Saturday, August 18, 2007
It looks REALLY bad for Vick: Not only did the co-defendants affirm that Vick bank-rolled the operation (which we already knew), but they affirmed that Vick actually helped execute dogs, by hanging or drowning (also which we knew, but puts a grisly detail at the front of this).
If you're less concerned with Vick doing jail time and more interested if he'll have an NFL career when he eventually gets out of jail, all the details about gambling -- and his role in funding the gambling operation -- opens the door to a lifetime ban from the NFL.
MLB Stud: Brandon Webb, who ran his scoreless-innings streak to 42, the longest since Orel Hershiser's legendary streak in 1988. Webb is the 21st pitcher to reach 40-plus consecutive scoreless IP, making him part of a more exclusive club than the "500 HR" or "3,000 Hit" Clubs. Not bad.
NFL Preseason: Donovan McNabb looked really good. And, all of a sudden, questions about the Eagles (and about McNabb himself) are put aside for optimism, with good reason.
Meanwhile, I watched about 2 minutes of the locally broadcast Jets-Vikings game, and Adrian Peterson is going to be really good, if Minnesota makes him "1A" in their dual-RB mix with Chester Taylor. So good that I'd seriously consider taking him at the back end of the first round of a fantasy league, if I had that kind of pick. So good that, by next season, he'll be a Top 5 pick (a la Gore and Addai).
Vince Young: Sophomore slump? He was 5/17 for 102 yards and rushed 4 times for 9 yards -- and he was sacked four times -- in a Titans win over the Pats. I know it's only preseason; hopefully, he'll get himself together for the regular season. I still think he will.
Carlos Zambrano signs with the Cubs through 2012: As he's one of the Top 3 pitchers in the NL, this was a "must-do" for the Cubs -- of the spending spree over the last 10 months, this was by far the smartest payout (5Y/$91.5M). If the Cubs can get a new owner like, say, Mark Cuban, Z might anchor a World Series team.
Friday, August 17, 2007
Today's Names to Know: Michael Vick, Roger Goodell, A-Rod and Giambi, Cole Hamels, Emmanuel Moody, Ryan Seacrest and Dan Patrick. Let's get going...
Michael Vick's lawyers tell him to accept a plea deal, as early as this morning (there's reportedly a 9 a.m. deadline). (h/t NY Times)
The deal would include 12-18 months of jail time. Wow. I know that this has been coming, but now that it's here, it's pretty crazy: Michael Vick WILL be going to jail, and we're talking YEARS here.
What about the NFL's punishment? They're obviously most concerned with the gambling angle, but a Vick guilty plea would let Goodell off the hook:
He can keep Vick out of the league as long as he's in prison, and he can punt on the harder decision about whether to ban him further for either the crimes themselves or the non-legal "personal conduct" violations related to the gambling, which the league may or may not have evidence about.
That punishment can come later – when Goodell can read the public mood about Vick. Presumably, fans will be more forgiving (if not forgetting) about letting him back in the league after he's done two hard years in prison. But the Cellblock D intramural team just got a HELL of a lot better.
NFL Camping: Is the Vick scandal eclipsing the rest of the NFL? I'm a cynic/skeptic, but I'm with Roger Goodell when he insists that it isn't. And it says a hell of a lot about the power of the NFL that it can take a bodyblow like this one involving one of its signature players and still keep on clicking. (Goodell can thank fantasy football and that old standby, NFL gambling. I'm being totally serious.)
NFL this weekend: Drop your preferred storylines in the Comments.
NFL.com relaunches with a new design: Having used to work for NFL.com (about a half-dozen jobs and lifetimes ago), I'm intrigued. It's an improvement – a serious improvement.
I'm still not sold on the editorial content (it IS a league P.R. vehicle), but the video assets are unarguably fantastic... and that's the entire game right there for NFL.com. They should try to do two things really well: Video and Fantasy, which mostly means having an awesome Sunday scoreboard experience.
My biggest complaint about NFL.com video: Where is the ability to embed NFL videos on blogs? (Without that function, all that happens is that they have to upload their fun videos – like the Fantasy series, which is awesome – to YouTube. The league gets the promotion, sure, but they don't get the actual traffic to their site.)
