Sports Outside the Beltway

Out of time- Chicago beats Minnesota 36-30

The Bears beat the Vikings for the 8th time in their last nine Windy City meetings. From AP-

Brett Favre cranked up and made one more impossible throw, zinging a touchdown pass in the fading seconds. Too bad for the Minnesota Vikings, that merely put them into overtime.Minn-Chi

Once again, they came up short. And the way Favre sees it, they’re headed to an early playoff exit.

The Vikings lost again Monday night, beaten by the Chicago Bears 36-30 when Jay Cutler tossed a 39-yard strike to Devin Aromashodu. Minnesota fell for the third time in four games, and the defeat gave the New Orleans Saints home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.


Favre has never led a team to a win after trailing by 17 or more points, falling to 0-43 in such situations. The Bears were up 23-6 in the third quarter and the Vikings were able to tie it twice.


They started 10-1 behind a resurgent Favre, but have tailed off since. Favre had a good game after three mediocre performances, completing 26 of 40 passes for 321 yards and two touchdowns. Peterson ran for 94 yards and two scores, but the Vikings simply couldn’t pull this one out.

I watched parts of last night’s game. When the score reached 23-6, I decided to go to bed. Then I couldn’t fall asleep and turned the game back on to find Minnesota was driving for a touchdown that would tie the game at 23-23. I stuck around for the rest.

Favre was very impressive last night but one game does that outweigh the mountain of evidence since that this quarterback fades at the end of the season. Since the Vikings will get a first round bye, I can see them making the NFC Championship game but IMHO they won’t get to the Super Bowl with Favre leading the team.


New York Mets sign Pitcher Kelvim Escobar

The right handed pitcher only appeared in one MLB game during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. From AP-

The New York Mets have signed right-hander Kelvim Escobar to a one-year contract.

The team announced the deal on Monday. He was expected to get $1.25 million.

Escobar, an 18-game winner in 2007, missed nearly all of the past two seasons with the Los Angeles Angels because of shoulder trouble. If healthy, he would likely work out of the bullpen for the Mets, who are looking for setup help for All-Star closer Francisco Rodriguez.

Signing a pitcher with Escobar’s health history is always risky. Since it’s only a one-year low priced contract, I think the gamble the Mets are taking is worth a shot.


Texas Tech suspends Coach Mike Leach

I’ve heard many a tale of coach abuse of college athletes, but never imprisonment or kidnapping. From ESPN-

Texas Tech coach Mike Leach has been suspended while the school investigates complaints from a player and his family about treatment after an injury.Mike Leach

The school said in a release Monday defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill will be the interim coach and lead the team in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Jan. 2 against Michigan State. McNeill will remain in charge of the team until the investigation is complete.

The player, Adam James, is a redshirt sophomore wide receiver for the Red Raiders and the son of ESPN college football analyst Craig James.

A source close to the family told ESPN’s Joe Schad that James sustained a concussion on Dec. 16, was examined on Dec. 17 and told not to practice due to a concussion and an elevated heart rate. The source said Leach called a trainer and directed him to move James “to the darkest place, to clean out the equipment and to make sure that he could not sit or lean. He was confined for three hours.”

According to the source, Leach told the trainer, two days later, to “put [James] in the darkest, tightest spot. It was in an electrical closet, again, with a guard posted outside.”

An attorney for Leach said that while James was secluded twice, the circumstances were not as portrayed in that account.

If Leach had James involuntarily confined under any circumstances, he just shouldn’t be fired but criminally prosecuted. He had no right to imprison anyone for any length of time.

The Lubbock Avalanche Journal has more-

Leach had until Monday to write an apology and when he did not, the university felt it had to take action.

“This was not taken lightly,” the source said, adding that Leach did not show any signs of remorse or did not say he wouldn’t do it again. The player suffered a concussion at practice on Dec. 16 and Leach thought the player was faking.

The article went on to say Leach didn’t have James confined just once but twice. Texas Tech should fire this idiot and Texas prosecutors bring him up on criminal charges. Leach should spend some time behind bars and be shown how it feels to be imprisoned and have your rights taken away.


NY Knicks Nate Robinson fined $25,000 for agent’s remarks

He wants a trade and has been benched by Coach Mike D’Antoni. From AP-

New York Knicks guard Nate Robinson has been fined $25,000 by the NBA for remarks made by his agent.Nate Robinson

The penalty was issued Monday. Robinson has been benched for 12 straight games by coach Mike D’Antoni.

Agent Aaron Goodwin recently told reporters he’d asked the Knicks to move Robinson to another team.

