Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Tuesday 11/27 A.M. Quickie:
Sean Taylor, Johan, Sherman, Caron, More

Today's Names to Know: Sean Taylor, Johan Santana, 3-0, Ricky Williams, Houston Nutt, Mike Sherman, Bobby Petrino, Caron Butler, Beno Udrih, Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2008 and More!

UPDATE: RIP Sean Taylor, Cont'd: If one detail about Sean Taylor's death has stuck with me -- and, no question, this is simply my personal filtering of the story -- it is that Taylor's daughter is the same age as my son, 18 months. I presume Taylor was as devoted to her as I am to mine. I can only imagine his horror at the thought of an intruder in his house, of his daughter (and his fiancee) in mortal danger. I cannot possibly imagine -- nor, frankly, do I want to -- her life without her father. If death is ultimately about the survivors, my thoughts and prayers for the future are -- more than anyone -- with his little girl.

Sean Taylor is Dead: Thoughts, prayers and condolences for his family, friends and fans in one of the more swift and stunning tragedies the sports world has experienced in recent memory.

We think of NFL players as being larger-than-life... real-life Supermen. When they are victims in something as violent and ultimately fatal as a shooting, it really rattles fans in a way that few other incidents involving (or against) athletes can.

Anyway: There is very little consolation to offer at a moment of such tragedy. If you are a Redskins fan or a University of Miami fan who rooted for him more deeply or directly than the rest of us, you have our condolences. To his family and friends, only sincere sympathy at what will undoubtedly be a brutal grieving process.

UPDATE: Gatorade inventor Robert Cade is dead at 80. More on this tomorrow. Here's one of my favorite TV ads from the past year, as a tribute.

Johan Santana to... the Yankees? You KNEW the Yankees had to be players, just as you knew that all that talk about Hughes, Kennedy and Chamberlain being "untouchable" was bunk, if the right player came along -- say, the greatest pitcher in baseball in the prime of his career. If the Yankees got Santana, to go along with A-Rod, that gives them a 1-2 punch of the best pitcher and best hitter, both on one team.

MNF: Worst. Game. Ever? It is arguable that a 0-0 tie through 59 minutes and 43 seconds would have some ring of novelty, particularly when one of the participating teams is on pace for the worst season in history -- with a chance to either win (or even tie)... or continue the streak of futility. After all, the NFL hadn't seen a scoreless game go that long in more than six decades.

But, no: This game must have been absolutely brutal to watch. (I certainly didn't.) It does beg the question whether any game could be that bad when the outcome isn't decided until the game's final seconds.

It depends: In a highlight-driven culture, do you value games you are only tangentially following more for their dramatic endings or their end-to-end ebbs and flows?

(I will say this: For Dolphins fans, apparently, it can get worse. This result was a new low in a season where rock bottom has become a moving target. It's almost fun: How will the Fins find a way to lose next?)

Ricky Williams Watch: 6 rushes, 15 yards, 1 shoulder injury.

National Anthem Scandal: Because of the bad weather, they did not play the National Anthem before the Steelers-Dolphins game. Reportedly, there was no negative reaction from fans, which is curious, if only because playing the Anthem before sports events is such an ingrained part of our culture. I guess "get the game going already, in this nasty effing weather" trumps nationalism.

CFB Coaching Carousel: Arkansas' Houston Nutt resigns, which – despite seeing this coming from before the season – seemed strange, given that he just produced what was arguably the single finest win in the SEC this season.

I could see Nutt getting a gig quickly, perhaps even in the SEC at Ole Miss? He's a bit of a freak, and the Rebels are already coming off of four freaky years of Ed Orgeron.

Meanwhile, is Nebraska still talking about Turner Gill? (Shakes head. I got a lot of email yesterday from Nebraska fans agreeing that while Gill is one of the program's favorite sons, he isn't necessarily the ideal hire.)

Now, I'm all for increasing minority hiring among head coaches in college football – long overdue and desperately needed – but if you're putting a guy like Gill in a position where he's near-guaranteed to fail, that doesn't help anyone.

However: The appropriate response to the above statement would be to note that Sylvester Croom was also seemingly put in a position to fail, without any head-coaching experience, and he turned Mississippi State into a 7-win, bowl-eligible team that is one of the great success stories of the season -- and one of the great college football turnaround jobs of the decade.

