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Sports Morning Headlines-Monday, 7/25/11

News from around the Texas Sports Scene for Monday, July 25, 2011.

Silver Stars' Hammon named to WNBA’s Top 15 - Hammon "Speechless and Humbled". A "special story" unfolded Saturday when Silver Stars guard Becky Hammon, once thought to lack the size and athleticism to play pro basketball, was named to the WNBA's exclusive Top 15 Players of All Time list.  Celebrating its 15th season, the league unveiled the list and honored the players in a WNBA All-Star Game halftime ceremony at the AT&T Center.  The game finished with the East rallying late to beat the West 118-113, but one of the top moments of the afternoon for the fans came during intermission.  One by one, the players on the elite team were announced and introduced in front of an ABC national television audience.  When Hammon's name was called, the pro-Silver Stars crowd of 12,540 responded with an extended roar.   READ MORE

ProjectSpurs:  Avery Johnson returns to Texas - After former San Antonio Spurs player George Hill visited Laredo, Texas last week to conduct his basketball camp, another former Spur visited Laredo this week to hold his own basketball clinic.  Current New Jersey Nets coach Avery Johnson returned to give a basketball coaching clinic to the Boys and Girls club in Laredo.  "We are very pleased that Avery has agreed to come back to Laredo, the camps are excellent and the lessons taught are not only in sports but in education also," said County Judge Danny Valdez, chief organizer of the event.   READ MORE

Parker not locked out of hoops in France - It appears Les Bleus have their point guard.  The French Basketball Federation has obtained insurance sufficient to cover the contracts of its NBA players, paving the way for the Spurs’ Tony Parker to play in the Eurobasket tournament in Lithuania later this summer.  The announcement came via a post on the official website for FIBA, the sport’s international governing body.  The question of insurance for international players has been a hot-button issue since the start of the NBA’s lockout July 1.  Typically, the NBA agrees to pay to insure 80 percent of a player’s salary, with foreign federations left to foot the remaining 20 percent. With a work stoppage in effect, however, the NBA has been unwilling to pick up its share of the tab, leaving the often cash-strapped international teams to shoulder the full financial burden.  For the French federation, that meant securing coverage for more than $125 million worth of NBA contracts. Earlier this summer, Parker said he wouldn’t consider playing this summer unless his contract was insured.  That obstacle cleared, the 29-year-old Parker was set to join fellow French NBA players Boris Diaw, Ronny Turiaf and Nicolas Batum for the start of training camp Wednesday in southern France. Eurobasket, an Olympic qualifying tournament, begins Aug. 31.   READ MORE

Yao Ming Video: Watch Yao's Incredible Life Unfold in Computer Animation - At only 30 years old, Yao Ming is one of the richest men in all of China.  Unfortunately, it didn't last nearly as long as it should have, and after only a nine-year run in the NBA, Yao was forced to retire due to injury.  Although Yao's situation is unfortunate, this incredible video has been made in honor of his career.  He was born to two basketball-playing parents—depicted by a baby emerging from a basketball— and he became an instant sensation in China.  The 7'6" superstar went on to star for the Shanghai Sharks and helped them to a CBA championship.  In 2002, Yao was drafted No. 1 overall by the Houston Rockets—depicted by Yao blasting off on a rocket from China to Houston—and became an instant celebrity across the globe as he began his career in America.  Yao didn't speak much English at first, but that didn't stop him tearing up the NBA immediately.   READ MORE

Basketball income, compensation up in NBA - Basketball-related income and total player compensation each increased by 4.8 percent in the NBA this past season.  The league said Friday that, with the union, it had completed the 2010-11 season audit. Players are currently locked out after the two sides failed to agree on a new collective bargaining agreement. One of the issues is what percentage of basketball-related income players should be guaranteed.  READ MORE

Jason Terry throws out first pitch, then speaks - We haven't seen much of Jason Terry since he scored a team-high 27 points in the clinching Game 6 of the NBA Finals.  He took part in the victory parade, of course, and met up with some teammates at the ESPY awards in Los Angeles, but since then he's been busy coaching one of his daughters' AAU team.  Friday night, Terry threw the ceremonial first pitch (high and right) before the Rangers hosted Toronto, then he talked with reporters, touching on a variety of topics.   READ MORE

VOTE HERE For Your Next MavsMoneyball Blogger(s)! - Happy weekend, y'all. We've had a fun-filled week full of fresh new perspectives on the Dallas Mavericks, and the time has come to re-read all five submissions and vote on which author you'd like to see join our ranks. I mentioned before we might take more than one if the community demands it. The more, the merrier, right? Below you'll find all five articles in the order they were presented. Please consider this carefully! You only get one vote, so make it count. This poll will be left up through Sunday night, at which time I will declare the victor(s).   READ MORE







