Thursday, October 02, 2008

Thursday Morning Items

Happy Thursday.

A few talking points to get us going this morning, as I must abbreviate my blogging yet again. I’ll explain more in a moment.

Item #1: Perhaps you have noticed (more than likely, you have not) that the English Premiership update has now not been written for 2 straight weeks. I know some of you were pleased with the new idea to cover that with some consistency, but here is the reality. I just can’t do it.

I have reached the point of being too busy, and I must scale back a small amount of blogging. The Cowboys coverage is the priority, and with the Stars season starting, I am about to do a ton of stuff with the NHL and, too. So, where does that leave the English Premiership? Most likely, Out.

However, I do want to offer this: If any of you soccer fans want to write a weekly EPL update, I will print it as you write it and you could be the guest blogger that you always dreamed. It can be as long as you want, and insert links, pictures, and whatever if you wish, or just write a straight summary. There is no pay, as this is a free venture for even me, but should you wish to have an audience of about 4,000-5,000 every day, here is your platform.

So, let me know if you are so inclined.

Item #2: One reason I am too busy to write much of anything this morning is that I have a few things on my plate today. For instance, I have to wear a suit and tie tonight, but never have I been happier to do so (ok, maybe my wedding): As I do believe I am scheduled to be a “assistant coach” tonight for the Dallas Stars preseason rumble with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Honestly, I don’t want to assume this is going to happen until it happens, but I have been told to show up and be ready to roll, so it looks good that I will be on Dave Tippett’s flank at 7:30pm.

If it does happen, I can’t imagine a cooler opportunity than to join a professional sports team on their bench and in the room during a game, so in this life that has afforded me some open doors that might not be open for most, I am indeed fortunate. I hope this works out.

A few links:

Starring Tom Hicks as Tom Hicks

Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks, speaking publicly for the first time since the end of the season, said Wednesday he's convinced the Rangers are on a path for long-term success and he won't change plans.

"It's only taken me 10 years to learn," Hicks said. "Some people are slow learners, but I've definitely learned."

That means no big payroll increase for 2009 and no change atop the two-pronged management structure he created when he hired Nolan Ryan as team president in February to work alongside general manager Jon Daniels.

In recent years, the Rangers had zigzagged from rebuilding to chasing free agents. Daniels convinced Hicks in late 2007 to commit to drafting and developing rather than spending on free agents.

Although the Rangers probably will remain in the $75 million-80 million payroll range, Hicks is not looking at 2009 as strictly a building season.

"I want us to be as good as we can possibly be without deviating from the plan," he said. "Sure we can [contend in 2009]. Just look at Tampa Bay. What were they thinking about this season? They were just thinking about getting better. I think in 2009, 2010 and 2011, we are going to get better and better each year. We will have a better product on the field in 2009 than we did in 2008."

The Rangers finished the season Sunday in second place in the American League West with a 79-83 record. Though they only improved by four wins over 2007, it marked the first time the Rangers finished above third place in the four-team division since winning it in 1999.

On the final Thursday of the season, Hicks met with Ryan and Daniels and the three agreed that manager Ron Washington would return for 2009, the last year of his contract. The Rangers are not talking about offering an extension.

Watching former Rangers prospect John Danks pitch eight scoreless innings for Chicago in the AL Central playoff game Tuesday showed the value of building from within, Hicks said. The Rangers traded Danks for Brandon McCarthy before the 2007 season, believing McCarthy was more ready to pitch in the majors.

Danks, 23, went 12-9 with a 3.32 ERA this season and is 18-22 with a 4.23 ERA in two seasons with the White Sox. McCarthy, 25, battled forearm soreness most of this season. He was 1-1 with a 4.09 ERA in five starts. He was 5-10 with a 4.89 ERA his first Rangers season.

"I can't imagine us trading a first-round draft choice pitching prospect ever again," Hicks said. "I feel really comfortable about the team we have making the decisions now. Jon and his staff have helped infuse the minor league system with talent, taking us to one of the top three systems in baseball. Nolan's intuitiveness and baseball experience added to that is only going to help us eliminate some mistakes we've made in the past."

Big 12 QB’s are racking up the numbers

A month into the season, Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel has resigned himself to a Monday morning reality check.

