Let’s lead with the Stars on a random Thursday, shall we? 7 games in, and scoring is just as difficult, and at times impossible, as I feared. In the words of the great Dennis Green, “The Stars are who we thought they were”. They try hard, they skate around, they defend, they scrap, and at the end of the day, they score 2 goals.
Now, in an effort to get more offensive, they have taken the only kid they have who has demonstrated even a little offensive potential, Jussi Jokinen, and placed him on the 4th line where he might have 3 or 4 shifts a period.
This is a very average team, that was fortunate to go in to Columbus, get 33 saves from their goalie, and sneak out of town with 2 points.
Without Modano or Lehtinen even threatening the goal most nights, it seems this team looks as offensively impaired as I can ever remember. .
Mike Smith rescues a team that was outplayed by the Jackets …
A hot goalie saved the Stars again Wednesday night.
This time, Mike Smith posted 33 saves and stole two points in a 3-2 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. That performance came on the heels of rookie Tobias Stephan having to stop 38 of 40 shots in a 2-1 overtime loss to Chicago on Saturday – a loss that still gave the Stars a point in the standings.
The great goaltending is masking a Stars team with problems, but coach Dave Tippett said he knows – and the players know – that can't continue.
"We've just got to continue to build our game," Tippett said. "We're not playing with a lot of quickness in the neutral zone. We're fumbling a lot of pucks, and that's leading to a loss of momentum on our side.
"Our coverage in front of the net was poor early, and [Smith] made big saves for us. Those are the ones you need."
The win pushes the Stars to 3-2-2 and gives them eight points – points that captain Brenden Morrow said are "huge."
"We've kind of, the last couple of games, left our goalies out there, and they came up big," Morrow said. "There's a big difference between playing not to lose and playing to win, and that's something I think we're a bit guilty of early in the season. We're playing not to lose instead of playing desperate.
"When we're down late in games, you see that level of desperation, and we're a lot tougher team when we're playing like that."
The Stars were outshot 17-8 in the first period and left Rick Nash and Nikolai Zherdev alone on a two-on-none against Smith less than two minutes into the game. But Smith, who was recovering from a bruised arm and had been spotty in a loss to Nashville, came roaring back and gave the Stars the chance to compete.
Jussi Jokinen tied the score at the 3:17 mark of the first period when he went to the net and tapped in a perfect pass from Stu Barnes. The score stayed that way until Columbus took the lead at the 8:24 mark of the third period on a Jiri Novotny rebound shot.
That seemed to awaken the Stars, and they ended up throwing 15 shots on goal in the third period – finally scoring when Morrow whipped in a wrister from the slot with 1:11 left in regulation. The goal, scored with the extra skater, was a sweet moment for a team that has been searching for chemistry in the young season.
Morrow said he didn't think on the play, he just threw it at the net and hoped for the best.
And maybe that's a lesson for the Stars. Maybe they're thinking too much.
Today in Kobe News, nothing much. Except, he is back at Lakers practice …
Kobe Bryant returned to practice after sitting out the previous three days, and coach Phil Jackson said he expects the disgruntled Los Angeles Lakers' star to play in an exhibition game Thursday night.
"Yeah, we'll probably play him, get him out there," Jackson said after practice Wednesday. "He seemed all right, sure did."
The Lakers face Seattle in Bakersfield on Thursday night in the first of six exhibition games in nine days. They lost their first two exhibition games to Golden
State last week in Honolulu.
Bryant hadn't practiced since Saturday because of a sore knee. He didn't speak with reporters Wednesday, but made his feelings clear a day earlier in his only formal interview since Lakers owner Jerry Buss stated he "would certainly listen" to trade offers for the two-time defending NBA scoring champion.
"One thing I said at training camp was that I didn't want this to be a distraction," Bryant said Tuesday. "It's our understanding not to bring up the situation and not talk about it. We just wanted to keep things quiet and go about our business. It kind of caught me off guard a little bit."
Bryant asked to be traded 4½ months ago, then avoided speaking about the Lakers until the beginning of training camp Oct. 1, when he talked more positively, saying he was looking forward to the season.
How do the Mavs feel about all this? …
As long as Kobe Bryant is unhappy, the Mavericks will headline Kobe trade rumors.
