Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Memphis Grizzlies Tattoo Report

OJ Mayo

Memphis ties Denver with 9 for the new lead in our tattoo research project, although, Denver's 9/13 is better than Memphis' 9/15. And for pure volume, the Grizz cannot keep up with Denver. But there is promise.

Memphis Grizzlies Tattoo Roster
Darrell ArthurY
Ronnie BrewerY
DeMarre CarrollY
Mike ConleyY
Marc GasolN
Rudy GayN
Hamed HaddadiY
Lester HudsonN
Steven HunterY
OJ MayoY
Zach RandolphY
Hasheem ThabeetN
Jamaal TinsleyN
Marcus WilliamsY
Sam YoungN

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Marcus Williams

Rerun: Pitching Profile: 2009 Final Edition

From Last October, let's remind ourselves of the pitching staff stat breakdown before we get started on 2010....

Just like we did at the end of May, at the end of June , and at the end of August - Here is the Final edition of our look at the Rangers starting rotation. The point of this exercise is to dig a bit deeper than the basic stats for each starting pitcher to see what they are good at - or what they are not good at.

In the final analysis, 10 pitchers started games for the Rangers this season. Kevin Millwood (31), Scott Feldman (31), Derek Holland (21), Tommy Hunter (19), Vicente Padilla (18), Brandon McCarthy (17), Matt Harrison (11), Dustin Nippert (10), Kris Benson (2), and Doug Mathis (2). This study will focus on the eight pitchers who have made at least 10 starts.

There is plenty of good news to report as they worked a significantly higher amount of innings while doing a great job at dropping the rotation's ERA.

Both Kevin Millwood and Scott Feldman made over 30 starts with 18 Quality Starts each. That number may not blow your socks off, but those two seasons can rival pretty much any season we have seen around here by a starting pitcher in an awfully long time.

There were other signs of optimism as well, as the first year of the Nolan Ryan/Mike Maddux program seems like a perfect diving board to 2010.

Just so we are all up to speed with the different stats, IPS is Innings Per Start and PPS is Pitches Per Start. Everything else will be metrics that I am sure you are familiar with.

Before you start, we need to establish league averages for the stats so you understand what consitutes "league average". So, here you go - These are the final American League Season Averages for the 2009 AL Season:

ERA - AL Average is 4.45
AVG - AL Average is .266
OBP - AL Average is .334
SLG - AL Average is .425
K/9 - AL Average is 6.86
BB/9 - AL Average is 3.39
HR/9 - AL Average is 1.11
WHIP - AL Average is 1.40

Below we will take apart each player and can examine how he fits against the league average:

Kevin Millwood Splits

Table Tutorial

Kevin Millwood had a very solid season by his standards, but most of his best work was done before July 1 and after September 1. He was 12 out of 16 for quality starts to start the year, and then went 6-15 the rest of the way in that all-important department. With nearly 200 innings, it is fair to ask if he pitched himself out as the season went on, and perhaps wasn't in condition to remain at the pace he set in May and June.

But, his final numbers were mostly all better than league average. His ERA was amazing by Rangers' standards and although he was not the most impressive pitcher on the staff down the stretch, he surely provided a bit of that anchor for the rest of the rotation for much of the year.

You could do better than Kevin Millwood, but you could also do much worse.


Scott Feldman Splits


Table Tutorial

Feldman's numbers are only as a Starter

The amazing success story of 2009, Scott Feldman almost matched Kevin Millwood in ERA before he hit the wall in September. His batting metrics of .245/.314/.359 blew away the league averages. He doesn't allow base-runners, so he doesn't get in trouble.

He also raised his often-discussed K Rate to a reasonable 5.26 per 9, so there is hope that he doesn't apply to the Bill James anomoly rules.

17 wins were phenomenal, trailing only CC Sabathia, Justin Verlander, and Felix Hernandez. Those 3 each achieved 19, but they also had 3 more starts to get there. He appears to understand the fine art of pitching, which we have seen is not always something that can be learned.

Unlike last April, he is a lock for the rotation in 2010.


Vicente Padilla Splits

Table Tutorial

Certainly capable of knocking your socks off in a start (NLCS Game 2), Padilla was the ultimate "Dow-Joneser" as Dick Vitale would love to say. Padilla allowed too many hits, too many runners, and his ERA and K Rate were lower than they have been.

He was the opposite of what they needed in a veteran, highly-compensated pitcher: he was undependable. As long as you never counted on anything from Padilla, he was fine. But the second you really needed him to pull through in a tough spot, he seemed to let you down. At that pay rate, and at that performance level, he was not worth the trouble.


Derek Holland As A Starter

Table Tutorial

It is early in the Derek Holland story. He looked the part a few times this year, but for the most part, at 4 for 21 with quality starts, it was not good enough to cement his spot. He is a development project, and the Rangers will continue to hand him the ball every 5 days, but 20 more starts from now, this will not do. His ERA kept rising, his metrics were all poor (aside from K/Rate) and his worst numbers were Slugging Pct and HR Rate. Very bad combination.

Basically, when hitters make contact against Derek Holland, it generally either hits seats or off the wall it would seem. 2009 may go into the Holland book as a full learning experience, so let's hope that we see more of what we saw that dynamite night of the trade deadline.


Tommy Hunter Splits


Table Tutorial

Tommy makes it difficult to give Derek Holland a complete pass. Hunter is also extremely young. Hunter should have also been experiencing his growing pains, but instead he was outstanding until September. From July to August, he worked over 60 innings in 10 starts and opposing hitters barely hit over .200 against him. He actually strikes out fewer than Feldman, but like Feldman, he doesn't allow hitters to put up the league average.

Hunter has a spot waiting for him in April, and like Feldman, I will feel pretty strong about the Tommy Hunter spot.


Brandon McCarthy Splits


Table Tutorial

Hmmm. This is interesting. It is easy to consider McCarthy a disappointment, and because he cannot stay healthy that is not incorrect. But, when he did pitch this year (17 starts) he does have a story to tell. In September, he took the ball 6 times and opponents hit just .234/.295/.344 against him. That is a solid line. He strikes out over 6 per 9, which is 2nd only to Holland (3rd if you include Nippert). He appears to be improving, but I think patience is running out on the health issues. 2010 is likely his last year of leash on that front.

Dustin Nippert Splits


Table Tutorial

Not sure what to make of Nippert. He went back and forth so often and these are just his numbers as a starter. He would seem to lack the ability to go deep in games, and his numbers are all right around league average except for his K/Rate. I agree with those who suggest he is an ideal swing man on a staff.


Matt Harrison Splits

Table Tutorial

Like McCarthy, the question is whether can he be depended upon. But, unlike McCarthy, his upside seems rather pedestrian based on his performance. In fact, that is kind. ERA over 6, under 5 K's per 9, and the league slugs .500 against him. At this point, he is a guy.


