Sports Outside the Beltway

Extending Billick

With all the intrigue surrounding the search for a new head coach for the Dallas Cowboys, it was little noted that last week the Baltimore Ravens extended Brian Billick’s contract. While it might seem obvious now after a 13 – 3 season, apparently Billick was on the hot seat. A bad season probably would have his last in Baltimore.

Billick is the third longest tenured coach in the NFL.

In nine seasons under Billick, Baltimore is 75-53. His nine seasons is tied with Philadelphia’s Andy Reid for the third-longest current run in the NFL behind Jeff Fisher of Tennessee (13) and Denver’s Mike Shanahan.

Another interesting aspect of the Ravens coaching staff is that a number of Billick’s assistants have gotten top jobs in recent years. First there was Marvin Lewis who got the head coaching job in Cincinatti. The Jack Del Rio took over in Jacksonville. Most recently it was Marvin Lewis’s successor Mike Nolan who got the San Francisco head coaching position. (Nolan by the way took the job that his father held from 1968-1975.)

Now Rex Ryan – Lewis’s and Nolan’s successor – is thought to be a leading head coaching candidate. And it’s not just Ryan’s on field lineage that’s good, his off field lineage also shows some coaching talent.

His father Buddy Ryan was the famed defensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears 21 years ago when they won Super Bowl XX. And his brother Rob is thought to be a candidate for the Oakland Raiders’ head coaching job where he currently serves as defensive coordinator.

Finally former University of Washington coach Rick Neuheisel, recently promoted to be the Ravens offensive coordinator, is looking for a chance to redeem himself and perhaps re-enter the coaching ranks.

While the Ravens’ recent absence from the playoffs until this year had been frustrating, the way that the team’s assistants regularly seem to be in demand attests to how well the team is run.

Extending Billick’s contract is an appropriate way to show appreciation to the man who is, at least, partly responsible for that success.

UPDATE: I missed one other former Ravens coach with head coaching aspirations. Hall of Famer Michael Singletary is interviewing for the Dallas job.

Crossposted at Soccer Dad.


No brainer- Michelle Wie invited to play at the Kraft Nabisco Championship

The 17-year-old Hawaiian native has been invited to the first major championship of the 2007 LPGA season.

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. – Michelle Wie was offered a sponsor invitation to the Kraft Nabisco Championship on Monday, among seven pros and six amateurs invited to the first LPGA Tour major of the year.

Tournament director Terry Wilcox said Wie will be making her fifth appearance at the Kraft Nabisco, although that was not immediately confirmed by her family.

The 17-year-old from Honolulu missed the cut at the Sony Open while playing with an injured left wrist that was tightly wrapped. She is not expected to play either of the two LPGA Tour events in Hawaii next month.

Wie had a chance to win the Kraft Nabisco last year until her eagle chip went 10 feet by the cup on the par-5 18th, and she missed a birdie putt that would have put her in a playoff with Karrie Webb and Lorena Ochoa. She has played every season since 2003, when she played in the final group at age 13 and tied for ninth.

Michelle also came close to winning the Kraft in 2004 before Grace Park edged out Aree Song.

I still feel Michelle’s attempts to play with the men are playing havoc with her golf game and she should give up the attempts. Her golf swing is no longer smooth but ragged instead and they may be why her wrist is injured. Michelle is trying to overpower the ball in her PGA attempts.

Based on her recent play and the injury, I’ll be surprised if Michelle contends at the Kraft in March.


Helton, Red Sox Deal is dead

According to multiple sources this deal is not going to happen

When the Colorado Rockies approached Theo Epstein six weeks ago about a possible deal for Todd Helton, the Red Sox general manager figured he would listen. After all, having Helton would give the Red Sox a drop-dead batting order — lots of runs — to go with a drop-dead starting rotation.

Helton is Epstein’s type of guy, a tough out who wears down pitchers (.430 career on-base percentage) and a tough player. So Epstein listened and listened. He laid down the ground rules to the Rockies: take on two big veteran salaries, pay some of Helton’s contract, and we’ll also give you one or two mid-level prospects.

But when the Rockies asked for more, the deal broke down, and the collapse became official last night. Rockies owner Charles Monfort issued a statement to that effect, saying, “Discussions like these regarding a player of Todd’s talent and character are never easy, and it’s not surprising we were not able to reach an agreement. Todd has been and will continue to be an important part of our franchise.”

