Saturday, April 07, 2007

Saturday 04/07 A.M. (Very) Quickie

Quickly picking the top talking points of the day...

NFL: Ricky Williams applies for NFL reinstatement. And they should let him in, too. If he's actually committed to the game this time, he could be a hell of a "free-agent" pickup for the Dolphins.

More NFL: QB David Carr signs with the Panthers. It'll be interesting to see how he can perform with a contender, rather than a bottom-feeder. As a mediocre QB, maybe he just needed a better team around him.

Masters: Tiger is 3 over, but within 5 shots of the lead. If it's "Saturday at the Masters," you know this is when Woods hits the "Turbo" button on K.I.T.T.

NBA: Raptors win first division title ever. And Bryan Colangelo assures his place as the NBA's Executive of the Year. (Watch other GMs tack to apply Colangelo's international flavor to their own team. Guess what: It works.)

More NBA: No 70 wins for the Mavs, and perhaps the Nuggets gave a taste of why they'll be a dangerous out in the West playoffs.

(70 wins is totally overrated, by the way. The Mavs' season is a complete waste – at any number of wins – without an NBA title.)

CBB: Gillispie introduced at Kentucky. My first to-do task would be to meet Ashley Judd, but that's just me. He'll have UK back in the Elite Eight within two years.

MLB: Mets still unbeaten. Even if it's only the first week of the season, the Mets sure do seem to be on a mission this year.

MLB "42" Watch: Now that MLB will let any player wear No. 42 on the day of tribute to Jackie Robinson, the question is no longer who is wearing No. 42, but who ISN'T. Players of any racial background: How can you NOT wear No. 42, if you are allowed to for this one special day? Prediction: Even if players privately won't want to, watch them all do it, if only to avoid being the one who doesn't seem to show appreciation for Robinson.

MLS Season Opens: If there's one thing that ESPN does well, it's promotion. "You're a fan. You just don't know it yet." is right up there for cleverness with the insta-ubiquitous "Is it Monday yet?"

The campaign takes a risk in telling fans what they are, but for a sport like soccer, there's nothing to lose in promoting the "try it" concept.

I'm still curious whether the casual (or "non-") fan should be the target, rather than targeting fans who already are sympathetic to soccer (say, those who played as kids).

-- D.S.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Friday 04/06 A.M. Quickie:
Matsuzaka Mania and More!

Matsuzaka Mania: Worth the money? Worth the hype? Worth the wait?

Um, yes: 7 IP, 1 R, 10 K. Maybe this was a function of it being his first game. Or his first tour through the AL. Or the Royals (though Schilling certainly couldn't handle them). Who cares? He's the most must-see player in baseball right now.

Barnes turns down Kentucky, too? Now UK is left with "Plan C" (at best). That seems to be Texas A&M's Billy Gillispie.

(But didn't Gillispie just agree in principle to stay at Texas A&M? That would be kind of a dick move; I'd argue it might be worse than Nick Saban – all Saban did was lie; Gillespie would be turning his back on an actual agreement. (Apparently, I misunderstood the deal.) Amazingly, Texas A&M is letting him talk to Kentucky (which he must have negotiated with them when he was talking over his new Aggies deal), meaning Gillispie is as good as gone to Lexington. For UK, it's a great move: Gillispie is a tireless recruiter, which is UK's biggest problem right now.)

Masters: 1-over 73 for Tiger in the first round? WTF? Of course, given the way Tiger can/does charge back, his first two days' scores are basically irrelevant. (More Tiger below.)

Billy Donovan staying at Florida: I touched on this yesterday, but it's worth repeating – I figured he would stay and I'm glad he's staying. If he can turn this momentum into a couple of key as-yet-unsigned recruits, he could very well get the Gators BACK to the Final Four in '08.

Florida juniors going pro: No matter how they do in the pros, the foursome "Horford, Noah, Brewer, Green" will always have a place in college lore (along with "Humphrey" and "Richard.")

