• Who are the real Rockies?

    Mon, August 31, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Talked to several Rockies fans, who double as serious MLB observers, and they all made the same point after Sunday’s loss to the San Francisco Giants.

    The Rockies, they said, have delivered a surprising, honorable season.

    They also said the Rockies have peaked. The team is revealing its limitations. The playoffs, they said, now look unlikely. (Yes, I know the Rockies have a much more friendly schedule ahead than the Giants.) And passing the Dodgers, a team that has dominated the Rockies in head-to-head battles this season, will be next to impossible.

    Do you agree?

  • Suffering from Cutler overload?

    Sun, August 30, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Heard from a few Broncos fans today who say they’re tired of the whole Jay Cutler saga.

    They’re ready to bid him farewell and never – OK, seldom – think of him again.

    There’s 5:39 left in first quarter. Cutler is trotting on the field. And several thousand Broncos fans who aren’t not weary of the Cutler story are booing him with gusto.

  • More frequent posts ahead

    Sun, August 30, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Going to try to post every day. For the past few months, I’ve posted four or five times a week. The new plan is to post every day. Will  usually post before noon and try to post before 10 a.m.

    Appreciate everyone who stops by here to take a look. And appreciate everyone who makes a comment, even if that comment is critical of my views. If you haven’t taken the comment plunge, please do.

    Will post on Jay Cutler’s return at least once tonight. Hope you can find time to take a look.

    Thanks.

  • J.R. Smith and the Nuggets future

    Sat, August 29, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    J.R. Smith has spent time in the slammer and has been slapped with a seven-game suspension by the NBA. He’s one of the least trusted men in sports.

    But Smith is the key to the Denver Nuggets 2009-2010 season.

    Now, before all you Chauncey Billups fans and Carmelo Anthony fans start a riot, let me explain what I mean. You can count on Billups and Anthony. They will again form one of the NBA’s top duos. They both rank among the NBA’s top 15 players.

    Smith is the team’s great question mark. Will he build on last season, when he showed flashes of stardom? Or will he sink back to his wild, undisciplined ways?

    The Nuggets essentially stood still in this offseason. The Lakers obtained Ron Artest. (The Lakers will regret that move.) The Spurs obtained Richard Jefferson. (A great move.)

    The Nuggets believe they already had the pieces for an NBA title.

    The most unpredictable piece is a man known as J.R.

  • The newest sorry segment of the Brandon Marshall saga

    Fri, August 28, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    The Denver Broncos gambled. Team leaders believed they could convince Brandon Marshall to conduct himself as an adult. They believed he would compete fiercely this season despite his discontent about his $2.2 million salary.

    They were wrong. The Broncos suspended Marshall this morning.

    The Broncos are left with a gifted malcontent with rapidly sinking trade value. Marshall is blessed with the entire package required for NFL greatness at wide receiver. He’s tall, fast and elusive.

    And yet …

    No genuine competitor – and no player who really cares about his teammates  - would slog through practice the way Marshall has slogged through practice.

    Brandon Marshall is utterly and alarmingly obsessed with Brandon Marshall.

    The Denver Broncos gambled on Marshall.

    And they lost.

    Hope you’ve already seen Frank Schwab’s Broncos blog.  If not, please take a look. He’s been all over the Marshall story. For the latest news, go here:

    http://gazettebroncos.freedomblogging.com/

  • A great, flawed man walked out of the locker room

    Thu, August 27, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    I was covering the 1996 Final Four at the Meadowlands, standing outside the UMass locker room at the Meadowlands in New Jersey while waiting for a chance to interview Marcus Camby and the King of College Basketball Sleaze.

    Yes, I’m talking about  John Calipari.

    The door opened, and out walked Edward Kennedy, better known as Ted. Kennedy had been in the room offering encouraging words to the UMass team, which made sense. Kennedy will long be remembered for his 46 years of service as a Massachusetts senator.

    Most of the time you see a famous person, he or she looks smaller than you imagined. I ran into,  almost literally, Eva Longoria a few years back at a San Antonio Spurs game and she looked 12 years old. She was alarmingly skinny and tiny.

    Kennedy was different. He looked bigger. And he looked older. It was easy to see he had traveled through a tough life.

    A few of us said hello to Kennedy and he nodded and smiled and walked away, his wife by his side.

    I’ve been encouraged by the response to Kennedy’s death. My father was an extremely conservative man, but he deeply respected Robert Kennedy, one of the  most liberal politicians in American history. “He was a man of character,” my father said. “He fought for what he believed in.”

    Most of the response to Ted Kennedy’s death has followed that tone. Kennedy took a winding road to a happy ending in his life. He endured massive mistakes, wrestled with an assortment of personal demons, but still enjoyed great triumph. He fought diligently and tirelessly for a better America.

    You might not agree with his tactics, but Americans – liberal, moderate and conservative - should appreciate his dedication. George Will, the great conservative writer, offered a touching tribute to Kennedy today.

    I’ve been thinking all  day about that surprising moment when a great, flawed man walked out of the locker room.

  • AFA baseball: Can the future really be different than the past?

    Wed, August 26, 2009 by David Ramsey with 5 comments

    We return today to Air Force baseball.

    I have a couple questions about Mike Hutcheon’s six-year run as baseball coach. He talks optimistically about the program’s future. So does athletic director Hans Mueh.

    But I wonder how the program can expect future success when Hutcheon’s past is examined.

    First problem: He struggles to develop players.

