Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Tuesday Blogging

Sorry it is so late. Forgive me.

1) - NFL Draft Junkie - Episode 2 - RBs

2) - More from Greg Ellis

3) - Why People Hate the Media

Possible Reason Why People Hate the Media

Here is Billy Gillisipie, former Aggie Coach, and now former UK coach, too, trying the "I am on the phone" trick. I will bet whatever Billy Clyde's buyout is that there is nobody on that phone. Great use of a prop, though. Of course, the results he gets are not what he had planned as Lexington TV man has watched his "how to be a Investigative Reporter" instructional DVD.

Funny and Sad. Thank Goodness for Youtube.

NFL Draft Junkie: Running Backs

brownTime for another examination of the NFL Draft. I realize that I will never be able to get to everything by April 25, so I want to take an email or two each week to let you know where I sit on various topics.

Just know this: I concentrate on the top 2 rounds. All I look at are about 70-80 players that the experts say are worthy of the first 2 rounds, then I take a crash course on them as thoroughly as possible. So if they are not thought of as 1-2 round talents, then I have significantly less time dedicated to them. I don’t see how anyone can know about all 250-300 players with any depth unless they are either A) doing this all year (like the Goose) or B) just stealing all of their opinions from some draft guide that sits next to them as they talk.

I am not a draft expert – I do not scout games – nor would I know exactly what NFL scouts would look for anyway. I watch. I eyeball. I watch the Senior Bowl, Combine, youtube, and many, many games I have recorded through the last college season to see who impresses me the most. That is my magic formula. I watch them.

Greg Ellis....Again

Full marks to Channel 8 for finding another Cowboy star who may say way too much about how he feels. Over the weekend, Greg Ellis visited with Ted Madden, and man, for a guy I like so much - he now truly makes me crazy.

According to this , Greg has been compensated to the tune of $25 million + since 2000. I would imagine if I could locate his salaries and bonuses back from the time he was drafted in 1998 (over Randy Moss) the total goes above $30 million.

This could just be me, and I am not normally one to belly-ache over an athlete being over-paid, but I think citing the "take care of my family" routine should be exempt the first time an athlete crosses the $10 million barrier. After your first $10 million, let's all assume the kids can get school clothes and a warm meal.

Monday, March 30, 2009

At Inside Corner today!

Machine Gun Mondays ...

Machine Gun Monday


This is what you call a renegade post. A blogger that blogs on a blog like this is best to blog about 1 topic at a time. I can't do it. On Mondays, I anticipate a Tommy-gun like approach first thing most weeks to get this party started.

So, let's do this. If the D Media Empire slaps the blogging cuffs on me, you may never see this again. Otherwise, consider this "radio" guy filling out a radio show run sheet.

So what rocked my sports world this weekend? Muchas Cosas Interesantes Aqui:

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Saturday Ice Thoughts

You can tell the level of optimism about a fan base by the subject lines in the emails.

A few weeks ago, the subject lines said: “Richards return date?”, “Should we be resting Turco”, and “How to fix our power play”.

Now, the emails subject lines have switched to: “Stars draft position”, “Resigning Zubov and Lehtinen”, and “Is Jamie Benn ready?”

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Blog

Realizing I am an old man ....

A look at the college basketball uniforms of the day....

Realizing I am Old


It was bound to happen. I can no longer avoid it. I have become old.

They say age isn't a number, it is a state of mind.

So what state of mind am I in when I try to watch Memphis play Missouri and I can only focus on the ridiculous nature of Memphis' uniform? I am sure a reasonable basketball game was going on, but here I am cheering against Memphis because I, the guy who once promised myself I would not become one of those bitter old media guys who hates everything the kids do, cannot come to terms with the fact that their shorts look ridiculous to me.

5 Best Trades in Dallas Stars History

I thought while I have hockey on my mind that perhaps I could share a sports discussion I had in my head Tuesday night during the first period of the game. I was marvelling at one of my current hockey fascinations, Mike Ribeiro, and once again pondered the absurd fleecing the Stars (Doug Armstrong, in particular) put on the Montreal Canadians (Bob Gainey, in particular) in the trade that brought the Stars their best offensive player all 3 seasons he has played in Dallas. Where would they be without that deal?

Here are the stats for the Stars' leading scorers since the start of the 2006 when the Ribeiro trade was made:







Table Tutorial

He is absolute proof that the "change of scenery" theory has some validity.

So, I grabbed a media guide and every time there was a stoppage in play, I decided to put together my list of best trades in Dallas Stars History:

See the Chosen One in Person


Yesterday, my brand new Sports Illustrated arrived, and I turned quickly to the feature on Steven Strasburg. Fascinating stuff.

I know I should leave MLB Draft stuff to Mr. Hindman and Mr. Grant and pretty much anyone else on the blog. I certainly don’t know my college/high school baseball players, but I am willing to say this guy is pretty good.

102 mph?

$50 million?

Consensus #1 pick?

How would you like to see him with your own eyeballs on Friday night?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

NFL Draft Junkie: Aaron Curry

If there are two things I like, it is the NFL Draft and YouTube. So, it gives me great joy to prepare for the NFL Draft by using YouTube. I think we all should.

Last week, at that old blogging home, I tackled the controversial case of Alabama OT Andre Smith, which I think you should consider.

Well, today, after Wake Forest had its pro day on Monday, we must get comfortable with LB Aaron Curry as the player with the label "player in the draft that appears to be flawless in the eyes of the NFL scouts."

Sticking a Fork in the Stars

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
Ill never look into your eyes...again

And there is your dagger. Mathematically, it would appear that the Stars season is still within their grasp, but having not missed a shift this season, I am here to tell you that I am fresh out of "Believe".

Wednesday Writing

Today, 2 blogs so far! Could be more coming…I don’t know if I will have enough time!

NFL Draft – Aaron Curry

Sticking a fork in the Stars

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Blake Griffin: NBA Superstar?

I must make a confession: I did not fill out a bracket. Honest. I do watch the NCAA tournament, but I do it more in this decade of my life as a primer for the NBA Draft in June – so that I am properly familiar with all of the lottery picks who are from the USA. Then, from naturally camping out on the couch, a story line or 3 will jump out at me during the tournament, and by the Final 4, I am going crazy over the tournament. I just don’t need my brackets or to hear about your brackets (no offense) to fall in love with the annual March tradition.

Anyway, when watching it every year, I try to see who the experts like for the draft, and then see if I see what they see. According to about 50 mock drafts , it would appear that there is NO question who the #1 pick in the draft is going to be:

OU’s big, strong Blake Griffin.

Tuesday Blogging

This morning, I tackle Blake Griffin's NBA Prospects over at Inside Corner....

Check it out.

And, in preparation for the JJ Barea/Dirk Nowitzki interviews today on the show, I want you to see this:

JJ Barea plays actual midgets

Monday, March 23, 2009

Inside Corner Post #1

My new gig is up and flying at InsideCorner!

Post #1 Please join me there....


Ask Sports Sturm: What is an Ace?

To the extremely shrewd blog reader, this may appear as a complete reprint of a project I was working on 10 days ago for a radio segment known as "Ask Sports Sturm."

As a point of reference, please understand that I am a sports dork first and foremost. Most of my blog posts will either be a fiery sports opinion or a "super dork" sports research project. I may try to stray from my M.O., but those are my two pitches that have worked for me.

The Ask Sports Sturm projects are fairly involved and lengthy, but hopefully you will find them as grounds for a sports argument with me or with your other sports buddies. So, with that in mind, here is the latest "Ask Sports Sturm":

Very Tricky First Post

First, I realize I am moving in to your apartment building here at this new blog, so I will try not to get too carried away with my normal dogmatic ways in the early going. Then again, I am sure I will go back to being me at any second.

Some of you might listen to Sportsradio 1310 the Ticket and might be familiar with my particular program (BaD Radio), and if so, you already know that I am ready to debate anything and everything under the sports sun. I also will spend a good amount of time trying to win those debates (because what fun is a debate if you lose?)

March 23, 2009 - The Day the Blog Changed Forever

1335 posts later, Bob's Blog is going to experience change today. Stay tuned. I still love you, and we will still be blogging. But things are going to be, um...


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thy Knights

For the first time on the internet, now all of the Dan McDowell and Michael Gruber Knights costume hilarity is in one place at the same time. Three cuts from different perspectives from Nashville vs Dallas, Oct 15, 2008.

Knights – Stars (Overproduced?)

Knights at the Stars Game – Famous video that has been passed around the NHL

Knights on kiss cam

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Watch More TV

Taking a few days to get my spring break on, but I wanted to remind you to watch a few things besides college basketball in the next few days:

MLB Network's excellent breakdown of the Rangers called 30 in 30 - it will rerun about 10 times before Thursday night. Check it.

