Friday, February 29, 2008

How Long Can The Houston Rockets Stay Alive Without Yao Ming?

Despite Yao Ming out for the remainder of the season, the Houston Rockets continue to dominate as their win streak has now reached 13 games in a row. With the Rockets playing Memphis tonight, make that 14 in a row (unless the Rockets sleep on them, but the West is so tight why would any team sleep on another team at this point?) The Rockets will make the playoffs, but the question is how long will they last? Will they get out of the first round finally?

The team rests solely on the shoulders of Tracy McGrady. Like Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, and Lebron James, Tracy is an all-star who needs a supporting cast, or at least a right hand man. I consider Rafer Alston and Shane Battier to be decent players, but if you look at every other team in the West who currently has a spot in the playoffs, those teams all have more than one all star or a batch of very good players. For example, if the season ended today, the Rockets would have to contend with the San Antonio Spurs (not a contest). They most likely will not pass the Dallas Mavericks in the West and they won't fall behind the Golden State Warriors. They will finish in 7th place in their Conference and get knocked out yet again in the first round. They simply don't have the same firepower as the other teams.

RUMOR: Randy Moss To The Dallas Cowboys?

Imagine being Tony Romo. You look to your left and see the greatest receiver from last season (Randy Moss). Then, you look to your right and see the second best receiver from last season (Terrell Owens). Isn't that a great feeling? Romo can't possibly screw up again.

Since Randy Moss is going to be a free agent, I've heard rumors that the Dallas Cowboys are going to be interested in signing him. He came to the New England Patriots in hopes of getting a Super Bowl Ring, but he is still waiting for his first ring. Likewise, Terrell Owens never won a Super Bowl Ring either. How could the two greatest receivers in football, possibly in history, still not have Super Bowl Rings? It makes sense to combine the two.

Hank Steinbrenner Is Going Senile

Hank Steinbrenner, who has recently turned the Yankees over to his two sons because of his Alzheimer's disease and possible senile symptoms, has provided his share of Boss-like comments in the offseason, his first as one of the principal leaders running the New York Yankees.

He's made verbal digs at former manager Joe Torre and inserted himself during the contract negotiations with Alex Rodriguez, as well as the race for the services of pitcher Johan Santana.

The latest no doubt will send Boston Red Sox fans into a frenzy.

"Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of [expletive] that is ... This is a Yankee country. We're going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order. "
-- Hank Steinbrenner

Hank Steinbrenner, apparently trying to emphasize that he has no fear of the Yankees' American League competition, has amped up the rivalry between the two teams, intentionally or not.

"Red Sox Nation?" Hank Steinbrenner said in an interview with The New York Times' Play magazine. "What a bunch of [expletive] that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans.

"Go anywhere in America and you won't see Red Sox hats and jackets, you'll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We're going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order."

Steinbrenner's interview, in the March 2 issue of the magazine, reveals a great deal of his personality and his style. He is not afraid to speak his mind, and he appears to have little sense of regret when he does, saying there was a need for him to take control. "Everyone was hiding in their rooms. You can't do that and be a leader. You have to step up and take a position," he said.

His comments about the Red Sox are not the first time he has sent some vitriol their way. In an interview with, posted on Feb. 19, Hank Steinbrenner said about the defending World Series champions: "They've got a lot of talent, and [have] done very well the past few years, but let me put it this way: I don't think [they] wanted to play us in the ALCS. So I will concede nothing. I think we're better than [them]."

Steinbrenner's sons never had any experience with owning or management, but Hank still handed the team over to them to keep the Yankees within their family. It'll be interesting to see the decisions his sons make.

Jerry Porter And Troy Williamson Should Bring Some Life To The Jacksonville Receiving Core

The Jacksonville Jaguars, who have been searching for a No. 1 wide receiver since Jimmy Smith retired, reached a contract agreement Friday with Jerry Porter, one of the top wide receivers in the unrestricted free agent market.

Porter, 29, was expected to sign a six-year, $30 million contract later on Friday. He played the first eight years of his career with the Oakland Raiders.

Jerry Porter needs the Jags just as bad as the Jags need Porter. Remember, Porter played on the Raiders his first 8 seasons. The Raiders that I can remember never had a very good quarterback to get the ball into Porter's hands during those 8 seasons. Hopefully, now that Porter has a very good quarterback in David Garrard, Porter can finally unleash his true potential.

In addition, the Jaguars on Friday completed a trade they agreed to earlier in the week, adding former Minnesota first-round wide receiver Troy Williamson in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick. Williamson, who was a disappointment in his three seasons with the Vikings, should add a deep threat to the Jacksonville offense.

Again, look where Troy Williamson came from. The Vikings haven't had a good quarterback since early 2000s when Daunte Culpepper was in his prime.

With the emergence of quarterback David Garrard in his first season as the full-time starter in 2007, the Jaguars are making a concerted effort to upgrade his arsenal of receivers in an attempt to close the gap with Indianapolis in the division.

Will Brady Quinn Ever Reach The NFL Spotlight?

Cleveland Browns quarterback Derek Anderson wasn't a free agent for long.

Derek Anderson


Anderson has agreed to a multiyear contract to stay with the Browns, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the contract had not been completed.

General manager Phil Savage believed if Anderson had gotten an offer from another team, the Browns probably wouldn't have been able to keep him. The Browns HAD BEEN prepared to turn their offense over to Brady Quinn.

Brady Quinn should seek a trade elsewhere because with the resigning of popular quarterback Derek Anderson, Quinn is most likely not going to see a snap in years unless Anderson pulls a Rex Grossman or gets hurt.

Derek Anderson needs to work on his two-minute drills and staying hot throughout the whole season. He came out firing last year, but by the end he couldn't pull off one win against the Bills when it mattered the most.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The FBI Is Ready To Ruin Roger Clemens' Life And The Houston Astros Aren't Helping

The FBI has begun investigating whether Roger Clemens lied to Congress when he denied taking steroids, officials said Thursday in the case of another baseball star snared in a long-running inquiry into drug use by professional athletes.

Clemens, the All-Star pitcher and seven-time Cy Young Award winner, maintains he has never used steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs. His former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, claims otherwise, testifying that he injected Clemens with human growth hormones and steroids at least 16 to 21 times from 1998 to 2001.

In order for the FBI to investigate Clemens, or anyone for that matter, the FBI feels: 1) They are certain Clemens is lying and 2) They are certain they can gather enough information to nail Clemens.

FBI agents in Washington opened the case a little more than two weeks after both Clemens and McNamee appeared at the same House hearing on Feb. 13, each accusing the other of lying.

"The request to open an investigation on the congressional testimony of Roger Clemens has been turned over to the FBI and will receive appropriate investigative action by the Washington Field Office," said FBI spokeswoman Debra Weierman.

The inquiry came on the heels of a request Wednesday from the House Oversight Committee, could result in perjury or obstruction of justice charges against Clemens. Lawmakers did not ask for a similar investigation of McNamee.

In a statement, Clemens' lead attorney, Rusty Hardin, said the FBI probe did not come as a surprise.

"We've always expected they would open an investigation. They attended the Congressional hearing. So, what's new?" Hardin said in the statement.