Officially, the Mavericks' brass, just as it did when Kevin Garnett trade winds howled, says the Mavs won't be broken up, even though Bryant, according to an ESPN.com report, tabs the Mavs as his No. 1 destination.
Mavs guard Jason Terry, who would likely be a prime trade piece with forward Josh Howard -- the Mavs have repeatedly called Dirk Nowitzki off limits -- in a potential deal to land Bryant, said he believes he isn't going anywhere.
"I'm very confident. I'm very optimistic," Terry said. "My confidence comes from within. It comes from [coach] Avery Johnson. Until Avery Johnson tells me anything different, he's the reason why I'm here in Dallas, and he'll be the reason why I stay. I believe in him.
"I'm not concerned about it. I'm focusing on having fun and playing as hard as I possibly can every night out."
The ongoing Lakers soap opera has shifted from bizarre to surreal lately. First, owner Jerry Buss said he's open to trading his superstar, then Bryant mysteriously missed three consecutive practices and allegedly cleaned out his locker.
Bryant denied he cleaned out his locker and cited tendinitis in his knee for skipping practice. Reports on Wednesday quoted Bryant as saying he's ready to "strap it up."
As Kobe turns, the Mavs, and Chicago Bulls, will continue to come up as potential trade partners because they are amply positioned, with contracts such as Terry's and Howard's, plus an abundance of other mid-range salary players needed to complete what would be a financially complex deal.
Bryant is due roughly $19.5 million this season. To execute a trade, the Mavs must come within 25 percent of Bryant's salary. However, because Bryant, who ironically holds the only no-trade clause in the league, has a 15 percent trade kicker, his adjusted salary for trade purposes is actually about $22.4 million.
"If we're forced to do it, we'll have to live with it," Mavs guard Devin Harris said. "Over the course of the years, the team camaraderie that we've built, the experience with the core group of guys, going through the ups and the downs, we're definitely in place to do what we need to do, and hopefully it'll stay that way."
More follow up on Gribble v. Brady:
From the Boston Globe …
Who was the guy at Tom Brady's post-game press conference Sunday who blurted out, "Champ! Champ! Talk about the long touchdown pass to Donte Stallworth. It looked like you two were doing the Jitterbug, and the Dallas secondary was doing the Charleston"? He asked a similar question to Belichick.
Mike, Charlotte, N.C.
A: That was someone who works for a Dallas sports radio station, and apparently he has a shtick of being a 1920s reporter. I was told he asks questions like that from time to time.
With Leather …
And here is a great email on the topic from a good strong:
I have been watching this YouTube of Scoops Callahan interviewing Tom Brady and I just can’t stop laughing and replaying it. If you watch it enough, I swear you can see the entire progression of Brady’s thought process as he reacts to Tom’s question. He looks totally normal as the question starts -- then, and just barely, his eyes widen and then refocus, he takes a breath, and his head bounces a little bit as he doubts his own existence for just a moment – and finally he realizes it’s a bit and smiles. What an interview!
Mark in KC
In other news, Jimmy Kimmel is banned from MNF? …
For a man banned from the most famous sports television property in history, Jimmy Kimmel seemed to be holding up fine Wednesday afternoon. "Technically, couldn't you say Joe Theismann has also been banned from Monday Night Football?" Kimmel told SI.com in a phone interview from Los Angeles. "If he showed up, they probably would not let him in. I was hoping to get banned from a casino first, but I suppose it's satisfying in a way to be banned from any television show. I don't know what I did exactly but apparently it was horrific."
What Kimmel did during his appearance this week on ESPN's Monday Night Football, according to the show's producer Jay Rothman, was "classless" and "disappointing." Appearing in the third quarter of a moribund game between the Falcons and Giants, Kimmel took multiple swipes at the not-so-smooth departure of Theismann from the broadcast ("I'd also like to welcome Joe Theismann, watching from his living room with steam coming from his ears") and zinged sacred cows Tom Brady ("What impressed me most is that he could impregnate two models"), Kelly Ripa ("Listen if we can have a Mormon President, I can marry Kelly") and sports betting ("Are you allowed to bet legally on this game?"). "It was cheap," Rothman told Richard Sandomir of The New York Times. "The more he went on, the worse he got."
