ARLINGTON, Texas - The Texas Rangers' decision to sign veteran DH Lance Berkman is this close to becoming a full blown waste unless he contributes anything in September.
The one-year, $11 million deal was thought to be a similar dice roll the Rangers took in 2010 when they did with Vlad Guerrero, which worked out huge. The deal with Berkman has been a bust because, as expected, he can't stay healthy. Despite what the Rangers say, his bat has slowed as well.
He said on Monday he still wants to play, but the only way he thinks he will be activated any time soon is on Sept. 1 when MLB teams are allowed to expand their rosters.
"It would be perfect if today was Sept. 1," Berkman told us media nerds on Monday.
He hasn't played since July 6 because of an assortment of leg injuries. In 282 plate appearances, he has just six home runs with 34 RBI and is batting .254. He's 37, and clearly the injuries and age are winning.
Perhaps with just 30 or so games, plus the postseason, Berkman can find the Fountain of 35 and contribute a few timely hits. He is a total pro, and has wonderful plate discipline that can be invaluable in the postseason when nerves have their way with even the more established hitters. Guys who make contact never go out of style, provided he can still make contact.
The Rangers are where they are without Berkman, so anything he does is gravy.
He wants to play, and the ideal situation is that he is activated, contributes a few key hits during an extended playoff run and then walk away from a game he has tried to quit many times before.
It would be the nice ending for a guy who is as Texan as they come - went to New Braunfels, Rice, drafted and played for the Astros and finishes with the Rangers.
He is a good dude who hopefully has a little left to provide a better finish to an All-Star career.
ARLINGTON, Texas - If they had not signed on for this, and the team executives deliberately not gone this route, it would be easy to feel sorry for the Houston Astros. This is a Triple-A club on the big league level.
The Astros improved to 41-83 after losing against the Texas Rangers on Monday night in a glorified batting practice night for the first-place team.
Every player on the Astros knew this season was going to be bad. But saying it's going to be bad and then playing through six months of bad is different. Coming to the park day after day and losing eventually can kill any enthusiasm.
"It has been a progression," Astros catcher Jason Castro told me. "Being so young we are pretty resilient. It's been tough. We had an idea of how the team would look. But we are excited for what the future holds for us."
What else is he going to say?
The more I see of these Astros I see of the 2003 Detroit Tigers. In 2003, the Tigers lost 119 games. In 2002, they had lost 106.
In 2004, they slowly began the climb and reached the World Series in 2006. They reached the ALCS in 2011, and the World Series again in 2012. They're in first place now in the AL Central.
By the looks of the Astros' success in the minor leagues and the number of quality prospects, the big league club should not be awful for too much longer.
"The talent is there," Castro said.
The Astros are a question of when not if. Getting there, however, is a beating.
FORT WORTH, Texas - Trying to find some way to create a bridge between wakey time and bed time, I joined the millions of parents who take their kids to the circus. Thank you Ringling Bros., for now I too have joined the sacred brotherhood of dads/moms who learned just what a giant band of suckers our parents were.
As much fun as it is to watch the wonderment of a child's eyes light up at the massive amount of stimulation a circus provides from the clowns to the lions to the alarming quantity of sugar it's almost depressing to think of the money blown on something as cheap as a slushy ($16 - can't make that up).
Not to be lost in the circus trip, however, is the other sad realization: These guys can train an elephant to do what former Dallas Mavericks center Shawn Bradley could not - dunk a basketball.
Don't ask how I lucked into taking this picture at the exact moment this elephant went Blake Griffin on this goal but think about it - he goes strong to the rack, is unmovable off the low block, will dunk a ball and then paint a picture. All he needs is a little bit of food, maybe just peanuts, and the verbal assurance he won't be punished for pooping where he wants.
In response to potential litigation in what will be a large class action lawsuit against the charitable organization known as the NCAA, it is no longer in the merchandise business. At least not directly.
No NCAA Shop any more. Jay Bilas, well done. In case you didn't know, it was the NCAA-hating and ESPN analyst Bilas who took the NCAA to task for selling Johnny Manziel jerseys with none of the proceeds going to the actual athlete-student.
Just because the NCAA is no longer selling merchandise on its own website means these jerseys are gone. And just because the NCAA is trying like hell to distance itself from what will likely be a future multi-million dollar back payment on likeness infringement means you can't find the jerseys of the most visible college players right now.
