Friday, April 13, 2007
I've been fascinated by the MLB "42" tribute to Jackie Robinson this weekend. What began as a Ken Griffey tribute turned into 150 players -- even entire teams -- wearing No. 42. (Here's a full list.)
Does more equal better? Does it cheapen the tribute? Does every player have a right to show respect in the way they want? (Garret
I'm curious how you feel about it, and what you would do if you were an MLB player on Sunday. Personally, I would wear the "42" because it represents a unique moment -- if no longer a unique way -- to honor Robinson, who deserves every honor that MLB and fans ever give him.
Robinson's entry into Major League Baseball continues to rank as the most significant event in the history of American sports.
For Florida fans (and Duke fans) only, I presume. But I know
many some of you are. (Simply put: Best. T-Shirt. Ever. Probably getting its own post later this a.m., and not just because I co-produced them. Well, OK: Yes, just because I co-produced them.)
NFL Draft: Thanks to everyone who chipped in with their GM-style opinions about who I/we should take with the first overall pick in the Sports Blogger NFL Mock Draft. I'm not supposed to give away the answer until the draft is revealed on Monday, but suffice to say I went with the Best Player Available. And you all know who that is.
(Via ProFootballTalk and the NFL Net, it's not like I'm crazy with the pick. The Raiders are apparently totally torn between QB Russell and WR Johnson. If they go with Russell, the rumor is that the Lions will pick Johnson with the intention of trading him. But given the other rumors that Brett Favre is talking about the certainty that Randy Moss will be in
Must-Read of the Day: ESPN ombudswoman Leanne Schreiber on the shouting-head culture of ESPN, probably the most reasonable and credible analysis -- of anything -- that has been on the site in a while. And perhaps the best piece of sports-media criticism of the year.
NFL Moves: WR David Patten signs with Saints. Who wants to bet that, in that system, with those players around him, he has a rebound year? Smart move for both sides.
NBA: Who would have guessed that it was Dwyane Wade's knee, not his shoulder, that would be cause for concern right now?
NBA Draft/Lottery Watch: With the Celtics ready to clinch the second-worst record with a loss to the Bucks tonight, isn't it quaint that Doc Rivers continues to insist his team isn't tanking. Please, Doc: Keep winning just enough to slip out of that No. 2 spot. See how that works out for you...
NBA Playoffs Watch: Gutsy win by the Clippers over the Lakers, despite
I salute you,
MLB: Nats win! Nats win! (And they blank the Braves in doing it, too.) Meanwhile, Mark Prior has "shoulder discomfort?" OK, who had "April 12" in the pool... Speaking of office pools, who had "April 12" for Gil Meche's inevitable injury?
College Football: Turn back the clock. After a brutal one-year experiment that drew criticism from -- well -- everyone, the NCAA changed the clock rules back to the 2005 way of doing things. The ends of many games just got a lot more exciting.
Olympics: Should the USOC pick
Duke LAX, cont'd: I'm not surprised the players didn't accept the apology of overzealous DA Mike Nifong. They have no obligation to. But they could go a long way in beginning to repair their tarnished reps by doing it, whether he truly deserves it or not. At this point, it's not about absolving Nifong but elevating themselves.
Imus, Cont'd: Fired by CBS, too. I continue to be amazed at how NBC is handling this -- they recognize that in this era of media scrutiny and consumer power, being transparent(-ish) and fairly reactive(-ish) is better than the traditional tactics of obfuscation and delay, which is basically how Imus had kept his job through the years. (My question: How do all those media and political "elites" he brought on as guests justify their affiliation with him? Answer: They can't.)
Meanwhile, Stuart Scott has clarified his "it's good to be a 'ho" remarks from earlier this week. I appreciate the added nuance (absent before), but he still seems to be approving of the word's use. (Not sure why he simply wouldn't say, "You know what? I was totally wrong. It's NEVER okay to use that word.")
Yahoo buying Rivals.com for $100 million? Bold move for Yahoo for, as one sports-business insider told me, a "glorified message board." But I don't think he meant that derisively. It IS, by far, the best sports message board system found anywhere. Perhaps because of the subscription hurdle, but the users who participate seem to care a lot more than your standard message-board fan. And the info/rumors feeding those boards is amazing. Any college sports reporter who isn't a Rivals.com subscriber should be axed for incompetence.
