With college hoops behind us, I'm thrilled to transition back to the usual shallow analysis -- and to the start of the baseball season this week.
(Yesterday's MLB "Studs and Duds" in the Comments showed everyone is back in Morning Quickie form. Hope to see everyone chime in daily on that topic.)
UPDATE: Speaking of baseball, that's the theme of the next Varsity Letters Reading Series TONIGHT at Happy Ending in NYC (302 Broome on the L.E.S.). Great lineup: BP folks, Jonah Keri and more, including haiku(!) After March's wild event, it's THE must-attend event of the month.
Since I have completely blown any shot at a reasonable MLB preview, I'm going to limit it to three specific topics over the next three days. (Today: Top Storylines. Thursday: Awards Picks. Friday: Playoff Picks.)
So let's start with the season's Top MLB Storylines. Feel free to offer up your own in the Comments section. These happen to be the ones that I personally think will be most fascinating or intriguing:
1. Bonds passes Aaron. Yes, everyone hates Bonds and half the fans don't even want to see him do it. But it's so momentous that it commands our attention.
2. New Cubs ownership. Technically, this won't really become an issue until AFTER the 2007 season, but expect rumors to run wild over the next six months. It is, after all, the biggest brand name in the National League (and probably Top 2 in MLB, behind the Yankees).
3. Curt Schilling's blog. Have you been following 38Pitches? It's quite ground-breaking, in terms of the real-time self-analysis he's willing to engage in. It's sort of like Cuban's BlogMaverick, but to get the unfiltered p.o.v. of a star PLAYER in mid-season seems unprecedented. Disintermediating the mainstream media? Advantage: Schilling. (And keep in mind: I used to really dislike Schilling. But this feels different from his usual media whoredom. He has reinvented himself as baseball's leading independent voice.)
4. Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. Wow, how I wish this wasn't the dominant rivalry in baseball. But it is. Suddenly, the Yankees are thrifty and the Red Sox are panic-spending. All the while, the Mets are about to eclipse the Yankees as the city's best team (if it hasn't happened already).
5. Surprises. The REAL intrigue of any season are the things you can't possibly predict. The breakouts. The sensations. The unexpected successes (or failures). And, of course, the steroid allegations.
Women's NCAA Tournament: Vols crush
CBB Coaching Carousel: Dana Altman humiliates
Billy Packer is a Jackass, Cont'd: "You always fag out." Caught on tape, no less. On Charlie Rose, no less.
Look: Either Packer intentionally used the word "fag" or didn't realize that using the word "fag" is wrong. Either way, it's a pretty good pretense to dump him. Who wouldn't want to see, say, Bill Raftery calling the Final Four? Bring a little joy back to the game, that's for sure.
(This isn't Packer's first pejorative. There was that "tough monkey" comment a decade ago. If that had happened in 2007, I guarantee you he would have been fired the next day. Hopefully, this latest slur will remind people of that other one; no statute of limitations on his stupidity.)
More: Gail Goestenkors leaves Duke for
(In the middle of this Billy Donovan-Kentucky discussion, I'd love to hear what people would have told Coach K to do in April 1992 if he had been offered the job at, say, Kentucky or Indiana or UCLA. At that point, he would have been at Duke roughly the same amount of time as Donovan has been at
MLB Wrap: The Pirates (and Xavier Nady!) continue to baffle the Astros in the late innings. Lidge, Wheeler: It doesn't matter... Marlins Mania:
NBA Wrap: Heat beat the Raptors. As
NFL: Will Roger Goodell be able to ban players for life for off-field criminal offenses that are bad enough? That's what he wants. And I'm not sure fans will mind he has that power, though "for life" is a hell of a punishment to wield. I thought "banned for the season" is pretty rough. Hell, even the Soup Nazi only banned Elaine for one year.
WNBA: Rare mention for the WNBA! But I'd say that if you're going to have league intrigue, why not have it be that your draft is the day after the college national title game, where the star player – sophomore Candace Parker – had roughly 12 hours to figure out if she wanted to go pro early through a draft-rules loophole and set a milestone in her sport. She would be the No. 1 overall pick. Her decision comes at 10; the draft is at 1. Talk about "on the clock!"
Wish I Thought of It: Rookiepedia, an all-in-one reference for NFL Draft prospects. Kudos to creator Brian Bassett. Definitely something not only to check out throughout the month, but to contribute to.
Rest in peace, Eddie Robinson. One of the greatest college football coaches of all time. Would he go in the All-Time Top 5? (Wow, what a great question. Who's in contention? Paterno, Bryant, Osborne, Wilkinson, Bowden? I'd put Robinson up with any of those guys.)
Here are a bunch of great supporting stats about Robinson (via Cold Hard Football Facts). Win that argument!