Category Archives: Sports

Texas football finishes successful first season with Charlie Strong at the helm

In my opinion, Charlie Strong’s first year as the Longhorns head football coach was a successful one for two reasons: First, they won enough games to get into a bowl game. That’s very important, not just for recruiting status but for the extra practice time.

And second, they beat Oklahoma State. For my money, beating the Cowboys is much more important than beating the Sooners or anyone else, because I despise Mike Gundy and T. Boone Pickens.

Yeah, it’s personal.

Back to the first reason — I didn’t think Texas would win six games this year. I didn’t think they would beat Oklahoma State or even West Virginia. Not after trimming the team of its talented malcontents.

Because make no mistake about it, some talented players got thrown off the team or quit on their own volition. Maybe he lacked Strong’s core values, but Joe Bergeron is a talented running back as is Jalen Overstreet, who was also bounced from the team. And offensive tackle Kennedy Estelle looked good in the win over North Texas before he was asked to leave, too.

Of course the biggest loss was quarterback David Ash, who retired from football after suffering yet another concussion — his third within a year. According to reports from Burnt Orange Nation’s website, Ash still suffers symptoms from those concussions.

Concussions are a bruise on the brain and nothing to be trifled with.

With Ash out, the Longhorns turned to quarterback Tyrone Swoopes. The 6-4, 240 pound QB passed for more than 2,000 yards this year and ran for 233, but played inconsistently — to say the least. Against OK State, he threw 24 completions with 33 attempts, but against West Virginia he managed only 11-for-29. Amazingly, the Longhorns beat the Mountaineers, but you can thank the defense for that.

You can pretty much thank the defense for getting the Horns into a bowl game, for that matter. Led by junior defensive end Malcom Brown, the defense held Texas Tech to 13 points, West Virginia to 16 and Oklahoma State to seven. The only time all year the offense bailed out the defense was in the 48-45 win over Iowa State.

And of course TCU thumped the Longhorns 48-10, but who couldn’t see that coming? That is, besides everyone at 1300 The Zone in Austin, TX.

The Longhorns finished 6-6 overall, 5-4 in conference play. They’ll be named to a bowl game soon, and winning that bowl game would definitely be a bonus for recruiting purposes and give Strong a winning season in his first year as coach.

So going forward, the Longhorns still need to find its groove on offense, but the defense and special teams play should continue to be solid in 2015.

Anybody want to play quarterback?

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Pay the Panda, please pay the Panda

For me, this third SF Giants World Series win was the sweetest. When they won in 2010, I wasn’t familiar with the team and still pissed Bonds was gone. In 2012, I knew the team, but I was recovering from heart surgery. That put a bit of a damper on things.

But this year, the 2014 Series, I knew most of the players and the ones I didn’t — such as second baseman Joe Panick and newly-minted left fielder Travis Ishikawa — I was more than happy to get to know. Nothing like an 18-inning game to catch up on the new guys.

Here’s what I loved about the Series:

— The Giants got in with a walk-off home run by Ishikawa and nearly turned Joe Buck into Russ Hodges. But Joe left it at only one refrain of “The Giants win the pennant.”

— Two evenly-matched teams featuring clutch hitting, an ace on each side, an old pitcher on each side, and two overpowering bullpens.

— A game seven.

And what a  game seven it was. The Giants led early, earning two runs in the second, but starter Tim Hudson got chased in the bottom half as the Kansas City Royals tie it at 2. Then the Giants eked out a run on a broken bat single by Michael Morse in the fourth, who plated two of the three Giants RBI.

That would conclude the night’s scoring. Here’s the amazing part — the final five innings were riveting. I could not take my eyes off the TV, because Bruce Bochy rolled the dice and brought in Madison Bumgarner in relief on two days’ rest.

Sounds boring, wasn’t at all.

So pay the Panda, who became an unrestricted free agent the day after game seven. He’s part of the team’s winning nucleus, along with Bumgarner, Hunter Pence, Buster Posey, Joe Panick, Matt Cain (who was injured during the Series and did not play) and Tim Lincecum (who I haven’t given up on).

