Monday, October 29, 2007

And So It Ends...

Boston Red Sox = World Champions

You didn't just see the Boston Red Sox win the World Series. You didn't just see the Red Sox sweep the World Series. You saw something bigger, something deeper, something historic.
This wasn't 2004. That's ancient history now.

This wasn't 86 years of torment and misery, curses and ghosts, being washed away by events taking place on a baseball field. This was different. Very different. Couldn't have been
more different.

This is a franchise that has turned life as we used to know it upside down. This is no longer a team defined by all the years it didn't win. This is a team carving a whole new niche in the sporting universe.

Make no mistake. The Red Sox now are one of baseball's powerhouse franchises. And what they just did -- in this World Series, in this October and especially in the past week and a half -- made that 100 percent official.

"It's a different organization now," Curt Schilling said after the 4-3 victory over the Colorado Rockies that completed this sweep and this journey. "It's different. Nobody feels sorry for us anymore. And they shouldn't. We're not the little guy on the block anymore. We're not David to Goliath. Payrollwise, we're up there with anybody now. But it's about a lot more than payroll. They built this franchise to last. And it's been a privilege to watch it take off."

Until Sunday, the only franchise in the history of this sport that ever swept two World Series in four seasons was the one, the only New York Yankees (who, of course, had done that four times).

But now the Yankees have company. Now the 2004 and 2007 Red Sox have moved in right beside them, leaving their stamp on their sport and its rich postseason history.

And this team stampeded up that mountainside in a way no team ever has. Well, not since baseball expanded its postseason in 1969, at least.

This team outscored the Los Angeles Angels, the Cleveland Indians and the Rockies by a combined score of 99-46 -- the greatest October run differential in postseason history.

These Red Sox finished that run by outscoring the Rockies 29-10 in this World Series -- the greatest World Series run differential in history.

In the last 10 World Series, we have had 5 sweeps: 1998, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007 (all by the American League). 2 more series were 5 games, 2000 and 2006. And the American League has won 7 of the 10.

As I was pondering the Red Sox winning another title, I was thinking 2 things:

1) How further insufferable will New Englanders be?

2) How different is the 2004 Champs from the 2007?

Take a look:

This season’s Red Sox

C – Varitek
1B – Youkilis
2B – Pedroia
3B – Lowell
SS – Lugo
LF – Manny
CF – Crisp/Ellsbury
RF – Drew
DH – Papi

SP – Beckett
SP – Matsuzaka
SP – Schilling
SP – Wakefiled
SP – Lester

Clo - Papelbon

And, the 2004

C- Varitek
1B – Millar/ Mientkiewicz
2B – Bellhorn
3B – Mueller
SS – Cabrera
LF – Manny
CF – Damon
RF – Kapler/Trot
DH – Papi

SP – Lowe
SP – Pedro
SP – Schilling
SP – Wakefield
SP – Arroyo

Clo – Foulke

I guess standing pat is not the answer?

Now, in “how can we save Tom Hicks money” news, ARod- saves Hicks lots of cash

Curveballs seem to elude his bat each October, but if we've learned anything about Alex Rodriguez, it's that he never allows a dollar bill to skip past him.

Thus, the reports Sunday night should not have stunned anyone that Rodriguez, the human bank vault, has turned up his nose on baseball's already-richest contract.

As was his contractual right, Rodriguez reportedly has opted out of the three years
remaining on his New York Yankees contract and plans to again become a free agent.

For the Rangers, the news has to be greeted with perverse glee. By Rodriguez turning his back on his current contract, Rangers owner Tom Hicks is off the hook for $21,304,500 owed to the Yankees to subsidize the remaining $81 million in salary.

Spend it wisely, Mr. Hicks. People will be watching.

What was amusing is that the new regime at the Yankees' fiefdom-in-transition, Steinbrenner and Sons, actually thought there was a chance that Rodriguez wouldn't do it. Hank Steinbrenner, blustery son of the ailing blustery father, had been trying lately to summon Rodriguez to the family castle.

For what, we wondered? To lay a guilt trip on Alex and try to hold him to his midseason word about how he always wanted to "remain a Yankee"?

Or did the Steinbluffers think they were going to dazzle Rodriguez with their arithmetic?

Rodriguez was scheduled to be paid $27 million annually through 2010. Yet, reports in the New York-area newspapers were saying that the Yankees had no intention of making anyone baseball's first $30-million-a-year player.

That's not much of a raise for a guy who hit 54 homers.

But it's moot now. Rodriguez had 10 days after the conclusion of the World Series to exercise the opt-out clause, and no one can accuse Opt-Rod of stringing the Yankees along.

If you want to believe Steinbrenner and Sons, Rodriguez's days in pinstripes are done.

As Hank Steinbrenner put it so tactfully last weekend in the Long Island, N.Y., paper Newsday, "I don't think there's any secret that we want A-Rod to stay, but it's also no secret that Brian [Cashman, general manager] made it clear a long time ago, and I've made it clear after him, if they opt out, goodbye."

