Saturday, April 28, 2007

2007 NFL Draft Live-Comment

Feel free to comment here on all things NFL Draft: Before. During. During. During. During. During. During. During. (Ahh, finally: After.)

Here are a bunch of live-blogs that will keep you up to speed:

Feel free to add any others you find (or are looking at) in the Comments section.

-- D.S.

Saturday 04/28 (Very) Quickie

Very quick look, gearing up for the draft:

If the Raiders take a QB, the Lions will reportedly take ANOTHER receiver, Calvin Johnson (ill-fated, but justified). But if the Raiders trade Randy Moss, how could they pass on a once-a-decade talent like Johnson?

Know the name: Kirk Radomski. Here's a fascinating look at MLB "clubbies" and their possible ties as steroid runners. (Here's Boswell's take.)

OK, the Heat are finished. There will be no "Re-Heat" after losing Game 3 in Miami to drop 0-3 to the Bulls. Picking Miami to repeat as NBA champs will be my worst pick of 2007.

Warriors obliterate Mavs by 19 in Oakland to take a 2-1 series lead. My erroneous Heat pick would be balanced out if the Warriors take the series from Dallas, which I also picked.

So much for Jason Kidd's "knee troubles." He had 19 assists leading the Nets over the Raptors in NJ.

The/"my" Nats beat the Mets? Wow. (D.C. even scored in the first inning for the first time all season.)

Add "pleurisy" (WTF?) to Ken Griffey's list of injuries and ailments.

Rick Majerus will bring his brand of Rosie-style coaching to St. Louis. Hotel owners, submit your pitches now.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Friday 04/27 A.M. Quickie:
NFL Draft, Bloody Socks, NBA Playoffs, More!

NFL Draft Mania! As fans debate who will go No. 1 overall to the Raiders (JaMarcus Russell? Calvin Johnson? Brady Quinn), consider that a year ago, everyone figured Reggie Bush an "anything-else-would-be-insane" lock to the Texans at No. 1... right up until they drafted DE Mario Williams.

*That's the first intrigue: Who's No. 1? What happens there will reverberate through the rest of the Top 10 (and perhaps the rest of the first round, if it triggers some much-desired trade activity).

*Then: What will Matt Millen do to screw up the No. 2 pick for the Lions? If Calvin Johnson is available, he'd be crazy to not pick him – but it would be ANOTHER first-round WR.

(Rumor has it that the Lions are entertaining a trade with the Falcons to swap the 2 and 8 picks. Good move for Detroit: Takes them off the hot seat and allows them to pick the Best Player Available at less cost. Great move for Atlanta: They need Calvin Johnson. Woof!)

*At No. 3, will the Browns go for a franchise QB (Quinn or Russell) or a franchise RB (Adrian Peterson)? Whoever doesn't get taken might slide down the Top 10. (Prediction: Browns pick Quinn.)

*Which players with spotty backgrounds will get caught in the league's new "character" filter? CB Eric Wright of UNLV will be the case to watch. (Prediction: He'll still go high.)

*What about my personally favorite player in the draft, Florida S Reggie Nelson, who I've heard is sliding? I think he'll be next year's Defensive Rookie of the Year. My prediction: The Pats trade up to get him.

*How many "analysts" and "experts" will use 19-year-old Amobi Okoye's high-first-round draft selection to point out that he effectively implodes the rationale behind the NFL's "age-limit" rules? (Prediction: Not nearly enough.)

So many more storylines, which you can feel free to add in the Comments section. (And, if you're live-blogging the Draft, send me the link to your blog. Happy to add it to the list I'll publish.)

I'll have a live-comment post set up tomorrow for the entire draft weekend.

Roger Goodell floated the idea of moving the Super Bowl overseas sometime in the next decade. I will be the first on the record to say it: That is the single worst idea in the history of sports.

On the flip side: NFL to add 17th regular-season game?! Even speculation of that is huge. What a layer of icing on top of a weekend already dominated by the NFL.

I like the logic: If they want to play more overseas games during the regular season (which they do), it ensures that fans don't lose a precious home game, which was my biggest problem with the international games.

Talk also swirls around eliminating a preseason game in order to find room on the schedule. That would be another move that would be met with universal approval. Everyone hates the preseason.

Some statistician is going to do the dirty work, but qualitatively, it feels like even a single extra regular-season game would make the playoff races vastly more intriguing. (OK: Fantasy playoff races.)

The biggest implication? How about in the record books: An extra game could be the difference between breaking records, topping 2,000 yards rushing and hitting performance bonuses.

