Speed Read: Oregon RB Loses Game, Then Mind

Last night’s season-opening college football doubleheader on ESPN was a nightmare for fans everywhere. It started off with South Carolina’s dreadful 7-3 win over N.C. State, and wrapped up with a much-hyped matchup between Boise State and Oregon that quickly turned into a one-sided snoozefest. Things couldn’t have been more embarrassing for the Ducks, who didn’t even manage to get a first down until the 7:07 mark of the third quarter. Oh, wait, I guess it could get worse:

LeGarrette Blount punch

Yup, that’s Oregon running back/loose cannon LeGarrette Blount, saving the evening, entertainment-wise, by lighting up Boise State’s Byron Hout with a right cross as the teams left the field after Boise State’s 19-8 win that wasn’t really anywhere near that close. Blount, you see, had promised to give the Broncos an “ass whuppin’” in the weeks leading up to the game, and since he didn’t really deliver that while the clock was running (he had 8 carries for -5 yards) I guess he figured he might as well get a shot in afterward.

There have been some stunning falls from grace over the years, but 18 hours ago I was hearing HEISMAN PUNDIT touting Blount as a darkhorse Heisman candidate on the Dan Patrick Show. Even Boise’s paper was talking him up. Now, not only did Blount obliterate any of that talk with his game performance last night, but it appears as if he may have completely ruined his college career by losing his mind afterward. And, if you think the punch was bad, things got even uglier a few moments later. Video after the jump.

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Speed Read: Punting Momentarily Controversial

With baseball not quite into the stretch run and the NFL and college football not quite ready to get underway, sports news has been a bit slow this week. So perhaps that’s why Punting-Into-The-Giant-HD-Screen-Gate just isn’t going away. Peter King spent an inordinate amount of time talking about it in his Monday Morning QB column yesterday, and he insinuates that the NFL might have as much to do with the mistake as Jerry Jones.

Cowboys Stadium

(Can’t the Geek Squad come and pick it up and put a new one in next week?)

It’s strange that the Cowboys had everything about the new stadium approved by the league, but Colts President Bill Polian — who is on the league’s competition committee — is quoted by King as saying this:

“The irony is that our stadium architect [at new Lucas Oil Stadium] wanted to hang the videoboards the same way in our stadium,” Polian said. “So we put a metal beam about 90 feet above the ground and had our punter at the time, Hunter Smith, punt the ball up there trying to hit it. He hit it the majority of the time. That’s why we put our replay boards on the wall.”

facepalm

Seriously, nobody from the NFL or the Colts, realizing that another team was building a new stadium, said anything to anyone else at the NFL or with the Cowboys about this possible issue? A guy on the competition committee didn’t see where the screens were going to be and say “uhhh, that’s not gonna work?” Or did Jerry Jones just not want to listen to anything because his punters don’t do silly things like kick the ball high and hard? Jones, for what it’s worth, installed the screens five feet higher than is required by the NFL. So why, if 90 feet wasn’t high enough for Indianapolis, does the NFL still only require 85 feet of clearance?

Cowboys punter Mat McBriar said yesterday that he plans on kicking to the sidelines, and isn’t worried about the boards. That’s great for Mat and all, but the problem is that you don’t want to get in a position of the screen being in play at all. It’s entirely possible that it could be hit two or three times in a row, and then you’re stuck with do-overs that exhaust players and open more opportunities for injuries.

The NEW YORK TIMES’ Richard Sandomir says that a screen like this is a completely new animal, and was specifically designed to hang at its current height. It is also designed to be able to be lowered, but not raised. One imagines that permanently raising it up would certainly be possible, but quite costly. And who foots the bill in that case? Jones (because it’s his stadium), or the NFL (because they approved it to begin with)? A Cowboys spokesman tells the DALLAS MORNING NEWS that the team doesn’t believe the height of the board will be a factor “in a competitive-game situation.” I guess they just think that A.J. Trapasso was screwing around when he plunked it.

But hey, I we’re just splitting hairs here. It’s a minor miracle that the thing still has a roof.

