Wednesday, December 31, 2008

110 Percent Hall of Fame 2008: Barry Sanders

As a Cowboys fan, I always sided with Emmitt Smith in the "Who's the greatest running back?" debate. And Emmitt provided plenty of support for my case: Super Bowl rings, MVPs, rushing titles, TD records: Emmitt had them all.

But Barry was no slouch, either. He was a Pro Bowler in each of his ten NFL seasons, and was first team All Pro six times. When he retired at thirty, he declined the opportunity to break the career rushing record that season. Emmitt set the record four years later, but Barry could have shattered it with only a few more seasons in his prime. Look at that picture again--look at those hips, that ankle. Bodies are simply not supposed to move that way. Most pictures of Barry look like bad Photoshop jobs--if it wasn't Sanders, we wouldn't believe it was real.

And let's not forget that while the NFL instituted the "Emmitt rule" to keep players from taking off their helmets on the field, Sanders quietly handed the ball to the ref after yet another score--classy.

Bottom line: Emmitt won because he had help, starting with an awesome offensive line and fellow stars at quarterback and wide receiver, not to mention a killer defense. Barry had none of these things. Any success the Lions had, including the win over Emmitt and the Cowboys in the 1991 playoffs, was due almost entirely to Barry.

In fact, that's what led to Barry's early retirement. Ten years of not getting a commitment to win from the Lions was enough--Barry walked away from it all. I was so convinced he would come back during the season, either with the Lions or another team, that I used a late round pick in my fantasy draft on him. Unfortunately for me and other NFL fans, I was wrong on that pick--Sanders never even looked back.

With Emmitt joining Sanders in retirement in 2004, the distance of time has finally allowed me to make a confession. Taking nothing away from Emmitt Smith: Barry was better.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Cowboy Fan? Yea, I still am. Despite you Mr. Jones

So, you may be wondering who this is as the last time I contributed a post was... well.. I'd rather not say. But, after watching (most) of the debacle on Sunday and having a day or two to digest it, I felt the need to address a few things. I agree with Rus' comments about the team having no heart. To point it out that much more, a fan actually picketed the Cowboys facility yesterday and was accosted by Bradie James. Normally, I'd make a funny joke about how James should have had more heart on Sunday than he did against this fan. But, I don't think James is to blame for the loss on Sunday. No, it has to go to the top, and like it always does, will go no where from there.

For the past couple days, I've been thinking that the Cowboys should fire the coach, but that's not the place to start. The GM is the one who really needs to be fired. Giving a large contract to Romo before he had a full couple of seasons as a starter was either shrewd, or foolish and right now, it's looking like the latter. Trading draft picks for Roy Williams who has done nothing since (or before) was foolish (I'm censoring myself in wording). Siding with Terrell Owens rather than a multiple Super Bowl winning coach was foolish. Bringing in character guys like Pacman and giving him opportunity without having good reason on or off the field was foolish. All of these things would have led any other GM in the league to be tossed to the curb. The problem of course being that the GM and Owner share the same skin (No Jimmy Johnson "Michael Jackson" jokes please).

After the GM goes, the coach needs to go next. He's stated that he plans on changing his approach a little next season, but to me those sounded like the words he was given to say by the GM who loves having a puppet for a coach. I understand the players have to execute a plan, but three things were curious to me during the game. 1. The team did not look ready to play, as they haven't most of the year. They have started slow especially lately. That is completely inexcusable in the type of game they were in on Sunday. 2. The defense seemed completely confused whenever Westbrook would slide down to a receiver position (something the Eagles do quite frequently). I'm not saying that the coach isn't putting time in watching film. I'm not naive enough to really think that, but that should be a formation that is heavily practiced against. 3. The team has completely taken on the form of its coach with the "whatever happens, happens". While that's a nice attitude to having in life, the absolute last thing I want to hear from my quarterback after that game is: "well, if this is the worst thing to ever happen to me, I've got a pretty good life going on." But, I'll get to Tony Romo in a minute.

Offensive Coordinator... I really don't know. For the brilliance he has shown, Jason Garrett has also shown some curious decisions. Throw out the games Tony was out, because I think Jessica Simpson would be a better option than Brad Johnson at QB. Not getting Felix Jones involved more before he was hurt was a curious choice. There is some confusion whether it is Tony or Jason trying to be forced to involve certain receivers, but either way, why are big physical receivers not being used like they were last season early on? The offense has seemed awful, and a lot of that has to go to Garrett. I think he's gone if the Lions want him. I wouldn't want to be associated with this mess at this point. I don't think it's a good thing for Dallas to lose him however. Yes, he had a bad season, but there seems to be a lot of whispers that was more to do with no support from the owner or coach.

Defensive Coordinator.. Remember when the Cowboys improved their defense after Wade threw his coordinator under the bus because they had a couple really good defensive games right when everyone got healthy? How did that work out when they played the last two teams of the season?

Players. You can't fire all your players and I don't think they should. There are some very talented people on the team, but they all need to keep their mouths shut. Romo - act like you care more. Nothing inspires confidence in your on-field leader like hearing the quote from above. Also, see how Peyton Manning has extra practices with his receivers to work on timing? Maybe try that or something. Witten - Change NOTHING. There is not a coach in the league who wouldn't want Witten as their tight end. (Or maybe even QB after last week). Owens - Pipe Down. When you were holding your peace during the games Romo was out, it was refreshing. Insinuating that the world is against you just makes you look like the primadonna everyone already thinks you are. Roy Williams - Actually, I like to pretend that neither one still plays for the Cowboys. Pacman - Make a play. Any play..

So, where does that leave me. My favorite team is awful and I don't think they'll turn around anytime soon. My second favorite team finished 11-5 and is not in the playoffs while Arizona (9-7) and San Diego (8-8) are hosting first round games. I lost the two rounds of playoffs in Fantasy Football, and saw my lead disappear and then finished fourth in Pick 'em. I think I'm glad football season is over.

Now to get to work on that Larry Bird column. Sorry Chris...

Sunday, December 28, 2008

No Heart

I’m writing this at half time and there is no freakin way this is turning around. If it happens, I’ll gladly eat all the crow in the world, but I just don’t believe it can happen.

I have always been a Cowboys fan. I take pride in the fact that I was a Cowboys fan when 3-13 and 1-15 was the results and Steve Peuller and Paul Palmer wore the silver and blue. In fact, I go further than that. I vaguely remember The Catch and No, Danny No!

But I’m just completely dismayed by the performance in this team this year in general and this game in particular. In just the first half, I saw all this aspects of the 12 Days of Christmas I wrote about, except 12 men on the field. Missed tackles, terrible blocking, horrendous play calling, stupid interceptions, dropped passes, dumb penalties, bad play by their best players (Terrence Newman, Tony Romo, Terrell Owens, DeMarcus Ware, Flozell Adams, Roy Williams- In fact, I’m trying to think of someone who played well so far and I can’t do it.)

The facts are the facts. This team has no heart. There are, as is said in Texas, all hat and no cattle. This team is a collection of ill fitting parts that apparently can’t play together to save their lives. With everything to play for, the Cowboys are playing like it’s a preseason game.

I can’t tell you that I’m turning in my Cowboys fan badge, but this team is just asking for the fan base to turn on them.

Added midway through the 3rd (34-3): Back in 60s before they won their first Super Bowl that they couldn't win the big one. At least those teams lost big ones in the playoffs. (Now it's 41-3)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Airing of Grieviences

Today is Festivus and with it comes the airing of grievances, because as the Festivus patriarch Frank Costanza said, "I've got a lot of problems with you people!" Because this is a sports blog (such that it is) it will only have my sports grievances. They are in no particular order, just as they come to me.

1. I'm looking at you, Dallas Cowboys, first, because you are foremost in my mind right now. Every one of you should be ashamed of yourselves for way you've performed this year. I look back on the season and see 1, maybe 2, well played games. But I swear, you have got to be the worst coached, most undisciplined, stupidest team in the history of professional sports! How can you continue to get ridiculous penalties at the worst times? Without fail, every game, there will be at least one snap that comes at the wrong count, 5 false start or offsides calls, several absolutely awful throws by Tony Romo, 2 dumb personal fouls, atrocious special teams play, a crying wide receiver, and 6 dumb looks from Wade Phillips. Has there are ever been a higher profile, less accomplished team than this one? Norm Hitzges call you the Dallas Resumes and that is exactly what you are. A bunch of resumes that have done absolutely nothing. It makes me sick watching it. This last game against the Ravens is just a case in point. Every single part of the team had a hand in that debacle. Romo throwing two of the worst thrown pics I have ever seen, just throwing it up for grabs, and would it kill the receivers to play a little defense on those plays? Two Ravens scoring drives made up mostly by Cowboys penalties. Every offensive play, there was someone coming free, and no adjustment? I know the Ravens are good on defense, but no one should get free runs at your QB every single play! I don't even want to think about those last two runs by the Ravens where there was almost no resistance, a couple of arm tackles and then nothing but space. And the special teams are a laughing stock. And somehow, through no doing of your own, you are on the precipice of the playoffs with a win in Philly on Sunday. Is there any one who has confidence in the your mental make up to win this game? I don't. Forget the mental make up. Does anyone think this coaching staff can come up with a game plan that might make a lick of sense? I don't. The blame for all this lies at the feet of Jerry Jones. This off season, Jerry, cut Terrell Owens, fire Wade Phillips and Jason Garrett and every one else on the staff, and take a dump truck full of your money and drop it in Bill Cowher's lap and give him control of the team. I know you won't do it. Your ego is too big.