The NCAA's members are free to sell jerseys as they see fit. And they are.
No. 1 - Mike Davis, who is a senior WR. Only $60. No. 14 - David Ash, a junior QB. It's $89.95. Would really help if he has a good season so they don't have to discount this. No. 32 - Former Aledo RB Johnathan Gray. The good news? He's only a sophomore so these things can be on the racks for a while. Just don't get hurt. Would hate it if these things had to be marked down. It's an $89.95 deal right now.
No. 10 - Blake Bell. Only $89.95. Probably just a coincidence he's a big name and could be the starting QB.
There are many more. And they are everywhere at every major school.
The garment has value because it's the "home" team. Once you put a number - even without the name - it increases the value no different than a No. 18 on a Denver Broncos jersey. This is where the kid gets screwed. This is a weak loophole that both the NCAA, its schools and the manufacturers have robbed the athlete-student out of for more than a decade because they could.
At the very least a percentage of whatever money is generated by a No. 25 Baylor jersey that sold while Seastrunk played should go to the athlete-student when his college career ends.
Seastrunk, Manziel, Pachall et all helped make their respective jersey more valuable to sell, and at some point they deserves a cut.
Dallas Cowboys linebacker Sean Lee can make plays, provided he is on the field. His history suggests that is not a sure thing.
So only would the Dallas Cowboys make re-signing a potential free agent with a history of injuries to an extension before he proves he can stay on the football field to make positive football plays in the National Football League during an entire football season.
Cowboys owner/president GM/head coach Jerry Jones said that re-signing Lee to an extension is a priority.
Spring of '08: Lee suffers torn ACL in a non-contact drill and misses season at Penn State. 2010: Lee suffers hamstring injury multiple times. Plays through it as a Cowboys rookie. 2011: Lee suffers dislocated left wrist on Oct. 30, misses but one game. 2012: Lee dislocates a toe on Oct. 21 and misses the rest of the season.
None of these injuries is related. This is merely a pattern of a player who looks injury prone.
So why, why, why rush to give a player an extension who may not be able to survive a season to merit long-term, big bucks?
Lee, on the field, is there. He's a dynamic player who can cover, make plays at the line, and would run through a truck to win. You want Sean Lee on your team.
An injured Sean Lee, however, is not worth an extension.
This is what the Cowboys do - rush to extend guys when the smarter money says either don't spend it at all, or wait.
Roy Williams, the safety. Roy Williams, the WR. Jay Ratliff. Ken Hamlin. Marion Barber.
Why not wait until the season is over before burying Lee in cash?
Seven episodes remain of Breaking Bad, and now that we know Walter White has been busted by his brother in law agent it is only a matter of time before this thing goes way south.
In the course of these five seasons we have viewed White's transformation from bright, burdened, cancer-striken sympathetic and overly-qualified high school science teacher into a near psychopath. He has built a drug empire. A man who formerly had little control made himself into a feared monster who bullied the bullies, fought back against those who tried to intimidate him, and out-witted everyone.
Obviously, he took it too far. As is the case of all tragedies, it's about to come apart.
The perplexing question for the viewer is, how do we prefer Walter White to end? Considering how he was in the beginning - decent, kind, affable, funny and exploited - we know there is that side to him. That is the part we want to see win, who takes pleasure when he menacingly asks:
"Say my name." "Heisenberg." "That's damn right."
He has protected his partner, Jesse, like a child. It was illegal, but he has provided for his family while making them vulnerable to his drug world.
Just when you want Walter to win he pulls some sick stunt that demands you hope for his failure. Just when he's about to get caught he returns to the baseline of decency established early on and you hope he gets away with it.
Walter White is so full of complexities and layers a case can be made either way to root for his success, or hope for his inevitable demise be it from the law, his spouse, the drug world, or cancer.
His run is about to end, we know he's "caught". As a viewer the best thing to do is merely to do as Walter White advises and "tread lightly."
Hollywood is about to go big budget on the hijacking a cargo ship genre when Tom Hanks stars in the soon-to-be-released movie "Captain Phillips". Until then, however, one of dem forner countries - in this case Denmark - has produced a solid, and completely authentic - take on the hell that it must be like to be involved in this scneario.
The story: A Danish cargo ship headed for Africa is hijacked by Somali pirates. The CEO of the company that owns the ship has to negotiate with the Somali leader of the rebels who are looking for $15 million, while his crew waits it out for months on end. This is generally a stressful situation.
