Friday, August 31, 2007

So It Ends, And So It Begins...

I don't even want to talk about it. Except wondering how Marcus Spears is handling his situation...

That wasn’t very much fun

Thursday's preseason finale was not so much about winning. The Cowboys didn't, by the way, dropping a 23-14 decision to Minnesota at the Metrodome.

Thursday's game against the Vikings was about learning more about the players fighting for the final handful of roster spots and staying healthy.

The Cowboys made sure they stayed healthy – only six of 22 starters projected for the Sept. 9 season opener against the New York Giants even played.

Things were so relaxed Thursday that Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten, wide receiver Patrick Crayton and nose tackle Jason Ferguson wore tennis shoes on the sidelines while in full uniform.

"We have certain guys who are ready to play for the season," coach Wade Phillips said.

"But we needed and wanted to look at the young guys we'll need and who may be starters or play on special teams."

The final evaluating begins today when the front office, coaches and scouts get together for the cut to the 53-man roster Saturday.

With their second straight loss, the Cowboys closed the preseason 2-2, but Phillips and owner/general manager Jerry Jones feel good about the shape of the team.

"We've got some players I'd like to keep that we're not going to be able to," Jones said. "I don't want to sound like it's a team full of players we'd like to keep, but that's the system. There's not a team in the league that's not concerned about some position. I think going into the Giants' game we're in good shape. But I can point to scenarios that could be better."

The scenarios the Cowboys were interested in against the Vikings were backup
cornerbacks, rookie kicker Nick Folk and the reserve receivers, like Jerheme Urban, who helped his cause with a 96-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter but hurt it with a fumble.

Instead of Terence Newman and Anthony Henry at cornerback, the Cowboys started Aaron Glenn and Jacques Reeves. Glenn was tested on the first play, nearly intercepting a Tarvaris Jackson pass to Sidney Rice in the flat. Later in the series, Reeves knocked down a pass. The Vikings were without two offensive starters (receiver Bobby Wade and running back Chester Taylor). The rest of the key players lasted one series.

But the Cowboys wanted to get their reserves a look against at least some of the Vikings regulars.

"That's the only way you can find out," Phillips said.

Three-fifths of the starting offensive line played the first quarter, with left guard Kyle Kosier and center Andre Gurode spending the night as spectators. Limited earlier in camp because of knee surgeries, left tackle Flozell Adams and right tackle Marc Colombo were given a quarter of work.

Right guard Leonard Davis played the first quarter so he and Colombo could become more familiar with each other.

A look at the kicking game in the last decade …Which reminds me of an email that pointed out since Steve Hoffman was let go by Parcells, that the kicking game has really suffered. This is one of the myths Dale Hansen used to perpetuate, and I think the evidence is below. Even with Hoffman, this team had a huge problem of kicking for years. Seder and Cundiff were “Hoffman Finds” and they both spared us to death…

Here’s a look at the Cowboys’ kickers since 1998:

Year NFL rank Pct. Kicker
1998 10 82.1 Richie Cunningham
1999 30 61.3 Cunningham, Eddie Murray
2000 22 75.8 Tim Seder
2001 26 66.7 Tim Seder, Jon Hilbert
2002 31 63.2 Billy Cundiff
2003 16 79.3 Cundiff
2004 24T 76.9 Cundiff
2005 30 71.4 Jose Cortez, Cundiff, Shawn Suisham
2006 32 71.4 Mike Vanderjagt, Martin Gramatica

Millwood beats Danks …Rangers on a roll!

Though it's late in a lost season, Kevin Millwood, the Rangers' pitching staff and the team as a whole all have streaks to be proud of after another victory Thursday night.

In downing the White Sox 5-1, the Rangers clinched a three-game sweep, pushed their winning streak to a season-high five games and moved within one victory of a third consecutive winning month.

"I think everybody here knows what it feels like to lose, so I think it's good to know what it takes to win," Millwood said.

Millwood won for the ninth time this season and added to his own personal streak.

In going at least seven innings in each of the past four games, Millwood matched a feat he hasn't accomplished since 2003.

With Millwood's help, Rangers pitchers moved closer to a second consecutive month with an ERA under 4.00 -- they're at 3.65 in August with one game remaining.

No Rangers team has had two sub-4.00 months in a row since 1992.

The Rangers had never won five in a row under manager Ron Washington, and. they hadn't won five in a row since Aug. 9-13, 2006.
Chicago starter John Danks, a former prized prospect in the Rangers' organization and a Round Rock native, fell to 6-13 despite allowing only two earned runs and striking out eight in 5 2/3 innings.

5 wins in a row? Extend Washington! …just kidding. I am sure they are unrelated…right?

Although the first 65 games of Ron Washington's managerial career were one of the most dismal starts to any season in Rangers history, the next 68 games were good enough to convince general manager Jon Daniels to pick up the manager's contract option for 2009.

The move, announced Thursday, means Daniels' and Washington's paths are aligned, as both of their contracts run through the 2009 season.

"That was largely the intent," Daniels said, calling it an "easy decision" to pick up the extra year on the two-year deal Washington signed in November.

USA beats up on Argentina …who seemed to leave some important Argentineans at home…

Kobe Bryant's strong start quickly took the drama out of the most-anticipated game of the FIBA Americas tournament.

Now comes the only one that matters.

Bryant scored 27 points -- 15 in the first quarter -- and the United States cruised into the semifinals of the FIBA Americas tournament as the No. 1 seed by beating Argentina 91-76 Thursday night.

Carmelo Anthony added 18 points and LeBron James had 15 for the Americans, who will face Puerto Rico in Saturday's second semifinal game. A victory there gives them a berth in the 2008 Olympics.


Argentina beat the U.S. in the 2002 world championships, then did it again in the semifinals of the Athens Olympics. The Americans avenged that loss with a victory in the bronze medal game at last year's worlds.

But the Argentineans arrived in Las Vegas without some of the top players from those teams. Manu Ginobili and Fabricio Oberto, starters for the NBA champion San Antonio Spurs, opted to rest this summer along with Chicago's Andres Nocioni and Charlotte's Walter Herrmann.

"Argentina is Argentina," Anthony said. "The guys they had out there was still good players, we couldn't sleep on them. We studied film just as if they were going to have their whole team. We wish that their main players were here, but obviously they couldn't be here. We had to take care of business regardless."

That left Luis Scola, who scored 20 points, and Carlos Delfino as the mainstays of those teams who opted to play. A victory over Brazil on Saturday would guarantee their teammates could return in Beijing.

Prank of the Year?

Take top poster and pass to the left.

Following those instructions, hundreds of Hilliard Darby High School football fans fell into an elaborate prank on Friday night.

When they stood up during a football game against cross-town rival Hilliard Davidson High School and held up squares of construction paper, they thought they were spelling out: "Go Darby."

But from across the field, Davidson fans read the actual message:
"We suck."

Hilliard Davidson senior Kyle Garchar masterminded the trick at Crew Stadium and suffered an in-school suspension for it.

Garchar, 17, even produced a videotape for YouTube. The video had been viewed more than 3,400 times as of last night.

"That was the ultimate in-your-face," said Jordan Moore, a Davidson junior. "I think it was ingenious."

Moore didn't go to the football game but quickly learned about the prank at school on Monday. Everyone was talking about it, and they still are.

The war of words between the two Hilliard schools started before the game. On Friday morning, someone painted an obscene message about Davidson on the school's parking lot.

The rivalry is particularly intense this year because it's the first year the schools have competed on the football field.

"It's made friendships go sour -- just over this game," Moore said.
Besides the three days of in-school suspension that Garchar received for the prank, he also has been banned from participating in any school activities for a semester.
For Garchar, that's the rest of his high-school career. He's finishing school early and moving to California, where he plans to attend college for engineering.

Here are some of the other Billboards out there:

Their whole paycheck is hazard pay.

Watch people fight at work.

One game a week? Is the N in NFL for Nancy?

Stars Billboards get laughs

If you've seen the billboard near American Airlines Center, you might think the Stars should be sent to the penalty box for slashing another sport when it's down.

Or you could soak in the message – "The only thing our refs shave is the ice" – and do what Mavericks owner Mark Cuban did.


"I think it's hysterical," Cuban said. "Good for them. It's a fun ad."
NBA commissioner David Stern isn't laughing. But then, how many Stars home games was he going to attend anyway?

The Stars and Door Number 3, an ad agency in Austin that helped devise the campaign along with Stars executive vice president Geoff Moore, didn't set out to offend anyone. The purpose was to display an edge, have some fun, convey how NHL athletes are the toughest around and get people talking hockey in the dog days of summer.

Oh yeah, and one other thing.

"We hope this translates into ticket sales," Stars president Jim Lites said.

It's too early to measure the impact on the gate, but Rob Scichili, the Stars' senior director of communications, said the initial response has been positive. Lites bubbled that the campaign has gone "viral" and said the club's web site "has been getting hits from all over the place" since the billboards were installed.

Five are up now. One more goes up today and two more Saturday. Eleven will be placed around the city by early November.

Most of the billboards use clever phrases to focus on the aggressive nature of the sport. A billboard by Central Expressway and I-635 states, "One game a week? Is the N in NFL for Nancy?" The club takes a jab at major league baseball, a passion of Stars and Rangers owner Tom Hicks, at I-635 and Old Denton with a sign that reads, "Maybe baseball should stop using the word sacrifice."

Lites said Hicks laughed louder than anyone at that billboard.

And Stern? The NBA commissioner was made aware of the Stars' campaign Thursday afternoon but relayed through a league spokesman that he had no comment.

Did the Stars have any reservations about referring to the NBA's officiating/gambling scandal?