Rothman told the newspaper Kimmel would not be invited back to the show. "I just can't imagine CBS Sports putting out a similar statement about David Letterman," Kimmel said, laughing.
Does Kimmel feel he stepped over the line with his remarks? "Absolutely not," he said. "I'll tell you something: You only get the audio portion for most of the game, but everyone (in the booth) was laughing whether you can hear it or not. If people were not laughing, I would not have continued with it. I don't know exactly what upset them, if it was the Joe Theismann stuff or something else. I didn't feel like I was making anyone uncomfortable when I was there. Apparently, I did. What I sensed was three guys to my right and left smiling and stopping themselves from saying anything."
He continued. "I was on for twice as long as I was expecting to be on," Kimmel said. "There was no set time on how long I was supposed to be in that booth and they could have removed me without me even knowing there was a problem."
Vikes have offense? …
It was just a glimpse, but ... but ... yes! It's there. A healthy twinge of swagger has emerged among the Vikings offense, an attitude missing since the days of Randy Moss, Daunte Culpepper and Robert Smith.
Emboldened by their 311-yard rushing performance at Chicago, they are all but inviting the Dallas Cowboys to stack the line of scrimmage with run defenders Sunday at Texas Stadium. Although they completed only nine passes against the Bears, the Vikings had receivers running open all afternoon and know they were a few drops and a couple overthrows away from a really big offensive day.
"It depends on us," quarterback Tarvaris Jackson said. "We just feel like if we go out there and execute the offense, and do the things that we can do, nobody can pretty much stop us."
Whoa. Such statements fell into the cliché category at Winter Park earlier this decade, but they have been heard on only rare occasions since the Vikings' well-documented offensive doldrums began in 2005. Jackson, however, was speaking three days after tailback Adrian Peterson's record-setting performance against the Bears.
The backfield duo of Peterson and Chester Taylor, combined with the Vikings' paltry passing numbers, make a run-stacked defense the most logical response from the Cowboys. Strong safety Roy Williams, for one, is especially adept at prowling the line of scrimmage.
"If they are smart," Jackson said, "that is what they will do -- throw all those guys in the box. Three hundred and some rushing yards last week? It's just the right thing to do. If you are a good defensive coordinator, I am pretty sure you'll put all those guys in the box and make me and the rest of the receivers beat you outside."
It seems a fair proposition. Jackson, after all, is completing 49.4 percent of his passes this season and is still limited by a strained groin. He managed only nine completions in 23 attempts against the Bears, and the Vikings are one of only two NFL teams with more net rushing yards (851) than passing (846).
Another good strong p1 sent me this….the actual Tony Romo scouting report before the 2003 draft …
Here is the actual Yearbook Scouting Report on Tony Romo in Draft Insiders '03 Yearbook "This guy may be the gem of this deep QB class"
Positional Overview excerpt
The small college group of QBs may be the strongest in memory, but has received little fanfare yet has the upside potential to make this a bonanza for the 32 clubs hunting for young QB talent. With the current high demand for NFL caliber passers, one can expect several late picks at this position as clubs search for developmental passers that they can refine further on practice squads and in NFL Europe.
Tony Romo #17 - 6'2" 220 lbs. - Eastern Illinois - Sp. 4.9 Rating 78
Smooth strong small college passer completed an excellent senior season at the Division 1 AA level that earned him the Walter Payton Award, symbolic of the level's best player. Tony completed a record setting career that included three consecutive Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year awards in addition to numerous first team All-American teams. He is a fine athlete with a live arm and the ability to make all the throws. He has shown excellent accuracy, touch and timing as a passer with the ability to hit receivers in stride on a consistent basis. He has operated mainly from the shotgun and has decent setup technique when starting from under center. He has a very quick release with a smooth compact delivery that wastes little motion that allows him to get the ball off nicely when under pressure. He has a good arm with the ability to throw the short and intermediate passes exceptionally well. He needs some work on the deep ball with improved arm strength and better foot positioning necessary to increase his completion %. He has a good feel for pressure in the pocket with the mobility to avoid tacklers and make a good throw on the move. He makes things happen outside the pocket with the ability to hit receivers on the money. Over his career, he made nice strides in all areas of play, especially decision making. He goes through his progressions well with the quick decision making to deliver the ball to the right receiver at the right time. He has the complete makeup of an NFL starting QB - athletic, sound arm with the ability to make quick smart decisions consistently.