And NHL Network has a 30 minute profile of Ralph Strangis that debut's Thursday night.

Both should be wonderful.

Big, Strong Hockey Mailbag

This looks better at Dallasstars.com where Lane put cool pictures around what I wrote...in fact, if I were you, I would read it all here ...

But, if you are stubborn. Here it is:

For the first time in Stars blog history, I will attempt to live blog the game, while answering your email. I call it a live blog because it is live during the Canucks-Stars game, but not live in the sense that you can watch it as I write it. Someday, we will have that technology at Dallas Stars.com….

9:02 - Ralph and Razor prepare us for the game with a look at Alex Burrows and Steve Ott. They are similar in the sense that they are hated by opponents. They are different in the sense that Burrows won’t usually back up his words with his fists. In fact, he won’t take his gloves off very often. He runs around and hits guys and then Jarkko’s up when it is time to pay the piper.

9:06 - First game for Luongo against the Stars this season, eh? I guess I didn’t recall that. Good job, Razor. Let’s answer some email:

I’m a huge fan of the kids playing on the front end right now, and I like the mix of forwards on this team when healthy, they may be the best since the cup run even without Morrow, but without Zubov and Nordstrom the back end is missing something. I understand that Zubov is a Hall of Fame class defensemen that cannot be replaced, or easily substituted for, but the lack of a stud on the blue line has already this season, and will in the future, hurt us. My question is where do the Stars go from here? Stanley Cup teams almost always have a minute eating, puck moving, defensively shutdown (if not physically imposing in the case of Zubov, Lidstrom, or Niedermayer) Blue liner carry them through the playoffs. I don’t feel that any of the young D-Men fit this description, and they obviously don’t grow on trees, (another look at Zubie’s career numbers show the value of this type player, as do those of the aforementioned) but you almost have got to have one to sip from the grail. So, my question, how do you see the Stars addressing this in the future? Even if Zubov comes back to a similar level, his age and sudden injury history forces this question to be addressed. Chris Capshaw

Well, Chris, I would say that the most likely plan is to get back in the free agency mix this summer. They wanted to get Wade Redden last summer, and that got a bit too pricey. We can certainly debate (and I have) if they should have gotten a bit more aggressive after that went down, but they elected to keep the powder dry. With Lehtinen’s 4.1, Zubov’s 5.3, and Sydor’s 2.5 million all going off the books, the Stars will be getting some room to spend. Of course, there are things to be done, including trying to keep all 3 of those guys at a discount, but that is where the decisions will be from. I think they have some young defensemen who can be really, really good (have I mentioned Grossman and Fistric yet?), but I might agree a true #1 or #2 might be a purchase worth making.


All Caps is very unsettling. At last word, we are still looking at the first game of the playoffs as the first liberal estimate. Many in the know say that letting him play at all is likely foolish – because players returning from that injury are never able to resemble their old selves at first – but we all know Brenden will be pushing the issue.

9:14 - Morrison with a nice tip in chance on the power play that looks rather frisky early on. Hey, that was Loui on the Power Play early on! But, nothing doing on the early man advantage. Canucks score after the PP ends, but the refs seem oddly confused. Did it go in? We better call Toronto. Razor suggests Turco made the save on Demitra with his lucky charms. Review shows no goal? Or no way of knowing if it was a goal? Still 0-0.

Hey Bob, I am by no means throwing in the Towel on this years season, but i can't help but wonder about what next season could bring us. I'm curious if we are like the '98 stars, in that we are just one big piece, and then maybe a tweak here and there away from getting us over the top. But i'm confused as to what that big piece should be. Should it be a Scorer, or a defenseman like Florida's Bouwmeester? Or are we even going to have enough cap room to compete with other teams for one of those types of players? Enjoy your listening to your show, and reading your blogs. David Grant

Well, like I said, if I am spending this summer, I get a top defensemen. I think that would make all the difference in the world. I would have Zubov, Robidas, my new guy, and then Daley, 2, 28, and 5 to choose from. Sydor might not be back unless I decide to trade a younger guy to make things fit. I also must get a backup goaltender I trust. Big issue there.

9:20 - Marty takes a poke check penalty. If I were to guess, 80% of all of Marty’s penalties happen on the road. Also, if I were to guess, Ed Belfour used to kill off all of the penalties he took. Marty doesn’t seem to have that same ability. But, a sweet save on Bernier in the first 30 seconds. Then, Sedin (Daniel) scores off of Robidas, 1-0. Robidas is starting to really stack up the own-goals, yes?

Bob, Thanks for your coverage of the Stars. I'm a huge fan of all sports, but I lean towards hockey. If it is ok I'm not going to talk about the power play. I had another question. The Stars have their fair share of young talent, but how would the NHL handle the situation of marketing their sport if Crosby, Ovechkin, or Toews played on a team that was located in an area that is not hockey country. Like Dallas, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Phoenix, or even LA? Would they get the TV coverage that Pittsburgh and Washington is getting this year nationally? I do understand why the Canadian teams, Northeast teams, and Detroit get the coverage they get.Thanks, Paul

I think tv has taken much of this stuff out of the equation. I mean Gretzky in Los Angeles seemed to get all the coverage in the world. I don’t think the key is climate or hockey heritage. The key in the modern day NHL is winning. If you win in Chicago, they come. If you don’t, they don’t. If you win in Dallas, they come. If you don’t win in Boston, they don’t come. Washington was not a hockey market of note before Ovechkin. Now, Caps tickets are worth something again. The Penguins were going to move when they were lousy 5 years ago. Win.

9:26 - Ott just filled in Pavol Demitra. This could anger the Canucks. Stay tuned, as the gabbing appears to be flowing between the benches. And did I just see Chris Conner put the reversal on Sami Salo? Good gosh, man, he is 5’6!
Hey Bob, I was just wondering what you think will happen with the Ribeiro and Ott paring when Morrow comes back. Thanks, Jack Mallick

Let’s hope our season lives to see the answer to that question. But, personally, I
would cheer for Ott to go back to Modano’s wing. Perhaps with James Neal if one of them could play right wing. I would like that abrasive line. This team always has more left wings than right wings. Always.

9:32 - Stars Power Play is here again. 3, 26, 63, 18, and 9. Nothing. Now, 11, 22, 63, 3, and 21. That is not a misprint. Landon Wilson is on the power play. This team did not even think of getting a shot on goal. The lack of confidence on this 6-60 power play is very obvious.

9:35 - I don’t mean to get carried away, but the blocker save Turco just had on Shane O’Brien may have saved the game. Is it bad that O’Brien has played 222 NHL games, and I can’t swear I have any memories of any of them? Mattias Ohlund just tried to send Conner to the hospital and missed. Sami Salo is avenged.
Hey Sports Know All - Got 1 question Do the stars have their first round pick this year. I know we traded 2 of them but I think we have served that now. Am I correct? Thanks

Yes. They still have it. Thank goodness, the Nagy trade has been paid for, as has the Norstrom trade. All #1’s are here moving forward.

9:40 - Begin got run by Hordichuk, here comes a big PP #3. Please score. There it is! Robidas from distance got a deflection from tight as James Neal is back in the scoring column for the fifth time in the month of March (all road goals) and his 23rd this year. Nice! 1-1, with 3 minutes to go in the first. The Stars will be very pleased to get to the room at 1-1.

9:44 - Stinking Burrows nearly undresses Robidas and is bailed out by Turco. Let’s get this final minute over with. Robidas has been given credit for the Neal goal in the arena so far. We will see.

1-1 after 1. Time for a bowl of cereal. I am feeling some Golden Grahams right now.

9:48 - Ralph promised Mats Sundin in the first intermission, but now after a long look at scores from around the NHL and the standings, I am guessing we have been stood up by the large Swede. By the way, is that dude playing tonight? Sure was a ton of hoopla for Mats to join them, and their record with him is outstanding, but I guess I was expecting a bit more in the 1st.

10:03 - Wow, footage of Brad Richards in practice! Nice! Not sure how useful a guy can be without use of his top wrist, but I am willing to find out. After the goal, the Golden Grahams, and now this, my optimism is building on my couch. They did not offer an estimated time of return, but I am currently hoping for the 2nd period tonight. Actually, a birdie told me that maybe Saturday could be the day. Shhhhh.

10:09 - Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen, and Brenden Morrison on the same line together. That is 105 years of human playing together. Good to have Jere back for the first time since that big hit from Rob Blake in San Jose 2 weeks ago. Incidentally, I love the Canucks Blue sweaters. Their best look ever, in my humble estimation.

