Dallas Sports Powerhouse






Sunday, December 31, 2006

Alamo Bowl - Game Day


As I trudged through the mud puddles toward the 281 bridge on my way to the Alamo Bowl, I was struck by the number of Iowa fans that had turned out for the game. They seemed much more optimistic than Texas - every time a group of yellow-clad Hawkeyes sauntered by one another, much high-fiving and cheering commenced. I had no idea that Iowa fans traveled so well.

The much larger sea of burnt orange offered nowhere near the level of empathetic excitement that the Iowa fans had brought to San Antonio. If the the Longhorns could not match this level of intensity, I knew it would be a long game. The San-Antonio Express News had provided ready made signs to hold up - one side said "Go Horns!" the Other side said "Go Hawks!" The Iowa folks grabbed these by the handful, while I saw many Horns fans passing them by.

About one-fourth of the stadium was a solid yellow mass of Iowans behind one of the goalposts. The four marching bands in attendance filled up the best seats in the house, while we were stuck in the upper deck along the back wall, at the absolute highest point in the dome. I felt like Greg Davis getting ready to make another inexplicable play call.

The UT defense was listless and allowed two scores in the first eight minutes, which quieted down the crowd very quickly. Drew Tate rocked along for the first quarter before being pulled briefly on a hard takedown.

This was practically a home game for UT, so the crowd provided some wonderful noise shortly afterwards to drown out the umpteenth rendition of "Purple Haze", courtesy of the Hawkeye band.

Aaron Ross's interception in the second quarter caused some fans around us to try their damnedest to get a good wave going, but the east side of the stadium would have none of it. Iowa's touchdown that was wiped out due to a penalty proved to be the momentum changer, and Jamaal Charles's 72 yard touchdown pass vindicated him for a season where he was upset over shared playing time with Selvin Young.

The Horns proved the naysayers wrong by playing a strong second half, finishing the game with a 26-24 win. While not the "Instant Classic" as the Express-News headline breathlessly put it, it was most definitely an exciting game. This was the third bowl game in a row for UT that ended on the last play of the game. As much as I enjoy close games, it would nice to see a complete and utter rout over the opponent one year. A 6-6 Iowa team should have been a pushover for the Horns.

So the Horns close out 2006 with another ten win season, and Colt McCoy taking home the offensive player of the game trophy. As Mack Brown said in the Statesman today:
"This team was really under a lot of pressure," Brown said. "Because a lot of people thought we didn't want to be here.. . . We continued with a legacy of 10 wins. That's really something to get excited about for the fall."

Despite the losses to close out the Horns season, it is easy to get excited for next year. Now, what can Mack's recruiting machine turn up come February?

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Friday, December 29, 2006

Yes Aggy...Suckle on Franny's Kool-Aid

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"Well, it's a good thing Kansas State and a&m gave a good showing in their bowl games. It would be embarrassing if the teams that took us out of the national and conference title races got blown out. Sorry, what's that? There seems to be some noise on my line...I thought you said that both schools lost by more than 4 TDs. Hello...sir?"

Well, if that ain't a punch in the gut.

K-State I can forgive. In the midst of Rutgers' Cinderella season, K-State was a mere pawn en route to the story book ending. But, we only mustered 7 points against an aggy squad that just gave up 45 to a Pac-10 team? (Does anyone else find it humorous that their basketball team only allowed Grambling State 27 on the same day?) Cal had problems against the run too, yet they still dominated. It's like picking at a scab that was almost fully healed.

In some ways, we are strangely fortunate. Never have I seen a coach whose ass was starting to leave an imprint on the hot seat save his job with a 5 point victory over an arch rival. With this latest mark in the "L" column, Fran now owns the record for the worst 2 regular season and Bowl losses in 100+ years of a&m football. Add this to the bi-annual winning seasons, and horrendous showings against Texas, Tech, ou and Nebraska, and it spells fortune for the Big 12. Perhaps a loss this year is a fair trade-off for a nice long tenure.

With former athletic director Robert Gates in such a high position, I would join the witness protection program if I was Coach Tedford. And I certainly wouldn't eat any cloned meat products. Not when the defending Meat Packing champs live in College Station.

Since I will be travelling to Houston tomorrow for the New Year, and will not be able to post until afterwards, allow me to offer my congrats to Mack Brown on a fifth consecutive 10 win season.

Texas 28 Iowa 17

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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Mavs Outshine Suns, West

You can talk about the Mavs and Spurs all you want when it comes to great NBA matchups, but there is no better game the league has to offer right now than Mavs-Suns. These two teams run up and down the floor at one another, wearing out even the fan at home with the constant ebbs and flows of the game. And talk about even. These teams have split the last 20 games they've played. If they were winning titles, it might be the best matchup in NBA history. Well, following a few eras of Lakers-Celtics anyway.

Tonight marked Mavs-Suns '06-'07 chapter two. The Mavs took the first matchup with both teams struggling out of the season gate, but part of that may have been Amare Stoudemire still getting his legs under him after missing all of last season due to microfracture surgery on a knee.

But tonight, the Mavs were shorthanded with Jerry Stackhouse, their leading bench producer, out. The Suns were at full strength. And, if you have watched them lately, so is Stoudemire. The Mavs took the Suns best shot. After running out to a 13-point third period lead, the Mavs fell prey to the Phoenix offense and found themselves down nine in the fourth. But a sure rally and a true jumper from Dirk Nowitzki in the final seconds clinched victory.

The Suns had been considered the only team hotter than the Mavs having won 18 of 20. The Mavs put that to rest and now have an eight game win streak and have won 22 of 25 after their 0-4 start.

The Mavs overall defensive numbers didn't look great in this game, but they got key stops in bunches to hold the Suns under 100 points and get the win. Credit Jason Terry for stepping up with 35 points and 8 assists. Kudos to Nowitzki for his 27 points and 10 rebounds and for stepping up in the fourth the way a superstar should. But Josh Howard was the lynchpin to this team's success and is quickly becoming that each and every game.

First, Howard gives you solid offensive numbers, such as his 16 points and 12 rebounds tonight. But he continues to slow the opposition's offensive threats with his hard nosed defense. True, he was known as a good defender. But, this year, he may have become one of the NBA's best. On this night, he held Shawn Marion to 4 of 12 shooting and even took shifts on Stoudemire when the Dallas centers were uanble to defend him. Now, Nash and Stoudemire got their numbers, but Marion's struggles are key because he has been as big an offensive thorn in the Mavs side as any of the Suns the last two plus seasons.

So with Howard continuning to grow as a player, this team just gets better. Might be better than last season's conference champion. One thing's for sure. As of right now, they have reestablished themselves as the West's best.

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Daniels Stands Tall in Not Signing Zito

I was waiting. I was waiting for Zito to sign somewhere else so I can blast Jon Daniels for lacking guts and Tom Hicks for an unwillingness to spend. But not meeting the San Francisco Giants offer is a sound move.

Seven years and $126 million is simply too much for a pitcher. I understand how valuable they are, especially one of Zito's caliber. Let's just say I don't believe all the question marks raised by teams justifying to their fans why they weren't pursuing the best lefthanded starter available. Zito is, by no means, Chan Ho Park.

Despite that value, pitchers are also fragile. Just ask the Chicago Cubs. If their pitchers could stay healthy, the Cardinals might be an afterthought in the AL Central.

You could, and probably should spend that much per year on a starting pitcher in this market. But to commit that many years at that price is a death sentence for a franchise. The pitcher breaks down and/or declines and you have an untradeable asset and a ton of deadmoney tied up in one player.

So, Daniels is right on this one. The Rangers didn't become simply the faux contender used to drive up contract price. They made their offer, were willing to raise when told of the Giants offer and told Zito to decide. They come out strong.

And the Rangers have a better rotation, barring injury, than the one with which they started last season. McCarthy and Tejeda are young and will hit their bumps along the way, but these pitchers have Major League goods. And all four pitchers are off the market for the next three years at least.

And for anyone wondering where the Rangers money will go, remember Michael Young and Mark Teixiera will need new deals on or before 2008. And a long term center fielder would be a nice touch as well.

I will agree with fellow Powerhouser Jared that the Rangers need a quality lefty in the rotation. They're good for any rotation, but especially good in the Ballpark. That's one of the reasons I'm concerned with the trade of John Danks. Don' think I'd ever trade an up-and-coming southpaw.

So now, it's Mark Mulder and the hopes he rehabs well if he signs with Texas, or a prospect. We'll see how this goes.

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We didn't want you anyways.

Barry Zito signs with the Giants, for $126 million over seven years - the biggest contract ever given to a pitcher.

For the Rangers, it's "Goodbye, Barry - Hello third place finish."

Although I remain optimistic about the acquisition of Brandon McCarthy this week, the Rangers really needed a pitcher of Zito's caliber to contend in their division. With four starters under their control until 2010 - Robinson Tejeda, Kevin Millwood, Vicente Padilla, and McCarthy, the team finally has some stability in a rotation that has flirted with catastrophe for the last five years.

Too many question marks surround both McCarthy and Tejeda, who need to prove they are beyond a sophomore slump in order for the Rangers to be considered legitimate contenders.

The all right-handed rotation the Rangers will trot out in Arlington could use lefties C.J. wilson or John Koronka in the fifth spot, if only to show a different delivery to some great hitting AL teams. Too many hitters will become too comfortable in seeing the same right-handed release point over a three game series.

Otherwise, the Angels and the A's will once again prove to be too much for Texas to overcome. Though Jon Daniels and Tom Hicks believe that the time to win is now, this season should be spent giving McCarthy and Tejeda enough time to develop as starters. The Rangers MUST get away from their previous strategy of "leave the young guys in until they lose a game, then pull 'em."

At least they didn't try a trade for Jon Lieber. Thank God. Now, if only Mark Mulder takes a break from his Tahiti honeymoon to sign on the dotted line...

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Still Hopeful?


