Thursday, August 02, 2007

Thursday at Camp

I thought I would start today’s blogging effort with a quick post comment from yesterday:

I absolutely cannot BELIEVE Bob's Romo obsession! After his last few regular season games, the dropped hold, and the offseason of tomfoolery the confident romo act either means he is just a cocky bastard or he doesn't care about team performance at all!

He is going to spare us all to death for the first six games and all the commentators will be pointing to the cocky attitude, the miss world judging, the "don't stop believin'" performance and saying that all the signs were there.

Well, believe it. I have watched and rewatched his performances from 2006. For any NFL Quarterback, they were good. For a first time QB, they were remarkably good. He passed the tests, in my opinion of being able to A) Lead an NFL Team in a variety of environments and situations, B) Make all the necessary throws, and C) Consistently put his team in a position to win.

He did make mistakes, and trust me, as a gambler, he will make MANY more. But, this is the first QB since Troy Aikman that has looked like the real deal. He has several performances that should allow fans to know he can play at a top level (Colts game, At New York Giants, At Washington, At Atlanta), so now he just has to demonstrate he can do it much more than not.

I also put some stock in the “eye test”. To me, that means, to the untrained or trained eye, does he look the part. Does he conduct himself as a big time QB? Do his team mates seem convinced he is a big time QB? And most importantly for me, do I buy it?

Yes, I do. Not saying he is going to Canton, and I am not sure if he will ever win a ring. But, I do know that he can put them in a position to win a ring…soon.

So, if I sound convinced in the guy, there is a good reason: I am convinced.

In related news, Jerry in no hurry for an extension

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones suggested Wednesday he's content to wait until after the season to begin serious discussions with Tony Romo's camp about a new contract.

“I'm confident that if Tony does what I expect him to do, he'll be our quarterback,” Jones said.

Romo is in the final year of a two-year, $3.9 million deal. Jones said he knows waiting until after the season to sign Romo could cost the Cowboys more money, especially if he returns to the Pro Bowl or leads the team to the Super Bowl.
“If he's the quarterback I think he is, he's going to get his money,” Jones said. “When we've had a quarterback that could compete at a Super Bowl level, we've always paid — and welcomed the chance to do it.”

Romo jogged off the field at the Alamodome after Wednesday's afternoon practice without taking questions.

Jones declined to give details of any talks he has already had with Romo and his agent. But the owner did reiterate he's only interested in a long-term deal.

“We want Tony to be our quarterback for a long time,” Jones said. “That's really easy for me to say right now because he's having good practices here.”

Channel 5 working blue

Players play pranks on each other at every Cowboys Camp. Sometimes we don't always hear about the pranks, but this time we have the inside scoop on one.

NBC 5 sends a still camera to camp every year to capture the events of the day. The best part is when the players sign autographs and take pictures with the fans in the stands -- and in San Antonio there are plenty.

On July 27, NBC 5 captured an innocent photo of Tony Romo signing autographs.

Fans have taken to dangling the items they want signed on strings so that the All-Pro quarterback can more easily reach the items.

Several photographs were taken of the quarterback and his fans -- but it wasn't until much later that the framing of the photo, and the precarious location of another still photographer were brought to light.

The other photographer, going for an artistic shot, was sitting on the ground in front of Romo between the athlete and the wall.

After a few laughs in the media room, a member of the Cowboys staff came in to see the picture then asked for a copy so that they could give Romo some grief.

A copy was made and posted in the veterans' locker room at 5:00 a.m. the following morning.

We checked with the staff member and we were told the veterans all got a good laugh out of it, and apparently some tears were shed.

So after practice Newy Scruggs did what any good reporter would do, he showed Romo the picture and asked him if he saw it.

Newy: "I heard they put that in the locker man."

Romo: "I hadn't seen that"

Newy: "You didn't see that?"

Romo: "No, this is the first time. That's pretty funny though. Some people want to get up close and personal."

And when asked about it, Cowboys safety Roy Williams told Derek Castillo that the photo was priceless.

The picture? Below:

With the Hall of Fame induction of Irvin approaching, Here are my various writings on the subject from months ago

Giants have issues for sure

If Michael Strahan intends to play football this season, then he has to show up at Giants training camp.


We're almost a week into Strahan's absence, with fines totaling more than $85,000. And despite a clearing-the-air series of telephone discussions between Strahan and the team earlier this week, there is no indication that the star defensive end is ready to report.