Meanwhile, Roger Clemens' 10-year personal services contract with the Houston Astros could be affected by the FBI's investigation into whether he lied to Congress about using steroids.

Astros owner Drayton McLane said Thursday he might re-evaluate the deal -- which kicks in when the star pitcher officially retires -- in light of Clemens' legal issues.

"We'll just have to see what happens," McLane said. "You're just putting supposition into it and we'll just have to wait and see what develops."

McLane said he's also evaluating whether Clemens will continue working with the team's minor leaguers, which he has done the past two days.

"That makes it more complex, it sure does," McLane said, speaking before the FBI announced the inquiry. "We'll just have to look at that and see what transpires. We'll have to evaluate it at the time."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Dallas Cowboys Make A Good Move While The Bears A Bad One

Seven-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker Zach Thomas has reached a contract agreement in principle with the Dallas Cowboys, team and league sources told on Saturday morning.

Zach Thomas

Saturday night, Thomas' agent, Drew Rosenhaus confirmed the deal.

"It is going to be signed in the next couple of days," Rosenhaus was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.

The deal includes a $1 million base salary, a $1 million signing bonus and a $1 million incentive-based bonus based on playing time that Rosenhaus said should be easily attained.

Thomas, 34, who was released by the Miami Dolphins two weeks ago, following a 2007 season in which he was limited to just five appearances, chose the deal from the Cowboys over contract proposals from the New England Patriots and the New Orleans Saints.

A 12-year veteran, and one of only three players in modern NFL history to register 100-plus tackles in each of his first 10 seasons in the league, Thomas was released by the new Miami football regime on Feb. 14 after a celebrated stint with the Dolphins.

Meanwhile, for reasons I have no idea what they were thinking.....

Rex Grossman has signed a one-year deal to remain as the starting quarterback of the Chicago Bears.

Rex Grossman


Grossman wanted to stay with the Bears, and Bears general manager Jerry Angelo and coach Lovie Smith wanted to give him one more chance to stay as their starting quarterback. On Saturday, each side worked out a deal in order for the relationship to continue.

"It's still a great opportunity for him [in Chicago]," his agent, Eugene Parker, told

Under terms of the deal, Grossman will have a $3 million base salary. He can make close to $2 million in incentives as long as he's the starting quarterback.

Several players on the Bears offense were pushing for Grossman to return as quarterback.

His best season was in 2006 when he started 16 games, passed for 3,193 yards, threw 23 touchdown passes and helped to take the Bears to the Super Bowl. He struggled in 2007 and started only seven games.

During the second half of last season, Smith used Brian Griese and Kyle Orton as starters. Grossman's signing, though, should resolve the Bears quarterback situation.

A first-round choice in the 2003 draft, Grossman has appeared in 32 games, with 30 starts, during his tenure with the Bears. The former Florida star has completed 489 of 900 passes for 5,907 yards, with 31 touchdown passes, 33 interceptions and an efficiency rating of 70.9. Ouch.

Maybe the Bears were thinking about how they could find ways to lose more games than they could win and how they could drive all their fans crazy as they watch Grossman throw interception after interception with an occasional touchdown to make fans believe as if he was the real deal.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Indiana And Kelvin Sampson Have Split Ways

After hours and hours of waiting, the decision was announced today.

Indiana and Kelvin Sampson reached a $750,000 settlement Friday, enabling the coach and the school to part ways immediately, the university said in a statement released Friday night.

Under the agreement, Sampson could not sue the university. An announcement was expected later Friday.

"I am very sorry to see our relationship with Coach Sampson end this way, but we have to focus on doing what's best for the long-term interests of IU and its men's basketball team," athletic director Rick Greenspan said in the statement.

The deal calls for Sampson to be paid $750,000, $550,000 of which is being provided by an anonymous donor, the relase said. The remainder will come from athletic department funds. Sampson has agreed he will not file a wrongful termination lawsuit against Indiana.

Signs of a coaching switch were evident at the team's practice Friday afternoon.

Assistant coach Dan Dakich, who will be named interim coach, directed the workout but was short-handed. Senior captain D.J. White, Armon Bassett, Jordan Crawford, Jamarcus Ellis, DeAndre Thomas and Brandon McGee were not on the court.

The Hoosiers were scheduled to depart for Evanston, Ill., on Saturday for IU's Big Ten game that night at Northwestern.

Even More Damning Evidence Against Roger Clemens

Roger Clemens' lies continue to build and with each lie comes more evidence proving of his guilt. Frankly, I'm starting to grow tired of the Roger Clemens' case. If only he did not lie under oath, we wouldn't be having all these discussions and debates.

The 1998 party at Jose Canseco's house in Miami may have started out as a gathering of friends and family. It has turned into an event worthy of congressional testimony and a source of "evidence."

There is a photo of Roger Clemens at Canseco's house during the June 1998 party, according to the New York Daily News -- a photo that would contradict Clemens' sworn testimony that he never attended the party.

Richard Emery, one of the lawyers for Clemens' former trainer, Brian McNamee, said he was aware of the existence of the photo. "We have reason to believe it's reliable evidence," Emery told the Daily News. "We believe there's photographic evidence that shows Clemens was at a party he says he wasn't at."

The event is a key point in the steroids investigation involving Clemens. It is mentioned in the Mitchell report, and was a focal point during the Feb. 13 hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

In the Mitchell report, Brian McNamee, Clemens' former trainer, said he witnessed Canseco, Clemens and a third, unidentified person talking together, but did not overhear the conversation. McNamee said that some time after the party, "Clemens approached [him] and, for the first time, brought up the subject of using steroids," according to the report.

The crux of the issue is whether Clemens was present at the party, which was hosted by Canseco for his Toronto Blue Jays teammates and their families while they were in town for a series against the Florida Marlins.

Clemens has repeatedly denied being at Canseco's house for that event. But a young man has a photo of Clemens at the party, according to the Daily News. The man was just 11 years old at the time of the party, taking photos of various baseball players in attendance.

McNamee has testified that he clearly recalls Clemens, his wife, nanny and children at Canseco's party, including describing the nanny as wearing a peach bikini and board shorts.

Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin, has said he turned over evidence to congressional lawyers, including an affidavit from Canseco, proving Clemens didn't attend Canseco's party.

The House committee is still debating on the next step regarding the steroids investigation. Sources have told the Daily News that they expect the committee to refer the entire matter, not just the Clemens investigation, to the Justice Department.

"We haven't heard anything one way or the other," Hardin told the Daily News.

Manny Ramirez Will Leave The Boston Red Sox If They Don't Resign Him

Manny Ramirez claims he loves the Boston Red Sox so much he wants to finish his career with them. However, I question his loyalty. If the Red Sox do not pick up his option in 2009, Manny said he'll join the free agent market.

"I want to stay here, but it's up to them if they want to bring me," Ramirez said. "But if they don't want to bring me back, that's fine. I know I'll be a free agent after '08 so that's another thing that I'm looking forward [to]."

Boston's slugging left-fielder is entering the final season of his eight-year, $160 million contract that has team options for 2009 and 2010 of $20 million each.

There's no rush to pick up the option or extend his contract, and Ramirez has no intention of asking the team to do either.