The Skinny: This guy may be the gem of this deep QB class. He is an ideal fit for the West Coast offense that emphasizes accuracy, mobility and quick decision-making. He has the triangle numbers NFL scouts seek in a pro prospect and he has the makeup to become a starter with further development and continued improvement. He has the talent to surprise over time and may be the best small college passer since Kurt Warner. He needs further coaching and playing experience especially working under center and making adjustments while setting up in the pocket. At the combine, he ran a 5.0 forty, had a 30” vertical jump and an 8'9” broad jump. He is a talented prospect with the tools to start, but most likely a 2nd day selection in this deep QB class. He is a quality 3rd string NFL passer with excellent upside potential. This guy should emerge as an NFL starter in time with proper coaching and some patience. Excellent middle round prospect with the ability to shine in a West Coast offense.
Draft Projection: 5th-6th Round
George Lucas has a new Star Wars project …
The Force may soon be coming to a television near you.
George Lucas is planning a live-action television series spinoff of the "Star Wars"
Lucas told The Los Angeles Times he has "just begun work" on the series, which will not include the films' major characters Luke Skywalker or Darth Vader.
"The Skywalkers aren't in it, and it's about minor characters," Lucas told the Times on Tuesday.
Lucas wouldn't reveal details, but joked that the series would be about "the life of robots."
Lucas, 63, already has another television series in the works. Lucasfilm Animation has been working for months on the computer-animated "Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Manny being Manny …
On a workout day, Manny Ramirez gave Boston fans a real reason to get worked up.
With the Red Sox just one loss from elimination, the star slugger was asked about Game 5 of the AL championship series against Cleveland.
"Why should we panic?" he said Wednesday in a rare clubhouse interview. "We've got a great team."
And then, this: "It doesn't happen, so who cares? There's always next year. It's not like it's the end of the world."
Try telling that to all those people in New England.
Whatever, that's Manny.
He's the guy who poses when he hits home runs with his team trailing by five runs. He's also the bopper who was MVP of the 2004 World Series when Boston broke its 86-year drought.
History gives Josh Beckett and the Red Sox a pretty good shot when they face C.C. Sabathia on Thursday night in a rematch of the opener, which Boston won 10-3.
They've come back from big postseason deficits. Only not against these Indians.
"I don't think there's anyone in the league that we'd prefer on the mound for our team in this situation," Boston third baseman Mike Lowell said. "We can believe all we want, but we have to get hits off Sabathia and hold them down."
Three years ago, the Red Sox overcame a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS against the New York Yankees. Boston became the first team to win a postseason series after losing the first three games.
"When you see something that's never been done before, you can believe in anything," first baseman Kevin Youkilis said. "For us, it's all about winning one game."
Only seven players from that World Series team, including David Ortiz and Ramirez, are still with the Red Sox.
Beckett also came back from a 3-1 LCS deficit.
Beckett started Florida's rally in 2003 with a two-hit shutout against the Chicago Cubs in Game 5. He struck out 11 and walked one, a remarkable NLCS performance that was soon overshadowed.
A story on Mark Cuban’s MMA attempt …
Mark Cuban waltzed Monday in "Dancing With the Stars."
Two nights earlier, the billionaire's new mixed martial arts group debuted with no stars.
Cuban's first card showed just how far HDNet Fights is from becoming a major MMA
player. One of the show's headliners (41-year-old Erik Paulson) hadn't fought in seven years; the other (Jeff Ford) arrived 20 pounds overweight. The biggest undercard names were three castoffs from Ultimate Fighting Championship reality shows. Only 10 of the 20 fighters had more than 10 professional bouts.
But unlike other aspiring MMA companies that tried (and failed) to make a quick splash, HDNet Fights wasn't seeking an early knockout. This card was booked solely as programming for Cuban's fledgling HDNet network and as a self-described "beta test" for future shows.
Cuban already was thinking about his second MMA event in December before this one had ended. He mingled among the 6,500 fans at American Airlines Arena seeking immediate feedback rather than soaking in the fights, which will begin to air Friday night on HDNet.