10:14 - Ryan Kessler just sliced the 3/6 pairing and ripped off the sweetest backhander of the year for a 2-1 lead. 21st of the year for Kessler, and that was sick. Robidas is not going to win the Norris tonight. And Sundin gets an assist, so I should apologize for calling him out.

No offense to Dave Tippett, he’s done a wonderful job for many years, but regarding the Stars power(less) play: didn’t he come to Dallas from LA as their power play mastermind? I understand fully the scope of the injuries the Stars have suffered this year, but everyone’s got injuries. It just baffles me. Seems like a lot of shots miss the net completely also. I’ve got to think that with even an average power play, the Stars would have 4-5 more wins. Thanks Bob. GO STARS! Todd Eash

Well, a couple items here. First, I know everyone has injuries, but 10, 56, and 91 would all be on the power play if they were healthy. That is 60% of the #1 unit. That is not an excuse, that is a reason. Second, you are only as good as your players in this league. He can be the power play mastermind in once city, but in the next city, the guys might be better or worse. Trust me, the Capitals are not running better plays since they drafted Ovechkin. They just have a guy who runs the plays better.

10:21 - Time to kill off a Chris Conner penalty. Oops. I really am sorry I called Sundin out as he just scored from 1 foot away. Not sure what 2/28 were doing on that play, but I don’t think there is any PK in the world that says “leave Sundin open in the blue ice”. 3-1, Canucks. Oh, boy.

10:23 - Morrison just missed from the ladies tees as I think Luongo made a nifty save. Better shift from those 3 (11-9-26), but a counter from Bernier almost made it 4-1. The Stars defenders look rattled. Time to push back, boys.

Sports Sturm, Is there an advantage to having left handed hockey players?
Hmmm. I suppose it is easier for the rest of us to find right handed sticks. Other than that, I am not too sure.

10:31 - Game has quieted down again. Vancouver looks like they have a lot more push right now. The Stars need a spark. Let’s hit somebody and see what happened. This could be a job for #29.

Sturminator, With everything that has happened this year to the team, who do you think has been their MVP? The arguments could be made for Ribeiro, Eriksson, and Turco, however, my vote goes to Steve Ott. After he broke his hand and came back, he clearly made this team go. Yeah Ribs is the puck magician, Eriksson is a league leader in goals, and Turco is Turco, but Ott has clearly been the best player on the team. Timely goals, solid defense, and a superpest. I would also venture to say that Grossman is in the running as one of the most improved players, and that Tippett should be a finalist for the Jack Adams with the job he did, especially after the Avery thing. Also, where do you stand on the fighting issue? I like it when there's a fight, but it's a 'real' fight, one that is because of emotion and not 2 guys asking each other if they want to go. You look back on it, and when 2 teams start going every shift, like Buffalo-Ottawa a couple of years ago, you see the players afte! rward saying "We became a team tonight." because of the real need to stick up for each other. Last thing: In the playoffs, who would you rather face? Detroit or San Jose? I look at it this way: We've owned Detroit with the exception of one game, but we know we can beat the Sharks in the playoffs. Especially when they went toe to toe when the Stars had all those guys out (your AHL comment). I would rather play the Sharks, especially if Morrow can make it back for the playoffs. Does that mean I think they will make the playoffs? No. I know they will. They are too good not to, despite Anaheim, Nashville, St. Louis and Minnesota's push to get in. Chris Connor deserves every goal he scores. Solid player that kid. I like him. Adam Eisen - Cleveland, OH

I totally agree on Ott. Totally. He has taken a big step forward. No question he is the MVP of this team in my mind, but don’t tell Ribs. And my stance on fighting? I love it. I think the NHL would be brain dead to get rid of it. Fighting is part of the life-blood of the sport, and I am tired of everyone telling me I am a caveman if I like fighting. You know what? I like cavemen, too, so you might have to sue me.

10:35 - The Stars 4th Power Play starts with Marty Turco having to make another acrobatic save. Sigh. Stars get plenty of chances from in tight, but nothing is there. Again, 21 can only join the power play with the 2nd unit, because why would you want a goal scorer on your power play, right? Sorry. When the Stars are down 2 goals in a West Coast game, my sarcasm can really get some work in. Still 3-1, Vancouver, and this game might be a tough one to get points in the 3rd period.

2 periods in the books, and the Stars are down 3-1.

Hey Bob, I was just wondering, since the off season is somewhat close, who do you think the Stars will resign, attempt to offer or even go for in the off season? Also, do you think Zubov and Lehtinen will return next season? If so will they take a large paycut or, what? Thanks, Kwame

Lots of questions about the summer, but let me tackle the Lehtinen/Zubov issue briefly, because they have quite a bit in common; Like, they are both going to get their number retired here. They both are having their bodies break down after all of these miles. They both are free agents who don’t want to play anywhere else (I don’t believe). They both will give it another shot next year (I think) and it would have to be in Dallas at a strong discount. Combined they make about $9.5 million, and I would think you could get both on 1 year deals for about $4 million combined in 2009-10. Zubov would be worth more if all things were equal, but what sort of bargaining leverage could he have given his lack of health in these last 2 seasons?

10:40 - Nik Grossman is the 2nd period guest, and I cannot hear anything Razor is talking to him about because of the red mark on Grossman’s forehead. He must wear that helmet really tight. Because that looks extremely painful. Also, the Canadian air is making Razor’s lips look like he applied lipstick before the interview. A nice red – Mrs. Doubtfire would be proud.

10:47 - Mike Heika seems to have a lot of sweater vests.

Hey Bob , was just wondering what u think the Stars main concerns are for the off season and who they should resign ? I know the season is not over cause i believe they will make the playoffs but do you reckon many changes are needed ? In my view i dont and i think injuries have been the main reason for the Stars sub-pars performances at times. Any thoughts? Cheers Peter Dunbar, Belfast, N.Ireland p.s. Otters been brill and Neal for the Calder

Seriously? A dude emailed me from Belfast on St Patrick’s Day? That is awesome. I think that your point is well made about the injuries suggest that all you need in the off-season is a lot of health. Well, not the only thing, but I think you could make the case that adding Morrow, Zubov, and Richards this summer is a nice haul. Still need a goalie and a defensemen, but I like your idea. Neal is awesome, but the Calder is likely to look elsewhere.

10:54 - Ralph just told us that the Wild won tonight. Not good. They are now even with the Stars at 74 points.

Speaking of Ralph:

Sturminator, I heard y'all talking with Ralph the other day about his past, including his winnings on 'Press Your Luck', and I wonder if you know about the upcoming bio show that is to be broadcast on the NHL Network. I just happened to watch NHL Network tonight, and on one of their commercial breaks, I saw a promo for their upcoming show of "Voices" featuring our very own Ralph Strangis. Not real sure how in depth it'll be but it will be on at 6:30pm Central on Thursday...just in case you don't know about it and want to Tivo. I'm pretty sure you already knew about this, since y'all are close with Ralph, but just in case I figured I'd let you know about the promo. Thanks for BaD Radio and thanks for still talking hockey. It helps to hear y'all talk about it since I don't get much Stars coverage down here on the gulf coast. /Mike (Houston, TX)

I am there.

10:57 - Tippett tries new lines. 21 is with 9 and 11; 26 is with 63 and 29. Modano tries to go 5-hole on Bobby-Lou, but save made.

11:00 - Ott suckers Demitra into a penalty. If the Stars are going to get something tonight, it is “go” time. PP – 26, 29, 63, 9, 3 – Loui and his 32 goals sit by Tobias Stephen and Rick Wilson. Neal gets a stick in the mouth, and we are going to get a 5-3 for 46 seconds.

11:01 - Ugh. Nothing. Robidas with a few long range chances, but that golden chance gave the Stars nothing. No shots to speak of. And 13:30 to go…

11:07 - Goal! Where did that come from. Ribeiro finds Conner and sends him on a 2 on 1 with Ott. Nice feed to 29, and Otter tips it 5-hole. 3-2. Is there hope with 12:00 to play? Ribs has points in 8 straight, so if you weren’t sure if he was good…..Razor just picked up the MVP discussion and got behind Ott. We covered that 40 minutes ago.

Bob, I think you are right, and it seems tough to know which Dallas Stars team is going to show up on any given night. The last game with the Sharks was a great all round effort. The last Kings game not so good. Whether they make the playoffs or not I am really impressed with Steve Ott's game this year. Maybe he should continue down this path next year and give up the fight game (not totally) and focus more on building on the play making and scoring that he has developed this year. I'm not saying for him to stop the crash and bang but just be aware that with the talent his has developed he is much more valuable on the ice than in the box. What do you think?Ross From Canada

I think you are spot on, Ross. Absolutely right.

