Tuesday, July 31, 2007

And So It Ends...

With all of the sadness of hearing its Tuesday, Mark Teixeira has left DFW.

I like the deal, but perhaps I just like the fact that it had to happen, and the fact that according to most, the bounty that returns was very reasonable.

Regardless, the passionless tenure of Teixeira will easily be forgotten. Sorry. I wish I was being harsh, but he was helping pilot the plane that nearly never left the airport while he was here. Not all his fault, but his legacy is nothing to tell your Grandchildren about.

As opposed to acting like I know anything about most of these kids they got back, here are some views from around the world of baseball:

Baseball America

The Braves get a needed lefty reliever and the best player on the trade market in Teixeira, a player who can help offset the potential loss of Andruw Jones as a free agent. Teixeira returns to the scene of his college career; he was the College Player of the Year in 2000 as a sophomore at Georgia Tech. He improves the Braves' worst position as much as possible. The Mets and Phillies made moves, too, and set the stage for what should be an outstanding National League East race. Atlanta gave up its best prospects to get Teixeira, who can become a free agent after the 2008 season, and if they can make the playoffs--still a big if--they would have to be considered the favorite due to their experience, 1-2 pitching punch of John Smoltz and Tim Hudson, and imposing, American League-caliber lineup. The Rangers got a potential franchise building block in Saltalamacchia, a polished lefthander at Double-A in Harrison and lots of projection--a good haul for a player of Teixeira's stature and contract status.

ESPN Insider

The Rangers arguably got three of Atlanta's top five prospects, with only outfielders Brandon Jones and Jordan Schafer staying in the Atlanta system. The prize is Saltalamacchia, who recovered from a lost 2006 season to re-establish himself as one of the best prospects in baseball. In a perfect world, he's an offensive catcher, a switch-hitter with power and a great batting eye. He has a similar description at the plate to Teixeira, and although Saltalamacchia doesn't have Teixeira's raw power, Saltalamacchia has a much better swing from the left side, making him a good fit for that Texas ballpark. As a catcher, he's a potential All-Star.

The main question on Saltalamacchia is his ultimate position. He's listed at 6-foot-4, which is unusually tall for a catcher; taller catchers have tended to either move off the position or to get hurt, often with knee trouble because the strain placed on a catcher's knees increases with his height. Making matters worse, he's still unpolished behind the plate, with a plus arm but sloppy actions and footwork issues. If he does stay behind the plate, Saltalamacchia now gives Texas a surfeit of catching, making Gerald Laird and possibly either Taylor Teagarden (arguably the best catching prospect in the minors right now) or Max Ramirez expendable. When you have bigger needs, like pitching, extra catching is a luxury.

Elvis Andrus is one of the youngest players in any full-season league, and he was the youngest regular in any full-season league last year. That's important when considering his track record, which isn't impressive; he's been advanced so quickly that he's never played at a level appropriate to his skill set, and has spent 2007 facing pitchers three or four years his senior. While his performance isn't impressive, his tools are. He has good bat speed, and despite a general lack of control in his swing, he squares up and the ball really flies off his bat. In the field he shows a natural flair for the shortstop spot, with soft hands, a plus arm and good range in both directions. What he lacks in instincts at the plate he makes up for with his instincts on defense. This is a great upside play for Texas, as long as the Rangers slow him down instead of promoting him without regard to his results the way that Atlanta did.

Jon Heyman

The gambling Braves enhanced their chances to win this year and next with their trade for All-Star first baseman Mark Teixeira. But the six-player blockbuster was a coup for the Rangers, as well.

Atlanta looks much more threatening as Teixeira joins forces with Andruw Jones and Chipper Jones. The Braves, though 4 1/2 games out in the NL East and barely above .500, must be viewed as a contender now -- although they still look like they're a starting pitcher or two short.

But for Texas there's no downside to this deal. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia is considered a big-time hitting prospect, though the Braves' underuse of him lately is curious. Beyond having a hard-to-spell name, Saltalamacchia is a switch-hitter with power (much like Teixeira).

Rangers GM Jon Daniels was under the gun after a couple of his big trades went awry the past few years, but it says a lot about him that he didn't allow his previous failures to paralyze him. And according to GM's around the game, Daniels acquitted himself nicely with the trade of Teixeira and veteran reliever Ron Mahay for Saltalamacchia, two more premium prospects and a third unnamed prospect. Teixeira, remember, is due to become a free agent after next season and there was little chance that the Rangers could have signed him to a long-term deal.

In addition to Saltalamacchia, who was an accomplished minor-league hitter, the Rangers will also receive blue-chip shortstop prospect Elvis Andrus and reportedly top young pitching prospect Neftali Feliz as well as one more prospect, the last two being added to the deal to take the place of pitcher Matt Harrison, who had arm issues that concerned the Rangers.

While one GM offered a dissenting opinion on Saltalamacchia in this space yesterday and another questioned his defense on Monday, several executives who weighed in over the past 24 hours expressed their admiration for Salty and his skills. "We love him. A big switch hitting catcher .... What's not to love?'' one GM said.

With Salty obviously available in recent days, there were rumors of teams making a play for him to spin him off to the Rangers. But no, one GM insisted, "If we could get Salty, we'd keep him for ourselves.''

Still other GMs praised Andrus (though he's 18 and years away) and Feliz (who's 19). The GM who dissented here yesterday on Salty and said that the Rangers "aren't getting what they think they're getting'' expressed some reservations about Saltalamacchia's defense. But others love his bat enough to outweigh any defensive questions.

While Salty is generally beloved, there are still a few issues to consider, such as ...

1) It's a little disconcerting that Braves manager Bobby Cox benched Salty in favor of elderly and weak-hitting Julio Franco. It's possible that the Braves were only protecting Salty from injury so his trade value didn't decrease.

2) The Braves have a rep for never making a mistake on a young player. They aren't perfect, however, having once traded pitcher Jason Schmidt. They also have been willing to make fair deals to get the players whom they believe can put them over the top, such as when they exchanged Jason Marquis and Adam Wainwright for J.D. Drew.

3) This last consideration may not bother many, but Salty has an unusual family situation. Now 21, he married a teacher at his high school in West Palm Beach, Fla., who is now 37, according to records. His wife Ashley, who recently gave birth to their second child, insisted to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that their personal relationship didn't begin until the fall of 2004, when Salty was 18.

The Rangers apparently are aware of Salty's unusual family situation and are said to believe he's maturing. Besides, switch-hitting catchers are hard to come by.

Jamey Newberg

I'm not here to predict that this deal will produce for Texas what Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew to Montreal for Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, Cliff Lee, and Lee Stevens gave Cleveland five years ago, but this is a remarkable return, given all the factors at play.

Are the Rangers done? Chances are that Daniels has another move or two in him before this afternoon's 3:00 trade deadline. The rumored deal that would send Octavio Dotel from Kansas City to the Braves helps Texas in that teams that were in on Dotel may now be turning their attention to Gagné. The good thing as far as Gagné is concerned is we're virtually assured of getting two picks in the first two rounds if we keep him and he leaves via free agency, so that's where the trade offers begin -- prospect(s) that are worth more to us than two premium draft picks. The Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Cubs, and Brewers are reportedly showing interest.

The Dodgers had shown interest in Joaquin Benoit as part of a Teixeira deal -- would Los Angeles part with someone like outfielder Andre Ethier or minor league closer Jonathan Meloan, two players rumored to be involved in the Teixeira talks, in a one-for-one deal for Benoit?

I'm still saying a prayer for the Mets to decide they will be marginally better off with Sammy Sosa.

If Daniels adds Ramirez, Saltalamacchia, Andrus, Feliz, Harrison, and another prospect or two for Gagné and/or Benoit this week, and if the Rangers get deals done with first-rounders Beavan and Neil Ramirez and some other relatively high unsigned picks in the next two weeks, and if the organization adds a handful of high-ceiling Latin American teenagers this summer as it has the past few years, this farm system is going to look amazingly different from the way it looked when the season started.

But so will the big league lineup, which for the next two months will feature Jarrod Saltalamacchia at-bats that once belonged to Mark Teixeira. I'm looking forward to seeing Saltalamacchia injected into the order, hopefully along with Jason Botts, but to be honest I'm not sure how it will feel not to have Teixeira there as a fixture, as the Rangers' most feared weapon.

I know this, though: a Teixeira trade had become virtually inevitable, and from that standpoint I'm excited about what Jon Daniels pulled off. I'm looking forward to checking those Elvis Andrus box scores in Bakersfield and those Neftali Feliz short-season pitching lines, and to imagining what my team's roster could look like two years from now, when Saltalamacchia could be part of the Rangers' identity, and Teixeira may very well be in pinstripes or adorned by an orange and black bird, as the Braves work to try and sign the two draft picks they received when Teixeira left for the Coast.

