Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Muchas Cosas Interesantes

It is Tuesday, and we have plenty to digest:

Thanks to Newberg, I was pointed to this column from Gil about Milton Bradley …gold:

Why did he leave the Texas Rangers?

"I never really understand," Bradley said after a thoughtful pause. "You can talk about money-this and money-that and whatever. But the bottom line is, if you want somebody, you keep them."

There is a measure of truth in that, but hold that thought.

The Cubs wanted a left-handed bat that could anchor the middle of their lineup and
play right field. They signed Milton in early January for $30 million spread over three years.

The Rangers weren’t even in that ballpark. And Bradley was outspoken Sunday in his feelings about that.

"I gave them a chance," Bradley said before taking the field against his old team. "I told [general manager] Jon Daniels on more than one occasion that this is where I wanted to be.

"I said, 'Let’s get it done. I like these guys. I like it here. I think we’ve got something going here.’

"He said, 'Well, you know, we can do one year, maybe two. But I " can’t make the commitment.’

What Daniels knew was that a .321 hitter, with a .436 on-base percentage and 55 extra-base hits, was likely going to command a regal price on the free agent market. What Daniels also knew was that Bradley, for whatever reasons, only played 20 games last season in the outfield. The rest came as the designated hitter.

"My agent was saying that Jon Daniels was telling him, 'There are " Bradley said. days when he doesn’t want to play because of his health,’

"Well, you can get a healthy guy to go out there and play 162 games, but he won’t do what I did in 120."

As crudely self-serving as that sounds, Bradley is mostly right. His numbers last season were All-Star quality.

But that shouldn’t excuse the fact that Bradley was prone to sporadically calling in sick, including missing 10 of 11 games in early August as the Rangers lapsed from wild-card contenders to pretenders.

Plus, at the same time when Bradley was randomly removing himself from lineups, Michael Young was playing nearly every day despite having broken fingers on both hands.

Young never complained about Milton. That’s not Michael’s style. But his teammates certainly noticed.

When asked about that Sunday, Bradley gave an unsettling answer.

"If I’m being paid, and I’ve got the commitment to me that I give to them, you make more of an effort to be out there every day," he said.

"When you’re on one-year deals constantly, you’ve got to put up as good numbers as you can. When you have days where you’re not feeling like you can contribute, you’re not going to go out there, because you’re not going to want your numbers to suck.
"So, if you’re in a situation like I am now, if they want me to go out there when I’m feeling a little banged up, I’ve got no problem doing that because they’ve made the commitment to me."

In a nutshell, therefore, Bradley just explained why Daniels and the Rangers were unwilling to offer him a multi-year contract.

In nine major league seasons, Bradley has played more than 101 games only twice.
The Cubs — and Cubs fans who grew up watching the blue-collar likes of Ernie Banks and Ron Santo — are going to expect Milton to play 150 games in right field.
"I know I can handle it," he said Sunday. "It’s not even an issue.

"The whole thing with me is I play so hard until I hurt myself. In the past, I’ve been accused of not hustling on more than one occasion, and that’s the thing that hacks me off to no end, that somebody would accuse me of that as bad as I care and as badly as I want to win.

"I’m coming into a situation now where, if I have to tone it down in order to stay on the field, I need to tone it down. It hurts to have to do that, but it’s what I may have to do."

Well, whatever. But here’s a suggestion to a player who, in my opinion, is immensely talented, smart and a lot more pleasant to be around than I would ever have imagined:
Just play. Your new manager is moody. Your new fans are desperate for a World Series. Your new city is a town that appreciates hard work.

Just play. Don’t tone down a single thing.

All that said, the Rangers are going to miss Milton Bradley this coming season. His dynamic presence in the 2008 lineup made all the hitters around him better.

Who replaces Bradley this season? Maybe Andruw Jones, but there are miles still to go before that ship comes in.

In Chicago, Bradley thinks he’s found the mutual commitment that was missing.
"For me it isn’t about the money," he said. "I understand that it’s a business and all. But I think we had one of most dynamic offenses in the league last year.
"Why would you mess that up? It just doesn’t make sense."

Yes, it does.

The Rangers are going to miss Milton Bradley.

But if he was paying attention, he just answered his own question.

More on Elvis Andrus and the service time question …I still say it is just smart business to delay his debut until after Easter…

Dallas legend and my wife’s favorite Star of all-time, Guy gets the Axe in Montreal

Guy Carbonneau was fired as the coach of the struggling Montreal Canadiens, hockey’s most historic franchise that is in danger of missing the playoffs in its 100th season. The timing of Monday’s move was a bit surprising because the Canadiens were in the playoff race with 16 games left in the regular season. General Manager Bob Gainey, who preceded Carbonneau as the coach three years ago, will return behind the bench when Montreal plays Edmonton at home Tuesday.

