Sports and my thoughts

Monday, February 28, 2005

Poor Roman Phifer

The Patriots have released Phifer. I always liked him and still hope they find a way to bring him back. He is exactly the kind of player Belicheck and co. like to have around.
Veteran linebacker Roman Phifer, who played on all three of New England's Super Bowl winners, was released on Monday.

Phifer, a 36-year-old 14-year veteran, was signed by the team as a free agent in 2001 and played in 59 games in his four seasons with the Patriots.

Phifer recorded 385 tackles, ranking second on the team over that span to Tedy Bruschi with 403. He led the team in tackles in 2002.

Phifer was originally selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the second round of the 1991 NFL Draft of of UCLA.

Hopefully they can reach some kind of cheap agreement to keep Phifer in town.

MLB will start testing for steroids Thursday

Well this is about 20 years too late, but it is welcomed. I hope this weeds out all the druggies and we can start having some real baseball played. This steroid testing is good but does not go far enough.

Testing under baseball's new drug agreement will start Thursday, according to the commissioner's office.

Lawyers for players and owners have been drafting the deal since they announced the agreement for tougher testing on Jan. 13.

"We're going to be in the camps testing starting the third of March, and I expect the language to be wrapped up in the next couple of days," Rob Manfred, management's executive vice president for labor relations, said Monday.

Michael Weiner, the union's general counsel, said the sides hoped to complete the drafting before the testing starts. The deal replaces the agreement that began in September 2002.

Under the new rules, a players would be suspended for 10 days for a first positive test for a performance-enhancing drug, 30 days for a second positive test, 60 days for a third and one year for a fourth. Under the previous deal, a player who tested positive for the first time received counseling, and his name was not publicly revealed.

Some criticized the previous agreement because once a player was tested in 2004, he could not be tested again unless doctors found there was cause.

I think they should test every one a few times a year for everything. If you are doing any illegal drugs you should be banned, I don't care if they are smoking pot.

I hate Sheffield

He whines more than A-rod. Now he is complaining that he doesn't make enough money and wouldn't want a contract extension. This is why the Yankees aren't winning and the Redsox are. They have far too many egos while the Redsox are a tight nit group who's only care is the team.

Gary Sheffield is not interested in extending his contract with the New York Yankees . The slugging right fielder is in the second season of a $39 million, three-year contract. The Yankees have a $13 million option for the 2007 season, and Sheffield wants to wait for this contract to run out before considering a new one.

"I don't want one," Sheffield said Monday. "When this is over, that's it. When this deal is done, I don't look past it. I can't predict if somebody is going to want me.

"All I know is that I've got three years and an option. When that time comes, I'll deal with it then."

Sheffield is still dealing with discomfort in his left shoulder that was operated on in November. He is taking a slower pace during spring training and likely will sit out at least three preseason games.

"I just told him to let me know," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

Sheffield hit .290 with 36 homers and 121 RBIs last season, his first in New York. Because of the sore shoulder, he often had trouble raising his glove above chest level to catch fly balls.

He is expected to be ready for the regular season opener April 3 against Boston.

I love all this termoil in the Yankees dug out. I want them all to fued and not even make the Play Offs.

From the ESPN insiders web page.

Gary Sheffield is upset again over the structure of his contract, the New York Post reports. Sheffield had been refusing to participate in several team functions this spring, but he met Saturday with George Steinbrenner and was placated by The Boss.

Sheffield wants to be paid interest on the $4.5 million deferred without interest annually from his contract. His conversation with Steinbrenner appeased Sheffield enough that he sat down to do an interview with YES on Sunday – and he downplayed the issue. "When you see me doing YES promos, you'll know there is no issue," said Sheffield.

Sheffield is in the second year of a three-year, $39 million contract. He receives $8.5 million annually with the rest deferred without interest. Sheffield even has $4.5 million deferred without interest on his $13 million club option for the 2007 season.

How sad is that? He wants interest on the money owed to him. Let your bitching begin now.....

Another potential Cy Young winner is signed up

The Padres look they are going to be a good team for years to come. Now they signed Jack Peavy to a four year deal.

It appears the San Diego Padres have locked up righthander Jake Peavy for at least the next four years.

The San Diego Union-Tribune is reporting that the Padres have agreed to terms with Peavy on a multiyear deal which includes a club option for 2009.

Peavy had a National League-best 2.27 earned run average along with a 15-6 record last season for the Padres. He missed six starts due to inflammation in his right elbow, but that didn't stop the Padres from guaranteeing him $15 million, according to the newspaper.

The 23-year-old Peavy would have been eligible for arbitration after the 2005 season if he had not agreed to a multi-year deal.

Peavy made 17 starts as a rookie for the Padres in 2002. The following year, he went 12-11 with a 4.11 ERA in 32 starts.

I could see Peavy winning a Cy Young award in the next few years. I wouldn't be suprised to see the Padres in the play offs this year and possibly the World Series in the coming years.

The Braves lock up Hudson

There is one less pitcure for the Redsox and Yankees to battle over next year. Tim Hudson signed a 3 years extension with the Braves.
Tim Hudson set a Tuesday deadline for extending his contract. It appears the Atlanta Braves are prepared to accomodate him.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that the Braves will announce the signing of Hudson to a three-year extension worth more than $11 million annually by Tuesday.

The Braves acquired the 29-year-old righthander from the Oakland Athletics for pitchers Juan Cruz and Dan Meyer and outfielder Charles Thomas in December.

Hudson will make $6.75 million in 2005 - the last year of his contract.

The Braves are willing to give him a substantial increase and Hudson, who grew up near Columbus, Georgia rooting for the Braves, prefers to stay in Atlanta.

Hudson posted a 92-39 record with a 3.30 ERA in six seasons with Oakland. Last year, he was 12-6 with a 3.53 ERA in 27 starts.

Hudson and John Smoltz will head a rotation that includes Mike Hampton and John Thomson. The Braves lost three of their starters -- Russ Ortiz, Jaret Wright and Paul Byrd -- from last season to free agency.

Good for the Braves, I like them winning each and every year. With Mazzuli as pitching coach I am sure he will be right up there for the Cy Young.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Briffle takes the checker flag in California

Again I didn't get to watch the whole race because I was with my girlfriend. But I did get to see the last 50 or 60 laps again. I guess that is all you really need to see in a race, who wins. Today Greg Biffle beat out Jimmie Johnson and his team mate Kurt Busch.

Greg Biffle hit the right combination Sunday in the first test of NASCAR's new Nextel Cup aerodynamic rules, winning the Auto Club 500 at California Speedway.

Biffle, who won the 2004 season finale in November, ran strong throughout the 250-lap race on California's 2-mile oval, taking the lead for good on lap 228 and building a big enough advantage to hold off a last-ditch efforts by runner-up Jimmie Johnson in the second race of the season.

"I lost all the rear grip there with three (laps) to go," Biffle said, grinning. "I just barely touched, skinned it, two or three times there at the end and I was just able to keep it under me."

Roush Racing had a great day, with reigning Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch finishing third, Carl Edwards fifth and Mark Martin seventh. Matt Kenseth also ran in the top 10 most of the day, but fell off the lead lap with a flat tire and wound up 26th.

