Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What Was That???

Wow. That was really sad. Not good at all. My curiosity of what to actually make of this team continues.

They pound someone, I begin to get optimistic.

They get pounded by a team without their two best players, I lose all optimisim.

They are neither fish nor fowl. They are neither good nor bad. They are a stereotypical 7 or 8 seed.

Last night was yuck

The Spurs didn’t have two of their top three players.

And the Mavericks still didn’t have a chance.

San Antonio’s 93-76 win Tuesday at the AT&T Center was either a tribute to the star-challenged Spurs or an indictment of the Mavericks. It depends on your perspective.
Rick Carlisle’s perspective was blistering.

"We threw about six, tough minutes at them in the second quarter. The rest of the time, they dominated the game with their disposition and how they played.

Nothing about this effort leads you to believe the Mavericks are serious about their desire to move up in the standings. A team that hasn’t beaten a Western Conference playoff contender on the road since Christmas night couldn’t beat a Spurs team that took the court without Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili.

What appeared to be a golden opportunity for the Mavericks turned into a bitter disappointment. Tony Parker picked up the offensive slack, torching the Mavericks for 37 points. The Spurs didn’t let the Mavericks get out and run — a team that averaged 17.9 fast-break points in the previous 11 games had only seven — and turned it into a bump-and-grind affair.

"It’s a gift that Duncan didn’t play, and we didn’t take it," forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "It’s a frustrating, disappointing loss.

"It was just an embarrassing effort."

Something else became clear: Nowitzki is in a slump.

The Mavericks star finished with just 14 points as the Spurs fronted him in the low post, ran an extra defender or two at him every time he put the ball on the court and dared the Mavericks to beat them with their weak-side shooting in Jason Terry’s absence.

But it’s not just the Spurs. Nowitzki has averaged 11.7 points and gone 15-of-46 from the field (32.6 percent) in the last three games.

The absence of Duncan and Ginobili did more to throw the Mavericks out of sync than the Spurs. San Antonio scrambled the game and the Mavericks lost their offensive identity in the process. The Spurs took the lead 3:07 deep into the first quarter and never gave it up.

"From the start to the end, we weren’t us today," guard J.J. Barea said. "They played harder. They did everything better. They outplayed us in every aspect of the game."

I spent last night thinking about the goofy presence of Matt Bonner . I honestly didn’t know much about the guy, so I visited his wiki page and found this:

Matt Bonner's first prominent moment as a Raptor occurred on December 2004 during an exciting game at the Air Canada Centre. Extending for a rebound, he knocked all-star Kevin Garnett from behind, sending him sprawling to the ground prompting the two players to get into a heated exchange. The crowd chanted "Bonner, Bonner" as he was ejected from the game. This immediately established Matt as a fan favorite with Raptors fans rallying behind Bonner.

Here is the incident – thanks to Youtube:

And then watching that, I found this:

Rookie Baron Davis Dunks on Garnett

Tiger is back

Now it’s back to work. Woods’s significance to the PGA Tour cannot be overstated. His gallery of several hundred Tuesday was larger than players drew at many tournaments in his absence. Phil Mickelson, fresh off a victory at the Northern Trust Open on Sunday, arrived a few minutes before Woods and said, “I’ve never seen so many cameras and photographers and so forth, especially that early in the morning waiting for Tiger to get there.” He added, “It’s pretty evident to see what he has done for the game of golf.”

The shot of adrenaline that Woods gives golf is reciprocated. Asked what he missed most, Woods said, “I miss that rush of playing and competing, I really do, getting on that first tee and feeling it.”

Between the No. 7 green and No. 8 tee, Woods’s path was lined with well-wishers. One shouted, “Welcome back, Tiger!” Without slowing his gait or averting his gaze from the yardage book in his hands, Woods replied, “Thank you.” His first match was 24 hours away and he was already feeling the rush.

Comedy Alert: Rich Eisen runs the 40 against the NFL Studs …Do yourself a favor and watch this.

Rumors suggest the Redskins are going after Albert Haynesworth HARD

The Stomping of Gurode

The Star Telegram blog Had a funny bit : 6 degrees of Omar…

Rangers backup shortstop Omar Vizquel made his major league debut on April 3, 1989. Rangers starting shortstop Elvis Andrus was seven months old at the time. Needless to say, Vizquel, an 11-time Gold Glove winner, has been around a while. And over the years he’s had his number of teammates. A look at some interesting names Vizquel can be linked to through teammates:

Babe Ruth, teammate of Lefty Gomez, 1930-34 (NYY)
Lefty Gomez, teammate of Phil Rizzuto, ’41-42 (NYY)
Phil Rizzuto, teammate of Don Larsen, ’55-56 (NYY)
Don Larsen, teammate of Jim Palmer, ’65 (BAL)
Jim Palmer, teammate of Eddie Murray, ’77-84 (BAL)
Eddie Murray, teammate of Omar Vizquel, ’94-95 (CLE)

