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.”


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.

Is Chase Utley the Next Big Superstar? Is Anyone?

Heaven knows it’s a battle to fill the gaping maw of a newspaper sports section (or, heck, an Internet site).  It’s eternally ravenous, utterly unforgiving, and preternaturally cruel.  Lots of writers have to resort to the occasional trick (like comedy bullet points) to keep the beast at bay for another day.

Carl Fredricksen from Up

(ARIZONA REPUBLIC writer, considering his next opus)

However, it takes a special effort to knock out 1200 words bemoaning the loss of the baseball superstar.  It takes interviews with other old men as they pass through town to hopefully buttress your case.  It takes calling up your friends and/or other similarly-minded sports fans in town.  It takes quoting Simon and Garfunkel.  And, of course, it takes bullet points.  (These are also funny, but it’s less intentional this time.)

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Speed Read: Mets Up To Same Old September Trix

In a way, the Trix Rabbit is very much a metaphor for the American Dream. Every red-blooded American wants that shiny pot of gold, or cereal. And the Trix Rabbit, God bless him, never gets it.

Much like the New York Mets, who wanted those tickets to the postseason so badly last year, but never got it. And this year, plus Johan Santana, the same fate has been bestowed on Those Ovarachievin(?) Amazins.

Jeff Wilpon should be a comedian

(Bright Side: Mets owner launches comedy career on heels of team’s collapse)

One man who seems to be eating plenty of cereal, CC Sabathia, was mostly the reason the Mets’ loss sent them out of the Wild Card hunt. His complete game sent Milwaukee (Algonquin for “the playoff land”) to their first postseason series since 1982 (and set off a Prince Fielder postgame celebration that inspired Japanese porno aficionados long-suffering Brewers fans):

Prince Fielder Bukkake

Meanwhile, I think the Detroit Tigers have had just about enough cereal. They’re full, but MLB is force feeding them breakfast foods as they have to travel to Chicago and make up their 162 game against the White Sox to determine the AL Central winner.

If the Soxo Blanco win, they force another bonus game, this time against Minnesota, with the victor earning a playoff spot against Tampa. If they lose — against former Sox pitcher Freddy Garcia, no less — then Minnesota wins outright, and hopefully we can stop talking about Detroit baseball altogether. (Although I surmise they’ll force them to keep playing meaningless baseball games against the Indians until November.)

Your playoff pairings, sans Tampa:
Red Sox-Angels, starts Wednesday at 10 p.m. (Josh Beckett)
Brewers-Phillies, starts Wednesday at 3 p.m.
Dodgers-Cubs, starts Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

But could playoffs be in the future of this man?

Yes, that’s Kerry Collins, of the Tennessee Collinses. At a robust 36 years old, he’s led the Titans to a win over the Minnesota Vikings and a 4-0 record. One other team has a perfect 4-0 record, and it’s the Buffalo Bills. So maybe it’s not so impressive if Buffalo can do it too.

Denver would have been 4-0, but the Hochulian karma finally caught up to them as they dropped a sulfurous egg in Kansas City, losing 33-19 to the Chiefs. Strangely, this puts Mike Shanahan — with ALL those career wins — at 3-11 in games at Arrowhead Stadium, notes KSNT/TOPEKA.

Dallas might also be 4-0 were it not for the fervent Washington Redskins, who never trailed past the second quarter, who prevailed 26-24 over their Cowboyish rivals. As the DALLAS MORNING NEWS points out, football genius/wide receiver Terrell Owens knows why his team lost: it’s because he didn’t get the ball enough. Never mind that of the team’s 60 plays, 20 of them were either touched by or thrown to him. Honestly, if it was just Romo, T.O., and nine linemen out there, nobody could beat them. Marion Barber had 26 yards on eight carries, which was 26 yards that Owens could have accumulated instead. What a selfish running back, always thinking about himself.

Also: Brett Favre never threw six touchdowns in a game before? Seriously? Next thing you’re going to tell me, Hank Aaron never knocked three dingers in a game.

We’ve always shared ten links in the SbB Speed Read, but don’t let that stop you from thinking this is our career high:

In memoriam of Paul Newman, which sporting figure best embodied one of Newman’s films?

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A Quick Recap Of A Wild And Wacky Sports Day

As the calendar turns over to October (or, as we like to call it around here, “Ricktober!”) sports start to get a little … intense. So much so, that we thought it might be wise to offer you a bit of a recap on what you may have missed today. But before we do, let’s examine the following photo of A’s pitcher Brad Ziegler:

Brad Ziegler, rookie hazed

Ziegler, the victim of the best rookie hazing we’ve seen in awhile, is sporting a combination of what appears to be a Little Bo Peep hat, a Dorothy Gale-style blue dress, the red pigtails of the Wendy’s girl, and the knee-high red-striped socks that Waldo presumably wears under his jeans. Luckily for Ziegler, all of the girlishness is offset by the manly gold chain he wears around his neck. That said, there can be no more embarrassing part of the ensemble than the garish Walmart bag.

