Sports Outside the Beltway

Former Dolphin Head Coach Cam Cameron to be Off Coordinator for Baltimore

It took Cameron almost precisely three weeks to find new employment in the NFL.

Cam Cameron was named Ravens offensive coordinator yesterday, becoming new coach John Harbaugh’s first and perhaps most important hire.

If Harbaugh wants to turn around the Ravens in the 2008 season, he’ll need Cameron to revitalize an offense that has consistently ranked among the NFL’s worst for a decade.

Before he was fired as head coach of the 1-15 Miami Dolphins three weeks ago, Cameron built a reputation for directing one of the NFL’s most explosive attacks. In his last three seasons as the San Diego Chargers’ offensive coordinator (2004-2006), the team finished in the NFL’s top five in scoring, averaging 28.3 points a game.

I think Cameron got less than a fair deal with Miami. Yes he made mistakes, but I would have been willing to give Cam another shot in 2008 with Miami. The Dolphins were long on the way to falling apart before Cameron’s arrival. Cameron had just the bad luck to be present at the collapse. With apologies to the late Dean Acheson. LOL

I wish Coach Cameron well in Baltimore.


Banging my head against the wall- Florida blows 3-1 lead and loses to Edmonton

Another late game loss by the Panthers.

SUNRISE, Fla. – Jarret Stoll scored twice in the final 1:23 of regulation to force overtime and help the Edmonton Oilers beat Florida 4-3 in a shootout Thursday.

Shawn Horcoff scored the only goal in the shootout, and Oilers goalie Mathieu Baron stopped Nathan Horton, Kamil Kreps and Olli Jokinen.

Ethan Moreau also scored in regulation for Edmonton, which won for only the second time in its last six games.

Jokinen, Brett McLean, and Gregory Campbell scored for Florida, which snapped a six-game home losing streak with a 5-3 victory over Ottawa in its previous game.

Florida All-Star Tomas Vokoun made 37 saves and Garon stopped 32 shots in regulation and overtime in Edmonton’s first visit to the Panthers since Dec. 7, 2002.

Stoll beat Vokoun with a slap shot from the point to make it 3-2 at 18:37 on a power play after the Oilers had pulled Garon.

A miscue by Vokoun led to Stoll’s second goal at 19:08. Vokoun went behind the net to play the puck but let it get past him. Stoll raced to the puck and fired a pass to the front of the net that bounced in off the inside of Vokoun’s leg.

This is at least the fourth game Florida has blown in the last minute of play this year. There were losses to Nashville and Toronto where Florida’s opponent scored in the last half minute of play to win. There was another game against Tampa Bay I think where a team scored in the last minute to tie and then won in OT. I think there is even a fifth example of Florida failing to close out a game, but I forgot the specifics.

Florida is playing at best mediocre hockey and the team has better talent than that. I don’t know if its the coaching or lackadaisical play. Even so Florida remains less than five points out of the lead in the Southeast Division. That with one less game played also compared to Carolina. If the Panthers could get their act together, they can win the division. Florida should win the Southeast, but after hearing enough of that broken record of mine, I’m losing faith in this team. If you can’t beat one of the worst teams in the NHL with a 2-goal lead and less than two minutes to go, how are you supposed to make the playoffs?


Golfer Rory Sabbatini gives $170,000 to US military charity

Before we get to that, we have to hear about the Tiger Woods-Rory feud.

The weather at Torrey Pines was unseasonably cold during Thursday’s first round of the Buick Invitational, but things got even chillier in the press room when Rory Sabbatini and Tiger Woods walked past each other after both shot five-under 67s to tie for third place.

No hello. No smile. No handshake. Nothing.

So much for their frosty relationship warming up since Sabbatini angered Woods and other top golfers by pulling out of Woods’ Target World Challenge last month before the final round without talking to a tournament official. Before that, Sabbatini took several verbal jabs at Woods last year, saying the world’s No. 1-ranked player was “as beatable as ever.”

Woods said after Target’s final round he would “get to the bottom” of why Sabbatini withdrew from his tournament, but clearly Woods hasn’t wasted much time worrying about Sabbatini.