Happy birthday, Mom.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
What was the greatest sporting event you ever saw live in-person?
I'll start: 1996 Rose Bowl.
Looking forward to what you all contribute on this...
We're on the clock! I have the first overall pick (picking for the Raiders) in the 2007 Sports Blogger NFL Mock Draft. Obviously, I want your help. Calvin Johnson? JaMarcus Russell? (Brady Quinn? HE would say so.) Trade the pick? Be sure to weigh in (use the dedicated post below).
Matsuzaka vs. Ichiro: 3R, 8H, 7 IP for Matsuzaka, but the key stat was that he dominated Ichiro, who was 0-4 against him. Of course, both were eclipsed by King Felix, who allowed only a single hit and has snapped back into the form that made him a phenom two years ago. On a day where Dice-K was supposed to earn the honor, King Felix is today's Stud.
Does Johan Santana want out of
Wow, the Nats are bad. Epically bad. (As predicted here! What an awesome season for me to become a Nats fan.) They aren't just losing, but losing badly. As I said in that preview linked above, there is a huge can't-look-away factor when you consider that this has the prospects of being the worst baseball team of all time. Hey, it could be worse.
All-Time Gold Glove team voting update: Willie Mays leads all players in total votes. Ozzie Smith leads at SS. Johnny Bench leads at C. Greg Maddux leads at P.
The most intriguing position battle to watch? A
NFL Schedule: I can't possibly do an analysis justice. Always note-worthy: Pats-Colts, Favre's Farewell. I defer to PFT. Feel free to add your own scheduling intrigues in the Comments.
NFL Draft: As alluded to at the top, Brady Quinn insists he can be The Man. Here's the question: Is Quinn the next Peyton Manning (skilled college player who couldn't win the big one in college, but – after 10 years – finally can do it in the NFL?) or the next Rick Mirer (over-hyped Notre Dame QB who simply can't make it in the NFL)?
NBA Draft: Brandan Wright – in or out? He's a guaranteed Top 5 pick this year (3-5, probably closer to 3 than 5). Next year, he's probably... STILL 3-5 (given Michael Beasley and OJ Mayo turning pro ASAP). I'd come out now, even though he isn't ready. Then again, did people think Chris Bosh was ready? No, and now he's MVP-worthy.
(Meanwhile, is Greg Oden really contemplating returning to
Drew Bledsoe retires: Looking back on his career, would you say that he was worth that No. 1 overall draft pick? (What does it say that his most significant moment as a pro was getting injured and paving the way for Tom Brady's emergence?) CHFF has a must-read.
NBA: Pistons lock up East HCA with a win over Orlando, who they might play in the first round. TankWatch: The Celtics have the right idea; I'm not quite sure what the Sixers have been thinking this second half of the season. (Meanwhile, my god, the Wizards are reeling. It's a bad week for DC-area teams.)
NHL Playoffs: Canucks beat Stars in 4 OT. (Yes, but were you watching/awake when it happened? Didn't think so.)
Sports Media: SI knows who pays the bills. Zach Johnson won the Masters. So, naturally, the player featured on the cover of this week's SI is... Tiger Woods. (Psst: SI is in the business of selling magazines first. Tiger sells; Johnson doesn't. It's that simple. But, wow, that was pretty blatant.)
Imus cancelled on MSNBC: Upon further reflection throughout the day yesterday, I regret that I said yesterday morning that I'm not sure I would fire Imus, instead hedging that I simply couldn't understand why anyone would listen to him. I'm glad he was dropped by MSNBC, and I found NBC News' public scrutiny -- of itself -- to be admirable. (What did it: Public pressure? Internal pressure? Advertiser pressure? I think it's hard to single out one factor; it was everything.) I predict CBS will drop him, too. (And then he'll get picked up by someone else and continue to have a platform.)
Meanwhile, check out this post from Michael David Smith on AOL Fanhouse, catching Stuart Scott defending the use of the word "ho." What the hell is Scott thinking? Seriously. He's not just wrong, but why in the hell would you take that position publicly?
Duke LAX: Charges dropped. As someone who was out front on this when it first broke, ready to convict the kids, I'm absolutely ready to admit that I was very wrong (although if sports media didn't have knee-jerk conclusions, they wouldn't have conclusions).