Starting Rotation Totals


Table Tutorial

In the end, 68 QS out of 162 is not nearly the number we projected early. Only 2 AL teams (Oak, Balt) had fewer quality starts than the Rangers (CHI led with 86). But, with 949.2 innings, the Rangers pitched more innings than the rotations of the Yankees, Twins, A's, Royals, Indians, and Orioles. This may not be the most impressive list, but there were years where there was no list at all. The Rangers traditionally get very few innings from their rotation in the new park era, and to get 80 more than last year supports the "1-more-out" directives.

They ranked 12th in strikeouts, with 598 strikeouts as starters, only the Orioles and Indians had fewer strikeouts. Teams like Boston and New York had almost 200 more strikeouts, so you can easily see how that places less stress on your defense and keeps runners from being moved along with contact.

Improvements were made, and because of the age of most of the rotation and the troops behind this group, the odds are reasonable that this franchise-long trend is turning in the right direction. Plenty of room for improvement, but as you learned while watching this team, pitching was not near the reason for failure that we have become accustomed to around here.

Perhaps 2010 will be even better.


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Denver Nuggets Tattoo Report

We all thought going in that the Nuggets would be the most tattooed team in the league without doing the research. But, for the sake of good times, here are my findings from Monday Night's game.

This obviously does not demonstrate just HOW tattooed they truly are. Per square inch, it is amazing. And consider that of their 4 guys without tats, 3 were added this season.

Here is a great Denver Post Story on the story ....

Denver Nuggets Tattoo Roster
Arron AfflaloN
Malik AllenY
Chris AndersonY
Carmelo AnthonyY
Renaldo BalkmanY
Chauncey BillupsY
Anthony CarterY
Joey GrahamN
Ty LawsonN
Kenyon MartinY
Johan PetroY
JR SmithY

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* Malik Allen has a shoulder blade tattoo. If anyone has a picture of it (odd request), send it in...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Small Market, Big Ball(s)

By now everybody except the people on the OJ jury have heard that Joe Mauer signed the richest catcher deal in baseball history at eight years 184 million dollars. This is great for the Twins but more importantly for baseball.

This year the Twins went out and proved that the way baseball has been presented to us the last 15 years didn't have to be the rich getting richer. The small market team from the Midwest decided in the 90's just a few years removed from winning their second world championship in five years, that retraction or a move to Charlotte, North Carolina wasn't an option. Once they decided that they didn't have to be the victims of circumstance, the Twins figured they could at least build from within. They started by putting a premium on amateur scouting and their ability to draft players that they could sign.

The apex of that theory was put to the test during the 2001 amateur draft. When the consensus #1 overall pick out of USC, All-American Mark Prior was making demands that Jerry Jones would have looked awkwardly at sat waiting as the "Can't miss kid". The Twins decided to keep Prior waiting, with the theory that not only was Joe Mauer signable (for what the Twins perceived they could afford) but that he was truly the best player in the draft. While Prior got his doubloons in an unprecedented rookie deal of five years at 10.5 million dollars that also included his 4 million dollar bonus, the Twins waited for Mauer to develop.

As Joe Mauer was hitting his way through the minors and Mark Prior was erasing batters leading the Cubs towards the World Series with a mark of 18-6, something funny happened to the Twins on their way to last place. They started to win. And in 2002 they won the AL Central with their roster made of home grown talent, reasonably priced free agents, and trade thefts, such as Johan Santana that they traded the Florida Marlins for by way of the Houston Astros for Josh Camp (Who?) in the 1999 Rule 5 Draft. Santana won the Cy Young in 2006. Since 2000 the Twins have not had a losing season and have won five division titles. This decade only four teams have been to the post season more than the Twins (Yankees, Braves, Angels, and Cardinals).

While they rolled through this past decade as a challenger but not champion they were building a team of character and longevity but as important, for that window of opportunity to become World Series Champions. They continued to draft accordingly by getting guys like Justin Morneau (3rd round), Michael Cuddyer (1st) Jason Kubel (12th) Denard Span (1st) Nick Blackburn (29th round) Scott Baker (2nd round) and Kevin Slowey (2nd round). They traded home grown talent A.J. Pierzynski for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser. The wins continued to pile up but their playoff exits became short, especially when they ran into the Mecca of high dollar teams like the Yankees and Angels.

Last season team management started to wonder if this team could contend as they slid further back of the Detroit Tigers. They traded for Carl Pavano instead of going after the higher buck Jake Peavy, they signed Jon Rauch and Ron Mahay, while trading for Orlando Cabrera and soon had another division title before falling to the New York Yankees in three games in the ALDS.

This season the Yankees were licking their chops at the sight of the Twins. This time because they felt possibly they could walk over to the money tree growing on Yankee Stadium grounds and pick plenty of green to throw the way of the reigning AL MVP so he could take them into the next decade. Twins management saw their opportunity, and while Brian Cashman thought about how he wished he could have gotten more out of Pavano, the Twins made the reborn Pavano their brand new Target Field starter. While the Cubs had wished they had gotten more out of the now retired Prior, the Twins signed All Stars Orlando Hudson, Jim Thome, and traded for JJ Hardy. They also used some of their extra dough they saved from not paying high price free agents to lock up Blackburn and Span for the next four and five years respectively. With Morneau, in an 80 million dollar deal through 2013, and Scott Baker inked, the Twins wondered if they could have gotten more for Johan Santana? Maybe, but then they remembered he didn't pitch well last year, and then sat out injured while they dealt the centerpiece of the Santana deal, Carlos Gomez to Milwaukee for Hardy. No ill will toward Santana but maybe his best years were behind him. Even if they aren’t they need a shortstop much more than a starting pitcher.

Like the Mets did a couple years ago with Santana, and the Cubs did with Mark Prior, the money wasn't an object when they saw the one player they thought that could win them a championship when they had their window. Especially when you haven't been to the playoffs for awhile, you would think that one big move could get you closer. Unfortunately, they spent too much on an individual and had forgot about building the team.

In 2010 some teams like Texas, Colorado, Oakland, Tampa Bay and Milwaukee are starting to find success from building within. Teams like the Mets and Boston who missed the playoffs last year may start to see their money trees looking a little bare. In Minneapolis the tree is flourishing. With a new stadium, a team that contends on a yearly basis, and has its key contributors locked into long term deals the Twins thought, only if they could get a big free agent to put them over the top?

But how could they contend with the Yankees and Red Sox in the free agent market? The Twins pondered what they what would do and while Cashman waited for the Twins to give in to the dark side so did the others. The Evil Empire waited for the rebellion to falter but the Twins stuck to their roots by deciding they didn't need free agency; they had all they needed in their own back yard, that guy Joe Mauer. The hometown kid whom many years ago they felt was the best player in the draft but most importantly the guy who they could build their franchise around for years to come.

