Friday, July 06, 2007

Friday 07/06 A.M. Quickie:
Tour de France, Final Vote, Verlander, Tiger, More!

Tour de Farce 2007: No Lance. No Landis. I'd say the intrigue is about the TdF being "wide open," but we thought it would be that way LAST year too, didn't we?

After the fact, it turned out that – yet again – cheating was at the heart of the race. It seems like a million years ago that this event was a quirky-cool must-see for the casual American fan.

(It has to be asked: If stardom -- Lance -- or scandal -- Landis -- is the only reason a casual fan would pay attention to this event, is the Tour de France better off with something scandalous happening? As far as capturing wide attention in America, I think it might be.)

MLB All-Star Final Vote: The fans have spoken! As predicted here, Hideki Okajima won the AL's extra All-Star spot. As not predicted here, Chris Young won the NL's spot. (Travis Liles has a really interesting post: Should a player suspension that runs across the ASG impact a player's ASG availability? Hmm...)

But it's a nice consolation prize for Pat Neshek that he emerged as the bloggers' choice as one of the most cult-ish MLB players.

(There's a fascinating point to be made about Neshek's ability to go from quasi-anonymous middle reliever to blogger sensation with tons of "cred." It's a lesson for any/all athletes and follows the Paul Shirley model: You don't have to be a superstar like Gilbert Arenas to increase your visibility and popularity among fans through emerging media.)

MLB Stud, Team: Tigers. A sweep of the Indians put Detroit just a game back in the Central. What a race this will be.

12-game winner CC Sabathia was beaten by 10-game winner Justin Verlander, in a matchup between possible AL All-Star starters. (My money's on Verlander; just look who is doing the picking for the AL.)

Unsurprisingly, Barry Bonds will not participate in the Home Run Derby. Oh, but if he did! (In front of Bonds-friendly fans in San Francisco, it's not even that much of a p.r. risk for him. Injury-wise, though...)

Kobe apologizes to Kupchak: So much for Bryant's impossibly hard-line stance. And, yet, the Lakers are no closer to fulfilling Kobe's mandate to create a contender than before.

Tiger's Tournament: It would be so NOT cool if Tiger missed the cut at his own party. (And stop the easy blame of the new parenthood!)

NBA Summer League Mania! Tips off today, with your first chance to see Kevin Durant, Mike Conley and Greg Oden. Oh, and Yi, but playing for Team China, not Team Milwaukee.

Grant Hill signs with the Suns: That might mean that Hill could finally get out of the first round of the NBA playoffs.

Juan Carlos Navarro Watch: Signs are pointing toward the Wizards trading Navarro, using him to unload a dead-weight contract like Brendan Haywood's or Etan Thomas'. I am kind of upset by this. The Wizards' bench production was anemic, and JCN is one of the most dynamic Euro guards ever produced. Yes: By all means, give him away.

Youth Olympics in 2010: Not sure how they'll find the athletes aged 14-18 (aren't a bunch of them REAL Olympians already?), but it's just a matter of time before we have our first PED scandal.

Reggie Bush to be in TV booth for Beckham's MLS debut: I can't knock this marketing ploy. MLS needs all the help it can get (yes, even with Beckham's star power). Is it a little skeevy that they are marketing partners for adidas? Slightly. But Bush adds a little spice to the mix. Now, no NFL fan who isn't an MLS fan will tune in just because of Bush's appearance -- and avid MLS fans might resent the play for casual eyeballs -- so it nets out as a bit of a no-man's-land move.

The mysterious death of former Florida DB Avery Atkins is the tragic end of a really sad story involving a very promising player whose future was derailed early on and spiraled down from there.

NFL Offseason: Belichick moving to NFC? Ah, ProFootballTalk... what would we fans do without you? Spicing up the slowest stretch of the year in NFL news, they float the idea that Belichick might be done with the Pats after 2007 and moving on to the NFC in '08. Make this happen!

Random, but kind of fascinating: An interview with the Snorg T-shirt girl. (h/t: Winning the Turnover Battle)

Chestnut beats Kobayashi, Cont'd: What does it say that even as the NBA ratings plummet, the ratings for events like this one skyrocket?

It says that the most sustainable model for niche-sport success (which now includes the NBA, like it or not) is to create a once-a-year event model.

