A-Rod and the Yankees are talking about a deal: This shouldn't surprise you at all. The highest-paid player in baseball was never going to eliminate the freest-spending team in baseball from the discussion – even if he just opted out of playing for them. The odds-on bet is still that A-Rod returns to the Yankees.
UPDATE: The hot rumor is that it's a done deal – 10 years for $275 million, which represents a small increase from his previous deal (and a substantial increase in what portion of that salary the Yankees are paying), but certainly more long-term security for the player.
If this rumor holds up, A-Rod will likely retire a Yankee, break Barry Bonds' career home-run record as a Yankee, hit No. 800 as a Yankee, wear a Yankees cap into the Hall of Fame – but it remains to be seen whether he will win any championships as a Yankee. If he is there for 10 more years, given his previous success with the team, I'll put the over-under on A-Rod/Yankees World Series titles at one. (And the over-under on Red Sox World Series titles within the same decade span at two.)
MLB Awards: Your managers of the year are Eric Wedge (a rare correct preseason pick from me) and Bob Melvin (who no one saw coming). I was surprised Colorado's Clint Hurdle finished 3rd. Between Hurdle and Tulowitzki, I guess voters didn't put much stock in the Rockies' late-season surge. We'll see if it impacted the biggest award race: NL MVP.
Meanwhile, today is NL Cy Young, and you have to imagine it will be Jake Peavy, even with his unclutch performance in Game 163 (but, apparently, voters aren't really taking that game into consideration – or at least giving it more weight than the previous 162… which they should. Yes, when it comes to awards, some regular season games are more important than others.)
Dwayne Wade returns, Heat still stink: I mean, they even lost to the Sonics, sorry Seattle's first win of the season. And the game was in Miami! (Wade had 15 points on 5/9 FG shooting in 25 minutes.)
Phil Jackson's "Brokeback" scandal: Normally, I think Jackson is one of the most intelligent, thoughtful sports figures out there. I think this remark was just plain dumb, rather than maliciously intended.
CFB: Heisman Watch – It's Dixon and Tebow down to the wire. That's how Heisman Pundit is calling it, after doing another (rather unscientific) poll of the Heisman pollsters. (h/t: Fanhouse) I still think that Chase Daniel can come from behind if he puts on spectacular performances while leading Missouri past both Kansas and Oklahoma in back-to-back weeks.
Totally related: Oregon on national TV tonight. Dennis Dixon gets the national stage all to himself tonight, as Oregon takes on Arizona in yet another must-see ESPN Thursday Night game. The matchup itself might seem like a dud, but here's a chance to watch one of the Top 2 teams in the country, up-close, along with the leading Heisman contender.
If Dixon stumbles, he could lose ground to Tebow or Daniel. Far more important, Oregon can go a long way toward shoring up their support with human BCS pollsters by winning decisively and impressively; however, if they look shaky (even in victory), that's going to open the door for both Oklahoma and Kansas to potentially jump ahead of the Ducks. (Pick: Oregon)
North Carolina is NOT No. 1 in college hoops: Hard to take them seriously at the No. 1 spot when they are barely getting by Davidson (by 4). Now, Davidson is a really good mid-major (see their Tournament performance a year ago vs. Maryland), but still: If you're going to claim a team is No. 1 (and that's the "experts," not Roy Williams himself), they should win a little more impressively, shouldn't they?
(Meanwhile, for an example of a real early-season throttling, check out Tennessee's 57-point win over D-II Arkansas-Monticello.)
NFL: Ricky Williams is back! I don't think the winless woeful Dolphins are in a position to sniff their nose at ANY player that they have the option to use, including one who hasn't played in 18 months – and particularly a running back. What I won't understand is if Ricky isn't in the best shape of his life; something tells me, though, that he didn't spend the last 18 months preparing to resume his NFL career.
NFL Notes: Is it really that big of a deal that Dwight Freeney is done for the season? It's not like the Colts were/are going to win the AFC... John Beck starting at QB for the Dolphins, and, yes, on several of my QB-starved fantasy rosters, I picked him up and will start him, too… Speaking of starting, Rex Grossman is back… Interesting to see the NFL showing its 8 NFL Network games online. Unfortunately, it's not available everywhere online, but just to certain Verizon DSL subscribers…
More NBA: The Celtics are 7-0 for the first time in 35 years. Yes, that's better than the legendary 1986 team started… What a duel between the East's best wing player, LeBron James (34 points, 13 rebounds, 14 assists), and its best post player, Dwight Howard (35 points, 16 rebounds). Howard's team won the game, and if you had to choose between investing long-term in the standings success of LeBron's Cavs or Howard's Magic, you would have to seriously consider favoring Howard's Magic… Looking for scoring help for your fantasy team? Perhaps you have Tracy McGrady and will see him out the next week (or more) with an elbow injury. Try Minnesota's McCants (if he's even still available)... Stephon Marbury is back with the Knicks, and $180,000 poorer for it…
College Hoops Recruiting Signing Begins: Florida may be in a rebuilding year, but they are leading the nation with
New CBB postseason tournament: I'm all for this third-tier postseason tournament, which is subordinate to both the NCAAs and the NIT. The market will decide if fans are willing to show any interest in the teams involved, but for the fans of those teams, it's a chance to participate in a postseason – any postseason – and extend their season. No one is claiming that the team that wins this tournament is particularly good; the organizers just recognized that college hoops fans of teams not in either of the main postseason tournaments have an appetite in March, too. Count me interested, College Basketball Invitational.
Sports Media: Mike Golic admits he used steroids: And that's just the steroids he was WILLING to admit he used. He tried to explain himself, but I think it's a little disingenuous that he has been commenting on the radio and TV every day through the years of the various steroid scandals in baseball and the NFL while keeping this particularly relevant personal detail to himself.