the score

'Juiced': The Deacon's Master Plan

Astros fans who have accused GM Tim Purpura of being slow to pull the trigger must now officially back off. There's plenty of other stuff to complain about. But yesterday, the Good Guys traded fledgling pitching prospects Taylor Buchholz and Jason Hirsh, and budding fan favorite Willy Taveras, to Colorado for starter Jason Jennings and Rule 5 tagalong Miguel Asencio, who, um, missed the past two seasons after elbow surgery. Doh!

Given the Astros' luck with trading away starters (Johan Santana, Freddy Garcia), Hirsh is an early favorite for the 2010 Cy Young Award. Although he was PCL pitcher of the year for Round Rock last year, he was no great shakes in the bigs. The Stros were already backed into a corner by Andy Pettitte's sudden yearning to be back on Broadway and last week's Jon Garland trade implosion, and Jennings did have an ERA under 4.00 last year in the pitcher's purgatory of Coors Field. The Juice Box may not be much friendlier, but at least Houston's humidity should help him keep the ball down. Read More | Comment »

MLB 3:01PM Wed. Dec. 13, 2006, Christopher Gray

Spirit of the Game

Greg Clark is a botanist in the biology department at UT. He transacts most of his business wearing shorts and sandals and enjoys playing music before his lectures to help each class begin positively.
   Greg shares a home with his wife, Monica, an educator for AISD, and their 8-year-old daughter, Isabel, a burgeoning artist with a bedroom that can be accurately described as fairly princess-y. The yard of their Hyde Park home is filled with the plants Greg loves, and until a recent remodeling, a person could sit on the Clarks’ toilet and pass the time by reading Greg’s PhD, which hung on the wall nearby.
   During this same remodeling, Greg had to reconsider other of his decorating philosophies, including what to do with the discs covering a great deal of wall space in the Clark home. Each disc featured a picture or logo or the name and dates of a tournament, and collectively they represented a historical record in molded, round plastic of Greg’s years spent playing Ultimate. Read More | Comment »

Fringe 1:04PM Wed. Dec. 13, 2006, Josh Bauermeister

Jay Williams Is Received in Austin

The Toros sent a distress signal out into the farthest reaches of the basketball universe last Friday in an attempt to right their badly teetering ship and make something out of a season that’s in danger of spiraling wildly out of control:

“SOS! SOS!”

(Which, in this case, didn’t stand for “Save Our Ship” but rather “Shit! Oh and Six!”)

Taking pity on the flailing D-Leaguers, the basketball gods heard these lamentations and sent them what could be a miracle: former Duke superstar and No. 2 NBA draft pick Jay Williams. Now I say “could be” because Williams is a question mark if there ever was one: a once-great prospect blessed with a deep well of talent and potential but cursed with afflictions that would give even Job pause. Read More | Comment »

Austin Toros 2:21AM Tue. Dec. 12, 2006, Josh Rosenblatt

All American Tennis Shootout

I hope you're ready for some top-notch tennis action because Austin will play host to the No. 1 American (singles) talent, James Blake, as well as the world's top doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan. Blake will take on Mardy Fish in a singles match and then team with his brother Thomas Blake (who is a former Harvard All-American) in a doubles match against the Bryans. The speed of the game doesn't translate to TV and this is an excellent chance to catch our country's best talent right here in Downtown Austin. Click here or call 866/443-8849 for your tickets. Fri., Dec. 15, 7pm. Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez St., 404-4000. Read More | Comment »

Tennis 4:44PM Mon. Dec. 11, 2006, Mark Fagan

Love Ya, Vince

I think we finally saw Vince Young sweat.

Forget the last-minute Rose Bowl prance into the end zone. This wasn’t as easy, but it sure seemed to mean more to the man who sees himself as snubbed by the guys who pretend to be his hometown team. No sir, Vince doesn’t take kindly to being excluded.

With his Tennessee Oilers, ur, Titans needing two touchdowns to pull it out, Vince was just warming up. Sure he got a little help from the sure hands of a beefed-up Ahmad Hall from the Longhorn glory days. Vince then ran for a couple of yards to secure a first down, before handing off the ball to let someone else score. Twice. After the second one, Vince let out a huge puff of air. This wasn’t as easy as college. The guys trying to rip him apart were bigger, faster than in the Big 12. Vince had something to prove

Then the Vince folks in Austin know so well came out of the closet nationwide to reveal his Teflon coating. Zip. Thirty-nine yards. Untouched. Anointed as the next God of professional football. The guy people want to touch in hopes that some of that greatness can rub off. Read More | Comment »

NFL 1:03PM Mon. Dec. 11, 2006, Joe O'Connell

Adventures in Journalism: Let’s Go to the Roller Derby!