I will continue to contend that these lacrosse guys are guilty of being douchebags -- for example, innocent or guilty, there was no need for the team to have some sort of "blue wall" of silence when cops were first asking questions -- but they have been cleared of raping that woman.
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Awful Announcing is brilliantly running a Sports Blogger Mock Draft. Here's a link to the post unveiling the order and participants.
I lucked into picking for the Raiders*, which means I have the first overall pick in the draft.
Obviously, I'm not making this pick without your input, so it's on the table (and you're on the clock): Who should I (uh, the Raiders) take?
(Or should I trade the pick? If so, to who? How far down? And what should I ask for in return?)
I have to get AA my pick by end-of-day tomorrow, so let's work on this until mid-day tomorrow.
I figure that if I/we keep the pick, there aren't THAT many choices: Calvin Johnson (per FanIQ)? JaMarcus Russell? Someone else? (Especially if you're arguing I should trade down.) Please offer up some type of argument of why I should take a particular player.
(But if you see the argument made previously in the comments, no need to repeat. Just reference the argument in shorthand or say the player name and "what so-and-so said" as the reasoning.)-- D.S.
* - If you're curious: Yes, I originally asked to pick for the Jaguars, but they were claimed. Can you believe that? Obviously, my fandom -- which began, as you might remember, last September -- has inspired a massive crush of fellow bandwagoneers.
Matsuzaka versus Ichiro: Prediction! More people will watch this game in
Rutgers Women's Hoops vs. Don Imus: Media is so full of phonies, frauds and caricatures that it is arresting to see the kind of authenticity and sincerity and realness that the
(It's not that I think Imus should be terminated, per se, but I mostly can't understand why anyone would listen to him – and I am even more incredulous why news-media "guests" would suckle at Imus' teat. So-called journalists who pander to him are the ones with the bigger problem. How can any self-respecting media type appear on his show now?)
PacMan Jones vs. Roger Goodell: The punishment seems pretty harsh, but Pac-Man has been such a complete ass (not to mention an embarrassment to the league), that I'm glad to see Goodell taking a stand. It's an assertion of power by an NFL Commish that is so aggressively novel. As Stephen Colbert might say, "NFL Players (and Employees): You're on Notice."
Bonus! Chris Henry vs. Roger Goodell: Henry was suspended 8 games, and the severity had to be a product of the NFL's overall frustration with the entire Bengals organization.
Kevin Durant vs. the NBA: See yesterday's "Lead Item" post for my full take on Durant in the NBA. Needless to say, I don't know what's going to be more fun -- the NBA Draft Lottery or actually seeing him play once he's on a team.
(Arron Afflalo vs. the NBA: Here's hoping he doesn't see defenders like Corey Brewer every night. I've read he's late-first at best, but 6-foot-5 shooting guards are a dime-a-dozen in the NBA. Welcome to the D-League. Here's the thing: Another year of college won't help his NBA stock. Kind of like Tyler Hansbrough. Except Afflalo wants to cash in; Hansbrough figures he might as well stay and continue racking up the college accolades before NBA oblivion.)
Hank Aaron vs. Barry Bonds: Aaron won't be attending when Bonds breaks his record. He seems to be sick of all the hype, but I think he's doing a disservice to baseball by not being there.
Brendan Donnelly vs. Jose Guillen: Nice to see that old feuds stay warm over multiple seasons.
NBA Regular Season Ending vs. Integrity: I always get in trouble for suggesting that teams "tank" for various reasons (draft order, playoff seeding, avoiding injuries), and yet, where's the outrage that the Pistons (among others) are basically going to phone it in (it's being called an "exhibition-season rotation") until the playoffs. How is that not the same as tanking games, just without using the word "tank." There IS no outrage: Because tanking is perfectly acceptable under the right circumstances.
Billy Gillispie vs. Billy Donovan: Give Gillispie the edge for recruiting in the High School Class of 2009. He got his first commitment from a Top 20-ranked 16-year-old soph PG from...
Michael Irvin vs. Shawn Vandergrift: After being sued by the disabled contractor, Irvin has counter-sued. Of COURSE he has. (Vandergrift: a Dickensian name for a contractor if ever there was one, agreed?)
