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FISH'S FRIDAY HAIRY-CHESTED TAKES Print E-mail
by Mike Fisher    Fri, Jan 11, 2008, 06:59 am
Emptying the Friday morning notebook with all things sports -- and all takes hairy-chested:

MAVS HELP T.O: Will the Cowboys beat the Giants in the NFL Playoffs this weekend? The Mavs are certainly doing their part.

Yes, the Mavs.

Terrell Owens has always had a basketball connection. And it’s coming in handy as he rehabs his ankle sprain by visiting the Mavericks’ downtown facility after hours, where he utilized the team’s underwater treadmill. It’s convenient; T.O. lives just down the street from the American Airlines Center, where the Mavs are headquartered.

Oh, and by the way: Dallas will win. And cover the 7.5.

HIT THE ROAD: Art Garcia hits the road with the Mavs, who launch a trip with tonight’s visit to Seattle. Mavs have won 11 straight against this bunch.

 BIG APPLE HOMERS: Good ol’ Gary Myers, the former DMNewser now a fixture in NY, writes that the Giants have an edge over the Cowboys on Sunday because they are “peaking.’’ But before the Giants won a playoff game in Tampa, they’d lost two of their final three games. Is that “peaking’’?

NICE EFFORT, SPURS: Props to the Pistons, who salvaged one of the toughest back-to-backs in sports – at Dallas on a Wednesday and at San Antonio on a Thursday – with a 90-80 win over the Spurs. After losing to the Mavs by 16, and then dragging their weary asses to the Alamo, it would’ve been excusable for the Pistons to lose another. Instead, SA was never in this game. Duncan threw up slop. Parker lost his handles. Pop played Parker and Jacques Vaughn in the same backcourt together.

And while we’re giving props to the Pistons: This would be a good time to remind you of the number we dug up the other day: In the Mavs’ last 14 meetings with the “unbeatable’’ Spurs, the good guys are 9-5.

SI.COM HATIN’: Sports Illustrated coughs up two – count ‘em, TWO – anti-Tony Romo articles this week. Why all the hate? I’ve figured out two reasons. …

First to the columns:

One is from Don Banks, the respected NFL writer who offers his “QB power rankings at the moment’’: No. 1 is Tom Brady and No. 2 is Peyton Manning. No arguments there.

No. 3 is Brett Favre. Some arguments there. … but I can deal with it.

No. 4 is a man who two weeks ago was such a mess that his own franchise was wondering if he’s even the guy – let alone the fourth-best guy in the NFL.

 No. 4 is Eli Manning -- Riding two games worth of confidence and momentum into Dallas.

No. 5 is Tony Romo.

Banks notes that Romo has “one touchdown pass, five interceptions, five sacks, three fumbles, one sore thumb and one over-exposed girlfriend (you know what we mean) in his past three games. For a second straight December, he went from Romo to No-Mo (as in, no momentum).

The numbers are accurate. The girlfriend reference is dubious. The December thing seems overblown.

But I can settle Eli vs. Tony this way: Which QB would you rather have? Which QB would any NFL team rather have? I dare say that two weeks ago, the Giants would’ve happily traded Manning for Romo. … and I’m not sure why a singular playoff win in Tampa Bay changes all that.

Wait. Actually, I AM sure why a singular playoff win in Tampa Bay changes all that: Because that’s how it works. Flavor of the Week. New pets. Chic picks. Fresh storylines.

It would be kind of tired to pick Matt Hasselbeck (No. 6) over Eli. But Hasselbeck is better. It would garner much attention to pick Davis Garrard (No. 7) over Eli. But I’d rather have Garrard. It wouldn’t be a stretch at all to say that Philip Rivers (No. 8) is as good as Eli.

But Eli – despised by Giants watchers for much of his career – now has a playoff win. So now he’s “hot.’’ “New.’’ “Chic.’’ “Fresh.’’ The Flavor of the Week.

Now to the second column:

This one is from Reuben Frank, whose work I am not familiar with. Mr. Frank says Sunday’s playoff game represents for Romo “a mandate on hype vs. substance.’’ Mr. Frank claims “Romo dislikes (getting hit) more than most … He rushes throws, gets skittish in the pocket, makes mistakes.’’ Mr. Frank insists that “when things start to fall apart, he often isn't able to handle it.’’ And Mr. Frank asserts that “once he starts playing poorly, he rarely stops.’’

Those assessments are made without any offered proof. And none of them really pass the smell test. The fact is, Romo’s “substance’’ this year was MVP-caliber. The fact is, when Romo gets “skittish,’’ he moves and throws very well on the run. The fact is, he HAS played poorly at times. … and somehow “stopped’’ the skid by beating Buffalo and Detroit and, heck, pretty much every other team he’s opposed.

OK, so SI’s Don Banks likes Eli Manning and dislikes Tony Romo because he’s tired of the Romo story and excited by the Eli angle.

But why does SI’s Reuben Frank feel the same way?

