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?

View Results

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.

Shock and Sparks Give Us Our First WNBA Brawl

On Saturday, Milka Duno threw her towel at Danica Patrick for yelling at her after a time trial for the Honda Indy 200, and we all called the minor flare up between the two female athletes a “cat fight.” But what happened last night in Detroit - the bench-clearing WNBA brawl featuring Candace Parker and Plenette Pierson - can simply be described as a “fight”. Or “heaven”, for those of you who have GIRLFIGHTS.COM as your homepage.

WNBA Fight 1

In the closing seconds of the 4th quarter, Parker and Pierson got tangled up, causing the former Tennessee Lady Vol to fall to the floor. While Candace was trying to get up, Pierson intentionally ran into her. Then as the kids would say, “it was on.” A melee ensued, with benches clearing, arms flailing, legs kicking and surely lots of really bad name calling. Former NBA bad boys Bill Laimbeer and Rick Mahorn even got involved. Three players and Mahorn, who threw Lisa Leslie halfway across the floor in an attempt to play peacemaker, were ejected.

You may recall that Mahorn was also involved in the Ron Artest incident in that very same building in 2004 as a broadcaster for the Pistons. If a fight breaks out in Detroit, Rick will be there.

Video courtesy of AWFUL ANNOUNCING after the jump.

Read more…