"Well, if I don't have hope, then who has it? I won't let the negativism that permeates this town from week to week stay in place because if I'm negative about it, then I'm afraid my players will be. I'm not ready to put the flowers in the hearse."
--Bill Parcells

I am glad to see that Bill is so confident. Although, I guess he can't stand in front of the press and say "That's it! We suck. Let's pack it up. Gotta hit the links by ten. I need some Mountain Dew - anybody got 50 cents?"

Wasn't this supposed to be the team that finally "made it?" What has happened to America's Team?

This is quite possibly one of the most bizarre Cowboys teams I have ever watched. (I have only been on this earth for 28 years, so I cannot speculate on the trials and travails of Roger Staubach, Bob Lilly and company. I do remember Danny White a little bit, though - and Rafael Septien. Ah, the eighties Cowboys. Good times.)

A veteran starter benched for a rookie who gets intercepted on his first pass. Said rookie then wins four straight games. Cowboys merchandise once again is the number one seller in the country.

A not-quite suicide courtesy of Terrell Owens, followed by this release of his children's book. Spectacular defensive collapses. Romo gets a Pro Bowl invitation for what amounts to only five good games. (If that is the new standard for Pro Bowls, why isn't Vince Young there?)

The team can finish with a 10-6 record, but after the debilitating loss to the Eagles Christams day, the clubhouse is rife with dissension. Terence Newman called out Terrell Owens (not by name, of course) and bemoaned the fact that "some" players talk a big game but don't back it up.

Julius Jones and Terrell Owens complain about ther role in the offense (Although, this is hardly a jaw-dropping surprise in Owens case.) Romo, doing his best Brett Favre impersonation, has been intercepted seven times in the last four games.

I am sure that we will have many an opportunity to bemoan the myriad blown chances the Cowboys have had to set up a golden playoff run. Now, with the division title and the number two seed slipping away, a hello-and-goodbye playoff loss is becoming inevitable.

Then again, I could be wrong. Maybe the Cowboys defense willl suddenly discover a pass rush come January. Maybe Owens will not build on his league-leading 14 dropped passes and continue what has become a sterling season for Cowboys receivers. Maybe a win against the hapless Lions on Sunday will provide the spark needed for the first Cowboys playoff win in ten years.

Coach, I'm trying to be hopeful too. Let's see what happens.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Eagles' Strength is Exposing Cowboys' Weaknesses

You want to find something positive. After a bad loss, everyone will pile on the home team. So you look for the positives. But where are they?

DeMarcus Ware? He's growing into a beast but two false start penalties put the Eagles in more manageable third down situations, helping keep drives alive.

Tony Romo? Perhaps, the only guy who played well enough to win for three quarters. Then, he got greedy with the Cowboys in position to make it a one score game, throwing an interception into double coverage. Cracking under pressure, you have to wonder if this first-year starter is playoff-ready.

Well, if those are the closest a guy can come to compliments, there be lambasting to do. Here's the long list:

Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn- I lump these guys together for good reason. Both failed to make plays. Both dropped balls after Romo created big play opportunities. T.O.'s would have put Dallas deep in Eagles' territory and on the comeback trail. Glenn's would have placed the ball at midfield after Romo got creamed and fired up the team and crowd. Then, both complained about not getting the ball enough. Complaints about the coach? The QB? Whatever they are, shut up and get open.

Glenn doesn't often speak like this. But we know T.O. does. Jerry took a chance and why not. T.O had become an impact receiver. Now he's become an average headache. Send him packing after the season and start over.

O-Line- We had thought they were better. The running game was better this year and Romo's escapability had covered over many trangressions. They've allowed the NFL's two worst run defenses to shut the running attack down. Yesterday, they were jumping offsides on their own turf, Romo was running for his life, and Julius Jones got stuffed.

Defensive Front Seven- No pass rush. No run defense. What good are you? Ware is the only player of any worth in this group.

Secondary- You can always count on a tight end or fullback to get open against Roy Williams and Anthony Henry continues to get schooled by opposing receivers.

Coaching- He doesn't coach penalties. He's told us that. But it's Bill Parcells' team to have this team disciplined and ready to play. Have you seen a team play with so little passion with the division at stake?

And what's with the vanilla game plan? Parcells seems to forget he doesn't have the great personnel on the front lines the way he did in New York and New England. It might help to run some misdirection or to blitz because, playing the game staright up, his guys will get beat. That rings especially true in the playoffs.

And where's Marion Barber in a big game? Dude only played key role in comeback against the Falcons and shows an explosiveness often lacking in Julius Jones.

And the Tuna has no one to blame but himself. Traded down from a shot at Stephen Jackson to take Julius Jones and get another first round pick. With that, he got an average running back and overrated, rarely seen Marcus Spears. Drafted Bobby Carpenter who is a big time bust. Spent the majority of his picks on the defensive front seven while neglecting the offensive line (well, except for Jacob Rogers, Stephen Peterman, and Al Johnson). The result is the long list of deficiencies laid out above.

And where's the so-called signature win now? Carolina? Indy? The Giants? Atlanta? Hell, it may just be that Tennessee was the best team the Cowboys defeated this season. That means, say hello to an eleven-year playoff victory drought.

So this is the Bill Parcells' Dallas resume: passionless, undisciplinedteam and bad game plans that have succeeded against teams that have since proven to be mediocre at best. Perhaps, he should follow T.O. out the door.

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A Few Gifts Worth Returning

I woke up this morning with a nice case of indigestion. Unfortunately, it had nothing to do with that second helping of pumpkin pie.

-Vince Young has to be in serious competition for Rookie of the Year. While his stats are certainly not gaudy, he has been the cog for a dismal 0-5 season start to an 8 out of the last 10 turn around. The man simply doesn’t fold under pressure. However, I would have no qualms about Young losing out to Jones-Drew or Colston. Both have made a strong case for why they too deserve the honors. Unlike some analysts, I do not think that it should be given to the player with the most ESPN hype based on what he did in college. (Congratulations to Reggie Bush for having his first 100+ yard rushing game in week 15 by the way) Let's not make the same mistake twice.

-How 'bout them Cowboys? A few weeks ago, the division title looked all but sewed up. This morning, the Cowboys find the words "need help" next to their name. To put the nightmare into perspective, the Cowboys have a 1-game edge over the Tennessee Titans who need to beat New England and have 3 teams lose just to snag the sixth seed in the AFC. Yes, things have quickly gone sour in Dallas...and the NFC for that matter.

-The creature is once again not happy. He says that he alone should be the center of attention in the game plan and more balls should be aired his way. I have heeded the advice to "watch the game film" and I just don't get it. For every good catch he has a drop. He has turned into the second highest paid decoy behind Reggie Bush. Newsflash: No one cares what you did in Philadelphia or San Francisco. It's like me saying "I used to pull some nice tail in high school and college so there is no reason why I can't still do it as an out-of-shape stud pushing 30." It seems inevitable that either Parcells or Owens will be looking for new real estate in the offseason. I can't say that I will shed a tear over this.

-How quickly the media has turned on Tony Romo. It appears that he has lost some Hall of Fame votes with his past 3 performances. I tend to agree with the shift in thinking. There is no doubt that Romo has had an outstanding year. But, being dominated by the Eagles at home is an indicator that a huge spark is needed to make a serious playoff run. Romo simply hasn't been able to keep the fire ignited. Not that his defense is doing him any favors.

This morning is certainly a Maalox moment.

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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Be Sure To Tell Santa What You Want

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Have a safe and wonderful Christmas!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Why You Should Never Bet on Sports


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Where's Daniels' Pigeon Nerves?

Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels made a dicey move today, sending upper level pitching prospects John Danks and Nick Masset to the Chicago White Sox for righthander Brandon McCarthy.

This is the kind of move that either blows up in your face completely or serves as one's anointing for general manager of the year. Odds are, this move, facilitated by Daniels' fears Barry Zito could sign elsewhere, blows up on the Rangers.

McCarthy is a hard thrower who the White Sox had pegged this year for their rotation. He's the reason they traded Freddy Garcia. He, however, exhibits one of the same concerns as Zito: the long ball. The difference between Zito and McCarthy is that the Ballpark is much more forgiving to southpaws than righties. He's major league-ready. But is he Ballpark-ready?

As to the players the White Sox receive, this is too much to pay. This smacks of last year's Chris Young trade. That trade turned out ridiculous. Young became a key cog in the Padres' division wining rotation. And, forget Eaton's injury. He's now gone and Akinori Otsuka is back in a set up role with Eric Gagne's signing. Daniels got hosed.

John Danks was in the running with Eric Hurley for the Rangers' honor as top pitching prospect. He wasn't quite major league ready, but he was progressing well. After a step back a couple of seasons ago, Nick Masset had reestablished himself as a top prospect as well. The Rangers had yet to decide if he was a starter or their future closer. If those are the options, that pitcher's too valuable to be in a package. He should be the prospect that draws a couple of players in return. To be in a package with Danks for one player, excluding the lower level prospects the teams will swap, is a bad move.

So what leads Daniels down such paths. It's the inability to allow things to develop. He was nervous about Zito going somewhere else, so he jumped into action and partially abandoned the plan to develop more homegrown starting pitching. He was nervous about Otsuka being able to sustain his success in the closer role next season and signed Gagne and anointed him closer, making the Rangers believe Masset was expendable. Combined with today's trade, these will likely prove to be unsound moves.

But I will give it a chance to develop. After all, John Koronka and John Rheinecker proved me wrong about trading Juan Dominguez last offseason. I like McCarthy. At this time, he's more developed than Danks. I just don't believe he fits this club in this ballpark. And Masset may not have been needed as closer of the future with Gagne's signing. It will take some work to prove this a good deal, which I will gladly give after today.

But, if Zito and Mulder sign to pitch for Ron Washington and the Rangers, this all becomes a moot point, doesn't it?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Mavs Go Streaking

The Dallas Mavericks are riding a streak again, now winning 19 of the last twenty-two games. So what's changed since the 0-4 start?