(And don't even think about asterisks: Baseball went from 154 games to 162 games, and no one bothers to differentiate records set over the different season lengths.)

We'll see what the players' association has to say about it. An extra game means extra mileage on players, extra chances for injury, etc.

The fact that this is going to be big news speaks to just how precious and valued those 16 games are. To add another? What fan wouldn't want that?

Schilling's Bloody Sock: Gary Thorne backtracked that he must have misunderstood Doug Mirabelli's sarcasm about the sock's blood really being paint. So, apparently, Thorne was punk'd.

Here is Curt Schilling's response to the mini-scandal, via his blog 38Pitches. It's the best example yet of Schilling short-circuiting the traditional media filter through which players connect with fans. Say this: I enjoyed Schilling's entry a lot more than I would have enjoyed a column by a Boston Globe apologist that used a few of Curt's quotes.

Yankees-Red Sox hits the Bronx: I want to know if Yankees fans will take the "Schilling's Bloody Sock Was Fake" story and run with it, even though Thorne was debunked.

Lakers beat Suns in L.A.: Conventional wisdom says that a 7-game playoff series doesn't really heat up until a home team loses. Kobe (45 pts) and the Lakers staved off inevitable elimination with a W at home.

In another example, the Jazz (down 0-2) beat the Rockets in Utah. Here's a wild stat for you: The Jazz bench outscored the Rockets' bench 33-0. I'd say that was a difference-maker.

And here you go: The Pistons thumped the Magic in Orlando to take a 3-0 series lead and effectively slam the door on any remote chance Orlando had of winning this series. Even taking a single game seems iffy.

Is Jason Kidd's knee going to keep him out of Game 3 vs. the Raptors? If so, it's going to be a big Toronto win in Jersey.

Sonics moving to...Vegas? I thought OK City was a lock, but it sounds like Vegas is going to make the new Sonics owners an offer they can't refuse. And shouldn't refuse. The NBA in Vegas -- the first major sports team in Vegas, actually -- will be huge. Sorry, Seattle: No sympathy when the alternative is Sin City.

MLB: What an exciting week for Torii Hunter. First he sends champagne to the Royals (for which he's punished by MLB). Then he gets hit in the mouth with a pitch by Royals SP Zach Greinke. For Torii: TGIF.

MLB Stud: Bud Selig, for endorsing baseball labor impresario Marvin Miller for inclusion into the Hall of Fame.

MLB Dud: Phil Hughes, with a caveat.Yankees stud pitching prospect gets yanked early after allowing 4 ER and 7H in 4.1 IP. (Not all bad, though: 5 Ks and only 1 BB.) He'll settle.

Michael Vick and Dog-Fighting: PETA has gotten involved calling for Vick's suspension pending further investigation into his involvement in an alleged dog-fighting ring at a house he owns. Catfight!

Meanwhile, ProFootballTalk nailed it: Forget an easy suspension like Pac-Man Jones or Chris Henry. What does the Commissioner do about a player who is as big of a superstar as Vick?

NCAA bans text messaging: I think we'll look back on the last few years of unencumbered texting as a Golden Age for recruiting. Memo to the NCAA: You can TRY to stop technological progress, but you can't. Luddites. Urban Meyer's thumbs will find other ways to be useful.

NBA Draft: PG Javaris Crittenton joins teammate Thaddeus Young in the NBA Draft. Crittenton instantly is one of the Top 3 PGs in the draft, along with Mike Conley and Acie Law. And he's 6-foot-5, which should have scouts panting. He's a first-round lock.

Jeffrey Jordan Watch: MJ's son will be walking on at Illinois, thus ending the dream all Northwestern fans had of JJ leading NU to the NCAA Tournament. Or the NIT. (Whatever. They'd be on TV more and maybe upgrade from adidas sneaks to Jordan Brand.)

If you missed it yesterday, I had two arguments along the same meme: That pro-league age-limits are ludicrous, with two fantastic examples staring us right in the face: Prep-to-pro Monta Ellis winning the NBA's Most Improved Award and 19-year-old NFL Top 15 Draftee Amobi Okoye.

Today's Must-Watch: Dan Majerle hitting some crazy trick shots. In a suit. In one sitting. No editing. (H/T We Are The Postmen)

Today's Must-Read: The Big Picture's interview with ubiquitous sports-blog presence Unsilent Majority, who is graciously hosting me on Saturday night at the Wizards playoff Game 3 versus the Cavs.

-- D.S.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Monta Ellis Wins NBA Most-Improved
(Or: Why the NBA Age-Limit Is a Fraud)

(Click here for the blog's NFL Draft preview.)