In the spring of 2011, Joe Mauer never will become another free agent that signs in New York or Boston and has to say it wasn’t about the money. Mauer earned his contract and he became the one potential free agent New York or Boston could never get. 184 million dollars later the Twins not only signed the future Hall of Famer, they kept New York from getting him. Just like when they kept him from the Cubs. With the money tree in full bloom, a minor league system thats ripe and one of the most successful teams of the last decade the Twins just became World Series contender for the next 8 years. I am not certain the Yankees or Red Sox can say that. And that’s a win for Baseball!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Portland Trail Blazers Tattoo Report

Here are your Blazers tats, now with links to the picture proof. Can't find a pic of Andre Miller's back ink, but I saw it on Thursday night so I trust myself.

EDIT: Wow, check this out: - They are so committed to their bit, someone put up a website to track it. Very strong effort from Portland.

Portland Trail Blazers Tattoo Roster
LeMarcus AldrigeY
Nicolas BatumN
Jerryd BaylessN
Marcus CambyY
Dante CunninghamY
Travis DienerN
Rudy FernandezN
Juwan HowardY
Andre MillerY
Patrick MillsN
Greg OdenY
Joel PryzbillaY
Brandon RoyN
Martell WebsterY

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dallas Mavericks Tattoo Report

Other than my own personal interest, I am not sure who else will care about entries like this, but the good thing about having your own blog is it really only matters what you want to do with it. With that in mind....

Here is the start of my tattoo resource center for NBA rosters. Just for purposes of knowing, I am thinking I will compile a page for each team that shows who has ink and who doesn't.

Why? No clue. Here are the Mavericks, with picture evidence of the inked below. I think you will particularly enjoy finding out which US President DeShawn Stevenson has elected to honor...on his throat.

By the way, I don't have all the answers, so if you have challenges to the status of any player, please email me, and include a picture if possible.

Dallas Mavericks Tattoo Roster
Jose BareaN
Rodrique BeauboisN
Caron ButlerY
Matt CarrollN
Erick DampierN
Brendan HaywoodN
Jason KiddY
Shawn MarionY
Eduardo NajeraN
Dirk NowitzkiN
DeShawn StevensonY
Jason TerryY
Tim ThomasY

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

This Whole Dave Bliss Thing

Hey y'all. It's TC. If you liked the Dave Bliss segment from today's show or would just like to know more about the whole episode, here is the email I sent to Bob with all the research that went into the segment:

Explaining Away $7.8m and a -13

The other day on the Dallas Stars Postgame Show, the discussions about the future were continuing. I hate to say that is all I think about these days - how the Stars can adjust things so that they soon will be back in the mix in the Western Conference for the big prize - but it is close.

So, the discussion ensues about how best to spend your budget. Who you keep and who you flip for something else. Obviously, if you have put together a team that has missed the playoffs 2 straight years then you try not to fall in love with too many pieces of this puzzle. If you are Joe Nieuwendyk, you analyze what you have; and then you make the necessary adjustments to fix it as soon as possible.

Surely, a lot of this could hinge on a payroll boost from the potential of new ownership. But, nothing is promised, and no papers are signed. It is highly possible that the Dallas Stars budget for 2010-11 is very similar to 2009-10. That could mean that you have to make due with mostly the cash you have on hand. And there is where our debate began about the Stars most highly-compensated player, Brad Richards.

According to , Richards is on the books for $7.8m each of the 5 seasons of his contract, a deal that expires after next season (oh dear, extension talks will be fun). He is clearly the Stars highest paid player, at almost $95,000 per game. Staggering, but the salary is never the issue in pro sports. It is salary divided by performance. In other words, a player can be overpaid at $800,000 - or underpaid at $10m per season. It is all a puzzle for the front office - you have "X" amount of money, and you can distribute it amongst your players in any formula you want. You just have to make sure that you put the money in the proper spots and that those you pay big money to are worth it.

So, that leads us to the discussion - is Brad Richards worth the money? I say, yes. Is he the Stars best player - by a good margin? Again, Yes. Is he someone you build around with your budget for next year? Yes. Yes.

I always notice Brad Richards. I select the 3 stars of the game on pretty regular basis, and #91 is always on the short list. He leads the team in points by a large margin. In fact, he has 82 points, and only 1 other player has more than 49 (Eriksson - 65). Richards has 61 assists, where nobody else has more than 38. He is your best faceoff man, he has scored the most shootout goals, he has 21 goals this season, and averages 1.15 points per game.

On the power play, we must ask where the Stars would be without Brad Richards. He has played 356:00 of Power Play time. Why is that interesting? Look at the next 3 totals for Stars players: Morrow 235, Eriksson 234, Robidas 229. Richards is on the power play all of the time and drives it. In fact, the Stars have scored 52 power play goals this season in 291 chances (17.9%, 16th in NHL). Richards has figured in on 35 of those. 67% of all Power Play goals go through #91. He is 2nd in the league in Power Play points (Stamkos just passed him). The other players in on that race are all part of Top 10 power plays - a sign that they have plenty of horses. I fear where the Stars PP would be without Richards on it in the post-Zubov era. 16th with him - 25th without?

Many of you think moving Richards frees up almost $8m to spend elsewhere. Sure, it does, but how much worse would that make you? But, let's visit 2 of the issues callers of the post game show have had with Brad Richards.

1) - How many of his assists are primary assists versus secondary assists?

2) - How can your best player be your worst +/- player?

Let's tackle these one at a time.

First, one caller (who I found to be extremely misguided) suggested that Richards is a selfish player who only gets assists because he won't leave the ice! I found this somewhat hilarious, but let's address his claims. Yes, to accumulate 356 power play minutes, you must stay on the ice a really long time on the Power Play. But, he plays the point - like Zubov before him - and you can really conserve your energy back there and spend almost all 2 minutes out there if you are a special athlete. #91 and #56 appear to qualify. Now, this next part is really important about primary to secondary assists. This, to me, demonstrates the true puck geniuses in the NHL. Total assists can deceive, with a point-to-point pass giving someone a pretty cheap assist. But primaries generally lead directly to a goal. They are usually the true key to the goal. This is where Richards thrives.

1 player in the NHL has more primary assists than Brad Richards, who has 38 this morning after 2 more in Nashville. Joe Thornton has 43 ($7.2m a season, by the way). The entire rest of the league is below Richards (Nicklas Backstrom is tied at 38). Sedin, Crosby, St Louis, Kane, Sedin? They all look up at Richards. In fact, Richards has 38 primaries of his 61 assists - Only Eriksson has 38 total assists for the Stars. Yes, Richards is good.

So, how do we explain away his team-worst -13?

This one, is obviously much more difficult. I think plus/minus has a number of flaws if you are going to compare from player to player around the league. But, I do think you can compare from teammate to teammate, because they are receiving the same coaching, goaltending, and are all benefactors (or the opposite) of what they have constructed as an entire organization. There are many flaws in the stat (Fistric may lead the team in the rating, but does he play against the same quality of forwards that Robidas does?) but it should not be completely ignored, either.