2. Ok, Mavs. How stupid do you look for the most recent dumb Jason Kidd trade? Way to go Mavs! Most teams only get a chance to blow the trade of a player once. You did it twice. And what do you have for your trouble? A 35 year old point guard and a ninth place team. Awesome! You aren't even in the same zip code as the Lakers or the Spurs or the Hornets. Good bye challenging for NBA titles, hello mediocrity where you're just quite good enough to get run out of the playoffs in the first round, which is exactly what happened the last two years.

3. Stars. Are y'all even playing? I have no feelings one way or the other.

4. If I had written this a couple of weeks ago, I'd would have ranted for pages at the injustice of college football. Quite frankly, I'm ranted out on that. The bottom line is how the hell does the Oklahoma Sooners get away with losing to Texas on a neutral field and making the national championship game? Remember a few years ago when OU got plastered in the Big 12 Championship game and still made the national championship game (only to get predictably run off the field in that game)? Does OU have pictures of someone? There is something screwed up about the system and it's not gonna change because people are stupid. At the same time, Texas, you should have just stopped Tech. You had the game won and gave it away.

5. Finally, the Rangers. Why does anyone remain a fan of a team determined to hold the payroll below that of the Kansas City Royals? As Tom Hicks smugly says, "I'll be glad to expand the payroll when attendance rises." What happened in the last 10 years to make people think that anything is going to change? At least they didn't finish in last place in the division. They finished 2nd! Wow! A full 21 games out of first place! That's progress. Oh, we may sign Ben Sheets, but we're gonna have to trade Hank Blalock and his 6 million dollar salary. We could get Randy Johnson, but we are going to have to trade Vincente Padilla. Your payroll isn't going over $70 million dollars while legendary spenders like the Royals and the Pirates laugh at that total. Now I am not one of those people that think spending hundreds of millions of dollars is the way to the promised land, but Tom Hicks, you are deliberately ham stringing this team. If you can't belly up to the bar, sell the team. Hey, I think the Rangers are going in the right direction. The Rangers are generally considered to have, if not the best, then a top 2 or 3 farm systems in baseball. But no one cares about the minors. We want results in Arlington. It better happen soon or you'll really see what an empty ballpark looks like.

So, those are my sports grievances. I feel a little better. I think.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

VY vs. Collins

Chris wants me to give a home town view of Vince Young vs. Kerry Collins. Before today's games, some people from outside of Nashville seemed to think that the Titans need to go ahead and bench Collins for Young. I'll tell you right now: There is no way in hell Jeff Fisher will bench Collins unless he's hurt. He could have come out today and throw 5 pics today and they wouldn't pull Collins. Well, he might have pulled him for today, but next Sunday against the Colts and in three weeks in the playoffs it's going to be Collins, no question. Fisher just doesn't work like that. In fact, I think they should have run some plays of Vince. I mean everyone else is running the Wildcat formation. Why can't the Titans? It's because Fisher doesn't work that way. The only way Vince sees the field is injury or blowout.

I think the issues falls to two things. First, I doubt that Vince is really Fisher's kind of quarterback. I think he definitely prefers the "caretaker" QB, and that's exactly what Collins is. If anyone says that the Titans are where they are simply because of Collins is blind. They are here because of the running game, especially rookie Chris Johnson with complements from LenDale White, so-called Slash and Dash, a powerful defense, and a good kicking game. Collins has been good and for the most part has avoided throwing stupid interceptions unlike some quarterbacks I know, but he's not anything special.

The other issue is what happened during week 1. Apparently Vince quit on the team right before he hurt his knee. They had to talk him into going back out there after an interception. Do the other players want him to play? Has he used to time to get better at the things that he was struggling with, such as reading defenses and making good decisions? Of course, at the games, every idiot with a pair of binoculars watches Vince on the sideline waiting for him to yawn or look away so they can call in the talk shows and tell everybody about it.

The question is what to do with Collins and Young down the road. I'm pretty sure Collins is a free agent and will want a multiyear deal as well as a starting job. Will he be worth it? Sure, as long as you know what you're getting. He's a bus driver. He will do well for a good team, but he won't be able to take a mediocre team anywhere. About Young, the owner Bud Adams has said that the Vince is still the QB of the future. That may be Adam's thought, but is it's Fisher's? He's already won one power struggle with the Titans when he ran off former GM Floyd Reese to gain control of the team. If Fisher doesn't want Vince, I'd have to imagine he wouldn't have to take him.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

College football: What could have been

Last year I presented my plan for a sixteen team playoff. (Last year's final bracket is here, including links to each week's brackets.) To summarize the sixteen teams will consist of the eleven conference champions, plus five at large teams. They will be seeded by their BCS ranking. Here's what this year's playoff would have looked like:

1) Oklahoma (Big XII)
16) Troy (Sun Belt)

8) Penn State (Big Ten)
9) Boise State (WAC)

4) Alabama (At large)
13) Virginia Tech (ACC)

5) USC (Pac-10)
12) Cincinnati (Big East)

3) Texas (At large)
14) East Carolina (Conference USA)

6) Utah (Mountain West)
11) TCU (At large)

7) Texas Tech (At large)
10) Ohio State (At large)

2) Florida (SEC)
15) Buffalo (MAC)

Missed the cut (BCS rank):
Oklahoma State (13)
Georgia Tech (14)
Georgia (15)
BYU (16)
Oregon (17)

I addressed issues such as season length, game sites and the fate of the lesser bowls in the initial post last year, so let's look at the benefits for this season. Like last year, this one has shaped up to be a prime candidate for a playoff. There were eight one-loss teams, plus undefeated Utah and Boise State. How can we distinguish among these teams other than a playoff? Anything less than that is a mockery of the game, full stop.

Opponents to a playoff still bring up the tired argument that it would dilute the regular season. As I said last year and as this bracket demonstrates, that is simply not true. Look at those who missed the cut. Oklahoma State is the thirteenth best team in the nation according to the BCS, but they did not make the playoff. Georgia, a near unanimous pre-season favorite, did not make the bracket. Would they say their regular season didn't matter. In fact, it is the current BCS format that de-emphasizes the regular season. Texas beat Oklahoma, but what good did it do them in December? Eight teams did as well or better than OU and Florida, but are ignored. Is this what they call "meaningful"? I respectfully disagree.

With a playoff, the best of the mid-majors gets the chance to prove they are worthy. All season, playoff opponents complain that teams like Utah and Boise State play inferior competition, and in most cases, they are right. However, this doesn't mean they aren't good teams, so give them a chance to put up or shut up on the field. You think Penn State would be happy about playing Boise State in the first round? Or Texas wouldn't be a little nervous about a second round game against Utah or TCU?

Finally, opponents of a playoff often cite the need to protect the tradition of the bowls. Tradition? Did you know that 34 bowl games will be played this year? Did you know that the traditional Peach Bowl has morphed from the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl to simply the Chick-fil-A Bowl? Did you know that the San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl, Bowl, Brut Sun Bowl, and magicJack St. Petersburg Bowl will all be played this season? And people dare to cite tradition in reference to the bowls?

It is time for common sense to prevail. Do not confuse controversial for interesting. Just because people are arguing over the BCS does not make it legitimate--that's what they are arguing over. Please, give us a college football playoff, where the winner has to prove it on the field.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The State of the Dallas Sports Scene

It's been a while for me, so I'll jump back in by evaluating the state of Dallas sports. Putting it briefly: it isn't pretty. A year and a half ago we were looking at a series of near misses. Who knew those were the good old days?

Dallas Cowboys: Dallas has underachieved this year, but the problem is not Pac-Man Jones, Jerry, Wade, or any of the other "distractions" that get all the talk. The real problem is that this team has had to deal with something this year that they have avoided for a few years now: injuries. Since they have gotten most of their players back, they have been 3-0, although against weaker competition, bringing their season record to 8-4. The real test will be the last quarter of the season against playoff-caliber opponents. As tough as that will be, it has been made even tougher with the injury to MB3, especially with Felix Jones already out. Going at least 3-1 will be tough enough against these opponents, and having to do it for at least one game with a third string running back makes it even tougher. But if the Cowboys can do that, they should make the playoffs. They have left themselves no wiggle room, but if the Cowboys can't go 3-1, they aren't good enough anyway. For Dallas, the playoffs begin today.

Dallas Mavericks: I'm getting tired of reading articles or hearing radio personalities say that nobody could have seen the Mavs falling like they have. According to this, this, this, this, this, this and this, here at 110 Percent, we are nobodies. The Mavs are as soft as ever, but at least before they were young and soft, leaving hope that they would become grizzled veterans. Now they are just getting old and soft. They talk the same game of stepping up their defense and taking the ball to the basket, but as always, it's just talk. It stings even more seeing Devin Harris blossom into the Tony Parker starter kit that we were always told he would be. As for Josh Howard, not only is he an immature nutcase who can't play four quarters, but now he is also injured. Meanwhile, Ron Artest, who the Mavs could have aquired by dropping Howard, is a strong contributor down in Houston. Sure, the Mavs are on a 9-1 run, but like the Cowboys' last few opponents, it's been done against weak competition: eight of the ten teams have records worse than Dallas. Bad sign: the Mavs only have three players averaging double digit points. Worse sign: JJ Barea, Devean George, Antoine Wright, Shawne Williams and DaSagana Diop all get significant minutes with this club, and the Mavs are trying to convince us that this is OK. I am reminded of the mid-90's when Popeye Jones, Fat Lever, Loren Meyer and Sean Rooks were all supposed to be viable players. Hello, mediocrity!

