Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Order that Hamilton Jersey

Well, at the risk of getting sucked in by another amazing debut (see: Kapler, Gabe; and Richards, Brad), how can you not be amazed by what Josh Hamilton did in his 2nd game with the Texas Rangers? All he did was track down a few gap shots and then won the game with a 9th inning 2-run home run when you were down one.

I’ve seen a lot of things, but that…was…awesome!

I will say that I wonder if he can stay healthy all year, and as he slammed into the wall tracking down Brad Wilkerson’s would-be double I held my breath, but he looks like the real deal.

Tonight, the debut of Jason Jennings against the amazingly average and rich Carlos Silva…

A win seldom feels so good

The expectation is that Josh Hamilton will do exactly what he did Tuesday night. He’ll deliver dramatic winning homers.

Here’s a bit of advice, though: If you sit around waiting for a Hamilton homer, you may miss some other compelling parts of his act. The guy can catch the ball, and he can run, too.

And when you put it all together, he’s got the ability to single-handedly deliver a game just like Tuesday’s 5-4 win over Seattle. The standings will say the Texas Rangers are 1-1 today. Make no mistake, though, the win was all Hamilton.

Even before he drove the first pitch he saw from Mariners reliever J.J. Putz into the right field seats with one out and Ian Kinsler on first in the ninth inning, he first kept the Rangers in the game with two running catches and then helped give the club the lead by beating out a rally-starting infield hit.

“When I’m not having a good game at the plate, and I wasn’t having one early in this game, I still want to be able to do everything I can to help the team win a game,” Hamilton said. “I love playing the outfield. I love it even more than hitting.”

When the Rangers acquired Hamilton, it was with the thought that possibly, just possibly, he was a franchise kind of player. He looked the part Tuesday.

Just consider:

•In the fifth and seventh innings, he ran down long fly balls off the bats of various Mariners to keep a 1-1 score tied. Brad Wilkerson had driven a two-out pitch from Vicente Padilla deep towards left center in the fifth. But with Richie Sexson lumbering around the bases, Hamilton, stumbling into the wall as he reached for the ball, made an over-the-shoulder grab. In the seventh, he went to right-center to take extra bases away from Raul Ibanez to start the inning.

•In the eighth, he started the Rangers' rally by hustling to first after chopping a pitch from lefty Eric O’Flaherty into the ground. Thought Sexson fielded the ball cleanly, the high bounce and Hamilton’s hustle gave him enough time to reach the bag just ahead of the Mariners first baseman. Hank Blalock followed with a double on a 1-and-2 count, and then Milton Bradley’s fly ball gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. They expanded it to 3-1 when David Murphy doubled with two outs.

•In the ninth, after Kinsler’s hit, flu-ridden Michael Young struck out, leaving Hamilton to face Putz. In the season-opener, Putz struck Hamilton out to end the game. Hamilton saw eight pitches in that at-bat, though, including four fastballs.

Sergei Zubov has played 46 games – the Stars have played 79 And the hopes of his imminent return appear to be quite hopeful ….

Sergei Zubov looked good while he skated around the San Jose practice facility Friday.

He sounded positive, too, as he approached his return from foot and groin injuries.
But, on Tuesday, instead of skating with Dallas Stars teammates, Zubov was talking to doctors again.

And his return date is in question again.

Coach Dave Tippett said it will be several days until the defenseman will skate again.

It's unknown when he might play.

"It's always a concern when 56 isn't there," Tippett said. "He's going to see a specialist, and he'll be back in a couple days.

"It's a combination of a lot of things."

It's another setback for Zubov, who's had several over the past two months and hasn't played since Jan. 17.

He was originally supposed to come back in late February but underwent foot surgery instead.

Zubov skated most of last week and was expected to play this past weekend.

Now, more waiting lies ahead.

"We'll get the results and review it all on Friday," Tippett said.

By the way, I am now a columnist for They have told me to write what I mean, and mean what I write (right) (translation: they have not asked me to be a homer, but to say whatever I want) so I accepted. I have a Zubov column that will be up today, but here is the first one I wrote
last Friday from San Jose

Meanwhile, in what could be the biggest regular season game for the Mavericks in years, they take on the Warriors…with Dirk? ….

