because while Oakmont Country Club represents the type of blast furnace traditionally associated with a U.S. Open, one controversial hole has players mentally melting already.
At 7,230 yards, the course isn't punitively long by modern standards, but the crazy eighth should generate a cacophony of complaints. From the back tee, the 288-yard par 3 is the longest in U.S. Open history -- funny how that general theme is repeated each June in some respect -- and stands an attention-getting round-wrecker.
Moreover, if the USGA set-up sadists put the flagstick on the back of the green, the hole can measure an intimidating 300 yards. Mind you, technology gains or not, the average driving distance on the PGA Tour is 285.1 yards.
In other words, this hole, as they used to say in the mills hereabouts, will separate the steel from the slag. Pittsburgh has morphed into Titanium Town.
Tiger Woods, one of the biggest hitters around, played the course three times before this week and refused to pull his driver out of the bag on general principle. Regarding his innermost thoughts on the hole, well, feel free to read between the lines.
"Everyone has got to play it, put it that way," he said. "If you play it in 12 (strokes) for the week, you're doing all right. You're definitely picking up some shots."
Us mortals would be picking up our golf balls. Traditionalists argue that par is just an abstraction, a number assigned to a particular hole that really means little. At the end, everybody tallies up their score with a pencil and a winner is declared. Thus, the notion of par is mostly a mental barrier, or something used most effectively to settle bets between handicap club players.
That said, the USGA had an overdue Roger Bannister moment last year at Winged Foot, when it accurately listed a par 4 at longer than 500 yards after years of fudging on numbers, presumably because of the psychological and critical reaction it would generate. This year, thanks to more course lengthening, Oakmont's eighth has approached a threshold that amateurs cannot comprehend. Some legends, too.
"That, I don't understand, because that was already a 1-iron or a 3-wood," said Jack Nicklaus, who won the 1962 Open at Oakmont and has designed more than 300 courses worldwide. "It was already one of the toughest par 3s you'd ever want to play, and I think they added 50 yards to it?"
Close -- it's more like 35 yards, but his point is well-taken.
Does Avery have advice for the Spares? …
But AJ still has a message as the Finals move out of Texas for Game 3 for the third consecutive June. And it's about what happened a year ago, when another product of the 2003 draft surged, and AJ saw his world come apart.
"Trust me," AJ said. "It can happen."
These last two springs have turned on Dallas with momentous cruelty, and most in America don't mind. Mark Cuban can have that effect.
But tied to the same fate has been AJ, and he says he'll never get over this year's first-round collapse. "Because I don't think you ever do," he said. "I don't think I've ever gotten over the Spurs' 1995 loss to the Rockets."
At least he's had time to calm down, and now he says he's rooting for the Spurs. "I'm Western Conference," he said. "I'm Popovich. I'm for him, for Texas and for the Spurs."
He said from the start of these Finals he thought the Spurs would beat Cleveland, and there's no reason for him to change his opinion now. But, as it is when any coach has too much time, he always saw potential doom.
"Cleveland is a dangerous ballclub right now," he said. "You only need really seven, eight days of good basketball for any team to come through. And we saw that with us last year."
AJ's Mavericks led the Finals 2-0, just as the Spurs do now, and just as the Spurs did two years ago when they headed to Detroit. Dallas city leaders were already planning a parade, and most in Dallas were convinced the Finals were over, just as most in San Antonio are now.
The Mavericks were up 13 points with just over six minutes left in Game 3, with Cuban poised to go into full gloat. Then the Mavericks took a turn the way John Daly's marriages do.
"I'm not telling the Spurs anything they don't know," AJ said. "But beware. It can change."
There are differences, of course. AJ had never been on that stage as a coach, and Popovich has been through this Finals pressure three times before.
The franchises reflect the same contrast. The Mavericks, for example, wrestled last year with the best way to celebrate their first Western Conference championship. They delayed a ceremony until the next season, and then they delayed that. Instead of raising the banner when the Spurs were in town for the opener, they waited for their second home game.
That was Golden State. Appropriate karma followed six months later.
The Spurs? They hung their 2007 conference banner before these Finals began, as if they were hanging a curtain.
Other differences are more clear on the court. Miami was the experienced team last year, for example, whereas the Spurs are now. And while the flu weakened Dwyane Wade in the first two games in Dallas last year, Bruce Bowen weakened LeBron James.