Dallas Stars: Such high hopes. The Stars ended last season in the Western Conference Finals, but they haven't been able to carry that over to this season, instead fighting to stay out of the bottom spot for the entire league. Things went from bad to worse with the Sean Avery Incident, who likely has played his last game in Dallas. Tom Hicks has always been kinder to his hockey team than his baseball club, but I don't think he's going to enjoy buying out Avery's four year contract. Oh, well, at least everyone in the lockerroom will like each other as they miss the playoffs this year.

Texas Rangers: The Rangers have so far been inactive in the trade and free agent market, and I'm OK with that. Wheeling and dealing has not been this team's strongsuit. Imagine if the Braintrust had left well enough alone: we could have Edinson Volquez, John Danks and Chris Young at the top of the rotation. Hopefully, the Rangers will stick to their new plan of drafting smart, developing their own and making smart decisions. Who knows, in a couple years, the Rangers may be the most competitive team in Dallas.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Listening the World Series with a heavy heart

So I'm sitting here listening to the Philadelphia broadcast of the continuation of game 5 of the World Series. As I type this Brad Lidge is trying to close down the game and series for the Phillies and he'll probably be done by the time I finish this post. (1 out)

I'm conflicted as I listen to Lidge. Just three years ago, he was a pitch away from sending the Astros into the 2005 World Series and he hung a slider to Albert Pujols that he hit so hard that it took about six days for it to land. (He just gave up a single). I firmly believe that if Lidge had been able to close the door on that game 5, the Astros would have won the World Series. I could be wrong. I mean, they didn't just lose, they got swept by the White Sox. (stolen base, man on 2nd, one out)

After that pitch, he wasn't the same. In the World Series, he gave up (2 outs) a walk off home run in game 2 to Scott Podsednick and the winning run in game 4. Then the next two years, he was a shell of himself (0-2 count), giving a bunch of hits, unable to strike guys out like before, and his ERA went up 3 runs from the previous year. (That's the ball game on a strike out. Fitting. Congrats Bill) He was a classic "needed a change of scenery" guys. So he moves on to Philadelphia and becomes what he used to be in Houston before Pujols crushed him and the hearts of Astros fans. Automatic and now a World Series Champion.

I'm happy for Brad Lidge. He was awesome for the Astros for three years and was a huge part of two Astro playoff teams, but I can't help but be a little sad at what I missed.

Monday, October 27, 2008

How I'm Feeling (with 2 buts)

After the St. Louis game, my facebook status said, "Russell is wondering what in the hell is wrong with the Cowboys." Two of my friends posted asking me to say how I really feel. Well, today I'm feeling much better, and winning a game, no matter how ugly, will do that for you. It was good to see some great effort from the Cowboys as opposed to the way they played against the Rams where they got down and couldn't get back up to save it's life. The defense looked better despite losing another cornerback and having to trot out 2 rookies (Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick) and guy who's been active a grand total of 3 times over the last two years (Alan Ball). I think the biggest change was in the attitude, especially on defense and Marc Columbo. So things are looking much better than they did a week ago.

I think they get slaughtered next week against the Giants. I watched a bit of the Giants/ Steelers game yesterday and I fear for the life of Brad Johnson. I think we see Brooks Bollinger next week and we may never see Johnson again because he will be in a body bag. The Giants sacked Ben Roethlisberger 4 times yesterday. How many does that add up to for the Cowboys next week? About 10? They need to run the ball early, often, and well to give them a chance to keep the game close, especially if Jason Witten is out. Also, with a decimated secondary, unless they can really pressure Eli Manning, he and Plaxico Burress and the rest of the Giants wide receiver corp will run wild against the Cowboys' defense. Next weeks game could be one of those 35-10 games.

I think there is a light at the end of the tunnel. After the Giants game, they have a bye. Then they'll hopefully welcome back Tony Romo, Felix Jones, Terrence Newman, Anthony Spencer, a fully integrated Roy Williams, Jason Witten, Bradie James, Anthony Henry(assuming the last three are out this week),and Kyle Kosier. If they add these guys back, they'll be set for a strong effort down the stretch, which is something they haven't had since..... I don't know when. This team isn't dead yet. The Bucs game may be a turning point.

Monday, October 20, 2008

No Longer a Kneejerk

Sometimes it sucks being right. It's taken me four days to try to come to grips with the latest Cowboys debacle. There is no other way to spin what happened this past Sunday. The Cowboys were laughed at by the Rams. Every team has games when they aren't at their best, but the problem I saw Sunday was a whole bunch of guys who looked like they didn't care about getting their butts handed to them by the Rams. Only DeMarcus Ware acted liked he game a rip about playing football for Dallas. This season could go down the drain in a hurry if something doesn't change. The problem is I don't know what they could possibly change to turn around the season. They are officially on the fast track to missing the playoffs.

Losing Tony Romo is not helping matters, but he wasn't playing that great anyway when he got hurt. Brad Johnson is definitely not the answer, but who's really excited to see what Brooks Bollinger has to offer? I've seen what he's got when I was in New York, and I'll tell you it's not alot.

Even when Tony Romo comes riding in on the white horse, either this week or after the bye week, it's not gonna matter unless the offensive line continues to stink. They are providing about as much protection as a circa 1967 beaded door. I think Marian Barber is tiptoeing and may be proving that he is not a feature back, but if he has to make moves in the backfield, then that's on the offensive line.

And it's not like the defense has done anything worth remembering. Their two best cornerbacks are out, Terrence Newman with injury and Adam Jones with suspension, so rookies get to take two of the top spots and the other is a guy they wanted to move to safety.

The coaching has to put under the microscope as well. Can a head coach like Wade Phillips really inspire confidence in having a real plan going forward? Do we really think that is going to turn over a table? Would that even work? The one major change that comes out of the Rams game is that Wade is going to take up calling the defensive plays. Oh boy, just what we need.

The season is not over. They still have time to turn it around and become the team that everyone expected them to be at the beginning of the year. But they are expected to lose this weekend against the Bucs. Can they muster a decent effort against the Giants? If not, it may be a blood letting. This could be a long season.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The continuing destruction of the 2008 Cowboys

The Cowboys are 4-1 and tied for 2nd in the NFC East. Sure, they struggled the last couple of games, losing one to the Redskins and having to scratch and claw to keep their head above water against the Bengals. But that's ok, because the Bengals took the Giants to overtime a few weeks ago in New York. Tough game coming up with the Cardinals, but the Cowboys will be focused on the game and should take care of business.

Now, excuse me while I take my rose colored glasses off and start knee jerking.

The Cowboys are on a road for this year that I don't like. I'll start with the least concerning and go up.
1. I'm concerned about Tony Romo. He has not looked sharp since Green Bay. There were a few throws against the Bengals that looked short. He continues to throw stupid interceptions like the one in the end zone last week- Jason Witten was tripled covered. How many games will he lose this year because of dumb mistakes.

2. The defense still doesn't look good. There was absolutely no pressure on Carson Palmer until the final series. There were wide receivers running free in the secondary again, just like in the Redskins game. They were getting gashed on the ground. Terrence Newman is hurt and who knows when he will returns. That leaves a still rusty Adam Jones (more on PacMan later) and two rookies, Mike Jenkins and Orlando Scandrick. By the way, I know Jones missed all of last year, but how long does it take to shake off whatever "rust" he has? He has looked all kinds of mediocre. I watched just about every game with him in Tennessee and he looked really good, but Dallas is still waiting for him to start playing.

3. Everyone keeps talking about the reason that Terrell Owens is not getting the ball as much is that he is being double teamed with a corner and a safety. I wonder if his problem is that he is either 1) loosing a step or 2) Tony Romo is sucking. I'm skeptical of the whole double team thing. How in the world do the Redskins stack the box against the run (obviously the problem because the Cowboys completely abandoned the run) and take TO out of the game with a double team. You gotta be able to do one or the other if you're a good team.

4. Penalties and just all around undisciplined play kills this team. A critical stop against the Redskins is negated because of 12 men on the field. They come back from a time out after a punt and get a delay of game penalty. A drive is stalled because an offensive line decides to pile on after a play is over drawing a personal foul. Those are signs of an undisciplined team and a lack of discipline will cost this team.

5. Finally, I beginning to think that the problem with the Cowboys is Jerry Jones and the way he runs things. On the surface, things are better for the Cowboys than they were after Jimmy Johnson. The drafts are better and the free agency moves aren't so haphazard, but he continues to close his eyes to the problems on the team. He refuses to take character into account when taking people onto the team and places too much faith in the program that Calvin Hill is running for the Cowboys. He brings in Terrell Owens, who isn't a bad guy. He's never been busted for drugs or abusing his wife or girlfriend, but he is a jerk. He's your typical arrogant, self absorbed wide receiver. Jones also brings in Adam Jones, who can't or won't get away from being "PacMan." He's a good, not great, player who hasn't been near worth the trouble so far. On top of all that, and I'm including Tank Johnson and Keith Davis in "all that," he hires who can only be described as a cross between a village idiot and Sargent Schultz from Hogan's Heroes. I don't really think that Wade Phillips is complete idiot who spends most the time asleep at the wheel, but do you really think that he is holding the whip over this team? Again, the Cowboys aren't full of bad guys, in fact, I think there are lots of really good character guys, but they're human, and minds wander and when the going gets tough, are they going to be able to keep excellence in the big games. They've fallen apart down the stretch and in the playoffs the last several of years. So, at the end of the year, when they fade again down the stretch and miss the playoffs or flame out once again and those of us who live and die with the Cowboys are angry once again, Jerry Jones can look in the mirror and realize that it's his fault. And nothing could make me happier than being wrong.