The people: The only member of the crew we are permitted to know is the cook, Mikkel Hartmann (Pilou Asbaek), who has a wife and daughter at home. The crewmates are pawns used as leverage by the mostly ignorant but serious pirates whose end game is cash.
The CEO of the company, enlists the help of a hostage professional who guides him through the stressful and impossible negotiation, is sympathetic because you know he is trying to do right by his people, and the board members.
Director Tobias Lindholm, who also wrote the screenplay, does a wonderful job of including the boredom and fear of the men on board and the sheer frustration of the CEO trying to reason with the idiot pirates.
The Only Knock: The character development is lacking. While the action and the dialogue feel authentic, there is a lack of connection to the people involved. You want to care about them because of the situation, but there is no bond. Not even the twist at the end generates the type of feeling the director was going for because you don't know these people well enough.
Should you see it: This is one of those films critics love because it makes them seem smart - there are some subtitles! It's a good film, but the lack of connection the characters generate is reason alone to see this as a rental.
He was nice enough to chat with me how he and former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson started a relationship that led to Palminteri coming to Dallas to put on this show, as well as his thoughts on the upcoming NFL season, and the play that made him a star.
The Big Mac Blog: How did you come about meeting Drew Pearson to set this up and bring your show to Dallas? Chazz Palminteri: I knew who he was, for sure. I'm a football fan, a Giants fan, so I knew who Drew Pearson was. My manager was the one who set it all up. I was working in Dallas at the time and I was asked if I'd like to come on his TV show and that's sort of how it all got going.
The Big Mac Blog: Have to ask - what are your thoughts of the Giants this season? Chazz Palminteri: They have a good defense, a good quarterback and a great coach. They're streaky. They're a good club. If you look at how they won those Super Bowls, they just got hot so you never know with them but I think they'll be good.
The Big Mac Blog: And what about your Dallas Cowboys? Chazz Palminteri: I'm not a Cowboys fan, but they always have great talent. They do. And I think they have a great coach and a very good quarterback in Tony Romo. He's very good. I think he's capable of being a Super Bowl quarterback.
The Big Mac Blog: To your show, have you ever thought how your life would have been different had you sold 'A Bronx Tale' to the first bidder? Chazz Palminteri: Well, it would be different. My career would be for sure. But I knew I was never going to sell out. I knew I had something good. Most one-act plays aren't very good, but I knew this was. Everyone wanted it but I knew the only way I was going to sell it was if I could write it and star in it. The first offer I had for it was for $250,000 and at the time I had $200 in the bank. Then I was offered $500,000 and I said no. Then I was offered $1 million and said no.
"I was doing the show and afterwards I was told Robert De Niro was in my dressing room waiting to see me. He said he wanted me to write it, that I would play Sonny and he'd play my father."
The Big Mac Blog: Having done this show for many years now, is it easy? Chazz Palminteri: It's never easy, but it is very original. I mean, it's my life. It was the way I grew up. And it is a cautionary tale of wasted talent and ability. It's why I want school children to see it. It's a life lesson.
The Big Mac Blog: The crux of this show is when you saw someone murdered - does that ever bother you to relive it so often? Chazz Palminteri: No. Not really. Even when I saw it I don't think it really bothered me.
The Big Mac Blog: I have heard people who have had success with one movie, song, book or whatever tire of talking about that and would prefer to talk about something else - do you ever feel that way about A Bronx Tale? Chazz Palminteri: Oh, no. Not at all. That sort of stuff is false humility and it's rude. If someone loves it and wants to talk about it, please do. I'm happy to talk about it.
The Big Mac Blog: You're 61 and I would imagine financially you don't have to do this - how much longer do you want to do this? Chazz Palminteri: It's a passion and it's a love of mine. I don't know what else I would do. I love to act and to write. I've written other plays and I can't see a time when I don't want to do this.
The Big Mac Blog: Between A Bronx Tale and The Usual Suspects you are attached to two ageless and eternally popular works - does it ever strike you how rare that is as an actor? Chazz Palminteri: Yes. Most people don't get one and, if you include Bullets Over Broadway (the Woody Allen film for which Palminteri was nominated for Best Supporting Actor) I've been in three. I'm very fortunate.
The Big Mac Blog: Thanks so much for your time and continued success? Chazz Palminteri: Thank you and I hope to see you at the show in Dallas.