The key came on lap 218 when Busch, running second, and Biffle, in fifth, stayed on track while most of the other leaders pitted during the last of seven caution periods. Busch, who faked toward the pits before, driving back onto the track, took the lead, with Biffle just behind, but Biffle was able to drive into the top spot seven laps after the green flag waved for the final time.

Johnson was one of several drivers who pitted for four new tires on the last stop and he charged back from 10th, passing Busch on the final lap and finishing just 0.230 seconds - about six car-lengths - behind the winning Ford Taurus.

"We should have been able to win that race," Johnson said. "I got tangled up with some slower cars and it knocked me up in the marbles and I lost too much ground."

Jamie McMurray finished fourth, followed by Edwards and Kevin Harvick.

This was the first race in which the Cup cars ran with shortened rear spoilers and softer tires, an effort by NASCAR to make the racing more competitive and allow more passing by taking away downforce and putting more responsibility in the hands of the drivers.

Godzilla Vs. The Boss

The new movie in the making. Matsui has been trying to get a contract extentsion to play for the Yankees for the next few years but so far has been unsuccesful. Talks have gone bad and he doesn't expect one this spring.

Yankees left fielder Hideki Matsui doesn't expect talks on his possible contract extension to be completed during spring training. Arn Tellem, Matsui's agent, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman started negotiations Saturday.

Matsui is due $8 million in 2005, the final season of a $21 million, three-year deal. He has a clause in his contract that requires the Yankees to put him on waivers unless a new contract is agreed to by Nov. 15.

"Probably not going to be anything that's going to happen prior to the beginning of the season," Matsui said through an interpreter Sunday. "My original plan was to play through my three years and then decide where to go from there. That was my original plan when I came here, and that still is."

The 30-year-old outfielder was a three-time MVP in Japan's Central League before joining the Yankees in 2003. He hit .298 with 31 homers and 108 RBIs last season after batting .287 with 16 homers and 106 RBIs in his first season in New York.

"He wants to stay here, we want to keep him, so you have to assume that it will get done," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

Matsui again said he has no current interest in leaving the Yankees.

"Right now, no," Matsui said. "I don't have any thoughts like that."

Steinbrenner blames Tellem,Matsui's agent for the break down in contract talk.

Steinbrenner arrived at Legends Field on Saturday morning and passed Tellem, who was discussing contract extension talks involving Hideki Matsui with reporters, in a golf cart en route to an elevator.

When asked about Matsui as he was entering the elevator, Steinbrenner said he would like for the outfielder to remain with Yankees before adding "I don't like the agent." He also used a four-letter profanity in reference to Tellem.

Steinbrenner later said he shouldn't have used the profanity.

"I just don't think he's a good man," Steinbrenner said. "That's all. I didn't mean to say what I said. But I'm not happy with him. I don't like him."

When asked if it had anything to do with Giambi, Steinbrenner said "that's part of it."

Tellem said he doesn't take Steinbrenner's comments personally, and that they won't affect talks on a new deal for Matsui, whose three-year, $21 million contract ends after this season.

"It's no factor," Tellem said. "I have the highest respect for George Steinbrenner. It's hard for him, he's the owner. I understand how he feels. I just think he would like to have everything behind us. We all would."

Matsui has a clause in his contract that requires the Yankees to put him on waivers unless a new contract is agreed to by Nov. 15. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and Tellem started contract talks Saturday.

"The one thing we all know is that he wants to stay and we'd like to keep him," Cashman said. "Just because we started, it doesn't mean we're going to finish it before the season. We're not in a hurry to get it done. We're more in a hurry to get it done correctly."

The 30-year-old outfielder was a three-time MVP in Japan's Central League before joining the Yankees in 2003. He hit .298 with 31 homers and 108 RBIs last season after batting .287 with 16 homers and 106 RBIs in his first season in New York.

"He'd like to play as long as possible, and as long as possible with the Yankees," Tellem said. "He really wants to stay here and hopefully finish his career here. He pointed out that he played 10 years with Yomiuri and ideally, if he could stay healthy, be able to play 10 years with the Yankees before he retires."

Steinbrenner hopes this doesn't impact the discussions.

"I love Matsui," he said. "We definitely want him. That will be Cashman's job. He'll do it. I'm just sorry the same agent represents him."

Matsui doesn't forsee any problems.

Matsui might not see any problems, but I do. Maybe Matsui can play in Boston next year, that would piss off the Boss.

The Law has spoken in New England and he is out

This half surprises me, the Patriots have released Ty Law because of his cap busting salary.
Cornerback Ty Law, who helped New England win two Super Bowls but watched with a broken foot when they won their third, was released on Friday so the Patriots wouldn't have to pay him a salary-cap-busting $12.5 million next season.

A 10-year veteran with four Pro Bowl appearances, Law holds franchise records with 36 interceptions and six regular-season touchdowns on interceptions. He also scored on an interception when the Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams in 2002 for their first NFL title.

"Ty Law had a tremendous career as a New England Patriot," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "We wish him well in the future."

Law, 31 was in the final season of a seven-year, $51 million contact with the team. Even before he broke his foot and missed the Patriots' last 12 games, the cap-conscious team was not expected to bring him back at his full salary; Law had said he wasn't inclined to restructure his deal.

I expect some kind of deal to be made out to keep Ty Law in New England. The Patriots proved they could win with out him last year. But I'd rather win with him than with out him. I won't want to face him next year depending on where he goes.

Ty Law would make a huge difference for a lot of teams and put teams like the Colts or Chiefs over the top and give them a fighting chance against the Patriots.

I just hope the Pats can find another shut down corner back to replace him.

The Bus to stay in Pittsburgh for one more year

Jerome Bettis has taken a pay cut two years in a row to stay with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bus will be making a measly $1.5 million next year when he made $4.4 million last year.
The Pittsburgh Steelers aren't ready to park the Bus just yet.

Jerome Bettis, who weighed retiring after the Steelers lost in the AFC championship game last month, agreed Saturday to another pay cut and will play for at least one more season.

This is the second consecutive season the NFL's No. 5 career rusher has accepted a substantial pay cut to stay in Pittsburgh. Bettis was to have made $4,484,000 next season, but will play for about $1.5 million -- or about $500,000 more than his base salary last season.

After the Steelers signed Duce Staley a year ago, Bettis agreed to cut his salary by $2.7 million to remain in Pittsburgh as a backup. Bettis went on to enjoy a comeback season as the Steelers went 16-2, gaining at least 100 yards in all but one of seven starts while making the Pro Bowl for the sixth time after rushing for 941 yards.

"We're elated the deal worked out," Lamont Smith, one of Bettis' agents, said Saturday night of a signing first reported on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Web site. "We anticipate the Steelers will make another run at the Super Bowl and that is Jerome's motivation to come back, to play in the Super Bowl."

There's additional incentive, too, for a player who has played in three losing AFC championship games in Pittsburgh -- the Super Bowl will be played next February in Detroit, Bettis' hometown.

Bettis wants to win a Superbowl in the worst way. He will do anything in order to win. He took a back seat to Duce Staly last year in order to win. Even though he proved he could still start after Staley got hurt. The Bus filled in nicely as if he was still in his 20's running for 100 yards every game he started. If the Patriots don't win next year there is no other team I'd rather see win than the Steelers. But unfortunatly for the Bus the Pats are going to win it all again.

