Speed Read: Yes, Denver, You’re Stuck With Orton

Sure, Denver Bronco fans booed Jay Cutler with all their might last night when he returned to play against his old team for the first time, but the boos eventually faded to mild displeasure, and then the eventual realization by the home crowd that they are, in fact, really stuck with Kyle Orton. The Bears won the first half — when both guys played — 17-3, and won the game 27-17.

Jay Cutler sign sad Broncos fan

In other words, the Broncos are about to fade into oblivion, somewhere they really aren’t used to inhabiting. It just took last night’s game for it to finally sink in. Even the lady pictured above doesn’t really seem to have her heart in that sign. She’s quite clearly not lovin’ it. Chargers fans, meanwhile, are already clearing their weekends in January. They could probably take four games off this year and still win the AFC West.

Cutler, of course, played well last night for his new team despite all of the distractions and a concerted attempt by the Bronco defense to make things as tough as possible on him. Suddenly, the Bears are brimming with confidence heading into their opener at Green Bay, and thinking they might be able to duplicate their Super Bowl run a couple of years back — this time with a QB who isn’t allergic to footballs.

Rex Grossman

Orton, of course, didn’t even make it to halftime because he sliced his finger open on another player’s helmet. For what it’s worth, he actually played fairly well (12-for-16 for 96 yards). But this is a guy who the Bears really only grudgingly let be their starter because a better option wasn’t available. Are there even five other teams where he’d be the #1 guy?

FOX SPORTS’ Alex Marvez just comes right out and says the Broncos were fleeced in the trade, not only in the 50-cents-on-the-dollar they got in return, but because of the way coach Josh McDaniels and owner Pat Bowlen botched the whole situation from the start. Maybe Mike Shanahan had lost his way a little, but wouldn’t your average Bronco fan rather have him and Cutler than the McDaniel-Orton combo? Did it really have to come to this?

Well, at least you can look forward to some more scenes like this out at the local bars, Denver:

Kyle Orton and girl

Which AFC West team is more dysfunctional?

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Some idiot blogger totally wrote off the Giants last week after they lost an excruciating game to the Rockies that dropped them four games back in the wild card hunt. In fact, all of the talk was about how Colorado might even run down the Dodgers when all was said and done. And no, I wasn’t the only one sticking the fork in San Francisco.

What a difference a week makes. Edgar Renteria, perpetually just barely good enough to keep getting a job, hit a grand slam that lifted the Giants to a 9-5 win over the Rockies and a series sweep. The teams are now tied heading into baseball’s official stretch run.

Edgar Renteria

(Edgar Renteria: When your team just doesn’t care enough to find a better shortstop)

I knew, of course, that Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain would always give their team a chance to win. But I hadn’t counted on the sudden rejuvenation of Barry Zito. Since a meltdown against the Padres on July 18th that made me wonder if they’d find a way to get rid of him altogether, he’s posted a 1.92 ERA in his last nine starts. Throw in Jonathan Sanchez, whose ERA has been right around 3.00 since the beginning of July, and you’ve got the best starting pitching in baseball right now. Just think if they could hit!

Now, the Giants have to find a way to stay close over the next 10 days. The Rockies start a 10-game homestand on Tuesday and host the Mets, Diamondbacks, and Reds. San Francisco, on the other hand, travels to Philadelphia and Milwaukee before returning home to play the Padres.

Barry Zito

(Yes, that is Zito not only tipping his cap, but also receiving applause)

• The US Open is starting today. An 18-year-old kid named Devin Britton won the NCAA championship this year, and his reward is a first-round match against Roger Federer. Let’s hope he handles the pressure better than Richie Tenenbaum did:

• TRUE HOOP has a great post about last week’s episode of “Mad Men,” which had a subplot dealing with the outrage about tearing down the old Penn Station to build Madison Square Garden in the 1960s, and how MSG is revered today as a sports venue:

Four decades later, it’s ironic that the building that was the bête noire of architectural preservationists has become the defining symbol of basketball preservationists — a receptacle for the sort of sentimentalism that fueled the opposition to its creation. 

• 124th-ranked Heath Slocum drained a 20-footer to beat Tiger Woods, Padraig Harrington, and Ernie Els by a shot at the Barclays tournament in Jersey. Tiger missed a six-footer on the 18th that would’ve tied it. The real winner of the day, though, was former MLB hurler Heathcliff Slocumb, who I briefly thought about for the first time in 10 years.

Heathcliff Slocumb

(Think the Red Sox regret trading him for Varitek and Lowe?)

• I’m not saying Daisuke Matsuzaka is finished, but a 49-pitch, five-run first inning in a AA game isn’t a good sign that things are back on track.

Tedy Bruschi is going to retire today, and then become the 18,214th talking head on NBC’s NFL coverage.

• The Pirates have now lost 21 straight games in Milwaukee.

• A 26-year-old female rugby player had her head run over by a two-ton grass roller set free by a bunch of teenage male rugby players while she was camping in a tent in Wales. Now she looks like, well, like she just played rugby:

Emma Winch, female rugby player

• Are the Cardinals really the team to be scared of in the NL? We all know that pitching rotations shorten in the playoffs, and the Cards are 29-4 since July 1st in games started by their big three of Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, and Joel Pineiro.

• Want more evidence that the Mets are a little cash poor? They’re canceling their fall instructional league because it costs too much. The NY DAILY NEWS’ Adam Rubin says it costs about $300,000 to put on, which is about 1/40th of Oliver Perez‘ 2009 salary. Of course, the whole story is just Rubin angling for a job in the organization.

•  The LA TIMES’ Kurt Streeter is the latest to say what we’re all thinking. Gambling on football is rampant, so why isn’t our country making any money off of it?

• This is what the world has come to in 2009: There is now a “Twitter Warning” sign at the US Open cautioning players against revealing too much “inside info” in a tweet.

Andy Roddick tweets about Twitter warning at US Open

Rugby’s ‘Bloodgate’: New, Messy Ways To Cheat

One of the main reasons a lot of Americans don’t care for soccer is flopping. In a meritocracy like the United States that prides itself on rugged individualism and ascetic Puritan roots, the idea of gaining an unfair advantage by theatrically throwing oneself on the field at the lightest touch is abhorrent. The stereotype of the effete Eurotrash soccer player in short shorts and highlighted fauxhawk writhing around like he just took a sledgehammer to the groin, while unfair, has some truth to it.

Rugby player

There’s a not-entirely-dissimilar controversy brewing now in another European sport - rugby. But rugby, while also foreign and unfamiliar to many Americans, has no room for flopping. No, when rugby players want to fake injury to obtain an unfair advantage, they do it like men - cutting themselves open and bleeding all over the place.

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