Friday, April 28, 2006

Draft Time

2006 NFL Draft time is 25 hours away as I type. I have been asked about what I think the Cowboys will do, and here are just a few short thoughts-

• One of my guys who knows what they are saying in the meetings tells me that the Cowboys would prefer a Demarcus Ware clone to line up on the other side of Ware in the 3-4. Kamerion Wimbley and Manny Lawson come immediately to mind. Bobby Carpenter might make sense if the Ware clones are gone, but I am pretty sure he is not the type of guy they really want. If they take Carpenter, my guy tells me they have settled for him.

• Tackle is a very big concern, but they just don’t seem to be in a spot where one will make sense in round 1. I just can’t talk myself into Winston Justice.

• Guy I might most like? I will admit that the guy I have always thought would be a wonderful addition to the team is Virginia Tech’s Jimmy Williams. Jimmy is thought of as a world class jerk, but since when has that been a deal-breaker in the NFL? The fact is he is big, fast, and physical. He can play Corner and Safety. I would have no problem with them taking him.

• Watch Minnesota which is one slot ahead of the Cowboys. They have many of the exact same needs (except OL) and could screw up any falling picks. Cutler slides? Vikes will take him. Wimbley slides? Vikes will take him. You may have to find a way to deal to #15 or #16 if your guy is still there to jump ahead of Minnesota.

My List of 6 – (guys who could be around that if the Cowboys grab them, I will be very happy).

Above, Lawson touches the top of the backboard, like I used to.

Manny Lawson – As close to a Ware clone as there is. I am bothered by his stock rising in the Combine, and I am also concerned about him playing on a line with two other NFL top picks (including Mario Williams). Doesn’t that suggest that he was the player who was not double teamed? But, upside is what the draft is all about, and a guy who can touch the top of the backboard and run like a lion, seems to be the apple of the Cowboys eye.

Jimmy Williams – Like I said, could play Safety right now, and grow into another top CB is you want.

Kamerion Wimbley – Will likely never fall to them, but if he does, good times.

Bobby Carpenter – He would be the solid stay-at-home LB that everyone could use.

Jason Allen – Dropped value because of injuries, but very strong player at Safety.

Santonio Holmes – Deep threat that could grow into Glenn’s role.

My list of guys I don’t want the Cowboys to touch.

Winston Justice – perhaps I am discriminating based on Jacob Rogers, but his scouting report reads like Rogers played. Lacks mental toughness and brute strength.

Antonio Cromartie – HAS STARTED 1 GAME IN COLLEGE!

DeAngelo Williams – Interesting player, but gets hurt every single season.

Cordero Out; Otsuka In

The Rangers have tried letting Francisco Cordero work out his problems on the mound while remaining the team's closer. Now, they'll try to let him work them out in a different role.

A club source confirmed Thursday that the Rangers will move Cordero, who has blown three consecutive save chances and four of his last five, into a less-pressurized role.

Cordero, who has converted just three of eight save chances this season, will be replaced by setup man Akinori Otsuka.Rangers manager Buck Showalter declined to comment on the matter Thursday as the team was getting ready for a flight to Cleveland to begin a five-game road trip.

Fraley wants the plug pulled on Turco

Trailing the best-of-7 series 3-0, the Stars have nothing left to lose. They have gone as far as they can for the moment with starter Marty Turco doing his impersonation of Tommy "Just Good Enough to Lose" Salo.

Tippett on Thursday said the question of a goalie switch is legitimate but that Turco will start. Tippett acknowledged the Stars need more from Turco, who has lost a lead in the final minutes of regulation in each of the last two games.

"I wonder how the whole series has affected him," Tippett said.

It has raised questions.

Is it fair to place all the blame on Turco?


Players such as forward Jason Arnott, who has gone from a quiet 32 goals in the regular season to a quiet zero against Colorado, have contributed to the shocking slide.

Has the specter of the playoffs left Turco frazzled?

Let the facts speak.

A 4-3 overtime loss on Wednesday night was Turco's fifth consecutive playoff defeat. He has lost nine of his last 14 decisions, allowing 47 goals in that span.

Starting with the 2003 playoffs, Turco is 7-13 with a .869 save percentage. Of the 15 goalies with at least 10 decisions in that span, Turco has the lowest save percentage and second-worst record. Chris Osgood is 4-8.

The playoffs are all about goaltenders. The Stars profess unflagging confidence in Turco and look for him to set a tone. When Turco made a strong save during a penalty kill in the first period of Game 3, the Stars immediately scored a short-handed goal.

"That was one of those the players really grasped," Tippett said. "We need some more like that from him, and our team will rally around that."

A slumping goalie makes an entire team nervous.

I take issue with Fraley making Arnott a target. He dominated game 1, Hit the pipe in Overtime of game 2, and you want to call him out? How about Modano getting dominated by Sakic the whole series? Or 19 other guys?

Add the Stars to this list barring a miracle of miraculous proportions….

The Stars had 112 points and won the Pacific Division this season, but, if they lose to the Avalanche, they'll join a dubious club. Since the NHL went to its current three-division alignment in 1997-98, these teams have amassed more than 100 points, won their division and lost in the first round:

Year Team Points Seed Lost to
2000 Blues 114 1 Sharks
2001 Red Wings 111 2 Kings
2003 Red Wings 110 2 Mighty Ducks
2001 Senators 109 2 Maple Leafs
1999 Devils 105 1 Penguins
2003 Avalanche 105 3 Wild
2004 Bruins 104 2 Canadiens
1999 Senators 103 2 Sabres
2000 Capitals 102 2 Penguins
2004 Canucks 101 3 Flames
2002 Bruins 101 1 Canadiens

We go to Memphis for Game 3 tomorrow, with the Mavericks in full control …now, they must not let down their guard…

Gosselin’s Top 100 …Print and use tomorrow…

Vikings change uniforms …Welcome back the Purple Pants….

Yesterday on the show, I was wondering about the dude at the Mavericks game that has a bit that annoys me more than pretty much anything these days. Here he is:

Well, the P1’s did the research, and here is what we have found from DMagazine’s blog

One of you thinks the crazy-dressing Mavs fan is Don Carter's brother. Another thinks it's Don Carter's brother-in-law. Both good theories, but an enthusiastic FrontBurnervian drops some knowledge:

His name is Don Knobler and he runs an apartment leasing company. You can find his office on the southbound service road of 75, around Henderson. Look for the sign with the two blue arrows…can’t miss it. The only reason I know him is because I am a former funslinger and Don knows everyone.

Don Knobler used to be my landlord. Wow. To think: my rent check most likely paid for at least one jumpsuit and two wigs. I feel like I should apologize, or something.


Look for him with a wacky hair-do, wacky clothes, and those wacky clappers right across the court from Avery at the next home game. I don’t know why he affects me like he does, but everytime the camera catches him, it makes me as crazy as Vlade Divac taking a flop used to make me. I might need a vacation.

Incidentally, rumor has it that he uses no wigs. All his real hair. If you care. Rich people get bored easily, I suppose.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Finally, Thursday Links.

In Memphis, reality is setting in

The Grizzlies are good.

The other guys are better.

It's simple and devastating, all at once.

But what other conclusion can you reach after watching the Mavericks dismantle the Grizzlies Wednesday night, 94-79?

The Grizzlies tried hard.

The Grizzlies always try hard. They are a plucky bunch of players who like each other and support each other and give it the old college try.

This works very well during the regular season, when some teams float from game to game.

Then come the playoffs.

Then nobody floats.

Then the better players win.

And the Mavericks are better, no matter how you look at it. They have the better big guys and the better wing guys. They have the better starters and the better bench.
They are both bigger than the Grizzlies and faster than the Grizzlies.

They have the better dance team, too.

And the better mascot.

And the better international star with facial hair.

And, oh, this is depressing, isn't it?

Another day, another Choke-O Cordero masterpiece

The Rangers have spent 10 days trying to figure out how to pull Francisco Cordero out of his startling tailspin. The next option may be to simply pull Cordero.
A struggling Cordero says he won't be surprised if he has lost the closer job. 'Whatever they do, I'm going to agree with it.'

"We'll see if there are any adjustments to make," Showalter said. "If so, I'm going to talk to the player first."

For the 2nd day in a row, we check in with Jamey Newberg: For his take

Yesterday I wrote this, regarding Francisco Cordero's woes:

"We need to keep giving him the ball to protect ninth-inning leads, and hope that just around the corner are a couple extra ticks on the radar gun, a little lower plane on the fastball and the slider, and a better look in his

Someone on the message board respectfully questioned what I wrote, suggesting it was time to move Cordero out of his role as closer. I responded:

"Not yet. Not ruling it out, but not yet."

Seven hours later, my patience, already circling the drain, gurgled away.
Cordero shouldn't be this team's closer. At least not for a while.

Buck Showalter had a tough call to make yesterday, one he undoubtedly made before game time: Do I close with Cordero today, getting him right back on the horse? Or do I give him the day off, which I can pull off without creating a media firestorm by pointing out that he'd thrown 32 adversity-ridden pitches the day before -- in fact, half a day before?

He used Cordero. And the result was disastrous. Again. And this time, the offense didn't bail him out.

The last time I felt this way was with Cowboy cornerback Kevin Smith, post-torn Achilles.

It's time to unseat Cordero, who is being spanked to the tune of .326/.400/.558, and give Akinori Otsuka (.250/.250/.325, no walks, 11 strikeouts in 10 innings) the ball in the ninth. Texas is just a game out of first, and things are now at a point where you owe it to the other 24 --even if they're not asking for it -- to change the ninth-inning dynamic.

You can only let Dan Johnson beat you so many times.

Let’s say a game of “pick up sticks” is breaking out. You have to bet your life on either Francisco Cordero or Marty Turco being the steady hand in adversity. What do you do? And, is suicide an option?

Fraley on the Stars

XM Radio commercial that makes me giggle

Find cheap gas here …or ride your bike…

More indirect publicity for BaD Radio

“Bill Guerin is one of the highest-paid players in the league, at $6.7 million, but he isn't even getting on the ice on the power play and -- to make matters worse -- has a boot-camp haircut because he lost a bet when his beloved Boston College Eagles lost to Wisconsin at the Frozen Four.

He has to step up, and coach Dave Tippett needs to show more faith in him for that to happen.”

