Saturday, August 11, 2007

Saturday A.M. 08/11 A.M. (Very) Quickie

Tiger shoots a 63, tying the lowest score ever in a round of a major. It's not the same as WINNING a major, but it's another bullet-point moment of his career.

Bonds: 758.

Titans try to block Pac-Man from wrestling. As they should. (TNA says he'll be at the event.)

No Vick, no problem: Bobby Petrino's Falcons' offense just might be OK with Joey Harrington...

More NFL Preseason: The Vikings offense might not be OK... Randy Moss didn't play... The Saints offense was OK, but hardly prolific... Lots more games today.

Seriously: Is Romeo Crennel REALLY going to decide the starter for the preseason opener by a coin flip? If you're a Browns fan, that has to be totally depressing. Unless he truly wants to undermine the confidence of his QBs, what kind of self-respecting coach would say/do that? I guess the Brady Quinn Era can't start fast enough for Crennel.

NFL Injury Watch: Turns out Kenny Irons, Bengals rookie RB, will be out for the season. Here's to a full recovery and a return in 2008.

Ankiel Watch: No home runs. Ah well. Can't be a Cinderella every time.

MLB Stud: Joba Chamberlain. Forget Eric Gagne: The home-grown Chamberlain is the single-best pitching pickup that any playoff contender added to their roster this summer.

MLB Stud: Bobby Jenks recorded his 38th straight retired batter, tying the AL record and making it the 4th-longest streak of all time.

Lance's Discovery Team folds: One more sign that cycling is all but finished.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday 08/10 A.M. Quickie:
Ankiel, Daly, Beckham, C. Johnson, More!

Today's Names to Know: Ankiel! Daly! Beckham! Calvin Johnson! Matt Murphy! Penny! Pac-Man! Cozad! Mamet! Galactus! And More!

MLB Stud: Rick Ankiel, who would have earned this spot for nothing else than his call-up. The 3-run HR he hit yesterday was just icing – today, he could be the most unconditionally liked player in baseball (the anti-Bonds, if you will).

The Hall of Fame should collect his bat from last night, if only to have an exhibition on "Perseverence." If that homer was the climax of his comeback, what can he possibly do for an encore? (Wear that Ankiel jersey proudly today, Mr. Leitch.)

PGA Championship: John Daly Mania! This might not last longer than this morning, but isn't Daly's performance the most interesting thing to happen to golf all year?

Beckham Watch: He finally played, and I actually kept the game on the screen to see it. What I should have done was turn down the volume on the insipid Beckham licking coming from the TV commentators. He had my attention, but didn't do much once he had it.

Lions 27, Bengals 26: Calvin Johnson is going to be VERY good. How soon before we can refer to him simply as "Calvin" and everyone will know who we're talking about?

(Here's hoping Bengals rookie RB Kenny Irons' knee injury isn't serious.)

Cowboys 23, Colts 10: Tony Romo went 10/11 for 93 yards, in a preview of new offensive coordinator (and presumptive head-coach-in-waiting) Jason Garrett's playbook.

Bonds Watch: His batting helmets for 755 and 756 are going to Cooperstown. I like that the Hall of Fame doesn't trouble itself with Selig-style waffling or pandering.

Meanwhile, I truly hope that Matt Murphy doesn't sell the Bonds ball. What a display of sincerity around a subject otherwise marked by deception and bad feelings.

Penny Hardaway signs with the Heat: I guess we should all be thankful he didn't do the obvious thing and join the bandwagon of former stars lining up to play in Boston.

(Is Allan Houston going to have a comeback, too? Hey: Just because he has the exact same game as Reggie Miller and Ray Allen shouldn't stop him from joining the Celtics, too.)

Pac-Man Fever: Anyone catch Pac-Man Jones on the TNA show last night? Somehow, I don't think he can claim "misunderstood."

MLB Dud: The Tigers, who lost a second straight home game to the Devil Rays. Detroit has lost 6 of 8 and seems to be fumbling its way out of the playoff chase.

Backup punter guilty of assault: Mitch Cozad convicted in what was without question the weirdest sports crime of the last year.