That's why the NBA Draft or the NBA All-Star Weekend -- or even the traditional Xmas Day game (usually the biggest and most compelling game of the regular season) -- are, proportionally, way more viscerally enjoyable than the NBA Finals.

-- D.S.

38 comments:

jason said...

Hey, we took one from the Tigers, the first game. Let us have that, please.

Matt T said...

Yeah, Profootball talk is always so reliable.

andy said...

Yes, I came in to also say that the Tigers didn't sweep the Indians. Tigers won 2 out of 3.

Tigers have another big test against the Red Sox this weekend.

It's going to be a tight race in the AL Central this year, and I think that's where the wild card will come from (my pre-season prediction said the Yankees would take the wild card, but, well, that seems less likely now).

Kibbles said...

Why would you expect Leyland to make Verlander the starter because he is a Tiger? Leyland did not chose a single Tiger for the team, even though Sheffield, Granderson, and Bonderman were arguably deserving. Leyland is not like Torre, who always chose Yankees. All five Tiger all-stars were voted in by the fans or other players.

hskr dave said...

Congrats to Chipper Being the Atlanta Braves all time Home Run leader, 2 home runs, one from each side of the plate, and on the seventh year anniversary since the last time he homered from both sides.

Atlanta Bullpen didn't blow another one. WooHoo.

Britt Schramm said...

Is it me or does the fact that the Snoog girl is a defacto Red Sox fan make her a couple of degrees hotter?

boredreceptionist said...

I have a theory about why those "holiday games" (Christmas/Thanksgiving) are so popular. Aside from some segment viweing them as "tradition" think about what you're doing at those times. Most of the time you're surrounded by family you never see any other time, probably have little in common with and not much to talk about. It's something easy to turn on the games and either 1) completely ignore each other or 2) bond over sports. On the other hand, the NBA finals take place in the heart of summer time, when you're taking vacations (most likely with the family/friends you DO have something in common with) and enjoying beautiful weather. On a side note, you know there's something wrong with the NBA when when the games on TV last damn near as long as NFL games. Some of those playoff games were close to four hours long!

Jen said...

I am ALSO coming in to say get your facts straight before you say something, Dan. The Indians won the first game and still have a one game lead on the Tigers.

Todd said...

Yeah, Kibbles is definitely correct. Granderson and Sheffield were definitely deserving and Leyland didn't pick them. Best under the radar sub-plot (?) to the season could be Curtis Granderson trying to become the modern (post dead ball era) leader in triples for a single-season. I believe he's already at 15, and the modern record (1949) is at 23.

Anyway, yesterday's Studs and Duds:

Studs:
1. Mike Lowell - 5/6, HR, 5RBI, 3R
2. Adam LaRoche - 3/4, 2HRs, 3RBI, 3R
3. Chipper Jones - 2/3, 2HRs, 2RBI, 2R, 2BBs
4. Kelvim Escobar - W, 7.0IP, ER, 3H, 3BBs, 8Ks
5. John Maine - W, 7.2IP, 2ER, 6H, 2BB, 9Ks

Duds:
1. J.P. Howell - L, 0.2IP, 6ER, 6H, 2BBs
2. Brian Burress - L, 1.1IP, 7ER, 6H, BB, 2HRs
3. C.C. Sabathia - L, 4.0IP, 7ER, 10H, BB, 3HRs
4. Tim Hudson - 3.0IP, 6ER, 10H, 2BBs
5. Pat Neshek - L, 1.0IP, 2ER, BB, HR

Honorary Pitchers as Hitters studs: Bronson Arroyo (HR), Brad Penny (2/2, 3RBI)

Team Studs: Tigers (12 runs), Red Sox (15 runs), White Sox (11 runs)

Brian in Oxford said...

The special telecast thing, is exactly what the NHL needs to do with another OUTDOOR game next year. People would watch for the novelty of it. 40,000 folks in zero-degree weather....even if it were in Edmonton, if you put them against the Rangers or Red Wings, you'd get enough of a reason for US viewers to check in. (NBC, though....nobody watches Versus for anything.)

Brian in Oxford said...

Triples are fickle, though...I'd love to see Granderson make a run at it. One month Nomar had like 6 triples in one month, but then didn't have any more the rest of the year -- or pretty close to that.

Who else besides Jim Rice has ever led the league in HR and 3B the same year? Sounds like maybe something Stan Musial would do....or a Willie Mays...anyone know?

