Monday, August 20, 2007

Big Monday Blog

We open our post today with some good comedy from Denver. I understand John Lynch being bitter, given that he is a player that needs some excuse for being pounded like he was. But what is with this writer from the Denver Post? Look at his opening sentence!

Did he want Pro-Bowl rules?

What are you, Mike Klis, a Bronco?

Broncos Writer offended by blitz

Those Dallas Cowboys must be real proud.

Here it is mid-August, preseason game No. 2, yet the Cowboys played as if it's never too early to embarrass an injury-riddled opponent in a game that doesn't count.

The Cowboys had their way here Saturday night at muggy Texas Stadium, whipping the Broncos, their weeklong practice buddies, 31-20. Although an honest beating explained much of the outcome, the Broncos wondered if Cowboys coach Wade Phillips got a little carried away with trying to send some sort of preseason statement.
"I don't know if Wade's (ticked) off the Broncos fired him, but it sure looked that way," Broncos safety John Lynch said.

Lynch wanted to make it clear he was joking.

But as a safety entering his 15th season, Lynch is qualified to know football's unwritten rules better than most. The Broncos played their base, seven-man front on defense Saturday and, because their offensive line is so banged up, tried to employ a conservative plan when they had the ball.

"That's not what they did," Lynch said. "They came out and game- planned us, blitzing every play. They came after us. It's no excuse for the way we played. But I think they might have broken the code of ethics for the preseason."

A few other Broncos, including quarterback Jay Cutler, shared similar feelings about the Cowboys getting a little too aggressive with their approach to a preseason game. Phillips seemed befuddled, even a little hurt, at the accusations he coached against the preseason protocol of fairness.

"It's nothing we didn't do all week in practice," said Phillips, who was fired after two seasons as Broncos head coach following the 1994 season, and replaced by Mike Shanahan.

Indeed, a primary reason the Broncos came down for two-a-day practices before the preseason game was to get accustomed to the 3-4 defense Phillips directed for the AFC West champion San Diego Chargers last year.

And just so there is no misunderstanding, the blitz is to the 3-4 defense what short passes are to the West Coast offense.

"It's what we ran against them in San Diego," Phillips said. "They blitzed us, too. We picked it up."

Lebreton’s thoughts on the odd claim of the Broncos

Broncos safety John Lynch told Mike Klis of The Denver Post after the game, "They came out and game-planned us, blitzing every play. They came after us.
"It's not an excuse for the way we played. But I think they might have broken the code of ethics for the preseason."

Code of ethics? The home team charges regular-season prices for preseason tickets -- the league average is around $60 -- the starters seldom play even two quarters, and somebody expects to find ethics?

Lynch, a 15-year veteran, clearly was pulling the chain of the former Denver coach -- and new Cowboys head coach -- Wade Phillips. But it made for a lively round of postgame questioning, while prompting some of us to tap the brakes on praise for the new "Phillips 3-4" defense.

"I don't know if Wade's [ticked] off the Broncos fired him, but it sure looked that way," Lynch said, twisting the needle.

Well, now that he mentions it, the Cowboys did seem to blitz a lot. But I thought that was the defense. It's the old Barry Switzer excuse -- he didn't mean for his Oklahoma team to score 60 on you, but he couldn't turn off the faucet on the wishbone.

Lynch merits some slack. But young Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler, who also muttered something about the blitzing, might have been looking for an alibi after a disappointing night.

"Well, they brought a lot of blitzes," Cutler said. "They came at us on first, second and third down.

"We started picking it up in the first half after we made some adjustments. But it kind of surprised us there off the jump."

Let me paraphrase Switzer again, however. If the Broncos didn't want to see blitzes, they shouldn't have scheduled a team that plays Wade Phillips' defense.

Plus, there's that new coach thing going on. You know -- win early, and the players will think the new head coach knows what he's doing.