The Canadiens started Monday in fifth place in the Eastern Conference, but they were only 1 point above the postseason cutoff. Montreal (35-24-7) went into a free fall in late January and February, losing 10 of 13. The Canadiens, 5-4-1 in their previous 10 games, won by 3-1 at Dallas on Sunday. In 230 games with the Canadiens over three seasons, Carbonneau was 124-83-23. He is the seventh N.H.L. coach fired this season and the fourth in five weeks.

Stars in St Louis tonight: They have lost both games to St Louis this year, 6-1 and 3-1. The Brenden Morrison honeymoon must be over

Brendan Morrison said he was taking Sunday's public criticism from coach Dave Tippett in stride.

"I've been through a lot worse than that," Morrison said. "I get the point."

Morrison, 33, was picked up on waivers last week from Anaheim and was playing in only his third game in a Stars uniform Sunday. He was placed at the point on the power play for the first time with Dallas and was part of a man advantage that went 1-for-10 and produced only one shot on goal during a 2:51 stretch of 5-on-3 play.
"There's a lot of pressure down the stretch on this team, and that's a game we shouldn't have lost," Morrison said. "We should have capitalized on our power play, and I'm a part of that."

Tippett said he was hard on Morrison, because he believes the former No. 1 center in Vancouver can help the Stars.

"We're down to limited games left, we're in a tight race, and we need some people to make some plays," Tippett said. "He's a guy who I think has the capability of doing it. That's why we got him."

Suns and Mavs battle for #8 seed

Remember when conference supremacy or a trip to the NBA Finals was at stake when these teams met? Well, tonight’s game in Phoenix is more about survival.
The Mavericks and Suns are engaged in a fight for the West’s eighth and final playoff seed. The Mavericks own the dominant position. Win tonight, and their lead over the Suns expands to five games.

We pause here to provide some mathematical perspective. If the Mavericks take a five-game lead and go .500 over the final 18 games of the regular season, it forces the Suns to go 15-3 to pass them.

"This one right here can really put a dent in their self-confidence," Mavericks guard Jason Terry said.

Both teams have endured their share of dents. The Mavericks won’t have Josh Howard against the Suns or for Wednesday night’s game against Portland. Howard remained in Dallas for the start of this crucial four-game road trip to have more tests conducted on his injured left ankle.

The Suns would extend their sympathy if Amare Stoudemire weren’t out for the rest of the season after undergoing eye surgery.

What is it about teams and their injured stars this season? San Antonio is still without Manu Ginobili.

But at least the Spurs have retained their status as one of the top teams in the conference. The Mavericks and Suns aren’t nearly as fortunate.

"I thought some of our battles with them and San Antonio were classics, or epics," said former Suns coach Mike D’Antoni, who is now with the New York Knicks
. "For me, it was the highlight of my career. And it was great.

"Everyone had their moment in the sunshine. I thought it was fantastic."
D’Antoni is in a nostalgic mood these days.

"You do reflect," he said. "I reflect, especially after we lose seven in a row or a night of heavy drinking."

The Western Conference landscape changed last season after Memphis gifted Pau Gasol to the LA Lakers. The Mavericks and Suns sensed their championship run was on its last legs and responded with bold moves.

The Suns acquired Shaquille O’Neal. The Mavericks acquired Jason Kidd.
Both teams went out in the first round. Both entered the season with a new coach. The Suns are already on their second coach since D’Antoni left.

D’Antoni still defends the trade, saying Phoenix made the right move. Owner Mark Cuban believes the Mavericks did as well.

Dirk Nowitzki? Well, he’s tired of the media bringing it up.

"At some point, you can’t look back all the time," Nowitzki said. "You’ve got to move forward.

"We made a deal. They made a deal. You’ve got to look why we made the deals — because neither team won the championship. I mean, that was the ultimate goal. If either team would have won one or two championships in that run, they wouldn’t have made a big deal."

Peter King puts his Jerry Jones quotes together for great fun

Quote Chain of the Week

• "We have no plans to trade for a receiver. No. No trade for a receiver.''
-- Dallas owner Jerry Jones, last Oct. 6, asked if he was in the market to acquire a receiver, specifically Detroit's Roy Williams.