11:13 - Pressure is now on. Stars have the Nucks on the run, and Neal just about tied it with 7:15 to play. Can they get a very valuable point or two?

11:15 - TV timeout. Here is a huge email: I mean huge as in big.

You know what dude, (and I'm sure you'd agree with me) I'm real real sick of hearing random people and so called "stars fans" alike flappin' their jaws about the Stars. In the hopes of seeing this email and your response in the next mail bag, I'll make it short and sweet and to the point. The three things I hear the most are 1.) Marty sucks, if he wants to be a third defenseman then get him a skater's set of gear and a regular hockey stick and let him be a defenseman. If not tell him to stay in front of his net and actually stop a puck every now and then. 2.) The Stars are a decent regular season team, but can't do s*** in the playoffs. They get their @$$ kicked every year because when it actually matters they don't know how to play. 3.) And (this is the one that really gets under my skin) Ribeiro sucks, he's a puck hog, he can't shoot worth a d***, he's a non-competitor who whines and cries like a little baby when someone hits him, he's afraid to hit people, he belongs in the minors, we should trade him and get someone in here who will help this team win. I hear those things on a regular basis Bob. Now I can't give all kinds of sports statistics and numbers and stuff to prove all three of those statements WRONG!!!! (which is what I'm hoping you'll do and hopefully it will shut people up for a while) but I can say this. In response to the first statement, Marty is hands-down the best puck handler in the league. The way that he can knock those pucks down off the boards, juke a few forecheckers with a pump fake, and then break it out to his defenseman is an amazing skill that frustrates the other teams forecheckers sets up the Stars breakout and forecheck. (that's why they're even better in the second period when the benches are further away.) Every once in a while a puck is going to get away from him, bounce the wrong way, and end up in the back of our net. But you take the good with the bad. Marty's good out-weights his bad. Imagine how much time other teams would have in our zone if not for Marty. In response to the second statement, SCREW Y'ALL dude seriously. Yea, the were out in the first round for a lot of years, but they probably deserved a better fate in most of those series. And it's not like they're the only team that has not won the Stanley Cup every year in a row. Even teams like Detroit over the past decade or so have lost in the playoffs. And last year when Turco made like 60 saves in one game ought to prove something, as if 3 shutouts in last years playoffs wasn't enough. They had a chance against Detroit as well. Game two was only 2-1. The Stars could've had a powerplay goal go in in that game and took some momentum and won it, all the sudden it's a different series. My point is, shut up about the Stars in the playoffs, so many others things than just the skill of the team factor into why they didn't advance. In response to the third statement, KEEP ON HATING. I'm pretty sure Ribs had the highest shooting percentage in all of the NHL last year, there's to you're "he can't shoot." I've seen Ribeiro throw some hits bigger than Chara ever though about throwing, he just picks his spots. And I mean hitting is not his role. Guys like Mo and Gretzky weren't out there throwing 5 or 6 bodychecks a game. It's rare when Ribby gets hit, he positions his body to well. When he gets hit it's normally a cheep shot like that one Dustin Brown threw on him earlier in the season, so that might be a reason for him being upset and complaining when something does happen to him because it's dirty. And seriously, why would you trade the guy that's led your team in games played and points for three seasons in a row. Ribeiro has been invaluable to the Stars since he came here. His offensive play making is off the charts, he's a two way player, and he's got something that 99% of the NHL players don't have, style.. No one has a stride as pretty as his, except for Modano. I could go on and on but I've already made a liar out myself when I said i would make this short. The Stars ARE going to make the playoffs. I hope we draw Detroit first because I KNOW that we can beat those guys. Richards, Morrow, Jere, and Brunnstrom WILL be back. Marty will be standing on his head as usual. And for Dallas it will be Our Time. Thanks for having my back, Bob

I printed his entire email because I wanted you to find the comedy in his initial statement,“I'll make it short and sweet and to the point.” How great is that? Then he wrote 833 words! I love it.

11:18 - Rats! Goal, Canucks. A broken stick betrayed Grossman at the offensive blueline and the Canucks put a sweet 4 man tic-tac-toe together ending in a Bernier goal with a confused Fistric standing by. 4-2. Boy, that was sweet, and it also likely is the dagger for the Canucks franchise record 10th straight home win. 4 minutes to go.

11:23 - The Canucks commit another penalty as Ohlund puts a stick in Eriksson’s face. 3 minutes, must score twice. Turco pulled!?! OK. Desperate times…6 man PP – 63, 29, 26, 18, 5, 3 – And Ott missed a golden rebound chance, but Luongo got a piece. Timeout, Stars.

11:27 - Power Play ends (1-7 on the Power Play), and so does any chance to win. The Stars played with plenty of passion late, but the deficit was too much. Now, they need a result badly in Calgary or this playoff run will be in major jeopardy.

Canucks 4, Stars 2 – tough night at the office.

On February 3rd, Bryan sent me this one:

Hey Bob, Love the blog and LLLOOOOVVVVVEEEE the recent resurgence of our stars. I have to say I did have a feeling the skid wouldn't last and this team would find their identity. Was hoping that I could convince you to do another mailbag soon but if not maybe you could just answer these questions for me. 1. When do you think Zubov will be able to re-enter the lineup? 2. Any shot that Morrow makes it back by playoff time assuming that the stars are in it? Thanks a lot, looking forward to some playoff hockey in two months!! Bryan Altman

I only printed this one to apologize to Bryan and anyone else who missed the mailbag parts of this blog. Forgive me. I will do better. Let’s also hope the Stars do better tomorrow night in Alberta. And there you have it. 5,000 words later. The longest blog entry ever combined a mailbag and a Stars game.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Path to the Draft - Andre Smith

Some people are interested in how I go about certain things in my sports year, so allow me to talk NFL draft preparation this morning for a moment before I get to the sports item that is on my mind;

The NFL Draft prep always starts as the NFL season is ending. I watch college football, but I don’t claim to be the expert that I aspire to be with the NFL. I watch college football – I study pro football. I consume everything about the NFL. I obsess about the NFL. I merely watch college football.

Therefore, as college players become pro players, I must become familiar with them by any means possible.

13 years ago, when I started trying to cover the draft, that meant to read whatever I could find (which wasn’t much until April). But now, I get started with the Bowl games. Then the Senior Bowl. Then the Combine. Then the pro days.

There is coverage of these players everywhere. NFL Network (I season pass Path to the Draft, every weekday at 5:30pm). Sirius NFL Radio (Tim Ryan and Pat Kirwan in afternoons). And of course, the internet. With the net, you can see 1,000 mocks, read 1,000 columns, and see 1,000 youtube clips of a player. It is amazing. Anyone can know the draft now.

At my day job, I work the Saturday every year at the draft. Therefore, I try to learn the top 100 players in the draft every year inside and out. Or at least, know the big stories pretty well.

Which brings me to the interesting case of Andre Smith. Smith is the amazing tackle from Alabama who won the Outland Award in 2008 with a dominating effort in the SEC.
As this process started, he was a possible #1 pick in the draft.

Now his name is mud, because he showed up at the Combine out of shape. His pro day went poorly, too.

And he is in total free fall. He appears to be the polarizing figure in the 2009 NFL Draft, and I wanted to show you the issues:

First, Shutdown Corner shows the popular belief about Andre

We haven't lived in the Kiper era of endless NFL draft information for very long, but in that time, I can't recall anyone's draft stock falling quite like Andre Smith's. Picture Wilford Brimley's frail and helpless body tumbling end-over-end off a cliff, picking up speed as it goes (Note: Do not picture this if you are Wilford Brimley, or someone who knows him). That's about what we're looking at here.

He (Smith, not Brimley) was once considered a possible number one overall pick, and now, he might not even be a second-day pick. If Andre Smith was the stock market, he'd be ... well, he'd be a lot like the stock market is right now.

I normally don’t interrupt a quote of an article to interject; But, the notion that he “might not even be a second-day pick” is the most absurd thing I have ever read.

Seriously. That may render everything else in his article completely moronic.

Anyway, let’s continue:

It all started at the combine, when Smith basically did everything the exact opposite of how it should have been done, and then left in the middle of it without telling anyone where he was going. But it was thought that Smith would have a chance to redeem himself, at least partially, at his Pro Day earlier this afternoon.

So how'd that go for him? Here's a snippet from TFYDraft.com:

The situation has gone from bad to worse for Andre Smith. His bench press results were a pitiful 19-reps. His position work was also very mediocre. One scout has told us is it the "worst workout he ever saw" and a number of scouts are cranky that they made the long trip to Alabama to watch the pitiful workout. A second scout has told us "Smith lost millions of dollars".