He'll look at statistics supplied by the Tigers' coaching staff and shake his head, no matter how well he played. This week provides a perfect example. Daniel ranks fourth nationally in passing efficiency – and third in the Big 12.

Yes, the conference quarterbacks are that good, where even a Heisman front-runner can be impressed. Six of the nation's top 10 quarterbacks call the Big 12 home.
This week, Texas Tech's prolific Graham Harrell ranked 20th nationally, good for ninth in the conference.

Part of the credit goes to the offensive scheme. More than other power conferences, the Big 12 has embraced the spread offense. Yet the spread didn't just arrive in August.

There are numerous contributing factors.

Eleven of the 12 starting quarterbacks returned from last season.

"Offensively, it's the best it has been," said Mike Leach, who became Texas Tech head coach after serving as Oklahoma's offensive coordinator in 1999. "I think it's because of returning quarterbacks, and the rest of the offensive unit tends to draw from those guys. There is better work in the off-season and better work in camp because your offense already has a bit of an identity.

"Our conference is the benefactor of a lot of good quarterbacks."

How good?

Consider the combined numbers for Daniel, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Texas' Colt McCoy this season.

The three have combined for 12 games, the equivalent of a full regular season.

In that span, they've completed 75.9 percent of their passes for 3,723 yards with 42 touchdown passes and four interceptions.

Daniel preferred to spread the credit liberally, same as he distributes the football.

"It's ridiculous the amount of quarterback play we have here," Daniel said, "and you look at that as a direct correlation to the offensive line we have and other teams have and also the receivers. It's not just the quarterbacks. We get too much credit for it."

Brad Richards is getting settled in

The Great James Mirtle has the Stars 3rd in the West

Dallas — The Stars are a pretty well-balanced team these days, able to provide offence and prevent goals against, and a full season with Brad Richards in the mix gives them a really nice mix down the middle this season. The question marks come back on the blueline, where, with Sergei Zubov battling injury again, a lot of duties are going to fall to the likes of Matt Niskanen, Nicklas Grossman and Mark Fistric. Even so, that group proved its mettle in the postseason last year. Key player: Sergei Zubov

Best Gameday Signs ever!…and at least 2 are from P1’s!

Does Scrappy mean white?

Paul Philadelphia: I know this is a touchy subject and won't get picked, but do you find anything disturbing/odd about how few of the "scraptacular" players out there are of non-white descent?

Keith Law: There is no question in my mind that "scrappy" is a term used to elevate white players who are not that athletic. You almost never hear about unathletic black players who play hard. There's still a lot of latent racism in baseball.

Can Muggsy Bogues dunk?

Chuck: Muggsy be honest with me. Can you dunk?

Muggsy: I tipped one in college and dunked in high school. I can still touch the rim. I've always been a guy who has been able to get off my feet. I've still got a little hop to my game.

Your favorite NFL Songs of all time

This from FSN:


FSN Southwest launches a new BIG 12 FOOTBALL CLASSICS series next week that will relive some of the biggest games in Big 12 Conference history. The network has reached into its tape library and pulled out 22 of the most memorable and unforgettable games televised on FSN since the conference’s inception.

The games will be replayed in a two-hour format with most episodes featuring updated interviews with coaches and players who participated in the classic games.
The series kicks off next week with three thrilling contests: Texas A&M’s wild 47-45 triple-overtime victory over Fresno State last season on Monday, Sept. 29 at 7:00 PM CT; Colorado’s 27-24 upset of Oklahoma last season on Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 7:00 PM CT; and Oklahoma’s 37-30 win over Baylor in double-overtime in 2005 on Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 8:00 PM CT.

BIG 12 FOOTBALL CLASSICS will run throughout the college football season, culminating with a Bedlam Series marathon on Thanksgiving (Nov. 27) featuring three games from the annual Oklahoma-Oklahoma State rivalry.

