· The Bob and Dan Radio show will not return until December 27, therefore after today, neither will Bob’s Blog with a few notable exceptions. By the way, we are on 5:30am to 10 am on the 27th, then Noon to 3 on the 28th and beyond.
· The “Cowboys Game Notes” will still be posted on Monday, Dec 17 and Monday, Dec 24.
· I plan on composing a few more of the “Ask Sports Sturm” episodes into blog form during vacation.
· Other than that, Merry Christmas and We shall see you on December 27.
Now, on to the Mitchell Report and all that implies. Let’s start with all that implies first.
Yesterday, was not a very proud day in the business of the sports media, and I was right in the middle of it.
It all started when shortly before noon, WNBC in New York announced that it had acquired a list of the players on the list. This, of course, spread like wild fire in the time leading up to and immediately following the actual release of the Mitchell Report.
The Early Report …
According to WNBC the list includes former MVP's Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, Jason Giambi and Ivan Rodriguez. Former sluggers Juan Gonzalez, Albert Belle and Jeff Bagwell. The list contains two sets of brothers: Jose and Ozzie Canseco and Aaron and Bret Boone.
I don’t know how WNBC got their list, and I also don’t frequent their website to know or care how they got their list, but then NBC.com and CNBC.com ran with the list. This adds a ton of credibility to this report because of decades of NBC news gathering. Then, the Associated Press picked it up and ran it on its news wire. By this point, when NBC and the AP have both signed off on the report, that is all I need to feel it was credible, and I referenced the list plenty on the air. Along with many, many other outlets around the country, I now regret that.
Of course, this meant discussions on Bagwell, Pujols, and Pudge Rodriguez in particular. If you were listening to our show, all you heard was that they were on the list. I could offer you excuses such as my faith in the AP and NBC was obviously misguided, but that really doesn’t matter. The reality is I got it wrong. But, here is the other reality; given the exact same circumstances today, I would probably do the exact same thing: that is, trust a trusted news agency.
When I heard Pudge’s name, I wanted the people reading it for us (Sean Bass and Tom Gribble) to find the exact passage that discusses his offenses. Once they searched for his portion in the Mitchell Report, we quickly learned that he was not in there. And thus, the mistake was realized…but it was too late.
See, it is really easy to send me an email that says, “check your facts next time”. But, the reality of the media in 2007 is that radio stations, TV stations, and newspapers all over the country do not have a team of reporters dispatched all around the world. A few try, but in this day of media consolidation, even the heavyweights like ESPN or the New York Times often rely on a few reporters getting the story right for the thousands of outlets that will believe and trust them. “Checking your facts” means Do Not take information from e-mailers (no offense, but this is why I often reply with the question of “do you have a link?”), message boards, or even blogs. But, believing that “trusted media outlets” got a story right is something the guy at the end of the line has little choice but to do.
For instance, when you hear that it is going to rain today on Channel 8, do you believe them? Or do you conduct your own weather readings and measurements to determine whether that information is proper? If you have your own meteorologist lab then I would assume you are in the great minority. You trust those who have earned it, and someday you may regret that trust, but you don’t have the resources to check your own Doppler radar.
So, make no mistake: I got it wrong. I apologize, and I wish I could personally send an email to anyone who tuned it, especially those who told me that they were crushed when they heard that their heroes, Pudge or Jeff Bagwell or someone else, were on the list. But aside from my station hiring another 200 reporters, to span the globe and conduct their own investigations, the reality is that media outlets are always going to rely on people like NBC and AP to get it right. Ah, the flaw in the system.
Trust me, I wish NBC did not run the wrong list, but with no way of checking their facts personally, I am not sure how we improve from this mistake.
Pujols is not amused …
When rumors about superstar Albert Pujols spread on Thursday morning, the Cardinals feared the worst. When the truth came out, the club was relieved -- but the player was understandably steamed.
A report that originated with WNBC-TV in New York spread quickly before former Sen. George Mitchell's report on performance-enhancing drugs in baseball was actually released. The early rumor included a list of names of players who allegedly would be cited in the report, and one name in the initial list was Pujols'.
However, when the Mitchell Report was released, Pujols' name did not appear once in the document. Pujols remained quiet during the day, but his agents issued a statement on his behalf on Thursday evening.