Seemingly drained and disappointed at not landing Helton, Epstein gave only a “no comment” in response to the ending of the talks last night.

The Sox are far from a team that needs to be worrying about costs, but Theo seems to take a Belicheckian approach to players, he establishes a value (both financially and in terms of prospects) and will not cross that line. Believe me, I would love to see Helton batting in the #2 slot in front of Ortiz, but it is not worth the risk of taking on a 34 year old player for the next 5 years who has had injury concerns and decreased performance for the last 2-3 years and trading 2 power arms that are under 24 years old. The Sox offense is the least of their concerns, but it was nice to dream about a lineup that would match the one 200 miles south of Boston.


Schilling to Pitch in 2008

Curt Schilling’s run at the Senate will be put on hold, since his family gave him the go ahead to pitch in 2008

“My wife and kids want me to continue to play, which was the only reason I was retiring in the first place … they talked me into it and I felt it was a decision that I wanted to make to continue to play, so [2007] will not be my last season,” Schilling told the sports-radio station. “I was convinced and my family was abiding by that decision [to retire], and they talked me out of it, so I will be playing in 2008.”

Schilling, who is signed through the upcoming season, also said on WEEI that he is hopeful that a deal with the Red Sox can be worked out before Spring Training.

The best news about this situation is that if things do not work out with Boston, we will not see Curt in pinstripes

Schilling said he would not follow the path of former teammate Randy Johnson and head to New York and pitch for the Yankees after this season.

“Where I’m going to play beyond 2007? I hope it’s Boston, but I will go out and find a home to pitch,” he said. “I hope it’s here, but there’s also that possibility [of pitching elsewhere]. It would not be to New York.”

Curt seems to understand his place in Red Sox history a little better than Johnny Damon. I do not fault Johnny for taking a “job” that pays him more money. All of us normal people would do the same thing if we had the opportunity (most likely for significantly less money). What Johnny did not seem to understand, right or wrong, that by going to the Yankees his Red Sox legacy has been diminished.

The other problem Curt would would be if he is serious about running for the US senate. He is going to have a hard enough time running as a Rebuplican in Massachusetts. Imagine if he was a Republican wearing pinstripes? Good luck


Cowboys Interviewing Mike Singletary

The Dallas Cowboys will interviewing Mike Singletary for their head coaching vacancy, making him the eight since Bill Parcells retired a week ago.

San Francisco assistant head coach/defense Mike Singletary will interview for the Cowboys head coaching job. It’s the second time this off-season that Singletary has interviewed for a head coaching job. He also interviewed for the Atlanta Falcons job.

Singletary just completed his second season with the 49ers and his first as assistant head coach/defense. Singletary was promoted to the job after serving one season as the assistant head coach/linebackers. Before joining the 49ers, Singletary was the inside linebackers coach with the Baltimore Ravens.

Singletary was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1998 after an outstanding career with the Chicago Bears from 1981 to ’92. A former second round pick out of Baylor, Singletary was selected to a team-record 10 consecutive Pro Bowls.

San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Norv Turner is scheduled to speak with Jones at some point later this afternoon on the phone. He interviewed with the Cowboys on Sunday, and returned to northern California that evening. He appears to remain the lead candidate.

It continues to appear Turner is the odds-on favorite for the job, making looking at Singletary after concluding the Turner interview seem odd. And, if Jones is willing to hire a guy with only a couple years of coaching experience, Jason Garrett would seem the more obvious choice.

There’s some interesting speculation on the Dallas Cowboys Blog that Turner would love to bring Singletary in as his defensive coordinator. I’m not sure what his contract status is with the 49ers, though. If he’s under contract, they’re under no obligation to release him and, frankly, they’d be very unlikely to want to ship both coordinators off to Dallas.


Barbaro RIP

The 2006 Kentucky Derby winner was euthanized this morning.

KENNETT SQUARE, Pa. – Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro was euthanized Monday after complications from his gruesome breakdown at last year’s Preakness, ending an eight-month ordeal that prompted an outpouring of support across the country.


“We just reached a point where it was going to be difficult for him to go on without pain,” co-owner Roy Jackson said. “It was the right decision, it was the right thing to do. We said all along if there was a situation where it would become more difficult for him then it would be time.”