Aggie blows top …and says naughty words…

Since he couldn’t play QB, Heath Shuler is running for congress ….seriously…

Brett Hull sings!

I don’t claim to know much about music. I like many genres and know very little about any of them. But, I always enjoy it when my music consultant, Kevin Scott (Hardline Ticker Man) offers me a CD that I dig from the Hip Hop world. He hits big on about 1 a year. In 2004, it was Beastie Boys – To the Five Boroughs. Then in 2005, it was Kanye and the College Dropout. Well, KScott has done it again. He has burned me a CD that is a few years old, but it is new to me: “Original Pirate Material” from The Streets …A Brit white boy who can bust a rhyme. Well done, KScott.

Packers make a curious move – signing Chuck Woodson

Packers coach Mike McCarthy said that he had been in draft meetings all day and was unaware that the team had reached agreement on a deal with Woodson. But he said that when the 29-year-old cornerback visited the Packers April 3, he told Woodson that he would be able to play some wide receiver if he signed in Green Bay.

Woodson doesn't have the blazing speed he had coming out of college - he was timed in the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds at his pro day - but at 6-1, 200 pounds he is a physical player with outstanding athletic ability. The Packers signed him because they want him to play left cornerback opposite veteran Al Harris, but if he can add anything on offense they're willing to give it a whirl.

"It's something he and I talked about," McCarthy said. "I've always believed if you have a guy with special qualities you take advantage of it. We'll look at it."

Good luck with all of that.

Barcelona advances to Champions League final to face Arsenal ...Delicious....

Keep scrolling down for Mavs/Stars notes from the playoff games last night.

Game 2: Mavericks 94, Grizzlies 79

The Mavericks won Game 2 by about as easy a margin and effort as I can ever remember. They have never won a Best of 7 series in 4 or 5 games, but I think we might be quickly approaching that status in this series.

Game 2 Notes:

• After the playoffs of 2005, we all wondered when exactly Dirk was going to play like he can play. In fact, I recall during the Houston series that I kept predicting that he was about to go off, simply because he had not gone off during the entire series. Well, it pretty much never happened last season. Now, Dirk has done it in Game 1 and Game 2. He had 31 more in Game 2, and could have had 50 if the game required it. He had 21 at the half, and Memphis really never even put on a run.

• 2 games into the series, and Memphis has had more turnovers than assists in both games. That, kids, will get you beat.

• Somehow, though, The Mavericks were outshot in both of the first two games, and have managed to win both of them. Stats are for losers, they say.

• I have said before and I will say it again. I am not sure I understand Pau Gasol. I really think he is everything that people say about European players. Indifferent and not really meaningful numbers.

• Better minutes from Devin Harris. Don’t underestimate his contribution to beating the Spurs.

• Loves me some DJ Mbenga. Big props to Donnie Nelson for finding Diop and Mbenga for nothing, really. Athletic big men. Interesting concept that eluded the Mavs for decades.

• Dancing Grandmas? Mark Cuban, you are a freaking genius! Wow.

• The bottom line here is the simple. The Mavericks are better. This series goes 5, and then it is time to gear up for those Spurs. I still think the Kings make things very tough at Arco for the San Antonio.

Game 3: Avalanche 4, Stars 3

Game 3 in Denver

You would have a hard time believing the events of Game 3 if you didn’t already see them in Game 2. And in 2004. And in 2003. The simple fact of the matter is this: You can explain away a detail here and a detail there about this team’s playoff performances, but when you put them all together, you see a trend of underachieving in the most important time of the year. This group of Dallas Stars appear to have an easy job of winning games in December, but not so much now. Sadly, a very drastic upheaval no doubt awaits these guys. A very likeable group, but surely Tom Hicks is not writing checks because they are good guys.

Notes from Game 3:

• You simply cannot take a penalty when Brendan Morrow did that canceled out a power play and gave the Avalanche one last chance to tie the game up. It looked like a soft call, but you have to weigh the risk/reward on any challenge at that moment of the game, and in hindsight, it just wasn’t worth the risk to even put your stick near the player who was 180 feet from the goal.

• I was asked if the final 2 goals of the game were Turco’s fault during the post game show. Well, here is my answer. He gave up 14 goals in 3 games.

• I hate to belabor this point, but I just can’t move on from it. Do you mean to tell me that with 3 minutes left in game 2 and 3, that the Stars would have the lead, and be on the power play? Then, they would give up the lead and the win within several minutes of game play both nights? If I didn’t just see it, I wouldn’t believe it.

• By the way, down 3-0, let’s also point out that the Stars have 0 goals in the 3rd period and overtime in the series. Doesn’t sound like a team that is prepared to win in the playoffs.

• Isn’t the bottom line in this series the following? Joe Sakic and his line dominated Mike Modano and his line for most if not all of this series? The Stars couldn’t get a handle on Sakic and Hejduk the whole series. In the 82 game regular season, Sakic-Hejduk-Brunette combined for 80 goals, while Modano-Lehtinen-Jokinen combined for 77. But for some reason, the Sakic line looks like the best line since Gretzky-Kurri-Anderson in the mid 80’s, and Modano’s line goes quietly in pretty much every game.

• It is tough to see Bill Guerin back next season. I think he will bounce back from this horrible year, but given how this team obviously feels about him, I don’t think he bounces back in Dallas.

• I endorse Brendan Morrow (above) for captain in 2006-07.

• Friday could very well have all the intensity of a preseason game. Razor said he expects a huge performance from the Stars, but I guess I am convinced that the Stars expect bad things to happen. That disease needs to be cured over the summer.

This is the first of several posts this morning, I believe. I have to go watch the Mavericks game, now. Good times. More links to come.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Super Bowl XLI MVP?

Get your own blog, and you, too, can lead it with the over-done story about your favorite player in the whole wide world returning to QB a mediocre team to a 3rd or 4th place finish in his division! That’s right: Favre Returns …And yes, I am pleased…Sue me.

The streak will go on.

Barring any unforeseen circumstances before the start of the regular season, Brett Favre will be the Green Bay Packers' starting quarterback for a 15th consecutive season.

The long wait - 113 days since the end of last season to be exact - apparently ended
Tuesday when, according to a source with direct knowledge of the situation, Favre informed Packers general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy that he would return for the 2006 season.

ESPN first reported Tuesday night that Favre made known his intention to play at least one more season to the Packers earlier in the day. Packers public relations director Jeff Blumb said Tuesday night that he could neither confirm nor deny the report, adding that "the only one who could do so is Ted Thompson, who is not available."

However, the source told the Journal Sentinel that Favre did deliver the news to Thompson and had committed to playing the 2006 season. It is unclear whether Favre told Thompson this would be his last season or if he left his future open-ended.

And now, the story that should have been the lead story, Rangers win after Choke-O Cordero does it again … He is horrible right now.

Newberg says it very well this morning

Cordero seems to have lost his edge, if not his confidence. But his teammates have lost neither, and somehow, despite the way the season started and despite the way Cordero has pitched, Texas is tied for first in the AL West.

After the win, the manager said to the press what you and I have been thinking, with regard to his closer. "He was one pitch away again. He just could not get it done for us. The situation is a concern to our bullpen because we are going to need to get it straightened out if we are going to get to where we want to go this season. If it is not something we can figure out, then we will have to come up with a solution."

The reason Buck Showalter's comments are meaningful is that he made them publicly. Showalter doesn't say things arbitrarily, or accidentally.

A contending team has no problems until it has closer problems, and it's been 10 years since Texas has had serious issues in the ninth inning. I still think Cordero will get straightened out, but what do I know?

It's ugly. Demoralizing. Hard to understand. What will Showalter do, in the short term, and what will Jon Daniels do, in the long term?

Cordero has a club option for 2007. Will Texas exercise it, choosing to pay him $5 million next year (or more, depending on how many games he finishes in 2006), or let him walk?

Here's who I think will be the Rangers' closer in 2007:

Candidate number four: Josh Rupe. Imagine that stuff if he was conditioned to bring it in 15-pitch doses. He's got the head for it, too.

Candidate number three: Frankie Francisco. His rehab is coming along. We should get to see him before the All-Star Break. We'll learn plenty about him in the second half.

Candidate number two: Akinori Otsuka. What an addition he's been.

Candidate number one: Francisco Cordero.

Will Cordero break out of this stunning funk he's in? Sure hope so. Walkoff wins are only possible at home, and even then, you certainly can't count on the offense to step up in the ninth inning as often as it has lately. It's far more practical to expect your closer to step it up.

I still expect that from Cordero, even if it's a leap of faith at the moment. We need to keep giving him the ball to protect ninth-inning leads, and hope that just around the corner are a couple extra ticks on the radar gun, a little lower plane on the fastball and the slider, and a better look in his eye.

Then maybe comments like last night's from the manager, and the uneasy feeling I'm now getting when Cordero marches in from the bullpen, will be distant memories. As will seeing Cordero's name among the league leaders in wins.

Cordero Game by Game log 2006

Meanwhile, in the NBA, Mavs play Grizzlies in Game 2

Sure, the Griz are down 0-1 in their best-of-seven, first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks. Sure, they have yet to win a playoff game and carry an 0-9 postseason record like a choke collar.

Amid those certainties, here's another: This Grizzlies group possesses the leadership and cohesion like no other, and they aim to prove to doubters that those qualities can translate into a Game 2 win tonight in American Airlines Center.

"I just told the guys that where I'm from a series isn't over until a team wins four times," Jones said, describing his spiel over dinner. "They won one game at home, where you're supposed to win in the playoffs. After one game, you can't be down. You've got to come out the next game and try hard to get one. It's funny to me that people write you off with one bad game. The things we didn't do were so glaring that these are things we can easily correct."

Grizzlies coach Mike Fratello didn't offer up much in terms of specific adjustments.
Perhaps he doesn't need to.

"This is our third playoff opportunity as a franchise," Fratello said, "so at some point eventually we're going to get our win."

Spurs escape with Game 2, needing a 3 pointer from Brent Barry with 4 seconds left

Report Nash wins MVP again …amazing. Same dude plays the same way in 2 cities. In city one, he is over-rated and ripped nationally for being soft, in city two, he is a back-to-back MVP winner….

In other Mavericks news, Cuban joins Martha Stewart and Howard Stern at Sirius …And I have finally worked Robert Wilonsky into the blog!