How will they do in the NBA? Bear with me: I love the NBA Draft and I happen to have seen these guys play a ton, so I have some opinions:

Al Horford (Projected Draft Spot: 3-5). Can be a prototype NBA power forward (with dribbling skills!) Could be the most NBA-ready player in the draft, including Oden and Durant.

Joakim Noah (PDS: 3-10). Say what you want about his skills, but a 7-footer with high energy (and great passing skills) will have a productive (if not All-Star) NBA career. If David Lee can be a 10-rpg player, why can't Noah?

(By "if not All-Star," I mean to say "He will not be an All-Star." I understand why some of you might have misinterpreted a vague phrase.)

Corey Brewer (PDS: 5-15). Did more to improve his draft stock during the Tournament than any other player. Already an NBA-quality defender. Most often compared to Tayshaun Prince, but Brewer is better.

Taurean Green (PDS: 2nd round?). Even if he came back, his draft stock wouldn't go up (Jason Gardner Syndrome), so he might as well leave with his pals, even if he's a 2nd-rounder.

Bob Huggins to West Virginia: K-State's the big loser here, but they knew what they were getting when they brought him in. The worst part is the "What if?" about Huggins' sick recruiting class, which could have vaulted K-State from NIT-worthy to Final Four-worthy next season. Now, you have to believe Michael Beasley will take his NBA-worthy game to Morgantown.

More MLB: Go figure -- the D-Rays still own the Yankees. (And A-Rod blew a chance to win the game, popping up with the bases loaded in the 8th. That'll really endear him with the New York fans.)

MLB Stud: Mike Piazza

Jackie Robinson "42" Homage Watch: Derrek Lee joins the list of players – one per team – that will wear No. 42.

K-Rod investigated by MLB for cheating: When was the last time a blogger spurned an actual MLB investigation. Kudos, Derek Zumsteg. If he can find his niche revealing real-time player cheating, using photos and YouTube to make his case, he's going to be a force. K-Rod insists it's merely rosin.

Arenas blogs after knee surgery: And he seems in good spirits.

"I told them to cut the leg off a couple times. You know, cut it off and then bring it back to me when it was all healed. Because, you know, Heather Mills on Dancing with the Stars, she had that leg. I was saying I could borrow one of those and finish out the season. But they wasn’t going for that."

You can forget Las Vegas getting an NBA team: It's pitch to the league wouldn't restrict NBA gambling. But who knows? Maybe it is SO enticing to have a team there that the NBA will overlook it.

New VarsityDad post(s): Name Tiger's Baby? My money's on "Earl" with the nickname "Cub."

Colin Cowherd: What a Petty Guy. (And that's putting it nicely.) Uses his platform to ruin mind-their-own-business sports-bloggers. Catch up here, here and here. (Oh, and here.) What's the difference between this and telling his listeners to torch a mom-and-pop store down the block? (There's talk that what he did violated FCC code, which would be an interesting development.) By the way, the word is that his new nickname is "Schrutebag."

RIP Darryl Stingley: In all seriousness, there is no statute of limitations on manslaughter. And if Jack Tatum's hit on him then directly contributed to his death now, that's what it was.

Sopranos Returns: Oh, I might be late to the party with this, but this is genius.

-- D.S.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

PM Quickie: Donovan Staying! (Yes!)
Arenas Out 2-3 Months! (No!)

What a good-news/bad-news situation for me today:

Good news: Billy Donovan is staying at Florida
. I really thought this would happen, but I'm relieved that it's "official" nonetheless. (Until the NBA comes calling...) He's got a hell of a recruiting class coming, too. Final Four threepeat in '08? Why not? (You mock, sure, but when Donovan lost Lee, Roberson and Walsh two years ago and had four anonymous, inexperienced rising sophomores entering the starting lineup, you didn't see '06 coming either.)

Meanwhile, this has to throw Kentucky into a frenzy. They obviously can have their choice of (almost) any coach. So who will it be? How about Billy Gillespie, who just signed a deal to stay at Texas A&M? How about Jay Wright from Villanova? Or how about Texas' Rick Barnes?

