Are the Cowboys a better team without T.O.? -Wendy, Guymon, OK
Unquestionably. With T.O., the Dallas locker room vibe seemed to grab more attention than that of its play on the field. The media could have just reported using something similar to the US Homeland Security Terrorist Alert Level graph, often pointing at red for “severe.” I couldn’t even imagine going to work like that everyday.
Just like it ends with T.O. in Big D, it now all starts with the quarterback, and Tony Romo will get his chance to prove that he hasn’t excelled at his position because of the prima donna wide receiver. Heading into 2009 will be Romo’s third full season as a starter. He has an above average offensive line to work with, an explosive running back tandem in Marion Barber and Felix Jones, capable wide receivers, and the best tight-end in football in Jason Witten. The Cowboys have all the elements of a balanced offense with a quarterback who has the playmaking capability, like Ben Roethlisberger, to put them over the top.
While I do believe Terrell Owens has at least one more Pro Bowl type of a season left in him, we probably won’t get to see it because he’s playing in Buffalo.
You haven’t mentioned anything about the World Baseball Classic. Give it some love! -Grandma, Bridgeport, CT
Your boy, AL MVP Dustin Pedroia, got hurt during the WBC, Grandma. How do you like them apples? Just kidding. I couldn’t help myself. I love you.
With Ken Griffey Jr. signing perhaps his last contract in returning to the Mariners, I’m reminded of Willie Mays to the Mets, Franco Harris to the Seahawks, Johnny Unitas to the Chargers, or even Patrick Ewing to the Sonics. Why should Mariner fans still be optimistic of a return to the playoffs? -Dick, Mercer Island, WA
Okay Mariner fans, here is your mission statement for the 2009 season: What do we have to lose?
Junior instantly and effortlessly injects zest back to baseball in the Northwest. Mariner fans haven’t been this excited about the start of the season since, well, this time a year ago. But of course, this time around, the cause of the buzz-which is a fresh one at that-can be attributed to a completely different source. Ken Griffey Jr. is the guy who not only saved baseball in the Emerald City, but he built the best ball park nobody has ever been to in Safeco Field. If nothing else, take a youngster to a game and tell them that they are watching one of the most gifted, “all-natural” baseball players the game has ever seen.
Assuming he can stay healthy at the DH spot, Griffey can be much more valuable to the Mariners than people are giving him credit for. He can give Seattle 500-600 quality-non-Richie Sexson at bats-and that should constitute 10 more wins easy.
What was the best and worst moves made in the NFL this offseason? -Hector, Belen, NM
Amazingly, the worst move wasn’t Washington paying Albert Haynesworth 40 million dollars guaranteed. The worst move was Philadelphia not guaranteeing a single cent to a premier wide receiver for its premier quarterback, Donovan McNabb. We’ve been down this road before. How difficult is it to do the math for Andy Reid and Philly’s front office? A quarterback is only as good as his wide receivers. I just don’t understand this team’s philosophy behind the identity of its offense.
T.J. Houshmanzadeh is certainly not a household name, and because he signed with Seattle, he never will be. But Houshmanzadeh has made a career out of getting open, catching passes, and moving the chains with consistency. Old school, but effective, nonetheless. And while he may be getting paid like an explosive threat, more than the Eagles were willing to part with, any premier quarterback in the NFL would take a savvy, 90+ catch guy in his huddle.
Is it just me or are the Phoenix Suns on T.V. way too often? -Courtnie, Laramie, WY
This question alone inspired this mail bag installment. To answer your question: YES! In fact, there have been a few weeks where the Suns would accrue more time on the national stage than that of a week’s worth of Everybody Loves Raymond reruns.
I understand that Grant Hill, Shaq, and Steve Nash are NBA ambassadors/market friendly, but the brand of basketball in which the Suns play is as predictable as the actual giant star itself setting in the west. I’m just not going to invest 2-3 hours of my time watching a team that I not only know will not make the playoffs, but won’t win the game!
Is Curt Schilling going to be enshrined in Cooperstown one day? -Madison, Melbourne, FL
Yes. You have to begin by answering yourself this question: Can you write a story about the history of baseball and not include Curt Schilling? Not only is Schilling a baseball legend, but perhaps more significantly, he’s going to forever be recognized as a sports hero in the city of Boston. That’s a group that includes: Russell, Bird, Auerbach, Orr, Brady, Belichek, Yaz, Ted Williams, someone who I’m forgetting, and Schilling.
If you want to argue that his body of work has not compiled enough key numbers, fine. But I don’t think compiling stats is as important for a pitcher as it is an everyday player. When you hear his name, like Sandy Koufax (who only had about 6 great seasons), you think of a guy you want to give the ball to in game 7 of the World Series. You think of a guy who, in his prime, was one of the best at what he did. Slam the gavel right there.
To me, Curt Schilling’s legacy exemplifies the essence of what a Hall of Famer should be. Just break it down: Hall—Of—FAME.
That’s not Curt Schilling?
I want to take my family to Spring Training for our vacation next year. Should I set my sights on Florida or Arizona? -Alan, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Gators or rattlesnakes. The Atlantic Ocean or a pool. Palm trees or Cactus trees. The Yankees or the Cubbies. Mickey Mouse or…Vegas is five hours away.
I’ve never been to spring training in Arizona, but most fans and media alike are in favor of the desert. Sure, Arizona offers better golf courses, nicer/newer baseball venues that are within a reasonable distance from each other, and far better shopping for the ladies.
But there’s one important aspect of the Spring Training culture in Florida that you can’t put a price on: character. There’s just something exotic or surreal about seeing guys working and who are worth twice as much as the rickety stadiums and shotty facilities of which they occupy. Hopefully, for 2010, the town of Vero Beach will make a deal with a team to take over the old grounds of Dodgertown, where the boundary between fan and athlete is about as limited as it gets in professional sport.
Then there’s the Atlanta Braves, who play in Disney World. That’s baseball (at night) + Magic Kingdom in one day. It doesn’t get much better than that for my Spring Training money.
If you have no problem driving an hour here or there, Florida, not Arizona, is the place your family will never forget you vacationed, I promise you.