There's another analogue that might pop up: Northwestern promoted then-32-year-old Pat Fitzgerald (like Gill, arguably his program's most beloved player ever) to head coach despite essentially zero experience. The big difference: That was Northwestern, which could afford to take a flier on a young coach; this is Nebraska, where -- despite recent problems -- fans still expect 9-plus wins a year and being competitive for the Big 12 title...right NOW and perpetually.

Viewed through those lenses, why not Gill? Hey, after Callahan, Nebraska can't do worse. OK, I have just convinced myself that Turner Gill would be a good hire. Perhaps it is Nebraska's shaky hiring record in the post-Osborne Era that has me thinking that anyone they are targeting can't be particularly good, regardless of experience level or any other factor.

Mike Sherman unveiled as Texas A&M head coach: I said this yesterday. Even with his college experience as an assistant, he is totally unprepared for the unique rigors of college football, in a way that many/most NFL head coaches are unprepared, if they haven't ever been a college head coach (particularly in the last 10 years, as recruiting has become WAY more of a sport than the games themselves).

(Tying the above two items together: TAMU is under fire for only interviewing Sherman, and not even attempting the perception of a diverse hiring process. Sometimes, the point of diversity in the process is not to actually hire minorities, but simply to give minority candidates the chance to go through the interview process, giving them good experience for future job opportunities. In a sport with as wretched a minority hiring history – and reality – as college football, a more open process wouldn't have been too much to ask from the Aggies.)

Does Bobby Petrino want out? Speaking of the transition from college to the NFL (or vice versa), Bobby Petrino's name came up, as it will for every major college coaching job between now and the day he actually leaves the Falcons for a major college coaching job (which he absolutely will, inevitably). Coaching the Falcons has sucked; his Louisville program, polished for a national title run, imploded without him. I can't see him leaving for any of the jobs currently open. But if, say, Les Miles goes to Michigan, would Petrino leave the NFL for LSU? I would if I was him.

More: Georgia Tech fires Chan Gailey... Duke fires Ted Roof... Southern Miss' Jeff Bower resigns... In a nice change of pace, Indiana gave interim coach Bill Lynch a deal through 2011, after he took over for the late Terry Hoeppner.

Coach of the Year: Today is your last day to vote in the first stage of the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. After today, the Top 25 list goes to an expert panel (not me, btw) that will use a set of criteria (on and off the field) to pick the Top 10 finalists, which fans and experts will then vote on throughout December. Check out the voting at coachoftheyear.com, and while you're there, check out the blog I have been filing for them all season long in a special partnership between DS.com and the LMCOY Award.

New Deadspin CFB column, out yesterday: Two corrections. (1) Add Virginia Tech to the list of teams worth considering if both Mizzou and West Virgina lose (Which. Won't. Happen.) (2) Darren McFadden had the best REGULAR-SEASON performance by an individual player I have seen in the last decade; the best performance, period, came from Vince Young in the national title game against USC. (Parsing? Yes. But that is how I've always rolled.)

NBA: I will lift my ban on talking about the Mavs long enough to point out that the Arenas-free Wizards hung the first home loss on Dallas of the season (and 3rd straight overall), behind 35 from Caron Butler, who has turned into a front-line (if still highly underrated) NBA star in the absence of Gilbert.

Last night's NBA Stud (Player): Beno Udrih, formerly of the Spurs, who scored 27 and locked down Tony Parker in leading his new team, the Kings, to a decisive upset win in Sacto. (You would have thought that one of the Spurs' main rivals in the West would have been interested in having a guy like Udrih around for the playoffs in the spring.)

NBA Stud (Team): The Magic, who became the first team to 13 wins, with a win over the Blazers in Portland. If the season ended today, Dwight Howard would be MVP (just edging KG), Stan Van Gundy would be Coach of the Year, and Rashard Lewis would be "Offseason Move of the Year."

MLB Hot Stove: Kerry Wood is back with the Cubs. Doesn't that $4.2 million feel a little bit like pity?

MLB HOF: I always love to see the first-time candidates. This year's field includes: Tim Raines, David Justice, Brady Anderson, Rod Beck, Shawon Dunston, Chuck Finley, Travis Fryman, Chuck Knoblauch, Robb Nen, Jose Rijo and Todd Stottlemyre. It's like a who's who of "Players I Watched In My Teens."

Raines is the only one on the list with even an outside shot at making it (most notable record: highest career SB percentage), but all are notable for at least one thing, that thing not necessarily being Hall of Fame worthiness:

Tim Raines began his career involved in MLB's cocaine scandal of the early 80s and ended it wanting to be called "Rock." In between, he was power + speed before that was cool.

