(making sure the Portaloos were set up, earlier this afternoon)
I’m on my way to Trailer Space, so Da Bears and Brett Favre will have to play out the string without me. As for the MPC Computers Bowl, that’s OK. I’m sure everything will be a ghastly blue color in about 6 hours.
Wherever you are and whatever you’re up to, have a terrific night. And thanks for a fun year.
With nothing to play for except a paycheck pride in Philly, the Falcons have sat Michael Vick in favor of Matt “Stump The” Schaub, as the host Iggles cling to a 24-17 lead with 4:41 remaining. As such, I feel very safe in congratulating Jon Solomon for his decisive championship win in the Don’t Worry, It’s Only A Bruise league. Jon, I’ll need your shipping address. There’s a particularly cruddy trophy with your name on it.
All season long, I’ve been mocking Motown’s Roy Williams for his insistence that nobody knew how close the Lions came to hanging 40 points on the Seahawks in Week 1 (they lost, 9-6). So it would kind of figure that the 2-13 Lions would come into Irving and light up Dallas for 39. The Cowboys will limp into the playoffs having lost their last 3 home games, and while I didn’t stick around to watch the post-game wrap, I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re still trying to scrape Tony Romo off the carpet after his failed QB draw in the final seconds.
Williams and teammate Mike Furrey made John Kitna look super impressive — which isn’t easy if you’ve ever seen Kitna with his helmet off.
A missed FG at the death knell by Cincy’s Shane Graham spared the defending champs the blushes of a losing season, along with shutting the door on the hosts’ postseason hopes. Biker Ben and Santonio Holmes hooked up for a 67 yard TD pass in OT to give Pittsburgh a 23-16 win, possibly the last time we’ll see Bill Cowher celebrating a Steelers victory.
When the season began, I’ll admit I was super skeptical about the Jets’ chances. They’d lost Curtis Martin for the year, Chad Pennington was coming back from injury, and while rookie coach Eric Mangini (above) was terrific in “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure”, who knew if he was ready for such a huge challenge? So with all that in mind, congrats to Gang Green on punching their playoff ticket with today’s 23-3 defeat of Oakland, thus ensuring some incredibly anguished sounds eminating from Joe Benigno Gazingo’s microphone a week from tomorrow.
Mark Cuban has a kinship with Memphis Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley because both received their ownership papers April 11, 2000.
Thus, when Heisley recently announced that he was selling the Grizzlies, it affected Cuban. On Saturday night, the Mavs owner responded in usual fashion.
“At David Stern University, we learn that it’s not about individual jobs,” Cuban said. “It’s about a 50-year-plus tradition.
“We’re setting a history of getting it right, and sometimes sacrifices are made. Pau [Gasol, who had a foot injury earlier this season] gives up his foot, Michael gives up his franchise, [recently fired coach Mike] Fratello gives up his job, but NBC gets great ratings at the Olympics.
“What more can you ask for? That’s what we learn at David Stern University.”
While tossing a few barbs in the direction of Miami’s James Posey (“he mostly hits guys from behind, so it’s not like he has toughened up. More likely he has watched Bill Laimbeer tapes,”), the Chicago Tribune’s Sam Smith wonders what happened to the NBA’s old style of physical play.
The fact is, there aren’t many dirty players in the NBA anymore because it’s too costly to be dirty.
Heck, guys used to be proud of being dirty players. The Pistons’ Laimbeer especially, though he was the face of NBA evil and well beyond being respectably dirty, like Rick Mahorn and Jeff Ruland, known as McFilthy and McNasty when they played for the Washington Bullets and opponents finished layups on their back.
Old school, they called it then, and there was a difference, as in all sports today. Players weren’t as big and strong, and they didn’t work out like they do now, so the collisions weren’t as violent. Take a look at some of the old game films. Even most of the strong guys were skinny by today’s standards.
But the money became obscene, at least to us, and image became a concern to the NBA, so draconian measures were put in place. Hit someone, fight, you could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars and your career.
So no one is truly that Laimbeer-dirty anymore.
