Dave Krieger has been a guest-host on 850 KOA since 2005. Now, Dave is heard every weekday afternoon on The Dave Logan Show.
"I've had a blast as a guest host on 850 KOA over the past several years and I'm grateful for the opportunity to join their team on a full-time basis," Krieger said. "I look forward to partnering with Dave Logan, a friend for more than 25 years, in the competitive landscape of PM drive. As I've recently discovered, thanks to the web, 850 KOA's reach now includes the entire country."
Since 2009, Dave was a popular columnist with The Denver Post. Before that, he spent 27 years with the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News as a cityside reporter, Broncos and Nuggets beat writer and longtime sports columnist. He won various state and national awards during a newspaper career that spanned 36 years.
Dave was named the 2011 Colorado sportswriter of the year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. He also won the award in 2010 and 2009 and shared it in 2008 with former Rocky Mountain News colleague Tracy Ringolsby.
It is in the nature of media types to be slightly more prone to hysteria in both directions than your average fan, given the modern fact of life that hysteria gets a lot more attention than moderation.
So it was that several tweeted their condolences for the Nuggets' marvelous season the other night, all hope clearly at an end after forward Danilo Gallinari blew out an anterior cruciate ligament.
The Nuggets responded Saturday night by declaring reports of their demise premature. Playing without Gallinari and Ty Lawson, their two leading scorers, they scored more points than they have all season, 132, in a blowout of the Houston Rockets that kept them ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers in the race for the No. 3 playoff seed in the NBA's Western Conference.
They also extended their home winning streak to 20, tying a record set in 1985.
Most remarkable was the effect on Andre Iguodala, who dominated the game at both ends, looking like an Olympian among mortals, which, of course, he was. He suffocated Rockets star James Harden, who finished with 14 points on 2-of-10 shooting. He orchestrated the offense with a game-high 14 assists. He even made jump shots, including two from long distance, on his way to 18 points. He came out with nine minutes of garbage time remaining three rebounds shy of a triple-double.
"I'll get one," he promised afterward. "If not in the couple of last games, I'll get one in the playoffs."
Coach George Karl inserted Wilson Chandler into the starting lineup for Gallo. It took a little while for the new starting group, still adjusting to Andre Miller for Lawson, to settle in. Of the 15 shots the starters took in the first quarter, the two Andres took 10. Chandler took one and failed to score. The Nuggets trailed 35-25.
I asked Chandler afterward if he felt as though he needed to adjust his game when he moved in with the starters.
"Yeah, probably a little less shots and more defense," he said. "That's not a big deal."
In fact, that's the skill Karl cited in selecting Chandler to take Gallo's place in the starting lineup. He said before the game that the Nuggets' identity will have to skew further to the defensive end without Gallo.
In quarters two through four, Chandler scored 21 points, finishing second only to Corey Brewer's 22 off the bench among seven Nuggets in double figures. Without their two leading scorers, the Nuggets set season highs in points, assists (40), fast break points (35) and made field goals (54).
I asked Iguodala the same question about adjustments to his game in the absence of Gallinari and Lawson, to whom he has largely deferred at the offensive end this season, and for apparently good reason, given his difficulty making jump shots. He's shooting .441 from the floor this season, 18 percentage points below his career average, and .308 from three-point territory, 20 points below his average.
"I've tried to do that all year: How can I fit in and be the most effective I can be without taking from the other guys, really making them better?" he said.
"And I felt like I've been able to do that, whether it shows up on the stat sheet or not. But when we have guys go down, you change some things up to try to make up for the loss, not by myself, but by making the other guys better -- getting a few extra assists, a few extra points, a few extra rebounds. So it kind of worked out tonight. Going forward, we're going to have to continue to do that as a unit."
It's probably a good idea not to go from manic depression over Gallinari's injury to manic elation over a single performance in its wake. The Rockets were playing the second night of a back-to-back coming in from the west coast, the circumstance that provoked San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich's scheduling protest four years ago in which he sat his three best players in Denver (and still nearly won). It's extremely rare that the visitor wins in that situation. Iguodala was well aware.
"They got in really late last night, so I'm pretty sure they were kind of tired, and the altitude always seems to work in our favor, so all those things kind of play a factor in the game," he said.
