Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saturday 08/25 (Very) Quickie

Vick suspended indefinitely: Is that the same as a "lifetime ban?" Effectively.

Doing Vick in was his statement of facts to the court: Bankrolling a dog-fighting and -gambling operation and killing dogs.

As Roger Goodell noted, the involvement in the gambling operation sealed it. (Not that we all didn't know it was coming.)

As for Vick's future: Jail time and the end of his NFL career.

Just in time for fans to put this behind them and move on to the start of the season...

Maddux: "10/20" Milestone. In a season of MLB milestones, Greg Maddux may have presented the most impressive -- and untoppable -- one yet:

At least 10 wins for the 20th straight season.

When talking about MLB milestones, you know how some people say that there are some -- mostly pitching-related, like those held by Cy Young -- that simply can't be broken by today's players. Well, Maddux topped a Cy Young-held record.

Congrats to one of the all-time great pitchers (probably my favorite pitcher of all time) on another amazing bullet-point in his career.


Josh Beckett earns win No. 16. Pole position for AL Cy Young?

Brady Daddy throws 2 TDs for Pats. Fatherhood suits him.

Jimmy Clausen admits he had arm surgery: Will he be Weis' choice for ND QB?

Reggie Miller staying retired: As mentioned yesterday.

One week from today: College football. (Yes, I recognize that LSU kicks off on Thursday. I'm talking nationwide.)

-- D.S.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday 08/24 A.M. Quickie:
Vick, PFT, Driver, Redd, BlogPoll, More!

Vick won't admit to killing dogs or gambling: I understand why he wouldn't want to, but as everyone believes he did (both), the rehabilitation of his image (not to mention his NFL career) can't (or won't) begin until he 'fesses up. See PFT for more/everything.

Related: Great piece in Slate on ProFootballTalk, confirming what I've been saying all year: That PFT is the most influential and must-read NFL voice found anywhere, online or off. Nice work, Florio.

More Vick Watch: Blessed comedy relief to this story. Vick football cards chewed by dogs are up for auction on eBay and currently being bid at $455.

MLB Pennant Races: The Indians beat the Tigers to go up 2.5 games in the AL Central. If I had to declare a rooting interest, it would be for the Indians, if only because the Tigers enjoyed their fun last year.

David Wells joins the Dodgers: Over/under until the inevitable playoff-crushing implosion? 4 weeks.

Curt Schilling backed off his talk about joining the Devil Rays, but it would be a terrific fit. He wouldn't be on a contender, but he would be a mentor to an exciting young staff, particularly future "Face of Baseball" contender David Price.

Jags beat Packers: More importantly, the Packers lost WR Donald Driver to a foot injury, for who knows how long. Also, David Garrard provoked the stirrings of a QB controversy (though consider he played against the Packers' 2nd-team D.)

Saints crush Chiefs: After seeing the stats, here's the fantasy implication – aside from Peyton Manning, I think Drew Brees is the clear No. 2 fantasy QB in the league (sorry, Carson Palmer fans), and – if you are the type to take QBs in round 2 – he seems to be worth it (I'm a believer in the ol' RB-RB-WR, with perfectly capable QBs to be found in Rounds 5-6.)

Andy Reid's sons are some effed up kids. Maybe the father should consider taking the year off to help take care of what is obviously an incredibly troubled situation in his family.

USA Hoops: Doubles up the Virgin Islands. The question is: If Tim Duncan played for the V.I., could he have made it remotely closer? (Meanwhile, Michael Redd's 3-point shooting was on display. The Redd Factor is the second-biggest reason that USA Hoops will break out of its slump, with Kobe being the No. 1 factor.)

NBA: Reggie Miller won't be making a comeback. That's too bad, because he would have been a welcome sideshow, particularly in Boston.