And from NFL.com:

To put Smith’s workout in perspective, he did not post a single number that would have placed him in the top performers at his position at the combine and many of his numbers were not even close to the top 10 at his position at the combine.
And PFT quotes a league source as saying that Smith "bombed."

The way things are going, teams will be drafting equipment managers before they draft Andre Smith. Most decent stadium hot dog vendors are more highly sought-after.

So, you read that, and you begin to think that this guy is worthless. His name has been sullied, and if you believe what you hear and read, you would be wise to take him completely off your draft board.

BUT. Didn’t he win the Outland Award last season? Didn’t he do this in the SEC where he is blocking Defensive Ends who are also NFL talents many weeks? Isn’t he still the owner of those great feet and long arms that made him a potential #1 pick?
Before you believe the hype, that he is in complete free fall, do me a favor – forget about his poor workout, his man boobs, and his poor ability to properly declare his combine intentions – and watch his film:

Andre Smith

Ah yes, the eyeball test. Your eyes are not deceiving you. You just saw a man put on a clinic at Left Tackle in the SEC. Dominating. I would be more than happy to put him at Left Tackle on my team for the next 10 years.

So, how is this happening to his stock? is he getting bad advice? Why is he not staying in shape?

And how much of that is important? Isn’t it the opposite of the “workout warrior” who cannot actually play football? A guy who dominates on the field, but doesn’t impress with his workouts?

And, if a guy can’t keep in shape in the months before the NFL Draft, what is he going to do in 5 years when he is fat, rich, and happy?

Also, can we rule out a team that is trying to spread bad rumors about the kid just so he slides right to them on draft day (Warren Sapp)?

The questions NFL teams are trying to answer.

The case of Andre Smith. Fascinating. But, there is no way he drops out of the top 15. No way.

Michael Lombardi’s latest top 10 mock

1 Detroit Lions Matthew Stafford QB Georgia

2 St. Louis Rams Eugene Monroe OT Virginia

3 Kansas City Chiefs Aaron Curry OLB Wake Forest

4 Seattle Seahawks B.J. Raji DT Boston College

5 Cleveland Browns Brian Orakpo DE/OLB Texas

6 Cincinnati Bengals Jason Smith OT Baylor

7 Oakland Raiders Andre Smith OT Alabama

8 Jacksonville Jaguars Mark Sanchez QB USC

9 Green Bay Packers Aaron Maybin DE/OLB Penn State

10 San Francisco 49ers Robert Ayers DE Tennessee

A bigger mock from National Football Post

Lombardi looks at the Cowboys off-season questions

Here is a breakdown of key NFC East questions.

1. Who is going to make plays on the ball in the secondary? The Cowboys were one of the worse teams in the NFL in interceptions. They must improve their secondary play.

2. Where is the depth in the offensive line going to come from? Every starter is over 30 years old.

3. Will the Cowboys be able to repair their run defense with the addition of Keith Brooking? They allowed too many big plays in the run game, and some of this was a result of some of the worse safety tackling in the NFL.

4. Who will be the main return man for the ‘Boys? Pacman Jones averaged a “whopping” 4.5 yards per punt return. They need to improve their vertical field position.

5. Will they have enough depth at wide receiver? Miles Austin and Patrick Crayton take a larger role in the offense. Who will fill their roles?

Fun with pawning rings …good read…

Blake Griffin comedy

Randy Moss is fishing and smoking and looking cool

Matt Greene is an animal
Perhaps, you are starting to get Rangers Spring Training fever and you want to see some spring training baseball

• Sun. March 22 3 p.m. Los Angeles Dodgers
• Wed. March 25 8 p.m. Arizona
• Fri. March 27 8 p.m. Milwaukee
• Sat. April 4 1 p.m. Kansas City

UFC Trading Cards

Torres v Ronaldo

WBC Almost fight

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lost in Los Angeles

The Lakers are the Mavericks nemesis these days, and if yesterday is any indication, it isn’t because they have some magic mojo against the Mavs, it is simply because they are significantly better all over the floor. I enjoyed the ABC TV guys debating it, and I thought Jeff Van Gundy was spot on about this team when he suggested that this team isn’t inconsistent. “They just aren’t that good”.

Very simple.

Very obvious.

Now, you can look at Dirk and suggest that the best player on the team, and one of the top dozen players in the NBA is the problem – but that remains a silly past-time if you ask me.

Isn’t the biggest problem with the Mavs the following:

At any given time yesterday, the Lakers had 3 mis-matches with which to attack yesterday – AND, at the same time, the Mavs had only about 2 scorers on the floor.

That is right. They have bad matchups on offense and defense. That is a rare double.


Here is how the Mavs opened the game defensively:

Dirk guards Odom
Dampier guards Gasol
Barea on Fisher
Kidd on Ariza
Wright on Kobe

As you can see, the most obvious mis-match is Damp trying to guard Gasol, but there is nobody else he could even consider guarding. I have no idea why he was on the floor to begin with, but both halves, Carlisle thought he would try it. Then, Barea gets posted up when Fisher decides it is time. Kidd leaves Ariza to help on Kobe and Ariza starts nailing shots.

Then, Barea and Dampier must sit down, and when James Singleton or Brandon Bass and Jet Terry enter the game, now, Dirk tries to guard Gasol (not very well) and Bass tries to cover Odom.

This doesn’t even mention Kobe. Kobe can destroy pretty much anyone in the league, and although Antoine Wright looks like he is doing pretty well, Kobe gets a quiet 28-8-5.


Here is an equally horrid part of the game. The Mavs have, at all times, at least 2 to 3 guys on the floor who are pretty much worthless on offense. Seriously. Barea, Wright, Singleton, Dampier, and Bass are 5 of the top 8 options right now on this team, and none of them can create any of their own offense. Barea and Wright can spot up and shoot 3’s. Singleton, Bass, and Dampier can occasionally hit an open 15-footer and put back a rebound.

So that leaves only 3 guys who can get you anything on offense above very basic levels of production. And Kidd cannot shoot unless he is left wide open off the pass. As far as creating things, he is great – but to whom shall he create this offense?

Dirk and Jet. Night after night. Dirk and Jet.

Let me ask you a question; Don’t you think the opposition knows this? Don’t you think the Lakers have some idea about this? They stick Gasol on Dirk and then help the whole night with Kobe and friends. Jet still gets one-on-one coverage, because he does most of his scoring from 25 feet. And yesterday, he did it very well.

That leaves Dirk to a) be the only scorer inside the 3 point line, and b) the key to the Lakers defensive efforts. Phil Jackson will do everything he can to not let #41 beat them.

You knew there were big issues again when the Mavs shot 48% in the 1st Quarter, held Kobe to 0 points, and were down 9!

The Mavs are short. Even with Josh Howard back, they are short a player or two.
And that isn’t going to change until the Mavs front office changes it.

Another loss to the Lake Show

At least we know what separates the Mavericks from the Los Angeles Lakers this season.

A touchdown.

For the third time, the Mavericks played gallantly against the Western Conference's top team and came up with another seven-point loss. They were outscored, 18-5, in the final seven minutes as the Lakers ended the Mavericks' once-promising road trip with a 107-100 defeat at Staples Center.

You can add Kobe Bryant to the chasm between the two teams, too. And the unlikely Trevor Ariza.

The two made all the big plays in the final minutes after the Mavericks had put together one of their best stretches of the season to take a 95-89 lead.

"This was a great opportunity," said Jason Terry, whose career-best seven 3-pointers and 29 points were a big reason why the Mavericks turned a 15-point deficit into a six-point lead. "We dug ourselves a hole and we had a chance to pull it out. But that's why he's Kobe Bryant. He does things in the fourth quarter that only a few players can do.

"Knowing that, we like our chances. We match up pretty well with that team. If it's a team we've got to face down the line, we're confident it will be a knock-out series. We're the underdog. You've got nothing to lose anyway."

If the season ended today, the Mavericks would be the No. 8 seed and play the top-seeded Lakers. But the Mavericks have 15 more games and nine of them are at home.
Sunday's meeting with the Lakers ended a 2-2 road trip that started out 2-0.
"We battled and we couldn't get it," Brandon Bass said. "To go 2-2 on the trip, that's OK. But we know we could have done great. We could have gotten all four or at least three."

The Mavericks showed they can make the Lakers sweat. But what they left on the proving ground all season was showing they can beat them. Back in November, the Lakers twice beat the Mavericks – 106-99 in Dallas and 114-107 in Los Angeles.
Apparently, not much has changed since then.

The scary part is that it wasn't even Bryant that broke their hearts. Or at least, not Bryant by himself. Ariza had 26 points, including six in a row that put the Lakers up, 98-95, with less than four minutes to go. The Mavericks used a 21-2 surge that started late in the third quarter to put the heat on the Lakers.