Bucs reach agreement with their QB

Brian Griese has agreed to restructure his current contract to stay with the Bucs.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers early Sunday morning reached agreement with starting quarterback Brian Griese on a complex, restructured contract that will allow him to remain with the team for the 2005 season and possibly beyond.

The five-year accord was reached after two long days of negotiations, and when the two sides finally hammered out language on what agent Ralph Cindrich had referred to on Saturday evening as "very technical things, issues that are open to interpretation, and that we have to nail down." Griese, who was honoring a speaking engagement Saturday night, was then apprised of the outline of the contract, and agreed to its terms.

Both sides will sign the contract before Tuesday, when Griese was due a $6 million roster bonus the Bucs did not intend to pay. Without the restructured deal, Tampa Bay, which is struggling to whittle down a $17 million salary cap overage, would have been forced to release Griese, who has played for three different teams over the past three seasons.

The new deal should save the club about $4 million against the 2005 spending limit. All along, restructuring Griese's contract was part of the Tampa Bay strategy for dealing with its cap mess. The team made it clear that, minus a reworked contract, Griese would have been jettisoned on Tuesday, when all teams must be in compliance with the cap ceiling

Better than having Chris Simms start for you.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Muhammid to sign with the Bears

After just being released from the Panthers, Mushim Muhammid is set to accept a deal from the Bears.

For wide receiver Muhsin Muhammad, released Friday afternoon by the Carolina Panthers, the stay in the NFL unemployment line was a brief one.

Less than 12 hours after the Panthers terminated Muhammad's contract, rather than pay him a $10 million roster bonus, the veteran wide receiver and the Chicago Bears reached an agreement in principle on a multi-year deal. The contract was officially signed late Saturday afternoon.

The six-year contract can be worth as much as $30 million. It includes $12 million in total guarantees, and the first three seasons are worth $16 million.

The agreement came in the early hours of Saturday morning, around 3 a.m, after a long night of negotiations between agent Joel Segal and Bears officials. The Bears were one of the first teams to contact Segal when his client's availability became official on Friday. Several other franchises checked in with Segal as well but Chicago, which has made the upgrade of its wide receiver corps and offseason priority, moved very aggressively to close a deal.

There has been plenty of speculation here, where teams have gathered for the annual combine workouts, that the Bears would address their wide receiver need in the draft, perhaps by choosing University of Michigan star Braylon Edwards with the fourth pick in the first round. How the acquisition of Muhammad affects the Bears' draft plans remains to be seen.

This is one guy I think would fit into the Patriots scheme more so than any other free agent out there. But why would he want to go to the Bears? They are god awful. I thought he was going to resign with the Panthers even though they released him.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Best lineups in baseball

So who has the best line ups in all of baseball?

My Top Five in MLB:
1. Redsox
2. Yankees
3. Cardinals
4. Angels
5. Rangers

American League

NO. 1 -- RED SOX

Stunningly, they had a lot easier time beating the Yankees in this poll than they did in the ALCS. Of the 14 men who voted on the AL lineups, 13 picked the Red Sox as the best of the best. Hey, why not? They're already the fifth team in history to score at least 949 runs two years in a row. So just ahead are the 1930-31-32 Yankees and 1936-37-38-39 Yankees -- the only teams to do that at least three seasons in a row. And these Red Sox actually ought to be better offensively. They've added Edgar Renteria, who has averaged 40 doubles, 24 steals and 85 RBI a year over the last three seasons. So now every regular in this lineup has had at least a .370 on-base percentage in one, or both, of the last two seasons. Which is downright ridiculous.


Most of our panelists picked George's Bombers second to Boston, but not everyone is sold -- since they were also chosen as low as fifth. On one hand, seven of the nine regulars hit between 21 and 36 homers last year -- and an eighth (some guy named Giambi) used to hit 40 a year before You Know What. On the other hand, there are lots of age and health concerns -- especially at the bottom of the order. So about all that's safe to project from this group is that they'll make a ton of home-run trots. They've made at least 230 of them two seasons in a row -- and only the 2001-02-03 Rangers and 1996-97-98-99 Mariners have done that three straight years or more.


They had exactly the same team batting average (.282) and on-base percentage (.341) last year as that Angels team that won the World Series in 2002 -- and hit more homers. So this lineup continues to be a handful. Only now the Angels have slightly retooled. They've subtracted Jose Guillen, David Eckstein and Troy Glaus -- but added Steve Finley, Orlando Cabrera and a rookie third baseman (Dallas McPherson) whose 43 homers and 186 minor-league strikeouts last year suggest he could evolve into anyone from Adam Dunn to Russell Branyan. One thing about this offense: It hasn't read "Moneyball." No team in the big leagues struck out less last year than the Angels -- but these guys also walked 200 fewer times than the Yankees or Red Sox.


Only the Red Sox bashed more extra-base hits last year than this team. Only the Yankees and White Sox hit more homers. Only the Red Sox, Yankees and White Sox scored more runs. Now factor in the most hitter-friendly ballpark in the non-Coors Field portion of the continent, and it's clear that scoring runs will not be the Rangers' problem. And just for the record, this is not a recording. The only thing that makes this lineup tough to evaluate is trying to figure how much the ballpark inflates their numbers. If you're wondering, the answer last year was 30 points in batting average, 80 points in slugging percentage and a 35-percent assist in their home run rate. Most significant new face this year: Richard Hidalgo, who considers himself a clear winner in the contract-drive lottery.


Talk about your deep lineups. This team had seven hitters with 70-plus RBI, eight with 70-plus runs scored and five with 50-plus extra-base hits. So no wonder they rocketed from 25th in baseball in runs to fifth. And that was with the youngest team in the league. If Jody Gerut makes it back from knee surgery and they succeed in reincarnating Juan Gonzalez and Aaron Boone, this No. 5 ranking might seem low by autumn.

National League


This team could win this award every year, couldn't it? In this millennium, the Cardinals lead the non-Coorsian portion of the NL in runs, hits, extra-base hits, batting average and on-base percentage. They've scored five-plus runs a game in six of the last seven seasons -- and averaged 4.9 a game the year they missed (2002). There were even arguments made last year that Larry Walker, Albert Pujols, Scott Rolen and Jim Edmonds comprise the best middle of any order in the last half-century. We don't know about that. But the big news is that they're now minus Edgar Renteria and a leadoff man who hit .307 last year (Tony Womack). So it should tell you something that in this poll, they barely edged Florida -- a team they outscored by 137 runs last year.


They don't walk enough. They've had one left-handed hitter in the history of the franchise (Cliff Floyd) hit 20 homers in a season. And the computer crowd isn't too high on their approach. But it's a funny thing about the Marlins. Despite their numbers, pitchers have always hated pitching to them. And that was before they added Carlos Delgado, who outhomered all of Florida's left-handed hitters, 74-27, the last two years. The Phillies outscored them by 122 runs last year, outhomered them by 67 and even stole four more bases, but only two voters ranked the Phillies ahead of the Fish in this poll. Which tells you all you need to know about the impact Delgado may have on this lineup.


