Thursday, October 25, 2007

High Drama at Fenway

Well, sue me for thinking the Rockies had a chance in this World Series. I am not saying it is over, but if it isn’t, they sure gave the impression that they don’t plan on competing much in this series.

It is only 1 game, but Ubaldo Jiminez is going to win in Fenway against Schilling? Right.

Beckett proves to be WAAAAAAAAY too much

Never mind that cute business of putting baseballs in a humidor. If the Colorado Rockies hope to make the 103d World Series competitive, they may have to stuff the Red Sox in a meat locker and throw away the key.

The Rockies' baptism onto baseball's biggest stage instead resembled a ritual drowning on a misty night in Fenway Park, where only one winning streak of consequence remained after the Sox took apart the Rox, 13-1, before a damp but delighted crowd of 36,733. The 13 runs were the most in a Series opener, and the 12-run spread made it the most one-sided outcome in an opener.

Gone was Colorado's 10-game winning streak and whatever aura of invinci bility they created by winning 21 of their 22 previous games, including seven in a row through the National League playoffs. The Rockies can only hope it was the eight days off between games that accounted for their play, because at this rate they'll be taking a much longer vacation sooner than they'd planned.

Very much alive is a five-game winning streak in the World Series for the Sox, who swept the Cardinals in 2004 to break their 86-year Series drought, then cuffed around Colorado with the same impunity that they finished off the Indians in the American League Championship Series.

"It's tough, obviously, to have eight days off, especially coming in and facing the best pitcher in baseball," said Sox rookie second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who made his first Series at-bat one for the Facebook, hitting a leadoff home run off Jeff Francis. "That's definitely not easy."

The Sox outscored the Indians by a combined score of 30-5 to win the last three games of the ALCS. Last night, the Sox looked like they might match that output in one game, as they welcomed the Rockies to sea level with Pedroia's leadoff home run and never let up. Francis was gone after a yield of six runs in four innings, and a seven-run fifth inning against an embarrassingly inept Rockies bullpen had Fox executives second-guessing their decision to preempt tonight's episode of "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader?".

"They're a hot-hitting team over there," said Francis, joining the list of pitchers with a pedigree shredded by the Sox this October, their victims including John Lackey of the Angels and C.C. Sabathia and Fausto Carmona of the Indians. "You can't make any mistakes."

Josh Beckett, meanwhile, struck out the first four Rockies batters he faced, and five of the first six, as he ran his October record to 4-0 with another take-no-prisoners performance, one in which he pounded the Rockies with fastballs (30 of his first 32 pitches) before mixing it up.

"Watching him is different than watching everybody else right now," said Curt Schilling, who will face Ubaldo Jimenez in tonight's Game 2, even before Beckett dominated Colorado. "He's so locked in. The thought that his stuff is more dominant now than it has been at any point in the season is impressive because we're at the tail end of the season. He's 200-some innings into it, and he's throwing his fastball better command-wise, better velocity, throwing his curveball, better command-wise and velocity-wise, and a better changeup than he has all year long, and that's some incredible stuff to watch."

Beckett, who struck out nine and was scored upon only in the second inning, when Garrett Atkins doubled and scored on Troy Tulowitzki's two-out double, left to a huge ovation, lifting his cap as he disappeared into the dugout. He finished with nine strikeouts and one walk, while allowing just six hits. In 30 innings this October, Beckett has struck out 35 while walking just two in 30 innings, and his earned run average this October is 1.20 (four earned runs in 30 IP).

You know what I think of Rudy Jaramillo …But, I bet you also know what Gramps thinks.

Here Galloway wants the Rangers to keep Rudy at all costs …Really? Next thing you know, Galloway will tell us that Norv should be the Cowboys coach, right? Oh wait. He did. Forget it.

But now comes the sticky problem. The next to leave could be Rudy Jaramillo, who needs no introduction.

Rudy is an institution in Arlington, having served for 13 seasons as the Rangers' hitting coach, and across Major League Baseball is generally considered the best in the business.

It's not like Jaramillo will have a problem finding another job. It's also not like the Rangers haven't rewarded him over the years. Rudy has been the highest-paid hitting coach in the business for several seasons.

But now there is a hang-up.

Rudy has signed three-year contracts here the past two times there have been
negotiations. At the moment, Daniels is limiting his offer to a two-year deal because he doesn't want a coach's contract to extend beyond the contract of manager Ron Washington.