Beckham tackled: Here's the scoop, Chivas – don't poop where you eat, especially when your "meal-ticket" is the league's biggest/only attraction right now. Perhaps the players were trying to capture some of the Beckham Effect by fronting (everyone else is prostrating themselves), but all you'll do is earn the wrath of Becks' teammates... and the league.

CFB: As I head into my one-year anniversary of blogging, next week, I've been thinking about the individual moments that have really stood out. Near the top of the list was my inclusion in the Blog Poll weekly college football Top 25 ranking, managed by the supremely talented Brian Cook.

Not only did I feel like a bonafide CFB pollster for the first time ever (a dream of mine since I was a kid), but I sincerely felt honored to be in the company of a group of folks whose expertise and passion, I'd argue, is deeper than either the AP pollsters (who don't consume nearly the games or the media coverage of a typical CFB blogger) or the coaches' pollsters (who, when the bother to fill out the ballot themselves, which most don't, are saddled with ridiculous gamesmanship tactics that make standard fan biases seem petty by comparison).

Anyway, the preseason Blog Poll Top 25 is out. Unsurprisingly, USC and LSU are 1-2. Michigan, Texas and West Virginia round out the Top 5. For the record, out of the entire group, there were six other bloggers besides me who didn't vote USC as No. 1.

(Someone will find it anyway: If you follow the links to "individual ballots" you can get a sneak preview of my first Top 25. Full(er) explanation coming Monday.)

-- D.S.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thursday 08/23 A.M. Quickie:
30 Runs, Brady Daddy, Webb Watch, USA Hoops, More!

Oh, mercy! Rangers put up 30 runs: In this Worst Summer Ever for sports, there have been glimmers of glorious frivolity.

Isn't it nice to have a moment when we can all kick back, stare at the 30 runs -- 30! -- that the Rangers hung on the Orioles and enjoy the distraction that comes with something that hasn't happened in baseball since the 19th century.

And it begs a question of particular relevance given that we're in the middle of the Little League World Series:

Should Major League Baseball have a "mercy rule?"

The easy (and obvious) answer, of course, is "no." But maybe there's something to the idea. Aside from the novelty (and the impact on record-keeping), there was little point to continuing the game after the Rangers' lead reached, say, 20 runs. (The Little League mercy rule is triggered at 10.)

Would anyone have blamed the Orioles if newly "un-interimed" manager Dave Trembley had forfeited the game during the top of the 8th inning? (Especially considering they still had a second game of a double-header to play immediately afterward. With the idea of salvaging a split, it's not such a ludicrous idea. I would have given him huge credit if he did forfeit Game 1.)

Perhaps you believe that professional players should have to take their defeats in any and all forms. I was on a JetBlue flight and watched the highlights probably half-a-dozen times, unable to look away, even after multiple viewings. It's hard to feel mercy when you're laughing.

But -- if the (not unreasonable) clever gamesmanship implications of a "mercy"-driven forfeit don't do it for you -- maybe MLB can (or should) learn a little sportsmanship from their pre-pubescent peers.

Tom Brady joins the Varsity Dads: Congrats to Brady (and Bridget). Aside from Tiger, I can't imagine a more theoretically ideal father if you had to grow up the son of a sports star.

Reader E.F. quickly responds with an astute observation:

"How about any father that is married to the mother? What is the point of having Tom Brady as a dad if you don't ever seen him because he lives 2000 miles away from the mom who will be raising him?"

Brandon Webb Milestone Watch: Consecutive scoreless innings streak ends at 42 after Prince Fielder ruins it with an RBI single in the 1st.

MLB Stud: Albert Pujols, who homered for the 5th consecutive game. (In case you were, like me, too enthralled by the Rick Ankiel story to notice that Pujols is still the king of the Cards.)

MLB Dud: Cole Hamels, who went to the 15-day DL, temporarily tweaking the Phillies' postseason-race chances (and his own NL Cy campaign).

NFL: Jerome Bettis admits to faking an injury in Steelers camp in 2000 in order to avoid getting cut.

