Friday, August 31, 2007

So It Ends, And So It Begins...

I don't even want to talk about it. Except wondering how Marcus Spears is handling his situation...

That wasn’t very much fun

Thursday's preseason finale was not so much about winning. The Cowboys didn't, by the way, dropping a 23-14 decision to Minnesota at the Metrodome.

Thursday's game against the Vikings was about learning more about the players fighting for the final handful of roster spots and staying healthy.

The Cowboys made sure they stayed healthy – only six of 22 starters projected for the Sept. 9 season opener against the New York Giants even played.

Things were so relaxed Thursday that Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten, wide receiver Patrick Crayton and nose tackle Jason Ferguson wore tennis shoes on the sidelines while in full uniform.

"We have certain guys who are ready to play for the season," coach Wade Phillips said.

"But we needed and wanted to look at the young guys we'll need and who may be starters or play on special teams."

The final evaluating begins today when the front office, coaches and scouts get together for the cut to the 53-man roster Saturday.

With their second straight loss, the Cowboys closed the preseason 2-2, but Phillips and owner/general manager Jerry Jones feel good about the shape of the team.

"We've got some players I'd like to keep that we're not going to be able to," Jones said. "I don't want to sound like it's a team full of players we'd like to keep, but that's the system. There's not a team in the league that's not concerned about some position. I think going into the Giants' game we're in good shape. But I can point to scenarios that could be better."

The scenarios the Cowboys were interested in against the Vikings were backup
cornerbacks, rookie kicker Nick Folk and the reserve receivers, like Jerheme Urban, who helped his cause with a 96-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter but hurt it with a fumble.

Instead of Terence Newman and Anthony Henry at cornerback, the Cowboys started Aaron Glenn and Jacques Reeves. Glenn was tested on the first play, nearly intercepting a Tarvaris Jackson pass to Sidney Rice in the flat. Later in the series, Reeves knocked down a pass. The Vikings were without two offensive starters (receiver Bobby Wade and running back Chester Taylor). The rest of the key players lasted one series.

But the Cowboys wanted to get their reserves a look against at least some of the Vikings regulars.

"That's the only way you can find out," Phillips said.

Three-fifths of the starting offensive line played the first quarter, with left guard Kyle Kosier and center Andre Gurode spending the night as spectators. Limited earlier in camp because of knee surgeries, left tackle Flozell Adams and right tackle Marc Colombo were given a quarter of work.

Right guard Leonard Davis played the first quarter so he and Colombo could become more familiar with each other.

A look at the kicking game in the last decade …Which reminds me of an email that pointed out since Steve Hoffman was let go by Parcells, that the kicking game has really suffered. This is one of the myths Dale Hansen used to perpetuate, and I think the evidence is below. Even with Hoffman, this team had a huge problem of kicking for years. Seder and Cundiff were “Hoffman Finds” and they both spared us to death…

Here’s a look at the Cowboys’ kickers since 1998:

Year NFL rank Pct. Kicker
1998 10 82.1 Richie Cunningham
1999 30 61.3 Cunningham, Eddie Murray
2000 22 75.8 Tim Seder
2001 26 66.7 Tim Seder, Jon Hilbert
2002 31 63.2 Billy Cundiff
2003 16 79.3 Cundiff
2004 24T 76.9 Cundiff
2005 30 71.4 Jose Cortez, Cundiff, Shawn Suisham
2006 32 71.4 Mike Vanderjagt, Martin Gramatica

Millwood beats Danks …Rangers on a roll!

Though it's late in a lost season, Kevin Millwood, the Rangers' pitching staff and the team as a whole all have streaks to be proud of after another victory Thursday night.

In downing the White Sox 5-1, the Rangers clinched a three-game sweep, pushed their winning streak to a season-high five games and moved within one victory of a third consecutive winning month.

"I think everybody here knows what it feels like to lose, so I think it's good to know what it takes to win," Millwood said.

Millwood won for the ninth time this season and added to his own personal streak.

In going at least seven innings in each of the past four games, Millwood matched a feat he hasn't accomplished since 2003.

With Millwood's help, Rangers pitchers moved closer to a second consecutive month with an ERA under 4.00 -- they're at 3.65 in August with one game remaining.

No Rangers team has had two sub-4.00 months in a row since 1992.

The Rangers had never won five in a row under manager Ron Washington, and. they hadn't won five in a row since Aug. 9-13, 2006.
Chicago starter John Danks, a former prized prospect in the Rangers' organization and a Round Rock native, fell to 6-13 despite allowing only two earned runs and striking out eight in 5 2/3 innings.

