Wednesday, July 12, 2006

MVP of the Midsummer Classic



Mr Quiet Superstar, Michael Young, stole the show last night at that great stadium in Pittsburgh. If the story of the night wasn’t the 2 hour and 33 minute game, it was Young’s 2-out, 2-run triple in the top of the 9th. Well, done.
Mike Young wins the MVP with another clutch performance


"I'm not gonna lie - this is a pretty big highlight in my baseball career," Young said with a broad grin in the postgame news conference. "I can't wait to get back to my teammates in Texas."

The highlight, Young said, comes a close second among individual accomplishments to the American League batting title he captured last season, which was an entire year in the making. As Young stepped down from the podium, he handed off his wristband to be shipped to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

Young then walked down the hall to a clubhouse, where a pack of reporters awaited him. It was a stark difference from the media availability Monday afternoon, where Young flew coolly under the radar.

"Like I say, he's underrated," AL manager Ozzie Guillen said. "I talk about it. Nobody talks about this kid, and this kid is one of the best players in baseball right now."

Young won MVP honors despite not playing his regular position. He played second base, though he is a shortstop in Texas. He is the third Ranger to be an All-Star Game MVP, joining Alfonso Soriano (2004) and Julio Franco (1990), both of whom played second base in the game.


From the Pittsburgh Paper


This is a guy who was booed by Oakland fans in his major-league debut for no other offense than making it on their turf, in the lowly act of pinch-running. This is a guy who, in rookie hazing, was forced to wear a dress by Texas teammates who wisely alerted the media, which captured video of him walking off the plane's, uh, runway. This is a guy who came to Pittsburgh alone, because his wife, Cristina, and son, Mateo, had to stay back home in Texas with summer colds.

"My only regret," this guy was saying near midnight last night inside PNC Park, "is my wife and son are sick and couldn't make it. They had to watch it on TV."


One of the big talking points from last night was the AL owning the NL. Well, the last NL win was in 1996, so Sports Sturm had to go find the 1996 All Star Game boxscore for you to enjoy…

Meanwhile, another free agent gets away from the Mavericks:

James goes to Minnesota


"Minnesota offered him more money and more years," Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wrote in an e-mail. "That was the most important aspect to Mike. He told me he was going to take the highest offer, and he did."

Duffy told The Associated Press that James will receive the Timberwolves' full mid-level exception, which is worth about $5 million next season.


Lebreton looks at the dollars …and says it all about the cash…


We assume that all athletes want to win a championship. That all employees want to have a good boss. And we reason that all humble souls, having already banked millions, will now be motivated by less mercenary pursuits.

Oh, what fools we NBA followers be.

For a few dollars more, point guard Mike James spurned the NBA runner-up Mavericks and signed with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday.

The Mavericks won 60 games last season and came within two victories of the NBA championship. Minnesota, meanwhile, won 33 and lost 49.

You can do the math.


That seems harsh, Gil. I understand the cash was different, but let’s not forget the 2nd biggest currency in the NBA, minutes. In Minnesota, he should be able to play the entire game, whereas in Dallas, when you see Harris, Terry, Howard, and Dirk, where is Mike James going to see big minutes? 20 a night versus 40 a night is a big difference, so let’s not make this all out to be cash.

The view from Minnesota


For several days, free agent guard Mike James had told NBA insiders that he was weighing contract offers from the Timberwolves and two other Western Conference teams, and would make his decision according to strict criteria:

1. The team would have to be committed to chasing a championship now.

2. It would have to really want and trust him, in a central role, as part of its future.

So James carefully broke down his pros and cons, studied the rosters of the Wolves, the Houston Rockets and the Dallas Mavericks ... then chose the team that offered an opt-out clause after the third year, an extra $6.5 million or so in Year 4 and a trade "kicker" worth an extra 15 percent if he is dealt before the deal runs out.




In today’s discussion of the World Cup fallout, what do you say we look at the television numbers? Fellow soccer lover, Jason, sends me the evidence, but to make sure this is not a biased study, he produced multiple sources to report how the World Cup blew up in the USA.

