Saturday, June 16, 2007

Saturday 06/16 A.M. Quickie:
Sosa, Phil, Reyes, Injury, NBA Closure, More.

Sosa: 599! You know what? I still find it hard to dislike Sosa, and I think a lot of people agree with me (in a way they can't feel about Bonds).

Perhaps Sosa hitting 600 doesn't offend people's sensibilities as much as Bonds breaking the cherished ALL-TIME home run record, but consider the company that milestone puts Sosa in.

How many "600 Club" players will you get to see in your lifetime? How many current players may end up there? (Ken Griffey? A-Rod? Manny? Pujols? Ryan Howard? Prince Fielder?) It's still a pretty exclusive club and unique thing.

US Open: Angel Cabrera's birdie on 18 KO'ed the limp-wristed Phil Mickelson from the Open, the first Major cut Phil has missed since 1999. Not a single player is under par (which, as I've been saying all week, is the most overrated claim in sports).

NBA Closure, Cont'd. It's official: Game 4 was the least-watched single NBA Finals game in history. As if that wasn't the ultimate low, this was the least-watched NBA Finals in NBA history. The biggest storyline of these Finals -- these playoffs -- was that no one was watching. Is there a fix for that?

Re-seeding the NBA playoffs is an interesting idea – as you'd expect, I'm of the school that if you're going to do it, don't do a minor fix, change things radically, like the plan where you re-seed all 16 playoff teams in one batch.

But I actually think that plan isn't radical enough: I would split the difference between the current 7-game series formats and the one-and-done format of the NCAA Tournament: Best-of-3 in every round. (But that ignores that money drives the 7-game format, not the interest in seeing the best team emerge.)

Here's the rub: It won't help. Oh, sure, the NBA might be able to improve upon this year's stinkeroo ratings. Cripes: How can they NOT? (Well: Imagine if it was Spurs-Pistons...)

But the TV ratings really have little to do with the teams involved in the Finals. It could have been Mavericks-Heat – or Lakers-Heat – or any other matchup you can think of. It wouldn't have helped substantially.

This is simply the new reality of TV for the "niche" sports... which now most conclusively includes the NBA.

NFL: The greatest "play-it-straight" newspaper lead you'll ever see, courtesy of Howard Bryant of the Washington Post:

"Washington Redskins rookie safety LaRon Landry will miss the team's three-day minicamp because of a groin injury suffered during a team paintball contest this week."

More NFL: The Lane Kiffin Era is off to a rocky start in Oakland. They ended their offseason training a week early after the NFL union complained about the intensity of the practices.

MLB Stud: I'm going with Roger Clemens versus Julio Franco in the second inning of last night's Mets-Yankees game, which was the oldest batter-pitcher matchup in 70 years. Awesome.

(But Mets SP Oliver Perez was the real star of the game, beating Clemens, thanks to co-Stud Jose Reyes, who had a HR, 2 RBI, 3 steals and went 3-3, which is like the most all-around productive fantasy night of the year.)

NBA Trade: I'll bet Pistons exile Carlos Delfino thrives in the Raptors' internationally flavored system.

Finally, Duke Karma Watch: DA Mike Nifong says he will resign. Think back 15 months ago. Who saw THAT coming?

-- D.S.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday 06/15 A.M. Quickie:
All Hail the Duncan Dynasty

All hail the "Duncan Dynasty": If there were still any questions that the Spurs were a dynasty, they are gone now with the team's fourth title in 9 years. To be more specific, it's the "Duncan Dynasty."

So: Where does this Spurs dynasty rank among all NBA dynasties since 1980? After a very heated debate here yesterday (which you can follow in the comments of the post below), I think they are No. 3:

1. '90s Bulls
2. '80s Lakers
3. '00s Spurs
4. '80s Celtics
5. early-'00s Lakers
6. mid-'90s Rockets
7. late-'80s Pistons

They aren't Showtime pretty. They aren't Jordanesque likeable. They aren't Celtics mythic. They aren't Shaq-Kobe dramatic. They aren't Hakeemishly admirable. They aren't Bad-Boy hate-able.

They are simply champs... yet again.

(UPDATE: By the way, I just posted an update to the stand-alone post about the Spurs below, with a response from the great Kelly Dwyer to the argument. He schools me, so if you like the idea of that, I highly recommend scrolling down or clicking here to check it out.)

MVP: Tony Parker. Another ring. A first Finals MVP award. A breakthrough series. A pending wedding to Eva Longoria. Doesn't seem fair, does it?