"It's up to them to say, 'OK, we're going to take [the option]. It's not up to me to go into the office and demand a four-year deal, whatever," he said. "No, I'm going come here to play the game, finish my year. If they want me to come back, I'll come back."

Manny Ramirez


Left Field
Boston Red Sox

2007 Season Stats
127 20 86 79 .385 .292

General manager Theo Epstein also wants to wait.

"We're focused on 2008," Epstein said. "Manny's contract provides for the first of his options to be decided upon at the end of the year and there's a time for that, but it's certainly after the season. And we're looking forward to Manny continuing to work hard and have a great year."

Ramirez had asked to be traded after the 2005 and 2006 seasons. But this offseason passed peacefully, without so much as a peep of dissatisfaction from him.

What changed?

"You start growing up and mature," the 35-year-old Ramirez said.

Now he doesn't want to play anywhere else.

"I want to finish my career here," he said, "but it's up to them. So if that doesn't happen, hey, I'll go and play somewhere else. I know I still can play. What else can I say? It's up to them. I'm not the one who writes the checks."

Right, very mature Manny.

Having Manny Ramirez on your team is the equivalent of having a Terrell Owens or Ron Artest on your team. What you have here is a superstar who allows his skills on the field or court to effect his attitude off the field or court.

Then again, I think Manny is full of himself. He loves the attention. Well, this will certainly make for an interesting story in the years to come.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Cleveland Cavilers Acquire Ben Wallace And Wally Szczerbiak

The Cleveland Cavaliers appear to have beaten the NBA's annual trade buzzer to get LeBron James some of the fresh help he's been openly craving.

In a three-way, 11-player trade with Chicago and Seattle that has been submitted for league approval, NBA front-office sources say that Cleveland will come away with four new teammates for James, headlined by Ben Wallace from the Bulls and sharpshooter Wally Szczerbiak from the Sonics.

The league office was notified of the deal before Thursday's 3 p.m. ET trading deadline, sources said, and is currently reviewing the trade details as required for formal approval.

After Cleveland watched two longstanding trade targets land elsewhere -- Mike Bibby in Atlanta and Jason Kidd in Dallas -- sources say that the deal calls for the Cavaliers to receive Wallace, Szczerbiak, Seattle point guard Delonte West, Chicago's Joe Smith and a future second-round pick from the Bulls.

The Bulls, apparently abandoning their gamble on Wallace less than two seasons into the lucrative four-year deal they used to sign him away from Detroit, would get Cavaliers forward Drew Gooden and swingman Larry Hughes along with Cavs reserves Cedric Simmons and Shannon Brown.

The Sonics, shedding Szczerbiak in the name of additional payroll flexibility, come away with the expiring contracts of Cleveland's Ira Newble and Chicago's Adrian Griffin as well as Cavs veteran Donyell Marshall.

This trade is terrible for the Cavs. When healthy, Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes were excellent shooters and scorers. Now, the Cavs acquired a center who doesn't do anything. Ben Wallace is one of the biggest disappointments this year and dead weight on the court. If anything, this trade gives the Bulls a better chance of competing in the playoffs.

A Breakdown Of The National League 2008 Baseball Season

What I plan to do here, so long as my power doesn't blow out which has been happening a lot in this area lately, is to go through each team in order of how I think they'll finish in their division and highlight some of their key players. Now onto the National League.......

NL East

1. New York Mets - It was very tough deciding between whether I should put the Mets or Phillies in first place, especially after what happened last season. Though I think the Phillies squad is more reliable than the Mets' batters, I have to give it to the Mets because of that unbelivable piutching rotation of Santana, Martinez (if healthy), Maine, Perez, and Hernandez. Also, Wagner is still an excellent closer. However, though I pick the Mets to go to the World Series this year against the Tigers, they have the same problem as the Tigers. That is, their roster is filled with old players who either get hurt (Alou, Beltran, Martinez) or forget how to bat by the end of the season (Delgado).

2. Philadelphia Phillies - Again, it was tough to list the Mets as first and the Phillies as second and I admit you can make an argument to flip this around. Hamels, Myers, and Moyer are OK pitchers, but don't equal up to the Mets' pitchers. The acquisition of Lidge was a bad move because he isn't a great closer anymore. However, where the Phillies shine is in their big, scary bats of Howard, Burrell, Utley, Jenkins, and Victorino.

3. Atlanta Braves - My favorite team, the Braves, are now just a team of their past. I thought they were bad last year, well, they'll be worse this year with the loss of Andruw Jones and the acquisition of Tom Glavine, who is old, terrible, and led the Mets to their final defeat of the year last year. Again, like the Phillies, the Braves pitching rotation of Smoltz, Hudson, Glavine, and James are very good in their own right, in fact they are better than the Phillies' starting pitchers, but can't equal the Mets. However, the Braves' bullpen is just atrocious and a major reason why they lose. Their batting is still very good though, highlighted by Jones, Teixeira, McCann, Francoeur, and Johnson.

4. Florida Marlins - Like deciding whether I wanted to put the Mets or Phillies at first, I'm having a hard time deciding whether I want to put the Marlins or Nationals in last. The Marlins starting rotation isn't worth mentioning nor is their bullpen spectacular. However, I like their hitting better than the Nationals, with Uggla, McPherson, Hermida, and Jacobs as highlights.

5. Washington Nationals - Their starting pitching isn't memorable and their bullpen is even worse, except for Chad Cordero. They have some decent hitting (Mo Pena, Milledge, and Kearns), but nothing amazing to speak of. The Marlins and Nationals are solely meant for teams like the Mets, Phillies, and even Braves to beat up on.

NL Central (Probably the toughest division)

1. St. Louis Cardinals - Their staring pitching (Wainwright, Looper, Mulder, Reyes) are mediocore, but Isringhausen is still a reliable closer. Their hitting is very powerful in the big bats of Pujols, Duncan, Glaus, and Ankiel. I believe the Cards will be back in first this year.

2. Chicago Cubs - Zambrano, Hill, Lilly, and Marquis make for a solid rotation, though their bullpen isn't all that great. Still they have the best leadoff hitter in baseball (Soriano) and the scary bats of Ramirez and Lee.

3. Houston Astros - The addition of Tejada is lovely, but still won't save this team. Oswalt and Backe are very good starting pitchers and Villarreal and Valverde are excellent in their bullpen, but their hitting is still poor, only highlighted by Tejada and Berkman.

4. Milwaukee Brewers - Eh. Sheets and Suppan are good starters, but that's about it. Gagne and Turnbow aren't reliable in the bullpen anymore and once you pitch around Fielder all the other batters are just so-so.

5. Cincinnati Reds - This team is very unpredictable, but I predict they'll do bad. Harang is their only good starter, but Cordero can save them in the bullpen. Their hitting is either old or inconsistent, but I would still highlight Griffey Jr., Dunn, Phillips, and Encarnacion has reliable hitters.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates - This team may surprise people, but I can't see it happening. I mean, Snell and Duke are young starting pitchers just waiting to break out, but they consistently are bad. Their bullpen is a bunch of bull. However, their hitting is at least mediocre, highlighted by LaRoche, Bay, Nady, and McLouth.