Cowboys Practice Dome

Don’t look now, but baseball’s 2007 darlings are well on their way to becoming baseball’s 2009 darlings. After a stunning walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the 14th inning from Ryan Spilborghs last night to crush the Giants 6-4, the Colorado Rockies are now four games up in the wild card race and just three games out of first place in the NL West heading into a huge showdown with the Dodgers at Coors.

Colorado Rockies

The Giants looked poised to pull within two games of the Rox, scoring three times in the top of the 14th to take a seemingly insurmountable 4-1 lead. But then Merkin Valdez completely blew up in the bottom of the ninth, walking pitcher Adam Eaton with the bases loaded to make it 4-2, then serving up the game-ending meatball to Spilborghs two pitches later.

Let’s be honest, here. The Giants are extremely fortunate to be anywhere near a playoff spot. It’s a testament to guys like Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain that they’re able to overcome an offense that features Bengie Molina’s .280 on-base percentage batting fourth every night. They’ve always seemed a bat or two away from being a real threat, and Freddy Sanchez wasn’t exactly the answer.

The Rockies are cruising now, and could potentially tie the Dodgers if they could pull off a sweep. Things are certainly much different this time around. The last times the Dodgers visited Denver, they swept the series and the Rockies fired Clint Hurdle the next day. Since Jim Tracy took over, Colorado is 53-26 and has cut L.A.’s lead over them from 14 games to three.

If Colorado can split the six games left with the Giants in San Francisco, they have a very favorable schedule, including 10 straight home games in September against the D-backs, Mets, and Reds. Then they get six games with San Diego down the stretch. It all leads up to a three-game showdown at Dodger Stadium to end the regular season. The Giants have nine games with Arizona and six with the Dodgers, but also have to go on the road to Philadelphia and Milwaukee while Colorado is in the midst of its long homestand.

Crazy to think that the NL West has become the best race in baseball, considering how well the Dodgers were going earlier in the year. And yes, a lot of that lead was built without Manny in the lineup.

Manny Ramirez Dodgers

 

NL West. Who ya got?

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Yeah, that’s really this kid’s name:

Mister Jones

His middle name is “Quincy,” and his entire name was devised by his grandmother, who filled out his birth certificate with his mother’s knowledge.

Mark Sanchez threw his first career touchdown pass…to the Ravens’ Haloti Ngata.

• A 13-year-old, 383-lb. football player from St. Louis collapsed and died of a heart condition last week during practice. Anthony Troupe, Jr.’s father dropped dead at the age of 45 in 2007. The AP asks if all student athletes should be tested for heart problems. I think the more reasonable question is why a 13-year-old kid was allowed to reach 383 lbs. Not to judge the kid himself, but someone around him should’ve taken some initiative to ensure that he was healthy enough to play football, considering the fate his father suffered.

• Hey, guess who just signed a $93 million extension?

Philip Rivers

• This whole Phoenix Coyotes business is just getting silly at this point. Jim Balsillie is offering $212 million to move the team to a place where it will become immediately successful, and the NHL is maintaining that they’d rather see Jerry Reinsdorf’s group buy the team for $60 million less and keep playing in a half-full building.

• SPORTS BUSINESS DAILY says that CBS and NBC are having trouble selling advertising for the Super Bowl and the Winter Olympics, respectively.

• Your ridiculously violent Bolivian soccer incident of the week, courtesy of WHO ATE ALL THE PIES:

Billy Wagner has shunned the Red Sox and will stay with the Mets, according to FOX SPORTS’ Ken Rosenthal. The Mets will get two draft picks for Wagner when he walks as a free agent following the season.

• …and, Johan Santana is probably going to miss the rest of the season. I’m surprised his arm just didn’t come flying off during his last start. Even Frenchy’s on the shelf now.

• Look, I know the WNBA isn’t very popular, but the NEW YORK TIMES might want to employ a copy editor the one time they actually put something about the league on the front page:

Leslie Leslie

(I’m suddenly reminded of former Wisconsin player Duany Duany)

Plaxico Burress went on ESPN last night and said that he didn’t even realize he shot himself until he saw blood dripping on his shoe. Well, that, and the really terrible pain coming from his leg. I guess he thought he just cramped up.