Hot Blogger Bracket, Round 3: And I'm already down in the early voting to 17-seed Mini-Me from WBRS Sports Blog! Is this the end of the road for me? Don't let it happen: Vote now (and vote often)!

U.S. Open: Only two players defied par, which makes me think that it's only going to get uglier. But that's fine: Golf scores are totally overrated in any context beyond how they rank relative to each other.

MLB Stud: Garrett Atkins, grand slam in Colorado's W over the Red Sox.

MLB Dud: Josh Beckett, who got hung with his first loss of the year... to Atkins' Rockies.

NHL: Congrats to Sidney Crosby, at 19 the league's youngest MVP since Gretzky. If they are going to keep avid fans engaged for the long haul (and maybe even pique the interest of casual/dis-engaged fans), the best place to start is to have the best player in the league be a 19-year-old. It sure worked in the early-80s.

Poker: Is it me, or does the World Series of Poker not have as much oomph as in previous years? Probably signals that the poker boom has peaked, at least as a sports event. I'm sure the volume of players is still up (and growing), but it's time for the WSOP on TV to move to live, rather than post-produced on tape. We lose Norman Chad's scripted commentary? Oh, geez, well, them's the breaks.

NBA '06-07, Closure: Bethlehem Shoals from Free Darko and I have been involved in a fascinating, in-depth Gtalk session spanning several days this week. If that discussion provided even a smidgen of inspiration for the brilliant, must-read "Longform Shoals" post he put together for NBA Fanhouse yesterday, I feel like I have done my part.

Here's the part he nails: The NBA has to embrace that it has become a "niche" sport, then do everything it can to maximize the relationship it has with its remaining, die-hard fans. Oversimplified, that means meeting those fans wherever (and however) they want to consume the NBA. (Oh, and that the market power of China cannot be understated.)

Given that it's the final weekday before Father's Day – and given my little side project (that I hope all parents are reading and passing along to their friends) – I have a longer post dedicated to Father's Day going up later this morning.

Check out Kissing Suzy Kolber's commenter draft of "Dad You Want To Have." Scroll down to the comment at 11:19 a.m. I don't care if he's mocking me -- that's the greatest Father's Day gift ever.

For Quickie-post purposes, suffice to say that I wish the happiest Father's Day to all the dads, granddads, great-granddads, recent dads and all other dad-types out there. Tiger: We're waiting on you.

-- D.S.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Spurs: Great Dynasty...or the Greatest Dynasty?

Just kidding, of course... but am I? Certainly, this Spurs team can't be ranked ahead of Jordan's Bulls*, but can they be ranked No. 3 just behind those Bulls and the 5x title-winning 80s Lakers -- and ahead of such dynasties as the 1980s Celtics or 2000s Lakers? I say yes...

As everyone talks about the Spurs as a "dynasty" for winning their 4th title in 9 years, I'd like to self-servingly point out that I called the Spurs a dynasty two years ago, after they won their 3rd title in 7 years. Many readers mocked me for that, actually.

I didn't think the "dynasty" label was premature then, just as I affirm the "dynasty" label now, before they have even clinched that fourth title. In fact, it's not just a dynasty, but we'll look back and know it as the "Duncan Dynasty."

And, by comparison, it was nearly as impressive and dominant of a dynasty as the "Showtime" Lakers in the 1980s, who won five titles in 9 years. (With this title, the Spurs eclipse the 1980s "Simmons" Celtics, who won three titles in 6 years... though arguably that team probably would have won more titles if the Lakers weren't so good.)

However, given the infinitely greater competitive pressures of this era versus that era, I'd say these Spurs are even MORE impressive and dominant.

(We have mythologized those Lakers and Celtics teams, but they would have never survived playing in this century of flattening competitive forces. For starters, Red Auerbach would have never been able to have "snuck in" the Larry Bird draft pick. With that simple idea: That ends any chance the Celtics had of winning any titles.)

It was two years ago that these "Duncan Dynasty" Spurs passed the mid-90s "Hakeem and Co." Rockets and the late-80s "Bad Boy" Pistons, each of whom only won two -- though back-to-back -- titles.

The most relevant competition, though: The Spurs have now passed the early-2000s "Shaq/Kobe" Lakers, who won three titles in a row, but can't match Duncan's Spurs for total titles won.