Your full recap of the crazy day after the jump.

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Blog-O-Rama: Ivan Calderon Has A Worthless Card

JOE SPORTS FAN calls up their Worthless Card Collection once again. Next at the plate: Ivan Calderon.

Ivan Calderon

THE 700 LEVEL cashes in news that Ryan Howard won his arbitration case.

100% INJURY RATE learned something today, as the Australian Football League has released an instructional video telling its players how to treat women.

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He Might’ve Hurt It Writing Those Farewell Letters

Curt Schilling, fresh off signing an incentive-laden, one-year $8M deal with the Red Sox, apparently is now hurt.

Curt Schilling Barbara Bush

Nick Cafardo and Gordon Edes of the BOSTON GLOBE report today “Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is not expected to be ready for the start of spring training because of shoulder issues, much like the ones that caused the club to shut him down for seven weeks last season, according to sources. His availability for Opening Day could also be in question.

The last few weeks we heard a lot about how the Red Sox weren’t looking to trade for Santana because their rotation was already so strong. Based on the crap the Mets gave up to get Santana, the Bosox now may be wishing they made a more serious run at the lefthander.

Schilling has nothing about the shoulder problem on his blog today. Instead, he posted about Mitt Romney’s problem.

UPDATE: The BOSTON HERALD is now reporting that those farewell letters may have been prophetic.

Blog-O-Rama: Joakim Trying To Be American Idol?

• JOE SPORTS FAN finds Bulls rookie Joakim Noah trying to salvage his season - by trying out for ‘American Idol’?

Joakim Noah American Idol look-a-like

• RANDBALL examines the Johan Santana trade from the Twins’ point of view.

• WITH LEATHER is bored by the Bard, as NPR offers up Super Bowl Media Day as if written by William Shakespeare.

• AWFUL ANNOUNCING knows it’s always trouble when tigers & frogs mix it up on the Rockets’ court.

• INTENTIONAL FOUL looks for the remote, as they turn off their choices for most pathetic Super Bowl commercials. Read more…

Blog-O-Rama: Greg Oden Sells Himself Quite Well

• LARRY BROWN SPORTS would buy anything Greg Oden was selling, based on his performance in this ESPN The Magazine ad:

• CRASHBURN ALLEY draws up news of John Kruk appearing on “Aqua Teen Hunger Force“.• TIRICO SUAVE has some suggestions for anyone thinking of starting up a Dana Jacobson-inspired sports blog.

• WAGGLE ROOM swings over news that the Australian Women’s Open is in financial trouble.

Maria Sharapova Ana Ivanovic glamor shots

Maybe they should take a cue from the other Aussie Women’s Open.

• DC SPORTS BOG takes a hair-raising look at the Patriots’ playoff beards.

Read more…

Santana Heading For New York - To Join The Mets

Johan Santana is finally heading to New York - but not to the Yankees.

johan santana

USA TODAY reports the Twins agreed on Tuesday to trade their all-star pitcher to the Mets, in return for four New York prospects. But the deal is not officially finalized yet, as Santana still needs to agree on a contract extension with his new club - and also pass a physical.

Looks like the Baby Boss (a.k.a. Hank Steinbrenner) should have keep his big mouth shut.

Stephen A Smith To Write For ESPN The Magazine

• THE BIG LEAD has important news - Stephen A. Smith wants to put his pen back to the paper by writing for ESPN The Magazine:

Stephen A. Smith

• The LONDON GUARDIAN tries to shine some light on the case of a Chelsea soccer player blinded by freakin’ lasers.

• SPORTS ILLUSTRATED announces their 2007 Sportsman of the Year - Brett Favre.

• DEADSPIN promises this is the last time they’ll ever bring up Colin Cowherd:

Colin Cowherd

• With his Trojans stuck at #7, The LONG BEACH (CA) PRESS-TELEGRAM has Pete Carroll blasting the BCS.

• The CONTRA COSTA TIMES laces up, as the San Francisco Giants turn their ballpark into an ice rink.

• THE GRAND NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP believes the real reason why Les Miles isn’t Michigan-bound is Lloyd Carr’s continued presence:

Les Miles Lloyd Carr

• AOL FANHOUSE tampers with the realization that Hank Steinbrenner’s open coveting of Johan Santana is against MLB rules.

• On a tip from SPORTSKARMA, Texas A&M’s BATTALION brushes off news about an Aggie with the world’s longest leg hair.