Some of us have seen way too many Cowboys preseason games to remember much of any of them. But I do vividly recall one at San Diego in 1989. The Cowboys beat the Chargers 20-3, and you would have thought, judging from the hugging and the celebrating, that the new coach and new owner had just won the Orange Bowl. Winning that summer seemed to be deathly important for Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones.
The Cowboys went 3-1 in exhibition play in 1989 -- and 1-15 during the regular season that followed. The football gods obviously made their point.

Johnson remains the only Cowboys head coach to post a winning preseason record in his first season. Tom Landry went 1-5 in 1960, Switzer was 2-3 in 1994, Chan Gailey and Dave Campo were both 0-5 in their first preseasons, and Bill Parcells went 2-2 in 2003.

Draw your own conclusions.

There did appear to be a certain -- how shall I put this? -- manic sophistication in the way that the Cowboys' defense attacked Cutler and the Broncos on Saturday night. It's a marked contrast to the Deer-Frozen-in-Headlights defense that Parcells ran down the stretch last season.

"We're identifying our identity," linebacker Bradie James said. "And that's making plays and getting takeaways."

The idea of preseason, I thought, was to get accustomed to things, like new coaches and new defenses.

Meanwhile, on a blog where Rangers News has not been very well covered recently, I give you full strength coverage of the piece of baseball brilliance that was on display in Minneapolis yesterday

The Twins lefty dominated the Rangers' lineup as thoroughly as any pitcher this season, including the White Sox' Mark Buehrle, who no-hit Texas in April; the Yankees' Phil Hughes, who no-hit Texas for 6 1/3 innings in May; the Orioles' Erik Bedard, who fanned 15 in July, and even Santana himself on May 22, when he gave up only a Sosa solo homer and struck out 13.

The Rangers have struck out 18 or more times in four games this season, including 18 times in Santana's previous start against Texas and 19 Sunday, a Rangers record for a nine-inning game.

Manager Ron Washington didn't think Santana's performance had anything to do with his opponent, though.

"The way he threw today," Washington said, "He might have got 17 strikeouts against whoever, it might have been the 1927 Yankees."

Only two pitchers have struck out 17 or more Rangers in a game: Randy Johnson, 18 in 1992, and Frank Tanana, 17 in 1975.

The Rangers have set the franchise record twice this year for most times striking out in a game and set the team mark for a nine-inning game Sunday:

Date Opp. SO Inn.
8-6-07 vs. Athletics 21 13
4-25-07 at Indians 19 11
8-19-07 at Twins 19 9
5-22-07 vs. Twins 18 9
7-13-97 at Mariners 18 9
9-27-92 vs. Mariners 18 9
9-25-92 vs. Mariners 18 16

That’s right: He also did this back in May, too …2 starts against Texas this year, and Rangers hitters have struck out 37 times!...And no, Rudy Jaramillo has nothing to do with this. Rudy is awesome. Just ask anyone. Surely he doesn’t teach them to strike out. In fact, give him another contract extension!

Just so we all understand how many strikeouts 19 really are, here you go:


I Kinsler grounded out to shortstop.
B Wilkerson struck out swinging.
M Young struck out swinging.


S Sosa struck out looking.
M Byrd struck out swinging.
G Laird struck out swinging.


N Cruz grounded out to shortstop.
J Saltalamacchia struck out swinging.
R Vazquez struck out looking.


I Kinsler struck out swinging.
B Wilkerson popped out to third.
M Young struck out swinging.


S Sosa singled to left.
M Byrd struck out swinging.
G Laird struck out swinging.
N Cruz flied out to center.


J Saltalamacchia flied out to right.
R Vazquez lined out to first.
I Kinsler flied out to right.


B Wilkerson struck out swinging.
M Young struck out swinging.
S Sosa doubled to deep left.
M Byrd struck out swinging.


G Laird struck out swinging.
N Cruz struck out swinging.
J Saltalamacchia struck out swinging.