Dirk Nowitzki put in 45 minutes of court time in front of coach Avery Johnson on Tuesday. It's possible the forward could be in uniform Wednesday night against Golden State, just 11 days after suffering a high left ankle sprain.

It would be a remarkably quick recovery. But even if it's on the trip against the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix later this week, Nowitzki's return is imminent. Officially, he's been upgraded to day-to-day.

"He shot a few shots ... made a few, missed a few, and he moved OK," Johnson said.
"We'll know more when we see how he recovers and once he goes through [today's] shootaround. He was able to go through some contact. But is he ready to play in a game? We'll have to wait and see. But he felt pretty good."

It doesn't help that tonight's opponent is the Golden State Warriors, who play at as fast a tempo as any team in the league.

Mike Rhyner discussed the new website SI Vault , that features every story that Sports Illustrated has ever written…for free. Wow. Amazing resource. Amazing time waste. Enjoy.

I’ll get you started with the story from the day Alex Rodriguez was signed by the Rangers

Both men got exactly what they wanted. Hicks landed one of the best and most marketable players in baseball as the center of an imagined universe that he believes will produce revenue streams and World Series runs to rival those of the New York Yankees. "We're Number 4 in [major league] revenue," Boras said Hicks told him, "and heading up."

Last Friday, Rodriguez flew by private jet to Las Vegas and checked into a hotel under the name of Pat Riley. He would spend the weekend playing golf with old high school buddies. On the way to Vegas the jet had stopped in Dallas to drop off Boras at the winter meetings, where he hoped to get the deal done.

Boras kept his ear to the ground for rumblings that the Dodgers or the Mets would enter the picture, but that didn't happen. He did schedule a Sunday-night meeting with the Mets' Phillips to settle what he called "an apparent huge miscommunication" between the two of them—and if that was entrĂ©e for the Mets to jump back in, fine—but that meeting had to be postponed because of the gathering momentum of the Rangers' efforts to close the deal.

The White Sox remained active, but on Saturday owner Jerry Reinsdorf told his first-year general manager, Kenny Williams, that he wanted to meet Rodriguez in private. The days for those meetings were long over, Boras said. Chicago was done. As for Atlanta, Boras made it clear that the Braves could not count on their reputation alone to get Rodriguez. "The Braves know they'd better get their running shoes out of the closet," Boras said last Saturday. "The race is on."

Atlanta never laced up. It refused to consider a no-trade clause, and that was a deal breaker. "In the last weekend it was Texas 1, Seattle 2 and Atlanta 3 in my mind," Rodriguez said on Monday. "Texas really won it, but the Mariners made it a lot easier by the way they treated me."

Word spread through the Anatole Hotel on Sunday night that the Rangers had offered about $240 million. One Seattle source, when told of that, said, "No way. That's ridiculous. We're still in it. If that were true, he'd be signed."

Of course, it was that much and more. The Mariners offered Rodriguez only a five-year contract for about $92 million. At 6 p.m. in Dallas on Sunday, Boras called Rodriguez in Las Vegas. "Alex, Texas can get this thing done," Boras said. "What would you like to do."

"Go ahead and get it done," Rodriguez said.

A few hours later, just as Rodriguez was leaving for a Las Vegas show, Boras called back to tell him the framework of a deal was in place. He would be a Ranger. Rodriguez enjoyed the show, flew home to Miami and played golf the next afternoon.

On Monday morning Boras sat slumped in a chair in room 2289 at the Anatole. He had gone to bed at 3 a.m. but couldn't sleep, still wired from the deal. He had slept maybe nine hours all weekend and had skipped several meals.

"Whenever a client changes teams, you worry because you're leaving a known situation," he said. "I have some of those thoughts right now, as I did with Maddux in 1992. But today I feel like the world only now will get to know Alex. Bigger and better things are out there for him. He's already a star, but this puts him on a whole different level. Today is only the beginning for Alex."