Rather than thinking of this as scandalous, I think it merely pulls back the curtain on what I can only imagine is an incredibly popular -- and widespread -- tactic among players, particularly aging stars.

(But nevertheless, anytime in sports – especially in the hyper-macho world of pro football – someone deploys the phrase "faked it," it doesn't sit well with most fans' ideas about sports and meritocracy.)

More NFL: Eli vs. Tiki. Seriously, do you really care? Here are two of the least likeable personalities in the NFL of the past year. If they want to feud, let 'em. Neither deserves the air time or attention.

USA Hoops: Thumps Venezuela 112-69, behind Carmelo Anthony and Michael Redd's 17 points. Kobe had only 14 points, but a team-high 5 assists.

Vick Watch: Why would Stephon Marbury defend Michael Vick? Marbury had built up an incredible amount of good-will from his populist sneaker line. Then he goes and erodes it by taking an insanely unpopular position.

Meanwhile, an NAACP leader wants the NFL and the Falcons to let Vick return after he does his jail time. I think that's the wrong battle to pick.

Meanwhile, 50 dogs found on Vick's property will be euthanized if they are not claimed by today. The problem is that the dogs are so brutalized that a domesticated life is probably unrealistic, with euthanization the only humane thing left for them.

Golf: FedEx Cup "Playoffs" and the question: Does anyone really care? Mainstream pundits have made a mistake trying to make this about casual fans.

(I'm not quite sure what a "casual" golf fan is: Someone who only watches the majors? Someone who only watches if Tiger is contending on Sunday?)

I think the PGA's "playoff" marketing is about keeping the more avid golf fans interested, using language (if not appeal) that casual fans can understand.

CFB: Did somebody mention Tim Tebow? (No? Just me wedging him into the discussion? Oh well.)

More CFB: I just filled out my first preseason ballot for the Blog Poll Top 25. The process (not the poll itself) affirmed how difficult (and ludicrous) it is to try to rank teams now. My guiding principle was to rank them based how I think they'll end the regular season (as opposed to my ballot after each week's games, when I'll rank them based on actual performance).

For an example of another BlogPollster, here's the entry from EDSBS. I'm not one to talk, but needless to say, I don't have South Carolina at No. 6. (But my list is so uninspired, so far, that I have to give him credit for taking a flying leap now, when the premium should be on clever choices.)

The real surprise (especially to me, as I realized what I was about to do) was which team I ended up ranking No. 1. (Hint: It was NOT USC.) I'll reveal that (plus the entire Top 25) next Monday to kick off the week-long college football preview coverage.

(Wow, between the CFB preview coverage and the celebration of the blog's one-year anniversary, next week's going to be a big week.)

-- D.S.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wednesday 08/22 A.M. Quickie:
Radomski, USA Hoops, 10 RBI, CFB, RIP SportsLine, More!

When I started writing the a.m. post today, I was wondering if there'd be all that much to write about. Turns out, there's a ton. Be sure to work your way through the whole thing for items on: Kirk Radomski! Garret Anderson! Brandon Webb! Larry Johnson! USA Basketball! Eddie Griffin! ESPN's 25-hour college football pre-game show! And…the death of CBS SportsLine! (No joke.) Tons more, too...

Kirk Radomski named names: He told the Mitchell Commission which MLB players bought steroids from him. Let the water-cooler guessing-game begin. It remains to be seen whether Mitchell will reveal the names – I wonder if MLB will see any particular big names on the list and tell him to keep it quiet. (Related: Why wouldn't Radomski steal Mitchell's thunder and reveal the list himself? He's already going to jail. Must have been part of his plea agreement. Not sure how that can possibly be legally binding.)

MLB Stud: Garret Anderson, for his 10 RBIs in last night's Angels route of the Yankees. 10!

MLB Must-Track: Brandon Webb puts his 42-inning scoreless streak on the line tonight.