Even in a season in which Pat Burrell disappeared in the second half, Jim Thome played all year with a broken bone in his hand, they blew past 1,100 whiffs for the fourth time in five years, and center field was an offensive chasm, the Phillies dominated their division in runs, hits, homers, OPS, walks, on-base percentage and extra-base hits. And guess who was the only team in baseball beside the Cardinals with 200 homers and 100 steals. So if Charlie Manuel can straighten out Burrell, and Thome can stay healthy, and Kenny Lofton duplicates his last NL season (.296, 12 HR, 30 SB in 2003), we might find out why a couple of voters rated the Phillies ahead of the Marlins and Cardinals. But if none of those three things happen? Well, never mind.


The names in this lineup don't seem to terrify anybody -- other than one name. (Guess who?) But the Giants still came within five of leading the league in runs scored last year. And that was in a year in which no one except the left fielder drove in 100 runs or scored 100 (for the second straight season). But you should never underestimate the ripple effect of having one man reach base almost 400 times -- particularly now that Moises Alou is around to protect that man. So if you can ignore the fact this lineup is practically as old as the Beach Boys, this is still one of the most respectable offenses in the league.

NO. 5 -- CUBS

No Cubs team ever hit more home runs than the 2004 Cubbies (235). And a lot of good that did them. So this winter the Cubs made more history: By trading Sammy Sosa and letting Alou take a free-agent exit ramp, they became the fourth team ever to jettison two 35-homer guys in the same offseason. Which doesn't mean the 2005 Cubs can't score or win. Even with all those homers last year, they still finished only seventh in the league in runs -- and barely outscored a Padres team that hit nearly 100 fewer home runs. If they figure out how to actually score from second on a single once in a while, it wouldn't be a shock for this Cubs team to outscore last year's, Sammy or no Sammy.

The Jeter Center in Boston???????

The Fleet Center in Boston, home to the Celtics and Bruins, might have to change its name for one day to the Jeter Center. I would mind, but it is for charity.

Could the sports arena in downtown Boston, smack in the middle of Red Sox Nation, would be named after one of the hated New York Yankees?

Maybe, for one day. Or maybe not. The FleetCenter hasn't decided.

It's been selling one-day naming rights for charity while it tries to line up a new long-term naming deal.

The winning bid for Tuesday's naming rights was made by a New York attorney. Kerry Konrad bid $2,300 on eBay. He wants the arena to be known as Derek Jeter Center, in honor of the Yankees' captain and shortstop.

Not so fast, said FleetCenter spokesman Jim Delaney. Delaney said he told Konrad that his naming request might not be accepted.

Konrad is a Harvard graduate with a 20-year rivalry with some of his Boston classmates.

I am all for this, charity reaches farther than a rivalry between the Redsox and Yankees. If this was for profit I would be 100% against the idea, but when it comes to the needed I'll take one on the chin to help people out.

Marshall, Marshall, Marshall

I hate seeing great players get old and have to settle for a back up role. It wasn't that long ago that Marshall Faulk was the best and most exciting running back in the NFL. Now Faulk is set to be the back up in St Louis.
Set to become a backup for the first time in his NFL career, St. Louis Rams tailback Marshall Faulk has signed a new, two-year contract that better reflects his revised role with the team.

Rams officials, here for the annual predraft combine workouts, confirmed that Faulk had essentially restructured his contract, a move that will save St. Louis about $1.5 million in cap room. Coach Mike Martz recently announced that Faulk, who turns 32 on Saturday, will come off the bench in 2005 and that Steven Jackson, the team's first-round choice in the 2004 draft, will be elevated to the starter's spot.

"It should give us the best of both worlds," said Martz, who met with Faulk two weeks ago to discuss the switch. "Marshall realizes that it was time for this kind of change. It should enable him to stay healthy and stay productive."

Under the new contract, Faulk received a $2 million signing bonus. He will receive base salaries of $2 million each for the 2005 and 2006 campaigns. The 11-year veteran was scheduled to earn $6 million in 2005 between his base salary and workout bonus, and his salary cap charge would have been $7.527 million.

This is what is best for the St. Louis, but I still hate seeing great players careers when it is on the downslide. I am glad to see Marshall is man enough to know he is not as great as he used to be, and is willing to take a back seat to Stephan Jackson and become a 3rd down, situational, back up for the Rams.

Marshall, Marshall, Marshall

I hate seeing great players get old and have to settle for a back up role. It wasn't that long ago that Marshall Faulk was the best and most exciting running back in the NFL. Now Faulk is set to be the back up in St Louis.
Set to become a backup for the first time in his NFL career, St. Louis Rams tailback Marshall Faulk has signed a new, two-year contract that better reflects his revised role with the team.

Rams officials, here for the annual predraft combine workouts, confirmed that Faulk had essentially restructured his contract, a move that will save St. Louis about $1.5 million in cap room. Coach Mike Martz recently announced that Faulk, who turns 32 on Saturday, will come off the bench in 2005 and that Steven Jackson, the team's first-round choice in the 2004 draft, will be elevated to the starter's spot.

"It should give us the best of both worlds," said Martz, who met with Faulk two weeks ago to discuss the switch. "Marshall realizes that it was time for this kind of change. It should enable him to stay healthy and stay productive."

Under the new contract, Faulk received a $2 million signing bonus. He will receive base salaries of $2 million each for the 2005 and 2006 campaigns. The 11-year veteran was scheduled to earn $6 million in 2005 between his base salary and workout bonus, and his salary cap charge would have been $7.527 million.

This is what is best for the St. Louis, but I still hate seeing great players careers when it is on the downslide. I am glad to see Marshall is man enough to know he is not as great as he used to be, and is willing to take a back seat to Stephan Jackson and become a 3rd down, situational, back up for the Rams.

Tom Gordon can't get over his choking in the 2004 ALCS

Just get over in Tom, it wasn't just you that choked, it was your whole team. Although it must be hard trying to get over the biggest choke is sports history. Being up 3 games to none and losing 4 in a row must really be devastating. Maybe next time Gordon pitchers against the Redsox he won't lose his dinner in the bulpin.

Tom Gordon began his interaction with reporters yesterday by saying he didn't want to talk about last year.

By the time the Yankees reliever left Legends Field, he actually thanked a couple of scribes for letting him air out his feelings about the "devastating" end of 2004.

Gordon expressed a deep desire to put the past behind him, but his ineffective work in the ALCS and his team's colossal choke against the Red Sox still seem to be on the fringes of his mind.

"It took a while for me to kinda just get through it, get over it," Gordon said yesterday. "And even sometimes I still talk to friends and family. Sometimes I still think about it.

"I want to be past it, I want to get over it. I want it behind me, as well as my team. I hope that 2005 is a championship season."

Gordon had hoped 2004 was going to be one. He worked in six games in the ALCS: In Game 1, he allowed three hits and two earned runs in two-thirds of an inning. In Games 5 and 7, he allowed a combined five hits and four earned runs in 21/3 innings, serving up two homers.

The 37-year-old said he was "jumpy, jittery and excited" about being in the postseason for the first time since 1999.

A report surfaced that Gordon vomited in the bullpen before Game 5, which the righty said wasn't accurate.

"I wasn't sick; I was excited," he said. "I was probably too much excited.

"That's why it took me so much longer to kind of get over it.