Richards is a "+5" at home and a "-18" on the road. This, of course, is not uncommon around the league. Home teams get the match-ups they want, road teams are at the mercy of the opposition. Other players with crazy home/road splits? Jamie Langenbrunner has the craziest "+21" at home, "-13" on the road. Steven Stamkos is +17/-17, Sidney Crosby is +18/-11, and Dany Heatley is +19/-7. The list is actually pretty star studded. Playing on the road is more difficult, but not for the same reasons as other sports. In the NHL, it is about getting your checking line out there against their star.

But, maybe you are saying, "Still, Bob. He is "-13"!"

My 2 responses. 1) Yes, like many players on a bad team, he has had flaws in his commitment to getting back on defense some nights. On the road, he is matched up against teams best choices that can pin the Stars in their own end the whole shift. He is being keyed on, and when things are going well, that is fun. But, when things are going poorly, bad habits get worse. He needs to be better, and he can be.

2) Did you know that players get minus numbers for allowing short handed goals and empty net goals? Richards has been on the ice for 6 SH goals against. This may be partially his fault, since anytime you put a forward on the point, you run the risk of bad things if the opposition gets the puck and goes. But, -6 there, and another -6 because he is on the ice when the Stars pull the goalie only to allow a freebie, and you see where the number gets big. Add those up and that explains away "-12" just because he is the best player on an average-to-below-average team. Yes, that would also apply to several other Stars players, but not as much, since Richards plays the most ice time in those spots. "-13" sounds way worse than "-1". If this sounds like I am justifying a bad number, it could be. But, I don't believe for a second that he is as lousy as "-13" suggests. Sometimes, you have to look into the numbers just a little deeper to see meaning and mitigating circumstances.

In conclusion, I hope this demonstrates where I stand on #91. He is well compensated for sure, but I think he lives up to it. He is 8th in the NHL in scoring, and what is the going rate for a Top-10 scorer? Let's see. If we eliminate the 3 kids in the Top 10 who are all on their rookie contracts (Backstrom, Kane, and Stamkos) then the 7 veteran players are like this: Ovechkin ($9m), Sedin ($6.1m), Crosby ($9m), St Louis ($5.2m), Thornton ($7.2m), Gaborik ($7.5m).

Average Salary of a veteran Top 10 scorer? $7.3m a year.

Sometimes you get what you pay for. Dallas is with Brad Richards.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I Love Documentaries - Part 2 (14 more)

I really do. I consider myself such a fan of docs, that I now attempt to provide a service to you by watching as many as possible - and then telling you about the ones I think are worth your time.

If you did not read version 1 of this endeavor, Please do so before proceeding . That was from August 2008, and although a lot has changed, those are most of my all-time favorites.

In that essay, I wrote the following:

Anyway, in my love of documentaries, I am constantly bombarded with doc emails. Half of them have recommendations for me. These recommendations have proved helpful from time to time, so keep them coming.

The other half of emails want to know my favorites. Of course, my favorites can encompass so many, but I did want to release my list of 10 “essential documentaries” for the genre I would try to describe here – which I have decided to alter to Top 12 since I couldn’t narrow it to 10.

Now, I am eliminating all Ken Burns-type, historical, and educational documentaries. I love those, but those would automatically be rated higher than the silly types – so let’s just do our best to leave those out of this mix. I am compiling this list entirely of the absurd, the odd, the weird, the uncomfortable, and the off-the-beaten path films. The documentaries that likely would never make the PBS cut, but surely are worth your time, and will have you talking about them with your buddies for years to come.

NOTE: I am not including a list of favorite sports documentaries (except for my top one ever - Do You Believe In Miracles). Someday soon, I will do a sports-only list, but for now, this is more of the non-sport variety.

Anyway, assuming you are familiar with the first 25 in this series, here are another dozen for you to consider:

Anvil: The Story of Anvil - 2008

A very enjoyable movie about Anvil, a group that almost made it in the early 1980's on the metal music scene, but for whatever reason, it didn't work out. This Doc follows them in the present day, as guys in their 50's still are following that rock-n-roll dream. They seem awfully beaten down at times, and yet cannot walk away from what they love. Good stuff.

Bigger, Faster, Stronger - 2008

This one is really interesting in that it is a look at steroids in a way you likely have never considered. From all angles, the effects of roids are considered, and it they talk with all sorts of people involved in one way or another. I am pretty sure Mark Cuban's production company put this one out, but don't hold me to that.

Biggie and Tupac - 2002

Nick Broomfield's first movie on this list that examines the deaths of the two hip-hop superstars. By the end of the movie you are certainly buying into each and every conspiracy issue, but spending quite a bit of time eyeballing Suge Knight. I am sure there are flaws in the way Broomfield presents stuff, but if his goal is to place doubt in the minds of his viewers, then he is really good at this.

The Bridge - 2006

A Documentary that tells the stories (and shows them) of people who have decided to use the Goldon Gate Bridge to execute their suicides. It will certainly not cheer you up, but you likely will be glued to the screen. On one hand, you wonder how the man got all of this footage, and on the other hand, you wonder why he didn't try to stop the people that were jumping.

Chasing Ghosts

If you loved King of Kong (which I think you should) then you will likely enjoy Chasing Ghosts. It is much the same subject matter, but done in a more traditional documentary style, rather than KoK's story of the Billy Mitchell record. This basically tells the history of video games without any good guy/bad guy conflict. Still worth seeing, in my estimation.

Cocaine Cowboys - 2006

Cocaine Cowboys tells the story about how Miami and cocaine got together to make Miami the most feared crime city in America. Well worth a viewing if you are interested in Scarface, Miami Vice, or the countless other ways that Miami's unique combination of beauty, guns, and drugs is glorified.

Dirty Driving - 2008

This movie is from HBO's awesome Documentary series that has given us so much over the years. This one, in particular, is about race care driving in Indiana on the local scale. About people that certainly do not appear to have much going in just about any other department of their life, but it all comes together on Friday night, when they haul their beaten down race car to the local track and try to win that week's race. You meet some very odd characters in this one. Might be tougher for you to find, but well worth it.

Do You Believe In Miracles - 2001

If you agree with me, that the Miracle on Ice at Lake Placid in 1980 is the greatest sporting upset of our lifetime, then you must see this awesome HBO Documentary that tells the story of the miracle in a way that will absolutely have you glued to the screen. To me, there is no better sports Doc, and that says a lot.

Order it here .

It Might Get Loud - 2009

Jimmy Page, The Edge, and Jack White sitting around talking guitars for 90 minutes may sound like something that you are not interested in, but the way the film is put together is captivating. I absolutely loved it, but it should be noted that I love U2, and I also enjoy trying to play my guitar.

Kurt and Courtney - 1998

Like Biggie and Tupac after it, Nick Broomfield uses this documentary to investigate Kurt Cobain's death and follow all of the conspiracy threads that might turn this from a suicide into a murder. Again, I am not sure this "investigation" holds up in court, but it is riveting film.