Bad news: Gilbert Arenas is done for the season, out 2-3 months with a knee injury that will require surgery. The season's biggest breakout NBA star -- and my favorite player -- done. Think back to the "Agent Zero" mania back before the All-Star Break. Now this. Ugh. (Oh, and without both Arenas and Butler, the Wizards might as well not even show up for the playoffs. Yeesh. Without those two, that could be the worst team in the NBA.)

Plus: Bob Huggins is indeed going to West Virginia. Kind of a dick move. K-State rescued his unemployable ass (though it's not like they didn't get something out of it, too). They go from a team on the cusp of a sick season to... old K-State. Especially when that awesome recruiting class backs out and heads to... oh, I don't know... maybe Morgantown, WV? Wonder what top prep and K-State commit Michael Beasley is thinking right now? (I know: "See ya!")

I will be wearing my custom-made Agent Zero T-shirt and my official Florida basketball game shorts the rest of the day, as homage to this ultimate good-news/bad-news afternoon.

-- D.S.

Thursday 04/05 A.M. Quickie:
MLB Preview Continues: Awards!

Continuing our belated MLB Season Preview...

Today: Awards Picks!

NL MVP: Carlos Beltran
NL Cy: Ben Sheets
NL Rookie: Tim Lincecum
NL Manager: Willie Randolph

AL MVP: Grady Sizemore
AL Cy: Daisuke Matsuzaka
AL Rookie: Alex Gordon
AL Manager: Eric Wedge

* - Why not Matsuzaka for AL ROY? I predict AL award voters age-discriminate against Matsuzaka (particularly factoring in a backlash after they must give him the Cy).

Give out your own awards in the Comments.

MLB Wrap: Break up the Nats! 9th-inninng rally gives DC their first win of the season (in a season where wins are expected to be few and far between).

Crushing the Cards (again) may not be much solace for the Mets from last year's NLCS disappointment, but it might foreshadow better times for the Mets THIS season.

Stud (hitter): Grady Sizemore
Stud (pitcher): Ted Lilly

Bonds hits HR No. 1 of '07. 'Nuff said.

Extra Innings to stay on cable: Fans win! Fans win! In a nice bit of common sense in action, MLB will keep "Extra Innings" available to cable subscribers. (Now: All those fans who were griping BETTER pony up and buy the thing.)

Kudos to Ken Griffey for planning to wear Jackie Robinson's 42 jersey on the anniversary of Robinson's entry into the majors. And kudos to MLB for extending the offer to every team. Which players will step up? (At least one MANAGER will: Willie Randolph will wear 42, too.)

Via sports-media guru Richard Deitsch of, TBS has signed Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn to be part of their broadcast team. This is a fantastic move -- star power AND solid analysis. I'm totally curious how Ripken will do.

Masters: As usual, the key question is "Tiger or the Field?"

The pick: Usually, I take "The Field" (with no dis meant against Tiger), but given Tiger's pending fatherhood and his imminent Varsity Dad status, I think this year I'm going to go with the dad-to-be.

(Wow: Was it really 10 years ago that Tiger won his first Masters in that dominating style? I would argue that golf's current era began that weekend, even though Tiger was a pro before.)

NBA: Gilbert Arenas injures knee in the ultimate karmic boomerang. Any season that began as stunningly well as his did would HAVE to end miserably, right? It's just the Wizards Way. Given the fact it suddenly looks like the Wiz won't get out of the first round of the playoffs, can they trade their playoff spot to a Lottery team in the East in exchange for a better draft pick?

(Meanwhile, promising Blazers rookie LaMarcus Aldridge is out indefinitely with some weird kind of heart issue. He was looking really good in March; let's hope he's OK for the long-term.)

NBA Draft Watch: In what might have been called "The Durant Game," the Celtics proved more interested in their draft status than winning the game against their bottom-feeding rival, the Bucks. More power (and Ping-Pong balls) to Boston. In a head-to-head matchup of the dregs, with perhaps Kevin Durant on the line, winning is losing.