The NBA also fined former Golden State Warrior Stephen Jackson for publicly demanding a trade. I hold to the same view on Robinson that I took in regards to Jackson. If the Knicks can’t trade Robinson, they should swallow his salary and cut him loose. In any case, he is of no use to the team as long as he is benched by D’Antoni.


NY Ranger Vinny Prospal to have knee surgery

The well traveled winger currently leads his team in assists. From AP-

New York Rangers top-line forward Vinny Prospal is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery that will keep him out for at least 10 days, and maybe up to three weeks.

Prospal, in his first season with New York, was injured Saturday night in the Rangers’ 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Islanders. The surgery took place on Monday morning.

In 38 games this season, while playing alongside NHL goal leader Marian Gaborik, the 34-year-old left winger has eight goals and 32 points. His 24 assists are tops on the Rangers and 19th best in the league.

Prospal’s 8 goals is third on the Ranges only to Gaborik and Ryan Callahan. As New York is struggling offensively, the loss of Prospal has to be rated as significant. The Rangers play 6 games in the next 10 days, which is the shortest time frame for Prospal’s return.


Get out your slide rules- AFC Wild Card picture time

Yesterday I expressed disbelief that some how the Miami Dolphins could some how still be in the playoff picture after their loss to Houston made them 7-8. Before I write anything more, I’ll break down how the AFC stands at this moment.sliderule

Division Champions that receive first round byes- Indianapolis 14-1, San Diego 12-3
Division Champions- New England 10-5, Cincinnati 10-5. As of this moment the Patriots are the #3 seed.
Out of the playoff picture entirely- Kansas City, Cleveland, Oakland, Buffalo, Tennessee

While those five teams can not make the post season, more than one of them can play the part of spoiler this weekend.

Wild card contenders- Denver, New York Jets, Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans, and Pittsburgh Steelers all at 8-7. Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars at 7-8.

Next week’s games involving wild card contenders

Bengals at Jets
Chiefs at Broncos
Ravens at Raiders
Texans at Patriots
Steelers at Dolphins
Jaguars at Browns

Remarkably not one AFC playoff contender is playing an out of conference team to finish the 2009 schedule. San Diego who has clinched a playoff spot and Tennessee who is out of the picture are both playing NFC teams next weekend.

Last night before going to bed I scoured ESPN and South Florida media websites looking for an article with an AFC playoff picture explanation. None were available.

This morning the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald, and ESPN all had articles up on the playoff picute. Not surprisingly the Post and Herald focused on Miami. ESPN just summarized how the standings are at this moment and projected the first round of the playoffs as if play ended today.(The Jets and Broncos would qualify) What a lot of good that is.Cray X1E

Maybe ESPN didn’t have enough bandwith free to post all the possible playoff scenarios. Perhaps they needed a Cray super computer to do the calculations, or even if they had one available the power drain of using it threatened to blackout the entire Northeast.(ESPN is based out of Conecticut.)

Bottom line so far as I am concerned The Miami Dolphins are alive but their chances are slim and the New York Jets are in control of their own destiny.

For Miami to make the post season all of the following needs to take place-

Bengals beat the Jets
Raiders beat Ravens
Patriots beat Texans
Browns beat Jaguars
Dolphins beat Steelers

Neither the Herald or Post made mention of Denver. Therefore I assume whether Denver wins or loses next Sunday, it has no impact on Miami’s playoff chances.

All of which could plausibly happen. The Raiders or Browns winning would be considered upsets. Right now I have as much confidence in those teams winning as I do in Miami beating Pittsburgh.

Like ESPN, I won’t list all the playoff scenarios. I don’t think OTB’s owner James Joyner would appreciate me crashing his website and I’ve been kicked off one blog already this year.


Buzzer beater- LA Clippers beat Boston 92-90

Believe it or not, the downtrodden Clippers have beaten the Celtics at the Staples Center two years in a row. From AP-

For the first 47 1/2 minutes, Rajon Rondo was quicker, sharper and smoother than Baron Davis.

In the final seconds, the Boston youngster just couldn’t match the bearded one’s California cool.

Davis hit a long fallaway jumper at the buzzer after Rondo missed two free throws 1.5 seconds earlier, and the Los Angeles Clippers dramatically snapped the Celtics’ nine-game road winning streak with a 92-90 victory on Sunday night.

Davis had 24 points and 13 assists for the Clippers, whose three-game losing streak ended when Davis took an inbounds pass with a second left, pivoted and hopped backward for a perfect 22-footer while drawing a little contact from Rondo, giving Los Angeles its only lead of the second half.

The win makes Los Angeles 13-17 for the 2009-10 NBA season or 13th out of 15 in the Western conference. Which isn’t as bad as it sounds. The Clippers are 2.5 games out of 9th and well ahead of Minnesota and Golden State the two conference tailenders.