NL West (Another Tough Division)

1. Los Angeles Dodgers - All the work the Dodgers have put into this team should pay off. If the Mets don't go to the World Series, this team would be my next choice to represent the National League. Penny, Lowe, and Schmidt are still excellent starters, as is Saito in their bullpen. Their hitting is an excellent mix of pesky speed (Furcal, Pierre) and very good hitting (Kent, Garciaparra, Martin, Jones). Oh, and they got one of the best managers in baseball, Joe Torre. Man, the Yankees and their fans are harsh. Do they forget what how much good Torre did for the Yankees?

2. San Diego Padres - If any team in this division is going to give the Dodgers trouble, it would be the Padres. Peavy, Maddux, and Wolf can put up a fight with the Dodgers' pitching and Hoffman is still one of the best closers in baseball. Barrett, Greene, Giles, and Edmonds are their standout hitters, but their other batters are decent as well.

3. Colorado Rockies - Was last season a fluke? It had to be. Looking at this team I don't see what the big deal is. Francis is a great starter, but that's about it. Their bullpen (Fuentes, Vizcaino, Corpas) is actually pretty good and their batters (Holliday, Atkins, Helton, Torrealba, Hawpe) I'm sure are better known now after last season. Still, we won't see a repeat performance.

4. Arizona Diamondbacks - Again, the starting pitching (Webb, Haren, Owings) is very good and can face other pitching rotations. However, I can not say the same for the Diamondbacks' bullpen or hitting, with honorable mention to Drew and Byrnes.

5. San Fransisco Giants - The Barry Bonds controversy should be the least of this team's worries. Their starters are terrible with the exception of Lowry. Their bullpen is...well there isn't one. As far as hitting, Molina, Rowand, and Winn make this team look like an MLB team.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Breakdown Of The American League 2008 Baseball Season

What I plan to do here, so long as my power doesn't blow out which has been happening a lot in this area lately, is to go through each team in order of how I think they'll finish in their division and highlight some of their key players. Starting with the American League.......

AL East

1. Boston Red Sox - I just don't see the Yankees overtaking them again this year. Boston's pitching is consistently amazing (Beckett, Schilling, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, Lester), their bullpen is untouchable (Papelbon, Okajima), and their hitting is to be feared (Pedroia, Youkilis, Ramirez, Ortiz).

2. New York Yankees - Maybe back in the late 90s early 2000 I would have bowed down to this team, but all these players are getting old and their lineup isn't as scary as it once was. Still, I put them in second because they are the Yankees. Pettitte, Wang, and Chamberlain can match up against Boston's pitching, but Mussina is unpredictable and I'm not sold on Hughes. Their bullpen isn't as good as Boston's, but Hawkins and Rivera are usually reliable. Just don't being in Farnsworth! He's terrible. As for their hitting, well, again its the same cast of familiar faces just getting another year older.

3. Tampa Bay Rays - That's right, I put the Rays in 3rd. This will be a surprise team. They are extremly young, and therefore, unpredictable. Kazmir, Shields, and Garza were being compared to the Braves 95 pitching staff of Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz before they became famous. They acquired my favorite closer in baseball, Troy Percival, to nail down wins, and their lineup is full of quick, pesky guys such as Crawford, Baldelli, Pena, and Gomes who always seem to annoy teams like the Red Sox and Yankees.

4. Toronto Blue Jays - The only highlights for pitching on this team are Halladay and Burnett. Their bullpen is poor, but what saves this team is the big bats of Overbay, Thomas, Rolen, and Wells. Eckstein is also a nice acquisition as the leadoff hitter.

5. Baltimore Orioles - With the departure of their best pitcher (Bedard) and their best hitter (Tejada) this team has nothing left. None of their starters or relievers are worth mentioning as highlights and their only decent hitters are Mora, Scott, Roberts, and Huff, who are all average.

AL Central

1. Detroit Tigers - Wow. I mean, wow. Here's your World Series winner right here. Their entire pitching lineup is capable of winning, their bullpen is crazy, and their starting lineup is something that I would draft in a video game. Willis only did bad in the N.L because he had no run support. This is a fresh start for him with a team that should give him plenty of run support in the big bats of newly acquired Cabrera, Sheffield, Granderson, Ordonez, etc. However, this is another team thats aging. If they can stay healthy, I can see them dominating. If they can't stay healthy, well then the Red Sox are always an option as a World Series winner.

2. Cleveland Indians - I like the Indians a lot, but not enough anymore to pick them to win their division. However their pitching (Sabathia, Carmona, Westbrook, Byrd) is still dominant, their relievers are above average (Betancourt), and their hitting is very good (Hafner, Peralta, Sizemore, Martinez).

3. Chicago White Sox - I don't know what happened to this team. They used to be incredible. Now their only good batters are Dye, Konerko, and Thome. Everyone else is mediocre or below average. Their bullpen is still great (Jenks, Dotel) and their starters are pretty good (Vazquez, Buehrle, Contreras).

4. Minnesota Twins - Instead of two amazing pitchers, the Twins only have Liriano and even he is unpredictable since he hasn't pitched in awhile. Their bullpen is mediocre and other than Morneau, the rest of their bats is just as average as their pitching.

5. Kansas City Royals - Until this team ever gives anyone a reason to believe in them, I will always list this team as last. Meche, Bannister, and Greinke are consistently bad pitchers, I haven't got a clue who anyone is in their bullpen, and their batters just make you say ew.

AL West

1. Los Angeles Angels - Lackey, Garland, Weaver, and Santana can compete with other rotations and Rodriguez is just as good a closer as anyone. Combine that with the bats of Figgins, Anderson, Hunter, Matthews, and Guerrero and they have no reason why they shouldn't win their division.

2. Seattle Mariners - Bedrard, Washburn, and Silva give the Mariners a chance at matching up to other rotations, though their bullpen needs some work. Their hitting (Sexson, Johjima, Betancourt, Beltre, and Suzuki) is superb and may give the Angels a run for their money.

3. Texas Rangers - Millwood, Padilla, and Jennings are decent starters, but like the Mariners, they could spruce up their bullpen. However, unlike the Mariners, their hitting needs work, with only Young and Bradley as highlights.

4. Oakland Athletics - Street is a great closer and Blanton and Harden are OK pitchers, but that's really it for this team. I can't even write about this team's hitting because I don't know any batters except for Chavez and Crosby.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Jason Kidd Is Officialy On The Dallas Mavericks

"It's done," Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told via e-mail. "J-Kidd is a Mav."

The last proposed version of the deal that had been swirling for about a week had Kidd and New Jersey Nets teammate Malik Allen going to Dallas for 24-year-old point guard Devin Harris, center DeSagana Diop, swingman Trenton Hassell, guard Maurice Ager, Keith Van Horn via sign-and-trade, first-round picks this June and in 2010 and $3 million in cash.

Keith Van Horn will most likely not play. In fact, he hasn't played in over two years. However, his name was still on the roster and is perfect trade bait as a means to cheat the system. Still, he's useless. It would make no difference if the Mavericks shipped a manikin or Keith Van Horn in the plane to New Jersey.

Zach Thomas To Join The New England Patriots?

