I took my second trip this past weekend to Guatemala and am now back and ready to roll. I wish I could tell you the whole story as to why this is something that I do now, and why I plan on continuing to do so, but it might take a while. Basically, I went to Guatemala City and Antigua to spend time at a few different orphanages and a baby home over the last several days with a small group through Buckner Missions here in town.
What an experience. It really is something that adds a little perspective to our daily life back here that is filled with cell phones, Tivo, SUV’s, and $5 Starbucks beverages.
These kids are just like any kids you know. They love to laugh and play and be carried around on shoulders. They are absolutely sweet kids who may have been born into an extremely tough situation. The rough estimate is that there are 143 million orphans in our world. They are neglected for various reasons in their home land, and if playing with a few of them for a few days a year can make a small difference in their life, then count me in.
Anyway, Guatemala seems random, and 4 days seems too short to make a difference right? I was told this story this weekend:
I’m reminded of a story of a young child and his grandfather walking along a beach. Each time the grandfather came across a sand dollar, he would bend down and throw it back into the water. When his grandson asked why – he explained, “Each sand dollar is a live organism. If I don’t throw them back in the water, they’ll die in the heat of the sun.” As they continued their walk, the grandfather bent down and threw another sand dollar into the water. The young boy asked, “Grandpa – there are so many sand dollars on this beach… and so many beaches all over the world… how do you expect to really make a difference?” As the grandfather threw yet another sand dollar back into the ocean… he looked down at his grandson and said, “To that one, I made all the difference in the world.”
I hope that was true this past weekend.
And now, to Sports!
The Stars respond with a big effort on Sunday …
Dallas Stars coach Dave Tippett united Mike Modano and Brad Richards on a top line for the first time since the Stars acquired Richards from the Lightning on Feb. 26 – and the duo responded with two points each and helped the Stars to a 3-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday at American Airlines Center.
"You want to put the onus on your best players," Tippett said of the change of philosophy from previous games, when he tried to spread out his talent. "You want your leaders to step up and take charge, and they did that tonight, right from Marty [Turco] to Mo's line ... and I also thought [Mattias] Norstrom and [Stephane] Robidas were excellent, too."
Norstrom and Robidas locked down the defense and helped the Stars allow only one shot on goal in the first period while building a 2-0 lead. Turco stopped 19 shots and earned his 33rd career shutout.
The combination of improved play at all three levels helped the Stars (42-25-5, 89 points) stop a three-game losing streak and avenge a tough loss to the same Colorado team Saturday in Denver. Dallas gave up a 1-0 third-period lead in that game and was pushed around physically.
"We talked in our meeting about how we needed to respond and what we needed to do as a team," said captain Brenden Morrow, who played on the line with Modano and Richards. "And we went out and came together as a team and did what we needed to do."
I am sure everyone saw this, but here is Bill Simmons email response on the Mavs in the post-trade era …
Q: (Dead silence, sound of crickets chirping)
SG: Wait, nobody from Dallas is e-mailing me this week to tell me that I'm a moron for not liking the Jason Kidd trade? What happened? Was it the consecutive road losses to San Antonio, Dallas and Utah that cooled you off? Did you realize after Deron Williams' 17-20 that Kidd can't defend quick point guards anymore? Are you concerned after the displicable end-of-the-game benching in San Antonio that the OverCoacher (aka, Avery Johnson) and the Coach On the Floor (Kidd) might not be the greatest match? (By the way, I just made up the word "displicable" -- it's for anything that's one step beyond inexplicable.) Are you worried that your team's immediate future hinges on Erick Dampier playing hard for four months in a row, or that you don't have a bench, or that you have to work really, really, really superduperhard against good teams to get quality shots in the final five minutes of a game, or that you're not getting stops when it matters? Or did the Internet go down in Texas this weekend?
