PORT ARTHUR —
Touché to Jimmy Johnson, who has to be getting fed up with all the calls he’s gotten from Dallas-area media types asking about the 20th anniversary of his breakup with Jerry Jones. In response to a question from Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News, Jimmy was typically evasive but worked in a couple of absolute zingers. “What anniversary is this one?” he asked Cowlishaw with a laugh. “They’re always having some kind of anniversaries down there. I guess they don’t go to Super Bowls any more.” Ouch! Then, to twist the dagger, he said to Cowlishaw: “Do you want to know how many times Jerry or Stephen (Jones) have called me in 20 years for advice or to ask about a player? Zero. And yet they call Larry Lacewell.” So much for the Ring of Honor . . . Good stuff from the two Lamar guys in the Shell Houston Open Saturday, especially Shawn Stefani. Fighting to salvage his PGA Tour card in a last-chance opportunity, Stefani rebounded from what could have been disastrous back-to-back double bogeys on holes 5 and 6 with eagles at 8 and 13, managed to get in with a 73 and is all alone in 7th place. He needs a top 20 finish. Stroud, meanwhile, shot 71, despite taking 29 more putts, and is T12 after needing 92 putts in 54 holes. Switching to a shorter putter helped, and he knocked in an 18-foot birdie at 18, but this could have been the week. Lamar, by the way, is winning the SHO’s two-man team championship. Well, it would be if they had one. With threatening weather in the forecast again Sunday, tee times start at 7:30 a.m. Stroud is out at 8:50 a.m. off No. 1, with Stefani following at 9:10.
Remember Mattress Mack, aka Jim McIngvale, the Gallery Furniture impresario in Houston who made national news with a Super Bowl offer to customers that wound up allegedly costing him $7 million when Seattle beat Denver. McIngvale is at it again in an offer tied to the Astros snapping their string of three consecutive 100-plus loss seasons. Through today, the first 500 customers buying at least $6,300 worth of furniture — there is no top-end limit — will get a full refund if the Astros win 63 games. There must have been a rush to Gallery Furniture after the Astros won their first two against the Yankees . . . With the PGA Tour in Houston this week, Astros owner Jim Crane worked a golf angle into the team’s farewell gifts to retiring New York Yankee great Derek Jeter. After former Yankee teammates Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte presented Jeter with a pair of custom-made Luchese boots, adorned by the Yankees logo and Jeter’s No. 2, as well as a white felt Stetson, out came the golf swag. Past and present PGA stars Mark O’Meara, Lucas Glover and Johnson Wagner gave Jeter a full set of Titleist clubs, a tournament bag from Crain’s swanky Floridian resort, a four-day stay at the Floridian and lessons from Butch Harmon. Jeter must be really happy MLB commissioner Bud Selig moved the Astros to the American League . . . ESPN’s business reporter Darren Rovell put an interesting slant on Miguel Cabrera’s blockbuster $292 million contract with the Detroit Tigers that makes it easy for the average working stiff to comprehend and resent. Rovell pointed out that Cabrera will earn $49,423 per at bat for the next decade, then noted that the average annual income of a Michigan household is $48,471.
Deion Sanders did what he does best this past week — stir the pot with an over-the-top statement that contained more truth that a lot of folks will care to admit. Prime Time, professing how much he loves Johnny Manziel as a quarterback on the Tom Joyner TV show, said Manziel has “ghetto tendencies” and plays more like a black quarterback, while Louisville’s highly regarded black QB Teddy Bridgewater plays like a white QB. So, Deion, what did you mean by ghetto tendencies? “Because he was successful, he made it, and he let you all know he made it, and he was cocky, he was flamboyant and he let you know.” Sanders especially liked the fact Manziel had rap music from Drake blaring during his pro day workout . . . Given today’s inflated salaries for administrators, made possible by athletic revenue, it’s no big deal that the University of Texas paid search firm Korn/Ferry over $200,000, plus expenses, to locate and recommend Steve Patterson as its new AD. What does seem a little bit off the rails, however, is that after paying Patterson $1.4 million as its AD, Texas didn’t rely on him to find a replacement for Mack Brown. According to USA Today, Texas shelled out another $266,990 to Korn/Ferry to find and recommend Charlie Strong as Brown’s successor. Yes, I know Texas can afford it, and search firms have become commonplace in big-time sports, but why pay an AD a million bucks if he can’t find his own coach . . . Patterson, by the way, made headlines this past week with talk about there being more benefit to scheduling games for Longhorn teams in the Middle East than rekindling the school’s rivalry with Texas A&M. Texas is already scheduled to play Washington in a basketball game in China in 2015, a matchup certain to create Longhorns frenzy in Hong Kong. I really have a hard time believing that working on international branding is more important to the UT masses, and the school’s athletes, than playing Texas A&M. Especially now that Johnny Manziel won’t be around to embarrass the Texas defense.