OK, so while I'm talking about resonant
symbols that shatter the myth of the need for pro-sports age limits, like the NFL willingly and happily drafting a 19-year-old super-talent in the top half of the first round, as I did in the post below...

Monta Ellis wins NBA Most Improved
: How ironic, given the anti-"Prep-to-Pro" sentiment coursing through the league, media and fans in this inaugural season under the NBA's new age-limit rules. Please remember that Ellis was a prep-to-pro who dropped into the second round, much to the joy of prep-to-pro haters. He struggled in his rookie season a year ago, again to much celebration of the value of playing in college to your NBA future. Now? He's the only untouchable player on the Warriors roster.

The award affirms a few things: Ellis' rapid development, to be sure. But also his decision to turn pro out of high school, as well as the NBA's decision to let him in straight out of high school.

Let me be VERY clear: You cannot argue that both Ellis AND the NBA aren't better off for his having come straight out of high school to the NBA. You cannot argue that Ellis gunning his way through a single year at Mississippi State last year would have prepared him as well as directly learning his hoops lessons in the NBA last year. And you cannot argue that he would be a better pro this year and in what seems like a bright future without being a prep-to-pro.

Two Junes ago, proponents of an NBA age limit used Ellis as their poster boy for "bad decisions." Guess what: He made the RIGHT decision, as -- surprise -- an inordinate proportion of prep-to-pro players did. Their success rate, particularly when viewed against classes of players with any of the four years of college experience, is nothing short of astounding.

Then again, prep-to-pros (way more often than not) self-selected their NBA-readiness, usually helped out by the NBA's economic and player-personnel "market forces" – meaning, by selecting them (or assuring they would be selected), GMs affirmed the players' worthiness of being in the NBA. (Here's a fascinating paper on the subject.) What has been most remarkable isn't the rate of success itself, but the jaw-dropping degree of that success -- most prep-to-pro players who stick in the NBA are either superstars outright or pretty damn good.

Ellis is now the poster guy for why the NBA's age limit is so misguided (and anti-competitive). I hope supporters of the NBA's age-limit policy recognize that as they:

Root for Kobe to make it a series...

Root for Amare to integrally help the Suns improve the sport with a deep playoffs run...

Root for Dwight Howard to give the Magic their only chance against the Pistons...

Root for JR Smith to help the Nuggets keep it competitive with the Spurs...

Root for DeSagana Diop to continue to be, statistically, the biggest game-changer of the Warriors-Mavs series...

And, of course, root for LeBron to star above everyone.

-- D.S.

2007 NFL Draft Preview: The Big Questions/Storylines

NFL Draft: T-minus 48 hours. Here is the storyline I personally find most intriguing:

Every year I find a player to be obsessed about. (Most notably, there was the Harvard QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who reportedly scored a 100* on his Wonderlic, with enough time to spare that he could leave the testing room and tutor a couple other players, too. * - Hyperbole.)

Though I tend to favor late-round/UFA candidates from small Northeast schools (like New Hampshire WR David Ball), there's room for one more budding obsession: Amobi Okoye, the 19-year-old D-lineman from Louisville who will not just be a first-round pick, but will be unlikely to slip out of the top half of the first round.

Now, consider the implications: Forget his eligibility; the fact that he is rated as first-round material as a 19-year-old completely shatters the myth of an NFL age limit as anything more than arbitrary bullshit meant to stifle natural market forces and prop up the free talent pipeline.

Why aren't more people talking about this particular angle of the amazing (and hyper-covered) Okoye story? Sure, his age is a novelty. Sure, the kid is an academic genius and appears to be a genuinely nice guy.

But, more than any of those other things, he single-handedly obliterates the argument that age is a precondition for NFL draft-worthiness. Remember: We're not talking about him being drafted AT ALL; we're talking about him being a Top 10-15 pick.

(Most amazingly, his uniquely young age has come up again and again as a draft PLUS. Because it is! Scouts can tout that factor because he's draft-eligible; god forbid they make a similar case about a draft-worthy college player who isn't age-eligible yet.)

Meanwhile, beyond that, let me throw a couple of broad discussion topics on the table:

(1) BEST: Who is your favorite prospect, regardless of position or team fit?

(2) IMPACT: Who is most likely to have the biggest impact in his rookie year, regardless of team fit?

(3) UNDERRATED: Who is the non-first-round pick in 10 years we'll be saying, "I can't believe he was passed up by so many teams?"

