We got the Mustard Belt back where it belongs.
Joey Chestnut Wins …
Joey Chestnut's hot dog dreams have come true.
The 24-year-old from San Jose wolfed down 66 hot dogs in 12 minutes this morning in Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island, N.Y., stealing the chomping crown from six-time winner Takeru Kobayashi.
He also smashed his own world record of 59.5 hot dogs. In fact, in an interview on Tuesday, Chestnut said he'd been hoping for a measly 60 or 61 dogs.
"If I needed to eat another one right now, I could," the San Jose State University student told the Associated Press after this morning's contest.
This year's event took on a new twist after Kobayashi, 29, the world's most famous speed eater, reported that a jaw injury would prevent him from competing at full speed. Some openly wondered whether Kobayashi was playing possum to lull the up-and-coming Chestnut into a false sense of security.
But Chestnut and Kobayashi were matched wiener for wiener for most of the competition, and Kobayashi finished with a personal best of 63 hot dogs.
Rangers play like they are decent …
Don't look now, but the Rangers starters' ERA keeps plummeting.
Granted, it's still a frightful 6.40, but it's dropped more than a half-run since it peaked at 6.92 through the first 65 games of the season.
And it dropped a little more as the Rangers got another solid start in Wednesday's 4-2 victory over the division-leading Los Angeles Angels, as fifth starter Jamey Wright allowed two runs in six innings.
The Rangers have won five of their last six series, the other a four-game split last weekend against Boston. They are 13-6 in their last 19 games, and the starting pitching has been reason No. 1.
Rangers starters are 10-4 with a 4.78 ERA during that stretch and have allowed four or fewer runs 17 times. That it's come in the last three series against teams probably headed to the playoffs – Detroit, Boston and the Angels – only boosts the Rangers' confidence.
"Our starting pitching has been outstanding, and that's why we're on a roll," manager Ron Washington said.
Wright, who relies on his sinker, threw his type of game, getting 12 of his 18 outs on ground balls. He threw double-play balls in the second and fourth.
Orlando Cabrera lined into a double play in the sixth on a smash snared by Wright.
"The sinker gives me a chance to get double plays," Wright said. "It's a big help."
A solid night from a starter sets up a bullpen that has been good all season. The three relievers who pitched behind Wright were wicked on this Fourth of July.
C.J. Wilson had two strikeouts in the seventh. Joaquin Benoit, filling the eighth-inning role for the injured Akinori Otsuka, one-upped Wilson, striking out the side to turn the game over to closer Eric Gagne.
Michael Silver rates the NFL Owners – And after Bob Kraft ….
2. Jerry Jones (Stephen Jones), Cowboys
Keeping up with the Joneses is about to become that much tougher for the rest of the owners. When the Cowboys' $1 billion stadium in Arlington opens in 2009, it promises to be the sweetest and most profitable outdoor facility in the land, what with its state-of-the-art architectural touches, sliding roofs and playing fields, monstrous video screens, tricked-out club areas (which players pass through on their way to the field). It'll have a seating capacity of 80,000 for regular season games and more than 100,000 for Super Bowls -- beginning with Super Bowl XLV in 2011, which Jones helped the region land in May. (Jerry's eldest son, Stephen, the team's executive vice president, spearheaded the stadium deal.)
The best thing for Cowboys fans is that Jones will take much of the money that comes pouring in and put it back into his product. He'll do the same with the extra cash he didn't have to pay his former coach after Bill Parcells blinked first last January and resigned without a buyout. (Yeah, I know it wasn't reported that way, but it was a staredown, and Jones won.)
Things haven't been as bountiful on the field for the Cowboys lately as they were in the '90s, but it's not because Jones isn't trying. Besides, how cool is a boss who encourages his emerging-star quarterback to live it up off the field?
In hockey news, Stars don’t get Kozlov …I am on record as not being on board with a move to get Kozlov. His numbers are nice, but keep in mind he put those numbers up with Marian Hossa and Ilya Kovalchuk on the ice next to him. I just thought he was too old to give a 3-year deal, and at similar money that would have had you wondering why Jason Arnott was not paid those dollars.