Matt Murphy is going to sell Bonds' 756: Apparently, the tax burden was just too great to keep it. (Wouldn't it be cool if sports memorabilia wasn't taxed if you planned to keep it and never sell it, thus gaining financially from it?)

NFL Camping: Chiefs sign Larry Johnson to a 6-year extension with $19 million in guaranteed payments. The question is: After setting an NFL record with 416 carries a year ago, can he possibly keep up that pace? (He was my No. 1 draft pick in the Kissing Suzy Kolber keeper league, so I sure as hell hope so.)

Meanwhile, will Jeremiah Trotter (released by the Eagles) wind up elsewhere or call it a career? And who do you think Romeo Crennel will name as Browns starting QB in the week before their first game? It's like he and Charlie Weis are running the same playbook of "Don't name the starting QB until the last possible minute." Is Crennel leaving the door open for Brady Quinn to start in Week 1?

USA Basketball '07: Can the reconstituted team change the fortune of a franchise more accurately labeled "USA Oops" than "USA Hoops?" Winning the FIBA Americas tournament, which starts today, is no gimme.

(First things first: I refuse to use the label "Dream Team" – the only "Dream Team" was 1992. Everything since then was Team USA.)

Oh, sure, Team USA can capture one of the top two slots to get the Olympic bid (god, could you imagine if they couldn't?), but those of you expecting the team to steamroll to a title obviously have forgotten just how good Argentina is.

The biggest difference between this USA team and teams of recent past? This team has Kobe Bryant. And for all of the talk about "commitment" and "specialization," what Team USA really lacked was a go-to scorer with a killer instinct. Enter Kobe.

(And, yet, what does it say that I'm still not sure that even with Kobe, Team USA can beat Argentina to take the tournament?)

Do you want to buy David Ortiz' Mercedes? What if he'll personally deliver the keys to you? (Is this like the Seinfeld where George Costanza bought Jon Voight's car, only to find out that the car really belonged to John Voigt – NOT the actor?)

Vick Watch (begrudgingly): Vick's reps want a meeting with Roger Goodell before the Commish makes his final decision on Vick's fate. Not sure what good it'll do him. Goodell has no choice but to ban him for life. Or, perhaps, it's simply easier said: Vick will never play in the NFL again, regardless of whether he's banned or simply persona non grata.

(After Vick does his time in jail and after he's done a year of his NFL ban, if he's turned himself into a model citizen – no easy assumption, though it is obvious to the rest of us that that's what you need to do – I could see pitching Goodell on a reinstatement, perhaps after a second year's worth of banning.)

Meanwhile, how soon before Vick is charged in Virginia?

By the way, PFT remains your must-read source for all things Vick (in addition, of course, to all things NFL anyway).

NBA Gambling: Here's what the new NBA gambling-investigation czar Lawrence Pedowitz should recommend to the NBA – no players, coaches, refs, team employees or league employees should be allowed to gamble, even in Las Vegas.

(But gambling is legal in Vegas, you say? True enough, but it's WAY too easy for the legal gambling to turn into an illegal problem. The standard is easy enough: Just don't do it. Are players/employees so allured by gambling's pleasures that they couldn't stay away – what does that say about their potential for running into a problem in the long term?)

By the way, there's been one guy who has been (relatively) quiet throughout all of this: Charles Barkley (correct me if you've heard him speak out a lot about the subject of the NBA and gambling). Given that he's an admitted gambleholic, why hasn't anyone pointedly asked him the question: Have you ever bet on basketball, and did you ever bet on basketball as a player?

Eddie Griffin was killed in an accident, thus ending the life of one of the more cautionary tales in recent NBA history. Griffin was a prodigious talent – quite possibly one of the best prep power forwards in the last 20 years. He showed flashes of instability in college, when he (literally) fought with his teammates. He jumped from Seton Hall to the pros after one year, never really fulfilling his potential at the NBA level. Until last week's tragic ending, he was best-known for his most recent dust-up with the law, involving being caught in a self-gratifying moment in his car. He goes from throw-away punchline to cautionary tragedy.

