Is Jeff Kent’s career over?

The Los Angeles Daily News is reporting that the Dodgers’ second basemen Jeff Kent’s career might be over because of torn cartilage in one of his knees.

Jeff KentKent was sent back to Los Angeles for an MRI exam after leaving Friday night’s game at Arizona with pain in his left knee. Although that exam hadn’t taken place as of game time Saturday night, club officials had a strong suspicion as to what it likely would show.

Kent, 40, has been playing through pain from slightly torn cartilage in his knee for about a month, fully aware that the continued grind of playing baseball on an everyday basis meant there was a strong risk of additional, more painful tearing.

That additional tearing is believed to be what took place during Friday’s game. Kent was said to be in “excruciating pain” after leaving the game, and club officials were holding out slim hope of getting him back in what is widely expected to be his final season.

Kent has yet to announce his plans following this final season of his two-year, $18 million contract with the Dodgers. But even without the injury, it would have seemed like the perfect time to walk away. Given the injury is of the “wear-and-tear” variety and not unexpected for a man of Kent’s age playing such a demanding sport, it is difficult to imagine him playing another year.

The guy has proved to be an asshole during his career, but there’s no doubt Kent has been one of the best hitters over the last decade. He’s never won a ring, but he’s accomplished a lot with the bat. (Of course, some will note that Kent greatly benefited from having Barry Bonds protect him in the lineup for so many seasons.)

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ECU shocks Virginia Tech 27-22 on blocked punt

Perhaps the biggest upset in college football’s opening weekend came Saturday when East Carolina shocked No. 17 Virginia Tech 27-22. The Pirates returned a blocked punt for a touchdown with just under two minutes left to play to pull off the upset.

It was over when… T.J. Lee blocked a punt for ECU and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown with 1:52 left to give the Pirates the 27-22. lead.
Gameball goes to… Patrick Pinkney, who threw for 211 yards and 1 TD and ran for another score for ECU — and more importantly threw zero INTs.
Stat of the game… 17. The Hokies had their 17-game winning streak broken in games in which they blocked a kick.

Amazing. Frank Beamer’s special teams units are always some of the best in the nation, so it was a surprise to see VA Tech lose this way. Parity has slowly crept its way into college football and it has made the games more meaningful and exciting.

Pittsburgh, Michigan fall in home openers

No. 25 Pittsburgh lost its home opener on Saturday, as Bowling Green pulled off a 27-17 upset over the Panthers.

It was over when… Tyler Sheehan ran 11 yards for a TD on a QB draw early in the fourth quarter to give BG a 27-17 lead.
Gameball goes to… Sheenan, who threw for 163 yards and had one TD pass to go along with his big scoring run.
Stat of the game… 24-1. Pitt lost a home game for the first time in school history against a MAC school.

So much for PITT being everyone’s sleeper in the Big East. This is yet another game that proves the MAC is only getting stronger. The conference’s talent level continues to rise and no longer can top programs get away with scheduling a MAC school in the first two weeks and assuming it will be a cakewalk.

Utah also ruined Rich Rodriguez’s Michigan debut by knocking off the Wolverines 25-23 at the Big House in Ann Arbor.

A lot of pundits figured Utah would challenge the Wolverines so this upse wasn’t a total shocker, but man, how far has Michigan fallen? Just two years ago they were one win over Ohio State in the final game of the year from appearing in a national championship game. Now they’re starting a walk on at quarterback and getting beat by Mountain West program.

Losing top recruit Terrelle Pryor (who scored a touchdown for the Buckeyes on Saturday) to Ohio State this year was a killer for UM. It might have set the program back two to three years because Rich Rod doesn’t have the quarterback he wants to run his offense effectively.

Missouri tops Illinois 52-42 in wild shootout

Jeremy Maclin helped No. 6 Missouri beat No. 20 Illinois 52-42 in a thriller Saturday night at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

It was over when… Missouri LB Sean Weatherspoon picked off Juice Williams and returned the INT 35 yards for a touchdown with 3:18 left in the game, pushing the score to 52-35 and ending Illinois’ comeback attempt.
Gameball goes to… Chase Daniel, who saw a second quarter INT brought back for a touchdown, but settled down and finished the game with three TDs, 323 yards passing and 47 yards rushing.
Stat of the game… 1,081: The Tigers and Fighting Illini combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense in their second straight thriller in St. Louis.

Missouri’s defense didn’t look good, but Illinois deserves massive credit for hanging with the Tigers for four quarters. Even though they couldn’t pull out a win, the Illini needed a showing like this to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke and that the program is making strides. Ron Zook is turning Illinois into a competitor and if Saturday night was any indication of what’s to come for them, the Illini are going to battle Ohio State and Wisconsin this year in a weak Big Ten.

As for Missouri, the defense was an issue but what an amazing offense. The season just started but I can’t wait for the MIZZOU-Kansas game.

Has the quarterback situation improved in Miami?

In the weeks leading up to the kickoff the 2008 NFL Season, I’ll take a look at position groups that could potentially lift teams to new heights, or bury them and their postseason hopes. Today I take a look at the Miami Dolphins’ quarterback situation after the team added Chad Pennington.

Chad PenningtonTo say the Miami Dolphins had quarterback issues in 2007 would be putting it lightly. Whether it was Trent Green, Cleo Lemon or rookie John Beck, the results were the same and losses piled up in the standings.

Heading into 2008, the depth chart has changed but will the results? Gone are Green and Lemon; in are former New York Jets’ starting quarterback Chad Pennington and rookie Chad Henne.

When Bill Parcells took over the football operations for the Dolphins this summer, one of the areas he knew he had to upgrade was quarterback. And after watching Henne and Beck struggle in camp over the summer, Parcells reached out to the recently released Pennington – the quarterback he drafted when he was the Jets’ head coach.

The book is already out on Pennington: weak arm, severely limited, can’t throw downfield, etc. But he’s also a fundamentally sound veteran and a solid leader that can hopefully help tutor Beck and Henne for the future. Pennington is also familiar with the division and new offensive coordinator Dan Henning used to be his QB coach in New York so he knows the offense.

Eventually the Dolphins have to see what they have in Beck and Henne. It’s wise to allow young quarterbacks develop slowly, but sooner or later they have to sink or swim on the field. And while Parcells has a tendency to prefer players that he had a hand in drafting, Miami did spend a second round pick on Beck last year, so it would be unfair to give up on him too soon.

Chad HenneBut at the very least, Pennington buys Miami more time to see what they have at the position. It’s also fair to say that Pennington gives the Dolphins the best chance to win this season and Parcells did him a solid by drafting massive left tackle Jake Long with the first overall pick in last April’s draft. Long will be counted on to protect Pennington’s blind side and hopefully give the Dolphins a cornerstone tackle for years to come.

While it’s unlikely he’ll lead the Dolphins to the playoffs this year, Pennington at least gives the team a respected veteran presence in the huddle and on the field. Time will tell if Henne or Beck can develop behind him.

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