(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.