Batting Around is BC Sports' look back at the week's happenings in the world o' sports, presented in a lineup card format for some undisclosed reason.
The Lineup Card
1. C Jim Leyritz — Eleven years ago, Jim Leyritz hit a timely 3-run home run in the eighth inning Game 4 of the 1996 World Series. When a man goes through his entire life known as the guy who had one shining moment in a sports event, he lives a pretty good life. Unfortunately, Leyritz didn't do that.
Last week he reportedly drove home from his birthday party drunk, hitting a car driven by 30-year-old Fredia Ann Veitch, a mother of two. Veitch was pronounced dead.
What is there to say at this point? A family of four no longer has a mother. Leyritz, himself with three children, faces 15 years in prison if convicted of DUI manslaughter.
I've always loved driving at night. There's less traffic, fewer functioning traffic lights — the trip goes easier. Rarely do I think there are people out there operating vehicles who shouldn't be. And not just intoxicated people, but also people who are extremely tired. This accident happened well after 3 a.m., which is sometimes right around the time I have a weekend Steak 'n Shake jones. It's just a quarter-mile drive from home. Certainly nothing bad could happen between there and home, right?
Okay, sorry for the somber moment there. Pee-pee jokes to ensue.
2. RB Kevin Faulk — Sure, look to Tom Brady, Randy Moss, or Wes Welker and find one of the big reasons the New England Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season. Or credit the offensive line. Just be sure to include Kevin Faulk in there.
You might know Kevin Faulk better by his full name, "Kevin Faulk still plays for the New England Patriots?" Not only does he still play, he and Tom Brady are the team's offensive captains.
Faulk caught eight passes for 64 yards. Three of those passes were for first downs. On third down. And long. Just give the man a game ball already.
3. PG Brandon Roy — Curse the NBA for getting me interested somehow in December. That's not how it's supposed to work. It's supposed to be boring until April, then capture my heart with exactly three different playoff series.
But here come the Portland Trail Blazers — the team who had the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, Greg Oden, fall to a season-ending ankle injury — with 13 straight wins, a streak ending New Year's Eve with a loss at Utah.
Roy, the team's second-year point guard, averaged 22.8 points, 6.6 assists, and 4.6 rebounds during their current 13-game winning streak.
They still have much to prove, even though they beat both Utah and Denver twice in that streak, because most of the games were at home. This month they have a brutal Eastern conference trip (yes, such a thing exists) featuring stops in Toronto, New Jersey, Boston, Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, and New Orleans. That 7-game roadie might put them back to .500. but it's amazing they were ever in a position to drop to .500 in the first place.
4. LW Alexander Ovechkin — Hey, you know what would be awesome, NHL? You know how every other cool sport has statistics with splits available for games in the last 7 days? Please get on that right now. It makes weekly columns like this a lot easier to crown a hell of a lot easier. Until then, I just have to go by the subjective views of the NHL's "Stars Of The Week" award. Taking First Star is the Washington Capitals phenom forward.
Ovechkin scored four goals on just five shots in a wild 8-6 win over the Ottawa Senators, but his consistency supersedes even this past week. He has at least one point in 26 of his last 28 games.
But in the last week, Ovechkin has … well, um, at least four goals. Perhaps more.
5. OT Jonathan Ogden — The Baltimore Ravens' 11-time Pro Bowl left tackle said he'll decide within 30 days whether he'll return or retire. He's had a tough, injury-plagued year, and at 33 he might want to think about his knees so he doesn't have to travel around the city of Baltimore in a scooter for the rest of his life. (It sounds cooler than it really is, I'm told.)
If he does, he'll go out on top. Kinda. Ogden and the Ravens beat the Pittsburgh Steelers (who was one of the few playoff bound teams with actually something to play for in the final week) 27-21 to avoid ending 2007 with an eight-game losing streak.
It's tough to appreciate offensive linemen in the prime of their career, because the eyes are always on the backfield. To boot, the offense for the Ravens was never something to witness during Ogden's tenure. Just imagine how bad it would have been without Ogden, who has started on the Ravens line ever since the old Cleveland Browns began wearing purple. I'm picturing Kyle Boller with urine-soaked pants by the end of the first quarter.