NFL This Weekend:
Falcons-Jets: Life without Vick
Pats-Bucs: Watch those NE WRs
Bills-Saints: Eyes on Bush
Rams-Vikings: Minnesota RBs
Jags-Dolphins: How many Leftwich snaps?
Packers-Steelers: Has Favre retired yet?
Chiefs-Browns: Will we see Brady Quinn?
Bears-Texans: Eye on Matt Schaub
Redskins-Titans: Vince Young Mania
Panthers-Giants: Meh.
Cards-Raiders: Russell the new Leinart?
Seahawks-Chargers: Alexander vs. LT (in theory)

CFB: NCAA upholds ban on coaches text-messaging recruits. Way to keep it Web 1.0, NCAA.

Oregon vs. Boise St in China: If Oregon wants Boise St to play them in China, why are the Ducks asking the Broncos to give up the home game? Why doesn't Oregon volunteer to give up THEIR home game?

Mamet to do UFC movie: I can... What, goddammit?... I can think of... Fucking cripes: Think of what?... Hey, wait... Oh, fuck off. Just spit it out... I'm not sure I want to anymore... Oh, what the fuck: Are you some kind of pansy?... Now see here... Christamighty: I'll say it. I can't think of a better fucking person to do a movie about UFC than David Mamet.

Must-Read: If you haven't read EDSBS' parody of "Who's Now: Tom Brady vs. Galactus," you are missing out on the funniest blog post of the month.

Question of the Day: Did Derek Jeter really give Jessica Alba herpes? If Derek Jeter has herpes, that would be even more epic than Michael Vick having herpes.

-- D.S.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Thursday 08/09 A.M. Quickie:
Bonds 757, Reggie Miller, NFL Camping, More!

Bonds 757: Well, that was fast. As quickly as "756" mania could hit sports fans, it's gone. Just another milestone en route to whatever Bonds' final total is. But every time Bonds jacks another -- and, at this pace, there will be many "anothers" -- the target moves. "756" had its 15 minutes of fame; much like the country's overall Bonds loathing, everything is moving on...

Meanwhile, 756-catcher Matt Murphy seems to have launched his media tour.

Reggie Miller on the Celtics? This is a genius idea by the team – and one that Miller, if he feels up to it, should accept (even though his specialty – jump-shooting – is exactly the same as Ray Allen's). "Let's get the old gang back together" is a wonderful motto: Every player ever thwarted for a ring should clamor out of retirement and join the Celtics. It's the "Dream Deferred Team."

PGA Championship: Umm, OK, I'll take Tiger.

NFL Camping: Did Saints LB Scott Fujita injure himself at a water park after a team excursion? What the hell is the team doing at a place as injury-magnetized as a water park?

Meanwhile, Big Ben had his foot stepped on and limped off the field. Mike Tomlin doesn't seem worried. Bet Ben slides in fantasy drafts held today, though.

MLB Stud: Commenters' choice!

MLB Dud: Dontrelle Willis, who hasn't won a game since May 29, going 0-9 with 4 NDs since then.

Who's Now: I'm late on this, but just to get some closure, please remember that when Who's Now launched, I predicted that Tiger Woods would win in a runaway -- why bother asking the question? Page 2's old obsession with brackets (for which I was a happy obsessive) foreshadowed how Who's Now would play out.

Mascots: The Steelers' new "Steely McBeam" could be the worst mascot name in history. It's as if the Steelers PR team didn't know that the default way to make fun of people is to call them "Something-y McSomething-Unflattering" (like Steely McEmbarrassment).

Prediction: "Steely McBeam" is either phased out (quickly) or abandoned (entirely) by the start of the regular season (if not by the end of next week).

Fantasy Markets: ProTrade is launching their NFL team stock-market valuations today. This might become my default way to evaluate where teams stand.

Varsity Dad: Have you seen the YouTube video of the baby crying whenever she hears the Michigan fight song? Classic. (h/t Fanhouse)

-- D.S.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wednesday 08/08 A.M. Quickie: BONDS 756!

Bonds 756: There. Historic, yes, but sort of anti-climactic now, isn't it? The drama (or, alternatively, annoyance) was in the build-up.

There will be the teeth-gnashing this morning, but now that the record is broken, I anticipate the anti-Bonds sentiment to thaw. It is the resignation that comes with inevitability.

