Big day today as Jaret and Chris from the Genius that is Bowling for Soup will be the first musical act we have had in studio since Andrew WK in 2002 or so. They are scheduled for 2:15, and I greatly admire their work.
We only have guys we like in studio, so unless U2 or Neil Diamond decide to join us, this is likely the last one for a while, too.
Meanwhile, the Stars made a bold stroke. Like I said yesterday, I am not sure it is the wisest decision ever because of the fiscal implications, but on the ice, it makes me very happy-
The word out of Tampa …
The Fantastic Four is no more.
The quartet of pillars the Lightning built their franchise around is down to a trio after cornerstone center Brad Richards was traded Tuesday to the Dallas Stars in a five-player deal. In exchange, Tampa Bay received what it hopes will be a No. 1 goaltender in 25-year-old Mike Smith.
"I think it's a good deal," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "And I hate saying that because Brad Richards is involved in it. But you put that aside and you think of the business part of it and how it helps your team."
Also in the deal, the Lightning sent goaltender Johan Holmqvist to the Stars and
received veteran center Jeff Halpern, winger Jussi Jokinen and a 2009 fourth-round draft pick.
Just before the league's 3 p.m. trading deadline, Tampa Bay moved free-agent-to-be left wing Jan Hlavac to the Nashville Predators for a seventh-round pick in this summer's draft. That completed a two-day frenzy that included Monday's trade of Vinny Prospal to Philadelphia.
Late Monday night, after the Lightning re-signed defenseman Dan Boyle - who along with Vinny Lecavalier, Marty St. Louis and Richards made up Tampa Bay's big four - to a six-year deal worth $40 million, it became clear Richards would be dealt. The highest-paid of the four, Richards has three years left on a contract paying $7.8 million annually.
"It ends up, unfortunately, that Brad is the odd man out, and Brad has that big ticket," Lightning general manager Jay Feaster said. "It isn't that he's somewhat expendable. It's a very, very difficult thing to trade Brad Richards. There's a huge hole in the hockey team. There's a hole in the community to have a guy like Brad walk out the door."
Richards, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, gave the Lightning staff a list of teams he would consider joining. Dallas, he said, was at the top of the list and likely the only team he would agree to before the trade deadline.
"I think I need to get refreshed with a new beginning," Richards said. "When Jay Feaster started talking about different teams, Dallas is one I had my eye on. They've got a good chance to win right now. They've got some great players that hopefully I'll be able to play with."
Finding consistent wingers to play with the past two seasons proved to be a struggle for Richards. Since signing a five-year contract worth $39 million after the 2005-06 season, his numbers have fallen off. Richards no longer played with either of former linemates Fredrik Modin, who was traded to Columbus, or St. Louis, now on a line with Lecavalier.
Richards, the 2004 Conn Smythe winner as the playoff MVP when Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup, slipped to 70 points last season and had 51 points in 62 games this season. With a self-imposed salary cap of $44-$45 million the past two seasons, the Lightning have not been able to find an established winger to play on Richards' line, a big factor in the 27-year-old's lack of production.
Did the move put the Stars in the Stanley Cup mix? TSN says what they think …
After 25 trades on deadline day, has the balance of power in the NHL shifted? Not according to TSN's hockey experts.
Before any trades were made on trade deadline day, four of TSN's hockey experts picked each picked five Stanley Cup favourites. When the dust settled, they had a chance to alter their lists, but few changes were made.
In fact, no new teams cracked the lists.
Pierre McGuire picked the Ducks, Stars, Wild, Penguins and Rangers - in that order.
''I'm staying with this list,'' McGuire said. ''I really think the Dallas Stars helped themselves with the Brad Richards acquisition. I like the fact that Minnesota didn't dispense with anybody on their roster, and the Pittsburgh Penguins have made their team better for the short run - it just depends on how well the goaltending and the defence holds up. The New York Rangers are starting to come on with a head of steam, but I don't think anybody's going to beat Anaheim.''
Darren Pang stayed with his original five teams; the Ducks, Red Wings, Devils, Stars and Penguins, but he moved Pittsburgh up to third and dropped New Jersey down to five.
''I like Bryce Salvador and all that, but I swapped them down with Pittsburgh because of the impact of Marian Hossa and how dynamic he could be, although the goaltending is still a bit of a question mark at this point,'' Pang said. ''Dallas stays at numbers four - I like what they did getting Bard Richards.''