And Joe Nathan’s 9th while we are at it:

R Vazquez flied out to center.
I Kinsler safe at first on error by pitcher J Nathan.
I Kinsler stole second.
B Wilkerson struck out looking.
M Young struck out swinging.

Evan Grant has more

The only thing more prolific than Johan Santana's 17 strikeouts on Sunday were the number of adjectives the Rangers used in describing his performance.

Players threw out accolades about as often as they whiffed Santana pitches a 1-0 loss at the Metrodome.

Sammy Sosa called it awesome. Ian Kinsler said it was dominant. Michael Young couldn't remember ever seeing Santana's changeup better. And Brad Wilkerson said it was a more impressive outing than Mark Buehrle's no-hitter against the Rangers in April.
The coaching staff was wowed too.

"I've seen some great pitching performances, but that ranks up there," said pitching coach Mark Connor, who coached Randy Johnson during his Cy Young seasons in 1999 and 2000. "He was great. No question about that."

Santana's strikeout total was a club record as he allowed two hits in eight shutout innings.
Sosa had both of the Rangers' hits – a single and a double – and was the only player to even reach base against Santana. The Twins' ace had precision control and kept hitters off balance with great off-speed stuff to go along with a lively fastball. He worked quickly and effectively. A moral victory for Texas was simply getting through the sixth inning without striking out. It was the only inning that the Rangers didn't have at least two strike outs.

Michael Young, Marlon Byrd and Gerald Laird struck out in all three plate appearances against Santana, as every starter struck out at least once against him. Ranger batters struck out 19 times in the game, becoming the first time since 1950 to strike out 19 or more times, three times in a season.

Maybe Ramon Vazquez was the luckiest Rangers starter of all on Sunday. He batted ninth, so he only faced Santana twice.

"He's the best pitcher in the game for a reason," said Young, who struck out four times in a game for just the second time in his career (first time since 2003). "In the past, I've had good at-bats against him, but once he gets a full head of steam, it's hard to break up his rhythm. We started talking about different game plans in the dugout, but we couldn't get consistent with any of them."

Rangers starter Kevin Millwood did the best he could to keep pace. He made one costly mistake – leaving a pitch up to Michael Cuddyer that was sent over the wall in left-center field in the second. But Millwood kept the Rangers in it. He walked consecutive batters with one out in both the fourth and fifth innings, but got out of the jams. He finished with five walks in seven innings, but allowed only the one run in the loss. Millwood was also the starter opposite Buehrle's no-hitter.

Millwood's performance continued a string of solid starts for Texas. Rangers starters have a 1.18 ERA in their last six games, including four quality starts. Now, they need to offense to get going.

Rangers pitchers held the Twins to 0-for-19 with runners in scoring position during the series, yet lost two games. Much of that is because the Rangers' hitters didn't deliver in the clutch. They were 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position in the series.
But some of that blame belongs to Santana. On Sunday, he was the meaning of clutch – or whichever adjective you choose.

Brenden Morrow = my kind of captain

A few weeks ago, Brenden Morrow walked into the Stars' training complex and asked to speak to the players participating in the club's developmental camp.

First, though, he requested the coaching staff leave.

He proceeded to spend a few minutes telling the group what it meant to play for the Dallas Stars organization, the passion it takes to succeed at hockey's highest level and the expectations teammates should have for one another.

"For the young guys, there were some things I wanted them to know," Morrow said the other day at a coffee house near his home. "I didn't preach to them, but I told them what it was going to take to get here and stay here.

"I told them things I had learned piece by piece since I've been in the league. Things I wished someone had told me when I was a young player."

This is what you want from your captain. You want your captain to willingly lead the organization. And you want it to come naturally.

For Morrow, it does. For Mike Modano, it wasn't quite as natural.

This is why Doug Armstrong and Dave Tippett made a good decision when they chose the 28-year-old Morrow to be the team's captain heading into last season, even though it was handled clumsily. There had to be some tense moments when the Stars named Morrow captain, because, as you might expect, Modano didn't like the decision.