From the New York Times


The quadrennial visit of the World Cup must be viewed as a television success story. Sunday's final attracted 16.9 million viewers, and the star of stars, Zinedine Zidane of France, morphed from magician to the soccer equivalent of Mike Tyson with his overtime head butt of Marco Materazzi.

Those 16.9 million viewers included 11.9 million on ABC and 5 million on Univision, and they represented a 152 percent leap from 2002, when the game in Japan was shown in the morning. The audience was 31 percent better than eight years ago from France, and it was on par with 1994 from Pasadena, Calif.

This year's viewership exceeded by about 4 million the average audience last month for the NBA Finals between Miami and Dallas. It came close to the 17.5 million for Florida's victory over UCLA in the NCAA basketball title game and the 17.1 million average for the White Sox's sweep of the Houston Astros in the World Series.


WOW!

From Media Life


If this World Cup proved anything, besides how far behind the rest of the world the U.S. men’s soccer team is, it’s that soccer is no longer a fringe sport in this country.

After a wildly successful month, Sunday’s World Cup final drew 17 million American viewers, more people than watched Tiger Woods’ most recent major win, a non-figure skating night of the Winter Olympics, or the season finale of “The Apprentice.”

The final between France and Italy averaged nearly 12 million viewers on ABC and 5 million on Univision, according to early numbers released yesterday by Nielsen.
---

Perhaps most telling, of the 50 million people who watched part of a game on Univision over the past month, 21 million were non-Hispanics. That shows that the game is catching on in this country, though it still has a very long way to go before becoming mainstream.

ESPN averaged an impressive 2.3 million viewers for its 20 games, 76 percent above 2002’s average.

The final’s overnight numbers put it not too far behind premier sporting events like this year’s men's NCAA basketball final at 11.2 on CBS and NASCAR's Daytona 500, which averaged an 11.3 this year on Fox Sports.

And even non-U.S. World Cup games were well ahead of ESPN men's college basketball average, OLN's hockey playoffs and final-day ratings for any major professional golf tournaments.


And, The USA Today

And, just so no one accuses me of not posting links off the sports page recently, here is Eva Longoria without makeup …yikes!

Now, for some email. This first one is a bit lengthy, but it is directed at my brothers in crime up here at the Ticket (The Musers and Dan) about their World Cup comments from Monday. He wanted a rebuttal, and I thought it was well thought-out enough to get posted here for your review:


Yesterday, amid all the other “apples and oranges” reasoning and idiotic commentary, a few of your “points” stood out for their blatant simplemindedness and total lack of originality.

I thought I’d offer the following responses to two of your many empty-headed and sophomoric observations, as well as some final food for thought:

Summarized Ignorant comment #1 - “Michael Jordon would NEVER check out of the biggest game of his life because he was tired, as Thierry Henry did”.

Summarized Ignorant comment #2 – “Why can’t these guys shoot straight? They don’t hit the target enough.”

Now I’ll ask you to consider the following questions about American sports posed in a similarly ignorant fashion.

Ignorant Questions for Ignorant comment #1

Why do the best starting pitchers in baseball get pulled late in a game 7 of the World Series? Can’t they suck it up? I mean, everyone acknowledges they are by far the best pitchers on the team, why would they leave the game?

Why wouldn’t Roger Clemens gut it out and pitch on back-to-back nights if it were game 6 and 7 of the World Series? Will his arm fall off? Can’t he take some Advil, ice it down and fight through it?

Why are starting pitchers given 5 days off each time they play their game? It only requires that they stand on a hill and throw a ball to a guy hunched down 60 feet or so from them about 100 times.

By your “blood and guts” standards, doesn’t it seem odd that a pitcher can come into a game, throw 1 pitch, and then be replaced by another, or be hailed as the BEST closer in the game? Isn’t he a great athlete with steely nerves and concentration? Is that sport so lame that it requires a new pitcher after one pitch? What’s so great about a player who can’t do more for his team than throw the ball 12 times every other day? It’s absurd!