Man on Wire - 2008

Phillippe Petit was insane. And the story of his decision to walk from one of the World Trade Center twin towers to the other on a tight rope is absolutely one of the craziest and most interesting life decisions I have ever seen. But, a great story is one thing, to make it a great film is often quite another. Here we have both. Amazing stuff, and the Academy Award for best Documentary in 2008.

Pond Hockey - 2008

This may be one that appeals more to us who love hockey and grew up in the north, but I would like to find out if it appeals to you as well. A very simple doc that interviews the very famous (Gretzky, Crosby) to the not so famous about what hockey outside is all about and what it means to them. I loved it. But then again, I have skated on a pond before.

Running the Sahara - 2008

Running is sometimes considered crazy (marathon length or more), so what do we do with a group of 3 guys who have decided to run a marathon every day for months and months across Africa? From trying to get access to certain countries to dealing with your body breaking down makes it a fabulous 2 hours. I have no idea what makes someone want to do this, but I am happy to watch a story about it.

Young @ Heart

The description of a chorus of senior citizens that sing pop music might not sound like a wonderful documentary. You just need to trust me. This Documentary is one of my favorites of all time. Maybe top 5.


And there you have it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Stars and Big Fan, Jared

One thing I wish I would have done more of this season is to print and respond to more emails. Many of you send them, and I read them all, but I may not give you the public response I would like to.

With that in mind, allow me to feature one of the more hardcore emailers I know, Jared, who sits in section 310 every night, and although I would not say I agree with everything he has to say, I thought I would print it all - and respond to a few points down at the end.

The following are 2 emails Jared in 310 sent me in the last 3 days:

Our blueline is not good enough, but consider this....1st round vs Ducks in '08, who was our blueline? Zubov and Boucher were out (Zubov came back in the Guppy series and Phillipe never really came back). It was Fistric, Niskanen, Grossman, Daley, Roby, and Norstrom...essentially the same guys we've got now (though I would consider Norstrom substantially better than Karlis). Not sure what that says about our young guys, but it seems weird to me.

Nisky- a lot of what you say is fair, but I hear a lot of people slamming Nisky and I wonder why when he is far from the worst Dman on this team. There would seem to be better targets.

Now, about a month back I got curious so I did a little comparing of Nisky's stats at age 23 with some of the top end guys around the league. Not the youngsters (I don't think it fair to compare him with say Phaneuf or Dowty who were top 5 picks) but the stud #1 veterans. And I concentrated on the offensive guys because comparing off and def Dmen is like comparing bananas and plantains...kinda look the same but really aren't.

Not suprisingly, the future HOFers (Lidstrom, Zubov, Pronger, Nieds, Blake) blow him away. What's interesting is that his #s are equal to or better than many of the rest...Gonchar, Boyle, JBo, Rafalski, Chara...Chara at age 23 had 3 full seasons behind him and was -62 for his career!!! Rafalski wasn't even in the league (was in Europe, made the NHL at age 26).

The Isles gave up on Chara after that season and traded him and a 1st to Ottawa for Yashin (the pick became Spezza). Ouch. I used to live on the Island and I can tell you what they think of that move. Now, if you can package Nisky in a deal for Shea Weber, fine...but, I'm not so quick to give up on him after running through the comparisons.

I think Nisky's biggest problem this year is mental. He came in this year after leading the blueline in scoring last year (and having a really strong second half IMO) and, with Zubov gone, the team really put the pressure on him to be the replacement. Nobody replaces a Zubov anyway, but that's a lot to put on a then 22 yr old. And it forwards who "squeeze the stick" too much when they are in a slump, he has tried to be too perfect, tried to do too much. Rather than just playing and letting the game come to him. And I don't feel the coaching staff has helped any of our Dmen (forwards not coming back to help on breakouts has been a problem for the entire D corps and I lay that at Crawford).

And yeah, he gets paid to handle that pressure and all that stuff so he should get over it...true. Still....

BTW, trading for a true #1 Dman is as expensive as signing a UFA one, just in a different way. Look at what TO gave up for Phaneuf and what it cost for Pronger both times he was traded recently. Ribs alone, or Neal alone, or Benn alone will not get us what we need. And trading one of them for Robin Regher or Mike Komisserek just isn't worth it. And are you willing to part with all three (or 2 and one of the young D) to get one. It's tough.

Also, Turco comes off the books, but the money isn't's been spent already on the extensions for Roby and Loui. Ott is extra (unless you let Lehts walk) as is Kari and that leaves no money under the current budget for Neal. Nisky is also RFA. Offer sheets are unlikely...IIRC a team that offered one would have to give the Stars their 1st, 2nd and 3rd round picks as compensation (that was the talk last summer about Kessel). But I do wonder if Neal will be moved ala Kessel before next year if the budget has to stay the same.

OK, that's enough, later and thanks for reading



I don't disagree with a lot of what you say about the Stars budget and the best way to get a #1 defensemen.

I do disagree with your thoughts on Niskanen. Yes, players develop at a different pace, but your 23-year old comps are not totally equal. Rafalski went to 4 years at the University of Wisconsin. Then he went to develop his game further in Finland. He played his first NHL game at the age of 26. That is just not a similar path to a guy (Niskanen) who has played 223 games already. 223 games is basically every game for 3 straight seasons. The Stars have put him out there over and over again to get him to take the next step.

To me, his game really, really concerns me. He seems to lack confidence and composure, and I might argue those are the two biggest characteristics I need my defensemen to possess. NHL Opponents see blood in the water, and if you look a bit worried about taking another hit, they skate faster and hit you harder. It is survival of the fittest, so it is important that you don't let them see you flinch. Easy for me to say from the comfort and safety of the press box, but....

You say, "I wonder why when he is far from the worst Dman on this team. There would seem to be better targets." I think I disagree. If you ask what was expected of everyone, I would look at it this way. Robidas and Grossman have met expectations. Daley has been decent (but could have been better), Fistric has exceeded expectations. Woywitka and Skrastins have been exactly what you paid for. That leaves Niskanen as the guy who was expected to be one thing, and now has been scratched 3 of the last 4 games because the Stars have had enough, I believe. In fact, I cannot help but see the similarities between expectations, production, and frustration these days with him and Fabian Brunnstrom up front. It appears the Stars, after 200+ games are begging Niskanen to give them a reason to pay him this summer. But, I do wonder if we are nearing the end of this experiment of things don't change soon.

I will not argue with you on the money situation. They obviously need to move forward with solutions that will allow them to improve the payroll if they are to compete for the top of the West.



I hope you get to this before the game tomorrow. Here's a topic for the post game...will PHX catch SJ for first in the Pac. Or for that matter, a win tomorrow and PHX is tied for 1st in the entire West. You mentioned after the SJ game that you had questions about the Guppies, but never got a chance to come back to it. I suspect I know most of the points...lack of forward depth beyond the top 6, Nabby fatigue and no backup to give him rest down the stretch, having to trade 1/3 of their D corps last year just to clear space for Heatley, JoeT and his annual disappearing act, and on and on.

