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Sports Morning Headlines - Wednesday, 12/28/11

News from around the Texas Sports Scene for Wednesday, 12/28/11.

Samuel Dalembert’s Contract: A Brief Analysis - Let me preface this piece by saying that I am not the world’s biggest Samuel Dalembert fan.  I certainly don’t hate him.  Just never been a big fan of his, is all.  Like many Houston Rockets fans, I am still hung over from the aftermath of the Pau Gasol trade that wasn’t.  (And make no mistake: that trade wasn’t just for Pau; the Rockets would have likely gotten Nene, while still retaining the ability to re-sign Chuck Hayes, and would have forged one of the league’s best and deepest front lines for the next three years.)  After that, a Dalembert signing seems more like leaving with the home version of the game show you just lost on national television.   READ MORE

Hate or Difference of Opinion? You Decide - I know that everyone today expected me to write some post about how I was right about Kevin Martin for the past year plus and that you should all bow to my all-knowing gift of foresight. However, regardless of that image that I have somehow bestowed upon a good handful of you, this simply isn't my forte. I'm wrong just as much, if not more than I am right concerning these types of things.  Plus, I'm not going to base an opinion and declare myself "right" on a player after one regular season game after a shortened training camp and preseason. No, I feel the same way about Kevin Martin today as I have since the Rockets acquired him almost two years ago; meh.  This is usually met with "why are you such a hater?!" or something of that ilk. This, of course, makes me shake my head that I'm viewed in that light. I guess I have that "moneyball" approach to players where I view them simply as assets and I don't get attached. Not too much of a different approach as our current general manager of the Rockets. I don't hate any of these guys, not even close. I just don't care for one-dimensional players at all and I believe that if their value is high, even if it is only for one side of the ball, you move them while their stock is the highest and Martin's is/was never going to be as high as it was at the end of last season.  I'll get more into it after the jump.   READ MORE

Dallas done?: John Hollinger thinks so - Insider John Hollinger's computers have never really liked the Dallas Mavericks much. And after two blowouts on their home court to start the this shortened season? Well, Hollinger is ready to write off the defending champs, who have looked anything but in back-to-back losses to the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets.  Here's what Hollinger has to say:  I can't tell you definitively who will be winning the championship this year, but I can tell you one team that won't be.  Yes, I'm the one who usually cautions you about sample size, and yes, I'm writing off the defending champions after two games.  Before I pile on further, let's backtrack for a second. In general, early-season results are tricky because everybody wants to make grand proclamations from one-game samples, even though that's usually a terrible idea.   READ MORE

Mavericks should at least put up a fight - Either the Miami Heat and Denver Nuggets will meet in the 2012 NBA Finals or the Dallas Mavericks are really, really awful right now. A day after being manhandled by the Heat, the Mavs suffered an even worse fate against the Nuggets in an embarrassing 115-93 loss.  And just think what the score could've been if a couple Nuggets weren't trapped in China. Kenyon Martin was spotted roaming the corridors of American Airlines Center, but the Nuggets didn't need him in Monday's laugher.  It's too early for fans to panic over the new-look Mavs, but that didn't prevent a lot of them from booing the home team off the floor late in the first half. By then, the Nuggets had used a 20-0 run to take a 27-point halftime lead.   READ MORE

Opening Night Performances - Last night I had the good fortune to get a last minute invite to the Spurs season opener against the Memphis Grizzlies. Beaten down by a long week of work and illness, followed by a long weekend of good times in my hometown, tied up with previous plans in place and faced with a daunting, late-night drive back to Austin ahead of me, I naturally jumped at the chance. The people of San Antonio were more than ready for the return of their Spurs, and, needless to say, the stadium was rocking from the tip. The Spurs rode the home crowd through an offensively offensive first quarter to a one point halftime deficit, before completely locking down the Grizz in the third, building a big lead, and finishing the night with a 95-82 victory and a 1-0 start to the season. Rather than further recap the game in length, this article will focus on a few individual Spurs of interest, and what we can take away from their performances on opening night.   READ MORE