Friday, September 26, 2008

110 Percent Hall of Fame 2008: Emmitt Smith

The Year: 1990. The Scene: New York, NY. The Event: The NFL draft. The previous year the Cowboys had gone 1-15, easily the worst record in the league. They would have had the #1 draft pick, but they had used a supplemental pick on Miami QB Steve Walsh. But the Vikings had traded a slew of draft picks for Herschel Walker the previous year and the Cowboys were ready to reap that harvest. They had a player targeted, but weren't sure if he would drop to them. After some maneuvering, they got as high as they could: #17. Unfortunately, the guy they wanted, Baylor LB James Francis, went #12 to the Cincinnati Bengals, who had a decent 10 year career. So they settled on the 2nd RB taken in the draft, Emmitt Smith, a guy who was very productive in college at Florida, but considered too small and too slow to make it in the NFL. Sometimes it better to be lucky than good.

For the 90's Cowboys that won three Super Bowls in four years and was arguably the greatest team in NFL history, QB Troy Aikman was the brain of the team, WR Michael Irvin was the heart, but Emmitt Smith was the engine that team ran on. In the fourth quarter of many games, Emmitt would grind it out behind that awesome offensive line and just punish a team into submission. His statistics and awards speak for themselves: career rushing leader, career rushing TD leader, 1990 rookie of the year, 1993 MVP, 1993 Super Bowl MVP, and 3 Super Bowl rings.

His signature game was on January 4, 1994 against the Giants in New York. They were tied with the Giants for 1st in the NFC East. This game would be the difference between a bye and home field advantage and going on the road for the playoffs. Late in the 2nd quarter, Emmitt separated his shoulder. But going into overtime, tied 13-13, the Cowboys rode Emmitt to the tune of 50 yards on 8 carries to a game winning field goal. He was the warrior that won that game. For the whole game he rushed for 163 yards on 32 carries and totaled 229 yards of all purpose yardage.

The Cowboys have had a history of great running backs: Tony Dorsett, Calvin Hill, Duane Thomas, and Herschel Walker, but Emmitt stands at the top of that list.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Did we watch the same game?

I really shouldn't make a big deal about this. I really shouldn't be drawn offsides by the national media, but I just can't help it. One of the upsides to the Cowboys winning on Monday night was that I could listen to sports talk radio and read the blogs and sports writing and be happy. After a Cowboys loss (say after the Giants playoff game last year), I will not read the newspapers or blogs, listen to the sports talk show idiots, or anything else. But I was sure after Monday night's game I would enjoy a little ESPN radio praising the greatness of the previous night's game and the strength on the Cowboys and just laugh while reading Peter King and others venerate the Cowboys. But instead of praising the Cowboys, the Colin Cowherd of ESPN and Peter King of SI evidently quit watching the game after halftime when the Eagles were ahead 30-24 and assumed that it was misprint that the Cowboys outscored the Eagles 17-7 in the 2nd half. They worshiped at the shrine of Donovan McNabb who was great until about 10 mins to go in the game when he evidently got tired and quit being able to complete passes longer than 10 yards. In fact, the longest play for the Eagles late in the game was a ten yard pass to a TE on a 2nd and 18 (the series ended in a punt). The fumble was clearly Donovan's fault as he was seemingly unable to decide if he was going to give it to Westbrook or to the receiver on the reverse. It was that choke job that turned the tide towards the Cowboys. Cowherd trumpeted over and over how the Eagles were able to get yards when they needed them. However, he failed to mention that the Eagles got inside the Cowboys 25 five times and had to settle for field goals in three of them. Two of the Eagles TD were a direct result of Cowboy turnovers, both of them really unforced, but rather bad plays by Tony Romo. So the absolutely awesome Eagle offense scored 23 points. Hardly the stuff of domination. Also, they talked about the return of Donovan McNabb, but they evidently missed the stats about his performance in Sept. the last few years. He's been dominant. There is a good questions whether he'll be able to keep it up. The Eagles better hope so.

Another group that got a ton of praise from the national media was the vaunted Eagle defense. But Tony Romo emerged from the game almost completely untouched (except, of course for the unforced errors of the fumble and the pic). The Cowboys showed their offensive strength by being able to almost completely stay away from TO and still move the ball at will against the Eagles. It opened up Marion Barber to get 51 yards on 11 carries in the 2nd half after just 12 on 7 carries in the first. Jason Witten made their line backers and safeties look silly and the Cowboys lower rung guys like Martellus Bennett, Patrick Crayton, Miles Austin, and Tony Curtis made plays as the Eagles payed their attention to TO.

I could go on. It's still early. The last several years the Cowboys have been great until the calendar turns into December. And all this won't matter if they fall apart down the stretch and there are things that concern me. Tony Romo being the crazy gunslinger is one and the penalties (which make me think of their lack of disciple) is another. But I want the national media to realize that the Eagles are good and maybe the 3 best teams in the NFL are in NFC East, but the Cowboys were clearly the best team on Monday.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cowboys Eagles knee jerk reactions and live blogging.

I'm writing this during the game and will continue to write this during the game. There will probably be a whole lot of knee jerking, but here goes. And I'm going to type "us" alot because I'm watching the game.
1. This is already one of the craziest games I've EVER seen.
2. I'm starting to question the Romo gospel. It seems that just about every big game he gets jittery. I think every team needs to look at what the Eagles do. He is all kinds of rattled. He still makes some good throws, especially on that last drive, but I'm not sure we can trust him to lead us to the Super Bowl.
3. How in the world does this defense continue to be just shredded by good teams. How many big free agents and top round picks are on the defense? And the coach was supposed come in with his big scheme and make the defense better. Is the defense better?????? I don't know. As I'm typing this, they stop them on a three and out. I'll take the jinx on that and I may try it again later in the game.
4. Penalties are killing us. Two penalties led directly to touchdowns and another penalty wiped out a big gain to TO. On the other hand, I don't know what game these refs are watching. The PI on Anthony Henry was HORRIBLE!!!!! How do they miss that??? It was in the endzone so it practically gift wrapped the Eagles a TD. And on the TD run after that PI, I saw at least two holds that didn't get called.
5. Speaking of penalties, I've counted at least twice when the Eagles hold up a receiver so someone else can lay in a kill shot. That's dirty football. It's not gonna get called because the Cowboys is still churning for yardage, but it looks bad to me.
6. In the first half, it looked like Marion Barber was tiptoeing. He's running much better in the 2nd half.
7. It's a little surreal watching the game while my daughter sleeps upstairs. The monitor is on down here and every time she makes any noise, I'm afraid she's going to start crying and I'm going to have to go get her.
8. As I type this, it's 31-30 Cowboys. 5 mins to go in the third. How much crazier can it get?
9. Whoever has the ball last wins or after Romo throws another pic. (Typed after the Eagles score to go ahead 37-31.
10. I hate Bryant Westbrook. I wish he played for my team.
11. I like Felix Jones. Think he could become Bryant Westbrook? He's not there yet, but he can clearly play.
12. Early 4th: are they planning on throwing to TO again? How long has it been? Did he get a pass thrown his way in the 3rd? I mean, I love Jason Witten, but TO is your homerun hitter.
13. Again, after this drive that ends in a field goal and makes it 37-34 Eagles, where in the world is Terrell Owens?????
14. The defense gets the stop when they need it the most. The fans are the 12th man tonight. I've never heard a Texas Stadium crowd as loud as it is tonight. I think Dallas has a rep for being quiet fans, but not tonight.
15. The questions of the night: 3mins to go and I just put Erica down to sleep in her crib. Will she stay asleep for the final 3 mins?
16. 2nd guess time. Why can't you run the ball and force the Eagles to use their last time out? As Darrell Royal said, three things can happen when you throw the ball and two of them bad. Can the defense do it one more time?
17. MORE PENALTIES???!!!???
18. GREG ELLIS!!!!!! He's been one of favorite Cowboys since he came so many years ago. He's going to fall by the wayside of all the great Cowboys in their history, but he is a darn good one.
19. I've been complaining about the Cowboys all game, but I don't understand that last call by the Eagles. Weird play.
20. So we won. I can't believe it. To quote Tommy Boy: "I've seen alot of crazy stuff in my days, but that.....was.....awesome!" and yes Erica stayed asleep throughout the whole end of the game.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The end of Vince Young? and After Week 1 Predictions

Vince Young is my favorite non- Dallas Cowboy football player. In fact, since I don't have any real fandom connection to any of the current Cowboys, he might be my favorite football player. Don't get me wrong, I love the Cowboys, but I'm really more of a 90s Cowboys fan that really just rooting for the laundry. I think it's similar to what those who were fans of the Cowboys during the glory years of the 70s thought about the 90s Cowboys. They like Staubach, Dorsett, and Pearson better than Aikman, Smith, and Irvin. I like the latter better than Romo, Barber, and Owens. It's ok. I just matter of when the Cowboys were great and entered your brain.

But Vince Young entered demigod status with myself and every other Texas Longhorns fan with what he did in 2005. He almost singlehandedly beat who everyone on the whole wide world thought was the best college team of all time. He made everyone realize who should have won the Heisman trophy that year. Very rarely in football does one player raise a team to the level of national champion, but that is exactly what Vince Young did. He made Mack Brown look like a pretty good coach. And on a personal note, he also provided light in a very dark time for me, and when we moved to Nashville in 2006, I was so excited that Vince was coming to the Tennessee Titans. Chances are I would have liked the Titans anyway and since they're in a different conference I feel like I can get away with rooting for both the Titans and the Cowboys like I do the Rangers and Astros, but Vince's arrival in Nashville cemented that. And 2006 Vince was everything we all hoped he would be, leading the team to an 8-8 season after starting 0-5. He slowed flashes of the transcendent quarterback I thought he could be. Especially the Giants game when the Titans scored 24 points in the last 10 minutes including escaping the grasp of a Giants linebacker and running for a key 1st down. Barely missing the playoffs.