"The answer would be yes," Lites said. "It's edgy. But we're really good friends with the Mavs. They're our partners in the building. I think we thought it would be taken the right way.

"It's not a slap at them. It's more of a snip. I think the same goes for the Cowboys. The NFL is the big daddy."

The most irreverent and outrageous stuff in the campaign hit the cutting room floor. Most of those had to do with dog fighting.

"We avoided taking a swipe at Michael Vick," Lites said.

Should the Stars be applauded for their restraint?

"Well, yeah, but it's a long life," Lites said. "We can take these billboards down and start over."

Jussi Jokinen re-ups …now let’s see a little more production on your own, bro…

Winger Jussi Jokinen signed a two-year contract Thursday for an average of $1,812,500 per season, giving the Stars their full complement of players well before training camp begins Sept. 14.

But as much as general manager Doug Armstrong's work is done, there still is much to be sorted out for the Stars. Jokinen's deal means there are at least 15 players fighting for 14 forward positions.

"There is going to be great competition in camp, and I think that will help players like Jussi," Armstrong said. "I think every player has to go into camp ready to raise the level of their game. I think they have to all look to do more."

Jokinen, 24, is coming off a tough sophomore season in which his production dropped and he missed three playoff games because of injury. Still, he ranked fifth on the team in scoring with 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) and was tied for the team lead in shootout success, going 5-of-12.

Those numbers were down from his rookie season, when he had 17 goals and 55 points and was 10-for-13 in shootouts.

Stars coach Dave Tippett said he has talked to Jokinen throughout the summer and has been impressed with Jokinen's attitude.

College FB Week 1 TV Schedule

Beckham out for 6 full weeks …and the thud you heard was from the MLS and ESPN offices…

David Beckham has been ruled out of England's crucial forthcoming Euro 2008 qualifiers against Israel and Russia with a knee injury.

The former captain, 32, suffered the injury during the Los Angeles Galaxy's SuperLiga final defeat by Pachuca on Wednesday, and a scan has now confirmed the problem as a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

According to the MLS club, Beckham is likely to be out for between four and six weeks, keeping him out of Steve McClaren's squad for the Wembley clashes with Israel, on September 8, and Russia four days later.

And he could now also struggle to be fit for the qualifiers with Estonia and Russia, on October 13 and 17, respectively.

Premiership Television Schedule for this week:

Sat Sep 01 08:55AM Central
Setanta Sports USA
English Premier League
Liverpool vs Derby County

Sat Sep 01 08:55AM Central
FOX Soccer Channel (FSC) - US
English Premier League
Fulham vs Tottenham Hotspur

Sat Sep 01 11:00AM Central
FOX Soccer Channel (FSC) - US
English Premier League
Manchester United vs Sunderland

Sun Sep 02 07:00AM Central
Setanta Sports USA
English Premier League
Arsenal vs Portsmouth

Sun Sep 02 10:00AM Central
FOX Soccer Channel (FSC) - US
English Premier League
Aston Villa vs Chelsea

Dallas is going Down, says Buffalo Fan.

Bowling for Soup does Fergie better than Fergie does Fergie

Thursday, August 30, 2007

This is a segment for sure

The 11 personalities of Pickup Basketball - thanks to Awful Announcing - Watch more free videos

"Both teams are in last place, so who cares about the trade?"

As we near the end of the first season since the Rangers traded their hope for the future, John Danks to Chicago for Brandon McCarthy, both teams seem rather unimpressed with their haul in the deal.

The Rangers wanted more from McCarthy, including the health and durability to take the ball every five days, and the White Sox seem to be growing tired of Danks inability to last longer than 5 innings.

If nothing else, it demonstrates the difficulty in developing young pitching. It also demonstrates how difficult it must be to be a major league GM. If you are Jon Daniels, and Danks is sitting at 12-6 right now, you may not still be the GM of the Rangers. But, he is 6-12, and nobody is saying the trade is a disaster…yet.

Danks is back, and struggling

Rangers starter Brandon McCarthy has said all along that he doesn't have any desire to compare himself with the man for whom he was traded, White Sox starter John Danks.
It turns out the feeling is mutual. Danks, who will take the mound today against the team that drafted him -- in front of a large contingent of friends and family from his home in Round Rock -- has more to worry about than who "won" the December trade.

Danks is 0-6 with a 7.39 ERA in his last seven starts and needs to pitch well in September to ensure his place in Chicago's plans next season. Danks is 6-12 with a 5.51 ERA in his first big-league season, with 98 strikeouts in 130 2/3 innings.

"I need to go out there and pitch better than I have as of late," Danks said. "Hopefully I can pitch well enough that I'm pretty much a lock for the rotation. I'd say if it were tomorrow, I wouldn't be. I'd be a strong consideration maybe, but I wouldn't be a lock for the rotation. I feel like this last month's very important for me."

The same holds true of McCarthy, provided he is able to return from a stress fracture in his right shoulder. McCarthy, 24, is two years older than Danks and has two more years of major league experience, but injuries have limited him to 94 innings this year. He's 5-8 with a 4.79 ERA -- not that Danks has paid much attention to his counterpart.

"I know he's doing well for himself here and the Rangers are happy to have him," Danks said. "Hopefully the White Sox feel the same about me.... We were two relatively unknown guys and I feel like we've both done well."

Danks said he expects about 20-30 friends and family at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington tonight and admitted "it would have been nice to pitch for the hometown team."

But the trade gave Danks a chance to join a major league rotation -- and get the following advice from White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen regarding tonight's start.
"Well, don't embarrass your family," Guillen said. "Go out there and make them proud and make sure they see you more than two innings, because they pay a lot of money to watch the game."

Leave it to Guillen to sum up the trade most succinctly: "Both teams are in last place, so who cares about the trade?"

Sherrington has Hicks undermining Daniels a bit …which is odd, usually when he talks it does no damage…

John Danks finally makes his long-awaited Arlington debut this week, and just when you were getting used to the notion that it won't be in a Rangers uniform, you get another unappetizing look inside the club's sausage-works.

Caution: The following account contains subject matter that the faint of heart could find objectionable, even nauseating, particularly if you still feel dizzy whenever you read Chris Young's ERA.

The subject started out innocently enough Tuesday. All I did was ask Tom Hicks what he thought when Jon Daniels said he was ready to trade Danks for Brandon McCarthy.

Next thing you know, the owner's confessing that Josh Beckett was almost a Ranger.
"Had we been willing to give him up sooner," Hicks said of Danks, "Beckett would be pitching here."

Here's how this sordid tale supposedly went down:

The Marlins approached the Rangers with Beckett and Mike Lowell in November 2005. They asked for Hank Blalock and Danks or Thomas Diamond, Rangers' choice.

The way Hicks tells the story, Florida wanted an immediate decision. Daniels, fresh on
the job, wanted a consensus from his advisers. He also tried to see if he could get the Marlins to bite on someone other than Diamond or Danks.

But the potential trade got out, Boston got involved, and the Marlins ended up dealing with the Red Sox instead.

Or as Hicks summed it up: "Jon learned a lesson about making fast decisions."

Of course, that's assuming the Marlins really wanted to do the deal with the Rangers and weren't using them to drive up the price from Boston.

But for the sake of the argument, let's say the Rangers could have done the deal had Daniels jumped on it.

After winning 16 games for Boston in 2006, Beckett is 16-5 this season with a 3.21 ERA. Lowell, a contract dump by the Marlins, is hitting .322 with 17 home runs and 93 RBIs.
Bottom line: The Rangers could have had both, and it wouldn't necessarily have cost them Danks, either.

And then there's this, too: If the Rangers had acquired Beckett, they probably wouldn't have felt the need to trade Chris Young.

This just doesn't get any better, does it?

For the record, Hicks stands behind by his young GM. He likes the youth movement, as he should. He even defends most of Daniels' deals, which isn't exactly a popular position.

Even if the Rangers didn't end up with Beckett, Hicks likes the Danks-for-McCarthy deal.

Had he bothered to ask – which he never does, come to think of it – I wouldn't have recommended it, simply because promising left-handers are so hard to come by. But it's growing on me.

Daniels stands by the deal, which isn't always a given. He concedes the Young and Alfonso Soriano duds, if it makes you feel any better.

But McCarthy? "I still think Brandon is gonna be a very good starter," he said.

Tonight, the Cowboys get a look at Adrian Peterson …Don’t get me wrong, I expect Peterson to be great when he is healthy, but when you are Minnesota, and you have neither a QB nor a WR, why would you take a RB to crowd Chester Taylor? You just paid Taylor last year big money, and he played reasonably well. I did not understand this pick, except that perhaps he was just too good to pass up…

And now that he's in the pros, Peterson gets to show the Cowboys, his favorite team, how bright his future can be when the teams meet tonight at the Metrodome.

"It's kind of hit me that I'm a pro," Peterson said in a phone interview. "It's still a game, but it's faster and you have to move a lot quicker to the holes because they close up fast."

In the preseason, Peterson has rushed 29 times for 144 yards with one touchdown. He's third in rushing yards among the NFL leaders.

Yet, when the season starts, Peterson (6-1, 217) will be the backup behind starter Chester Taylor, who rushed for 1,216 yards last season, the fourth-highest season total in Vikings history. He also set a team record with 303 rushing attempts.

Minnesota coach Brad Childress sees no need to rotate his backs but does like the potential of Peterson.

"Yeah, just a willing learner, a willing worker," Childress said of the former Palestine (Texas) High School star. "I am glad he was able to get over some of the nicks and nags he had early on.

"He spent a lot of time with [running backs coach] Eric Bieniemy; he lives in his hip pocket. He is hungry for knowledge, and he wants to do it the right way."
The biggest concern for Peterson coming out of college was injuries.

