Here is head coach Bill Belichick at today’s Patriots press conference, discussing … wait, is that, emotion? Let’s listen in: “I love Brian Piccolo …”
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.
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.
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:
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: 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.
(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.
(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:
• 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.
After last week’s less-than-epic Houston vs. Jacksonville Monday Night Football tilt, just about anything would have been an improvement (short of a “dream pairing” of Dennis Miller and Tony Kornheiser). But last night was a great way to cap any week: two 9-3 teams in Tampa Bay and Carolina battling for first place in the NFC South.
And honestly, if you would have told me that Jeff Garcia was going to throw for more than 300 yards, I would have given the Bucs a pretty fair shot at winning the game. But the trump card turned out to be the Panthers’ RB duo of Smash & Dash, i.e. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, who helped the Panthers combine for almost 300 yards of rushing and a crucial 38-23 victory.
The person on Tampa Bay I feel sorry for is Antonio Bryant, who had a huge game in defeat, as in 200 yards of receiving. (How many fantasy football owners are cursing themselves this morning because they left him on their bench this week.) This included one of the most amazing touchdown catches you’ll see all year:
Speaking of amazing…USA TODAY has a breakdown of the final ballots for the college football Coaches’ Poll, and some of the votes are pretty unbelievable. Like that Utah’s Kyle Whittingham voted his team ahead of USC (I’d like to see that game on the field), or that Ty Willingham voted Missouri 11th despite getting killed in the Big XII Championship Game. But my favorite? Texas Tech’s Mike Leach voting the Red Raiders second - ahead of Florida and Texas. At least he had the decency to place the team that beat him by 44 ahead of Tech.
Some more sports insanity to brighten up your day:
- Kevin Garnett wants a meatball sub, and FOOD COURT LUNCH is going to give it to him. Oh yeah!
- Things just keep getting worse for Petty Enterprises: WTVD-TV says that the legendary NASCAR organization has laid off 39 employees while awaiting a merger or acquisition to save them. Meanwhile, a disgruntled Kyle Petty tells NASCAR.COM that he’s been shown the door and is no longer with the organization.
- CC Sabathia in Dodger Blue? MLB.COM reports that the free-agent hurler ran into GM Ned Coletti at the lobby of Bellagio during Winter Meetings and told him he wants to pitch in LA next season.
- You think you have pressure in your job? Try being Wil Collins, who needed to sink a 18-foot par putt to earn his PGA Tour card on the final hole of Q-School. ESPN.COM tells you if he made it or not.
- Then again, Collins could have it worse: he could have been playing for the Detroit Lions since 2001. Which is why center Dominic Raiola isn’t sorry for giving the finger to heckling Lions fans during last week’s loss to the Vikings. In fact, he tells the AP that he’d give them his home address if they’d only fight fair.
- Could this be the end of the season for Tedy Bruschi? The BOSTON HERALD says that the Patriots’ linebacker is going to be placed on the Injured Reserve after banging up his knee on Sunday against the Seahawks.
- Tim Tebow might be waiting for a sign from above before making a decision, but Texas QB Colt McCoy has made up his mind: the DALLAS MORNING NEWS reports he’s coming back for his senior season. Apparently his God is a more decisive God.
- So Kevin McHale has to clean up the mess he made as GM of the Timberwolves now that he’s the coach. ON THE BALL wants Minnesota fans to cheer up: this was actually a demotion.
- PRO FOOTBALL TALK adds another gem to the Emmitt Smith Dictionary from his post-game appearance on ESPN: “amorition.”
- The ARGUS LEADER says that Vinnie Jones, the former bad boy English soccer player turned actor (he played Juggernaut in X-Men: The Last Stand) is claiming self-defense in a bar brawl during a pheasant hunting trip in South Dakota. You can watch the security camera footage and judge for yourself. (Hint: he’s not the 300 lb. guy getting pummeled.)
One of our current favorite features in online newspaper sports sections is the longtime reporter guy trying to do video standups.
(Schmuck’s Myspace photo must be killer, too)
Peter Schmuck, who has covered just about everything for the BALTIMORE SUN over the years, does his best at Super Bowl media day. We just hope to hell he’s getting paid to ask Saskatchewan-based media members: “Hey dude, can you hold onto this and aim it at me while I talk?”
The best part of Schmuck’s report from Arizona yesterday though came in print. Read more…