He seemed to take a step back in 2007. He didn't run as much and threw 19 pics and only 7 TDs. He did lead the Titans to the playoffs, a loss to the Chargers. But he started to show some immature behavior- getting benched in the preseason for violation of team rules, seeming to sulk after bad plays, and stuff like that. The team seemed to move better when back up Kerry Collins played. But when Offensive Coordinator, Norm Chow was fired it was generally assumed it was because of Vince, though whether he asked for it or it was just assumed that would be best for everyone. They brought in a new OC and everthing was better, or was it?

Now in 2008, he's looks barely passable during the preseason, scoring exactly no touchdowns. In fact, when the Raiders came, LaMarcus Russell looked much better throwing the ball. Then after throwing 2 pics, the last of which was of no fault of Vince but a great play by the defensive end, Jeff Fisher had to force him back out on the field then Vince seemed relieved when he hurt his knee. Now, out for 2-4 weeks, at least, there is some questions as to whether or not he even wants to play in the NFL. He can't take the sniping from the press and a few boos from the fans! I mean, come on! It's a good thing he wasn't drafted by New York or Philadelphia! Is this the end of Vince Young? It appears after all this that he is a mental midget who can't take it when there's the slightest bit of pressure. If that's the case, then he needs to go back to Houston and dig himself a hole and crawl in it. I hope he comes back and leaves this behind as an odd, but no-big-deal memory. But now, the Titans are getting Chris Simms. I know Chris Taylor is excited about it. I'm sure he'll be tivoing Titans games now.

Here are my picks. These are given after week 1, so Brady is gone and knee jerking is going on all around. Remember hate and love plays a big part in my pics.
AFC East: Bills- I hate the Pats and the Jets. Actually when I lived in NY, I prefered the Jets, but Brett Favre can't fall off the face of the earth for all I care. I'm stuck with the Bills.
AFC North: What a bunch of spare teams! Browns- underwhelming; Bengals- criminals, Ravens- rookie QB. Steelers it is.
AFC South: If the Jags had played any offense this last week against the Titans, I'd go with them. But since the Titans play better with Kerry Collins and have an awesome defense. I'm going with the Titans.
AFC West: I'm going with the Broncos, because I don't trust Norv Turner with the Chargers and the Titans wished they'd drafted home town kid, Jay Cutler.
WildCards: Colts and Chargers
NFC East: Cowboys. Like the Mavs after 2006, regular season doesn't matter. Only the playoffs matter.
NFC North: Packers. If nothing else to make Brett Favre look bad.
NFC South: Panthers. Can't come up with any snarky comments here.
NFC West: No champion. This division is so bad, the NFC should just let everyone from the NFC East in and leave out the NFC West. OK, I have to pick someone, so I'll go with the Cardinals.
Wildcards: Giants and the Eagles
Super Bowl: Cowboys over Steelers.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

2008 NFL predictions

I'm just getting my picks in under the wire (What? What Thursday night game?), so there's not too much time for analysis. Doesn't make me wrong, though.

NFC West: The Seattle Seahawks should win this division, but I don't think they'll be bragging too much about it.

NFC South: This is a tough one for me. New Orleans has the team to return to their 2006 form, but Tampa Bay could also challenge for the division title. I'm flipping a coin and saying the New Orleans Saints will win the South in a close one.

NFC North: If Brett Favre had gone to the Vikings, I might have picked them as Super Bowl contenders. With Jackson behind center, the Minnesota Vikings should still win a weak division, but I don't see them making too much noise in the playoffs.

NFC East: This is the toughest division in the NFL, and I see both wildcards coming from here, just like last year. The Dallas Cowboys, though, will be the division champs.

Wildcards: The Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants will make the playoffs out of the East, leaving the Washington Redskins as a good team sitting at home in January.

AFC West: The San Diego Chargers should have no trouble winning the West. Their biggest concern should be not getting too rusty heading into the playoffs.

AFC South: Jacksonville should give Manning and Co. a run, but in the end, the Indianapolis Colts are the best in the South.

AFC North: Cincinnati and Cleveland get a lot of attention, but the Pittsburgh Steelers will quietly win the North. Cincy still has too many headaches that will likely cost Marvin Lewis his job this year. As for Cleveland: have you seen their schedule?

AFC East: You heard it here first: the Buffalo Bills will win the East over the Pats, whose age, especially on defense, will catch them in the end.

Wildcards: Jacksonville Jaguars and New England Patriots. Two solid runners-up who might take their divisions. Either way, these are the six teams you will see in the AFC side of the playoffs.

Super Bowl: The Cowboys should emerge from the NFC playoffs, but the AFC is harder to pick. The playoff teams there are so balanced that it is hard to differentiate them. I think the Chargers will be rusty going in, so they're out. Pittsburgh is a good team but a little short on talent. Buffalo is too young and New England is too old. Jacksonville is still a year away. So that means the Dallas Cowboys will earn their sixth Super Bowl trophy over the Indianapolis Colts in what should be a great game. Book it.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I said in my last post that this season has failed written all over it. But now I've seen the light. I believe in the Mavs. Now they have what it takes to go all the way. Finally, the free agent signing that's going to put us over the top! The too-awesome-for-words Deavan George!! We bow down Mark Cuban, Donnie Nelson, and Rick Carlisle. They are surely leading us to the promised land!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sleight of hand

There's a lot of complaining going on about the Beijing Olympics. Since the Opening Ceremony, many have been outraged to learn that some of the fireworks in the television presentation were computer generated. Even more are up in arms over a nine-year-old lip-syncing to the voice of a seven-year-old.

A question for those who are angered by these events: Exactly how big is that rock that you've been under the last twenty years?

Computer generated images and lip-syncing have become staples of big-stage presentations. In the internet age where everyone is a critic, event organizers can't take chances on firework duds or child performers. Instead, they have to play it safe with computers and pre-recorded soundtracks, the smoke and mirrors of our modern world. Any talk of the "fake" Opening Ceremony being non-compliant with the Olympic Spirit is nonsense. The only mistake the Chinese officials made here was admitting that the real singer was replaced because she wasn't cute enough. (Who is their PR man, anyway? Why didn't they just say she was shy about performing in front of such a large audience?)

While most of the world is upset about the treatment of a future hopeful for Chinese Idol, we are missing the real issues at the Beijing Games:

  • Hundreds of thousands of Beijing residents have lost their homes over the past five years to make room for Olympic venues. (The Guardian, New York Times)

  • Peaceful protests have been suppressed. Three protest zones were set up by the government, but no one has actually been allowed to make use of them. Questions regarding this situation by foreign reporters have been ignored. (The Guardian)

  • Despite assurances of media freedom, foreign journalists have been harassed by the police. At least one was arrested while attempting to cover a Free Tibet protest. (The Guardian) When questioned on these tactics, Chinese and IOC officials avoided giving a straight answer, later canceling daily press conferences to avoid the questions altogether. (Sydney Morning Herald) All media personnel were also inexplicably photographed by the Chinese officials after the press conference confrontation.

Thus far, these serious concerns are getting very little attention from Olympic viewers around the world. I'm not opposed to China hosting the Olympics, but I am opposed to human rights violations and government disinformation. I enjoyed the Opening Ceremony, with its portrayal of Chinese history and culture. I enjoyed seeing athletes from around the world enter the stadium, walking proud and tall. But the greater issues over the past few days have taken the thrill out of these Games for me, and I find it even more disturbing that it appears most people aren't even paying attention to it. As with any good movie, the majority of the general public is more concerned with the special effects in Beijing than looking for what is real.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Scattershooting Opinions

I haven't written in a while (but neither has anyone else, so I don't feel bad), mainly because I haven't had a whole lot to say. It seems a waste of time to post a couple of sentences and be done with it, but if you put them all together you can become Blackie Sharrod or some other guy with opinions.

1. So the last four games have put a damper on the Rangers and they have continued to fall out of playoff contention. As I write this, they are winning the last game in the series against the Orioles, but are 7.5 games out of the wild card and fourth behind the Red Sox, White Sox, and Yankees. They were never really serious playoff threats, but those first two games against the Yankees were fun. The problem with the Rangers is, stop me if you heard this before, pitching. Their team ERA is 5.31, a full run more than next closest team. Because of injuries and ineffectiveness, they've ran a bunch of rookies and young guys (Hurley, Harrison, Hunter, Mathis, Madrigal, Mendoza, Feldman, etc). Theoretically, they are going to get better, but raise your hand if you're confident in that. I have hope, but a wise man once said hope is not a strategy.