He missed the last seven regular-season games of his junior season at Oklahoma with a broken clavicle, returning to play in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl loss to Boise State. But Minnesota isn't concerned, because he's getting plenty of repetitions in practice and is told to punish opposing defenders like he did in the Jets game.

"He had a nice little spin move right up the field," Cowboys defensive end Marcus Spears said referring to Peterson's run against the Jets. "He's going to be good, man. I watched him in college, and you can't really gauge what's going on right now until the regular season starts.

"But I think he'll be a productive back. He even has a little attitude, and you got to have that. It's good to see."

Peterson, 22, said he's enjoying life in the NFL but hasn't moved family members from Oklahoma and Texas to Minnesota.

Peterson's brother, Derrick, is staying with him in Minneapolis, and even his dad, Nelson, visits him from time to time. When Nelson Peterson was released from prison last year, he wasn't allowed to leave the state of Oklahoma to watch his son play in the Texas-OU game because he was still on parole.

"It's good to have my dad with me," Adrian Peterson said. "He's a big support because he's the first one who put the ball in my hand.

"I think playing against the Cowboys is going to be fun, especially for my dad and I. Being a Cowboys fans and now playing in the NFL, I get to show everybody what I can do."

Will Terry Glenn be ready for the Giants? He doesn’t sound convincing

The plan is for receiver Terry Glenn to practice Saturday for the first time since having arthroscopic knee surgery Aug. 1 and start the season opener Sept. 9 against the Giants.

But Glenn isn't sure he'll be ready to go full speed in a few days.

"We'll see," he said Wednesday after the Cowboys Kickoff Luncheon at the Hotel Intercontinental. "Can't say too much about that right now, but we'll see."

Glenn said he wasn't certain that he'd be ready for the season opener, but "with the grace of God," he'll play against the Giants. He didn't sound optimistic he'd be 100 percent in less than two weeks.

"You've got to do training camp to get ready for a season. Unfortunately, I missed it," said Glenn, who had 1,047 receiving yards and six touchdowns last season. "I've just got to get back and take everything slow and smooth. Hopefully, I can contribute and help our team win Sunday night" against New York.

T.O. Not planning on playing much

T.O. is making the trip to Minnesota, but don't expect to see him on the field during the Cowboys' final preseason game.

"Right now, we're scheduled to play zero snaps," T.O. said, punctuating the sentence with a huge smile.

I asked him if "we" meant the starting offense, and he responded that he was referring to proven players picked by Wade Phillips that don't need any more preseason work. Phillips indicated that tackles Flozell Adams and Marc Colombo might get a significant amount of playing time because they haven't had much live work since returning from knee surgery. But you can expect to see a lot of TV shots of T.O., Tony Romo, Jason Witten, Roy Williams, DeMarcus Ware, etc. joking around on the sideline.

"You don't want to go out and play the last preseason game and something freaky happen," T.O. said. "This is going to protect a lot of the guys, especially some of the starters. For the starters, this is not a game of importance to us."

Apparently, Tarvaris Jackson is ready for the season, prepare for Holcomb

As many coaches do in the final preseason games, Brad Childress plans to use his starters for only one series tonight. This includes quarterback Tarvaris Jackson, who has completed 19 of 33 passes for 212 yards with no interceptions in parts of three games. Jackson also has yet to throw a touchdown pass. ... Brooks Bollinger will replace Jackson but the plan is to get the newly obtained Kelly Holcomb some work as well. ... This will be the ninth time these teams have met in the preseason -- the Vikings are 4-3-1 in those games -- but the first time they will play an exhibition in Minnesota. The teams met in the preseason finale last Aug. 31 and played to a 10-10 tie. ... The Vikings and Cowboys will meet again on Oct. 21 in Dallas. ... The Vikings and other NFL teams must cut down to the regular-season roster limit of 53 players by Saturday.

EJ Hradek expects the Stars to be worse

Dallas Stars (50-25-7): Worse.

Last summer, I figured the Stars might be taking a step backward. Instead, despite significant injuries to stars Mike Modano and Brenden Morrow, the club nearly matched the 112 points it registered in 2005-06 by finishing with 107.

This season, I again expect the Stars to finish with fewer points. Not too many, though. I see them with about 100 points.

The Stars didn't make any major free-agent pickups. GM Doug Armstrong was interested in wingers Paul Kariya (Blues) and Jason Blake (Leafs), but their price tags (money and term) proved a little too high for his liking. Armstrong also made a serious pitch for Thrashers free agent Slava Kozlov, who eventually opted to re-sign with Atlanta.

Disheartened by Dallas' recent playoff failure, some fans and media were disappointed the Stars stayed out of the pricey free-agent market, but team president Jim Lites publicly defended the club's position. Lites was quoted as saying, "We're not dumb, we're not cheap and we've not fallen asleep." The executive has never been shy about making his feelings known. That's one of the reasons why I like Lites, who has been a top exec in the league dating back to the '80s.
The Stars' management group felt comfortable with a more conservative approach because it believes the team has some good young players ready to take a step forward. Those players, such as Joel Lundqvist, Loui Eriksson and Niklas Grossman, have to take that next step to support older core players Modano and Sergei Zubov.
Armstrong did add some size to his forward lines, signing veteran tough guy Todd Fedoruk (6-foot-2, 240 pounds) and ex-Oiler Brad Winchester (6-foot-5, 215). Dallas also picked up journeyman winger Toby Petersen. All three players have a chance to find roles in Dallas.

On the flip side, the Stars lost Ladislav Nagy and Darryl Sydor via free agency. They won't miss Nagy, who never fit in after coming over from the Coyotes. They will miss Sydor, who logged more than 20 minutes per game. Veterans Eric Lindros and Matthew Barnaby won't be back, either. Barnaby announced his retirement in July, while Lindros is expected to call it a career over the coming weeks.

I don't expect the Stars to match the 107-point campaign of a season ago, but they're still a playoff team. They'll also be in position to add a player or two, if needed, at the trade deadline because they didn't overspend in the summer.

On to “preparing for college football”:
Former Homer Call of the Year winner, Lester Munson back for 42nd year as Georgia Radio guy…

just two days away, this isn't about the kicking game or the heat or the weakside linebacker. A month shy of his 85th birthday, the Voice of the Bulldogs comes to his 42nd season in the radio booth worried about his ability to walk on his own anymore.
"It's all so embarrassing, when you finally realize that you're so old that you're going to walk with a cane," Munson said. "You've seen guys do it in your lifetime. ... You think about that and you figure you can't be there.

"You can't. But you are."

Munson's home-games-only work schedule this fall is a concession strictly to his difficulty in traveling – arthritis, back trouble – and not to the purpose in his work.

Retire? Not yet.

But if this is a season to listen to Munson with a more sensitive ear, it's also a time to consider where he came from: a time when televised games were not yet a birthright, and at stadiums across the Southeast local legends worked the microphone every Saturday.

They were all of the same genre, coming at you from the same speaker box, but from a hundred different points of reference.

If it was "football time in Tennessee," then John Ward was intoning in Knoxville.
When "toe meets leather," Al Ciraldo had the call at Grant Field.

If Woody Durham asked the folks to "go where you go and do what you do," it was a warning to the North Carolina faithful to resort to their favored superstitions, for the game was now in the balance.

And what exactly was it that Munson wanted, with that we're-all-outta-ammo rasp?
Lady Luck dressed up in her hobnail boot, with those big thighs and only a freshman. Get the picture! The girders are bending, you guys, there is going to be some property destroyed tonight.

With all that, what he really wanted – what all a passing generation of play-by-play men wanted – was to allow you not to just see what he was seeing, but to feel what he was feeling. Like Stan Torgerson, the storied announcer at Ole Miss, liked to say, "I like to watch the game on the radio. The picture is better."

Hokies 2007 starts on Saturday

Virginia Tech's football team commences its 2007 journey at No. 9 in the Associated Press poll. Fair enough.

The Hokies are stacked on defense, flawed on offense and recast on special teams.

But let's be clear: Although the season promises to be memorable, and although legions will consider Tech a sentimental favorite -- America's Team for the cliche-minded -- the Hokies will win and lose on their merit.

Many will frame the season otherwise.

Success will mean the team was destined to heal a campus still coping with the mass murders of April 16.

Disappointment will mean the pressures were too profound.

Such portraits will be lazy, simplistic and just plain inaccurate. They will exaggerate sports and minimize life.

Please, don't misunderstand. Football is the centerpiece of Virginia Tech athletics, a beacon for hundreds of thousands of fans. The home opener Saturday against East Carolina will be poignant, and championship contention would lift the university during this difficult time.

"Tech people are looking to rally around something now," Coach Frank Beamer said. "It's there. I don't know if it's a burden, but it's there."

Scores with no connection to Virginia Tech also will embrace the Hokies. But no victory on the field, ascension in the polls or sappy ESPN montage can fill the voids gouged by those 32 murders.

And no team or individual should be asked or expected to do so. Those voids are forever, and only time, grace and perspective will ease the accompanying pain.

Beamer, a Virginia Tech fixture, seems to get it.

"We understand how large some of these things are," he said. "But it comes back to [the team] preparing every day and keeping it in the present."

Will skittish quarterback Sean Glennon make better decisions? Are the untested kickers and jury-rigged offensive line ready for a schedule that includes Louisiana State, Clemson, Florida State, Miami and Boston College? Will such staples as tailback Branden Ore, cornerback Brandon Flowers and linebackers Vince Hall and Xavier Adibi improve upon their exceptional 2006 performances?

Those questions and answers will chart the Hokies' course. Not divine inspiration or intervention. Just football ability.