Pay the Panda. They may not win another championship, but trust me. You’re gonna wanna see those Panda heads in the stands.
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Notes:

— Could the Dallas Cowboys once again finish with an 8-8 record for the fourth year in a row? Do these choke artists possess this kind of artistry? We will see. Today’s game against the Cardinals wasn’t easy, and I doubt they would have won even with Tony Romo in the lineup. But they lost against the Washington Skins with Colt McCoy at the helm and Romo in the game. Looks like the beginning of a choke to me.

— What’s that odd harmonica-like sound in the background of the crowd noise? I heard it during the World Series and the NLCS. Hear it during some college football games, too. Maybe it’s just the sound of my old tube TV dying.

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Musings of a shameless homer

As a sports writer, I’m not always a homer. It really depends if my team’s involved or not. Especially if they’re winning. Why should I be any better than Charlie Sheen?

Last night’s Giants’ game was amazing. Shades of Bobby Thompson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World,” not that I’m old enough to remember that. But I’ve seen the film.

Here are four reasons why this year’s version is my favorite Giants team of the new millennium (whether they win the World Series or not):

1) I know who the major players are. In 2010, Posey, the Panda and that longhaired pitcher Tim Lincecum were all new to me. The only players I was familiar with were Barry Zito and Brian Wilson. Even then, I only knew about Brian Wilson because everyone in the world did, thanks to that odd beard.

And who the hell is Bruce Bochy? I thought he managed the Padres?

Sure, I knew Posey, Lincecum and the Panda in 2012, but I still wasn’t familiar with Hunter Pence. He’s on the Astros, right? Is he any good?

2) The 18-inning game against the Washington Nationals — along with an iPad — gave me time to catch up with the entire 2014 roster. Did you know Brett Bochy, Bruce Bochy’s son, is on the Giants’ inactive roster? And Travis Ishikawa made his major league debut with the Giants in 2006, and even won a World Series ring with the team in 2010 before being sent down to the minors a year later. After a stint with the Brewers, he came up to the majors again with Pittsburgh this year, but was released again before resigning with the Giants in April.

Oh, and in the last three games of the 2014 regular season, Ishikawa was moved from first base to left field. Just in time for the playoffs. Wonder if that’ll work out?

3) Game four of the NLCS series. Especially the sixth inning. Amazing. Best game I saw all year until …

4) Game five of the NLCS series. Improbably, Ishikawa hits a walk-off home run. There are five home runs in the game, three by the Giants, two by St. Louis. Despite all that offense, the game was largely a pitchers’ duel between San Fran’s Madison Bumgarner and Adam Wainright of the Cardinals.

I don’t know what’s going to happen in the World Series, but I love this team.

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• • •

Of course, like most true baseball fans, I’m happy to see the long-suffering Kansas City Royals make it to the big stage.

Besides, back in the ’70s I used to hang out with a guy whose brother was on the Royals. A big blond carpenter who stood about 6-2, lived in El Segundo and looked like he could knock a ball out of the park himself (in fact, he did play some minor league ball). What was his name again?

Oh, I remember now. John Brett. No shit.

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Wed Wiver Wivalry is for wosers

Amazing.

The local media — specifically some unheralded writer in the sports pages of the Austin American-Statesman — got it right. We should no longer call the football game between Texas and Oklahoma the Red River Rivalry. We should call it the Red River Showdown.

I hate that name, Red River Rivalry, hate it. It’s not fair to make everybody talk like Elmer Fudd. So Showdown it is.

That is, unless we want to grow up and call it the Red River Shootout once again. What the hell’s wrong with that? It’s not like it’s called First, We Kill All The Redskins.

Whoa, whoa, Tex. Settle down. Little over the top there.

The Red River Shootout suggests a game with a lot of passing to me, not a game where linebackers sport Uzis. What’s wrong with people?

That said, if we want a modern politically-correct name, I have other suggestions.

— Texas OK Chainsaw Massacre (Oklahoma leads 9 to 5 since the year 2000)
— Red Neck Rivalry (at least I can say it)
— Like a Dallas Game, But Better (speaks for itself)

And my personal favorite,

— Crackers At The State Fair

It’s not my favorite Longhorns game, you know. I prefer Texas v. Oklahoma State (because I hate Mike Gundy and T Boone Pickens) or Texas v. Texas Tech (because I always like to watch Tech play). Last year, I slept through the Texas-OU game. Sorry. If you want me to cover it, put it on later in the day or at night like satan intended.