Here’s some interesting numbers to ponder on the teams playing in the Final Four at JerryWorld. The gap between what a scholarship covers and the actual cost to attend school for one year at Florida, Kentucky, Wisconsin and UConn ranges from $2,300 to $4,500. Meanwhile, the average salary for the four coaches — Billy Donovan, John Calipari, Bo Ryan and Kevin Ollie — is $3.1 million and they’ve already earned $850,000 in bonuses by getting this far. So the only ones out any money, while everybody else gets rich, are the players. You can’t get much more American than that ? ? ? What a farce the overused term student-athlete really is. We’ve got one team at the Final Four, Kentucky, with several players who will spend less than one full year in the classroom. We’ve got another team at the Final Four, UConn, which wasn’t even eligible for the NCAA tournament last year because it didn’t meet minimum academic progress rates for its basketball players. Those same Huskies are one of eight schools in this year’s NCAA, a list that includes Oklahoma State, Providence and Oregon, that are apparently in danger of future APR sanctions . . . If you watched ESPN’s special after the NCAA tournament pairings were announced, you saw virtually every one of the network’s alleged experts slobbering over Tom Izzo and Michigan State. No less than five members of ESPN’s panel of wise guys — Jay Bilas, Seth Greenburg, Digger Phelps, Dick Vitale and Jay Williams — picked the No. 4 seeded Spartans to win the tournament. It was hard not to laugh when Michigan State didn’t reach the Final Four.
When the Astros brought Nolan Ryan on board as a consultant, the deal apparently extended beyond adding the baseball expertise of one of the game’s all-time greats. No doubt as a business concession to Ryan, Minute Maid Park concession stands have changed meat providers. All hot dogs, hamburgers and steaks are being purchased through Nolan Ryan Beef. There’s also a Ryan presence in the gift shops, where rainbow-colored Nolan Ryan throwback jerseys are expected to be best sellers. Owner Jim Crane may not be able to get the Astros out to a widespread TV audience, but he’s certainly no fool . . . Team Marketing Report has delivered its annual report on the cost of attending a baseball game at all MLB parks, with a figure that accounts for the price of four average tickets, two small beers, four small soft drinks, four hot dogs, parking for one car, two game programs and two adult-sized caps. The Houston baseball experience comes in No. 13 out of 30 at $215.90. That’s roughly $3 more than the average, but well below No. 1 Boston’s $350.78 and the No. 2 NY Yankees at $337.20. It, however, is below the No. 17 Texas Rangers at $203.14. Cheapest place to watch a game? Arizona, where the Fan Cost Index for four is $126.89 . . . Not that there was any doubt Tiger Woods is far-and-away golf’s biggest attraction, but falling prices on the secondary ticket market for the Masters underscores his value. Last year, with Tiger on a roll and heavily favored to win, a four-day Masters badge on the secondary market averaged $9,276. This year, with no Tiger in the field, the same badge is selling for $4,477.
Sports editor Bob West can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PORT ARTHUR —
WEST COLUMN: Bum Phillips trophy an impressive piece of work
There was lots of excitement around the Port Arthur News this week, with the long-awaited delivery of the magnificent Bum Phillips trophy that will be presented annually to the winner of the Nederland-Port Neches-Groves football game.