Speaking of gambling: Looks like Rick Tocchet won't serve any jail time. What a reminder of NHL's mainstream irrelevancy that they can claim "Hey! We had a gambling scandal FIRST!" and not only has it been eclipsed by gambling scandals in the NBA and NFL, but its main gambling guy won't even see jail for it.
MLB Stud: Cole Hamels, the Phillies' young ace who earned his 14th win and has positioned himself as the NL's leading Cy candidate, particularly with the Phillies' surge into NL East contention.
More MLB Pennant Racing: The Cards are surging after sweeping the Brewers. In the
A-Rod in 2008: If A-Rod opts out of his contract, the Yankees are SAYING they won't try to re-sign him. That's quite the threat, given that A-Rod is the front-runner for AL MVP (and has reclaimed his title as the best player in baseball). Meanwhile, A-Rod can probably not only command more money, but find a more comfortable market to play in. (Though unless he signs with
Giambi won't be punished by MLB, a carrot for talking with the steroid commission: Bud Selig sends a signal here – cooperate and we'll go leniently on you. (But will EVERY player get the Giambi treatment, or does he catch a break because he got in line early?)
Julio Franco Watch: He's playing for the Braves' A-ball affiliate... and he turns 49 next week. (The Braves would rather keep him close to Atlanta than have him shuttling around the East in AAA.) Basically, the guy has to hang on one more year and make it back to the bigs: Who doesn't want to see him at 50 taking an MLB at-bat?
CFB: USC RB Emmanuel Moody is transferring from the program over playing time. This is kind of amusing because Moody was among the three USC RBs featured on the regionalized cover of SI's college football preview issue. (h/t Fanhouse)
Given my fandom for Darren McFadden (who, don't forget, earned my personal Heisman Trophy a year ago), I'm sort of comfortable with SI dubbing the season the "Year of the Running Back," but I wouldn't have showcased USC's RBs: The reason USC is a consensus No. 1 is because of defense first, then its offensive balance. Not its RBs.
This is hard to capture on a magazine cover, but I'd say the theme of the year is offensive innovation: LSU has a sick D, but the intrigue is new OC Gary Crowton's wild offense. Darren McFadden is spectacular, but the intrigue is how he has basically created an entire offensive scheme (if retro) around himself, including using him as a QB. Obviously, Urban Meyer turned conventional wisdom on its head by using two QBs with no classic running back. Rich Rodriguez at
Ryan Seacrest to host Super Bowl pre-game and halftime: This isn't ludicrous. Both are entirely entertainment driven, and Seacrest is the face of Fox's entertainment wing. Does he command respect as a football guy? No: But since when are the Super Bowl pre-game or halftime shows about football? (Seacrest's biggest problem is helping Fox find an act that could compare to last season's Prince halftime, which was arguably the best and most credible halftime show in Super Bowl history.)
Happy trails to Dan Patrick, joining the elite group of folks (cough!) who formerly worked for ESPN. I wish him half as much success as I've had. (Kidding, of course... unlike Dan, I had no sweet syndicated radio show deal to jump over to... I did, however, have a sweet syndicated blog to jump over to... one-year anniversary in two weeks!) Anyway, DP, if you want any tips on blogging for your new site, give me a holler. Happy to help.Bolt.com closes: Not sports-related, but I joined Bolt in 1999 as employee No. 30(-ish) to be their sports section producer (among other things) and rode the Silicon Alley dot-com bubble all the way to the point where we topped 200 employees a year later, pulled the planned IPO and began the slow descent. Before that happened, I bailed out for business school, but I've still got a pricey memento: A stock certificate. Sure, it cost me a couple hundred bucks of "real" money to claim at the time, but its sentimental value is priceless as an artifact of a long-gone era. (Wow, between the NFL.com and Bolt mentions, that's two of my many career stops and multiple lifetimes ago. In one blog post! At this rate, I'll have my full c.v. posted by the end of next week.)
Reminder: If you haven't signed up for any/all of the four exciting football-predictions leagues I have created, go to the upper-right corner and sign up. Group name for all of them: Daily Quickie Readers. Get in there!