The DMN Texas Tech Newsletter

What's to prove

Since Mike Leach took over as coach in 2000, the Red Raiders have had no problem scoring. Stopping their opponents, however, has been another story. Tech ranked eighth in the Big 12 in scoring defense last season (25.1 points per game), and this year's defensive unit returns only five starters. Tech's success in 2007 rests on the defense's ability to keep games from becoming shootouts. Leach's Red Raiders have won at least eight games in five straight seasons, and Tech hasn't had a losing record since 1992. But if the defense doesn't develop quickly in '07, both trends could come to a screeching halt.

Player to watch: QB Graham Harrell

Junior QB Graham Harrell was booed in Lubbock during Tech's homecoming game against Missouri last season. If his play brings boos this fall, Tech will have a hard time finishing .500. Despite many ups and downs in 2006, he recorded the third-best passing season for a sophomore in NCAA Division I-A history with 4,555 yards and 38 touchdowns. The former Ennis standout is Tech's first returning starter at quarterback since 2002. He must lead a relatively inexperienced offense and show consistency.

Impact freshman: WR Michael Crabtree

Texas Tech's receivers usually rank among the nation's leaders in receptions and yards, but none have received as much hype before playing in a game than Michael Crabtree, a former Carter standout. Crabtree (6-3, 208), a redshirt freshman, got everyone talking with three catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns in the annual spring game. He's expected to start at flanker and will need to produce early in a receiving corps hit hard by graduation.

Deep in secondary

Tech's defense faces some major questions, but the one bright spot should be the secondary. Senior Joe Garcia (6-1, 222) and junior Darcel McBath (6-1, 196) are returning starters at safety. Garcia finished second on the team last season with 87 tackles, and McBath tied for third with 75 tackles and led with three interceptions. Junior Chris Parker (5-11, 178) of Sunset returns as one starting corner, with the other coming from a group of five juniors.

Thin on defensive line

Inexperience and a lack of depth are big issues along the defensive line, especially at the tackle positions. Tech can't afford any injuries up front. The probable starters at tackle are sophomores Rajon Henley (6-3, 265) and Richard Jones (6-1, 277), who played some last season as freshmen. Junior Jake Ratliff (6-7, 247) and sophomore Brandon Williams (6-5, 253) are back at the end spots. That quartet will have to carry much of the load.

TCU ready to get away from controversy and play football

Saturday's season opener against Baylor can't come quickly enough for TCU linebacker Jason Phillips.

"The tension has been kind of tough around here the last couple of weeks," Phillips said. "We're ready to take it out on somebody else."

The No. 22 Horned Frogs have been buffeted through a tumultuous training camp that has been marked by deaths of family members, suspensions and player defections.
Freshman defensive end Braylon Broughton's mother died recently, and starting safety Corderra Hunter has missed several practices dealing with a family illness.

Preseason All-American defensive end Tommy Blake missed part of training camp to attend to an undisclosed family matter. Blake also has missed several recent practices with stomach flu and is questionable for Saturday's game against the Bears.

And starting defensive tackle James Vess, who notched four sacks last season, will miss the season after a violation of university policies.

"It's been an interesting two-a-days," TCU coach Gary Patterson said. "We've had a lot of things going on. But if anything, it's made us closer as a team because of all the distractions we've had over the last two or three weeks."

Some of Patterson's confidence is buoyed by a returning defense that should be the strength of the team.

Eight starters return from last year's unit, which ranked third or better nationally last season in total defense (235 yards per game), scoring defense (12.3 points per game) and rushing defense (61 yards per game).

The Horned Frogs have been a fashionable pick to crash the Bowl Championship Series party if they can carry over momentum from an eight-game winning streak to finish last season.

And unlike teams such as Boise State and Utah that elbowed their way into BCS bowls with high-powered offensive attacks, the Horned Frogs will try to get there with their defense.

"I've heard people say they like to watch us because we have a defensive mind-set in our program," linebacker David Hawthorne said. "And when things aren't going right, we just say we're going back to playing Horned Frog defense."

The pressure might be a little greater on the TCU defense as it tries to compensate for redshirt freshman quarterback Andy Dalton, who will start his first college game against the Bears.

Today in Beckham news, Beckham hurt; Galaxy lose in Superliga Final

For a while Wednesday night, it seemed as if the Galaxy might at least have a storybook chapter, if not an ending, to its strange soccer season.

A bicycle-kick goal by Chris Klein three minutes into stoppage time earned Los Angeles a 1-1 tie with Pachuca of Mexico in the final of the SuperLiga tournament and sent the game to overtime.
Galaxy hopes rose.

Only to be dashed.

After 30 minutes of overtime had failed to separate the teams, the game went to penalty kicks.

The Galaxy made three of its six chances. Pachuca made four of its six opportunities.

Just like that, it was over.

Pachuca, which already in the last year had won the Mexican league championship, the CONCACAF Champions Cup and the Copa Sudamericana, added a fourth bit of silverware to its trophy cabinet.

The Galaxy players came away empty handed but with heads held high after playing their most inspired game of the season.

All in all, it was a night to remember at the Home Depot Center, as a tournament that initially was greeted with some skepticism but caught the fancy of fans produced a pulsating and incident-filled final.

The night began inauspiciously for the Galaxy, however, as three more fangs were sunk deep into its already snake-bit season.

First, Real Salt Lake defeated the Kansas City Wizards, 3-1, a result that dropped the Galaxy into last place in Major League Soccer.

Then, midfielder Pete Vagenas steered the ball into his own net in the first half of the final and Pachuca buckled down and came within one minute of making the goal stand up all the way.

Finally, only three minutes after the Vagenas faux pas, David Beckham sprained his right knee in a clash with Pachuca defender Fernando Salazar and had to leave the game after only half an hour.

Galaxy fans might have cringed at the own goal, which could have cost the team its only chance at a trophy this season, but England fans were more concerned with Beckham's injury.

England plays Israel and Russia in consecutive Euro 2008 qualifying games Sept. 8 and Sept. 12, needing to win both, and Beckham was expected to fly to London on Sunday to join the team.

It appears he still will be able to do so. After receiving treatment, he returned to the Galaxy bench in a suit and tie to watch the overtime session.

London Times Scribe KILLS the MLS

Remember the good old day of MLS? That was June 19, when Alexi Lalas, the Los Angeles Galaxy president, made the most poorly judged public pronouncement since Newsweek tipped Vietnam as a popular safari destination for the late 1960s traveller. “Beckham is coming to play in one of the most competitive leagues in the world,” he said. “I get so irritated when I hear the experts in England talk as if he is going into semi-retirement. That is ignorance of the first degree and insulting to our sport. We may be Americans, but we’re not stupid.”

No, Alexi, the majority of Americans are not stupid, but some are and a great many would appear to be in the employ of MLS and its associated bodies. We misread football in America. We just thought it would be rubbish. We didn’t realise it would be rubbish and physically endangering because that is an unfamiliar combination, like the moment in the comedy show, Frasier, when Niles is being taught ballroom dancing by Daphne. “This is boring, yet difficult,” he says, bemused.

Anyone who has watched the goals conceded by the Galaxy will know that the standard is all we expected and less; what we did not factor in was the complete lack of understanding his paymasters would display for the wellbeing of an athlete of Beckham’s standing. We thought they were going inadequately to challenge him; in fact, they are more likely to kill him.

His career is panning out like a particularly spiteful episode of Za Gaman, the Japanese game show, in which contestants might be buried up to their necks in sand and confronted by snakes. Beckham has been played when unfit (at least twice) and dragged across the country while carrying an injury that reacts badly to flight to appear at a match in a purely ceremonial role.

Now Lalas is up in arms about a fixture list that was in place when he was boldly predicting that the Galaxy would become America’s first super club, rivalling Manchester United and Real Madrid. “We sure as hell are not going to put up with another season like this,” Lalas said after the Galaxy’s latest dispiriting defeat. “The travelling, the number of games, the lack of consistent scheduling – no other team has had to withstand that.”

To accommodate the Beckham road show, promoting the sport across the States, the Galaxy have a disproportionate number of away games factored into the second half of their season. They have played six of the past eight away and from September 19 will play six of seven away, too. Yet, if you look to the right of the screen on the Sky Sports News channel, the MLS league tables appear in what might be termed a fact box, treated credibly, as if this was a proper competition, not a travelling circus. On SSN, the standings in the MLS Western Conference and Eastern Conference are displayed on a loop after the Welsh top flight and the League of Ireland, but before cricket’s LV County Championship, in a position that used to be the preserve of the chief leagues of Europe: Spain, France, Italy and Germany.

This gives America a status it does not deserve. Say what you like about Total Network Solutions of Llansantffraid-ym-Mechain (now known as The New Saints, and thank heavens for that): they might have had a daft name, but if their right midfield player had an ankle the size of a hippo’s backside, they would not have played him, being a serious professional football club. No league with grand aspirations would pick a man who was badly injured simply because the occasion demanded it, or let him play on consecutive days on either side of the Atlantic, merely because he wanted to, just as no league of stature would rearrange its fixture list around one competitor.

If this doesn’t make you laugh, you got problems.

Pony Up!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Should the Cowboys have taken Quinn?

I don't believe they should have, but Gregg Easterbrook thinks so

At Texas Stadium, they'll be watching the scoreboard and rooting for the Browns to lose. Dallas holds Cleveland's first-round choice in the 2008 draft. "Play Quinn! Play Quinn!" the Cowboys' faithful will chant, considering that starting rookie QB Brady Quinn might brighten Cleveland's long-term prospects but also lead to another cellar-dweller season for the Browns in 2007.