• "He will create a dimension that just adds to everything. As you know, Roy Williams can go out there and make spectacular catches, and he can sky up and has great hands.''
-- Dallas owner Jerry Jones, Oct. 14, announcing the trade for Detroit's Roy Williams.

• "If I gave you the answer you want to hear, then you would have had it. The fact that you don't have it ought to tell you something. It really should.''
-- Jones, Feb. 18, implying that what he thought reporters wanted to hear -- that he was going to cut Terrell Owens -- was not going to happen, and Owens would return to the Cowboys for the 2009 season.

• "We have made a decision to move forward without [Owens]. We will move on now with a new team -- a new attitude -- and into a new stadium.''
-- Jones, March 4, in a team statement announcing he was cutting Owens.

King also thinks Romo is the big winner here

The biggest winner in the firing of Terrell Owens on Wednesday night? Easy. It's Tony Romo.

You cannot win National Football League games -- or North Dakota high school football games or Delaware Pop Warner games -- when the quarterback drops back to pass and has in the front of his mind, "I've got to make sure I look extra hard at one guy.'' And whether he'll admit it or not, that's the way Romo had to play the last three years, with one strategic hand tied behind his back.

A couple of weeks ago, Michael Irvin called to have me on his talk show in Dallas after I'd written that the Cowboys would fire Owens by the end of March. "How do you know?'' Irvin said. The fact is, I didn't know for sure. No one did. But as much as we in the media belittle owner Jerry Jones for being star-struck, I also knew this about Jones: He wouldn't let his team continue to be an embarrassment of riches. And the Cowboys were becoming more well-known for their inner churlishness than for football. Now Jones can look at his team, and his fan base, in the wake of cutting Pacman Jones and Owens, and he can honestly say: "The circus has left town. We're all about football now.''

I know a couple of times in the last three years Romo had to bend over backward, and do things he really didn't care to do, just to stroke Owens' ego and make sure T.O. didn't think he was favoring other players over him. Owens was the kind of high-maintenance player who just kills teams. Look at the recent winners, the big winners. Tom Brady hasn't felt a need, ever, to make sure he fed Randy Moss or Wes Welker or, going back a few years, Troy Brown. That's not the way the team worked. The Giants won when the Jeremy Shockey distraction went away late in their Super Bowl season; Eli Manning could drop back and never think about making a receiver happy, only about what was best to do on that play. Ditto Ben Roethlisberger last season.

Watch Romo this year. He'll be looser, happier, more relaxed -- and he'll have a better chance to win. In the 10 weeks the Cowboys employed Roy Williams after acquiring him from Detroit for first- and third-round picks, the wide receiver caught exactly 19 balls, for a 10.4-yard average, and one touchdown. One touchdown! You can't tell me Romo wasn't thinking, "I gotta make sure I throw more every week to T.O. or he'll freak out.'' That's no way to pilot a team. Romo will say all the right things about what a great teammate Owens was whenever he discusses this, but I can tell you it's political. He's thrilled at this move.

Champions League will know its final 8 teams by tomorrow

English Premier League teams will look to go a perfect 4-0 in the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League this week as three EPL clubs take leads into their second-leg match-ups.

Chelsea must travel to Turin to face Juventus, with a one-goal lead the cushion the Blues enjoy after the first leg. Liverpool is in control of its series vs. Real Madrid, coming home to Anfield with a one-goal advantage.

While those match-ups highlight Tuesday's Round of 16 offerings, Wednesday's marquee is filled by the Manchester United-Inter Milan showdown. The teams finished scoreless in the first leg, but now Manchester United returns to Old Trafford looking to pounce on a short-handed Inter Milan defense (Many will also be happy to know that ESPN2 will now be showing this match live). In another England-Italy match-up, Asenal takes a 1-0 lead to Rome where Francesco Totti and AS Roma awaits.
Here is a rundown of this week's UEFA Champions League TV schedule (the ESPN games have all been confirmed with the network as being the new scheduled games so please STOP referencing the old schedule). Make your plans accordingly:


3:30pm- ESPN2/Setanta USA/ESPN360- Chelsea at Juventus (Chelsea won first leg, 1-0)
3:30pm- ESPN Deportes/ESPN360- Real Madrid at Liverpool (Liverpool won first leg, 1-0)
3:45pm- ESPN360- Sporting Lisbon at Bayern Munich (Bayern won first leg, 5-0)
3:45pm- ESPN360- Villarreal at Panathanaikos (first leg finished tied, 1-1)
6pm- ESPN Classic- Real Madrid at Liverpool

NHL GOLD: Spezza caught with an illegal stick

Today is Chuck Norris’ Birthday:

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