Date Time Game (date played)
Sept. 29 7:00 p.m. Texas A&M 47, Fresno State 45, 3 OT (Sept. 8, 2007)
Sept. 30 7:00 p.m. Colorado 27, Oklahoma 24 (Sept. 29, 2007)
Oct. 1 8:00 p.m. Oklahoma 37, Baylor 30, 2 OT (Oct. 22, 2005)
Oct. 3 7:00 p.m. Missouri 41, Nebraska 24 (Oct. 22, 2005)
Oct. 6 7:00 p.m. Texas A&M 22, Kansas 18 (Oct. 7, 2006)
Oct. 7 8:00 p.m. North Carolina St. 51, Texas Tech 48, OT (Sept. 21, 2002)
Oct. 8 7:00 p.m. Texas 27, Nebraska 24 (Nov. 2, 2002)
Oct. 13 7:00 p.m. Missouri 62, Texas Tech 31 (Oct. 25, 2003)
Oct. 14 7:00 p.m. Oklahoma 41, Missouri 31 (Oct. 13, 2007)
Oct. 21 7:00 p.m. Texas Tech 31, Kansas 30 (Sept. 25, 2004)
Oct. 27 8:00 p.m. Texas 43, Texas Tech 40 (Nov. 15, 2003)
Oct. 29 8:00 p.m. Kansas 30, Kansas St. 24 (Oct. 6, 2007)
Nov. 3 7:00 p.m. Oklahoma St. 49, Texas Tech 45 (Sept. 22, 2007)
Nov. 5 7:00 p.m. Kansas St. 35, Missouri 24 (Nov. 6, 2004)
Nov. 7 7:00 p.m. Nebraska 39, Kansas 32, OT (Sept. 30, 2006)
Nov. 10 7:00 p.m. Texas 27, Kansas 23 (Nov. 13, 2004)
Nov. 11 7:00 p.m. Texas A&M 16, Baylor 13, OT (Oct. 1, 2005)
Nov. 12 8:00 p.m. Kansas St. 29, Nebraska 28 (Nov. 11, 2000)
Nov. 20 8:30 p.m. Texas Tech 23, Oklahoma 21 (Nov. 19, 2005)
Nov. 27 11:00 a.m. Oklahoma St. 16, Oklahoma 13 (Nov. 24, 2001)
Nov. 27 1:00 p.m. Oklahoma St. 38, Oklahoma 28 (Nov. 30, 2002)
Nov. 27 7:00 p.m. Oklahoma 27, Oklahoma St. 21 (Nov. 25, 2006)

Jonathan Toews in town tonight (I am assuming he will play)

Rosie at Yankee Stadium


Josh said...

If Hicks and Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels want to learn what the goal of their efforts should be, they should look no further than Anaheim, Calif.

I'm a native Texan who recently moved to LA. Grew up in Dallas rooting for the Rangers. Got a chance to see the Rangers play at Angels Stadium late this season, and I couldn't help but think "I want that!" I want what the Angels have. A successful team, a packed stadium, a fan base that cares and most importantly has reason to care.

I don't even know what to think of the Rangers. It's nice to hear that Hicks realized the Danks trade was terrible, but I don't doubt something similar will happen again. Cowlishaw summed things up with a great column about how the Rangers fans had suffered. The future looks promising for the Rangers with guys like Hamilton, Young and Blalock to support a younger cast of characters like Chris Davis and company. But hasn't that been the case with this franchise for years? The future was bright when Young, Blalock and Teixeira were all here back in 2004, and I couldn't help but think how this would soon be a playoff team. (more)


Keep up the great work, Bob. Good luck with that suit tonight.

Looking forward to hockey season. Go Stars! No love lost on the lack of soccer coverage.

Van Deusen said...

Congrats on the Stars opprotunity. I hope it works out... make sure they win, k?

Laughs 2 Loud said...

Hey Bob, heard Ralph say he saw Tipp conferring with you on who to use in the shootout. Oh well, you can't win them all. Hope you had a great time on the bench. Seriously jealous.

budinftworth said...

Finally...a year coming up where the Rangers don't change course yet again just because of another losing season. We don't have Tom Hicks to thank for that, or Jon Daniels. It's Nolan. Hicks may own the team, and Daniels may be the "GM"...but this is now Nolan Ryans' team to run. It may take another 4 or 5 years for them to be a legitimate contender, but as long as Nolan has the reins, it will happen. The next thing that needs to happen is to replace the scouting system and eliminate the minor league pitching coaches who obviously have no idea how to develop a young pitcher. Nolan will get that done.