Thursday, June 12, 2008

David or Dale Murphy?

Wow, an eventful night in Kansas City! First, David Murphy continues his effort to shut-up Dan McDowell by continuing to latch on to a full-time OF job moving forward with production.

Of course, as discussed the other day, Dan really never said anything about Murphy that most of us were thinking – that there is no way he can maintain this level of production. He is Top 5 in the AL in extra base hits! But, if he does keep it going, wow.

David Murphy to the rescue.

For the second straight day, the Rangers scored late, erased a 5-1 deficit and got a reprieve when it came to sloppy play. The win puts the Rangers above .500 for the third time this season.

David Murphy, who continues to prove he's an everyday outfielder, was the hero Wednesday, with two home runs and five RBIs. His first long ball was a grand slam that gave the Rangers a two-run lead during a seven-run seventh inning.

Murphy knows the task now is to stay above .500, something the Rangers haven't been able to do.

"It sounds so simple to do, but obviously it's not that easy or else we would have taken off already," Murphy said. "It's definitely time for us to make a move, and hopefully, we can get the quality play we want so we can leave the .500 mark behind."

Wednesday, the Rangers did more than hit long balls. They played small ball after the grand slam, when Frank Catalanotto bunted Marlon Byrd to third and Gerald Laird drove in the insurance run with a sacrifice fly to center.

The inning exemplified the Rangers' two-pronged offensive approach. They rank second in the American League with 28 homers and lead the league with 28 sacrifice flies.

Milton Bradley has an issue with Royals TV guy?

Milton Bradley is an emotional player. That emotion overflowed in the clubhouse after Wednesday’s game in response to something Kansas City Royals television broadcaster Ryan Lefebvre said about him on the air during the Texas Rangers' 11-5 win.

Bradley left the clubhouse after the game and reached the press box but never talked to Lefebvre. General manager Jon Daniels and manager Ron Washington chased after Bradley, and Daniels escorted him back to the clubhouse.

Bradley then walked around with tears welling up and his voice breaking as he spoke.

"All I want to do is play baseball and make a better life for my kid than I had, that's it," Bradley said to a quiet clubhouse. "I love all you guys. ... I'm strong, but I'm not that strong."

Many players tried to console Bradley, who had his head down at his locker.

Lefebvre said, from what he remembers, that he was complimenting Josh Hamilton and how he's been accountable for his mistakes and said "it doesn't appear Milton Bradley has done the same thing in his life."

"It is an interesting contrast between the two guys," Lefebvre said. "We also spent a lot of time complimenting Milton Bradley, but that's not what he heard when he was in the clubhouse."

Lefebvre talked with Daniels and Washington but did not speak with Bradley, who probably heard the comments while in the clubhouse between at-bats as the designated hitter.

"He was upset that somebody that doesn't know him was passing judgment on TV," Daniels said. "The guy's been a tremendous teammate for us, and it's obvious he was hurt by those comments. That's my understanding."

Eric Hurley Day! …1:10 today…

The DVD the Rangers promised us three years ago never got delivered. That only increases the pressure on Eric Hurley to make good in "the show."

Hurley is the 22-year-old right-handed pitcher who will make his major league debut Thursday afternoon against Kansas City. When the Rangers drafted him at the end of the first round of the 2004 draft, obviously, the club had high hopes for him.

But management thought the pitcher coming out of a Jacksonville, Fla., high school would be behind DVD – John Danks, Edinson Volquez and Thomas Diamond – in development.

Danks was a high (ninth) first-round pick in 2003. Diamond was a high (10th) first-round pick coming out of college in 2004. Volquez had been signed as a free agent out of the Dominican Republic and was already pitching Class A ball when Hurley was drafted.

In fact, as impressed as the Rangers were, they didn't even know his name and were still referring to him as Edison at the time.

Well, you know the rest of the story, and it's not pretty for the Rangers.

Danks is a vital member of the first-place Chicago White Sox rotation. Volquez is pitching for the Cincinnati Reds and has to be considered the league's leading Cy Young candidate.

General manager Jon Daniels got Josh Hamilton in return for Volquez, so you can argue the merits of that move. Unfortunately, all Daniels has to show for Danks is Brandon McCarthy, who wasn't very good while pitching hurt a year ago and hasn't taken the mound in 2008.

In addition, Daniels traded Chris Young after his rookie season. It was Daniels' worst trade as general manager. Don't make the mistake of saying the Rangers can't develop young pitching. They are developing it for teams all across the major leagues.

Hurley looked good in the spring, but then Kason Gabbard and Luis Mendoza looked pretty good, too, and they began the season in the Rangers' rotation, and where are they now?

As a first-round pick, Hurley should be able to deliver the goods. The question is when?

The answer, almost certainly, is not now.

Good young pitchers tend to struggle for their first 30 to 40 starts in the majors before finding it. Great young pitchers do, too.

There hasn't been a more highly touted pitching prospect in the American League in recent years than Seattle's "King" Felix Hernandez. In his first full season with the Mariners, he went 12-14 with a 4.52 ERA.