John Ferguson picked the Ducks, Devils, Red Wings, Stars and Senators and did not change his mind after all the trades were done.
''My list hasn't changed. I've still got Anaheim in the top spot,'' Ferguson said. ''New Jersey adding Salvador - I like that move for them. It solidifies their defence. Detroit added Stuart, which shores things up - they've got some injuries. Dallas is at number four. Adding Richards, they have to be at least at that number. I'm not changing Ottawa out, even though Pittsburgh and San Jose made significant gains.''
Mike Milbury also stayed with his original picks, which included the Canadiens in a tie for fifth with Detroit, but he changed up the order. He moved the Wings up to fourth, and knocked New Jersey to fifth. Anaheim, Dallas and Pittsburgh stayed as Milbury's top three Stanley Cup favourites.
''Anaheim is still the team to beat,'' Milbury said. ''Dallas made the best deal of the day getting Richards. Pittsburgh is third because of the Hossa deal. Detroit and New Jersey and Montreal didn't do much, so they stay at the back of the pack.''
Meanwhile, Yao Ming is out; are the Rockets? …
YAO Ming kept pausing to gather his emotions, as if he didn't want us to know how much he was hurting or how much he cared. The thing is, we knew.
"It's very disappointing," he kept saying.
Sometimes a city is lucky enough to have a professional athlete who's a role model in every sense of the word.
That's what Yao Ming has been during these six seasons with the Rockets.
It's hard to imagine anyone in sports caring more, working harder or being more admired by his teammates and coaches. Yao also was smart and funny, a people person in every sense of the word.
Those things are among the many reasons Tuesday was so difficult for everyone who cares about the Rockets. Yao's season-ending injury isn't just about basketball.
The Rockets will be competitive and interesting because general manager Daryl Morey has done a tremendous job of building a solid roster around the two superstars.
That 94-69 victory over Washington was built on heart and pride and professionalism, and those are things that can carry a franchise through the low times.
"It gets back to the same thing — the respect you have for each other," coach Rick Adelman said. "This team has really been building. Losing Yao is shocking, but we can continue to win. We're not stepping away."
Take two steps back and look at the Rockets without Yao. Luis Scola and Carl Landry have emerged as impact players and will split time at power forward and center.
Shane Battier is playing the best basketball of his career. Rafer Alston and Bobby Jackson are a nice tandem at point guard.
And there's Dikembe Mutombo, 41. After riding the bench much of the season, he stepped back into the starting lineup and set a tone from the beginning with his shot-blocking and rebounding.
"Just watch how he affected the game on the defensive end," Adelman said.
In the end, the Rockets will go only as far as Tracy McGrady takes them, but anyone that thinks this season is over is dead wrong.
"This team has responded all year long and hopefully, will do it again," Adelman said. "We have enough people to go out and win games. Our challenge is still the same."
Where, oh where, has RA Dickey been? …
By all rights, R. A. Dickey should be working a day job somewhere, cursing twisted fate. Or he should be coaching at some Tennessee high school, telling kids what he once was and lamenting what might have been.
Instead, Dickey slipped on his Seattle Mariners uniform Monday, stepped on a bullpen pitcher’s mound and made his pitching arm do something it should not be able to do — throw a baseball. In an age when more and more pitchers have ugly scars crawling up their elbows, where surgeons’ scalpels have replaced their ulnar collateral ligaments in what is known as Tommy John surgery, Dickey does not need to worry about strains or painful pops.
He does not have an ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. None. Dickey either was born without one, or the tissue simply disintegrated when he was a teenager.
A dozen years after discovery of his situation cost him a virtual million-dollar payday, when he was told to give up his dreams of becoming a major league pitcher, Dickey today is one of the most intriguing players in any spring training camp. He did not just prove skeptics wrong by building a career that has included brief stays in the big leagues. Now 33, Dickey has reinvented himself as a knuckleballer, one promising enough that he could prove quite valuable in 2008 and beyond.
“For him to be able to throw at all is pretty phenomenal in itself,” said Rick Griffin, the Mariners’ head athletic trainer. “But he’s doing it in the major leagues. People in sports amaze you physically, but this is something you’d never suspect. It’s like a running back in the N.F.L. having no anterior cruciate ligament in his knee. It’s amazing.”