In the absence of Lawson (and third-string point guard Julyan Stone), 20-year-old rookie Evan Fournier has moved into the playing rotation, nominally as Miller's backup at point guard. He's really more of an off guard, but he and Iguodala provide enough ball-handling to allow the 37-year-old Miller adequate rest.
In fact, Fournier provides the closest thing to Gallinari's offensive style, bringing a similar European skill set in a smaller package. He had 17 points Saturday. After scoring no more than 10 in any of the Nuggets' first 73 games, he is averaging 14.3 in the four games he has served as Miller's relief. It is beginning to look as if general manager Masai Ujiri has mined the uncertain lower portion of the NBA draft's first round for another hidden gem. Kenneth Faried was the 22nd pick in 2011. Fournier was No. 20 last year.
In the absence of Gallinari, 23-year-old Anthony Randolph moved into the playing rotation, essentially replacing Chandler in the bench crew.
"I just like his defense," Karl explained. "The first thing I wrote in my notes this morning was, 'We can't be a goof-around defensive team anymore.' I'm not saying we're going to be worse offensively, but our defense now has got to create offense. We have too many quarters that we kind of cruise-control our defense on the court when we're shooting well and we're scoring well, moving it well. I don't think we can do that."
Randolph rewarded Karl with seven rebounds and four steals (as well as 14 points) in 22 minutes. No Nugget had more than seven boards, but eleven of them contributed to a total of 46. Iguodala and Miller combined for 26 of the 40 assists.
"Dre Miller and I, we played together in Philly, and we had a few games like that, where we both had double-figure assists," Iguodala said. "You've just got two guys who know how to find the open man, know how to move the ball a little bit. We're trying to make the passing contagious because when we're moving that ball and it's not sticking, we're really a good team, and George Karl, he'll back that up."
Karl admits he's nervous about losing one of the best shooters, in Gallinari, from a team for which shooting -- especially from long distance and the free-throw line -- is the most obvious weakness.
"There's no question it can't be one guy," he said before the game. "We can't do that. Gallo is Gallo and everybody has his personality. I think because we've played a lot of different rotations and a lot of different ways, the comfort zone of finding a rhythm is what we need to do in the next six games. I think it's do-able, but, you know, there could be a game or two that it might not look very good."
Other than the first quarter, it didn't look bad in the first game since Gallinari's season ended. More than ever, it will need to be an ensemble effort. But in the absence of their two leading scorers, Iguodala demonstrated he's capable of conducting the orchestra.
At the far end of the Rockies' clubhouse, where a cacophony of laughter and allegation roll around a wall and out of the showers, sits a familiar figure. Yorvit Torrealba is back.
And, in the very early going, the Rocks are winning again.
Torrealba's previous four-year stint in Colorado encompassed the two best seasons in franchise history -- the 90-win campaign in 2007 that catapulted the Rocks to the World Series and the 92-win season in 2009 that took them to another promising postseason berth, this one aborted by Huston Street's allergy to the Philadelphia Phillies.
Chris Iannetta, the catcher of the future at the time, was supposed to be the starting catcher both years. In '07, Iannetta hit .218 and Torrealba ultimately took over, playing in 113 games to Iannetta's 67 and starting all four games in the World Series loss to Boston.
In '09, Iannetta nominally kept the starting job, appearing in 93 games to Torrealba's 64, but Torrealba out-hit him by 63 points (.291 to .228).
His emergence in '07 earned him his biggest contract to that point, a two-year, $6.75 million deal. But when he sought a similar deal following the '09 season, the Rocks thought that was too much for a backup -- Iannetta was still the nominal starter, although he would lose the job again, this time to Miguel Olivo, in 2010.
The negotiations lasted so long that when the Rocks finally abandoned them and signed Olivo to a one-year, $2 million deal to replace him, Torrealba was left scrambling for a job. Ultimately, he signed a one-year, $750,000 offer from the lowly San Diego Padres. Expected to do little, the Padres surprisingly won 90 games, earning Torrealba the contract he had sought a year before from the Rocks -- a two-year, $6.25 million deal from the Texas Rangers.