(Told ya I had a pee joke forthcoming. Trust in me.)
6. WR Randy Moss — The prodigal wide receiver returned to relevance with his record-breaking 23rd touchdown catch of the season in the Patriots win, breaking one of Jerry Rice's fabled records. How Randy Moss feels about it is Batting Around's Batting Sixth Quote Of The Week:
"I don't think me breaking Jerry Rice's record is special. I think shutting you guys up is what made it special."
Yeah, I don't think that's how it works. One of the critical points on Randy Moss is that he plays when he wants to play, ergo, when the team is amazing and only if they're amazing. Our own Craig Lyndall made that point a month ago.
Nobody has ever doubted Randy Moss's ability. In fact, he had nothing to prove this year. He just had to validate everyone's theory that Moss is a selfish athlete. And we'll still talk about that for the rest of the season.
The captain of the Scottish Premier League team Motherwell passed away this weekend after collapsing on the field during a match against Dundee United. He began his career with Motherwell and returned there in 2004.
The team had finished in the middle of the pack of the SPL, and last year they finished 10th in the 12-team league. But this year, Motherwell is third in the standings. Ahead of them, sitting one-two, is Celtic FC and the Glasgow Rangers. A highly anticipated match between Celtic and the Rangers on January 2 was postponed, at the request of Celtic, because O'Donnell is a former member of that team.
Celtic's next game after that is Motherwell. I'll be interested to see what kind of tribute, if any, they do for that game.
Damn, it must suck being a college quarterback who wins a bowl game in overtime.
9. SP Mark Prior — Often in people's lives, sometimes it takes 20 or 30 years to discover allergens that irritate or even corrupt immune systems. Mark Prior is getting paid $1 million by the San Diego Padres to determine if he's allergic to the color red.
The former Chicago Cubs pitcher has made nine major league starts in the last two years — all in '06, and none of them pretty. This year he will be five years removed from his magical 18-6, 2.43 ERA year in 2003. If he can somehow get it together, his incentive-laden contract could net him over $3 million this year, all while he pitches for his home state of California.
So in a way, it's a homecoming. In a more accurate way, it's $1 million for about four rehab starts.
Coach: Eddie Sutton — Earlier this year, the New York Islanders propped up legendary coach Al Arbour for one game, 13 years after his retirement, so he could end his career with 1,500 games coached. That reminds me a lot of Sutton taking over the University of San Francisco mens basketball team last week, two wins shy of 800 for his career. Even though Sutton is hardly a figurehead coach, the same feeling surrounds the story. He wants two more twins, so he's going to coach a team where he can win two more games this season, and this way he doesn't have to smile for the media guide photos.
But there is one solid reason for Sutton coming back, and it's not to reach 800 (I won't think any more or less of him as a 798-win coach or an 803-win coach). He left Oklahoma State in such disgrace that he wants to end his coaching career on some semblance of a high note. Sutton checked into rehab after a DUI accident back in 2006 and promptly resigned as head coach. That's not the way he wants to leave the sport.
The thing is, that reason is purely selfish. Sure, it helps expel Sutton's own inner demons. And he admits such. But if I'm a USF basketball fan, I wonder if this does anything positive for the program beyond some novelty publicity. Who will coach the Dons after this season? Does Sutton plan on recruiting players?
Plus, I'm not sure how coaching on an interim basis helps Sutton feel any better. Shouldn't just beating alcoholism make Sutton feel better? I'm not seeing the connection. After Joe Namath reportedly beat his alcoholism, he didn't suit up and try to win another game for the New York Jets. (This year, he probably could have.)
So far USF has lost the first two games under Coach Sutton. But here's wishing good luck to the coach and the team, in the hopes that they can somehow find two wins in their last 15 games. (They're 4-10, so that's definitely in the area code of likely.) Also, here's hoping that when he leaves the program, he doesn't do so abruptly like the coach he replaced. That kind of stuff only happens in NCAA football.