(4) OVERRATED: Who is the first-round pick in 3 years we'll be saying, "I can't believe he was drafted that high?"

(5) CLICHE: What is your favorite NFL Draft cliche?

See last year's Quickie the day before the Draft for my annual NFL Draft drinking game. For those too lazy to click, here's the list:

Cliche (number of sips)
"Upside" (1)
"The next..." (1)
"Best player available" (1)
"Intangibles" (1)
"Value pick" (-1)
"Big Board" (2)
"Great hips" (-2)
"Character guy" (3)
"Physicality" (4)
Anything about Mel's hair (5)
"But what do I know?" (10)

BONUS QUESTION: Which cliches am I missing and should be added to the game?

Also, if you're planning to live-blog the draft, drop me an email today or tomorrow with a link to your blog, and I'll list them all on Friday.

(To be honest, I'd just as soon follow the live-blogs via RSS feed reader than watch on TV. I'm just saying...)

Oh, and I'll also have an open post for your live-comments throughout the Draft weekend.

-- D.S.

Update: Cold Hard Football Facts has a must-read AFC and NFC breakdown. Block your afternoon.

Update 2: How did I miss this morning that Michael Vick is being investigated for hosting dog- and cockfighting in an abandoned Virginia house? Herpes and hemp have nothing on this.

Thursday 04/26 A.M. Quickie:
Transsexuality, NFL Draft, NBA Playoffs, More

How to knock "faked Bloody Sock?" and "sportswriter-as-transsexual" BOTH from the top of the most-talked-about story list?

Vick's latest "Wow" moment: This morning, how did I NOT cover the Michael Vick dog- and cockfighting (regrettably, not together) empire being busted by the authorities. Typically, Will has the definitive post, but it's worth repeating: WTF is Vick thinking?

How to knock "sportswriter-as-transsexual" from the top of the most-talked-about story list? Here you go...

Schilling's Bloody Sock-Gate: Gary Thorne said on TV last night that the famous Schilling "Bloody Sock" thing was a fake, which would implode one of the greatest baseball mythological moments of all time. Everyone involved rejects Thorne's offhand remark about it, and I fully expect for Thorne to back off. Way off. Even at the risk of his own cred. (Waiting on a response at

In what is sure to be the most talked-about sports story of the day, LA Times sportswriter Mike Penner announced he is a transsexual and when he returns to the paper, he will be Christine Daniels.

And his essay in the paper about it is both inspiringly thoughtful and an absolute must-read. I cannot imagine how difficult it was to write, but she articulated herself beautifully.

I can only imagine how difficult things have been for Christine, and I can only wish her everything she wants from life -- and the respect from readers and colleagues that match her own admirable self-respect.

I'll point you to MJD's good take on it in AOL Fanhouse.

SportsByBrooks checks out the LA Times' own coverage. (So, yes, I guess there IS a benefit to being a sports-blogger on the West Coast, rather than being part of the Northeast Corridor Sports-Blog Mafia. You get a jump on these issues that start out there.)

NFL Draft: T-minus 48 hours. We're reaching the apex of mock drafts, lies, spin and all other build-up. Dedicated Draft post coming later this morning.

Meanwhile, the top intrigue is at the top: Who will the Raiders take? The word is that they are negotiating with QBs JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn, along with WR/BPA Calvin Johnson. Where it stops, nobody knows...

Moving directly down the board, hilarity ensues at No. 2 when the Lions (and Matt Millen) inevitably screw up their pick. Hopefully, the NYC crowd will take up the "Fire Millen!" cause. More NFL Draft later today.

As for the Browns at No. 3, they might get the Leftover QB (cough! Quinn!) now that it has just leaked out that RB Adrian Peterson re-injured his collarbone during the Fiesta Bowl. His decision to play in that game, rather than focus on his pro career, could have just cost him millions.

NBA Playoffs: Mavs tie up Warriors. Credit/blame it on Baron Davis and Stephen Jackson getting tossed. Of COURSE the Mavs were going to win this one; let's see what happens when the motivated Warriors get two home games.

Spurs even up with Nuggets: Again, it's nearly a given that if the heavily favored home team loses Game 1 (and home-court advantage), they're going to come back and win Game 2. The NBA Playoffs really start when series get to the road team's house for two games.

Cavs 2, Wiz 0: It's too bad "hustle points" aren't "actual points"; otherwise, the Wizards might have a chance against the Cavs.

MLB: How about the Marlins? Just as Tim Hudson (career-high 12 Ks) is about to put an exclamation point on his NL-best April, Florida scores 4 runs in the 9th to ruin the lock-solid W and steal the game on a passed ball.