Project Spurs:  Clippers' Del Negro says Griffin can learn from Spurs' Duncan - As the San Antonio Spurs get set to face the new-and-improved Los Angeles Clippers tomorrow night, one matchup to watch for is Tim Duncan against Blake Griffin.  It wasn't that long ago Duncan was the premier forward in the NBA. Now that honor arguably can go to Griffin. it can also be seen as a battle between the old and new guard in the NBA.  And although Griffin might be lighting it up for the Clippers with his stellar dunks, and high-scoring games, Clippers head coach (and former Spurs guard) Vinny Del Negro feels Blake still has much to learn and points to Duncan as someone the star forward should look at to improve.  "I think everybody can learn from (Duncan), not just Blake," Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said Tuesday, before the team took off for Texas. "His demeanor, his work ethic, the way he approaches things.  "He has no ego -- he just wants to win."  Del Negro knows first-hand about TD and his professionalism on and off the court. Vinny teamed up with Duncan during Duncan's rookie season. And though it has been years since Duncan's rookie season, Del Negro can point directly to what makes TD so special.  "Tim, he knows all the tricks," Del Negro said. "He's been around. He knows the time for everything.  "He'll score big for you if you don't double-team him, and if you double-team him he'll make all the right passes."   READ MORE



Shannon Stone’s mother makes a request of Josh Hamilton - Shannon Stone’s mother makes a request of Josh HamiltonWith 2011 drawing to a close, the Shannon Stone tragedy at Rangers Ballpark is appearing on most, if not all, of the year-end retrospectives.  And while many of those lists will simply note the accident that led to the 39-year-old father falling to his death after trying to catch a ball thrown by Josh Hamilton, the New York Times Magazine scored an interesting interview with Stone's parents. Though neither Al or SuZann Stone get into the details of the fall or its effects on young Cooper Stone — a public stance that has been m.o. since the tragedy — they relate a story about how Al once caught a foul ball from Buddy Bell when Shannon was young.  Shannon Stone liked Bell as much as Cooper likes Josh Hamilton now and the foul ball quickly became a family treasure. Because of that, Al and SuZann knew exactly why Shannon made the effort he did — and why Hamilton shouldn't think twice about continuing the practice of throwing baseballs into the stands as souvenirs.   READ MORE

Olney puts Rangers bullpen in top-10 -'s Buster Olney continues his rankings heading into 2012 today and looks at the bullpens. He lists the Rangers as tied for tenth. Here's what he says:  10a. Texas Rangers:  They've got a lot of great pieces and this could be a special group, depending on how a few things shake out:  A. Can Joe Nathan get back to being a frontline closer, as he takes over for Neftali Feliz?  B. Can Koji Uehara bounce back, after pitching terribly for the Rangers following a midseason trade?  C. Will the Rangers add another bullpen piece -- perhaps Alexi Ogando, if Texas chooses to shift him back to a relief role, or Andrew Bailey, who has been the subject of Rangers-Athletics trade talks?   READ MORE

The 100-Loss Team's Road Back To The Playoffs - It seems to me that the belief is it will take the Astros seven years to rebuild. That's a long time and a number I'm not entirely satisfied with. So with a semester of Statistics 210 behind me I decided to look up every 100-loss team to find out what history says about how long it takes a team to get back to the post season after a 100-loss season.  I began by collecting data from 1961 to the present. I decided not to count the 100-loss season or the season in which the team made the playoffs. I wanted to focus on what would be considered the rebuilding years; Making the playoffs meant that team wasn't rebuilding anymore and expectations for that season were likely high.   READ MORE

Astros welcome new faces on, off field in 2011 - As eager rookies emerge, Crane takes ownership of team.  The Astros didn't make many headlines on the field in 2011, but there certainly was no shortage of news away from the diamond.  Not long after completing their 50th season -- and suffering through a club-record 106 losses -- the Astros were sold to a group led by Houston businessman Jim Crane and soon learned they would be moving to the American League in 2013.  Yep, after a half-century in the National League, the Astros will be welcoming a new batch of teams and a new style of baseball to Minute Maid Park in 2013.   READ MORE



Arian Foster And Johnathan Joseph Named To Pro Bowl; Nine Other Texans Named Alternates - As Barry's FanShot says, your Houston Texans only had two players selected to the Pro Bowl. There's no doubt that both Arian Foster and Johnathan Joseph were deserving of the honor. Both have been among the best in the NFL at their respective positions throughout the year.   READ MORE

