As the Plane heads off to what could be the final game of the season (if things don't go right), we ponder when the Stars figured it out again. I will say the summer of 2006, when they made Morrow the captain, said goodbye to Arnott and Guerin, and made some odd trade with Montreal for Mike Ribeiro.
I was emailed a link to this blog, yesterday , where a Stars fan was writing another tribute to Brenden. It was good stuff, but I was emailed the link because it referenced something I said many moons ago.
Usually, when I am sent this, it is to remind me of a mistake I made in the past (like when I thought Okafor was a better pick than Dwight Howard) because these archives don’t lie. If you search hard enough you can find some really dumb things I have said over the years, but I will leave that up to you and your boredom.
Anyway, I was sent something I got very right. It was from April 27, 2006, when I wrote about Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs – Round 1, with Dallas losing to Colorado again . I was all bitter about another Stars crash and burn, but I guess I decided that the Stars needed a new captain that day and wrote this:
• I endorse Brendan Morrow (above) for captain in 2006-07.
Wow. I am really proud of getting that one so right – please don’t note that I also obviously didn’t know how to spell his name.
What seems like such a no-brainer now was certainly questioned then; but I guess I can’t lose them all.
Evan Examines the Rangers turnaround ….
On the evening of April 24, while all around them was silent and sullen, the senior members of the Rangers' roster conducted a makeshift board meeting in the back of the club's charter flight from Detroit to Dallas.
A three-game sweep in Detroit extended the Rangers' losing streak to seven games and left the club with the worst record in the American League and staring at the same kind of season-killing start that had scuttled the 2007 season before Memorial Day.
Something had to be done if the season was to be saved.
Eddie Guardado, with the most major league service time, represented the bullpen. Kevin Millwood spoke for the starting rotation, Milton Bradley and Michael Young for the position players. By the time the plane had landed, the group had decided it was time to take the rather extreme measure of a players-only meeting.
A day later, they met. As is custom, the most experienced member of the club, Guardado, spoke first and told the team, "This is where it starts." The others followed, echoing the approach that the season started anew with the next game. And when it was done, almost every player on the roster had said something.
"We became a team that day," Young said. "The effect of that meeting was huge."
Even Dr. Phil would be envious of the results of the Rangers' group therapy. Since the meeting, the team is 13-6 and has won each of the six series it has played. Manager Ron Washington's job security is no longer being discussed. In three weeks, the Rangers have moved back to the brink of .500. Or if you count things this way, they began Thursday 3 ½ games behind the wild-card leader, Boston.
Was it that simple? Was some introspection all the Rangers needed? Are they winning because they had a meeting?
"It's not that simple," Guardado said. "I've been through a lot of meetings where you said a lot of the same things and nothing happened. That everybody said something was important. I came out of it feeling good, and I think everybody did. I think there was a feeling like a ton of bricks had been taken off each of our backs. We started relying on each other more. Now, we are picking each other up."
It shows in the way the Rangers' lineup has approached its job. It shows in the way the starting rotation and bullpen have gotten back in synch to ensure that one doesn't place too much of a burden on the other. It shows in the way the veterans seem to feed off the rookies' energy as much as the rookies feed off the veterans' experience.
Hicks has no confidence in Daniels …it would appear from his quote….
Speculation was rampant that manager Ron Washington would be fired, but Ryan said a knee-jerk reaction would have been a mistake. Daniels and Hicks agree that Ryan's experiences -- 27 seasons as a player and 15 years in private business -- were invaluable in deciding to remain patient.
"He wanted us to face the issues because he wasn't prepared to give up on this season," Hicks said. "We did face the issues, we thought long and hard about them, we decided to be patient, and it looks like that decision was a good decision."
That means that ideas were shared by Ryan and Daniels, a pairing Hicks said is working well and should make the Rangers better. Ryan can give Daniels perspective he didn't have before.
Said Hicks: "Some of the mistakes J.D. made in trades we wouldn't have made had Nolan been at the table. I don't think we'll have to worry about that again."
Hicks' faith in Ryan is so strong that he has taken a step back from the Rangers to juggle his other two major league franchises, the Dallas Stars and FC Liverpool. He also has let Ryan to be the public face of the ballclub.
It's a luxury he has because Ryan's grasp on the Rangers -- business and baseball -- improves each day. He is getting a better idea of how to meet deadlines and demands set by the office of Major League Baseball, and he knows which prospects are where and what they can do.
But only four teams are playing in the minors now. Nine, including two teams in the Dominican Republic, will be playing by summer. He'll have more to grasp then, but he hasn't given anyone a reason to think he won't be on top of those clubs, too.
"I give him a lot of credit," Daniels said. "He's taken on a lot in a very short amount of time. To a degree it's been a crash course. Every day he's got everything from how the big-league club is doing to merchandising to facility improvements."
Indeed, Ryan's spacious office is home to a rack of jerseys that could be worn next season.
He has hired Dale Petroskey, former president of the Baseball Hall of Fame, to oversee marketing, community development, government relations and the Texas Rangers Foundation.
Nolan Ryan Tender Beef is now available at Rangers Ballpark.