Now there’s one more reason to get satellite radio if you’re a Mavs junkie, a technology dork or just have a man crush on Mark Cuban: Starting this summer, Cuban will join Howard Stern and Richard Simmons on Sirius when he begins hosting a weekly show. Plans are for it to air early on Sunday afternoons on channel 102. It will likely resemble his blog, with one difference: Cuban will take your calls, most of which, I assume, will begin like this: “Uh, yeah, hi, Mark. Great show. Big fan. First time, long time. Uh, anyway, I have this great idea, and I was wondering if you’d like take a look at this propo…click.” Just a theory. –Robert Wilonsky

Do the Stars have the guts? We find out at 8:30pm

Beginning with tonight's Game 3 in Denver, the Stars' last, best hope is to clone Game 2's hit-filled second period for a full 60 minutes or as long as it takes.
Oh, and maybe find a way to hold Colorado to fewer than five goals.

A two-game deficit is daunting, not necessarily a death sentence. Since 1999, four teams have lost the first two at home and won a series.

But a three-game deficit? Forget about it. Only two teams in NHL history – the 1941-42 Toronto Maple Leafs and the 1974-75 NY Islanders – have come back from 3-0.

Heika with an interesting essay on Turco

Turco is an interesting character study. His first defense mechanism is humor, and that often makes people think he's not serious. But the 30-year-old wants this playoff success as much as anyone. He wants to win, not to shake off the tag of "can't win the big one" or to be a contender for the Conn Smythe Trophy. He wants to win because he loves the feeling of being part of a good team. He wants to win as much for his teammates as he does himself.

When it was suggested that fans wanted him to be more like former Stars goalie Ed Belfour, he nodded, knowing the comparison was always going to be there. And then he answered the question with the kind of depth that shows his personality.

"When the breakthrough happens, you're not going to want it any other way than being yourself," he said. "It's not easy, but there's no better way to do it than being you. You don't want to win on anybody else's terms. You don't want to pretend or be wannabes. We believe in ourselves and I believe in myself, and that's what's going to get it done."

Turco has lost games before under pressure. He has been shelled by the Avalanche in two playoff series. His 4.84 goals-against average and .815 save percentage this season aren't the worst in the league, but they're close.

And yet, Turco is unfazed by that. All that matters, he says, are wins. He said it during the regular season. He has lived it throughout his career. And that's why the late goals are so concerning. The key to being a playoff goalie is not having the best save percentage or the best GAA, it's making the big save at the right time.
So far, Turco hasn't done that.

Edmonton beats Detroit, takes a 2-1 lead over the Wings

Over the pond, Arsenal advances to the Champions League Final, thanks to the goalkeeper work of Jens Lehmann

Arsene Wenger felt his team had suffered physically against a Villarreal team who were rested last Saturday and he said the Spanish side were "on top of us physically and tactically" before paying tribute to his own players' "character and resilience".

Looking to the final in his homeland, he said: "You will see a different Arsenal because we can recover a bit physically and no matter what happens we have everything to win now and we will give our best shot. I believe we can do it.
"I'm happy because it was always a big doubt about Arsenal, even when we were dominating the championship. That's why I'm happy that finally we have got there when nobody expected us to go and with a side who had no chance at the start.

"In the end we knocked out Real Madrid, Juventus and Villarreal so we have every right to believe we can win the final. I would say it completes the work of nine-and-a-half years with a lot of effort and rewards all the people who worked with me and my staff."

Villarreal's coach Manuel Pellegrini understandably felt frustrated. "We had four or five chances to score a goal," he said. "We were better tonight, even better than Arsenal were at Highbury. We deserved to be in the final."

Best Link of the Week? The Lady Punch …You decide…

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Game 2: Avs 5, Stars 4 (OT)

Just when you thought the Stars had emerged from their potential season ending slumber, they let down their guard again and surrendered a short hander that may cost several members of Stars management their jobs. To lose 2 games on home ice in any series is generally enough to cost a team a series. To lose the FIRST 2 home games on home ice is near-certain death.

But, they got themselves into this mess, and now they must figure out if they are interested in trying to get out of it. But, if they don’t at least one thing has been accomplished: Never again will I confuse this group of Stars with the groups that preceded them. Frankly, the Post-Hitchcock/Gainey era cannot hold the jock of the glory years. They may wear the same jersey (unless they are wearing the silly 3rd), but they are not near the team. Sad, but true.

Notes from the groin-kick that was game 2:

• As big a fan as I am of Dave Tippett, the line changes smelled of extreme panic. There is just no other way to say it. You cannot put combinations together that never materialized in the preseason or regular season and expect it to work. Further, you can expect everyone on your team to think you have lost your mind when you skate Jussi Jokinen with Steve Ott, and Bill Guerin with Mike Modano. For different reasons, those combinations make little sense.

• Which goals were Marty Turco’s fault? It doesn’t matter. 10 goals against in 2 games for any reason at any point of the season is 100% unacceptable. But, at least he has been tied up through 2010.

• Brett Clark deserves credit for the goal that tied the game on Monday. But, that was the luckiest thing he has ever done in his life. Give him 100 more passes from the corner and I promise he cannot tip another one into the top corner, near side like he did. He pulled it out of his rear, but you know what? That is hockey. Deal with it.

• The Stars did answer questions about the size of their heart with the amazing 2nd period, but after winning 1 series in the playoffs since 2001, I can hardly get fired up about moral victories. This team needs results. And they just can’t find them.

• Milan Hejduk is a man amongst men. The Stars have never had an answer for him, and it looks like it is only getting worse as he gets 4 points on a night in which Colorado scored 5 goals. All of his assists were primary, too. He is really good.

• The Finns were much better, and will need to continue that in Denver for this team to have any chance.

• I wish I could explain Guerin’s situation. They are not putting him on the ice when the game is intense, and when they do, he looks tentative again. I fear a buy-out is right around the corner unless he can find a way to become a meaningful member of this team again. Frankly, as much as I like the dude, I cannot blame Tippett for his decision here.

• Healthy scratch Trevor Daley? Panic much?

• I have been asked about the chances of the Stars to come back plenty in the last 24 hours. Honestly, as big a sieve Theodore is, there is no reason to believe that the Stars cannot get right back in this thing. But, Saturday morning, I have the Stars at about 70% likely to win the series. Now, it is roughly 7%.

• Another crazy idea is whether Johan Hedburg should get the start between the pipes. I highly doubt they would entertain this idea, but if Tip believes the guys in the room have lost faith, then do it. You got nothing to lose. Hedburg has been in a playoff run before. You owe it to your team to do what you need to do. And honestly, is it that much crazier than the decisions that were made before Game 2?

• Do we believe? Doesn’t matter. Do those 20 guys believe?

Honest Excuses

I got to shoot straight with you. You know I love this blogging thing, but today, after 5 1/2 hours of sleep, I dragged tail to the dentist for a two hour drilling marathon. Now, I have 10 minutes before we have to get south of I-20 for the show. I will get some stuff up this afternoon, I think, but I have to skip things this morning.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Blog Update

As you can tell, Blogger is giving me trouble today. During the playoffs, I expect there will usually be reviews of each game (Mavs and Stars) as well as links, but today we have a mess that I am tired of dealing with. More tomorrow.

Game 1: Mavericks 103, Grizzlies 93

The Mavericks, unlike the local hockey team, decided to begin their playoff run during Game 1 of their series. Looking comfortable throughout, they did a fine job of setting the tone in against Memphis, and proving that while the Grizzlies will no doubt be competitive, they just don’t seem to have the horses to keep up through 48 minutes or 7 games.

Notes from Opening Night:

• Let’s start with the man who can frustrate when things don’t go right, but if Erick Dampier plans on playing like that in the playoffs (12 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks) then Dallas can plan on a lengthy run. He was active, he was emotional, and he was incredibly effective. Before we hang a banner for him, though, let’s remember he does this every so often. I will be curious to see if we can expect this from him as a matter of routine in the playoffs, but for now, props on game 1.

• Devin Harris returned, and played reasonably well. But the highest grades must go to Marquis Daniels in the backcourt. His play on defense was timely, as was Adrian Griffin. This team cranked it up a notch for the playoffs and it appears that every loose ball is a top priority for the home team.

• Dirk was dominating. Very MVP-like. I apologize for suggesting Pau Gasol is a “poor man’s Dirk”. Gasol’s game does not seem to offer the lethal 23 footers that make Dirk un-guardable. He tried just 12 and made just 3 3-pointers all year. And, somehow, Gasol has no idea how to counter being guarded by Dampier. Seems like Dirk struggles against small forwards like Tracy McGrady, but never a center. Gasol may be the better passer, but that is about it.

• What is with Gasol’s beard? Is there anyone that thinks that is a good idea? Not saying he is struggling in the girl department, but if he is, I have a suspicion what that is all about.

• And while we are wondering what people are thinking, what is with the old dude in the first row who is at every Mavericks game and insists on wearing his hair in the gayest fashion possible? If you know who I am talking about, then you know who I am talking about. But, if you don't, picture a dude with grey hair and pig tails one night, and a full fledged "80's hairdo on a highschool girl" look the next. He is rich, because he is in the front row, and he is there every game for the last several years, but someone needs to tell him what we are all thinking so he can reel it in a tad. Look for him right across the court from Avery Johnson in Game 2.

• If you read my work, you know my love for Dirk. But, this team needs Jerry Stackhouse almost as much as him, because without Stack, you don’t have the grit and gut to be willing to enter into a street fight if the other team wants to go that route. Last year, Stackhouse was ready to roll with any Rockets who wanted to dance, and the same goes for last night with Memphis when Eddie Jones or Shane Battier wanted to get physical. I love what Stack does to compliment Dirk’s weaknesses.

• Bobby Jackson might be good, but he is on my annoying list after calling Dirk the “softest in the industry”. Evidently, he thinks he is better than he is.

• Is it possible that we have found the new reigning “most white guys in the league team”? For a second, I thought Don Nelson was their GM.