Yet another: Wade had Shaquille O'Neal on his side, and even an older, slower Shaq is better than anyone James has.
Ron Washington offers crazy quotes …
"When you lose, the heat falls on the manager," Washington said Sunday afternoon when I stopped by his office at The Ballpark in Arlington for a one-on-one visit. "I can take that. What I don't like is my players being put in the middle of it. You'll never find where I threw a player under the bus.
"I've always been positive, and I've always said if there's someone to blame, blame me, 'cause I'm in charge. I can handle that. But anybody watching baseball, and watching our games, there ain't no way that they can say that Ron Washington is the reason."
I didn't say Washington doesn't sometimes send mixed messages. You don't have to be a mathematical genius to figure out that, if the manager isn't to blame, that pretty much only leaves the players.
Washington, you see, may not be confused, but I am. I still don't know quite what to think about the Rangers' first-year skipper.
Decent guy, sure. Good baseball man, absolutely. But a good manager, as his boss Jon Daniels believes he'll someday be? I just don't know yet. Maybe. I hope so.
But it's difficult to find the evidence to show that right now, and perhaps the better question is whether the Rangers can afford the painful learning process in the meantime. That's a decision Daniels has to wrestle with for now.
My Sunday afternoon visit was prompted by last week's reports from multiple clubhouse sources that sometime last month Washington called Mark Teixeira into his office after a game and that the discussion quickly escalated into a full-bore screaming match. At issue, I've since learned, was Tex supposedly ignoring a "take" sign late in a game in which the Rangers trailed by several runs.
There was also a report about veteran starting pitcher Kevin Millwood intervening when Washington was berating second-year catcher Gerald Laird in the dugout during a game.
I'm on record as saying getting into a fight with your star player really isn't smart, and humiliating a second-year catcher in front of his peers is simply wrong. Johnny Bench couldn't make better pitchers out of these guys. But the Rangers' official take is that these were minor dustups that came and went in a day.
Maybe so, but they run counter to Washington's advertised strengths of being able to communicate and handle players. What we hadn't heard is Washington's version of the events.
"I'm not the only manager that ever screamed at a player," he said defensively when I asked him about the meeting with Tex. "I'm not the only manager who ever called a player in his office.
"It never was a thing where we were up in here screaming. I read where somebody said they passed the door and I'm screaming. I've never screamed at a player since I've been here, other than in the dugout."
The dugout incident involved Laird.
"Yeah, I've been hard on Gerald," Washington admitted. "Gerald is the catcher. He handles our pitching staff. Yes, I've been hard on Gerald, and I don't deny that. But it's not like it's been written, that's for sure."
Washington later apologized to Laird, Millwood and pitcher Joaquin Benoit in front of the whole team, saying he stands by his message but should have handled it differently.
Washington actually rolls well with the media punches, but that doesn't mean they don't occasionally sting.
"The stories that get out there, they get out there skewed. They're all wrong," he said. "You never got my side of it. The side I'm reading is the side that people are asking questions of other people and never came in here and found out exactly what went on.
"The conversation Tex and I had was about what's going on, what I wanted to happen in certain situations, and there was a disagreement. Next thing I know, I'm trying to tell Tex how to hit. That ain't the way that went."
Washington may be managing for the first time, but it's not as if he hasn't paid his dues in the game. He knows the score.
"I'm no fool," he said. "I know you're judged on wins and losses. We're not winning. So when you're not winning, you take heat, and I can live with that.
"I'm only as good as players perform. If players don't perform, I get stuck with it, but I can live with that. That comes with the job. But that certainly don't take away from my knowledge, or my approach and what I know to be right. I'm about one thing: right and wrong. Not about the other [bull]."
Washington is old school and proud of it.
"You use whatever resource you have to get [things] done and, if that means being a little hard, then you be a little hard," he said. "If you find out being hard is wrong, then you back off. You make adjustments.
"Sometimes you have to give hard love. All I've ever done is love. Sometimes, if you have to raise your voice, you've got to do it.
Another day, another national columnist looks at what the Rangers have done wrong …
The Rangers have been a disaster under owner Tom Hicks, from the $252 million Alex Rodriguez contract to the persistent failure in finding pitchers who can win. Hicks and general manager Jon Daniels handpicked Washington after the players nearly staged a mutiny against Buck Showalter last year, and now the buzz in the clubhouse is that Washington is in over his head.