The Brackets are out. Enjoy. As in previous years , I watch the NCAA Tournament to simply see what the NBA lottery will look like this June. I want to see some good basketball, but I don’t really have a huge level of interest in college hoops, so I just need something like a mock draft to get me going.

So, with intern TC on the case, here is a list of players and their average ranking from 5 mock drafts:

Player Position College Avg. Draft
Blake Griffin PF Oklahoma 1.0
James Harden SG Arizona State 4.2
Hasheem Thabeet C Connecticut 4.8
Jordan Hill PF Arizona 5.2
Jeff Teague PG Wake Forest 6.0
Al-Farouq Aminu SF Wake Forest 9.0
Earl Clark SF Louisville 11.0
Gerald Henderson SG Duke 13.0
Greg Monroe PF Georgetown 14.2
Demar DeRozan SG USC 15.2
DeJuan Blair PF Pittsburgh 15.6
Patrick Patterson PF Kentucky 16.4
Ty Lawson PG North Carolina 17.6
Chase Budinger SG Arizona 18.8
Eric Maynor PG VCU 19.8
Willie Warren PG Oklahoma 20.0
Craig Brackins PF Iowa State 20.0
Stephen Curry SG Davidson 21.0
BJ Mullens C Ohio State 22.4
Darren Collison PG UCLA 23.8
Tyler Hansbrough PF North Carolina 25.8
Terrence Williams SF Louisville 27.8
Tyreke Evans SG Memphis 27.6
James Johnson PF Wake Forest 27.6
Sam Young SF Pittsburgh 29.0
Tyler Smith SF Tennessee 29.3
Jerome Jordan C Tulsa 29.5

Chad Ford’s mock

Draft Express Mock

NBA Draft.net


Here is a long list of more mocks

They all agree, Blake Griffin is going #1.

times-announced-for-firs.html> Games of local interest

The times have been announced for the NCAA Tournament first-round games. Here's a look at the game times for area teams of interest:

11:30 a.m. -- Texas A&M-BYU
6:10 p.m. -- Texas-Minnesota
8:40 p.m. -- Oklahoma-Morgan State

11:15 a.m. -- Stephen F. Austin-Syracuse
11:25 a.m. -- Oklahoma State-Tennessee
11:30 a.m. -- Kansas-North Dakota State
2 p.m. -- Missouri-Cornell

Have courage

Real fans don’t fill out brackets.

I watch sports in hopes of seeing the unexpected, not the predicted. I watch sports hoping to see something I’ve never seen before, not something I think may happen. I watch sports to watch my team win.

We watch the NCAA tournament to root for our alma mater, or our kid’s school, or our favorite team growing up. We watch it to root against a team coached by a guy who looks a little too slick, a team we think cheats or a team that just wins too often.

Here is the Cowboys draft list

The Cowboys have 9 total draft picks.

No First rounder.
2nd round - #51 slot.
3rd round - #69 slot.
4th round - #97 slot, #113 slot.
5th round - #148 slot, #158 slot.
6th round - #184 slot.
7th round - #193 slot, #210 slot.

Sean Avery scores 2 in win

Sean Avery shook up the Philadelphia Flyers with his grit and his gift of gab. And
just when they had enough of that, he beat them with his stick.

With a national TV spotlight on him, and a fired-up home crowd adoring his every agitating move, Avery scored two power-play goals and drew a pair of penalties to lead the New York Rangers to a 4-1 victory over the Flyers on Sunday.

"He gets the puck, and five guys on their team want to kill him," linemate Scott Gomez said.

Avery has scored in three straight games and has four goals in that stretch. As it was during his first stint with the Rangers, before he was banished by the Dallas Stars for crude public comments, New York performs better with him in the lineup (4-2).

"The first couple of games I was just so nervous, kind of playing a little too hard," Avery said. "I'm just trying to slow it down, think about the plays and where they're going to end up.

"I feel good as far as just being happy that I'm out playing, and trying to play hard and help the team win. I've gotten some good bounces and I've gotten some good passes. It's tough to explain. Obviously, the team playing better is something that helps a lot."

Liverpool destroys Manchester United ….

Torres! Torres!

Very interesting essay on the clutch-ness of Michael Young

Oak Ridge Boys honor Nolan Ryan

Hitler – bills fan

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Put Loui on the Power Play!

Just when you think you have the Stars figured out….they do something to completely demonstrate you have nothing figured out.

December 1st – the season was over. Too far back. Too much damage had been done.

February 1st – season saved. Big month of home games ahead. This team is determined and will make the playoffs.

March 1st – lost to Penguins at home for 5th straight home loss. Season is dead.

March 6th – won 5 points out of 6 on West Coast trip w/ BaD Radio. Season is alive again.

March 10th – after losing to Montreal, pounded by St Louis. Season dead again.

March 14th – beat Minnesota to win 2nd straight. Season alive? 7 seed!

What lies ahead? A road trip to the #2, #3 and #5 seeds. Yikes. No rest for the weary. Once again, let’s hope for 3 points on the 3 game trip this week. Anything more is gravy – anything less is very bad. But, these games are sure fun to watch.

Take last night for instance against the Wild. The Stars and Wild waged a 62 minute war that could have easily passed for a playoff game. Do you know why? Because it is a playoff game to these teams. The intensity, the will, and the sheer determination is what is pushing these teams on. Edmonton and Nashville can relate as they push, too. And let’s not sleep on Anaheim or the Cinderella in this dance, those St Louis Blues.

Fun with Loui

I was pondering the crazy explosion of Loui Eriksson this morning, and the fact that his improvement in goal scoring from last season to this (+18) is tops in the NHL. He is currently tied for 11th in the NHL in goals scored, between a guy named Dany Heatley and another guy named Jarome Iginla.

But, I am really impressed in a stat he ranks 4th in, “even strength goals”

PlayerE.S. GoalsTotal Goals
Ovechkin, Was3249
Parise, NJ2840
Kovalchuk, Atl2636
Eriksson, Dal2532
Crosby, Pit2427

Table Tutorial

Are you kidding me? 4th in the entire NHL in even strength goals? Incidentally, those are the toughest goals to score – the 5 on 5 goals, and that is why we should all be ecstatic about Loui’s breakout, and also cheer on Stars management to get an extension cooking before he becomes a restricted free agent in the summer of 2010.

But, then I got to thinking…Since the start of the Stars tough times at home – that loss to Chicago in February, my numbers have the Stars power play at 6-58. I am sure it is no secret that this was about when Brad Richards left the lineup, too. Since then, the Stars power play has been a real struggle, which was best seen in that game against the Canadians last week, when the PP went 1-10. Last night against the Wild, the Stars failed to come close to scoring on a full 4 minute power play that almost cost them the game.

Where I am going with all of this? Well, the Stars 1st power play last night is 63, 9, 3, 18, and 29. It seems to make a quality unit, and they all do things well. But, my question is this: If Eriksson is so lethal at 5 on 5, wouldn’t it make some sense to make room for him on the 1st power play unit? Or asked another way, is there any other team in the NHL that does not put its leading goal scorer (by a mile) on its first 5 on the PP?

I am sure the Stars coaches have considered the numbers, and considered the options. But, for the life of me, I am quite confused as to why he is not out there. He has a rare ability to light the lamp. He is decent in the corners. And he has a good chemistry with Mr Ribeiro and Mr Ott, too. It makes too much sense.

Anyway, I will try to find out the reasons, but for now, I remain confused. If the power play is broken right now, let’s put the goal scorer on the ice and see what happens!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Ask Sports Sturm: What is an Ace?

What makes an ace? Where is the definition of what constitutes an ace? The topic of today’s Ask Sports Sturm:

Dear Sports Sturm-

I heard you yesterday say that you thought Chad Billingsley is now a true ace. I have a hard time believing that, but first, I guess we need to know what you would consider an ace to be. Do you think each team has one? I would like to think that there are not more than a handful of aces in major league baseball, and that might eliminate Billingsley from being in that elite class.

Baseball Junkie

Believe it or not, after I threw that out on the air on Thursday’s show, I had to think myself about what constituted “ace” in major league baseball. I even googled it, to see if any baseball types have already done this study, and since I couldn’t find anything more than the occasional message board posts, I thought I would tackle the topic here.

So, after pondering it, here is what I decided for my ideas of what would constitute an ace pitcher in major league baseball today (given the state of stats in the late part of this decade:

1) – 200+ innings in the season . The idea here is that my ace has to take the ball 30+ times and average 6+ innings. I cannot have a fragile #1 starter if I am going to pay him ace money. Does he stay healthy? And does he pitch into the 7th inning on a regular basis? If he does, he satisfies my need for work load in a given season. This one is not really negotiable. A hurt ace is like having a Corvette that doesn’t run in your garage. What is the point? You still are paying for it, just not getting the positives.