“I haven’t talked to him about any of it,” Woods said. “It is what it is.”

Sabbatini also was tight-lipped when asked about his relationship with Woods. “As far as I understand there’s no animosity,” Sabbatini said. “We’re both competitors and we both want to win. That’s the situation.”

Sabbatini’s agent said his client withdrew because he had shin splints, but Sabbatini admitted that wasn’t the case, saying he was “tired.”

Sabbatini at least took a step toward mending his image this week when he donated his Target last-place check of $170,000 to the United Through Reading Foundation, which assists servicemen and women and their families who are in combat overseas.

This isn’t the first time Rory has been generous to US servicemen and their families. Read this news from three years ago.

Dublin, Ohio: If Rory Sabbatini qualifies for the NEC Invitational this year, those in the know won’t disparage his unusual choice of Thursday attire, which is actually a tribute to soldiers in Iraq.

The 29-year-old South African started wearing camouflage pants in February as a tribute to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which provides aid to families of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

His wife, Amy, read an article about the US government’s poor death benefits and the charity in an airline magazine and called it to his attention.

With Sabbatini donating $US250 ($332) for each birdie and $US1000 for each eagle, the fund jumped by $US1500 after the first round of the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield Village Golf Club. Sabbatini turned in his best score in camouflage, firing a six-under-par 66 to trail leader Jeff Sluman by one shot.

Rory, who’s South African not American, should be cut more than a little slack. He’s not a saint, Tiger Woods isn’t. They don’t get along, do all players get along on tour? Tiger’s relationships with Vijay Singh and Phil Mickelson has been frosty also. Some of Tiger’s conduct has included-

1- A hot headed caddy named Steve Williams whom he refuses to reel in,
2- Deliberately defaced a green at the US Open
3- let go another caddy for little more than making money because he had become well known for being Tiger’s caddy. Remember Mike Cowan’s television commercials in the late 90′s?

Rory and Tiger have issues between themselves. Tiger has some issues also. The Golf media blows things up bigger than they ever should be. Like how much Tiger is becoming a Daddy talk did we hear in 2007? Zack Johnson, The Masters Champ, became a first time Dad last year. Four LPGA golfers gave birth in 2007, some even coming back to play in the same year. How much press did Zach or Hee Won Han get for their baby making? Catorina Matthew came within one 30-foot putt from winning the Kraft Nabisco less than six months after giving birth. I think we can all agree, Mothers have it a great deal tougher than fathers when it comes to child rearing.

Kudos to Rory for his generosity. How many US born pros on the PGA Tour are that generous to our fighting men and women?


Ottawa Senator Daniel Alfredsson scores 7 pts in win over Tampa Bay

And you were worried the defending Eastern Conference Champ may miss Deny Heatley. From AP-

TAMPA, Fla. – Daniel Alfredsson had three goals and four assists for an Ottawa-record seven points, leading the struggling Senators to an 8-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night.

Alfredsson and Jason Spezza, who had two goals and two assists, scored 29 seconds apart during Ottawa’s three-goal first period. The Senators’ captain added a short-handed goal and his 500th career assist in the second as the Senators took a 5-0 lead.

Alfredsson topped his career high of six points at Buffalo on Nov. 2, 2005.


Alfredsson scored from the top of the left circle at 13:43 of the first. Spezza made it 2-0 from the high slot at 14:12.

Alfredsson scored a power-play goal with 1:19 left in the first and added his sixth short-handed goal of the season on a 2-on-1 to put Ottawa up 4-0 at 4:38 of the second.

Alfredsson got his 500th career assist on Vermette’s goal later in the second at 9:36.

One third of Ottawa’s ‘Cash line’, Alfredsson has been one of the NHL’s most consistent scorers for over a decade. All for Ottawa. Its players like Alfrdesson, Heatley, and others who make the Senator’s the class of the Eastern Conference.


Tampa Bay Buc FB Mike Alstott announces his retirement

He was a throwback to the days when fullbacks actually ran the ball. From the Orlando Sentinel-

Fullback Mike Alstott, maybe the most beloved player in Tampa Bay Buccaneers history, announced his retirement after 12 record-breaking seasons during an emotional morning news conference at team headquarters.