There was a transition to this era through Karl Malone, John Stockton and Charles Oakley, some of the names you heard players complain about most often in the 1990s. Pat Riley, the current Heat coach, also came in for some blame”he had Oakley, John Starks and Anthony Mason wreaking havoc in New York. Many say Riley’s demands create an atmosphere for such mayhem and cite Posey, though I disagree. It’s like blaming Chuck Daly for the Bad Boys.
Or Gregg Popovich for Bruce Bowen. Bowen generally pops up on today’s dirty list after an early-season debate with Isiah Thomas and previous episodes with Vince Carter, Ray Allen and Richard Hamilton. Lakers coach Phil Jackson agreed, though Bowen always seemed to me more like Stockton.
Gilbert Arenas scorched him up for the majority of his 60. Michael Redd scalded him for 45, Dwyane Wade fricasseed him for 40. Vince Carter barbecued him for 31 in three quarters before Maurice Evans came to his rescue. And Gerald Wallace and Matt Carroll (career high 27) combined to pan-sear him for 55.
I know, I know, Kobe’s surgically-repaired knee restricts his mobility, especially lateral movement. Then again, it didn’t seem to inhibit him from uncorking 45 field-goal attempts.
Jay Williams’ brief tenure with the D-League’s Austin Toros has come to an end. Williams was waived yesterday as Austin picked up BC’s Troy Bell (above), the 16th overall pick in the ’03 NBA Draft, and a guard whose resume includes cups of coffee with the Grizzlies and Hornets.
Reminding one and all the Red Sox failed to acquire Mike Gonzalez, Chad Cordero or Brad Lidge this offseason (nor Eric Gagne), the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo addresses a glaring hole in the Fenway bullpen.
Barring a closer falling from the sky, there exists a tremendous opportunity for someone on the current staff to be on the ground floor of a profitable career. If this sounds like the 2003 season, when the pertinent phrase was “closer by committee,” that’s true, but this time there appear to be more options.
More than one executive at the winter meetings wondered whether Boston would turn back to Papelbon if he shows that, with a healed shoulder, he can take the up-and-down and pitching three or four times a week.
Short of that, the candidates are Julian Tavarez, Brendan Donnelly, Mike Timlin, Craig Hansen, Manny Delcarmen, Devern Hansack, Runelvys Hernandez, and Edgar Martinez. And Reliever X thrown into the mix.
Who will graduate from Fort Myers to Boston and pitch the ninth inning?
If there were ever a time for Hansen to assume the role of “closer of the future,” it would be now. If there were a time and a place for Delcarmen to seize the moment, it would be now as well. Or if there were a time for Hansack to defy all odds and give the Sox a find of all finds, it is the present.
It appears that Tavarez (above, left) will get the greatest opportunity to take the job. Throughout his career, his stuff has been at times unhittable. Yet last season he was relegated to mop-up duty before the Sox used him in the rotation late in the season. Tavarez seemed to have a ball as a starter. He was happy again, thriving. Would he be the same if he’s given the closer job? He does, after all, thrive on adrenaline. He seems to get up for situations in which the team needs him. Let’s see.
“Of all the guys they have, I would think it would be Tavarez,” said one AL executive. “He’s got the mind-set for it. He’s actually done it in Pittsburgh [11 saves in 2003].”
The Diamondbacks, who already owe Johnson about $40 million in deferred money, apparently are looking for a way to factor some of that cash into the extension, the source said. Arizona also is trying to convince the Yankees to kick in some of Johnson’s $16 million salary for next season.
But if the Yankees are going to include money in the trade, they want at least three players back – either all bona fide prospects or two top prospects and a major leaguer who would help them this year, another baseball official said.
The Yankees have targeted three young pitchers in Arizona’s talent-filled system – Dustin Nippert, Micah Owings and Ross Ohlendorf, all righthanders. Some published reports have them also liking righty reliever Brandon Medders, who has gone 9-4 with a 3.09 ERA in 87 games over the last two seasons.
It’s nice that the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick is the last man in the sports media biz with a conscience. But it might be equally useful if he actually paid attention every now and then.