2) - ERA under 3.50. Admittedly, this one is quite arbitrary, but I thought that in today’s baseball, 3.5 is a reasonable number. I know a sub 3.00 ERA is more attractive, but in this day and age, a sub 3 is nearly unheard of. I thought that baseball has changed enough to go sub 3.5.

3) - 200+ Strikeouts in the season . Again, you can likely be an ace without being a master of the strikeout, but I am a big believer in the art of missing bats. Strikeouts mean fewer balls in play. Fewer balls in play means less reliance in your defense. For instance, in a 7 inning start, if you are getting 7 strikeouts, you only need 14 plays made by your defense. The low strikeout guys need 20 plays made, where the butchers in the field can sabotage your efforts. I like my ace to be good enough that he will be great with any major league infield behind him.

4) Win more than 15 games . This is a highly controversial component of my “ace” definition, but I think it is one I am firm on. Obviously, you cannot get wins without your offense helping you and your bullpen helping you. But, I think that a true ace, assuming he is making 33 starts, must show the intestinal fortitude to emerge the winner in at least 15 of those starts. Tim Lincecum for San Francisco in 2008 is a great example of a 18-5 pitcher on a 72-90 team. That is a true ace performance. Yes, there will be no offense, and yes, there will be blown saves. You still have to get to 15 in my eyes.

5) Fewer than 1 hit per inning . This one is also one I am pretty committed to. There are quite a few pitchers who are able to perform a huge work load, but they give up 240 hits in 210 innings. I think this is Kevin Millwood affecting me, but regardless, the Mark Buehrle-types are not going to like it, nor are Aaron Cook or Jon Garland, but I think this is an important component of thinning the herd of what makes an ace.

So, again:
1) 200 innings+
2) Below 3.5 ERA
3) 200 K’s +
4) 15 Wins +
5) Fewer that 9 hits per 9

With that in mind, let’s check the numbers for 2008:


Table Tutorial

And that is the whole list. After looking at the results, I did wonder how Cole Hamels, Brandon Webb, Cliff Lee, AJ Burnett, and Roy Oswalt missed the boat.

Hamels only fell 4 strikeouts and 1 win short. Webb had 183 strikeouts, otherwise he hits all the checkpoints. Lee was 30 strikeouts short. Burnett’s ERA was 4.07. And Oswalt’s strikeouts were too low, and his ERA was slightly too high.

Perhaps I should be more liberal in my strikeout requirements. But that means we have somewhere between 7 and 12 aces in baseball. 7 if I am really firm in my numbers, and a full dozen if I make an exception for those other 5. That sounds about right to me. 12 pitchers had “ace seasons” in 2008.

What do you say we look at 2007?


Table Tutorial

Holy cow, just 3? Just missing the cut: Brandon Webb (6 strikeouts), Dan Haren (8 K’s), Scott Kazmir (2 wins). Also close, Halladay, Lackey, Hudson, and Zambrano.

So, 2007: 3 True “Sturm Aces” and 7 more close enough for a total of 10.

One more year, 2006:

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Table Tutorial

Just 3 here, With Brandon Webb close (K’s), Dan Haren, Chris Carpenter (K’s), Bronson Arroyo (K’s and 1 win), Oswalt (K’s), Halladay (K’s), Lackey (10 K’s and 2 wins) and Jeremy Bonderman (1 win and ERA).

So, 3 true “Sturm Aces” and 8 more close for a total of 11 in 2006.

The conclusion:

Each of the last 3 seasons, even if you allow the numbers to be somewhat flexible, you still can get just a dozen from each year. And the numbers reveal many of the same pitchers each year.

Sabathia, Johan, Webb, Haren, Halladay, and Oswalt are the 6 who seem to be routine on the list every year. The other 6 seem to change. But, quite an elite group.

Erik Bedard and John Lackey represent guys who don't quite get there, but are obviously close enough to consider in the mix when you are deciding who you have pay the big bucks.

Anaheim, Arizona, and Toronto all have had more than one guy, and the Yankees just bought two of them with Sabathia and Burnett.

I think this is what I am going to go with. My definition of an ace.

So, what do you think?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Blogless in Lewisville

I am sad to report that this is another one of those mornings that I have 15 minutes rather than 2 hours to work on this blog.

These mornings are happening more often than I would like, but perhaps it is becoming a reality that with a wife, a daughter, a son, a radio show, 2 blogs, 10 shows on "season pass", a Mavericks season, a Stars season, a NFL draft, a fantasy baseball team, a church, a treadmill, and a goldfish that a I might be running out of time in my day-to-day.

What does this mean for the blog? I hope not too much. But, today, I must go practice for this goofy basketball game against Lake Highlands girls.

So, congrats to the Mavs. I continue to underestimate you, I think.

Talk to you at noon.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Win One, Lose One

There are many reasons why living in a big sports city like this one is better than living in a one-horse town. One of them is mornings like this morning. For instance, if this were just a Stars town, we would be depressed with the absurd effort the Stars rolled out in St Louis. Instead, we will lead with the nice win from the Mavericks in Phoenix.

To the victors go the lead on the blog:

Mavs get a big and rare road victory

They improved to 39-25, five games ahead of the Suns. They also will have the tiebreaker over Phoenix if they win the series finale in Dallas in April. The Mavericks aren't mathematically in the playoffs yet. But the odds are heavily in their favor. If they go just 9-9 the rest of the way, the Suns would have to go 14-4, plus win in Dallas, to catch the Mavericks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

They remain eighth in the West, but only two games out of fourth.

"We know Phoenix is a team that's behind us," said Kidd, who was 4-of-8 from the field, all on 3-point shots, and had 12 points and eight rebounds. "Now, we're the ones chasing. We're looking up, not behind us. We want to get as high as we can."
The Mavericks' first road win against a Western Conference contender since Christmas Night in Portland came because they were tougher than the Suns in the second half. There's a reason why they came out and took this game by the throat. Carlisle sent a strong message at halftime.

"Coach always talks about how he's not a motivator, but he came in here at halftime and really tore into us," said Jason Terry, who had 25 points. "That's the first time I've seen him do that. He said, 'You guys are better than that team, so play like it.' "

Added J.J. Barea, who got the start in the backcourt in Josh Howard's absence and had 16 points, 14 in the first half: "He said we weren't tough enough, our basketball game is OK, but we got to be nastier."

And then there was Ryan Hollins, the slender center who comes close to literally being half the man that 300-plus-poundish Shaquille O'Neal is. But Hollins played big on this night, taking a hard elbow to the nose on one possession, drawing an offensive foul and finishing with six points and four rebounds in 14 quality minutes after Erick Dampier got in foul trouble.

"I've been waiting for this game for weeks," Hollins said. "History shows that when I guard bigger players, it's something I enjoy. I just tried to stay in front of him."

O'Neal had only eight of his 21 points and just two of his eight rebounds after
halftime, when Hollins got all of his minutes.

The road win was the Mavericks' first since Feb. 2 at Orlando and their first against a Western Conference team since the LA Clippers on Dec. 28.

The Suns are having a funeral

It's over. It hurts. It's for the best.

In this case, the truth is that these Suns need to miss the playoffs. They need to take their chances in the NBA draft lottery, even though it's considered a shallow talent pool. Maybe the Suns can catch their first real break in a long time.

Maybe they end up with a top eight pick, and luck into a player who can lead this franchise into the future. After all, they certainly won't get that player in the 2010 draft, when the Suns do not own a first-round pick.

Without a playoff berth, the Suns can break up this flawed team without remorse or explanation. They can trade Shaquille O'Neal to Cleveland, a team that made a run at Shaq at the trading deadline and surely would be interested again if LeBron James doesn't bring them a championship in June.

They can trade Amaré Stoudemire and get something of value before it's too late.
They can start over with Alvin Gentry, a pro's pro and a great man who could make an imprint with a young team to call his own.

"I would love to be back," Gentry said.

In the NBA, it's easy to get trapped in mediocrity, where your team is good enough to make the playoffs, yet flawed enough to lose in the first round. That cycle can go on forever.

Such cold-hearted pragmatism isn't easy. Basketball fans in the Valley have poured their sweat and soul into this franchise, and over the past four postseasons the Suns have been a civic obsession. In perception, they were the gutsy team battling their own axis of evil: the dastardly Spurs, the crooked referees and the vengeful commissioner.

In the end, they have been the Little Engine that Couldn't. The emotional investment in this team has been massive, and the payoff has been only heartbreak. Cheers have led to tears, without fail.

As a result, it's hard to move on. It's hard to accept that the run is over, that our patience and persistence will go unrewarded.