Reports are possitive on Bruschi

Bruschi is said to be recovering well from his mild stroke. This is great news for him. We just want him to become fully healthy and live out a long and wonderful life. Hopefully he can come back to the Patriots and win a few more Superbowls. But if he can't he will always be a Patriot legend.

Word of Tedy Bruschi [news]'s progress and recovery from a mild stroke continues to be positive.
The Patriots [stats, news] linebacker, who has been at his North Attleboro home since he was released from Massachusetts General Hospital last Friday, has been up and about, even running errands and visiting Gillette Stadium.
``I saw Tedy the other day,'' Patriots personnel director Scott Pioli told the NFL Network from the Indianapolis combine last night. ``Organizationally, we're going to do everything we can to help him, and he's requested that the progress and whatever's happening come though him. But he's doing OK.''
Team spokesman Stacey James spoke with Bruschi yesterday and his impressions were clear.
``He sounded great,'' James said.
The matter of Bruschi's return to football remains an open question, one that should be addressed next week when he is expected to conduct his first interviews.

Now that the MLB season is almost here

What do the Redsox have to play for? For years, well 86, to be exact, we always had next year. Every spring training all us Redsox fans would say "this is the year." I am not sure how many of us actually believed last year was the year we finally broke the Curse of the Bambino.

So I ask the question again, what do we have to play for? The same things as last year, to win it all.

Now that the Red Sox have broken one of the most storied hexes in sports history, reversed the Curse of the Bambino and finally won those rings, what will they do for an encore?

''That's a good question,'' second baseman Mark Bellhorn answered after a long, thoughtful pause.

The cliché answer, of course, is go out and win another one. But that doesn't do justice to the epic quest that preceded the previous one. For teams like the Marlins and even the New York Yankees, the World Series trophy is just that -- a trophy. To long-suffering Red Sox fans, however, it's something much more powerful. It's baseball's version of the Holy Grail, something to struggle for but never actually attain.

Besides, if it were that easy to win a World Series, it wouldn't have taken the Red Sox 86 years in the first place.

''This is the time to bask in the warmth of that triumph,'' says Charles Steinberg, the team's executive vice president for communications. 'The Red Sox have defined the word `almost.' But the tension and anxiety of the 86 years seems to be gone. Now there is a new tension and a new hunger. A new hunger because our appetite has been whetted.''

Redsox fans won't be settled for just one World Series, sure we are happy and we say we can all die easily now. But in reality we want to win 26 more World Series in a row just to piss off the Yankee fans. The Redsox should always be playing for the World Series, there should never be a real rebuilding year. We can always be active in the free agency market and with Theo our farm system is being built up strong.

So come on Sox, I want to see another World Series.

Palmeiro contemplating suing Canseco

I don't think Palmeiro will ever sue Canseco but he is thinking of filing a lawsuit against Canseco.

Baltimore Orioles Rafael Palmeiro is leaving open the possibility of filing a lawsuit against Jose Canseco, who said he introduced the first baseman to steroids in 1992 when both players were with the Texas Rangers . Canseco cited Palmeiro as a steroid user in his new book. In an interview on the CBS television show "60 Minutes," Canseco said he injected the drug into Palmeiro.

Palmeiro issued a statement last month in which he denied he ever used steroids, and he emphatically backed up that assertion Thursday after his first practice of spring training. Palmeiro also said he's considered hiring the law firm of Orioles owner Peter Angelos to take legal action against Canseco.

"The one thing I can say is I have the best law firm and the best lawyer standing in the wings in Peter Angelos," he said. "I have options available for me. He stands behind me and he's ready. I will look at all my options and I'll decide."

Palmeiro, 40, ranks among the greatest hitters in baseball history. The four-time All-Star has 551 career homers, 2,922 hits and a .289 batting average. He would prefer to focus on preparing for his 20th big league season, but the topic kept swinging back to steroids during an impromptu interview session in the Baltimore dugout at Fort Lauderdale Stadium.

"I can't worry about those things. Along the way, there's always going to be someone saying something about you, whether it's true or not. You just go on," Palmeiro said. "My job right now is to get ready for baseball. My mind has to be here."

I don't think it is worth suing scum like Canseco, it will just open up a bag of wurms and it won't get you anywhere. Canseco has absolutely no credibility to anyone who gives a damn, especially none with the fans. And we are really the only ones who matter.

Palmeiro has always been a class act and deserves to get the benefit of the doubt. I don't believe he used steroids at all. If Palmeiro was to file a lawsuit, every one in baseball would be called up in question and it would just be bad for the game. Canseco is like a little kid, if you ignore him he will go away.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

This is what happens when there is no hockey and football is over and baseball hasn't quite yet started

I have to report basketball news.

The Celtics reaquired Antoine Walker from the Atlanta Hawks for Gary Payton.

The Hawks Thursday sent Antoine Walker back to the Celtics in return for Gary Payton, Michael Stewart and Tom Gugliotta, league sources told ESPN Insider Chad Ford.

The Bucs deal Van Horn to the Mavs.

The Milwaukee Bucks have enhanced their chances of re-signing Michael Redd by finding a taker for the contract of Keith Van Horn.

League sources tell that the Bucks beat the 3 p.m. ET Thursday trading deadline by agreeing to send Van Horn to Dallas for Calvin Booth, the expiring contract of Alan Henderson and minimal cash considerations.

Moving Van Horn, in addition to the trade of Mike James to Houston earlier Thursday, removes nearly $13 million in salary-cap obligations from the Bucks' payroll next season.

The Bucks made the moves in anticipation of presenting free agent-to-be Michael Redd with a contract offer sufficiently lucrative to convince Redd to spurn advances from his home-state Cleveland Cavaliers and stay in Milwaukee.

Dallas, meanwhile, is hoping that Van Horn can serve as a productive backup to All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki. Van Horn has struggled this season, but Dallas is hoping he'll benefit from the reduced expectations of a backup role and fill the biggest void on the Mavericks' roster -- depth behind Nowitzki.

And here are a few more trades.

The Knicks are in the process of adding more big salaries to their roster.

Two league sources told ESPN Insider Chad Ford that New York has traded Nazr Mohammed and Jamison Brewer to the Spurs for Malik Rose and a first-round pick.

The Knicks also traded Vin Baker and Moochie Norris to the Rockets for Maurice Taylor and a first-round pick, Ford reports.

Once again, team president Isiah Thomas is willing to take back huge contracts to get more talent. In the Spurs deal, the Knicks are sending back $5.5 million in future salaries for the remaining four years, $27.3 million of Rose's contract.

In the Rockets deal, Thomas is sending back $8 million in future salaries and getting back $18 million in return. In total, the Knicks, who have the largest payroll in the league, will add an extra $32 million in future salaries.

The Warriors traded forward Eduardo Najera and a No. 1 pick to the Nuggets for forwards Nikoloz Tskitishvili and Rodney White, league sources told ESPN Insider Chad Ford.

The Bucks traded guard Mike James and center Zendon Hamilton to the Houston Rockets on Thursday for guard Reece Gaines and two second-round picks.

The Rockets have coveted James all season for guard depth, and trading him would relieve Milwaukee of the $7.1 million left on James' contract after this season.

"Mike James is a talented point guard who gives us another offensive threat," Rockets general manager Carroll Dawson said. "We've been interested in Mike for some time now, and we really liked the defensive toughness that he brings."