Now, with the Stars looking for a chair as the music stops, I wonder if they are considering a call to Bill Guerin for a nice, easy 1 or 2 year deal….Hmmm.
The Stars made their pitch to Slava Kozlov when the veteran forward visited the area Tuesday. They showed him the facilities, and had him talk to team management and players.
But a day later, he decided he would rather stay home.
Kozlov re-signed with the Atlanta Thrashers on Wednesday, agreeing to a three-year, $11 million deal. And while general manager Doug Armstrong said the Stars offered Kozlov "a more lucrative financial offer," he wasn't surprised at the final decision.
"I sensed when he was here his first choice was to stay with the team that he's with currently," Armstrong said. "He's 35, and he'd be uprooting family when the kids are already situated and settled. Those are the choices they have to make, and you respect that."
That's all fine and good for Atlanta. But as far as the Stars are concerned, what now?
"After [free agency], it's the normal mode of player transactions. That's what we can look at," Armstrong said. "We'd still like to add a player to the bottom part of the roster, add some more size and depth if we can."
Armstrong has been more than aware of the criticism surrounding the Stars' action, or lack thereof, during the first few days of NHL free agency.
"I understand [the fans'] frustration," Armstrong said. "But I would've also
understood it if [Brenden] Morrow and [Jere] Lehtinen weren't here.
"I know from a fans' perspective they want to have the best of both worlds, where you keep the core group of players and add to it. The salary cap has limited those possibilities."
The Stars also have their restricted free agents. Armstrong said Antti Miettinen has selected arbitration, and he expects Jussi Jokinen and Mike Ribeiro to do the same.
"We'll try to bargain in good faith," Armstrong said.
Revo points out the issues on the hockey team …
The talk radio lines have been burning up this week with disgruntled Stars fans complaining about their team's complacency as other teams cherry-picked the league's prime free agents while the Stars twiddled their thumbs.
Armstrong's belated pursuit of Kozlov, a decent if aging forward who averaged a point-a-game last season, might have soothed some, but swinging and missing is only likely to enrage them even more.
"I haven't been listening to talk radio. That's part and parcel with these jobs we have," Armstrong said. "You have to do what you think is best for your organization.
"The approach we took last year to sign our own players.... There's no question that if [Brenden] Morrow and [Jere] Lehtinen weren't signed, it would have produced a whole host of opportunities, but a whole host of problems, also."
That's a copout anyway. Teams are expected to keep their good players and then add necessary pieces to contend for the Stanley Cup. For a team like the Stars, who have sipped from the Cup, there can be no halfway measures.
But this is the philosophy that Stars fans must bear, like their brother Rangers' fans. The idea is to be successful enough on the ice to make money. Get to the playoffs and hope to get lucky.
Problem is, the Stars haven't managed to get past the first round of the playoffs since 2003. Not even Marty Turco pitching three shutouts against Vancouver last April was enough to help the punchless Stars advance.
After the Stars scored a total of eight goals in the final six games against the Canucks' Roberto Luongo, Mike Modano cut straight to the heart of the problem.
"You need to get that guy who can score the big goal for you, who can make that play, who has that big shot, a real mind for the net," he said. "We haven't had it probably since [Brett Hull] was here."
And while finding another Hull might be impossible, it shouldn't have been too much to expect that the Stars would at least find some offense somewhere.
Jim Matheson rates the Free Agent performances …
I know that you might not like him, but the NHL was better with JR in it. Roenick Retires …
Jeremy Roenick is retiring, a newspaper reported, after an 18-year NHL career in which he became the third-leading American goal-scorer in league history with 495. Roenick, a nine-time All-Star who played with four teams, sent a text message to a reporter at The Philadelphia Inquirer reading, "I'm retiring; is that still news?" The story was posted on the paper's Web site Wednesday.
The 37-year-old center was also an outspoken critic of the lockout that wiped away the 2004-05 season.
"It doesn't matter who wins or loses this anymore," he said when the work stoppage was nearing an end in June 2005. "It isn't about that now. It's about getting a deal and getting the game back on the ice."
Roenick played in 70 games last season for Phoenix, his second stint with the Coyotes. He had just 11 goals and 17 assists and was a minus-18.
