Get your Championship Rings from Madden 2008! …Sports By Brooks with more…
EA SPORTS INVENTS YET ANOTHER WAY TO NEVER GET LAID: Videogame maker EA Sports and Jostens today made the inevitable reality today, rolling out rings based on a player's "Madden NFL 08" level of skill.
Sadly, we now know that "rings can be customized to match a player’s advancement through five levels of the game. When a player reaches level three, the ring can be bought through Jostens’ Web site with a code provided within the videogame. Rings will range in price from $149-495."
Here's our question: What does such a Madden 08 ringbearer (who is obviously single) do in a social setting when an attractive young lady queries him about his hard-won jewelry? On second thought, that'll never happen, considering such a person only emerges from his darkened dwelling bi-monthly to freshen up his supply of hand-fattening edibles at the closest (by zip code search) Circle K.
Peter King offers a pre-training camp Power Poll …Last year he had the Cowboys in the Super Bowl, this year, he has the Cowboys behind Detroit…And if he is right about Cleveland, look who has the 1st pick in next year’s draft!
14. Dallas: The Cowboys, post-Parcells, seem like they've just used their Get Out Of Jail Free Card. Bill's structure and rules are gone with let-'em-play Wade Phillips in charge. Be careful what you wish for. The Cowboys are a team on the precipice. They could dominate if Tony Romo is a B-plus quarterback, and they could be .500 if he stumbles. I'm betting it's somewhere between.
32. Cleveland: The Browns are beginning to draft their way out of the abyss. But it's a pretty deep abyss.
Tom Osborn looks at the Cowboys now and the Cowboys in 2003 when the Boys first arrived in San Antonio for Camp …
In just seven days, the Dallas Cowboys will open their first training camp in San Antonio since 2003. Back then, it cost $6 to park at the Alamodome, the site of the camp. The fee is now $10, and Express-News Cowboys beat writer Tom Orsborn notes the hike isn't the only change in that span.
2003: Quincy Carter
2007: Tony Romo
Tom's take: Romo can run and pass. He also doesn't have a drug problem.
2003: Bill Parcells
2007: Wade Phillips
Tom's take: Phillips won't be afraid to blitz, throw deep or say Terrell Owens' name.
The Running Backs
2003: Troy Hambrick and Richie Anderson
2007: Julius Jones and Marion Barber
Tom's take: Barber and Jones are expected to be one of the league's top combos after combining for 1,738 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns last season. Anderson and Hambrick were a feeble one-two punch, especially in the red zone.
The Star Linebacker
2003: Dexter Coakley
2007: DeMarcus Ware
Tom's take: For a guy who stood only 5-feet-11 and weighed 230 pounds, Coakley more than held his own as a Cowboy. But after recording 11.5 sacks last season, and with the aggressive Phillips calling the shots, the 6-4, 252-pound Ware could be in the running for defensive player of the year.
2003: .500 season
2007: Super Bowl contenders
Tom's take: The 2003 team overachieved by going 10-6 and reaching the playoffs as a wild-card entry. Anything less than a berth in the NFC title game will be a disappointment for this year's squad.
Ken Rosenthal on the Teixeira talks …
Teixeira, 27, is a switch-hitter with power who plays Gold Glove defense and isn't a free agent until after next season.
What exactly is the problem?
Yes, Teixeira could earn $12 million in his final year of arbitration.
Yes, his agent is Scott Boras, ending any possibility of signing him to a contract extension before he reaches free agency.
Powerful deterrents, to be sure. Then again, any team that acquired Teixeira would control him for nearly one-and-a-half seasons.
Picture Texeira in the Angels' lineup, protecting Vladimir Guerrero. Picture him with the Dodgers, supplying badly needed power. Picture him with the Red Sox, who could slide first baseman Kevin Youkilis to third and trade potential free-agent third baseman Mike Lowell.