The Webbys vs. Sports Bloggers: No offense to any of the Webby nominees in the "Best Sports Site" category, but WTF?! No "DanShanoff.com," I can certainly understand. But no Deadspin? No Kissing Suzy Kolber? No Fanhouse? No Dugout? (I could go on. I'll refrain.) Well, at least Colin Cowherd's Webcast wasn't on the list. Success.
Kissing Suzy Kolber vs. the Ladies...: This one has already been won. There's nothing like a good guest-post, so be sure to stop by KSK today for a taste of the Ladies... Crew, running their site today, off of an NCAA Tournament bracket-picking bet.
Finally: NFL Regular-Season Schedule revealed today at 1 p.m. Expect to see a lot of mainstream and blog analysis of the best, worst, easiest, hardest, coolest, lamest, etc. -- and that's by TEAM.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Kevin Durant turning pro: Durant was the most talented college player last season.
He was the most dominant freshman ever, at least if you believe the awards (Carmelo Anthony fans from
Here's the question: Exactly what kind of NBA player will Durant be? I agree with those who think he is destined to be a perennial All-Star; I disagree with those who think he will somehow "redefine" the forward position in the NBA.
As far as I can tell, he possesses a game remarkably similar to Dirk Nowitzki. Given that Dirk arrived in the NBA a decade ago, I'd say that "redefining the position" thing goes to Dirk. At best, Durant can be "the next Nowitzki."
But Durant has to be the No. 1 guy on his team to be that All-Star. He'll need those 15-20 shots a game. That's why WHERE he plays will be as important as HOW he plays.
Consider his fate if he ends up in, say,
In that case, Kevin Durant will simply be "the next" Rashard Lewis – a very skilled, very tall jump-shooter, but at best a complimentary player, stuck behind a lead scorer who is never going to concede his role as the team's star.
No matter who drafts Durant, I hope that they do what it takes – trading existing stars, if necessary – to ensure that Durant is The Man from Day One. (Yes, I know that Dirk was brought along slowly, but Durant is way beyond where Dirk was at this age.)
It's the only way Durant will even come close to fulfilling this potential that everyone agrees is worth oohing over.-- D.S.
Update: I was just reading Henry Abbott's original coverage of the news from yesterday. Money aside (and there's really no other reason as compelling to turn pro), it sounds like Durant would rather stay in college another year, because he's enjoying it. I wonder if that would affect him during the NBA's grind next year? It's a downside of the NBA's draconian age-limit policy: "Force" a kid to go to college for a year, but then just when he starts to enjoy the experience, effectively force him to turn pro (using impossible-to-turn-down financial incentives). But the NBA got what it wanted from him last year -- a year of free exposure to hype him to fans.
Kevin Durant turning pro: How good of an NBA player will he be? Or CAN he be? See the post above for a larger breakdown and a dedicated post to comment about it.
Julian Wright turning pro, too: As I wrote yesterday, he's the most versatile forward in the draft (yes, including Durant). He should be a lock for that 3-5 range, along with Al Horford and the next-best big forward available.
MLB: Phillies drop to 1-6. And Jimmy Rollins looks like a complete fool right now, after he boasted in the preseason that the Phillies were the team to beat in the NL East. The Mets had, have and will continue to have something to say about that.
(So will the Marlins, who are off to a 5-2 start after beating the Brewers for the 9th straight time. Miguel Cabrera had another HR, his 3rd of the season. He's my Stud of the night. Seriously: How can anyone -- outside of
(As for Pitching Studs, how can you not give a hat-tip to Carl Pavano, for his first win in what feels like forever.)
MLB: Indians-Angels tickets selling like crazy... in
Bonds wants 3,000 hits, and he says he wants to do it for his godfather Willie Mays. Hey, if Bonds can continue playing past this season and through 2008, more power to him. At that point, a mind-staggering 800 HR won't be out of the question.
MLB Injury: Who had "April 10" in this year's "Mike Hampton's season is over" pool? Meanwhile, Carpenter to the DL.
Reader Question: With Dan Wheeler taking over for Brad Lidge as closer in Houston (and having a decent save outing last night), reader David Sanders offers up a question for discussion: Given that Lidge appears to have lost it after the Pujols HR in the playoffs, who are the greatest examples of players who were never the same after some pivotal on-field/on-court moment? (I'd throw Mitch Williams out there. And let me cut this off before it even gets started: Donnie Moore.)