Alomar, Blyleven and Gillick enter Baseball HOF - Roberto Alomar stared at the adoring crowd and was nearly rendered speechless, the tawdry episode of his stellar career long since forgotten. Bert Blyleven was more composed but moved nonetheless as he stared at his 85-year-old mother and reminisced about his late father.  Both men were inducted on Sunday into the Baseball Hall of Fame along with front-office guru Pat Gillick.   READ MORE

Cecil Tosses 4-Hitter For Jays In 3-0 Win Against Rangers - Brett Cecil pitched a four-hitter for his second complete game in his last four starts as Toronto beat the Texas Rangers 3-0 on Sunday night.  It was the first career shutout for Cecil (3-4), whose only other complete game in his 55 games was in a loss July 5 at Boston. The left-hander allowed only four singles to the AL West-leading Rangers, who had only one runner reach second base.  Jose Bautista had an RBI double and a diving catch in an unusual spot to back up Cecil, who struck out seven and walked two.  Bautista’s hit sent home Yunel Escobar, who led off the sixth with his third hit. Edwin Encarnacion and Travis Snider had consecutive RBI doubles later in the inning off All-Star right-hander Alexi Ogando (10-4).   READ MORE

Rangers bats go silent against Brett Cecil - An unpredictable, rare feat happened for the second straight night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. But this one didn't involve any dramatic comebacks.  One night after three consecutive sacrifice bunts -- the first time an AL team has done that in more than 30 years -- keyed a Rangers victory, Texas' potent offense was shut down by Brett Cecil, a 25-year-old without a complete-game shutout on his resume.  It was the fifth time the Rangers had been shutout, but the first time all season a pitcher threw a complete-game shutout at home against Texas. And it hasn't happened in Arlington since Aug. 28, 2010, when Dallas Braden did it to the Rangers.  Braden seems a lot more likely to turn the trick than Cecil, who came in with a 19.29 ERA in seven career innings against the Rangers (15 runs on 17 hits). But the Rangers couldn't solve his off-speed stuff, including a changeup that had great movement.   READ MORE

58-44 - Rangers prove it is impossible to win a zero run scored game - Blue Jays 3, Rangers 0 (F) -- Brett Cecil just plain worked the Texas Rangers lineup Saturday with a brilliant four-hit shutout.  Alexi Ogando was serviceable for Texas (58-44) in the 3-0 loss, striking out six in 6 2/3 innings, but a rough sixth proved to be the difference.   READ MORE

Baker cracks game-winning single in extra innings as Cubs sweep Astros - Astros slugger Carlos Lee changed the course of the game with a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth, but Houston was unable to hold the lead Sunday afternoon and wound up falling short 5-4 in 10 innings against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.  Chicago completed the three-game weekend sweep, thanks in part to pinch-hitter Jeff Baker's first career game-winning base hit.  The Astros utilized the long ball -- a lingering issue for the offense this season -- to generate three of their four runs, which put them in position to possibly escape with the victory, despite a horrendous 0-for-8 performance with runners in scoring position.   READ MORE

Astros must weigh in trade value of Pence - The face of the franchise lost a routine fly ball in the sky above Wrigley Field on Sunday in Chicago, allowing Marlon Byrd to reach third base with no outs in the bottom of the 10th inning and enabling the Cubs to eventually claim a 5-4 victory that capped a three-game series sweep.  Through no real fault of his own, Hunter Pence became a central figure in the Astros dropping 35 games below .500 for the first time in nearly 36 years. Pence had his shades covering his eyes but simply failed to track the baseball in the sunlight, an occurrence so commonplace that it becomes noteworthy only when the outcome of a game is directly impacted. That unfolded on Sunday for Pence, whose weekend (1-for-12 with just one RBI) was otherwise nondescript save for a false rumor placing him at O'Hare Airport following the series opener on Friday.   READ MORE

MLB Trade Rumors: Is Fire Sale Best Option for Houston Astros? - The 2011 baseball season has been a long one for the Houston Astros. After finishing fourth in the NL Central with a 76-86 record last season, this year has not been so kind. Currently, the team is in dead last with a record of 33-68. To add insult to injury, that is the worst record in all of baseball.  Given that record, it's no surprise that incoming owner Jim Crane wants to trim payroll and rebuild from the ground up. That puts GM Ed Wade in a tough position. His job security hangs in the balance, and keeping it means making some high-profile trades that bring top prospects to Houston. Given Houston's more expensive players, a fire sale could be imminent.  Looking at the Astros roster, there are three contracts that stand out. Those of pitcher Brett Myers, outfielder Carlos Lee, and outfielder Hunter Pence. Pitcher Wandy Rodriguez also has a heavy contract at $7.5 million, but the demand for him is overhyped.   READ MORE