For other clubs, the addition of Teixeira through '08 would provide an even greater buffer against the expected departures of free-agent sluggers, giving them a solution not only for this season, but also for next.
The Yankees could more easily absorb the loss of third baseman Alex Rodriguez if Teixeira were in place. Ditto for the Braves, who are likely to part with center fielder Andruw Jones, and the Giants, who might bid farewell to left fielder Barry Bonds.
Which is not to suggest that teams should get silly.
The Yankees' need for pitching likely would preclude them from including right-hander Phil Hughes in a deal for Teixeira.
The Red Sox's reluctance to disrupt a first-place club would discourage them from trading Lowell, not to mention Class AAA right-hander Clay Buchholz and/or center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.
The Angels and Dodgers likewise could say "no" to Teixeira — the Angels can use Casey Kotchman at first for the next six seasons, and the Dodgers could do the same with James Loney.
Neither of those players, however, is likely ever to reach the level of Teixeira. If the Angels acquired Teixeira for Kotchman and two high-level prospects, they might win the World Series in one of the next two years. And if Teixeira left as a free agent after '08, they would recoup two high draft picks.
A better solution than giving A-Rod $30 million a year, no?
Of course, the Rangers would prefer to trade Teixeira to a team outside their division, if they trade him at all. Most rival executives continue to doubt that Teixeira will be moved before July 31.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels, coming off a series of questionable deals, will set too high a price, the execs say. What's more, Daniels can wait until the off-season to move Teixeira if the right trade isn't available.
Well, the right trade should be available.
Enough about prospects.
Enough industry paralysis.
Let's see some deals.
Story on the A-Rod contract featuring our favorite owner …
The person who may have the most vested interest in whether or not Alex Rodriguez opts out of his contract this offseason has zero control over the outcome.
That person is Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks, who signed Rodriguez to the 10-year, $252-million contract that dropped jaws around the country in December 2000. The contract was by far the largest in sports history. The Rangers failed to win with Rodriguez, though not for any lack of performance on his part, and traded him to the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano and minor-leaguer Joaquin Arias in February 2004, with Hicks agreeing to pay $67 million of the remaining amount on the contract.
In New York, fans who have watched the Yankees' offense become less reliable and explosive than in past years wonder what would happen without the gargantuan numbers from Rodriguez. Yankees players and others associated with the team wonder if the club will offer Rodriguez a big enough contract to keep him in pinstripes. And always, there is speculation that one of a laundry list of things - intense media focus, his relationship with Derek Jeter and/or Joe Torre, his desire to play shortstop, etc. - will lead Rodriguez to leave.
No one really knows, except perhaps Rodriguez himself, and he's not talking.
If Rodriguez exercises an opt-out clause in the contract in November, a choice he will not talk about, the contract would become history and Hicks would save about $22 million.
Hicks said Major League Baseball rules prevent him from talking about the opt-out clause. In a phone interview with Newsday on Friday, the Rangers owner said he has no regrets about giving Rodriguez the landmark contract.
"No, never," Hicks said.
Hicks paid a huge sum of money for three years of Rodriguez's services, and the owner has just one regret: "I regret that we didn't win," he said.
Rangers Win, the…….Rangers win …
The Rangers won’t try to explain, downplay or dismiss Jamey Wright’s sudden burst of effectiveness. They will simply savor it. In a 4-1 win over Oakland on Monday, Wright made his second consecutive quality start, holding the woeful A’s to four hits over seven innings.
Oakland, which lost for the eighth consecutive time, is in the midst of a historic scoring drought. The A’s have not scored more than three runs in their last 11 games. The last time the A’s went that long without scoring four at least once was in 1967 when the franchise went a dozen games with three or fewer runs.
The Rangers will disregard that little historical bit of trivia. They hope any potential buyers on the trade market do as well.