One other thought: After watching three nationally televised Mavs games in the past week, I was amazed that every announcer and studio analyst raved about Kidd and everything he "does" for a basketball team without ever mentioning his flaws. It's like he was a Republican getting broken down on Fox News. We get it, he makes everyone better and runs the hell out of a fast break. But what about the fact that he can't shoot? Or that he can't guard any penetrating guard? Or that, when things slow down in the last four minutes of a game and everyone stops running, he's just not as effective? I didn't hear one TV person mention this over the past week. Not one. Now I'm wondering if the G.P. Corollary applies to Kidd here -- in other words, because he looks exactly like he did during his apex, it's throwing everyone off (even someone astute like Kenny Smith or Jeff Van Gundy) and they're treating him like he's In-His-Prime J-Kidd instead of Guy-With-1,100-Games-On-His-Odometer J-Kidd. It's bizarre.
Julius Jones is a Seahawk …
The Seahawks agreed to terms with free-agent running back Julius Jones on Friday night, according to a report on the NFL Web site.
It is Seattle's latest step in rebuilding its running game. It is also the most
dramatic. Not just because of what the 26-year-old Jones brings to the Seahawks, but because of the question his arrival raises. Will Shaun Alexander still be part of this rebuilt backfield?
Jones' addition does not require Alexander's subtraction. There's room for both under the Seahawks' salary-cap configuration. Jones is the second running back signed by Seattle this week, showing the Seahawks' emphasis on rebuilding their running game after last season's struggles.
The Seahawks replaced their offensive-line coach, signed former Pro Bowl guard Mike Wahle after he was released by Carolina and this week signed T.J. Duckett, who's big enough to play some fullback, too. Now they are poised to add Jones, who rushed for 1,084 yards in 2006 but whose opportunities and rushing average declined last season.
Duckett is a short-yardage specialist, a big body brought in to address the team's third-and-short failings these past two seasons. Jones likely will be in the running for a starting job.
The agreement between the Seahawks and Jones was first reported by the NFL Network's Adam Schefter. Jones' agent did not return phone messages Friday, and the Seahawks' policy is to not comment before contracts are signed and approved. ESPN.com reported the deal is for four years and will average about $3 million per season.
Jones was a second-round draft choice from Notre Dame in 2004 and played the past four seasons in Dallas. His carries declined in 2007 as Marion Barber stepped into a bigger role in the Cowboys' backfield.
Jones' best game as a pro was in Seattle in 2004, when he rushed for 198 yards and three touchdowns in a Monday night game.
Jones visited Detroit and Tennessee earlier in the week before arriving in Seattle on Thursday for a two-day visit.
The question is what happens now to Alexander, the franchise's all-time leading rusher. A message to one of Alexander's representatives was not returned Friday. In the five seasons from 2001 to 2005, Alexander averaged 1,501 yards and 20 touchdowns. He averaged 806 yards the past two seasons and totaled 11 touchdowns.
He is 30 years old and never missed a game his first six seasons in the league. He missed nine games because of injury the past two years.
Alexander is scheduled to make $4.5 million next season. If the team released him, it would not be responsible for his salary, but it would still have to account for three-fifths of his 2006 signing bonus ($6.9 million of the $11.5 million total) under the league's salary cap. Seattle could choose to spread that salary-cap hit over two seasons.
Coach Mike Holmgren and president Tim Ruskell previously said there were no plans to cut Alexander.
Nobody had this Final 4 picked …
FA Cup giant-killers Barnsley, conquerors of Liverpool and Chelsea in the previous two rounds, have drawn fellow Championship side Cardiff City in the semi-finals of the competition.
Premier League Portsmouth will take on Championship promotion contenders West Bromwich Albion in the other semi-final.
Pompey are the only top flight side left in the competition after a weekend of shocks in the quarter-finals.
Both matches will take place at Wembley on the weekend of April 5 and 6.
Portsmouth, who have won the FA Cup once in their history, in 1939, were made favourites for the competition after surprising Premier League champions Manchester United on Saturday.
The Baggies have won the cup five times but not since 1968.
Barnsley, who are struggling in the bottom half of the Championship, are making their first appearance in the last four since 1912.
Welsh side Cardiff, for whom the cup run is a welcome distraction from financial problems, won the cup in 1927.
The semi-final line-up ensures a first winner from outside the game's current 'big four' of Arsenal, Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea since 1995.
I don’t wish to spoil it for you, but, The Final episode of the Wire is broken down here ….
Antigua, Guatemala – The nicer spots of a cool city
Kige on Brett