2. About the Cowboys preseason gamethe Chargers scrubs beat the Cowboys scrubs. Big deal. My only concern is this: the Cowboys played undisciplined: lots of penalties and lots of bad special teams play. Maybe it was just the spares, but still, Wade Phillips is not running a tight camp. There's no denying that the Cowboys have awesome talent, maybe the most in the league, but if they lead the league in sloppy play (penalties, special team problems, turnovers, etc.), they'll win a bunch of games, but start to lose them down the stretch when the games get tight. Sound familiar?
a. I know Hard Knocks is just a show and they can show whatever they want, but Wade Phillips sounds like he's just glad to be there. He doesn't inspire much confidence.
b. I'm not real worried about the cornerback formerly known as Pacman. It's been a year since he played, of course he's gonna be rusty.
c. The Cowboys need a real live backup QB. I have a stronger arm than Brad Johnson. I heard Moose Johnston say on the broadcast that he was comfortable with Johnson as the back up. Maybe Brad Johnson, circa 2000, but this is 2008. He can't be counted on to play meaningful time. As a Texas, I hesitate to long for Chris Simms, but the Cowboys desperately someone they can rely on behind Romo.
d. Felix Jones looked really good. Again, mostly against scrubs, but he looked really good. Their 2nd rd draft choice, not so much. But you can tell from Hard Knocks that they love Martellus Bennett, because the TE coach was on his butt the whole time.

3. The Mavericks summer just keeps getting worse and worse. Josh Howard continues to go off the deep end. I mean, granted, if they traded him now they'd be selling low, but at least they'd trade him before he got suspended or killed for drag racing. Then they get nothing.
a. I was skeptical of getting Ron Artest, until he went to Houston. The Mavs just keep falling further and further from their Western Conference rivals.
b. Jason Kidd is in the olympics, playing behind Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Oh, Kidd starts, but played fewer minutes than the other two. In the first game, in 13 minutes this Kidd's line: 0 Points, 0 Assists, 3 Turnovers, 2 Rebounds. Makes you proud to be an Ameican!
c. Then, their only draft choice, Shan Foster, is going overseas. Another in a long line of the Mavs "draft and stash" strategy that has worked so well over the last several years.
This season has FAILED written all over it. Anyone get the feeling that Mark Cuban is interested in buying the Cubs, because he sees the writing on the wall about the inevitable decline of the Mavs?

4. Every couple of years, the Olympics roll around and I think that this year, I'm not going to care. Then I get sucked into it and watch as much as I can. The 4x100 relay last night was awesome! I hate the human interest stories and I can't hardly watch gymnastics, but everything else is great.

Finally, I don't want to turn this into a political post, but is anyone else wondering why George Bush just seems to be hanging out at the Olympics when stuff is going on all over the world. I know in these days of instant access and internet and global cell phones, but it's just a little disconcerting to hear about the Georgia/ Russia crisis, which I think will probably end up being more important in the global situation than the war in Iraq, and he's playing grab ass with the beach volleyball players, waving a flag at Michael Phelps, and leading the basketball team in a "1-2-3 hustle" chant? Is he just mailing it in?

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Even more on Josh Hamilton

We here at 110 percent are about to turn in our Hall of Fame nominees and judging by the amount of time I spend writing about Roy Hobbs, I mean, Josh Hamilton, it's pretty clear that he should be one of my nominees. It's hard to place his name in contention because he's been a Ranger for only a half a season and he could just as easily fail after this (in more ways then one). However this is at least my third post focused mainly on Hamilton in the brief time he's been a Ranger. The thing is he's been on my fandom radar since 2001. I've been a fan of his longer than I've known my wife, and honestly, even if he had done all this with the Yankees I would still be a fan of his. Well, maybe not the Yankees, but you get the idea. Anyway, he is the man. He is on the road to being my favorite Ranger of all time. Which leads me to my post.

After the impressive display off raw power the other night, which, BTW I jinxed quite effectively (I missed the first round for a breast feeding class and as soon as I was able to turn it on, he basically quit being able to his home runs), the national media started drooling all over Hamilton, which normally would have caused me to hate him, but I didn't mind it so much. I mean, he is Ranger. Anyway, I was reading a baseball chat and someone asked should the Rangers consider trading Hamilton for a pitcher like Tim Lincecum. If you don't know who Tim Lincecum is that's ok. He's a 24 year old ace, who this year in his second full year in the majors has an ERA under 3, a WHIP of about 1.2, and more than a strikeout per inning. He is a legitimate ace on a bad Giants team and exactly what the Rangers for lacked for most of their history. Hamilton for Lincecum wasn't an actual rumor, but a hypothetical to gauge the value of Hamilton, as in what kid of pitcher could be bring. So the question is would ya? Hypothetically, would you trade Hamilton for Lincecum? When I first read it, I was tantalized. I mean, the Rangers have all of a sudden come up with a strong outfield, even if you take Hamilton out of the equation, both offensively and defensively, with several legitimate outfielders on the way in the minors. On top of that, with Hamilton's background you have to be concerned about injuries or, God forbid, a relapse. This could be the ultimate "sell high." Also, the Rangers have a alot of pitchers in the minors, many of whom are close. But the close ones are not #1s, but rather mid rotation guys- Hurley, Harrison, etc. The big time guys with #1 potential are all in the lower minors. So a guy like Lincecum would step right in as the true ace of the staff, instead of that impostor, Millwood. (I am beginning to have lots of bitterness towards Millwood, but that is a topic for another day.)

Those would all be really good reasons to trade Hamilton for Lincecum. But after thinking about it for a while, I decided that I would be opposed to that trade. Over the history of the Rangers they've really lacked a true national superstar, both in terms of production and "face". Nolan Ryan was past his prime when he came the Rangers, and while he brought legitimacy to a moribund franchise and his production was pretty good (at times awesome), it wasn't enough to really take the team over the top. Alex Rodriguez never wanted anything more than his money and while I don't think that he's the only blame for the divorce from the Rangers, the fan base never truly embraced him. Pudge Rodriguez, after Ryan, was the closest to reach that level, and again, blame the Rangers for letting him go. I'm still trying to figure out who he learned how to handle a pitching staff as soon as he left the Rangers. I blame John Hart. He's a convenient scapegoat for the problems of the early aughts. Hamilton is a guy who can spend the prime of his career as the Rangers are in ascendancy and lead the team to heights that they've never reached before. Yes, I'm talking pennants and World Series. Scouts drool over his stools and his production has already starting to match it. The Rangers have always been a second rate franchise, even in their own town. Hamilton can bring legitimacy to the Rangers and be the national bell cow that takes the Rangers off the last 15 mins of Sports Center and onto the front pages. I think the Dallas/ Fort Worth fan base is dying to love the Rangers. With his history and the demons which he has defeated, he can be the face of the franchise as it moves into the upper eschelon of baseball.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

It's for nights like this that I am a fan.

First of all, I'd like to thank the miracle of the internet for allowing me to being able to take part in tonight's game. If it weren't for you, I'd be watching 45 minutes of ESPN before I'd have any clue what in the world happened in lowly Texas. I'd have to watch idiodicy like Titletown. Man, ESPN sucks.

But I'm not here to talk about ESPN. I'm here to celebrate the greatness of Josh Hamilton and the Texas Rangers. On a night in which the Rangers, dealing with so many injuries in the starting rotation, they started Warner Madrigal, a rookie who hadn't pitched about A ball until this year and is considered a reliever down the road, hoping he'd go three innings. The Rangers were praying just stay in the game and not have to burn through their whole bullpen, and miracle or miracles, they were in the game, down 4-2 into the bottom of the ninth, with the top of the order up.

A couple of base hits and couple of outs later, it's 4-3 with a man on and 2 outs and Hamilton at the plate. They don't call him Hobbs for nothing, and fittingly, as he rounded the bases, they played the tune from the Natural. (It doesn't matter that they play it after every Ranger's homer).

With my wife trying to sleep in the next room, I jumped and danced and celebrated and screamed as quietly as I could. It's these kinds of a games that makes it fun to be fan. That somehow or another, almost 700 miles away, I could join Josh Hamilton, the rest of the Ranger players, and all the Ranger's fans in celebrating a truly memorable moments for the Texas Rangers. I'll leave commentary about what this may mean for this year's edition of the Rangers for a later time. I'm too busy celebrating.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Rangers at the Half Way Point and Going Forward

After 82 games, the Rangers are 41-41, a .500 team. A wise man once said you are what you are, and the Rangers are a .500 team with a really good (and could be great) offense and a mediocre to bad pitching staff. Sounds like the last nine years or so. But while the Rangers are what they are, they aren't what they were. Which is a mediocre team without much real hope for the future. I've said a couple of times before that the Rangers actually have a bright future. And it's not just Rangers fan and apologists who think so. I could list the names, but if you follow the Ranger's minor leagues you know who the are and if you don't, then I could just list any names and it wouldn't make a difference, but that sweet swing you see to your left belongs to Chris Davis, who was in the process of hitting his 2nd home run of the Red Hawks/ Nashville Sounds game a went too last week. The Rangers have some real talent on the way and some of it is really close.

So while they will probably spend the rest of this year around the .500 mark, they are looking better and better. So this begs the question on every Ranger fan's mind. Do the Rangers buy or sell? Is there enough here to try to make a run for it? Or do we trade everyone over the age of 26? On one hand, you never know when you're going to have a chance to make a run for the playoffs and for a fan base who is discontent to say the least, why would they really throw it all to wind and try to get CC Sabathia or Roy Oswalt and relief pitcher or two? On the other hand, how close are they really? They're 7 1/2 games back, and while they're by no means out of the race, they don't appear to be a team that's going to run off a big winning streak or even a 9 of 10 or anything like that. While a pick up of Sabathia would definitely help, I'm not sure it would enough and is it worth trading away the best of their farm system? Back in the 80s, the Rangers had a good team, but were several games behind the leading team. But they had a frustrated fan base and decided to go for it and trade Wilson Alvarez and Sammy Sosa for Harold Baines. No one wants that again. The Rangers have some tradable commodities: Kevin Millwood, Vincente Padilla, Milton Bradley, etc.