In the April 8 season finale against Vancouver, Roenick scored an empty-net goal with 21.2 seconds remaining to seal a 3-1 victory.
Although Roenick said several times late last season that he was considering retirement, he told reporters after the finale in Glendale that "maybe I can stick it out a little longer" and reach the coveted 500-goal plateau.
Roenick became an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
Coyotes president Doug Moss told The Associated Press he was unaware of Roenick's decision. A message left with Roenick's agent was not immediately returned and calls to the player's home in Paradise Valley, Ariz., were not answered.
Before coming to Phoenix last season, Roenick played for Los Angeles and spent three seasons with Philadelphia from 2001-04.
Roenick, a Boston native, began his career with Chicago in 1988 and scored 258 of his 495 career goals there, including a career-best 53 in 1991-92, the year his Blackhawks made it to only the Stanley Cup finals of his career. They were swept by Pittsburgh in four games.
The only American-born players with more goals than Roenick, a two-time Olympian, are Mike Modano (507) and Joey Mullen (502).
FC Dallas beats Chivas, as BaD Radio Good Fortune visits Pizza Hut Park …
Ramon Nunez wasn't even supposed to be on the field.
But Marcelo Saragosa's knee injury prompted FC Dallas to use Nunez early, and he made the most of the opportunity by scoring the decisive goal in a 2-0 victory over Chivas USA on Wednesday at Pizza Hut Park.
Goals by Nunez and Dominic Oduro, who scored in the 86th minute, broke FC Dallas' four-match winless streak against Chivas USA. The win increased Dallas' lead to six points over Houston and nine over Chivas USA in the MLS Western Conference.
Nunez entered the match in the 11th minute for Saragosa, who aggravated a right knee injury.
After playing in the first 11 matches, the 21-year-old Nunez, who starred at W.T. White and SMU, had been cast away. In the previous five matches, he played only 45 minutes, all during a 4-0 loss at Toronto.
"It was tough," Nunez said. "I wasn't happy coming into the game, and I'm still not happy about it. But I was professional about it, just kept working hard. I knew my time was going to come."
His time came in the 41st minute, when he hit a shot from the arch that sailed into the upper right corner of the goal. He silenced doubters by putting a finger in front of his lips.
"There were a couple critics out there," he said. "I just let them know I'm working hard to get back on the team in a fair manner."
It was Nunez's third goal of the season, but his first since FC Dallas (9-6-5) beat Colorado, 3-1, in the third match of the season.
"I kept saying to him in the last few weeks, 'You've got to fight hard to win your place back on the team like everybody else,' " FC Dallas coach Steve Morrow said.
The FC Dallas defense recorded its fourth shutout in the last five matches. Despite the return of two starters, Morrow stayed with the same back line he used in the previous game: Bobby Rhine, Aaron Pitchkolan, David Wagenfuhr and Clarence Goodson.
In bad news, Tevez to United?????….
Argentina striker Carlos Tevez is close to sealing a move to Manchester United.
The player, source of so much controversy for West Ham last season, is currently on international duty with Argentina in the Copa America.
It is understood however that his representatives and United are close to sealing an agreement for the 23-year-old and he is set to sign once the tournament in Venezuela finishes on July 14.
The details of the transfer remain unknown as Tevez is still under contract for three more years with West Ham.
Tired of stealing BaD Radio bits and still losing, Dan Patrick to leave ESPN …
ESPN could be on the verge of losing one of its signature personalities.
Unfortunately, it's not Chris Berman.
Dan Patrick, the multitalented 18-year vet who has hinted recently of a major upcoming announcement, is strongly considering leaving the network.
An industry source said there was a "90 percent chance" he would announce his farewell during his Thursday radio show, which airs locally from noon-3 p.m. on WMVP-AM 1000.
ESPN does not want to lose Patrick, and spokesman Josh Krulewitz indicated Tuesday the situation has yet to be resolved.
"Dan is under contract through next year and we are in discussion with him about his future," Krulewitz said. "Any speculation is premature."
If he leaves, the 51-year-old Patrick is expected to take time off before considering TV and nationally syndicated radio offers.
P1 Brian offers us Tina Yothers Sports …Quality.
Stephen A Smith
UFC 73 - Saturday Night