But Strahan needs to be there now, and the Giants need him there now. They need closure to a distraction that has serious ramifications for the team, especially for a defense that is counting on Strahan as part of the Mathias Kiwanuka move to strongside linebacker.

If Strahan is serious about retirement, then he needs to let the team know once and for all that he's done. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Not next month. Now. And if this is more about the money - and you'd be a fool not to believe it is - then Strahan should realize that any attempt to squeeze the Giants for a bump in his $4-million salary will not happen.

As a high-ranking team official told me on Tuesday, the Giants will not be giving Strahan any more money. Period. I believe that official. So should Strahan.

That team official's name is John Mara.

I don't begrudge Strahan the right to ask for more money - even at age 35. He is in the final two years of a contract with a value of $46 million, a deal that was one of the richest in NFL history. Strahan remains one of the top defensive players in the league, but if the Giants aren't willing to increase his salary in a bid to get him to feel better about not retiring, then he has to accept that reality..

But he is within his rights to address the issue, just as every professional athlete should be empowered to maximize his earning potential.

If the Giants aren't willing to pay more, then so be it. It isn't ridiculous for the team to find some sort of middle ground with Strahan - additional incentives, or the promise of a bump in salary next season if he remains healthy. I'm not talking about doubling his salary, or getting him in line with Dwight Freeney's six-year, $72-million contract. That's ridiculous.

But like it or not, Strahan is one of the most important players on the Giants. Consider: Since 2004, the Giants are 22-12 with Strahan in the lineup, and 3-13 without him.

You also can't argue with the fact that Strahan has missed large chunks of playing time in two of the last three seasons because of injury, and at age 35, there isn't much time left. But when Strahan is healthy, he makes this defense much, much better. Just ask Antonio Pierce. Or Osi Umenyiora, who won't have nearly as big an impact without Strahan taking on the double-teams on the other side.

The Giants have made it clear they consider Strahan's value in line with his current contract, and that's not going to change. Their flirtation with Simeon Rice is within their rights, because Strahan is trying to hold them hostage at the position.

Rangers get a win
with the new lineup

Jarrod Saltalamacchia achieved a lot with one swing Wednesday night, Jason Botts achieved a little with a lot of swings, and the Rangers achieved another victory with a new-look lineup.

Saltalamacchia made his Rangers debut Wednesday in Texas' 9-6, 10-inning win over Cleveland, and Botts was playing in his first game as a Ranger this season after being called up to replace Sammy Sosa as the everyday designated hitter.

On the first pitch he saw since being traded from Atlanta in the Mark Teixeira deal, Saltalamacchia drove in two runs with a first- inning single. He finished 1-for-5, putting the first pitch in play in his first three at-bats, and played the entire
game at first base.

"I haven't been getting a lot of at-bats, so it definitely helped my confidence,"
Saltalamacchia said. "I was seeing the ball good tonight."

Botts didn't drive in a run until his sixth plate appearance, by which point he was 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. He hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning.

"He relaxed a little bit, he shortened that swing and he put the ball in play," manager Ron Washington said. "Now the butterflies are gone and he can relax."
Botts left seven men on base Wednesday, with his second strikeout coming with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. Twice, Indians pitchers walked Michael Young to get to Botts, who hit cleanup.

"I definitely got excited, definitely pumped up for quite a few of the at-bats today, a little overanxious," Botts said.

The Rangers didn't bring Botts into the clubhouse until about an hour-and-a-half before game time because they were waiting to tell Sosa about the move first. Botts said he was "a little rushed," but he didn't complain.

"I'm just happy to get an opportunity to show that I can hit major league pitching," Botts said. "I'm looking forward to taking advantage of it."

Saltalamacchia and Botts are switch-hitting youngsters who are part of a Rangers lineup that looks markedly different than it did a week ago. Wednesday, that lineup had 14 hits.

In defeating the AL Central-contending Indians for the second consecutive night, the Rangers clinched a series victory. Again, Texas got shutdown performances from its bullpen, even though closer Eric Gagné was traded to Boston on Tuesday.

Joaquin Benoit threw 2 2/3 scoreless innings for the win, as the Rangers used five relievers after starter John Rheinecker departed after 4 1/3 innings and six earned runs.

Although C.J. Wilson isn't considered a closer, he could have fooled anyone watching the past two games. He pitched the final 1 2/3 innings for his first save this season Tuesday, then got the game's last out Wednesday for save No. 2.

