Monday, February 28, 2005

Marquis and Josh

I do not claim to be any sort of NBA Personnel expert, largely because the NBA draft has turned into an enormous waste of everyone’s time since the event became to be dominated by the European and the High Schooler about a decade ago. Now, on draft night, I know as much about the NBA draft players as I might know about the Major League Baseball draft – the top 3 or 4 players, maybe, but after that? Just many anonymous faces, some of which will develop into stars in the future, and others who have their name called that day, and that is the pinnacle of their major league career.

Just look at some of the fine names that the Mavericks have snagged on draft night that amounted to just a little less than a hill of beans. Leon Smith in 1999 turned out to be a terribly troubled teenager who never even put on a Mavericks uniform. In 2000, the Mavs grabbed Etan Thomas (who also never played a second with the Mavs) and Courtney Alexander and ended up trading both of them for Juwan Howard, and his perfectly manicured goatee later that season. In 2001, it was Kyle Hill and Kenny Satterfield in the second round, and honestly I could not pick either one of them out of a line-up. Needless to say, the laundry at Mavericks Headquarters never required that they get acquainted with the spelling of either player’s last name. And then in 2002, it was another European special, Mladen Sekularac. Chances are he is playing somewhere right now where English is not spoken, and will likely never see Reunion Tower in person. After the exciting run of Antoine Rigaudeau, we await with much excitement for the arrival of Sekularac. Not.

Which brings us to 2003. Remember, at this time, that the Mavericks were loaded. They were coming off a run to the Western Conference Finals, and had a team that they thought was ready to win a title. I am not even sure I spent any time prepping for the 2003 draft because it seemed painfully obvious that the Mavericks had no plan whatsoever to do anything but duplicate 2001 or 2002, and get on with the regular season.

Boy, was I wrong. There is no question that 2003 will long be remembered as the draft that brought the league Lebron James. He may turn into the finest player since MJ, and honestly, who knows how good that kid will ultimately be. Also, let’s not underestimate the arrivals of Carmelo Anthony and Dwayne Wade. Three All-Star caliber players in the first 5 picks certainly suggest that this draft will stand up historically. But much like most other drafts of this era, after the top 5, the talent drops considerably.

Until, Donnie Nelson steps to the podium. In 2003, he drafted Josh Howard, a key player to this current Mavericks team, with the final pick of the first round. Howard has developed quickly into one of the most important players not named Dirk on the team. In fact, some nights, he would qualify as the 2nd most important Maverick.

Yet, Nelson was able to snag him long after other teams grabbed future CBA stars like Travis Outlaw, Ndudi Ebi, and Kendrick Perkins. Howard now is as tenacious a defender as there is in this draft class, and also has developed a fine complimentary offensive game. Who knew, right?

Well, perhaps everyone should have known after he was named the first unanimous ACC player of the year since David Thompson in 1975. The ACC is a pretty fair basketball conference in the college ranks. Howard dominated it, and through all of that, 28 teams passed on him, in some cases taking players who had been so-so players in Europe.

The Mavericks were smart enough to snap a player up who fell in their laps. We will give them credit for Howard, but only the basketball gods can take credit for Marquis Daniels ending up here. The second and final round of the draft was winding down and the Mavericks were on the clock with the 57th pick of a 58 pick draft. They decided to take a Chinese prospect for the Denver Nuggets, named Xue Yuyang. Luckily, Detroit took someone from Greece (Andreas Glyniadakis) and Daniels was never picked at all.

Soon after the draft, the Mavericks placed a call to Daniels, and convinced him to come to Dallas to try and make the team. Remember when I said that some nights in 2005, people think Howard is second-to-Dirk? Well, those other nights, many suggest it is Marquis.

He was an All-SEC player, and along with Howard, has brought a defensive ability that makes you think this Mavericks team has completely over-hauled its personnel and addressed its biggest need. And yet, it cost them almost nothing. A late-first round pick, and a rookie free agent are now Howard and Daniels, two similar, yet strikingly different players that now could be the second and third most valuable players on this team.

Sure, they have some deficiencies. For one thing, they both could create their own offense better. For another, they could both be a bit more durable. But, to imagine that draft night 2003 turned out to take this Mavericks team to the next level for years to come is quite a GM’s fantasy.

Now, because of a goofy contract rule, Daniels has already been rewarded with a $37 million dollar contract. Meanwhile, Howard is making less than $800,000. That’s right, the guy who wasn’t drafted gets paid almost 10 times what the first rounder gets. But despite their differences in paychecks (for now) they share the burden of helping Nowitzki take this team to the next level this spring.

I am guessing the league no longer underestimates these two…


Jen Floyd’s Cowboys Wishlist ….

In New York, they fear that Parcells will snap up Jason Ferguson

Privately, however, there's growing concern in the organization that Ferguson will hit the free-agency market and be swooped up by the Cowboys and coach Bill Parcells, who drafted Ferguson in 1997 and shares the same agent with the player, Jimmy Sexton.
"The Jets aren't getting anywhere with that agent (Sexton)," someone with knowledge of the situation said yesterday. "They think (Sexton) might have something lined up with Parcells. They're getting a little nervous."

Ferguson, 30, is coming off a career year and figures to be in demand as several teams are planning to employ a 3-4 defense either full-time or part-time next season. In addition to Dallas, the Browns, Broncos and 49ers are among the teams considering a switch to the alignment, and new Browns coach Romeo Crennel coached Ferguson for three seasons with the Jets.

Somehow, the Redskins never run out of cap space: Samari Rolle is next?

Packers brace for mass exodus …Strug-gel-ling…

Clarett tanks at combine

Biffle wins in California

No way! A Southern California Sporting Event didn’t sell out?

There were some empty seats Sunday, certainly more than California Speedway and NASCAR certainly would have liked to see. But again, it's just not right to gauge the ultimate effectiveness of this bit of schedule realignment on one instance. If next year's race doesn't sell out, then it will be a legitimate issue.

Must Read: Mahay paying price for crossing the line …Kenny Rogers seems pretty sorry to me…

2003 NBA Draft …Scroll through and marvel at all of the players taken before Josh Howard and Marquis Daniels (although I think Cleveland did well with the #1 pick)…

Lebreton wonders about the KVH trade

Carling Cup Final: Chelsea 3, Liverpool 2

Chelsea's Manager Jose Mourinho (above) ejected for inciting the crowd …And keep in mind, he is a manager…Imagine the stories if Randy Moss had been the Vikings coach when he gestured to the crowd…

Email of the Day:

I believe this is the Kansas City Outlaws but I could be wrong.
Anyways, I'm pretty sure I'd ask to be traded.


Wow, I don’t know what team that really is, but that has to be the most ridiculous hockey sweater I have ever seen. And you know, I believe I can safely suggest the most ridiculous I will ever see. Look how defeated the players look…

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Sunday Links

Based on the traffic statistics of the last 6 weeks, I think I will likely offer just one small entry on the weekend for Bob’s Blog. Looks like most of my regular readers are of the Monday-Friday variety, which makes sense. So, expect big entries every weekday, and one smaller weekend entry from now on…

Was Dirk fouled Saturday Night? Most likely. But, I have to tell you that down the stretch you could see this coming. Finley jacks a three that would have sealed it…and missed. Next time down, Van Horn, proving he won’t be bashful, jacks another three that would have sealed it…and missed. Next thing you know, the Suns are ahead with 4.7 seconds left, despite being down 6 with 2 minutes to play. Just tell me the 23 footers are not going to be a trend. This team is unstoppable if they do not take the easy way out. When they post Dirk and crunch time, good things happen, but now with Van Horn, Finley, Dirk, and Terry, it is too tempting to jack the 3’s…

Tough loss, but a fun game to watch…


The Office is honored again

Parcells speaks! ….

Speaking Friday from the NFL Scouting Combine, Parcells is committed to Bledsoe but wants Henson to succeed. After a three-year layoff to play baseball, Henson played in two games last season, starting one, leading to questions about his long-term potential. With Bledsoe, Henson will have to wait.

"You think I'm not rooting for the kid?" said Parcells, who was speaking to the media for the first time since the season-ending loss to the New York Giants. "I'm rooting for him. Why wouldn't I be? It's in my best interests that he plays well, so I am rooting for him. And I'm rooting for [Tony] Romo, too. I really am.

Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) alive and well

Could Video games improve? … Obviously, so…

NHL Players need to get a clue …According to this dude, at least…

R2-D2 drunk driving

Only in Wisconsin

Friday, February 25, 2005

At least he knows how to sit...

They just can’t help themselves at the trade deadline. They had to make a trade. What is worse, they had to make a trade to get another guy who doesn’t defend much and a guy who jacks three pointers at all opportunities. The good news is that this Mavericks team might be able to afford that type of player, because the rest of the roster seems to realize defending is what has improved them.