Meanwhile, on to the Father’s Day tradition that we love: THE US OPEN!

Some dude named Jason Sobel ranks the Top 10

1. Phil Mickelson

If it's ever going to happen, this is the year. Mickelson has been scouting out Torrey Pines, where he played much of his junior golf, for months now and the four-time U.S. Open runner-up is more determined than ever to capture the elusive third leg of the career Grand Slam. "I've played well in U.S. Opens," he said. "Even take away the four second-place finishes, and there were a couple other opportunities as well. I think that as you adjust as a player, you just adjust to your environment and if you have short tight fairways or narrow fairways with thick rough, you just kind of adjust it and hit something different off the tee and try to get it into play." Phil Mickelson? Just trying to get it into play? We'll believe it when we see it ... but if we see it this week, it could mean an Open title for Lefty.

2. Tiger Woods

Yes, even with an eight-week hiatus entering the Open, he is still the prohibitive favorite. No, the surgically repaired left knee won't cause him too much trouble on the course. (And even if it does, we may never know, because Woods won't admit it.) Tough to ever pick against the 13-time major champion, but if you're ever going to do so, this is the time. Tiger hasn't been tournament tested since the Masters and hasn't won this tournament since 2002 -- his longest drought at any of the four majors. Playing a course on which he's captured the Buick Invitational six times will help, and you'd better believe Woods will contend. But if offered the age-old question of "Tiger versus the field" this week, take the field.

3. Geoff Ogilvy

Has any recent major champion received less credit for winning than Ogilvy, who prospered at the shaky hands of Mickelson & Co. two years ago at Winged Foot? The Aussie has become one of the poster children for a new kind of contender at the U.S. Open -- one who can hit the ball a long way and wedge out from there. "Length is important everywhere," he said. "It should be an advantage. It always has been." Here's a fun stat that shows the difficulty of the U.S. Open in recent years: Ogilvy has finished T-42, Win, T-28 the past three years, without ever breaking par for a single round.

4. Justin Rose

He's played extremely well in recent majors. Rose finished in the top 12 at all four last season and held the opening-round lead before falling to T-36 at this year's Masters. "I prepare hard for them," said the 2007 Order of Merit winner, "and it's nice to see that generally that preparation pays off." Now it's time for the soon-to-be-28-year-old to seriously contend once again, as he did last year at Augusta National before being undone by a late triple-bogey. If he gets into the situation again, expect a more composed, experienced Rose to stay in the moment.

5. Pat Perez

He attended Torrey Pines High School, grew up working at the course and estimates that he's played "more than 1,000 rounds" at this week's host venue. No one in the field has been looking forward to this event more than Perez, a seven-year PGA Tour veteran who has never won, but recently intimated that he'd forgo a victory at the prestigious Memorial if it could mean a spot in the U.S. Open. Now that he's here, don't expect the intensity to wane at all.

6. Sergio Garcia

Is Sergio finally starting to realize his potential? Sure looks that way. He has the confidence of the recent Players Championship title under his belt and in his final tune-up prior to the Open, Garcia finished 1 stroke out of the playoff at the Stanford St. Jude Championship. Of course, as always, it will all come down to how he rolls the rock. If his recent work with short-game guru Stan Utley continues to pay off, expect Garcia to be in the mix come Sunday.

7. Ian Poulter

Earlier this year, the braggadocios Brit claimed, "I know I haven't played to my full potential and when that happens, it will be just me and Tiger." Asked for his Masters prediction, Poulter said, "Put Tiger down for that one." His U.S. Open pick? "You can put me down for that one." Poulter's prognosticating has already led to one close-but-no-cigar selection; here's saying he has another one this weekend.

8. Boo Weekley

Contending at a U.S. Open requires patience and a positive attitude. Weekley, who comes from the "see-ball, hit-ball" school of golf, may just be the perfect candidate to give it a run. "I think I got a little [momentum] going," he said after missing the playoff in Memphis by a stroke on Sunday. "I'm starting to get where I'm feeling a little more confident with what I'm trying to do with the ball and putting the ball decent. That helps out a hell of a whole lot." If he keeps it up, expect the Torrey Pines galleries to bellow "Boooooo!" well into the final round.

9. Stephen Ames

After a final-round even-par 72 at The Players Championship last month, Ames glibly declared, "I'll take that at San Diego right now. Do you think I have a chance?" While four rounds at level par would have been enough to win each of the past two U.S. Opens, it may be asking a bit much from Ames. Then again, he's a guy who can grind out pars and when he gets hot, he stays hot. Considering he's finished 13th or better in each of his past three starts, that can only signal good things for this week.

10. Luke Donald

The common knock on Donald's game at major championships? He doesn't hit the ball long enough to contend. Sure, the 30-year-old from England isn't a big bomber by any means, but his usual driving distance of 280 to 285 yards is good enough -- if he keeps it in the short stuff. That's been an issue for Donald this season; his accuracy rank (138th) is even worse than his place on the distance list (111th). Lower still is his rank in the greens in regulation category (162nd), leaving one remaining glimmer of hope: At least he can putt.

Does the US Open want its winner over par?