Eric Chase said...

I think Pat Neshek is helped a great deal by the fact that he's an excellent pitcher. As a Phillies fan, I'd kill to have someone like him come in for the 7th and 8th innings. A motion like Quisenberry, and unhittable and Randy Johnson once was.

t-bone said...

As you know by now, Dan, our Wahoos took Tuesday's game.

HOWEVER, we didn't get to see the go-ahead Casey Blake homer, as the Tribe's network (Sports Time Ohio) went blank for the top of the 11th inning. See here.

jtinoh said...

Good to see the same guy who consistently predicts Lebron's departure from Cleveland is the same one who can't check 3 box scores to see if a sweep actually took place.

Way to go Dan.

Jen said...

t-bone~ Yes, and that pissed me off!!! I caught it on Baseball Tonight and when I turned back to STO the game was over. Morons.

Sparty said...

I think what is more important regarding Reggie Bush, is how often he has already been seen with Kim Kardashian. What a way to start. Definitely tops JT (Britney) and Jeter (Mariah)but will he have as many known conquests as them.

Johnathan said...

Cubs keep surging only 4.5 games back now

Johnathan said...

by the way the Baghdatis/ Djokovic match this morning is rather intense and close

6/7 6/7 7/6 6/4 5/6 with Djokovic set to serve for the match

chitown italian said...

@ johnathan - don't jinx my cubbies man.

Dan Mega said...

I was about to point out his mistake of the "sweep" as well. Is Shanoff trying to find a job in the NY media or something?

Johnathan said...

haha they're my cubbies too; i'm actually shocked at the past couple weeks though i'm fully prepared for them to you know start acting like the cubs again

marcomarco said...

Jeter-

worth noting, he got Mariah when she was still cute and innocent. Not the ultra-skank version.

That being said, his greatest accomplishment is Jessica Alba.

thistlewarrior said...

I'm not all that surprised about the Reggie Bush thing. Adidas is pretty much the primary sponsor of MLS: the uni's, the ball, etc. And since the No Fun League has a bit of monopoly w/Reebok, it's probably an attempt to promote their football products as well.

GuyInTheCorner said...

More news out of Atlanta...

The Atlanta Falcons signed Japanesse Wide Reciever Noriaki Kinoshita. I can't wait to get one of those jerseys. The question is do they go with his "last name" or his real last name on the back. Bet that's the first time the NFL had to deal with that issue.,

You can't make stuff like that up.

GuyInTheCorner said...

Triples Single Season Records:
National League Dead Ball Era - 36 - Cheif Wilson, 1912 Pittsburg Pirates
American League Dead Ball Era - 26 - Sam Crawford, 1914 Detroit Tigers
American League Live Ball Era - 23 - Dale Mitchell, 1949 Cleveland Indians
National League Live Ball Era - 22 - Jake Daubert, 1922 Cincinnati Reds

Poseur said...

By the way, last year's Tour WAS wide open. It was an incredibly exciting race which saw the lead change several times in the last week. And Landis won because the biggest stars were banned, especailly Basso (still banned) and Vinokourov (cleared of wrongdoing and the prohibitive favorite).

Cycling is just proof that the best way for a sport to react to performance enhancers is to sweep it under the rug or pretend to catch wrongdoers while doing no such thing. Operation Peurto supposedly involved over 100 athletes, yet only cycling did something about it. Want to gues sthe only sport that is considered dirty? (HINT: not soccer)

Cycling gets a bad rap because it is the only sport honestly trying to eliminate perforance enhancers.

Will (Minny via AZ) said...

Interesting that the "Dead Eras" had more triples...I believe that it was a dead era as the parks were freakin huge...and the ball would roll for days, just like playing as kids without fences. Guys, layoff...one slip up about if someone got swept? Get over it. I know that we have all reviewed and researched every freakin post ever made...assholes. By the way, 37% of all statistics are made up on the spot.

CycleDan said...

As a big cycling fan, I have followed the Tour de France for years but also many of the other races. It is kind of shame that most Americans have never heard of any of the big European one day classics such as Paris-Roubaix or Milano- St. Remo.

I was going to post a Tour preview today but I was busy with going to motor vehicles to get my son his learner's permit and then visiting assisted living residences with my father.