CFB: The U. is leaving the Orange Bowl. It's a dump of a stadium, but Miami sure has a lot of great memories there of on-field success.

More CFB: ESPN is announcing a brilliant idea: A 25-hour pre-game show next week heading into the college football season opener. (Don't try to argue anymore that college football isn't our nation's No. 2 national pastime behind the NFL.) There are a couple of amazing details (via USAT), like what will they do overnight? Well, Hawaii has moved its practice just so it can have the 3 a.m. slot all to itself. Live-bloggers, you have been challenged.

By the way, Orson at EDSBS just put out his Week 1 viewing guide. Seriously: If you're not reading EDSBS every day (or multiple times a day), you're missing out on the single greatest college football blog experience.

CFB Preview: I know that my CFB ramp-up on the blog has been iffy (huge week next week, I swear), but here's today's question – which players aren't on the Heisman radar, but should be? I'm not saying they'll win (anyone – particularly a dark horse – will have a hard time eclipsing Arkansas' McFadden, and if not D-Mac then USC's Booty, and if not Booty then Louisville's Brohm). I'll have my Top 10 Heisman Watch List next week.

By the way, speaking of commenter response, that was an incredible discussion in the comments yesterday about which athlete is the biggest waste of talent of all time. If you haven't checked it out, click on the post below and scroll through the comments.

H.S. Football: USA Today's Top 25 came out and, unsurprisingly, Southlake (TX) Carroll is No. 1. Intriguingly, they have a game scheduled for mid-September against the team ranked No. 2: Controversial Miami Northwestern, which should feel lucky to even field a program this season. It's a de facto national championship game – in September!

Online Sports Media: RIP, "SportsLine." Buried at the end of Heistand's USAT column is the note that CBS is changing the name of its sports site from "SportsLine" to ""

Thus ends a branding era in online sports that began in the mid-90s as an intriguing (if inferior) competitor to; signed one of the original "anchor" programming deals with AOL (back when AOL was everything), demanding my first company (acquired by AOL) be put out of business as part of the deal terms; enjoyed an IPO; got swallowed by CBS; went through a tailspin decline of relevancy; brought in non-talents like Gregg Doyel (but smartly developed the only columnist on the site worth reading, Clay Travis); went through even more of a precipitous decline of relevancy; and, now, finally, simply gives up on its old brand name and will likely slink even further from view, despite the monster presence of CBS Sports' TV engine behind it. football predictions games: The clock is ticking down. Sign up using the links on the right. Group name: Daily Quickie Readers. (No password needed!)

-- D.S.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tuesday 08/21 A.M. Quickie:
Vick, Ankiel, Jenks, Grossman, Durant, More!

Michael Vick to plead guilty: Let the closure begin! But only after we speculate over...

How much prison time he'll do!
(Over/under: 12 months)...

When the Falcons will waive him!
(Not soon enough)...

And if his NFL career is over!
(Assumed jail time + NFL suspension afterward + radioactive reputation + the decline of age = all signs point to yes)...

Vick Fatigue? At this point, I think most fans are ready to put the whole thing behind us. We've all got fantasy teams to manage or real-life teams to obsess over.

But there's an interesting spin-off question, now that we're headed into the home stretch of Vick joining the Oz intramural team...

Biggest Waste of Talent Ever? Michael Vick will star in his own version of "The Longest Yard," while the rest of us consider – if we consider anything – what an epic waste of talent Vick has managed to pull off.

Depending on how you feel about Vick as a QB talent -- you can't deny what was his superstardom -- he might have finalized his status as the biggest waste of talent in modern sports history.

Commenter question: Who are the biggest wastes of talent in modern sports history. Consider an elastic definition of "waste," from "coulda-been" waste (Len Bias) to "never-was" waste (Tony Mandarich or Todd Marinovich). I contend Vick is the biggest waste of all.