Dickey, a huskily bearded father of three, said: “Doctors look at me and say I shouldn’t be able to turn a doorknob without feeling pain, and I shouldn’t be able to turn the key and start my car without feeling pain. But I’m still here. I feel I have a whole career ahead of me.”
Dickey’s knuckleball danced through the Pacific Coast League last year, when as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers’ Class AAA farm team in Nashville he went 13-6 with a 3.72 earned run average. (He went 9-2 with a 2.51 E.R.A. in his final 15 starts as the pitch started to become particularly effective.) The Minnesota Twins signed him in November, but he was soon snapped up by the Mariners in the Rule 5 draft, meaning Seattle must keep him on its 25-man roster all season or offer him back to Minnesota.
Bill Bavasi, the Mariners’ general manager, said that one of Dickey’s primary attributes is — of all things — his durability. “He can throw four innings in relief tonight and spot start tomorrow,” Bavasi said. “He can save your butt by eating a lot of innings.”
After pitching professionally for 12 years without any elbow discomfort to speak of, the man who was told the joint would never hold up can pitch almost every day if needed.
“It’s a real blessing now,” Dickey said. “I’m real resilient, simply because I don’t have to worry about that ligament being sore, or tearing it. There’s nothing to tear.”
Dickey’s route to this point was as tortuous as his knuckleball. It started with a picture that told a thousand words — at about $800 apiece.
A hard-throwing all-American pitcher at the University of Tennessee in 1996, Dickey became a first-round draft pick of the Texas Rangers and a starter for the United States Olympic team, along with Kris Benson, Billy Koch, Seth Greisinger and Braden Looper. Baseball America pictured the five of them standing side by side on the cover of its Olympic preview issue.
Dickey was ready to accept the Rangers’ $810,000 bonus offer when a team physician picked up the magazine and noticed Dickey’s right arm hanging somewhat awkwardly at his side. The doctor recommended that the team examine him further, leading to the bizarre discovery that Dickey not only had an elbow issue, he had no ulnar collateral ligament, the primary tissue that stabilizes the joint. The Rangers pulled their offer and wound up offering him $75,000, more out of guilt than confidence in his future.
CJ Wilson blogs his way into trouble …
The exhibition season hasn't yet started, and already Texas Rangers closer C.J. Wilson has found himself in a jam.
In his own clubhouse.
Wilson recently made comments about his teammates' lack of political education in an ESPN.com article and then made subsequent posts on a Rangers-related blog that referred to the average major leaguer by an obscene remark. On Tuesday, teammates confronted him about the comments.
"I had a very direct talk with him," said shortstop Michael Young. Young declined to elaborate further on the conversation. Kevin Millwood and Frank Catalanotto were also among those who questioned him after several players whispered about the comments during Tuesday's workout.
In the ESPN.com article about players' indifference to the presidential election, Wilson was quoted as saying "it's frustrating" in reference to the lack of political discussion.
That sparked plenty of political conversation. Teammate Brandon McCarthy criticized the article in a lengthy post on lonestarball.com. Wilson, who posts on the blog under the name "blueglovelefty," added several posts, as well.
In response to McCarthy's post, Wilson offered praise for the commentary, but added: "Come on man you have to admit the median or average guy in a baseball clubhouse does drive an SUV, drinks beer, golfs, likes college sports, chews or dips tobacco and is relatively a [expletive]."
In a later post, on the same thread, Wilson also commented: "I'm paying taxes no matter who the president is, just please god not hillary."
By late Tuesday, all of Wilson’s posts had been removed from lonestarball.com.
Although players didn't argue their affinity for SUVs or golf, they did take exception with the derogatory description.
"I think if you are going to be online, you have to choose your words wisely," Catalanotto said. "And if you have something to say to someone, I think you should say that directly to them. Otherwise, it can misconstrued, even if it was meant in a joking manner. That doesn't come across on the Web. Hopefully, C.J. has learned his lesson. You can say something online that makes yourself or your teammates look bad."
Wilson, who also has his own blog, twice declined to comment on the matter Monday afternoon.
It is quickly becoming a tradition for Wilson to be involved in a bit of Web-based controversy during spring training. Last year, he posted a captured image from a movie scene on McCarthy's Myspace page that could have been interpreted as racially offensive. After that was highlighted, Wilson removed the picture and apologized.