How come in MLB you have two subsets, the American and National League, which play be a slightly different set of rules? Why does a pitcher only hit in the national league? Isn’t that, I don’t know, what might you call it if it were soccer, UNSTABLE?
Why do Hockey and Basketball allow free substitutions? It seems the player is not physically challenging himself when he gets to rest pretty much whenever he or his coach chooses.

Would you not agree that allowing a player to come over to the bench to sit down, drink some Gatorade, and go back in the game makes him weaker than player who has to stick it out, knowing that when he leaves he can’t come back? Or maybe, go in the locker room for half an hour; get a check up from the Doc and X-ray. After you get your clean bill of health, you can come right back out to a hero’s welcome and resume the game. Wow, what tough guys, huh?

Why do NFL teams only play once a week? Why not play more games?

Ignorant Questions for Ignorant comment #2

Why do the best players in major league baseball only hit the ball 3 of 10 times they try? I mean, the ball is thrown directly at the player and no one is interfering with him. He can decide when to step into the box, position himself, and then all that’s left to do is hit the ball. It seems way too simple to only do successfully 3 of 10 times, particularly when you are the best at doing it. What’s more, a .300 batting average is based on at-bats, obviously, and not pitches taken or swung at and missed or fouled off. So, in actuality, when you look at all the pitches that are thrown, it very rare that a player gets a hit; let alone an extra base hit. Seems futile and boring, doesn’t it? Why don’t the make it easier, like in softball when the score lines are 22-8? These guys are clearly not very good because it sure as hell can’t be that hard, right? Or is the sport in dire need of an overall? Bigger bats? Bigger balls?

Why do basketball players only convert about 35% of the three pointers they attempt? That means about 7 of 10 attempts are missed. Often times, it even seems like they are shooting without a defender in their face, but still seem to miss about 70% of them.

Why do the best golfers on the planet - like Mickelson two weeks ago - hit the ball in the rough or out of play as often as they do, particularly when the tourney is on the line?

Why do the very best quarterbacks in the NFL struggle to complete passes 60% of the time?

Why do Football teams get to kick a ball down field after failing three straight times to gain 12 yards, even though they get 30 seconds to think and game-plan in between each down?

Why, on God’s green earth, is it so hard to get one yard on 4th and 1? You should be able to get that 100% of time, but it’s not even close to 100% success rate.

Why on earth in the middle of the season would you get opposing players together to play an exhibition? Seems sort of dumb, don’t you think?

See, it’s that easy to come up with laundry list of dumb ass questions and comments as each of you did, and mine were definitely better. Well done!

The answers I would offer are simple:

1) It makes strategic sense to insert fresh players, even if they are replacing that the best players in the game, because you increase your chance of winning, and, ultimately, that’s what sports are about.

2) Because the human body has limitations and the quality of play and overall standards of the game would drop if you didn’t do the things needed to prevent that from occurring

3) Because there is a great deal more than meets the eye to ALL of these sports and they require an extremely high level of skill, fitness and concentration to perform at a high level, let alone world class level.

4) Each game is different and should be considered on it’s on merit, or at least as much as it is compared to other sports

It’s astonishing to me that three educated and seemingly intelligent sports fans / hosts could not arrive at ANY of the abovementioned conclusions. But clearly, that underscores and further supports the fact that it was never your intention to provide analysis, offer constructive criticism or look for answers to questions you might have. It was only ever your intention to insult the sport with moronic and childish commentary and offend a small group of us that both listen to you and love the game of soccer.

George, you were dead right yesterday when you observed that “we’ve probably pissed a lot of soccer fans off today”. I think you did.

Not to worry, though, Cowboys training camp is not far of.

Filippo Costanzo

---

Bob

For a long time we heard that all the bells and whistles Cuban put in the Mavs locker room along with the plane and hotels they stay in would attract free agents. Can you name a free agent they targeted and got? Two names come to mind, Alonzo Mourning and Mike James. Both were reported to be must haves and neither of them came here. What's up with that? Are the facilities overstated? Are the players getting a littler worn out on Cuban?