A series of ailments, including laminitis in the left rear hoof and a recent abscess in the right rear hoof, proved too much for the gallant colt.

Barbaro battled in his ICU stall for eight months. The 4-year-old colt underwent several procedures and was fitted with fiberglass casts. He spent time in a sling to ease pressure on his legs, had pins inserted and was fitted at the end with an external brace. These were all extraordinary measures for a horse with such injuries.

Roy and Gretchen Jackson were with Barbaro on Monday morning, with the owners making the decision in consultation with chief surgeon Dr. Dean Richardson.

“I would say thank you for everything, and all your thoughts and prayers over the last eight months or so,” Jackson said to Barbaro’s fans.

On May 20, Barbaro was rushed to the New Bolton Center, about 30 miles from Philadelphia in Kennett Square, hours after shattering his right hind leg just a few strides into the Preakness Stakes. The bay colt underwent a five-hour operation that fused two joints, recovering from an injury most horses never survive. But Barbaro never regained his natural gait.

He suffered a significant setback over the weekend, and surgery was required to insert two steel pins in a bone — one of three shattered in the Preakness but now healthy — to eliminate all weight bearing on the ailing right rear foot.

The procedure Saturday was a risky one, because it transferred more weight to the leg while the foot rests on the ground bearing no weight.

The leg was on the mend until the abscess began causing discomfort last week. Until then, the major concern was Barbaro’s left rear leg, which developed laminitis in July, and 80 percent of the hoof was removed.

Richardson said Monday morning that Barbaro did not have a good night.

I believe Barbaro is the first former Triple Crown race winner in modern history to be euthanized due to race related injuries.

Barbaro’s death is sad but not unexpected. I never thought the horse had much of a chance and was surprised to see him live as long as he did.

What I say next may sound harsh, but I bet the only sadness the horse’s owners feel are in not in regards to the tragic death Barbaro suffered but to the hit to their pocket books from the vet bills and lost of income from Barbaro’s future as a stud horse. I’ve been around the horse racing business for a good chunk of my life. These animals are considered PROPERTY not pets to almost all those involved in the sport.

Note- I corrected my Triple Crown reference.

Cross Posted at Poliblog’s Deportes


Bobby Ross Resigns as Army Coach

Bobby Ross is resigning as head coach of Army Football.

Army coach Bobby Ross will announce his resignation at a 3 p.m. news conference Monday.

Ross’ impending resignation was first reported by The Times Herald-Record. The newspaper reported that offensive line coach Stan Brock is expected to replace Ross as head coach.

Army finished the 2006 season with six straight losses, including a 26-14 loss to Navy in the Black Knights’ season finale. In three seasons with Army, Ross was 9-25.

His highlight was a 4-7 record in 2005 — Army’s most victories in a season since 1997.

Ross has a 103-101-2 record in 18 collegiate seasons, including tenures at The Citadel, Maryland and Georgia Tech. He led the Yellow Jackets to a share of the national title in 1990.

Ross was 77-68 in the NFL, including guiding the Chargers to the Super Bowl in 1994. He walked away from his job as head coach of the Lions midway through the 2000 season.

It’s amazing that a man with a college national championship and a trip to the Super Bowl on his head coaching resume has such mediocre career records. It’s surprising, too, that he couldn’t resurrect the Black Knights. While it’s no doubt difficult to recruit blue chippers to the service academies, Navy and Air Force have been much more successful in recent years.


Bears arrive in Miami

No, Yogi and Boo Boo aren’t taking a vacation on South Beach, but rather we’re discussing this news.

MIAMI – Touchdown, Bears. The NFC champions arrived by charter plane to begin Super Bowl preparations, beating AFC champion Indianapolis to Miami by more than 24 hours.

With the game still six days away, the Colts have plenty of time to catch up. But Bears coach Lovie Smith was glad to be the first team in town, especially when a balmy breeze greeted him as he stepped off the plane Sunday.

“We left Chicago in the 20s with snow, and got a chance to come down here with sunshine and in the 70s. So we’re off to a good start,” Smith said. “I wanted to get down here as soon as possible. Up in Chicago we couldn’t practice right now out on the grass, so this is perfect for us.”

The Bears’ first workout at the University of Miami was scheduled for Monday. The Colts were to land Monday night, and the Pro Football Writers Association lodged a complaint about the team’s late arrival.