Why do the Cowboys hold Cleveland's 2008 first choice? Because they traded to the Browns the chance to draft Quinn. Tony Romo had a few good games in 2006, then Jones concluded his quarterbacking was set and passed on the Notre Dame star in the draft. It wasn't long ago Quincy Carter had a few good games for the Cowboys, then Jones concluded his quarterbacking was set, then Carter was history.

Since Troy Aikman taped his ankles for the final time, the core problem for Dallas has been the lack of a young franchise-quality quarterback. Dallas has not won a playoff game in 11 years, and this period coincides with Jones trying to slide by with quarterbacking on the cheap.

Jones passed on J.P. Losman in the 2004 draft, passed on Jason Campbell in the 2005 draft, now has passed on Quinn in the 2007 draft. Romo's 2006 performance gave new meaning to "flash in the pan." Taking over from Drew Bledsoe at midseason, Romo won five of his first six starts, and based on just six outings, was named to the Pro Bowl -- whose balloting ridiculously closes with the season still in progress. Romo proceeded to lose four of his final five starts, including Dallas' playoff game, in the process often looking terrible behind center. Was his early success beginner's luck? Yet Jones decided his quarterbacking was set, and traded to Cleveland the pick that could have brought Quinn to the Cowboys.

During free agency Jones gave a huge stack of bills -- about $19 million guaranteed -- to Leonard Davis, who might be a giant but has always played like a man of average size. Don't marry them thinking you are going to change them! The likelihood is Davis won't suddenly become the dominant performer he has never been until this point. There's a greater chance that, having signed his monster contract, Davis will celebrate by taking 2007 off. During free agency, offensive linemen Kris Dielman, Derrick Dockery and Eric Steinbach also signed deals with huge guarantees, and none has made the Pro Bowl -- but unlike Davis, all played really well in the past two seasons. Dielman, Dockery or Steinbach might have gone to the Pro Bowl, were Honolulu invitations for offensive linemen not based solely on rep. All three performed better in 2006 than guard Larry Allen, who went to the Pro Bowl solely on rep. That guards, tackles and centers make the Pro Bowl based on rep, not performance, shows that not even other NFL players really pay attention to who the good offensive linemen are. Anyway, four megadeals went to offensive linemen during this free-agency period, and Dallas might be left holding the least cost-effective of the group.

Todd Archer looks at Cowboys contingencies

As the Cowboys prepare for Thursday's preseason finale against Minnesota and the regular-season opener against the New York Giants on Sept. 9, they are doing their contingency work.

The final cuts come Saturday, but the shape of the 53-man roster for the Giants game could take many different forms before kickoff because of the questions the Cowboys have at cornerback, punt returner and linebacker.

Some contingencies have been taken care of, like at backup center, where the Cowboys feel comfortable with Cory Procter or Joe Berger, and backup nose tackle, in Jay Ratliff. As for the others ...

What if Terence Newman can't play in the season opener?

Newman wants to play against the Giants, but he's not sure he will be ready. The best way to treat the small tear in Newman's right plantar fascia is rest. He has not had a full practice in nearly two weeks because of the injury.

Contingency: The Cowboys are looking at teams that might have a plethora of cornerbacks, which they know are few. Aaron Glenn is the best in-house candidate to start, although coach Wade Phillips acknowledged Glenn did not have his best game against the Texans. But the domino effect from Newman's injury also includes the substitute defense packages and special teams. Without Newman, Glenn would move into the slot, and the third cornerback candidates include Joey Thomas, Jacques Reeves, Alan Ball, Quincy Butler and Nate Jones.

When Newman returns, will he return punts?

Newman is a threat to return any punt he fields for a touchdown. His speed makes him dangerous, and he can flip field position in a hurry. But the Cowboys need him more at cornerback, so it wouldn't be wise to open him up to further risk.

Contingency: Patrick Crayton is the most experienced punt returner, with a 7.5-yard per return average, but he does not bring the same threat as Newman. Jerheme Urban handled the return duties against Houston but had little chance. When the Cowboys drafted Isaiah Stanback in the fourth round in April, they mentioned the possibility of him returning punts, but he has not returned punts much in practice.

What to do if Greg Ellis is out for more than just a game?

Phillips will not rule Ellis out for the Giants game, but Ellis has not made it through a full practice yet. Even if he suits up, is it realistic to expect him to be the same player he was before tearing his Achilles' tendon in November? Probably not, but he could be able to play a limited role.

Contingency: Phillips wants to have at least three outside rushers, so the Cowboys started to plan for Ellis' absence by moving Bobby Carpenter to the outside last week in practice. Phillips said rookie Anthony Spencer rushes better from the right side, but he will spend most of his snaps on the left side. Spencer said he is feeling more comfortable playing against the run. Junior Glymph is also a possibility.

Who replaces Kevin Burnett?

Burnett's availability for the season opener against the Giants is unknown because of ankle surgery he had Tuesday to remove bone chips. The hope is that he will be able to practice next week in order to be ready to play.

Contingency: Burnett had been developing into his role in the substitute defense in coverage and as a blitzer. Without him, Bradie James is next in line. James was a three-down linebacker last year, but Parcells wondered if he was in on too many plays and wore down. This year, James has dropped weight and has looked much quicker. It is possible Carpenter also could see time inside in the nickel and dime packages, but he is already seeing time at outside linebacker.

Cynical about Vick’s apology?

I believe in second chances. I have done so many stupid things in my life that I also believe in third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth chances.

But I don't know if I believe in Michael Vick. I watched his performance on ESPN late Monday morning and again online, read and re-read the post-plea statement he offered the media.

He was good. There's a baseball term that applies to home runs -- touch 'em all. Vick touched all the subjects he needed to, and one he did not.

Vick, somehow only 27, dressed as safely as a banker, wearing a dark suit, white shirt and gold tie. He spoke softly, his voice a testament to contrition and sorrow. Only once did he refer to himself as Michael Vick.

He stood behind a lectern crammed with microphones and tape recorders at the Omni Hotel in Richmond, Va., and, although he often looked down, he never looked at notes.
Vick apologized to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank and coach Bobby Petrino, apologized to his Atlanta teammates and, more than once, to children.

He called dogfighting "terrible."

He blamed nobody but himself.

He made a mistake when he said he "found Jesus."

Maybe Vick has. But a man who wants to get out of jail or stay out of jail always says he has found Jesus. Find me a man who stands before a judge who has not found Jesus.

It's a cliche. It was one too many.

"I told a judge once that my client had found Jesus," says George Laughrun, a Charlotte criminal defense attorney for 26 years and the rare attorney people like. "The judge said, `I didn't know he was lost.' "

I asked Laughrun, whose customers have included former Panthers Rae Carruth (briefly) and Jason Peter, if he writes statements for clients, who then turn his words into theirs.

Laughrun said he might suggest issues they should address. But a client comes across as more sincere when the message is his own.

Law is public relations, and going to court is like going on a job interview or a first date. We don't have to be at our best. We have to be better than we are.
As I said, Vick was good. And it was not merely U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson whom Vick was trying to impress. It was Goodell.

"He might be positioning himself to show Goodell that he's changed," Laughrun said.

In today’s “get ready for College Football” news The Big 12 has QBs

The presence of a group of talented quarterbacks could provide the league with an opportunity to regain some of its lost luster. It can be argued that the Big 12's depth under center has never been stronger.

Texas quarterback Colt McCoy is coming off one of the finest statistical seasons for a freshman in college history. If he remains healthy, he's poised to break virtually every school passing record — and some could start falling this season.

Oklahoma State quarterback Bobby Reid directed one of the most potent offenses in the country last season, enabling the Cowboys to average more than 200 yards rushing and passing per game. Reid threw for 2,266 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 500 yards as he led his team to a dramatic bowl victory.

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach might not have liked some elements of Graham Harrell's work this spring, but it's hard to argue with his production last season. Harrell passed for 4,555 yards and 38 touchdowns, capping the season with the largest comeback victory in bowl history.

Although his statistics aren't as gaudy as some of the others, Texas A&M's Stephen McGee might have had one of the most satisfying seasons. Despite battling a shoulder injury that set back his early development, McGee rushed for 686 yards, completed a school-record 62 percent of his passes and was intercepted only twice. And for good measure, he went into Austin and led the Aggies' first victory over the Longhorns there since 1994.

Missouri coach Gary Pinkel calls Chase Daniel "the most special quarterback" he's been around after Daniel passed for 3,825 yards and 28 touchdowns in his first season as a starter. Considering that his predecessor, Brad Smith, was the first player in NCAA history to produce 8,000 yards of passing and 4,000 rushing yards in a career, that's lofty praise.

And new Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller might be better suited to run coach Bill Callahan's offense than 2006 Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year Zac Taylor. Keller fired 20 touchdown passes in 2005 in an injury-shortened season at Arizona State, earning the MVP honors of the Sun Bowl.

The best example of the strength of the Big 12's quarterbacks can be seen in Iowa State senior quarterback Bret Meyer, who twice led the Cyclones within a game of the Big 12 North title game in 2004-05.

Meyer was ranked as the top Big 12 quarterback coming into last season. And while he's still a productive player, he likely would rank no higher than seventh among conference quarterbacks coming into this season.

And it wouldn't be surprising if Oklahoma's Sam Bradford or Keith Nichol or Kansas State's Josh Freeman eventually develops into a quality starter.

Aggies ready for Montana State

Montana State may not be on most fans' radar, but the school in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) has left plenty of big boys muttering in frustration.

Oklahoma State had to battle back from a two-point halftime deficit to win, 15-10, in 2005. Colorado wasn't so lucky. The Buffaloes stumbled around and lost to the Bobcats, 19-10, last year.

