Picture Kerry Wood, sitting in his study with a snifter of brandy in his hand. Coming off a 34-save season, his conversion to closer has been successful by any measure. Sure, the Cubs didn’t offer him a three-year deal like he wanted, but you can never have too much relief pitching, so other teams are bound to call. The phone rings. Wood puts down his drink, and leans over the phone to check the caller ID. It reads: Dusty Baker.
(”Kerry, what do you think about Dusty wanting to manage you again?”)
Six hours later, the police find Wood huddled in his bathtub with the showerhead running, rocking back and forth while muttering to himself, “He knows where I live, he knows where I live.”
On Thursday night, the Gunslinger was almost out-slinged, but Matt Cassel’s best effort as a pro came up just a bit short as the Jets beat the Pats 34-31. Favre’s team blew a 24-6 lead, and somehow survived a miraculous game-tying touchdown with one second left that saw Cassel thread the needle to a diving Randy Moss, who just was able to keep both feet on the turf at the edge of the end zone.
The Jets, though, shook off what could’ve been a death blow and took the overtime kickoff right down the field and won it on a 34-yard field goal by Jay Feely. Favre tearfully retired after the game, then immediately went out and shot a deer.
Cassel couldn’t get the win, but for the first time it seems like he really belonged out there. In fact, he became the first NFL player ever (like, EVER) to reach the insanely arbitrary mark of 400 passing yards and 60 rushing yards in the same game.
One thing about the NFL Network. I know a bunch of you out there don’t get it, but doesn’t it seem like they have no microphones on the field to pick up crowd noise? When the Pats tied the score at the end, I could barely hear anyone cheering. It’s like Bob Papa and Chris Collinsworth are sitting in the studio in New York calling the game off a TV monitor with the mute button on. They aren’t doing that, are they?
College basketball is totally sneaking up on us. UCLA began the post-Luc Richard Mbah a Moute era by nearly losing to the Ohio version of Miami. The Bruins do still have Darren Collison and Josh Shipp, but they never could put the RedHawks away and struggled to a 64-59 win at Pauley.
Scott Boras is probably going to just accept that offer the Dodgers made for Manny Ramirez. I mean, it’s not like he’s really all that interested in driving a hard bargain. He wants to just get it over with, you know? That’s providing the Dodgers add another three years and $105 million to their offer, of course, but that shouldn’t be an issue.
(”You want to have the biggest team in town, Artie? What’s it worth to you?”)
The Florida version of Miami beat Virginia Tech 16-14 to keep their ACC title hopes alive, along with everyone else who plays in the ACC. Buffalo beat Akron 43-40 in four overtimes to become bowl eligible for the first time since returning to FBS in 1999. Turner Gill is excited for his team, which he’s going to leave next month for a much better job. It’s official, by the way: the MAC is now more fun to watch than the ACC.
• Well, here it is. Proof that Barry Bonds has been living in an Arctic cave for the past year:
Actually, it’s a screen capture from a hunting trip Barry went on in Canada (two hunting references in the speed read!) with some guy who I guess is an expert on guns or something. YOU BEEN BLINDED has the video, which you should watch if you’ve always wondered what it’s like to hang out with a rifle-toting Barry in a wooden shack while he whispers things like “there it is” and “it’s coming” as dramatic music plays in the background. I can’t think of anything more exciting than watching some guy not shoot things.
• I guess since the Yanks aren’t going to re-sign Jason Giambi, they figured they should bring in a younger, less-roidy version of him. So they traded for Nick Swisher. Swisher is a Billy Beane prototype, in that he walks a lot and hits for some power, but bats like .220. SCOTT PROCTOR’S ARM (regretting that blog name at all?) likes the deal, as Swisher actually isn’t due all that much money for the next three seasons. But what’s with all these guys who used to have insane hair ending up with the Yankees, where they have to wear it like the guys on “Mad Men?”
• Troy Polamalu is saying that the NFL is “becoming more and more flag football, two-hand touch,” in this NBC SPORTS piece about the growing number of players who are fined for illegal hits every week.
• That whole “we don’t want the Olympics” thing the British people are doing? They didn’t really mean that. Everything’s just fine and dandy, says the GUARDIAN.
• SPORTS MEDIA WATCH says the entire British Open will be on ESPN starting in 2010. Currently, the tournament is split between TNT and ABC. This is all about ESPN trying to drive up the fees it charges cable and satellite companies to carry the channel. That’s why they’re bidding on the BCS too.
• CHICAGO CUBS ONLINE eulogizes the Kerry Wood era in Chicago. To think what might have been. The Cubbies aren’t re-signing Wood because they’ve acquired Kevin Gregg to be their closer. The Marlins had to get rid of Gregg because his salary was pushing seven figures.
Lou Piniellaofficially named Kerry Wood the closer for the Chicago Cubs yesterday in a combination of classic fastball seduction and wishcasting about Wood’s health in the limited role. Wood’s reign as closer will be measured with an official Chicago Cubs egg timer before his arm explodes magnificently, taking out Mark DeRosa and Aramis Ramirez with shrapnel.
Cubs GM Jim Hendry, the man responsible for pairing up mankiller Dusty Baker and Kerry Wood, isn’t taking gentle criticism of the move well. In fact, he is quite happy to call out reporters that have done so and humbly remind them that “I don’t give a f*** what you think.”Twice. Look what happens when you set a bad example, Sam Zell!
As Hendry gets in touch his inner bully, the other man responsible for shattering Wood and Mark Prior’s career chose another path to redemption: historical revisionism. Dusty Baker now claims he never hurt a pitching fly.