The PFWA needs a life. By arriving late, the Colts have done television viewers a favor. There will be one less day of Cliche ridden semi-coherent answers given by the Players in response to the dumb and often repetitive questions asked by the press in the run up to next Sunday’s game. Does anyone expect any real news(barring injury) to come out of the Colts or Bears camp between now and gametime?

Note- I got to thank AP and or Yahoo News headline writers for supplying me wisecrack material. Just one last question- Did Ranger Smith stay behind at Jellystone Park?


Shaquille O’Neal chases down hit and run driver

The injured Miami Heat center contiunes to make as much news off the court as on.

Heat center Shaquille O’Neal once again helped nab a suspect — and this time he was the alleged victim.

O’Neal, a reserve officer with the Miami Beach Police Department, followed a vehicle that allegedly crashed into his Cadillac Escalade and left the scene early Sunday, team spokesman Tim Donovan said Sunday.

Donovan said the incident happened after O’Neal and Jerome Crawford, a team security official, returned home from the Heat’s game at Chicago on Saturday night. Crawford and O’Neal were unloading the car at Crawford’s home in Coconut Grove, but weren’t in it during the alleged incident, Donovan said.

O’Neal and Crawford followed the vehicle for about five minutes while O’Neal called police, Donovan said, adding that the pursuit wasn’t at high speed and that police pulled over the alleged hit-and-run driver.

No further information was available from police Sunday.

This incident was at least the second time O’Neal has helped police apprehend a suspect. In September 2005 he followed and led police to a suspect who allegedly had thrown a bottle at two men walking on Miami Beach while shouting anti-gay slurs.

Shaq is better at catching criminals than shooting free throws.

Cross Posted at Poliblog’s Deportes


Tiger Woods wins his 7th straight PGA Tour title

After yesterday’s win at the Buick Invitational, Tiger only needs four more wins to tie Byron Nelson’s seemingly unbreakable record.

SAN DIEGO — Tiger Woods is more interested in a fifth green jacket at the Masters than 11 straight victories on the PGA Tour.

At this rate, he might have a chance at both.

Woods resumed his improbable pursuit of Byron Nelson with a predictable result at the Buick Invitational on Sunday, winning for the third straight year to stretch his PGA Tour winning streak to seven. That’s the second-longest streak in Tour history behind Nelson in 1945, and there is little evidence anyone can stop him.


He won by two shots and finished with a six-under 66, the best score all week on the demanding South Course, site of the U.S. Open next year.

Nelson’s record often has been thought to be untouchable, which now describes the world’s No. 1 player.


This is the second time Woods has made a run at Nelson, who died in September.

Woods won six straight in 2000, a streak that Phil Mickelson stopped at Torrey Pines. But against a cast of challengers short on experience or victories, Woods met little resistance in winning at Torrey Pines for the fifth time in 10 tries.

The only question is the veracity of the streak – Woods failed to win once in Europe and twice in Asia during his run – and when he will resume his chase of Nelson’s mark.

Woods could be in position to tie Byron Nelson’s record for consecutive PGA Tour wins in South Florida – or at the Masters.

It all depends upon whether Woods plays at Riviera in the Nissan Open, an event he’s played in the last three years but has failed to win in nine tries as a pro.

Woods is expected to play in the World Match Play Championship at Tucson, the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill in Orlando, and then the CA Championship at Doral on March 22-25. The CA Championship is a World Golf Championship event that replaced the Ford Championship at Doral.

If Woods adds the Nissan to his schedule, and he keeps winning, he would arrive at Doral – where he has won the past two years – in position to tie Nelson’s 62-year-old record of 11 Tour victories in a row.

Some comments

*- While golf has become a global game, I don’t see any reason not to consider Woods streak as valid. Just so long as it applies to PGA Tour records.

*- Tiger does face a major obstacle in regards to the Nissan Open.(or LA Open as in Los Angeles not Lake Arrowhead, Louisiana or West Patterson New Jersey) Open. His best ever finish in that tournament is a playoff loss to Billy Mayfair in 1998. That didn’t even take place at Riviera.

If I was Tiger and wanted to keep the streak alive, I’d play at Pebble Beach. Tiger won both the US Open and the yearly tour stop there in 2000.

My bet is Tiger plays at Riviera and the streak comes to an end there.

Cross posted at Poliblog’s Deportes

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