Thursday, October 1, 2009

You Can't Fire the Owner

For a sports fan, nothing is more agonizing than wanting to fire not the coach, not the GM, not the quarterback or cleanup hitter or point guard … but the owner.

Nothing makes you feel more powerless, more impotent, more feeble in your rage.

Consider Sunday’s Lions-Redskins game in Detroit. In the wake of the worst loss in most ‘Skins fans’ lifetime, there’s the usual venting about firing novice head coach Jim Zorn and former first-round quarterback Jason Campbell and the defensive coordinator and the overpaid defensive tackle and all the usual suspects. But the common theme aims blame straight at the top, at owner Dan Snyder, who has done a masterful job of alienating one of pro sports’ most rabid supporters within just a decade.

(Continue to The Steele Drum)

Bill's No. 1 on the List

Truth and attitude. We've been pouring both around here since we opened the Grill Room one month ago. And thanks for your patronage.

So here's today's truth: After 25 years in the newspaper business, I can tell you that when a columnist throws a list at an editor, said columnist has found absolutely nothing interesting to groan about. Or...more likely, said columnist spent too much time in a watering hole like the GR the night before, and is having trouble processing all forms of thought.

That in mind, today you are getting a list...

(Continue to The Grill Room)

NHL Western Conference Preview

Armed with a new long-term contract, and fully healthy after being limited to 54 games a year ago, is this the year Roberto Luongo (photo right) takes the Vancouver Canucks on a long springtime playoff ride?

I think it is. But it's not going to be easy as the Western Conference shapes up to be as tough as it ever has been in 2009-10.

Here's my look into the crystal ball, with all teams listed alphabetically...

Playoff Locks (5): Calgary, Chicago, Detroit, San Jose, and Vancouver.

(Continue to Jim Cerny's Rink Rap)

Rob Blake to Wear Sharks' 'C'

Good move by the San Jose Sharks today, naming Rob Blake team captain.

"(Blake) has experience captaining a team and will give us everything he has,” coach Todd McLellan was quoted as saying on the Sharks web site "He will hold his teammates to the highest standard.”

Blake, who turns 40 in December, has been captain of the Los Angeles Kings and won a Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001. Perhaps he can show his teammates what it takes to win in the playoffs, something the Sharks haven't managed to do even after successful regular seasons.

(Continue to Through the 5 Hole)

Isles Add Scoring Threat

They claimed former first round draft pick Rob Schremp off waivers from the Oilers yesterday. Schremp, 23, was chosen in the 2004 draft, but has never made the big club's roster. In junior hockey, he was a major offensive threat and the Islanders are hoping he can turn his game around.

"He's a highly skilled, offensively gifted player with great vision. He's at an age where he is still maturing as a hockey player and a person, so there's upside there for our organization," Islanders general manager Garth Snow told Newsday. "To take a chance on a player like this, it seemed like it was a no-brainer to claim Rob."

(Continue to Thin Ice)

Is Tribe Prepping for 2011 or '12?

Come mid-October, you won’t hear general manager Mark Shapiro talk about how well the Indians played the final month of the '09 season. For Shapiro will have bigger issues ahead to confront than trying to put a smiley face on the dismal past: He needs a new manager.

In a decision Wednesday that surprised nobody, he didn't dismiss or release or bid adieu to manager Eric Wedge; no, Shapiro fired Wedge. No reason to use euphemisms here to soften it, because Shapiro just did what he should have done awhile ago.

With the Wedge era closed, the cliches about "lessons learned" can follow him out the clubhouse door. Who wants to hear those words anymore? Besides, what lessons do players learn from loss after loss?

(Continue to Justice Is Served)

Forecasting MLB Matchups

Long-time readers of my work know that when I watch the World Series or the Super Bowl, I don't like seeing re-matches.

Super Bowl XXVII between Buffalo and Dallas was fine...Super Bowl XXVIII between the same two teams was a waste of a year.

And I'm not just talking back-to-back rematches. 2004 Red Sox-Cardinals? Happened in 1946. Again, wasting my time.

Needless to say, it's time for me to start working out some scenarios.