• Not sure I have ever seen a team out-rebound another team 24-6 in the first half. Also not sure I have ever seen a team shoot over 60% in a half and still be well behind. It was an odd game 1, but a fairly simple Mavericks victory.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Game 1: Avs 5, Stars 2

The Stars killed any playoff buzz I was enjoying in Game 1 with an amazing display of incompetence and indifference. I have never seen the Stars so thoroughly pounded in a game of this magnitude, but it is time to believe our eyes. Now, desperation will hopefully on display on Monday from the Stars. If there is no desperation, then there is no Round 2. If there is, then we chalk game 1 up to a simple misstep that got out of hand.

Very disturbing.

Thoughts from game 1:

• The goaltender is the lightning rod around here, and he should be. Until Marty Turco can demonstrate that he is 50% of Ed Belfour on cough medicine, he is on probation. But, with the exception of the fire drill on the Wolski goal early in the 2nd, Marty was good enough to win. He made several saves that should have been goals on all-world players like Sakic and Blake. He allowed goals that no goalie in the sport would have saved. Honestly, no one is watching Marty closer than I am, as I am a proclaimed doubter of his work, but I certainly cannot claim that he is to blame in game 1. On the other hand, a franchise goalie should be able to carry the mail in Game 2 to get this series even.

• Arnott was a maniac, and because of that, those around him were really good, too. It didn’t matter who he was with; Ott, Morrow, Guerin, and Barnes all looked great, and I suspect 44 had everything to do with it. Double shift the young lad, as we know that no team has an answer for those bulls when they get rolling.

• Sadly, the same cannot be said for the other two lines. Sakic’s crew dominated Modano’s, and the Finns might not have been told that the playoffs started. Especially in the case of Modano, Lehtinen, and Zubov, I think a mulligan is in order. But, only one. They need to be great starting Monday.

• The Stars recognition and presence of mind was flat out unacceptable. To lose player after player on the Penalty Kill is tough to understand. I would imagine that this was the most deflating aspect of the game.

• I am not thinking skill and finesse is going to win this for the Stars. Colorado has just as much, and more skill than the Stars have. Forget it. You need to punish them physically. You need to hit and hit hard. I think it comes down to hitting and passion. I just did not see much besides Ott and Morrow when it came to hitting. Meanwhile, because of the slaughter of Saturday, the Stars blueline must be in a total confidence famine right now. Klemm and Boucher especially.

• The Avalanche played well enough that they could have had 10 goals. I am not kidding. A few pipes, a few amazing saves from Turco, and a few cases of missing wide open nets from 2 feet away. This has to be as good a 7 seed as we have ever seen from a talent standpoint.

• Stat to fear? Last 11 playoff seasons, there have been 22 series between the 2 seed and the 7 seed. The 7 seed is 13-9 in those series. Holy cow.

• If someone hit Modano from behind like Nik Hagman hit Sakic, we would all be screaming bloody murder. That is a fact.

• 18,000 fans made us remember how great a playoff crowd can be. And then they turned on the team in the 2nd period by booing them off the ice, and left the arena altogether with 4 minutes left, apparently because 4:45pm on a Saturday is now a school night. They don’t make die-hards like they used to.

• Jose Theodore? No idea. Hopefully, we will know on Monday.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Kiss your wives goodbye. If you like hockey, things are going to be busy starting today. If you like basketball, things are going to be busy starting tomorrow. If you like both, you are going to be worthless to society for about 30-60 days.

Above, my best play of the game. A Catch in warm-ups. The QB Bowl was last night at Reunion, and Team Staubach beat my Team Aikman. What a blast. My finger is pretty screwed up, but that was a small price to pay to get the chance to try to block Herschel Walker.

Meanwhile, I really wanted a chance to see the Rangers in a save situation last night to see what Buck would do, and then what CoCo would do. Well, it happened! and look who trusted their fastball again ….

If anything, Cordero actually seemed to be refreshed in the ninth inning Thursday. At least his fastball seemed to be. He used it over and over, hitting 96 mph, in a 1-2-3 inning. The Rangers ended their nine-game West Coast road trip 5-4 before catching a red-eye charter back to Dallas.

"Being able to get back out there and go 1-2-3 was important to me," Cordero said. "Everybody is going to be able to enjoy going home a little more. Last night, I lost with the pitches I wanted to throw, but I didn't throw them where I wanted to. Tonight, I made better pitches."

The better pitches were mostly fastballs. On Wednesday, he missed badly with sliders and the Mariners took advantage. In blowing a 6-4 lead Wednesday, he faced five batters in his 12-pitch outing. Four reached base. All four reached on sliders.
Earlier Thursday afternoon, Cordero discussed the Wednesday outing. He insisted he hadn't forgotten his fastball. Then he backed up his words to end the strange game.
"His fastball had some bounce to it," Showalter said.

The Rangers had bounce, too. They bounced back after blowing a 3-0 lead. The Rangers lost the lead in the eighth when Joaquin Benoit and Brian Shouse created other bullpen concerns.

By the way, some props to Padilla. He had 5 days to think about the 3 Home Runs on 3 pitches in Oakland, and it was going to be interesting to see how he could bounce back from that. He bounced back very, very well and deserved a win last night. 2 out of 3 in Oakland, and 2 out of 3 in Seattle have everyone feeling good about a winning road trip.

NBA Playoff Predictions
Just the West. I am sorry, but I may have watched fewer than 5 games all year that have been played between 2 Eastern Teams.

Spurs over Kings in 7
Suns over Lakers in 6
Mavs over Grizzlies in 5
Nuggets over Clippers in 6

I will go on record and give you the Mavs in 5 over the Grizzlies. I think they will be tough and scrappy, but the Mavs should be ultimately win in the 4th Quarters.
In the Memphis paper, the growing up of Pau Gasol …He isn’t soft.

"The natural thing for most international players who come into the NBA is a reluctance to try and take over a situation, out of respect for the people who are already here," Fratello said. "Like the natural evolution of a Dirk Nowitzki in Dallas, an international player grows into the game. They get to a point where they understand they have to become more involved. Pau has accepted the responsibility that he has to be effective night in and night out if we're going to win."

Gasol is playing more physical than in the past. Those detractors who previously labeled Gasol "soft" are curiously quiet.

"People always say players who come from Europe are soft, and Pau's not soft," Grizzlies' owner Michael Heisley said. "He grew up playing in a different style of basketball where fouls are called. He's had to adjust to different standards and I think he's mastered the system. I also believe Pau came back with a lot more determination this season."

Gasol said he grew tired of the "soft" label.

"I'd get asked every training camp about that," Gasol said. "I might not be the most physical player, that's not my nature. But I am a competitor and I play as hard as I can. Some guys are more physical, but I have some qualities and advantages they don't have. I feel like I can compete against any physical player."

Today’s NHL on TV isn’t that popular column

NBC's 1.0 rating (about 1.1 million households) is down a bit from ABC's two years ago. But OLN's 0.2 (118,175 homes) is off 60 percent from ESPN's in the 2003-4 season; OLN's viewership is down even more sharply because it is available to nearly 30 million fewer subscribers than ESPN. OLN's first-round broadcasts, which start tonight, are blacked out in the teams' home markets.

"People aren't in the habit of watching the N.H.L. on OLN," said Gavin Harvey, the president of OLN. "They're used to going to ESPN or to the regional sports networks."
At the Fox Sports Net confederation of regional networks, hockey ratings for 19 teams have fallen by an average 10 percent. While Sidney Crosby's sensational rookie season fueled a near doubling of Pittsburgh Penguins ratings, the Detroit Red Wings' ratings tumbled by nearly 33 percent.

Harvey is upbeat about the enhanced public profile that the N.H.L., a major sports league still in outpatient rehabilitation from the lockout, has added to its diet of hunting, fishing, cycling and bull riding.

"It's a piece of the puzzle we lacked," he said during an interview Tuesday at the OLN studio in Stamford, Conn. "Everything changed with the N.H.L." He added: "We believe in hockey more now than ever. What we do is get fans fully immersed in their sport."

That belief is visible in improved production for its games, a flashy studio set (the first one used was a design flop) as well as in the doubling of ratings and male demographics for hockey games, compared with what they replaced.

But those improvements came at a steep price: OLN is paying the league $65 million this year, the most it has spent for programming, and will pay $70 million next season. And if its number of subscribers passes 80 million (from 63.4 million), OLN must pay $15 million more.

Hockey Playoff Predictions

I only do the West, because that is the only conference I usually watch.

Calgary beats Anaheim in 7
Detroit beats Edmonton in 6
Dallas beats Colorado in 6
San Jose beats Nashville in 6

I think the Stars must not wait to get involved in this series. Much like Calgary, they may only get the edge in the series because of home ice. If they do not make that count with wins in games 1 and 2, then this series could turn quickly.

Denver Post explains the Avalanche

And yet, it was not like the Avs of this season were a boring, trapping team that won 2-1 every night. Detroit was the only Western Conference team to score more goals (305) than the Avs, and Colorado finished fourth overall in league scoring with 283. The NHL's new rules aided scoring, but nobody expected the Avs to be one of the teams that would most benefit - especially after the loss of stars Forsberg, Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne.

Perhaps because of those departures, former role players such as Ian Laperriere, Antti Laaksonen, Marek Svatos, Brett Clark and Andrew Brunette saw themselves as more important players and had career years.

"In the past, there were always two lines that were doing all the scoring," left
wing Alex Tanguay said. "This year, it's been a little more spread out throughout the lineup. But we knew at the start of the year, losing a lot of high-priced players and a lot of talent, that it was going to be different. When we play a good team game, we're as capable as any team in the league right now."

Laperriere, a likable veteran from Montreal, embodies this team. He's tough, works hard and has the skill to show off a bit, too.

"But we still had our leaders on this team leading us," said Laperriere, who scored a career-high 21 goals. He cited Sakic, Tanguay and Blake as examples.

"For sure, we don't have as much skill as we did before," Laperriere said. "It's tough to take a Peter Forsberg away. But as a team, we did a pretty good job of getting everybody to chip in here and there. This team was very close."

Over at, the guys have averaged many ratings for a full list …this blog is solid everyday, and well worth your bookmark…

Gil Lebreton examines the Cowboys plans

But the Cowboys might have plugged more holes in the winter of 2005 than any other NFL team. And Parcells might have done it again.

The offensive line, for example. The gang that brought the '05 playoff drive to a halt appears better, even with future Hall of Famer Larry Allen gone.