Stud: Jake Peavy, 16 Ks in 7 IP, including 9 straight Ks at one point. 9 straight! Uh, but he got Hudsoned and missed out on the W. (Dud: Bob Wickman, who couldn't close the deal for the Braves in the aforementioned game.)

Bonds: 741.

PS: Very interesting NYT article about MLB and Cuba.

NASCAR: I'm a day late on this, but I'm not going to disagree with Tony Stewart's comments that NASCAR officials use caution flags to manipulate races. Should he have compared the sport to pro wrestling? It's hyperbole, making for a great quote, and I'm sure NASCAR officials are completely ticked off, but he's not wrong. NASCAR has been masterful at maintaining "wink-wink" dynamics between drivers, media and fans. You don't have to be a NASCAR fan to find this fascinating.

College Football: The BCS format is staying through 2009, so save your griping. Or start your griping. Whatever. But it sounds like league commissioners are ready to think about a "Plus-One" model.

Too bad the Plus-One model doesn't solve the underlying problem if there are: (a) three unbeaten teams, (b) three (or more) 1-loss teams, (c) one non-BCS unbeaten (like Boise State) and more than one 1-loss BCS team. The list of scenarios that tilt a "Plus-One" model goes on.

The point is this: Barring an 8-team playoff (which would appropriately be called "Plus-Two," because you'd have two rounds of games after the initial 8-team, 4-game round of bowls), the current system isn't solved by "Plus-One" and – in fact – isn't quite as bad as its critics bleat.

Last year's title game established that – like the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee – the BCS system actually can make a proper pairing.

NFL Transactions: Remember when Dante Hall was, like, awesomely must-see? Now he's worth, like, a fifth-round pick.

Rutgers Women's Hoops: Vivian Stringer, who in the last month has become the most powerful person in women's basketball, got a new contract that pays her as much as Rutgers football coach Greg Schiano.

Soccer: Someone who understands English soccer needs to jump in the Comments and explain Alan Ball's place in the country's soccer mythology.

NBA: Larry Brown to coach the Grizzlies? Let's review: Larry Brown is the WORST choice to coach a young "up-and-coming" team anchored around what will likely be one of the top two rookies in the draft. His "Right Way" is the absolute "Wrong Way" for a developing team. Just ask Knicks fans. Brown would ruin Greg Oden or Kevin Durant.

NBA: Pacers fire Rick Carlisle. Given that he's covered under the legendary "NBA Coaches Recycling System," I expect to see him re-hired by one of the teams with an opening by Draft Day. Enjoy.

MLB Injuries: Mark Prior done for 2007, thus securing him a coveted early-decision spot in our "MLB Duds of the Year" List. Where would Prior rank among the MLB hard-luck cases of the decade? Top 5? Top 3? No. 1?

Olbermann Watch: As he is always a hot topic among Commenters, check out his Q&A with's MVP Richard Deitsch.

Whitlock Watch: Is Rosie O'Donnell leaving The View so she can pursue her love-child with Big Sexy? Meanwhile, at a forum at Harvard Law School, Whitlock confirmed that while he might be getting tons of cred as a "national" voice on race issues, he's still kind of a misogynist.

(I'm all for getting yours, but Whitlock is setting new records for shameless milking of what was effectively a single provocative column that itself was a derivative of an earlier column about Vegas/NBA written for AOL only after he originally embarrassed himself in his local paper with a pro-All-Star/Vegas column. Hell, he even managed to make himself look magnanimous in turning down the chance to be the Imus replacement. Impressive maneuvers for a guy whose ego might best be described as Albomesque.)

Worth your time: Lion in Oil's interview with Wisconsin football player turned Marine, Jake Wood.

Philanthropy: "Athletes for Hope," a new charitable organization led by Lance, Agassi, Ali and other celebrity athletes, is going to do really well. In theory, it's a great idea. (But if they're going to unveil it yesterday, where is the companion Web site? Weak.)

(As I recover from last night's Idol telethon. The sad documentary footage of the needy trumped the lame musical performances. All I can say is: Phil Stacey better get the boot next week. Or, I should say, one of the boots.)

Take Your Kid to Work Day: In lieu of the actual job I don't have, I was blogging this morning and turned to my nearly-1-year-old this morning and said, "So, what do you think the Raiders will do?" He spouted something to the effect of: "Bah! Pffft! Ayiiii!" I translated that as: "Best Player Available." He now has added as much value to draft analysis as, say, Keyshawn Johnson. Any of you taking your kids to your workplace today?