"I think everyone had a good time, which is the important thing," Cuban said Sunday morning via email. "I believe we sent a message to MMA athletes across the industry that we intend to treat our fighters with the respect and care they deserve.
"The biggest room for improvement is in our game presentation. We knew we would have kinks and we did. I spent more time taking notes on how to make the next event better than anything else."
Cuban even solicited input from UFC light-heavyweight Dan Henderson, who attended the show. The conversation created immediate buzz because Cuban is one of the few promoters who could win a bidding war with UFC for marquee talent.
Cuban, though, doesn't seem ready to fight that battle. HDNet Fights only has exposure on his television network, which reaches seven million homes compared to the roughly 94 million that receive UFC programming on Spike TV. No HDNet Fights pay-per-view events are on the horizon either.
"We have no interest in competing with the UFC," Cuban said. "They can do things their way. We will do things our way."
Now some more sweet email:
30 Teams in the MLB
26 of them have been in a World Series
22 of won a world series (could be 23 if Rockies win)
4 teams to never appeared in a world series:
Seattle - Founded in 1977, been to 4 LDS and won 3 to appear in 3 LCS
Washington (Montreal) - Founded in 1969, 1 LCS appearances
Texas - Founded in - Founded in 1961, 0 LCS appearances, .468 winning percentage
Tampa Bay - Founded in 1998, 0 LCS appearances, .398 winning percentage
Is there any doubt that the Rangers are the worst team in the history of baseball?
I have began and abandoned this email topic multiple times in the last few months.
Some background is necessary: I am from Houston (so I have Houston sports bias, and Dallas sports anti-bias). I was forced into listening to the Ticket at a job where the Boss had the control of the radio. Never paid attention until I heard the Kip Keeno Interview live (which I might have to add, it was quite a hilarious train-wreck live, such a big one that I thought it was faked for a while). Even though I still dont like Dallas sports teams, I have been listening ever since waiting to catch the next train-wreck or 'funny-bit'. Fast forward to now... I have recently moved to San Antonio (since June), and I find my radio listening lacking (dusting off a lot of CDs to listen to in the car now - unless I can get internet radio in my car).
So I pose this question to you, What basic foundations do the Ticket have that make it so unique to other stations? What makes it so hard to copy and fails to compare or be as successful in other markets?
I have several thoughts myself. There of course the obvious ones in my mind, the station has had 12 plus years to establish a audience - this allows for some flexiability in experimenting. The inital friendship/chemistry of the bookend shows. Of course there is the programming flexibility on topics to things other than sports.
I think one of less obvious ones is that generic talk radio is 100% scatter shot topics. They open the show with a buffet of topics and they try to stuff too much in with each call... which REALLY makes me yawn (and also makes Irv and Joe show possible). As I listen around, I have to this point not found a another radio station copy the 'one topic per segment' approach. I love that approach. I guess the overthinking generic Producer mentality is that you want to appeal to everyone all the time and that if you talk about something people aren't interested in they tune out. The thing is, even when the Ticket talks about something I dont care about, I am right back in at the next segment because I know it will be different (good thing I like 98% of what the Hardline puts out, they are the worst at predicting when to jump back in). On the whole timing is pretty much adhered to, so I always know when the topic is going to change. Sometimes I dont even change it and tune out of listening until I hear the Ticket Ticker sounder.
I would like to present Test Case A. The producer who graduted from North Texas, loved the ticket, and worked for the San Antonio Ticket. He got fired for that Racist 'funny bit' he made involving a Spurs Opponent player. But as far as I know he never worked or interned at KTCK, so he was left with his 'impression' of how things worked. What he walked away with? Gordon's sense of pushing the envelope as the reason for the KTCK's success. The Hardline had him on in the week or so after the incident where he was fired. During his Hardline interview he rated the 'funny-bit' as "not as offensive as Gordon's worse." I found this statement as a testimony to not getting it. My point being that even someone with a education and experience in the field don't understand that lifting gags from KTCK and placing them in their market does not equate KTCK success. Round peg in Square hole.
I am losing focus at this point.... so now I am hoping I can entice you discussion :-)
Thanks for your time,
Perhaps, you the reader, have some thoughts on this topic. Throw them in the comments….