Tackle Flozell Adams returns from season-ending knee surgery, and Rivera is also expected to finally be healthy. Rob Petitti is likely to go from starting 16 games at tackle as a rookie to being an experienced backup.

For those reasons, including signing tackle Jason Fabini from the Jets, it is difficult to imagine the Cowboys selecting an offensive lineman with their first pick.

Free safety might be off the early board as well, after signing free agent Marcus Coleman and re-signing Keith Davis.

If not a blocker or a safety, then, what?

Probably not a quarterback, Jones said. Owner Jones, of course, could start a new league, just with Quarterbacks Who Tried to Replace Aikman.

He's dropped hints that the team wants to take one last long look at Drew Henson, currently exiled in Germany. Plus, there's the annual fascination with Tony Romo.
Whatever. Parcells barely acknowledges his backup quarterbacks.

Do you like making fun of Favre? So do these people

Mullets in Hockey

Saturday, 2 big games in my life: Game 1 of the Stars series, but more importantly on PPV, Liverpool v. Chelsea in the FA Cup Semifinal

Thursday, April 20, 2006


I like to be right most of the time. I would be lying if I denied the idea that I go home and actually enjoy seeing things happen exactly as I predicted. Most of the time.

This Cordero mess is one time where I hope I am wrong. When I have been saying for the entire spring that he scares me, he is not very good, and he hasn’t been dominating consistently since 2004, I am half hoping that he will shove it up my rear by looking like a man who can not be hit.

But, time after time, Francisco Cordero looks like the same guy, but nowhere close to that guy he used to be.

Is he hurt? You almost hope so, so it would explain what is happening with him.

If last night was a rare occurrence, you could look past it. Trouble is, he has 2 types of appearances it seems like recently. Blown saves, and nearly blown saves.

This is very, very bad.

Rangers lose again, despite a great performance for 8 innings

The Rangers do not – repeat, do not – have a closer controversy on their hands.
At least not yet.

In the wake of a 9-6 bottom-of-the-ninth loss to Seattle, Rangers manager Buck Showalter was adamant Francisco Cordero is still his closer even though Cordero was yanked with the game still on the line. It was the second blown save for Cordero in eight days.

"It wasn’t his night,’’ Showalter said. "He’s pitched three of four days and I’m not going to overextend him. He was scuffling out there, and there was simply no point in doing it any more.’’

Showalter replaced a surprised-looking Cordero after he’d allowed four of the five batters he faced in the ninth inning to reach base. The Mariners had erased a two-run deficit with three hits, a hit batter and a sacrifice fly. C.J. Wilson came on and surrendered a game-winning, three-run homer to Carl Everett.

Asked afterward about who would close the final game of the road trip tonight if the Rangers have a chance to win, Showalter said he’d like to give Cordero a day off. Cordero has thrown 62 pitches over the last four days.

Asked who would close after Cordero had a day to rest, Showalter said simply: "Cordero.’’

So there’s no questions about the closer’s job?

"What did I say?’’ Showalter responded.

I also wanted to share some email from you guys. The first two emails were here this morning:

Trade him while you can get something for him! I saw it begin last year where he walks at least one batter, or if the Rangers have more than a run lead, he'd allow at least one run just to make it interesting. But it's all ok because at the game we can play the music and highlight reel and yell, "Cocoa!"

I'm tired of it and he's to the Rangers what the kicker's been to the Cowboys. Trade him while you can get something, put Alfonsako out there, and give me a PR break. It's about winning....there's your PR!

Pissed off Die Hard Ranger fan,



What up. I thought you were being over critical of Cordero but after low and behold after watching him give up hit after hit to Seattel I see you are way ahead of me on his skill prediction. I thought he did an above average job last year but wen you can't get an out with the bottom of an order in seattle something is definitely wrong.

Why in the heck does Buck not leave Hosuku?? in to open the 9th when he only pitched to one batter. Better yet why did he pull Millwood? Was Mench slacking on one of those two shots in the eigth over his head? I thought he should have definitely played the second ball much differently and then I see he did not return to the game in the 9th.

What a shame! Just as I was starting to believe in the rangers again they pull off a horrible loss like this. How does M. Young allow a strikout with a man on second and then Tex a strikout with a man on third? Of all players to strikeout in such a critical spot. ??

Maybe buch has taken this team as far as he can. I'd love to see Busk take this team to the world series but he needs to change his management philosophy to make that happen with the rangers.

And then these two were from Monday, after he almost blew the game on Sunday in Oakland…

Thank you Bob..I have been arguing with a buddy of mine for 2 years how Cordero can only save games if he has a 3 run lead in the 9th with 2 outs to get and will even make that interesting..Is there a way to find out how many legitimate saves he had last year or for fun, lets define the save opportunity as it should be and keep track this year..I say track any game he comes in to only when the lead is 1 with none on and no out or 2 with 1 on..In other words he has to face the tying run at the plate with less than 2 outs..I bet he will hover around 50 % in those opportunities..

Kevin in Arlington

Hey Bob, I've been a listener since day one,(in fact my birthday is Jan 24th too). I just heard what you said about Cordero and I can't believe that SOMEBODY finally recognizes that he's a spare. I wish ya'll would look back at his saves while the Rangers' closer, and see how many saves he had with a one run lead when he came in the game. He Rarely goes 1,2,3 and out. He usually walks at least one and seems to always get into trouble. I can't stand him, and get so tired of him being lauded as a great closer by the media. Thank you for your recognition.


For the Rangers’ sake, let’s hope we are all wrong…Padilla tonight.

After a night in which the Mavericks just tried to keep breathing, and all the fans got plane tickets, They can now turn their attention to Memphis

The Mavericks expect their first-round playoff series against Memphis to look a lot like last year's opening round against Houston – except without the two opening home losses.

The Grizzlies allow the fewest points per game in the NBA (88.4) and with the Mavericks focusing on defense, the series figures to fall into the grind-it-out variety.

That's great news for the Mavericks because it will be a better primer for a possible second-round date with San Antonio than had they faced the up-tempo Los Angeles Clippers.

"We think a lot of the things that happened in the playoffs against a tough, hard-nosed Houston Rocket defensive team, we're going to see some similar things in this playoff because Memphis is really tough-minded defensively," coach Avery Johnson said Wednesday. "The more you watch them on film, the scarier it gets.

"They sit on all your plays. You got to move the ball against them. They can shut down our offense if we don't play well offensively. It's going to be a very, very tough series."

What the Grizzlies don't have is Tracy McGrady, who confounded the Mavericks in the first round last season.

Here is the full schedule for the series, as the NBA demonstrates the ability to drag the first round out for 15 days…I believe the finals wrap up in August.

Game 1 - Sun April 23 Memphis at Dallas 8:30PM TNT
Game 2 - Wed April 26 Memphis at Dallas 7:00PM TNT
Game 3 - Sat April 29 Dallas at Memphis 4:30PM TNT
Game 4 - Mon May 1 Dallas at Memphis TBD TBD
Game 5 * Wed May 3 Memphis at Dallas TBD TBD
Game 6 * Fri May 5 Dallas at Memphis TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sun May 7 Memphis at Dallas TBD TBD

Weekly Buccigross Hockey ..

If it wasn’t for bad luck in Green Bay…. Aggie great Terrence Murphy to be released

Look for this on WHY TODAY DOESN’T SUCK in the near future, The full Berman nickname list

Today’s “you will laugh or your money back” link: White Rapper Demo Tape

Arsenal wins in 1st leg of Semifinal

Arsenal showed the maturity of a team that belongs in the Champions League final. Having scrambled Villarreal's wits in the first half with a high-speed approach that achieved the breakthrough, they assumed a more contemplative style to protect that lead. It might well have been increased, but a 1-0 win, thanks to Kolo Touré's first goal of the season, is a better result than appearances suggest.

Too many minds were inflamed by dreams of grandeur, supposing that Arsenal would devastate the Spanish side in the last European fixture at this stadium. A semi-final is rarely like that and a weighty advantage was established here. No one will find it easy to overhaul an Arsenal side that has strung together nine clean sheets in a row in the tournament.

For the record, of the “Big 4” in England, I love Liverpool, don’t mind Arsenal, loathe Manchester United, and wish total and utter failure on Chelsea. Having been to Highbury twice, I have never had a big issue with the Gunners. Good luck closing the deal…

And we end with this, giving you an example of what my email looks like:

To the idiot Green bay Fan, I was listening to your show the other day, the show you were talking about "Die Hard Fans"

I am a Die Hard Viking Fan, I love the Vikings with all my heart and soul, If it came between The Vikings and my Wife, I would get a Divorce Tomorrow.

I agree there can only be one love, only one love for a Team, you can not have two or three Teams you love, I ask the ? "If you would die tomorrow ,What Team would you like to see play before you go?"

if you ask me that ? It would be the Vikings" Vikings -4-Life"Vikings -4-Life"Vikings -4-Life"Vikings -4-Life", I love the Vikings so much that would not care if they were the only team in the NFL, they would have to play Purple against White to see who wins the Superowl ( of coarse the Vikes the only team in the league) If they were the only team I would still watch the draft to see who we draft, Man I just love everything about the Vikes, The Moss trade " STUPID" the Daunte trade"STUPID",,The Herschel Walker Trader;"Doulble Dog STUUUUPPPIIIDDDD"but no matter what my Team Does " I love Them, They can do no wrong in my eyes, In the big light The purple and Gold is God,,I have a Vikings Tattoo on my Leg and Dress as a Crazy Vike Fan every Chance I get"I love the Vikes",,,.And yes your right you have to have a team you hate"I HATE THE FONKING COWGIRLS" Dallas Cowboys make is vomit , I am the #Cowboy Hater , Last year at the Cowboy Draft Party I had on my "#1Cowboy Hater Jersey" no kidding I have a #1Cowboy hater Jersey,some guy was out there and wanted to Fight,,I laughed it off tho,But I was Funny,but to you I ask,,will you be writing the Guide to be a True fan ,, if so send me a copy or even better you can put me in the book,,,Because I am the definition of a "Die Hard Fan"

P.S. FONK the PACKERS!!!!!

Thanks Charles Morgan #1 Viking Fan

My Response:


You sound like my kind of guy. And just think, if the Vikings were the only team in the NFL, then you would be sure to finally win your title!



