Sports Outside the Beltway

Kurt Warner May Be Benched for Matt Leinart

Matt Leinart may get become the Arizona Cardinals’ starting quarterback a season early, after two bad weeks in a row by Kurt Warner.

Arizona coach Dennis Green declined to say on Monday whether he would stay with Kurt Warner at quarterback or replace him with rookie Matt Leinart for next Sunday’s game at Atlanta. “I don’t talk personnel on Monday,” Green said. “We’ll start looking at things and have a staff meeting and take it from there.”

Green’s noncommittal comments came in the wake of Warner’s awful performance in Sunday’s 16-14 home loss to the St. Louis Rams. The 35-year-old quarterback was intercepted three times — once with the team at the Rams’ 1-yard line and another at the St. Louis 14. To cap it off, Warner fumbled a snap at the Rams’ 18 with 1:46 to play as Arizona was positioning itself for what would have been a game-winning field goal.

Warner was named NFC offensive player of the week after Arizona’s season-opening victory over San Francisco, but the offense has produced just 24 points in subsequent losses at Seattle and against the Rams.


Warner finds himself in this precarious position for the third time in his career. After leading St. Louis to two Super Bowls in three seasons, he lost his job to Marc Bulger, then signed with the New York Giants in 2004. He was the Giants’ starter for nine games but was benched in favor of rookie Eli Manning.

Warner came out of nowhere to have three storybook seasons before the wheels came off. Warner is almost certainly a better choice than Leinart if Green thinks the team has a shot at the playoffs. Otherwise, Leinart may as well take his lumps now.


NYT’s Fantasy Football Weblog

The New York Times has a fantasy football weblog, The Fifth Down…and it’s pretty good. The writers have plenty of humor and don’t geek out too much. The geekiness still reamins. Remember, this is fantasy football.


Maddenism of the Day

I have the Sunday Night game on in the background (my remote doesn’t turn the TV off, and I’m about to go to bed anyway), watching the Patriots playing the Broncos. John Madden just said the following:

“And now Tom Brady looks like Tom Brady.”

Yes, he does. I don’t think he put on a mask or anything.


Steelers Lose 28-20, Seattle Looks GOOD

One of the annoyances of living in a different area than your childhood team is that there are some weeks where they don’t put them on locally. Either CBS was programmed out of my TV (I had to use my set in the basement instead of the main set), or the local CBS affiliate wasn’t airing football, because the Skins are on Fox and the Ravens were in the 4:15 game.

After watching the highlights, I see the Bengals beat us again in Pittsburgh. That team is getting more than a bit frustrating. Our offense and special teams were the main problem (I don’t know how the defense did – highlights really don’t give you a good feel for that). Seems similar to the Penn State game yesterday, which was also frustrating to this Western PA bred sports fan.

Now the Steelers are in 3rd place in a tough division, behind Cincy and Baltimore, two games back. Baltimore is doing what I feared they might: win some games. Also, Roethlisberger is not playing very well, which makes the situation even worse. At least they got the run game going this week.

The other game that stood out was the Seattle and New York game. Seattle totally obliterated the Giants. It wasn’t nearly as close as the 42-30 score indicated, because Seattle was up 42-3, and let off. So far, they seem to be defying all curses and hangovers from losing the Super Bowl and getting on Madden. I’m starting to think they are again the team to beat in the NFC. Might Seattle get their first Super Bowl title in Super Bowl XLI? Time will tell, but they look like a class above the rest of the NFC, besides maybe the Bears and possibly the Vikings.


Chris Simms has spleen removed

Tampa Bay Bucs’ QB Chris Simms was hospitalized following today’s loss to the Panthers and is listed in critical condition. He was removed from the game in the 3rd Quarter and television announcers said he was being treated for dehydration. Head Coach Jon Gruden said post-game that his ribs were injured somehow.

UPDATE: NBC just reported that the Bucs are saying he’s hospitalized but not in critical condition. Apparently no other information will be released until his family has been contacted.

UPDATE #2: Peter King of NBC reports that Simms had his spleen removed and was never in critical condition.


Weekly Miami Dolphins prediction

The Dolphins play host to the Tennessee Titans this afternoon. Both teams are 0-2 so far this season.

What’s there to say about this game? Miami looked pathetic last week against a weak Buffalo team and if they repeat that play against the Titans, it will be a long season in Miami. The Titans took Vince Young early in last year’s NFL draft but seem reluctant to play him. Miami looks better on paper than the the Titans, but who really knows. Time for my weekly guess- Miami 20 Tennessee 10.


Ryder Cup finale

Europe leads 10-6 going into today’s singles matches.

STRAFFAN, Ireland — Tom Lehman gently pressed his index finger against pursed lips, calculating the best-case scenario for an American team that kept settling for the worst in the Ryder Cup.

And then it got even worse.