CJ Wilson

good job JD- you just saved us 12 million dollars that we can spend next year on a stud pitcher, or a centerfielder. I like the move a lot.

i'm sorry to all the fans that loved mark- but he always wanted to play for atlanta anyway- he loves living there, and went to school there, and his wife's family is from there...and he's going to be too expensive for us to keep and still sign guys that we need to sign.

part of the business!

In other news, not that there is too much, David Beckham will not visit Frisco tonight ...

It was a marketing dream for FC Dallas: David Beckham, international star athlete with Hollywood appeal, scheduled to make an appearance at Pizza Hut Park.

But it has turned into a nightmare.

Beckham not only won't be playing for the Los Angeles Galaxy in tonight's SuperLiga match against FC Dallas – he won't even be in attendance. The Galaxy arrived in town Monday night without Beckham, who didn't make the trip because of an injured left ankle.

Anticipation for Beckham's appearance had spurred ticket sales for the game. Standing-room only tickets were all that remained for the match at Pizza Hut Park, which seats 20,500.

"For those fans that were coming out to see David and that was the only reason why, we're going to figure out a way to make this up to them," FC Dallas president and general manager Michael Hitchcock said.

Hitchcock said the team will soon announce a special ticket offer for the next Galaxy-FC Dallas game at Pizza Hut Park for fans who purchased tickets for tonight's game through the team or through Ticketmaster.

"I do believe there is going to be plenty of opportunities to see Beckham in the future," he said.

The club had built a campaign based on Beckham's arrival to boost interest in the match. The visit for SuperLiga, a tournament between MLS and Mexican clubs, was to be Beckham's only one to the area this season.

Some fans paid double the price of a ticket for a regular-season FC Dallas game, and others purchased tickets online for as much as $265.

"The people who are only buying tickets because of one player are getting what they deserved," said Travis Bell, president of FC Dallas' unofficial fan club, the Inferno.

FC Dallas pushed for an 11th-hour resolution that would have brought Beckham to Dallas, even if just to wave at the crowd.

But Galaxy coach Frank Yallop said it was best for his club for Beckham to stay in Los Angeles and receive treatment for his injured ankle.

Until Beckham can train with his teammates, Yallop insists on resting his star, whose ankle remained swollen Monday, keeping him off the practice field.

"We are trying our best to get him healthy. We are not going to force anybody to play when they're not right," Yallop said.

Beckham has played just 16 minutes since debuting with the Galaxy in a friendly against English club Chelsea on July 21. He has missed Los Angeles' SuperLiga matches against Mexican clubs Chivas and Pachuca.

FC Dallas manager Steve Morrow said if he were in Yallop's place, he would have allowed Beckham to travel.

"Beckham is here to sell tickets as well. They have to accept that responsibility," he said. "As a coach, I would have to recognize that everybody is expecting to see him."

Billboards with Beckham's image have been advertising his arrival. But most were removed by Monday. A ticker counting down the hours left until the match was also scratched from FC Dallas' Web site.

Team vice president for marketing Jeff Busch said he believes FC Dallas used the right approach in selling the match.

"We were promoting the fact that this world-known superstar is officially on this team and has a chance of playing here," Busch said. "It's part of the league strategy of having these designated players, the same with Chicago with [Mexican star] Cuauhemoc Blanco."

Freddy Adu goes to Portugal

American teenage soccer star Freddy Adu has reached an agreement to play for Portuguese club Benfica, pending the results of a medical test.

"It's a done deal," a club official said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to make an announcement.

The official said details of the agreement, including the length of the contract, would be announced at a later date but could not say when.

Adu joined the rest of the Benfica squad at a training session Tuesday, a day after arriving in the Portuguese capital to negotiate personal terms, and was undergoing medical checks, the official said. There were no immediate plans to introduce the player to the media.

Major League Soccer and Benfica agreed last week to a $2 million transfer fee for the 18-year-old attacking midfielder, who was captain of the U.S. team at this month's under-20 World Cup in Canada.

Adu has been one of the highest-profile stars of MLS since he signed with D.C. United in November 2003 at age 14, becoming the youngest player in the league's history.

Real Salt Lake acquired Adu from D.C. United last year knowing that when he turned 18 last month he would become eligible under FIFA rules to move to a foreign club.
Benfica has traditionally been one of Europe's stronger clubs, but has been unable to match the spending of teams in wealthier leagues such as England, Italy and Spain. Benfica finished third in the Portuguese league last season behind Porto and Sporting Lisbon.

Benfica will start play in the European Champions League in the third qualifying round on Aug. 14 or 15.

Bill Walsh, 75

Bill Walsh's legacy as a football man was always outsized, especially in these parts. He didn't make the Bay Area a football-first geographic zone, he didn't invent the 49ers as an important cog in the local culture and he didn't create the West Coast Offense out of whole cloth. We did mythologize him nearly to the point of caricature, just as we mythologized Al Davis and Buck Shaw and Pappy Waldorf and Andy Smith and all the other great football innovators in Bay Area history.

But if any of the others deserved it, so did he. He defined a three-decade era of football thought, characters and results, which renders his achievements extraordinary, and makes his passing all the more visceral.

Walsh had been in poor health for some time, fighting leukemia mostly in private. Thus, he is remembered as he was at his apex - the leonine head, the professorial voice that hid a coach's gift for ruthlessness, the pride in the ideas that bore his name, and the coaching tree that led back to Davis and Paul Brown, and forward to Brian Billick, Mike Holmgren and Tony Dungy. He was an epochal figure in the history of the game, he looked every bit the part, and he took care to leave that as the world's lasting memory.

His story has been told down to a fine gray dust - as a player who wasn't quite as good as he'd hoped he could be, as an eager coach who worked for and learned from the grandest minds of the '50s and '60s, as a middle-aged man who feared he would be stuck on an assistant's track for life, as the coach who jump-started Stanford, revivified and then immortalized the 49ers of the '80s, as the man who nurtured the
next generation of coaching talent.

He was also a complex man, well-read, solicitous, and curious about things beyond the 6,400-square-yard box in which he made his living and his reputation. Yet, at his core, he was the prototypical man of combat. He loved boxing, he was an avid reader of books about generals, and believed in the inherent truths of competition. That flew in the face of his reputation, largely unfair, that he was an effete, ethereal poser, not made of true coach's cloth.

Well, truth is he did like to cast the image of the grander thinker, the great conceptual artist, the whistled humanitarian, even the wry comedian. But he was very much a coach, with a coach's eye for skills, both ascendant and waning; for personalities, dominant and compliant; for the separate pieces and the greater whole; for strategies and tactics, for grace and brutishness - all the things that separate football from a bar fight. He built, dissembled and rebuilt with cold, remorseless precision, and his ruthlessness did not always sit well with those pointed toward the door.

It's what George Halas did, and Curly Lambeau, and Brown (his original mentor), and Vince Lombardi, and Davis, and Chuck Noll, and John Madden, and Tom Landry, and Jimmy Johnson, and Bill Parcells, and Bill Belichick. It's what they all do, and if there is another way to be successful at the football game, it hasn't been tried long enough by anyone of enduring consequence. Bill Walsh was driven to succeed, and he did it the way he'd been taught by his forbears, and passed along to his descendants.

I get asked all of the time how to listen to the Ticket on your mobile phone. First, you need a phone that can do it, but then you will need this link:


It works very well….

Here is a good baseball essay on the stat lines for each position around baseball …if you are a baseball nerd, it might be interesting to you…otherwise, keep scrolling…

Email Time:


I was in DC on business this week and decided to get into town a little early to check out the sites. Among the landmarks I viewed was that piece of crap RFK. The Nats were in town on the weekend hosting the Rockies so I took the subway which drops you right at the ballpark. Not having a ticket, a purchased a single scalped ticket four rows behind home plate for $40 (face value $120). Attached is a picture I took of Bacsik during his very impressive 6.2 IP scoreless effort.

After wriggling out of trouble in the sixth, Mike took his trademark slow saunter back to the dugout. With the place pretty much an empty cavern, my not-even-very-loud exclamation of “BaD Radio Sucks” prompted an acknowledgement in the form of a look in my general direction. Since I didn’t have anyone at the game with me, and I was tired of keeping to myself, I started lying to everyone in my general vicinity, telling them that I was neighbors with his parents back in Dallas. The info I have learned about Mike from you guys pretty much gave me enough bull to keep up the façade through the entire game.

Thanks for the material,

Mike at the Mixmaster

Very Young Beckham from mid field

Failure to Communicate

Prison does Thriller

Monday, July 30, 2007

Distracted in San Antonio

It is Monday Morning at the Alamo Dome. What’s up San Antonio?

Honestly, I know you likely expect me to offer you some Cowboys commentary, but until 3pm tomorrow, I am pretty focused on the trade of Mark Teixeira.

It sure looks like when all the tinkering is done, Tex will be playing first base in Atlanta, but we all know how things can change around here.

Ken Rosenthal has the latest

The Rangers were split on whether they wanted Braves Class AA left-hander Matt Harrison as part of a prospect package for first baseman Mark Teixeira.

They no longer need to worry about it.