For one, Josh Howard and Devin Harris have stepped up their defense. Howard is becoming the defensive stopper the Mavericks thought he would be. He's been good, but now he's shutting down the other team's top players. Most recently he has given Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant fits. Take note. Howard was on the becnh resting for most of Kobe's 17-point third period the other night.

Harris has been nearly as stifling as Howard. He's harrassing the other team's point and can guard the twos and threes as well. He wasn't an instant classic but is slowly growing into one of the Mavs most complete players.

But even more startling is Erick Dampier's recent discovery of instensity. He's finally nearing that double-double average the Mavs looked for when they signed him three years ago. On Wednesday night he posted 22 points and 16 rebounds to bail out the Mavs after dirk Nowitzki went down. Does that mean he's proving he's worth $70 million? Not yet, but he's getting closer.

All of this has me thinking the Mavs will be serious contender come May '07. Sure, there's the Spurs, and the Jazz and Suns are flat scary right now. But the Mavs have to be included in any discussion about Western Conference elites.

Ode to Dallas

Is Dallas the best sports city this year?

Boston? Please. Dice K better lead the league in strikeouts.

With the Cowboys, Stars, and Mavericks all posting winning records (and the ever hopeful Texas Rangers just one pitcher away from greatness, as always) Dallas fans have a smorgasbord of enjoyable teams to watch.

While I love nothing more than engaging in near fisticuffs over which home town has the better sports scene or better fans, few cities can rival what Dallas pro teams have accomplished this year.

Cowboys - Newly crowned Pro Bowler Tony Romo leads an exciting offense that rivals the Colts in scoring. We'll try and forget about a defense that rolls over to crappy offensive teams.
An exciting new quarterback, budding defensive great Demarcus Ware, and even a gargantuan stadium planned for the end of the decade all point to the Cowboys as a team on the rise. Winning their last two games should sew up the number 2 seed for the playoffs. Super Bowl bound?

Mavericks - Despite Dirk's recent injury, the Mavs have put together a 12 game winning streak and set up another playoff run against divison rival San Antonio. Here's hoping we can see some better smack talk from Cuban this year. The River Walk is still as dirty as ever. As I discovered from living there and witnessing the Saints flirtation debacle, San Antonians have a massive inferiority complex.

Stars - Excellent play by Marty Turco (when he doesn't lose focus and implode) have the stars at 22-13 in their division. I want to see some genuine nastiness against San Jose in the playoffs.

Rangers - The weak link in my argument. How about 2007? For the love of God, Zito, make a choice. How many more millions of dollars do you need? Here's hoping that Mulder, on his honeymoon in Tahiti, decides that he enjoys year-round summers and wants to come to Texas as well.

Forth Worth Brahmas - Well, we won't mention them.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Stop the Madness!

Which is the most annoying story?

1. TO spits in the face of DeAngelo Hall

2. Trump vs. Rosie

3. Carmello Anthony's love tap

4. The Dallas Stars forget how to play hockey

I vote that we get no more news.

(Seriously, WTF?)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Romo Joins the Cowboys QB Pantheon

What strange news to hear a quarterback who has only started eight games has made the Pro Bowl. Yet, that is what Tony Romo achieved when the NFL announced the rosters yesterday. He's play well, but it's probably as much a matter of how weak the NFC quarterback position is as it is Romo's unbelieveably solid play since taking over for Drew Bledsoe.

But more important is what it means for the team. Only four other Cowboys Quarterbacks have been Pro Bowlers: Don Meredith, Roger Staubach, Danny White, and Troy Aikman. Now that's an impressive list. That's right. Danny White included. He's perhaps the underrated player in Dallas Cowboys history. And didn't help that he played in the shadow of Roger the Dodger. He was like Steve Young following Joe Montana but never got the proverbial monkey off his back.

Anyway, what's significant about this selection? No Dallas Pro Bowl QB has ever failed to take his team to at least the NFC Championship game. Now, that may not have always occurred in the same year, but at some point in Romo's career, the Cowboys will be just a heartbeat away from another Super Bowl.

And considering Bledsoe's team won the Lombardi trophy the last time he was replaced mid-season, the karma's looking awfully pretty for Romo.

Just chew on that awhile.

Pot or Football? Now That's a tough one.

Which would you choose - millions of dollars in the NFL, or smoking out with your buds?

I simply do not understand the attraction of smoking marijuana over playing in the NFL. Isn't it supposed to be a one of the less-addicting drugs? Can any hemp activists out there answer me that? What gives?

On Friday, former Cowboys quarterback Quincy Carter was arrested at his girlfriend's house in Irving. She had called 911, telling the dispatcher that Quincy was out of control and destroying her house. She feared for her safety.

When the cops arrived, Quincy had a little less than 2 ounces of weed on him, so he was promptly hauled off to jail.

The truly funny (and immensely sad) part came when sportswriter Randy Galloway found out that Quincy had not bailed himself out - apparently, he did not have the $150 to post bond. So Randy, nice guy that he is, talked about it on his radio show and put up the money himself to bail out Carter.

(By the way, Randy - Journalism 101: DO NOT POST BOND FOR PLAYERS YOU HAVE COVERED IN YOUR JOB. I'm surprised this has faded out of the Dallas media so quickly. The Star-Telegram's publisher Wes Turner said this:

"Even though Carter is now a private citizen, we understand he is a public figure and that Randy's action may be seen as a conflict of interest," Turner said. "While we would not have approved of this action, we do not question Randy's integrity as a journalist or his status as the preeminent sports voice in the Fort Worth-Dallas area."

Yep - that's the media for you. Blatant conflict of interest and ZERO consequences. Good stuff!)

But back to Quincy. This all makes perfect sense. Even though Quincy was released from the Cowboys in August 2004 for failing a drug test, (And released this year from the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League for another failed drug test) we all know that league NFL minimum $250,000 is not enough to keep the bling and ganja flowing. The dealer would need to take his cut, along with whatever Quincy needed to buy for his entourage.

I cannot fathom going from being the starting quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys, to kicking back in the clink overnight because you do not have the ability to cough up a hundred bucks. I wish I had known about this sooner, just so I could have driven up to Dallas, visited him in his cell, and pointed and laughed at him like Nelson Muntz.

This, of course, brings to mind everyone's favorite holistic medicine student Ricky Williams, currently the star running back of the CFL's Toronto Argonauts. After his standout years at UT, Ricky had received an $8 million dollar signing bonus negotiated by good ol' Master P in 1999. Four drug violations later (for marijuana), he promises to return and play for the Dolphins again in 2007.

I give him three games next season before he fails the urine test again. Then it's only a matter of time before Jerry Jones decides he'd be "worth a look".

So, Ricky, how about this - lay off the yellow submarine for a year, and make millions. Whaddayasay?

RICKY: Hmm... Nah. I'll take the weed. Wanna toke?

Bomar-ed...I mean Brantley-ed

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Despite 6 months of debunking any rumors that he would waiver on his commitment, Texas' top recruit John Brantley has announced that he will sign a letter of intent to play for the Florida Gators next year.

Best of luck to John as he holds the clipboard for Tim Tebow the next 3 years. (Ask Ryan Perriloux for advice on this) There is a special place in hell reserved for people like you.

See ya later...Gator.


(Ok, maybe it's karma since we stole Jevan Snead from Florida...but this blog isn't about being rational)

In all seriousness, good luck sir. Give 'em hell in Gainsville.

Texas fans just can't seem to catch a break these days.

Seriously Desmond, do some homework. It's "Jeh-von".

Oh...I guess I should mention that Cal isn't playing Texas in the Holiday Bowl for good measure. Have we seriously fallen so far that people think we are aggy?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Land Of Cotton Is All But Forgotten

Texas/ou weekend is an experience that the English language cannot fully express. Once you enter the State Fair grounds, you are transported into 80 years of football history. The scent of cotton candy faintly engulfs the air as you wade through the crowd to the nearest ticket booth. The Texas Star revs up its motor as a local band serenades the crowd with music that makes you proud to be a Texan. When the Star Spangled Banner is belted out, you catch yourself taken aback with the clear division of burnt orange and crimson in the stands. After the final whistle blows, there is a family atmosphere in victory and a common bond in defeat. This is a place where adults can be young again and children can learn that a corn dog is an acceptable breakfast food.

But, in the age of technology, the Cotton Bowl has fallen behind. For years, renovations have been promised and never delivered. The stadium is old and very worn down. The seats are very small and uncomfortable. The toilets are a hazard to passersby on the lower levels. The seating capacity rivals some Texas high school stadiums denying entrance to even the most loyal faithful. The neighborhood gives you a worrisome feeling as you spend the entire day wondering if the owner of the house where you parked is truly earning his keep by watching your shiny new SUV. For decades the City of Dallas has made politician promises to Texas and Oklahoma with a sly wink knowing that the presence of tradition would far outweigh any of their failures to deliver.

So, what should we do?

I am against ever making the series a home and home affair for several reasons. At the top of the list is that it takes away from the uniqueness of meeting on a neutral field to decide what state has control of the Red River. While each school will have their turn with attendance, an away game only provides 4,000 seats for the other diminishing the ability to annually witness the game in person. Going to a city that breathes their team and hates yours with a passion also begs the question of personal safety. Having visited both cities, I can state that Norman clearly suffers in the "things to eat, see and do" factor.

As a Texas alumnus, and a diehard fan, I advocate a move to the new Cowboy's stadium.