A.J. Martin

---

Cowboys first preseason game is....

one month from today 7/12/06......
31days...
744 hours.....
44,640 minutes.......
2,678,400 seconds......

The Cowboys first regular season game is.......

two months from last Monday 7/10/06......
62 Days.....
1488 hours....
89,280 minutes.....
5,356,800 seconds.....

And NO I don't have much of a life. And NO these numbers are not to the second, because I do have some life....somewhat!

ALL COWBOYS, ALL THE TIME!

See ya.......CR
Austin, Texas

24 comments:

AttnyDan said...

First!!

Mike said...

Is that a mustache I spy?

Jared in Irving said...

Why are people so ignorant?

You people that say we lost on Mike James because Cuban gives us a bad name, can you READ???

Minnesota offerd more money, gave him a trade kicker, and gave him an opt out in the third year.

Do you REALLY want to be bending over backwards for a backup PG? That's what bad teams do.

The Mavs did what goodt teams do. They told the guy they were interested. They offered him what was fair, he asked for more, they said no.

Anonymous said...

I'm still struggling with the whole US soccer team bashing (which I know is an overwhelmingly popular thing to do). How can this:

"If this World Cup proved anything, besides how far behind the rest of the world the U.S. men’s soccer team is, it’s that soccer is no longer a fringe sport in this country."

be true if the US soccer team shorthandedly tied the team that won the whole thing? Wouldn't that seem to prove the opposite?

Dick24 said...

All I can say is thank God for makeup.

Brad said...

I agree Jared.

Mike James can have fun in Minny.

By the way Bob, I understand about currency as minutes in the NBA, and I am not an NBA player myself but...

To be asked the question, "Would you rather play for a team that was 2 games away from winning a championship? or a team that didnt even make the playoffs?" and choose to go someplace you may not even live to see May next year, seems extremely juvenile to me.

Why wouldnt you want to go to the playoffS?

Youre saying youd rather play 40 minutes a game, and watch the playoffs on your couch? Than 23 minutes a game and a trip through the Western Conference?

I dont know. that seems selfish to me. I dont want that spare here, but i dont understand his decision making process...

Scott said...

Was there a Soccer tournament recently? I have been in rehab recovering from the melt down that was the NBA FINALS!!!

Talk Cowboys Buddy,

Scott

Jared in Irving said...

Brad,

Honestly, I don't have a problem with his decision. And I think Bob's wrong, I think it was completely about the money.

Remember, Mike James was a career backup before last year. He's never had a nice contract at all. In fact I doubt he's ever made much more than the league minimum.

He's 32 years old. This was his one chance to cash in.

I dont' blame him for taking the most money. I just didn't want to give it to him.

Here is an excellent assessment by David Lord:

http://www.dallasbasketball.com/headline_A.asp?pr=

Oscar Mayer said...

Thanks for the Eva, Bob. You might as well go ahead and tell me what's in hot dogs and ruin that for me too.

As far as the USA getting the tie against Italy...I wish they could have given the same effort in every game. Their horrible performance overall, equates that game to a hole in one in golf. Sports Analogy: Just because you make one, doesn't mean you can do it every time.

Still good to see great coverage from ESPN with the US never being in it. Perhaps we should shorten the hockey season to a one month tourney in an effort to get the game off that garbage called OLN (Versus).

Jay Clendenin said...

"YES!!!
there couldn't be anything sweeter, as a rangers fan in houston, than seeing mike hit a game winning triple.

sooooooooo awesome.

this will be repeated tomorrow."

awesome awesome awesome.

George said...

Texas Rangers players are starting a history of clutch performances in All Star game.

Wasn't it just 2 seasons ago that one Hank Blalock either knocked a Grand Slam or 2-run homer to essentially win it for the AL as well? Go Rangers!

Anonymous said...