This morning on the "Today" show, I watched Bob Costas piss on the moment. Less than 12 hours after the moment, Costas came across as shrill -- hardly the conscience of baseball, but instead its dour cousin, Mr. Scold.

I respect your position if you find yourself today crippled by self-righteous indignation, but I'm enjoying the history. Last night, Bonds was the antithesis of smug: He seemed entirely aware of (and respectful of) the history he has made.

His tribute to Hank Aaron – and, of course, his tearful tribute to his late father – not to mention his tribute to the fans (even fans in opposing stadiums) seemed gracious and entirely bitterness-free. Bonds could afford to be magnanimous in triumph; the point was that he was.

Back to my original point: 756 is here (and 757 will probably show up sooner rather than later). There is no asterisk. The collective will of Bonds' detractors didn't keep him from reaching the mark.

I'm normally not such a wide-eyed sentimentalist, but if you spend today bitching and moaning about the record being broken, you'll miss the larger (and longer-lasting) feeling of knowing you were witness to sports' arguably most hallowed record being broken.

Mets fan Matt Murphy catches the ball: I love the fact that Murphy was wearing a Mets jersey. He probably loves the fact that he'll make a couple hundred thousand dollars for his effort. (Bonds says he doesn't want the ball, but some collector will pay for it.)

Oh wow: Have you seen the video from the outfield stands? It is insane. (h/t: Deadspin)

Hank Aaron's Message: Aaron obviously realized that his version of the high road -- a video message to Bonds, though not being there in-person -- was the ultimate way to recognize Bonds while still maintaining his own lofty elevation. (Even if he was asleep when the record-breaking home run was hit.) Aaron will get a ton of cred for the move.

(Compare that to Bud Selig, who wasn't at the game in person and could barely register a press release to indicate that he had called Barry Bonds. Selig, admittedly in a tough spot, really bumbled this whole thing. The best news for him is that it's now behind him.)

What Next? Bonds says he'll be back in '08. Again: I think that 756, while historic, will fade into the background as Bonds pushes forward. Personally, I would like to see him hit the 800 mark. Between the rest of this season and a healthy 2008, he could do it.

(The larger question: Now that he has the record and the Giants have harvested as much value as they're going to get from him, do they try to keep him around? They should: Aside from Bonds, that team has little to market itself around.)

Mike Bacsik: I think the whole "HR-surrendering pitcher goes down in history" thing is a little overblown, but for the record, this was the guy. I love the whole backstory about how Bacsik's father pitched to Hank Aaron.

Blogger Reaction (in-progress):

Deadspin Blogdome

Awful Announcing

Armchair GM

AOL Fanhouse 1
AOL Fanhouse 2

Dale Murphy rips Bonds: Seems like the wrong time to say Bonds sets a "terrible example" for our kids. You can question Bonds' methods, but how about the way he honored Hank Aaron or his father or the fans? To be honest, Bonds looked and sounded downright gracious.

Everything else:

Brady Quinn signs with the Browns: The second part of that headline is "Still a douchebag," but at least he can now begin to earn back the fans' loyalty by performing on the field.

Rovell was right: Let's just look back to draft day, when Darren Rovell predicted that Quinn's slide from No. 3 to No. 22 would result in a loss of roughly $17 million. Rovell was right on the money.

MLB Stud: Umm... Barry Bonds.

(Sorry! Sorry! Yes: And Jake Peavy.)

MLB Dud: Anaheim Angels food vendors. Yikes: 100 citations for vermin violations? Bring your own.

Jays-Yankees plunking war: I guess Toronto's season is so over that the only pleasure they can find is in beaning A-Rod and enjoying the subsequent retaliation from Roger Clemens. Then: Back to obscurity.

Pennant Races: I was just in Denver and I managed to get out to the Rockies-Brewers game on Monday night. For a team in playoff contention, Colorado sure doesn't get many fans out to the ballpark. (But I did get to see, in-person, a home run by Ryan Braun.)

CFB: Wanna bet that "indefinitely suspended" Tennessee RB LaMarcus Coker is reinstated by September 15? That's when the Vols play at Florida.

Meanwhile, reportedly Oregon is looking into playing a regular season game in China, against Boise State. Think the Ducks' Nike connection has anything to do with that decision?