In his first year there, he matched his career-high for games played with 113 and the Rangers went to the World Series. Last year, Torrealba's batting average slumped from .273 in 2011 to .236. Mike Napoli, who had split time between catching, first base and designated hitter in '11, took over as the main catcher and Torrealba was released in August. He was picked up briefly by the Blue Jays, then traded to the Brewers, but didn't play much for either. At the end of last season, he was again a free agent.
In the meantime, the Rockies had finally lost patience with the Iannetta waiting game, trading him to the Angels for pitcher Tyler Chatwood following the 2011 season. They were also less than enamored with Olivo and let him walk following a single season.
Ramon Hernandez was their next veteran signal-caller, signed along with two other veterans -- Michael Cuddyer and Marco Scutaro -- in the misguided belief Colorado would contend in 2012. A starter for years, Hernandez required the kind of money the Rocks had refused to pay Torrealba. They gave him a two-year, $6.4 million contract.
But at least two things became clear as the Rocks' 2012 season imploded:
-- Despite being young, raw and defensively awful as a rookie, Wilin Rosario was an offensive force and the Rocks' latest catcher of the future if he could only learn to catch and call a game.
-- At 35, Hernandez was injury-prone, in rapid decline and didn't seem all that interested in mentoring Rosario.
Re-enter Torrealba, whom the Rocks signed to a one-year contract that would pay him $1 million if he could make the team out of spring training. Management hoped Torrealba's extroverted personality would make him a better mentor. They also remembered the effect that personality had in the clubhouse, and realized it had been missing since he left.
At the end of spring training, Torrealba made the team and Hernandez was designated for assignment. Hoping not to have to eat all of Hernandez's $3.2 million salary for 2013, the Rocks tried to find a trade.
Today, they finally did, shipping Hernandez to the Dodgers, who could use some insurance for A.J. Ellis, in exchange for pitcher Aaron Harang "and cash considerations." If this saves money for the Rocks -- which would be the only reason to make the deal since they immediately designated Harang for assignment as well -- the Dodgers must be eating most of Harang's contract, which called for a $7 million salary this year. After all, he's already included in their record $216 million payroll. The Rocks are now looking for a trade for him, too.
In any case, Torrealba is back, Rosario has looked better behind the plate in this season's small sample so far, and the Rocks have won three of their first four games.
"So far, so good," Torrealba told me following Friday's home opener, a 5-2 win over the Padres. "It's been awesome. I'm very happy to be back here. A lot of good memories in here. The best years of my career so far has been with this team. It's a great feeling.
"I didn't even want to leave in the beginning and when I got a chance to come back like I did this year, I didn't hesitate to sign a contract and come back, try to make the team out of spring training, and I did, so I'm happy to be here."
I asked him about his new role as a mentor to a younger player.
"They tell me flat out," he said. "I mean, I know what my role is since I signed here. That doesn't mean that I won't be playing much, that just means I'm going to try to help as much as I can, and so far, so good. I mean, he's a young, talented guy. Not only offensively, but I'm seeing defensively he's getting way better. He showed the last couple games. I'm just in the dugout watching everything he does and then I try to help him. So far, so good on blocking balls, calling games. It's good to see the guy already progress like you would want him to."
When you ask him about Rosario, Torrealba sounds as much like a coach as a fellow player.
"He showed last year he can hit at this level. I'm seeing every year for him he's going to feel more comfortable at the plate. But behind the plate I don't think he was feeling too comfortable. I watched some tapes of him last year and then a lot of stuff I hear from the different guys, different coaches. That's what we've been working on -- blocking balls, especially. I guess that was a big issue for him last year. Like I said, this year, so far, so good.
"And at the same time I'm pushing him to talk to the pitcher, get to know the pitcher, where they can be on the same page. Instead of just trying to call the game, he can just actually talk to the pitcher and figure out what they want to do together as a team, as a battery. So far, so good, like I said. It's not only winning the couple games that we won, I think overall he look really good behind the plate."
It doesn't seem that long since Torrealba was here last, but in modern media time, it's been forever. If you believe most of the national analysts, the Rocks are who they were last year -- terrible. One ESPN analyst predicted they would lose more than 100 games.