Those were the days…

Catching up with Gabe

Gabe Kapler was perhaps the quietest player in the Milwaukee Brewers' clubhouse this sprin

"I believe you earn respect by the way you go about your business and the way you interact with your teammates, by the professionalism you bring to the clubhouse," the veteran outfielder said.

"I've tried to stay quiet and be an observer. You don't earn it by what you say or necessarily by how you perform, but how you get there."

It's impossible not to respect how Kapler earned a spot on the Brewers' season-opening roster. Showing absolutely no rust after a one-year retirement, the versatile Kapler won a job with a hard-nosed, high-energy style of play that caught the attention of manager Ned Yost.

Yost was informed beforehand by general manager Doug Melvin, who had Kapler in Texas, and third-base coach Dale Sveum, who worked with Kapler in Boston, that he'd like the native Californian's approach to the game.

"I heard about this guy from Doug for years," Yost said. "Then I talked with (Sveum) and he told me he was a winning player.

"He was very impressive, right from the get-go, in everything he did. He's got Brady Clark mentality with more talent. He fits our mold, what we like."

With centerfielder Mike Cameron beginning the season on a 25-game suspension, the
Brewers are able to carry an extra outfielder. That worked in Kapler's favor, but so did his ability.

Yost already has said he plans to start the right-handed-hitting Kapler in center against left-handed pitchers. And the Cubs will start a lefty, Ted Lilly, in the second game of the season-opening series today at Wrigley Field.

Asked about showing he still had game left after managing a year in the minors, the 32-year-old Kapler said, "Of course, it's satisfying. To be respected is very flattering.

"What I'm most excited about is thinking about situations already that I might be able to help this team. I kind of understand my role already and I feel like I'm going to be able to help this team win. That's exciting.

"This is a good team. I'm just starting to taste this. I'm anxious for it all to count, for the adrenaline and heartbeat that only occurs with regular-season games. There's nothing like it. I'm trying to be humble and quiet about it, and see what happens."

Can Ovechkin and the Caps make the playoffs?

It's been quite a chase up the standings for Washington, but with a big divisional win over the Hurricanes at home, the Capitals are finally tied for the Southeast Division lead.

And finishing third is now a more real possibility than squeaking into eighth.

Both Carolina and Washington have two games remaining, and both face already eliminated Tampa Bay and Florida at home. Carolina's final game of the season is Friday night against the Panthers; Washington gets the cats from Sunrise the next night to close their schedule.

Under Bruce Boudreau, Washington's been 35-17-7, 77 points in 59 games or the equivalent of a 107-point campaign over 82 games.

At that rate, they'd be the best team in the Eastern Conference this season, and behind just Detroit and San Jose in the NHL standings.

Yet, still, they're on the outside looking in (given the 'Canes hold the tiebreaker).

That 6-14-1 hole posted with Glen Hanlon as coach looms large. But Washington has whipped off five wins in a row, and nine in its past 10 games, with Cristobal Huet allowing just nine goals in his past five starts.

They're red hot, and all that stands between themselves and the postseason are the Lightning and Panthers.

Cutler hates Brandon Marshall

Jay Cutler has had it with all the drama and headlines surrounding top target Brandon Marshall.

In his first offseason interview, one sprinkled with unusually blunt criticism, the Denver Broncos quarterback called out his No. 1 receiver and fellow third-year star who suffered a gash on his right forearm while horsing around last month.

"Yeah, he's not my favorite person right now," Cutler said. "I mean, I support him, but it's always something with him right now."

With Jeremy Bates taking over the Broncos' passing game, Cutler said Tuesday that it was imperative for Marshall to participate in all the offseason workouts, but he won't be back in action until training camp.

"We're going to be fine. I'm not that overly concerned about it, but it just would be nice coming into our third year, coming off a big year he had last year, for him to get more work done and get more time in and just a little more trust out there," Cutler said. "But it's going to take some time now, maybe training camp, maybe even longer."

Marshall, who emerged as Cutler's primary target during a breakout 2007 season, said he was horsing around with his older brother at a resort in Orlando, Fla., when he fell into a television set, cutting an artery, a vein, a nerve, two tendons and three muscles in his right arm.