One of 2006′s most remarkable happenstances was that the sports media, for the most part, wasn’t particularly shocked by gun stories.
That a starting NFL lineman – the Bears’ Tank Johnson – was arrested for a second time with an assortment of assault rifles, and that his bodyguard and close friend, a man with felony convictions for drugs and guns, was shot dead by a reputed gang member – with Johnson nearby during an early morning nightclub hassle – should have made huge news outside of Chicago.
But it didn’t.
Could it be that the media have become numb to such news? Or is it that we lack the stomach for it?
Or could it be that the story in question did receive major coverage —- in print, online, on television and yack radio — and Phil would have us believe otherwise in order to promote his tired “the world is going to hell” spiel?
Likewise, Mushnick claims that Carmelo Anthony’s cameo in the infamous Baltimore “Stop Snitching” DVD (“a homemade rap video”, according to Phil) was “an under-played story.”
No Strahan, no Petitgout and the complete meltdown last week have finally convinced me. The young guys are worn out, the older guys either don’t care or are also worn out, and the rest… Some are hurt, some are retiring. And some aren’t that good, I guess.
Redskins 27, Giants 17. Then the real fun begins. – Arthur Staple, Newsday, December 30
Though Staple was hardly alone in making such a gloomy prediction, he failed, like so many others, to remember just how much the Giants can accomplish when Tiki Barber puts the team on his back.
And with that, I have to full credit to Colonel Coughlin for making the bold move in demoting offensive coordinator Jim Huffnagel and putting Kevin Gillbridge in charge of play calling earlier in the week. Clearly, the only way to restore Eli Manning’s confidence was to make sure he handed the ball to Tiki 25 times.
Fans in Atlanta, St. Louis and Carolina no longer have any reason to watch football this Sunday, but should be thrilled to learn the following classic is on Lifetime at 1pm :
Murder On Pleasant Drive : Based on a true story. When Fran Smith mysteriously disappears, her daughter Deanna and her sister Sherrie will stop at nothing to find her. Suspicion begins to fall on Fran’s husband John, and the two women are convinced he murdered their loved one, yet, without a body, there is no evidence a crime has been committed. With Sherrie’s assistance, Deanna embarks upon a tireless, 11-year quest, relentlessly investigating John’s past. But when they uncover a 25 year-old missing person’s case involving John’s first wife who also disappeared under mysterious circumstances, the case against him takes an unexpected turn. Starring: Adam Arkin, Kelli Williams, Amy Madigan.
(who needs football when you can bask in the thespian chops of Adam Arkin?)
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette’s Ed Bouchette lists the various reasons why Bill Cowher might be coaching his last game for the Steelers later today. I’m not sure which fact is more outrageous — that Cowher is paid half of what Mike Holmgren earns, or that The Chin’s salary next season is dwarfed by that of Aubrey Huff.
(the filth, the fury, the walk-on foot of Sid Vicious)
While stuck in traffic during the commute to San Antonio, I had to settle for the radio call of Matt Ryan and Steve Aponavicius’ late heroics. However, I did managed to stay glued to the CSTB couch long enough to pry my jaw off the floor as ESPN saw fit to give former B.C. coach Tom O’Brien a chance to explain his decision to bolt for N.C. State.
Apparently, the sideways move to another ACC school represented “a huge opportunity” for O’Brien, who was “knocked out” by the facilities in Raleigh during B.C.’s visits.
Even Judith Regan thought this was a huge turn-off.
Much as I enjoyed the traffic jam and all the projectile vomiting I witnessed in downtown San Antonio today, Georgia’s come from behind win over Virginia Tech was a close second on the thrill-o-meter. I liked it better when it was called the Peach Bowl, mostly because I have a problem with Chick-fil-A being closed on Sundays. G-d can’t stop me from buying a Peach on Sunday, but apparently he can prevent me from chewing on a breaded chicken sandwich. It doesn’t seem right.
Anyhow, if Frank Beamer is feeling bad this morning, it could be worse. He could be Glen Mason.