5 wins in a row? Extend Washington! …just kidding. I am sure they are unrelated…right?

Although the first 65 games of Ron Washington's managerial career were one of the most dismal starts to any season in Rangers history, the next 68 games were good enough to convince general manager Jon Daniels to pick up the manager's contract option for 2009.

The move, announced Thursday, means Daniels' and Washington's paths are aligned, as both of their contracts run through the 2009 season.

"That was largely the intent," Daniels said, calling it an "easy decision" to pick up the extra year on the two-year deal Washington signed in November.

USA beats up on Argentina …who seemed to leave some important Argentineans at home…

Kobe Bryant's strong start quickly took the drama out of the most-anticipated game of the FIBA Americas tournament.

Now comes the only one that matters.

Bryant scored 27 points -- 15 in the first quarter -- and the United States cruised into the semifinals of the FIBA Americas tournament as the No. 1 seed by beating Argentina 91-76 Thursday night.

Carmelo Anthony added 18 points and LeBron James had 15 for the Americans, who will face Puerto Rico in Saturday's second semifinal game. A victory there gives them a berth in the 2008 Olympics.


Argentina beat the U.S. in the 2002 world championships, then did it again in the semifinals of the Athens Olympics. The Americans avenged that loss with a victory in the bronze medal game at last year's worlds.

But the Argentineans arrived in Las Vegas without some of the top players from those teams. Manu Ginobili and Fabricio Oberto, starters for the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, opted to rest this summer along with Chicago's Andres Nocioni and Charlotte's Walter Herrmann.

"Argentina is Argentina," Anthony said. "The guys they had out there was still good players, we couldn't sleep on them. We studied film just as if they were going to have their whole team. We wish that their main players were here, but obviously they couldn't be here. We had to take care of business regardless."

That left Luis Scola, who scored 20 points, and Carlos Delfino as the mainstays of those teams who opted to play. A victory over Brazil on Saturday would guarantee their teammates could return in Beijing.

Prank of the Year?

Take top poster and pass to the left.

Following those instructions, hundreds of Hilliard Darby High School football fans fell into an elaborate prank on Friday night.

When they stood up during a football game against cross-town rival Hilliard Davidson High School and held up squares of construction paper, they thought they were spelling out: "Go Darby."

But from across the field, Davidson fans read the actual message:
"We suck."

Hilliard Davidson senior Kyle Garchar masterminded the trick at Crew Stadium and suffered an in-school suspension for it.

Garchar, 17, even produced a videotape for YouTube. The video had been viewed more than 3,400 times as of last night.

"That was the ultimate in-your-face," said Jordan Moore, a Davidson junior. "I think it was ingenious."

Moore didn't go to the football game but quickly learned about the prank at school on Monday. Everyone was talking about it, and they still are.

The war of words between the two Hilliard schools started before the game. On Friday morning, someone painted an obscene message about Davidson on the school's parking lot.

The rivalry is particularly intense this year because it's the first year the schools have competed on the football field.

"It's made friendships go sour -- just over this game," Moore said.
Besides the three days of in-school suspension that Garchar received for the prank, he also has been banned from participating in any school activities for a semester.
For Garchar, that's the rest of his high-school career. He's finishing school early and moving to California, where he plans to attend college for engineering.

Here are some of the other Billboards out there:

Their whole paycheck is hazard pay.

Watch people fight at work.

One game a week? Is the N in NFL for Nancy?

Stars Billboards get laughs

If you've seen the billboard near American Airlines Center, you might think the Stars should be sent to the penalty box for slashing another sport when it's down.

Or you could soak in the message – "The only thing our refs shave is the ice" – and do what Mavericks owner Mark Cuban did.


"I think it's hysterical," Cuban said. "Good for them. It's a fun ad."
NBA commissioner David Stern isn't laughing. But then, how many Stars home games was he going to attend anyway?

The Stars and Door Number 3, an ad agency in Austin that helped devise the campaign along with Stars executive vice president Geoff Moore, didn't set out to offend anyone. The purpose was to display an edge, have some fun, convey how NHL athletes are the toughest around and get people talking hockey in the dog days of summer.

Oh yeah, and one other thing.

"We hope this translates into ticket sales," Stars president Jim Lites said.