You’ve got to read all the way to the bottom of Mr. Frank’s column, to the fine print, which reads:

Reuben Frank is a sports writer with The Burlington County Times in Willingboro, N.J.

Mr. Frank, who apparently doesn’t like Tony Romo against the Giants, is from New Jersey? Oh.

AND S.I. THE MAGAZINE AIN’T DOING MUCH BETTER: Replacing Rick Reilly with regurgitated garbage about Mark Cuban and the Cubs.

ALL-STAR PUSH: The Mavs are pushing an email campaign to move Dirk into the All-Star Game starting lineup. Here’s the latest results and the place to vote. http://www.nba.com/news/returns_080110.html

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: Love the wisdom from Mark Cuban, who offers a quote that pretty much defines what sports IS. In discussing this year’s Celtics, Tony Cubes says, "I see in them what I saw in us last year, which was great until it wasn't."

MUST YOU RUN TO WIN?: There’s a compelling piece of evidence floating out there that seems to support this old chestnut: “22 of the last 27 Super Bowl champs have been in the top 10 in rushing.’’ But there are a couple of holes in the logic. One is that being in the top 33 percent of the league in a category does not necessary qualify a team as an “NFL leader’’ or as being “run-oriented.’’ Two, the advent of domed stadiums and artificial surfaces has allowed for changes in the reasons for run-first attacks. The Colts of Baltimore had to succeed in lots of bad weather; the Colts of Indianapolis do not. And three. …

The New England Patriots.

The Patriots are arguably the greatest offensive team of all time. Yet this year they ranked just No. 13 in rushing – behind five non-playoff clubs. Are we really betting against New England to win the Super Bowl just because the Oakland Raiders were a more highly-ranked running team?

Dallas, Indy and Green Bay, by the way, finished 17th, 18th and 21st,  respectively.

GIVE CLEMENS A LIE-DETECTOR TEST: No, wait. He already took one. Ask any expert on the subjects of psychology, human behavior, voice patterns, and lying. … Roger’s “60 Minutes’’ appearance this week was full of qualifiers, excess explanations, rote denials, fake emotion and fancy footwork.

Mike Wallace: “Would a lie detector test help?’’

Clemens’ answer: “I don’t know, would it? Some people say it would, some people say it wouldn’t.’’

When you’re evasive on the subject of your willingness you prove you are not lying. … you are lying. Oh, and on the subject of “excess explanations’’: I love when Roger says proof he didn’t use is in the fact that he didn’t “grow an ear in the middle of my forehead or pull tractors by my teeth.’’

Excess explanation usually = guilt.

DO HALL-OF-FAME QBs WIN SUPER BOWLS?:  Another fake-deep stat in read in the DMNews this week: It’s true that 10 of the first 11 Super Bowls were won by HOF QBs. … EVENTUALLY! But what sort of predictor is that? Only in retrospect do we know that certain guys are HOFs. This is a cart-before-the-horse cliché; there is no evidence at this moment that, say, David Garrard is going to the Hall of Fame.

But if he wins a Super Bowl this year? Or in any ensuing year? Then he will be. And only then will we recognize that he is. … er, was. See?

DR. PHIL VISITS WITH BRITNEY: The reported objective: To convince the bat-spit-crazy girl to appear on his TV show for an “intervention.’’ Hey, Doc: “First Do No Harm.’’ Remember?

DEAR MIKE TOMLIN: You know why the Go-For-2-Point Chart doesn’t cover what to do when you are trying to convert from the 12-yard line? Because the Go-For-2-Point chart figures you already know NOT to go from the 12.

THREE-PEAT CLICHÉ: Is it hard to beat a team three times? Not if you’ve already won the first two. The Cowboys-Giants playoff meeting – the first-ever postseason game between the two rivals – will be Meeting No. 3 of the year. Dallas won the first two. Teams winning the first two have a record of 11-6 in Meeting No. 3.

Meaning. … Dallas is the better team.

A FUN DRINKING GAME FOR YOU COLLEGE KIDS: Take a shot every time the boys on the “NFL on Fox’’ studio team offer up a fake guffaw. You’ll be drunk by 11:40 a.m.

SO I’M WATCHING THE DEBATES ...: Quickee impressions: If Fred Thompson wants my vote for Grandpa – or wants me to sit on his lap while he reads me a story -- he’s got it. … Hillary needs to decide whether her association with President Clinton is or is not an asset she’s proud of. … Barack needs to eat something; I’m sure Bill Richardson could show him how. … If this president-thing doesn’t work out for Mitt Romney, he’s got the name and the look to be the heir to Wink Martindale. … I think Mike Huckabee should select Bigfoot as his running mate.

SIDELINE-PROWLING: Hey, if Mack Brown can let his stepson on the University of Texas sidelines, I think it’s OK if the owner of a team is down there. Surely Jerry Jones won’t run onto the field to touch a live ball. … will he?

WHAT’S IN A NAME?: What’s in a name? Tony Romo’s publicist is named Vivian Fullerlove.  Vivian Fullerlove. … wasn’t she a Bond Girl?

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