At any rate, if I can’t cover the game, at least let me pronounce it correctly.

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The return of the Killer P’s

Wait, what?

I guess I meant it’s the return of the killer bees. I mean Killer B’s, as in Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio and some other guys whose first or last name started with B back in the ’90s. Back in the day.

Look. I live in Texas. I may not be an Astros fan, but I get who the Killer Bees were.

But tonight, after the Giants defeated the D.C. Nats to gain a berth against the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS, a fan held up a sign that read, simply, “The Killer P’s.”

Wait, what?

Are the San Francisco Giants the Killer P’s? Let’s think this through. Buster Posey. That’s one. Hunter Pence. That’s two. The Panda, that’s three. And even though the Panda’s last name is Sandoval, his first name is Pablo, so there’s another P. And didn’t they also trade for Jake Peavy?

Holy hell. I don’t think I’m finished yet. They’ve got a reliever by the name of Petit. And the second baseman’s name is Joe Panik.

And what about Perry Ponds? See? I always go too far.

But they are definitely the Killer P’s, aren’t thay?

Besides. Did I not mention Juan Peres? And PacBell Park? What? It’s now called AT&T Park?

Wait, what?

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Love the MLB wild card, love the World Series

Don’t you love the MLB wild card game? Don’t you? It’s like two game sevens. And as an added bonus, you don’t even have to capitalize the words wild card. I love it. Sure, it’s an utter mockery of the 162-game regular season, but who cares? It’s good TV.

Also love the World Series (which good breeding and the AP Stylebook mandates we capitalize). Love it. Best four out of seven games. I suggest we leave it that way.

Kind of don’t care much about everything in between though. Wish I did, but I don’t. Will I watch these games? Depends. How far will my team, the SF Giants, go? I’ll definitely watch all the Giants’ games.

Things could be better, you know. The MLB playoffs start with a bang with the one-game wild card, why not continue it? The division series could be the best two out of three, and why not change the ALCS and NLCS to the best three out of five as well? After all, during the regular season most series are just three games, four tops.

Wait. Here’s an idea. Why not make everything a one game series until the World Series, which of course should be the best out of seven, always. Think of the interest it would generate. Every baseball fan would watch every game. And there would only be four playoff games in each league leading up to the World Series — one wildcard, two division series games, and one league championship game.

Wait a minute. Hold the phone. What if we just took the team with the best winning percentage in the National League and faced them against the team with the best winning percentage in the American League after the 162-game season is completed and had them duke it out in in the World Series — with no playoff games whatsoever.

Has that ever been tried before? And if so, did it work out?

* * *

Notes: How about that 18-inning game between the Giants and the Nats, huh? This is why baseball is called a pastime. Emphasis on time. Fortunately, my team won, but 18 innings is one hellofa commitment.

I don’t know what we do about this. We basically watched a double-header in one game. Maybe it should count as two games. In which case, the series is now done.

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Jerry Jones: Best Dallas Cowboys GM ever

If you’re a fan of an NFL team not named the Dallas Cowboys, Jerry Jones is your dream GM. Let’s review.

— Jerry Jones buys the Dallas Cowboys, fires Tom Landry, hires Jimmy Johnson, and announces all three at the same press conference.

— Jerry Jones pressures Jimmy Johnson into leaving the Dallas Cowboys head coaching job, even though Johnson had won back-to-back Super Bowls in ’92 and ’93.

— In 1998, Jerry Jones has a chance to snatch up Randy Moss and doesn’t do it.

— Jerry Jones trades two first-round draft picks to Seattle for wide receiver Joey Galloway in 2000, who promptly tears his ACL, misses the rest of the season, and doesn’t do much of anything thereafter.

— Roy Williams in 2008. Enough said.

— Jerry Jones still believes in Tony Romo, and gives him a six-year contract extension in 2013 worth up to $108 million.

— Jerry Jones could have drafted Johnny Manziel in 2014, which if nothing else, would have put butts in the seats. That said, if he had actually drafted Manziel I would be listing it here as well. Some things you just can’t win.

You could call Jerry Jones the new Al Davis, but that really isn’t fair to Al Davis. At one point the Oakland Raiders former owner and GM actually knew what he was doing. I see no signs Jerry ever did. Yes, even with the third Super Bowl win.