When the dust finally settled after last Saturday’s (Dec. 2) important flat-track Roller Derby match between the hometown Texas Rollergirls Texecutioners and the skating Saddletramps from Tucson, Ariz., a few things were abundantly clear.
   
First, if I am to really bite into this sporting press gig, I am going to need Full Access. We’re talking press passes and gear. Much gear. So much gear, in fact, that I’ll need to enlist the aid of at least two friends to handle it all. Microphones, recorders, cameras, lenses … perhaps some lighting. But more about this foul angle later. I’ll have to talk to my editor first.
   
The important lesson of Saturday night was that these gals are having way more fun than the rest of us. I’ll confess, up until Saturday, when I was handed the prestigious Roller Derby assignment (a sure sign that my work for the Chronicle is at least noticed) I had not attended a Roller Derby bout. I had tried a couple of times, only to find the events either sold out or lacking proper parking. And, as a proud and loyal Southerner, I make a point to avoid crossing the river whenever possible. When was the last time I was in North Austin anyway? And why? Read More | 8 Comments »

Texas Rollergirls 6:04PM Sun. Dec. 10, 2006, John Razook

Texas Bows Out of Playoffs

All evening at Gregory Gym, it seemed like Texas was hanging on to the cliff by their fingernails. In game 4, the fingers finally got tired: At the NCAA regional on the UT campus at Gregory Gym, the Stanford Cardinal ended the Longhorns' season three games to one, by scores of 30-28, 34-32, 31-33, and 30-24.

Nonetheless, the Longhorns were impressive. Outside hitter Jen Christian was a rock – it seemed like every time she went up for a kill, that ball hit the floor, and 19 times it did. Ashley Engle was right behind her with 18 kills, and Destinee Hooker had 16. Good lord, Hooker is intimidating – she hits the ball with such power. If I ever faced her and saw her jumping up and aiming at me, I'd wet my pants.

Just a few years ago, the Horns didn't even make the playoffs. Last year they got knocked out in the second round. This year they made the Elite Eight. Nice turnaround, ladies – I'm already looking forward to next season. Read More | Comment »

UT Volleyball 9:10PM Sat. Dec. 9, 2006, Lee Nichols

UT Slams Wisconsin 3-0

While it will certainly be tough to get through the next three games, the Texas Longhorns tonight looked like a team that can at least dream of a volleyball national championship and not be kidding itself. In what should have been an even Sweet Sixteen matchup tonight at Gregory Gym between No. 10 Wisconsin and No. 7 Texas, the Longhorns were utterly dominant, settling the match in a quick three games: 30-19, 30-22, and 30-12. Read More | Comment »

UT Volleyball 9:35PM Fri. Dec. 8, 2006, Lee Nichols

'NBA 2K7' for the PlayStation2

While 2K7 sports an impressive soundtrack lorded over by Dan the Automator and the difficult-at-first yet eventually rewarding Shot Stick Pro gameplay style, the poor graphics and the difficult learning curve leave 2K7 with a little work to do (although they are definitely gaining some ground) before they surpass NBA Live as my basketball game of choice. Read More | Comment »

Basketball 5:14PM Fri. Dec. 8, 2006, Mark Fagan

'Friday Night Lights': Snakes. Why Does It Always Have to Be Snakes? Edition

It's not even Christmas yet, and Santa Claus has already been good to San Marcos, giving the Rattlers victories over Smithson Valley, San Antonio Marshall, and Harlingen South after a 5-5 regular season to put them in the 5A Division II state quarterfinals. This week Saint Nick has been extra generous and given San Marcos a home gamemore or lessagainst MacArthur from the north side of San Antonio. 7:30pm tonight in Bobcat Stadium, the Rattlers will try to do what 25-5A champ Austin High couldn't do in the first round. But the Brahmas will be ready: not only is MacArthur coming off an emotional 35-34 win over McAllen Memorial, but the school had "Hunt Down the Rattlers" day yesterday, with students encouraged to wear camouflage.

Tonight's other playoff game, a 3A quarterfinal down in San Antone, is a little further south, but Wimberley probably doesn't mind; the Alamodome might be their lucky field after last week's 55-33 win over one of Texas' top 3A teams all season, Cuero. Trailing at halftime, the Texans stormed back with one of the best halves of football in a long time to send the Gobblers back to the turkey patch. Hondo whipped Orange Grove last week, 40-3. UT student radio station KVRX 91.7 FM will give Decemberists and the Knife a rest and carry the game live.