Enter Keith Van Horn. I would not care generally so much about a trade, but the timing was puzzling. We must only assume that the Mavericks knew all along that they could get Alan Henderson back in a few days, and therefore were merely trading Calvin Booth for Van Horn. Since, Booth had no role here, it really is no bother. Otherwise, to so severely weaken their present roster at center is ill advisable. Erick Dampier is hurt, so to trade his back up and his back up’s back up for a perimeter player doesn’t add up.

They had to know that they would only need to play 2 or 3 games without Henderson. Those games likely against Sacramento and Phoenix so you might not even need a deep center position. If Henderson returns early next week, then I may need to settle down in hating this trade.

But, if what we can expect more of what we saw last night; 31 minutes for Shawn Bradley, then I think it is a poor, poor decision. Bradley tried his best, but he is what he is. A player who cannot be trusted to play more than 8 or 10 minutes a game. Any more and he is over-exposed. With Booth, Henderson, and Dampier, we never saw Bradley for more minutes than that. Don’t get me wrong, he seems to try hard enough, but cannot finish around the basket, despite being so tall that he is actually shooting down at the hoop most of the time. He was 3-8 from the field, missing a number of bunnies. Add that shooting night to 3 turnovers (from a Center who hardly touches the ball!) and you almost cancel out the 10 rebounds and 3 blocks.

(Above, Bradley is practicing his ability to fly like Superman)

So, in closing, if this trade was made as it appears, it seems bad. On the other hand if in a week, Henderson is backing up Dampier at Center, Van Horn is backing up Dirk at power forward, and Bradley is back on the end of the bench, then the trade is harmless and perhaps helpful.


David Moore is puzzled about Mavs trade, too

Henderson to return?

It is conceivable that Henderson will be a Maverick again next week. Bucks officials said Thursday they plan on waiving Henderson, who played in all 52 Mavericks games before the trade. If he is waived, and nobody picks him up – which is unlikely given his $8.273 million salary slot – the Mavericks could sign him to a minimum contract next week.

"I don't know what's happening," Henderson said. "I'm just going to see how it all shakes out."

Milwaukee’s viewpoint

Winners and Losers from Trade Deadline

This weekend in the Nextel Cup, Race 2: California

ESPN falls for hoax on Shaq injury

A report on ESPN that O'Neal was out for the season created a stir Wednesday afternoon. The report, however, turned out to be a hoax. Someone had e-mailed ESPN a Web page that appeared to be from a local newspaper.

The Heat and Perry Rogers, O'Neal's agent, immediately denied the report.
But it set off a chain of events from coast to coast. Heat guard Keyon Dooling said his cellphone rang so often it messed up his nap.

Riley was incensed.

"That a reputable, reputable national television network would go to a Web report without verifying anything and put it on television, come on," Riley said. "And then 30 minutes later they go on and say, 'Oh, we apologize, we made a mistake.' By then, I had 15 or 20 calls from people. I had to call my owner and tell him don't pay attention to that."

Clayton insists Vikings did not get enough for Randy Moss

Here is the main problem with today’s television: No originality. And here in America, we are the worst transgressors when it comes to this. Example? BBC’s The Office is one of the finest shows I have ever seen. A British show about the mundane world of working in a cubicle. It is so well done. Think Office Space combined with Curb Your Enthusiasm. They only made 14 total episodes, and decided it was so perfect they should just stop there. I applauded them. And that is where America stormed in and screwed it all up…

That’s right. We couldn’t leave well enough alone, because coming March 24th, I present to you NBC’s The Office . Yep. We completely stole/borrowed the idea, cast American actors, and will now completely butcher it as only we can. If NBC was smart, they would run the BBC’s version, and then hire the cast to keep the series going. But now, you watch. They will use beautiful people to cast it (big mistake) and try to "Friends" it up. Vomit.

Rocco lives

Hockey at Lambeau Field?

Gerrard prepares to lead Liverpool to League Cup Final versus Chelsea on Sunday

What is the League Cup?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Thursday Potpourri

Let's start with Bledsoe. Might I need to backpedal? It looks like the Cowboys got him for nothing. He must either really want to be a starter and/or play for Bill Parcells, because I would never have guessed that he agreed to a $2 million signing bonus. In football, that is chump change for a QB. Especially one you project to be a starter!

JJ Taylor’s details of the deal

Bledsoe's deal will pay him about $14 million, including a signing bonus of $2 million, and count $2.5 million against the club's 2005 salary cap. He's guaranteed $5 million over the first two years of the deal, which also includes incentives should Dallas make the playoffs.

Again, the more I think about this, the more I am convinced it doesn’t hurt Henson’s future, and it doesn’t kill them financially if he sucks. Nice job, Cowboys. The figures here are incredibly reasonable, and while I am not optimistic about Bledsoe’s production, in this risk/reward sports world, this looks like a very realistic risk. And, they can still pursue what they really need.

Meanwhile, the Mavericks pounded the Jazz last night for a very easy win on the road. Utah is not very good, and the injuries have not helped them. Of course, I told you last summer that everyone (Norm) needs to tap the breaks on the Jazz to the playoffs talk when they built their offseason around the silly signing of the large white spare Memhet Okur . And yes, I realize that Okur’s numbers are up. So?

Anyway, what caught my ear last night was the bold claim by the Mavericks TV crew that the Mavs lead the league in Free Throws made per game. This seems absurd given the Mavericks reputation so I had to look it up

Top 5 teams in Free Throws Made per Game:

Dallas 22.3
Orlando 22.3
Boston 22.1
Phila 21.9
Clippers 21.4

I am shocked that the Mavericks are #1, but really, could anyone name any of these teams in the top 5? Hardly the Spurs, Heat, and Timberwolves that you might expect.

Top 5 teams in Free Throws Taken Per game:

Miami 30.8
Wash 29.1
Orlando 28.8
Boston 28.8
Dallas 28.1

I guess if Shaq could make a free throw, they would likely lead both categories, but what a dramatic change in the way the Mavericks take the ball to the hoop this year.

Mavs Free Throw Leaders (per game)
Nowitzki 9.4
Stackhouse 5.6
Dampier 3.9
Howard 3.0
Finley 2.7

Nowitzki's previous career high was 2003, when he went to the line 6.8 times a game. One more reason why you could make the case he has risen to the next level...

Finally, reports that Randy Moss has been dealt is another in a long winter of bad moves for those of us who hate the Vikings. That’s right. I said “bad move”. Two humans were holding this franchise back in the last several years, Red McCombs and Randy Moss. Now, within a week of each other, it looks like both are gone. McCombs is a cheapskate embarrassment, and Moss is a cancer that has never won anything. It looks like they will now have ownership to properly spend and fill out a roster that needs filling out, and it also appears they will build around the real talent on that team, Daunte Culpepper. Not a good week for Cheeseheads…


From the Minnesota paper, Randy Moss traded

Reusse says McCombs did something right

The Vikings were in the playoffs in Moss' first three seasons [1998-2000]. They did not make it back until this January, and only because the NFC's pathetic standards allowed them in at 8-8.

So what glory is it the Vikings are surrendering by trading Moss? Big numbers individually, and nothing more. The Vikings were 29-37 (including 1-1 in the playoffs) in Moss' last four seasons.

Big News from Revo!

Kiss Chan Ho Park goodbye. He's as good as gone.
The only thing that can save Park's spot in the Rangers' rotation this spring is Chan Ho himself, and we've spent the past three seasons seeing firsthand how unlikely that is.

The Rangers are finally ready to let him pitch his way off the roster. A source close to the club says owner Tom Hicks is prepared to eat the last two years and $26 million of Park's $65 million contract if the Korean right-hander doesn't prove that he's one of the Rangers' top five starters this spring.

Don’t tease us like this, Revo. I hope your sources are right!

Mavs hammer the Jazz

From the Sacramento Paper, Why Webber was traded

Knight not done yet

Liverpool wins in Champions League, but fellow English teams Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are not so lucky…

Canseco never ceases to amaze us

Smile, while Napoleon dances


Hi Bob, Dan,

As Americans are remembering the Miracle on Ice, I can't help associate the event with the current status of the NHL.

At the time the NHL believed that the events of Lake Placid was the key moment that would enable hockey to break through in the US. The NHL envisioned a lucrative TV contract, incredible market penetration, and teams all over the US.

We all know these dreams failed to materialize, with hockey popularity at record lows for close to 20 years (based on TV audience).

When that dream failed, shouldn't the NHL have realized: if we could not capitalize on one of the greatest moment (if not greatest moment in American sport history) our sport has no future in the USA. Let's manage our expectations, and continue to cultivate hockey regionally and in Canada, and make it the very best it could be But we all know the rest of the story: teams in Carolina, Florida, Columbus, etc.. And you know what? this is partially why hockey is such a mess...

