Names to Know: Phillies, Hines Ward, Marc Ecko, Byron Leftwich, Tank Johnson, Andrei Kirilenko, Isiah Thomas, Tim Tebow, OJ...
MLB Stud: Phillies, who beat the Cards in 14 to close within 1.5 GB the Mets (who lost a late lead and the game to the Nats) in the NL East. The Mets have lost 5 straight and it feels like they haven't had any mojo since May.
Ordinarily, it's easier to root for the Mets than it is to root for the Yankees, but in this case I would kind of like to see the Yankees come back and win the division.
However, it's easier to root for the Phillies than for either of the New York teams. Given that the runner-up in the NL East could very well miss the playoffs entirely (say, if the Padres and D'backs both finish with a better record), the Mets had better find a way to turn things around.
(Meanwhile, in a Gotham-sized ironic twist, the Yankees are within 2.5 of the Red Sox in the AL East.)
Hot MLB Rumor: Tony LaRussa ends up in…Seattle!
Bonds 756 Fan Vote: Bonds calls Marc Ecko "stupid." Reiterating yesterday's position, I give Ecko points for cleverness, but I personally would vote to put the ball in the Hall of Fame, not outer space.
Wow, do I enjoy MJD's must-read Debriefing every morning. Today's includes a particularly fun gimmick at the top. I want to play! Jumping or not jumping to these conclusions about the NFL after only 2 games:
Pats can't be stopped: Jumping.
LJ in for a long year: Jumping.
Tomlin a good hire: Jumping.
Turner a bad hire: Jumping.
Steve Smith as best WR: Jumping.
Packers will fade sub-.500: Jumping.
Grossman is hopeless: Jumping.
Texans are actually good: Jumping.
Clean sweep of jumped conclusions after only 2 weeks! (But really: Would you expect anything less from me?) Thanks for allowing me to play, MJD!
Hines Ward accused by business partner: If you have Ward on your fantasy team and your league offers points for "embezzlement accusations," you're going to have a big week!
Byron Leftwich joins Falcons: I'm a big Leftwich fan, but does it really make sense for the least mobile QB in the NFL (in NFL history?) to join the team with the leakiest O-line? (13 sacks allowed in 2 games) Also: Will he dare to wear his usual No. 7? (Update: From the incomparable MDS at Fanhouse, Leftwich won't wear No. 7. Apparently, he'll wear No. 4.)
Tank Johnson joins Cowboys: Would have been a better fit in the mid-90s.
HGH Watch: Does it REALLY surprise you to hear that Rodney Harrison started ordering HGH in 2004? Let's be absolutely clear: I would be surprised to find out that an NFL player DOESN'T use HGH, given its benefits and the lack of testing. We can put a tainted baseball into space but we can't create a reliable urine test for HGH?
NBA: Andrei Kirilenko is blogging in Russian… and demands a trade! He actually has restored some of his value after leading Russia to a title at the European Championships.
Isiah Thomas Lawsuit: I haven't talked about this much, but if the testimony is true, Thomas really has no business running the team, and I'm curious whether David Stern will do James Dolan's work for him and ban Thomas from the NBA upon the trial's result.
Sports Business: Ray Lewis is part of the Under Armour family, which is just about as good of an endorsement fit as I can think of in sports. The "Click-Clack" actor has become quasi-iconic, but they should replace him with Lewis immediately.
CFB: Given that Texas has had 6 players arrested in the last few months, one might wonder what kind of program Mack Brown is running over there. Good thing he's got that championship ring to protect him, Green Lantern-style.
Tim Tebow Update: After the mocking I took in my preseason Heisman preview listing Tebow in my Top 5, he is a legit candidate. His stats are amazing. His team is winning. The New York Times had him listed at No. 2 on their list after Week 3. There's even a T-shirt: "HE15SMAN," which gets points for effort if not elegance. Here's a Palm Beach Post update.
Here's the thing: Unless Florida wins at LSU, Tebow won't be a true contender; if they do win, all bets are off. However, the biggest knock against him will be voters who simply won't vote for a sophomore, figuring they'll vote for him in the next year. Last year, Darren McFadden was the best player in college football, but came in second as a sophomore. Three years ago, Reggie Bush was the best player in college football, but came in second as a sophomore.
Voters figure they can give the award to a sophomore when he's a junior, which is ludicrous. (Now: Is Tebow the best player in college football? No. The best player is McFadden, even though I gave my No. 1 Heisman vote this week to Ray Rice. But Tebow is in the Top 5 right now.)
Meanwhile, here's my video of the day. (h/t Ryan Ferguson at the Fanhouse) You can hate the Gators but enjoy the offensive explosion with a nice little soundtrack.
OJ Update: That's a ton of new charges. A ton. I'm not sure this will produce another Trial of the Century, but hopefully, this time the result includes more justice. Meanwhile, you have to love the audio tape.