10 lies from every spring training. Starting with “I am in the best shape of my life” …
The BSOML Club includes Mets prospect Eddie Kunz (who "is in what he called the best shape of his life" -- New York Times, Feb. 22), Dodgers catcher Russ Martin (On BSOML status: "Yep, no question" -- The Canadian Press, Feb. 17), Mets pitcher Duaner Sanchez ("Now I'm in the best shape of my life" -- MLB.com, Feb. 13), Padres outfielder Paul McAnulty ("I'm in the best shape of my life" -- San Diego Union-Tribune, Feb. 15), Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz ("I've tried all winter to improve myself, to get in the best shape of my life" -- Dallas Morning News, Feb. 21), White Sox outfielder Brian Anderson ("I'm in the best shape of my life" -- MLB.com, Jan. 24), Rangers pitcher Kevin Millwood ("I think I'm in the best shape of my life" -- Associated Press, Feb. 18) and Nationals pitchers Chad Cordero (who "said he is in the best shape of his life" -- MLB.com, Feb. 15) and Ray King ("King arrived in camp in the best shape of his life" -- MLB.com, Feb. 13).
2. "I'm sorry if I caused a distraction for my team and my teammates."
3. "I only used HGH once and that was only to recover from an injury in my quest to help my team as soon as possible."
4. "We're going to run this year."
5. "He worked hard to come back from the injuries. The talent is still there. If he can stay healthy, he'll have a big year."
6. "We have healthy competition among guys competing for spots in the back end of the rotation."
7. "I'm not thinking about my contract. I'm happy here."
8. "This farm system is loaded. I've never seen so many good arms in camp. Our best prospects are in A ball, just a couple of years away."
9. "We're going to get him a few more days off during the season. He wore down last year toward the end of the year."
10. "They're a sleeper team."
$20 million to Pretty Boy to wrassle? …
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is a champion boxer and has tested his moves on "Dancing With the Stars." Now the man many consider the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world is preparing to drop the gloves and do some wrasslin'.
A $20 million payday awaits the undefeated WBC welterweight champion when he takes on Big Show as part of WWE's "WrestleMania XXIV" at Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla., on March 30.
"It's entertainment. You have a chance to just be you and do what you want to do," Mayweather said Monday after a chaotic Staples Center event that masqueraded as a news conference.
The boxer nicknamed "Money" clearly likes the way WWE does business.
"Wrestling takes care of business right on the spot," Mayweather said. "Whatever they say they're going to do, they do it right on the spot. There's no waiting three, four, five months. Quick results, quick money. Quick big money, too."
His manager Leonard Ellerbee and WWE executive Shane McMahon confirmed Mayweather's eight-figure payday for the outdoor match to be shown on live on pay-per-view.
Mayweather incited the couple hundred of already hyped fans at Staples Center by whipping out a thick wad of cash and repeatedly tossing $100, $50 and $20 bills into the crowd that had nearly as many women as men.
A mad scramble ensued, with a light pole nearly getting knocked over and two small children caught in the chaos. One lucky man emerged from the pileup clutching six $100 bills.
Mayweather played to the frenzied crowd after appearing from behind a black curtain wearing a New York Yankees jacket and cap. Fans shouted insults and the name of hometown hero Oscar De La Hoya at Mayweather.
"I run Vegas and I run L.A. and I will run the WWE," he boasted.
At 5-foot-8, 150 pounds, Mayweather gives up big numbers to the bald Big Show, who stands 7-feet and weighs 430.
Coolness here: FC Dallas to televise every game in English! …and guess who is calling the season opener? Not some dude in the next cube…
We've finalized our local television and radio broadcast partners for 2008...
For the first time in team history, each of the 30 regular season games will be available locally on English language television, including all 15 home matches. Local broadcast partners KFWD-52 and FSN Southwest will air 19 games, with national outlets ESPN2, Fox Soccer Channel, and HDNet combining to show 11 matches.
As previously announced, 15 of the games will also be available through national Spanish-language channels Telefutura (Ch. 49) and Fox Sports en Español.
All games will also continue to air live on 1540 AM (Spanish). KFWD-52 will join Telefutura in broadcasting the season opener on Sunday, March 30 when FCD faces Chivas USA at Pizza Hut Park (live at 2 p.m. CT).
Star Wars from a 3-year old
How do you win the Lady Byng? Get beat by Olli Jokinen in a fight.