Richard (Ottawa, Canada)

You know, that is a great point. If the Miracle on Ice couldn’t get hockey into the American mainstream, you wonder what could?

And this feedback from our Daytona 500 ratings talk from Tuesday, where the Daytona 500 outscored the NBA Finals, Masters, and Kentucky Derby in the ratings:


I have had a argument with a friend (who is a huge Nascar fan) on this very subject. I was wondering where you got your information because I really want to prove to him that while Nascar is the fastest growing sport I know I read somewhere that the NCAA tournament was the highest rated Sporting event with only the Super Bowl as an exception. Where did you get your info and was there mention on the Final Four as a comparison?

BaD Radio Rules

This has been a bit tough to find. But, finally I found this link from the NCAA that shows the NCAA Final is stronger than Daytona in the last 5 years (and likely much longer than that). According to the numbers I have found, Daytona is on a 5 year average of 10.5, and the NCAA Final game is at 13.6! So, congrats, you are right. I guess Fox conveniently left that event out of their bragging the other day…

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


Don’t get me wrong. This is much better than running Vinny back out there in 2005, and honestly, that is what I expected Parcells was going to do. But, does he seriously think that Drew Bledsoe is the answer to anything? Does he seriously believe the Philadelphia Eagles defense will have a tough time figuring out his game?

I think not.

Look at his numbers , and you will see a guy who has numbers that do not impress.

Check out his game log that indicates that he eluded sacks just twice all season. The Patriots and the Raiders sacked him 7 times each in a game last year. He cannot move anymore in the pocket. I saw that with my own eyes at Texas Stadium on November 9, 2003, when he sucked so bad that I felt bad for him. His numbers that day were 17-34-104 yards for a passer rating of 56.5 in a 10-6 loss to Quincy Carter and the Dallas Cowboys.

Sorry, but if you are scoring 6 in a game at Dallas, and if you are being pushed out of Buffalo for J.P. Losman, then I am pretty certain that the Cowboys are making a mistake.

But, let’s see what the contract says. If it is reasonable, then this is a poor decision. If it is one of those 4 year/$24 million deals with $8 million signing bonus, then this will be devastating. We should know soon enough.

It sure looks like the Cowboys are continuing their efforts to assemble the “AFC East Old-Timers Team”. What a surprise, another Parcells guy has a job in Valley Ranch. Surely, Keith Byars and Adrian Murrell cannot be too far away…Oh wait, Murrell has already been here.


Cowlishaw thinks it is one Drew too many

Jen Floyd with the details on Bledsoe …at least the ones that are out so far…

Jeffri Chadiha (whom I am not very familiar with) claims that the end is nigh for Parcells in Dallas

I'm starting to wonder how badly this will all end for Bill Parcells. His brief tenure with the Cowboys is already taking misguided turns -- there's no way he can seriously consider Drew Bledsoe as the answer for what ailed a 6-10 team last season -- but there will certainly be more decisions that will leave us shaking our heads. Call it intuition. The unquestioned faith Parcells inspired in so many other franchises isn't in Dallas right now.

Peter King torches Bledsoe

Mark Cuban on the man who lost a billion dollars – Bob Goodenow …This is a great read from an owner about how a Player’s Association Rep should have just taken the owner’s offer. I disagree with it, but he makes a convincing case…

WOW! Despite playing with a shell of their normal squad, Liverpool 3, Bayer Leverkusen 1 in the Round of 16 in the Champions League, Leg 1. So, if they keep from losing by 2 in Germany in the return match, Liverpool will shock Europe with a berth in the final 8…

GOLTV comes to Directv! …Now, Spanish and Italian Football arrives…

This should make you giggle, Pictures of dudes at a Star Wars Convention

Arrested Development – Strug-gel-ling

US Soccer UK

Break Dancer banned in England ...

His Royal Highness, Bonds on full display ...

Tech beats Texas in a big game ...

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

25 years ago, Today...

The sweetest image that the sports world has ever shown me turns 25 today. Happy Birthday, Team USA, for on this day, February 22, 1980, you shocked the world, and became the #1 sports moment in my life. I can say without hesitation that there is no possibility that day will ever drop to #2.


I had a tough time deciding what to write this week’s Dallas Sports Page column on. After rejecting the urge to write about the NHL (yuck), I settled on an essay regarding the rise of NASCAR. Enjoy, if you can take me writing about it two days in a row…

It happened. Finally, a sport predicted as the next big thing might live up to the hype! I know, I know, this has happened before. The false alarm has sounded a number of times as we were assured that the MLS, WNBA and NHL were going to be the next big leagues to challenge baseball, football, and basketball for sports supremacy in this country, but I think we can honestly suggest that NASCAR has almost reached that level.

If you watched the Daytona 500 on Sunday, you could almost see it all happening simultaneously. Hockey was lowering itself 6-feet under ground into a depth known as irrelevance. Basketball was staging an All-Star game on cable TV, as the numbers since Jordan have steadily declined. “America’s Pastime” was busy assuring those who would listen that steroids are under total control, and don’t let that affect your allegiance to our game.

Meanwhile, there is racing. With nearly 19 million viewers strong on Sunday, staging a huge race with massive excitement and appeal sweeping up those who are disenfranchised with the traditional sports. This is not to say that the glory days of the old reliable sports are passed. But rather to suggest that those who believe that NASCAR is a fad similar to the WWF’s quick run in the 1990’s may need to recognize the reality. America digs auto-racing.

And do you want to know what is extra amazing about the whole thing to me? It would have to be the fact that in this particular situation, the media played almost no role. That includes yours truly, who followed racing back when it wasn’t so cool (Jeff Gordon still had a mustache) and treated it as something I was ashamed to admit. Sure, I watched racing, but what would my friends say?

The Media seldom was guilty of denying it’s viewing of NASCAR, but rather ignored it altogether. They would start with the tired diatribes about “who is the athlete – the car or the driver?” or “what is so exciting about 4 left turns?” Then it was on to the theory that the only people that followed the sport were the original cast members of the Dukes of Hazzard. Perhaps if the media could make the public think that the only people who followed the sport were slack-jawed yokels, then they could justify the ignoring of the sport.

But through it all, it kept growing. It grew at a rate that many found simply unbelievable. And it grew the whole time with almost no help from the media. Think about how many times you felt that the media forcing the WNBA down your throat. It was nauseating at the time of the launch of that league how NBC (who at the time carried the NBA) felt compelled to make us like Rebecca Lobo. But we saw through it, and the WNBA has a following small enough to fit in Lake Lewisville.

But NASCAR did most of the growing on its own. With its loyal fan base and solid marketing plan they realized that to grow the sport, they had to expand it to new lands, but only if it made total sense. Get to Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, but pass on the less worthy places like Edmonton or Boise.

Now, as you look at your sports page, you wonder if it is quickly moving up the list to a level similar to the NBA. Is that possible? The scoreboard says it is. Subtract the Super Bowl, and the other heavyweight spring/summer sports television event is the Daytona 500. With a 5-year average of 10.5, it edges the NBA Finals (10.3), spanks the Masters Final Round (9.6), and obliterates the Kentucky Derby (6.9). I won’t even suggest the NHL Finals. This suggests that like those other sports, its fan base is broad and powerful. This is not the cast of Hee-Haw watching, this is America.

Will it continue to grow? You would sure think so. I feel like the stars are decent right now, but the sport had perhaps its greatest star appeal in the early to mid 90’s when you had the late Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Dale Jarrett, Ernie Irvin, Bill Elliott all in their prime (or close to it), with a young Gordon on the move. Now, none of the above besides Gordon remains a viable contender in this sport and all approach retirement if they are not already there.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is maybe the sports most visible figure, and along with Gordon, the man on the street likely knows them. But what about Jimmie Johnson, last year’s champion Kurt Busch, 2003’s champion Matt Kenseth, or even bad boy Tony Stewart? My point is the talent is there, but maybe the sport still has plenty of room to grow with its stars on the rise.

Maybe the funniest part of this whole rise of NASCAR is the scrambling of the journalists to catch up. Now, restrictor plates, Pit road speed limits, and drafting partners are terms every sports pundit is quickly and quietly trying to learn. They realize that this is no longer a fad as much as it is soon to be part of their job description. Soon, they will need an opinion on whether Chevy has an unfair template advantage over Ford and Dodge, or is it just the drivers they have.

Look on the bright side, fellow journalist: At least it wasn’t the WNBA that the public wanted to buy!


