Today's Names to Know: Allen Iverson, Eric Gordon, Jonny Flynn, Adrian Peterson, Jorge Posada, Ryan Braun, Dustin Pedroia, Mark Messier, BlogPoll Top 25 and More!
Who is on your list of athletes you would really like to see play in person? Mine is a fairly short list, but there was one player who has been on it for more than a decade: Allen Iverson.
I finally got the chance to see him last night in person, and he didn't disappoint, scoring a season-high 37 (with 8 assists), turning in an NBA Stud of the Night performance. AI is so much more mesmerizing when you watch him in person than when you see him on TV.
This is an interesting discussion point: Which active athletes are on your must-see-in-person list?
I would imagine the top criteria includes legends before their career is over, college players (in college) before their relatively short college careers are over or simply too-talented-to-miss players whose skills have to be seen in person to truly appreciate.
(This is different than the list of players you regret never seeing live, which we will save for another day.)
College Hoops: The freshmen continue to impress. Eric Gordon made his Indiana debut and scored 33 points. Want another sick frosh to watch? Syracuse's Jonny Flynn, who had 28 points and 9 assists in his Syracuse debut.
By the way, I totally whiffed yesterday in not pointing out Michael Beasley's debut for Kansas State, which –frankly – dwarfed Kevin Durant's debut for Texas a year ago. (And I'm not even mentioning Florida's impressive combo guard Nick Calathes, who UF fans have already anointed their new favorite.) If you thought last year's freshman class (Durant, Oden, Conley,etc.) was either talented or dominant (or both), this year's class is even better.
I might be prematurely wrong (go figure) that Derrick Rose is the best player in college hoops; it likely will turn out to be Beasley. (Do the K-State fans call him "Beastley" yet?)
But what does it say that the nation's best guard - whoever it is - AND best inside player are both freshmen? (It means that David Stern's dastardly age limit might artificially keep NBA-ready talent out of the NBA for a year, but it sure livens up college hoops.)
Based on what has happened so far with Rose, Beasley, Mayo, UCLA's Kevin Love (team-high 21 last night), Calathes and now Gordon and Flynn, the freshmen class could field a team that could thump the other classes put together.
NFL MNF: Seahawks blank 49ers in Seattle. Didn't watch the game, but can only imagine it was the ugliest MNF outcome possible.
Adrian Peterson Injury Watch: Out at least the next game. At least. Karmic payback is a beee-otch.
NFL Scandal Watch: Will a new steroids bust bust open a PED connection in the NFL? (Steroids in the NFL!? Say it ain't so!?) Worth tracking, although the league is pretty good at tamping down any sort of PED outrage you see devouring baseball. (h/t: MDS at Fanhouse)
MLB Awards: Ryan Braun, Dustin Pedroia win Rookie of the Year awards. Hard to argue with either, though I know Tulowitzki fans in Denver are disappointed (but hoping that means voters split their ballot in Colorado's direction, giving Holliday the MVP). As most of you would guess, I am quite excited about Braun's win – as I have been excited about him since his debut in the spring. He might have just overtaken Morgan Pressel as the reigning active "Best Active Jewish Athlete."
(Although Duke's Jon Scheyer DID lead the team with 22 points last night. How conflicting: I loathe Duke basketball but root for Scheyer's success. By the way: Note how I emphasize Duke hoops; Duke football, on the other hand, I couldn't be rooting for harder against Notre Dame this weekend. Yes, even though a humiliating early-season loss to Duke football effectively ruined the chances of now-bowl-eligible Northwestern to actually participate in a bowl. Yes, I'm still allowed to talk about Northwestern.)
MLB Hot Stove: Jorge Posada staying with Yankees: All it took was 4Y/$52.4M, which I'm sure was far more than any other team was offering. What price continuity? Meanwhile, free agent signings officially happen starting today. It's a pretty weak class, aside from A-Rod (and who cares about A-Rod?) How about some big trades?
CFB: After thinking it over, I think I'm going to adjust my BlogPoll rankings and move Kansas out of the No. 1 spot. If they beat Missouri in two weeks, maybe. If they beat Missouri and then beat Oklahoma, in back-to-back weeks? Definitely. But it was premature for me to put them there. I was projecting my personal enthusiasm for their story. I am strongly considering LSU-Kansas-Oregon, though I can understand Oregon fans saying, "Hold on!" and demanding KU be put third until after the Mizzou game.
Hockey: Hall of Fame inductees. I became a huge fan of Mark Messier when he led the Rangers to the Stanley Cup. Not that I liked the Rangers. I just was blown away by Messier's leadership skills, enthusiasm and will to win. There's that iconic image of him madly celebrating with the Stanley Cup in '94 that EA used in a classic ad to promote their sports games a few years ago, and that to me was the quintessential vision of success in sports.