Add three consecutive horrible trades that have done the nearly impossible -- taken an already putrid pitching staff and made it worse -- and the Rangers are cruising awfully close to Blow-It-Up-and-Start-Over-Ville:
• Jan. 4, 2006: Daniels trades pitcher Chris Young and first baseman Adrian Gonzalez to San Diego for starting pitcher Adam Eaton and reliever Akinori Otsuka. Young is one of the better pitchers in the NL, and Gonzalez has developed into a possible Gold Glover and All-Star. Eaton won seven games in one season in Texas.
• July 28, 2006: Daniels trades reliever Francisco Cordero, lefty pitcher Julian Cordero and outfielders Laynce Nix and Kevin Mench to Milwaukee for outfielders Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz. Cordero has been spectacular for the Brewers this season, converting 22 of 24 save opportunities. Lee was a three-month rental last summer before he signed with Houston. "They got impatient with Cordero," one veteran scout says. "They got impatient with him and they didn't want to pay him. And they got impatient with Chris Young. That's been their problem."
• Dec. 23, 2006: Daniels trades pitchers John Danks, Nick Massett and Jacob Rasner to the White Sox for starter Brandon McCarthy and outfielder David Paisano. Danks is in Chicago's rotation and Massett has earned a place in the Sox bullpen.
"Danks himself is better than McCarthy is," the scout says.
Adam Morris on Jason Botts …
I think Jason Botts should have started the season on the 25 man roster, getting the bulk of the DH playing time. Obviously, I still think that is the case.
That being said, I do think I understand why the Rangers didn't call up Botts this past weekend when Mark Teixeira went on the disabled list.
Two things here...number one, Botts has altered his swing, so that his swing is shorter. I have to think that, given that he's been using this new swing for about two months, the Rangers would prefer that he continue to play every day, even in the minors, rather than get part-time playing time in the majors.
The other issue is that, with the Rangers playing in National League parks this week, there isn't going to be a designated hitter, which makes playing time for Botts even more scarce. I don't think you want to call him up so that he can pinch hit once every game.
Now, you can argue that Botts should be starting every game next week at first base, and that Brad Wilkerson should be on the bench pinch hitting instead. And again, I think he should have been up here DHing on Opening Day.
But I don't think the fact that Travis Metcalf got the call instead of Botts is necessarily a sign that the Rangers aren't going to look at Botts this year. I think that, by July 4, Botts will be up and DHing on a regular basis.
In my opinion, Shaun Rogers could be the BEST defensive player in football. But he is not. and he continues to mess up his situation with poor decisions…
Detroit Lions defensive tackle Shaun Rogers is being investigated for allegedly groping a woman in her dressing room at a Detroit strip club, officials said today.
Maria Miller, a spokeswoman for the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, said her office received a request for an arrest warrant from Detroit police today. No charges have been issued.
“We will proceed as usual, interviewing the alleged victim and any other potential witnesses,” Miller said. “We don’t anticipate that we will have a decision today.”
Miller said the warrant request accuses Rogers, 28, of criminal sexual conduct, but she declined to elaborate. Depending on the degree, that charge can cover a wide range of sex crimes, from groping to rape.
The woman told police that Rogers walked into her dressing room and forcibly groped her, authorities said.
The incident reportedly occurred at 1:15 a.m. Friday at a club on Joy Road on the city’s west side.
"We are gathering information," Lions Vice President Bill Keenist said in an e-mail. "We'll have no further comment at this time."
Meet Niklas Grossman, Stars Defenseman in 2007-08…
No blogging in the press box …
A reporter was ejected from an NCAA baseball tournament game for submitting live Internet updates during play.
Brian Bennett, a writer for The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal, was approached Sunday by an NCAA representative in the bottom of the fifth inning and told that blogging from an NCAA championship event is against NCAA policies.
Bennett had done live blogging during Louisville's super regional games against Oklahoma State in the previous two games of the three-game series. The representative revoked Bennett's credential Sunday and asked him to leave the game.
"It's clearly a First Amendment issue," said Bennie Ivory, the newspaper's executive editor.
"This is part of the evolution of how we present the news to our readers. It's what we did during the Orange Bowl. It's what we did during the NCAA basketball tournament. It's what we do."
The newspaper's lawyer, Jon L. Fleischaker, added: "I think there's the potential for some action. We're still talking about it."
Blake Beavan’s myspace …
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