Plan calls for vote at camps - Major breakthroughs in Saturday's discussions between NFL owners and players have set up a timetable for both sides to resolve their 130-day labor dispute, sources said.  Owners tentatively agreed Saturday to a players-recommended plan for the NFL Players Association to bring players into team facilities starting as early as Wednesday to physically vote on whether to recertify the current trade association as a union, a source said. Progress in other talks with the owners has put the players' 11-member executive committee in a position to have a vote Monday to recommend accepting the 10-year collective bargaining agreement.  READ MORE

Texans records made to be broken - Once a year we take a look at various statistical records and milestones within reach of Texans players during the upcoming season.  Yes, I'm really starting to talk about football, even before the players vote on the future CBA terms tomorrow.  No, I'm not tempting fate and yes, they're fools if they don't approve the agreement, so we're going forward on the assumption that football is back.  For those who are already starting to type a snarky comment along the lines of 'the only record I care about is the win-loss record,' we hear you.  We get it.  But that's not what this is about so play along for a change.   READ MORE

After defense is addressed, WR issue is next up - I’ve been a vehement defender of Kevin Walter in the past. Over the course of the last couple of years, a litany of Texans fans have been screaming for the team to either replace Walter with more of a playmaking WR, bump him down the depth chart, or move him to the slot. In every instance, I’ve been the first to outline all that Walter brings to the team that you don’t see show up on the stat sheet. His blocking, his route-running, etc… and I stand by all of that.  But something happened last year. Walter still brought all his excellent blocking and route-running to the table, but I don’t recall him so much as breaking a single tackle all season. I’m sure he did – I just didn’t see the same guy out there as before.  Similar to Owen Daniels when he’s at his best, Walter often had a knack for finding a seam in the defense, and often could shake loose on a broken play and get a tough first down after a Matt Schaub scramble.  With hopes that Daniels will be returning to pre-injury form, Walter won’t be (and won’t need to be) the security blanket he was two seasons ago. While he still holds great value for all the non-flashy things he does, to my eye he’s taken a step back in the last season in the realm of the things that DO show up in the statistical categories.   READ MORE

NFL rankings: Saints lead the Pack; Cowboys 15th - The pressure is on, I told Sean Payton last week. I correctly picked the past two Super Bowl champions. The Saints are my early favorite.  "Oh, my gosh," Payton said. "...I love knowing that somebody has picked us. I'm kind of excited."  The teams with continuity in their coaching staffs and with a veteran quarterback are the teams that have the best chance to win it all. Realistically, there probably are only eight to 10 teams with a chance to win the Super Bowl.  "I think this obviously has been a unique off-season," Payton said. "There is no doubt that those teams with the veteran leadership and with the more continuity are the ones with the early advantage. I look back and recognize the challenges we would have had had this been '06 instead of '11. So many decisions have to be made with your roster and your scheme. The challenge is for the teams that have had the turnover in their coaching position or at quarterback to try to catch up."   READ MORE

Dallas Cowboys: 5 Guaranteed Players on the Roster Bubble in 2011 - Once the NFL lockout is finally lifted some players may get a little weak in the knees. Under the league’s new collective bargaining agreement some teams may have to trim fat for salary cap reasons.  The Cowboys will be almost $19 million over the cap and may have to remove a few fan favorite's to play within the rules. Which players should go?  Let’s take a look at five players who are guaranteed to need a bottle of Tums once the lockout is lifted.   READ MORE


Gagner Honored to be Part of Dallas Hockey History - Dave Gagner holds a cool distinction with local hockey fans. In 1993, he was part of the inaugural Dallas Stars roster that introduced the National Hockey League to the Metroplex. He remained a Star until 1996 when he was traded to Toronto.  He later played in Calgary, Florida and Vancouver before hanging ‘em up in 1999. Since retiring, Gagner started a business building custom ice rinks and coached juniors in the Ontario Hockey League before landing his current gig, as the Canucks’ Director of Player Development in 1998.  During his 15 seasons skating in the NHL, he played for six different teams and saw all sorts of destinations throughout his solid playing career. But he admits, his time in Big D ranks as one of the more memorable parts of his time in the league.   READ  MORE

Hockeymetrics: Stars Must Play Better Within the Pacific - and saw the Dallas Stars in the lead by six points over the Phoenix Coyotes and by 10 points over the eventual division champ, for the 4th year in a row, the San Jose Sharks.  As we all know, that came crashing down in the month of February. Just a month after leading the division by six points, the Stars found themselves in a three way tie with Southern California's two hockey teams in the cellar.  After the last two seasons, I'm not sure you could blame the most hardcore of Stars fans for being positively jaded on the day after the Stars set a franchise record for most consecutive games unbeaten on the road. Still, there were two statistical areas where we should have considered this fool's gold.   READ MORE

---Staff and Wire Reports contributed to this story



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