-- D.S.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wednesday 04/25 A.M. Quickie:
Lies, Damn Lies and NFL Draft Lies

If you missed it, be sure to check out my post from last night about David Halberstam below.

Lies, more lies and the NFL Draft: Pro Football Talk said that the Falcons worked out LSU safety LaRon Landry. The Falcons have also been tied to trading up to draft hometown hero Calvin Johnson.

PFT's best piece of intel -- not that it's a huge surprise -- is to point out the B.S. meter this year is higher than ever. Sorry: The lying. That's right: Lies. Complete outright lies.

I find this fascinating.

I love it how fans and media are willing participants in being lied to now, but get pissed at something like the Nick Saban episode.

Make no mistake: The difference between the deceptions of Saban and the deceptions of every single NFL GM this week are merely of degree, not of type.

They're all liars. It's just that for some reason, fans have a higher tolerance around NFL draft-time for lies.

Why is that? Because "everyone is doing it," and you'd rather have your team lying to get their desired draftee rather than playing it straight -- or simply not deceiving -- and possibly missing out?

Saban's deception never bothered me as much as some people; maybe I am too much of a fan of "House," but I'll stick with his mantra: "Everyone lies."

With the NFL Draft, it goes further than any point during the year. But as with Saban, I can't take the NFL Draft deceptions THAT seriously. It's all part of the game -- all part of sports.

P.S.: Roger "The Commish" Goodell is cracking down on league leaks to the media about confidential info. Remains to be seen if/how this impacts NFL coverage. More likely, reporters will rely even heavier on agents for information. See how it comes back full circle to the lying?

More of today's biggest storylines:

NBA Playoffs: "Re-Heat" frozen over? As someone who picked Miami to repeat as NBA champs, I refuse to panic (yet) about being down 0-2 to the Bulls. Let's see where things stand after the games in Miami. But I'm willing to concede: Luol Deng is having a breakout series.

Meanwhile, now that the Raptors have figured out how to win in the playoffs, I think the series is theirs to finish out.

MLB: Yankees lose 5th straight. Yep, that's a dud. Paul Maholm shuts out the Astros on a complete-game three-hitter. Yep, that's a stud.

Pat Tillman Saga: With every new turn of events, this story is being affirmed as arguably the greatest sports-related tragedy in American history. Certainly of this generation. It is so ridiculously tragic, and as more details emerge, it gets worse – if only for the ringer that the Tillmans have been put through by the very military in which their son volunteered to serve.

NBA Draft: Georgia Tech freshman Thaddeus Young put his name in, but reserved the right to withdraw. Given the depth of the draft class, he might be worse off than next year, but – then again – if you're guaranteed to be a first-round pick this year, as Young is, why stay in college? (By the way, he'll be a MUCH better pro than he was a college player.)

Super Sonics fire coach and GM: Well, they probably want new faces and a fresh start when they move the team to OK City next year.

Sam Mitchell as NBA Coach of the Year: Hmm... maybe they should give first-year Raptors honcho Bryan Colangelo that award, in addition to Exec of the Year, because it was Colangelo's moves that made Mitchell's success possible.

Celtics exiling Telfair: How ironic that the new poster child for an unsuccessful prep-to-pro transition was also the most publicized prep-to-pro player?

(And, remember: Prep-to-pro success rates are astonishingly good. Maybe it was because he was a small, poor-shooting point guard, rather than a big guard or big man... but maybe it was that very same build-up that made him a prep-to-pro that undercut his career.)

Very special thanks to Shoals and Dr. LIC from Free Darko for yesterday's pinch-hitting.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Remembering David Halberstam:
The Book No One Is Talking About

Remembering David Halberstam: "Education of a Coach." "Summer of '49." "The Teammates." "Playing for Keeps." "The Breaks of the Game."

God, did he write some phenomenal sports books. All covering some of the iconic names of sport – people who mere mortal authors could never do justice to: Belichick and Jordan come to mind.

(Reportedly, the fatal car crash occured en route to do an interview related to something he was writing about the 1958 NFL Championship Game, one of the biggest sports events in American history and something I would have loved to seen filtered through Halberstam.)

A day late, allow me to include my own "David Halberstam rocked my writing world" story, about a book I haven't seen anyone else in sports media mention:

"The Amateurs."

You can not care – at all – about the sport of rowing (and I'm sure you don't), but Halberstam can make you see the beauty and drive and thrill of the sport in a way that makes it well worth your time. (Buy it here.)

