It is football season....sort of. Right now, we should take what we can all get. So, Colts-Cowboys....
Texas Stadium, Welcome Wade Phillips! …
On paper, tonight's game against the Super Bowl champion Indianapolis Colts is simply no more than a preseason opener for the Cowboys.
But for Wade Phillips, it means a lot more.
He gets to walk into Texas Stadium for the first time as coach of the Cowboys.
Phillips, a former Texas high school football coach and son of Houston Oilers legend Bum Phillips, gets to take his place in the lineage of Tom Landry, Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer, Chan Gailey, Dave Campo and Bill Parcells.
"Sure it has personal meaning," Phillips said. "It means we are starting our season. I am ready to be coaching these guys. I am looking forward to it."
COWBOYS VS. COLTS, 7 TONIGHT, KDFW/4
Five story lines for tonight's game
1Tony Romo's maturation continues: The QB cooled off a bit in camp, but being without injured receivers Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn didn't help. He'll play at least a quarter.
2O-line concerns: Starting tackles Flozell Adams and Marc Colombo won't play while recovering from knee surgeries. Unproven Pat McQuistan, Doug Free and Jim Marten will.
3Nick Folk making an impression: The rookie is giving Martin Gramatica a serious challenge for the kicking job. Can Folk perform under the bright lights of a live game?
4Hyped 3-4 defense is on display: Even though it's a preseason game, look for blitzing and aggressive play from Wade Phillips' defense.
5Anthony Spencer heads rookie watch: The linebacker has looked fine in camp, but this
will be his first chance to rush a quarterback who is not in a Cowboys uniform.
Gramps with an interesting Payroll note …
Super Bowl talk for this team is silly. Hey, win a playoff game first. But the Cowboys do have talent, which should be the case, based on the amount of money Jones has spent and the collection of high draft picks on the roster.
Jones is paying $90 million in guaranteed money to defensive starters alone. The
Rangers have not had a full-team payroll that high since A-Rod left town.
Jerry also has $57 million in guaranteed money tied up in just offensive linemen, which is the same amount as the current full-team payroll of the Rangers.
Admittedly, the Rangers' lovefest with Washington was based on Buck Backlash. Players were glad former manager Buck Showalter was gone.
Colts Plan for tonight …
Can't wait to watch the Super Bowl champions tonight? Don't wait too long after the 8 p.m. kickoff, not if you want to see the real thing.
Or as real as it gets in the preseason.
Quarterback Peyton Manning and most of the Indianapolis Colts regulars will play only a series or two when the team opens a four-game exhibition set at Dallas.
Coach Tony Dungy said the only first-teamers who will play after that are the new starters: cornerbacks Marlin Jackson and Kelvin Hayden, rookie slot receiver Anthony Gonzalez, rookie offensive tackle Tony Ugoh and weakside linebacker Freddy Keiaho.
Regardless of who is out there, execution is expected.
"Like against the Rams last year, I don't like going down there and getting embarrassed on national TV," Manning said Wednesday of a 19-17 loss at St. Louis in the 2006 preseason opener. "Hopefully that won't be the case.
"Our preseason record has not been very good. I think at times you'd like to look better all the way around, but obviously coaches are looking for certain things and they don't necessarily tell the players."
The Colts have won only once in their past nine preseason games and are 8-13 in exhibitions since Dungy became coach in 2002.
But the ugliness hasn't carried over to when the games count. The Colts are 14-2 in September under Dungy.
Like all coaches, Dungy balances a disdain for losing with the big picture of needing to see more of certain players in game situations.
"I don't think you ever learn anything by losing," Dungy said. "It's not something we enjoy, not playing our best, but there are a lot of other things that we're trying to get accomplished as well."
Many Colts passing on action tonight …
A dozen Indianapolis Colts, including defensive end Robert Mathis and safety Bob Sanders, are officially out of Thursday's nationally televised NFL preseason opener at Dallas because of injuries.
The list, which also categorized linebacker Rocky Boiman as questionable with an ankle, was released this morning after the Colts finished a 90-minute training camp workout at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology.
Coach Tony Dungy has said that if this were the regular season, Mathis would play. This being an exhibition, he will rest a sore knee. Mathis has led the Colts in sacks in each of the past two seasons.
Sanders is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and has yet to practice in camp. He's on the physically unable to perform list but has been conditioning on the side and is said to be close to returning. The 2005 Pro Bowl selection was a catalyst in the Colts' Super Bowl run last postseason.
Despite being 50-50 to play, Boiman practiced this morning.
Cornerback Marlin Jackson did not practice, but Dungy said the third-year pro will play. Jackson, expected to be a full-time starter for the first time, was tired and needed rest, Dungy said.
The plan is for most of the Colts' first-teamers to play until midway through the first quarter, which is consistent with past preseason openers.
"Then we've got a lot of guys in that group who need to play a little bit more," Dungy said. "Our corners are going to play more, Anthony Gonzalez obviously, Freddy Keiaho, guys like that.
"We really want to come out and look sharp and get going and then substitute."
Cornerback Kelvin Hayden, like Jackson, is a full-time starter for the first time. Gonzalez, the team's first-round pick last April, is the new slot receiver. Keiaho is taking over at weakside linebacker for Cato June, an offseason free agency departure.