World Soccer: DaMarcus Beasley was met with racist chants in Montenegro during a Champions League match. Unfortunately, this is not an unexpected development, given European fans' history.

Sports Media: NBC is being very smart to hyper-expand their online video offerings of Olympics coverage. I'm quite sure it's a move they would have scoffed at as recently as four years ago (let alone 8 or 12 years ago), but it's a new world.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Tuesday 08/07 A.M. Quickie:
Bonds, Schilling, NFL Camping, Weis QBs, More!

Bonds Watch: Oh-fer. I caught last night's 3rd at-bat live. The best thing about it is that little graphic at the top of the screen that explains when Bonds is due up next. Because, obviously, the thing everyone wants to know when they tune into the game is: When is Bonds up next? (Excuse me if that had been on the screen in previous broadcasts. I hadn't been watching.)

Schilling makes his return: Allows 4 runs in 6 IP in a Red Sox loss to the Angels. Schilling is like Michael Jordan at the end of his career, the pitching equivalent of a jump-shooter who needs to rely on guile, rather than former athleticism.

Four words: Michael Vick Chew Toy.

Spurrier vs. USC: Who else's mind was boggled that South Carolina even HAD a standard above the NCAA minimum when it came to accepting recruits? Look: This is a problem that has plagued Northwestern for years, but that's Northwestern.

I just assumed that every other school used that old "1-percent rule" to let in any athletes who qualified with the minimum standard. Now: Is that right? To be honest, it's not an easy question. But it's no argument that schools are in a rough spot when they tout their academic cred, but then behind the scenes have to bend that cred for coaches.

Unfortunately, it says more about the low confidence the school has in the sports programs to take care of the athletes academically (and by "take care of" I don't mean ease through courses, but offer the institutional backing for them to get the most they can out of the college academic experience).

I support bending usual admission requirements for athletes -- IF the school and program have a commitment to the athlete's academic support beyond "coaching them up" (writing papers for them, steering them to "friendly" profs, etc.) to a minimum for eligiblility, then forgetting about them.

Soriano to DL: So exactly how bad is a “torn quad,” because it sounds pretty bad for Chicago.

NFL Camping: At this point, it’s almost entirely about watching out for injuries. Like, say, the one to Colts DT Booger McFarland, whose knee injury might keep him out for a while.

Pac-Man Jones meets TNA Wrestling: Only an athlete as prolifically stupid as Pac-Man could jeopardize his ENTIRE pro football future by getting into wrestling.

Jermaine O’Neal DOESN’T demand a trade to the Lakers, after all: Or, at least, that’s what he and his agent are trying to say. Don’t deny it: Embrace it!

NFL Hold-Outs: So the hot new game is “Who will sign first?” between JaMarcus Russell and Brady Quinn. I suspect it will be Quinn, but both are being foolish.

NFL Coolness: The 49ers will honor Bill Walsh by wearing throwback red 80s uniforms in their season opener. Why not change back full-time? Not in tribute to Walsh, but because those unis are better than the current version?

MLB Scandal: Why would umpires not want increased background checks on them by MLB... if they have nothing to hide? (See how you can impugn an entire group’s credibility by adding the phrase “if they have nothing to hide?”)

College Football: Notre Dame’s Charlie Weis won’t name the starter at QB until the day of the game. He says he doesn’t want to give anything away to Georgia Tech, but I think it’s because he can’t decide (meaning: no QB has emerged yet as starter-worthy... isn’t that not the best sign?)

More CFB: EDSBS has been rolling out its preseason rankings. Here’s the last batch: 13-25.

NFL Fantasy Watch: Is Packers rookie RB Brandon Jackson going to be the steal of the late rounds? If he gets starters’ touches, he will.

MLB Call-Ups: Is Joba Chamberlain the Yankees’ pitching version of Shelley Duncan?

NCAA Problems: Ball State is being investigated for possible basketball infractions – and, in a twist, it’s possible the women’s volleyball coach was fired for being a whistle-blower.

NASCAR Team-Switching: Kyle Busch is jumping over to Team Gibbs.

Track Scandal: Oh SURE Justin Gatlin thought the shot was “B-12.” That’s like saying, “But I thought the hooker was a woman!”

Vick Watch: So the SCLC decided they will not “honor” Michael Vick. Smart move. Probably took them a week too long to figure it out, but they got there.