“Mentally, I feel like I can continue; physically I can’t,” said Alstott, the franchise’s all-time leader in touchdowns. “I’m very sad to be walking away from the game I love.”

Alstott, 34, spent the entire 2007 season on injured reserve after suffering his second neck injury in less than four years during training camp at Disney’s Wide World of Sports last August.


Alstott had a laundry list of people to thank, starting with former coach Tony Dungy, who along with former General Manager Rich McKay made Alstott the team’s second-round pick (35th overall) in the 1996 draft.

Alstott rewarded the Bucs with 5,088 career yards, a team-record 71 touchdowns (including 58 on the ground), 305 receptions, six Pro Bowl appearances and seven playoff berths during a career defined by a blue-collar style and the club’s rise from laughingstock franchise to world champion.

Alstott was a good player. Most fullbacks today have two jobs- block and occasionally go out for a pass. Run the ball? Maybe I’ve watched too much Miami Dolphin football over the last 10 years, but FBs taking handoffs seems to be something from a long ago era. It would shock me to see Miami use a FB like they did with Csonka in the 70′s, or even Andra Franklin from the 80′s, these days. Enjoy your retirement Mike.


Yankee News – Jan 24 edition

Great Q & A session with Phil Hughes over at his place. The best part:

Your mechanics/delivery seemed to get a lot closer to where it was before the hamstring injury (first 2 starts) upon the arrival of Dave Eiland back in September of last years, do you credit your late season success to this?

After coming back from my injury last season my mechanics were a little out of whack. This led to a little loss of velocity and command. When Dave arrived in September we were able to work out some things and I think that had a lot to do with the success I had at the end of the season. It was nice to finish off the year on a good note so I have something to work toward to get back to my normal self in 2008.

Good to know that it was in fact Dave Eiland that allowed Hughes to have a great September and October. I’m very looking forward to a full season of his tutelage.

- The Yanks and Robbie Cano are close to signing a four-year extension worth $30 million (with two team option years). It would buy out all his arbitration years and one or two years of free agency (through his age 30 season). Even if Cano never got any better, he would still be worth every penny. His career line is a robust: .314/.346/.489 through the age of only 24. He’s sixth all-time among second baseman through the age of 24, and the best second baseman in the AL over the last three years (and the youngest in the top 10).

Other non-newsworthy stuff:
- The Yanks had the highest payroll (again). $218.3 million; tell me something I don’t know.

- Chuck Knoblauch was subpoenaed by Congress. I really don’t care anymore.

- Tom Brady wore a cast, then he didn’t, then he was a no-show for the media portion of his practice. What’s it all mean? My best guess is that it’s a ploy by Belichick and Co. to unnerve and confuse the Giants. Yeah, that’s it.


Miracle in Minneapolis- Timberwolves beat Suns 117-107

The wolves have won two in a row now. From AP-

MINNEAPOLIS – Al Jefferson and the Minnesota Timberwolves believe they’re headed for better days. Beating the Phoenix Suns — again — is surely a decent sign of progress.

Jefferson had a career-high 39 points and 15 rebounds, and the Timberwolves won two in a row for the first time this season, 117-107 over the Western Conference leaders on Wednesday night.

“I think they have kind of turned the corner,” Suns coach Mike D’Antoni said.

Amare Stoudemire led Phoenix with 33 points, but only 19 of them came in the last 43 minutes. The Suns, whose 30-13 record is behind only Boston for league supremacy, had their four-game winning streak stopped.

If the Timberwolves can win two in a row maybe the Miami Heat can too. First Miami will have to win a single game, right now they have lost 14 in a row and with Shaq out for at least two weeks, a single triumph seems fleeting at this moment.


Atlanta Falcons hire Mike Smith to be head Coach

He had been defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars since 2003. From AP-

ATLANTA – The Atlanta Falcons’ new rookie coach already is sounding like the veteran who took the team to its only Super Bowl. Mike Smith, the former Jacksonville defensive coordinator hired by the Falcons on Wednesday night, could have been reading from former Atlanta coach Dan Reeves’ script.

