Today's Names to Know: Lou Piniella, Carlos Marmol, Mark Reynolds, Matt Holliday, Josh Beckett, CC Sabathia, A-Rod, Steve Spurrier, Andre Woodson, Walt Jocketty, Gus Frerotte, Mike Vick, Brandon Roy and More!
Wow, that was a pretty fun start to the baseball playoffs: Lou Piniella's tactical error might have cost the Cubs a shot at winning Game 1... Josh Beckett picks up where he left off in 2003 (with a shut-out)... On 36 hours' rest, the Rockies go East, beat the Phillies to take a 1-0 lead, shut down Philly's Big Three and roll on.
D'backs rally over Cubs to take Game 1: Here's the controversy: Did Lou Piniella pull Carlos Zambrano too early – perhaps even a single inning too early? Zambrano hadn't hit his 100-pitch limit, but Lou was worried about Z being available to start Game 4.
So in the 7th, Lou put in super-reliever Carlos Marmol, who promptly gave up 2 runs -- the winning margin. There's no proof Zambrano wouldn't have gotten hit just as hard (and Marmol has been a complete stud this season), but this is an easy one for fans to second-guess.
Reigning NL Cy Young winner Brandon Webb held the Cubs to 4 hits and a single run over 7 innings. On the offensive end, Stephen Drew and Mark Reynolds each hit HR for
Red Sox blank Angels behind Beckett's complete game 4-hitter: Beckett re-asserts himself as one of the great postseason pitchers of our generation. (Oh, right: THIS is why he was worth all that money and talent to trade for!)
Meanwhile, no surprise: Big Papi with a HR. (Another Stud: Kevin Youkilis, who went 2-4 with a HR and 2 runs scored.)
Stud: Matt Holliday hit a home run. We never really got into this on Tuesday, but with Jimmy Rollins the presumptive NL MVP after 162 games, edging out Holliday, you have to wonder if Holliday literally and figuratively slid past Rollins headfirst in Game 163.
I think they were close enough that Holliday's heroics in the final regular season game should nudge him past Rollins in the wildest MVP finish in years. (When was the last time an MVP race was decided in a come-from-behind vault in a 163rd regular-season game?)
Dud: The Phillies' Big Three (Howard, Utley, Rollins) went 0-for-11 with 8 Ks. That's some ugly foreshadowing.
Today's Games: Morales vs. Kendrick in Philly at 3 p.m., Wang vs. Sabathia in
But most of the focus will be on the Yankees, who go up against Sabathia, one of the best pitchers in the
Spurrier South Carolina.
(By the way, what's the chance that the TV announcers bring up the new book about the 1962 Wildcats squad that was involved in a sex scandal with Rock Hudson AND gambling?)
Bobby Petrino leaving Falcons...for Auburn?! This is just a rumor, and probably one just floated by a wishful-thinking booster. First of all, Petrino is mere weeks into his Falcons career; he hasn't even had the chance yet to build a team around, say, Brian Brohm. Second, how can this come out the week after Tommy Tuberville goes into the Swamp and beats Florida? I know Tuberville frustrates Auburn fans and has had an up-and-down 2007 season, but -- of any week -- this ain't the week to gripe.Andy Reid stepping down as Eagles coach? Kudos to Philadelphia Mag's A.J. Daulerio with the scoop on the short-term and long-term fate of Andy Reid, who could be stepping down as coach imminently. Given Reid's off-field family issues, who could blame him? (From an on-field standpoint, it feels like Reid has done about as much as he can with the franchise.)
Cards let GM Walt Jocketty go: The big question is whether Jocketty and Tony LaRussa are a package deal wherever they end up next.
A-Rod and wife expecting another baby: In the spring. Someone do the math and figure out whether conception happened to coincide with A-Rod's little p.r. problem in
NFL: Marc Bulger benched for Gus Frerotte. Wow, that 6Y/$65M contract extension he signed in August SURE looks good right now. (For him.)
Chad Johnson Turmoil, Cont'd: A day late, 85 took responsibility for the INT that he was a part of, rather than, say, blaming his QB on national TV.
Vick Watch: The Falcons want him to refund them $22 million in bonus money. Yikes, talk about adding financial insult to probable prison time.
Meanwhile, Vince Young continues to inject himself into controversies. First it was McNabb (where he didn't inject himself as much as distance himself, which he got criticized for). Now it's saying Vick "is a good person." Maybe, maybe not: You just don't want to be in his corner right now.
The Cowboys are the NFL's most popular team (displacing the Steelers), but I never really understood how that worked. Like: The Cowboys have the most total number of fans? They have the most fans who aren't a fan of another NFL team already? Willingness to buy and wear merchandise? I don't get it (though I'm sure there's some solid research methodology behind it). But seriously, this is one of the stupidest superlative rankings that come out all year.
College Hoops: Howland gets new deal. As the most successful UCLA hoops coach since Wooden, Ben Howland deserved his 7-year extension. He has turned UCLA into the best program in the West, in a few seasons quickly eclipsing
NBA Training Camp: More bad injury news for the Blazers. Brandon Roy has a heel problem. As a precaution (or perhaps foreshadowing), the team might keep him out of the exhibition game season entirely.
And, in a heart-warming end to the post, the Warriors named their newest team captain: Stephen Jackson. Perhaps they'll all get tattoos like