Harrison recently developed shoulder trouble, major-league sources say, prompting the Braves to remove him from the deal.

The Braves are still offering catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Class A shortstop Elvis Andrus for Teixeira, and they gave the Rangers a list of young pitchers to consider as Harrison's replacement.

The list does not include left-hander Jo-Jo Reyes, but otherwise the talks remain fluid. It is even conceivable that the deal could be expanded from a 3-for-1 to a 4-for-2.

The Angels remain a strong contender for Teixeira. While the Diamondbacks submitted an offer, it fell short of the Braves' and Angels' proposals, according to an industry source.

The Dodgers and Rangers exchanged proposals, but found little common ground.

From the Atlanta Paper, they are ready to do the deal

The Braves are not lousy. Neither are they very good. They have the 15th-highest payroll among 30 major-league teams; as of Sunday morning, they had the 14th-best record. They’re about where they should be. They need to aim higher.

Saltalamacchia should become a really good player at some position, but as a Brave he’ll be forced to learn a new position to be a regular. (Brian McCann is and will remain the No. 1 catcher.) And, as promising as he has looked, Salty hasn’t dazzled to the extent that he’s starting ahead of Franco, who’s at least 26 years older.

That tells us something. That tells us the Braves have seen — or, more to the point, haven’t seen — something in Salty.

Say what you will about John Schuerholz, but he’s sagacious regarding young talent. How many prospects have the Braves jettisoned that they’d want back? Answer: Jason Schmidt (dealt for Denny Neagle in August 1996) and Adam Wainwright (included in the J.D. Drew deal of December 2003). Where’s Andy Marte? Whatever became of Luis Rivera? And, for all the outcry raised in this space and others over the loss of Wilson Betemit, has the absence of a .232 hitter proved debilitating?

Braves president Terry McGuirk admits the club has in recent years made the considered decision to err on the homegrown side. “Our payroll was going up like a rocket ship, and the fans stopped coming,” McGuirk said in May. “That seemed a major statement as to what this franchise should be about.”

So the Braves stopped pursuing the Gary Sheffields and A-Rods and banked instead on the Jeff Francoeurs and the B-Macs. That approach has merits, and also its limits. This has become a .500 team, give or take, and the emphasis on cuddly youth hasn’t triggered a run on the box office. (Home attendance ranks 14th in the majors.) While the Braves are proof you don’t need an All-Star at every position to be competitive, they’re likewise proving you can’t win big without big-time players.

Teixeira is one of those. He’s the first baseman the Braves have lacked since Andres Galarraga got cancer. Yes, Teixeira will file for arbitration this winter and for free agency in 2008, and yes, he’s represented by the demon Scott Boras, but at worst he’d give the Braves a middle-of-the-order thumper once Andruw Jones takes his Boras-negotiated leave. And without Andruw eating up one-sixth of the payroll the Braves might actually have a chance to keep Teixeira.

Another hitter won’t necessarily make the 2007 Braves a playoff team. This team needs a starting pitcher more. But Salty-for-Tex wouldn’t be so much a fix-it for this season as a signal that the Braves have conceded they’ve gone as far as they can with the status quo. If they honestly expect first-place results, they’ll have to find first-rate players. Their farm system has produced its share, but no system can be so bountiful as to generate a star at every position.

The Braves might well have gotten twice lucky at catcher. It’s time to use one of those to secure a first baseman, and not a Rico Brogna or a Robert Fick or a Scott Thorman this time. Something more along the lines of a Fred McGriff. Someone like Teixeira.

Baseball America evaluates Saltalamacchia

Strengths: Saltalamacchia's calling card is his ability to hit and drive the ball from both sides of the plate. He has one of the sweetest swings in the game from the left side, displaying a natural loft that should produce solid home run numbers. Despite his troubles in 2006, the Braves have no concerns about his offensive ability, especially with the way he regrouped at midseason. His walk rate continues to increase as he climbs the minor league ladder. Considered somewhat suspect defensively coming out of high school, Saltamacchia has worked very hard to get better. He spent the spring picking veteran Todd Pratt's brain to upgrade his game-calling ability, and he continues to be more comfortable working with pitchers. He has a strong arm and a release that has quickened considerably, enabling him to throw out 36 percent of base stealers in 2006. Saltalamacchia has shown increased maturity, particularly after getting married midway through the 2005 season. Always upbeat, he has a desire to learn and improve.

Weaknesses: Consistency is the key to Saltalamacchia reaching the majors in the near future. He'll make more consistent contact once he displays more patience and waits for his pitch. In 2006, opponents noticed Saltalamacchia collapsing the backside of his swing from both sides of the plate. His righthanded swing is a little mechanical, though he was more productive from that side in 2006. He batted .262 against lefties, compared with .214 against righties. Defensively, he needs to continue to improve his footwork and to learn how to set up more advanced hitters.

The Diamondbacks could enter this

The Arizona Diamondbacks, perhaps buoyed by an eight-game winning streak that came to a halt Sunday, have become late entrants into the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes, three major league sources said Sunday.

What is not as clear is if the Rangers are too far along with other possibilities to spend much time talking to Arizona.

With less than 48 hours until Tuesday's 3 p.m. deadline, the club continued to talk seriously with three trade partners it has engaged for more than week: the Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves.

Rangers GM Jon Daniels maintained his stance of declining to talk about trade scenarios.
While the Braves made an offer earlier in the week that focused on catcher-first baseman Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and the Angels had tweaked their initial offer to include first baseman Casey Kotchman and left-hander Joe Saunders, Arizona's interest could serve as a spark to the more dormant talks with the Dodgers.

The Diamondbacks have moved within one percentage point of the first-place Dodgers in the NL West. San Diego is only a half-game behind the two.

The Rangers have been trying to pry Highland Park lefty Clayton Kershaw out of Los Angeles with little success. The Dodgers are believed to be willing to part with first baseman James Loney and outfielder Andre Ethier in a deal that potentially could send Teixeira and a reliever to Los Angeles.

Arizona is laden with prospects, but it's uncertain how well the teams match up. In a deal for Teixeira, 25-year-old first baseman Conor Jackson, hitting .274 with seven homers, probably would come to the Rangers. The Diamondbacks also have center-field prospects, but the Rangers also would like to land a young, major-league ready pitcher in a deal.

Meanwhile, the Rangers are busy getting swept in KC

About an hour before Sunday's game, Michael Young double-checked the math: The Rangers are off Monday and don't play again until 6:05 p.m. Tuesday. The trading deadline arrives at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

If he had all his figures correct, Sunday possibly would be the last game he played with Mark Teixeira as a teammate. Could be the last one with Eric Gagne as a Ranger, too. And maybe you can throw in some complementary players as well, such as Ron Mahay or Joaquin Benoit.

A few hours later, after a 10-0 loss to Kansas City completed the Royals' three-game sweep, Young admitted the thought really doesn't sit well with him.

"Those two guys [Teixeira and Gagne] that could be traded from here are two great players," Young said. "There is no way I can be thrilled about that. I hoped to play my whole career with Mark Teixeira. All I can say is I hope that on Tuesday, Tex goes deep and Gagne closes it out for us."

If the Rangers had planned to make an 11th-hour pitch to management to tone down the number of deals that could be made, they did a poor job. They followed a four-game sweep of contending Seattle by losing three in a row to Kansas City, which entered the weekend as one of three AL teams with a worse winning percentage than themselves.

And it wasn't just that the Rangers lost three in a row. It was how they lost that could impact management's thinking. After six weeks of playing very strong baseball, the Rangers reacted to the trade of veteran leadoff man Kenny Lofton on Friday by reverting to the brand of non-competitive baseball that got the team into this mess in the first place.

The lineup was unresponsive. The Rangers scored six runs over the weekend. Five came off the bat of Nelson Cruz, who had spent the last two months in the minors.

Starting pitchers allowed 17 runs in 14 2/3 innings and pushed the rotation ERA back to the cusp of six. After Kameron Loe allowed four runs in the second and six in 5 2/3 innings, the ERA now teeters at 5.99.

The Rangers fell behind by five runs or more in all three games, a symptom that was commonplace when the team fell 19 games under .500 earlier this season.

To top it off, Sunday marked the first shutout loss to pitching-poor Kansas City since 2003. It was only the second time since 1996 the Rangers managed as few as four hits against the Royals. And the 10-run deficit was the Rangers' worst shellacking against them since a 12-0 loss in 1995.

"They outplayed us in every facet of the game," said Teixeira, who had a ninth-inning single in four at-bats.

Teixeira, however, would not address the possibility of his Rangers career ending. After the game, he flipped his hat into the crowd. But when asked about the trade situation later, he repeated his common refrain:

"I'm not going to talk about it," he said, managing a weak smile. "I'm not going to talk about the trade deadline or anything like that."

Teixeira's impact hasn't been enough to dissuade the Rangers from pushing forward with one of the four possible deals on which they're working (Arizona, Atlanta and both Los Angeles clubs). The bizarre, unexplainable fact is, the Rangers have been a better team without Teixeira than with him.