Telling Sosa his new role

The Rangers' lineup, which seems to get younger every day, doesn't have room for Sammy Sosa anymore.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels, manager Ron Washington and hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo held a meeting with the 38-year-old power hitter Wednesday, telling Sosa that the majority of the at-bats he had been getting will go to Jason Botts, who has dominated for Triple A Oklahoma this season.

The Rangers didn't offer to release Sosa, Daniels said, and Sosa apparently has no plans to retire. Instead, Sosa will have to be content with pinch hitting and making occasional starts against left-handed pitchers.

"We're looking at a likely Hall of Famer here that we're asking to take a lesser role than he signed on to play here," Daniels said. "He's been productive for us, he's been a very good team guy, and he's done really everything we asked. It was a difficult conversation to have."

Texas sent rookie third baseman Travis Metcalf to Oklahoma to make room for Botts.
Sosa is fifth on the all-time home run list with 604 and leads the Rangers in homers (16) and RBI (70) this season. But he hit .179 in July with two homers and seven RBI.
"I'm very proud of the chance that they gave me," Sosa said. "I came through like a slugger. I produced a lot of runs, and it's something that I feel great about. On the other side, I have to understand that they want to see the young kid here."

Botts isn't exactly a kid at 27, but the switch hitter is still trying to break into the big leagues. He was a September call-up in 2005 and played 20 games for Texas last year. In 31 major-league games, Botts is hitting .232 with one homer and 10 RBI. He went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts Wednesday, but drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning.

At Triple A this year, he batted .320 with 13 homers and 78 RBI in 102 games.
"He certainly has proven what he can prove at Triple A, and now he needs a chance at this stage with regular at-bats," Daniels said.

So where does that leave Sosa? He said he still hopes he can play "a few more years," although the Rangers were unable to find any takers at the trade deadline.
"If I believed that I couldn't play anymore, I would go home," Sosa said. "I was out for a year. I have a chance to be back and stay in baseball. I'm taking it from there."

Important story for me: Teixeira confirms report of Hicks offer

Teixeira confirmed that he turned down the Rangers' eight-year offer worth approximately $140 million, a proposal the team made two weeks ago.

Rangers owner Tom Hicks revealed the offer to The Dallas Morning News after Texas
traded Teixeira and Mahay for five prospects including Saltalamacchia, shortstop Elvis Andrus and three pitchers.

The offer included a mutually agreed-upon salary of approximately $14 million in 2008, Teixeira's final year of arbitration eligibility, followed by seven seasons at an average of $18 million.

The former Georgia Tech star is represented by powerful agent Scott Boras. Teixeira can become a free agent after the 2008 season, and said Wednesday he doesn't want to discuss his contract status because it would be a distraction for him and the Braves.
"I want to finish out the season, have a great year and see what happens in the offseason," he said.

All is quiet on the Mavericks front

Free agency has become a holding pattern for the Mavericks and numerous other NBA teams.

The reason: uncertainty surrounding restricted free agents Mickael Pietrus of Golden State and Sasha Pavlovic of Cleveland.

Teams have been reluctant to commit to other big guards or small forwards until Pietrus and Pavlovic sign.

"Those situations have taken forever and will probably continue to linger,"
Mavericks president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. "It's created a ripple effect."

Agent Happy Walters, who represents Pietrus, told the Contra Costa Times that the Mavericks are among the teams interested in a sign-and-trade for his client, along with Miami and Cleveland.

More likely, the Mavericks will explore the unrestricted market if they decide to use all or part of their $5.3 million exception.

Players like Chris Webber, James Posey, P.J. Brown, Eddie Jones and Matt Barnes could bring different qualities to a 67-win team.

"Who's the guy who really grabs you as a difference-maker?" Nelson said. "Who's
going to get you into the second and third round of the playoffs? Realistically, any additions we make are going to augment what we have."

KG At Fenway

Slow Claps


Popsicle Stick Chick said...

I like the blog that starts with a comment from
Bob's Blog Commenters. Nice!

The Engineer said...

Well, thanks for the detailed response. If I had known that my comment would lead a Thursday blog I'd have used proper capitalization.

Nonetheless, his offseason antics leave me convinced that the guy thinks he can do no wrong, isn't interested in improving, and hasn't concerned himself with anything besides his celebrity status for months. My prediction holds.