The team these Spurs are still eclipsed by, obviously, is the 6-time champion Bulls of the 1990s. (But only in titles... could this Spurs team have beaten any of those Bulls teams? See below.*)

NBA's Top Dynasties since 1980:
1. 1990s Bulls
2. 1980s Lakers
3. 2000s Spurs
4. 1980s Celtics
5. 2000s Lakers
6. Mid-90s Rockets
7. Late-80s Pistons

(As longtime Quickie readers know, I qualify two titles in a row as a "dynasty," because the pace of change and disruption in sports has become so accelerated, but multiple titles in any decade -- or less -- also obviously qualifies.)

You might not like where these uninspiring Spurs will rank on the list ahead of the mythologized heroes of your innocent childhood and hormone-jacked adolescent memories, but you can't deny they won't deserve it.

* - Oh, and by the way: I'd argue that this Spurs team could have beaten Jordan's Bulls champ in 1998 for the same reason that Hakeem's mid-90s Rockets repeat champs would have beaten Jordan's teams: Those Bulls teams had absolutely no answer for a great center. Like Hakeem (who was in his prime, no less), Duncan could have led the Spurs past the '98 Bulls.

So, again, to clarify for the purposes of my argument: Could this Spurs team have beaten MJ's Bulls team, let's assume that I mean Jordan's 1998 team. That Bulls team had no answer for the spots the Spurs were strongest -- PG (Parker) and PF/C (Duncan). And, while no one could stop MJ -- though you have to admit MJ was slowing down by '98 -- I'd take my chances with the player (Bowen) who is arguably the NBA's best perimeter defender of the decade.

-- D.S.

UPDATE, FRIDAY 06/15: I received an email from the inimitable Kelly Dwyer of, who knows far more about basketball than I do. I'm going to paste his email response to this below, and I recommend it for all of those of you who were involved in debating this post. Let me just point out that while I am very fast with a half-baked opinion, I am the first one to see the light (some call it "flip-flopping," but I see no shame in that) in the face of a better argument and -- y'know -- real analysis. Here you go:

"Dan, Dan, DAN. Come on babe, you know I love you; but you have to wait a week before writing that. Let your tummy settle before jumping in the pool.

In theory the Bulls had no answer for that PG/big combo -- but in practice, it made little difference. Watch the tapes of that 1998 series against Utah. Phil Jackson left Ron Harper on the bench too long of Game 1, his body stiffened up, and Steve Kerr was left to guard Stockton down the stretch of the end of regulation and overtime. Stockton killed Kerr, even hitting the game-deciding shot in the lane during overtime.

Jackson then went to the same defense he used to slow Stockton down during the 1997 Finals and 1996 Finals with Gary Payton. On elbow-extended S/R on the right side of the court, he had Harper go over the screen to deny the jump shot -- even though that meant Stockton would have an easier chance at driving into the lane. But, by Game 2, the rest of the Bulls were prepped to cover for Harper going over the screen. Only a career-best game from Antoine Carr in Game 5 put a chink in this, only because he was able to pop up to the top of the key (Ostertag being unable to hit that jumper) and either nail low-percentage jumpers that the Bulls were happy with him taking, or drive to the hole (as a charge/turnover waiting to happen, the Bulls were quite happy in spite of his success rate).

If the S/R took place on the left side of the court, the Bulls forced the guard baseline; where he could either try an out of rhythm 19-footer with Harper to his right and a big in front of him, or bounce the ball out to a wing and start the possession again. The defense didn't completely decimate the PG, but it came close.

Also, check Gary Payton's stats from the 1996 Finals. He was horrid. Then check the stats from Games 3, 4, and 5 -- Ron Harper was out for those games. The Bulls lost two of three, and Payton went off. Harper could lock you up.

I agree, again in theory, that the Bulls were weak on the interior defensively. In spite of this, they were one of the top teams (1st, 4th, and 3rd) in defensive efficiency during their latter run, with the Rodman/Longley combo long underrated. Look at the litany of centers they had to guard in the 1996 playoffs -- Alonzo Mourning, Patrick Ewing (still in his prime), and Shaquille O'Neal. Rodman (mostly) and Longley went at those guys with single teams, as Holzman-product Phil Jackson was loathe to double-team. Three Hall of Fame centers, and the Bulls lost once in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Once. Solid. Those guys could defend.

Shawn Kemp had a fine series against the Bulls in the Finals, but he also fouled out of most of the games and let Rodman set offensive rebounding record for a Finals. It went both ways. And Kemp couldn't be any more different than Duncan -- they're not exactly running any lob-and-dunk plays for TD, as they did with Kemp. Duncan is more the traditional center.