Okay, I’ll give Jerry credit for that one thing. Signing Barry Switzer? Fuck no. Signing Deion Sanders. When Deion played for the ‘9ers, the ‘9ers won the Super Bowl in ’94. When he played for Dallas in ’95, Dallas won the Super Bowl. Deion was clearly the swing.

So that’s one. But he sure hasn’t done anything right lately.

Too bad, because more and more Jerry Jones is getting pressured to let someone else take the GM role. But don’t you listen them, Jerry, don’t you do it.

We Seahawks fans are depending on you.

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Do not watch the Steelers vs. Ravens tonight

In light of what I’ll call the Ray Rice scandal, everyone should boycott tonight’s game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens.

And Roger Godell should resign.

Don’t expect him to get fired, though. He’s exactly the kind of rubber stamp the NFL owners want, I imagine. His job comes down to doing two things and doing them well. First, he finds a consensus among the owners— surreptitiously, away from the prying eyes of the media. Then once he finds that consensus, he does the NFL owners’ bidding.

It works. You haven’t heard anybody asking for Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti to resign, have you? That’s because he’s got plausible deniability. And that’s because Godell did his job. Perfectly.

I imagine.

Don’t expect Godell to resign, either. Just as I don’t expect you to boycott tonight’s game.

See you at the bar.

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It’s early September and the Longhorns suck

I figured out who Charlie Strong is. He’s Tony Kehl. What, you never heard of him?

Coach Kehl (pronounced kale) was Sonoma State University’s head coach from 1982 to 1986. He never had a winning record, not once, and his overall record at SSU stands at 12-40.

When I was a sports writer for the college paper, the Sonoma State Star, I would ask the sports information director and the athletic director and professors in the booster club and fellow scribes and broadcasters and pretty much anyone who listened why—in the hell—does Coach Kehl still have a job?

Everyone would give me pretty much the same answer. “He runs a clean program.”

Charlie Strong runs a clean program, too. It remains to be seen if it will be a winning program. In fairness, it was a winning program for about a week. And it won’t be a losing program for about another week. But don’t worry kids, it’s a clean program.

It better be. Because the Longhorns have lost a dozen players in the name of law and order, god and country, and the American way.

Let’s take a look at those names. Offensive tackle Desmond Harrison missed the first two games. Mighta coulda used him in the running game against BYU. Kennedy Estelle, another offensive tackle, was also suspended for last night’s game against BYU, along with running back Daje Johnson and safety Josh Turner.

Deoundrei Davis was kicked off the team a couple of days ago, but who cares, he was a backup linebacker.

But running back Joe Bergeron was a starter, and Strong kicked him off the team back in early August, along with Jalen Overstreet, Chevoski Collins, Kendall Sanders, Montrei Meander, Leroy Scott, and Chet Moss.

The Longhorns lost to BYU, 41-7.  Which makes it even worse than last year’s 40-21 loss.

Except this year it was a clean loss. So why don’t I feel better?

• • •

Man, Taysom Hill looked like Tim Tebow on steroids last night. He ran the ball well, scored three touchdowns, and passed from the pocket as cool as the other side of the cliche.

Fox broadcaster Joey Harrington kept saying, “I think Taysom Hill should be in the Heismann trophy discussion.” No kidding. How about you start it, Joey? To his credit, he eventually did.

Despite the loss, I saw some hope on the Longhorns team. Malcom Brown, the defensive tackle, played his ass off. He earned 3 total sacks — two half sacks and two completely on his own. Jordan Hicks and Quandre Diggs, who intercepted a pass in the end zone, also played well on the defensive side.

On offense, QB Tyrone Swoopes did not suck. He only threw two bad passes overall, one of them an interception, but he threw a touchdown pass to John Harris, who also played well. Swoopes hit 20 of 31 passes for 176 yards, and Harris caught 8 passes for 77 yards.

The punter (yeah, I’m reaching) is pretty damn good too, and averaged 42 yards on 8 punts with a long of 52.

That said, next week the Longhorns will have their asses handed to them by UCLA.

• • •

As of this writing, Romo just threw an interception to Willis in the end zone and the 49ers lead 21-3. It’s always amusing to watch the Dallas Cowboys each week and see what new and innovative ways they come up with to lose.

Still a Seahawks fan, though.

