The amazing story of Kenny Rogers is amazingly amazing …
In Game 2 on Sunday night at Comerica Park, in a must-win game for the Tigers by all accounts, Rogers turned the St. Louis Cardinals into goo, pitching eight shutout innings en route to a 3-1 victory before a sellout crowd of 42,533 on a cold October night.
"He's been unbelievable," third baseman Brandon Inge said. "When a guy goes out there and gives you performances like that, it's pretty easy to win ballgames.
"All you have to do is get him a couple of runs and he kind of takes care of the rest."
Rogers' latest gem, which included screams and fist-pumps from the mound as he mowed down the Cards, tied this best-of-seven series at 1-1.
In the division series against the Yankees, Rogers pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings in a 6-0 victory. In the American League Championship Series, Rogers pitched 7 1/3 shutout innings in a 3-0 victory over the A's.
Rogers, who kept the ball down and hit his spots almost at will, has pitched 23 scoreless innings this postseason. The record is 27 by Christy Mathewson in the World Series.
"I'm no Christy Mathewson, that's for sure, but I've had scoreless streaks before," said Rogers, who is 3-0 in the postseason. "I'm so glad it's happening now for us as a team, it helps us win."
Before the game, many wondered if Rogers was going to wilt. After all, in his previous starts there was no pressure on him. The Tigers weren't behind in those series when he took the mound. Not here. The last thing the Tigers could afford was to be down 0-2. They lost Game 1, 7-2, on Saturday night.
"We needed this game today," catcher Pudge Rodriguez said. "And he came through for us."
Revo finds Kenny to be normally pleasant …
I don't expect a ring, or anything showy like that, understand. Just a check, to show his appreciation for my small role in helping usher him out of Texas and into his first Fall Classic. Something in five figures will be just fine, thank you very much.
Somehow, though, I doubt he's going to give credit where credit is due.
Kenny made yet another sweet, media-charming appearance in the interview room Saturday afternoon as a prelude to his Game 2 start. He was calm, he was gracious, he was illuminating and extraordinarily cooperative.
I didn't even need sugar for my coffee. Just having him in the room was enough.
But what almost no one in that interview room knew -- including me, until after he'd done his snake-charmer routine and had departed -- was that just before he walked in he'd instructed Tigers' and major league PR officials not to recognize any reporters from Texas, just in case they might have the audacity to ask him a question.
If I'd known I would have hogged the interview-room mike. Later, I made sure to station myself by the Tigers' dugout, so I could be sure and "accidentally" bump into the left-hander when he came out for batting practice.
Kenny was a little startled when he looked up and saw me standing there, but he nodded politely and said hello before he could stop himself.
Still wishing he was pitching in Texas? Forget it. The Rangers couldn't keep him, and Kenny didn't want to play any more for Buck Showalter anyway, so that lament goes nowhere. It was a money year for Rogers in 2005, and money drives him crazy.
It couldn't have worked out better for him. He's obviously happy, he's pitching better than he ever has in his life, and he has the Tigers on the verge of a world championship.
In the postgame interview room after his victory, Rogers cordially answered every question ... except two; two innocuous questions posed by myself and Star-Telegram Rangers beat writer Kat O'Brien.
"Is there another question?" Rogers asked each time, looking around the room.
It seems there's still a little toad in the prince after all.
Tonight, Give me Cowboys 27, Giants 23...
The Giants are saying the blitz isn’t the answer …
Drew Bledsoe, the 34-year-old quarterback of the Cowboys, is often compared to a statue, and it has little to do with his 6-foot-5 frame. On passing downs, Bledsoe usually accepts the snap, takes a few steps back and stops. It is as if he has stepped into shallow quicksand.
This has led to the popular presumption that Bledsoe is an easy target for defensive ends, linebackers and other quarterback-hungry defenders. And it touches upon the misunderstood relationship between mobility and sacks.
There is often little correlation between the speed of a quarterback and the frequency with which he is tackled for a loss.