David Justice divorced Halle Berry. (Too bad there's no Halle of Fame: No, wait: That would be being married to her in the first place.)

Brady Anderson had that memorable 50-HR year, back when baseball reporters negligently avoided MLB's growing steroid epidemic.

Shawon Dunston threw, like, 98 MPH from SS to 1B, but had a bit of a target problem. (He's on my 1986 Do-Over team, so I love ya, Shawon!)

Jose Rijo had that sick World Series in 1990 against the goliath A's, going 2-0 with a .59 ERA (against the best-hitting team of the era)

Chuck Finley joins David Justice in the "Hot Ex-Wives Hall of Fame," having been married to Tawny Kitaen.

Chuck Knoblauch won a 1991 World Series ring for the Twins by convincing Lonnie Smith he had a ball in his hands when he didn't.

See: Isn't that so much more fun than yet another argument for/against Goose Gossage or Jim Rice?

-- D.S.

32 comments:

bkelly126 said...

the sean taylor story is tragic especially if the events from a few days prior had anything to do with the shooting. he clearly seemed like someone taking a huge step forward in their life, but his past may have gotten the best of him. I pray for all his friends and family. Hopefully this teaches people like Pac-man and Chris Henry that they aren't 10 feet tall and bullet-proof and they need to seriously look at where they want their life to end up.

Matt said...

As a browns fan i was watching that game thinking that this was the only way the dolphins could win.

terrible conditions where they could get some fluke win.

a loss for the steelers would have tied them with us for the AFC North

Sparty said...

Sean Taylor, truly a sad story to start the day with.

As for the Hall of Fame nominees. I remember that Brady Anderson was the first person that made me think as a young teen that something was fishy when he hit those 50HRs. and put Rock in!

CMFost said...

got love ESPN, the Yankees and Twins talked and now Santana is going to the Yankees. Let's be realistic with this the Twins are talking to the Yankees, The Angels, The Mets, The Dodgers, The Red Sox, ETC.... They are not just talking to one team unless there GM is a complete moron. The only way the Twins will get top value for Santana is to have several teams making offers for him.

Tim H. said...

Dan- comments re: MNF
At what point does the weather and field conditions become unplayable in football? In past eras, playing on a saturated, sloppy swamp was a regular occurrence. Now it changes the game dramatically. It had a feel to it like the Soldier field fog bowl. Ground crew couldn't even get sidelines re-painted. Thankfully the weather gave ESPN something else to talk about other than Ricky Williams (ugh).
I didn't watch the whole game, but it went incredibly fast.
As for the National Anthem controversy, most fans at the game probably didn't care or notice, because they were just trying to get to their seats before kick-off (the stadium was cleared pre-game due to ligtning). Plus, there were no player introductions and I don't think anyone minded. It's 9pm, just start the game!

RevScottDeMangeMD said...

1.) RIP Sean Taylor

2.) I think that there should be more minority coaches in the NCAA. However, Texas A&M was set on hiring Sherman. If I was a black man, I think I would be offended if a school asked me to come in for an interview when everyone...including myself...knew that there was no chance I was getting the job.

3.) Anyone remember when Jose Rijo came out of retirement 5 years ago? He was something like 1 of 3 players ever to receive a HOF vote and then play again. Davey Concepcion deserves an HOF nod!!!

Eliezer said...

One of the things that always strikes me about the death of an athlete is that these are, for the most part, young, physically fit, wealthy people who, on the face of it, have everything. Obviously those aren't the only keys to happiness, longevity, or success, but that's what makes it so hard to understand or accept sometimes. Prayers and condolences to Sean's family, friends, and fans.

The game last night, which I watched off and on for the duration, was the worst football game I've ever seen in my (admittedly young) life. The weather and the field were obviously the main culprits, but you have to hang some of this on the teams, too. The Steelers had umpteen drives that started in or at least made it into Miami territory, and they couldn't score until the final 17 seconds? They were killing themselves with penalties and sacks on third downs. Anyway, I've had more fun standing in line at an INS office in Miami than I did watching that game.

My turn to wag the finger, Dan. You've written about the Mavs at least three times that I can remember since the season started less than a month ago. Hardly seems like a ban to me.

Thomas Hall said...

I watched the entire MNF game. Very painful. VERY painful. I would not wish it upon my worst enemy.

On the plus side, I pulled out a miracle FFB win because there was essentially no offense in the game.

marcomarco said...

RE: Worst.Game.Ever

Not if you're a gambler and checked the weather/field conditions prior to the game. Under 40 was one of those "Only a couple per season" gifts.

