Sunday, July 31, 2005

Saturday, July 30, 2005

The Other Barber

Len Pasquarelli writes about the underrated Bucs CB Ronde Barber here. Obviously, he gets less attention than his brother Tiki, who's a RB for the Giants. Ronde's been to two Pro Bowls, which I wasn't aware of. Actually, at last year's Pro Bowl, he and Tiki both played, becoming the first pair of twins to do so. Makes for an interesting nature vs. nurture debate. Two sets of the same DNA, two successful NFL careers, two very different positions. Tiki weighs 200 lbs. to his Ronde's 184, but that has to do with conditioning rather than genes. If there was a third Barber brother, could he play WR? Or QB?

#1 Penguin

As expected, the Pittsburgh Penguins made Sidney Crosby the first pick in the NHL Draft. Crosby, who turns 18 next week, only has a little pressure, as he is being compared to Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux and is expected to by the saviour of hockey. Think Lebron James, minus all the Nike money. Good luck, kid.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Bayless on T.O.

Now I've generally not been writing about people I don't like or are being overhyped by the media: T.O., Larry Brown, etc. This is especially true in referencing things written about them by writers I don't like. Skip Bayless generally falls under this category. But he has some intelligent things to say about Owens. He thinks the Eagles only way out is to trade Owens. I don't agree at the moment, but he makes a reasonable case. Some notable points:

The fact remains that the NFL Players Association advised Owens not to sign his current seven-year, $49 million contract (including a $10 million signing bonus). But Owens gratefully signed it because: 1) his former agent had blown the free-agent deadline; 2) he had been traded to Baltimore; and 3) he had thrown such a fit until he had been allowed to sign with Philly and play with his dear friend and soul mate, Donovan McNabb.

Once, when I covered Owens' 49ers, a team executive dismissed him with, "He's as dumb as a chair." I disagreed then and do now. Terrell Eldorado Owens has brilliant PR instincts -- governed by deep, dark insecurity. That's right: All his egomaniacal celebrating sometimes masks a shrinking confidence...My theory: Owens always builds in excuses to take the pressure and potential blame off him.

Good stuff.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Extending Darko

The Pistons have exercised their team option on Darko Milicic so that he will be under contract for 2 more seasons. Said Dumars:

We are pleased to have Darko Milicic signed through the 2006-07 season and we look forward to seeing his continued growth as a player. Darko was able to play a lot of minutes during summer league this July and we are happy that he is on Serbia-Montenegro's roster during the European Championships this September.

Hopefully, this will be the next step in Darko silencing his critics. Or, turning into the greatest NBA failure ever.

A Letter from Darren McCarty

A letter McCarty wrote to fans that appeared in the Freep:

Don't be sad it's over -- be happy it happened.

In the past few days, since the official word came of the buyout and as the status of my contract teetered, the reality that I'm not going to be a Red Wing anymore has set in, and I've taken some time to reflect.

I don't know if it's maturity ('cause if you know me, that's never been an issue) or the painstaking reality of the past 12 months without hockey. Either way, I'm saddened to leave an organization in a place where I've grown up, raised a family, been part of a first-class and first-rate team, won three Stanley Cups and achieved great personal success.

But looking back, what I really feel is gratitude -- thankful for the opportunity to realize a childhood dream to play for my childhood team. Grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Ilitch and their entire family for letting this boy become a man and always treating my family as one of their own. Grateful to the entire Red Wing organization from Ken Holland and his staff, to John Hahn and Anne Marie Krappmann in the PR department for their ever tireless effort. Grateful to Piet Van Zant and Paul Boyer for patching me up and getting me back out on the ice. Grateful for the support and memories from everyone at the Joe whom I will miss seeing daily, and thankful to the media for not only their endless support of myself but in the way they've always supported the McCarty Cancer Foundation and my band Grinder.

What will I miss most about playing hockey in Detroit? That's simple. The fans. From the day-to-day coffee stop or gas station conversation to the people who say hello on the street or ask for an autograph at the checkout, there are no greater fans than those in Detroit.

These are the great things about my time as a Red Wing that I will always remember no matter where I go. Thank you to all of you. But please don't shed a tear 'cause it's over -- crack a smile 'cause it happened, and no one can ever take that away. I'll always be a Red Wing at heart, and Detroit will always be my home.

Much love to you all,

Darren McCarty, Red Wings No. 25

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

NFL Roundup

Somebody forgot to tell rookie Manuel Wright of the Miami Dolphins that there's no crying in baseball... or football. He started crying after he was chewed out by coach Nick Saban. Now, I'm not a Saban fan, for reasons everyone probably knows, but there's a real coach. I'm sure the other guys will go easy Wright. You're a sensitive boy aren't you Manuel?