Imus suspended: See the post below or click here.
NBA: Who has the audio clip of Josh Smith cursing out his coach? Meanwhile, the Mavs clinch HCA throughout the playoffs. That's one step closer to the "win-or-bust" outcome: Anything less than an NBA title this season would be a failure.
More NBA: With their sixth straight win (when the rest of the league feels like it's fading), the Nuggets look like the West's Team No One Wants to Play. In the East, I wouldn't want to play the Raptors, who are also surging (and that's without Bargnani and Garbajosa).
With the Warriors surging into playoff positioning, there's no question that Don Nelson should be NBA Coach of the Year if his team makes the playoffs. It could be the best coaching job of his career.
Wooden hospitalized: Here's to another recovery.
Harvard hiring Amaker to coach hoops? (Mike Jarvis is reportedly the backup pick.) The best way for the Ivy League to earn national relevance is through hiring "name" coaches. Hell, Brown already has Barack Obama's brother-in-law.
John Pelphrey hired at
NHL: Who says I completely ignore hockey? You all know I love a good piece of novelty. How about this one: For the first time in the modern era of the NHL, neither Stanley Cup finalist is returning to the playoffs. Playoff pick:
Another NHL item. (Yes! Two!!) I think NHL.com's attempt to get celebrities to blog about the NHL playoffs is hilarious and inspired. (After all, I'm writing about it, aren't I? And I'm a self-professed non-fan.) Christie Brinkley? David Boreanaz? And -- yes -- Li'l Jon! I propose that the new slogan of the NHL Playoffs is, appropriately: YEEEEAAAAHHH!
Don Imus vs.
And yet, no punishment for Colin Cowherd. Well, beyond being publicly humiliated by an ESPN ombudsman on her first week on the job, who doesn't know that much about ESPN yet but knows enough that Cowherd is a schmuck. (Yes, "schmuck" IS very technical journalistic jargon.) It is absolutely astonishing to see the level of sports-blog solidarity in rallying around The Big Lead -- and recognizing how out-of-bounds Cowherd truly was.
It's the same old story: If mainstream sports media covered themselves in the same way that they covered athletes, this would be a much bigger story. But that's how it has always been – and how it always will be.
And that's why sports-bloggers have become the counterbalance to the biggest mainstream sports media; the fragmentation of local traditional sports media has always undermined its ability, in aggregate, to cover "national" stories or connect with a "national" audience (which is quickly becoming the most important segment of sports audience).
Ironically, sports blogs – which are about as localized and fragmented and niche as you can get – work as one big distributed network to cover stories like this. And consumers are the better for it.
Cowherd did what he did because, down deep, he's afraid of the changes in his industry. Like Imus, what he fears most is his own irrelevancy. This incident -- and the blogger blowback -- isn't foreshadowing Cowherd's fears coming true; it's proving that they are here already.)
(I highly recommend Gwen Ifill's must-read op-ed column about Imus in today's New York Times.)
UPDATE: I'm watching the Rutgers team do their press conference right now across every major news network. It's fascinating, and it's refreshing to see unrehearsed sincerity and candor where so much of the response from Imus and NBC has been.
Monday, April 09, 2007
Men's golf has an evident problem: The Tiger Problem.
What does it say about the sport when "Where did Tiger finish?" consistently eclipses "Who won?" (Unless Tiger IS who won.)
Oh, sure, the media goes through the charade of first saying "So-and-so (say, Zach Johnson) won the Masters." But, in the next breath, it's: "Tiger finished in Xth."
In this case, maybe it's that Tiger finished so close to first that makes it that notable, but I'd say it's bigger than that.
It has gotten to the point where fans care mostly about Tiger, then everyone else. That's not a cult following of the sport; it's a cult following of a single personality.
No other sport seems to have this issue. Imagine if the story read: "The Mavs win the NBA title!
I guess it's that no other sport orbits around a single personality like men's golf does around Tiger. I like him, too, but doesn't that strike you as a bit unhealthy for any sport?
More of today's big stories:
More Masters: Does posting the highest winning score in Masters history make Johnson's jacket any less green? Hell no. I say: More power to him. They can't take that blazer away from him, no matter what happens the rest of his career (and no matter how he won it).
