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1. The season finale gets underway today. Wedesday. It’s weird, isn’t it? I don’t know who came up with this idea, but it’s brilliant except there’s no Thursday game, too. For all of us with wives and girlfriends, it would have been nice to take advantage of this in Texas. NFL on Wednesday and Thursday. High school football on Friday. College football on Saturday. NFL back on Sunday and Monday. It would have been perfect. Although the spouses and significant others may have hates every minute of it. That’s why I’m lucky I don’t have a wife or girlfriend.
*sigh*… That’s why I’m lucky…
In any case, you should check out our Dallas Cowboys 2012 Season Preview to see where we think the Cowboys should have concern and how we think they’ll do this season and possibly in the playoffs. One thing we do know going into tonight is that Jason Witten will not play while Dez Bryant and Miles Austin will.
Some fans and many members of the Cowboys organization were hoping that Witten would play, but we had our doubts and now it’s confirmed. In all honesty, with a spleen injury where any contact can sideline him for the season, I really feel like Dallas shouldn’t just sit Witten for this week, but sit him the following week as well and slowly work him back in. John Phillips was impressive in the preseason and having a reliable backup like him provides confidence in the present but also optimism for the future. Phillips is only 25 and has the experience to fill in nicely.
Dez Bryant saw a little more action than Miles Austin in the preseason, but not much. His troubles off the field have made more headlines than anything on it. But after getting this much rest, there isn’t much more they can do to wait on Austin. Hamstring injuries are the toughest to predict. Austin has had them before and played well. Now they’re flaring up on him again and you can really only hope that they’re gone and don’t come back. As for Bryant, knee tendinitis means that Bryant won’t be at full speed or full strength, possibly the rest of the season. They won’t know how he can play through it until he sees significant game action, which is why they’re not committing to having him return punts or not.
Everyone is expecting a shootout in the opener. And the Cowboys need their weapons sharp and ready to go. We’ll see if that applies to Bryant and Austin tonight.
Photo by Javi Perez/Playmaker Magazine
2. The Texas Rangers won’t sweep the Kansas City Royals on the road, but it’s not Scott Feldman’s fault. While the offense only mustered three runs thanks, in part, to Josh Hamilton’s 2-4 performance and an Elvis Andrus home run, Matt Harrison struggled in his 2nd straight start. In his previous outing, Harrison gave up seven runs in less than six innings of work against the Tampa Bay Rays but this time he couldn’t get out of the 5th inning because he threw over 100 pitches in giving up three runs.
Roy Oswalt came in and threw a little more than two innings and gave up one run on a solo homer. It wasn’t a good appearance, but it wasn’t bad. In our previous Daily Six Shooter, we advocated for Oswalt to replace Feldman in the rotation as the Rangers 5th starter down the stretch. Oswalt had a chance to send a message that he deserved to be moved up, but it slipped by. All he did in this appearance was solidify his spot as a long reliever.
Of course, there aren’t just questions about the regular season rotation, but how the rotation will look in the playoffs. We’ll explore that soon.
3. Mike Napoli is finally getting some running in, which is the next step to his recovery and return to the Rangers lineup. We haven’t seen Napoli in weeks since he injured his quadriceps. He wasn’t hitting all that great compared to his teammates, but that’s a really high standard, especially when compared to Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, and David Murphy. But he was bouncing back when he got hurt, hitting a .797 OPS in July before he got hurt. He might have been part of the Texas offensive resurgence if he hadn’t been injured.
All we know is October is almost here and he’s running out of time to come back and running out of time to get rehab in the minors. After Napoli’s performance in the playoffs last year, they’d much rather have him behind the plate than Geovany Soto.
4. Wandy Rodriguez hasn’t been great since being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Houston Astros. The team is 4-4 in his starts. Two of those wins have come against his old team and last night he looked outright dominant in Pittsburgh as the Pirates won 6-2. Rodriguez threw seven innings of shutout ball while giving up just four hits.
It was a typical Astros loss in that they made a big, egregious error that helped the Pirates score two free runs. With two outs in the 5th inning, Pedro Alvarez hit a high pop fly that didn’t get out of the infield. Houston shortstop Tyler Greene dropped the ball when Jose Altuve got close to him and distracted him from making the catch. Two runs scored because the inning continued.
Not only are the Astros bad, they’re making boneheaded plays like this that have turned them from figurative laughing stock of the league to literal laughing stock of the league.
Houston is basically the Cleveland Indians from Major League, but instead of rallying in the 2nd half of the season… they just stay bad all year. And they make people laugh with their on-field antics.
This is Astros baseball.
5. It’s no wonder that Roger Clemens says of his possible return, “I don’t see it happening.” He’d likely come back for Houston if any team, but the Astros have little reason to turn themselves into a Bill Veeck-like sideshow. Actually, considering their attendance numbers, maybe they should.
Clemens did stop short of saying that he’s completely ruling it out. He maintains that he has no plans beyond his appearance with the Sugar Land Skeeters on Friday (where he’ll pitch under manager Gary Gaetti). So this story isn’t dead yet. Houston has won just five games in August and, despite having already won two in September, their attendance has gotten so bad that it’s starting to affect road crowds.
At this point, Houston could serve to get some attention off of their poor play, bad errors, and minimal attendance with an appearance by Roger Clemens.
6. Finally, we’ve reached an era in Hollywood where historical figures and fictional characters are subject to retroactive bad-assery in the telling of their stories, from Van Helsing to Abraham Lincoln… and now to Hansel and Gretel. A new trailer was released yesterday called Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunter starring Jeremy Renner, Famke Jansen, and Gemma Aterton.
The story makes sense. The original Hansel and Gretel story ends when the children take jewels from the witch’s house after they burn her in the oven and return home, only to see that their mother is dead and only their father is alive. They live “happily ever after,” but does that sound really happy? I mean, they were abandoned in the woods, kill a witch, and when they get home their mother is dead. Maybe this is just what the Germans consider “happy.”
So I like what they’re doing with the story here. The writer/director is Tommy Wirkola, who also wrote and directed Dead Snow, the indie hit about NAZI zombies. Between Wirkola, Renner, Jansen and finally seeing Aterton in a good movie (I’m not counting Quantum of Solace or Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time), I’m looking forward to having fun watching this in theatres next January.