QB Bowl tonight. I just don’t want to let Troy down. Hope to see you at Reunion.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hello, 3rd place!

And this morning, the standings look like this:

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim of California 7-7
Oakland 7-7
3rd Place Texas Rangers 6-8
Seattle 6-9

Rangers get some help from the helpless OF

Perhaps the most encouraging thing about the Rangers’ win Tuesday was that they got significant production from folks beyond the usual suspects. Yes, Rangers RBI leader Nevin (14 on the year) drove in a pair of runs. And Antonio Alfonseca, Akinori Otsuka and Francisco Cordero closed down the final three innings in the bullpen, as they often do.

"It’s been solid so far," Showalter said of the trio of end-game relievers. "It means a lot to the team’s psyche to be able to shorten a game up."

There were other stars of the night for Texas, though. They got five RBIs from outfielders Wilkerson, Laynce Nix and Gary Matthews Jr. That group had combined for just 10 RBIs in the previous 13 games.

"We know that we have the talent to produce and to be productive for this ballclub," Wilkerson said. "I was so happy for Nixie, to come up with a big hit, lefty on lefty. That was big for us to tack on a couple runs there."

The outfield has been a virtual black hole offensively for Texas. But Wilkerson now has RBIs in consecutive games, and the contributions from Nix and Matthews were much-needed. Nix’s RBI came off left-hander Jake Woods in the sixth inning. With the bases loaded via walks and one out, Nix singled up the middle to drive in two runs.

Meanwhile, Seattle tries to figure out King Felix

Of all the scenarios foreseen for Felix Hernandez this year, struggling and frustrated was not high on anyone's list.

Mortality was not supposed to be an option — not for a 20-year-old wunderkind with a skill-set that made grown scouts weep with joy.

Yet, three starts into a season that was supposed to mark his coronation as baseball's next pitching superstar, Hernandez is undeniably struggling, and undeniably frustrated.

His 97 mph fastball still lacking in command, Hernandez gave up a pair of two-run home runs in the Mariners' 7-4 loss to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday that dropped them into the American League West cellar.

His body language after those two blows — by Phil Nevin in the first, and Brad Wilkerson in the second, both on 3-1 fastballs — and throughout his outing displayed Hernandez's impatience with his inconsistent start to the season.

"I was frustrated with myself, not the team," he said.

But asked how concerned he was after watching his record fall to 0-2 and his earned-run average rise to 6.14, Hernandez replied quickly, "I'm fine."

Cowboys sign a safety, and get this: He once played for Parcells! ….

Coleman, who attended Lake Highlands and Texas Tech, entered the NFL as a cornerback and moved to safety two seasons ago.

Houston released him in March with two years remaining on his contract. He was supposed to count $2.88 million against the Texans' cap this season.

The Cowboys have signed eight free agents – the most in franchise history – and have filled all of their off-season needs. That should allow the Cowboys to focus on drafting the best player with the 18th pick of the first round instead of drafting for need.

Coleman fell out of favor in Houston last year, in part, because he was ineffective. He also was deactivated for a game for the second time in three seasons for violating team rules. He missed a Saturday morning walk-through before a December game against Baltimore.

He played three seasons under Cowboys coach Bill Parcells as a member of the New York Jets.

It is springtime in Dallas, which means the Avalanche are coming to town

The Stars and Avalanche will open their best-of-7 series at American Airlines Center on Saturday at 2 p.m. (Ch. 5).

That five-game loss to Colorado in the first round in 2004 is more of a footnote to this series, rather than a preview, they said.

"It's definitely in the back of our minds that we lost to them the last time," center Jason Arnott said. "They are a different team. So are we."

Of the two, Colorado has changed the most with the departure of Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote, the hiring of coach Joel Quenneville and the acquisition of goaltender Jose Theodore.

The Avalanche can still score.

Only Detroit had more goals in the West. Six Avalanche players scored at least 21 goals. Colorado ranked ninth overall on the power play.

Brenden Morrow said the Stars must be disciplined.

"You give them a power-play opportunity, and they're going to hurt you," Morrow said.

The Stars also must avoid the postseason problems that plagued them at American Airlines Center.

In a 2003 loss to Anaheim and in 2004 to Colorado, the Stars lost the first two games at home.

The home-ice advantage they had received for 82 games of hard work turned into an uphill obstacle course.

Guerin is back; just ask ….

Hey Bob

I was just wondering if you could post GBL rosters on the web or throw them out over the air. I had a job interview when they were supposed to be officially announced, and haven't heard an update....................Love the bit, how else would i know what that Perma-stoned guy on An American Movie was up to.

You got it: Here is the Official GBL Page …Big props to intern Sean for his fine work, again…

A SMU Football blog? That is right! Bookmark it if you pull for the Ponies

Cool Slideshow of the new Busch stadium

Dan’s IMDB page is growing …just remember this next time you read something on the internet.

Watch the Fonz jump the shark

And finally, I was sent this sports picture to end today’s edition.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What if Favre was a Cowboy?

This is a leftover from the weekend, but it is really funny: Gary Myers of the NY Daily News claims Favre + Cowboys = sense …Of course, this is goofy, especially coming from a guy like Myers who usually makes sense…

Brett Favre sounds like he wants to play again, but doesn't look like he wants to play for the Packers, who have done little to get better after going 4-12 last season. The solution: Trade him to a contender, letting the Packers rebuild on their time schedule, not Favre's. There are two logical spots for Favre: 1) Dallas. This is likely Bill Parcells' final year — why else sign off on Terrell Owens? — and Favre gives him a much better shot at the Super Bowl than Drew Bledsoe; 2) Baltimore. Many of the pieces are in place — especially an excellent defense — and Favre would be a great one-year fit. If Joe Montana can get traded at the end of his career, so can Favre. And maybe that's what he really wants.

Jerry would love Vince Young

A lot of fans believe the Cowboys need a quarterback, but with Drew Bledsoe, Tony Romo and Drew Henson returning, they aren't in the market to add a rookie to the mix. Still, Jones was asked recently what he would do if he had a chance to draft University of Texas quarterback Vince Young.

"It'd be real interesting, wouldn't it?" Jones said. "There's no doubt in my mind that when the opportunity comes for him to win it or make the play, he's maybe the best that's come through in a long time to actually do what you're paying for, and that's playing football at a position to win a game.

"He does turn it on, notch it up. There's no doubt about that. You've got to factor that in with all the other stuff. He's got the size, the athleticism, and boy, has he played in big games and won big games."

The Stars have a first round dance partner, Their old friends, the Colorado Avalanche

Three consecutive losses. The last one was to a team that didn't dress its three top position players and No. 1 goaltender. Is this any way for a team to go into the Stanley Cup playoffs?

For the Avalanche, it will have to be, because it opens the postseason this week against the Dallas Stars.

The Avs' 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday night means they finished seventh in the Western Conference and will face the Pacific Division-winning Stars in a best-of-seven series starting Friday or Saturday in Dallas.

I think this is the best matchup. In the hockey playoffs, there are no freebies. Yes, the Avalanche can pull an upset. Yes, they have guys to fear. But of the 4 teams In the lower bracket, they are playing the worse. If you cannot beat them, you are certainly not good enough.

Meanwhile, in the LA Times this morning, We look at the NHL’s good and bad of 2005-06

Capitalizing on the new vigilance against obstruction fouls, seven players have reached 100 points, the most since 12 players did so in the 1995-96 season. Four players have 50 goals or more, the most since 1997-98.

Twenty-six players have at least 80 points; only eight reached that level in 2003-04, before Commissioner Gary Bettman shut down the league and wrested from the players' union a new economic system that included a salary cap to save owners from themselves and a guarantee that players will get 54% of revenues.

The NHL, in becoming the first major professional sports league to lose an entire season to a labor dispute, gave fans every reason to spurn it forever. But despite protestations that they'd found other ways to spend their money and that they'd been alienated by a dispute between millionaire players and billionaire owners, fans returned in remarkable numbers.

The league reported attendance records in October, November, December and January as teams played to more than 90% capacity. Franchises thrived in small markets and in Canada, two areas that suffered under the old NHL economy. Buffalo, Nashville, Calgary and Edmonton made the playoffs. The New York Rangers, the most foolish spenders under the previous labor agreement, became the poster children for Bettman's New NHL, reinventing themselves as a team with a realistic budget rather than a collection of high-priced All-Stars.

League revenues are expected to match the pre-lockout level of $2.1 billion, as advertisers sought the heavily young, male audience that hockey has traditionally drawn. Vibrant personalities burst onto the scene with Alexander Ovechkin in Washington and Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh, compensating for the retirement of veterans Mark Messier, Scott Stevens, Ron Francis and Brett Hull.

It's the best the NHL could have hoped for, and probably more than it dared to dream about.

"The combination of new rules and the shootout have produced not only high-quality hockey but great playoff races," said Mighty Duck General Manager Brian Burke, whose team is a prime beneficiary of the crackdown on hooking and holding. "When you go to the shootout, nobody leaves. Everybody stays.

"Overall, the NHL gets an 'A.' "

But — and you knew there had to be a "but" — it's unclear whether anyone has noticed beyond the small but passionate cluster of fans who cared before the lockout.

For reasons only he knows, Steve Smith takes shots at new teammate, Keyshawn

Despite his decade of big plays, big talk and big hype, newly signed Carolina Panthers wideout Keyshawn Johnson is no replacement for Muhsin Muhammad, Panthers All-Pro receiver Steve Smith says.

During a celebrity golf tournament April 7 at Brier Creek Country Club, Smith said Johnson is a good player, but not on the same level of Muhammad, who left Carolina last year for Chicago via free agency.

When asked if the addition of Johnson, who signed a four-year deal reportedly worth $19 million, would help the Panthers' offense, Smith said he was not sure.
"I don't know. Everybody wants me to speculate. I can't speculate," Smith said at the annual Holt Brothers Celebrity Golf Classic. "The natural thing to say is 'yeah he's going to help us', but time will tell."

Smith, a third-round pick in 2001, has become one of the league's best receivers, in large part because of the tutoring by Muhammad, who had 1,405 receiving yards for Carolina in 2004.

"Nobody plays like Moose [Muhammad]. Nobody ever will play like Moose to me," Smith said.