The official U.S. Open philosophy -- and really, doesn't invoking such a thing already make it seem like the organization is in full explanation mode? -- states the following: "The USGA intends to make the U.S. Open the most rigorous, yet fair, examination of golf skills, testing all forms of shot-making." The philosophy then goes on to list 14 different factors that are taken into "careful consideration," though apparently, "reverse foot wedges" and "flagstick mirages" aren't among them.

Based on recent history, it sure seems like the USGA is intent on protecting par as a winning score. The past two champions have finished with scores of 5-over-par, while no one has gotten into the red since winner Retief Goosen and runner-up Phil Mickelson at Shinnecock Hills in 2004.

"I know that they don't want to see 15-under win this golf tournament, but I'm not sure that the even-par score is all that important," 2003 U.S. Open winner Jim Furyk said. "As far as protecting par, I firmly believe the USGA wants to make the golf course as difficult and as testing a golf course as they can without going overboard. And you know what, for the best players in the world ... shooting somewhere around even par is a good score. Do I think par is important? I surely don't think they want to see five guys break the all-time scoring record in one week. But if it's 5-under or 5-over, I don't think it really matters."

Bill Simmons prepares us for Game 4

"So far, [Lamar] Odom has backed down -- in fact, he did everything short of rolling over like a puppy in Game 3, earning Phil Jackson's disgust more than once -- and [Pau] Gasol seems afraid to fight for position on the low post because he doesn't want to bang bodies with the likes of [Kendrick] Perkins and P.J. Brown. On the flip side, the Lakers realized something in the fourth quarter of Game 2: If their guards pressure Boston's ball-handlers full-court, it throws Boston's offense out of whack and causes a variety of bad things to happen . . .

"The Lakers seemed woefully unprepared to start this series. For one thing, anyone who watched the Celtics this season knew their ballhandlers were suspect, they're truly awful on fast break . . . and that good things happen to opponents who pressure them -- only the Lakers waited seven quarters to play that card even though they have guys such as Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar who are great baseline-to-baseline agitators. On top of that, it took the Lakers until Game 3 to stick Kobe on Rajon Rondo -- the logical move, since they could dare Rondo to shoot 20-footers and use Kobe to swarm everyone else."

More Simmons: He predicts a potential ESPN Classic game. "The table has been set for a dramatic, memorable basketball game Thursday night. After three choppy games, these teams are about to bring out the best in each other. Now, if they could only do the same for the Laker fans, we'd really have something." . . .

Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan calls Paul Pierce the greatest scoring machine in Boston history. What do you think? Larry Bird had four 50-plus games and averaged more points and made 50% of his shots, to Pierce's 44%. At the free-throw line, Bird hovered around 90% for his career, and Pierce has been around 80%. . . . According to, the cheapest ticket for Game 1 in Boston was $281. The most expensive available was over $2,300. At Staples for Game 3, the cheapest available was $368, and for a courtside seat, over $22,000. . . . According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the 168 combined points in Game 3 is the fewest ever scored in the 64 Finals games between these two teams. The previous low was 177 in Game 4 in 1969 (Boston won 89-88).

Chicago Sports Radio Wackiness

WSCR-AM 670 afternoon hosts Dan Bernstein and Terry Boers were not exactly hospitable Wednesday to new Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro.

The station carried his news conference live, but Boers and Bernstein continued their tradition of speaking over some of the question-and-answer session with sarcastic comments and employing audio "drop-ins."

Among them: the Rev. Michael Pfleger screaming, "I'm white!" Sacha Baron Cohen's Borat character asking, "What?" and Pat Summerall, from the "Golden Tee" video game saying, "He's headed for the drink."

At one point Del Negro responded to a reporter by saying: "Those are fair questions …"

"Then answer them," Bernstein interjected.

Later Bernstein said of Del Negro: "I would say that in five months, he'll be a full-blown alcoholic … standing in the middle of the street waving a paper bag."

Boers then added facetiously: "I'm done with this guy."

Bernstein said Wednesday night that listeners had come to expect a level of irreverence from him and Boers.

"It's a satirical sports radio show," he said. "We do lampoon, but we do it with a wink. For nine years our audience has understood that sports needn't be taken as seriously as the things that really matter."

The Score is not the Bulls' flagship station. WMVP-AM 1000 will carry Bulls games through the 2011-12 season.

More Unintentional Comedy

Campaigning is tough to do perfectly

Language Warning: Bug in mouth reporter goes wild

Lake Delton (Wisconsin Dells) is washed away


TroyA said...

Hopefully, this Shan guy will not be just another player that has the brains of a rock and has a drug problem. Year after year, the circus begins.

EmmittW said...

Well the Olympics are right around the corner and will our American boys lose the gold again. Will their style of jungle ball be embarrassing again. Hopefully the addition of a few so called super stars will help them learn to spell the word defense, let alone play it. Or will the Europeans and South American players make our boys look like out of control monkeys again. My money is on the players that know how to play basketball, how to pass, how to play defense, know how to play as a team and how to shoot the basketball. I guess our boys lose the gold medal again.