Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Sporty sports

Before we get too far down the road, I need to comment a bit on a few of the larger sports stories here in Big D over the past few days. There have been many, including the Mavs rise to the very tippy top of the Western Conference, despite getting lit up like fireflies by Kobe, and the tremendous performances turned in by Mr. Martin Turco of late. However, I'm going to blow past those (wake me up after the Super Bowl if you want NBA or NHL talk), and go to the two very biggest: Cowboys-Panthers and Kevin Millwood.

Headline #1: I wish I was as thin as the Cowboys' playoff chances

While Dallas is mathematically still in it, the odds were better for the Christians in the Coliseum. The Cowboys showed tremendous heart, coming back from 10-0 to the Panthers, and with some attention paid to the O line this offseason, there's every reason to be hopeful for next year. But, let's face it: The 'Boys dug their own grave against the Giants and Redskins. A win in either of those games, and we're not talking about Old Testament-style miracles necessary to make the playoffs.

It was great to see #21 reel off 194 yards. Where the heck has Julius Jones been? And why did he choose this game to return? Whatever his reasons, I was glad to see it. No more disappearing acts, dude.

They aren't The Triplets of old, but Bledsoe-Glenn-Johnson are my current-crop favorite Cowboys. All three quieted a lot of their critics with their performances all year and esp in this must-win game. I really hope Keyshawn gets a chance in the playoffs this year or next. He's so like Irvin in every way, except in the BIG games. That may be just because he hasn't played in that many. I'd like to find out.

I'll even give the Pear-Shaped "Football Genius" his due. After the rancid performance in DC, he got this team to dig deep and come up big when they absolutely had to do it. There's no way the team would have responded the same way to Switzer, Gailey, or Campo.

While Saturday was fun, it's too much to hope for that Carolina or Washington are going to lose. I know, I know, stranger things have happened. But both the Panthers and the 'Skins are playing must-win games against poor teams (Atlanta and Philadelphia, respectively). At least we'll know before Cowboys-Rams kickoff whether the game is going to mean anything.

Headline #2: Winter of discontent no more

As mentioned here on Monday night, the near-impossible has happened in that the Rangers have signed a legitimate free-agent pitcher. Kevin Millwood, he of the 3.76 lifetime ERA and 107-75 lifetime record, has become the Rangers first REAL ace since, crap, I don't know. Nolan Ryan? Jeez, Jim Kern? Whatever. In a long time.

Millwood has been known to throw some fly balls, which is scary here. Regardless, the guy throws a consistent 92 mph fastball and he has a mean sinker and slider. That's FAR better than anything the Rangers have run out there in eons.

Suddenly, the Rangers rotation doesn't look like the Marx Brothers anymore. I can live with Millwood-Eaton-Padilla-Loe?-Dominguez? or some variation on that.

Jon Daniels is off to a very promising start. He's made some stuff happen this off-season. We'll see how it pans out, but so far, very impressive. I take back all the bad stuff I said after the Beckett fiasco.

And we've got to give some credit to Big Not-So-Dumb Tom also. He not only opened the wallet, but did so for what appears to be the right guy. The Millwood signing seems, on the surface at least, to be MUCH less risky than the Chan Ho Park signing a few years ago. That may be hindsight, but I remember thinking, "Chan Ho Park? Five years? Sixty-five million dollars? Is Tom baked?" Not so this time.

Let's go, pitchers and catchers! I'm ready!

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