Ned 13U Babe Ruth wins
It was a much better day Saturday for the Nederland 13U Babe Ruth team compared to Friday.
MOORE COLUMN: Flounder dream started in Bridge City
The first flounder that grabbed my attention lived in what is now the Lower Neches Wildlife Management Area in Bridge City.
ESTRADA COLUMN: PED update /Key injuries with contrasting outcomes
The results of Saturday night’s UFC on Fox: Lawler vs. Brown event were not available as of the time of this writing. It will be covered in a future column.
TODORA COLUMN: Hermsen rattles racks in Monday Seniors League at Max Bowl
Mondays Seniors League had some nice scores this past week. Rick Hermsen started with a 263, finished with a 270 and fit in a 212 in the middle for a nice 745.
Nederland 13U Babe Ruth loses 9-0
The Nederland 13U Babe Ruth team lost 9-0 Friday to Bryant.
Bassmaster Elites are coming back
The Bassmaster Elite Series returns to Southeast Texas in March 2015 to fish out of Orange.
The announcement was made last week, ahead of Bassmaster’s official tournament schedule announcement and the buzz is already strong in Southeast Texas and beyond.
I was in Orlando, Fla. attending the ICAST (fishing trade) show and talked with a number of top anglers including Kevin VanDam, Mike Iaconelli and Shaw Grigsby who said it was no surprise they would return considering the massive turnout for the weigh-ins and that the area welcomed them in a very special way.
It’s far too early to speculate anything like who the top contenders will be or how the fishing will be but there are some things to keep in mind and to look for over the next few months and into the event itself.
• Prefishing-There is a pre-fishing cutoff that usually extends to right before the Bassmaster Classic and I fully expect most of the anglers in the Elites to come back and prefish.
Last go-round probably 2/3 of the field fished the area but this time I expect that to be just about everyone. Many of the anglers that did not pre-fish told me they expected to have a lot of water to fish but the sheer volume and diversity was almost overwhelming.
Beginning probably in the early fall we will see many anglers fishing local waters to get a better idea on how to approach the area.
• East to West Runs-The Elite anglers fished far and wide but I expect even more running next go-round. After launching from the Simmons Drive Boat Ramp in Orange angler Bill Lowen ran down the Intracoastal, across Galveston Bay and fished in the Clear Lake area and placed in the top 12. The more adventurous anglers will try super long runs, in my opinion, even longer than last time to try and score on big fish. The Intracoastal Canal system makes that possible.
• Sabine River -Very few of the anglers actually fished in the Sabine River despite the event being called the “Sabine River Challenge”. I think that will change with more anglers running as far north as they can to find pockets of fish that receive little pressure and perhaps a four or five-pounder to push them over the top.
• Bigger Turnout-Last year some 34,000 people attended the event which set a Bassmaster record for an Elite event.
It was broken a couple of weeks later in New York but I fully expect the 2015 tournament to draw 40,000 plus. The reason they are coming back is not for the stellar fishing because while we have lots of bass, everyone knows our fishery cannot compare to Toledo Bend for example.
The support from the public however was amazing and that is what is bringing the top anglers on the planet to fish our area.
We will have the very best coverage of the event beginning now and leading up to it with exclusive interviews with all of the top pros with not only their thoughts on the big event but with unique tips on how you can catch more fish.
It’s an exciting time and I look forward to bringing you special coverage on a special event.
(To contact Chester Moore, e-mail him at email@example.com. You can hear him on “Moore Outdoors” Fridays from 6-7 p.m. on Newstalk AM 560 KLVI or online at www.klvi.com or watch him on “God’ Outdoors with Chester Moore” Saturdays at 10 a.m. on GETV.org)
Mid County knocked out of tournament
The Mid County 16-18 Babe Ruth squad’s run to the World Series is over.
- West golf notepad: West duo claims title in Texas Father-Son
Mid County sets up championship series with Tri County
The Southwest Regional Babe Ruth championship series is set and yes the hometown Mid County squad will be there to play.
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- WEST COLUMN: Bum Phillips trophy an impressive piece of work