The Bobcats gained the first-round pick in the 2005 NBA Draft owned by Cleveland.

Please please please, I just want baseball to start.

Schilling throws off the mound

Schilling has thrown off the mound for the first time since last years World Series.

Curt Schilling threw 47 pitches on Thursday in his first workout off a mound since the offseason ankle surgery that followed the Boston Red Sox's World Series victory.

Schilling threw for 16 minutes and did not use an ankle brace. While Schilling was disappointed with his performance, Red Sox manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Dave Wallace were encouraged.

Schilling has played catch since arriving at spring training. He had not thrown off a mound since Game 2 of the World Series.

During last year's postseason, a team doctor improvised a procedure that temporarily stabilized Schilling's ankle. That allowed him to pitch Game 6 of the AL championship series and, with blood seeping through his sock, he beat the Yankees to even the series. With the stitches back in place, Schilling beat St. Louis during Boston's World Series sweep.

He had surgery on Nov. 9 to repair a ruptured tendon sheath in his right ankle. The cast was removed about a month later and Schilling was told he wouldn't be able to rotate his ankle for four to five weeks, raising questions about whether he'd be back in time for the season opener April 3 in New York.

Schilling said earlier this month that his rehabilitation was progressing well and that he should be ready for Opening Day, when he likely will pitch against former Arizona teammate Randy Johnson.

This may not seem like a big deal for most people, but it is too me. This means he is that much closer to pitching opening day against the Big Unit and the Yankees. The Redsox need a healthy Schilling to compete against the Yankees this year more so than in the past.

NBA news

I am not a big NBA or basketball fan, but it is the trading deadline so here is what happened so far.

The Kings trade Webber to the 76ers.

Chris Webber finally left Sacramento — and for a whole lot less than a King's ransom. Now, the Kings will find out whether they're really a better team without their cornerstone, and the Philadelphia 76ers will learn whether another superstar can thrive alongside Allen Iverson.

The Kings dealt Webber to the Sixers late Wednesday night in a six-player deal that dramatically reshaped both clubs on the eve of the trade deadline.

Philadelphia got Webber, one of the NBA's elite power forwards and a five-time All-Star, along with reserve forwards Matt Barnes and Michael Bradley. The Sixers gave up relatively little in return, sending veteran forwards Corliss Williamson, Kenny Thomas and Brian Skinner to the Kings.

The Celtics traded Jiri Welsch for a 1st round pick in 2007.

The Cleveland Cavaliers addressed their need for an outside shooter Thursday by acquiring guard Jiri Welsch from the Boston Celtics for a 2007 first-round draft pick.

The 76ers made another deal, sending Glen Robinson to the Hornets for Mashburn and Rodney Rogers.

The 76ers have made their second big trade in less than 24 hours.

On Thursday, the Sixers sent the expiring contract of Glenn "Big Dog" Robinson to the Hornets for another inactive former All-Star – Jamal Mashburn – and Rodney Rogers.

Rogers joins Chris Webber, acquired Wednesday from the Kings in a six-player deal, in Philadelphia's retooled frontcourt.

Mashburn has missed the bulk of the past two seasons with knee troubles and is not expected to play again. As such, insurance will cover 80 percent of his remaining contract: the rest of this season's $9.3 million and $10.1 million next season.

This doesn't really mean anything to me, as I don't really like basketball. I'll watch the Celtics once in a while and I might tune in for a play off game or two. From the look of this the 76ers have gotten significantly better. Webber can still play at a high level despite being injury prone.

I know the Celtics are thinking long term, but come on, 2007 1st round pick? How long term do we have to wait until the Celtics can have a winning team again?

NFL News

You know your team is in good shape when the you release 4 people and I have never heard of any of them. That is exactly what the Patriots did, they released 4 people and hired 2 coaches.

FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) - The New England Patriots released four players, including defensive back Earthwind Moreland, and hired two assistant coaches on Wednesday.
Moreland played in nine games and started two at cornerback last season, filling in for injured starters Tyrone Poole and Ty Law. He had 17 tackles and a fumble recovery.

The Patriots also released defensive lineman Buck Rasmussen, guard Wilbert Brown and tight end Zeron Flemister, none of whom played in a regular-season game last season.

The Super Bowl champions also appointed Joel Collier as assistant secondary coach and Harold Nash as assistant strength and conditioning coach.

In other news, Jay Fielder was released by the Dolphins. All this guy ever did for the Dolphins was win. He is not a big play guy, but he was always consistant and always won for the Dolphins. It is hard to fault a guy for that, especially when he played in the same division as the Patriots.

The Miami Dolphins released quarterback Jay Fiedler on Wednesday, ending his five-year run as the much-maligned successor to Dan Marino. Last season, Fiedler started just seven games for the Dolphins (4-12), going 1-6 while throwing for 1,186 yards, seven touchdowns and eight interceptions.

Fiedler spent much of the 2004 season on the injured list with a herniated disc. Fiedler was due a $2 million roster bonus in March.

The Dolphins also released safeties Arturo Freeman and Shawn Wooden, and defensive end Jay Williams.

After Marino left before the 2000 season, Fiedler was the only starting quarterback for former Dolphins coach Dave Wannstedt. But after Wannstedt's resignation in November, interim coach Jim Bates replaced Fielder with A.J. Feeley, who won three games the rest of the season.

A call to Fiedler's agent Brian Levy seeking comment was not immediately returned.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Moss reportedly traded to the Raiders

Well I guess i was wrong after all, I didn't think he would be traded this off season. I thought the costs it would take to get him would be too high. But now he appears to have been traded to the Raiders.

Randy Moss is heading for Oakland, the receiver's agent said Wednesday.

Dante DiTrapano, Moss' agent, told The Associated Press that the Minnesota Vikings and the Raiders had "come to an agreement on Randy playing for Oakland next year."

Neither the Vikings nor the Raiders would confirm the deal, which was first reported by The St. Paul Pioneer Press on its Web site.

"We have had discussions with the Oakland Raiders, but there's nothing to announce," Rob Brzezinski, the team's vice president of football operations, told the AP.

Raiders spokesman Mike Taylor would not confirm the team traded for Moss, but made it clear the wide receiver is a desirable player.

"This organization has always been tremendously aggressive," Taylor said. "Randy Moss is one of the great players of all time.

"Great players want to play for the Raiders."

DiTrapano said he didn't know the terms of the deal, but the Pioneer Press reported the Vikings would get linebacker Napoleon Harris, along with the seventh overall pick and a late-round pick in the upcoming draft.

The deal cannot become official until March 2, the start of the NFL's fiscal year.

They say the deal can not be confirmed, but ESPN usually isn't wrong about these kind of things. I would have to say Al Davis is the only person crazy enough to take on Moss and his head aches. But in getting Moss they do get one of the best receivers in the game.

Redsox set to give World Series Ring at Season Opener vs. the Yankees

I have been hearing news stories that the Sox were thinking about delaying giving out the rings so they didn't give them out against the Yankees. I am glad they finally came to their senses and will now give out the rings on their season opener versous the Yankees.

The Boston Red Sox will receive their World Series rings just before their home opener against the New York Yankees.