In baseball news, teams are all making sure they re-sign their free agents before they get away this winter

Right now, though, we ask for just five minutes to discuss a natural April baseball topic: free agency. You might think it is too early to focus on the offseason, but your favorite team might not agree.

Since last season ended, the White Sox alone signed Jose Contreras, Jon Garland and A.J. Pierzynski to multi-year extensions before their walk year began, and in recent weeks Derrek Lee, Jeff Kent and Randy Winn were inked long-term, as well. Their removals weakened what already was going to be slim pickings come next winter. Roy Halladay, David Ortiz, Adam Dunn and Brian Schneider also recently signed extensions, diminishing the class after the 2007 campaign.

Teams have become wiser about buying out some free-agent years way down the road, none better than Cleveland (Travis Hafner, Victor Martinez, Jhonny Peralta and Grady Sizemore). There are good players available this offseason, such as Alfonso Soriano and Barry Zito, but not great ones unless Roger Clemens decides to play Hamlet again or Barry Bonds' body cooperates.

The Nuggets are better without Kenyon?

Now for an April stat that has to be taken seriously, one that can't be considered an aberration. It has taken too long to emerge to be considered a fluke, a short-lived trend, a turnaround waiting to happen.

The Nuggets in the past two seasons are 29-8 without Kenyon Martin in their lineup - 10-2 last season, 19-6 this season. Read into it what you will, but those are the facts. The Nuggets for virtually a half-season worth of games have been a better team with Martin watching instead of playing.

Martin says he wants to log substantial minutes in the playoffs. You look at these numbers and you can't help but ask: Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

The Mayor retires

Today’s joke of the day

Dale will join Galloway and Company on a weekly basis, plus Dale will also be very visible during 103.3 ESPN's no-holds barred coverage of the Dallas Cowboys.

I really shouldn’t get pulled offsides by this, but it is obvious what ESPN’s new strategy is. They can talk Cowboys with “no holds barred”. I heard Gramps referred to us as “muzzled broadcasting”. Wow. I was going to tell you that Roy Williams cannot cover anyone and that Parcells should not be so darn conservative, but here at the Ticket, evidently that hold is barred. What utter desperation from a station that celebrates 5 years of being a distant 2nd place in a 2 horse race.

Like I said, I am normally not this petty on these topics, but usually this nonsense comes from both station’s marketing people (not show hosts). But since Randy has lobbed this grenade, I must wonder if he is being muzzled on his Mavericks commentary. Does he lob Avery softballs every week because Mark Cuban is telling him what to say on the Mavericks flagship?

How about we let the people decide what they like to listen to, as opposed to making crap up.

Tonight, my favorite young player in baseball, Felix Hernandez pitches against the Rangers …He is having a tough time getting started this season, but he is going to be a big star. He is walking way too many people this spring, after looking amazing in 2005.

The Final 4 of the Champions League cranks up today. The Semifinals will each be a home and home series that will add up the total goals at the end of the two games.

Today’s Game 1 is Barcelona at AC Milan which is not televised unless you have ESPN Deportes, and tomorrow ESPN 2 will show game 1 Villarreal at Arsenal. Game 2’s will be next week at the other site, and we will then have our Champion’s League Final in May. It doesn’t get better than this in world football.

Monday, April 17, 2006

A Case of the Mondays

I was asked this weekend if I was brave enough to lead the Monday blog with UFC 59. After all, there was sports this weekend of the normal variety, with baseball and basketball and hockey. But, there was Forrest Griffin vs. Tito Ortiz. So, to that guy (Hank) who didn’t think I was brave enough, here you go.

Ortiz beats Griffin in a decision
I hoped and hoped that Forrest Griffin would have the ability to slay one of the big giants in the game, former champ Tito Ortiz. After all, Forrest had been on our show, and therefore is our favorite UFC Fighter. But, he is also the winner of a reality tv show, and therefore people question the credentials of him compared to a fighter who worked his way up the ranks the traditional way.

Anyway, Round 1 was a domination of the highest order and Ortiz just got Griffin on his back and administered the ground and pound. Heavy elbows rained down on Forrest who tried many solutions to the problem, with none of them working. He remained active, but the damage was being done. At the end of the first round, it looked like a miracle was going to be necessary for Griffin to survive the onslaught. And, it also seemed obvious that he was outclassed, and winners of a tv show are no match for the big boys.

But, as the fight moved to Round 2, Griffin figured out the important strategy of staying on his feet. On his feet, the two fighters were equals and Forrest frustrated Ortiz by using a sprawl well to avoid takedowns. Griffin clearly won round 2 in my mind, by landing far more punches and looking far more active as Ortiz appeared to tire.

Then, it came down to the third and final round. This is where the fight turned back to the veteran, Ortiz, as he did get one key takedown with less than 2 minutes to go. But, this time, Forrest Griffin, who had demonstrated his heart by this point, actually issued quite a bit of punishment from his back. He then got back to his feet in the final seconds, but was unable to mount a flurry that could get more support from the judges. It went to the cards, and two of the three judges did not give Griffin a single round. Ortiz won on a split decision, but Griffin earned all the credit in the world from the public who saw he had a heart like Rocky. Our boy is a little green, but he is indeed a bad man.

Sylvia shocks the pitbull

I thought there was about a 0% chance Tim Silvia could beat that maniac Andrei Arlovski for the heavyweight belt. If you have seen Arlovski destroy most of his opponents, you would most likely feel the same way. But, there was the question of his one loss a few years ago when he got tagged on the chin and dropped like a ton of bricks. And in the first round on Saturday, with Arlovski looking to be dominant again, he was caught once in the chin, and fell on his face looking completely out cold. And he evidently was. Sylvia pounced, and the fight was stopped immediately. In fact, I thought the ref got a bit carried away, but most agreed that the right call was made, and we have a new heavyweight champion. He is the old one, too. Tim Sylvia. Look for a rematch pretty soon.

The lesser fights were so/so, but that Ortiz/Griffin fight was awesome.

There, it took a lot of courage to do what I just did, unless you consider that this is Bob’s blog, and I am Bob.

Sherdog’s review of the PPV

Rangers win 2 of 3 in Oakland, and pitching is looking pretty good

The starting pitching? Try not to dwell on Vicente Padilla's three straight gopher balls last Saturday, and you'll notice that Rangers pitchers have logged five solid starts in a row.

Take away the three Padilla pitches, in fact, and Rangers starters have a 2.08 earned run average over those five games, with only four walks and 21 strikeouts.
Kameron Loe performed like the No. 3 starter that the Rangers -- for now -- need him to be. And Millwood was the better pitcher Friday night in his battle against Barry Zito.

Mavericks win, await opponent for playoffs

Getting healthy, honing a playoff rotation and working on the "system" are the goals this week. Johnson did accomplish one key with his lineup against the Jazz.
For the first time since March 3, Johnson started Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Josh Howard, DeSagana Diop and Griffin. Not only is that lineup the most used this season, it's also 19-2.

No other starting combination has more than eight wins.

"It's been awhile," Terry said. "With us it doesn't matter. Whoever is out there is able to get the job done. It's our system."

The Jazz (40-40) had its five-game winning streak snapped and was eliminated from playoff contention. The eight teams in the West are set, with the final seedings being the only mystery.

Memphis (47-33) or the Clippers (46-34) are the candidates to face the Mavs as the fifth seed. The Grizzlies have the upper hand, but the two teams meet Tuesday in Memphis.

"I'm assuming if both teams stay the course," Johnson said, "whoever wins that game, we'll play."

Meanwhile, The Stars play out their string …awaiting their opponent, too…

The Stars should know their playoff opponent by the stroke of midnight tonight.
Dallas, which will play at Detroit, is locked into the second seed in the Western Conference and is waiting for the seventh seed to be determined. The only two teams that could land in the seventh spot – Colorado or Anaheim – each play tonight, with Colorado at Edmonton (8 p.m.) and Anaheim hosting Calgary (9:30 p.m.).

If Colorado (43-29-9, 95 points) loses to Edmonton in regulation, the Stars will play the Avalanche in the first round, starting Friday at American Airlines Center. But if the Avalanche gains two points for a win or one point for a loss in overtime or a shootout, then Anaheim (42-27-12, 96 points) could fall to the seventh seed by finishing with the same amount of points as Colorado.

The first tiebreaker in the seeding process is number of wins, and Colorado holds that advantage. In any scenario where the teams finish with the same amount of points, the Avalanche wins the tiebreaker.

If Anaheim wins, it clinches the No. 6 seed and would play No. 3 Calgary. If the Ducks lose or gain only one point, then they'll need help to remain ahead of Colorado.

Either choice is an interesting one for the Stars. The Avalanche knocked Dallas out in the first round in 2004. The Mighty Ducks eliminated the Stars in the second round in 2003.

So, it appears that the 1/8 series is Detroit and Edmonton, and the 4/5 series is Nashville vs. San Jose. All that is left is placing the Avalanche or Ducks in Dallas or Anaheim. Good pairings it appears.

Wild need to figure out how to resign Gaborik

In Minneapolis, Dirk has a supporter for MVP

That leaves Nowitzki as the choice here. Dallas' roster, when healthy, is fine but not eye-popping, and the Mavericks have not been healthy for much of this season. Nowitzki is on pace for career highs in scoring and all three shooting categories, has found ways to deflate defenders big and small and truly has become a leader in his locker room.

What ever happened to Alonzo Spellman? Arena Football

I am always asked to explain European Soccer to various people that are interested, but confused. Well, here is something you should print and save. It is a nice summary of how it all works: World Football 101

Hansen leaves the Ticket …Now get off my radio station!

I have been asked my thoughts on this quite a bit, so here it is. I like Dale. I consider Dale a friend, and if he thinks moving somewhere else makes sense for him, than good luck. Of course, now we are mandated to beat him, so consider it like Finley heading to San Antonio. Well, that doesn't work, as the Spurs are the Champions. How about Pierre Turgeon to the Avalanche? Hmmm. Kenny Rogers to the Tigers? Forget it.

Anyway, I would describe my feelings as the following (and look for this on the radio today): It is like when your mother leaves your house after an extended stay. You love her and all, and you likely had some great times, too. But, boy, is it ever nice to have that extra space back! Noon to 3!!! Dirty, Noon to 3!!