Rumors and the Cowboys

The other side of the Miracle on Ice

Vescey on the trade deadline …And for once, I really am not worried about the Mavs doing anything…

Brewers count on Doug Davis

Ratings great for Daytona 500

Initial tune-in for the Daytona 500 was the highest in history. The first full half-hour of yesterday's race posted a 9.9/23 (2:30-3:00), beating last year's 9.7/23, which was helped by an appearance by President Bush as Grand Marshal. Ratings growth during the race was steady through the first half — then explosive from 5:00 through the dramatic conclusion. FOX notched an 11.6/24 at 5:00, a 13.0/25 at 5:30, and a 13.5/26 from 6:00-6:20 as Jeff Gordon captured the race in the first-ever "green-white-checkered" finish in Daytona 500 history. The 13.5/26 from 6:00-6:30 is the highest rating for any portion of a NASCAR race ever on FOX.

Over the last five years the Daytona 500 has established itself as one of the biggest events in sports. The last five Daytona 500s have averaged a 10.5 rating nationally, which is better than the average rating of the last five NBA Finals (10.3 on ABC and NBC). Compared to some other major Winter/Spring events, the last five Daytona 500s also beat the average of the last five final rounds of The Masters (9.6) and the last five Kentucky Derbies (6.9).

Murray Chass on the kid-napping of ballplayer’s familias

Families of baseball players become targets when players' salaries become public information.

"The day after I signed my contract, they put in the paper everything, especially how I'm going to get paid," said Silva, who signed a two-year, $5.05 million contract with the Twins this month. "That's one of the problems. They put in the paper how much money we're going to make. After I sign, everybody was talking about it. That's scary. I have people at my house asking for money."

Asking for handouts is one thing, demanding ransom is another. Villarreal's kidnappers, the authorities said, sought $6 million but received nothing. Urbina's mother was fortunate that she didn't suffer the fate of Urbina's father, Juan, who was killed by robbers a decade ago.

Chris Rock makes the Oscars mad

"I really don't know any straight men who aren't in show business that have ever watched the Oscars," he said.

The Emmy-winning comedian has taken some heat for an Entertainment Weekly interview in which he called the notion of giving awards for art "idiotic" and added: "what straight black man sits there and watches the Oscars?"

Falwell in hospital

NHLFA – the fan’s association

Sportsradio, 1310, The Ticket …what a great idea to rip off!

A P1 hockey column

Monday, February 21, 2005

What a Finish!

I admit I am a sports nerd. So, when I tell you that I watched every second of the Daytona 500 (yes, including the mind-numbing pre-race show featuring Kasey Kahne learning to surf, and Brian Wilson attempting to sing his own hit song with little success) it will likely not come as a surprise to many. But, I did, and it was awesome.

What a Race! It was heart-pounding gold, and that final portion of the race was so cool and exciting that I might have found another diversion from hockey mourning. It didn’t hurt that my official racer won the 500, the great Jeff Gordon, but regardless of who was standing at the end, the payoff was immense.

Racing is what every sport wants to be. Growing so fast in this country. Ratings are soaring through the roof. Personalities that are starring in every commercial during the race. If there really is a “Big 4”, Nascar has to be included.

As for hockey, I am really speechless at the developments of the past week. My life force is so low that I can barely type this sentence. There are many, many theories and while I would love to tell you I will get to the bottom of what went wrong, I am too numb to care.

Give me a day or two, and maybe I will get interested again, but as far as I am concerned, hockey has betrayed those of us who stick up for it, and I don’t want to hear about the subject until they have it settled.

If you do desire answers, I continue to suggest that Eklund, at Hockey Rumors is as connected as anyone. Check out his stuff…


David Poole was at the 500

Mark Stein was unimpressed with the All-Star Game …Me too, Mark…

But, check out what the league told KG when he wanted to skip…

Garnett, truth be told, wanted to skip All-Star Weekend completely to rest his sore knee, but was promptly informed by the league that he would have to spend the first five games out of the break on the injured list if he declined to show. Reluctant for days to even discuss his condition publicly, KG finally addressed it briefly after logging 16 minutes here, thanking the coach for his understanding.

SURPRISE STORY OF THE DAY! Rangers to cut payroll, and raise ticket prices

The increase is the first in three years for the Rangers. Cogen said a combination of timing, on-field performance and supply-and-demand factors led to the increase.

Further proof that anytime an owner claims that ticket prices are high because the players demand high salaries, he is lying. Cogen just said it. On-field performance and supply-and-demand are the reasons. We know that the Rangers are projecting a payroll almost $20 million lower than last season, so why are they doing it? Because they can. By the way, does anyone want to dispute the premise that Hicks is short of cash these days?

Brocail regrets the bullpen fight in Oakland

P1 James, way to go! He has started the website …Well done!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Is it GAME ON???

Who Knows?

Reports from last night that the league had struck a deal with the union are being followed this morning with reports of "not so fast".

So what is going on? Could the NHL get everyone's (who still cares) hopes up, only to squash them for the second time in a week?

I don't know, and because of a very busy weekend, I don't have too much to offer in the way of answers.

So, to keep those who do still care busy, here are top sites that I cruise for my hockey information:

TSN Hockey ...

Slam Hockey ...

And last, but certainly not least, the best rumor site going during this dispute is this Hockey Rumors site...

I leave you with this picture of the man who could save us all...

Friday, February 18, 2005

Good Strong Sports Books

I received this email yesterday:

Hey can you give me some suggestions for any good strong sports books?


Seems like a reasonable request. Let me make a list of some good strong sports books that I really like. But first, you should know that generally, my favorite books are all likely to be football books. It is a topic that I cannot get enough of.

Cotton Bowl Days – John Eisenberg

I have said it before, and I will say it again. If you are a Cowboys fan who has not read this book, you might not be a Cowboys fan. This is gold! It is basically the story of the Dallas Cowboys from the time they were born in 1960 until the time they moved to Texas Stadium. This covers plenty of ground of course, as the Cowboys went on the historic run from being winless in 1960, to being “next year’s champion”, and finally to winning Super Bowl VI in New Orleans. During this entire story, the author weaves his own personal family history through the fabric of the Cowboys story. It is quite well done, and maybe the one book that I would recommend anyone who enjoys football history and is a Cowboys fan.

Going Long – Jeff Miller

Miller, who is actually a writer with the Dallas Morning News wrote a great historical account of the AFL. Perhaps you should make sure you care about this renegade league that changed so much of how football is played on and off the field, but if you do, he allows all of the main players to speak in his book. Much of it is written almost as a transcript of interviews with the hundreds of characters, allowing them to tell the stories, but from 1960-1969 the stories are amazing and intriguing, and another of my favorite books.

America’s Game – Michael MacCambridge

This book is only a few months old. It is maybe the best football book I have ever read. If you have any appreciation about how the NFL became the NFL, and how it caught and passed baseball in the race for America’s hearts, then read this book! It is amazing. I cannot recommend this book enough at it takes you from 1945 as the league was hanging on for dear life in the wake of World War II all the way until present day NFL. Every story is touched on, from how the revenue sharing came to pass, to the story of the 1963 gambling scandal that saw Paul Hornung and Alex Karras suspended, to the merger with the AFL, right to last season. This may be a book I read twice, I love it so much.

Seasons in Hell – Mike Shropshire

I honestly feel this is one of the most underrated sports books ever written. It was written about the early years of the Texas Rangers, 1972-75. To call it hilarious is an understatement, and again, as a fan of the Texas Rangers, check it out and get an entertaining look at how things used to be when the Rangers were really a joke.

A few others include: October 1964 – David Halberstam, the baseball book about the pennant race of 1964 (obviously), Raw Recruits – Armen Keteyian and Alexander Wolff, the basketball book that opened my eyes to recruiting and the cheating that goes with it (written in the early 1990’s), North Dallas Forty – Pete Gent, the fictional/non-fictional tale of life in the NFL in the 1960’s, The Boys of Summer – Roger Kahn, about the Brooklyn Dodgers of the 1950’s, Run to Daylight – Vince Lombardi, where Lombardi spends one week in 1963 explaining everything about everything for a game versus Detroit, and Of Ice and Men – Bruce Dowbiggin, a fine look at top players and the craft of hockey.

I am sure I am forgetting some, but a quick look at my bookshelf last night brought these to mind, and I will add more if they occur to me later. I imagine they are all available at


HOMER CALL AUDIO HERE …And a very nice write-up from our new best friend, Sports By!

WOW, Mavs beat Phoenix …This has been a very impressive week. Another day, another gutsy win.

Down to nine healthy players, the Mavericks got superior efforts from Josh Howard, who had a career-high 30 points, and Michael Finley, who tossed in season-high-tying 33. Combined with a big rebounding night from Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavericks offset a monster performance by Phoenix big man Amare Stoudemire.
"An incredible road trip,'' coach Don Nelson said. "This just capped off a perfect week.''