In a previous article I wrote called Bill Parcells Went Too Far In Releasing Zach Thomas,
I said "Watch the New England Patriots gobble this guy up. They don't care about age, they just care about being the best. After all, they did pick up Junior Seau at one point last season."

Well, sure enough, I was right. Always looking to turn another team's castoffs into their stars, those sneaky New England Patriots offered newly released and longtime Dolphins linebacker Zach Thomas a contract Monday, according to a published report.

Why did they offer Zach Thomas a contract? Because he is one of the best and of course only the best play on the Patriots, regardless of age. Of course, we all know where the best gets you.....

Thomas made New England the first destination on his offseason tour of free agency stops.

"We had a great visit in New England," Thomas' agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told The Miami Herald in a text message Monday evening. "They offered him a contract and we will continue negotiations."

Next up for Thomas is a stop in New Orleans to visit with the Saints. On Wednesday, Thomas is expected to meet with the Cowboys.

Thomas, 34, was released by the Dolphins on Feb. 14 after playing in only five games in 2007. He missed most of last season because of concussions and migraines and was placed on injured reserve against his wishes in December because of nagging migraines, an after-effect of an Oct. 21 car crash.

Thomas' age doesn't appear to be an issue for the Patriots. Current New England linebacker Junior Seau is 39 while Tedy Bruschi is three months older than Thomas. Both Seau and Bruschi are free agents.

Thomas, a seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker and one of the most popular and productive players ever to wear a Dolphins uniform, was the 154th player chosen in the 1996 draft out of Texas Tech.

Thomas led the Dolphins in tackles 10 times during his 12-year stay in South Florida and is the franchise's all-time leader in that category by a wide margin. His 168 games is the most by any Miami defensive player.

Thomas was remarkably durable in his first 11 seasons, missing only 13 games, and recorded a career-best 165 tackles in 2006 -- an indication he wasn't exactly slowing down.

Miguel Tejada Welcomed Into The Houston Astros Training Camp

With the absence of players like Craig Biggio and Brad Lidge, the Houston Astros need a big, powerful bat in the middle of their lineup and someone who could be a team leader.

Tejada hit .296 with 18 homers and 81 RBIs in 2007. He's an offensive upgrade from previous shortstop Adam Everett, who batted .232 last season and was signed by Minnesota after Houston didn't pick up his contract.

The Astros stand by the acquisition of Tejada, despite the steroid allegations now hanging over him.

"I still think it was the right decision," owner Drayton McLane said.

And that's exactly how it should be! Screw the whole steroid controversy. Its annoying now. All of a sudden the players we once loved should be hated and labeled as cheaters just because they took something that would improve the game and most important of all, put on a show for their fans. Oh, please. Miguel Tejada is a still a great player and the best shortstop in the league, with or without steroids. By the way, I'm not an Astros fan.

Tejada arrived at camp at 7 a.m. Tuesday, the day all position players were due to report. He left the complex within five minutes to go to take a physical at another location.

As media gathered around his locker, Tejada shook hands with his new teammates, chatting with the ones who spoke Spanish.

He was going to sit down with manager Cecil Cooper and general manager Ed Wade before his first workout. Cooper said he wasn't going to bring up the steroid allegations in their first meeting.

"We'll talk about baseball things," Cooper said. "That's all I care about. That's all we should all be focused on at this point in time."

Cooper wasn't concerned about how Tejada would be perceived in the clubhouse.

"From what I hear, Miguel is a terrific guy," Cooper said. "I'm sure his teammates are going to hook onto him and they're going to get along well. If there's a problem in there, I'll deal with it. But there won't be a problem."

Andy Pettitte Goes Public Before Spring Training

Andy Pettitte repeated his apologies over and over again, saying he had embarrassed himself and set a terrible example.

This article from ESPN describes how Andy Pettitte's scared, timid nature made him repeatedly apologize for the HGH incident:

Whether he upset Roger Clemens is anyone's guess. They haven't spoken in more than a month, since Pettitte corroborated allegations of drug use against the seven-time Cy Young Award winner.

"Obviously it's put a strain, I think, on our friendship," Pettitte said Monday. "I love him like a brother."

On the day he reported to spring training with the New York Yankees, the pitcher faced reporters for the first time since the Mitchell report was released in December and revealed accusations Pettitte had used human growth hormone. He patiently spent 55½ minutes explaining what he had done and why he did it.

"I felt like I need to come out, be forward with this," Pettitte said. "Whatever circumstances or repercussions come with it, I'll take and I'll take like a man and I'll try to do my job."

Other athletes have ducked tough questions about allegations of drug use, using evasions and nonspecific replies. Pettitte admitted his mistakes and several times patiently asked reporters, "Did I answer your question?"

Wearing a dark polo shirt and jeans, and flanked by manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman, Pettitte had a hint of the shadow on his face that he's shown on the mound during so many postseason games. He seemed skittish at the start as he read from notes.

"I want to apologize to the New York Yankees' and to the Houston Astros' organizations and to their fans and to all my teammates and to all of baseball fans for the embarrassment I have caused them," he said. "I also want to tell anyone that is an Andy Pettitte fan I am sorry, especially any kids that might look up to me."

He said he was a "nervous wreck" and "scared to death" before the news conference, held under a tent behind the third-base side of Legends Field. He relaxed after a few minutes and went into far greater detail than most accused athletes have about their transgressions.

Off to his right, sitting in a row, were Yankees teammates Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada, friends for a decade who have shared numerous World Series titles.

"We've been through a lot of tough times in baseball. Why not support him?" Rivera said. "I consider Andy my friend. I'm glad I was there."

When it was over Jeter and Pettitte wrapped their arms around in each other in a hug.

"I know that once I have this press conference and talk to everybody about this and share everything with you, I think the truth will set you free," Pettitte said. "I think I'm going to be able to sleep a lot better at night once all this gets by."

Brian McNamee, the former personal trainer to Pettitte and Clemens, said in the Mitchell report that Pettitte used HGH in 2002 while with the Yankees. Two days after the report was released Dec. 13, Pettitte issued a statement through his agent confirming McNamee's account and saying that was the only time he used HGH.

In a deposition and an affidavit to a congressional committee two weeks ago, Pettitte said he injected himself with HGH for one day in 2004 while with the Astros after obtaining two syringes from his father.

"I am sorry for not telling the whole truth in my original statement," Pettitte said. "I never wanted to bring my dad into a situation like this. This was between me and him, and no one else. I testified about my dad in part because I felt in my heart I had to, but mainly because he urged me to tell the truth, even if it hurt him."

Pettitte said there were no other times he used performance-enhancing drugs.

"That's it. There are no other surprises out there," he said. "That's all there is and anything that would come up would be definitely false allegations."

McNamee said he injected Clemens with steroids and HGH at least 16 times from 1998-01, and all three were among those called before a congressional committee. Pettitte told Congress that Clemens had discussed nearly a decade ago using HGH. In addition, Pettitte testified McNamee, the former personal trainer for Clemens and Pettitte, had spoken in 2003 or 2004 about steroids use by Clemens.

Clemens claims Pettitte "misremembers."

"I'm just not going to go there," Pettitte said. "I've had to testify under oath. So has Roger. And, you know, I don't think that's anything I need to sit here and try to elaborate on with anyone else."