Hank Aaron, teammate of Robin Yount, 1974-76 (MIL)
Robin Yount, teammate of Paul Molitor, ’78-92 (MIL)
Paul Molitor, teammate of Roberto Alomar, ’93-95 (TOR)
Roberto Alomar, teammate of Omar Vizquel, ’99-01 (CLE)

Ty Cobb, teammate of Jimmie Foxx, 1927-28 (PHA)
Jimmie Foxx, teammate of Ted Williams, ’39-42 (BOS)
Ted Williams, teammate of Pete Runnels, ’58-60 (BOS)
Pete Runnels, teammate of Joe Morgan, ’63-64 (HOU)
Joe Morgan, teammate of Jeffrey Leonard, ’81-82 (SF)
Jeffrey Leonard, teammate of Omar Vizquel, ’89-90 (SEA)

Tony Romo, teammate of Terrell Owens, ’06-08 (DAL)
Terrell Owens, teammate of Jerry Rice, ’96-00 (SF)
Jerry Rice, teammate of Deion Sanders, ’94 (SF)
Deion Sanders, teammate of Barry Bonds, ’95 (SF)
Barry Bonds, teammate of Omar Vizquel, 2005-07 (SF)

Dirk Nowitzki, teammate of Dennis Rodman, ’00 (DAL)
Dennis Rodman, teammate of Steve Kerr, ’95-98 (CHI)
Steve Kerr, teammate of Kenny Lofton, ’88, (University of AZ)
Kenny Lofton, teammate of Omar Vizquel, ’94-96, ’98-01 (CLE)

*Jim O’Rourke, teammate of Red Ames, ’04 (NYG)
Red Ames, teammate of Charlie Grimm, ’18 (STL)
Charlie Grimm, teammate of Phil Cavarretta, ’34-36 (CHC)
Phil Cavarretta, teammate of Minnie Minoso, ’54-55 (CWS)
Minnie Minoso, teammate of Harold Baines, ’80 (CWS)
Harold Baines, teammate of Omar Vizquel, ’99 (CLE)

*O’Rourke is credited with the first hit in the first National League game on April 22, 1876. In 1904, at the age of 54, he appeared in one game for the New York Giants.

And even more:

Here are some more famous people Omar Vizquel can be linked to:

Jackie Robinson, teammate of Don Drysdale (56 Dodgers)
Don Drysdale, teammate of Steve Garvey (69 Dodgers)
Steve Garvey, teammate of Joey Cora (87 Padres)
Joey Cora, teammate of Omar Vizquel (98 Indians)

Brett Favre, teammate of Brian Jordan (91 Falcons)
Brian Jordan, teammate of Michael Young (04 Rangers)
Michael Young, teammate of Omar Vizquel (09 Rangers)

Dale Earnhardt Jr. was a voice in Disney's Cars with Bob Costas
Bob Costas in BASEketball with Tim McCarver
Tim McCarver, teammate of Larry Bowa (80 Phillies)
Larry Bowa, manager of Marlon Byrd (04 Phillies)
Marlon Byrd, teammate of Omar Vizquel (09 Rangers)

Kevin Bacon in Planes, Trains and Automobiles with John Candy
John Candy in Rookie of the Year with Barry Bonds
Barry Bonds, teammate of Omar Vizquel (2007 Giants)

Chuck Norris was in an episode of Walker Texas Ranger with Macho Man Randy Savage (1999)
Macho Man Randy Savage, teammate of Ed Sprague (1973 Orangeburg Cardinals)
Ed Sprague's son Ed Sprague Jr. was a teammate of Edgar Martinez (2001 Mariners)
Edgar Martinez, teammate of Omar Vizquel (89 Mariners)

On to ice hockey….

There are times in a writer’s life that he is clear as mud. Such must have been the case yesterday when I hand-crafted this paragraph in yesterday’s blog:

This gets me thinking about how badly the Brad Richards injury is hurting the whole scheme of things, and with Mike Modano out last night, this looked a lot like a team talent-wise that might have to work hard to win the AHL title.

This got me some emails from angry Stars fans who feel I have insulted our hockey team. Although I disagree, before I mount my defense, allow me to let you read the emails:

"...this looked a lot like a team talent-wise that might have to work hard to win the AHL title." You've got to be kidding. To say that it's only the four biggest names that give the Stars NHL-quality talent is ludicrous. Do you think that Ribeiro, Lehtinen, Ott, Robidas, Daley and Sydor belong in the minor leagues? Can we hope that, say, Eriksson, Neal and Grossman might somehow, some day, become good enough that the Stars don't have to just shut down when Modano, Zubov and Morrow retire? Or is that what your column was about -- wherever are they going to get enough talent to keep the team going, despite the minor-league quality players they've got now?