Billy Donovan Watch: He wants some time to "decompress" before making his decision. That doesn't sound like someone who seems 100 percent committed to his current gig. But he hasn't heard Florida's pitch yet. (Or Kentucky's, for that matter.)

More coaching carousel: Is Bob Huggins going to jump from Kansas State to West Virginia? If he did, he sure would be screwing over the players he connived into going there. (Of course, top prepster Michael Beasley would be able to get out of his commitment and, say, re-commit to WVU.)

Women's Hoops: Candace Parker didn't enter the WNBA Draft, and you have to install defending champ Tennessee as the team to beat next season. Will women's hoops get a repeat of their own to rival the men's?

Eddie Robinson, R.I.P.: Hope you've been enjoying all of the columns in appreciation of late Grambling coach Eddie Robinson. After reading everything, I can't believe he wouldn't make everyone's all-time college coach Top 5.

Finally: Reggie Bush is apparently NOT banned from the Playboy Mansion. I'm sure you'll all sleep better. (h/t: Fanhouse)

Bonus! Just saw this in today's NYT Op-Ed section. Does it woozily remind you how this blog sometimes works?

-- D.S.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wednesday 04/04 A.M. Quickie:
MLB Preview Begins (Belatedly)

With college hoops behind us, I'm thrilled to transition back to the usual shallow analysis -- and to the start of the baseball season this week.

(Yesterday's MLB "Studs and Duds" in the Comments showed everyone is back in Morning Quickie form. Hope to see everyone chime in daily on that topic.)

UPDATE: Speaking of baseball, that's the theme of the next Varsity Letters Reading Series TONIGHT at Happy Ending in NYC (302 Broome on the L.E.S.). Great lineup: BP folks, Jonah Keri and more, including haiku(!) After March's wild event, it's THE must-attend event of the month.

Since I have completely blown any shot at a reasonable MLB preview, I'm going to limit it to three specific topics over the next three days. (Today: Top Storylines. Thursday: Awards Picks. Friday: Playoff Picks.)

So let's start with the season's Top MLB Storylines. Feel free to offer up your own in the Comments section. These happen to be the ones that I personally think will be most fascinating or intriguing:

1. Bonds passes Aaron. Yes, everyone hates Bonds and half the fans don't even want to see him do it. But it's so momentous that it commands our attention.

2. New Cubs ownership. Technically, this won't really become an issue until AFTER the 2007 season, but expect rumors to run wild over the next six months. It is, after all, the biggest brand name in the National League (and probably Top 2 in MLB, behind the Yankees).

3. Curt Schilling's blog. Have you been following 38Pitches? It's quite ground-breaking, in terms of the real-time self-analysis he's willing to engage in. It's sort of like Cuban's BlogMaverick, but to get the unfiltered p.o.v. of a star PLAYER in mid-season seems unprecedented. Disintermediating the mainstream media? Advantage: Schilling. (And keep in mind: I used to really dislike Schilling. But this feels different from his usual media whoredom. He has reinvented himself as baseball's leading independent voice.)

4. Yankees-Red Sox rivalry. Wow, how I wish this wasn't the dominant rivalry in baseball. But it is. Suddenly, the Yankees are thrifty and the Red Sox are panic-spending. All the while, the Mets are about to eclipse the Yankees as the city's best team (if it hasn't happened already).

5. Surprises. The REAL intrigue of any season are the things you can't possibly predict. The breakouts. The sensations. The unexpected successes (or failures). And, of course, the steroid allegations.

Women's NCAA Tournament: Vols crush Rutgers. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't exciting. Just more Summitt, one more reason why the debate over "Best Basketball Coach on the Planet" isn't one -- Summitt has ended any argument. (Think about that for a second: A women's basketball coach is the inarguable, consensus pick as the best basketball coach, male or female. In a college hoops world dominated by the men's side, this is pretty impressive.)

CBB Coaching Carousel: Dana Altman humiliates Arkansas. A day after taking the job, Altman quits and returns to Creighton. Of course, the last time we saw something like this, Bill Belichick was quitting the Jets to coach the Pats, and that turned out OK for him.