One of the biggest advantages is the seating capacity. By moving the game further down I-30, you are allowing 20,000 more fans to witness the greatest rivalry in America. This translates into $17,000,000 more in revenue on ticket costs alone. The stadium can mirror the 50/50 division of the Cotton Bowl while providing a neutral field for the teams to play on. While you cannot fully capture the Fair experience, there is no reason why the Fair vendors could not be contracted to have a temporary home in the midst of the tailgating venue. This also does not preclude purists from visiting the State Fair the day before or after the game. As is true with the State Fair, the stadium would be on the train route allowing people to eliminate the high cost of parking and time spent in traffic. The addition of big screen scoreboards both in and out of the stadium are a very attractive feature. Unlike the Cotton Bowl, a person could experience the uniqueness of the weekend and have a viable option of watching the game outside the stadium. The comfort and amenities alone makes the shift a more attractive option. If the stadium is not utilized for the Red River Shootout, it will be pounced on by another school waiting in the wings. (Do we really want to give Texas a&m or Tech more of a recruiting presence?) Most importantly, Texas and Oklahoma could take away something that the City of Dallas has taken for granite for far too long.

It pains me to say it, but the schools would be crazy not to jump at the chance to move the wagons West. If I must turn in my diploma for saying so...so be it.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Are You Committing...Brother John?

The Horn football recruitment has pretty much mirrored their season. Both came out of the gate strong and both are showing signs of weakness towards the end. What initially seemed as the best all around recruitment class in the history of the 40 acres has started to fizzle. 2 solid verbal recruits have de-committed and another has had to hang up the shoulder pads due to medical reasons. The light at the end of the tunnel was that the #2 rated quarterback in the nation, John Brantley, still has a solid verbal with Texas.

In the words of the bumbling idiot Lee Corso...not so fast my friend.

Our friends at Burnt Orange Nation have published a very telling expose into the mind of the Brantley clan. Reading the comments, I too have come to the unfortunate conclusion that Brantley will not dawn the burnt orange. You have to look no further than Brantley's MySpace page to see other fan bases sending their well wishes. A viewing will also lead you to believe that his desire to come to Texas is still somewhat strong. But, best intentions do not automatically transfer into results.

What does this mean for Horn fans? A lot in this writer's opinion.

I am going to commit the sin of saying that Brantley would be more of an asset to this team than Colt McCoy is. I was very impressed with Colt's play this year, but he has questions still left to answer. As much as people want to dogpile on Greg Davis for his vanilla offense, it makes you wonder just how much faith he has in Colt's abilities. While he certainly has the name, look and poise to lead this team, Colt lacks the size and arm strength to make this team competitive for national contention. Were his stats Heisman worthy? Certainly. But, when you dissect his numbers, you see that the majority of his record breaking TDs were garnered against much weaker competition. Against this year's upper echelon (Ohio St., ou, Nebraska and a&m) Colt had 5 passing TDs and 4 interceptions. He also had a 2-2 record albeit extenuating circumstances for the two losses. As easy as it is to give Colt a pass, we must remember that he was a third ditch effort after Ryan Perriloux and Chase Daniel gave the Horns a cold shoulder. He simply exceeded the expectations considering what we lost.

Mr. McCoy, I served with John Brantley. I know John Brantley. John Brantley is a friend of mine. Mr. McCoy, you're no John Brantley.

Brantley has all the tools to be a winner. He is poised in the pocket and exudes flawless execution for his three time state championship team. He also has made it clear that he wants to sit on the bench for a year learning the offense. If Colt takes the next step to realizing his ceiling, Brantley would still have two years as the starting quarterback for Texas. Matt Leinert and Troy Smith seemed to have embraced this position quite nicely.

Despite the departure of Jevan Snead, Texas will be solid in the quarterback position. Even if verbal commit John Chiles decides to take his athleticism elsewhere, redshirt quarterback Sherrod Harris seems to be a competent heir to the throne. But, Brantley provides the same threat that national title contender Tim Tebow gives Florida. Should Colt's durability or endurance come into question again, it's nice to have as many aces in the sleeve as possible.

February cannot come soon enough.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

The Romo Rebound

Well, folks, for anyone who figured Tony Romo's magic may have worn out, not so fast. Romo answered the worst game of his career with a brilliant performance: 22 of 29, 278 yards, 2 TD's, and 1 INT. A great game, though against one of the NFL's worst pass defenses.

And boy the Cowboys needed every bit of that action, along with Marion Barber's brawlish rushing to get this win. That due to the fact the defense and offensive line once again got mauled.

That makes this a rather humbling victory. Sure, it just about sewed up Dallas' first playoff birth sinced The Tuna's first season at Valley Ranch. But the defensive performance provides for great pause as you consider their playoff chances.

Roy Williams once again proved suspect. Only this week, Michael Vick missed a wide open Alge Crumpler on a play that should have given the Falcons a 14-point third quarter lead. The Cowboys' ability to comeback would have been severely tested and Barber's second half running game would have been eliminated for the second straight week.

The other safety, this week rookie Pat Watkins, was another story, though. Watkins apparently took his re-entry into the starting lineup to heart and made a few plays. He was present in the running game, even laying a monster hit on Michael Vick, and played center field well enough to pull in the game-clinching interception.

The rest of the defense is still in desperate need of work, however. This was supposed a game of strength on strength: Dallas' run defense vs. Atlanta's run offense. And compared to the Atlanta's usual output the Cowboys did well allowing 127 yards.

But they also allowed Vick to have a field day in the passing game with four TD's, exploiting Anthony Henry and the defense's inability to cover a fullback. I mean, who has the freakin' fullback on these plays. Last week, New Orleans' Mike Karney posts three touchdowns and, this week, Atlanta's Justin Griffith scores twice. And it appears Williams is the guy letting the fullback go in the red zone, too. I also hear Darryl "Moose" Johnston is begging Philadelphia for a Christmas Day comeback so he can make a run at the Hall of Fame.

And, don't let tonight's sack numbers fool you. This defense is still not getting to the QB enough, allowing the secondary to be pimped slapped week in and week out. The front seven would bee dead without DeMarcus Ware proving he was worth an 11th-overall pick.

Add to that, seeing the offensive line pushed around all night, leading to three sacks and three tipped balls, one of which caused Romo's lone pick, and there are a number of holes on this squad.

And then putting the recent "big" wins in context is only all the more sobering for Dallas. It was thought to be big for Dallas to win in Carolina. It was thought to be a huge upset to beat Indianapolis. However, time has shown those victories were the beginning of downward spirals on the part of the opponents. The win over the Giants was due not only to Romo's clutch play but also NY Giant mental errors and the total failure to include the fullback in the goalline offense. So where is that so called signature win for Parcells and his team really at now? Tonight's rebound victory? A win over a mediocre team that was too close for too long.

So is there life after Greg Ellis? Can the defense stop anyone? If not, can they end the ten year playoff victory drought?

Only time will tell, but it's looking unlikely.

The Forgotten Quarterback


I know it will probably never happen.

Matt McCoy will almost certainly not be starting on Dec. 30 at the Alamo Bowl against Iowa. (Not that guy. This one.) Newly anointed hero Colt McCoy's recovery from a severe pinched nerve is, by all media accounts, proceeding on schedule. Colt, who was named National Freshman of the Year by the Sporting News this week, can continue his deserving ride to a bowl victory over the Hawkeyes, in a game where the victor is not in much doubt. (That means the Horns will win. By a lot.)

But man, what a great story it would make.

With the transfer of Jevan Snead, Matt McCoy is the last man standing should Colt suffer another blindside hit. Suddenly, the college stage in a bowl game would belong to an unlikely 22 year old from Dallas.

The walk on quarterback, now a senior, has only played mop-up in previous games, and has never thrown a pass in college. As the Austin American-Statesman points out, he does not even have a mini-biography in the team's media guide. He has appeared three times this season for the Horns, all in blow-out games - his team celebrated on the sidelines after a thorough stomping of a hapless opponent like Sam Houston, all while Matt runs out the clock for the victory.

So who is the forgotten five-year senior? Matthew McCoy signed with Texas out of the Episcopal School of Dallas, where he once threw for 583 yards in a single game. An option specialist, he led the team his senior year to an 8-3 record and a playoff berth. He has been able to play with his twin brother, Mark, who is also a walk-on receiver for the Longhorns.

When the media spotlight turned to him this week after Mack Brown deemed him the starter, he seemed unfazed by it. He insisted that Colt will be playing, but will still prepare in case the unthinkable scenario drops on Texas.

But, if the doctors do not clear Colt to take a hit...

The final game for this senior would have a one-shot chance other players would envy - to lead his team in a nationally televised bowl game.

It won't happen. But it sure would be fun to watch if it did.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Name That Field!

Well, the best plans for the greatest stadium ever are laid. Jerry Jones is basking in his own glory. The Super Bowl, among other sporting events, will soon come to DFW.

But before that first NFL game is played in Arlington a great sin will be committed. A beautiful virgin stadium will be violated when Jerry Jones collects millions to post a corporate sponsor on the front of his new digs.

It robs stadiums of their character, and I despise it, but it will happen. So let's have some fun considering some potential sponsors and their potential marketing slogans:

American Airlines-"Wright Amendment that, Southwest!"

eBay-"Ironically, we bid the most for the naming rights."

NASA- "Just wait 'til we put this effer on the moon!"

Trump- "Because what the hell haven't I put my name on."

Overstock.com-"Ladies, with Tony Romo, it's all about the 'O'"

FedEx Kinko's- "Where Bill Parcells prints his infamous charts."

Botox-"Keeping Jerry smiling all these years."

Cingular-"We have fewer drops than T.O."

Smith & Wesson-"Well, our safeties always work."

Viagra-"Our name is on Jerry's greatest erection."

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Even The Other Bush Had Something To Say

With Parcell's being standoffish with the media over the New Orleans loss, President Bush has stepped up to give us a game recap.

With Dallas' defense looking bleak, the rumor is that Bush is gearing up for a rendition of "Hit me baby one more time". More to come when this story develops.

The Market is Set...Now What?

Yesterday Red Sox brass and Scott Boras completed the deal for Japenese phenom "Andrew" Daisuke (pronounced "Dice-K") Matsuzaka. The deal is for reportedly 6 years, $52 million. Add that to the $51.1 million posting fee and the Red Sox just placed a six-year, $103.1 million value on a 26-year old pitcher who has never pitched in the major leagues.