Just like the England game, between travel, jet lag and rain.

Yes, I hammered it.

Sean Taylor - terrible tragedy. I can't help but wonder, does anyone else have a machete in their room? If you have a machete, why not a firearm?

I have a baseball bat in my closet (the wife is very tired of my 'cousin Louie security system' jokes)

Beetle said...

R.I.P. to Sean Taylor.
Even more terrible that he was killed in his own home, as opposed to a more shady scenario such as outside a strip club at 3:30 AM.

Regarding Johan to the Yanks, I think I would state that the Yankees would then have the two most talented players instead of the two best players.

Two for for the Steelers; Field Turf. They installed it in Foxboro last year and it has been treeeemendous. The new turf should be considered at least a minor contributor toward the Pats offensive explosion this year.

Regarding Jim Rice, us Sawx fans still wonder how the 1975 WS would have turned out if the stud rook Rice hadn't broken his arm prior to the playoffs that year.
We also wonder what his career numbers would have been if "Wild Thing" Mitch Williams didn't hit Rice on the elbow with a 99MPH fastball effectively ending his career at age 33 (Rice struggled through parts of 3 more seasons, but was never close to the same player again).

the_heroin_Sheik said...

The sean taylor story makes me sick to my stomach. Imagine dying while tryin to protect your family. Regardless of what your opinion was of him as a football player he was a man trying to do the right thing with his life. He was raising his daughter, was in a serious relationship yet he wont get to enjoy the benefits that were the result of his new behaviour. It truly is a sad day in sport.

CMFost said...

If Jim Rice and Goose Gossage do not get into the Hall of Fame this year they will never get in. Also do the voters now vote for McGwire? He deserves to be in the hall but I think the voters wanted to punish him by not make him a 1st ballot HoF'er

Mike said...

dan come on, you cant call it a ban if you keep talking about them. The Taylor story is just sad. I watched part of mnf game last it was bad. The guys in the booth suck. I like tony k but he sucks on mnf geez

pootietang said...

i thought the mnf game was entertaining, watching both teams trying to navigate that disaster of a field - and it was compelling, wondering which team would score first. made me watch the entire game, even though i could care less about either team. note to heinz field: if you are going to allow so many games to be played at your stadium, and given you are in a cold/bad weather city, just put down the field turf. natural grass fields are preferrable, but let's get real here.

voiceofreason said...

R.I.P Sean Taylor.

Just a tragic situation.

Boomhauertjs said...

NBA MVP has to be LeBron. Watch one of the Cavs' games sometime and you'll see why.

Mark said...

CMFost:

All it says is that the Yanks have initiated talks with the Twins. Also, right in the middle of the article...

The New York Mets, Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers also are thought to be interested in Santana, who is far better than any of the starting pitchers available on the free-agent market.

Perks said...

marcomarco-

He wasn't allowed to possess a firearm after being on parole.

what a tragedy though. it's fucking stupid that this happened.

Eric said...

RE: Worst.Game.Ever

I loved it. One or two great plays or one big mistake was going to win/lose that game. Yeah, the field was a mess and the game was mostly played between the 30's, but it was fun to watch. Who would/could actually do something with the elements stacked against them.

Of course, I also love, Soccer, Ice Hockey, and Pitcher's duels in baseball so I'm probably in the minority of fans who like 1-0 matches.

Mark said...

There's a difference between a game with two outstanding defenses going at it and a game where neither team can do anything because of the conditions. A defensive battle can be extremely exciting but last night's game simply the elements eliminating the offenses and was insanely boring.

CMFost said...

Mark, It was just the fact that when I was watching ESPN this morning they were making it like it was a done deal that Santana was going to the Yankees and we all know he might go to the yankees but I think it is far from a done deal.

GuyInTheCorner said...

As a Redskins fan I am greatly depressed over the passing of Sean Taylor.

Sean was not only a great football player (the best safety in the league in my opinion) but was also a great guy. After his trouble 4 years ago he stopped hanging out with his old crew and was determined to turn his life around. He didn't speak to the media because he was a quiet guy who would rerget taking attention away from the team as a whole.

My personal opinion is that we should retire the #21. Taylor's 21 will always be the number that will feel wrong if worn by someone else.

Such senseless violence is a terrible thing that should never happen in anyone's family; but today it did. There is a whole in my Redskin family that can never be filled with somebody else.