“This isn’t easy pickings just because Bledsoe isn’t as mobile as some of the quarterbacks we’ve faced in the past,” linebacker Brandon Short said.
This season’s statistics quash the belief that Bledsoe is little more than a well-paid tackling dummy. He has been sacked 12 times in five games. When measured by the number of sacks allowed per pass play, the Cowboys ranked 18th among the N.F.L.’s 32 teams in pass protection before yesterday’s games.
That was better than the Pittsburgh Steelers (No. 22), the Seattle Seahawks (No. 27), the Cincinnati Bengals (No. 29), and the Falcons (No. 31) — each with strong offensive lines and more mobile, Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks.
Even Giants quarterback Eli Manning, sacked 11 times this season (8 against the Seahawks), is thrown for a loss with roughly the same frequency as Bledsoe.
“He’s not Michael Vick — take the ball and run it to the sideline, run the option and that type of thing,” Giants Coach Tom Coughlin said of Bledsoe. “They do move him out of the pocket, and they’ve done a good job protecting the passer. He presents a whole different array of problems.”
Bledsoe is known for being relatively immobile, and the Cowboys — after allowing 49 sacks last season, second highest in the league — compensate accordingly. They often use two tight ends and keep a running back in as last-ditch protection against oncoming defenders. They double-team the best pass rushers. They roll him out occasionally. And Bledsoe, certainly aware of his limitations and no fan of being pummeled, is usually quick to throw the ball with his strong arm.
In other words, there are a couple of reasons for the scattershot correlation between mobility and sacks. Mobile quarterbacks like Vick are sometimes reluctant to release the ball and end up scrambling into sacks. And teams with immobile quarterbacks can learn to adjust.
The Cowboys have been effective handling extra pass rushers. When opponents blitz, Bledsoe is 30 of 53 (56.6 percent) for 357 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception — and only six sacks, according to Stats LLC. His completion percentage and overall passer rating rise when he is blitzed.
Maybe Ware/Merriman is not the same debate it was yesterday; as Shawne tested positive …
Chargers linebacker Shawne Merriman will be suspended four games for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, according to a report posted Sunday night on ESPN.com.
The 22-year-old Merriman, last year's NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, was initially to be suspended last week alongside two other players, the Web site reported, citing people with knowledge of the suspension whom the report did not identify.
Horns continue to own Nebraska …
On a Saturday when his school's football team wasn't nearly as good as advertised, all the fifth-ranked Longhorns asked Bailey to do was save their season.
Bailey, a walk-on sophomore who had never tried a college kick, hit a 22-yard field goal into swirling snow flurries with 23 seconds left to lift UT to a 22-20 victory over No. 17 Nebraska at Memorial Stadium.
Bailey didn't board the team bus Saturday intent on becoming a hero. It just kind of worked out that way.
His kick — which came after starter Greg Johnson missed two field goals and had an extra point blocked — allowed UT (7-1, 4-0 Big 12) to run its streak of consecutive Big 12 victories to 19 and keep alive dim hopes for a second-straight berth in the BCS championship game.
It also perpetuated a mastery over the Cornhuskers that, for the Longhorns, is nearing mystical proportions.
How close did all of the above come to ending in Nebraska? UT needed two late fumble recoveries — one to get the ball and one to keep it — just to stage a chance for a never-heard-of-him kicker to win the game.
For the cursed Cornhuskers (6-2, 3-1), who had cited this game as a chance to reintroduce themselves as a national power, Bailey's boot was like a punch to the gut. They have dropped three-straight home games to UT, the most lopsided of them a down-to-the-wire 20-16 affair in 1998.
Why is it easier to follow Liverpool FC than Aggie Football? It would seem living in Texas that the Fighting Texas Aggies would occasionally be on television. Instead, We read the details of a dramatic win in Stillwater …and, the Baylor game next week isn’t on either!