Though he is hitting .281 since his return from the DL – .471 with runners in scoring position – Sunday's loss dropped the Rangers to 8-9 since his return. They are 30-48 when he has played this year, 16-11 when he hasn't. With Teixeira in the lineup, the Rangers have averaged 4.78 runs per game, without him 5.11.

Ripken and Gwynn enjoy a happy day in Cooperstown

Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn took their place in baseball's shrine Sunday, saluted as much for their Hall of Fame careers as their character off the field.

Commissioner Bud Selig and a record crowd came to cheer them and all that was good about the game.

A continent away, a different scene played out. Barry Bonds failed to tie the home run record, a chase tainted by his surly nature and a steroids investigation.
Ripken and Gwynn sensed that poignant counterpoint on their induction day.

"This day shouldn't be all about us," Ripken said. "Today is about celebrating the
best that baseball has been and the best it can be. This is a symbol it's alive, popular."

"Whether you like it or not, as big leaguers, we are role models," he said. "The only question is, will it be positive or will it be negative?"

Gwynn offered the same sentiment.

"I think the fans felt comfortable enough in us, they could trust us and how we played the game, especially in this era of negativity," he said. "I don't think there's any question about that."

"When you sign your name on the dotted line, it's more than just playing the game of baseball," he said. "You've got to be responsible and make decisions and show people how things are supposed to be done."


Greg Ellis keeps talking …losing credibility…

The saga of Greg Ellis' frustration just won't go away, but at least there is a clearer picture of just what is wrong with his left foot.

Ellis, who has been an unhappy camper here at the Alamodome because of having three years remaining on his contract and the Cowboys spending a first-round pick on Anthony Spencer, a guy who plays his position, initially thought on Wednesday he had aggravated his surgically-repaired Achilles in the first training camp practice.

But after an MRI and doctors thoroughly checking his Achilles, Ellis has learned he is suffering from bursitis near the bottom of his left heel, and that whatever pain he felt that first day had nothing to do with his Achilles.

"It's comforting to know that the actual tendon itself is still intact and it's pretty much just inflammation under that tendon, beneath it, not in it or anything like that," Ellis said.

Cowboys assistant trainer Britt Brown said Ellis had a good day of running 50-yarders on Saturday and that they will just have to be patient with the bursitis, which very well could have occurred in his right heel. But Brown was adamant in saying there was nothing wrong with Ellis' Achilles.

Unfortunately, the same can't be said for Ellis' mindset, still unhappy the Cowboys won't adjust his contract or possibly release him so he could join another team, at least affording him the possibility of signing a new contract with a signing bonus. Ellis is scheduled to make $2.5 million in base salary this year after being paid that $4.2 million signing bonus in 2003.

For the umpteenth time Ellis was asked if he's had a conversation with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, and for the umpteenth time Ellis said, "No. I think it needs to be talked about now. I think it's to the point where we need to get on the same page about the situation."

Ellis was then asked if he is losing his desire to play, entering his 10th NFL season.

"That's something that's going to need to be talked about next week," Ellis said, starting a series of cryptic answers to a barrage of questions on the
subject. "That's pretty much all I can say on that. When we're here for a little more time, I can probably answer that question a little more honestly next week.
"That sounds crazy, don't it? But, that's pretty much all I can say about that. I'll answer fully next week."

When posed with the possibility of retiring, Ellis then said, "I don't know. Later next week, I think we'll have more answers," but later said, "Yeah, I still want to play football."

USA TODAY with a big story on Romo

"In some ways, I'm a question mark," says Romo, who will be working with a new offensive coordinator, Jason Garrett. "I know I have to play well for this team to be successful."

One question not on the table is holding for place kicks. As is customary for NFL teams, the Cowboys' new backup quarterback Brad Johnson is slated for that job this season.

"I think my holding days are done," says Romo, who'd been Dallas' holder since 2004. He didn't botch a snap last season until the one in Seattle and was the NFL's only starting quarterback holding for kicks after the Denver Broncos benched Jake Plummer in December.

How many times has Romo been asked about The Bobble this offseason?

"Probably five or six — at least," he says with a laugh.

"I'm by no means there," he adds. "After the Seattle game I felt bad, not for myself, but my teammates, the organization, fans and our coaches. I knew I would be OK. I can handle just about anything.

"If something in sports is the worst thing that ever happens to you, you've lived a pretty good life."

But it's not like Romo has forgotten. He recounts driving to training camp with Witten, cornerback Terence Newman and Todd Archer, a reporter for The Dallas Morning News, and being accompanied by Witten's theme song for Romo and these Cowboys — Journey's Don't Stop Believin'.

"That's my favorite song," Romo says. "The words are key — Don't stop believing. The way last season ended was one of those moments me and this team had to go through to get to the next step."

Will Beckham even make the trip? ….

The Los Angeles Galaxy said Sunday it will wait until after today's afternoon practice to decide whether David Beckham will travel for Tuesday's SuperLiga match against FC Dallas.

The club is expected to arrive in the area tonight. It has not planned a news conference regarding Beckham, who has been hampered by an injured left ankle since his arrival in the U.S.

The Galaxy, second in Group A of SuperLiga with three points behind Mexico's Chivas, is seeking a semifinal berth in the North American tournament. FC Dallas, with two ties in the group, is third with two points.

The top two teams in each group advance.

Beckham has played only 16 minutes, including four minutes of stoppage time, in one match since joining the Galaxy on July 13. Beckham hasn't been able to train with the team since he arrived.

Shark Week!

The folks at Discovery Channel are at it again!

Just as the weather heats up, sending throngs to the beach, Discovery Channel kicks off its annual "Shark Week," which is sure to frighten some swimmers right back out of the water.

"We're looking at a creature that is primitive," says Les Stroud, best known as Discovery's "Survivor-man," who has been tapped to host this year's event. "And we're looking at a creature we hardly know anything about."

This is no normal "Shark Week," the programming venture that started as summer filler and has proven a huge hit. This week marks the 20th anniversary for the franchise.

Stroud, in his first time out as host of "Shark Week," says the creature is fascinating because interactions run a gamut of emo-tions. At times, sharks can be mov-ing and gentle, and just as quickly can be horrifying.

In keeping with that theme, the week-long bite fest begins tonight at 9 with "Ocean of Fear: Worst Shark Attack Ever," a two-hour special, hosted by actor Richard Dreyfuss, that recalls the sinking of the heavy cruiser Indianapolis in 1945. Eight hundred sailors were thrown into the water - many injured by the two torpedo blasts that sank their ship - and fought to survive for four days surrounded by hundreds of sharks.

The incident was made famous in Steven Spielberg's "Jaws," when shark fisherman Quint (Robert Shaw) shared his story of being aboard the Indianapolis."

Victory for Iraq

The healing power of sport has always been an objective issue. Its ability to unite people is balanced by its capacity to divide.

For every winner, there has to be a loser. One man's ecstasy is another man's agony.

Yet, if ever there was an argument that sport can succeed where politicians, armies and even religions may fail, then the 14th Asian Cup provided a compelling case.

Iraq's unexpected 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia in Sunday's final at Jakarta was as much a triumph for human spirit as the athleticism and skill of their players.
Few people gave them any hope of making it past the group stages, let alone winning the tournament against teams boasting seasoned professionals who ply their trade in the rich European leagues.

The early signs for Iraq were not good. The squad was a patchwork of of Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish players, fractured by the sectarian violence in their homeland.
The first three coaches who were offered the job of trying to mould them together politely declined. Only Jorvan Vieira, a Brazilian journeyman who had worked with 26 clubs and five national teams, took up the challenge.

Merry Miller – Best Interview Ever

Otherside on Guitar – Comedy is subjective

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Support Breakout Basketball

From the guys there:

You've heard Bob say it before. He was just another 6 foot something white guy who could hit an open jump shot in high school. I was the same way in high school and there's something to be said for that. It takes alot of practice to become a consistent jump shooter. I spent hours in the gym shooting in high school and in my tiny East Texas town I was pretty good. I just didn't know 70 miles away Desmond Mason was in Waxahachie working 5 times as hard as I was. Working on conditioning, ball handling drills, guarding the best offensive player in pick up games, and doing all of the not so fun stuff. At the time I didn't know the difference between being good and being great.

After graduation I worked in the high school sports deparment at the Dallas Morning News, before working with Bob as sort of an "intern savant" at the little Ticket. Working as a stringer for the Morning News I went to cover a Lincoln high school basketball game and wound up becoming good friends with Willie Davis. Many of you know Willie attended SMU with Jeryl Sasser and Quinton Ross. I realized at 26 I still had NAIA eligibility and started training for one last push at my hoop dreams. I even became the P1 WAC's official ABA correspondent as I vowed to try out for the Texas Tycoons in the Fall. Willie helped me train and I finally began going through the type of training Desmond must have gone through. I had confidence in what Willie said because he's laced them up with Shawn Marion and been on the Mavericks summer team. I pushed myself harder than I'd ever done so before. I came up short during my college tryouts, but I found peace of mind knowing I could play at that level. I then realized that while in high school I had the passion, but not the direction.