Texas A&M players have been reminded often of the importance of playing well in Saturday's season opener. It's doubtful the Bobcats will catch the 25th-ranked Aggies off guard at Kyle Field.

"I heard the story, but the thing I kept stressing is that this isn't Colorado," A&M tight end Martellus Bennett said. "We're ready to play. It doesn't matter who it is, what they look like, what color their skin is or what they're wearing. We're coming."

A&M coaches can't follow regular protocol to formulate their game plan, though.
Montana State coach Rob Ash was hired on June 11. He replaced Mike Kramer, who was fired in May after a string of off-the-field incidents. Ash compiled a 125-63-2 record in 18 seasons at Drake.

So the A&M coaches can't get a real sense of what this coaching staff can do with the current players.

"We're probably going into this game about as blind on our opponent as you could go into it," A&M coach Dennis Franchione said. "We prepare for a lot of ghosts in the first game, a lot of things that might happen that probably don't happen. That makes it doubly tough."

Mack Brown given another raise???

The UT system board of regents on Tuesday unanimously approved a new 10-year contract for Brown, one that will push him into college football’s $3 million club by the end of next season.

The pact will pay Brown at least $2.91 million this year and includes an automatic raise of $100,000 annually.

“He brought new life to our program and he’s done it with great integrity and class,” UT athletics director DeLoss Dodds said. “He is who we want at Texas for the long term.”

To that end, Brown’s new contract is heavily laden with incentives designed to keep him in Austin for the rest of his career.

The deal includes a pair of retention bonuses -- one would pay Brown $1 million if he is still the UT coach on Jan. 1, 2009 and another that would pay him an additional $2 million if he is still the coach on Jan. 1, 2010.

Including raises and bonuses, Brown would clear at least $5.2 million after the 2010 season.

The new contract also includes a steep buyout clause, as well as a guarantee that Brown could be reassigned to another university position if he voluntarily resigns as coach before 2016.

“Mack is in high demand around the country,” university president Bill Powers said, “and it is critical that we have a salary strategy to keep him here.”

During his nine-year tenure at UT, Brown is the winningest coach in college football (93-22). In 2005, he led the Longhorns to their first consensus national championship since 1969.

Under Brown’s regime, the UT athletic department has nearly tripled its annual revenue from football, from $22.6 million in 1997 to nearly $64 million last season.

Denilson in the house at FC Dallas

Update on Illegitimate Kids of Athletes

50 things you didn’t know about Fantasy Football 2007

How the AL East was won ….

The Red Sox get no points for many of their acquisitions the past two years. J. D. Drew, Julio Lugo and Coco Crisp have not performed as expected. The pitching additions, on the other hand, are the primary reason the Red Sox are poised to win their first American League East title since 1995.

Daisuke Matsuzaka was on the mound at Yankee Stadium last night, epitomizing the difference between the planning of the Red Sox and the Yankees last off-season.
Matsuzaka and the Red Sox lost the game, 5-3, leaving the Yankees seven games behind in the standings and wondering what might have been if they hadn’t fouled up the previous week after slicing the Red Sox’ lead to four games.

Matsuzaka was not as sharp as he had been for much of the previous two and a half months, giving up home runs to Derek Jeter to break a 2-2 tie in the fifth and to Johnny Damon when the game was tied, 3-3, in the seventh. But it was the 22nd time in 27 starts that Matsuzaka has pitched at least six innings.

At times the Yankees have had difficulty making it through six innings with their starters in two successive starts. When the Yankees were winning four World Series from 1996 through 2000, Joe Torre said pitching was the key to the team’s success.
The Yankees have lost the key.

In retrospect, maybe we all should have recognized the significance of the Matsuzaka move. In years past, the Yankees would have been snagging the hot-shot pitcher from Japan and the Red Sox would have been gnashing their teeth and banging their heads against a wall over losing yet another desired player to the team Larry Lucchino called the Evil Empire.

Not that Lucchino, the Red Sox’ president and chief executive, was prepared to proclaim it — he’s far too wily to make that mistake — but the Matsuzaka signing might have signaled the end of the Empire’s reign. Even Darth Vader saw his run come to an end.

Some skepticism surrounded the Red Sox’ $103 million expenditure on Matsuzaka, but as John Farrell, the Boston pitching coach, said yesterday, “He’s been as advertised.”

Matsuzaka was not the only Japanese import. They signed another pitcher, Hideki Okajima, who has been one of the best relievers in the American League. How did the Yankees counter Boston’s Japanese sortie? They signed Kei Igawa.

Igawa was not at Yankee Stadium last night to greet his countrymen. He was once again back in the minor leagues as the Yankees tried to salvage the $46 million they squandered on him.

Just as Matsuzaka is the symbol of the Red Sox’ good pitching moves in the off-season, Igawa represents the questionable — all right, poor — moves that have left the Yankees gasping for postseason air.

Besides giving Igawa $20 million after paying his Japanese team $26 million for the right to negotiate with him, the Yankees re-enlisted Mike Mussina for two more years at $11 million a year. General Manager Brian Cashman saw giant dollar signs flying violently into his face with each of the 19 earned runs Mussina has allowed in 9 2/3 innings over his last three miserable starts.

As the season progressed poorly for the Yankees and their panic grew exponentially that their season was becoming a disaster, they succumbed to baseball extortion, agreeing to pay Roger Clemens, who was soon to turn 45, at a rate of $28 million for the season.

How the Brewers faded so quickly

The Cubs did their part, giving him a 5-3 victory to unwrap in front of 40,884 fans. A four-spot in the bottom of the seventh inning was the difference, made partly possible by a Brewers gift: a fielding error (or so the official scorer said) by reliever Scott Linebrink on a high chopper by Ryan Theriot that bumped the Cubs ahead.

This won't help Milwaukee manager Ned Yost's disposition. Yost is as tight as one of the violin strings played by the guy who performed "The Star-Spangled Banner," before the start of this crucial three-game series. Watching his team blow a 3-1 lead in the seventh and lose its fifth in a row, and its 11th out of its last 14, isn't exactly the safety chute Yost was hoping for.

"It's kind of how the way things have gone for us," said Yost. "One bad inning."

When the Brewers arrive at Wrigley for Wednesday night's game, they'll see a different flag order. The Cubs remain in first, but now the Cardinals occupy second, just two games out, followed by the Brewers, who drop 2½ games behind the NL Central leader (their biggest deficit of the season). Still, the three teams are as close as the ivy that hugs Wrigley's brick outfield walls.

Someone has to win this division, though it's hard to figure out who.

The Cubs, nine games under .500 and 7½ games out in early June, have worked their way back from dugout fistfights and oblivion to first place. An e-mailer insists it has to do with the Cubs' run differential. No, it has to do with mediocrity differential. The NL Central is so ordinary that even the Reds, 12 games under .500, aren't out of this race yet.

The Cubs ought to win this thing. They have the best starting pitching, and 23 of their remaining 32 games are against teams with losing records. Plus, they have left fielder Alfonso Soriano back in the lineup after about a three-week absence.

Then there are the Brewers. The strange, impossible-to-figure-out Brewers. They once had the best record in the majors, were 14 games over .500 twice, and led the division by as many as 8½ games on June 23. Since then -- and there's no nice way of saying it -- they've reeked.

There's no need to go through all the ugly details. It's like a Lance Briggs car wreck, except the Chicago Bears' linebacker walked away from his mess in one piece. The Brewers are stuck here, having to live with the self-inflicted damage of a 9-22 record since July 25.

Today’s email:

I enjoyed your back-and-forth with Kent the baseball junkie.

One note I think is interesting- the Yankees, who I think we can ALL agree have had the best offense in MLB over the past decade, have gone thru 5 hitting coaches within the past 7-8 years.

They had Chris Chambliss, Gary Denbo, Rick Down, Don Mattingly, and now Kevin Long. Only Mattingly was promoted. He's now a bench coach. But Chambliss, Down, and Denbo were all fired.

I know Steinbrenner is always looking for scapegoats when the Yankees don't win the World Series. This 7-year (and counting) drought just might kill him. But I'd rather have an owner demand results and then hold people accountable when he doesn't get them than whatever it is they have going on out in Arlington.

Stay BaD.

--Michael Borah

And here is a message from local promoter, Lester Bedford:

Ticket Guys:

In short -- just wanted to personally touch base with you all on the Sept. 1 mixed martial arts event at the American Airlines Center (Art of War 3, USA vs Brazil) and make sure you were getting all my info.

Hopefully you all can have someone make it out to the Wednesday Media Luncheon on Wednesday (12:30 lunch, 1:00 pm presser). With MMA being the fastest growing sport in the U.S., might be a good time to do a piece on it. Please let me know if either of you would be willing to have any of the fighters on this week.

As you are probably aware, the UFC and MMA has been featured pretty much everywhere in the major national media. There are 6 UFC and Pride fighters on this card, which will be nationally televised on Pay-Per-View. Actually, a very strong MMA card, even on a national level.

I fully understand the overload of football stuff going on. Anything you all can do would be appreciated. Hopefully, you can have someone make it to the AAC tomorrow. Lots of colorful fighters to talk to.


Modano and Willa on Cribs

Is Hockey Season Coming?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

College Football is Coming

I must tell you, I am having trouble getting in the college football mood. But, this Saturday, it is on. So, I better get with the program.

So, let’s start with the triumphant return of the great FW Star Telegram Football scribe, Jimmy Burch …Wonderful…

The college football season begins this week, with dozens of questions gnawing at Big 12 coaches about the readiness of their teams. We've narrowed that list. What follows is a look at the 12 biggest issues facing Big 12 teams, with answers that could -- or should -- emerge in 2007:

1Is there a national title contender in the house?