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Let’s give a big welcome to the newest Seattle Seahawks fan

Thursday night, a few firsts happened. First, NBC kicked off Thursday Night Football, which is kind of strange because from now on it’ll be broadcast on CBS.

And I started my new life as a Seattle Seahawks fan, which is even stranger sill.

This is not a change I take lightly. All my life I’ve been a San Francisco 49ers fan, and I’ve watched and rooted for the team since the John Brodie days, back when Brodie’s backup QB was the Ol’ Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier. That’s right, I’m old.

I’m a second-generation fan. My dad watched the first NFL 49er home game in 1949 live at old Kezar Stadium, the club’s home before they moved to Candlestick Park — a perfectly fine football field, by the way. Yes, terrible for baseball, but absolutely great for football. Even survived an earthquake.

But I digress. I’m no longer a fan of the red and gold. Well, let me take that back. When San Francisco plays the Dallas Cowboys this Sunday, I’m definitely going to be a fan. When the 49ers play anybody but the Seahawks, I’ll be a fan.

But the ‘9ers are my second team now behind the Seahawks, and for three reasons.

1) The team is comprised of thugs. Aldon Smith may be a great linebacker, but he’s a fucking drug-addicted moron. Two DUIs, a marijuana charge and an alleged bomb threat. Nice job. His behavior has recently been matched by defensive lineman Ray McDonald, who’s facing a felony domestic violence charge.

I’m sure it’s all a big misunderstanding, and yes, that’s sarcasm.

Hell, I’m not even a big fan of Colin Kaepernick, frankly. And it’s not because of the sexual assault accusation he was cleared of last June. It’s his style of play. His style is reminiscent of Michael Vick and RG3, which means Caepernick won’t be a healthy quarterback for very long.

I prefer Russell Wilson, who reminds me of Joe Montana. Like Montana, he plays cool. He stays in the pocket for the most part, but runs when he has to run. And then slides before he gets hit, something Vick, RG3 and Caepernick haven’t seemed to comprehend.

I prefer the Seatlle QB and I prefer the Seattle players in general. I will miss Michael Crabtree, Frank Gore and Vernon Davis, however.

2) The 49ers coach, Jim Harbaugh, has his head completely us his ass. He gets called for a personal foul because he’s running on field complaining about a call? Really? Sit the fuck down, Harbaugh. Stay off the field and lead by example.

And he’s hyper, and he sucks at interviews, and his biggest accomplishment thus far is making his brother John look great. Nothing like losing a Super Bowl to your brother to help said brother’s image, huh?

Whereas Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is laid back, funny, great at interviews, won every Super Bowl he’s ever been in, and has the calm demeanor and looks of beloved 49ers coach Bill Walsh. He even earned success at the college level, just like Walsh did before coming to a Super Bowl winning team.

Yeah, I know, he coached at the NFL level before his stint with USC and pretty much sucked at New England and the Jets, but he regrouped, got his chops down at USC, and came back to the NFL a winner.

I’ll take Carroll over Harbaugh any day.

3) The final reason might be the most important. The SF 49ers aren’t even playing in San Francisco anymore. They’re in Santa Clara — about 45 miles south of the city by the bay. Ironically, I never lived in San Francisco but did spend the first ten years of my life in Santa Clara, but believe me when I tell you—it doesn’t make me feel better.

Furthermore, my last California home was in Sonoma County, so if I still lived there (and if I did live in California, I would) I would have to travel 100 miles to see a game live. And I wouldn’t do that even if I had a press pass, which is pretty much the only way I’ve ever seen the 49ers live.

Things are different in Seattle. The Seahawks play in Centurylink Field, just south of downtown. You can even walk the 1.5 miles from the Pike Place Fish Market if you like.

That said, I’ll likely watch both teams on TV. And I’ll root for both, too. But in the NFC Championship, I’m takin’ the birds.

• • •

I’m still a San Francisco Giants fan. I love me the Panda, the Pence and the Posey. Yep, still behind The Killer Ps.

And their ballpark is gorgeous and in a great park of the city overlooking the bay. Easily accessible by ferry on the Marin County side, too.

And who doesn’t love Bruce Bochy, who managed the Giants to two World Series Championships? Man, I wish he had managed Willie’s teams.

Yep. I’ll be a Giants fan ’til the day I die.

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