Billy Packer is a Jackass, Cont'd: "You always fag out." Caught on tape, no less. On Charlie Rose, no less.

Look: Either Packer intentionally used the word "fag" or didn't realize that using the word "fag" is wrong. Either way, it's a pretty good pretense to dump him. Who wouldn't want to see, say, Bill Raftery calling the Final Four? Bring a little joy back to the game, that's for sure.

(This isn't Packer's first pejorative. There was that "tough monkey" comment a decade ago. If that had happened in 2007, I guarantee you he would have been fired the next day. Hopefully, this latest slur will remind people of that other one; no statute of limitations on his stupidity.)

More: Gail Goestenkors leaves Duke for Texas, realizing that the massive-state-school life is more conducive to winning championships.

(In the middle of this Billy Donovan-Kentucky discussion, I'd love to hear what people would have told Coach K to do in April 1992 if he had been offered the job at, say, Kentucky or Indiana or UCLA. At that point, he would have been at Duke roughly the same amount of time as Donovan has been at Florida, with roughly the same success. And, at that point, Duke wasn't "Duke" yet. Would all of the analysts and experts still be telling him to bolt for the "name" program?)

MLB Wrap: The Pirates (and Xavier Nady!) continue to baffle the Astros in the late innings. Lidge, Wheeler: It doesn't matter... Marlins Mania: Florida is 2-0 for only the second time in 15 seasons... Hitting Stud: Ian Kinsler, Vlad Guerrero; pitching Stud: El Duque... Bud Selig earned $14.5 million last year? That actually seems reasonable for a major sport commissioner.

NBA Wrap: Heat beat the Raptors. As Toronto is the sexy pick in the East (and Miami the stodgy), it was revealing to see the Heat (still without Wade) beat the Raptors. Again, my NBA playoffs mantra: "Heat Repeat."

NFL: Will Roger Goodell be able to ban players for life for off-field criminal offenses that are bad enough? That's what he wants. And I'm not sure fans will mind he has that power, though "for life" is a hell of a punishment to wield. I thought "banned for the season" is pretty rough. Hell, even the Soup Nazi only banned Elaine for one year.

WNBA: Rare mention for the WNBA! But I'd say that if you're going to have league intrigue, why not have it be that your draft is the day after the college national title game, where the star player – sophomore Candace Parker – had roughly 12 hours to figure out if she wanted to go pro early through a draft-rules loophole and set a milestone in her sport. She would be the No. 1 overall pick. Her decision comes at 10; the draft is at 1. Talk about "on the clock!"

Wish I Thought of It: Rookiepedia, an all-in-one reference for NFL Draft prospects. Kudos to creator Brian Bassett. Definitely something not only to check out throughout the month, but to contribute to.

06/07 Florida vs. 91/92 Duke: The Offseason Debate of the Year. Feel free to wander over to yesterday's Comments section to read more about this. But at least one other blogger, The Big Lead, would take UF, too. Maybe we both smoke the same brand of crack.

Rest in peace, Eddie Robinson. One of the greatest college football coaches of all time. Would he go in the All-Time Top 5? (Wow, what a great question. Who's in contention? Paterno, Bryant, Osborne, Wilkinson, Bowden? I'd put Robinson up with any of those guys.)

Here are a bunch of great supporting stats about Robinson (via Cold Hard Football Facts). Win that argument!

-- D.S.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Tuesday 04/03 A.M. Quickie:
Florida's Finale and MLB Openings

Florida beats Ohio State for back-to-back NCAA titles. For the sake of keeping things on this post more free-flowing, I'll point you to the post directly below to make your comments about the NCAA title game and to argue about Florida's place historically.

I personally would rank this Florida as the best team of the post-'85 era and certainly as the best starting five of all time. (It's hard to argue they aren't, given they are the first complete starting five to win two straight titles.) I'll be interested to see how fans, bloggers, media and "experts" come down on this topic, both now and as history allows for more perspective.