The Yankees weren't interested in retaining Rodriguez, in other words, unless the Rangers' money was helping them to pay for him. And since that would have required Rodriguez to forgo his opt-out clause, the Yankees, in effect, were telling baseball's best player that he had a deadline: Sign now or see ya.

Since Scott Boras is Opt-Rod's agent, projections and contract expectations should be viewed with a smirk. Boras, for example, reportedly wants Rodriguez, who is 32, to get a 12-year deal. The annual salary should start, at the least, at $30 million.
Is he worth it? Hicks and the Steinbrenners have already answered that, haven't they?

Now, 2 Days from the Mavericks opener in Cleveland, Who is Brandon Bass?

The Mavericks are bringing the 6-8, 250-pound Bass along slowly, feeding him only
the information that is needed for survival at this point.

He's shown a knack for rebounding and grinding against bigger players in the paint.
But the coaches have to keep reminding themselves that Bass is really not much more than a rookie. His two seasons in New Orleans after winning Southeastern Conference player of the year honors at LSU were spent almost exclusively on the bench.

"He's not going to be as good this year as he is next year," coach Avery Johnson said. "And he's not going to be as good next year as he will be in two years. We just want him to take baby steps.

"We've wanted a workmanlike power forward. And Bass gives us that opportunity to have that. But he hasn't played in a real game for us yet."

It's likely Bass will play some with Dirk Nowitzki, who has been a 40-minute man at power forward most of his career. The hope is that Nowitzki can use mismatches at either center or small forward to open up time for Bass.

Bass is just happy to be in the mix. After riding the bench with the Hornets for two seasons, any time spent in an upright position is a plus for him.

"He can be a change of pace for us, but not only that, he can play together with Dirk," Jones said. "You saw it in the last preseason game that Bass played four and Dirk played a little three. That's a big lineup, with Josh [Howard] going to the backcourt."

Tony Romo is Forrest Gump

A metrosexual pal who's in a position to know (and no, we're not talking about his wide stance) saw the ever-mercurial Britney Spears enjoying herself big-time Friday night at Hollywood hot spot Les Deux.

Her good time seemed to have a lot to do with enjoying the company of big-gun Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo. Hunky sports hero Tony knows a thing or three about picking up blitzes, but he seemed caught off guard by Britney's southern charms.

Say what you will about Britney, she doesn't seem to have any problem attracting men. And while she goes through guys like Kleenex, she changes clothes even more often, donning three different outfits on this evening. The more things change, frocks included, the more they stay the same.

Big 12 balance of Power is clearly shifting

We all knew that the Big 12 North Division would be improved this season.

But who would have ever guessed that the recent South domination in the conference would end so suddenly?

The North flexed its muscles on Saturday with three statement victories and nearly claimed a fourth.

Kansas proved itself as one of the most underrated teams in the country with an impressive 19-11 victory at Texas A&M. Colorado stymied Texas Tech's passing game with a blitzing defense that paved the way for a 31-26 win in Lubbock. Kansas State's 51-13 victory over Baylor ranked as one of the three largest victory margins in conference play this season.

And only a dramatic late charge by Texas enabled the Longhorns to escape with a 28-25 comeback victory over struggling Nebraska in Austin.

The topsy-turvy condition of the Big 12 is best illustrated by the fact Kansas remains the league's only undefeated team — both in overall record and in conference play.

The combined record of both divisions shows how even the games between the two divisions have been. After Saturday's games, both divisions have claimed eight victories in the cross-divisional games.

Every Big 12 South team has lost at least one game against the South with the exception of Oklahoma State.

The North-South series will be settled on Nov. 10 when Kansas visits Oklahoma State and A&M travels to Missouri.

Two of the three best teams in the league over the first half of divisional play are North teams. At this point in the season, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri appear to have separated themselves as the logical contenders for the championship game at the Alamodome on Dec. 1.

The dominance on Saturday allowed the North to already claim more victories against South teams than in any season since 2001, which was the last time the two divisions were even in head-to-head games.

In a way, it's a throwback to the earliest days of the league. The North dominated the South in the first three seasons of league play, posting a 33-21 edge from 1996-98. And the two divisions split the first six championship games, with North and South teams winning in alternate seasons from 1996-2001.

But the arrival of Mack Brown at UT and Bob Stoops at OU, Tom Osborne's retirement as Nebraska's coach and the opening of the fertile Texas recruiting base for mostly South teams served as catalysts for the South's recent rise.

The South received its first edge in 2000 and then dominated solidly from 2002-06. During that period, South teams claimed a 62-28 edge over North teams.

It was worst in 2004, when the South had a record 15-3 edge. The only North victories came over Baylor.

After that season, several Big 12 coaches talked about going to one division as a way to reduce the South's domination.

Including Big 12 championship games, South teams entered this season having won 42 of the previous 57 games.

It's been especially pronounced in championship games, with South teams outscoring the North by a combined 133-13 margin in the last three.

Last season, Baylor went 3-0 against North teams and 0-5 against the South.

But it appears that the North teams have started to reclaim the edge. And it's not surprising that Kansas and Missouri are the two teams that are jumping to the top of the trend.