The statement read as follows:
"It has come to my attention that several national and local news outlets have published false reports that associated my name with the Mitchell Report. I have never disrespected, nor cheated the game of baseball and knew without a doubt that my name would not be mentioned in the official investigation. I would like to express how upset and disappointed I am over the reckless reporting that took place this morning. It has caused me and my family a lot of senseless aggravation due to their inaccurate information.
"What concerns me, is the affect this has had on my family and that my character and values have now been questioned due to the media's lack of accuracy in their reporting. I have never had a problem with the media when they do their job correctly, whether it is positive or negative -- just as long as they report truthfully.
"I would like to thank my fans for their continued support and never doubting my integrity. God has blessed me and allowed me to play a game that I would never take for granted."
WNBC has since printed on its Web site a "correction and clarification" apologizing for the incorrect information.
St Louis station fell for it as well …
Contrary to a report that dominated a one-hour newscast by a local television station this morning, Cardinals superstar Albert Pujols was not named in the Mitchell report on the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball.
KTVI (Channel 2), the Fox Network affiliate in St. Louis, began its 11 a.m. newscast by announcing that Pujols was among the players with Cardinals connections who would be named in the 409-page report.
The station did not immediately reveal the source of its information.
Turns out, the information came from the WNBC (New York) and CNBC web sites, which late this morning "leaked" a list of players who would be named in the report.
But about 20 minutes into the KTVI newscast, the bogus list -- which KTVI said included deceased former Cards pitcher Darryl Kile -- was pulled from those web sites because a Major League Baseball official said it contained multiple errors. Kile also was not named in the Mitchell report.
Clemens and Pettitte were the bigger names who were implicated for the first time …
Among the names that appear in the Mitchell Report unveiled Monday are two of the most celebrated pitchers in Yankee history - Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte.
"For more than a decade there has been widespread illegal use of anabolic steroids ... by players in Major League Baseball," Mitchell said at the 2 p.m. press conference.
According to a source familiar with information provided to Mitchell, Brian McNamee, the longtime personal trainer for Clemens and Pettitte, gave the former Senate majority leader conducting a steroids investigation for Major League Baseball information linking Clemens to the use of steroids and human growth hormone and Pettitte to human growth hormone.
According to the source, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information, both players were provided the substances to help them recover from injuries and to get through the long slog of the baseball season.
"It's going to say he provided them with (steroids and human growth hormone," the source said.
Former Yankee pitcher Mike Stanton, former pitcher Jason Grimsley, whose home was raided in 2006 by federal officials investigating steroid trafficking in the BALCO probe, and former second baseman Chuck Knoblauch will also appear in the report, according to another baseball source close to the team.
Earl Ward, McNamee's attorney, could not be reached for comment today. Randy Hendricks, the agent for both Clemens and Pettitte, did not return repeated phone calls and attempts to reach him by E-mail. He told the Houston Chronicle that he would comment after the report is released at 2 p.m. Monday.
A source familiar with the report confirmed to The News that McNamee provided information to Mitchell, based on business he is believed to have conducted with one of the primary sources of the Mitchell Report - former Mets clubhouse attendant Kirk Radomski.
McNamee, who was once on the Yankee payroll, is believed to have given information to Mitchell that includes checks he gave to Radomski anddates that the players received drugs. Radomski pleaded guilty to steroid distribution and money laundering in April and his plea agreement included cooperating with Mitchell's investigation into the "Steroid Era."
This wouldn't be the first time McNamee has appeared in a steroid investigation: The Los Angeles Times reported last year that McNamee's name appeared in an affidavit from Grimsley. Former U.S. Attorney Kevin Ryan, who prosecuted several principles in the BALCO case later said the story contained inaccuracies, although he declined to identify them.
Pettitte, who signed a one-year contract with the Yankees this week, said Wednesday in a conference call that he had not worked with McNamee during this offseason, but both Pettitte and Clemens have strongly defended the controversial trainer since he was questioned in a 2001 sexual assault on a woman in a hotel pool during spring training.
The Yankees did not retain him the next season, but Clemens continued to use McNamee as recently as this summer as he prepared to return to the Yankees for a pro-rated $28 million contract. The two-time Cy Young Award winner told The News in May that he had cut ties with the trainer but a source close to McNamee said the two continued to work together.
Washington Post Coverage ….
To non-steroid news, the Cowboys host the hated Eagles on Sunday. This has to be the quietest “Eagles Week” anyone around here can recall.