The formal presentation will be made on the field at Fenway Park before the April 11 game and will be followed by two charity events commemorating the team's first title in 86 years, Red Sox spokesman Charles Steinberg said Wednesday.

The night of the home opener, the club will hold a welcome-home dinner for the players.

"You could imagine the procession into the dinner and each player has his ring on. It would be cool," Steinberg said.

The team also plans to set aside a day -- possibly the day after the home opener -- on which the rings will be on display for fans on the Fenway Park field, along with the World Series and AL championship trophies.

"Parents can bring children in a casual setting and actually see the rings up close, and perhaps that's for a very modest contribution to the foundation, so it ends up being a triple crown," Steinberg said.

Proceeds from the events will go to the team's charitable foundation.

Steinberg said principal owner John Henry, minority owner Tom Werner and team president Larry Lucchino met after the team's workout on Tuesday and made the decision.

Some fans bristled at Henry's suggestion last week that the players should receive their rings at a separate ceremony, rather than before the game against the Yankees. New York's historic collapse in the AL Championship Series last October catapulted the Red Sox into the World Series, where they swept St. Louis in four games.

If I was in charge of giving out the rings things would be a little different. I heard the Redsox are giving out some 500 rings, I would divide 500 into the amount of home games we have against the Yankees and hand out an even number during each of those games.

Who's your daddy now?

Patriots tag Vinatieri

Patriots just need to sign Adam Vinatieri to a long term deal now that they gave him the franchise tag. He is the heart and soul of the Patriots, winning 2 of there first 3 Superbowls with last second kicks. He is just money when the game is on the line. There is no kicker I'd rather have on my team than Vinatieri.

The Patriots designated Adam Vinatieri as a non-exclusive franchise player yesterday, guaranteeing the two-time Pro Bowl placekicker a salary of just over $2.5 million for the 2005 season.

The move marks the second time the team has placed the franchise tag on Vinatieri, who originally signed with New England as an undrafted free agent in 1996. In 2002, Vinatieri became the first Patriot to be franchised, before agreeing to a three-year extension.

A source familiar with the current negotiations said the two sides are working on a multiyear deal, which has to be signed before a March 16 deadline; otherwise, he could play next season under a one-year contract valued at 120 percent of his 2004 salary because he was the highest-paid player at his position.

The non-exclusive designation means Vinatieri could negotiate with other teams if he doesn't reach a long-term deal with the Patriots. In that unlikely scenario, New England would be able to match any offer. Should they choose to not match, they would receive two first-round draft picks from the team that signs him.

Efforts to reach Vinatieri were unsuccessful.

Vinatieri, 32, led the NFL in scoring with 141 points last season, and he is one of only two kickers in NFL history (with Denver's Jason Elam) to score more than 100 points in each of his first nine seasons.

Bledsoe to be reunited with the Tuna

Well it looks like Bledsoe will be the starter for the Dallas Cowboys. I love Bledsoe but I hope Parcells gets some more offensive linemen because you have to protect Drew for him to be productive.
Barring a last-minute breakdown in negotiations, veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe will be the new starter for the Dallas Cowboys in 2005.

Multiple league sources confirmed Tuesday night that Bledsoe, whose release by the Buffalo Bills became official earlier Tuesday, has reached agreement in principle with the Cowboys on most of the major components of a contract. Bledsoe will fly to Dallas on Wednesday, meet with coaches and team officials, and likely finish the deal.

A contract with the Cowboys would reunite Bledsoe with coach Bill Parcells, who brought the quarterback into the league as the first overall selection in the 1993 draft, while with the New England Patriots. If the contract is completed on Wednesday, it would mark one week from the day the Bills announced their intention to cut Bledsoe after three seasons and elevate J.P. Losman to the starter's job.

Bledsoe could not be officially released until Tuesday, when the NFL moratorium on cutting players was lifted. Dallas officials obviously moved very quickly to try to close a deal with Bledsoe, who would supplant Vinny Testaverde as the starter.

It still amazes me how someone can fall so fast and so hard like Bledsos has. He went from a $100 million quarterback with the Patriots. To getting traded to the Bills than released from the Bills. I hope Bledsoe can be productive for his sake and for the Tuna's sake.

If the Cowboys don't turn it around this year and make the play offs, or at the very least, have a winning record, I wouldn't be surprised to see Jerry Jones fire Parcells. Or to see Parcells resign to save himself from being fired.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The biggest contract the Redsox need to pick up

Who cares about Pedro, or Derrick Lowe, or any other contracts we lost. The person we need to sure up the most is Theo Epstien. Epstien's contract is up after this season and I would hate to see him anywhere but here.

It's only a matter of time before the Red Sox make a push to extend Theo Epstein's contract, Sox chairman Tom Werner said yesterday. The 31-year-old general manager received a three-year pact in November 2002, and that deal expires at the end of this season.

"My sense of that is there's going to be a position for Theo here as long as he wants it," Werner said yesterday. "I'm not terribly concerned about that. We'll address it in good time. Everybody's been very focused on just getting ready for spring training."

Yankees GM Brian Cashman's contract also is up at season's end, and Cashman jokingly asked a few reporters Sunday what the Sox intended to do about Epstein's contract.

Epstein, meanwhile, said he's plenty happy with his hometown team and doesn't plan on going anywhere.

"I'm under contract, and this is where I prefer to be, so it's not a big issue at all," he said. "We're busy trying to win in 2005 and trying to build a farm system that can sustain our success over a long period. The team and its goals are much more important than any one individual."

MIracle on Ice

It is the 25th anniversity of the Miracle on Ice where the United States hockey team defeated the evil Commie Russiams hockey team.

The 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team pulled off its miracle 25 years ago, but the impact remains. There's a pay-it-forward element in the American hockey community: Players who were inspired by the '80 team have inspired the next generation of players. And there's the lasting emotional effect of the victories themselves -- February 22 against the Soviet Union and two days later against Finland for the gold medal.

For fans looking to mark the moment, Miracle, the movie, is ready to rent. There's a great new book called The Boys of Winter. HBO On Demand is making available Do You Believe in Miracles?, a documentary on the team, and ESPN Classic is showing the game against the Soviet Union with Miracle on Ice -- 25th Anniversary Special on Tuesday and the gold medal game against Finland on Thursday

For our commemoration, we sought memories of the occasion and testimonials to what it meant. From that search came an e-mail from Craig's backup, Steve Janaszak:

"February 22, 1980. Mark Johnson scores, assisted by Dave Silk at 8:39 of the third period to tie the game at 3-3. The arena is rocking. It is very loud. I remember turning to someone on the bench -- I think it was Craig Patrick -- and shouting, 'If we score another goal soon, this place is going to explode!' Less than two minutes later, Mike Eruzione scores, assisted by John Harrington and Mark Pavelich. United States 4, Soviet Union 3.

"I am sitting on the end of the bench watching the rafters of the building shake, it is so loud. That crowd was amazing. I went back in that arena 10 years later and closed my eyes, and I could still hear them."

I wasn't quite born yet when this happened, but I wish I were. I would have loved to see us kick the snow out of the Commies.

Seahawks sign Hasselbeck to a deal

I reported yesterday that the Seahawks misguided priority was with Hasselbeck. They have reportedly signed him to a multi-year deal which will let them use there franchise tag on Shaun Alexander.