Probably not. The upper-tier teams are so balanced, with each containing at least one glaring potential flaw, that Texas coach Mack Brown invoked one of the NFL's favorite words -- parity -- when discussing the Big 12 race. Heading into his 10th season at Texas, Brown said the parity between top teams makes this year "the best chance for somebody to win the league that nobody would expect" since he's been a Big 12 coach.

2Can the league restore some lost credibility on the national landscape?

Book it. Big 12 teams were an abysmal 0-14 in matchups against Top 25 opponents from other conferences last season. So they can't do any worse. Expect multiple victories in similar showdowns this season. If poll voters cooperate, favorable opportunities to end the skid include Texas-TCU (Sept. 8), Oklahoma-Miami (Sept. 8), Nebraska-Wake Forest (Sept. 8) and Texas A&M-Miami (Sept. 20).

3Who wins the South Division?

Based on the checks and balances in this year's schedule, don't be surprised if Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma share the South Division title, finishing with matching conference records of 7-1. Or even 6-2. If the Aggies succumb to a difficult road schedule, expect the Texas-OU winner to rule the roost.

4Can Missouri handle the hype as a preseason favorite in the North Division?

History screams "no." The Tigers never have finished better than 4-4 in Big 12 play in six seasons under coach Gary Pinkel. One caveat: Similar concerns dogged Texas in 2005, when a transcendent quarterback (Vince Young) lifted lots of monkeys off Brown's back, giving the coach his first conference title as well as a national crown. Mizzou quarterback Chase Daniel has the talent and intangibles to elevate Pinkel, too.

5Which newcomer should wow fans in 2007?

Nebraska quarterback Sam Keller, a fifth-year senior who transferred from Arizona State, is capable of improving on last year's numbers posted by Zac Taylor, the league's 2006 offensive player of the year.

6Which coach is on the hottest hot seat?

The signs point to Baylor coach Guy Morriss, who did not receive a contract extension in the off-season despite leading the Bears to their best conference record as a Big 12 member (3-5) in 2006. This is Morriss' fifth season and the Bears have yet to reach a bowl game in his tenure. Although he's clearly elevated the Baylor program, he may soon be out of time if the Bears don't go bowling, or at least finish 6-6, this season.

7After a series of double-digit losses, how close is a North Division team to winning
the Big 12 Championship Game?

Very close. It could happen this year. Easily.

8Is starting a freshman quarterback, as Oklahoma plans to do, really that much of a
dice roll for a team with Big 12 title hopes?

Without a doubt. In league history, no freshman quarterback has started and won a Big 12 title game. The youngest quarterback to do so is Nebraska's Eric Crouch, a sophomore when the Cornhuskers won the 1999 title.

9Which team faces the toughest schedule?

Texas A&M. All four of the Aggies' road games in conference play are against 2006 bowl teams (Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas Tech). A&M also travels to Miami on Sept. 20, a game that could make or break the team's psyche in a year when the Aggies must prove their mettle as a road team to become Big 12 contenders.

Rhett Bomar is ready to dominate D1-AA

Rhett Bomar's year-long exile from college football is almost over.

When Sam Houston State opens the season Thursday against Angelo State, the Bearkats' new quarterback can finally begin a new chapter in his life. No more talk about Oklahoma, the NCAA violations or Big Red Sports/Imports.

What's done is done. At least, that's how the 22-year-old junior from Grand Prairie views life and the events at OU that triggered his dismissal from the team on Aug. 2, 2006. He's thinking more about ASU, a team with six returning starters on defense.

Standing in 14,000-seat Bowers Stadium, Bomar looks like a player ready to light up the Southland Conference.

"Yeah, there's not going to be 85,000 in the stands every week," Bomar said. "But when you're playing ball, you're playing ball. You don't pay attention to the crowd anyway.
"I can still achieve my goals in the future of going to the NFL and everything like that here. It's not like that's impossible. I may have had to take a detour, but it didn't affect my talents. That's the way I look at it."

There's not a syllable of anger in Bomar's voice. Quite the opposite, actually. Bomar's voice radiates with enthusiasm for Sam Houston State University, his coaching staff and teammates.

It's not cockiness, something prone to seep into his words in Norman. It's genuine appreciation.

"You know, it's been all right," Bomar said. "It's smaller and stuff and not as many distractions, not a lot of stuff to do. But I've met some great people and have some great friends down here. The coaches are great. The players are great, and they've accepted me really well."

Buzz around town

To say Huntsville is excited about Bomar's debut is an understatement. Athletic director Bobby Williams and coach Todd Whitten said they both can notice a different feeling around town. There's an undeniable buzz.

Sam Houston State University quarterback Rhett Bomar practices with the Bearkats.
There was some excitement when Chris Chaloupka (Oklahoma State), Josh McCown (SMU) and Dustin Long (Texas A&M) transferred to Sam Houston in recent years. But nothing like this.

The Bearkats are ranked 18th in the preseason Division I Football Championship Subdivision (formerly I-AA) coaches poll despite going 6-5 last year.

"Rhett coming to Sam Houston was, I would guess, the biggest news story Sam Houston had all last year," Whitten said. "Everybody knows about that. You look up when we have scrimmages and there seems to be more people up there. I'm sure they're anxious to see him play."

Everybody wanted to talk about Bomar's arrival, even though he wasn't talking to anyone.

Bomar and fellow teammate J.D. Quinn of Garland were dismissed from OU for accepting money for work they didn't perform at Big Red, a car dealership in Norman. The NCAA made both players forfeit one year of eligibility and pay restitution. Bomar was ordered to pay $7,406.88 to a charity. He chose the March of Dimes.

OU was also penalized for Bomar and Quinn's actions, and the university is appealing the sanctions. If the decision stands, Bomar's 2005 statistics (2,018 yards passing, 10 touchdowns, 10 interceptions) would be wiped from the OU record book as part of the punishment.

He's done few interviews since enrolling at Sam Houston last fall. Outside of talking to ESPN once and a few local reporters, Bomar's been relatively silent publicly. Sam Houston sports information director Paul Ridings said: "We're trying to protect him. We want him to enjoy his experience."

"Back when it all happened, I didn't want to talk to anybody," Bomar said. "I didn't answer any calls for about two months. I didn't talk to anybody at all other than my family and friends. There's a lot of stuff I could say that I'm not going to. I just don't want to talk about it anymore.

"Starting Thursday, we get to talk about moving on, this season and this team."

Limas is back; can anyone join him at WR for the Horns?

Limas Sweed laughed and clapped his hands. He even high-fived Texas coach Mack Brown.

All of it was to show that Sweed's sprained left wrist -- still wrapped in a bandage for support -- is healed enough for the senior wide receiver to play Saturday in No. 4 Texas' season opener against Arkansas State.

"I'm ready," Sweed said Monday. "I feel fine."

That's good news for the Longhorns, who have seen their deep and talented pool of receivers thinned by preseason injuries.

Sweed sprained his wrist, senior Billy Pittman is out for the first game with a shoulder injury and Jordan Shipley is doubtful with a tender hamstring. The trio combined for 96 catches and 20 touchdowns last season. Sweed caught 46 passes for 801 yards and with a school record 12 TDs last season, he was one of the nation's best deep threats.

Brown called Sweed "probable" for the game and Sweed was willing to accept any term the coach wanted to use, even if it wasn't quite as strong as Sweed would have wanted. But there was little doubt Sweed plans to be on the field.

"C'mon man, I'm a competitor," he said, adding that the injury may have even made him a better player. He spent a lot of time practicing catching balls with one hand.

"It's going to be a new addition," Sweed said.

Sweed is a key component to the Longhorns' offense, a muscular 6-foot-5, 220-pound mismatch for most defensive backs. He averaged 34.8 yards per touchdown catch last season and opted to return for his last season rather than enter the NFL draft.

Sweed injured the wrist in a fall during a scrimmage, then had to fight off rumors he broke bones and might be out for the season. He's heard so much speculation and been asked so many questions that Brown came into the room Monday and teasingly called him "Dr. Sweed."

"It's something that got blown way out of proportion," Sweed said.

Speculation was high because an injury to Sweed was potentially a big blow to a receiving corps that has taken more than its share of bumps and bruises.

With Pittman sidelined, Texas loses a speed receiver. Shipley, whose career has been dogged by injuries since coming out of high school, has developed into a solid player when he's on the field.

But if any position could take the hits, this was it. Texas has enough talent on wide receiver to go two or three deep at each position and the injuries helped accelerate the development of talented freshmen James Kirkendoll and Brandon Collins. Those two were listed as the top backups to senior flanker Nate Jones.

The freshmen got more reps in practice, which meant more time catching passes from quarterback Colt McCoy, who tied an NCAA freshman record last season with 29 TD passes.

Dallas welcomes Denilson with some very high praise

Denilson's official introduction Monday by FC Dallas wasn't quite like David Beckham's with the LA Galaxy.

The 30-year-old Brazilian midfielder wasn't accompanied by a former Spice Girl, nor were there thousands of fans and media awaiting his arrival.

But for FC Dallas, it was definitely reason to celebrate.

A collection of fans and media attended Pizza Hut Park to meet the player FC Dallas officials are calling one of the biggest acquisitions in league history.

"In the context of the MLS, only the signing of Beckham is bigger," said Clark Hunt, chairman of Hunt Sports Group, which owns FC Dallas. "There is an argument to be made that he would probably be the best player in our league."

Prior to Denilson's arrival, Dallas' most high-profile signing had come in 1996 when the team acquired Hugo Sanchez, a former Mexican superstar who now coaches Mexico's national team. But Sanchez was already passed his prime and never was part of a World Cup championship team like Denilson with Brazil in 2002.