Hickory dickory dock. (Fill in your best imitation of a Dice Clay line here)

Meanwhile, in another, and downright stunning development, the Toronto Blue Jays and offered center fielder Vernon Wells a seven year contract extension worth $126 million.

So Tom Hicks and Jon Daniels, the market is set. What are you going to do?

Boras will be expecting at least Matsuzaka money and term for Zito who is a proven major league pitcher and Cy Young Award winner. Don't bother to argue that Daisuke really only got $52 million. Boras won't buy, knowing someone will spend the bucks necessary to buy his client's services.

And Vernon Wells wants to play in his hometown Arlington. At least we know he wanted to play in Arlington. But money speaks at unhealthy decibel levels. But perhaps it is encouraging that Wells did not jump right on the money.

Perhaps, he thinks if the market is this crazy this offseason, it will be even more in his favor next offseason. Perhaps, he wonders if he really wants to get that contract in Toronto where the tax bill is higher. Perhaps, he wonders if the Blue Jays really plan to keep him around if he signs or if they are making a statement to teams who think the Jays don't value Wells. In that case, the last thing you want to do is sign and not be able to choose where you go after Canada.

And the Rangers have two choices to make. First, will they step up, after setting their offseason table for this move and pay the big bucks for Zito? (BTW-Barry, Dallas has a decent music scene and Austin is just down the I-35 corridor) Next, do you make a big money play for Wells now, knowing deep down he wants to come home? Or, do you wait until the offseason in hopes the market comes down and fellow DFW resident Torri Hunter is still available?

So I ask you Hicks and Daniels...What do you do?

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The New Cowboys Cathedral


I have always thought that if Jerry Jones were to die, his ego would live on as a disembodied cloud, floating around Dallas dispensing outrageous signing bonuses to free agents.

Jones will now have an architectural monstrosity to match his boundless egotism when the new Texas Stadium opens in 2009. Plans were officially unveiled today for the massive sports complex, which will cover 2.3 million square feet at a cost of ONE BILLION dollars.

One billion dollars. Dallas might not be able to feed its homeless population, but by gum, it WILL have a state of the art football complex, with taxpayers picking up about 325 million of the tab. (The 325 million, by the way, was originally intended to cover HALF of the stadium cost. Guess Jerry miscalculated a smidgen.)

The stadium, keeping the iconic hole in the now-retractable roof, will seat 80,000 fans, with the possibility of up to 100,000 seats for special events. Designed by HKS Architects (The same firm that designed Ameriquest Field), the stadium will be encased in glass, with a primary entrance covered by two 1300 foot tall steel arches.

The highlight would have to be the 60 yard long scoreboards and screens hanging above the field. Here's hoping that this scoreboard screen can be lowered to field level for special screenings of Star Wars.

Jones apparently has been putting together this stadium plan for eight years, even before the public funding was approved two years ago. This cathedral will be open year round, so all football pilgrims can come worship at the altar of the Gods of Football, and pay homage to America's Team.

And for Rangers fans, the new fangled Texas Stadium (it has not been corporately monikered yet - I vote for Hush Puppies Field) will be within sight of Ameriquest Field. As they ponder the shining stadium on the hill, Rangers fans can only wonder when Tom Hicks will get the itch for new digs.

That red-brick facade of Ameriquest IS looking a little faded these days...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Patchwork or Design?

The Texas Rangers today added Kenny Lofton and Eric Gagne to their mix while visiting with free agent injured reserve pitcher Mark Mulder.

If you were to add these three to new Rangers Frank Catalanotto and Marlon Byrd, the Rangers offseason continues to look ordinary. So we ask the question: are these moves set up as a patchwork to help the Rangers get into next offseason with what they perceive will be a golden opportunity? Or are these moves all part of a grand plan to roll out a dynamic Rangers team for 2007?

With Mulder and Gagne the Rangers would be taking a risk with two pitchers who may or may not be totally healthy. Mulder very well may not pitch until mid-season. At the same time, the Rangers are bringing in two pitchers who have either contended for or won the Cy Young Award, Gagne being a rare relief pitcher to get the honor.

So, assuming Mulder would come on a one-year deal as well, they're probably planning to take a look at these players, not expecting their best this season, but evaluating them to be a part of a playoff run in 2008, right?

Not necessarily. Mulder would give Texas an All star arm with which to fill any holes that may have formed in the rotation by the break. Gagne gives Ron Washington closer options if Akinori Otsuka fails to repeat his 2006 successes or continues to show he can't close out the best teams. He's an iffy option but a nice addition to Otsuka, Kam Loe, and Frank Francisco as the Rangers look to decide who to hand the eighth and ninth innings to next season.

In addition, the Rangers have quietly toyed with the idea of dealing Otsuka to acquire young starting pitching talent. This may embolden them to do just that. But then what do they show for the Chris Young trade?

As for Lofton, Catalanotto, and Byrd, its hard to say. Lofton will give you quality defense but, at age 40, is not a long term option. His signing is clearly a patch. The Rangers have apparently decided DFW residents Vernon Wells and Torri Hunter are free agents next year and need to be chased. They should be front runners in that bidding war for a long term deal that would make not re-signing Gary Matthews, Jr., look brilliant.

Catalanotto has a good bat. A Tony Gwynn-type, though less advanced. But he will not provide high caliber defense. Figure him to fill that David Dellucci and Mark DeRosa role the next few years.

Byrd? Let's call it a backup plan. Lofton's 40. He's bound to get hurt or need a rest. Brad Wilkerson and Nelson Cruz can play center but are best suited defensively for the corners. So in comes Byrd and the hopes that Rudy Jaramillo can right his bat.

And if Wilkerson proves last year is no fluke? The Rangers have probably seen John Mayberry, Jr., progress over the last few months and may expect he'll be ready by the following year.

Of course, to pound this into the ground, the nature of this offseason hinges on Barry Zito, a situation I expect to clear up quickly after Scott Boras is done taking money from the Red Sox for Diasuke Matsuzaka Thursday at midnight. The Rangers pursue him with gusto, knowing they might get played, because they want to build a winner in 2007 without selling out the farm. Obviously, if Mulder signs, (a decision he's likely to make before his wedding this weekend) he's not an immediate solution. So the Rangers require the services of Zito or may have to consider a trade for a Brad Penny-type to make their offseason moves all part of the plan for 2007.

Otherwise, they can hedge their bets with a few patches and with the youngsters on the team and hope for the best knowing names like Mark Buehrle, Freddy Garcia, and Jason Jennings are free agents next year.

Here's To You Mr. Texas Fan

I love Mack Brown. Some people who do not follow the Texas program as closely accuse him of being an excellent recruiter but a bad game day coach. I do not agree. Brown has a long history of turning programs around. He has been successful at every coaching level and has two national championship rings to show for it. The guy is a proven winner.

But, I must object to Coach Brown's assessment of Texas fans.

During his press conference, Brown had this to offer: "I spent three years at Iowa State and my knowledge of the history of the University of Iowa football program really grew. I think there were 19 years of losing seasons and they filled it up every week. I can say that is one thing we don't have in common at The University of Texas. Ours wouldn't come if we lost for 19 years."

These comments play into the common theory that Iowa and Nebraska have the best college football fans anywhere. Having traveled to a Nebraska game, I cannot disagree. Nebraska fans are friendly, walking encyclopedias of college football and extremely loyal. Texas fans are angry after a loss and Nebraska fans are simply disappointed. I have never been to Iowa so I do not have firsthand knowledge of their home demeanor. But, if they are on par with the Iowa State fans that travel to Austin, I would not protest on the label.

The other side of these comments is that Texas fans do not offer the same amount of loyalty to their team. We do not show our support if a poor product takes the field. (This is called a "fairweather fan" in aggy speak) I do not dispute this. Before 1998, it was relatively easy to walk up to DKR stadium and buy a ticket. HEB, Austin's biggest grocer, used to have $5 ticket specials for the recently demolished north endzone. Big 12/Southwest Conference championships aside, Texas was pretty bad in the 90's. This was punctuated by the lack of fan support on game day.

But, Coach Brown is making an unfair comparison with the programs. For starters, the ISU and Iowa stadiums seat far less people than DKR does. If you took Texas' worst years of attendance you would still overflow either of the two. So, in essence, the same claim would be said about Texas fans if they downsized the capacity of DKR.

Perhaps, more importantly, the field of play is not on par.

During the course of a college football season, residents of Texas can attend or watch MLB playoffs, NBA games from 3 state teams, NFL games from 2 state teams including an elongated preseason, Dallas Stars hockey and minor league affiliates and even soccer games. If you are a resident in Iowa or Nebraska, you do not have these conflicts of interest. While I do not doubt that professional loyalties are bound within these states, it isn't the same as having a team to call your own. College football is all that they have to cling to...win or lose. I do not think that it makes you any less of a fan if you watch the Horns play on television and actually spend money to attend a Spurs game the next night. After all, football is much better on a 52" HDTV. Sure, the overall experience isn't the same, but a 4-yard run doesn't look like an armegeddon from the stands. (Nor can you pause it or conduct a self-paced review) If you are going to spend a truckload of money on the equipment for the sole purpose of sports entertainment, why not put it to use?

If you live outside the greater Austin area, the problem further compounds.

If I want to take my two sons to see the Horns in action I have to budget for the following: 3 tickets for $165 ($55 per for a "cheap" game against a tune-up opponent), $60 for gas roundtrip, $20 for stadium parking, $15 for bottled water/hot chocolate depending on the game and $30 for food if we sneak in some generic stuff. That is a net total of $300. Forget the added costs of staying at a roach motel or even purchasing souvenirs. This is strictly for a daytrip. (Not to mention the 6+ hours of driving to and from Austin with an 8 year old and a 6 year old in the backseat) Over the course of 6 home games a person such as myself would spend $1,800 to see the Longhorns play. Mind you, this is a low estimate considering the hike conference opponents and rivals deliver on ticket prices assuming that you could find them at face value. We won't even get to the added expenses of traveling to a road game.