His teammates meanwhile were exhaling, "Thank you, Jorvorskie." Lane's first down on an acrobatic catch kept alive a key drive in the No. 23 Aggies' rousing 34-33 come-from-behind, overtime victory over Oklahoma State before 43,006 hushed fans on a homecoming Saturday.
A&M (7-1, 3-1 Big 12), thanks to Red Bryant's blocked point-after attempt in OT, earned its third consecutive league victory, and third straight over OSU (4-3, 1-2). The Aggies' "Wrecking Crew" defense also knocked Cowboys starting quarterback Bobby Reid out of the game in the first half with a concussion.
Still, A&M trailed 27-20 with 1:43 remaining, when Lane reached back for a twisting, one-armed catch from quarterback Stephen McGee on fourth-and-13 from the A&M 32-yard line. Lane, a 276-pound tailback, served as the play's third option.
"We could have finished it off right there," Cowboys coach Mike Gundy said.
Instead, Lane gained 17 yards, and A&M wound up marching the ball 65 yards to tie the game with three seconds remaining.
"All that catching in practice paid off," Lane said, grinning.
Hitch Fired …so, I guess when I said he will win a cup within 3 years in Philadelphia, I was wrong…
Ken Hitchcock said he was working out about 6 a.m. yesterday when assistant general manager Paul Holmgren interrupted him to say he had been fired as coach of the Flyers.
"I thought I had those five days [to turn it around]," said Hitchcock, referring to the time before the team's next game on Thursday. "This comes with the territory."
Hitchcock, 54, had coached the Flyers since the 2002-03 season. His record here was 131-83-40. The Flyers are 1-6-1 this season, their worst start in 17 years.
There will be speculation as to whether Hitchcock, who succeeded Bill Barber as Flyers coach, would have survived if Bob Clarke had not resigned as general manager yesterday.
"I am tied to Clarkie," Hitchcock said. "There has to be such a personal relationship between the general manager and coach. The relationship is a very emotional one, and it has to be there. The same thing happened in Dallas. The GM [Bob Gainey] resigned [in 2002], and in fairness to allow the team to grow, I went the same day."
Check this big strong hockey website out! My new favorite, Hockey Recap.com …
Also, in the spirit of Moneyball, Hockey tries to find hidden value in statistics …
More on this topic that fascinates me …
Rather than goals, assists and shots, they're examining an on-ice grid that shows who scored how often from where, and who produced most at different points of a game. That info is then used to project the output a team can expect from a certain player and help attach a dollar-value to him.
Welcome to the world of statistical analysis, which is no longer the domain of baseball alone. Slowly, similar thinking is creeping into hockey's executive ranks as teams seek ways to improve decision-making in the salary-cap era.
"I think it has to," Craig Button, pro scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs, said Thursday from Denver. "When you're looking at a salary-cap system, you have to find value out there."
Button isn't the only believer.
Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi and his staff are busy developing new concepts for evaluation, closely guarding their emerging methodology.
Lombardi declined to discuss the matter when reached Thursday but recently told the Los Angeles Daily News: "It requires almost a cultural change to get your staff thinking a certain way and that's what we're working toward."
Weekly Duhatscheck Hockey Column …
Horn foils Aggie…
A University of Texas student has reserved the state Capitol's south steps for the date that Texas A&M University fans traditionally meet for midnight yell practice before the rivals' biennial game in Austin.
The move by Christian Deitering, 24, forced Austin-area Aggies to alter their plans by scheduling to meet the night of Nov. 23 on the Capitol's north steps, which don't require a reservation.
Deitering said he was annoyed two years ago when he saw the Aggies practicing their football cheers the night before the game while Texas fans were kept away.
"From what I could tell, A&M had security to make sure we didn't get up there ... but I consider Austin my town," said Deitering, who is also head of the Longhorn Hellraisers, a spirit group.
Deitering said he hopes to hold a rally for Longhorn fans on the south steps. He reserved the location months ago with a call to the State Preservation Board. He said he took action on his own and not on behalf of the Hellraisers.