There was never any problem between Morrow and Modano, who took a couple of golf trips together this off-season. Modano was mad at the organization.

Now, though, we can say it was time for a change.

Liverpool gets beautiful goal from Torres; before being screwed by ref

The teams could not be prised apart but this was an afternoon when Liverpool's spirits soared and plummeted. A likely victory was taken from them with the dubious award of a penalty by the referee, Rob Styles, whose form was so poor that he would have been substituted well before the interval had he been a player. Despite denials the footage suggests that, like Graham Poll at last year's World Cup, he showed a second yellow card to a miscreant without dismissing him.

Michael Essien was the player in question and the incident involved prolonged wrangling over a decision in the 73rd minute. Styles attracts sympathy purely because the badgering of him by John Terry and others had, as is so often the case when Chelsea are at work, been frequent. There will be complaints about that, yet the proud obstinacy of these visitors has to be recognised as well.

There never was a sense, following the interval, that they would necessarily be downed by Liverpool. The 62nd-minute penalty came when the substitute Claudio Pizarro sent an incisive pass down the right to Shaun Wright-Phillips. As the winger's low cross ran along the face of the area, Florent Malouda, attempting a dummy to the benefit of Didier Drogba, jumped and turned, making himself as responsible as Steve Finnan for the contact. Frank Lampard, undistracted by shame, slotted the penalty smoothly.

When Jose Mourinho emerged later, he raised again the extremely questionable goal from Luis Garcia that eliminated Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final of 2005. Any sweep would have been won by the person guessing that the Portuguese would launch into the topic within moments of yesterday's penalty being raised.

Nevertheless, when the bickering is over, few will claim that the result itself was a travesty. John Arne Riise might have scored for Liverpool and John Terry, returning from injury, could have forced a Lampard free-kick over the line. If Didier Drogba had enjoyed one of his superhuman moments, he could have claimed an earlier equaliser instead of heading Wright-Phillips's cross wide from beyond the far post.

If Liverpool can stop themselves from recycling this fixture endlessly in their minds, they will reach some sort of serenity by dwelling on Fernando Torres's first competitive goal for the club on his Anfield debut.

There was an immediate satisfaction for Rafael Benítez in the banishment of any fear that the £26.5m striker would begin his Premier League career with a long and much publicised wait to get off the mark.

Better still, it was a goal that would most likely have been beyond Liverpool's scope had they not bought the Atlético Madrid attacker. Steven Gerrard, particularly impressive considering his fractured toe, hit a good pass down the left towards Torres in the 16th minute. If Tal Ben Haim imagined he was in command of the situation, he was disabused of the idea in explosive fashion.

There was speed as Torres went outside the Israeli, then conviction and delicacy as he opened up his body to roll a right-footed shot across Petr Cech and into the net at the far post. It turns out that there can still be Thierry Henry goals in England even if the Frenchman has decamped to Camp Nou.

Here is another reason that English Soccer is Super Awesome in my book:

Ref Screws up Critical Call? Ref gets suspended next day

Blundering referee Rob Styles has been dropped from Premier League duty following his Anfield nightmare.

Styles awarded a controversial penalty to Chelsea following an innocuous challenge on Florent Malouda by Steve Finnan, but has since apologised to Liverpool for his mistake in the 1-1 draw.

Referees' chief Keith Hackett said that Styles had made a mistake and would be dropped for next weekend's action by way of punishment.

"It's up to the officials to get the big decisions right and in this case it was wrong, so Rob will not be officiating next weekend," he said.

"Originally he belived an offence had been committed, but having looked at the video and seen a better angle and a better view, he now recognises that it was not a penalty."

Styles compounded the mistake later in the game by appearing to show a second yellow
card to Michael Essien before saying it was intended for John Terry - who he had booked moments earlier.

Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez was furious at the penalty award, which was made after Malouda jumped into Finnan and no Chelsea players bothered to appeal.

"I want to have respect for the referee but only he can explain but he will not be able to explain properly," said Benitez.

"There were 45,000 people here and they could not see a penalty. That is why Jose Mourinho could not see it."

Reds skipper Steven Gerrard described the penalty as "very, very unfair", but Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho begged to differ, and said: "I think it's a penalty."

Mourinho was less impressed by the Essien incident, saying: "The referee explained that he had only booked one player, John Terry, but Essien stood there for a long time and he said afterwards that he believed he had been cautioned again."

All Was Not lost yesterday: Man United did lose

Sven-Goran Eriksson insists Premier League table-toppers Manchester City have 'a long way to go' before they can regard themselves as a top team.
Eriksson has enjoyed a dream start to life with the Blues, steering them to three straight wins without conceding a goal.

Sunday's 1-0 triumph over Manchester United must have been particularly sweet for Eriksson, who spent so long feuding with Sir Alex Ferguson during his time as England manager.

Yet, despite enjoying such a magnificent start to his career in English club management, Eriksson's feet remain firmly on the ground.

'We have a long way to go before we are a top team,' he said.
'We are here and we are fighting but there are a lot of things for me to work on.

'There are a lot of players here who have never played in the Premier League. They are not used to the pace and you can see it sometimes.'
If Eriksson regards his current project as a work in progress, the early signs are particularly pleasing.

Of his new arrivals, Elano and Vedran Corluka have been particularly impressive, while another, Geovanni, was responsible for Sunday's first-half matchwinner.

Here is email:

Greetings Sturm. I am glad you enjoyed Chris Madrid's. Maybe now you have something to look forward to when you go to San Antonio. Anyways, 3 of my friends started a new sports blog. It's called "Stop! Or Tank Johnson Will Shoot". It's in the infancy stage but I think it has tremendous upside potential. If you get a chance, take a gander at it sometime. If you think it is worthy then maybe you can post it on your blog sometime. Thanks dude.

Trey Cook

And, are you tired of not being able to sync your radio and your tv?

And to my point: As a loyal P1 there is nothing better than Bob, Larry, Micky, Brad, and Babe filling my earholes with good strong Cowboys coverage on game day. The only problem is the 10-15 second delay of the HD DirecTV feed. And then I found the greatness of DelayPlay. You probably already have one, but if you don't:

This unit is freaking gold for Cowboys broadcasts and also for Stars and Mavs when you can't tolerate the VS or TNT feeds. They have the Ticket logo up on their website, so I'm surprised they aren't advertising on the station. The dirty P1 needs to know about this thing.

Have a kickass summer,


Kige Haters

Boys in Chairs


mmahaven said...

ManU has serious problems right now. Ronaldo and Rooney out, Tevez can't handle all but I am thankful they got him. Problems ahead, hope they can weather the storm.

dingus mcdouchey said...

i hope they don't get relegated

Gravypan said...

The gang at SOTJWS need to work on their photoshop skills. I'd be willing to be my daughter could pull off better photoshops than these guys right now.

And she's only 4.

Also, it's good to know that Bob finally endorses holding officials to account for their mistakes. When Sooner fan endorsed such a concept and nothing more, Bob labeled Sooner fan a whiner.

Jonathan said...

1) Torres is a flopping jackass.
2) Ben Haim sucks.
3) That was the worst ref job I've ever seen in soccer. They were messing up the easy ones.

And I've never seen a more disinterested side in a Manchester derby than what ManYoo threw out Sunday. They truly are the Yankees of the EPL. Talent all around, but they can't seem to get it all working together for extended periods of time. They may have won the league last year, but it took Terry and Cech suffering head injuries and Shevchenko and Ballack out for extended periods of time over the last few months of the season for ManYoo to hold on.

BTW, DISH now has Setanta and has a free preview until Sept 9.