Valentine's Day thoughts while waiting for my SI Swimsuit Issue with Beyonce on the cover...
(I'm sorry: BEYONCE! ON! THE! COVER! This is the most inspired cover choice that SI has ever made. And I'm not talking about Swimsuit Issues. I'm talking about any issue EVER.)
This is one of the most loaded days of news in a while. And certainly packed for a random Wednesday in February. Good thing I'm a shut-in from the NYC sleet today:
College Hoops Top-Ranked Insanity! Here's the catchphrase from last night: "Forget what you knew."
What do you think about No. 4 UNC, now that they lost (at home!) to Virginia Tech? (That makes the Heels 0-2 against the Hokies this season.)
And what do you think about No. 6 Texas A&M, now that they lost (at home!) to Texas Tech? (How about that finish by Tech? No timeouts! Note to micro-managing coaches: That's the way it should be.)
Did you have either team temporarily penciled in as a potential Final Four choice on your bracket? Don't (over-)think about last night too much...
"Pitchers and Catchers report": There might not be a four-word phrase in sports that evokes so much excitement and hope. (Wait... I think I've got a competitor: "Gentlemen, start your engines.")
Wow, who ISN'T a Chargers coaching candidate? (Well, let's see: The former offensive and defensive coordinators, for starters. And then there's Pete Carroll.)
Are the Texans ready to trade David Carr? If that's the case, then passing on Vince Young will loom – in hindsight – as a much bigger draft-day bungle than passing on Reggie Bush.
I'm trying to figure out why the Cowboys would interview a
Tiki Barber was making news (not reporting it) less than a day into his retirement: He seemed to imply that Tom Coughlin drove him into retirement with his insane ways.
(Smooth move by Tiki to pivot the myth of his early retirement as someone else's fault... and, with Coughlin's rep, it's an easy concept for fans to buy into.)
I don't understand the massive NASCAR crackdown on all those crew chiefs, but the upshot seems to me that the sport has proportionately more cheaters, per team, than either the NFL or MLB.
NBA: The Knicks beat the Lakers, to match last year's victory total in close to 30 fewer games. As I said yesterday: Isiah Thomas for Coach of the (Mid-) Year is NOT as crazy a notion as I was getting hammered for in the Comments section.
You know what? Screw Isiah and the Knicks: Let me point out an even more respectable "compared-to-last-year-" milestone: The Raptors have now won one more game than in all of last season, beating the Bulls for their 9th win in the last 11 games.
The Raps are the Pleasant Surprise of the (Mid-)Year, and I should have given Sam Mitchell more love for Coach of the (Mid-)Year.
If the season ended today, not only would the Raptors be in the playoffs, but they would have home-court advantage in the first round... against the Bulls.
Mark down Feb. 13: The Heat got back to .500. Pat Riley is ready to re-join the team. And they're going to not only win the East, but repeat as champs.
NBA Trade Deadline coming: The Sixers reportedly won't trade Andre Miller, which is a good thing, because they'll want a classic point guard to get the ball to Oden, Durant or the other big man they draft.
AI to miss All-Star Game: Ray Allen was named his replacement (Okur was named replacement for Steve Nash. Hardly an even swap.) MJD over at NBA Fanhouse points out that this adds to the projected shittiness of the game.
Gilbert Arenas Detail of the Day: He has made up 100 All-Star jerseys with "Agent Zero" on the back to give away to fans in the arena on Sunday. But way cooler: He says he is thinking about wearing one of them himself in the game. It's a perfect symbol for the spice Arenas has added to this season. The NBA needs to embrace that. (Come on: It's the All-Star Game!)
College Hoops Tonight: Could Duke lose FIVE STRAIGHT ACC GAMES?! With a game at ACC-leading B.C. (still underrated at No. 21), the answer is resoundingly yes.
The NCAA Tournament Selection honcho said that last year's mid-major madness won't affect this year's selections. I'm not sure that should be the case: After all, the "power conferences" annually enjoy the benefits of "reputation picks."
But he also correctly pointed out that the muddle in the middle of the power-conference pack (and the craziness on the edge of the bubble right now) should make conference tournaments this year's X-factor.
In previous years, that X-factor has been RPI and strength of schedule. It'll be cool to have it come down to winning games when it matters and should give the power-conference tournaments the intensity of the national tournament.
MLB: The league is 4-0 in arbitration cases. I always wondered if players who lose arbitration get bitter and drop their intensity. (Or do they work even harder to make the team pay more in the long run?)
Here's what I should have noted about Carlos Zambrano's contract expectations: Given what has been dished out on the open market (by his own team, no less), how much would Z be worth on the open market? Because I can't think of an NL pitcher who should command more money.
Thoughts and prayers with the two
In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm looking for your (non-sexual) athlete man-crushes (or woman-crushes). And I'm not talking about "Wow, I'd love to hit it with Danica Patrick." I'm talking about "Yes, I admit my (non-sexual) man-crush on Gilbert Arenas."