It's easy to make excuses. This season, the Suns tried Terry Porter's way, and then Porter changed his ways, and then the Suns changed coaches. Though the lack of continuity has been crushing, the team still is playing hard.

Now, on to that nonsense in St Louis:

I would like to bravely look at my keyboard and assure every who reads this blog that everything is going to be alright in the wake of the St Louis Blues third pounding of the Stars in 3 tries this season.

But the reality is, after the debacle in Dallas Sunday night, and the no-contest in St Louis on Tuesday, this season appears to be hanging by a thread.

Is it just too much? Too many injuries? Too much adversity? Too many teams around the Stars now playing very well (Columbus, Edmonton, Nashville, St Louis) while the Stars cannot get a point out of the last 6 home games?

Have there been too many requests to Marty Turco to take the ice game after game? Have they pushed too many guys too far up the lineup hoping to replace 10, 91, 56, 26, and the rest of the injured?

Before last night’s game (if you can call it that), I figured the Stars would have to go 10-6 in their last 16 games. Well, now they need to figure out how to get 10 wins of their final 15. This will not be easy at all.

Is this how it ends? Or in this crazy roller-coaster ride of a season, is there yet another twist?

Let’s hope so.

But, let’s stay out of St Louis. Something about that match-up doesn’t seem to fit the Stars very well. That is a cumulative score of 14-4 so far this season. Somewhere, Doug Armstrong is pleased.

Thursday, let’s hope for a better effort on home ice.

Must win? dnspostarslede.3c434e0.html> FAIL

The Stars suffered a similar fate. They got knocked down early, and like Parrish, never got back into the game. A close score was all that was missing in the bone-rattling contest at the Scottrade Center.

The Blues, who began four points behind Dallas in the tight Western Conference race, flexed their muscles. Although the Stars were willing to tangle – as Krys Barch's marathon fight against Cam Janssen showed – Dallas couldn't recover from the 3-0 hole they dug in the first 11:56.

Stars goalie Marty Turco was pulled after surrendering those three scores. And the Stars never got closer than two down.

"It wasn't my night," Turco said. "The guys battled hard but the mistakes ended up in our net. It's so much more disappointing because when you lose, you lose so much ground; you have to depend on others for help."

The Blues, 3-0 against the Stars, took control just 59 seconds in, when David Backes ripped a snapshot over Turco from the left circle. David Perron scored the first of his two goals just over five minutes later, and then former Star Brad Winchester stood unchallenged in the crease, swatting at the puck until he finally scored. That led to Turco's exit.

Here is Stephen Jones …unaffected by the gag order…

Stephen Jones discussed all of the Cowboys’ off-season moves to date, and looked forward to the draft:

Jones put his thumb and forefinger maybe an inch apart to explain the differences the coaching staff explained to him between defensive ends Chris Canty and Igor Olshansky.

The Cowboys lost Canty in free agency and signed Olshansky as his replacement. Jones would not say Olshansky would start, but it’s expected he will.

The team got no takers on trading safety Roy Williams.

"With what we are trying to do with our safeties he didn’t fit," Jones said.
The addition of free agent safety Gerald Sensabaugh on Tuesday means the Cowboys will likely not move Orlando Scandrick to safety.

Jones said the team plans to move Alan Ball from corner to safety.

Jones said the team wants to address the safety position as well as linebackers, quarterback and reserve offensive linemen in the draft.

He did not rule out re-signing free agent Keith Davis. If Davis returns, it will likely be at a veteran minimum.

The team is still negotiating with linebacker DeMarcus Ware, but "I’m terrible on speculating on when things will get done," Jones said.

BP check’s the Rangers farm

Five-Star Prospects
1. Neftali Feliz, RHP
2. Justin Smoak, 1B
3. Derek Holland, LHP

Four-Star Prospects
4. Michael Main, RHP
5. Engel Beltre, CF
6. Elvis Andrus, SS

Three-Star Prospects
7. Martin Perez, LHP
8. Max Ramirez, C
9. Taylor Teagarden, C
10. Neil Ramirez, RHP
11. Wilfredo Boscan, RHP

Just Missed: Julio Borbon, CF; Blake Beavan, RHP; Jose Vallejo, 2B

Liverpool spanks Real Madrid

Rafael Benítez insisted Liverpool can force their way back into the title race at Old Trafford on Saturday having watched his side inflict the heaviest Champions League defeat in Real Madrid's history on the fallen Spanish giants at Anfield.
"Awesome", was Steven Gerrard's description of last night's inspired 4–0 triumph, one that secured Liverpool a 5–0 aggregate victory over Juande Ramos's side and a place in the quarter-finals for the fourth time in five seasons under their manager from Madrid. The Liverpool manager admitted to surprise at the extent of the rout but, having delivered so emphatically at the start of a defining week in Liverpool's season, he claimed his team could maintain its outstanding form at Manchester United this weekend.

"This is the best way to approach the Manchester United game," said Benítez. "When you have an important game coming up and the players are playing this well and scoring four goals against a team like Real Madrid, you have to be pleased.

"We play a very good team on Saturday and we have to win. If we can reduce the gap we will be in the title race but we have to wait and see what happens at Old Trafford. Hopefully we have given Manchester United something to think about but they have a very good team. At least we will approach the game with a lot of confidence."

Liverpool were dominant from the first whistle at Anfield in what Benítez hailed as a complete team performance. "We played well from the beginning until the end," the Spaniard added. "I am very pleased for the players, the fans and the club. The whole team was good from the start, the players, the doctor, the physios, everyone. They all deserve this victory.

"I could not have imagined a 5–0 when the draw was made. When you play Madrid you know it will be difficult and tight, but we played very well away and won and did the same tonight playing a different way. That shows we are a very good team."

Today: Inter visits United

After the final whistle, the Inter Milan players traded their sweaty, black-and-blue-striped jerseys for their Manchester United opponents’ bold red ones, and the crowd cheered. The postgame ritual provided the perfect cover for José Mourinho to slip away unnoticed by more than 85,000 people at San Siro stadium on Feb. 24.

Mourinho, the Inter manager, has done few things quietly since taking over Italy’s top club in June. But after the 0-0 draw in the Champions League knockout round, during which he repeatedly jumped from his bench to the sideline to shout instructions to his players and to argue with the referee, Mourinho left the field through a private door without shaking hands with his opposite number, Alex Ferguson.
Later, Mourinho, suave as ever, assured his friend and rival he meant no disrespect.
“I left a £300 bottle of wine in the hotel with a note saying we would meet each other after the game at Old Trafford,” he said, already looking forward to the pivotal return leg of the two-game series. “I am always close to him. I am always a friend. I will be there after the second game.”

But before the game on Wednesday night in Manchester, which will decide who will advance in soccer’s most prestigious club tournament, and before he faced the voracious Italian and British news media, Mourinho had some questions to answer for himself.

“There is always a question mark in the decision I make, in the decision I should make, in the reasons we did well, in what we didn’t do so well,” Mourinho said. “I am a man of question marks. I am not saying doubts, but a man of questions.”

The American species of football coach is a curious character, often overweight and disheveled, who stalks the sideline with a play sheet and a comically large headset — like Parcells, Belichick, Reid and Holmgren.

The European species, like the game, has evolved differently. Its epitome is
Mourinho, 46, the confident, handsome, polyglot tactician who catapulted to the top of the soccer world when he won the 2004 European Champions League title with F.C. Porto in his native Portugal.

Mourinho has since delighted members of the European news media, who relish his bravado-filled news conferences, and entertained soccer fans, who find this confident and debonair coach almost as thrilling to watch as any superstar player.
“In Italy, we have many sorts of managers, and very, very rarely are Italians taken by surprise in football because they think they’ve seen it all,” said Gianluca Vialli, a former star on Italy’s national team and now a television analyst for Sky Italia. “Mourinho makes being a manager look cool.”

Mourinho always wears a finely tailored suit on the sideline and a carefully tied scarf around his neck. “It’s not a symbol,” he said. “I have a commercial relationship with Armani. This scarf is their scarf.”

Looking cool is only part of it. Acting cool is at the heart of his appeal, and his success. He speaks very highly of himself and of his abilities as a strategist, tactician and motivator. Although he takes credit for his team’s triumphs, he is careful to shower praise on his players. In defeat, Mourinho shoulders the blame.
“At this level of pressure,” he said in heavily accented but pointed English, “if you are not self-confident, if you don’t believe in your work, you are a step down. If you are a leader and you can influence people’s attitudes and you want people to follow you up and be as strong as you are, you must be strong.”

And finally, Ed Belfour takes his frustration out on Martin Lapointe

Getting to know Igor