Shareholders of the Green Bay Packers have told general manager Ted Thompson to not give in to Javon Walker's contract demands. Looks like the Packers will stand strong. It's not looking so good for Rosenhaus's holdout strategy so far. UPDATE: Walker has reported to training camp.

Finally, ESPN has announced the new team for MNF in 2006: Al Michaels, Joe Theismann, Suzy Kolber, and Michelle Tafoya. If you didn't know, Madden is leaving MNF after this season. Of course, Al has been there forever, and I like Theismann, and I've always liked Suzy, even all the way back to the X-games in Rhode Island. Have to say though, I'd have much preferred to see the entire Sunday night crew of Joe Theismann, Mike Patrick, Paul Maguire, and Suzy moved to MNF and give Al a job somewhere else. That group is the best football broadcasting team working today. It'll be a shame to have them broken up.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Coaching Changes

Things are crazy in Detroit. Do you know who the longest tenured head coach of a major sports franchise in Detroit is? Alan Trammell. Of course, that's not much of an accomplishment as the only other coach who isn't new this month is Mooch. Anyway, you can read about the Red Wings hiring Babcock here (mentioned already) and the Pistons ditching Larry Brown and hiring, in a surprising move, and by surprising I mean possibly the worst kept secret ever, Flip Saunders.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Awesome Case Mod

If you know much of anything about computer cases, you'll love this:

That's just sick. Mod isn't really the right word, this is a custom case that's being constructed. Go here to read all about the work being done.

Finally, A Trade

An agreement in principle to trade Travis Henry has been reached between the Bills and the Titans. This isn't a surprise as a trade has been expected for quite a while now. What does this do for Henry's fantasy value, and current Titan's starter Chris Brown? Henry has more value not sitting behind Willis McGahee, but it's hard to say how much more. Brown's value difficult to determine because of injury concerns: he's fragile. Henry will surely get some starts. Wait until after training camp for a better answer.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Thawed Out

So, 301 days later, the NHL has returned. This is good news. I can't say I really missed hockey all that much, but I did miss having the Red Wings on TV from time to time, especially around playoff time. Hockey was needed to balance the awful NBA. The big question is: Can the NHL redeem itself? The lockout has done major damage. For example, ESPN found that programming that replaced hockey, like more college basketball, actually got better ratings. Are they going to be quick to switch back over? Lots of fans will have left, can rule changes and possible ticket price cuts bring them back? Detroit will do fine, but what about Columbus or Phoenix?

The Red Wings will look very different too. First, they have a new coach, Mike Babcock, formerly of the Ducks. Second, the new salary cap is sure to affect the roster, which would have had a $60 million payroll if the season hadn't been cancelled. There are contract rollbacks, but we're sure to see a younger Wings team missing some old favorites. Discussion about that here.

Some final thoughts. The new league should be more competitive with a salary cap. However 20 of 30 teams making the playoffs is ridiculous. That's 66% of the teams in the league. That works fine in a fantasy league, but in real sports it's going to lead to a devalued regular season and some very unworthy teams making the playoffs. Finally, I'm all in favor of a competitive league, it's done wonders for the NHL, but lets not forget what started this whole thing: The Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup. This produced a hockey apocalypse. Hopefully, things can now be set right.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


That's how many HRs Bobby Abreu hit last night in the Home Run Derby at Comerica Park, including a whopping 24 in the first round. His 41 is the highest total ever, surpassing Miguel Tejada's 27 last year. That's a 52% increase. In Detroit. His longest shot went 517 feet. From ESPN's new story: "ESPN estimated that Abreu's 41 homers traveled 17,565 feet." That's 3.3 miles. Roughly the distance from my home in CC to Haag's. Jayson Stark has great article about it up here. A quote:

Nobody predicted this.

Not a 24-homer first round from a mere one human being (ultimate winner Bobby Abreu of the Phillies).

Not a 17-homer first round, many minutes later, from a guy who didn't even make it to the finals (David Ortiz).

Not 107 total home runs, in a ballpark with the same approximate dimensions as South Dakota.

Not 41 total home runs in three rounds by the guy who won it. "Forty-one" laughed Carlos Lee's designated Derby pitcher, Brewers coach Rich Donnelly. "I was pretty sure that five was gonna win it."

And I missed it. Well, I suppose ESPN will rerun it a little. Who's lucky enough to have Abreu on their fantasy team? Oh yeah, that's me.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

So there was a plan.