It's too early to measure the impact on the gate, but Rob Scichili, the Stars' senior director of communications, said the initial response has been positive. Lites bubbled that the campaign has gone "viral" and said the club's web site "has been getting hits from all over the place" since the billboards were installed.

Five are up now. One more goes up today and two more Saturday. Eleven will be placed around the city by early November.

Most of the billboards use clever phrases to focus on the aggressive nature of the sport. A billboard by Central Expressway and I-635 states, "One game a week? Is the N in NFL for Nancy?" The club takes a jab at major league baseball, a passion of Stars and Rangers owner Tom Hicks, at I-635 and Old Denton with a sign that reads, "Maybe baseball should stop using the word sacrifice."

Lites said Hicks laughed louder than anyone at that billboard.

And Stern? The NBA commissioner was made aware of the Stars' campaign Thursday afternoon but relayed through a league spokesman that he had no comment.

Did the Stars have any reservations about referring to the NBA's officiating/gambling scandal?

"The answer would be yes," Lites said. "It's edgy. But we're really good friends with the Mavs. They're our partners in the building. I think we thought it would be taken the right way.

"It's not a slap at them. It's more of a snip. I think the same goes for the Cowboys. The NFL is the big daddy."

The most irreverent and outrageous stuff in the campaign hit the cutting room floor. Most of those had to do with dog fighting.

"We avoided taking a swipe at Michael Vick," Lites said.

Should the Stars be applauded for their restraint?

"Well, yeah, but it's a long life," Lites said. "We can take these billboards down and start over."

Jussi Jokinen re-ups …now let’s see a little more production on your own, bro…

Winger Jussi Jokinen signed a two-year contract Thursday for an average of $1,812,500 per season, giving the Stars their full complement of players well before training camp begins Sept. 14.

But as much as general manager Doug Armstrong's work is done, there still is much to be sorted out for the Stars. Jokinen's deal means there are at least 15 players fighting for 14 forward positions.

"There is going to be great competition in camp, and I think that will help players like Jussi," Armstrong said. "I think every player has to go into camp ready to raise the level of their game. I think they have to all look to do more."

Jokinen, 24, is coming off a tough sophomore season in which his production dropped and he missed three playoff games because of injury. Still, he ranked fifth on the team in scoring with 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) and was tied for the team lead in shootout success, going 5-of-12.

Those numbers were down from his rookie season, when he had 17 goals and 55 points and was 10-for-13 in shootouts.

Stars coach Dave Tippett said he has talked to Jokinen throughout the summer and has been impressed with Jokinen's attitude.

College FB Week 1 TV Schedule

Beckham out for 6 full weeks …and the thud you heard was from the MLS and ESPN offices…

David Beckham has been ruled out of England's crucial forthcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Russia with a knee injury.

The former captain, 32, suffered the injury during the Los Angeles Galaxy's SuperLiga final defeat by Pachuca on Wednesday, and a scan has now confirmed the problem as a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

According to the MLS club, Beckham is likely to be out for between four and six weeks, keeping him out of Steve McClaren's squad for the Wembley clashes with Israel, on September 8, and Russia four days later.

And he could now also struggle to be fit for the qualifiers with Estonia and Russia, on October 13 and 17, respectively.

Premiership Television Schedule for this week:

Sat Sep 01 08:55AM Central
Setanta Sports USA
English Premier League
Liverpool vs Derby County

Sat Sep 01 08:55AM Central
FOX Soccer Channel (FSC) - US
English Premier League
Fulham vs Tottenham Hotspur

Sat Sep 01 11:00AM Central
FOX Soccer Channel (FSC) - US
English Premier League
Manchester United vs Sunderland

Sun Sep 02 07:00AM Central
Setanta Sports USA
English Premier League
Arsenal vs Portsmouth

Sun Sep 02 10:00AM Central
FOX Soccer Channel (FSC) - US
English Premier League
Aston Villa vs Chelsea

Dallas is going Down, says Buffalo Fan.

Bowling for Soup does Fergie better than Fergie does Fergie


cracker1743 said...

Beckham's out for 6 weeks? (Sigh) Cue the whiny Brits.

You know what sucks about this soccer thing? Getting into a team, and then only being able to watch them once a month. No televised Everton matches until the end of September. Grrrr.

Fake Sturm said...

What is the Marcus Spears situation?

Flaco said...

The Stars new marketing = genius

Pre season tickets go on sale today

Bring on the hockey and the Bob and Dan post game shows.

Lefty said...

Reading Royals Rule.

Beezner said...

Do Beckham and Carl Pavano have the same agent?