As for the Celtics, they are 23-6 now. Cleveland trails Boston by a half game in the Eastern Conference.


Philadelphia keeps winning streak against NY Islanders in tact with 2-1 win

The Flyers have won 13 straight games against their Atlantic Division rival. From AP-

Jeff Carter snapped a tie in the second period and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the New York Islanders for the 13th straight time, 2-1 on Sunday night.Leighton

The Flyers, who have won three in a row overall for the first time in two months, haven’t lost to the Islanders since Feb. 12, 2008. It is the longest active streak in the NHL, one win more than Washington’s current 12-game run over Tampa Bay.

Danny Briere scored in the first period to give the Flyers their first lead and he nearly added another goal in the third, but that one was waved off. Video replay determined that Briere steered his own shot in with a skate after the puck hit goalie Martin Biron at the end of a 2-on-1 rush.

One key to Philadelphia’s win was the excellent goaltending by Michael Leighton. Leighton, who had been positively dreadful in goal till a week ago, has played very good his last two games.

As have the Flyers whose win and loss totals for the 2009-10 NHL are now identical. Players and teams can have momentum swings in the NHL. Fans and bloggers shouldn’t become either too excited or depressed by the results of just a few games though it is hard to not be cheerful after seeing your favorite team win a few games.

I can hardly wait for the Florida Panthers to win 12….cough 6…. cough 4 games in a row against any team. Or 4 games in a row period.


Time for the fat lady to sing?- Houston beats Miami 27-20

Were Dolphin fans singing ‘Next season, next season, we’ll be back next season. Next season is a year away’ as they exited Dolphins Stadium* today? From AP-

By the second quarter, the Houston Texans were running up the score. By the fourth quarter, they were struggling to run out the clock.Mia-Hou

Houston raced to an early 27-point lead Sunday, then held on to beat the Miami Dolphins 27-20.

The Texans (8-7) scored on their first five possessions and won despite being outscored 20-0 in the final 31 minutes. Houston kept alive its slim hopes of making the playoffs for the first time, while defending AFC East champion Miami (7-8) was all but eliminated.

What do you mean? Could Miami some how still qualify for the post season. With all those teams with 7 losses in the AFC, I can see how in theory the Dolphins could have a glimmer of hope. Record aside, Miami isn’t a playoff quality football team at present.

The Texans dominated the first 25 minutes of football today. Houston was ahead 27-0 and I saw the game ending something like 41 or 44-10.

Miami clawed their way back into the game. Early in the 4th Quarter, Chad Henne hit Ted Ginn for like a 60 yard touchdown pass to make it a 10-point game. Then a penalty flag for tripping, brought the ball back. After that, I was reconciled to a Miami loss and that was what happened.

Houston continues to have the Dolphins number. Miami has lost all five times the two teams have met. It is too early to tell if the Texans and Dolphins will meet again next year. If they do, I’m inclined to mark it as a Miami defeat right now.

*- I refuse to call the Miami Dolphins home stadium by it’s official and very dumb name. The good news, there will be a name change very soon. Bad News- The company buying name rights to Dolphins Stadium is based out of Canada.

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Meadowlands Fumble II- Carolina routs NY Giants 41-9

The last game played by the Giants at Giants Stadium may have been the most embarrassing ever. From AP-

Matt Moore and the Carolina Panthers turned the New York Giants’ farewell to Giants Stadium into one of their ugliest moments in franchise history.

Playing in front of Lawrence Taylor — possibly their greatest player — and knowing they still had a shot at a fifth straight playoff berth, the Giants (8-7) embarrassed themselves against the Panthers, a team with nothing at stake. Moore threw three touchdown passes, Jonathan Stewart rushed for a career-best 209 yards and the Panthers (7-8) shredded New York’s defense with scores on six of their first seven possessions in a 41-9 victory before a disgusted final sellout crowd Sunday.

The Giants’ postseason chances are microscopic.

The Giants would have to win their final game against Minnesota and have Dallas lose their last two. I don’t see that happening.

I grew up on Long Island and lived there till 1976. After moving to Florida, I still visited the New York City frequently. That and having a father who liked his children to sporting events, enabled me to go to most of the major sports stadiums, arenas and racetracks in the area. Other than perhaps Freehold Raceway in New Jersey, Shea Stadium was the ballpark we went to the most often.

Giants Stadium, which opened in 1976, is the only major sports facility open prior to 2009 in the NY/NJ area that I have never been to. Down here in South Florida, I have never been to Dolphins Stadium or the BAC where the Florida Panthers play. I’m seriously thinking of ending the later blackout. There are two upcoming Panther home games that won’t be on television.


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