Pettitte said on the flight to Washington for his deposition, his wife handed him a Bible and told him to read Romans 13 for inspiration, a section that begins: "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities."

He "prayed awfully hard" to be dropped from testifying at last Wednesday's hearing, not wanting to be caught between two friends. Pettitte was excused from testifying in public alongside Clemens and McNamee, and didn't watch the hearing.

Pettitte realizes he may have to testify again, either in Clemens' defamation suit against McNamee or if the Justice Department launches a criminal case against Clemens or McNamee.

"He can't put this behind him because of Roger's selfishness and inability to admit the facts," Richard Emery, one of McNamee's lawyers, said in a telephone interview. "Clemens is putting Andy in the middle of a meatgrinder again. He's doing to have to testify again in a deposition, probably this summer, and it's going to be far more extensive than anything Congress did. He is the key witness."

Joe Householder, Clemens' spokesman, declined comment.

Given permission to report four days after other pitchers on the team, Pettitte threw 35 pitches during a bullpen session at the minor league complex before the news conference. He acknowledged he had considered not playing because of the ongoing situation. Pettitte had agreed to return to the Yankees on Dec. 2, a few days before he learned McNamee had implicated him.

Pettitte plans to apologize to his teammates. He met with George Steinbrenner and the owner's sons, Hank and Hal, before facing reporters.

"I just wanted to tell them face to face that I'm sorry and apologize to him, you know, for the embarrassment that this has brought," Pettitte said. "He was a little stubborn in accepting my apology and said that he's behind me 100 percent, tried to tell me that I haven't brought any embarrassment to the organization. But I disagree with him a little on that."

The 35-year-old lefty with 201 regular-season wins and four World Series championship rings said he did not feel as if his accomplishments were tainted. He said he used HGH only because he felt pressure to pitch while injured because of his multimillion salary and thought HGH might help his elbow heal.

"I didn't do it to try to get an edge on anyone. I didn't do it to try to get stronger or faster or throw harder. I did it because I was that it might be able to help me," he said.

HGH wasn't banned by baseball until January 2005, so Pettitte does not appear to be at risk of a suspension. He said he would not have taken HGH had it been banned at the time.

"Was it stupid? Yeah, it was stupid. Was I desperate? Yeah, I was probably desperate," he said. "I wish I never would have done it, obviously, but I don't consider myself a cheater, no."

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Results Of Nascar's Daytona 500

Race Results
1Ryan Newman12Dodge200
2Kurt Busch2Dodge200
3Tony Stewart20Toyota200
4Kyle Busch18Toyota200
5Reed Sorenson41Dodge200
6Elliott Sadler19Dodge200
7Kasey Kahne9Dodge200
8Robby Gordon7Dodge200
9Dale Earnhardt Jr.88Chevrolet200
10Greg Biffle16Ford200
11Bobby Labonte43Dodge200
12Brian Vickers83Toyota200
13Jeff Burton31Chevrolet200
14Kevin Harvick29Chevrolet200
15Sam Hornish Jr77Dodge200
16Dale Jarrett44Toyota200
17Denny Hamlin11Toyota200
18David Reutimann00Toyota200
19Carl Edwards99Ford200
20Martin Truex Jr.1Chevrolet200
21Scott Riggs66Chevrolet200
22Paul Menard15Chevrolet200
23Jeremy Mayfield70Chevrolet200
24Clint Bowyer07Chevrolet200
25J.J. Yeley96Toyota200
26Jamie McMurray26Ford200
27Jimmie Johnson48Chevrolet200
28David Gilliland38Ford200
29Michael Waltrip55Toyota200
30Travis Kvapil28Ford200
31Mark Martin8Chevrolet200
32Juan Pablo Montoya42Dodge200
33Dario Franchitti40Dodge199
34Kyle Petty45Dodge197
35Matt Kenseth17Ford194
36Regan Smith01Chevrolet194
37Casey Mears5Chevrolet194
38Dave Blaney22Toyota189
39Jeff Gordon24Chevrolet186
40John Andretti34Chevrolet184
41Joe Nemechek78Chevrolet171
42David Ragan6Ford161
43Kenny Wallace87Chevrolet141

Dwight "Superman" Howard Wins The Memorable 2008 Slam Dunk Contest

Sporting a red cape trailing behind him, Orlando's man of steel Dwight Howard made like Superman and won perhaps the best dunk contest, definitely the most creative, in NBA history to close a memorable All-Star Saturday.

This guy is just a beast. The pure size of him makes it impossible for anyone to match up. Shaquille O'Neal who?

They Are Big Dunkers

Orlando's Dwight Howard stood tall in the Slam Dunk Contest on Saturday night by winning the event. Howard also became the tallest player to take the title since the contest started in 1984.

Tallest Slam Dunk Champions
Year Winner (team) Height
2008 Dwight Howard (Magic) 6-11
1984 Larry Nance (Suns) 6-10
2005 Josh Smith (Hawks) 6-9
2007 Gerald Green (Celtics) 6-8
1989 Kenny Walker (Knicks) 6-8

Using a variety of props as well as teammate Jameer Nelson, Howard scored perfect 50s from judges on his first two dunks before the contest was turned over to fan voting for the first time in the final round.

Fans, too, picked the 6-foot-11 Howard, who dispelled an old dunking myth: Big men can fly high.

"It's really for the big men," Howard said. "Everybody always says, big men can't jump and big men don't look good dunking. I just tried to add a little bit of my personality. With me being so tall, I knew it was going to be tough. I tried to play to the crowd and have fun."

I don't remember anyone ever saying that.

The dunk contest, bland for so many years as the game's high risers seemed to run out of ideas, was freshened up by some of the most creative aerial assaults in memory.

Howard, Green, Toronto's Jamario Moon and Memphis' Rudy Gay all used tape, ladders, teammates and even a tasty dessert to show their stuff.

"I think the dunk contest is back," said Howard, who was disappointed when he failed to make it out of the first round last year. "I don't think people want to see the same old dunks. They want to see something else, see some spice."

Earlier, Jason Kapono showed nobody's close to him from long distance.

The NBA's best 3-point shooter this season, the Toronto forward with the silky touch won his second straight 3-point Shootout, tying a 22-year-old record with a final round of 25.

They should have blindfolded this guy. That's how good of a shooter he is. It just wasn't fair.

In the Skills Challenge, Utah's Deron Williams was flawless and fast.

With a nearly perfect run through an obstacle course of dribbling, passing and shooting, the Jazz point guard defeated New Orleans playmaker Chris Paul in the final round.

In the night's first event, San Antonio's Becky Hammon, David Robinson and Tim Duncan won the Shooting Stars competition. It featured three-person teams consisting of an NBA player, a WNBA player and a former NBA great from the same city. Contestants had to make six shots with the final one a heave from midcourt.

Pavlik Remains Perfect After A Unanimous Decision In His Rematch With Taylor

Jermain Taylor started well this time but could not keep Kelly Pavlik's pace. The methodical middleweight champ wore down Taylor again and won a unanimous decision. Patience is among the middleweight champion's greatest virtues and a key strategy in his win.

Pavlik waited seven years for his first title shot against Jermain Taylor last year, and didn't waste it. In the rematch Saturday night, Pavlik persisted until the late rounds, when he finally landed the big punches that kept him perfect.