For a while this year I was an advocate of the first thought. But I'm not real big on trading everyone. I would rather the Rangers do what I call strategic trading with an eye not on 2008, but 2009 and further. They need to be ready to trade Millwood or Padilla (I don't think I'm big on trading both. That would leave them with an all- inexperienced rotation. Millwood and Padilla haven't been great, but even on days when they suck, like Thursday for Millwood, he at least pitched 5 innings. Not great, but he saved the bullpen.), but there's no reason to give them away. Don't trade for a pending free agent, like Sabathia. Trade for guys who are going to be here and help the next two years. At this point, my fear of the Rangers getting fleeced out of their young guys on a misguided attempt to hang around for a pennant when they are clearly the third best team in the division, a la John Danks for Brandon McCarthy or Chris Young and Adrian Gonzalez for Adam Eaton. I don't mind trading young guys, but I want something that helps soon. The Volquez- Hamilton deal was a tough deal, but both teams can be happy about that trade. Don't screw up like they did with the Harold Baines deal.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The NBA treadmill

I'm back.

Ever play tennis? Baseline or net? Maybe you like staying on the baseline, where you have more time and can place your shots strategically. Or maybe you're aggressive and charge the net, hoping to force your opponent's hand. Either way is fine, but you don't want to get caught in no-man's land.

Stop me if you've heard this one before: the Mavs have acquired a shooter and. . . what, already?

Yes, that's right. With the 51st overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, the Dallas Mavericks selected Shan Foster, 6-5 shooting guard out of Vanderbilt. Word is he's a phenomenal shooter, 42% in his college career, 47% as a senior. Great. Another jumpshooter.

I realize there are few options when you are picking at 51. But does the Mavs braintrust (and I'm starting to use that term very loosely) realize that the last thing they need is another shooter? According to the Dallas Morning News, he "needs to work on his strength and defensive ability." Which, of course, is the punchline of another tired Mavs joke.

And I don't know what the Mavericks have done with the Morning News's Eddie Sefko, but the police might want to investigate. His article is ridiculous in it's praise of a very average draft selection. At one point he says that because the Mavs need more shooters "to help open up the floor for Jason Kidd, Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard, Foster seems to be a wonderful fit." Funny, I thought they needed strength in the front court and slashers to take pressure off the shooters. And wasn't the trade for Kidd supposed to open up the floor?

And after telling us about his shooting, Sefko spends a fair amount of the article on Foster's second best skill: the piano. That's right, the piano. No other commentary necessary here.

I've seen it coming since their '07 playoff loss to Golden State, and particularly since the Kidd trade, but this team has been caught in no-man's land. If this season had been five games longer, they wouldn't have made the playoffs this year, and they won't make it next year. Mavs fans, get ready for a string of near misses to get in the playoffs and the mid-first round picks that go with them--just good enough to keep you from the bottom of the standings, but not good enough to make some noise in the conference. This team is now running in place on a treadmill: they aren't going anywhere, and they can't get off, either. And they're staying there until the "braintrust" realizes that this team as currently constructed can't compete.

Source: Dallas Mavericks stay put at 51, pick shooting guard, Dallas Morning News

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Blow. It. Up.

There is nothing left to do than to blow up the Mavericks. Trade Dirk and Kidd and Josh and cut anyone else who isn't nailed down. Only an idiot looks at this team and says they are legitimate championship contender. Unfortunately, it seems idiots are running the Mavs. They are not in the same zip code as LA Lakers, New Orleans, or San Antonio. They are about to get passed (if they aren't already) by Portland and Golden State. The Mavs are about to be the Kevin Garnett led Minnesota Timberwolves, a mediocre team that gets kicked out of the playoffs in the 1st or 2nd round every year. A wise man once said "You are what you are." In 2007, the Mavs lost to the team that lost to the team that lost to the team that won the championship. In 2008, they stumbled into the playoffs then lost to the team that lost to the team that lost to the team that lost the championship. In terms of tradable parts they have Dirk, Josh, Brandon Bass, and, and, and.... what else? Maybe Kidd? The Kidd trade last year just looks worse and worse. Stackhouse is nothing. Terry is nothing. George is nothing. Jones is nothing. Damp is nothing. This team is done. I'm listening to the draft and Norm and Ben and Skin are talking about the 51st pick in the draft (Shan Foster from Vanderbilt) getting time on this team! Avery was a problem, but he was not THE problem. Changing the coach is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic and this team is on it's way to the bottom of the ocean.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why I Do Root For Tiger

I've read the post a few times, and I've started to write a response, but now, I think I'm ready. I understand the idea of rooting against teams you hate. Heck, in my bio on the left side I talk about rooting for anyone who plays the Yankees cause I don't like them. But I guess what I don't get is why you would think Tiger is almost everything wrong with sports.

I read the bit about his work ethic and determination and I agree. That is also one of the things that make him so compelling to watch. But I'll get into that in a minute. First a response to the things you see wrong with Tiger.
1. The media. The media does beat Tiger into the ground and into our heads and that is extremely annoying. But, there is a reason they do that. He is a great story on so many levels. Dominant player, Multi-Cultural icon, once-in-a-lifetime run at history, and now that he is a husband and father, he has seemed to open up a little more. I understand getting tired of seeing too much of him commercially, but I don't think he's approached Peyton Manning stages yet.. I don't think we'll see him on SNL any time soon. When a player like him is so dominant for such a long time, he is naturally going to be the top person covered. He is the golfer known by people who hate golf or don't know anything about golf. Not to cover him would be a more odd choice even when they do seem to go overboard.

2. This I just disagree with. I think it's extremely interesting to watch dominant sports figures. It's fun to watch them get pushed by someone who normally wouldn't be in the same class. It's fun to watch Tiger eat Phil's lunch over and over. I've seen some iconic figures play live and it is always amazing to watch them and the little things they do that the camera does not pick up. Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Emmitt Smith, Nolan Ryan, and Tiger Woods. I've had the pleasure of watching them all live and each time, they have not disappointed as they just looked better than the other players. Tiger's chase of the major wins is very fun for me to watch and I hope he gets it very soon (although this has been put on hold with the injury).

3. This I think was more the Tiger of the past. When he sunk the put to go to a playoff, the look of excitement was very apparent. The look of joy when he picked up his daughter was unmistakable. I think as he's mellowed a little, he does enjoy his winning more, and does it because he can feel that he's closer to what he's been working for so long.

I don't watch golf unless Tiger is playing. Which likely means I'm out for the rest of the year, but I'm not alone. I forget the player who said it, but someone said that if they won the British Open, they would need an asterisk stating that Tiger wasn't playing. He was only partly kidding and that speaks to why Tiger is worth watching and rooting for.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The Sports of Hate or Why I don't root for Tiger Woods

As I've said before on this blog, for me sports is almost as much about who I hate as to who I love. In fact, my love for my teams causes me to hate with a passion teams that drive me crazy. Because I love the Cowboys, I hate the Giants, Eagles, Redskins, 49ers, etc. I am much more of a fan of my teams than I am a lover of sports. This brings me to Tiger Woods.

I am not a big golf fan. I have a set of golf clubs and I fool around with some friends every once in a while, though I haven't played this summer. For many of my friends and lots of people on sports talk radio, the golf majors are appointment television. Actually, it would be more correct to say that the majors are appointment television if Tiger is in contention on the last day. For me, golf is switch off no matter what the situation. I listen to coverage, though hardly ever watch it on TV hoping that Tiger is loosing or struggling.

As the US Open played out yesterday, I heard several sports talk radio guys say something along the lines of, "If you're a sports fan, you have to root for Tiger" or "How can anyone root against Tiger?" And I thought, it's pretty easy. For me, Tiger represents almost everything that is wrong with sports. I say almost everything because there is one thing that he is an example of everything good about sports. For an immensely talented individual, he is very much a grinder. For most pro athletes if they don't have it, they'll say, it's not my day, go through the motions, and be satisfied with that. Tiger works his butt off on the course and it's not satisfied with anything less that being champion. That's the epitome of what it means to compete.

Now, the wrong things about Tiger and how it relates to my hatred of other things in sports:

1) The media beats everyone upside the head with Tiger. The only way they'll pay attention to golf is if he plays. He is ubiquitous on commercials- the Gatorade commercial of him on the moon drives me crazy for some reason. He almost as bad as Jordon in that they won't turn down an opportunity to sell himself for a few bucks. I can't listen to sports talk radio after a major because they bow down at the altar of Tiger. In other sports, the media takes a team or player and just beats them to death as if the only teams that matter exist in the Northeast or on the West coast. In baseball, it's minutia of the Yankees and the Red Sox and if the Cubs are even in the zip code of contention then we are inundated with articles of what those teams need to do in order to win the whole thing and what kind of problems they have and what their blowhard owners have to say about anything. I can't watch ESPN baseball tonight because the biggest question is always what is happening with those teams. If Joba Chamberlain was a Colorado Rockie (is this right? Should it Rocky?), we would have no idea who he was and not have five million article written as to whether or not he should start or relieve. Of course as teams fall out of contention, the question becomes can any of their players help the Red Sox or Yankees or Cubs or Dodgers achieve the greatness that is preordained for them? The only media darling I like the Cowboys. If I wasn't from Dallas and therefore a licenced Cowboy fan, they would be as bad or worse than the Yankees. I accept this level of hypocrisy.