The other players ruled out include Anthony "Booger" McFarland, who had knee surgery Tuesday, defensive end Noland Burchette (groin), defensive back Brannon Condren (groin), defensive end Ben Ishola (ankle), offensive tackle Charlie Johnson (hip), defensive tackle Tom Johnson (calf), running back Kenton Keith (ankle), linebacker Keith O'Neil (physically unable to perform, abdomen/hip), defensive end Bo Schobel (chest) and linebacker Clint Session (hamstring).
Meanwhile, in the world of Bacsik, two mentions today of his internship:
NY Times …
The moment that provoked so much dread — among the commissioner, the public and pitchers everywhere — was saved by the man it hurt the most.
As home run No. 756 flew over the right-center-field fence at AT&T Park on Tuesday night, Mike Bacsik stood on the mound, confronted with his options.
He could stew, the way Barry Bonds does. He could retreat, the way Bud Selig did. Or he could stand on that mound and give his chosen sport the grace it needed.
“I put my head down for a second,” Bacsik said.
One second — that was all Bacsik needed to mourn the fact that he gave up Bonds’s record-breaking home run, that the two of them would be linked forever, and that his flat fastball over the heart of the plate is now a staple of highlight history.
Then he reminded himself of something simple, which might also be noted by those who predicted a baseball apocalypse. “I’m still alive,” Bacsik said.
With that, he became baseball’s unofficial ambassador to the record, accepting the role that Selig so publicly declined. In yet another twist to this oddball summer, Bacsik was the one offering perspective in light of controversy.
“You either have to be a special player to be remembered in this game, or you have to be part of a special moment,” Bacsik said.
Bacsik is a 29-year-old starting pitcher for the Washington Nationals, neither a veteran nor a prospect. He has a mediocre record (5-6), a mediocre earned run average (4.47) and a mediocre fastball (86 miles an hour, tops).
“If I didn’t give up this home run, nobody would remember me,” Bacsik said.
Now, he will be remembered for much more than the home run. While Bonds pounded his chest and pointed to the sky and slipped on a T-shirt emblazoned with his own likeness, Bacsik demonstrated the charm of self-deprecation.
“I always dreamed about this as a kid,” Bacsik said. “But when I dreamed of it, I thought I would be the one hitting the home run.”
For Major League Baseball, Bonds was not the ideal player to hit the record-breaking homer, considering his frosty personality and reported connection to steroids. But Bacsik was the perfect pitcher to serve it up. “I’m really excited,” he said. “I’m part of history.”
Bacsik is not your typical major leaguer. He wears old-fashioned stirrups. He studies baseball lore. He is such a sports fan that he spends his off-season working for a Dallas radio station so he can score good seats to Mavericks’ home games.
Bacsik had a queasy feeling when he arrived in the Bay Area this week, mainly because the Mavericks were eliminated here by the Golden State Warriors in the first round of the N.B.A. playoffs. “I hate San Francisco for that,” Bacsik said.
Mike Bacsik has a closet full of sports memorabilia at his home in Dallas, his most prized possession being an autographed Ken Griffey Jr. jersey he acquired this year.
Bacsik trumped his entire collection Tuesday night.
The baseball world knows the Duncanville High-ex is the pitcher who allowed Barry Bonds' record-breaking 756th home run. He earned a spot in baseball lore alongside Al Downing, who gave up Hank Aaron's 715th home run in 1974.
For Bacsik's part in history, Bonds gave him one of his game bats – with an autograph reading "To Mike, God Bless, Barry Bonds."
"I guess the Griffey jersey moves to No. 2 now," Bacsik, 29, said by phone Wednesday afternoon from San Francisco.
Bacsik, in the middle of a whirlwind day, was busy by 2 p.m. Pacific time preparing for his next start, which will come Sunday at Arizona. He had a few hours of running and weight training ahead of him.
That after a morning filled with appearances on radio talk shows around the country, including one with the station for which he interned in 2005 – KTCK-1310, The Ticket.
He said it had been a surreal 15 hours, more than anything he could have anticipated as he prepared himself for the possibility of being a part of history Tuesday. Bacsik has spent most of his 12-year baseball career in the minors.
"I've seen the highlights 100 times now," he said. "I know I was the one pitching the ball, even though it all doesn't seem like it's me. All of a sudden, I've gone from nobody and no one was bothering me, and now everyone wants access."
Before Tuesday, Bascik was probably most known for being part of the first father-son tandem in Rangers history. He has won 10 games over five seasons and appeared three times for Texas in 2004; father Mike Sr. pitched for the Rangers in the mid-1970s – and faced Hank Aaron when he stood at 755 homers.
Bacsik, about as happy-go-lucky as anyone in baseball, said he was overwhelmed by how many phone calls and text messages he has received since getting a 3-2 fastball up in the strike zone and hearing the roar of the crowd as the ball sailed over the right-center field fence at AT&T Park.
Hard Knocks is back on HBO. Very Solid …KC Chiefs Camp….
ESPN.com looks at the forgotten ballparks ….
Speaking of Hard Knocks, here is Hardknock Life - JayZ
In Need of Ketchup