Meanwhile, to follow with my own analysis above, I can't NOT talk about Tiger: It did seem like Tiger was a little off his game, didn't it? I had argued that pending fatherhood would inspire him to Masters victory. Perhaps pending fatherhood was just enough of a burden on his brain to knock him slightly off? (Past and present pending fathers can relate to what I'm talking about.)
NBA: Dwyane Wade returns! 27 minutes, 12 points and 1 loss. But give it two months; he'll be leading them to a second straight NBA title. (And his long black left sleeve will surely become the NBA's signature on-court fashion look of the spring.)
More NBA: (1) LeBron held to 20 in Cavs loss to Pistons. Preview of Eastern Conference playoffs. (2) Suns top Lakers. Another playoff preview. (3) How about this: Chris Bosh for NBA MVP? (4) I know he's a FreeDarko poster guy, but how underrated is Gerald Wallace (30 points in Bobcats win over
Quickie analysis: He is the most versatile frontcourt player in college basketball. (Comps: At best, a slightly shorter Kevin Garnett. At worst, a slightly tougher Lamar Odom.)
MLB: Anyone's fantasy team get wiped out this weekend along with the snowed-out Indians-Mariners games in
(Should MLB move the Indians' home-stand vs. the Angels to
UPDATE: Amazingly, I flashed a rare bit of prescience on this. MLB moved the game to Milwaukee, which is close enough to Cleveland that fans could have a chance to get to the game -- and Milwaukee fans will get a kind-of-cool novelty of seeing two top AL teams play.
Real-life Crash Davis: 32-year-old Marlins RP Lee Gardner earned his first MLB save yesterday after racking up 130 minor-league saves. The real sign of legitimacy: How many fantasy owners have him on their rosters? A few more saves and that total will increase.
Stud (batter): Ivan Rodriguez
Stud (pitcher): Johan Santana
Schilling bounces back in primetime: I was curious how quickly Curt Schilling would update his blog after pitching (well) against the Rangers last night. When I popped open his blog at 8 this morning, there was his post. And a long one, too. That's pretty damn impressive.
(As many have noted: Why do I need the local
CBB: Wichita St's Mark Turgeon to Texas A&M. Somehow, I don't think Turgeon will pull a Dana Altman and run back to the Missouri Valley after his announcement as new coach at a different school.
(More: John Pelphrey to
Reality-TV UFC top-dog Matt Serra winning the real UFC welterweight title from champ Georges St. Pierre in a fairly substantial upset will only help the sport (until skeptics ask if the storybook ending was a little TOO good).
NFL Draft: Look for the first glimpse of the Tirico-Kornheiser-Jaworski troika during ESPN's draft coverage. The draft format is PTI-ish enough that it is MUCH more in TK's wheelhouse than your standard MNF game. I think they'll do well enough that it will trigger a buzz for next season.
Today's 15 Minutes: Elsie McLean, the 102-year-old woman who hit a hole-in-one, becoming the oldest golfer ever to hit a regulation-course hole-in-one. Yes, your golf skills suck by comparison.
ESPN Ombudswoman Earns Blog Cred: By taking on the Colin Cowherd story and getting a response from ESPN before the weekend was over (remember, the incident happened Thursday), she instantly proves herself an infinitely more effective ombudsman (ombudswoman?) than her predecessor – all in her first official week on the job. Oh, and she just got off on the right foot – the very right foot – with the sports-blog community.
Sunday, April 08, 2007
Masters: With everyone on the wrong side of par, this could be Tiger's ugliest Masters win ever. Which, of course, would have novelty in and of itself. Given his prodigious total, no one will remember if he wins "ugly." Just that he wins. (It raises an interesting question whether fans care at all about scores -- or simply care that Tiger is in the final pair, no matter what his number is.)
When does NFL Draft talk ramp up? Come on!
Speaking of draft, Kevin Durant is going to declare for the NBA Draft (gee: surprised?). I think he'll go No. 2 behind Oden, unless Oden doesn't turn pro.
Durant's comps: As I've been saying since December, Durant's best-case is to be the next Dirk; his worst-case is to be the next Rashard Lewis, a tall 3-point shooter stuck playing next to a gunner.
(And I strongly disagree with people who think Durant somehow will redefine the NBA forward position.)
Sorry for the light day today. Back to full speed tomorrow.