“My goal is to build a well-disciplined, hard-nosed football team that will be able to run the football on offense and stop the run on defense,” Smith said. “I’ve always believed that’s what makes championship teams.”

Reeves used that formula to take the Falcons to the NFC championship in 1998. Reeves’ successor, Jim Mora, also stressed the run in his three years. Then came Bobby Petrino, who lasted only 13 games.

In announcing his first hire as general manager, Thomas Dimitroff said Smith “possesses all of the key qualities we were looking for in a head coach.”

Dimitroff said the 48-year-old Smith, a 26-year coaching veteran and the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator since 2003, “has strong experience with winning teams, a track record of success, a solid, smart approach to the game, and high character and integrity.”

Unless I’m mistaken, Smith was on no one’s hot list for potential head NFL coaches. That can change rapidly, I never heard of Tony Sparano till the Miami Dolphins hired Bill Parcells.

Smith faces a daunting task in Atlanta. Sometimes miracles do happen, who thought Chuck Noll would turn around long-time NFL cellar dweller Pittsburgh. I wish Mike Smith good luck, he’s going to need it.


Phil Mickelson undergoes a gender change

If you don’t believe me, check out the screen capture or go vist Golfweek’s website and see what is listed under LPGA news.

Believe me now? The careless golf media has struck again. Maybe the magazine needs to do something outlandish every week. First it was a noose, now Phil Mickelson’s gender, what’s next? A Martian wants to try for a PGA Tour card?

Here is a website where Phil’s breasts have been discussed. Will Phil be wearing a skirt in San Diego this weekend? If he does, expect those Phil lovers at Golf World to put it on the cover even if he or I mean she finishes dead last. Stay tuned.

In all seriousness, the Golf media has ignored the biggest golf news of last week, the Philippines team winning the Women’s World Cup. That was a monumental upset, but very few people are talking about it. Phil Mickelson being ill, or he and Tiger making their first appearances of 2008, or just speculating on what these two golfers are about to do this year, are all more signifigant to the people covering the sport. A pretty sad state of affairs for women’s golf and the golf media, don’t you think?

Added note- Being nice, I called Golfweek and informed someone named Ryan about their little mistake. He said it will fixed soon. So I bet the link won’t be working shortly. Isn’t snagit wonderful?

2nd added note- Golfweek fixed their front page but didn’t fix their LPGA news page. They are so incompetent they can’t do their corrections right.


Ilya Bryzgalov signs 3-year contract extension with Phoenix Coyotes

The Russian born goalie was put on waivers by Anaheim barely two months ago. From AP-

PHOENIX — Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov has signed a three-year contract extension with the Phoenix Coyotes, the young team he has helped become a winner this season.

A league source, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the club does not make salaries public, said the deal is worth $12.75 million.

Acquired off waivers from the Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks last Nov. 17, Bryzgalov has played a crucial role in the Coyotes’ surprising surge into contention for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

“I chose to stay in Phoenix because I love our fans, my teammates and I’m confident that we have a bright future ahead of us,” Bryzlagov said Tuesday in a news release announcing the signing.

The 27-year-old Russian has appeared in 28 games for Phoenix, going 16-10-2 with a 2.33 goals-against average. Counting his time with Anaheim early in the season, Bryzgalov is 18-13-3 with a 2.38 GAA.

He has an NHL career record of 43-33-10 with a 2.44 GAA in 97 games.

Bryzgalov won his first four games with the Coyotes.

“He’s a world-class goaltender with a Stanley Cup on his resume and has been a great addition to our hockey club,” general manager Don Maloney said. “We are thrilled to have him in a Coyotes uniform for the next three years.”

Bryzgalov’s career has taken some odd twists of late. He was a member of a Stanley Cup Championship team, then shopped around during the off-season(he was rumored to go to Florida before the Vokoun deal happened), then released by the Ducks because of disagreements with his coach and picked up by Phoenix. I truly think Anaheim is going to regret letting go of this goalie. Bryzgalov’s at least the match of Jean-Sebastien Giguere the Ducks’ current goalie IMHO and three years younger to boot. Letting Bryzgalov go to a division rival I think will boomerang on Anaheim long-term.


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