Tomorrow Westlake gets the afternoon under way at noon with their 5A Division I quarterfinal against San Antonio Reagan at the Alamodome. As usual, the Chaps followed a sometimes shaky regular season with playoff poise, and rolled to a 45-19 win over Los Fresnos last week. However, they're facing a hostile crowd and a Rattler team that hung 72 points on Laredo United in their regional semifinal victory. Tune into 1530 AM KZNX to listen. The 4pm Alamodome nightcap is a rematch from 26-4A, as the Hays Rebels, who convinced their coaches to shave their heads (not that they had a whole lot of hair to begin with), try to avenge their 21-7 Oct. 27 loss to the eventual district champ Buffs. Read More | Comment »

High School Football 4:13PM Fri. Dec. 8, 2006, Christopher Gray

'WWE Smackdown vs. Raw' for the Xbox 360

Finally the WWE admits they are "sports entertainment," but both the sport and entertainment aspects of this game are sorely lacking. All the superstars are rendered well as they pummel a path to their signature finishing moves. The overly complicated controls are frustrating and the limited soundtrack and loading times made me want to put myself in a sleeper hold. All in all the game plays like one long advertisement for the WWE: all posture and no play. Read More | Comment »

Wrestling 3:59PM Fri. Dec. 8, 2006, James Renovitch

Ice Bats Win Five Straight!

After getting off to a shaky start the Bats have netted five straight and look for number six this Friday in Laredo versus the Bucks. Laredo is atop the Bats' Southwest Division and the entire Southern Conference but with Austin's run of five consecutive victories they are a mere four points behind the Bucks making Friday's road game an important early-season matchup. You can listen to all road games on ESPN 1530AM. Austin returns home Saturday at 7:30pm to face the Corpus Christi Rayz who are tied with the Bats with 20 points. Saturday's game will also benefit the APD's Blue Santa Program and there will also be a postgame jersey auction to benefit Ice Bats Children's Charities.

Austin's star right winger John McNabb is tied for 10th in the CHL with 22 points and is tied for fifth in the league with 12 goals. Newcomer John Ronan is off to a great start with six points in six games. Miguel Beaudry was named the CHL Goalie of the Week and had his first shutout of the season. His record for the season stands at 5-3-4 with a 3.02 GAA. Read More | Comment »

Austin Ice Bats 2:04PM Fri. Dec. 8, 2006, Mark Fagan

Dickens Does Dallas: A Christmastime Visit From the Ghosts of Henny Youngman, Rodney Dangerfield, and Andrew Dice Clay Teaches Me the True Meaning of Cowboys Football

I'll admit I'd gotten burned out on my Dallas Cowboys blog. It seemed like I've been making the same lame jokes and obvious observations all season.

But last night, just like Ebenezer Scrooge, I was visited by three ghosts, but these spirits weren't concerned with the Christmas spirit. They were here to give me enough one-liners to fulfill the word count for my blog entry this week.

The following interview taught me two meaningful lessons: 1) Making obvious observations and lame jokes is what sports writing is all about and 2) They put the expiration date on cough syrup for a very good reason.

Read More | Comment »

NFL 11:33AM Fri. Dec. 8, 2006, Jeremy Martin

'Tiger Woods PGA Tour 07' for the Xbox 360

This year's Tiger achieves EA Sports' goals like no game before it. When I say this, however, I'm assuming that EA Sports' ultimate goal is to destroy my marriage.

In a brilliant move to trick me into playing this game with my wife, this year's model includes more multiplayer options than ever before. In addition to the usual tournaments, skins games, and Tiger Challenges you find in online and single-player modes, Tiger 07 offers several home-wrecking games apparently designed by divorce lawyers. The new One Ball mode requires you and your life partner to alternate shots on the same ball, pitting you in a hateful struggle to land the love of your life in a sand trap, so you can be the first to sink the putt. Read More | Comment »

Golf 11:41AM Thu. Dec. 7, 2006, Jeremy Martin

I Love It When a Plan Comes Together

Pound Deuce McAllister between the tackles 26 times for 136 yards. Sprint Reggie Bush around the ends for 168 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns. Allow Drew Brees to relax into an efficient passing groove. Limit one of the league's top rushers, Frank Gore, to 40 ground yards and no touchdowns. Force an opposing quarterback into ill-advised throws, two of which are picked off by cornerback Mike McKenzie. Kick long and accurately, rack up return yards, and eat clock like popcorn shrimp in a runaway 34-10 victory against the San Francisco 49ers. It might be difficult for the New Orleans Saints to best the Dallas Cowboys this coming Sunday short the injured WR Joe Horn and the suspended DT Hollis Thomas, but best believe that all hired hands available will be gunning for that damned blue star. Read More | Comment »

NFL 10:34PM Wed. Dec. 6, 2006, Robert Gabriel

No Surprises in Euro Champs League

No big surprises in the finales in the European Champions League group stage. Manchester United, Arsenal, Barcelona, and Roma punched their tickets for the final 16, and there’s arguably not a single surprise team left in the field. The tourney resumes in February with knockout rounds. Full results below.