FC Dallas believes Denilson has plenty of great years ahead of him.

"I don't think there is any doubt about his quality or his ability," FC Dallas coach Steve Morrow said. "We've got every confidence in his touch, play and ability."

Denilson trained for the first time on Monday at Pizza Hut Park. He will make his debut as soon as he receives his work visa, which could take from five to 10 business days.

Morrow said he plans to use Denilson as a creative central midfielder or as a top winger.
Denilson becomes the fifth international star to sign with an MLS team under the league's new designated rule, which allows each club to spend a substantial amount of money on one player without his entire salary counting against the club's cap. The Brazilian joins Beckham, Chicago's Cuauhtemoc Blanco and New York's Claudio Reyna and Juan Pablo Angel. New York gained the right to have two designated players through a trade.

Strikeouts are fun

As the strikeouts mount toward record-breaking levels, the Rangers must ask themselves this question about the young lineup: "Does it simply strike out a lot, or is it strikeout-prone?"

In this case, the difference is not simply a matter of semantics.

"We've got a bunch of young kids doing things for the first time," manager Ron Washington said. "I don't mind strikeouts if the guys do damage, but you can't just have a lot of strikeouts. These guys all struck out a lot in the minor leagues, but they did some damage. I don't know how you can step up a level and all of a sudden they are not going to strike out."

It's yet to be determined how much "damage" that Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jason Botts and Nelson Cruz will do in the major leagues. They all swing big. And when they make contact, it's big contact. When they don't, it creates a mighty wind.

Lately, that wind has been howling through one stadium after another. The Rangers begin tonight's series with Chicago with 214 strikeouts for August, their first month with the trio of rookies playing every day. It is already the third-highest strikeout total for a month in club history.

Given that the Rangers have four more games remaining for the month and averaged 8.9 strikeouts in 24 August games, the club record of 234 – set in August 1997 – seems certain to fall.

It's not much of a stretch either to think the Rangers could become only the seventh team since baseball started keeping monthly records in 1957 to strike out at least 250 times in a month. Detroit whiffed 263 times in August 1991.

The Rangers are also likely to cross 1,000 strikeouts for the year during the final four games of the month. They are at 984. They're on pace to shatter the club record for strikeouts in a season: 1,116 in 1997. The Rangers are on pace for 1,225, which would rank second in AL history. The Tigers of 1996 struck out 1,268 times on the way to 109 losses.

Washington knows well the difference between clubs that strike out a lot and strikeout-prone teams. While he was a coach with Oakland, the A's struck out 1,181 times in 1997 (the fifth-highest total in AL history) and lost 97 games. Three years later, they struck out 1,159 times and won the division.

The difference: Hitters like Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada were still getting used to the majors in 1997 and matured into dangerous hitters who did damage by 2000. They still struck out a lot, but their strike-zone discipline improved, and as a result, their walk totals and run-production numbers increased.

The Rangers need to see the same steps from Botts, Cruz and Saltalamacchia. Entering this season, Botts and Saltalamacchia each struck out about once every 4.75 plate appearances. For the Rangers, Botts is averaging a strikeout every 3.10 plate appearances and Saltalamacchia one every 3.46.

The Following is an email back and forth with passionate baseball man, Kent, the Baseball Junkie. Since he researched his points very well, I wanted to give him the chance to convince you I am way off on Rudy:

Heard the show today and was glad to hear that the Rangers record-breaking performance coincided with your foolish take on Rudy Jaramillo’s effectiveness over the past 8 years.

Here are some facts about the Rangers’ offense from the beginning of the 2000 season.
They have scored 6,592 runs through Wednesday, third most in the American League behind the Yankees and Red Sox. Even without last night’s 30, that’s more than 250 more than anyone else in their division. While their batting average over that span is only 6th in the AL at .271, their OPS as a team is .821, again third only to NY and Boston in the league. The 1,695 HRs is second to only the Yankees.

It’s true the Rangers offensive numbers are well down this season, but that has more to do with some poor moves on the GM’s part, Blalock’s injury, and the recent youth movement (which I am highly in favor of.)

There have been numerous hitters who improved as hitters under Rudy since 2000. To name a few; Carl Everett, Frank Catalanotto (1st time), Gary Matthews, a renewed Ruben Sierra, Mark DeRosa, Rod Barajas, etc., Veterans also thrived in recent years under him, ARod, Pudge, Raffy, He also didn’t seem to hurt many of the developing hitters, Young, Blalock, Teixeira, Kinsler, Laird, Mench, etc. on their way up.

Jaramillo’s performance has at the very least warranted the opportunity to develop this current batch of young hitters.

the baseball junkie

Here is my response:

Is it foolish? Why are they the worst road hitting team in the AL over that span? Why do they have more team strikeouts than any other team in the AL over that span? I guess we can both find stats to support our case, but do we have to call eachother's opinions foolish if they are both founded in verifiable facts?

The fact is that when you have a franchise that has seen fit to fire managers, general managers, pitching coaches and radio guys (poor Vince), it would seem at some point, the less than stellar performance of the entire team would be under the spotlight. But, we give a free pass to Rudy.

I might also take some issue with the development of Blalock, Laird, and Mench. Blalock is a worse hitter than he was years ago, and Laird and Mench are not exactly great examples in my estimation.

His Response to my Response:

Maybe foolish is a bit strong, but it sure sounded that way during the Ticket Top 10, didn’t it? I would still contend the evidence easily weighs toward the results of Jaramillo’s work being rated above average at the very least, and not deserving of termination based on his performance.


I don’t think the evaluation and firings of managers, general managers, and pitching coaches neither does nor should come into play when evaluating the hitting coach. Unfortunately, the manager takes way too much blame and credit for the record of the team. That’s just the way it is. The hitting coach should be evaluated on the team’s offensive performance. Is the team scoring enough runs, based on their lineup, or not? Is he getting the best out of his hitters? It has nothing to do with how many runs the other team scores. He has no control nor responsibility for that.

I don’t know if Rudy is getting a “free pass” or not. Certainly, he should not, but he should be evaluated based on the teams offensive output, regardless of the teams success overall.


Does it really matter how many times they’ve struck out? They struck out 11 times Wednesday. Was that a problem? Runs are what win and lose ball games.

By the way, the Rangers are not dead last in the AL in strikeouts since 2000. The
Rangers had struck out 8,351 times through Wednesday. That is fewer than Cleveland’s 8,448 (Sorry Dan), and not that many more than Boston’s 8,122. Have the Red Sox underperformed offensively the last 8 years, too? FYI – The Orioles have the second fewest strikeouts in that span.

They are 6th in the AL since 2000 in On Base %, by the way, behind only New York, Boston, Seattle, Oakland, and Cleveland. Not high, but still in the upper half of the league. And again, with their slugging percentage, they rank 3rd in OPS over that span.

There is no question that Rudy has the benefit of coaching a team that plays in a ballpark conducive to scoring runs, and I DO think that should factor into the evaluation of the hitting coach. But let’s take a closer look at how this team has produced offensively on the road since 2000, shall we? Wasn’t it your contention that they are the worst hitting team in the AL since then, “Bar none”? Through Wednesday, they have averaged more than 4.79 runs per game on the road since 2000. That’s well below their output at home (5.67). However, it’s no where near the bottom of the league. It’s a better road mark than Tampa Bay, Kansas City, Baltimore, Minnesota, Toronto, and Detroit, meaning 7 teams in the AL have scored more runs in road games than Texas. And if you were to throw out the other teams games in Arlington, to be more fair, it would likely bring down most of the other team’s numbers a little more. (I don’t have time to do that level research.) While being 8th in the league over that span is nothing to brag about, it certainly means they are far from the worst road hitting team in the league, don’t you think?

Their run-scoring at home is still easily best in the league, (even better than NY) despite this down season. While much of that can be credited to the ballpark instead of Rudy, I don’t think it should be completely dismissed.

Believe it or not, thanks to Wednesday’s performance, they are now 5th in the AL in runs per road game this season, at 4.86.

Another thing, through last night their road batting average is .258 since 2000, which is also not dead last in the AL, as it’s higher than KC and TB, not that that’s anything but up a banner for. Give me a better OPS over a good batting average any day.


Okay, maybe Blalock isn’t the best example, but I think Mench is a better hitter under Rudy, and I think we will soon see that Laird will be too, though he’s not doing much to help that case this year. It will be interesting to see how Teixeira does if/when he goes into one of his slumps, likely at the start of next season. I think Rudy’s’ resume probably has more players that have their best season’s with him than most if not all, other hitting coaches.


Is Rudy Jaramillo overrated? Quite probably, but I don’t think that means he’s doing a poor job and deserves to be fired. In my opinion, based on hitters that have thrived under his tutelage and have praised and credited him for it, along with the record of his performance, he definitely deserves the opportunity to work with this group of young hitters. If they don’t develop as expected, then he can be reevaluated then, but don’t fire him now.

Well, at least we agree on Cotroneo’s firing was a poor move.

Keep up the good work, SportSturm!

The baseball junkie

My Brief Response to his Response to my Response

I think it matters quite a bit about strikeouts. A strikeout is the most unproductive plate appearance that I am aware of. Aside from increasing a pitch total, it is horrendous. It doesn't give you a chance to advance the runner, it doesn't give you a chance for an error, it does nothing. I do not buy this new baseball thinking that a strikeout is "just an out".

As for the Road Batting Average, as of the All-Star break, they were the worst in the AL since 2000. I apologize if the numbers have changed in 7 weeks. I was not trying to mislead.

Anyway, good baseball discussion.


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