With a strong finish to a bout with more tactics than theatrics, the pride of Youngstown, Ohio, beat Taylor on Saturday night for the second time in 4½ months, winning a unanimous decision.

Pavlik (33-0, 29 KOs) failed to knock out his opponent for the first time in his last 10 fights, but he threw far more punches and landed more memorable exchanges. Taylor (27-2-1) came up just short on all three judges' scorecards despite a markedly improved performance after getting his first career loss in their initial bout.

The fight could have gone either way until the 10th round, with both fighters using canny strategy to minimize their opponents' strengths. Pavlik finished tremendously, staggering Taylor in the 11th with the power that makes him a knockout artist -- but also the skill that could keep him on top for years to come.

Kelly Pavlik and Jermain Taylor

Tony Stewart Can Run His Car Just As Good As His Mouth

The payback was perfect. Tony Stewart turned the tables on Hendrick Motorsports to win the Nationwide Series opener.

Stewart and teammate Kyle Busch finished 1-2 Saturday, combining to hold off Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished third.

The Joe Gibbs Racing teammates showed they have learned some important lessons about cooperation from the drivers at Hendrick, the team that fired Busch to make room for Earnhardt Jr.

"We worked with each other the whole race. That's something that, you know, we've learned that from [those] guys," Stewart said. "And it just shows if you get two of these guys to work with each other, Kyle and I can. I think Kyle and I could have stayed up front all day no matter how many guys challenged."

That will be tested in the 500 and the expected showdown between Hendrick and Gibbs.

It will be Stewart, Busch and Denny Hamlin, who won his Daytona qualifying race Thursday, against Hendrick's all-star cast of Earnhardt, two-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon and Casey Mears.

Earnhardt, Daytona pole-winner Johnson and Gordon are all former 500 winners. Gibbs' drivers still are looking for that first win in NASCAR's biggest event.

But Earnhardt Jr.'s convinced Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing are for real.

"The Toyota has been fast," said Junior, who had his string of Speedweeks victories ended at two. "Those guys, you know, got knowledge to get cars around the track, know how to get to Victory Lane. They're going to be tough, I think, all year."

Joe Gibbs Racing switched from Chevrolets to Toyotas over the winter, giving the Japanese automaker a marquee team for its second season on the Sprint Cup and Nationwide circuits.

Stewart and Busch put on a good show Saturday, leading 93 of the 120 laps.

"This car was just fast," said Stewart, who finished second in both the Budweiser Shootout and his 150-mile qualifying race earlier in Daytona's Speedweeks. "It just had so much speed."

The Sacramento Kings Trade Away Mike Bibby For Four Players

I don't understand this one. Mike Bibby is good, but is he worth FOUR players? You normally associate trading four players for someone like Kobe Bryant or Lebron James, but not for Mike Bibby. The Atlanta Falcons obviously aren't thinking straight, or are they?

The Atlanta Hawks are trying to balance out their backcourt and make a playoff push by bringing in Mike Bibby.

Hawks coach Mike Woodson said Bibby, acquired from the Sacramento Kings for four players on Saturday, will provide scoring help for Joe Johnson. Atlanta's All-Star shooting guard often faces gimmick defenses because he's the team's only outside shooting threat.

Bibby has averaged 16.7 points for his career and is making more than 36 percent of his 3-point shots for the ninth straight year.

The Hawks sent starting point guard Anthony Johnson, 2007 first-round pick Shelden Williams, backup point guard Tyronn Lue, veteran forward Lorenzen Wright and a 2008 second-round pick to the Kings.

The Hawks, in ninth place in the Eastern Conference and percentage points behind the eighth and final playoff spot, are trying to make the postseason for the first time since 1999.

Woodson and Michael Gearon Jr., one of the team's owners, were pleased the team did not have to touch its core of promising young players to acquire Bibby.

Actually, the Hawks aren't looking that bad now. Al Horford and Zaza [Pachulia] are good. I've always liked Joe Johnson (especially when he was on the Suns) and now throw in Mike Bibby, who can hit three pointers as good as any player into the mix.

....I hope they have fun playing the Boston Celtics or Detroit Pistons in the first round.

Friday, February 15, 2008

News That Would Devastate Michael Vick

The Atlanta Falcons continued their franchise makeover in earnest on Friday, releasing tight end Alge Crumpler, quarterback Byron Leftwich, offensive tackle Wayne Gandy, cornerback Lewis Sanders, wide receiver Jamin Elliott, linebacker Marcus Wilkins and defensive tackle Rod Coleman.

"This is a difficult day for the entire organization," Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff said in a statement. "A number of these players have contributed to this organization on and off the field at a high level and we greatly appreciate their efforts. These decisions weren't easy, but we felt they were necessary to build a team in the long-term best interest of the Falcons and its fans."

I just don't understand why teams have been releasing their best players lately. Michael Vick's favorite receiver, and arguably the team's best receiver, Alge Crumpler was released. Why would you get rid of your best receiver? It makes no sense. What are they thinking?

Crumpler, who just completed his seventh season, all with Atlanta, has 316 career catches for 4,212 yards and 35 touchdowns. He had been with the team since 2001 and was selected to five Pro Bowls.

Leftwich, formerly a starter for the Jacksonville Jaguars, was acquired by the Falcons during the season after the Jaguars released him in order to go with David Garrard. He alternated with Joey Harrington as the Falcons' starter last season.

"As a football coach it is never easy to cut any player, especially veteran players who have been valuable members of the organization," said new coach Mike Smith, who was hired last month.

That's probably why Alge Crumpler was released....because the Atlanta Falcons just got a brand new head coach who feels no sympathy or understanding in getting rid of players who he has no prior connection with. And that whole it is never easy to cut players thing is just a cover up. He doesn't mean it.

From all indications, the shake-up isn't done. Veterans such as Warrick Dunn and Lawyer Milloy could become victims of the cap, though they weren't included in the original round of cuts.

Oh, and I'd take Leftwich over Harrington any day

Falcons Release Players In Rebuilding Broken Team

The Atlanta Falcons released four-time Pro Bowl tight end Alge Crumpler and six other players today. The Falcons also cut quarterback Byron Leftwich, defensive tackle Rod Coleman, offensive tackle Wayne Gandy, cornerback Lewis Sanders, wide receiver Jamin Elliott, and linebacker Marcus Wilkins. Many of these cuts were made to open up funds that the Falcons believe could be better spent on new, fresh players. All of these cuts were made after a failure of a season by Atlanta, who finished 4-12. The largest single reason for the Falcons' failure and their current personel upheavel can be said in one word: dogfighting. Yes, Michael Vick, the Falcons' ex-most prominent player, pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting charges and received a prison sentence of nearly two years last year. This loss severely hurt the Falcons' offense, which never recovered during the season. To hurt Atlanta even more, a federal judge ruled this month that the team couldn't recover $16.5 million in bonuses from Vick and other dropped players. This places more strain on the Falcons' salary cap, preventing them from picking up desperately needed players. This pressure on Atlanta's salary cap is fueling the personel cuts that are now roiling the team. From all indications, the shake up isn't over yet. Other players such as veterans Warrick Dunn and Lawyer Milloy could be released due to the salary cap. All this is bad news for Atlanta. One wonders how they are going to replace such key and important players. What are they going to do? Fill the roster with rookies and free agents? With all these changes going on, it seems as if that's all there will be in Atlanta. Rookies. Not such a bad thing, but veterans are needed to show these green players the ropes. The Falcons should definately reconsider the massive renovations they are currently undertaking. Cleaning out the team's closet of all seasoned, skilled, veterans is like destroying the cornerstone or foundation of a towering building. Just like the foundationless building, a team of rookies will collapse without any solid veteran guidance or support. Next season will be a bad one for Atlanta.