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Tim Donaghy pleads guilty: He's looking at up to 25 years in prison. Gulp. Good luck reffing the games in Cell Block D, where "spreads" and the "over/under" have an entirely new meaning.
Is this scandal behind the NBA now? Hardly. The Donaghy part might be, but the aftershocks will linger, every time a fan screams at an official "What: Are you on the take or something?!?" Which will happen, oh, only 40-50 times PER GAME. (I wonder if NBA fans in the arena will create an unspoken, nationwide social compact NOT to do that, because everyone knows it would be so debilitating to the sport.)
Beckham Scores: Hmm...maybe there's something to his arrival. He scored his first MLS goal (and assisted on another) in a 2-0 Galaxy win over D.C. United. No one was paying attention, but still: Isn't this what MLS paid him all that money to do -- get MLS attention they otherwise wouldn't get?
Vick Watch: His lawyers want him to spend less than a year in jail in exchange for a guilty plea. Prosecutors have him so nailed that they can afford to hold out, but do they want to just get their guy now and be done with it? (The NFL's punishment, on the other hand, is another matter.)
NFL Camping: Holdout CB Darrelle Revis finally signed with the Jets. That guy better be worth it.
MLB Pennant Races: Indians back in first in AL Central, thanks to Studly Fausto Carmona. I haven't been talking much about the day-to-day drama of the various division (and Wild Card) races, but this is the best year anyone I have talked to can remember, in terms of having all of the divisions be up for grabs this late in the season. Let's hope it continues this time next month.
MLB Stud: David Price, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2007 MLB Draft, who signed a 6Y/$11M deal with the Devil Rays to be the cornerstone of their franchise, which he instantly becomes. Can they/will they get him up to the big-league level before September 1?
(Meanwhile, the Nats gave LHP Jack McGeary, a 6th-round pick with first-round talent who everyone assumed would go to college, a $1.8 million bonus to sign with them, obliterating the slotting system that had him valued around $150K. Bold move for a team that had a tremendous draft haul, that has a terrific batch of young pitching arms in the minor-league pipeline and that has overachieved in the second half of 2007, given the pre-season expectations they would contend for Worst Record Ever. Fun time to be on the Nats bandwagon.)
MLB Dud: Prince Fielder, who was suspended 3 games by MLB (he's appealing).
Jose Offerman: Suspended indefinitely! (Hardly a surprise. Note how you don't hear much from the wing(nuts) of baseball purists who talk about "unwritten rules" that shrugs off the usual violence on the field as "part of the game." (Because that's one of the stupidest notions in sports, ultimately leading to moments like we saw Tuesday night.)
Meanwhile, we live in the Era of YouTube and no one has produced a video clip of the attack yet? What the hell? Get on that, people!
Pac-Man Fever: Well NOW he wants to be a rap star. Truly, he is a talent who knows no boundaries. Get ready for it: Pac-Man's debut "Let It Shine" will be released on August 27. (Obviously, we're all waiting for "Make It Rain 2."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will have to give up his iconic No. 8: Numbers matter in NASCAR more than any other sport, if only because of the merchandising and because announcers tend to refer to drivers by their car number. Much like
Fantasy Football: KSK Keeper Draft Results, if you were curious. (Picking 3rd) L. Johnson (RB); B. Jacobs (RB); A. Johnson (WR); S. Moss (WR); J. Cutler (QB); B. Jackson (RB); B. Watson (TE); J. Horn (WR); Broncos D; S. McNair (QB); A. Vinatieri (K); A. Gonzalez (WR); P. Holmes (RB). (At that point, I had to leave the draft with two picks to go, and the group hazed me by drafting Kenny Irons and the "Houston Oilers" Defense on my behalf.) All in all: Meh.
Big Daddy Drew filed a report over at KSK. What he failed to explain is that I had an episode of "Fantasy Draft Rage." In alternative come-back rounds, Brian from Awful Announcing -- who was picking directly in front of me -- selected (no: STOLE!) not one (Calvin Johnson), not two (Alge Crumpler) but THREE players! (Byron Leftwich was the third).