Meanwhile, Rudy's agent has dropped a hammer on Daniels, asking for five years, $5 million in opening the negotiations. The Rangers have countered with two years for just under $1 million.

Rudy's agent won't get close to what he's asking, but obviously he wants his client to be in the $550,000-a-year range or even higher. Daniels' headache is he's paying his manager only $500,000, maybe the lowest salary for a manager in the majors.
Can a coach make more than the manager, or should Jaramillo be held back because Washington had no financial leverage when he was picked a year ago for the job?

Better yet, is there a middle ground? Michael Young, the Rangers' best player and a Jaramillo disciple, almost demands that the middle ground be found.

"It's one thing when you are talking about a player asking for $150 million," Young said Wednesday, "but if you are letting a valuable coach walk over almost no money, baseball-wise, I don't know what that says.

"Honestly, I don't want to even think about what my reaction would be if Rudy isn't back here with us. We already lost Wak, and he was great for this team. But Rudy? You don't screw with a man like Rudy, who means so much to the organization, on the field and off."

Daniels stressed that he didn't want a public confrontation with Jaramillo because of his respect for Rudy. "But right now, there is obviously a big gap in the negotiations," he added.

This "gap" comes at a time when the Rangers' roster is loaded with unproven major-league hitters. Plus, with the team's "new" direction, young and unproven talent hopefully will surface in Arlington over the next several seasons.

Jaramillo's expertise is needed now more than ever.

Hopefully, one day we can say Daniels has done his job as well as Jaramillo does his. But it's not even remotely close at the moment.

Weekly Jimmy Burch



Kansas at Texas A&M

Statistically, all signs point to Kansas. The Jayhawks are 7-0 and look sharp on both sides of the ball. Historically, however, you have to wonder how long that will last. Kansas hasn't been 8-0 in any season since 1909. The Hawks are winless in two trips to Kyle Field as Big 12 members. A hunch says a loud home crowd helps the Aggies pull an upset.

Pick: A&M 28, Kansas 27


Texas 41, Nebraska 20: The Cornhuskers' porous defense inducts its fifth member of the season into its 40-point club.

Texas Tech 42, Colorado 28: Tech rebounds from last week's meltdown in Missouri by earning payback for last year's blunder in Boulder.

Kansas State 34, Baylor 14: All of the Bears' momentum is headed in the wrong direction.

Missouri 45, Iowa State 14: The Tigers build steam toward a November stretch of games with Big 12 title implications.

Matt, from MavsCentral has a theory on the Mavs versus the uptempo team

The Mavs were raved as the team that can play any style for majority of last year. Especially after playing "small ball" and running San Antonio off the court followed by slowing it down and beating the Suns in the 2005-06 Western Conference Finals.
Dallas even tinkered with the roster, adding players like Devean George and Greg Buckner, who were supposed to make this team even better.

Well, looking back at last season, Dallas did have a weakness and it was playing against more uptempo teams. If the 2006-07 Mavericks played the 2002-03 Mavericks, the 02-03 Mavs might give them a good run for their money. I don't think last year's Mavs could have played in those same insane games against the Kings in the playoffs like they did in the 02-03 season.

Thanks to crazy stat guys like John Hollinger, we have new ways to look at basketball. One of those ways: Pace Factor.

Pace factor in basic terms could be defined as an estimate of the number of possessions per 48 minutes by a team. The higher a team's pace factor, the more uptempo that team plays as they will have more possessions.

Looking back at Dallas' 15 regular season losses last season, nine of them came against teams ranked in the Top 10 last season in pace factor. Three of those losses against teams ranked 11-30, were during Dallas' 0-4 start when I think any team with any type of style would have beaten the Mavs.

Basically, if you take out those first four losses of the season and look at their last 11 losses, eight came against teams ranked in the Top 10 with six of those losses coming to teams ranked in the Top 5.

Dallas did not play well against teams who played more uptempo. Guess who was ranked #1 last year in pace factor? Golden State.

Here is a look at their losses and where the opponent was ranked for the 2006-07 season.

First 4 Losses
11/02/2006 - SA - 27
11/04/2006 - @Hou - 22
11/06/2006 - GS - 1
11/08/2006 - @LAC - 19

Last 11 Losses
12/04/2006 - @Was - 5
12/07/2006 - Det - 30
12/11/2006 - @Uta - 15
01/07/2007 - @LAL - 6
01/25/2007 - @Chi - 8
03/12/2007 - @GS - 1
03/14/2007 - Pho - 3
04/01/2007 - @Pho - 3
04/06/2007 - @Den - 2
04/13/2007 - Uta - 15
04/17/2007 - @GS – 1

Yesterday on Norm, Avery suggested that Terry and Stackhouse will come off the bench this year. Does it mean we need to get know Trenton Hassell better?