He can be heard on radio ads telling fans they could use some baseball.
Ryan will be keeping lookout during the Lone Star Series.
"It's a big weekend," he said. "There are going to be some Astros fans who haven't seen our club. So we hope we play well."
Why is Vince Young Dancing Topless? …
Spurs stay alive …
Boosted by a hot shooting stroke, scrappy defense and an inspired Manu Ginobili, the Spurs kept their season alive for at least one more game.
Ginobili scored 25 points, making 6 of 9 3-pointers, and Tim Duncan had his best game this series with 20 points and 15 rebounds, as the Spurs raced to a 13-point lead in the first quarter and never trailed again.
The Spurs won with 3-point shooting (11-of-21) and with defense, holding the Hornets to 41.3 percent shooting.
It was a performance typical of the home team in this series, in which the visitors have been beaten by an average of more than 18 points.
Now, this Jekyll-and-Hyde series heads back to the Big Easy, with the Spurs hoping to break the home-team-in-a-rout trend. Monday’s Game 7 will be just the third for the Spurs since Tim Duncan arrived in 1997.
“We’re happy to go back to their gym, and we think we’re a pretty good road team,” Duncan said. “We’re going to do our best to make a better game of it.”
Popovich, who won his 99th postseason game to match Red Auerbach for fourth on the NBA’s all-time list, has known this kind of pressure before.
On the golf course.
“I can visibly see my hands shake when I’m trying to make a two-footer for a Budweiser,” Popovich cracked.
The stakes are significantly higher now.
The site of Game 7 — and perhaps given the state of star David West’s back, the date of it — was the only bit of good news to come out of San Antonio for the Hornets.
Parker added 15 points for the Spurs, but it was more than the Big Three who secured a return trip to the Big Easy.
Ime Udoka hit all five of his shots en route to 13 points off the bench, and Fabricio Oberto made the most of his first start of the series with four assists in the first quarter to help kick-start the Spurs’ offense.
“When you are able to have that many people play well, you have a chance to win a basketball game,” Popovich said.
Chris Paul led the Hornets with 21 points, but the Spurs were able to take away his other scoring options. Paul finished with a series-low eight assists.
West, fresh off scorching the Spurs for 38 points in Game 5, looked almost human. Guarded primarily by Duncan, West had just 10 points, making 4 of 14 field goals. By game’s end West was in bad shape.
Felled by a Robert Horry back-pick early in the fourth, West — who had been battling a stiff back — was helped to the locker room and didn’t return.
Thanks to the heavy lifting the Spurs had done to that point, the game was decided.
The Hornets trailed by seven at half, and did not open the third quarter well. Parker stole Morris Peterson’s opening inbounds pass and, two seconds into the second half, the Spurs were up nine.
“I took that as a bad sign, right off the bat,” Scott said.
Flipping the script from what normally happens to them in New Orleans, the Spurs won the third quarter 20-12. Behind a 7-0 quarter-closing run — sparked by a Udoka 3-pointer and block of Jannero Pargo that became a Duncan layup — to take a 78-63 lead into the final frame.
By that point, the return trip to New Orleans had all but been booked. The Spurs, befitting their been-there, done-that nature, won’t sweat it.
Ticket Prices at the New Stadium are just really, really expensive …not really, really, really expensive..
The team announced Thursday that the least expensive seats in the new $1.1 billion stadium in Arlington will cost $59, just $9 more than the cheapest Texas Stadium seats. Also, those seats – at least 8,000 of them – won't require a one-time seat option, which costs as much as $150,000.
The season ticket prices for the 50,000 reserved seats in the new stadium will range from $59 to $125 per game, including two preseason contests.
"That's very comparable to our ticket prices for the past couple of years at Texas Stadium," said Brett Daniels, a Cowboys spokesman. "There's just a small increase."
And just like at Texas Stadium, fans must buy season tickets to the new stadium. Single-game tickets are not available.
Tickets initially will be sold only to current season ticket holders.
Most reserved seats at the new stadium also will require seat options, which range from $2,000 to $5,000. The seat option gives fans the right to buy the same seats for 30 years.
The reserved seats are mostly in the upper decks, corners and end zones. The club seats are between the end zones and closest to the field.
On Thursday, the team also announced that it would sell 1,200 loge seats in the upper deck at midfield. Those will cost $125 per game and require a $12,000 seat option. The loge seats will have cushioned club-style seating, but those fans won't have access to the stadium's private clubs.
Cowboys officials said they would offer single-game tickets at the new stadium only if they failed to sell all the seats as season tickets.
"If that happened, we would come up with a single-game price," said Chad Estis, Cowboys vice president of sales and marketing.
He said the team doesn't expect that to happen.
The Cowboys had no single-game tickets available for the 2008 season. The few that were available in 2007 sold out in minutes.
Thursday's announcement comes nearly six months after the Cowboys released prices for the expensive club seats – $340 per game – which require seat options ranging from $16,000 to $150,000.
In March, the Cowboys said that about 8,000 of the 15,000 club seats had been sold. Mr. Daniels said some of the club seats are still available, but he declined to say how many.
The Comedy of “We”
Brenden’s House is big