Most analysts tend to look at these hypothetical matchups like the newspaper layouts that precede the Finals or Super Bowl (SF, Advantage: Bulls, SG, Advantage: Bulls, PG, Advantage: Spurs), as if the strong statistical offensive advantage in certain areas is enough to counter the solid offensive advantage in others. It doesn't work that way. On paper, a name like Ron Harper doesn't mean much to people anymore; but I have the tapes -- Tim Hardaway
had twice the season Tony Parker did this year during 1996-97, with Mourning and Ike Austin up front, and the Heat could barely take a game from Chicago during the '97 EC Finals. The "awesome PG + awesome big man = Bulls can't keep up" bit works on paper, but time and time again they shot that idea all to hell.

My concern for those Bulls teams would be its ability to SCORE on the Spurs, not defend them."

Thanks for the reply, KD. I consider myself schooled.

Thursday 06/14 A.M. Quickie:
Spurs' Dynasty, Giambi, U.S. Open, Blogs, More

NBA Finals: "Duncan Dynasty" continues. Is the day of Game 4 too early to crown the Spurs as champs? Please. Even if the Cavs win tonight, everyone knows this thing is over. I'd guess most fans simply WANT it to be over -- euthanizing the lamest NBA season anyone can remember.

So: Where does this dynasty rank among the various multiple-title champs of the last 30 years? I have a stand-alone post dedicated to it, coming later this morning. But I didn't want 400 words on one subject to get in the way of a good a.m. Quickie. (Hint: No. 2)

Selig to suspend Giambi? It's possible, if Giambi doesn't talk with George Mitchell. Of course, given that Giambi is on the DL for the foreseeable future, isn't a suspension just a gesture for the sake of making one? Yes, it tars Giambi's career.

U.S. Open: Obviously, I'm taking Tiger. Why? On Father's Day weekend, he'll be inspired by the impending birth of his son next month. (Can someone at Nike please put the new "Baby Woods" TV ad on YouTube so I can link to it?) (Update: Try this link, user ID: nike, password: news. It's very sweet and obviously clever. It still seems like a good candidate to be YouTubed.)

MLB Stud, Pitcher: John Lackey, who became MLB's first 10-game winner of the season (with a little help from Vlad, who drove in 4 runs).

MLB Stud, Executive: Billy Beane, who got an extension with the A's that will keep him locked up through 2014, enough time to win a half-dozen more division titles without winning a World Series. He has been (and remains) MLB's gold standard for GMs.

MLB Stud, Team: The... wait a sec, this can't be right... Yankees? Eight straight wins and all of a sudden the mood is much brighter in the Bronx, particularly with the Mets sliding (5 straight losses).

MLB Dud: Elijah Dukes. I'm a day late, but with his latest "episode" (impregnating a 17-year-old girl living as a foster kid with Duke's relatives), Dukes is quickly becoming MLB's biggest crazy. And he's only 22! That puts him on pace to shatter the all-time crazy standard set by legends like Carl Everett and... um, Carl Everett.

All-Star Update: David Ortiz won't be in the Home Run Derby. He's put in his years (and not won), so he's got a very excused absence.

NFL: Are the Jaguars – "my" Jaguars* – the lead suitor for Daunte Culpepper? That doesn't bode well for my favorite Jags player, Byron Leftwich. Actually, Leftwich is my second-favorite player now, after first-round draft pick Reggie "F'ing" Nelson, but that doesn't kick in until the new season starts. (* - Yes: MY Jaguars... less than three months from my one-year anniversary as a Jags fan!)

NFL: Congratulations to 49ers coach Mike Nolan, who will get to wear suits on the sidelines, rather than official Reebok apparel, for all eight home games this season.

I always appreciated Reebok's interest in getting a return on their massive investment to have the NFL apparel rights, but it was ludicrous to suggest that coaches couldn't wear suits on the sidelines, particularly for a league constantly trying to button-up its image.

My only question: Isn't it uncomfortable? Why would you want to, when you can wear something a little more loose-fitting? The Jags' Jack Del Rio will also wear suits at home games.

(Follow-up question: Will the initiative to have fans wear suits and ties to the home opener go on? It was created as a protest to Nolan NOT getting to wear a suit. Does this let fans off the hook?)

NBA Trades: Try not to be overwhelmed by the deal to send Juwon Howard from the Rockets to the Timberwolves for Mike James.

Minor-league baseball gimmicks: "Billy Donovan Night" on June 20, when you get to renegotiate the price and location of your ticket (and even negotiate a buy-out). I love it.