So, it would appear that Tipp has the Jack Adams sewed up- How do you feel about the move last summer now? I said at the time that it was at best a lateral move as Crow's post-season record without Sakic/Forsberg/Roy was the same as Tipp-3 series wins. Despite having arguably the best line in hockey for a few years with Naslund/Bertuzzi/Morrison. I would contend Tipp's problems getting results here had more to do with the incompetence of those above him (Armey/Hull/Hicks) than his personal quality. We can never know of course, but IMO the Stars make the POs last year if Richie stays healthy, so to me this year is a step back from the last.

BTW, you guys were talking Mo today and let me tell you how those of us in Sec 310 feel. If the budget stays the same for next year (and I've heard nothing to say it won't) then next year is gonna suck whether they keep Mo or boot him. They are not making the POs next year without a major infusion of cash and that won't happen before July 1. But getting to see Mo continue to climb the NHL record book (however slow he may be at it these days) is one of the few things that makes sitting through it worthwhile. If the Stars boot him, then a lot of long time STH may be headed for their TV sets.

I thought of another point about Tipp and last year's team. About 30 games in, they were 30th out of 30 teams in the league, BMo was lost, Zubov was lost, Avery was gone. And I think a lot of people look at where they finished and forget what happened in the middle.

On the day Richie broke his wrist (the first time), the Stars were 5th in the West and pretty comfortable to keep that spot. Richie got hurt and everything went downhill. But , what a tremendous job to get this team back into contention (not just barely in but middle seed) after where they had started and with your captain out of the lineup. I will always contend that if Richie had stayed healthy then the Stars would have made the POs and Tipp would have won the Adams then. He will certainly deserve it this year.


I suppose now is as good of a time as any to visit about the story of Dave Tippett. Obviously, he has done a world of good to his resume with the unreal job he did in Phoenix.

Most people had no hopes for his success when he took over that very impossible job in the desert. I wished he would have passed on it until a better job came along, but he did not. Coaches coach. That is what they do. Dave Tippett felt like he was perhaps the victim of a regime change here in Dallas, and still should have been behind this bench, but he also knows that coaches are hired with the understanding that at some point, roughly 100% of them will be fired.

I have to believe that he is the front-runner for the Jack Adams, and while Terry Murray and Joe Sacco also deserve a tip of the cap, I might believe that Tip will run away with this trophy.

So, did the Stars make a mistake?

It is way too early to say with any sort of definitive voice - although the evidence shows the team that fired him is playing even worse than when he coached them given the circumstances, and the team that hired him is playing so much better that no one can explain it. A coach that could not get the Stars to keep the puck out of their own net last year has allowed 50 fewer goals than Dallas this season, while playing in the same division.

To weigh the work of Marc Crawford to the work of Dave Tippett is very difficult. It is apples and oranges on many levels. Tippett generally always had full financial resources, and he had 6 years and 500 games to put his imprint on the Stars.

Crawford has had 72 games in a year in which the Stars could not make the necessary alterations to the roster to make it over in a way that could best execute the style and vision of Mr Crawford and Mr Nieuwendyk.

I am amazed at the job of Dave Tippett, and like many people in this city, I do wonder what he might have done here. On the other hand, was he the new voice in the room there? Was he saying just what the Coyotes needed to hear? And would that same message, if delivered in Frisco, have fallen on deaf ears of guys who have heard it all for 500 games here?

The truth is that the Stars have not looked organized or well-coached for parts of this season. While I do not want to give a mulligan for the entire season, I do want to insert some of the realities this new regime has had to work with, and say I would like to see another year and check for progress when they are finally able to address some of the personnel.

If the Coyotes win the Pacific or the whole Western Conference, it will certainly hurt, but I don't think we can automatically assume it would have happened here. 50 fewer goals allowed is not a small amount. And Phoenix has allowed 179 goals, while the Stars have surrendered 229. They have had better goaltending, better defense, and maybe, better coaching.

Congrats to Tip, and let's hope we are having Jack Adams discussions around here next year, too.

Jared, I love the passion, and the great emails. Keep em coming.

Friday, March 19, 2010

From Brad C - Twins?

Nien Nunb

Jason Terry

Fading to #12

This morning's standings tell you all you need to know about where this season sits:

8. Detroit 80
9. Calgary 79
10. St Louis 75
11. Minnesota 74
12. Dallas 73
13. Anaheim 72

With a dozen games to go, the Stars are in a spot where they need to leap 4 teams, make up 7 points, and take a gigantic leap in our imaginations that suggest they could possibly string together somewhere in the range of 5 consecutive wins, in a season where they have yet to win 3 straight. All the while, this needs to happen at the same moment that Detroit and Calgary go on prolonged losing skids.

I think you know where I am going with this.

The main reason why I tried to keep the excitement of a 8-2 spanking of the San Jose Sharks contained is that in the course of 82 games, there are simply statistical anomalies. All good teams will have a few games where they look horrid, and all horrid teams will have a few games where they look good.

To prove the win versus Washington last week or the win versus San Jose actually had bigger meaning, the Stars would have to follow up those efforts with similar showings that we could then suggest constitute a trend.

No such luck.

After Washington, the Stars lost to Buffalo, Los Angeles (In OT), and Colorado. And after the San Jose win, the Stars played reasonably well against Philadelphia, but in the end they were on the short end of a 3-2 result.

Disappointing and maddening altogether. It sure doesn't appear to be effort or desire. But, in the end, I keep coming back to the same conclusion.

This team is just not good enough.

There are a dozen reasons why they aren't good enough - some of which I have written about extensively, others I will write about extensively - but, the only thing that really matters is the bottom line; close to being in the playoff mix, but for the 2nd year in a row, it looks like they will both miss the playoffs and pick in the Top 10 of the upcoming NHL draft.

On the positive side, I do want to point out a few more reasons why I think the Stars have a reasonable future waiting for them. Nik Grossman has returned and played very well. I think his assist to Steve Ott could very well be the finest assist of his career, but we all know any offense from #2 is a strict bonus. The reason I love him is that I think on his best nights, he is extremely solid in his own end. Just composed and steady, seldom making a horrible mistake, and generally worthy of a proper +/- as bad things don't seem to happen too much when he is on the ice.

Jamie Benn has looked better and better as the post-Olympic portion of the season rolls on. There have been several games where the Stars youngest player looks like their best. He has not hit that rookie wall (perhaps that 2 week break is to credit) and he looks like his transition to center is going pretty well. Whether he stays there will be determined, but to make that transition on top of a transition to NHL hockey and look like he is not facing struggles that are too big for him is a real positive sign. I can't wait to see what he develops into.

And finally, Kari Lehtonen. I surely must temper my enthusiasm as we cannot judge a goaltender on a few starts, but I really like what I see so far. He is big, he seems confident, and he is surprisingly nimble with what are impressive toe saves on both nights during this stretch where #32 has been between the pipes. He cuts down the angle with a confident push, he seems to generally find the puck, he gets back to his feet, and he has not allowed the softie. Again, the true goalie is not proven in March of a season when you miss the playoffs, but we now see what the Stars saw when they thought his trade was worth the price. A young, talented goalie who might be your next #1 and is just entering his prime. Let's hope.