Bob, your blog gets worse and worse by the day. Not only is the World Cup over and you are still discussing it, but now pictures of Eva with no make-up? What's next? A look into Wisconsin natural history from 1887-1893 inclusive?

Fake Sturm said...

Game winning homer off of Gagne no less, George. But then was robbed of the MVP by Garrett Anderson.

It finally looks like some are starting to realize the greatness of Mike Young.

"I called it," Jeter would say later. "Ask anybody around me. I called it even before we got anybody on base. I said, 'Michael Young is going to win this game.' "

Anonymous said...

Dont listen to 'em Bob.

"talk cowboys" ....bleh.

Talk World Cup Every Day!!!!! and Hockey.

Mulv said...

i love Filippo Costanzo.

Adam J. Morris said...

I think a couple of previous commenters are missing the point being raised by the emailer vis-a-vis Mike James.

As the emailer said, several years ago, the DFW media was falling all over itself, talking about how smart Mark Cuban was for putting together first class facilities, locker rooms, etc., because it would attract free agents.

And who have the Mavs targeted in free agency that they actually ended up with, since Cuban took over? Erick Dampier? And who else?

Every offseason, it seems like the Mavs target a couple of free agents -- Mike James this year, Brad Miller, Alonzo Mourning, various other players in years past -- and every offseason, they get shut out.

I think it is worth asking why, with all these perks and advantages that the Mavs present, they can't land any of the free agents they target?

Anonymous said...

George,

It's nice to see Rangers being clutch in the All-Star game but I would like for them to be clutch during the season where it counts.

Adam J. Morris said...

"It's nice to see Rangers being clutch in the All-Star game but I would like for them to be clutch during the season where it counts."

They are already one of the best in baseball w/RISP and in close and late situations.

Anonymous said...

Michael Young has been clutch for several years.

Dirk - pay attention.

Jared in Irving (jthig32) said...

Adam,

First of all, we could just be having this discussion on your site, where I posted pretty much the exact same thing...

Second, we never actively pursued Brad Miller.

Third, while I agree we've never landed a marquee free agent, the fact of the matter is, how many are really out there? Yeah, we lost on Zo. Which was a blessing in disguise. We lost on Rashard Lewis, who was never really coming here anyway, and we were working from a severe disadvantage.

We DID sign Michael Redd to an offer sheet, but the Bucks matched it.

In reality, the large majority of big free agent contracts turn out to be awful ideas anyway. Cuban did all those things to the clubhouse to change the atmosphere of the team. He did it change the culture, and how the team is viewed, and it's worked.

Sure, it hasn't necessarily turned into free agents taking a discount to come here, but it might have helped in Terry taking a hometown discount to stay here, and it's certainly helped in how happy people are when they get here.

Jerry Stackhouse would not be coming off the bench for just any team. The culture and success of this team allows that.

So, in conclusion, it's not always about the free agents. Sometimes it's just about the culture itself. I think that's the REAL reason Cubes made all those changes.

Jared in Irving said...

To add to my previous post.

If your point was that the media was dumb for believing that these perks would cause Free Agents to beat a path here even when we can never offer the most money, then yes, I agree, they were dumb.

But if you're trying to somehow ridicule Cubes for doing that, then I think you're offbase.

Like I said, it's about the culture. It's about not having Kurt Thomas renig on his agreement and sign with the Knicks because the Mavs stay in crappy hotels.

Sometimes it's also about keeping your own. There's no way Finley resigns here before Cuban takes over, and Dirk and Terry either.

Also, the thought that "every offseason we target a couple free agents" and pretty far offbase. We made no overtures last year at all. And really, we don't put on many big pushes for big guys, because we're already good and over the cap.

Anonymous said...

Gay or not Gay?

1. Saying we or us when talking about your favorite sports team.

2. Referring to Mark Cuban as "Cubes."

Jay Clendenin said...

a stat that lewin never fails to mention when applicable:

young leads the league in batting average when there are runners in scoring position and two outs.

Anonymous said...

Bravo Pipo, frattelli di Italia siamo con ti.

Forza Azzurri
Forza Italia