Jerry vows to have a better spring

Michael Westbrook in the steel cage?

Former Washington Redskins receiver Michael Westbrook received medical clearance yesterday to participate in a martial arts mixed cage match against Jarrod Bunch in Cleveland on Feb. 25.

CP claims players still negotiating to save hockey …I just pass on what I read…Don’t roll your eyes at me!

Modano wonders about his Union

Mariotti on Wirtz

How to phony-up your biography…By Reggie Fowler

Roy and Kelly – together again?

DEI healthy at Daytona ….

Everton braces for the return of Rooney Saturday

Phil Esposito ready to get behind new league

Shocker (not) of the day: “Dollar” Bill Wirtz happy about the cancellation of the season

President Bill Wirtz issued a letter of apology to the fans, saying he's "terribly disappointed'' about the cancellation, but insisted it was necessary.

"Our system is broken,'' said Wirtz, making a rare public appearance for the media. "A cost-certainty system is what must be established. As unpopular as it was, we knew we had to have a hard [salary] cap. A hard cap is the only way this league will survive. You can't use vanishing cream to get rid of a pregnancy. You can't deny $350 million in losses.''

Must Read this about Canseco’s credibility …It is laugh-out-loud funny!

Star Telegram loves Napoleon Dynamite

More Email:

One thing you haven't mentioned in either the show or the blog was mentioned by Ray Ferraro on PTI yesterday. One of the main reasons the players didn't accept the 42M dollar cap was that the league was not willing to include a minimum salary amount. Basically, they wanted to limit salaries ala NBA, but they weren't willing to put in a floor amount, which the NBA does. This is a huge problem, obviously, because you could still have the Stars, Rangers, and Maple Leafs at 42M, but have the Coyotes, Blue Jackets and Sabres with payrolls of 15M. I thought it was worth mentioning.

Ferraro also mentioned that he walked up to Bettman, and introduced himself and Bettman had no clue who he was. This is a guy who played for 15+ years and the comish had no clue. It would be like Reggie Miller going up to Stern and him saying "Reggie who?".

Luis in Tucson.

Wow, what a shock! The Smug Midget knows nothing about hockey! That is what we get for hiring someone who did not know Conn Smythe from Dick Smothers…

I can't take it anymore. Listening to Mr. Hicks this morning go on & onabout needing cost certanty, and blaming the rising cost of ticket priceson the players was the last straw. Using his logic, Ranger ticket prices should have come down about 50% in the past 2 years.

Tom Hicks purchased the Stars in 1995 for $84 million. The franchise(assuming the owner's don't kill the sport), is currently valued at approximately $250 million. In addition, he has pocketed at least $7.5 million in expansion fees (Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, and Columbus each paid at least $50 million to join the league since 1995, split among the other 26 (Nashville/Atlanta) or 28 (Minn/Columbus) owners.

So he has $7.5 million in expansion fees that don't count as revenue, approximately $165 million gain in franchise value, he owns the TV outlet that controls the broadcasts, but he can't run his hockey team responsibly like his other businesses so he blames the players for his problems.

Why is the league so determined to protect all the bad owners? The league would be much better off is 6 - 8 teams were allowed to fold. If their owners can't build fan support, they shouldn't operate. Why do the Stars or Red Wings want to kill the game so that Pittsburgh, Phoenix, and Florida can keep teams that their fans don't support?

I grew up playing the game, and have followed it since I first watched the Big Bad Bruins of the 70's. One of my best sports moments was being in attendance for game 1 of the Stars/Sabres Cup Finals. I can't guarantee that I'll come back, and for that I'm really pissed at Bettman & the owners, who seem intent on breaking the union, not improving the game.

Keep up the good work. I'll keep on never listening.

Jeff Mega
Celina, TX

And now, one who speaks for the many who disagree with me and my stance…


Bob, you mentioned yesterday that once the season was cancelled, that would be the last you would be talking about the NHL. Would you please stick to this promise? There is absolutely no reason to talk about. Let's face it the season has been done for weeks now and you've said all you can possibly say regarding your viewpoint. I realize you're at a bit of a low point for sports talking points at this time of year, but man I'd rather hear you go through and extensive analysis of the team stats of all NCAA D1 basketball teams before you do another segment on hockey.

Regarding your viewpoint (and this does not mean I want on-air hockey talk), I have always been puzzled by your negative assessment of the owners. Why on earth do the owners have to negotiate? Personally, I find it very refreshing to have a party state their position from the outset and then stick to it. Sure, they carry the bulk of culpability for screwing up the league with poorly planned expansion and letting salaries go the way of the big three pro sports; however, what is wrong with them taking an extremely hard line in trying to correct the situation? The players would never agree to anything that would come close to saving hockey long term if the owners did not take this approach.

An often overlooked point is the blame that fans should take in all this, after all, they are the ones paying ridiculous amounts for the flawed product and all its absurd by-products (clothing, concessions, parking, etc.) Sure, they bitch and moan, but still plunk down their credit card for a $75.00 ticket, $100 shirt, $35.00 hat, $8.00 burger, and $7.00 watered down draught beer, that, in all likelihood, they can't afford. Attending an NHL game, at least in Toronto, on your own dime is an extremely under whelming and disappointing experience. The Raptors and Blue Jays are the same by the way, but at least the televised product is bearable. My rule of them is that I will go to games in Toronto if the tickets are free and someone else drives. Sabre games are much preferable, but it is still an expensive night that leaves you wondering why you did it the next morning when you assess the damage. The only major team pro games I pay to go see are the Bills - decent tickets and concessions are reasonable and the tailgate experience is as enjoyable as the game.

I sincerely hope the situation extends into next season and that there are some drastic results, such as teams folding. On Norm's show, Matvichuk (sp?) referred to 700 players in the league - out of those 700 there are probably 400 who have legitimate NHL talent. The league sucks. It is a horribly diluted and boring product that was dying a slow death. Even here in Ontario the NHL has been turning diehards into casual fans and casual fans into non-fans. As for new fans, kids are still very much into playing hockey but they are not the fans of the NHL that the kids of the 60's, 70's, and 80's were. The NBA and NFL are what kids are into up here as far as sports goes. I can't imagine what a non-factor the NHL is in the US.

Every time there is a pro sports strike I hope for this outcome because I think it is the first step towards completely revamping pro sports and returning them to the accessible (and family) products they once were. Wishful thinking I know.

I am a huge sports fan but I find the skewed position that pro sports now command in our society a depressing proposition. Maybe its a product of my age (pushing 40) but I am nowhere near the avid fan of my favorite teams that I once was, and I really miss that. The only sport I follow avidly now is golf and I think it's because although the money is ridiculous, these guys still have to perform to earn it and I can cheer for my favorite players for as long as they play - they can't change teams every 2 or 3 years, ie: I can follow players and not management entities which is pretty much what you are doing with the major team sports.

Sorry for the verbosity, but I've been meaning to write you for a while now. I hope you have the time to read it and comment.

Good times,

John McLennan, B.A., C.R.M.

John, it appears we obviously disagree on who should be responsible for making concessions to clean up the owner’s mess. Otherwise, your email is spot on in many areas. I enjoyed reading it, and wanted to make sure many others got to soak all of these emails in as an example of the hundreds I have received on this topic…

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Smug Midget Wins

Well, I was clearly wrong. They would pull the plug on the season, and possibly the sport. This thing likely will never recover. Yes, baseball survived a similar plight in 1994, but it took years and it was baseball. Baseball means a bit more to the fine people of the United States of America than Hockey (if you don’t mind me speaking for the country).

I assumed that when push came to shove, there was no singular issue worth more than the sport to the supposed “stewards of the game”. But I was clearly wrong. I gave irrational men too much credit, and now I feel like the dope.

The “Smug Midget” proved what he is worth, by being the guy to who pulled the plug. He cannot be forgiven, and he cannot be anything short of ridiculed by the lovers of this game. He proclaimed his objective was “cost certainty” and the only way to achieve this was through a salary cap. He then won his salary cap and was not happy with a simple win. He made it personal to crush the union, and while they are no angels, they did not cancel the season, and in doing so cancel any chance for hockey relevance in the next decade. He did. And I for one cannot wish for his firing soon enough.

The Smug Midget did not offer any negotiation. The Smug Midget did not show any urgency. Every correspondence he sent to the union was condescending and inflammatory, as if he did not want to accomplish anything but to make a bad fight worse. He is supposedly holding a position in his sport in which he could bring the sport together and on the rise to new heights. He showed no urgency, until it was time to cancel the season, only 36 hours after the players had come around to his way of thinking. Cancel the season if you must, but only after both sides reach a standoff that cannot be resolved. To cancel it hours after the latest proposal is insulting and embarrassing. It proves what we knew along, he never had the intention of letting this season happen, without a complete and total annihilation of the players.