For Johnson, I was disappointed, but - hey - them's the breaks. When he swiped Crumpler, I lost it, shouting a string of obsenities and threats into the 14-person conference call, all directed AA's way. The rest of the group found this highly amusing. I feel like my draft was ruined. (It didn't help that I didn't have much of a backup plan on any of the picks, with the resulting effect being me blinded by my rage/disappiontment and making a terrible pick.)
Notably, I had never experienced that before. I blame the KSK-fueled environment.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
Michael Vick: It's just a matter of time. He's going to cop a plea and go to jail -- or the Feds are going to slap new charges on him and he'll go to jail (for even longer).
The smart money says he takes a plea, does a year or two and hopes everyone forgets about him so he can return to the NFL after a couple years in the pokey. Hell, a few years in jail might even humanize the guy with fans and the league.
Now, if there are ties to gambling (which everyone assumes there are... you don't get into dog-fighting for the humanity alone), Vick will be done. A lifetime ban isn't out of the realm of possibility.
Speaking of copping a plea, Tim Donaghy reportedly will, too. (Perhaps with the pleas behind them, the Vick and Donaghy stories will finally, mercifully, fade from the foreground of fandom.)
RIP, Phil Rizzuto: Condolences to family, friends and fans. Scooter even enjoyed a moment as a pop-culture icon, via Seinfeld, when George lost his Phil Rizzuto keychain in the asphalt, then had to jackhammer it out.
(That episode is close to a classic, with Elaine moving into the janitor's closet in a neighboring building, just to get the exceptional flounder delivered from a local Chinese restaurant. One of the greatest subtle moments in Seinfeld history is when George, carrying a jackhammer and dressed as a construction worker, and Elaine, dressed as a janitor and carrying supplies, pass each other on the street, nod and continue along their way. Holy cow!)
MLB Stud: Bobby Cox sets the MLB record for ejections by a manager. Not quite sure why we would celebrate a milestone of such appallingly poor sportsmanship, but apparently, this is the Summer of MLB Milestones. Not sure if "Ejection 132" has the cachet of "Home Run 756" or "Home Run 500" or "Home Run 600" or "Hit 3000" or "Pitching Win 300."
Baseball Dud: Jose Offerman, who was arrested after charging the mound and smacking the pitcher and catcher with his bat. This was, of course, in an independent league game, which is why it's a "Baseball Dud" and not an official "MLB Dud." But pretty messed up all the same. (OK, where is the YouTube video?!)
NFL Concussion Watch: Who, exactly, is going to call the "Head-Shot Hotline?" (That's not the real name, but the NFL's concussion phone hotline needs a nickname.) Somehow, I imagine someone will call reporting an injury to the player "Amanda Huginkiss."
CFB: I'm not much of a fan of USA Today sports columnist Jon Saraceno, but how can I begrudge him today after he filed such a slurpishly good dual-portrait of the best college football coach and best college basketball coach in
Tiger is going to create and design his own course in the
Must-Read: Larry Brown Sports has a great interview with Brian from Awful Announcing. Here's the link.
Blog Anniversaries: Happy 6-month anniversary to the Ladies... (God, six months already? The Ladies... are best-known for two things: Being the most popular women sports bloggers online and creating the legendary Hot Bloggers Tournament. And I'm not just saying that because I was a No. 1 regional seed.)
Wow: The DS.com One-Year Anniversary is coming up in two weeks. Yikes!
Fantasy Football: I'm in over my head in the Kissing Suzy Kolber-sponsored Keeper League. I have the third overall pick in tonight's draft. Any specific suggestions as it relates to keeper-league draft strategy? For example, would I take Reggie Bush at No. 3 because I think he'll get even better as years go by? Or do I grab a guy like Stephen Jackson and just play to win now? All thoughts and advice appreciated, via the Comments.Meanwhile, DS.com reader John is running a study about Fantasy Sports. Click here to fill out a survey he's conducting and help him out.
Meanwhile, have you joined up in any/all of the four football-prediction leagues I have set up? Use the links at the top-right, group name: Daily Quickie Readers. Come on: Join in!
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
First things first: Go right over to those links to the right and join up in my four football prediction competitions – two NFL and two CFB. The group name for all of them is the usual: Daily Quickie Readers. Hope you join in. Winner of each gets to write a guest-post on DS.com. (Or, alternatively, maybe a prize that is perhaps a little more enjoyable.)