(That post below's third comment down ended up as my additional commentary on what I see as the main argument over the best team of the "modern" (post-'85) era of college hoops: '91-92 Duke vs. '06-07 Florida. You could make the case that '90-91 UNLV was a better team than both, but (a) the Rebels weren't a repeat champ and (b) Duke beat them head-to-head in '91. I think this Florida team is better than both.)

But the larger point is probably worth making, and the Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi beat me to it: You won't see this again in college hoops -- three NBA Lottery-bound stars all putting off the pros to stick around to repeat as champs. You can dislike the team for a lot of reasons, but at least appreciate that kind of novelty.

Tournament M.O.P.: Corey Brewer was the most outstanding player on the winning team, but it's hard to disagree that Greg Oden wasn't the most outstanding overall. His last college game was his best college game in his biggest college game. (Does beating back the most talented college center of the last 20 years having his best game ever improve the Gators' "all-time-best" argument?)

NBA Draft Futures: Oden locked himself in at No. 1. Horford is locked in the Top 5. I think Joakim slipped a little (3-10). Corey Brewer improved his stock (from 15-22 to 10-16). Taurean Green would go undrafted; if he came out Mike Conley would be a mid-first-round pick. And I think that Gators 6th man Chris Richard could be a surprise first-round pick.

Tournament Challenge: The post below also includes the final results of the Daily Quickie Readers group, including this year's champ (C. Mills) and an 18th-place performance (out of 1,200!) by my 10-month-old. Congrats to everyone who placed higher than the National Bracket of 83.3 percentile (ironically, the same percentile I ended up in).

2007 Name of the Year Bracket: Vanilla Dong wins.

MLB Opening Day: Here's what I want to know – who had Gil Meche outdueling Curt Schilling and the Royals beating the living snot out of the Red Sox? For one day: "Gil Meche, Best Free Agent Signing Ever."

Again, put your NCAA Tournament comments in the post below. In THIS post, let's revive the old Morning Quickie tradition of MLB "Studs" and "Duds." Can't wait for your nominations. (Let me throw a few out there: Adam Dunn, Ben Sheets, King Felix.)

College Hoops Coaching Carousel: Dana Altman to Arkansas. That's a big step up from Creighton. Iowa hires Todd Lickliter. Butler obviously has an awesome track record at developing big-time coaches. They'll both do well. (And, as expected, WVU's John Beilein is bringing his complex offense and gimmicky defense to Michigan. Big Ten coaches' tape-work just got a lot harder.)

OK, so what happens to Billy Donovan NOW? I think he'll politely listen to Kentucky's offer, then let Florida not only match it financially, but exceed it, making him the highest-paid coach in college basketball. (Of course, it's not like he doesn't deserve to be.)

Women's Tournament: What's the chance that Tennessee's Candace Parker has as dominating a performance as Greg Oden? Without a strong rooting interest, I have to go with the novelty of Rutgers over yet another affirmation that Pat Summitt is the world's best basketball coach.

NBA: Dwyane Wade practices pain-free. Your best-bet is to join me on the "Heat Repeat" bandwagon now, before it gets too crowded in mid-May.

OK, so men's college hoops season is over. I'm happy with how college hoops' "post-Oden Era" worked out -- the regular season was filled with parity, freshmen DID turn out to be pretty good for the game and the tournament, while lacking sustained drama or Cinderellas, ended with the rare combination of dominance AND novelty. But it's time to move on.

Baseball has started. Around the corner is the NFL Draft and the NBA Playoffs, with perhaps a little spring college football for good measure. Welcome to the spring.

-- D.S.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Florida: Best. Team. Ever.
(But I'll Settle for "Best of '07")

Florida beats Ohio State to win back-to-back NCAA Tournament titles, staking its claim as one of the best college teams ever. (Perhaps THE best. At least they're in the argument.)

And certainly this starting five should go down as college hoops' greatest ever. (Not to diminish the efforts of having a spectacular bench. Chris Richard will play in the NBA.)

I think what makes it most special is the era they did it in: Bridging the gap between the "post-KG Era" of NBA early-entry and the new "post-Oden Era" of mandatory college P.T.