Ralph and Razor got it right last night when they said, repeatedly, that the Stars were outplaying the Sharks in every aspect of the game. It's true that the Sharks, not the Stars, got that one perfect shot that got through (and 'perfect' is what it took to score), but the Stars -- the whole team -- kept the number one team in the league shut down for two-and-a-half periods.

I'm not suggesting that it's not important who wins. But the fact is that in every sport, any team can beat any other team in a single game, and sometimes the final score doesn't mean anything more than that. You can't be saying that the Stars aren't NHL caliber just because they lost a game. So what, then? The rest of the team, besides the injured four, doesn't have what it takes?


I read your comments about Monday night's game. Yes, they outplayed the Sharks. Yes, they didn't score a goal. Yes, they lost. But saying they look like a team that would have to fight to win an AHL title? That's a little over-dramatic, even for you Bob.

The Stars deserved a better fate last night, but getting shutout 1-0 by the best team in the entire league with one of the best goalies isn't exactly something to cry about. Plenty of teams do it with a healthy roster. In most people's eyes, we were supposed to lose that game. Given the fact that we were really skate-to-skate with them all night says something considering the people out of our lineup. They had a tink that went in (I heard it on Setagucchi's goal), our tink didn't go in. That was the difference in the game.

Now, if the Stars play like this against the Blues and Ducks, and STILL lose, I'll start to worry. Until then, I applaud the way the Stars played against the Sharks, even if the result wasn't favorable.

Keep on rockin the casbah,

Sharon - Little Elm

Cindy and Sharon (and maybe you) took offense to my phrase that suggested the Stars roster on Monday night might not win the AHL title. Ok. Let’s discuss.

First, I think the AHL is the highest level of hockey in the world short of the NHL (perhaps that will inspire another debate!). There are dozens of AHL players right now who are NHL-Caliber. They just need the same chance that many that are in the big leagues have been given.

So, when I say the Monday Night Stars team might not be able to win the 16 games or 4 best-of-seven series to win the Calder Cup should not be considered the biggest insult ever levied. This is not independent league hockey or some beer league. This is the AHL – where many future NHL stars are currently playing.

Second, I think it goes without saying that most of the Stars roster from Monday night have been in the AHL in the last 24 months or have been on the very edge of the NHL as healthy scratches this very season. On the blueline, Grossman, Niskanen, Fistric, and Sydor are all players who are either new to the league, or in Sydor’s case was a healthy scratch in 8 of the first 20 games for the Penguins before the trade. Up front, Sawada, Barch, Peterson, Neal, Sutherby (scratched often in Washington and Anaheim), Parrish, Lundqvist, Brunnstrom and Eriksson are all either relative newcomers or fringe NHL players over the last few seasons. That leaves Ott, Riberio, Lehtinen, Daley and Robidas as skaters who have neither been out of the league or out of the lineup due to being healthy scratched in the last few years.

When only 1 defense pairing and 1 forward line are considered “NHL Locks” with regard to being both proven and accomplished, that is why I threw out the AHL comment. It is not to say that Eriksson or Grossman or Neal are not NHL caliber, because they surely are, it is just to say that the reason NHL teams are better than AHL teams is not the worker bees on the 3rd and 4th lines. It is the top end talent that makes the difference.

And without Richards, Morrow, Modano, and Zubov in the lineup, a majority of your top end talent is gone. I think this is a fairly easy point to make not just about the Stars, but about any pro team in any sport.

Think the Mavs would win a European league if Dirk, Howard, Terry, and Kidd were all out of the lineup at the same time?

How about the Rangers winning the AAA title without Young, Kinsler, Hamilton, or Millwood?

It is not an insult to the rest of the team that they need their best players to be their best players. That is reality. If it wasn’t, then everybody would be paid the same money. Players get larger salaries for larger abilities, so we should also recognize their absence will result in logical declines in the team’s overall ability.

Tippett can’t admit it, and neither can the team. But, when you are depleted of your stars, you must play perfect with what you have to get results.
The Stars ALMOST did on Monday. We should be proud of their effort. But, we should not be surprised when the Sharks still had enough to beat them on a night where the Sharks were outplayed. The Stars played their guts out, but could they do that night in and night out over 2 months to win the Calder Cup or more importantly to make the NHL playoffs down the stretch here? Let’s just say Marty Turco will be busy and will need to be locked on.

So, I hope that was clearer as to what I meant. I think they should be able to beat St Louis with this team, because St Louis is not San Jose. But for this team to make the playoffs, they are going to need either their talent back – Modano should play Thursday – or some much needed reinforcements.

Does that make more sense?

Nate Robinson and his Bromance with Will Ferrall

Aggies finally have a voice!

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