Blogs and Media: What a week. From the early-week NCAA live-blogging snafu to this: The Islanders are setting up a "Blog Box" (h/t Deadspin), where indie bloggers can report from the game.

I default to O.G. sports-blog pioneer (and hockey's top blogger) Eric McErlain for his take, which is a must-read.

My take? I give the Islanders a lot of credit for at least thinking creatively about how to work with (some would say "use") independent bloggers. It's worth trying.

I could make the easy joke about how the NHL needs to be as innovative as possible about reaching its fans (and diversifying its channels), but this is something that ALL sports should follow closely. (Yes, even the NCAA.)

More NHL: I appreciate that there are hard-core NHL fans in Nashville who will be devastated if the team leaves town, but there is something more... natural... about the idea of an NHL team in Hamilton, Ontario.

Varsity Dad Alert: Welcome Bryce Maximus James, son of LeBron, born at 12:51 this morning at a whopping 8 pounds 6 ounces and 21 inches. "Bryce James" has a nice ring to it, but there's no question you have to be LeBron James' son to pull off the middle name "Maximus."

Hot Blogger Bracket: I have advanced through Round 2 of the tournament, holding off a tough challenge from Signal to Noise, 55 percent to 45 percent out of 1,317 votes cast. It's only going to get tougher from here.

Apologies: Yesterday, I should have included a link to the John Hodgman segment on MMA from the Daily Show on Monday night. Here's the link. Hilarious.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Wednesday 06/13 A.M. Quickie:
LeBron's No-Call, Verlander's No-No, More!

Today's Hot Names: Verlander. Earnhardt. LeBron.

Spurs up 3-0 on Cavs: Here's how we all know, once and for all, there is no "conspiracy" in the NBA: There was no foul call against Bruce Bowen while LeBron was shooting what would have been a game-tying 3-pointer.

Instead, the ref swallowed his whistle: Did Bowen foul LeBron? Obviously. The Spurs had one to give. The question of the morning: Did Bowen foul LeBron in the act of shooting that 3?

Yes. On its face, it doesn't look like it. It looked like Bowen grabbed him before the shot. But in the NBA, where "continuation" is interpreted as liberally as possible, he did foul LeBron while LeBron was in "the act" of shooting.

Consider: The league's biggest star... On his home court... In the franchise's first-ever Finals game in Cleveland... Shooting the game-tying 3-pointer... Not getting the glaringly simple call.

So save your conspiracy theories, because it delivered a worst-case scenario for the NBA:

Not only does the game end controversially, but – far worse – the series goes 3-0 to the Spurs, making San Antonio's fourth title in 9 years a mortal lock.

(By the way, if you thought things couldn't get worse for the NBA after Games 1 and 2, tying the record for the second-lowest scoring Finals game of all time doesn't help things at all.)

Verlander's No-Hitter: How about this: MLB Stud Single-Game Performance of the Year (So Far)... Justin Verlander, for his no-hitter against the Brewers last night (with 12 Ks, too). Hitting 100-plus on the gun in the 9th? That's sick.

I'm still saying that Dan Haren has been the best pitcher in the AL this season, but don't be surprised if AL All-Star manager Jim Leyland doesn't use JV's no-no to vault him as the AL All-Star starter.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. to sign with Hendrick Motorsports: As with Junior declaring his free agency, there really is no analogue in other sports. This is the most marketable name in the sport joining the most successful team in the sport.

(As drivers are universally associated with their numbers, Junior's switch from his iconic No. 8 to either No. 5 or No. 25 is a merchandise marketer's dream. If Kobe's switch from No. 8 to No. 24 vaulted him to the top of the NBA's best-selling jerseys ranking, Junior's switch to a new number will make that seem insignificant by comparison. If I was Junior, I would keep it in the single digits and go with No. 5.) has its new Editor in Chief: It's Rob King, who I don't know. It's a very interesting choice, because he doesn't have a dot-com background. However, as I've said for 10 years, EIC of is the most powerful editorial role in sports media, so congrats to Rob and all best. (Kudos to SportsByBrooks for breaking the story on blogs, via Sports Biz Daily.)

NCAA CFB: Was Oklahoma giving its players banned supplements? The story isn't that they were, it's that they got caught and exposed. PEDs in college football – hiding in plain sight – is, along with the NFL's version, one of the more accepted forms of willful blindness from sports media and fans. Tracking...