Yao gets married: Congrats to Yao, who married Ye Li, who happens to be 6-foot-2. I believe that the Chinese National Basketball Team has already claimed their kids.

Random Media: Just heard that the NY Times is going to end their subscription-only "Select" pay-wall that they hide columnists behind. Wonder if "Insider" will go the same way? (By the way, I actually love the thinner paper version of the NYT. Much easier to handle. Yes, I keep my paper subscription, even though I mostly consume it online. Old habits...)

-- D.S.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Monday 08/06 A.M. Quickie:
Bonds, Glavine, Steelers, Shaun White, More!

Bonds 755: He took the day off on Sunday, so we can all "enjoy" the moment (if "enjoy" means "get some hot weekday media-outrage action!")

So what DID you think of Bud Selig's reaction to 755: Hands in pockets. He had a hell of a fine line to walk: Did he do it, or make a much of it? Consider that most of those fans in San Diego probably didn't like Bonds much either, but most seemed to cheer anyway.

756 Watch: Bonds goes for the record at home against the Nats tonight. Quite sure that fans in San Francisco will be cheering. (Though Selig won't be there. Isn't it more important for the Commissioner of MLB to be at the record-SETTING game, even more than the record-TYING game?)

Glavine 300: Tom Glavine joins a club with only 22 other members – and one that will likely become even more exclusive as the years go by and even the best MLB pitchers can't come close to 300.

MLB Dud: Clay Hensley, who the day after giving up No. 755 to Barry Bonds was demoted to the minor leagues. Enjoy the infamy.

NFL Hall of Fame Game: Let the month begin of games where you can count the number of plays the starters get on one hand – and then try to divine the implications for your upcoming fantasy draft.

Steelers beat Saints, 20-7: Big Ben was 2/3 for 73 yards, including a 55-yard play to Cedrick Wilson (think Wilson will see a fantasy "most added" up-tick?) Reggie Bush had 2 carries for 8 yards.

(Meanwhile, Michael Irvin must have a pretty good ghostwriter, to pull that contrite-sounding HOF speech out of his rear end. I'm sorry: No single speech will impact his lasting legacy of personal lampoonery. Part of the reason his speech was so notable was because basically everything else that had previously come out of his mouth for the past 10 years was complete and utter idiocy.)

Chiefs sign rookie WR Dwayne Bowe, less notable for his impact on the Chiefs offense (though it might be big) and more for the fact that he's the pick right after Brady Quinn, yet Bowe managed to sign after a lengthy holdout. Quinn manages to look like even MORE of a d-bag.

X Games: Shaun White wins Skateboard Vert event. Between this and snowboarding, is White the action sports equivalent of Bo Jackson? I'd argue that between his jaw-dropping moves and marketability, he is.

MLB Wild Card: The Yankees were 9.5 games behind the Wild Card lead one month ago. Now, they are a half-game behind. I'm no Yankees fan, but this is very good for baseball.

NBA Crime Beat: Rafer Alston was arrested for assault and public intoxication this weekend.

Tomlinson's new Nike ad: Oh my god, I'm so so SO glad he's on my Yahoo Bloggers' League fantasy team, which has a new Behrens draft recap! (video h/t: MDS at FanHouse)

-- D.S.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sunday 08/05 A.M. Quickie: Bonds 755!

Barry Bonds hits No. 755, tying Hank Aaron's all-time record for career home runs.

(For those in the anti-Bonds contingent who wanted to see the accomplishment minimized to whatever extent possible, you couldn't have asked for more than the Saturday night timing. There is no moment less prominent on the sports radar than an early-August Saturday night.)

But 755 was always sizing up as merely a rest-stop en route to 756, which could come as early as today. Despite the low-profile timing of 755, rest assured Bonds will be the dominant story of the rest of the weekend -- and most, if not all, of next week... up until he hits 756. Then we can all go back to other things.

Two other notable details:

Clay Hensley gave up the shot: Oh, the irony!

Bud Selig was there, but didn't clap. (Is that like smoking without inhaling?)

(Oh, and A-Rod hit 500, becoming the fastest player to 500 HR. On the same night Bonds hits the top of the list, we are reminded that he could be eclipsed within 6-7 seasons.)

-- D.S.