SMU Cuts the cord …I say Craig Swan should be considered…

SMU coach Phil Bennett was fired Sunday, a day after the Mustangs lost 29-23 at Tulsa and were eliminated from bowl contention.

Bennett, who is 18-48 in six seasons, will finish out the season, athletic director Steve Orsini said.

"I appreciate Phil's efforts here at SMU, but I felt it was time for a change," Orsini said in a statement.

The Mustangs are 1-7 with four games remaining. They play at Houston on Sunday.
Bennett is expected to address the media Tuesday. He did not immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press on Sunday.

Bennett was reportedly close to losing his job after the 2005 season, but won the last three to finish 5-6. He signed an extension in January 2006 that put him under contract through the 2009 season.

But that was before Orsini came aboard as athletic director and began to put his mark on the program. His first big move was to hire former North Carolina basketball coach Matt Doherty.

Bennett, under Orsini's close watch in 2006, led the Mustangs to a 6-6 record. It was the team's second non-losing season since the NCAA shut down the program in 1987 for numerous violations, including paying players.

In an interview with the AP last year, Bennett acknowledged that his job was in jeopardy.

"You know and I know if you don't perform, it doesn't matter," Bennett said. "Steve has a vision for this place, and I know he wants to win. That's my job."

The Sharks come calling ….

ESPN experts were Shark-crazy in their preseason predictions.

Four of the five put San Jose in the Stanley Cup Finals. Two predicted the Sharks to win it all.

Just so much hot air from "the nation's sports leader?" Possibly. But they weren't alone.

Las Vegas oddsmakers gave San Jose the fourth-best chance of winning the Cup. EA Sports worked through the season and playoffs on its video games and deemed the Sharks the eventual champs.

Not entirely scientific, mind you, but the message was clear: This was expected to be a magical season in the Bay Area.

But something has happened to the Pacific Division in October. The forward-rich Sharks are .500 and struggling to score goals. The defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks are battling injuries and wallowing below the surface at 4-7-2. The defense-happy Stars rank 16th in the NHL in average shots on goal against at 28.6.

"I think we've just been inconsistent," said Sharks center Joe Thornton, echoing the thoughts of an entire division. "You have to work to earn your points."

So while Versus imagined a showdown between two of the NHL's better teams tonight in a nationally televised game from America Airlines Center, it is getting a game in which both squads will be hungry for points.

For Dallas, the challenge is finding consistent lines that can both score and defend. For the Sharks, it's finding offense from a group that many believe is among the most talented in the NHL.

"It's nice that people have said that about us, but we don't feel the pressure from the outside. We feel the pressure from within," captain Patrick Marleau said. "The reason they picked us is because of what we have done in the past, because we have worked hard and done all of the little things to win games. If we get back to doing that, I think we can reach our goals this year."

The Sharks (5-5-1) are putting together a nice history. They went 51-26-5 last season, including a league-best 26-14-1 on the road. They preceded that with a 44-27-11 season and had a 43-21-12-6 campaign (and a division championship) before the lockout. They have been the perennial team "about to explode."

Poor Shawn Chambers

To call Shawn Chambers the worst player in video game history does the man and his career a disservice. Chambers had an accomplished thirteen-year NHL career as an NHL defenseman, winning two Stanley Cups in the process. Despite suffering through more than twenty surgeries on ailing knees, Chambers made it to the playoffs seven times and had 235 points in 625 NHL games.

And yet, if you loaded up NHL '93 back when you were wearing your flannel shirt and blaming your Gin Blossoms CD on your ex-girlfriend, you would've seen Chambers sporting the worst rating ever given to any athlete in video game history: A 1 overall rating.

In modern versions of EA games, players receive ratings on a roughly 55-100 scale, so Chambers' 1 rating has not been threatened for seemingly a decade. In addition, Chambers was not the only player on his team (the expansion Tampa Bay Lightning) to receive an extremely low rating: fellow defenseman Jeff Bloemberg (who never played a game for the Lightning) was given only a 4, while brutal winger Shayne Stevenson (he of the 27 career NHL games) mustered a whopping 7.

It's even stranger, then, that Chambers was given the lowest rating in recorded video game history. To find out why, well, we asked the most obvious source: Chambers himself, who detailed an amazing, up-and-down career that seemed to oscillate wildly between being unwanted and being essential.

Snoop booked for Today’s show – buys a nail gun (language)

Get Peyton Pregnant!


JY said...

YES! Now the Rangers have enough money to pursue the best free agent on the market next year, AROD... um.. what?

C said...

I am so excited for Snoop today. Looking forward to the new season in January.

The Tom Hicks watch begins.

That is all.

Popsicle Stick Chick said...

Happy 2nd Birthday to the BaD Radio Forum. Do like so many others P1's (Hi Jtweez!)and join us there. Link

P-Cat said...

As a Yankee fan, I'd just like to say thanks for helping us pay for A-Rod the past few years. Now that you guys are off the hook, let's both hope the Angels pay 30 Mill a year to watch him post sick numbers all year, then fold in October.