Today's Names to Know: Sean Taylor, Johan Santana, 3-0, Ricky Williams, Houston Nutt, Mike Sherman, Bobby Petrino, Caron Butler, Beno Udrih, Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2008 and More!
UPDATE: RIP Sean Taylor, Cont'd: If one detail about Sean Taylor's death has stuck with me -- and, no question, this is simply my personal filtering of the story -- it is that Taylor's daughter is the same age as my son, 18 months. I presume Taylor was as devoted to her as I am to mine. I can only imagine his horror at the thought of an intruder in his house, of his daughter (and his fiancee) in mortal danger. I cannot possibly imagine -- nor, frankly, do I want to -- her life without her father. If death is ultimately about the survivors, my thoughts and prayers for the future are -- more than anyone -- with his little girl.
Sean Taylor is Dead: Thoughts, prayers and condolences for his family, friends and fans in one of the more swift and stunning tragedies the sports world has experienced in recent memory.
We think of NFL players as being larger-than-life... real-life Supermen. When they are victims in something as violent and ultimately fatal as a shooting, it really rattles fans in a way that few other incidents involving (or against) athletes can.
Anyway: There is very little consolation to offer at a moment of such tragedy. If you are a Redskins fan or a
UPDATE: Gatorade inventor Robert Cade is dead at 80. More on this tomorrow. Here's one of my favorite TV ads from the past year, as a tribute.
Johan Santana to... the Yankees? You KNEW the Yankees had to be players, just as you knew that all that talk about Hughes, Kennedy and Chamberlain being "untouchable" was bunk, if the right player came along -- say, the greatest pitcher in baseball in the prime of his career. If the Yankees got Santana, to go along with A-Rod, that gives them a 1-2 punch of the best pitcher and best hitter, both on one team.
MNF: Worst. Game. Ever? It is arguable that a 0-0 tie through 59 minutes and 43 seconds would have some ring of novelty, particularly when one of the participating teams is on pace for the worst season in history -- with a chance to either win (or even tie)... or continue the streak of futility. After all, the NFL hadn't seen a scoreless game go that long in more than six decades.
But, no: This game must have been absolutely brutal to watch. (I certainly didn't.) It does beg the question whether any game could be that bad when the outcome isn't decided until the game's final seconds.
It depends: In a highlight-driven culture, do you value games you are only tangentially following more for their dramatic endings or their end-to-end ebbs and flows?
(I will say this: For Dolphins fans, apparently, it can get worse. This result was a new low in a season where rock bottom has become a moving target. It's almost fun: How will the Fins find a way to lose next?)
Ricky Williams Watch: 6 rushes, 15 yards, 1 shoulder injury.
National Anthem Scandal: Because of the bad weather, they did not play the National Anthem before the Steelers-Dolphins game. Reportedly, there was no negative reaction from fans, which is curious, if only because playing the Anthem before sports events is such an ingrained part of our culture. I guess "get the game going already, in this nasty effing weather" trumps nationalism.
CFB Coaching Carousel:
I could see Nutt getting a gig quickly, perhaps even in the SEC at Ole Miss? He's a bit of a freak, and the Rebels are already coming off of four freaky years of Ed Orgeron.
Now, I'm all for increasing minority hiring among head coaches in college football – long overdue and desperately needed – but if you're putting a guy like Gill in a position where he's near-guaranteed to fail, that doesn't help anyone.
However: The appropriate response to the above statement would be to note that Sylvester Croom was also seemingly put in a position to fail, without any head-coaching experience, and he turned Mississippi State into a 7-win, bowl-eligible team that is one of the great success stories of the season -- and one of the great college football turnaround jobs of the decade.
There's another analogue that might pop up: Northwestern promoted then-32-year-old Pat Fitzgerald (like Gill, arguably his program's most beloved player ever) to head coach despite essentially zero experience. The big difference: That was Northwestern, which could afford to take a flier on a young coach; this is Nebraska, where -- despite recent problems -- fans still expect 9-plus wins a year and being competitive for the Big 12 title...right NOW and perpetually.
Viewed through those lenses, why not Gill? Hey, after
Mike Sherman unveiled as Texas A&M head coach: I said this yesterday. Even with his college experience as an assistant, he is totally unprepared for the unique rigors of college football, in a way that many/most NFL head coaches are unprepared, if they haven't ever been a college head coach (particularly in the last 10 years, as recruiting has become WAY more of a sport than the games themselves).
(Tying the above two items together: TAMU is under fire for only interviewing
Does Bobby Petrino want out? Speaking of the transition from college to the NFL (or vice versa), Bobby Petrino's name came up, as it will for every major college coaching job between now and the day he actually leaves the Falcons for a major college coaching job (which he absolutely will, inevitably). Coaching the Falcons has sucked; his
More: Georgia Tech fires Chan Gailey... Duke fires Ted Roof... Southern Miss' Jeff Bower resigns... In a nice change of pace,
Coach of the Year: Today is your last day to vote in the first stage of the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. After today, the Top 25 list goes to an expert panel (not me, btw) that will use a set of criteria (on and off the field) to pick the Top 10 finalists, which fans and experts will then vote on throughout December. Check out the voting at coachoftheyear.com, and while you're there, check out the blog I have been filing for them all season long in a special partnership between DS.com and the LMCOY Award.
New Deadspin CFB column, out yesterday: Two corrections. (1) Add Virginia Tech to the list of teams worth considering if both Mizzou and
NBA: I will lift my ban on talking about the Mavs long enough to point out that the Arenas-free Wizards hung the first home loss on Dallas of the season (and 3rd straight overall), behind 35 from Caron Butler, who has turned into a front-line (if still highly underrated) NBA star in the absence of Gilbert.
Last night's NBA Stud (Player): Beno Udrih, formerly of the Spurs, who scored 27 and locked down Tony Parker in leading his new team, the Kings, to a decisive upset win in Sacto. (You would have thought that one of the Spurs' main rivals in the West would have been interested in having a guy like Udrih around for the playoffs in the spring.)
NBA Stud (Team): The Magic, who became the first team to 13 wins, with a win over the Blazers in
MLB Hot Stove: Kerry Wood is back with the Cubs. Doesn't that $4.2 million feel a little bit like pity?
Raines is the only one on the list with even an outside shot at making it (most notable record: highest career SB percentage), but all are notable for at least one thing, that thing not necessarily being Hall of Fame worthiness:
Tim Raines began his career involved in MLB's cocaine scandal of the early 80s and ended it wanting to be called "Rock." In between, he was power + speed before that was cool.
David Justice divorced
Brady Anderson had that memorable 50-HR year, back when baseball reporters negligently avoided MLB's growing steroid epidemic.
Shawon Dunston threw, like, 98 MPH from SS to 1B, but had a bit of a target problem. (He's on my 1986 Do-Over team, so I love ya, Shawon!)
Jose Rijo had that sick World Series in 1990 against the goliath A's, going 2-0 with a .59 ERA (against the best-hitting team of the era)
Chuck Finley joins David Justice in the "Hot Ex-Wives Hall of Fame," having been married to Tawny Kitaen.
Chuck Knoblauch won a 1991 World Series ring for the Twins by convincing Lonnie Smith he had a ball in his hands when he didn't.
See: Isn't that so much more fun than yet another argument for/against Goose Gossage or Jim Rice?