The Playoffs begin tonight in the MLS, For Dallas, it starts on Saturday ….

Fans may have already seen the colors, slogan, and images for Mission 360, which refers to total minutes necessary in order play in the MLS Cup final = four 90 minute games. The first step in Mission 360 will see FC Dallas face the Houston Dynamo in one of two Western Conference Semifinal Series. FCD will host the first-leg on Sat. Oct. 27 (7 p.m. CT) at Pizza Hut Park with the second-leg scheduled to be played at Houston's Robertson Stadium on Fri. Nov. 2 (7:30 p.m. CT).

The other Western Conference Semifinal Series pits Chivas USA versus the Kansas City Wizards, who move over to the Western Conference Playoffs after finishing 5th in the East and claiming the final playoff spot (top two in each conference automatically qualify, as do the next best six teams regardless of conference).


Conference Semifinal series are conducted under a home-and-home, aggregate-goal format, with single-game Conference Championships determining the MLS Cup Finalists. For each Conference, the 1st seed plays the 4th seed, and the 2nd seed faces the 3rd seed in the Conference Semifinal series, with the lower seeded team hosting the first game.

The team that scores the most goals in the home-and-away series advances to the single elimination Conference Championship. If the teams are tied after 180 minutes in the Conference Semifinal series, a 30-minute extra time period (divided into two 15-minute periods) would be played followed by a penalty-kick shootout, if necessary. The team with the higher seed between the two Conference finalists will host the Conference Championship game.

Houston hates Carlos Ruiz

No other FC Dallas player riles up the Houston Dynamo like Carlos Ruiz.

The Dynamo defenders get an extra couple of rounds with the Guatemalan forward when the MLS playoff series between the rivals begins Saturday at Pizza Hut Park.

Ruiz, the league's all-time leading scorer in the playoffs with 15 goals, knows for sure it will be a physical battle with kicks coming from all sides.

"I just have to respond the right way, by scoring goals," Ruiz said.

The last time these teams met, on Sept. 30, Houston midfielder Ricardo Clark kicked Ruiz on the ground in retaliation for a blow in the back during Dallas' 3-0 loss. Clark received a nine-game suspension and won't be available for the playoffs.
FC Dallas coach Steve Morrow said he doesn't believe there will be any after-
effects. But Ruiz will have to deal with an old foe, defender Eddie Robinson.
Ruiz and Robinson have battled each other since Ruiz played for the L.A. Galaxy and Robinson for the San Jose Earthquakes.

"Those two guys showed the fight in them and that they wanted it as bad as everybody else," said FC Dallas midfielder Arturo Alvarez, a Houston native.

Morrow said he wants all his players to adopt a feisty attitude against Houston.
"Having the right amount of fight and desire to win games, that's what it's all about," Morrow said. "Whoever wants to win the most will win."

Sponge Bob does Soulja Boy

Bo Ryan, Wisconsin Coach, also does Soulja Boy - No doubt to prove to the young brothers that he can relate when recruiting time arrives...


cracker1743 said...

Now A&M is an "upset" pick against Kansas? Effing kill me now. But I'm taking Frannie with me first...

MK said...

Last Sat. listening to A&M handle the Huskers on the radio, I had no idea what to do. I think Fran is gone at years end regardless of the record but the last thing I want is for Byrne to have an excuse to keep him. How do the "fan rules" recommend handling this situation?

Lance said...

It's going to be tough to fire Fran if he gets A&M to 9 wins. I still don't think that he will, but it would be very interesting to see what would happen if he does. The game against Kansas on Saturday will be a big barometer on how the remainder of their season will play out.

Jay said...

I can't wait for Mavs season. I like me some Mavs. I suppose they are the Eagles or Colts or whoever you want to say is a good team that never wins the big one but hey I'll be locked in to see what these guys can do this year. I still have hope!!

Jake said...

Apparently Bob likes A&M forums, seems that half of his youtube clips are posted there a day earlier but no hatin'.

Fire Fran, unless you get to a big bowl (i.e. BCS), and that ain't happening. They might beat Kansas, but Missou is going to stomp through their D.