Speed Read: Punch McLean Is Tougher Than You

Remember when M. Night Shyamalan made good movies? And I’m not talking about the one with the kid seeing dead people. I’m talking about “Unbreakable”. That’s right, I’m the guy who liked that movie. I’ve stuck to my guns over the years on this on the off chance that the film enjoys a resurgence and I can take credit for being a fan all along.

Unbreakable

(”One hundred and thirty one die. One survivor. He is unharmed.”)

That’s all beside the point. The reason I bring it up is that there are occasionally people who show up in the news who defy all logic and survive in the most dire of circumstances. For instance, there was that 12-year-old girl who survived a plane crash in the ocean a couple of months ago.

But a new candidate for our generation’s David Dunn has emerged, and his name is “Punch”. At least, that’s the nickname former hockey coach Ernie McLean has gone by for most of his adult life. McLean coached at the major junior level for 16 years, and led the New Westminster Bruins to four Memorial Cup titles (that’s the biggest prize at that level of hockey).

Ernie Punch McLean

(Punch once got lost in the pattern of this jacket for three days without food or shelter)

He’s also survived a number of incidents that would’ve killed most mere mortals. The latest came this week, when the 77-year-old endured five days and four nights lost in the wilderness in British Columbia when he fell into a crevice while prospecting for gold (they still do that?). With no food, and subsisting just on stream water, he spent entire days walking and eventually reached higher ground, where he was spotted by a helicopter search team.

Most 77-year-olds couldn’t last a full day without their heart pills and a “Diagnosis Murder” rerun. But this is no ordinary 77-year-old. Says CBC in a story about McLean’s latest heroics:

Reed credited McLean’s legendary toughness, and a bit of luck, for his survival, noting McLean previously survived a plane crash in Saskatchewan, and walked out of the woods alive a few days later despite losing an eye and breaking several bones.

He’s also survived car accidents, being run over by a bulldozer and being stranded on a frozen lake in freezing conditions for several days.

Yeah, I’m pretty sure if you’ve wandered around without an eye for a few days that being a little wet in the forest isn’t going to really phase you. Perhaps McLean should ditch the gold prospecting in the deep wilderness and do something a little more acceptable for an old guy, like going to the golf course with a big net and fishing out Titleists. See if you can turn that into a weeklong “Blair Witch” debacle, Punch. (h/t to the PUCK DOCTORS)

Dease Lake

(I guess being lost in nice scenery is better than being locked in a car trunk for a week)

Perhaps she should be more worried about her husband hanging out with teenagers, but it looks like Danica Patrick has made her decision about where she’ll be racing next year. And while jumping to NASCAR would provide unbelievable marketing opportunities and a much larger audience, both on TV and at the track, it appears that she’ll be hanging around with IndyCar for at least one more year. (I bet the new turbo button had something to do with it.)

Danica Patrick stretching

(Maybe if she stopped holding the steering wheel like this, she’d win a race or two)

MVN’s Christopher Estrada seems convinced from the tweets of the INDIANAPOLIS STAR’s Curt Cavin that Danica is about to sign a new deal with Andretti Green Racing. But all the L.A. TIMES would say on Sunday morning is that the chances of her staying were “more than 50%,” and an AP story from after Sunday’s race in Sonoma made it sound that while a deal was close, nothing was really finalized.

I suppose there’s not too much to be read into any of this. While Patrick visited several NASCAR teams during the year, it doesn’t sound like any real serious offers have been made for her services. Perhaps she’s using the news of her impending new deal with AGR as a last-ditch call for offers from the left-turn circuit. For now, her line of reasoning is, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.” That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement.

Danica leaving IndyCar would be a huge blow for the series, to the point where viability would have to become a concern. There’s nothing wrong with Dario Franchitti, Scott Dixon, and Ryan Briscoe, but could you pick them out of a police lineup? Ratings are hockey-esque as it is, so removing the one bankable star would be a big problem. Would ABC even want to show races other than the Indy 500?

For now, that’s a question that doesn’t need to be asked.

Danica Patrick bikini beach on all fours

Is IndyCar doomed if Danica Patrick leaves?