These 3 players are not enough to put the Stars over the top, but when you add them to Neal, Loui, and some of the other kids, mix in the veterans who we already know - you can project that the Stars are not too far away with some shrewd off-season moves.

But, there is work to be done.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Ron Washington Feedback and Emails

Yesterday, I received about 100 Ron Washington emails regarding his unfortunate developments. The majority of you seemed to either agree or understand my approach to this news that the Rangers should have fired him at that precise moment of his admission. His courage to confess (even though the test results were going to confess for him if he didn't) is admirable, as is his willingness to get help or take all the precautions to make sure this never happens again.

However, he still wouldn't be my manager. As his employer, I would make sure he gets all the help he needs, I would continue to usher him through his journey, but I would absolutely relieve him of his duties as my leader in the clubhouse. Certain jobs require behaviour above reproach, and this is one of them. His job is to make decisions - so if he made this decision, even once - then I must question his ability to make decisions.

Regardless, this hardline approach did not sit well with some of you (which is what this stuff is all about). So, here are the 3 emails of the 100 that took great issue with my stance:

Email #1

Isn’t it relatively common knowledge about Dubya’s struggle with the bottle and powder? Yet he was elected to the freaking Presidency of the United States TWICE!

Bob, I agree with most of what you say. I respect your opinions on sports matters probably more than anyone else on the station. But I do disagree with your earlier analogy about the General and Soldier aspect of the equation. For one, despite their respective places on the organizational totem pole, they’re both employees of the same company, and therefore held to equal standards. I am middle management for the company I work for, but I guarantee you if I fail a UA for blow, the same fate awaits me as it does any of my hourly employees.

They can’t dump Wash. It creates a double standard if they do—and a racial one, at that. Josh gets caught ON FILM, with his shirt off, basically diddling women other than his wife WHILE DRUNK OFF HIS ASS, yet when he’s sincere about his apology and falls back on his faith (a la a Born-Again Dubya), all is well? I know you didn’t make that particular point, but anyone who has been talking about firing Wash is implicitly doing so, whether you mean to or not. And I guaran-damn-tee you that this nugget isn’t lost on the Rangers’ brass: Josh falls off the wagon, and his play SUFFERED last year, yet he’s still a valued member of the organization? But Wash does a little blow, yet keeps his team in contention until September, and now he’s persona non grata?

It doesn’t fly, man.

No matter what you tell yourself to justify it, if they’d cut bait with Wash back in July, it creates a racially-charged PR nightmare in light of the fact that Josh basically became a relatively sympathetic figure. Yeah, he took some flak for it, but he fell back on his faith and the I Am Second nonsense, and eventually he just became part of the happy little Rangers family again. In both Josh’s and Wash’s case, they made horrendous mistakes, showed sufficient and convincing regret, and have (at least up to this point) been retained by the organization. There can’t be any other result, really. And if the media firestorm causes the Rangers to cave and fire Wash, this thing will suffer. I think the players like playing for him. I think this may foster a circle-the-wagons mentality amongst them, ESPECIALLY when they go to places like New York and Boston. Let’s leave this in the hands of Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels before calling for anyone’s head. It seems that cooler heads prevailed back in July, and it’d be nice to see them prevail now.

Love your show



Thanks for the email and the words. The Josh Hamilton comparison breaks down on a number of levels for me - for one, it is not illegal to be shirtless with women at a bar and drinking. It is illegal, a felony in fact, to have cocaine.

So, here are the differences: 1) Hamilton is a player who used drugs BEFORE he was employed by the Texas Rangers. They knew that, and elected to assume he was on his way to being past that in his life. Washington used cocaine as acting manager of the Texas Rangers. Dubya, as you point out, would have been treated quite differently if he is doing blow in the White House, no? 2) Hamilton is not in a position of authority, and if you don't think that makes a difference, then you are crazy. He is an outfielder, who has no responsibilities other than playing. Washington is the manager of your team. The decision maker of all in-game decisions. The face of your franchise in many regards.

I see nothing racial about this. Not when Roy Tarpley, Michael Irvin, Leon Lett, and many others have sat right where Josh Hamilton sits. Sorry, this is not related. This is about a private in the army or a general. You simply cannot allow a person in a leadership spot to be this reckless.

Email #2

What I am hearing from you, Bob, and you, what I always hear from the ignorant public and trigger-happy press who have unfortunately misunderstood and underestimated a person with the lifetime disease of addiction. You are completely hypocritical. We all make mistakes, yet if you overcome your wrongdoings, you deserve forgiveness. Yet, for's all based on your own personal beliefs which are much stricter than that which you hold for yourself.

Contrary to your misconceptions, Ron Washington is a tried and tested warrior who has battled the war of all wars by fighting...and winning...the battle of addiction. Without a doubt, I would choose Ron Washington as my team's leader everyday of the week and twice on Sunday for having these particular stripes.

You speak as if you are in a perfect world....and those who fall short of your expectations should be immediately executed. Ron Washington's job is NOT based on public scrutiny. It is based on his ability to do his job and do it well. He's already proven himself through the last half of the 2009 season while almost making manager of the year....all while making a mistake, accepting responsibility, and showing that he will not make the same mistake, again.

I urge you not to form judgment merely based on your own limited prejudiced view of addiction and the typical slant that you, the media, spins on people such as Ron Washington. More people than you could ever fathom who occupy high places in our world are also daily survivors of the lifetime battle of addiction....while we, the public, entrust these same people everyday with our jobs, our families, and our lives. It's these particular people who have fought the hardest battle known to man...the battle of addiction. And, they've come out on top.

To be honest, I will always put my life in the hands of a person with these stripes over a person who otherwise has no idea as to the depth of this kind of fight. And, if anything...Ron's transgression last year is a testament to his resiliency and fortitude as a human being and a leader. He made a mistake...just like we've ALL made mistakes. Ron has already proven himself. And, if there is ONE person who knows what it means to win and conquer, it is Ron Washington.

There is no one I would rather want at the Ranger's coaching healm than Ron Washington. If I am hiring a CEO of a company, then I want a veteran general of the hardest fought war; not some number-punching cubical-based office rat without any experience in true trench battle.

You can cast aside Ron for failing your trust. But, who are you to judge? And, what do you base your (mis)trust on? Your doubt in Ron Washington is based on the misunderstanding of the disease of addiction along with your own self-serving opinions of those who are different than you. It's a shame to remove your faith from a man solely based on your own limited personal perception of a disease that is so widely misunderstood by the public.

If you only knew the amount and depth of the fight in Ron Washington, then I guarantee that you would stand by him as one of his greatest fans and supporters. So, please cast aside your own misunderstandings and give Ron a chance.