Since then Willie and I have hosted 3 summer camps to give players direction. I was asked to write a little blurb about what Breakout Basketball is all about. To boil it down it's very simple. How many people get the most out of their abilities? Most of us try to hide from ourselves even though we can't. We know when we pull back the reins and hold back. It doesn't feel good to quit on yourself. Willie and I are trying to get to the bottom line. What is it going to take for you to sacrifice? What buttons have to be pushed for you to stop listening to the little voice inside your head telling you to quit, it's too hard. Sure it's cliche and right about now you're hearing Grubes play the Sad Piano music in your head, but it's also true. It's not too hard, you can do it. Great basketball players are not born overnight. Utimately, I want to provide a service that wasn't available to me in high school. To make the best players available, Willie Davis and friends to pass the knowledge they've worked hard to gain down to your son or daughter. Please visit BreakoutBaseball.com to sign up for our camps, basketball school, and/or private workouts.

Friday, July 27, 2007

I Like to Think of My Vick Wearin' a Tuxedo T-shirt

Not Guilty ....ya'll got to feel me

At least that is what the Falcons QB is saying....We will find out beginning Nov. 26th which is when his court date was set as he faces his dog-fighting charges. The powers that be in the legal system leaving it open to pile on more charges as things move forward....which is not good for Vick and leads me to believe that this guys playing career is basically over guilty or not.....

When the Falcons ownership, possibly the commish, PETA, and dog-lovers everywhere doesn't want this guy to touch a football this season makes me think that the media circus will paint this guy as a villain even more than he already is.....The Falcons and other teams will not want to touch him with a 10 foot pole after all of this shakes out.

I as much as anyone believes in due process in this country, but when you are a public figure that is in a position for children to look up to you (like most athletes) you have an off-the-field responsibility to live the right way. I know that in the black culture dogs are not as looked upon in such an elevated manner like in the white culture....but brutality is brutality, and not being able to control things you are even loosley tied to makes you guilty like it or not.....No matter what side you fall on with this story you have to admit: Vick could have avoided all of this and had plenty of time and money to do so....

I have tired head about this....something else now....anything else now.....

Rookie 3rd baseman Travis Metcalf

I have been championing this guy for the past week....and for good reason having a small coming out party against the Mariners this week at the Ballpark. I know Hank Blalock is a quality player and should get a chance to prove something once healthy, but Metcalf gives me hope in this Ranger youth movement, and I think could make us all think that Blalock is very dealable (some of us do already).....

Mike Heika takes a look at the rookie

The trade deadline is now 4 days away and I love the possible deals rumored with the Braves and Dodgers for Teixeira.....the young talent thrown out in the Atlanta deal is intriguing....I know that Saltalamachia (sp?) is a good young 1st baseman, and I am never one that looks down on young pitching....Kyle Davies was solid last year, he is struggling a bit this year, but I can always take a maturing pitcher that has time to become a solid big leaguer, especially with MLB experience. Say what you will about Brandon McCarthy, I like what he has and having him I think will pay off.

Texas with 9 away from the Ballpark get a 3 game series with the young Royals going tonight.....It might not look like a good pitching matchup at 1st glance, but Jamey Wright and Brian Bannister both throwing well right now....

And this story made Gribble cry in the shower last night....

Sweet, Sweet Training Camp....How do I love thee?....Let me count the ways....

I am just glad football is back....and the Cowboys have all of their draft picks finally signed after yesterday as they ink 1st rounder Anthony Spencer to a 5 year, 9 million dollar deal, and 3rd rounder James Marten to 4 years....both getting snaps with the starters at practice today in S.A.....Spencer, because he is that good, Marten because of injuries to Colombo and Flozell at tackle.

The story of camp so far is Greg Ellis and his achilles scare and he needs to take it slow with the injury....I know that Spencer is here, but an NFL team can never have enough talent on defense, especailly in a 3-4.

I said it yesterday...I would love to write a ton of stuff about this team, but it is way too early and it's so hard to get a feel for things 3 days into camp....I could recycle comments that I have had set in my sports-brain for the past 5 months, but I don't want to insult your sports brains with crap like that....Just enjoy that we can even start thinking about and NFL season.

In other Camp news stuff, Ty sent me this story and it made me giggle....Doo-doo Browns....

College football is just around the corner, and as a Fighting Irish lifer, I have to say that I am thrilled that Notre Dame is likley coming to Jerry World in 2012....to play Baylor. Sucks for the old toliet Cotton Bowl, but good for a metrolpex that can't fully support their 3 schools every fall....

I know that I can never get to everything like Sturm does....let's face it I am no sports expert....and I know that you are all looking forward to his return on Monday.....

Before I leave I wanted to share a few things with you all....I know I never put nook on the Blog, but Ty does, he sent me this photo....so here is some material for the beach towel this weekend.

shocking I know....wonder where they order those panties....

and as always music for your listening edification....I give you The Roots, sorry about the lack of a video, but they pulled their vids off of youtube, but a jammin' tune nonetheless....have a great weekend....and check out the 2000th BaD Radio show celebration this afternoon 12-3....

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I Hate Goodbyes....

We might have seen Big Tex's last game as a Ranger at the Ballpark last night in a dramatic 7-6 win over the mariners completing a 4 game sweep of Seattle.

With the trade deadline fast approaching next Tuesday, some of the rumored trade partners are beginning to become clearer....Evan Grant wrote about that this morning....

The Braves and Dodgers have been getting the most play of late and I think that both teams have the need at firstbase, and that each clubs farm system (historically) tends to produce talent on a regular basis, especially in the area of pitching.

I know that some of you have grown to appreciate Tex and what he has done here putting up nice numbers, being a nice guy for the most part, and winning a few gold gloves....however the reality of the situation is that he does not want to be a Ranger....and his agent doesn't negotiate with his clients existing teams all that often. Even if we did keep him through the end of next season, he would walk away so fast it would be ridiculous and Texas would be left here with a suitcase full of nothing....they need to trade the guy and get some REAL TALENT back, and I don't mean another Brad Wilerson type....you hear that JD??

A sweeping success over the Mariners.....
Ramon Vasquez helping the Rangers hand M's closer J.J.Putz his 1st blown save of the year, as the Texas utility infielder belted a 2 run blast in the 8th to give the Rangers a 7-6 W.....Joaquin Benoit got touched up in the 8th after an impressive string of 18 and 2/3's and 14 appearances without allowing a run....the righthander came back to pitch a perfect 9th which is good to see, especially if he is a name that the team will try to move before next Tuesday.....Once again out of the 9 spot young Travis Metcalf showing that he is not just a defensive 3rdbaseman as he goes 2 for 4, giving him a 9 for 15 series against Seattle, and more importantly he is getting the AB's and the confidence to stick here in the bigs....Hank who?.....

Things will naturally be interesting over the next 5 days as we hold our breath and hope that Jon Daniles doesn't pull another bad trade....I really like JD and I hope that he can get the next few right, and help this team improve in the long run....Now a 9 game roadtrip awaits the Rangers, the Royals are 1st up....crazy to think this club could realistically be 6 or 7 games under .500 by the trade deadline.

I know that A-Rod used the Rangers like ditsy prom date, but this guy is just awesome.....He is 1 A-bomb away from the 500 club after last night....

Say what you will about Alex....at least he gives us the hope of passing Barry Bonds eventual Homerun record one day in the future....Just sick to imagine how many this guy could end up with when it's all said and done....oh yeah he just turned 32....If baseball is going to pay someone 30 million a year, he is my pick. Granted nobody should make that kind of money to play baseball, but find me a better player....

Curt Schilling decided to rip Bonds and McGwire....Schilling usually beats me to hear him talk, but I do like it when steroid users are thrown under the bus...he spoke on "Costas Now", which is on HBO....if you for whatever reason do not have the cable network I question you, it might be the best TV network us humans have created.....

I know that bseball probably give some of you tired head so i guess we can move on to The Cowboys....

Training camp up and flying in San Antonio with the team's 1st practice yesterday and it was not without bad news....Apparently the disgruntled Greg Ellis came up injured.....not good news. I know that Anthony Spencer is thought to be another savior at linebacker for this team, but Ellis is damn good when he is healthy and if this is a serious relapse of his achilles it will hurt the defense, even under the 'new 3-4'.....

The attitude is overall good right now in San Antonio as it should be with most teams after one day of practice....I know that everyone's expectations of Dallas this year are very high and probably for good reason, but I can't help but have these lingering doubts about this thing in the back of my head....There is a reason Jerry doesn't want to pay Tony Romo yet....One injury on the offensive line puts the line back to where it has been for the last 3 plus seasons....and I guess we all forget that the Boys secondary, outside of terrance Newman, basically sucked last season. And Seahawk fans are quick to tell you that Hamlin is not a cure-all....

Just a few initial fears, but I think we should all just be happy for now and appreciate that football is finally back.....