The fact that I do not have disposable income to commit to this when the product on the field is of poor quality makes me a bad fan?

I have never heard of anyone going to Las Vegas with the notion that they are going to just throw their money away gambling. Not lose their income on a blown roulette strategy, but simply hand over their money to the front desk and be on their way. If I am going to spend a sizable amount, I want at least a possibility of a return on my investment. If you cannot offer me this, I will find someone that can. (See Texas' professional distractions) This doesn't mean that I am not passionate about you. This means that I am not willing to monetarily support your efforts as a fan if you are not willing to give me effort as a team. 19 straight years of losing seasons only validates the fact that you showed up. It does not constitute an effort.

This is a common occurrence across the board. When the Dallas Mavericks were winning 13 games a season, attendance records weren't exactly being shattered. I remember throwing tantrums when Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys because games were subject to a broadcast blackout due to poor attendance. Rangers' owner Tom Hicks has made a commitment to not overspend on talent as a direct result of fans not opening their wallets in the second half of the season. This is just in Dallas where we are spoiled with representatives in all major professional sports and the championship aura that surrounds them.

So Coach Brown, yes we have become a little spoiled. But, then again, so have you.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Breaking News: T.O. Not Happy


In a rare move, Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens gave a boastful interview to ESPN analysts, and former Cowboys great, Michael Irvin. (Sportscenter's Sunday Coversation piece on 12/10/06) When asked about his production this season, Owens indicated that he was "not into it all the time" and admitted that he "quits on plays" as a result. He directly attributed his poor performance to simply not caring. Unfortunately for Cowboys fans, Owens was not available for comment having not left the woodshed with his teammates.

I think that #81 may be on to something here.

Dear Boss,

I wanted to take this opportunity to remind you how fortunate you are that I work for you. The job market is pretty tight these days and you obviously know talent when you see it. Unfortunately, for you, I need to set some ground rules for our business relationship.

Productivity will suffer if I am not happy. What will make me happy you ask? I don't know. I am too busy updating my blog to figure out why I have such resilience. It's up to you to figure it out. What I do know is that I want company-wide emails, and perhaps media coverage, if I do the job I am supposed to do. If I "drop the ball" on a project, it can directly be attributed to my fading desire to put any effort towards my responsibilities. But, if the latter happens, someone else is surely to blame. And they should be severely punished.

I mean seriously, do you have any idea how lucky you are to have me? I was voted "server of the week" 4 times in 5 months at TGIFridays. Then they got all high and mighty telling me what tables I would wait on and how much I could charge for menu items. I wasn't going to have any of that. So, they let me go. Fine. Their loss. All I'm saying is don't question my production. You may think that I'm being egotistical or lazy. I have smiley-faced certificates and contest winning gift cards to prove otherwise.

Constantly answering questions about me is a small price to pay for what I have the potential to give you. Do you not even recognize this?

Look...just pay me the money and I'll show up to work. (Maybe even on time some days) Don't burden me with conference calls or employee meetings because it cuts into my nap time. I have a Myspace page to upkeep so why don't you try to be more considerate? There is absolutely no reason why I should NOT be the center of attention at all times. The sooner you give me the respect I deserve the better life will be.

Otherwise, I have a full bottle of pain pills and a lot of free time.



Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Awe-Inspiring Outfield

The Texas Rangers have two new center field options. They recently signed Marlon Byrd, who started for the Phillies and hit .300 in 2003, and have apparently agreed to a contract with Kenny Lofton.

That means the outfield now consists of those two, Brad Wilkerson, Frank Catalanotto, Freddy Guzman, and Nelson Cruz. There's a lineup that will strike fear into no one. Here's hoping they don't leave us pining for the days of Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix.

Now there's potential here. Cruz has serious upside. There's always the chance Wilkerson was hindered by that bum shoulder and didn't just outright suck. And Rudy Jaramillo coaching a former .300 hitter is often a plus. But that is way too many if's. The good news is maybe this, and Mike Piazza signing with the A's, means Jason Botts finally gets a legitimate shot to prove he can hit. But there's another if.

So let me repeat myself: Barry Zito must be signed. And not for just the obvious reason that he doesn't require as much offensive help. Also, because if he and Mark Mulder, who reports indicate sees the Rangers as his top choice, fill out a rotation that would be set for at least three years, maybe you can use your prospects, then, to acquire a top outfielder. Say Vernon Wells?

Now Wells is a year removed but the Blue Jays, who figure to be unable to resign the guy, have made him available. If you get to the season's second half with four solid starters and Robinson Tejeda maybe you can spare the prospects necessary to get the deal done. But, if you do, you better follow the trade by immediately getting him extended.

That would be more money than Tom Hicks would appear willing to spend, but he said he'd do it for the right players. I think Wells is the right player. That would give you Wells, Zito, Padilla, and Millwood with long term deals. You could any other major bucks on keeping Michael Young and Mark Teixiera. This should give you a solid foundation to move parts in and out around as needed.

But again: it all hinges on Zito.

ConVINCEd yet Bob McNair?

Just got back from the game, and a long drive back from Houston in the rain, so the recap will be brief.

Is there anything that Vince Young can't do?

Imagine Jerry Jones moving the Cowboys to Oklahoma City. Upon the announcement, thousands of Dallasites pelt Mr. Jones' limosuine with bottles and anything that will get velocity after every home game. Mr. Jones leaves Dallas with fans shaking their fists and vowing to curse his grandchildren. 4 years later, the City of Dallas tries to christen a new NFL franchise into the hearts of former Cowboys fans.

Net result: One winning season. No signs of improvement are shown.

An outstanding quarterback enters the draft early because his hometown team has the first pick and practically begs your new owner to select him. Your rage boils over when your team squanders the opportunity and the hated Mr. Jones snatches him up to be the franchise quarterback of the former Cowboys.

The quarterback plays his first game in Dallas creating a fan turmoil on loyalty. To stick the dagger a little further, this happens...

I'd hate to be listening to Houston talk radio tomorrow.

Or Merrill Hodge for that matter...

Bad Romo + No Greg Ellis = Big, Bad Loss

The NFL prepared a Sunday Night feast. We were supposed to engourge ourselves on good football and sleep heavily this night knowing we had seen a legendary story unfold before us.

Seattle lost to Arizona today leaving the Seahawks at 8-5, one-half game behind both the Saints and the Cowboys. Philadelphia, the Giants, and Atlanta all won leaving all three teams a game and a half behind the teams on tonight's NBC docket. Tonight's winner would be in the playoff driver's seat. The loser would face a three week dogfight.

The table was set. We were ready to eat. The feast was wonderful early giving the Cowboys fans something they'd been waiting for all season: a long TD run by Julius Jones. The Cowboys came ready to play. Two Dallas defensive stops sandwiched the run leaving the task of putting the game away early in the hands of young Tony Romo.

Except Romo appeared young, unable to find open receivers and throwing an interception setting up the Saints go ahead TD from which they never looked back. Sean Payton brought his team to Texas Stadium ready to lay the smack down, exploiting a Greg Ellis-less defense for all its not worth.

Yes, we are now seeing how important Mr. Ellis was to this squad and how much of a bust Bobby Carpenter may just be. We got a grace period, what with the 'Boys playing the sad sack Buccaneers on Thanksgiving. Since that day, offenses have moved moved the ball up and down the field at will against this defense. Eli Manning and Drew Brees both sat in the pocket all game nearly unharmed and picked the D apart. Without Romo's late game heroics and the Giants lack of discipline, this pass rush-less defense would have handed Dallas a two-game losing skid.

And with the safeties the Cowboys sport, this team needs all the pass rush it can muster. Because this we know: we would never want Roy Williams and Keith Davis in the Rangers' outfield the way they read the ball in the air. We also know Williams, at least once a game, is going to try to tee off and hit someone, miss the tackle, and allow a big play. All these ingredients against the league's number one offense was too much to bear.

The poor play by the defense allowed the Saints to dominate the clock as if they were playing their own scout team. This combined with Romo's early indiscretion put him and the offense in an impossible hole. One that even a hilariously ironic Terrell Owens touchdown off a dropped intereception couldn't provide any help in digging out.

And yet, I find a little joy in this win. No doubt, I'm not a fan of Bill Parcells. If the media likes to talk bad attitudes, he's definitely among the worst. So seeing Sean Payton call a great game without the Tuna holding him back was beautiful, as was Payton getting the best of Parcells with that third quarter onside kick. Also, a stumble by Romo may be just what the team needed to take a serious self-inventory before the playoffs.

But we're left with questions. Can Romo succeed if kept in the pocket? Can the defense stop anyone but the Bucs without Greg Ellis? Are the Parcells-coached Dallas Cowboys setting the stage for another December collapse or will step up against fellow playoff contenders the next two weeks?

But I'm not worrying about those tonight. Instead, I'll bask in Vince Young's homecoming overtime heroics and Texas basketball's upset win over #11 LSU.

Zito is Neato


The Rangers season hinges on signing Barry Zito.

If he walks away from the millions that Hicks undoubtedly will offer, the Rangers will only continue their playoff drought.

Too pessimistic? Without Zito, the Rangers have two solid starters in Millwood and Padilla, a promising rookie in Robinson Tejeda, and then two open spots. That is all.

Pitching, pitching, pitching - the refrain has tormented Rangers fans for years. With Zito, Texas has three top starters and can fill the last spot with a battle royale in spring training. Without him, it will be another season of a 5.00 ERA flirtation.

Imagine this possible opening day Rangers rotation:
Barry Zito
2006: 16-10, 3.83 ERA, 221 innings pitched
Kevin Millwood
16-12, 4.52 ERA, 215 innings pitched
Vicente Padilla
15-10, 4.50 ERA, 200 innings pitched
Robinson Tejeda
5-5, 4.28 ERA, 73 innings pitched

Fill out this rotation with Josh Rupe or Mark Mulder at midseason, and it is easily the best Rangers starting staff ever fielded. (Eat your heart out, Bobby Witt and Kevin Brown!) All of these guys would be under contract to the Rangers for at least the next three seasons. That, my friends, is a playoff rotation.