So, here's the Final 16:
Top seeds: Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Valencia, Lyon, Manchester United, Arsenal, AC Milan
Second seeds: Lille, Inter Milan, Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven, Roma, Real Madrid, Celtic Glasgow, FC Porto

Read More | Comment »

Champions League 6:00PM Wed. Dec. 6, 2006

NCAA Finals Report

Top-ranked North Carolina won the NCAA women’s championship on Sunday, beating Notre Dame, 2-1. It’s the Tar Heels’ 18th title in the 25-year history of the sport. And here’s the scary part: This is the youngest UNC team ever.

Unseeded UC-Santa Barbara won the men’s title, upsetting UCLA in the final, 2-1. It was only the Gauchos' second NCAA championship in any sport.

Read More | Comment »

U.S. 5:45PM Wed. Dec. 6, 2006

More Than 60,000 Tickets Already Sold for Alamo Bowl

Our own Texas Longhorns (who are the defending national champs in case you may have forgotten) will face the Iowa Hawkeyes in this year's Alamo Bowl being held in nearby San Antonio at the Alamodome on Saturday, December 30 at 3:30pm. Sixty thousand tickets have already been sold with the remaining tickets available from Eddie Vedder's favorite ticket vendor, Ticketmaster. They can also be purchased over the telephone at 210/224-9600 or at the Alamodome box office from 10am to 5pm. Ticket prices range from $30 to $50. Read More | Comment »

UT Football 12:46PM Wed. Dec. 6, 2006, Mark Fagan

UT Hosts Volleyball Regionals

It would really be a shame to not show up for your own party. Thankfully, the Texas Longhorns avoided that possible embarrassment by whipping Prairie View A&M and Stephen F. Austin in last weekend's NCAA volleyball playoffs – both in 3-0 decisions – to advance to this weekend's Sweet 16 regionals, which were scheduled to be held in Gregory Gym whether the Longhorns won or not. The No. 7 Horns will get a stiffer challenge in this round: On Friday at 5pm, No. 2 Stanford faces California, and Texas must dispatch No. 10 Wisconsin at 7pm. The winners of those matches will then meet at 5:30pm Saturday to determine who advances to the Final Four in Omaha, Neb. Get your tickets at TexasBoxOffice.com. Read More | Comment »

UT Volleyball 12:44PM Wed. Dec. 6, 2006, Lee Nichols

Horns Having Success in the NFL

Yes, Longhorn fans, it’s cringe-worthy indeed to see the very same Oklahoma Sooners that your team so soundly thrashed this year waltz into a BCS bowl game against mighty mighty Boise State. Can we only dream of a potato-lover’s upset? Take heart. In the back of his mind, Bob Stoops, when not obsessing over the Oregon win the refs robbed him of, has a festering sore that is Mack Brown. Two losses in a row, Bob. Just pretend it doesn’t bother you. We believe you. Honest, we do. Yes, the Okies topped Nebraska, another loser to Texas, in the just-doesn't-matter Big 12 Championship game. Neither team looked like a contender.

None of this excuses the Horns’ season-ending collapse, which was a train wreck from which it’s hard to look away, but do look. Look to the future. All the way to the National Football League where former University of Texas players are everywhere and kicking ass:

+ Cedric Benson is starting and scoring for da Chicago Bears, who clinched the NFC North this weekend.

+ Phil Dawson kicked a field goal in overtime to seal the Cleveland Brown’s win over the Chief.

+ Roy Williams became the first Detroit Lions receiver with more than 1,000 yards since Johnnie Morton in 2001. Oh, and he likes to hang with teammates DE Cory Redding, DT Shaun Rogers, and OT Jonathan Scott.

+ Vince Young (oh, we miss you, Vince …) is slowly making believers of Nashville Titans fans with his second straight come-from-behind victory.

+ Chris Simms is the second-best former UT QB in the NFL even when he’s not playing. There are two of them? I still can’t believe it.

+ Vince’s favorite throwing target of late? Ahmad Hall. (Am I the only one who keeps wanting to call him Ahmad Brooks?) Of course, Vince can also aim for tight end Bo Scaife.

+ Quentin Jammer is a tackling machine for the 10-2 San Diego Chargers. Read More | 4 Comments »

NFL 4:30PM Mon. Dec. 4, 2006, Joe O'Connell

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