And while football is the topic let us tip our hats to an NFL great that will probably be under appreciated in the years to come, as Curtis Martin has decided to finally retire.....

This makes me happy in the Mavs-pants

I really think that this kid can play some pointguard and get some significant minutes in the NBA....we have all heard the analogy of the undersized linebacker in football that just knows how to make plays....well that is what J.J. Barea is in basketball, and I think he could provide the Mavs with a solid back-up PG....If you have been watching him in the summer leagues you know exactly what I am talking about.....

I fully realize that there are a number of things on the sports-spectrum that I failed to get to this morning,like the Cotton Bowl talking with the BCS but I-35 traffic is not fun and I don't feel like being late to the office today....

Before I depart this Thursday I think I will treat you all to a little Dylan....enjoy....

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

An Explosive Sports-Wednesday...Too Soon??

First off I would like to apologize for not doing this in the AM, but life got in the way as it can from time to time. I could have said screw it, but I decided better late than never. Second, I want to thank Bob for allowing me to guest-blog once again. Our thoughts and prayers should be with his family this week.....

I hate to not leadoff with a non-sports story, but the Massive Explosions in downtown Dallas is sort of the news of the day....

I had a really good view of the destruction in the safe confines of the Reverchon Plaza Tower when the chaos began.....It was sort of surreal to see it unfold as it hapaned and considering what happened it was amazing that only 3 individuals were injured. It's a good thing that the incident happened where it did.
If you didn't catch the ch.8 footage of the whole thing going down, you missed out on some awesome stuff, but dallasnews.com posted this.

On to sports.....

Day one of practice at the Alamodome as football season is offically here (Thank Goodness)

When the Cowboys were seacrhing for Parcells replacement, I didn't think too much of Wade Phillips as the head coach of "America's Team"....but I think that he will succeed here working under Jerry. I really don't know how much instant success he could have immediately(By Dallas standards that is a Lombardi Trophy)....Jean Jacques wrote about that in the DMN

I think he will allow the talent to feel a greater level of comfort and he could fortify the 3-4 scheme that was painfully vanilla under the Tuna.

The Boys probably not too concerned as they hit the Practice field without signing their 1st round Pick Anthony Spencer and 3rd rounder James Marten....but here is a list of the 6 they did get under contract today.

There will be plenty of time the rest of the summer to go nuts over the Cowboys....no doubt Bob and The Ticket will cover it head to toe, so to avoid getting burnt out too soon I want to move on to some other NFL news.....

The K.C. Chiefs are saying "What's up Holmes?"....which is pretty exciting if you like football....I know that everyone will be eyeing L.J. in your upcoming fantasy draft, but how soon we all forget what kind of ridiculous numbers the former backup to Ricky Williams at Texas put up in an injury shortened career....

Speaking of Fantasy Football all f you GM's might like to know about Falcons Back Warick Dunn missing camp due to injury....

You know it's football season when you bury the fact that the Texas Rangers have a real shot at sweeping a series as they try to send division rival and AL Wild Card contender Seattle to the dust-bin tonight at the Ballpark.

I had the pleasure....yes I said pleasure....of watching a doubl-header yesterday at the Temple and I'llbe damned if it wasn't some of the best baseball I have seen all season long. If you told me that John Rheinecker would get called up and toss innings in game one and not allow an earned run I would have called you a liar. Then to see Kam Loe fight through some jams and go 6 and 2/3's made my baseball pants all warm....

The common factor in both wins was Rookie 3rd baseman Travis Metcalf with a career day and I have to say it is great to see a guy like this develope in front of our very eyes. I am not saying that he is as good as Hank Blalock, but hopefully he will force Wash to made some tough decisions when Hank returns. And if you look at his size and frame he looks like he could maybe even play some 1st base if the Rangers trade Tex....which could happen by next week (I hope).

Brandon McCarthy goes tonight and it would be good for his confidence to beat a good team in Seattle and get his 1st win since May 20th.

756 is inevitable and it just sucks

For some reason after getting home last night I stayed awake and caught the end of the Giants /Braves game...which went 13 innings....just to see if this jack-ass would get closer to history and move a step closer to dethroning one of the classies athletes ever as the new homerun king.
It seems new stuff comes up about Bonds on a daily basis, and this obvious story came out today

We all know deep down that this guy is a cheater and a jerk, and it pains me to know that he will be atop the record book in homers....however I think it's nice that he keep getting attacked, and when everything eventually comes down there is a slim chance that he might have to face a fitting punishment for helping hurt the game that I love so dearly. And Bud Selig makes me want to vomit just thinking about him...he could have grown a set and this fabricated history would not be on the horizon. The more I think about Bud Selig, the more I really grow to like Roger Goodell and his no BS was he conducts business.

And before I wrap this up I would like to hit the Mavs page and take a look at Brandon Bass who Dallas signed to a 2 year deal....and no i am not talking about him because we have the same last name.

This dude was great in the summer league, he is a big guy that can get up and down the court. I wish he was 3 inches taller, but if he was there is no chance that he would be available for us to sign....i am not saying this guy will be a huge help, but i think many of you will be pleasantly surprised in any minutes he might get with the team. A team like the Hornets should not have given up on him...something to keep up with early in the season.

Well that's it for this extremely tardy edition of Bob's blog. I will have one up tomorrow morning at the normal time.
And in a final chance to make an unfortunate joke....and to give you some good-ass music that is probably off your radar...I give you Austin's own Explosions in the Sky.....

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Going, Going....

Not only was Vick told to stay away from Falcons camp, but now various sources are indicating that this is it for Vick in Atlanta:

Terrence Moore in Atlanta

He’s gone. Whether that means for the season or forever in the NFL is debatable, but this isn’t: No way Michael Vick ever plays again for the Falcons.
No way Michael Vick ever can play again for the Falcons.

More specifically, given the ugliness and the intensity surrounding his dogfighting indictment, no way Michael Vick ever should play again for the Falcons. The fact that the NFL ordered the beleaguered quarterback on Monday night to stay away from training camp was the beginning of the end for Vick in Atlanta.

If nothing else, Vick is guilty of stupidity in the first degree. He says he wasn’t aware of illegal dogfighting in this case, but it happened on his property in Virginia for five years. Plus, most of those involved were from his boyhood “crew” that he regularly swore allegiance to despite the criminal past of its members and warnings from former coach Dan Reeves.

He’s gone, all right. Even if Vick loses his mind during the next few days by not taking the deal proposed by the league, players union and Falcons officials that would give Vick a lengthy paid leave of absence, he is gone anyway. If he ignores the deal, he will be suspended by the league. All you had to do was listen to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello reemphasize over the phone from New York that commissioner Roger Goodell is obsessed with doing whatever it takes to “protect the shield.”
Translated: Image is everything to Goodell and league owners.

“I mean, it’s well understood that the commissioner has a key role in maintaining the integrity of the league,” said Aiello, referring to NFL commissioners in general but to this one in particular. Despite less than a year on the job, Goodell’s nickname already could be “ruthless,” especially when it comes to discipline.

Added Aiello, while sifting through the league bylaws on his desk, “Detrimental conduct, the commissioner is authorized to take appropriate steps as he deems necessary and is proper in the best interest of the league or either professional football.” Aiello kept sifting, before saying, “When anyone connected with the league or any member thereof is guilty of any conduct detrimental either to the league, its clubs or to professional football …”

Aiello didn’t finish.

He’s gone.

If Vick doesn’t go by himself, or if Goodell miraculously turns soft, the Falcons should just cut him. The $22 million salary cap hit they’d take over the next two years would be less than the financial hit they’d take from lost advertising and ticket sales with a PR-damaged Vick on their roster.

It doesn’t matter whether or not Vick spent a millisecond watching pitbulls gnaw at each other for sport. It doesn’t matter whether or not he participated in the electrocution, drowning, shooting, hanging or crushing of losing dogs. It doesn’t matter whether or not he threw money toward the activity. It doesn’t matter whether or not he had knowledge any of this was happening. You won’t succeed as an NFL franchise with a heavy dose of turmoil in your world. It’s bad enough if the focus of that turmoil is a wide receiver such as Terrell Owens or a cornerback such as Pacman Jones, but if it’s a quarterback, forget it.

Worse, for the Falcons, Vick already was the most polarizing force in the history of Atlanta sports. You can blame it on his uneven play as a dramatic runner with an erratic arm combined with his hip-hop ways. Now you have this dogfighting mess with animal rights protestors fuming, active and growing from Washington D.C. to Flowery Branch. You had one U.S. senator shaking and screaming his disgust with Vick and dogfighting on the floor of the Capitol. You had another U.S. senator proposing legislation to end dogfighting and urging the NFL to get rid of Vick.

Even if Vick finds a way to make puppies fly by joining the five percent of those who ever have beaten the feds, he’d become the Falcons’ O.J. Simpson in the eyes of thousands or millions — an African-American with lots of money who had the audacity to get away with something.