As it happens, I was a rower in high school and college, and reading "The Amateurs" not only helped me better understand and articulate and be energized about the sport I was about to spend the next few years of my life devoted to, but it introduced me to Halberstam.

(I remember my mom giving me the book, and I was like, "David Halberstam? Who?" And, as the daughter of a 40-year New York Timesman who overlapped with Halberstam during their respective careers at the paper, she just laughed at my naivete: "Just read it." My mom told me she remembers him being incredibly nice to her when she was in high school and living abroad in college.)

As a young wannabe writer, I was blown away by him. It was one of the earliest moments I can remember where I knew better as a consumer of great writing -- and I knew I was reading it with him.

I'm going to go back and re-read it, because it's been 19 years (and well more than half my life) since I last read it – and since my first exceptional experience reading Halberstam.

Like other of my Page 2 colleagues, I was honored to share byline space on Page 2 with a writer as all-time great as Halberstam. (I had similar feelings about Ralph Wiley and Hunter Thompson.) But it was "The Amateurs" where he and I really connected.

And what has been amazing over the last 24 hours is that fans of all ages and eras have weighed in with their own way that Halberstam's abilities as an author moved them. (And that's just the sports fans -- he had even more fans of his other spectacular non-fiction writing.)

What an incredible legacy to leave.

-- D.S.

Tueday 04/24 A.M. Guest Quickie: Not Just Basketball!

Bethlehem Shoals and Dr. Lawyer IndianChief from FreeDarko speaking here. We'll try and make Dan proud.

Rockets Still Rolling: Not counting the state of Utah, who doesn't want the Rockets to win this one? Of course, it's all due to T-Mac, who once again followed a dicey first half with a stellar last two quarters. The Jazz smothered the Rockets in the beginning, and then felt the wrath of H-Town in the second half. Will we ever see a happy median? Or are McGrady and Yao that much better than Boozer, Okur, Deron Williams, and Kirilenko?

A-Rod Wins, Yankees Lose: Alex Rodriguez is now well on pace to break Barry Bonds’ single-season record of 73, at which point Hank Aaron will attend the record-breaking game and personally perform a rendition of Mims’ “This is Why I’m Hot”. Still, the man is undeniably cursed. His personal success appears inversely related to the success and pitching health of the Yankees.

Where a Number One Seed Still Means Something: Wasn't the East supposed to be where craziness, upsets, and near-parity could come true?

Leandro Barbosa, Sixth Man of the Year: After Sunday, the question isn't whether Barbosa could start—it's how sick he would be in that capacity. Maybe a longer, more terrifying Tony Parker, averaging about 20 and 8 on these Suns but not exactly making point guard purists comfortable. Quick, raise your hand if you remember when he was hyped as "the Brazilian Gary Payton." Now leave it up if you think that's his ceiling.

AL Central Battles: Twins blow one late even though Joe Mauer is now hitting .400. Unfortunately, Twins GM Terry Ryan’s “no steroids because it will mess up the clubhouse chemistry” policy means that there is no one in the Twins lineup to actually drive Joe Mauer home when he gets on base. In Kansas City, the Royals spoil Mark Buehrle’s attempt at consecutive no-hitters, but in the end, are still the Royals.

LeBron Not Too Injured: He'll play Wednesday. Don't be shocked, though, if they rest him for the last two games and win anyway. Just kidding, that would be classless and illegal. Wizards fans waiting on Caron Butler can give that dream up, as he's now officially out for the duration of round one.

Cubs Pitchers: On the same day that Zambrano again fails to make it past the 6th, Scott Eyre blows a lead, and the Ben and Jerry’s-inspired Rocky Cherry loses the game in the 12th inning, Mark Prior undergoes “exploratory” surgery. I am hoping it is of the Jim Abbott variety, so Cubs fans can stop getting their hopes up.

NL East Rules: Mets win. Phillies win. Marlins win (but the Braves keep it close). The Mets’ John Maine stays solid, Phils’ Jimmy Rollins does his part to back up his words.

Brandan Wright Entering Draft: So what if he's not quite ready for the NBA? The latest he'll be picked is fifth. . . and remember, this is the 2007 draft. Just being in it is guaranteed to make a player famous, in the same way that no one from 2000 or 2006 will ever get their due.

Canucks Beat Stars, Advance: There isn’t anything quite like a Game 7, is there? Dr. LIC really enjoys Vancouver, the city. The pizza there is surprisingly good, and very cheap. Also, one time he saw a million crackheads buy a bunch of crack off of this dude who looked exactly like Vanilla Ice. Then they all laughed at a prostitute.