(Continue to 200 Miles From the Citi)

Greinke for President

KANSAS CITY--Zack Greinke made his final home start of the 2009 season Sunday at Kauffman Stadium, and it has been quite some time since sports fans in Kansas City have rallied around a cause like this.

The Chiefs have made just two playoff appearances in the last decade (and lost in the first round both times), while the Royals have just two winning seasons in the last 17. There are no NBA or NHL teams for the small-market Kansas Citian to pass the rest of his or her time with.

(Continue to Sport Imitates Life)

The Fatal Flaw of the BCS

What's wrong with the BCS? Look no further than the two polls that account for two-thirds of the BCS Standings.


Click to enlarge

This week's Simulated BCS Standings are just about as good as the real thing, with nearly 90 percent of the data for the actual standings available - both the Coaches and Harris polls and four of the six computers.

(Continue to BCS Guru)

Alabama Is No. 1, After One Month

The calendar is about to flip to October, so what better time to assess what we have learned after the first month of the college football season and a few things we still don’t know.

What we have learned …

  • Alabama is the best team in the nation, not Florida or Texas.

  • Auburn is a very good home team.

  • Nick Saban is worth all the millions the Crimson Tide has invested in him.
(Continue Rue's Rant)

It's Henne Time in Miami

A bad start for the Miami Dolphins got even worse with the news that starting quarterback Chad Pennington has a torn capsule in his right shoulder and will be lost for the season.

With Pennington gone, Miami loses the ultimate game manager, and one of the players most responsible for last season's 11-5 record and AFC East division title.

Pennington passed for 19 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and quickly became the leader of a young Dolphins offense. It's no coincidence that the Dolphins turned the ball over a league-record low 13 times in a 16-game season, a testament to Pennington's ability to make good decisions under pressure.

(Continue to Dolphins Watch)

Bucs Make Leftwich the Fall Guy

Teams that start 0-3 typically need a "fall guy."

The Buccaneers found theirs in quarterback Byron Leftwich.

This 2009 version of the Buccaneers is cornered in confusion. A team that spent its entire training camp focused on quarterbacks Byron Leftwich and Luke McCown will now totally reverse its course.

McCown is in Jacksonville and Leftwich has been run over by the bus, thrown underneath it by Coach Raheem Morris, who declared that Lefty was still his starter after last Sunday's embarrassing loss to the New York Giants.

Less than 24 hours later, Morris disposed of Leftwich, demoted him to third-string and named shifty but inexperienced Josh Johnson the starter and the other Josh (Freeman) as the backup.

(Continue to Buccaneer Bow Shots)

Sonny and Sam Show Runs Its Course

Call it the "Sonny and Sam Show" -- maybe the most entertaining aspect in a season of moribund Washington Redskins football.

The Redskins' loss to the always-bad Detroit Lions on Sunday, allowing the Lions to snap a 19-game winless streak, along with an uninspiring 9-7 home win over the lowly St. Louis Rams the week before, has Washington fans in a lather. So bad is the 2009 version of the Redskins so far that the rampant speculation among fans and in the media is that head coach Jim Zorn might not last the season.

But about Sonny and Sam. Sonny is the colorful quarterback Sonny Jurgensen, and Sam is the legendary linebacker Sam Huff. Sonny and Sam are Redskins color analysts on WTEM/ESPN 980 in Washington, thus the "Sonny and Sam Show." They are a hoot.

(Continue to DMA 7-22 Sports)

All Around the Big City

So as we wait for the Yankees to get ready for the playoffs, the Mets to end their season, and the Jets and Giants to get ready for their next opponents, here’s a few thoughts to that crossed my mind:

-- Does anybody miss Eric Mangini? Really, the effort his Cleveland Browns put up Sunday in a 34-3 loss to Baltimore was pathetic. His team is winless, and the quarterback situation is still a mess. Meanwhile, the Jets are 3-0, the defense is vastly improved from a year ago and Rex Ryan looks like he’s a better coach than his old man. Miss Mangini? Don’t think so.

(Continue to New York Minute)
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