The Smug Midget could not carry out his one obligation: To preserve the sport for the generations of players, coaches, owners and fans who have always made sure this game carries on for the future enjoyment of those who come after them. He needed to grandstand and show his power. He needed to accomplish his mission and then some. He needed to not only win, he needed to crush his opponent. He needed to continue his audition to succeed David Stern as NBA commissioner.

But in doing so, he has done damage that may never be recovered from. Hockey is a joke. And we have the Smug Midget to thank. Sure, there are others who deserve blame, too, but only one guy killed the game. Because only one guy had the power to save it. Nice going.


In lieu of, here is Remove

Not a good start in Minnesota for Reggie Fowler

I watched a documentary last night that I really enjoyed. It is called Power, Passion, and Glory: The Real Story of Texas Football Madness …Or, the story of Celina 2002. Man, I am not into high school football at all (I recognize it is great, but I don’t have the time), but now I am rethinking that stance. It was a really well done film, and I now consider Celina my team, and I am quite curious about what became of those players, and what Celina has done since then. So, if you are a Bobcats know-it-all, send me an email, and maybe buy the film no matter what team you might like…

I was thinking this the last few weeks, but now I will say it after last night: The Aggies still have a lot of work to do, after scoring 40 in a 35 point loss in Austin …The knee jerking of how quickly Gillispie would turn that program around was only surpassed by the knee jerking of how quickly Franchione would get the football program around…

Chan Ho Speaks!

"I've had some difficult times," said Park, who along with 17 other pitchers will throw today during the first day of spring workouts. "But maybe that will help me be a stronger pitcher emotionally. I hate that I had those experiences, but I'm happy I've learned from them. I think it can be very positive."

Revo on the hockey mess

Nash settles in at the Valley of the Sun , and talk about the MUST-SEE-TV event of the night, Mavericks at the Suns, tonight at 9:30 on TNT…

Speaking of TNT, if you are a Mavericks fan, you can make yourself crazy by gathering around the set to hear Barkley slam your team again. Here is the latest from Chuck

As for the Mavericks, Barkley said they have earned a little more respect from him.
"Dallas can beat Seattle and Phoenix," Barkley said. "It wouldn't be an upset if they beat Seattle or Phoenix. But San Antonio's the best team."

However, Barkley is not willing to put Nowitzki, who is averaging 26.9 points and 9.9 rebounds, in the same category with San Antonio's Tim Duncan or Minnesota's Kevin Garnett.

"The problem I have with Dirk – and don't get me wrong, he's a really good player – is that if he doesn't score, he doesn't put an imprint on the game," Barkley said. "If I couldn't make shots on a night, I was going to get 20 rebounds. Karl Malone could do that. Tim Duncan doesn't have to get 25 points to make a difference in a game. But if he [Nowitzki] doesn't score, he doesn't make a difference in the game. That's the only problem I have with him."

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Last Day...Maybe

I spent Tuesday night answering 200 emails about Lee Corso (scroll down for more on that), and watching all of my Canadian Websites ponder the latest NHL developments. Never has such a frustrating event been so entertaining. Here is a quick time line:

Monday Night: The Players, after 6 months of saying they would rather die than accept a cap, accept a cap in theory. The Owners also agree to stop linking revenue to spending in the formation of the cap. Figures are a ways apart as the owners insist on $40 million and the players are talking $52 million, but there is hope.

Tuesday Afternoon: Bettman offers the final, final, final offer of a $42 million cap in the form of a pompous, scolding letter to Goodenow that somehow got leaked to the media.

Tuesday Dinner: Goodenow responds with a proposal of a $49 million cap to the final, final, final offer.

Moments After Tuesday Dinner: Bettman rejects Goodenow’s proposal out to half-court, and still claims that it will be $42 million or he pulls the plug at lunch Wednesday.

I still feel like it will get done, but obviously the developments of the last 24 hours make you question the whole thing.

Keep in mind that when/if this gets done, they still have arbitration, free agency age, and a few other topics to sort through which could take days. Then, we are looking at 3 weeks before hockey which would be a 28 game season and then playoffs. But I promise you this, if these clowns cancel this sport for a few million in either direction, I wish them all immediate disease.

The plot thickens….Get It Done, Boys!

By the way, here is the full story about our day with Lee Corso from , including audio of the full deal. Thanks, Brooks! We even made Fark!


Mavs with another Western Win

Bledsoe released, to Dallas? has learned that there were discussions between the Bills and Dallas Cowboys officials in recent days about a potential trade. It is not known if the Cowboys opted not to pursue those talks or if Bledsoe advised the Bills he did not wanted to be traded. Such a deal would have reunited Bledsoe with Bill Parcells, the coach who brought him into the league as the first overall prospect selected in the 1993 draft.

Bledsoe’s Career Numbers ….

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

I might be high, but...

I really am starting to think there will be hockey.

Reason #1: The NHLPA has accepted a Cap ...

Reason #2: All of this big talk about a Wednesday press conference is just that. If they were going to cancel the season, they could cancel it. They don't need to leave another 48 hour loop-hole. This is the old "I will tell you one more time to behave or else"...

Reason #3: They can't be this dumb...Well, Bettman is. And so is Hicks. But everyone else is not that dumb, right?

It may be a mockery of a season, but it beats the alternative...They will play, I think.

Don't Mess with Tech

Texas Tech 80, Kansas 79 – 2 OT And as they say, one sports death is another’s re-birth. Too bad for hockey, but if hockey was playing right now, I likely would not have watched another college basketball game in its entirety last night. And it was greatness. Tech and Kansas dueled in a game that ended with the floor being rushed by thousands. It was a big night for that program in Lubbock. Incidentally, Kansas may be a top team in this country (although I am not sure they are very close to Illinois and the team I think is the best, North Carolina) but they will not go anywhere if they don't learn to shoot free throws. That is embarassing. Fort Worth's Keith Langford is a great player, but he should be better than 61% from the stripe...

It is time for my Dallas Mavericks 49-game checkup. Why 49 games? Because my next column for the Dallas Sports Page is due. Enjoy.

Without any question this team is better. I swear it is true. When I watch the Dallas Mavericks of 2004-05, I am positive they are better in so many ways. Ways that we have all called for and demanded, and now that they are true, we are all tickled to witness on a nightly basis.

Trouble is, it is not very easy to quantify. For instance, through 49 games the Mavericks sit at 33-16 this season. Last year, through the same number of games, they were 31-18, while two years ago, when they went all the way to the Western Conference Finals, they were an amazing 38-11 at this point. So, how could I possibly make the point that they are substantially better than that team despite having a substantially worse record?

Because I can. Because they are.

Explanation #1: They are better because they defend better. There is no question that when you watch this team play every night, they clearly defend better throughout the team. For the first time in forever, they can slam the door shut on their opponent when it is time to “D it up”. Look, they will not make you forget Bill Russell and the Celtics of the 60’s with the way they defend, but they are light years better than when Raef LaFrentz and Shawn Bradley were the best options on this defense. And at the end of a game, Josh Howard or Erick Dampier can even help you get a stop. Two players who are foreign concepts to the Mavs of recent years; they are primary defenders. Sure they can get you a hoop, but they specialize in keeping their opponent from doing just that.

Explanation #2: They are better because they can now get dunks. I know this sounds like a superficial reason from someone who grew up with Sportscenter, but trust me, old man, dunks are not all bad. It is a simple discussion of distance. When you dunk, that means you are getting a high percentage shot. The Mavs of 2003 were a great team. Any team that had that record had plenty of strengths, but let’s be honest here. They were not dunking with any regularity. They were settling for shots from the perimeter. They were built under the failed Don Nelson premise that maybe your center could draw their center out to the three-point line. Raef would shoot a 3, and Webber would dunk at the other end. Dirk would shoot a 3, and Shaq would dunk at the other end. Now, just maybe, the Mavs won’t have to trade 23-footers for 2-footers at crunch time. Maybe, when the game gets tough, they can actually get a basket in the paint. They look like a team that will not be defeated because their first, second, and third option is the 3 point shot.

Explanation #3: Our little German is “all growns up”. To steal the phrase from “Swingers”, Dirk is just flat-out, a better player. He is dominant, he is aggressive, he is vicious. He used to be so polite, and so ready to allow others to lead the way. He could be muscled away from the rim, and he could be intimidated. Not anymore. I think Steve Nash leaving was great for him. I also think being humiliated by how last season ended was great for him. Whatever the reason, the big German is amazing this year. He appears interested every night. He is not to be denied. He is now a legitimate superstar in this league and there isn’t a darn thing you can do to stop him if he is on his game. And he is on his game quite a bit. Not sure if he is the MVP, and I am not sure I care, but he is really the team’s leader, and all of us who were wondering if he had another level in his game got a resounding answer.