    The Falcons did not have a senior on the 2009 roster who was not a pitcher. In other words, not a single non-pitcher completed the journey from freshman to senior under Hutcheon’s watch. It’s no surprise the Falcons finished 3-18 in conference.

    If Hutcheon expects to win, he has to develop talent. He has to take limited players and turn them into the kind of solid players he would never dream of cutting. During Hutcheon’s time, scores of players have either quit or been cut.

    I talked in July with Fisher DeBerry about his long run at the academy. For two decades, DeBerry crafted winners at AFA, often with the least likely of athletes. There was no way, he said, he could compete for the nation’s top high school recruits. Instead, he turned mediocre recruits into good players and good recruits into great players. He and his staff worked as teachers and motivators to build winning teams.

    Air Force’s recent sports history is filled with players who arrived unburdened by expectations.

    Chad Hall was a miniature high school quarterback who became one of the nation’s top halfbacks in his senior season. Hall was transformed by a crew of Air Force teachers, including DeBerry, Jemal Singleton and Troy Calhoun.

    Nick Welch did not make a 3-point shot in high school, according to former coach Chris Mooney. But Mooney and Joe Scott crafted Welch into the ideal center for their Princeton offense. College teams had no interest in Welch after his high school career, but Welch grew into the most complete player in the Mountain West. The high school player who never even dreamed of launching 3s became one of the more dangerous 3-point-shooting centers in recent college basketball history.

    Those are only two stories. There are plenty of others.

    Hutcheon explained the mass departures by saying, “Our recruiting has changed. We’ve been able to get better players.”

    He won’t win using this method. He won’t win by constantly going out and finding new players he prefers to his old players.

    It’s his job to develop the talent on his squad.

    It’s not his job to show most of his players the door before their senior years.

    (Hutcheon is changing his ways, kind of. The tentative 2010 roster includes six seniors. And 18 freshmen. And one – count ‘em – junior.)

    Second problem: He calls failure success.

    The Falcons were pitiful this season. They were hammered, over and over, in Mountain West competition.

    Yet Hutcheon said, “All I can say is, I know our program got better. … We got better this season and as long as we got better, we feel good.”

    One word sums up Hutcheon’s words:

    Wow.

    Come on, Mike. How can you – or anybody else - coach “feel good” after the team’s performance in 2009? Numbers fail to back up this sunny, phony view The 2008 Falcons won 18 games, including four conference games. The 2009 Falcons won 14 games with three conference wins. (Hutcheon has won 12 conference games. He’s lost 136.)

    It solves nothing to put a happy face on a sad season.

    And Hutcheon needs to remember this:

    Winners dwell in a realm known as reality.

    Make sure to check out Jake Schaller’s AFA blog. I just finished reading his interview with running backs coach Jemal Singleton. You can read it, too, if you go here:

    http://gazetteafasports.freedomblogging.com/

  • Floyd Little looks on his way to Pro Football Hall of Fame

    Tue, August 25, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    Finally.

    Floyd Little has long deserved a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and it appears he’s – finally – on the brink of being allowed in the door.

    The Hall announced today that Little is one of two senior nominees for 2010 induction class. This means Little is almost a lock for the hall; 16 of the last 18 senior nominees have gained induction.

    Little is, to my eyes, the second-greatest Bronco. (No. 1, in case you’ve been living in a cave the past 15 years, is John Elway.) Numbers don’t tell Little’s story. He gained 6,323 yards in his nine-year career, but his feats came before the NFL’s great statistics inflation.

    Here’s what I mean:

    When Little gained 1,133 yards for the Broncos in 1971, it was cause for mass celebration. Why? Because he was the 13th player in NFL history to top 1,000 yards. In 2008, 16 NFL runners topped 1,000.

    Excuse me if I seem a little biased toward Little.

    It’s because I am.

    I spent several Sunday afternoons at the old Mile High Stadium watching Little work his magic. He was a master at turning a disaster of a play into a touchdown. He sometimes reversed field a couple times and danced past all 11 defenders on his way to the end zone.

    Count Jim Brown, the greatest runner in football history, as a Little fan. Brown has long wondered why Little wasn’t a member of the Hall.

    “He was a bowlegged dude with tremendous power and great movement,” Brown told me, via phone from his home in Los Angeles. “He was a very invidualistic type of runner, a true champion type of runner.”

    Well said, Jim.

  • AFA defensive numbers

    Thu, August 20, 2009 by David Ramsey with no comments

    In the past five seasons, Air Force Academy has scored 23 or more points in 16 losses.

    The Falcons have scored 30 points or more in eight losses.

    The Falcons have scored 36 points or more in three losses.

  • Orton isn’t the answer

    Sun, August 16, 2009 by David Ramsey with 1 comment

    Jay Cutler throws footballs for the Chicago Bears, and that’s fine. Cutler could never have thrived under the direction of Josh McDaniels. Cutler is too fragile and too in-love-with-himself to function alongside McDaniels.

    Kyle Orton throws footballs as starter of the Denver Broncos, and that’s a disaster. It was obvious from the day he arrived in Denver, and it becomes more obvious each day he lives in Denver that he’s not gifted enough to serve as an NFL starting quarterback. He’s the quarterback you want holding the clipboard and standing a few feet away from the head coach on the sideline. He’s not the quarterback you want on the field. He’s a classic NFL backup. Any doubts about this assertion vanished during the first half against the 49ers.

    Trading Cutler made sense. He’s a malcontent, and Broncos were given market value .

    Expecting Orton to start makes no sense.