Next: Click this link to read my Jaguars season preview on Deadspin. As many of you know, I picked up the Jags as my favorite NFL team before last season began. I'm back for Year 2. Consider yourself appropriately appalled.
Madden 08 released today: As I pointed out in the Daily Quickie (I believe in last year's edition on the day Madden 07 was released), the release of Madden has become one of the biggest days of the sports year. It's arguably bigger than any single NFL weekend except the Super Bowl. And it arguably tops any single day's event in any other sport, with the exception of the first two days of March Madness (which, coincidentally, are two days of all-consuming attention, not unlike the first two days you have Madden out of the box).
Vick Watch: Now the other two guys are cutting deals, too. Vick is SO screwed. Doesn't even matter HOW he's screwed. He just is.
Should Vick himself take a plea deal? He probably should, simply to get this behind him (and understanding that he's in a ton of trouble, whether he feels like he did anything wrong or not). Here's the priority: Avoid any association with gambling (which could get him banned from the NFL for life), avoid jail time, take the NFL's punishment (even if it's a year) and, for cripes sake, rehab his image.
How could Vick rehab his image? Once the legalistics are behind him, he can admit how wrong he was, display contrition and become the poster guy for animal care – in particular, being a spokesperson against dog-fighting and other cruelty issues. Give money. Give time. Give celebrity. Create and star in a documentary about it. Write a book about it. Despite the current loathing towards him, I suspect that fans WANT to forgive him – he simply needs to (sincerely) give fans something to hang their forgiveness on.
Related: In an interesting NYT/CBS poll, 36 percent of fans who know about the case think that Vick is receiving preferential treatment. Wow: If what he's getting is preferential treatment, I don't want to see what "throwing the book at him" looks like. Did the local prosecutor bumble the case? Yes. Have the Feds been deliberate? Yes, but that's called "building a case." Has the NFL been lenient? Considering they suspended him indefinitely on nothing more than the indictment alone, not particularly.
MNF Preseason Debut: Last August, on the day of Tony Kornheiser's debut, I suggested he was the best thing to happen to Monday Night Football since Howard Cosell. Unfortunately for all of us, I was a wee bit off. (Cripes: When you make as many boldly superlative pronouncements as I do, you can't be right ALL the time.)
I acknowledge that glaring error in the hopes that you'll forgive me a second straight year of hyperbole, because I was off by one year: Ron Jaworski is the best thing to happen to Monday Night Football since Howard Cosell. "Is it Monday yet?" was brilliant, but here's my 2007 MNF slogan suggestion: "We've put the 'football' back in Monday Night Football."
Broncos 17, 49ers 13: Who's with me that Jay Cutler feels like a late-round steal in your fantasy draft? (Alex Smith will be a late-round bargain, too.)
Bonds Watch: Is 2008 his last year? Needless to say, I don't expect there to be a "Retirement Tour" around the league... although there should be. And any team that wants to juice attendance (home AND road) should sign him. Much like his Home Run Chase, most fans can say they want no part of Bonds, but if you've never seen him in person, you'd be crazy not to attend at least one of his games next season, if only just to tell your kids you did.
Meanwhile, Bonds was greeted with cheers last night in
MLB Stud: Welcome back, Richie Sexson.
Cal Ripken's new job: He's "special sports envoy" for the State Department. I hope administration spin czar Karen Hughes doesn't simply use Ripken for attempted political gain. But, overall, I really like the idea.
NFL Coaching: Here's to Lane Kiffin's quick and complete recovery from whatever viral infection has got him down right now. Gotta show solidarity for an NFL coach who is younger than me.
Pat Riley to coach another three years: I'll take the under.
Sonics relocation to
I feel badly for fans in
So the logical question: How soon can the NBA get a replacement team in
I'm late on this, but... Mark Cuban approves of tanking: It's nice to see him affirm a position I've held for years. Tanking isn't just OK, but in many cases is optimal.
Monday, August 13, 2007
UPDATE: It's that time again! See the "Picks" links to the right to sign up for my annual NFL and CFB predictions games. Same group name as always: DAILY QUICKIE READERS. Tell your friends and join in now!