Explanation #4: The roster just makes sense now. Check it out, they have centers who like playing center. They have guards that can defend, too. No disrespect to Nash, but I have seen his routine enough to know he is always awesome in January. But will he do in Phoenix what he has done in Dallas for the last several years (get used up by an opposing point guard in the playoffs)? Time will tell, but I think we know his energy level peaks at Valentine’s Day, not Memorial Day. They had nothing but Power Forwards last season, and they finally sorted through this mess. I am still concerned about Point Guard, and they need Marquis Daniels and Howard to stay healthy for more than two straight weeks, but all in all, I love the look of this roster. Hey, Bradley is like the 12th man finally, a place where he actually looks great!

I cannot swear this team will get further than it did in 2003. That team was possibly a Dirk ankle sprain from the NBA Title, but this one just looks like a playoff-team. Not some experimental idea of Nelson’s to try to reinvent basketball to get his undermanned team as far as possible. This team really looks like a great team that could do great things. Now, does it happen this spring or next? Not sure, but at least we don’t have to worry about hockey distracting our attention.


Houston Chronicle’s game story from Tech-Kansas …What a thriller…

Wednesday press conference scheduled to put hockey to sleep

My thoughts exactly on hockey

Here is another column to consider

Vikings fans rejoice (if you must)! it appears that the Red McCombs is soon to be a faded memory …Too bad for Cheeseheads…

Kansas Coach describes a Bob Knight team yesterday

"They're the easiest team to prepare for and the hardest to play," Self said, "because you can't really say, 'These are their plays and this is what you have to do.' You have to play tendencies and principles as opposed to guarding plays."

Peter King catches up with Fred Mitchell

"If you played this Patriot team 10 times, how many times do you figure the Eagles would win?'' I asked.

"Eight times,'' he said. "To me, the Patriots are not that good. We turn it over four times, and still they only beat us by three. We're the better team. But we turned it over too much. A good team crushes that Patriot team. I'm telling you, they're not that good. T.O. was hurt, and he still scorched them for over 100 yards.''

He called the Patriots a "well, well-coached team. But we'll see how good a coach Bill Belichick is after he loses those two coordinators. That Charlie Weis is a friggin' mastermind."

Speaking of Belichick, I told him Sports Illustrated had quoted Belichick this week as calling Mitchell "terrible ... We loved when he was in the game."

"Oh,'' Mitchell said. You could feel the steam over the phone. "I see. It takes a big man to talk after the game. Why didn't he say anything before the game? That shows what kind of guy he is.''

Gerrard surely leaving Anfield …I hope this dude is wrong, but…

Trevor Pryce to be traded …Cowboys? Hello?

Own your own Packers Super Bowl Ring

Monday, February 14, 2005

Ch-Ching! A Mavericks Money Ball!

If Friday was a nice win, then this is a great win. A great win in Seattle, as the Sonics somehow squander a glorious rally to cough up a 90-80 lead with 4:31 to play. With about 7 minutes to play, the Mavericks looked as if they had allowed referee Violet Palmer to get under their skin (and yes, I have voted her the worst ref in the league).

But, when it came time to win, the Mavericks did not allow the Sonics to score, and got just enough offense to leave with a huge smile. Jason Terry and Dirk are the heroes again, but let’s not over look Erick Dampier’s run here in the last few weeks:

Dampier’s Double-Doubles (at least 10 points & rebounds)

First 39 games: 8
Last 10 games: 8

I cannot tell you what Avery Johnson told him in that locker room screaming match, but it appears that perhaps it got through to Damp (or “3-D”, as Bob Oretgal now calls him).

And, while we praise the Mavericks for their fine weekend, let us not forget Michael Finley, who led the team in minutes both games, and after being scolded for 1 rebound in the game against Chicago, he grabbed 17 in the 2 games out west. Perhaps Dampier and Finley are both demonstrating that you need to be scolded sometimes, because they are both responding to it…

Mavs go 2-0 on the road-trip

Howard locking down on Allen, Peja

Josh Howard had one of the NBA's toughest defensive assignments for the second time in three nights. And once again, he limited an offensive machine to less than half his scoring average.

Ray Allen, a 24-point scorer, got 10 points on 4-of-17 shooting Sunday night, a big reason the Mavericks were able to overcome a 10-point deficit in the last 4:31 for a 95-92 victory over Seattle, ending its five-game winning streak. On Friday, Howard shadowed Sacramento's Peja Stojakovic and allowed the sharpshooter only nine points.

Aikman says bag the Pro Bowl

Jimmie Johnson wins the Bud Shootout

For some reason, someone cares what Tom Hicks thinks As he says the players turned down the best offer …To which I say, “Tom, if anyone else cares what you think about hockey, given the fact that you have been trying to get out of hockey since you cashed in on the new arena, we will let you know…See, this is the problem with hockey right now. You have a commissioner and many owners that don’t care about hockey anymore than they care about a mutual fund. Guess what, guys, it shows…

Saunders fired in Minnesota

A decent start notwithstanding, destiny took its course and this team with great expectations fell flat. A 13-6 start, was followed with a 12-20 run, including having lost seven of the last eight. An 18-point loss at Utah Friday night to the Jazz, a team that had lost five of six themselves, was the last hurrah.

The prohibitive favorites to win the Northwest Division stood 25-26, 11½ games behind the Seattle SuperSonics and ninth in the Western Conference.

And Kevin McHale is going to clean this up? McHale's Navy would have a better shot.
This guy has been questionable as a general manager, and he's never coached a second in the NBA, let alone this wacky bunch. Putting him on the bench would be like asking Ringo Starr to take over lead guitar to replace the late George Harrison for a Beatles tour.

Dale Jr. has new chief, new crew, will need new excuses

Snoop Smokes?

If you have listened carefully to our show, you know I have plenty of theories about sports that I may or may not be positive about. One has been heard rarely, but it is one I am pretty sure about, and now it is getting validated in the Washington Post: White People hate White Basketball Players, including J.J. Redick

"I don't know what it is," Wojciechowski said. "He looks like the common man. For whatever reason, those guys over the years have gotten the brunt of fans' enthusiasm."

For some college basketball fans, players such as Redick represent what they believe Duke embodies: a rich private school with a privileged student body. From Danny Ferry to Laettner to Bobby Hurley to Wojciechowski, Duke's white players have often received the brunt of fans' bile. Many of Duke's great black players, such as Battier, Johnny Dawkins, Jason Williams and Hill, seemed to be respected by fans of opponents more than they were hated.

The white Duke players "seem to be so every-guy-like," said Peter Roby, director of Northeastern University's Center for Study of Sport in Society. "Guys sitting in the stands might say, 'What gives you the right to play like that when you look so much like us?' "

Last time the Cup was canceled

Save Arrested Development …Please!

Here, is an Arrested Development love-site,

Take the Swingers test

Liverpool pounded by Birmingham ...Ouch...That hurts the chances to catch Everton...doggone.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Chest Bumps in Sacramento

That, is a very, very nice win. It can change the course of a road-trip completely, and frankly, it might not have been totally deserved.

Whatever the case, the Mavericks hung tough, got just enough stops at the end, some favorable officiating (including one butchered call) , and leave Sacramento with another win. It is the sixth win in eight trips to Arco Arena, and the Kings 4th straight loss overall.

What a wildly entertaining game, in which Dirk once again dominated at times. He continues his MVP bid, despite not being voted a starter to the All-Star game. The Kings have really evolved with their personnel. But like the Mavericks, those on the outside are not sure it is for the better. Gone are Vlade, Christie, with Hedo Turkoglu, Jim Jackson and Keon Clark coming off the bench, and injured is Bobby Jackson (again). Meanwhile, Cutino Mobley and Brad Miller certainly lend quality to their unit, but I find it debatable whether or not they are any better as a complete squad. They just don’t scare you as much. Nor do they seem as capable to drop a 17-2 run on your head in the crucial juncture of the game like they may have a few seasons back.

It kind of reminds you how difficult it is to get a title. Many assume that a team wins a ring “if it hangs around long enough”. The Kings might be a fine example of that being false. Maybe the Philadelphia Eagles are, too. The Utah Jazz of the 90’s is another. Rings are hard to get, and sometimes you can construct the most talented team in the league, and 5 years later all you have to show for it are some nice wins in the regular season.

Of course, will the Mavericks look back at Dirk’s career the same way? Or, has this Mavericks roster been adjusted enough to cure what ails them? Erick Dampier sure looks like a difference maker now. Even if he did goal-tend that Mobley lay-up, at least now the Mavericks have a player that will contend a shot in the final minute. The way this team plays on the road really encourages me. On the other hand, the way this team plays the cream-puffs at home really discourages me.