Perhaps the life he tried to leave behind chased him down. Perhaps it was something more random. Either way, Sean Taylor was not done with his work at the age of 24. Somewhere out there a 17 month old child and its mother will live without the father in their family. Somewhere out there a mother and father have lost their child in the prime of his life.

Somewhere Sean Taylor is watching this and the hole he left behind will not close easily. Sean Tayllor will be greatly missed.

mirthywvu said...

being in Pittsburgh we hear about the field all the time, and it's only this weekend. There were 4 playoff high school football games on Friday, back-to-back-to-back-to-back and then Pitt was home on Saturday. An easy solution would have been to arrange schedules so that Pitt and/or the Steelers were away this weekend. All of that and the rain cause the perfect storm.

Mark said...

And honestly, Dan, drop this whole "ban" thing with the Mavs. Just talk about them when it's relevant and leave it at that. Your ban is starting look like Dwight Shrute un-shunning and re-shunning Andy on The Office, only not nearly as funny.

MWP said...

I can't help but wonder, does anyone else have a machete in their room? If you have a machete, why not a firearm?

ST was on probation for the ATV incident and therefore could not legally own a firearm. Not holding an illegally-obtained gun really says something about his character and where his life was heading, I think.

As a die hard fan of the Redskins, this is one of the saddest days I have ever experienced. #21 had so much potential and led the defense with such intimidation and swagger that his presence will surely be missed. His presence as a father, boyfriend and son is what hurts the most, though. It truly is tragic in the greatest sense of the word...

Maher said...

I was hoping that there would be about 4 blown ACL's last night, all on Pittsburgh, to FINALLY convince ownership that it is time to put down some god damn field turf.

2 MNF games in about 3 weeks where the field was more of a story than the game, both in Pitt.

You can't play 7 games in 4 days on a grass field in late November in the northeast and hope that the grass holds up. Every year since Heinz field has opened, the surface has looked like center court at Wimbledon by Veterans Day.

And I'll go ahead and win the asshole award for the day but it has to be said. I'm sick of hearing people say how if he'd had a gun he could have...well maybe if he'd been a RESPONSIBLE gun owner in the first place, and not beat the shit out of someone with one over a misunderstanding, he wouldn't have lost his right to own one. That said, I am shocked that the girlfriend / baby momma didn't buy one the next day after the house was broken into last week. Bad situation all around.

voiceofreason said...

Maher - You asked for it, you got it. You are the asshole of the day.

And your "girlfriend / baby momma" comment smacks of racism. She was his fiancee and the mother of his child.

Sparty said...

Dan,

Just read your update on Sean Taylor. Like you, I also have a 19 mos old son. Whenever I have heard a nice I am not use to hearing, especially at night, I jump quickly to attention and become willing to do whatever necessary to protect the life of my child. Every story that involves harm to a child, or when a child loses a parent I cringe. My heart and prayers do go out to that little girl and of course the rest of that family.

pv845 said...

Dan, the inventor of Gatorade has died. Your thoughts?

Tom said...

About the national anthem, I was at the game and didn't even realize that they didn't sing it until it was mentioned on tv this morning. Before the game, I was smashed in the concourse with everybody else from my part of the stadium since no one was allowed to go to their seats. I couldn't hear any announcements from the stadium speakers and I couldn't see the scoreboard or any tv monitors. Any updates I got were from other fans on cellphones talking to people watching at home.
We only knew we could go to our seats because other people started going to their seats. My seats were high up, so by the time I made it through the crowd and up into my seat, I was able to catch the end of the first play from scrimmage. I didn't even see the kick off. I just figured all the pregame stuff, like the national anthem, happened while trying to get through the crowd. So if there was no negative reaction to not having the anthem, it's probably because, like me, most of the fans didn't realize it hadn't been sung.

Jingoist said...

Late to the party today, but...

I remember SI running a story on Brady Anderson the year he "super sized" his HR total. Vaguely, I recall they/he attributed to eye movement exercises he was doing to improve his hand/eye coordination or something ridiculous to that effect.

Oh sure, Brady. My Optometrist tells me those exercises increase my noggin size by 3/4" too. Oh wait, that was my "wellness center doctor" talking about my "natural supplements". That's right, I forgot.

The Legend of Vincent Tremblay said...

One more note on the missing anthem: according to the Post-Gazette's pre-game report, Vince Neil (yes, that Vince Neil) was supposed to sing the anthem, but he had been battling laryngitis all afternoon. Just one more thing to throw on top of the weather complications.

(I'd post a link, but Blogger throws a fit every time I try.)