The best American hope this year is Levi Leipheimer who is at the end of his prime but still a strong overall rider. He was with the US Postal Team in the Lance days. He finished 3rd in the 3 week Tour of Spain and then jumped to a couple of European teams before coming back. Now Discovery Channel is the title sponsor and they are focusing their effort on Levi.

Last year, Leipheimer raced too hard early in the year. This year, he is timing his training to peak right now. He is not the best time trialist or climber but is pretty good overall so we will see.

The Russian Vinokourov is the favorite at this point, the German Andreus Kloeden and a couple of the Spanish riders are also in the mix. Christophe Moreau is the only French hope. However he most likely would be happy with a podium finish.

CycleDan said...

Poseur,
I couldn't agree more. As a cycling fan, all you hear about is doping it seems and it is ruining the sport. What people don't realize that it is the cleanest sport since it is the only one that seriously tries to catch cheats.

Could you imagine if an entire MLB team was blood and urine tested 15 minutes before or after game time?
Imagine if the star NFL players were tested after every game or they had to all line up and piss in a cup at halftime? Then, if they had too much asthma medicine, or their testosterone/episterone level was too high they were banned for the first offense for 2 years and for 4 years from any playoff game. Also what would we find if we had the police search the rooms of pro-soccer players? The testing done in any other sport is simply a turn your cheek the other way and pretend we care policy.

Poseur said...

Vinokourov got honestly screwed last year. He was never really implicated, but his team was. so his team got banned and Vino was left without an invite. But that's par for the course for his career, which has prety much been a succession of screw jobs. my favorite is when his own team (T-Mobile) reeled in his breakway which may have won him the Tour. He's on a team with three yellow jersey contenders, which is usually a recipe for disaster.

Leipheimer is the biggest American threat. Cadel Evans is Australian, but he's probably the top English speaking threat. And with probably the strongest team behind him, Menchov could be a real threat (assuming he doesn't bonk like he did last year).

Also, the green jersey battle is shaping up to be epic. McEwen is a heavy favorite, but Boonen has always been a threat. Zabel is still plugging away as one of the most successful sprinters in history, though he's past his prime. And former green jersey champ Thor Hushovd should make a run.

I'm excited. Hopefully, the story will be racing.

CycleDan said...

Evans and Menchov are definitely in the General Classification (GC) mix.

Now that Petachi is banned for taking too much asthma medicine (seriously) McEwen is the prohibitive favorite for the sprinter's jersey. Zabel is getting on in years and probably can't take the real fast guys head on anymore but he can probably climb better than they can. If Zabel can make it over a few small hills when the other sprinters can't, he may be a contender. Boonen is really not a bad climber either. Then there are guys like Hushovd who will also be battling it out.

Brian in Oxford said...

2 pair beats 5 of a kind...

Gasquet over Roddick

44778
66666

Jen said...

Love how Dan acknowledges his mistake!
bawk bawk bawk bawk

Jen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric Chase said...

stud of friday! Jon Garland for being a man taking a beating and hanging in there

Poseur said...

Petacchi wasn't going to finish anyway. That guy always abandons at the first sight of hills.

It was about this time last year almost all of the major contenders were suddenly banned from the race, allowing a guy like Landis to win (not to be mean, but Landis is not in the class of Vino, Basso, Ullrich, and Mancebo who weren't allowed to race). So keep your fingers crossed and the contenders actually are allowed in the race this year.

john (ann arbor, mi) said...

Guys,

Dan just saw the replay and he can actually tell when a guy touches the plate. He's reacting to what happened, not what the final scores were.

Tim said...

The tour itself is at turning point this year, Lance did for our sport what TIger did for golf. I have seen the interest rise over the last six years. All of us fans from the early 80's can only hope for this year is a "clean" tdf. This race is quite capable of producing great stories on any given day. Considering the marketing resources of US companies the thought of america not fielding a team in the near future is unthinkable. I would take decade of clean racing and relative obscurity. This sport's popularity in this country,has always hinged on a american rider's success. And so be it. We can only hope for a outcome of the race in july and not in october from the UCI and the tour director and the courts. The real irony is here is a sport policing it self and suffering for it. Can you imagine the MBL holding a year's salary of a player and having him sign an agreement that he's clean, as condition to compete. Yes this tour is wide open as was last years. and the small handful of hopefuls know this.