Just as I was the first to declare that one week in July the "Worst Week in Sports History," let me be the first to declare that happy days are here again. The brutal sports news of last month is long-forgotten:
Old (bad) news: Tim Donaghy, Michael Vick and Barry Bonds. New (good) news: Rick Ankiel, Bobby Jenks and Tiger Woods. (And did I mention that your fantasy football draft is just around the corner?) Yes, there's still Vick and Pac-Man news to talk about today, but there's finally a lot of provocatively good to counter-balance the provocatively bad.
Tiger wins PGA Championship (13th Major title for Woods): So much for this being the year of the No-Name Major Winners. Tiger affirms that it's not a year in golf without a Tiger Major.
(Nicklaus leads Woods in career Majors by 5. What's the over-under on when Tiger breaks that? I'll start the bidding at 2009 for those of you ultra-bullish on Tiger, but won't go any later than 2010.
MLB Stud: Bobby Jenks, who set down his 41st consecutive batter, tying the MLB record. This is a damn impressive streak (and history in the making), friends. I'd qualify this as well worth a live cut-in.
Ankiel Watch: MLB's most endearing story of the season continued this weekend, with Ankiel clubbing his 2nd and 3rd HR of the season on Saturday (that's since Thursday, mind you).
One more MLB Stud: Magglio Ordonez, who became the second Tiger to ever hit two HR in the same inning.
MLB Dud: Eric Gagne. Has done more harm than good since coming over to the Red Sox. It's only August 13 and the Yankees are only 4 games behind in the AL East. Forget the Wild Card: With so many games to play,
Vick Watch: (Can't be avoided) Yahoo is reporting that it's looking like Vick will be suspended for the entire season. Presumably, Roger Goodell will simply use the league's "Personal Conduct Policy" plus Vick's claim to the league that he wasn't involved in dog-fighting to boot him out for the year. (The NFL denies the report.)
Pac-Man Jones Watch: (Again, can't be avoided). He showed up on his TNA show, but used a little rasslin-style theater to sidestep actually joining the acting troupe. After an off-screen "incident," he was "injured," thus allowing himself to "participate" in TNA without actually "participating."
NFL Weekend Stud: Kellen Clemens. After his 16/22 for 174 yards and 3 TDs, how soon before Jets fans are calling for Clemens to replace Chad Pennington sooner rather than later?
NFL Weekend Dud: OK, so about Matt Schaub... The new Texans QB went 3/5 for 5 yards in his
Rebuttal from reader Evan:
You're killing me man. Don't go for the easy dud. Schaub's numbers don't
tell 1/4 of the story. He only missed on 1 throw to a wide-open Kevin
Walters down the sidelines. The other incompletion was actually his best
throw. With a blitz coming from either side he stepped up in the pocket
(something Carr NEVER did) and delivered a perfect pass to walters - who
dropped it. He is the polar opposite of a dud.
Alexander-Tomlinson didn't really happen last night, nor would any reasonable fan have expected it to. LT didn't even play, and Alexander barely did. And we fantasy football owners wouldn't want it any other way.
NFL Monday: Ravens-Eagles and Broncos-49ers. Mostly, I just want to see how Ron Jaworski and Tony Kornheiser mesh. Of course they'll be better than TK and Theismann. But can Jaws help Tony raise (or even FIND) his game?
CFB Preseason: Bad news for Pitt and Dave Wannstedt. Derek Kinder, Pitt's fantastic WR, is out for the season after a knee injury.
Is Darren McFadden entering the NFL Draft after the 2007 season? Well, considering that he's the best player in college football this season and the most gifted running back to enter the NFL since LaDainian Tomlinson, I'd say that he probably should. (Put it this way: Had he been allowed to enter the NFL Draft after his sophomore year, he would have been the first RB taken and arguably the No. 1 overall pick.)
Fantasy Football: With Thomas Jones' injury, picking up Leon Washington late suddenly doesn't seem like such a stretch anymore, does it?
Video: Have you seen this Mike Nugent video? Awesome. (h/t Fanhouse)
Madden 08 release! Coming tomorrow.