2. I'm sorry, it's not fun to watch the same guy win all the time. It's really boring. The question yesterday was not if Tiger was going to win, but how. And sure enough, he choked away a three shot lead, fell behind, made a birdie put to tie, and won on the sudden death playoff hole. Technically exciting, but it's like we all knew the ending we just wanted to see how he was going to pull it off. It's Revenge of the Sith all over again. We know Anakin becomes Darth Vader we just didn't know how and hopefully they'll give us a little drama for good measure. When the Lakers and the Celtics made the finals this year, it wasn't fun, it was expected. And of course the media just drooled all over themselves as two marquee teams were in the playoffs. Too bad the NBA sucks. The NBA where boring happenings.

3. Can anybody win alot and appear to enjoy it less? Maybe Bill Belicick. Sure he cusses and throws his clubs when he messes up and pumps his fist when he wins, so obviously he cares, but he's basically one of the guys down at the municipal course who is better than everybody else but doesn't have fun doing it.

At the end of the day, I don't care about golf, but when I pay attention, I hope Tiger loses. But if Tiger's not there, I care about it even less! So maybe their diabolical plan has succeeded. Imagine what happens to golf if this knee injury is really bad and he doesn't play in the next two majors? If a golf tournament happens and Tiger isn't there to play it, does it really happen?

Friday, June 13, 2008

NHL Fall Out / Watching the NBA again?

So I broke a rule when I made my pick for the winner of the Cup this year. I picked against a better team cause I happen to hate them. I can't stand Detroit and I probably will never come around on them. I had thought that the cracks shown in the Dallas series would be enough for Pittsburgh to attack them and be successful. I also bet against a hot goalie. Osgood played out of his mind. Finally, Malkin, who I thought would be the biggest player for Pittsburgh wilted in the playoffs. He was all but invisible against the Red Wings and that pretty much summed up why they won.

I hate Detroit, I hate that they won the cup, and I hate that they continue to build impressively talented teams in spite of being in a salary cap era. Shouldn't this have caught up to them already?

So, with the NHL officially closed for the season, I've been watching the NBA, which really is ironic considering the news regarding officiating that has come out lately. I'm obviously rooting for the Celtics to win this series and before it started, I didn't actually think they would win. Now, LA is going to have to do something amazing (which they could still do) in order to win it. Being raised in the Northeast, I was pretty much slated to root for the Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox, and Patriots (I'll have to talk about them later...) But there is something I really don't like about LA. It goes back to Magic, Worthy, Kareem (especially Kareem), and has continued with Kobe. I liked Shaq when he was there, but that's because he is Shaq. Kobe is a phenominal player, but from everything I've seen, he's a pretty sorry person. Right or Wrong, that is the impression that he gives.

This group of Celtics is another story. KG, for all the criticism that has been poured on him lately, is fun to watch. Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Rondo, etc... they are fun to watch because it feels like a team and not just like a bunch of guys playing one-on-one games against each other. I am rooting for the Celtics to win the title, and while I'd rather it be at home, I'm OK with doing it the next game, just to make sure it happens. This may not get me watching the NBA on a regular basis, but it was a start to getting me back as a casual fan.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I have a great idea for speeding baseball games up

Tampa Bay - Bottom of 5th SCORE
S Riggans singled to left. 2 1
B Zobrist WALKED, S Riggans to second. 2 1
A Iwamura singled to right, S Riggans scored, B Zobrist to third, A Iwamura to second advancing on throw. 2 1
C Crawford grounded out to first. 2 2
B Upton intentionally WALKED. 2 2
C Pena WALKED, B Zobrist scored, A Iwamura to third, B Upton to second. 2 2
E Longoria hit sacrifice fly to right, A Iwamura scored, B Upton to third. 2 3
J Bartlett WALKED, C Pena to second. 2 4
C Floyd WALKED, B Upton scored, C Pena to third, J Bartlett to second. 2 4
S Riggans struck out looking. 2 5
4 Runs, 2 Hits, 0 Errors


Saturday, May 24, 2008

NHL Stanley Cup Finals 2008

So, I don't have much time to write, but I wanted to be on record before the first game is played. I'm picking Pittsburgh to win. This goes beyond my hatred for the Red Wings. I simply believe that the Penguins are on an incredible roll and I don't see that stopping soon. I really wish that the finals would have started a day or two ago, but since it's now, that's what we have.

Breaking it down:
Forwards: I give the edge to Pittsburgh. I just think that Crosby, Malkin, Hossa, and Staal are a better group than what Detroit can roll out. Even if the edge is ever so slight.

Defense: Lidstrom is the man, Stuart and Rafalski are excellent, and I didn't see anything against the Stars that would keep me from thinking they wouldn't continue to be great. For Pittsburgh, they have regularly sat Darryl Sydor as a healthy scratch and he has won 2 Stanley Cups. Still, the edge goes to Detroit.

Goaltending: I can't help but think that Osgood is playing with the dealer's money as it were. I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and so far it hasn't. Fleury has played remarkably and I just feel more comfortable with him. So I say this goes to Pittsburgh.

That's what leads me to pick Pittsburgh in hopefully a long, exciting series (Pens in 7)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Seriously, how much longer can this go on?

On April 10, the Rangers swept a double header from the Baltimore Orioles to go to 5-4 and put them over .500 for the very first time in Ron Washington's tenure as manager. Over the next 18 games, they lost 14 in absolutely awful ways: blown saves, blowouts, errors, and a lack of clutch hitting. Their record went as far down as 9-18 and it looked like another editions of the sorry, last place Texas Rangers. More of the same.

Then something happened. I'm not sure what. I'm reading all the blogs I usually read and no one seems to know what happened, but it's like a light has gone on. They've won 9 of 11 and are two games from .500 and only 4 games out of first place.

If you had said that early in May your rotation would be Millwood, Padilla, Sidney Ponson, Scott Feldman, and AJ Murray, you would have been very worried about your chances. They are basically working with their 7th, 8th, and 9th starters and each one of them have thrown at least one quality start in this little streak. The offense has been good, but not great. This streak is a product of excellent pitching. And like I said, I have no idea why. I also have no idea how long it can keep going.

It looks like smoke and mirrors to me. You can't really count on Ponson pitching like he did in 2003, the last time his ERA was below 5. Feldman is a converted sidearm throwing bullpen guy, and Murray's topside is #5 or a long man out of the bullpen. They can just as easily go on a streak of losing 8 of 10, and will Millwood going out of tonight's game with a sore hamstring, who know who will actually pitch this week.

So, enjoy it while you can, Ranger's fans. We have an interesting little team here.

Friday, May 9, 2008

What has gotten into the Rangers?

31 consecutive shutout innings??? They've won 10 of 14 and 4 in a row. Talk about smoke and mirrors.

I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. Maybe.... 3 games giving up 10+ runs or 3 games in which the starter doesn't get out of the 3rd or 3 games with blown saves in the 9th. Actually probably a combination of all three.

About Richie Sexson, I heard someone say, "I guess he threw the helmet because he didn't have his purse."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Every few months or so Sports Illustrated or ESPN or FOX Sports or some other national sports network comes out with bogus lists that are designed to do nothing more than fill space. Things like the best ballparks in baseball, the best sports towns in America, the greatest living left handed pinch hitters, greatest rivalry between directional schools in college football 1-AA, and so on and so forth. I usually don't get bogged down in those things because they are usually worth little more than the time it takes to read them. They put them out there so idiots like me will gripe and complain that their pet team, player, era, sport, city, or whatever isn't number 1. Of course there's bias, of course current and recent players often win out over older players, of course the east coast always wins out over the rest of the nation. And of course they throw garbage out there to get people all up in arms.

Case in point, Sports Illustrated has come out with their Best Baseball Players by Number. A great big time waste until you get to #42. Who is considered the greatest #42 by this group of drooling morons? Oh, Jackie Robinson, right? The man for whom the number was retired by all baseball. Who broke the color barrier. Who played two years of negro league ball before even an opportunity to play minor league baseball. Of course not! It's Mariano freakin' Rivera! A closer! A man who usually plays in about a third of the games his team plays. And of those games he plays 1/9 of the innings actually played. He can throw everything he has for 1 inning and goes out there usually with a lead. There's no doubt that Rivera is a great pitcher (although I'd like to see what he can do two times through a lineup) and he has a great postseason track record. But I'm naturally skeptical of closers. I agree that the 27th out is the hardest to get, but most closers these days throw as hard as they can for 4-5 batters, usually with a lead. They have to have strong personality no doubt, but you only need one out pitch, and for Rivera, it's a cut fastball that rides in on players, resulting in a lot of broken bats. It's a great pitch that has lasted him for almost 15 years.

But any discussion about the who is #42 in baseball history begins and ends with Jackie Robinson, perhaps the most important player in baseball history. The only one that might have something to say about that is Babe Ruth who almost single handedly rescued baseball after the Black Sox scandal.

So I've fallen into SI's trap. I talked about their stupid list. Idiots.

Update: I'm an idiot. It turns out only one moron at SI thought Mariano Rivera was a better representative for #42. Bryan Graham who I've never heard of but needs to just stop writing right away. His argument is that because Robinson's stats aren't as great as other players of the era, but did any other player of the era have to put up with the stress of what he had to deal with as the first African-American major league baseball player? Because of society's ignorance and baseball unwritten rules, Robinson didn't get to his start in MLB when he was 28! Those were leading into his prime years.

The bigger question I have is this: are closers in the era overrated? As I said earlier, they pitch in about 1/3 of the teams games, of those games they usually pitch only one inning, and they usually have the lead when they come in. In the 1998 season, the Yankees best team record wise with 114-48 and a World Series win, his numbers were 3-0 and 36 saves in 54 appearances. He had a direct hand is 34% of the teams wins and APPEARED in exactly 1/3 of the teams games anyway!

So what do you think? Closers overrated?