Imagine the barking from coast to coast, and then imagine all of those empty seats at the Georgia Dome.

Oh, he’s gone.

John Clayton at ESPN

By ordering Michael Vick not to show up at Falcons training camp, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell preserved the chance for Falcons owner Arthur Blank to decide if he wants Vick on his team or not. Goodell made it clear the Falcons can not discipline him until the league investigates this case, but clearly, Vick is on the way out of Atlanta. Goodell toed a tight rope in making this decision. He's not suspending him, but he's also not giving Vick the chance to operate as an NFL player. The loophole appears to be the timing of his federal hearing in Richmond, Va. Vick couldn't show up for the start of camp because he has to surrender himself to authorities that day. That technically put him in breech of his contract for a day, but naturally, Blank and Goodell could have excused him for that day. They didn't. Vick's presence at camp could have turned the Falcons facility into a circus complete with protests by members of PETA. Vick is the fastest athlete ever seen at the quarterback position, but the speed in which his career is vanishing before our eyes is amazing. All along, I felt Vick would have this season to prove himself and then the Falcons would move a different direction. Now, the weight of this dogfighting case is so heavy that Vick will have to fight to be able to return to his team. What he needs to find out Thursday is whether the case is going to be on the 2007 or 2008 calendar. Now that Goodell has his season in flux, Vick might as well be prepared not to play if the trail schedule is set for the fall.

In other shockingly troubling sports stories….

More on the NBA Gambling Scandal

According to the pamphlet given to all referees, titled “Bad Bets: Understanding the N.B.A.’s Anti-Gambling Rules,” all players and league personnel are barred from gambling on any league game, including those in which they do not participate. Rules for referees go considerably further. They are prohibited from “participating in any gambling or placing bets of any kind.”

Officials are barred from visiting or attending “any racetrack, off-track betting establishment, casino or gambling establishment of any kind.” Violating the rules subjects the referee “to discipline by the N.B.A., including termination of his or her employment.”

The N.B.A. contracted an outside firm to look into accusations from 2005 that Donaghy was seen gambling in the Borgata, a casino in Atlantic City, according to a person with knowledge of the league’s investigative process who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the continuing F.B.I. investigation.

The league interviewed Donaghy at its offices as part of its investigation but was unable to substantiate the allegations, which were part of a lawsuit brought by a neighbor of Donaghy in Pennsylvania.

During the off-season, referees are permitted to bet at racetracks or attend shows at casinos, as long as they do not enter a casino gaming area.

“We can’t even walk across the casino floor,” said one official, who was granted anonymity because referees are also forbidden to speak with the news media. “They don’t want you going anywhere where people could get the wrong idea.”

“Bad Bets” also discusses rules against sharing information about the sport, such as tendencies of players and referees that game officials are privy to. Specific referees are reputed to allow more physical play than others, which can affect score differentials and totals on which bets are placed.

Referees are barred from revealing their schedule of assigned games to anyone but immediate family members. Even teams are not informed of the officiating crew until they walk into the arena hours before a game.

“Rather than directly asking referees to manipulate the outcome or score of a game, gamblers may simply seek the disclosure of confidential information that will help them place a successful bet,” the pamphlet says.

“Bad Bets” also covers rules governing point-shaving, bribe offers and similar matters. The pamphlet specifically warns against how gambling in any way can leave a referee tempted to work with gamblers.

According to a person involved with the Donaghy case, he is being investigated for gambling on various sports, including N.B.A. games, for at least two years; agreeing to share information about the league after he fell into debt; and manipulating scores on behalf of people portraying themselves as connected to organized crime.
“The financial difficulties experienced by problem or compulsive gamblers would make affected N.B.A. referees easy targets for individuals involved in the gambling business,” the pamphlet reads.

Experts in the world of sports betting in Nevada, the only state in which wagering on sporting events is legal, said that news of a referee being under investigation did not surprise them.

“Everyone thinks of point-shaving scandals as involving players, but I’ve always felt at this point it would be a referee,” said Bryan Leonard, a professional sports bettor and handicapper in Las Vegas for 24 years. “In the N.B.A., players are making millions of dollars. They don’t need the money. What do referees make?”

According to two referees, an official of Donaghy’s experience would have made about
$200,000 last season, not including money he earned by working two rounds of the playoffs, estimated at about $75,000.

Did Donaghy Help Fix Game 3 Spurs –Suns?

Is Mark Cuban vindicated?

Whatever you think of Cuban, you've pretty much got to admit he was dead right about this and Stern was dead wrong. And the commissioner's contempt for those who dared criticize his referees ended up doing great damage to the league he loves.

Stern was at his autocratic best when defending his league's opaque, subjective officiating, insisting it was wonderful and the details were nobody's business. So far as I know, even Cuban didn't suspect a Tim Donaghy scenario - a referee allegedly at the beck and call of "mobbed-up" bookies. This sounds more like a Billy Crystal-Martin Scorsese collaboration than Stern's new nightmare.

But there you are. It is a logical if bizarre extension of the lack of public accountability Cuban long ago pointed out.

It's not as if we haven't seen referees acting for personal reasons before. Nuggets fans will recall referee Steve Javie ejecting Dan Issel or Nick Van Exel, or both, every chance he got. It was personal and it was obvious.

Nor were Issel and Van Exel the only people who believed Javie used his whistle to enforce personal grudges. In fact, Allen Iverson said as much last season. Then the league fined him and made him take it back.

Cuban suspected the lack of transparency in NBA officiating could permit all sorts of personal agendas. At one point, he hired an outfit to compile a database that would point up statistical variations in individual referee's performances.

My understanding is Stern and his operations department thought he was playing a blame game and ignored his data. As far as they were concerned, Cuban was just another fan unhappy with calls against his club. In fact, that's how they define every critic.

Would Donaghy have been caught earlier with such outside monitoring? I have no idea. But as this scandal unfolds, the league's previous assertions that it alone is qualified to judge the work of officials sound more like a cover-up than a policy.
In a blog post late last week, before the NBA brought down its cone of silence, Cuban was uncharacteristically diplomatic in pressing his point:

"As bad as the allegations facing the NBA today are, it's also an opportunity to face every allegation that has ever been directed towards the NBA and its officials and pre-empt them from ever occurring in the future," he wrote.

"Calamity can be a catalyst for significant change. There are any number of examples in the business world where calamity led to better management, better communications, greater transparency and even better products. As the proverb goes, Necessity is the Mother of Invention.

"The NBA took a hit (Friday). Behind that hit is a catalyst and opportunity for significant change that could make the NBA stronger than it ever has been. It's a chance to proactively put in place people, processes and transparency that will forever silence those who will question the NBA's integrity.

"I have complete confidence that David Stern and Adam Silver will do just that and the NBA and our officiating will be all the stronger for it."

Jerry Jones says he will meet with Greg Ellis

The Cowboys owner and general manager said Monday he plans to meet with Ellis when training camp starts Wednesday in San Antonio.

It's a different stance for Jones. In June, he said he wouldn't meet with one of his best pass rushers, who wanted a restructured contract.

"I want to be real clear, when I talk about not meeting with him, it was not about [money]," Jones said. "It had nothing to do with that. It had to do with the order of things. I know Greg, and Greg is going to play."

In April, Ellis became upset when the team used a first-round pick to draft defensive end Anthony Spencer, who will move to outside linebacker.

Ellis said he felt the team was trying to replace him with Spencer because he was coming off a torn left Achilles' tendon, so he requested a restructured contract, to be released or a trade.

Coach Wade Phillips said Ellis, if healthy, will be the starter. The coach has said he doesn't like to start rookies.

Jones agreed in the spring to meet with Ellis but then changed his mind, saying he doesn't speak with players trying to renegotiate contracts.

It appears Jones was upset that Ellis voiced his displeasure with the team to the media before coming to him.

Ellis, when informed by the media that Jones had decided not to meet, said he was
disappointed and that he won't come to training camp if he's not 100 percent healthy.
But on Monday, Jones said miscommunication led to the rift. And Ellis' agent, James Williams, said his client will be in camp on time. Ellis is scheduled to undergo a physical before the first practice.

On July 16th , we took a look at the Scouts Inc positional rankings as it pertains to our little Cowboys and the NFC East. Please click on the link above to see the Offense from that day. Here, I finish the rankings on Defense and Special Teams….

Defensive Lines

10. Philadelphia Eagles

12. Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys were not a flashy team on defense, but they stopped the run extremely well. The nature of a Bill Parcells run defense is to stuff the run (out of a base front) and force opponents to pass. The Cowboys have a talented defensive line that might have more of an impact under new head coach Wade Phillips. Defensive ends Marcus Spears and Chris Canty have great size and athletic ability and should fit into the more versatile defensive scheme that Brian Stewart (coordinator) will install. The 6-7 Canty has the potential to develop into an outstanding defender going into his third season, and former first-rounder Spears will be able to use his quickness and speed more often as Stewart might employ more stunts and blitzes in 2007. DeMarcus Ware is listed as an outside linebacker, but he is used often with his hand on the ground in passing situations. He is extremely disruptive and is a versatile athlete who can play up or down in this new defensive scheme.