The good news is that it appears we have a team worth watching, because with the NFL gone, and the NHL dead, we need some good hoops this spring. Let’s hope they have a play-off run in them.


Read this from Al Stachan …He is dead on…

More than five years ago, in Dallas, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said, "I assure you when the times comes, and we need a new collective bargaining agreement, we will have a system that is sensible and will enable all our clubs to be competitive."

He also said, "I believe we have to have a league, long-term, where all teams are competitive and all teams can at least break even, if not make a profit."
The NHLPA's Dec. 9 proposal provided that system.

But by then, Bettman had moved the goal posts. Now he would no longer accept a system that was "sensible". Now it had to be foolproof.

Now, it was no longer good enough to have a system where teams "can" make a profit.

Now, it had to be a system where teams "must" make a profit.

But still, the PA kept saying what it had said all along. Even Daly knows their stance. As he said yesterday, "The union is never, ever, ever, ever under any circumstances, prepared to play under any kind of cost-certain economic partnership, salary cap -- you pick the term -- and as long as that continues to be their position, it's going to be difficult for us to resolve."

It wouldn't be that difficult to resolve if Bettman was willing to accept what he originally said he wanted. In the early stages of these negotiations, he steadfastly refused to use the term "salary cap" and chastised those who did.

…Maybe, somewhere far down the road, the PA will have to give in. Perhaps it will finally say, "Okay Gary, you've got your salary cap."

But by then, what will Bettman have attained? He will have ruined the future of the league's strong franchises and cost the competent owners hundreds of millions of dollars of profit. And for what? To make the world safe for the idiot owners in the group, the ones for whom a "sensible" system is not good enough.

If/when the NHL dies, at least the fact that Goodenow and Bettman will no doubt be fired will be a consolation…

Bernard Hopkins takes his shots at D McNabb

Steelers have some cap questions to answer

Revo wants voters to show their ballots …Sounds quite reasonable…

Race season begins tonight on Fox at 7

Above, Shaune Bagwell tattoos her cleavage …I kid you not…

Friday, February 11, 2005

Things People Say...

Finley with odd comments in FWST

Since the start of the 2002-03 season, the Mavs are 39-4 when Finley attempts at least six free throws in a game.

But Nelson said he didn't tell Finley he needs to attack the basket more.

"Every time I've tried to get Mike to drive the ball, I kind of confused him and it hasn't been easy for him," Nelson said. "His drives are usually pull-up drives. I'm not going to ask him to do something that he can't do."

Finley said he won't drive to the basket more because that would make his game too predictable. He added that this slump is similar to others he's had with the Mavs.
"I just think you guys [the media] don't have anybody else to pick on," Finley said. "So it's my time on the roster."

Finley, 32, is the 14th highest-paid player in the NBA with a salary of $14.609 million.

So, let me get this straight. He won’t drive because that would make his game too predictable, but the fall-away 22-foot shot is not? I fear that Finley’s finest days are behind him…

Kenny Rogers turns a 180 to Evan Grant

T.R. Sullivan on the Rogers story

"My discussions with the Rangers are supposed to be confidential," Rogers said. "They should be between me and the Rangers. It's not anybody else's affair."

This comment seems particularly interesting to me. Largely, because we have heard this before with the new regime of Hart and Showalter. It appears that this is their way of dealing with players. Player makes a demand behind closed doors, team leaks it to its beat writers to expose the selfish player, and the player is ticked off that his private comments were leaked.

You may remember all of the Palmeiro leaks from 2003, where they were leaking his trade refusals to the Cubs. At the time, I found it curious that he did not want to play for a winner, but he did in fact have a clause in his contract that allowed him to veto any trade. He negotiated that, they agreed to it, but when he utilized that clause, they still leaked it to the papers, making him look bad. It is a nasty tactic, but obviously effective. Nevertheless, it is pretty unethical if this is their way of doing business…

Everton attempts to hold off Liverpool for the final Champions League spot

Lupica on Giambi

Eagles franchise Simon

NHL crawls into its casket

Thursday, February 10, 2005

It's Awesome, Baby!

I have 2 things for you today:

Item #1: College basketball is gaining at least one fan off of the NHL lockout. I have watched roughly 10 complete games already this season which constitutes about as many as I have watched total since moving to Dallas in 1998.

Last night, it was Duke vs. North Carolina for me. What a great game. The 218th meeting between the biggest rivals in the sport, and it was a thriller. Duke won 71-70, to win for the 15th time in 17 games. I swear North Carolina looks like they are playing NBA Jams when I see them play normally, but Coach K slowed them down in huge fashion, and held the Tar Heels transition game to almost nothing. Great game with the rematch at the Dean Dome in a month.

Item #2: Yesterday on the show (and more coming today, for that matter), we played audio from the actual broadcast of Super Bowl VI, the Battle of New Orleans, when the Cowboys won their first Title. Check out the life of a radio show, as I present to you three consecutive emails I received.

Email 1

Just when I thought you guys were on the verge of failing…you boys have "...totally redeemed yourselves..." as the audio kings of the little ticket. This will be great on going audio (as Bob mentioned) for Cowboy fans who were not thought of around Super VI and other games of glory. Don't let it stop there, bring on the Rangers and Mavs audio, anything old school you can find about any team of relevance…Great work!

Eric Elliott

Email 2

If you guys have nothing in your bag for the day, just say it. This book report on Super Bowl 6 is really some of the worst work you guys have done. I am a big fan of the show and I think I have told you before that you guys have the best show on the ticket but this really sucks. Please bring back the real Bob and Dan.


And, finally, Email 3

Great job today, guys, of providing a bit of historical context to the Cowboys and their impact on this town, the players from that era, etc. Really entertaining and I salute your acknowledging what has come before.

Thanks guys,


Which proves that no matter what you do on the radio, some people love it, and some people will hate it. You just hope more are in the first group than the second.

We get no respect!

Eddie Johnson scores for the US in 2-1 win over T&T

Kenny Rogers to retire? …By the way, I cannot believe how sorry this is of Kenny. I normally will align with anyone against Tom Hicks, but there is no way that Kenny has any leg to stand on here. With a few days before he is to report, flat out, this is sorry...

Rogers, who won a career-high 18 games last year, has told the Rangers he might retire if he does not receive a two-year contract extension, according to sources.

Rogers' agent, Scott Boras, confirmed that they have approached the Rangers and are interested in a two-year contract extension. Phone calls to Rogers were not returned.

"We feel this is something that Kenny has earned based on what he did for the Rangers last year," Boras said Wednesday

Revo on Rogers ...

I'd like to say this isn't the Kenny Rogers I know, the baseball warrior who busts his hump every time he steps onto the field; the soft-spoken guy from the strawberry fields of Plant City, Fla., who has the guts and guile of a burglar.

But maybe it is. This isn't the first time Kenny has had contract problems with the Rangers. He can be stubborn -- even pig-headed, some might say -- when it comes to a contract. He's walked out before.

But this would be dead wrong. Nothing more, nothing less.

Hakeem a Terrorist?

Stew Mandel on Duke over UNC …Scott May’s kid is really good…

Shocker: Freddie Mitchell speaks!

"It was kind of like me being facetious and kidding around. They blew it way out of proportion," Mitchell said of his pregame comments. "[Their reactions] reminded me of little girls. They're sensitive. Real, real sensitive.

"Now the thing that bothers me the most is you've got everybody talking now. ... I've got [Patriots coach Bill] Belichick even throwing remarks about me. It's like, 'Man, did I hurt you that bad that you have to go out and shout my name?' Troy Brown saying something, Mr. Belichick saying a little something. It's funny how I got under their skin."

Culpepper not defending Moss very strongly

"He's my good friend, but you almost get to thinking that maybe enough is enough," Culpepper said after Wednesday's practice for his third Pro Bowl appearance in five seasons. "And maybe the Vikings organization has had enough."

Vinny back to the Jets!?!….

Hull says cancel the season already

Email Question of the day:


just wanted to say that as a cowboy fan, i completely agree with your assessment of Irvin getting to the HOF. it's disappointing that when it just comes down to a yes/no vote, the panel denies him. but i can see the importance of the first ballot HOFer. i was curious as to what your reaction would be if for some reason Aikman didn't make it on the first ballot? i know that's thinking high to think he won't on the first ballot, but I’m curious as to what you would think if Aikman was denied the first time.....thanks I’m gay

detroit targers fan,


Aikman is interesting- He is a no-brainer HOF QB- And he compares very favorably with Bob Griese and Bart Starr- Starr was first ballot, Griese was a fifth- I am figuring he will go next season, but we should assume nothing, right?