Florida's three biggest stars all could have gone pro a year ago after the first title; they gave up the NBA millions in the short term for the chance to come back to school and make history. And they did.

You can hate Joakim. You can hate Florida. You can hate UF's run of titles in hoops and football. But if you love college hoops, you have to appreciate what this group chose to do -- and did.

The stars can go pro knowing they have created a new standard not just for Florida or the NCAA Tournament, but in the sport. The seniors can move on to whatever is next for them. The remaining players have learned how champions perform. Billy Donovan can do whatever he wants (though I'll sincerely be surprised if he leaves for Kentucky). This unique mini-dynasty ends particularly neatly.

Meanwhile, in the Daily Quickie Readers pool, congrats to J. Mills, who won the Daily Quickie Readers group this year. (I finished in the respectable 83.3st percentile, ironically exactly the same as if I'd used the National Bracket.)

My 10-month-old finished in sole possession of 18th -- out of more than 1,200. I'm not sure I'll ever be more proud.

In the end, what a great night for the Gators -- and Gators fans. Beaming as "One Shining Moment" ended, my wife reminded me that while it's nice I've been a Florida fan for the five years I've known her, she's been a Gators fan for her entire life -- basketball even more than football. I like to boast that my fandom today is as strong as any lifer's, but I found myself envious of her lifetime of passion for the team and pride for what they just accomplished. It DID mean more to her.

And she's right: It's more than a title this time. It's history.

-- D.S.

Florida vs. Ohio State:
National Championship Live-Comment

Let's get your final pre-game (plus in-game and post-game) analysis of the national title game between Florida and Ohio State.

I've got one final Florida-related post on Deadspin: "What a win would mean for Florida." Be sure to check it out! (It includes a dig at both Joakim Noah AND Duke... something for everyone!)

Want to re-live the Florida-Ohio State live-comment from the football championship game? Here's the link to that post.

Again: I am picking Florida to win (and if they lose, I will be devastated).

Monday 04/02 A.M. Quickie:
Why Florida Will Beat Ohio State (Hint: Again)

Tonight's NCAA title game is about history. Either Florida repeats as champs or they are denied.

(The Ohio State-winning angle is great, too: OSU winning would be the absolute affirmation of the NBA age limit, at least in terms of proving that NBA-quality 18-year-olds can dominate college hoops. Whee!)

I want to refine a few points inspired by Saturday night's post:

Florida's 26-point beatdown of OSU back in December is important. Yes, the game was in Gainesville, OSU was green and, yes, Greg Oden wasn't nearly the player he is now. Two points: (1) Oden still has to contend with Florida's impossibly deep three-headed post monster, and (2) Oden isn't 26 points better (and neither is moving the game to a neutral court).

Remember how when Oden went out against Georgetown with foul trouble, the Hoyas couldn't figure out how to stop the smaller Buckeyes lineup? Florida has already seen that lineup, back in December. And they dominated it. So don't expect Florida to be befuddled like Georgetown was if/when Oden sits with his inevitable foul trouble against the parade of Gators big men.

In short: The match-ups remain difficult for OSU. But here's one in their favor: Mike Conley is playing out of his mind right now; UF's Taurean Green is playing like ass. So OSU's X-factor is Conley -- at both ends.

Florida's X-factor? Their collective sense of... what do you call it? Destiny? Entitlement? Accomplishment? History? Motivation? This game is why they came back, and they won't be denied. Pick: Florida.

Tournament Challenge: In the uber-competitive, 1,200-player "Daily Quickie Readers" group, it's down to two guys. If Florida wins, "C. Mills" is the winner; if OSU wins, "C. West" is the winner.

If you used the National Bracket to make your picks, you would be beating 91 percent of the other competitors right now. (But you would have had to root for Ohio State to win the title.)

I'm currently running in the 68th percentile, with a chance to move up slightly if Florida wins. Another weak showing.

(Amazingly, my 10-month-old son's entry -- filled out by his mom -- is in the 96th percentile, 49th overall out of more than 1,200. That's not as good as his in utero finish last year, when he came in tied for 30th out of more than 10,000 entries, but this year's finish ain't bad.)