MLB All-Star Voting: THE drama is whether fans will vote Bonds into the NL starting lineup. He dropped to fourth in the latest released vote totals. And NL All-Star manager Tony LaRussa isn't saying whether he'd name Bonds to the team as a reserve.

(Personally, I think Bonds should be in there. Come on, people. Don't you want some drama with your All-Star Game? Bonds is 42,000 behind Alfonso Soriano for the third spot in the outfield behind Carlos Beltran and Ken Griffey Jr.)

MLB Dud: AJ Burnett, who left last night's game with a shoulder injury. Cue ominous music.

More Cubs dugout drama involving Michael Barrett: This time, he mixed it up with pitcher Rich Hill. No punches were thrown, though, so that's obviously a big win for Barrett. Seriously: How many more incidents will there be before he loses the pitching staff entirely?

I love this story about White Sox players offending the sensibilities of Patti LaBelle at a restaurant on Sunday night, with Jim Thome needed to intercede on the team's behalf, because the players were so loud and offensive to the other diners.

NFL: Pacman Jones won't appeal his season-long suspension. If he was smart, he'd spend the season working out, doing community service and rehabilitating his image by being on TV and online. Does he want to keep a blog about the experience? I'm happy to ghost-blog it...

More NFL: Classic Deadspin "someone-sent-me-awesome-photos" post about Jeff Reed, who is no stranger to Deadspn "someone-sent-me-awesome-photos" posts.

NBA Rumors: Why are there legs to this idea Kobe can be traded to the Knicks? The already-crappy team will be gutted of its remaining talent and Kobe -- even in the weak East -- would have a tough time. Kobe needs to be traded to a team that won't lose all of its decent parts to get him. What was so wrong with my idea to trade him to the Bobcats for a re-signed Gerald Wallace and Adam Morrison, plus the Bobcats' No. 1 picks this year and next year? With that No. 8 pick, the Lakers could grab one of the talented big men to play alongside Andrew Bynum.

NBA Draft: Believe it or not, I don't like Joakim Noah as much as I like the other four players in Florida's starting lineup. I do think he takes an inordinate, unfair amount of crap from fans, though I know if he wasn't on my team, I'd probably be mocking him, too.

But you have to give him credit – not scorn – for playing the game the right way: At a minimum, with passion and hustle and with little regard for his own personal stats and entire regard for the concept of "team."

His recent criticism of players who won't go head-to-head against him in draft workouts (cough-Brandan Wright-cough) is totally consistent with his competitive attitude. And that will be an asset for any NBA team.

I was asked to write a preview of Noah for the Atlanta Hawks blog, and here's a link. Here's the takeaway: If a team wants him to be the first, second or even third option on offense, they will be disappointed. But if David Lee can average a double-double off the bench for the Knicks, Noah sure as hell can do the same thing for another team, with a fair number of blocks, steals and assists thrown in.

Golf: U.S. Open is nearly here, and Stuart Appleby says a plus-10 might win the thing. Fortunately for the PGA, golf's drama is about relative scores, not absolute scores.

Cricket: Did Pakistan's cricket coach really die from natural causes, and not from being strangled? Well THAT's not very dramatic...

Karma: Duke LAX prosecutor Mike Nifong himself facing ethics charges.

Sports and Pop Culture: Watching Daily Shows the next night after they are originally on is terrible for my ability to pick out must-see clips. But John Hodgman's "Resident Expert" segment about MMA was totally amazing. Go to to find it. It's worth it.

Blog Industry: Congrats to TVNewser's Brian Stelter, who has parlayed his blog into a bonafide job with the New York Times... and he's all of a few weeks out of college. I haven't seen this written elsewhere, but I'll say it: He is now officially, inarguably, the biggest success story of the blogosphere. And damn likeable too, damn him. You REALLY want to hate a guy like that...

Condolences to family, friends and fans of "Mr. Wizard," Don Herbert, who probably did more to advance an interest in science in this country than anyone else in history.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Tuesday 06/12 A.M. Quickie:
Bonds' 747, Plus a Rant Against the NCAA

Bonds: 747, just as we get word that the BALCO investigation could be winding down soon...

I'm really ticked about this NCAA baseball/Louisville blogger thing, so I'm going to go off for a minute. If you aren't interested, feel free to scroll down past this...

NCAA vs. Bloggers: I cannot stress this enough – the NCAA couldn't have been MORE wrong for ejecting a reporter from a college newspaper who was blogging about a baseball super-regional from the press box.

There are lots of angles, but tis is the part I am going to focus on: It showed a complete tone-deafness to the realities of sports-media production and consumption.