Well, probably not. But Agim Shabaj has decided to enter the NFL supplemental draft and try a revive his football career that was jeopardized by poor grades. What are his chances of being selected? Len Pasquarelli writes in his Tip Sheet: "Shabaj didn't return many kicks at Michigan State, but his sub-4.4 speed could merit some attention in that area." Not a ringing endorsement, but who knows?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Mock Draft

Here are the results of a 10-team mock draft, based on ESPN's Top 150 rankings and filling all the offensive starting positions first. A real draft would look different, but this gives you some idea of what a team in a position might look like.

Team 1
1. LaDainian Tomlinson
20. Tiki Barber
21. Donovan McNabb
40. Nate Burleson
41. Donald Driver
60. Lee Evans
61. Dallas Clark

Team 2
2. Shaun Alexander
19. Terrell Owens
22. Ahman Green
39. Michael Clayton
42. Kerry Collins
59. Larry Fitzgerald
62. Randy McMichael

Team 3
3. Peyton Manning
18. Clinton Portis
23. Julius Jones
38. Jason Witten
43. Muhsin Muhammad
58. Roy Williams
63. Isaac Bruce

Team 4
4. Priest Holmes
17. Curtis Martin
24. Antonio Gates
37. Darrell Jackson
44. Marc Bulger
57. Steve Smith
64. Anquan Boldin

Team 5
5. Randy Moss
16. Chad Johnson
25. LaMont Jordan
36. Steven Jackson
45. Alge Crumpler
56. Plaxico Burress
65. Jake Delhomme

Team 6
6. Edgerrin James
15. Rudi Johnson
26. Tony Gonzalez
35. Trent Green
46. Derrick Mason
55. Drew Bennett
66. Laveranues Coles

Team 7
7. Willis McGahee
14. Torry Holt
27. Kevin Jones
34. Javon Walker
47. Brett Favre
54. Jimmy Smith
67. Heath Miller

Team 8
8. Deuce McAllister
13. Marvin Harrison
28. Tatum Bell
33. Hines Ward
48. Chris Chambers
53. Todd Heap
68. Michael Vick

Team 9
9. Corey Dillon
12. Daunte Culpepper
29. Joe Horn
32. Brian Westbrook
49. Jerry Porter
52. Ashley Lelie
69. Bubba Franks

Team 10
10. Jamal Lewis
11. Domanick Davis
30. Andre Johnson
31. Reggie Wayne
50. Jeremy Shockey
51. Tom Brady
70. Rod Smith

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Preseason 119

Even though some are now discouraging preseason polls because they believe they give teams with big expectations an edge, they are going to exist because we love them. And if you want overkill, check out the Preseason 119. You'll never get to the end, but it's still fun. Before you ask, Michigan is #7 and MSU is #40. USC is #1.

Andy is...

Clayton on Joey

John Clayton of ESPN has an interesting article up about QB's on the hot seat, specifically Joey Harrington. An excerpt:

"Harrington finds his career at a crossroads. He has started 44 games, winning only 14. After three seasons, his completion percentage is substandard (56 percent) and his 6.23 yards per attempt is more than a yard-and-a-half below what is expected of a quarterback."

Read it here.

Who are you?

Apparently, I'm the Beast, at least that's what the "Which Marvel Superhero Are You?" quiz at this site said.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Bye bye, Shabaj

Spartan receiver Agim Shabaj has been declared academically ineligible and will miss the 2005 season. That's too bad, the Spartans could have used him. What was his major that was just too hard to keep the grades up in? Kinesiology. Perhaps Applied Human Anatomy and Psychological Basis of Physical Activity might be a little difficult, but I know he also had easy courses like Coaching Football, because I was in his class. That class was a gimme 100%. I didn't miss a question on all three of the tests, because I had underlined in my notebook what the right answers were. Which they had told us in class. Sigh. I guess he'll have to stay home and simulate his senior season on NCAA '06. Good luck with that.

Friday, July 01, 2005

College Fantasy

Once, it was only a dream. Yes, maybe one of those crazy dreams you have when you take cold medicine right before bed, but a dream none the less. Now it's here. Free college fantasy football, and from a reputable site at that. Go here to sign up to be notified when registration begins.

Heisman Contenders

Ready for a little college football talk? Any list of potential Heisman contenders is sure to generate some buzz, but FOXSports went all out and picked the Top 1000. Oops, I mean 100, it only feels like 1000. Number 1? I think you can guess:

1. QB Matt Leinart, USC — Unlike Jason White in 2004, Leinart will defend his Heisman crown with a full head of steam and the unanimous respect of the voters. The loss of offensive coordinator Norm Chow will be offset by a receiving corps that's light years better than it was nine months ago.

'Kamikaze' Stanton makes the top 50 at #48. Seems to me he could be in the top 30, even with injury concerns. Henne from Michigan is #11.