MLB Opening Night: Mets thump Cards, 6-1, reminding everyone that regular-season "rematches" of deciding playoff games are not the same thing.

I'd like to know from Mets fans (or a fan of any team ever in the Mets position): Is there ANY extra meaning to the win? Or does it make the previous season's ending even more bittersweet?

(I will say this: As an indication of what's to come THIS season, it looks like the Mets offense is ready to carry what seems like shaky pitching – though not so shaky last night.)

MLB Opening Day! I'm going to put up a standalone post later this morning beginning my belated MLB preview coverage. Needless to say, if you're in a fantasy league, there's no instant history like the first day, when unclaimed FA's suddenly get snatched up off of great Game 1 performances.

MLB: Cubs to be sold after '07 season. Given the brand value and simply the cachet of owning this team, forget the astronomical number. Who will be the buyer? Mark Cuban? Somone more local? This will be one of the Top 5 biggest intrigues of the season.

Women's Final Four: Rutgers ends the LSU run, meaning that LSU now has to face the mess of its program's situation. Meanwhile, Tennessee vanquishes UNC, in one of the great Tar Heel choke-jobs since... well, since last weekend. Looking ahead: Given the Lady Vols' dominance over the decades, how can you not root for li'l ol' Rutgers?

College Hoops Coaching Carousel: Michigan wants WVU's John Beilein, and I love the hire. He's less about marquee recruits (which Michigan can't land anymore) and more about brilliant Xs and Os scheming. (Meanwhile, Southern Illinois is going to keep Chris Lowery... for now.)

NBA Injury Good: Dwyane Wade will return to practice with the Heat today. Given the Heat's secure playoff position, if I was him I would focus on rehab until Miami faces a playoff elimination game, then come back -- healed enough -- and lead them to a repeat title.

NBA Injury Bad: Well, that's the end of the Wizards. A team that was already faltering down the stretch lost All-Star "Robin" Caron Butler to a broken hand. Longtime Bullets/Wiz fans knew this was bound to happen.

NBA Sunday Wrap: How lame and worthless is the end of the NBA regular season? So lame that a game between the Mavs and Suns was an off-the-radar snoozer.

Is there any sport where the two biggest contenders in the league can play in the final stretch of the regular season and have it be a complete non-event?

(Between this year and last year, the Suns will have a healthy Amare and the Mavs will have an unretired Kevin Willis. Given that, who do YOU give the nod to in the playoffs between them?)

Michael Phelps Watch: The final tally? Seven gold medals. Five world records. Ridiculous. Bring on Beijing.

LPGA: Morgan Pressel is the new Michelle Wie. The 18-year-old Pressel became the youngest winner ever of an LPGA major, and I expect her status to skyrocket.

(A few years ago, I remember watching her as an amateur in the hunt at the 2005 US Women's Open, and I just remember she was so freaking competitive, she made Tiger look tame. Oh, and with this win, she takes over as the greatest active Jewish athlete.)

Speaking of MLB, the blog Rumors and Rants had a thing where they asked people for their favorite all-time MLB player. My answer: Ryne Sandberg.

It was interesting that I immediately filtered the question as my favorite CHILDHOOD player, as if your favorite player back during your formative years of fanhood (ages 10-14 or thereabouts) have greater weight than a player you may develop a love for as an adult.

So, obviously, I want to know who was YOUR favorite MLB player? (Or "is," if that's the case.)

Big Picture's "Would You Do?" Tournament reaches title game: It's 1-seed Erin Andrews vs. 6-seed Stacey Dales. I expect yet another title for the Gators. Vote here. launches! Another great site for Jason Gurney, impresario of the empire. tracks the action on more than 1,600 sports blogs, and I highly recommend as a bookmark and regular stop in your rotation. Congrats on another terrific product, Jason and Co.

Happy Passover to those of you who are celebrating tonight. It goes without saying that we're having a mellifluously nicknamed "Gator Seder."

-- D.S.