"I see a talented ball club, but to me last year they put so much pressure on themselves when Tulo went down, when CarGo was out for a little bit, when Ramon Hernandez was catching and went down, they started putting pressure on themselves," Torrealba said.
"To me, and this is something they said from the first day of spring training, it's all about having fun. That's one of the things a lot of guys watch me already in the dugout talking stuff, talking crap to the guys, just keeping it loose. I think with the talent that we have in here, if we can all play loose and play comfortable, we're going to win a lot of games."
I asked him if he thought his personality was part of why the Rocks wanted him back.
"Probably," he said. "Probably, yes. I think the best three years they have as an organization, I was part of it."
A lot has changed in the Rockies clubhouse since 2009, of course. The starting lineup that year included Iannetta, Clint Barmes, Ian Stewart, Seth Smith and Brad Hawpe. Only Troy Tulowitzki, Dexter Fowler and Todd Helton remain, although Carlos Gonzalez, at 23, was in his first year with the club.
The '09 pitching rotation included Ubaldo Jimenez, Jason Marquis, Jason Hammel and Aaron Cook. Only Jorge De La Rosa remains. In the bullpen, the only holdovers are Matt Belisle and Rafael Betancourt.
So I asked Torrealba if all those new faces create a different clubhouse atmosphere.
"It's about the same to me," he said. "A lot of new faces, but they're all nice guys. I remember 2007 and 2009, all the guys we have, they nice guys. Even in hard times, it's easy for me to go up there and have fun and play around and joke around and keep everybody loose. And the same with this team this year. Even if there is a lot of young guys, still, it feels like there is the same thing in 2009, same thing in 2007, when it comes to attitude."
I mentioned the national predictions of a last-place finish, losing more than 100 games. I asked Torrealba how good he thought the 2013 Rocks could be.
"I tell you what -- we're definitely better than losing 100 games in a year," he said with a smile. "I like the fact that a lot of people think that way because through my career, personally, I love to prove people wrong. I think I did it all my life almost, all my career. Talking about myself, in 2007 I wasn't even a starting catcher and ended up playing every day. 2009, same way. 2010, when I was with the Padres, they said we were going to be in last place and we were one game short of making it to the playoffs.
"So they can say whatever they want to say. I mean, I really see my teammates and myself as a good ball club, talented ball club. If we just keep playing the way we're playing, a lot of people are going to be surprised."
The Broncos have already been accused by one national analyst of "steamrolling" Elvis Dumervil's former agent, Marty Magid, so John Elway would rather not get into the details of the most famous fax faux pas since . . . well, since fax machines became functionally obsolete about twenty-five years ago.
But Elway wants it known that the heart of the matter is pretty simple: The Broncos gave Dumervil a deadline of March 15 at 1 p.m. mountain time to accept their final offer to restructure his existing contract. When that deadline arrived, Dumervil's answer was no. In Elway's mind, the comedy of errors that followed only confirmed why that deadline existed in the first place.
Elway joined the Dave Logan Show on Monday for a wide-ranging interview about free agency and the draft, and we spent the first few minutes discussing the Dumervil episode.
I started by asking whether the Broncos remain interested in veteran pass rushers Dwight Freeney and John Abraham, free agents they've looked into as possible replacements for Dumervil, who had eleven quarterback sacks last season and 63.5 in six seasons with the Broncos (seven if you count 2010, which he sat out with an injury).
"We're still looking into that," Elway said. "We haven't made any decisions on what we're going to do. As I've said, those guys out there are options, but the bottom line is we also feel very comfortable with Robert Ayers. He's going to be at the right end -- as of right now he's our starter at right end. We're not pressed into doing anything. We feel like we can go to bat with the guys that we've got if that's where it ends up, or, if other things shake out, we'll go that direction."
I mentioned the report KOA got from a source close to the situation that Magid, Dumervil's former agent, had an old fax number for the Broncos, so when he tried to fax a signed contract back to the club at the last minute following Dumervil's change of heart, he couldn't get through in time.
"The thing that I'm going to tell you is we had a deadline at one o'clock, and I'm not going to take it any further," Elway said. "We needed a decision at one o'clock. We got that decision that was a 'no' and they were not going to accept it, so therefore we started moving on.