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• BASEBALL DIGEST wonders why the Mets acknowledged every other living member of the 1969 World Series championship team during a ceremony on Saturday night (even those that didn’t attend), but completely ignored second baseman Ken Boswell. Boswell played 102 games that year and spent eight years with the Mets, but reportedly didn’t even get an invitation to the celebration.

• A golf course groundskeeper found a 10-pound mammoth tooth on one of the greens at the course he works at in Michigan. Does that count as an immovable obstruction, or do you have to putt around the tooth?

• Well, Michelle Wie has finally won something. Of course, she needed 11 other people to help her do it. The Americans wore some nice matching outfits and took down the Europeans to win something called the Solheim Cup.

Solheim Cup

Jason Giambi’s pulling a Dave Kingman and going to Colorado’s AAA affiliate to play for a week or so before the team plans to call him up for September. Am I dating myself with a Dave Kingman reference?

• NESN is freaking out that Ken Rosenthal supposedly suggested that the Red Sox might acquire Billy Wagner to be their closer next year and then ship Jonathan Papelbon up to somewhere other than Boston. The theory being that they’re grooming Daniel Bard for the closer job and just need a guy like Wagner to bridge the gap. Perhaps this is why Paps isn’t too comfortable with the whole thing. And I’m NOT going to post the dance video again…oh, who am I kidding:

(”Nawt Paps! Who’ll do the rivahdance? Wagnah sucks!”)

• Ravens rookie linebacker Tony Fein was arrested last night after he allegedly shoved a police officer. A security guard at a restaurant that Fein was eating at thought that he saw Fein pass a gun to one of his friends. It was a cell phone. Police arrived and then things got testy. This is why I’ve always said that the Glock Blackberry was a bad idea.

• I thought John Smoltz refused a AAA assignment, so why was he pitching against the Padres yesterday?

• At least 27 Tulane football players have been struck by a rapidly spreading flu bug. It’s not yet known whether or not they have swine flu, but it’s not being ruled out at this point.

• BLEACHER REPORT wonders why the Oklahoma Sooners are playing the first football game that actually means something at the new Cowboys Stadium.

Cowboys Stadium

(I’m pretty sure I could punt a ball into that screen)

• The WIZ OF ODDS says Barrow, Alaska’s high school football team is off to an unfortunate 0-3 start after a 48-13 loss at home on the blue turf on Saturday afternoon. Barrow is the northernmost town in North America and is only accessible by plane. And yes, they start playing in mid-August to take advantage of “summer” temps that soar into the low 40s. For more on Barrow’s team, see this post we did last year.

• The man arrested for stabbing English soccer player Calum Davenport is the boyfriend of Davenport’s sister. Cara Davenport is pregnant, allegedly with the attempted-murderer dude’s child. And now her brother will likely never play soccer again, and her mother is also in the hospital for stab wounds. Yikes.

Cowboys Director Opens New Stadium With DUI

You know, the Dallas Cowboys might just want to stop building things from now on. As mentioned here earlier today, the new stadium opened this weekend with a gala concert featuring two of the most relevant country music superstars of 1985 — George Strait and Reba McEntire.

Jack Hill

(”The margarita machine’s going over there.”)

Arlington police said that everything went really well for an opening night, and only one person who was at the event was arrested that night for drunk driving. Of course, that man was Jack Hill, the man who oversaw the construction of the stadium and is now the director of operations. Well, I suppose having a drunk guy in charge of building your stadium is better than hiring a criminal with no credentials to fix the roof on your practice facility. Baby steps, I suppose.

Let’s hope Hill put down the bottle long enough to get the building inspected before opening it to the public.

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Salvation Army Stadium: Home Of The Cowboys

With the Dallas Cowboys getting set to play in a brand new stadium next season, there are still a few finishing touches that need to be put on the joint. Primarily the fact that we still have no idea what to call the place. The working title is New Cowboys Stadium, but let’s be blunt, that’s probably not going to work in 15 years.

The closer we get to the stadium opening, however, the more likely it becomes that Jerry Jones won’t be able to find a long-term corporate sponsor to name the stadium after, thanks to this lovely little recession we’re having. Still, every stadium needs a name, and that’s why the DALLAS MORNING NEWS has a suggestion for Jerry. How about Salvation Army Stadium?

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