How Long Will Kobe Bryant's Torn Ligament Keep Him From Playing?

Long enough to miss Sunday's All-Star Game, or at least that's what the Los Angeles Lakers are hoping.

The Los Angeles Lakers are hoping that Kobe Bryant gets clearance from the league to miss Sunday's All-Star Game in New Orleans after announcing Thursday that Bryant has a torn ligament in his right pinkie.

But Bryant doesn't yet have that clearance.....and may not get it.

A league official confirmed Thursday night that the NBA is not looking for potential replacements to fill Bryant's spot on the Western Conference squad. That's because the league office still expects Bryant to start and play for the West, even if it's only for a brief cameo, after he played for the Lakers all the way through to their final game before the All-Star break Wednesday in Minnesota.

Bryant scored 29 points in 35 minutes in Wednesday's 117-92 win at Minnesota. Bryant sat out the fourth quarter and had the finger X-rayed after the game.

The Lakers, according to team sources, are trying to convince the league that Bryant should be excused after a visit Thursday to hand specialist Dr. Steven Shin revealed a ligament tear. Bryant is expected to make that plea personally once he arrives in New Orleans on Friday after Shin recommend that Bryant undergo surgery that would likely sideline him for six weeks.

Bryant also announced in a statement Thursday that he will bypass the surgery recommendation to try to play through the injury, as he did for much of a nine-game, 15-day road trip that the Lakers -- already missing injured center Andrew Bynum -- just completed with a sparkling 7-2 record.

He has been replaced in Saturday's Long Distance Shootout by Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki, but the NBA's longstanding policy on these matters would require Bryant to take some part Sunday because he did play Wednesday and since he's planning to play Tuesday against Atlanta in the Lakers' first game after the break.

That makes sense, and yet it doesn't. Though it may be disrespectful to fans and other players, he has a right to rest in what is ultimately a meaningless game of fun. However, if Kobe did play his final game before the All-Star game and he will play his first game after the All-Star game, then technically he is saying he is healthy enough to participate in any games inbetween those two.

Roger Clemens' Congressional Hearing Was Unfair And Here's The Quote Of The Day

Watching the congressional hearing of Roger Clemens Vs. Brian McNamee really drove me to dislike our government. I mean, where do they get these people from. Doesn't our government have enough already to take care of? As an aside, I noticed from the Clemens hearings that a lot of Congressmen are bitter, old men who almost all the time already have their minds made up before cases begin and when they question people, they are only looking for the answers they want to hear. If the Congressmen don't hear answers they want to hear, they either probe further or just randomly come out with their own point of view. Just because they have more power and a louder voice doesn't mean they are any more credible.

Well, my radical thinking was once again not far from the truth (and I don't mean to pat myself on the back).

In the Roger Clemens primary, the Republicans nominated the Rocket. The Democrats went with Brian McNamee.

"Of all the things to become partisan over," Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, said Thursday, "this was the wrong one."

Cummings was among those who strongly questioned Clemens' credibility in testimony involving the pitcher's former personal trainer, Brian McNamee, during Wednesday's 4½-hour hearing held by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Republicans, for the most part, saved their searing comments for McNamee, who was repeatedly called a "drug dealer" by Rep. Christopher Shays of Connecticut.

"I thought the tone of the hearing was a little askew," said Rep. Diane Watson, a California Democrat. "I told Mr. Clemens that I didn't think it was going to be a court trial or an inquisition, but I think some of the members did go out of their way to be accusatory without having all of the facts.

"It is hard for me to discern who was not telling the truth and who was. Both men denied the other one's claim. I saw the questioning kind of divided, with some on the Republican side calling Mr. McNamee a liar and some on the Democratic side really questioning Clemens, and so I don't think we got anywhere on that."

Theories abounded over why the sides couldn't see eye to eye.

Richard Emery, one of McNamee's lawyers, said that some Republicans treated his client harshly because of Clemens' friendship with the Bush family. Emery predicted the pitcher will be pardoned by President Bush should Clemens be indicted or convicted of anything related to the hearing.

"It would be the easiest thing in the world for George W. Bush, given the corrupt proclivities of his administration, to say Roger Clemens is an American hero, Roger Clemens helped children," said Emery, an attorney who has worked for liberal causes. "It's my belief they have some reason to believe they can get a pardon."

Now, this site is primarily a sports site, not a political site. So, this is where I SHOULD stop, but there's more to say. However, you get what I'm saying? This case has gotten so absurd now even the President of the United States is thrown into the mix. Have people forgotten this is about baseball, not a political campaign? Anyway....

Not surprisingly, Clemens' camp -- and the GOP -- saw things differently.

"Richard Emery just has to quit smoking his own dope," said Rusty Hardin, one of Clemens' attorneys.

Andrew Marchand of ESPN 1050 in New York also reports that Clemens plans on continuing with his defamation suit against McNamee.

"Absolutely, the defamation is going forward," Joe Householder, the spokesman for Clemens' lawyer, Rusty Hardin. "The lawsuit is going forward."

As for a pardon from a president? "I'm not aware of Mr. Clemens having been charged with anything," White House deputy press secretary Tony Fratto said.

A spokesman for Rep. Darrell Issa of California said the hearing's partisan tone evolved because Republican members felt the hearing was overly focused on Clemens instead of the broader concerns raised in the Mitchell report on drugs in baseball.

"It's clear Democrats had expected a government-funded, TV show trial, and now they're whining that Republicans didn't want to play," said the spokesman, Frederick Hill. "The hearing was supposed to be about the Mitchell report. The Democrats are at fault for focusing on individual wrongdoing instead of the validity of the Mitchell report."

Said Issa: "We're not supposed to have these kinds of spectacles."

The ramifications from Wednesday's hearing might not be known a while. McNamee said he injected Clemens with steroids and human growth hormone. Clemens said he has never used either. Since both were under oath, one or both could face charges stemming from making false statements or obstructing.

"It's all hearsay. Everybody is all pointing fingers," San Francisco Giants reliever Steve Kline said of Clemens. "I pity the guy. Half the guys admitted it and they're not getting persecuted. It's just bad for baseball. Who cares about what happened in 1987? It's over. Who cares about Congress? We've got gasoline prices that are off the charts and they're worried about steroids. Maybe this gets people's minds off the war. Everybody's got skeletons in their closet. If you did it, admit it. If he didn't do it, I see why he's fighting his [tail] off," he said.

Perhaps Steve Kline should run for politics. That's the smartest thing anyone has said during this entire episode and because of that, he deserves my pick for quote of the day.