Year-End Stuff

A friend sent me a link to Curt Schilling’s blog and the entry where Schilling talks about the Mitchell Report and some of the players named therein. In that piece, Schilling talks about when he – and other players – went to Congress to talk about steroid use in baseball. I had forgotten that the players had been sworn in and were speaking under oath to that Congressional Committee. But now that Curt Schilling has set the record straight, let me offer up something to consider for those folks who believe that Barry Bonds has been treated unfairly with regard to steroid use allegations just because he is Black.

At that hearing, Rafael Palmiero wagged his finger at the Congressthings and said he never took steroids. Then he tested positive; remember, Bonds has never tested positive. Granted, the possibility exists that he never took any steroids until the day after he appeared in that hearing, but doesn’t it seem that his testimony there might be perjurious? And isn’t Bonds being charged/tried for perjury? So, how come the US Attorney in SF comes to press this perjury case against Bonds whereas the prosecutorial authorities in Washington DC don’t seem to be moving against Palmiero for what seems to be very similar offenses? Is it a racial thing?

One more thing about the Bonds/Clemens usage/non-usage of steroids and/or their truth-telling with regard to all of that. I would like for every sportswriter and commentator in America to make this New Year’s Resolution for 2008 and 09 and 10 and 11 and …

      “I will refrain from writing about or commenting on how I or anyone else might vote for Bonds/Clemens when their names come to the ballot for the Hall of Fame at least five years hence.

      “I will refrain from giving any kind of analysis about how I come to whatever position I have at the moment.

      “I will do these things in the interest of the global sanity of sports fans who cannot possibly withstand five years or more of that kind of nonsense.”

Alabama and Colorado played each other in a meaningless bowl game yesterday. When Colorado lost, they ended the year with a losing record showing just how important a game that had to be. I wonder if Miami Dolphin fans were rooting for Colorado to beat Alabama – and their first-year coach Nick Saban – of if what they really wanted was for the Colorado mascot to get loose and trample Saban on the sidelines. If they could only have had one of those things happen, I’m not sure how Dol-fandom would vote…

UCLA finally has a new coach. It will be Rick Neuheisel. There had been some criticism of the AD at UCLA for taking so long to make his decision on this hiring. Now that we know that it was Neuheisel he was considering, the delay is understandable. Given Neuheisel’s previous dealings with the NCAA, I’m sure that UCLA would want to do a thorough background check on him to include whether or not he had any involvement in the kidnapping of the Lindberg baby. [While at Colorado, Woody Paige of the Denver Post gave him the moniker “Rick New-weasel”.] Those background investigations take time you know…

And by the way, Neuheisel brings an interesting résumé to UCLA in addition to his NCAA violations at Colorado and his shenanigans at Washington. He is the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens at the moment. The Ravens were 13-3 last year; Neuheisel was the QB coach last year. Now that he is the offensive coordinator, the Ravens are 5-11 and their offense is certainly one of the weakest parts of the Ravens’ team.

It wasn’t all that long ago that the Steelers got into the playoffs as a wild-card team and then won three straight games away from home to take down the Lombardi Trophy. They will get a home game in the playoffs next week, but would then have to leave Heinz Field for any further playoff games. Can they do it again? Well, their play away from home this year has hardly been stellar.

At home, the Steelers are 7-1 and give up less than 12 points per game. On the road, the Steelers are 3-5 and give up 22 points per game. That’s not good. Oh, and that one loss at home came against Jax – - the team that will be visiting Pittsburgh for that home playoff game next weekend. I know all about “on any given Sunday…” Nevertheless, things don’t look all that rosy for the Steelers at the moment.

In the AFC South, three teams will make the playoffs and the 4th place team – Houston – finished the year at 8-8. In the NFC East, three teams will make the playoffs and the 4th place team – Philly – finished the year at 8-8. That is what you call two tough divisions.

In the SF/Cleveland game yesterday, the Niners yielded 129 yards plus a TD to Josh Cribbs on punt returns with time left in the first quarter. I think there’s going to be an opening on the SF staff for a special teams coach in this off-season.

In that same game, we had a Brady Quinn sighting. He played a series while Derek Anderson was in the locker room for X-rays on a finger of his throwing hand. Quinn played decently leading the team down the field inside the 10 yardline where Braylon Edwards dropped a TD pass that hit him in the hands and then Kellen Winslow Jr. dropped a TD pass that hit him in the hands and on his numbers.

The Redskins are in the playoffs but I have to ask a question about their coaching staff. Against Dallas, the Redskins challenged a call on a fumble by QB Todd Collins alleging that he had started his throwing motion. The replay so obviously showed that it was a fumble that I have to ask this question:

    “Who is the guy in the press box who advises Joe Gibbs to throw the red flag out onto the field? Mr. Magoo?”

I said that the Steelers don’t look all that good heading into the playoffs this year. Well, that goes double for the Cowboys. Tony Romo looked like a confused second year QB yesterday; the Cowboys’ secondary would have had trouble in man-coverage against anything that moves faster than a sloth. Injury took away Terrell Owens yesterday but you saw what the offense did when he was “taken away” i.e. NOTHING. So, if you are a defensive coordinator having to play the Cowboys, why not double TO just about every down and take him away?

Since the Raiders lost that Super Bowl game to the Bucs, the Silver and Black have gone through five consecutive years with 10 or more losses. Have they changed the signs at Raiders’ HQS to “Commitment to Ineptitude” and “Humiliation and Instability”? Here’s a comment from Scott Ostler in the SF Chronicle regarding the situation in Oakland:

“Wednesday is the day Al Davis might fire defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. The whispers are that Ryan blames others for stuff that goes awry, and that while he once was a cutting-edge innovator and motivator, the game has passed him by. No, wait, that’s not Ryan, that’s Davis.”

Finally, Greg Cote had this to say in the Miami Herald about the Dolphins’ hiring of Bill Parcells as VP for Football Operations or whatever his title is there:

“Parcells said his job will be to oversee the coach and GM, but allow them to do their jobs without interference. The media responded with braying laughter and a chorus of, ‘Yeah, right!’ “

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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