To not realize that live-blogging has become THE most effective and most efficient form of reporting and analysis of sports events exposes the NCAA's ignorance.

I love the fact that the reporter could have been at home, live-blogging the game on TV, without incident. But because he chose to – y'know, actually get off his ass and report from the game, too – he gets punished for it.

The reality of the newspaper sports reporter is this: You better be able to file your game coverage for the actual newspaper edition... AND the newspaper's online edition... AND live-blog, when necessary.

Particularly during the day, when fans are at work and looking for the freshest content, live-blogging is a great way to build an audience and credibility. And it's a huge value to the consumers, too.

Meanwhile, for the NCAA, why would you try to tamp down on something that is promoting your product? So: It's OK for reporters to cover the game in the newspaper the next day, but not OK for the game to be covered online in real time? Apparently.

What twisted logic, particularly for a sport (college baseball) that can use all the media traction it can get. It's not like it's March Madness. Do they really think that fans reading this reporter's live-blog are going to NOT tune in to the game because of it?

If anything, the reporter is appealing to fans who are already inclined to enjoy and follow college baseball. This type of coverage enhances their interest... ultimately, that's GREAT for the NCAA, not a threat.

(The real threat is having the universe of sports bloggers rally around this cause, ripping the NBA in the process. Hmm: I wonder if the mainstream media would have picked this up as their cause, too, if it has been an indie sports-blogger and not a traditional newspaper reporter who happened to be blogging.)

The NCAA needs to do a 180 on this policy now, if only because it makes the most sense for their business.

Eric McErlain has a must-read on this topic.

John Daly saga takes wild turn: His wife Sherrie claims that he assaulted HER, then scratched HIMSELF to try to cover it up, claiming that she attacked him with a steak knife. Yes, it just got weirder...

NBA Finals: Game 3 tonight, the first-ever NBA Finals game for the city of Cleveland. I hope they can enjoy it, given the situation that their team is getting humiliated.

The Finals were over before they even began. And, while a win tonight would only put the Spurs up 3-0 (and not clinch the series outright), it would effectively end the Finals.

Here's the question: Without the Sopranos finale to use as an excuse, will the NBA get anyone (outside of Cleveland) to watch tonight?

MLB Stud: Raul Ibanez, who had 2 2-run HR, and the Mariners won their fourth game in a row (8/9).

MLB: Harold Reynolds is reinventing himself as an online presence, with a new deal to blog and do online-video for I get the sense he would rather be on TV, but if it helps, Harold, I think you're making the right move by going online-only. Tons more upside.

NFL: McNabb practices, ahead of schedule. That just means that the fans' impatience with him will be a few weeks ahead of schedule, too.

More NBA: Kudos the Magic for offering a refund to any fan who bought season tickets off the Billy Donovan signing... Kobe Bryant has the No. 1-selling jersey in the NBA. Really?... the Pistons won't fire Flip Saunders. Why?...

This J.R. Smith story just got a lot worse: The passenger riding with Smith died. This could get much more complicated for him.

WNBA: Remember when Chamique Holdsclaw was going to be the WNBA's Michael Jordan? Never happened. She retired, MJ-like potential left unfulfilled.

Hot Blogger Bracket, Round 2! Don't forget to vote. I'm in a tight battle with Signal to Noise. (Meanwhile, check out the drama in the NL West Region, where top-seeded Will Leitch of Deadspin is being hammered by Matt Jones of KentuckySportsBlog.)

Navel-Gazing: I have always wondered what it would be like to be interviewed by James Lipton. Courtesy of Flyers Fieldhouse, I had the experience... and enjoyed it just as I thought I would! (Commenters might recognize the name of the person who authored the post.)

-- D.S.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Hot Blogger Bracket, Round 2! Vote Now!

We're on to Round 2 of the Hot Blogger Bracket. This round, I'm up against 12-seed Signal to Noise. And you all know I'm scared to death of "the dreaded 12-seed." So help out the cause and vote (yes, for me... remember my slogan: Shamelessness is the new hotness.) From early returns, it looks like I'm in for a fight. -- D.S.

Monday 06/11 A.M. Quickie:
Sopranos, Spurs, Pujols, F1 Mania, More!

So: What did you think of the Sopranos finale last night? As unsettling as the ending was (I won't put a spoiler, but if you haven't watched it by now, I likely won't be the cause of your spoiler-type problems), I like it better than the alternative of definitiveness. My favorite TV critic, Tom Shales, called it "ingenious," and I agree.