For the past three years, the Rangers have had only two dependable starters, and have struggled with the last three spots. Last season, with the injury in spring training to Adam Eaton, Daniels pulled off some GM wizardry and traded for John Koronka and John Rheinecker. These two guys each had initial success before hitters deciphered their repertoire and began to knock their pitches out of Ameriquest. (Hopefully the Kronkster can resurface with a third pitch in the bullpen.) The Rangers must avoid this scenario again this year, even if it means trading for another established pitcher like Jon Garland or Jason Jennings.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels has seen many of his players walk this offseason, but no loss has been a body blow so far. Gary Matthews' defense in center field will be sorely missed, but I am skeptical he can maintain his breakout hitting season in Anaheim. Adam Eaton's brief stay with the team was utterly forgettable, and Rod Barajas, though a fine defensive catcher, had to give way for a much cheaper (and more capable hitter) Gerald Laird.

If chatter among the media is true that Daniels is interested in former ace closer Eric Gagne, this could prove to be one more piece of the puzzle. The Rangers already have a surplus of good relief pitching, so throwing one more player on the people might seem counterproductive. If Daniels is able to then flip some of his extra relievers for starting help, including young guys that are teams are interested in (such as Scott Feldman or C.J. Wilson) then this winter will portend good things for the Rangers.

If not, then it will be another LONG, frustrating season. Mark Teixeira and Michael Young are only under contract for two more years. The Rangers winning window with these franchise cornerstones is fast closing.

(Speaking of Rangers reliever C.J. Wilson, there is something not right about his myspace page. I can't quite put my finger on it, though.)

Saturday, December 09, 2006

One Unlikely Familiar Face Returns

In case you haven't read the greatness of the Powerhouse in awhile, the Texas Rangers have suffered a mass exodus this offseason. Either the players liked Buck Showalter much more than was believed or teams or throwing away money like its going out of style this offseason.

Despite the player loss, I've stated the only departure I'm truly disappointed in is Gary Matthews, Jr. His center field play will be tough to replace. However, a couple of big names and guys who had big years have left so things look bad for Jon Daniels. In fact, I've been warming tar in the garage and bagging feathers from my worn pillows just in case we need it.

But, today, the bleeding has slowed. Righthanded starter Vicente Padilla officially signed his three-year $34 million contract today. Now the Rangers at least have three-fifths of their rotation in place: Padilla, Kevin Millwood, and Robinson Tejeda. This is a group with promise.

That's not bad. It's relatively early in the offseason for the Rangers to have this much of a rotation in place. And I don't think there are any Ryan "One-hit Wonder" Drese's in this group. And excuse my naivete, but I expect all three to be better in 2007 with a season of American League pitching in the Ballpark. (I understand Millwood pitched for Cleveland in 2005, but the Ballpark is another world.)

Next, the Rangers have Mark Mulder in for a visit on Tuesday. Now he's coming off an injury and may not pitch until after the All Star break, so he could be this year's Adam Eaton. The difference is the Rangers know going in he's a few months out and he's a more established pitcher. And for a guy with a career postseason ERA under 2.50 and who hasn't had 10 losses since his rookie year, it may be well worth the risk. Then, there's the other former A whose name has been mentioned enough on this blog already.

So the possibilty exists Jon Daniels makes this a blockbuster offseason. Otherwise, I'm going to need more pillows.

Quarterback Carousel


Let's see - with the impending nuptials of Mike Modano, he has been declared the most eligible bachelor in Dallas. His brief, unrequited ardor for Jessica Simpson drove the media to hilariously speculative extremes. The fans are also showing the love.

Since the coronation of King Romo the First continues unabated (let's hope his intuitive big-play abilities carry over into the playoffs), Dallas has suddenly realized that Bledsoe is actually still on the roster. He is just one injury away from being back in the pocket and tossing momentum-killing interceptions again. What to do?

Apparently, Parcells is worried enough about Bledsoe's post-demotion preparation that he has brought in Tommy Maddox for a quick workout. Maddox would be a fine emergency option should the T-Ro express derail and Bledsoe not emerge from his pouting funk. If Dallas is lucky, maybe the 35 year old journeyman can recapture some of his 2002 Steelers mojo.

Regardless, we would have to bid adieu to Matt Baker, the Cowboys' virtually unknown scout team quarterback. As the Dallas Morning News' Matt Mosley reported on his blog:

"In preparing for the role of his lifetime, Baker has watched a lot of film on Peyton Manning. He's even mimicking all the nonsense that Manning goes through before each play.(Parcells said "about 90 percent" of his pre-snap routine doesn't really mean anything). "

"Baker, an undrafted rookie out of North Carolina, used his index fingers to make horns while shouting "devil" several times before one play. Several defensive players broke up laughing, which hopefully won't happen Sunday."

Sounds like a fun guy. Mr. Baker, we hardly knew ye.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Rangers Need A Fastball

Yeah. Yeah. I know. This is a lot of coverage for the offseason winter baseball meetings. What? With the Cowboys, Stars, and Mavericks all winning?

But I can't help it. I long for this team to be something. To do something. And the window is closing fast on this offseason.

Carlos Lee, Gary Matthews, Jr., and Mark DeRosa? All gone. Mike Piazza? Signed with the A's. But that's okay. It's time Jason Botts got a real shot. The Rangers consolation prize? Frank Catalanotto and maybe Kenny Lofton or Jay Payton.

Adam Eaton? Gone. Vicente Padilla? Aggressively retained. Ted Lilly and Jason Schmidt? Off the market. Chicago White Sox pitchers? They just traded Freddy Garcia and are probably done for the year.

So you want Gil Meche? Miguel Batista? Not so much. Jeff Suppan? He's one of those creepy, career year guys. Tim Hudson or Mark Mulder? Too many red flags.

So it's time. The Rangers have flirted with it. Worked the edges of the strike zone. Now its time for the best pitch they've got. Barry Zito is just about the only quality pitcher of note left standing so forget the risk and sign the guy.

I know. There's negotiations. Don't pay the guy more than they want to until they have to. But bring the guy to Arlington.

Sure, you can hear the chatter about fly balls and home runs and how he won't fit the Ballpark. You can listen to talk of his velocity being down.Or you can see the track record. Here's a guy who not only gives big innings. He wins games.

Compare Zito to two of the most hyped pitchers of recent years: Josh Beckett and A. J. Burnett. Here's a pair of pitchers with out of this world stuff. Great fastball. Above average breaking balls. Solid changeups. Three pitch pitchers. Yet, for all that, they can barely stay above .500 for their careers.

Beckett was a case study last year. Came out of the gate on fire. Looked like he was in for a career year. But fizzled down the stretch and played a role in the Red Sox second half collapse.

Zito, on the other, always brings it. He slumps are shorter and he has won over 60 percent of his decisions in his career. And his durability has been unreal. This guy's arm is reliable. It doesn't break down every couple of months the way Mark Prior's and Kerry Wood's does.

And don't be scared by the Chan Ho Park fiasco. That had bad move written all over it from the beginning. It was well documented Park was much better in the pitcher friendly confines of Dodger Stadium. The Rangers ignored that and signed him anyway. Last year, with Millwood, the Rangers trusted the track record and got almost what they expected. Same should go for Zito.

Here is a case where the reward outweighs the risk. I'm aware this is Scott Boras' boy so he will cost. I'm also aware he is a Cy Young winner and one of baseball's best pitchers.

So, whatever it takes, sign Zito. To be almost the only one left, he's a damn fine pitcher.

Please Be a Texans Fan...Pretty Please?

One of the joys of a sports enthusiast is seeing other people squirm when faced with the reality of a loss. Former college poster boy, and ESPN co-mascot, Matt Leinart had to correct himself in an interview when he claimed that "this was a good win...I mean loss for us...I don't know...whatever" after the Longhorns rode out of the Rose Bowl as National Champions. This stemmed from his belief that despite losing USC was still a better team. Clearly old Matt took one too many shots to the helmet. A slight smirk came over the faces of Horn fans none the less.

Pro football is no different. The rivalries for Dallas have certainly changed over the years. While the Steelers, Eagles, Redskins and Giants could certainly make a case, I grew up in an era where beating the 49ers was the path to hallelujah land. Now the 49ers are a perennial joke and the Cowboys are finally starting to pick up some steam after a dormant decade. No, these days there is no one NFL team that really gets a Dallasite's blood pumping. (We leave that to the "dreamy" Tony Romo...)

But, if you travel further down I-45, a new hatred has been rekindled: The Houston Texans vs. Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hide.

Houston fans despise Tennessee Titans' owner Bud Adams with a passion. This is the man that rode out of town with the Houston Oilers and placed them in the middle of Elvis country. This is the man that took away a sense of identity given by childhood heroes such as Warren Moon and Earl Campbell. For this, he has been banished from mention in certain circles. But, to add insult to injury, this is the man that had the foresight to draft Vince Young, Houston's favorite son, as the franchise quarterback of the team that they once called their own. And for this, he is hated.

A particularity interesting article was published by John McClain in today's Houston Chronicle pleading with Houstonites to support the Texans when VY rides into town. I usually find McClain's work enjoyable and insightful. But, he has missed the point entirely.

There is no feasible way to justify passing up the chance to draft Reggie Bush or Vince Young in favor of a defensive piece. One vocal fan took out a full page advertisement in the Chronicle to beg current Texans' owner Bob McNair not to pass on the opportunity to draft arguably the greatest college quarterback of all time. Websites were erected and radio show's fielded thousands of calls trying to ensure that management would not screw this one up. Vince Young made the decision to enter the draft a year early just at the prospect that he would be able to lead his hometown team. But, we all know how the story ended. Bush went to New Orleans and VY puddled over to Nashville. The reward? Mario Williams who will likely be on a biggest bust recap show someday unless he reincarnates the spirit of Reggie White or intensity of Lawrence Taylor.