Or you can simply continue with your archaic misunderstandings of a person with the disease of addiction by giving up on them at the first sign of weakness. I just hope you aren't face with the same problem in anyone of your children. Will they be one-and-done, too?

P1 Will,
Bedford, TX

I guess your email seems to suggest that you think Ron Washington is a recovering addict. Here is his statement : "I know you will ask, and so here's the answer: this was the one and only time I used this drug."

Let's take the extreme high road here and take him at face value at this highly unlikely claim that a 57-year old woke up and decided to risk everything so that he can cross "using cocaine" off of his bucket list.

Years from now, If Ron Washington has put this well behind him and learned from it, I would very much enjoy people learning the lessons he has to tell.

But, he used it last year. He only turned himself in because he was caught. He is in charge of at least one drug addict, and numerous other kids who are being introduced to major league baseball for the first time. We must ask more of our manager than he can provide right now.

I just don't see any wiggle room on this one.

Email #3

Hello Bob,

I heard your segment on Ron Washington today and I have to disagree with you.

First of all, aren't christians supposed to be forgiving and tolerant of others and their mistakes? You came off sounding self righteous with your shoot from the hip reaction calling for the firing of Ron Washington. Let's face it Bob, when it comes to substance abuse, or use, you have no experience am I right? Have you ever done coke? Ever taken a bong hit? Ever been stumbling falling down s---faced drunk? My guess is no. Why stop at firing the guy? Why not press charges? Put him in jail, f--- his life up totally. The team did the right thing, in my opinion and if he blows it again, then let him go.


wow, you raise quite a few issues there, but I couldn't get past your summarizing my religious beliefs.

Let's follow your thread all the way. Does a Christian call the cops if someone breaks into his house? Or is he forgiving and tolerant? How about if his kid is attacked? Where do we draw the line in your view of how it should work?

Is your view of religion one in which nobody ever takes action against a wrong-doer? How about, is a Christian allowed to be a movie, food, or a sports critic, where one makes their living rating things both positively and negatively. Surely a Christian should not be judgmental of a bad meal, right?

Anyway, I obviously did not get very far past your idea that because I believe in God, then surely I should have no problem with a man in authority - whose main job description is making proper decisions - using cocaine recreationally.

I beg to differ.



Anyway, it is the hottest of sports topics, and I don't claim to have all of the right answers - The simple discussion about what makes this different than Tony LaRussa's DUI charges is a fair one. I was asked if I would fire him with no questions asked, and for some reason, I cannot say for sure if I would. But, I can say for sure that I would fire an acting manager if I found out he made a "poor decision" by using cocaine during the season.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Five Reasons Why the Stars Won't Make the Playoffs

I'd say its fair to say that with about three weeks left to play in the 2009-10 NHL season that the Dallas Stars are not going to be playing in the post season. I know that Marc Crawford is going to try everything in his power to put them into a position where they have a shot. And I also know that guys like Toby Petersen, Brandon Segal, Jaime Benn and Brad Richards will play their hearts out as if they have a chance. In the end nothing short of a Colorado Rockies 2007 winning 21 0f 22 and going to the World Series will get them in. Of course that's baseball, it was once in a lifetime, and the Stars don't have 22 games to catch four teams. They only have 14 games, and are now nine points behind Detroit. Here are my five reasons why they DID'T make the playoffs for the second season in a row. Incidentally, that's the first time they have missed in back-to-back years since they moved to Dallas.

  1. For the most part their special teams have been dreadful. Their power play all year has had trouble handling teams that pressure them and haven't found a way to counter it. They are rated 20th overall in the 30 team NHL at a modest 17.6 percent. The other side of the specialty teams is their penalty kill, and for lack of a more suitable term, not good. They get beat to the front of the net on a nightly basis and operating at anything less than 80 percent is poor and Dallas operates for the season at 76 %, that's 27th overall. Fortunately the Stars PK this season hasn't always been awful, just when they needed it to be great though it has been it's worst giving up 7 goals on 23 power plays for a horrid 69.6%. Normally you at least like your power play and penalty kill to add up to 100, the Stars special teams adds up to a dismal 93.6%.

  2. They have received zero goaltending this season. The Stars don't have a goalie ranked in the top 30 in GAA or Save pct. Marty Turco has carried over his disappointing 2008-09 season into this year and in his contract year has played himself out of Dallas. He's played so inconsistently that the Stars traded promising young defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy, the 21 year old Russian to the Atlanta Thrashers for an out of shape, injury prone, former second overall pick goalie looking to resurrect a once promising career. But since getting a shot in Dallas, Kari Lehtonen, who hadn't played in an NHL game since April 11, 2009 (And he should recieve room for error because of this) has struggled to get settled in an has a goals against average of 4.41 and a save percentage of .833. And I forgot to mention Alex Auld. Enough said. That's not solid enough regular season goaltending, even if you're Chris Osgood.

  3. They are playing this season with a defensive unit that is always a couple of pieces of meat short of a sandwich. Two guys the Stars "D' corps relied on to help their playoff run was Matt Niskanen and Trevor Daley. They were supposed to be the guys that got the puck to the Richards' and Ribeiros' from the defensive zone. With the presumed skating and puck moving abilities of a young Brian Rafalski or John Michael Lilles when Lilles first entered the league. Unfortunately they have had a hard time getting the puck out of their own zone, holding onto the puck at their own line, but most importantly they have a combined SIX goals, and 22 assists! Combined! More like a Lilles of the last few years. I think the disappointing play of these two this year hurt the Stars transition to Marc Crawfords' up tempo style and it set that system back. For the record I like Daley and think he can be solid. Great skill and skating ability. After watching a full season of Niskanen I'am still skeptical.

  4. They haven't been able to find themselves an identity. When you think of the great teams, they all had an identity. The Flyers in the 70's would beat your brains in, the 80's Oilers would out skill you, and the 90's Devils were going to trap you, smother you, outwork you and beat you, 1-0. Even if you are a mediocre team it's nice to have an identity, ask the Minnesota Wild, or the Buffalo Sabres. This year the Stars wanted to be an up tempo, run n' gun offense club that beat teams 6-3 and were tough to get through the neutral zone on. It didn't quite workout, Crawford had to adapt to what his personnel allowed and he never got the goaltending they needed in his aggressive system.

  5. They give up way too many goals. Defensively they get lost in their own zone way too much. There are only two teams, Columbus and Edmonton that have a worse goal differential in the Western Conference. The Stars have given up 27 more goals than their opponents and only four teams in the NHL have given up more. Too many mistakes in their "D" zone coverage this season, and that includes the forwards who haven't done a great job of tracking back through the neutral zone and recovering.

It's been a tough first season for Marc Crawford and the Dallas Stars but in all honestly I like where they are headed. I think this is a process and the evaluation of this team has been on going all season, and although the goal of Joe Nieuwendyk was to get to the post this year, it wasn't realistic with the personnel that was inherited. I know they haven't been officially eliminated but shortly they will be and then the focus can turn to what's important. That's future of the Dallas Stars.