Marshall has found himself in the news a lot lately. He faces a DUI charge stemming from an October incident and had a spat with his girlfriend last year that landed him in court. And he was partying with Darrent Williams the night the cornerback was slain in a drive-by shooting on Jan. 1, 2006. Former teammate Javon Walker said Marshall sprayed champagne on some bar patrons, sparking a confrontation that preceded the shooting, which remains unsolved.

"I've talked to him many times. I think a lot of people have. ... He knows he's running out of chances," Cutler said. "This wasn't like his DUI and other stuff he's had. It was an accident, but still, things like that can't happen. He knows it.

"But like I told him, I said, 'Brandon, they're going to quit giving you chances and you're going to have to go somewhere else. And that's going to be a shame.'"

Marshall said last week that he realizes he has to grow up and that his freak injury was a wakeup call.

"His DUI was a wakeup call," Cutler retorted. "He's had many wakeup calls. I mean, he's been in [coach Mike] Shanahan's office many times. I've been up there with him. He said the same thing: 'This is a wakeup call. This is the last thing that's going to happen. Blah blah blah.' I mean, until he goes out and proves it, we'll see what happens.'"

Cutler wants to have trust in his No. 1 receiver.

"I love Brandon to death and he's a great kid at heart. I don't think he goes out there looking for trouble. He's not at bars late. He's not doing those things that other people do. It's just something about him. He's always into something," Cutler said. "Like I told him, 'I haven't lost faith in you. I'll still support you. But ... you're going to have to prove yourself this time.'"

Marshall, a fourth-round draft choice in 2006 out of Central Florida, blossomed into the Broncos' best receiver last year, facilitating the recent release of Walker, who was replaced by free agent Keary Colbert.

Leave it to the Mayor of Philadelphia to tuck his jersey in his jeans. Poser.

Unintentional Comedy Alert: Here…seriously, can this be real? Or, is Saturday Night Live developing a new skit in Fort Worth? I sit amazed as I watch and just wonder how this entire operation came to be….6 minutes of gold…

Spaghetti Prank of 1957

Craziest thing on this blog today

Liverpool plays at Arsenal today at 1:45 on ESPN2 in the Champions League. Wish them luck…they are going to need it…


dim499 said...

Anyone else amazed that Bob is defending not playing Damp against GS?

I thought we had all determined together last year that this was the biggest mistake Avery ever made.

So this time around he gets 12 minutes, despite the fact that Dirk is out and the guy replacing Dampier in the 4th quarter is MALIK ALLEN (plus Kidd, Terry, Howard, Bass) and we're just fine with it!?

Because Damp couldn't possibly guard Biedrins or the soft Al Harrington, we have to have the equally slow and unathletic Malik effing Allen out there in case he gets another chance at his patented 18 footer, which he makes at best once a game, as he's not even thinking about going into the paint.

Add to that that the biggest reason they lost that game without any doubt was rebounding in the 4th quarter. And Damp is averaging 7.5 rebounds in 24.1 minutes. Biedrins, who is the worst basketball player the Warriors have, got at least 3 off rebounds in the 4th quarter alone, maybe four I'm not sure.

So Dan points it out 2 out of 3 shows... I'm ready for Bob to go into a Avery rant, but no - he completely shoots it down. And a small part of me died..

Jay said...

Where I get confused on the Damp issue is what do all these other teams do against Golden State. Does Houston take out Yao, does San Antonio take out Tim Duncan. I mean GS hasn't won every game they've played the last 2 seasons so I'm thinking there's some way to keep your big man on the court. Doesn't it create mismatches both ways?

The only thing I can think of is that Avery thinks that in transition it would be constant 5-4 running down the court but I just don't know I believe it. I just haven't seen enough of Damp actually playing to see if he gets lit up constantly. Maybe he has in the past, I just haven't seen it. The times in recent past where I've seen him play he seems pretty effective. I think you kill a team like GS on rebounds. Unless they shoot 70% you're probably going to win the jump shot game most nights.