"From that point on, we knew that there was always going to be a difficult time to get everything and all the pieces together to be able to get the contract in. That's why there was a one o'clock deadline put on that. What happened after that, whatever it was, who knows. But the bottom line is there was not enough time to be able to get it done."
Last week, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk and NBC Sports came on the program and criticized the Broncos for allowing the negotiations to drag on so long that the deadline for guaranteeing Dumervil's original deal even came into play. The 1 p.m. March 15 deadline was one hour before the Broncos had to file a revised contract with the NFL office or be liable for a fully-guaranteed 2013 salary of $12 million under Dumervil's old contract. I asked Elway why it all came down to the last minute.
"Because . . . nothing comes down unless there's a deadline," he said. "Especially in this situation. We had a deadline. That's why it took the whole week. . . . Until the deadline, a lot of times you can't get that decision. The sad thing is it took a while to get that decision and by the time we got it, it was too late."
Florio's suggestion on his web site that the Broncos steamrolled Magid and now face trust issues from other agents -- he based the latter claim on quotes from a single, unidentified agent -- is not supported by the facts. Florio's chief complaint is that the counterproposal the Broncos sent to Magid at about 10 a.m. mountain time on March 15 converted a $3 million guarantee for 2014 to an injury-only guarantee.
But there's no evidence the Broncos were trying to pull a fast one. Rather, that counterproposal was the result of a Magid counterproposal increasing the 2013 salary in the restructured deal from $6.5 million, the Broncos' proposal, to $8 million. In their final offer that morning, the Broncos essentially said, "OK, we'll give you the $8 million in 2013, but in exchange for that concession we're going to restrict the guarantee we had offered for 2014."
Dumervil had three hours to mull that over before the deadline. His answer, as Elway related it, was no. Then, after the Broncos' deadline had passed, with the league deadline looming, Dumervil had a change of heart and decided to accept the restructured deal after all. But Magid was unable to engineer the logistics in time and the Broncos, without a signed contract in hand by the NFL deadline, were forced to release Dumervil to avoid guaranteeing the $12 million salary in the only contract the NFL had on file.
Even after that, with Dumervil on the free-agent market, the Broncos made a new offer of a three-year deal, reportedly worth $18 million -- $8 million the first year and $5 million each of the next two, with a total of $10 million guaranteed. Dumervil chose instead to sign the Ravens' offer of a five-year deal with $8.5 million the first year and a total of $12 million guaranteed.
Logan asked Elway if, after everything that had happened, he still thought the Broncos had a chance of retaining the defensive end after releasing him.
"I thought there was a chance, there's no question," Elway said. "When we looked at it, once the Cinderella slipper came off and we had to release Elvis, it was free game and he was a free agent. He was out on the market. We thought we could be competitive there, and obviously Elvis made the decision that he thought was best for Elvis. We wish him luck there and we'll move on, too."
In retrospect, what happened seems clear enough. The Broncos decided that Dumervil's original contract, offered by a previous regime headed by coach Josh McDaniels, was too rich. With the advent of Von Miller, Dumervil was no longer the Broncos' best pass rusher. The Broncos thought his value was roughly half the salary he was scheduled to make this season.
Dumervil had a hard time accepting this, but with the free agent market not yet open, he had no way of judging the market for pass rushers. As it turned out, it was only slightly higher than the Broncos' initial offer. In any case, he seems ultimately to have reconciled himself to a pay cut, but wanted it to be less than the 46 percent cut for 2013 the Broncos had proposed. He got the Broncos up to $8 million, a 33 percent cut, but in exchange was asked to accept the injury limitation on the 2014 partial guarantee.
The fact that he turned down this compromise initially indicates his lack of enthusiasm for the revised deal. The fact that the Broncos' three-year offer after he became a free agent was worth less in the aggregate than the restructured contract Dumervil originally turned down indicates the Broncos weren't that enthused about the restructured deal either, thinking it still overpaid Dumvervil in the out years.
In short, the two sides never agreed on Dumervil's current value, so it may well be better for both that the deal fell apart. But one lesson from the affair became indisputable when Dumervil fired Magid the day after the fax faux pas:
If you're transmitting legal documents on a deadline, and you're doing it by fax for some reason, check in advance to make sure you have the right fax number.