I think the Cowboys in on Sunday, but I believe I will throw out a reasonable 24-17 score. I expect the Eagles to have a decent defensive performance that will be blitz happy.
Owens happy with fortunes of both teams since he signed in Dallas …
Terrell Owens is in his second season playing for the Dallas Cowboys, a team that sports a 12-1 record, has clinched the NFC East title and is the favorite to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl.
He is two years removed from playing for the Eagles, a team that lies far below the Cowboys in the division, saddled with a 5-8 record and not likely to get a whiff of the playoffs.
But reporters who crowded around a speaker phone yesterday at the Eagles' NovaCare Complex expecting the loquacious wide receiver to boast or gloat about his own good fortune and the problems of the team that dumped him had to be a little disappointed.
He came close a couple of times. In one thought, he said, "In my heart, I'm getting the last laugh." Another time, he told the assembled media to assess the difference between his time with the Eagles and the team now "as far as what's going on, without me even saying it."
That was about it, though.
"It doesn't matter," Owens said. "It's not a matter of me walking around every day and saying, 'Oh, look at what they're doing and look at what I'm doing.' I'm just going out and being focused on trying to be the best player that I can be.
"I'm the same player that they wanted and they got coming to Philly, and I'm the same person now on the other side of the rivalry. So other than that, I don't really concentrate on what they're doing or what they're not doing."
Owens, who turned 34 on Friday, leads the NFL in receiving yards with 1,270 on 74 catches, 14 of them for touchdowns. The numbers are similar to those Owens posted in 2004, his first season with the Eagles, when he caught 77 passes for 1,200 yards and 14 TDs, helping the team reach the Super Bowl.
Owens' Eagles career went from tumultuous to nonexistent in 2005 when he was suspended at midseason for four games after being critical of the team and quarterback Donovan McNabb. He was told not to return after the suspension ended. The Cowboys signed Owens as a free agent on March 18, 2006.
Is LJ Smith done in Philadelphia? …wow, that is the only pass catcher that scares you. They have to keep him, don’t they?
Thanks to the sprained ligament in his right knee, the possibility exists that L.J. Smith's career with the Eagles is over.
If that's the case, we can look back at a five-year period that has been better than many people may believe, and we can look forward to what the Eagles might do to fill the need at tight end next season.
Smith, a second-round draft choice, can become a free agent after this season and has been saying for some time that he doesn't think he'll be back in Philadelphia next season. He has never said that he doesn't want to return, and he kept that door open even yesterday before disappearing behind the door to the players' lounge.
"It feels a little weird to be here and not know my future, and I don't know who to look at and ask the questions to," Smith said after his teammates finished practice in preparation for Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys. "I don't know who to get answers from. That's the weird part."
Smith, in his fifth season, has never been considered an elite tight end like San Diego's Antonio Gates or Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez. But in 2005 and 2006, he was among the top 10 at his position.
That, of course, has not been the case this season. Slowed by a groin injury that required two separate surgeries, he has just 22 catches for 236 yards and one touchdown. He missed three games because of the groin injury, and now he figures to miss at least the next two because of the knee injury. He said he could not imagine a worse season.
"I've been through injury, and I've been through my first real taste of media criticism," Smith said. "I've seen it all this year."
It will be interesting to see how the worst season of Smith's career affects his value on the open market in March. From 2004 through 2007, he caught 145 passes for 1,670 yards and 13 touchdowns. In that same time frame,
Indianapolis' Dallas Clark, the only tight end taken in the first round of the 2003 draft, caught 92 passes for 1,278 yards and 13 touchdowns. Smith has 67 more career receiving yards than Clark.
The only tight end from the draft class of 2003 that has been more productive than Smith is the Cowboys' Jason Witten, who has vaulted into the class of the elite. Witten, taken eight picks after Smith, in the third round, has 80 catches for 955 yards and seven touchdowns this season.
Smith, 27, doesn't think his injuries this season will hurt him all that much in free agency.
Stars with impressive win …Miettinen looks like Gretzky.
Mike Ribeiro had two goals and two assists, and linemates Brenden Morrow and Antti Miettinen scored Dallas' other two goals as the Stars won 4-1 at American Airlines Center.
With the victory, the Stars improved to 11-1-1-0 in their past 13 games against the Kings.