NFL Draft: Can we declare a moratorium on "so and so would like to draft Calvin Johnson" rumors? It's far more interesting that one, maybe two, teams will have to be the ones who don't draft him.

The Holes in This Quickie: Feel free to fill them in/point them out as you see fit.

Your Guest-Poster on Tuesday Morning...

is Bethlehem Shoals (with a little help from Dr. Lawyer Indian Chief) from Free Darko. It IS their time of year, after all... Enjoy.

PS: RIP, David Halberstam. In addition to his legendary war reporting and career as one of the finest authors of sports books of all time, he was an original contributor to's Page 2.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Monday 04/23 A.M. Quickie:
Still Here (Unlike the Mavs' Chances)

Yes, I am on vacation. No, I could not resist...

Warriors shock Mavs in Game 1: And, all of a sudden, my "Warriors in 7" (or, more accurately, Warriors AT ALL) doesn't look SO crazy. A healthy Baron Davis is a Top 10 MVP-caliber Baron Davis.

(I could talk about the Mavs giving up home-court advantage as quickly as they seemed to earn it during the regular season, but I'd much rather point out that the Warriors are now 4-0 against the Mavs this season with Nelson as coach. Matchups, matchups, matchups...)

Nuggets shock Spurs: Hell, I should have picked THIS upset, too. Want to know why Denver traded for AI mid-season? Those 61 combined points with Carmelo to lead the Nuggets over the Spurs in San Antonio. (During the regular season, they averaged 55 ppg combined.)

Barbosa out-duels Bryant: Leandro Barbosa may have had "only" 26 points to Kobe's 39, but you know Kobe is going to get his, but Barbosa's scoring explosions always seem to feel like a bonus. Plus, Barbosa seemed to hit his when it mattered more.

More NBA Playoffs: So, I guess the Raptors fans still carry a WEE bit of a grudge against Vince Carter (Pistons fans are just plain being mean when they boo Darko)...

Luol Deng as the next Dwyane Wade? I don't think so, but that was Deng's "breakout" game...

If the Wiz could hit more than 33 percent of their shots, they might not get swept by the Cavs (but that's no guarantee). Cavs fans better hope LeBron's ankle heals up...

Is this the first-round playoff series that T-Mac finally escapes?

Red Sox sweep Yankees: What will they play – like 45 more times this season? It's hard to get TOO worked up. But it certainly establishes a certain early-season bragging rights. And perhaps foreshadowing...

(Update: I'm already getting crap in the Comments for not mentioning the "back2back2back2back." So there you go.)

Bonds Watch: 740, and by all accounts, he is hammering the ball this month (6 HR this season). If you presume that, no matter what you think about the rest of his career, he's clean now, that's pretty impressive a 42-year-old can crush the ball like he is right now. (All those "over-under" picks on when he hits 16 more and passes Hank Aaron are going to be WAY long.)

MLB Studs: The Orioles, who have won 4 in a row (and 8 of 9!) after sweeping the Blue Jays in Baltimore for the first time in 13 years. Wait: Are the O's this year's Jays? It would be WAY more unexpected than Toronto's runner-up finish a year ago.

NFL Draft: OK, this final few weekdays before the draft are filled with more lies, deception and misdirection than any other stretch of the year (in any sport). I find it hard to put too much stock in anything a coach says or any gossip an NFL "expert" reports.

However, I do appreciate the attempts by the NFL; it's a nice reminder that they're in the business of winning games and running businesses, not serving as fodder for sports-talk radio, TV and online. (Like, say, the Bucs not being interested in trading up from No. 4 in order to get Calvin Johnson; maybe they know that the WR will be there for them without paying the price of a trade?)

Now, how about NON-draft-related rumors, like the Chiefs looking to trade Larry Johnson? (Speaking of rumors, can't wait to see what Fanhouse lead-blogger Michael David Smith – aka "MDS" – will do with his new platform at ProFootballTalk. Looking forward to that.)

Jordan Classic: It's going to be very interesting to see game MVP Corey Fisher in a backcourt with super-frosh Scottie Reynolds next season for Villanova.

Back to my mini-vacation... But, as always, please feel free to add/expand on any of the day's biggest storylines.

-- D.S.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Sunday Open-All-Day Post

If my family knew I was posting from vacation, I'd be in trouble. Still: At the very least, comment if you want to on the top sports stories of yesterday and today. (Sox-Yanks, other MLB, Deng-Wade, T-Mac, other NBA, NFL Draft ramp-up, more!)

-- D.S.