Hansen is leaving The Ticket, his radio home since 1999, because he says he felt unwanted at the Cowboys' new flagship station. Hansen is a frequent critic of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. He preceded Laufenberg as Cowboys radio analyst and was fired, with Jones' blessing, with two games remaining in the 1996 season.
"It was obvious to me they [The Ticket] were pushing me off the postgame show," Hansen said Sunday.

Hansen had been a regular on The Ticket's Cowboys postgame show, which aired after game broadcasts on KLUV-FM (98.7). Hansen also hosted a year-round show Mondays from noon to 1 p.m. on The Ticket and a one-hour show on Fridays during the football season.

Hansen had been negotiating a new contract with The Ticket, but it got bogged down by the recent sale of the station. Hansen met with ESPN Radio management last week and accepted an offer.


Friday, April 14, 2006

Friday - It All Ends

Babe leaves; Rhyner takes credit

The Cowboys will have a new analyst on their new radio station. Babe Laufenberg, citing a desire to spend more time with his family, told the Cowboys on Thursday he would be leaving the seat that has been his since 1997.

Laufenberg's decision did not surprise the Cowboys. His contract with KLUV-FM expired after last season. The team's move to The Ticket, announced last month, came with a twist. Cowboys broadcasters who had been employees of the radio station now work for the team.

In the comment section of the Dallas Morning News, there is a place where you the reader can suggest who will be Babe’s replacement. Comedy followed:

April 13, 2006 07:18 p.m.
You all are crazy with the Dale Hanson suggestion. Who wants to hear his whinny voice. I turn off The Ticket when he comes on.,, Can't stand him. My Vote is for George Dunham or Bob Sturminator. Them boys can handle it.

Then, check out this response!

April 13, 2006 10:39 p.m.
Darren Woodson or Michael Irvin. Not the Sturminator for Pete's sake - he has a Packers tattoo.

Mavs lose to Golden State, mail it in versus Phoenix:

Simple arithmetic shows the Mavericks still have a chance to finish with the best record in the Western Conference.

The reality is not nearly as hopeful. Avery Johnson revealed where his priorities lie in Thursday night’s 117-104 loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Moments after San Antonio lost to Orlando, the Mavericks took the court at U.S. Airways Center with D.J. Mbenga as the starting center for the first time this season. Adrian Griffin, who has played a total of 11 minutes in the last month, joined him as the veteran tries to work his way back from a strained hamstring.

Clarence Hill on Owens

Is controversial receiver Terrell Owens getting off on the right foot in Dallas?
Several sources have noted that Owens has not been a regular participant in Cowboys coach Bill Parcells' off-season program.

His initial absences were understood because of a prior commitment, but Owens in the past has preferred to work with his own trainer.

Owens, who signed a three-year, $25 million contract with the Cowboys in March, was present at a Thursday workout.

His publicist, Kim Etheredge, said, "He is here when he is required to be here just like every other player on the team" and added that Parcells has expressed no concern about Owens' regimen.

The Cowboys are not concerned about Owens' conditioning. He always has stayed in good shape and his training methods have served him well.

However, Parcells' feelings on the subject are clear. The "voluntary" program requires players to work out four times a week and get in 40 workouts during the off-season.

"To [Parcells], it's about chemistry," a source said. "He wants you here."

Evan Grant on Alfonseca …as Evan has joined the 6 finger craze…

Alfonseca doesn't see polydactylism as a condition, an affliction or a challenge. He was born with six fingers and toes on each extremity, just like his grandfather, Santiago. It's never been an issue. It never will be.

And it's really not that uncommon.

According to various Internet medical sites, polydactyly occurs about once in every 500 births. In many Western societies, doctors usually remove the extra digit, usually smaller than the others and of no real use, after the child turns 1 year old.

Alfonseca, however, was born in LaRomana in the Dominican Republic in 1972. Such surgeries were rare. The extra appendage was never an issue for his grandfather, either.

Alfonseca is adamant that the digits are more a sense of pride than a problem. It even cost him a chance to join the New York Yankees machine as a 16-year old. Upon meeting Alfonseca, Yankees scout Arturo Defreitas offered to have the extra finger removed by a doctor. Alfonseca's response: He ran away.

Instead, Alfonseca was signed by legendary Dominican scout Jesus Alou to the Montreal Expos. Alou promptly nicknamed him "Pulpo," the Octopus.

The extra fingers, both quite small and of little consequence, were of no concern to the Expos. They aren't on the ball when Alfonseca pitches. They don't give him any better ability to grip the ball.

Yesterday on the show, we discussed the Travis Hafner trade of 2002. I wanted to do some more research, and the wise men of Baseball America has some
expert analysis at the scene of the crime on the day of the trade….

By Jim Callis
December 6, 2002

The Indians and Rangers each filled holes in their starting lineups and picked up rotation fodder with a four-player trade on Friday. Cleveland received first baseman Travis Hafner and righthander Aaron Myette, while Texas added catcher Einar Diaz and righty Ryan Drese. Shortly thereafter, Indians general manager Mark Shapiro was arrested for grand theft slugger.

Ovechkin hits some high targets ….

Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin became only the second rookie in NHL history with 50 goals and 100 points when he scored against the Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday night.

Ovechkin scored his 50th goal at 13:01 of the first period with a shot from the top of the left circle. Atlanta goalie Mike Dunham appeared to be screened in front by defenseman Garnet Exelby.

Ovechkin picked up his 52nd assist in the second period, setting up a power-play goal for Dainius Zubrus with a perfect cross-ice pass.

Teemu Selanne was the first rookie to reach the double milestone. He set first-year records that still stand with 76 goals and 132 points for the Winnipeg Jets -- now the Phoenix Coyotes -- in 1992-93.

With three games remaining after Thursday, Ovechkin had no chance of breaking either of Selanne's records. But he was just three goals behind Mike Bossy, who had 53 for the New York Islanders in 1977-78 to rank second on the rookie list. Joe Nieuwendyk had 51 goals in his rookie season.

With his 101st and 102nd points, Ovechkin broke a fifth-place tie with Mario Lemeiux on the rookie list and pulled even with four-place Joe Juneau, who scored 102 in 1992-93. The only rookies to score more points were Selanne, Peter Stastny (109 in 1980-81) and Dale Hawerchuk (103 in 1981-82).

The Rookie Record holder, Teemu in his proper Winnipeg gear, below…

Bill Simmons mail bag

Saturday UFC 59 is happening …With our guy, Forrest Griffin, as the main event…sort of.

Tiger hit hard for “spaz” comment

The top-ranked golfer, who tied for third place three strokes behind winner Phil Mickelson, was criticized for using the term "spaz" to describe his poor putting in the final round.

"Tiger meant nothing derogatory to any person or persons and apologizes for any offense caused," Woods' agent Mark Steinberg said in a statement issued on the
player's official Web site.

Bidding for a fifth green jacket at Augusta, Woods produced a display of uncharacteristically shaky putting on his way to a closing two-under-par 70.

He took 33 putts in the final round, including three three-putts and a pair of missed eagle putts from inside 10 feet on the back nine. Mickelson took 29 putts in a closing 69.

When asked about his play on the last day at Augusta, Woods replied: "I putted atrociously today. Once I got on the greens, I was a spaz."

In several countries, "spaz" is an offensive term for people affected with spastic paralysis, a form of cerebral palsy.

Britain-based disability organization Scope, formerly The Spastics Society, said of Woods' comments: "Once again, Tiger Woods demonstrates that we are two nations divided by a common language.

"Although in the U.S. the term 'spaz' may not be as offensive as it is here in the UK, many disabled people here will have taken exception to his likening a golf stroke to that of 'a spaz.'

More from the McCarty bankruptcy case as we itemize the debtors

DMA Holdings, Portage, Mich.: $2-million

Huntington Nat'l. Bank, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.: $1.5-million

Bellagio Casino, Las Vegas: $100,000

Palms Casino, Las Vegas: $60,000

MBNA America: $35,322

Law firm of John Schaefer, Birmingham, Mich: $28,000

MotorCity Casino, Detroit: $25,000

Chase Card Services: $24,415

American Express: $18,774

Chase Cardmember Services: $13,538.98

Law firm of Seyburn Kahn, Southfield, Mich.: $8,270

Capital One Services, St. Louis: $4,940

J.D. Candler Roofing, Detroit: $3,177

US Bank, St. Louis: $2,639

Exxon Mobil: $1,089

American Express: $902

DirecTV, Illinois: $537

Oakland County (Mich.)Drain Commission: $282

DTE Energy, Detroit: $264

Consumers Energy, Lansing, Mich.: $68

We were talking race radios yesterday, and I got this email:

Hey Bob Sturm Show,

If you really want to hear some gold, tap into the Terry Labonte # 44 Kelloggs Chevy channel. When things are not good, F bombs are flying like you wouldn’t believe. Last November, Terry informed us that “on a scale of 1 to 10, this car was an f’&#%ing 12”. Upon being asked if they should lower the rear of the car on the next stop, he stated that they should “just lower the gate of the f’&#%ing hauler and drive this piece of s$%# into it and go home. His crew chief merely followed up with “Ok guys, 4 tires and fuel on this next stop.”

Enjoying the week.
John C

Here are some notes on the Rangers from Brian, although I am not sure if he is all over me or what:

First of all tape the brakes on the Rangers. We are only 6 games into it. Granted the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation are iffy. But Millwood will not be this bad. Padilla and Loe have looked great! I guess you are overlooking Kinslers .444 average this year when you say the bottom of the order is an easy 4 outs. I am not some crazy homer who is going to tell you the Rangers are going to win the World Series or even make the playoffs. But tap the brakes buddy. By the way your take on Blalock is nuts.

Hank in the clutch
Career OPS with no one on: .773
Career OPS with runners on: .849
Career OPS with RISP: .834
Career OPS with RISP and 2 out: .861

Brian in Waxahachie

And finally this one:

Help me out with something. I'm listening to e-news and Snake is talking about Matt Lauer signing a new contract for $13 mil a year. How is that guy making that much money? Whenever somebody brings up the issue of athletes making too much money, there is an argument. Big Papi makes $13 mil a year because very few humans in the world can hit like him. Is it morally messed up that a lady who's taught kindergarten for 30 years makes $40,000 and Papi makes that? Probably. But can nobody else do what Matt Lauer does? Sheesh.

The compound is over. It was fun. And so is ending it.