The Stars have also officially buried that 6-5 overtime loss in Los Angeles in November -- the one in which they blew a 4-0 third-period lead. They've outscored the Kings 7-1 in the two games since.
Marty Turco got his second consecutive victory, stopping 26 of 27 shots. But it was that style-and-substance line, once again, making the difference.
"We challenged our veteran leadership today to make sure we were ready. Brenden, Ribs and Miets there took that to heart," Tippett said. "They were very good for us."
Morrow, Ribeiro and Miettinen have been together for two complete games now; but watching them, it looks like the union has been longer.
They nine of the Stars' 12 points Thursday; Miettinen had a goal and two assists and Morrow had a goal and an assist.
The three had two goals, including the winner, and three assists in a 5-4 overtime victory over Edmonton on Monday.
Thursday was Ribeiro's first four-point game since Jan. 10, 2004, when he had a goal and three assists for Montreal against Pittsburgh.
"There've been a few nice games," Ribeiro said. "Brenden's playing really good and so is Miets. We're getting a lot of offense, a lot of chances to score. It was a good game for us."
Curious story of the day? Mike Richards signed through 2020 …wow. Note that he has a “Career High 14 goals” this year.
The Philadelphia Flyers signed scoring leader Mike Richards to a 12-year contract extension Thursday.
While the team didn't disclose financial terms, The Canadian Press reported the deal was for $69 million.
The 22-year-old forward has a career-high 14 goals this season and also has 20 assists. He's third in the NHL with three short-handed goals.
Richards' new contract will start next season and run through the 2019-20 season. The team announced the extension before its game Thursday night against Montreal.
Green Bay’s secret weapon? …
The Packers brought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship's legendary heavyweight champion of the world, Randy "The Natural" Couture, to address the team Saturday night and stoke the flames as Green Bay prepared for the Raiders.
"It was unbelievable," head coach Mike McCarthy told FOX Sports after listening to the special guest speaker. "I don't think I've ever been around a guy that impressive before in my life. He's pretty much the baddest guy walking the country, but he's one of the most humble guys I think I've ever been around.
"You had to see the guys' reaction when he walked into that room."
McCarthy set up the surprise speaker perfectly. He talked to the team about fighting through adversity and what it's like to battle through together before rolling in a highlight film of America's most beloved mixed martial artist. The players whooped it up as Couture slammed, choked, punched and elbowed victim after victim.
"Then after the tape ended, all the sudden Randy walked into the room... you could hear a pin drop," said McCarthy. "They were shocked. I think it took a few seconds to sink in that the guy was in the room."
"It was a really cool experience for me," Couture said Sunday morning before heading to Lambeau Field. "I talked to the guys about not taking a loss too hard. When you face Dallas again and beat them in the NFC Championship game, nobody will remember that loss. Put it behind you and don't make it harder on yourselves.
"I also talked about the mental aspect of fighting because I use a lot of the same mental principles those guys bring on the field. I talked about visualization skills, the skills I use for all of my fights."
The highlight of the talk came when young, brash defensive back Frank Walker got up and said there was a linebacker in the room named Brady Poppinga who was much bigger than him and stronger than him and continually picking on him. Was there anyway Couture could knock him around a bit?
The room exploded in laughter.
Uni-Report Gold …
First time, long time.... I am part of an interactive agency that has recently finished a "pet project" of ours. Being big basketball fans, we were constantly arguing over who the ugliest players in the NBA are. So, we decided to make a website out of it. I feel it is pretty well done, and you (as well as others) might get a kick out of it.
So, check it out if you get a chance. If you feel it is worthy, I would love a plug for this little labor of love.
Thanks, and keep up the good work at The Ticket.
I am surprised at the lack of appreciation on the season the Cowboys are having. I believe the Patriots are the main reason. If the Patriots had a couple of losses then the entire national media would be recognizing the greatness of a team with only one loss. Only four other teams in NFL history have finished with 15 wins (San Fran ’84, Chi ’85, Min ’98, Pitts ‘04. We still have three games left, so I know it’s not a fourgone conclusion.
Pete offers a correction from yesterday’s email bag
In 2000, the Cowboys met the Cardinals three times.
Week one - Win 38-10
Week eleven - Win 35-28
Playoffs round one - Lost 7-20
Peyton’s Priceless Pep Talk