Friday, October 05, 2007

Friday 10/05 A.M. Quickie: Marion Jones,
Yanks Lose, Rox Roll, NFL/CFB Picks, More!

Update: The one story I wish I had this morning that I didn't was LeBron wearing a Yankees cap at the Indians game. If he didn't, y'know, play for a freaking Cleveland team, this would be less of a thing. But he does. And it is. At best, it's disrespectful to his customers, which seems awfully dumb for a guy with a marketing sense as finely honed as LeBron's. Unless...hmm: At worst, it's a symbol that James' heart (and wallet) belong to New York, which should only bother Cleveland fans when James bolts for Brooklyn.

Today's Names to Know: Marion Jones, Kenny Lofton, Kaz Matsui, Chris Young, Reggie Bush, LSU, Red River Rivalry, Steve Spurrier, Travis Henry, More!

Interrupting your MLB Playoff fun (not to mention NFL or CFB warm-up) for more from sports' cheating front...

Marion Jones admits using steroids: Given her prominence as America's poster-child Olympian in 2000, this is humiliating for her, for the sport and for the country (though in the current environment of justified skepticism of athletes, not to mention allegations about her PED use from a few years ago, hardly a shocker).

I guess it's most refreshing that she admitted it (although she admitted it after lying to federal agents who were investigating her, for which she'll plead guilty), although she insists that she didn't know she was using PEDs at the time.

This is the part that is most ambiguous: It is reasonable to think that she took what her trainer gave her, unquestioningly, because he said it would help (and was legit). The use might have been inadvertent; it is impossible to know if she knew she was cheating.

However, when she put up her very public protest in 2004, insisting she never took PEDs, she obviously knew at that time she was misleading the public -- lying -- just as she lied to the authorities investigating her. As usual, the cover-up is even more egregious than the crime.

Jones won 5 medals in Sydney, including a couple of golds, which she should be stripped of immediately.

Indians crush Yankees: Smack 4 HR (and ageless OF Kenny Lofton drove in 4 RBI), while holding the Yankees to only 5 hits, including zero by A-Rod. The Yankees don't NEED to win Game 2 tonight, but an 0-2 hole will be daunting. Playoff vet Pettitte is their starter.

Rockies roll on! You have to wonder if the Rockies sweep the series this weekend and have to wait more than 2 days to play a game in the NLCS, will they lose their momentum? They are going to be willing to play the local Beer League softball champs, if only to stay on the field and just keep playing.

Stud: In one game, Kaz Matsui eclipsed a career of disappointment and underachievement with "playoff clutch." HR, Triple, Double, 5 RBI. Wow.

D'backs put Cubs in 0-2 hole: I love the Rockies' story and the D'backs' youth movement is impressive (Young HR yesterday, along with more HR from Drew), but it would be pretty lame if the NLCS ended up being Arizona-Colorado. Cubs better turn it around at home, because a sweep would be crushing. Like the Phillies, the Cubs could find themselves done before they even really get started.

Red Sox-Angels Game 2: I'm betting that having never faced Matsuzaka, the Angels are completely baffled and the Red Sox take a 2-0 lead.

NFL Week 5 Preview and Picks
Ugh: I'm going to stop keeping track of my picks correctness, because the past few weeks have been horrible, and without any stakes riding on my predictions, they are empty, though I will still keep making them, if only to see how terribly wrong I can continue to be, despite my best efforts to actually pick the games correctly (without the spread!)

Top 5 Subplots:
1. Reggie Bush as featured back
2. Pats continue to decimate
3. Make-or-break for Chargers
4. Favre in primetime vs. rival
5. Rams or Fins: Race for 0-16

The picks:
At Titans (2-1) d. Falcons (1-3)
Jaguars (2-1) d. at Chiefs (2-2)
Cards (2-2) d. at Rams (0-4)
Pats (4-0) d. Browns (2-2)
Saints (0-3) d. Panthers (2-2)
Giants (2-2) d. Jets (1-3)
Steelers (3-1) d. Seahawks (3-1) (GOTW)
Redskins (2-1) d. Lions (3-1)
(2-2) d. Dolphins (0-4)
Colts (4-0) d. Bucs (3-1)
Chargers (1-3) d. at Denver (2-2)
Ravens (2-2) d. at 49ers (2-2)
Packers (4-0) d. Bears (1-3) (SNF)
Cowboys (4-0) d. Bills (1-3) (MNF)

CFB Top 25 Preview and Picks: "Shoulda-Woulda-Coulda Saturday." Instead of a Game of the Year, LSU-Florida is a remote chance of an upset (particularly at LSU, not sure there even was "remote"), although many fans will rejoice at Florida losing 2 straight, let alone 2 straight in the SEC. Meanwhile, Texas-Oklahoma means very little, although the winner regains some momentum nationally (while the loser is all but finished in the Big 12).

There ARE a couple of intriguing games: I have Cincinnati ranked in my Top 10, and a win at Rutgers should affirm my opinion of them (esp. considering my preseason opinion of Rutgers). I'm intrigued to see if Missouri is for real; a win over Nebraska helps that cause. And I could see two Big Ten unbeatens in the Top 5 losing: Ohio State at Purdue and Wisconsin at Illinois (where the Illini are favored. Favored! Over a Top 5 team!)

1 LSU d. 9 Florida (Game of the Week)
2 Stanford Duh, USC d. Stanford
23 Purdue d. 4 Ohio State (Upset Special!)
5 Wisconsin d. at Illinois
6 S. Florida d. at Florida Atlantic
7 Boston College d. Bowling Green
10 Oklahoma d. 19 Texas (Too Little Too Late Bowl)
12 Georgia d. at Tennessee
13 W. Virginia d. at Syracuse
15 Virginia Tech d. at 22 Clemson
16 Hawaii over Utah St.
17 Missouri d. 25 Nebraska
18 Arizona St d. at Washington St
20 Cincinnati d. at 21 Rutgers (Underrated GOTW!)
24 Kansas St over Kansas (All Bets Are Off Bowl)

South Carolina KOs Kentucky, 38-23: The Wildcats were a wonderful story for the first half of the season, but their enjoyable run as an unbeaten is over... as is their relevancy as a national storyline. They will drop out of the Top 10 (perhaps even the Top 20). Meanwhile, Spurrier's Gamecocks will make their way into the Top 10.

Travis Henry reportedly tests positive for pot, which could subject him to a year-long suspension from the NFL.

NBA/Sports Business: I'm not saying that the Nets' Continental Arena was a particularly inspired name, but the new name -- Izod Center -- instantly becomes the least intimidating in sports.

Comments will remain shut off today and this weekend. Exploring new systems that can go into effect next week. Sorry for any inconvenience.

-- D.S.

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