22. N.Y. Giants

32. Washington Redskins


5. Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys have assembled quite a group of pass-rushers. DeMarcus Ware is a star and only will get better in time. Expect him to post 12 or more sacks this season and establish himself as one of the best pass-rushers in the league. His other skills are improving as well. He has a chance to be exceptional. Opposite Ware, the Cowboys selected Anthony Spencer in the first round. Spencer might struggle early as he adapts to Dallas' 3-4 scheme, but he is a natural pass-rusher who tormented the Big Ten a year ago. Greg Ellis is ahead of Spencer on the depth chart and is a fine pass-rusher in his own right. The Cowboys' defense fell apart after his Achilles injury last season and he must prove that he is fully healed. Expect all three of these players to be on the field at times. The inside backers are solid, but unspectacular. Wade Phillips runs his version of the 3-4 differently than Bill Parcells, so expect this group to be more aggressive and attacking this year.

19. Washington Redskins

20. Philadelphia Eagles

24. N.Y. Giants

Defensive Backs

5. Philadelphia Eagles

7. Dallas Cowboys

New defensive coordinator Brian Stewart will rely on more pressure schemes, which should improve the performance in the Cowboys' secondary. CB Terence Newman is one of the top players at his position in the NFL. He is a very good athlete with outstanding coverage ability and ball skills. Anthony Henry is a physical corner who is more natural from a press than off position. However, he must play with more consistency this season. Backup Aaron Glenn is an experienced player who is best suited in the slot in sub situations. SS Roy Williams is best suited up near the line of scrimmage where he can factor in as the eighth defender in the box. He has outstanding physical traits but is a liability in deep zones against the pass. FS Ken Hamlin was signed this offseason and should improve a pass defense that finished 14th in the NFL last season.

10. Washington Redskins

31. New York Giants

Special Teams ….

13. Washington Redskins

19. Dallas Cowboys

There are a lot of new faces coaching the special teams in the NFL this season. While Bruce Read is new to the Cowboys, he has coached special teams with the San Diego Chargers and New York Giants in the past. Miles Austin has developed into a productive kickoff returner, averaging 26.0 yards per return in only nine games. The punt return duties went to corner Terence Newman in 2006. Veteran kicker Martin Gramatica will compete with rookie Nick Folk for the starting job. Veteran punter Mat McBriar is a 2006 Pro Bowler. Linebacker Kevin Burnett, corner Nathan Jones and safety Keith Davis are a few of the core special-teams contributors. It will also be up to Read to develop a solid holder for field goals. The majority of the NFL teams use the starting punter since he's not busy taking snaps from the starting offensive center.

24. New York Giants

30. Philadelphia Eagles

Is my leader, Bear Grylls a complete fake?

TO LIVE up to his public image of a rugged, ex-SAS adventurer, it must have seemed essential for Bear Grylls to appear at ease sleeping rough and catching his own food in his television survival series.

But it has emerged that Grylls, 33, was enjoying a far more conventional form of comfort, retreating some nights from filming in mountains and on desert islands to nearby lodges and hotels.

Now Channel 4 has launched an investigation into whether Grylls, who has conquered Everest and the Arctic, deceived the public in his series Born Survivor.

The series, screened in March and April and watched by 1.4m viewers, built up Grylls’s credentials as a tough outdoorsman. In a question and answer session on Channel 4’s website, he recalls how station bosses pitched the venture to him stating: “We just drop you into a lot of different hellholes equipped with nothing, and you do what you have to do to survive.”

But an adviser to Born Survivor has disclosed that at one location where the adventurer claimed to be a “real life Robin-son Crusoe” trapped on “a desert island”, he was actually on an outlying part of the Hawaiian archipelago and spent nights at a motel.

On another occasion in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains where he was filmed biting off the head of a snake for breakfast and struggling for survival “with just a water bottle, a cup and a flint for making fire”, he actually slept some nights with the crew in a lodge fitted with television and internet access. The Pines Resort at Bass Lake is advertised as “a cosy getaway for families” with blueberry pancakes for breakfast.

In one episode Grylls, son of the late Tory MP Sir Michael Grylls, was shown apparently building a Polynesian-style raft using only materials around him, including bamboo, hibiscus twine and palm leaves for a sail.

But according to Mark Weinert, an Oregon-based survival consultant brought in for the job, it was he who led the team that built the raft. It was then dismantled so that Grylls could be shown building it on camera.

In another episode viewers watched as Grylls tried to coax an apparently wild mustang into a lasso in the Sierra Nevada. “I’m in luck,” he told viewers, apparently coming across four wild horses grazing in a meadow. “A chance to use an old native American mode of transport comes my way. This is one of the few places in the whole of the US where horses still roam wild.”

In fact, Weinert said, the horses were not wild but were brought in by trailer from a nearby trekking station for the “choreographed” feature.

“If you really believe everything happens the way it is shown on TV, you are being a little bit naive,” he said.

Channel 4 confirmed that Grylls had used hotels during expeditions and has now asked Diverse, the Bristol-based production company that made the programme, to look into the other claims.

“We take any allegations of misleading our audiences seriously,” said a spokeswoman for the channel.

How is the Discovery Channel handling this? ….

The brouhaha could become a PR nightmare for the channel, which in recent years has abandoned contrived unscripted formats in favor of the scientific explorations that first made the Discovery brand famous. "Wild" in particular has emerged as one of its main attractions during the past two seasons.

But the company gave no indication about parting ways with the series, only making certain unspecified alterations.

"Moving forward, the program will be 100% transparent and all elements of the filming will be explained upfront to our viewers," Discovery said. "In addition, shows that are to be repeated will be edited appropriately. Bear Grylls is a world-class adventurer and a terrific talent."

A spokeswoman for Discovery declined to elaborate on what exact measures will be taken to address the concerns raised about "Wild."

Among the likely possibilities: a disclaimer that will precede each episode explaining that some of the events being depicted are dramatized.

On July 13, Grylls spoke at the Television Critics Assn. summer press tour about production of the series but gave little hint of any shenanigans behind the scenes. At one point, he described what it was like to bed down in the wild.

"Often at nighttime, they will get helicoptered out, and they might have to recharge camera batteries and hand in footage, and then they leave me a little minicamera for the night stuff, and they come and rejoin me in the morning," he said.

Sammy Sosa hopefully made himself more tradable last night

Sammy Sosa made one thing perfectly clear Monday night: He's not about to just take a gold pocket watch and quietly leave the building.

The Rangers officially celebrated Sosa's entrance into the 600-homer club Saturday and at the time, it was looking like a farewell party. Sosa was slumping. The trade deadline was – and still is – looming. Jason Botts is about to resume ripping up the Pacific Coast League.

All of which could force the Rangers into making delicate, difficult decisions about Sosa's future. If that's the case, Sosa gave the Rangers something else to ponder by homering, doubling and driving in five runs in an 8-7 win over Seattle.
"I'd love to finish my career here," he said. "But I'm not the guy who pulls the trigger. I don't want to go anywhere, but if something happens, something happens."

The Rangers needed all of his production. Reliever Eric Gagne, called on to finish an 8-4 game, allowed a three-run homer to Richie Sexson before retiring a batter in the ninth. He put the tying run on base before getting out of the jam.

It allowed the Rangers to get back to the clubhouse and ponder the Sosa situation. As Botts' production has increased – he's hitting .319 with a .436 on-base percentage – the Rangers have tried to trade Sosa but have received little, if any, interest. Minnesota is one team that could use a right-handed hitting DH. But going into Monday, there had been no contact between the clubs.

The Rangers' main selling point: Sosa has been very good against lefties. He entered the game hitting .329 against them this season. Both of his hits Monday came off lefty Horacio Ramirez.

In the third, Sosa doubled to complete a three-run inning that brought the Rangers back from a 2-0 deficit. Two innings later, he broke a three-week homerless spell with a drive to left that broke a 3-3 tie.

Since July 1, Sosa has mostly looked every bit his 38-plus years. His bat had slowed to a crawl, and his production had tailed off dramatically. Manager Ron Washington acknowledged as the second half was about to begin that Sosa had looked a little fatigued leading up to the All-Star break.

The break didn't seem to refresh him. Sosa went without a homer for the first 22 days of the month, and his season batting average fell to .239 entering Monday – its lowest since April 29.

A-Rod must be really good

A-Rod is the first major leaguer to 100 RBIs this season and the first to reach the mark in fewer than 100 team games since Manny Ramirez in 1999.

Two Rose Bowl 2006 Youtubes:

Texas in the Winning Lockerroom

Matt Leinart imagines a different outcome

Not to bring the room down, but I will not be blogging the next three days. My wife's grandmother passed away, so I will miss 2 shows (Wed and Thur) and 3 blogging mornings.

SeaBass will be sitting in and offering his take on the world of sports, so keep your eyes reading.