How can you be a true Texans fan when the Texans aren't trying to keep you as a fan? There is a point where you have to step back and say "We aren't still rebuilding...are we?" The fans aren't always right with what they want. (Booing the Eagles for selecting Donovan McNabb instead of Ricky Williams anyone?) But, in this instance, the correct decision was obvious. Vince Young has had 2 consecutive weeks of beating quality Colts and Giants teams because he has "it". The Texans have not even contemplated what "it" is.

For the first time in the Texans' short history, the stands will be a sea of burnt orange. And they will be right to do so. Especially when David Carr gets sacked a different way...and Texans fans are left to ponder "what if?"

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Taking the "Trash" out of Trash Talking

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Trash talking is an art form that has been deluded by the current generation. In my day, trash talking was a science that counted as an elective towards graduation. But, with the introduction of the internet, and Democrats as the majority party, the etiquette of trash talking has convoluted into an unacceptable state.

In an attempt to put us back on track, I humbly submit a proposed Man Law.

Man Law: Do not bring up the past when trash talking sports.

A. If you have an all-time series record over a team, it is permissible to use this stat as a form of trash talk provided you encompass the entire series. It is bad form to use a selective time period to vaunt your accomplishments. (Exceptions below) Comments such as "In my lifetime..." or "We were better between the periods of 1999 and 2004, not including 2000, 2001 or 2003..." should never be used when trying to earn credibility.

B. If you have a current series streak over a team, it is permissible to use said streak as a form of trash talk. Said streak can only contain a one-game break to be valid. For example, a team had an 8 year streak against their opponent, lost last year but won this year. It is correct to use the phrase "We have pwned your sorry asses 9 out of the last 10 times biatch!" However, if your opponent has won two consecutive games, said streak is no longer admissible as a new streak has begun. An example of poor trash talking is: "Who cares if you beat us the last 2 years? Your coach was our daddy 4 times in a row before that!" This is in direct violation to the Man Law rule.

C. It is permissible to admit championships won into the conversation provided one of said championships was obtained within a 10 year period. For example, the Dallas Cowboys won 3 Super Bowl titles in a 4 year period during the nineties. Unless the Cowboys win the upcoming Super Bowl, all trash talking rights and mention will be revoked at midnight on January 1, 2007. This also prohibits paraphernalia boasting the accomplishment(s), such as t-shirts or bumper stickers, to be adorned in any form. The exception to this rule is if your intended target's team has never won a championship, but is convinced that they are on par with your team. In this instance, it is within your rights to question the validity of their team and/or program. An example of this would be "How many Super Bowls have the Philadelphia Eagles won jack ass?" Use this exception with extreme caution as it will anger the intended target during their formulation of a crafty retort.

D. If it becomes absolutely necessary to use a selective time period to boast accomplishments, use a decade as reference. Not "out of the last 13 years" or out of the last 7 years" A fresh decade. (90-99, 00-09, etc.) Examples of correct usage would be "In the eighties..." and "At the turn of the century..." But, use this provision wisely to ensure that it is relevant in today's landscape and doesn't conflict with Provision A. An acceptable usage would be "We haven't won this many games against you p*ssies since the seventies." This statement does not imply that you have always been better than your opponent during a selective time period because it directly correlates to today's state of events. Therefore, it is a correct form of trash talking. The exception to this rule would be if a current streak meets the criteria of Provision B and spans over two decades. Only in this instance is it ok to break the decade rule.

E. If you have "screwed the pooch" in an assessment of one of your players, you have forfeited your trash talking rights to evaluate the skills of an opponents' player. (Duration of one complete graduating class for college football) An example of this would be "Reggie McNeil is so much better than Vince Young" or "Rhett Bomar will pickup where Jason White left off." This blatant display of delusion may have irreparably ruined your reputation as a talent coordinator for future prospects. (Depending on the level of insistence you brought forth) Until you can earn trust as an evaluator, you are banned from publicly displaying any future comparisons. You have rightfully earned the title "numbnuts" and can no longer look opposing fans directly in the eyes.


If you do not have a form of acceptable trash talking, comparing academics, women or quality of life is not an acceptable solution. Phrases such as "Well, at least I don't have to live in San Francisco with your ghey lover, fudge monkey!" or "Dungeon Master magazine named us one of the top 8 party schools in northwest Idaho" is bad form. If someone is from Texas they will tell you. If they are not...don't embarrass them.

Unless you have made someone cry, spent the night in a detox tank with a black eye or offered proof that you really hooked up with an opposing fan after the game...you need to evaluate your loyalty. Giving a pants down spanking to some noob on the "Anything Goes" board is expected, not an accomplishment.

We all know that steers and queers are from Texas thanks to the movie Full Metal Jacket. Texas/ou weekend provides countless direct quotes from this movie by our inbred friends up north. One key element that is usually forgotten is that a Longhorn is a "steer". Therefore, a Longhorn fan would also encompass the "steer" element of the evaluation. Since the majority of ou's roster consists of Texas players, who are not classified in the "steer" comparison, we can deduct that they consist of the "queer" element. The rest are just guilty by association. This is an especially humerous comparison when used by another school in Texas.

Should you have any questions, or need clarification as to what is acceptable, please do not hesitate to ask.

Dancing with a Star


Dallas Stars center Mike Modano has had a pretty good week. He is now engaged to longtime girlfriend Willa Ford, with a wedding set for the postseason. If Modano, who is quite possibly the prettiest man in hockey, is as nimble on his feet as he is on skates, it will be a crime if I don't see him with the rest of the washed up celebrities on next season's Dancing with the Stars.

Modano scored the only goal last night against Pacific division rival San Jose, but had to leave the ice with an injury. He now joins half the Stars team with injuries, including Eric Lindros, Darryl Sydor, Trevor Daley, Antti Miettinen, and team captain Brenden Morrow.

Admittedly, the Stars have not needed too much heroics from the line with the sparkling play of goalies Marty Turco and Mike Smith. I would like to see more of Smith, despite the past heroics of Turco in the playoffs. Beginning with the great Eddie "The Eagle" Belfour, the Stars have had a string of excellent biscuit blockers, and coach Tippett should not be deterred from giving Smith some playing time. This can be hard after an excellent game like Turco's yesterday evening, but it is definitely necessary.

With the injuries and the need for rookies to start, the Stars have some tough times ahead in catching up to their rivals. Unless the team begins to gel soon, they will be forever looking across the chasm that separates them from the Mighty Ducks for a top playoff seed.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Is J. D. About to Say Merry Christmas Mr. Washington?

Last year at the winter meetings, Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels' main goal was to pawn off some of John Hart's excess baggage. Perhaps, you recall, the Rangers weren't keen on Alfonso Soriano at second base with Ian Kinsler on the rise. Hart failed to trade Soriano at the deadline in 2005 when the "second baseman's" value had peaked, so Daniels was left to get what he could. Thus, we got the Brad Wilkerson blockbuster, emphasis on the BUST.

If reports out of the first day of Major League Baeball's winter meetings are any indication, this year's activity will be much better. It is now almost certain the Rangers have agreed to retain the services of Vicente Padilla for three more years for a total of $34 miilion, with a club option for a fourth. This begins the 2007 stabilization of the Rangers rotation as the team's top two starters from last season will remain with the team and continue to learn how to pitch in Bad Credit, No Problem Field.

The second bit of intrigue involves manager Ron Washington's number one Christmas wish. The Rangers apparently are, by far, the front runner for free agent Barry Zito. Evidently, the joy of baseball-ville has touched Tom Hicks and opened his wallet which is usually two sizes too small to appreciate the joy of baseball present. Reports are the Rangers are offering a whopping 6 years at $102 million dollars. Interesting considering the Rangers closed their eyes while Millwood signed his five-year contract last winter. But that truned out to be a pretty solid deal.

If the Rangers can, in fact, close this deal, suddenly they may have a top American League rotation. Zito, despite the expert's free agency dissection, is an ace. Millwood and Padilla are solid middle of the rotation guys. Robinson Tejeda is an up-and-comer with great stuff as a fourth starter. Then, the Rangers can fill the fifth spot with any one of a number of prospects looking to fight for a major league roster spot.

If all comes to fruition, "Merry Christmas Mr. Washington!"

Remember the Alamo Bowl


So the Horns are officially headed to the Alamo Bowl for the first time to play the 6-6 Iowa Hawkeyes, an erstwhile top-10 team that has lost five of its last six. Now that Jevan Snead has requested a transfer, the Longhorns will probably carry only Matt McCoy as the backup, with Billy Pittman or Quan Cosby as the "Dear God, we need a quarterback now" third-stringers, just in case a Hawkeye defenseman decides to pull a Kellen Heard stunt.

Colt McCoy's pinched nerve in his neck should hopefully be healed up by the time Dec. 30th rolls around. With a healthy McCoy, the Horns should be able to torch the Iowa secondary and shatter whatever game plan Iowa Coach Ferentz dreams up. The problem is that UT's defense, which looked utterly baffled by K-State, will face Iowa quarterback and Texas native Drew Tate, who led the Hawkeyes to the number 2 passing offense in the Big 10. Iowa's offense has been shaky, to say the least, and here's hoping Gene Chizik's departure bring some long overdue changes to the Horns' defensive unit.

Alamo Bowl officials now have permission to dance their victory jig. A new title sponsor (Adios, Mastercard) should soon sign on for the game now that 20,000 Longhorns fans will descend on San Antonio and clog Highway 281 with burnt orange flags protruding from many a car window. Oddly, Iowa will be the home team, facing off against thousands of overflowing "visiting" Texas fans (including myself - thankfully I now can call off intensive negotiations with my wife over traveling to the Gator Bowl.)

A UT loss would be devastating - finishing with nine wins for the first time in several years, dropping out of the top 25, and forcing Mack into recruiting overdrive to stave off any losses to Oklahoma or the resurgent Aggies.

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