Stephen Mason, president-elect of the Capital City A&M club, downplayed the conflict. He said Aggies have held yell practice on the north steps within the past 10 years.
"This is no big deal," Mason said.
Manchester United 2, Liverpool 0 …We suck, and are only getting worse…
There are no clues as to where Liverpool will discover revitalisation. Questioning of Rafael Benítez is approached tentatively, in view of achievements at Anfield and the Mestalla that have already made him one of the most prominent coaches of modern times, but you do wonder if tacticians, just like footballers, suffer from loss of form.
Travels in the Premiership keep taking Liverpool down culs-de-sac. Four consecutive away fixtures in the league have now been lost and 380 minutes have passed since they last scored a domestic goal on the road, their penalty equaliser at Sheffield United on opening day.
Dominant as United were, Liverpool kept on catching the eye in this defeat for the resounding wretchedness of their display. It was virtually an aberration that it could have been Benítez's team who opened the scoring, when an unmarked Dirk Kuyt rose to a Mark González cross after half an hour, but he bounced his header softly into the hands of Edwin van der Sar. When United bubbled with initiative it underlined just how inert Liverpool were.
And now, some email:
Key to the game on Monday--Roy Williams! If he can keep Tiki from busting big runs through the middle then the Cowboys should have a much better chance of winning. Dont be surprised to see Roy "The Legend Killer" Williams with 11 or 12 tackles and some caused turn overs. He might even break one of Tikis bones (them chew them an spit them on his face or something). He will probably give a few plays up in coverage as per usual but he is going to do thatanyway. If he stops Tiki we hve a chance to celebrate a victory. Feel free to use in pregame show!
PS-Legend Killer because of the list of people he hasinjured-TO Owens, Emmitt Smith, Kurt Warner, etc. Maybe "The Hitman" is better.
SIDE NOTE: I noticed the other week that there are a lot more defensive players with long hair. There are very few, in fact none that I can think of, skill players on offense that have long hair. That must be why I have never seen a player tackled by his hair until last week.
My lovely wife works for an undisclosed local hotel ( Marriott Las Colinas) where the Houston Texans were staying this weekend. They checked in on Sat. @ 2:00PM. The baby and I went with her since it was in the middle of the day and we had a lot of errands. So I sat in the lobby until the bus came the team got off, got their keys from the table and took the elevator upstairs.
After the team had gone up some coaches were headed to a side meeting room and I saw David Carr come back down and head towards the meeting room. My wife came and got me and as we were about to leave, all the Lady Managers were standing around giggling about seeing Carr standing just behind them outside the meeting room door. My wife said bye to them and we waked down the hall to our car. My wife was walking in front of me and I was caring the baby with my left hand, as we approached where Carr was standing I saw my wife’s head do a double take. I reached out with my right hand to cover her eyes, and got a nod and smirk from Carr. As we passed I said “have a good game tomorrow guys” and they politely said “thanks”. Then panic struck me, as I possibly set off a series of events that would cost the Cowboys the game on Sunday. I whipped around my head and said “NOT!” With no response form any one except my wife who said, “what grade are you in” I felt like an idiot! What would David think of me? I interacted with a Pro NFL QB and did ok, until the “NOT” Is It more gay that I said “NOT” or is it more gay that I hoped all day Carr didn’t hear my remark and ruin our relationship.
This is on live TV, and is the Dutch version of 60 Minutes. So the interviewer is a pretty seasoned reporter. The interviewer is talking to a guy for a segment called "surgeries gone wrong." Surgeons mistakenly removed this guy's testicles. Check out what happens when the interviewer hears Mr. No Testicles talk. Career-ending, but it makes for a good video.
Bear in Trampoline!
From the “Hey, look at me!” Department, some guy named Robert Strum Ran a 5K on Saturday at a 7:41 pace to finish 51st! …
51 Robert Strum Lewisville TX 254- 34 - 4 M 30-34 - 23:51.20 7:41/M