NBA Finals: Spurs go up 2-0 on the Cavs. I should say "Finalzzz." If the NBA had a Finals and nobody bothered to watch, does it make a sound? The Cavs are so overmatched, it's not funny... or pretty... or interesting... or anything.

The Cavs' one chance to make this anything but a done-deal is to sweep the three games in Cleveland. And they're not doing that. No one can convince me that the Spurs winning in 6 (let alone 5 or 4) is interesting.

Tony Parker: 30 points. I know he gets to play with Duncan, but wow, do you think he is serving as the template for "super-fast, scoring point guard" as a must-have for any contender?

MLB Stud: It's been an unusually quiet season for Albert Pujols on the "Stud" watch, but he makes it this morning with a 2-HR game yesterday. (A-Rod had one, too.)

NBA Rumor of the Moment: Celtics shipping No. 5 pick to Suns for Shawn Marion? It's a win-win.

If the Celtics want to win now, they need to make this move. And, let's be honest: In the "win now" context, Marion is better (if older and more expensive) than any player in this draft, perhaps except Oden and Durant. Boston needs the player with the 5-pick less than they need Marion to team with Pierce and Jefferson as the best frontcourt in the East. Yes, you read that correctly.

For the Suns, they will miss Marion's all-around game, but – honestly – they can't afford him financially. And if they can plug his role via the draft with one of the three Florida guys (Horford, Noah or Brewer: They all fit in their own way), it's not all that painful.

Arenas Watch: OK, so maybe I overreacted about Gilbert opting out of his Wizards deal after next season. But he's just so unpredictable, I don't like even the possibility he'd leave, even though I'm pretty sure the Wizards will lock him up with the biggest deal possible.

Tennis: Nadal shuts down Federer (again). Roger will simply have to concede that his all-time-best career happens to coincide with the career of the greatest player ever on clay. It's like having four criteria for "greatest baseball pitcher" and "how you throw a knuckleball" is one of those criteria.

NASCAR: Looks like Jeff Gordon is back.

F1: Hamiltonian greatness. Every "niche" sport needs a poster athlete, from Tiger (PGA) to Sharapova (WTA) to Danica (IRL) to Beckham (MLS). F1 needed a superstar to break through with an American audience (to the extent it even can): Lewis Hamilton is that guy.

TV Gimmicks: ESPN is launching a "Who's Now" segment on SportsCenter that will seed 32 active athletes into a bracket and have viewers vote on who is the ultimate athlete.

OK: As a veteran architect or consultant on plenty of brackets in my career, let me save everyone the trouble: Tiger Woods is going to win.

In case you missed it, I spent the weekend guest-blogging at Deadspin for the vacationing MJD. I'm still recovering.

-- D.S.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday A.M. (Very) Quickie:
Meet Me at Deadspin...

I'm still guest-blogging over at Deadspin this weekend, but I seriously missed my usual Saturday "(Very)" edition of the Quickie-style post in the morning. So I'm going to fling through it here:

Gilbert Arenas Watch: This only leads the blog this morning because Gilbert is my favorite athlete in sports -- and he announced he's opting out of his Wizards contract after the '08 season. I am quite upset.

NBA Finals: No one watched Game 1 and even fewer will watch Game 2, particularly between the hours of 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. ET.

Clemens Debut: Not bad...particularly that 6th inning that took him over 100 pitches. I love the career-K see-saw between him and Randy Johnson.

Dan Haren: Forget Clemens. The AL pitcher who has become must-see is the A's Haren, who blanked the Giants yesterday and lowered his MLB-best ERA from 1.70 to 1.58. All-Star starter?

Horse Racing: Rags to Riches bumps "Warriors over Mavs" as my Best Prediction of the Year.

Human Racing: Chad Johnson beat the horse! Chad Johnson beat the horse!

Boxing: Cotto over Judah.

MMA: Tommy Morrison? Worst MMA winner ever.

Golf: Michelle Wie is pretty terrible right now. She had her worst score as a pro yesterday.

Tennis: If you watch one match this year, make it Federer vs. Nadal in the French Open men's final. (OK, just monitor it and see if it goes to a 5th set. Then watch THAT.)

Track: Florida State's Walter Dix is going to be America's biggest superstar at the '08 Olympics.

Hot Blogger Bracket: Success! Thanks to everyone for your support in the first round, where we eked it out against a fiesty Five Tool Tool.

More later, if I can yank myself away from my Deadspin overlords...

Otherwise, see you tomorrow morning when I am back to business here.

-- D.S.