Luke Donald crouched to his knees as his 25-foot birdie putt broke toward the 16th hole and disappeared for a birdie that sent Europe another point, setting off another roar at The K Club that shattered Lehman’s thoughts.

But not his hopes.

When two days of Ryder Cup matches ended late Saturday afternoon, Lehman and his American team, down 10-6, were reduced to clinging to memories — seven-year-old snapshots of the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history.

Writer Ron Sirak thinks a 99 style comeback is highly improbable. Play has begun this morning and the US is down in 2 of the 6 matches so far started. It doesn’t look good for the US.

Today’s matches-

Colin Montgomerie (EUR) leads David Toms (USA)

Stewart Cink (USA) leads Sergio Garcia (EUR)

Paul Casey (EUR) leads Jim Furyk (USA)

Tiger Woods (USA) vs. Robert Karlsson (EUR)

Chad Campbell (USA) vs. Luke Donald (EUR)

J.J. Henry (USA) vs. Paul McGinley (EUR)

Zach Johnson (USA) vs. Darren Clarke (EUR)

Vaughn Taylor (USA) vs. Henrik Stenson (EUR)

Brett Wetterich (USA) vs. David Howell (EUR)

Phil Mickelson (USA) vs. Jose Maria Olazabal (EUR)

Chris DiMarco (USA) vs. Lee Westwood (EUR)

Scott Verplank (USA) vs. Padraig Harrington (EUR)

My original prediction stands. The US has traditionally been good in singles play but Europe is the better team. Europe wins 16-12


What’s that funny white stuff they use on football fields?

From Blogger Bright & Early

I heard this on the radio yesterday and thought everyone should know:

A mysterious substance was found at the Tampa Bay Buccaneer’s practice facility on Wednesday. Coach John Gruden immediately shut down practice and called the authorities.

Department of Homeland Security and local HAZMAT teams examined the suspicious white powder located at either end of the practice field.

Testing revealed that the substance was primarily calcium carbonate (chalk).

The HAZMAT chief said, “We appreciate the team taking security seriously. However, there is no danger from exposure to this substance.” He suggested that, “The material was, in fact, the goal line. It is understandable that the team was unfamiliar with the substance, as they haven’t seen the goal line yet this season.”

LMAO! Is this true or is my friend Jim pulling my leg and voicing some frustration with the Bucs? I’ll let you decide which applies to my fellow Florida blogger. Just be gentle with him, ok?


The Manager of the year will get a pink slip?

From the Sun-Sentinel

Joe Girardi, who guided the surprising Marlins into playoff contention dfespite baseball’s lowest payroll, will soon be out as manager after just one season.

On a scale of 1 to 10, Girardi’s chances of returning next year are “zero,” according to a source who has spoken with the Marlins’ front office.

As I blogged here before, in spite of the Marlins’ amazing year Girardi’s job has been in jeopardy since a disagreement he had in August with team owner Jeffrey Loria. Girardi was almost fired that day.

With two years left on his contract, Girardi would be owed an estimated $1.5 million if no other club picks him up. The Cubs, expected to part ways with Dusty Baker, have been mentioned as a possible destination.

The Marlins are already compiling information about Girardi’s successor, with a trio of third-base coaches likely to receive interviews: Fredi Gonzalez (Braves), Joey Cora (White Sox) and Manny Acta (Mets).

All three have Latin roots and speak fluent Spanish, which would be considered a significant upgrade from the current English-only staff. Gonzalez, who spent a decade with the Marlins as a minor league manager and major league coach, was the runner-up to Girardi after interviewing last fall.

Other possible candidates to replace Girardi include Triple-A Albuquerque manager Dean Treanor, Japanese League manager Trey Hillman, Braves special assistant Jim Fregosi, Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo, Mets bench coach Jerry Manuel and Marlins broadcaster Cookie Rojas, although Rojas is more likely to fill a coaching role.

Rojas? He is 67 years old and only once been an established manager in MLB. That was with the 1988 California Angels.(Rojas was replaced before the season ended.) He did do a short 2-game stint with the Marlins in 1996.

It is sad we’re speculating on replacements when this team has far exceeded expectations. Currently the Marlins stand at 76-77. At least 10-15 more wins than the experts were predicting at the season’s start. I had the Marlins coming in at 65-97.

With nine games to go in the season the Marlins playoff chances look to be about zilch. They are four games back in the wild card hunt.

The last straw for Girardi, 41, apparently was his ill-fated decision to bring back prized right-hander Josh Johnson after an 82-minute rain delay at Dolphin Stadium on Sept. 12.


With the Marlins still clinging to wild-card hopes, Johnson tried to stay loose by playing catch with Dontrelle Willis in an indoor batting cage. That Johnson left four innings later with cramping in his forearm and was subsequently shut down for the year with a strained ligament did not help Girardi’s case.

Sunday’s 10th-inning meltdown in Atlanta was another strike against Girardi, who had never managed at any level before this season. Marlins management was disappointed Girardi inserted little-used center fielder Reggie Abercrombie as a defensive replacement instead of the more polished Eric Reed.