“They had some opportunities, and we made pitches when we had to,” Rangers manager Ron Washington said. “We’re just hoping to continue to play good baseball. We’ve had enough of our own problems; we can’t be worried about what problems other teams are dealing with.”
Likely to make two more starts before the trading deadline, Wright’s recent run of solid pitching might just push him into part of a package deal that could help improve the Rangers' return. Or it could make him attractive after the deadline to a team that has a late injury. Players can still be traded after July 31, but they must first clear waivers.
Wright, 32, has had a history of nice little runs throughout an otherwise pedestrian career. He started the 2006 season with San Francisco in strong fashion but faded badly after his personal catcher, Mike Matheny, got hurt. In one stretch last May, Wright had four consecutive quality starts. It was the last time he’d had as many as two in a row.
The Los Angeles Dodgers, for example, might be a team withinterest in Wright as part of a larger deal. The Dodgers, whose rotation has been decimated by injury, were already on site Monday to watch Mark Teixeira and the back end of the Rangers bullpen (if it was needed). Los Angeles has sent four different scouts to watch the Rangers over the past month, and the Dodgers are the Rangers' most desired trade partner for Teixeira.
With 2 days to the major, the NY Times examines the Claret Jug …
The oldest trophy in major championship golf has lived on Tiger Woods’s mantel, guarded Ben Curtis’s television and reclined in the back seat of Todd Hamilton’s car.
It has held cheap beer, expensive Champagne, and iced tea brewed by Justin Leonard’s mother.
Tom Watson, who won the trophy five times, accidentally smacked it with a backswing decades ago, leaving a tiny blemish on the prize known worldwide as the claret jug.
“He whacked it right on the handle,” said Hamilton, the 2004 British Open champion, who will be among the 156 golfers chasing the silver jug anew starting Thursday at Carnoustie. “You can tell the handle is just a little cockeyed.”
Like Lord Stanley’s Cup and the Masters green jacket, the claret jug has long held a mystical and celebratory quality. Trophies are handed out every week on the PGA Tour, but none are designed with a handle that looks like a bass clef or with insides hollowed out to hold the exact contents of a standard bottle of wine.
Held upside down, the jug delivers a perfect pour.
Ever since it was first awarded in 1873 — replacing a Moroccan leather belt given to previous British Open winners — it has often been considered golf’s most precious prize.
The Royal and Ancient Golf Club keeps the original housed in its clubhouse. It has awarded a replica jug to the champion since 1928. Two other replicas are used by the club for exhibitions and tours.
After a player has won the jug, where he keeps it and how he celebrates with it is up to him. Nick Faldo, a three-time winner, said he often kept the jug at his bedside, just so he could reach out in the middle of the night and know it was there.
After Tiger Woods won the Masters in 2001, making him the only player to win four consecutive major professional titles, he added that trophy to the ensemble on the mantel in his living room, joining the jug and the trophies from the United States Open and the P.G.A. Championship he won in 2000. He also took down the jug at times and filled it with various libations.
“Honestly, because of the consumption, I really can’t remember,” Woods said of what he put in it.
Beckham hurt? …
David Beckham was limited to some stretching and kicking drills because of a lingering ankle injury in his first practice Monday since joining the Los Angeles Galaxy.
He is scheduled to make his playing debut Saturday in an exhibition against Chelsea, but Galaxy coach Frank Yallop said the superstar midfielder is day-to-day.
"His ankle is quite swollen," Yallop said. "We're hoping it recovers quickly and he can have some part in the game."
Beckham didn't speak to reporters after practice.
He originally hurt his left ankle playing for England in a European Championship qualifier on June 6 and it flared up again June 17 in his final game with Real Madrid.
Saturday's game, part of the four-team World Series of Football, is sold out and ESPN will televise it live, using 19 cameras to track Beckham.
Running of the Bulls 2007
Finally, a picture you should not see.
Are you sure you want to see a guy get his leg gored during the Running of the Bulls?
Are you sure you are sure?
You have been warned....