Faced with the challenge of two high-profile players on the verge of free agency, the Seattle Seahawks appeared to solve part of the equation, agreeing to a long-term deal with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, the Seattle Times reported Tuesday.

The deal, agreed to Monday night but not yet official, would allow the Seahawks to place the franchise tag on running back Shaun Alexander.

The newspaper, citing sources close to negotiations, reported that the team will hold a press conference Tuesday to announce the signing. Hasselbeck, a Pro Bowler in 2003, reportedly was seeking a deal similar to Chad Pennington's. The Jets quarterback signed a seven-year extension for $64 million. The deal included combined bonus money of $23 million, all guaranteed.

With Hasselbeck apparently signed, the Seahawks can tag Alexander, giving him a one-year, $6.3 million deal. Seattle could also trade the running back, who's flirted with the idea of playing elsewhere.

Alexander set franchise records last season with 353 carries for 1,696 yards and 20 touchdowns.

This is good for the Seahawks, they need to keep Alexander more so than anyone else. I still don't know why you'd want to keep a decent QB over a top 5 running back.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Gammons thoughts on the Redsox

Gammons 2/21/05

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In the Boston media, they talked about the Yankees' obsession with the Red Sox, and how there were a half-dozen New York newspapers here daily gathering quotes from Sox players about the Yankees. In the New York media, they talked about how obsessed the Boston players still are about the Yankees, because of the quotes, which sometimes turned into headlines that were six degrees from "Lost in Translation."

With the exception of David Wells' reminiscences about his relationship with Joe Torre and Mel Stottlemyre, no Red Sox player expressed anything but respect for Yankee players, with one exception: Alex Rodriguez. What began when Jason Varitek took exception to A-Rod's comments to Bronson Arroyo last July when Arroyo hit Rodriguez with a pitch everyone but Britney Spears knew wasn't intentional, carried over into the playoffs with more words with Varitek and Curt Schilling. It then carried over to this spring because of a Bob Klapisch story on that included a comment about how when other players are still in bed or driving their children to school, Alex is done working out.

Hey, A-Rod didn't mean to sound superior to everyone else, but players all around the game were offended; there's also a huge history with the Red Sox.

But when there are a half-dozen New York beat writers covering the Red Sox and the questions are only about the Yankees, reality is that most of what was said was an attempt to play with A-Rod's head not because they are obsessed with him but because they think he is obsessed with himself. Still, enough is enough. This is just silly.

The real spring focus for the Red Sox isn't trash-talking Rodriguez, it is trying to figure out their pitching staff.

"We lost a couple of quality pitchers who won a lot of big games for us," manager Terry Francona said of Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe, who left for a combined $88 million. In their place, for a guarantee of less than $30 million, are Matt Clement, Wells, Wade Miller, John Halama and Matt Mantei.

"Wells is one of the most underrated pitchers of this era," Red Sox GM Theo Epstein said. "He has made 30 starts nine of the last 10 years, and he's a quality left-hander with one of the best deliveries in the game." Fenway is very much a left-handers' park, and after being shelled there early in his career, Wells has made 14 regular-season and postseason starts since 1997 and is 7-2 with a 3.53 ERA in those starts.

Clement has long had the reputation of having great stuff and losing tough games. "We think he's right at the point of his career where he's ready to take off, and Varitek will be a big help to him," Epstein said. Last season, Clement made 10 straight starts without winning, mostly because of a lack of run support, and, in his free-agent year, it affected him.

"I thought I learned a lot last season," Clement said. "Especially from the time I spent with Greg Maddux, who is one of the most modest, understated great players I've ever met. I really look forward to learning from Curt Schilling. And one of the reasons I came here was Varitek, whose reputation carries around the game; I just watched him on television and because of his intensity and his obvious caring for his pitchers, I wanted to work with him."

The day Schilling reported, he said "the Yankees have the best rotation in baseball." The way he is moving and throwing, he should be fine while recovering from surgery on his right ankle. But against the reconstructed Yankees staff, the Red Sox have to replace the combined 399 2/3 innings and 4.62 ERA Martinez and Lowe posted -- and beat the Yanks with depth. Hence, Miller is a huge factor.

"There's no way of knowing that I will make it through the season," said 28-year-old Miller, who was 45-25 in 2001-03 before breaking down last June with shoulder problems. "But I am encouraged. I'm up to 150 feet long-tossing; my range of motion feels right; and I am in the right arm slot, which was a problem last season. I feel really good about this season."

The Red Sox aren't even thinking about trying to rush Miller. In fact, they intend to hold him back. If he is ready by the first of June, then they will consider him the equivalent of a significant in-season trade. "When you look at his tapes," one Sox official said, "and see his fastball explode, the 91-mile-an-hour cutter and that curveball you shake your head. He has special stuff."

As does Mantei, who pitched in only 12 games for Arizona last season after undergoing what he terms "minor" shoulder surgery. "It really was a minor thing," said 31-year-old Mantei, who has World Series rings from the Marlins ('97) and Diamondbacks ('01) but didn't actually pitch in either World Series. "But I feel great."

In his early throwing sessions, Mantei has demonstrated his peak electric arm speed, and if he can hold up, he could be a significant factor in the setup role in front of closer Keith Foulke that Scott Williamson could not perform in during the 2004 season. Because of Williamson's breakdown, Francona said he "overused" Mike Timlin and Alan Embree, who -- after two seven-month seasons with heavy, intense and very successful postseason work -- are at the point in their careers where Francona would like to use them less frequently.

There's also Byung-Hyun Kim, who actually has thrown the ball better thus far this spring than he has the last two years. The Kim who pitched in Arizona would be another welcome addition, but there are layers of issues that cloud his return to Boston. More likely, he will end up being traded to one of the teams that intend to come watch him this spring, among them the Mets, Astros, Brewers, Rockies and Dodgers. But with the concerns about the use of Timlin and Embree the last two years, the Sox will not give Kim away if he can pitch in the seventh or eighth inning.

The core of the Red Sox position players remains. "What enables teams to win is character through the whole team," Schilling said. "That's what carried us through. That's what carried the Yankees through. Dave Roberts, Gabe Kapler ..."

The bench was a vital factor in the Red Sox's winning the World Series, and Epstein knew he could not hold it together. So Roberts, Doug Mientkiewicz, Pokey Reese and Kapler are gone. Jay Payton, Ramon Vazquez, Roberto Petagine and either Adam Stern or George Lombard -- who, after recovering from shoulder surgery, had two very encouraging months for Triple-A Pawtucket last season -- are their replacements.

Petagine, a 35-year-old whose previous major league career was, to be kind, forgettable, is a fascinating signing for $750,000. He went to Japan in 1999, where he became a star. His Japanese career OPS was 1.051. In the four years in which he and Hideki Matsui played together in Japan, look at their numbers:

Matsui 170 414 1.091
Petagine 160 429 1.085

Obviously, there is a big difference in their all-around ability, as the Red Sox players and staff consider Matsui one of the 10 best players in the league. But in the first week of spring training, what they saw in Petagine was a hitter with a Fenway Park stroke who clearly learned the Japanese work ethic. When one of the clubhouse kids complimented him on his career in Japan, Petagine replied, "I haven't done it here. That's what I'm here for."