Pomeroy's playoff quick-reference is a must read - Remember the stats class that you hated in high school or college when you were asked to figure out how many combinations and permutations there were of a given set of playing cards, dice, numbers, people or whatever?  Was reading through the various combinations of NFL playoff possibilities driving you equally crazy?  Well fret no more because Matt Pomeroy, Manager of NFL Network Research has created a wonderful quick-reference guide that gives an easy visual of who's in, who's out, and at what seed based on all the possible outcomes of this weekend's games.   READ MORE

Cowboys fail to rock the Pro Bowl vote - Only two Dallas Cowboys, linebacker DeMarcus Ware and nose tackle Jay Ratliff, were named to the Pro Bowl when the NFC and AFC rosters were announced on Tuesday.It's the fewest number of Cowboys named to the Pro Bowl since having one (La'Roi Glover) in 2002.Ware, second in the league in sacks with 18, was voted in as a starter. It is his sixth consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl.Ratliff was voted to the Pro Bowl for the fourth straight year. He'll be a reserve after recording two sacks, six tackles for loss, 12 quarterback pressures and four pass deflections in 2011."It's a great honor to be selected to play in the Pro Bowl," Ware said. "It shows that all the work through the off-season and season pays off."After seven straight Pro Bowl trips, tight end Jason Witten wasn't voted to the NFC team. He could be added as an alternate, as well as quarterback Tony Romo, linebacker Sean Lee and rookie tackle Tyron Smith.   READ MORE

Cowboys, Romo have another chance to prove themselves - From the Nothing Good on TV These Days department came word that the Dallas Cowboys-New York Giants game Sunday has been switched to prime time.What? Not enough Real Housewives of New Jersey reruns?Of course, I jest. The Giants and Cowboys, playing for all the NFC East marbles, looms as a reality show blockbuster.The NFL's most passionately scrutinized team against the NFL's most annually overhyped one. The Mara family against the Arkansas Joneses. Eli Manning against Mr. Dimples.A blockbuster, albeit a matchup of two teams plagued all season by their damning inconsistencies.For the Cowboys, it's always about the drama. A wounded running back, a missing lineman, a quarterback with a bruised hand -- it's always something.All teams have injuries. But only the Cowboys get an ESPN wet-nurse to chronicle their bruises' daily progress.Tony Romo, of course, will play Sunday night in the Meadowlands, because the X-rays were negative and that's what he does. He is the quarterback, and his time on the sideline last weekend only served to reaffirm that.   READ MORE

With Lehtonen set to return, the Stars opt for Bachman in backup role - With Kari Lehtonen apparently ready to return to the lineup Thursday the Dallas Stars have made some key decisions on their other goaltenders.  Andrew Raycroft, who has been the backup to Lehtonen since last season, will go on waivers Wednesday morning in order for Lehtonen to be activated in time for Thursday’s game against Columbus. That move signals that Richard Bachman will now move into the role of Lehtonen’s backup.  “It’s no secret that we’ve been taking a look at Richard the past three weeks and he’s got a good number of starts,” said Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. “It’s always a difficult decision because Andrew is a veteran guy and he’s a good teammate, but we made the decision at this time that we are going to go with Bachman.”  The 24-year-old Bachman, called up due to an injury to Lehtonen, has appeared in nine games and started the last eight games for the Stars. He’s posted a 5-2-0 record, 2.76 goals against average and .912 save percentage. He’s had some ups and downs, but the Stars like the overall performance.   READ MORE

Ribeiro Finding Groove for Stars - Mike Ribeiro will be the first to admit that throughout his first 11 years in the National Hockey League, he has been a bit of a slow starter. And that form definitely held true for the 31-year-old Stars center so far this season.  Through the first 18 games under Glen Gulutzan, the Montreal native had 11 points (2-9-11). But in Dallas’ last eleven games he has twelve points (4-8-12), including goals in each of the Stars’ last two games, a loss to the Blues on December 26th and a win over Nashville three days prior.  Stars head coach Glen Gulutzan has definitely noticed a big difference in Ribeiro over the last few games compared to how he was performing earlier in the season.   READ MORE

---Staff and Wire Reports contributed to this story



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