Two Abercrombie misplays opened the door for the Braves to rally from a four-run deficit to hand the Marlins a crushing 8-7 defeat that essentially ended their playoff chances.

The Johnson move was dumb but I don’t see Girardi’s firing connected to that or the Abercrombie move. Knucklehead award winner Loria is pissed and wants to fire Girardi. It is as simple as that.

Nonetheless, Girardi is widely considered a strong candidate for National League Manager of the Year after guiding a team with 22 rookies and a $15 million payroll into playoff contention. Not since Davey Johnson bolted the Orioles after 1997 has a newly named Manager of the Year failed to return the following year.

It’s happened only one other time since the award was instituted 23 years ago. Bobby Cox, named the American League’s top manager in 1985, left the Blue Jays to return to the Braves as general manager.

Barring a miracle it will happen again. Do you wonder why I’m ambivalent about the Marlins staying in South Florida? Its because the team’s ownership won’t make a commitment to the area either. They just want a city or state to bend to their blackmail and when not given their way, they dismantle the franchise. Just like a spoiled child who doesn’t get his way. Jeffrey Loria is a spoiled child.


Ryder Cup starts tomorrow

The every other year golf matches are taking place in Ireland-

STRAFFAN, Ireland – As if recent history weren’t enough, Europe showed just how tight a grip it has on the Ryder Cup. U.S. captain Tom Lehman gathered his team on the 10th tee Thursday morning for the official team photo, which lately is the closest the Americans ever gets to posing with the Ryder Cup trophy.

The Europeans didn’t even allow them that luxury at The K Club.

Whether it was a harmless oversight or not-so-subtle message about the true ownership of the shiny gold chalice, captain Ian Woosnam neglected to turn over the trophy even for 15 minutes of a photo opportunity. It was the first time since 1985 — coincidentally, the start of European dominance in these matches — that the 17-inch trophy was not part of the official team photo.

“I wasn’t aware of that,” Lehman said. “I have not idea what the protocol is or isn’t, so I can’t even respond to that.”

All he cares about is posing with it Sunday.

After four days of glitz and galas, topped off by an opening ceremony that celebrated Ireland’s biggest sporting event, the Ryder Cup was set to begin Friday morning with both sides sending out their best teams.

Tiger Woods and Jim Furyk faced Colin Montgomerie and Padraig Harrington in the opening fourball match, a sign that both captains were intent on taking control as early as possible.

“We’ve got two of Europe’s best on the first day,” Woods said.

Woods has lost seven straight matches on opening day at the Ryder Cup, dating to his debut in 1997, and he rarely looks like the world’s No. 1 player in these team events. On the other end is Montgomerie, 0-for-60 in the majors, 0-for-America, yet a stalwart in this event.

It will be the second straight time Montgomerie and Harrington have drawn a Dream Team from the United States. Two years ago at Oakland Hills, they beat Woods and Phil Mickelson in a match that set the tone for Europe’s largest victory ever, 18 1/2-9 1/2.


For the Americans, the next three days are more important than they used to be.

They have a 26-9-4 lead in the Ryder Cup since it began in 1927 as a friendly exhibition between American and British golf professionals, but the symbol of dominance over the last 20 years is the European flag, blue with 13 gold stars.

Yes Europe has dominated since 1985. The matches which used to draw no attention(In 1977 Tom Weiskopf declined to play for the US team and instead went hunting in Canada) but are now golf’s idea of circus.

With stories like this-

*- Tom Lehman keeping the team loose with pranks.

*- Tiger Woods is upset with a Irish magazine after photos were published stating they were the of the golfer’s wife.

*- Ian Woosman’s controversial captain’s pick of Lee Westwood that has left Dane Thomas Bjorn very angry.

*- The inexperience of the US team and the controversial pts scoring method that brought this year’s team together.

These are all sideshows. The play begins tomorrow morning with these fourball matches. All times are a.m. EST time-

Tiger Woods/Jim Furyk (USA) vs. P.Harrington/Colin Montgomerie (EUR) 3:00
J.J. Henry/Stewart Cink (USA) vs. Paul Casey/Robert Karlsson (EUR) 3:15
Brett Wetterich/David Toms (USA) vs. Sergio Garcia/J.Olazabal (EUR) 3:30
Chris DiMarco/Phil Mickelson (USA) vs. D.Clarke/Lee Westwood (EUR) 3:45

The US is a notorious slow starter in the Ryder Cup. They can’t fall too far behind before going into Sunday’s matches. Unfortunately I agree with Johnny Miller, this is the weakest US team in modern memory. I predict a 16-12 US victory.

Update- The golf isn’t on till 8 a.m. EST all three days. Play will be on taped dealy tomorrow and Saturday but I’m not sure about Sunday.

2nd Update- I meant a 16-12 Europe victory. My paragraph doesn’t make sense otherwise.

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