Then thank the sports fates for perhaps the most classic antithesis of a waste of talent, featured in the next paragraph...

Cardinals within 3 games of NL East Central lead: That would be thanks to a win, led by yet another home run from Rick Ankiel (along with Albert Pujols... how amazing is it that Pujols takes a backseat on his own team, in terms of intriguing must-see player?) YES YES I AM A MORON FOR SAYING EAST. DAMN!

Jenks Watch: He wasn't able to break the MLB record of retiring consecutive batters (gee, thanks, Joey Gathright), but he still ties it at 41, in what could be the most remarkable "milestone" record in what feels like a season of them.

MLB Stud: Mark Teixeira, who hit 2 HR (for the 2nd straight game).

MLB Hot Waiver Action: Jeff Conine joins the Mets. Don't laugh: Jeff Conine has TWO rings. TWO. Say it again: TWO RINGS.

I'm late on this but...: Read this Slate column about MLB's Pitch f/x. I buy it: It's going to revolutionize statistical analysis. (The technology, not the column itself.)

NFL Camping: Trent Green was named Dolphins starting QB. Seriously, this was in doubt? Isn't this why they brought him in? (Is Cleo Lemon that good? He might be, yes. Just not yet. And by then, John Beck will be ready to step in. And Cleo gets the shaft... again.)

Bears 27, Colts 24: And that was DESPITE Rex Grossman, who provided a full game's worth of his personal brand of triple-threat (INT, fumble(s), sacks) -- in all of 26 snaps.

CFB: Jimmy Clausen cited for transporting alcohol. Actually, I didn't know either that transporting someone over 21 to get alcohol, if you're under 21, is illegal. It's not like he was boozing it up himself. No: A college freshman would NEVER drink alcohol. It's UNHEARD of.

More CFB: Sam Keller named starting QB at Nebraska. The Arizona State transfer seems like the best fit yet for Bill Callahan's "This Ain't Your Daddy's/Momma's Huskers" Offense (a.k.a. the West-Coast offense). Keller is thrown into a brutal situation immediately: After a opening-week warm-up vs. Nevada, Nebraska plays at Wake Forest, then hosts No. 1 USC, only the toughest defense in the country.

Uniform Watch: Iowa State is letting fans choose its football helmet design. Here's the link. I would personally prefer the one that says "Cyclones" in script over the "I State" and "ISU" versions. But I won't vote, because it should be left to Iowa State fans to decide. I'm an online populist, so I approve the tactic, but they don't need me skewing the results best left decided by real fans.

In case you missed it: Yesterday was the debut of my new weekly college football guest-post on Deadspin. I'm thrilled to be writing it, with a lofty bar already set by Deadspin weekly soccer correspondent David Hirshey, who – as one person astutely remarked to me yesterday – creates the single-best soccer column in America today.

USA Hoops: Kevin Durant was the last guy cut in order for the team to make the 12-man limit for the FIBA Americas tournament that starts tomorrow. Management has gone away from the "any-star-that-will-have-us" to not only demand a multi-year commitment from the superstars, but to fill out the roster with role players like Mike Miller and Tyson Chandler. (I still contend that the No. 1 difference-maker will be having Kobe Bryant, the unstoppable scoring threat.)

RIP, "Wild Bill" Hagy, the uber-Orioles fan who I remember so fondly from my childhood as the lunatic who stood up and led the crowd in a cheer of "O-R-I-O-L-E-S! Orioles!" by using his body to form the letters.

Name to Know: Sheila Drummond, the blind golfer who hit a hole in one. Feel-good story of the week.

You ARE smarter than me: Just a reminder to hit the links on the right and sign up for any/all of the four football prediction games that I created leagues for. Group name: Daily Quickie Readers.

-- D.S.

Monday, August 20, 2007

My New Weekly CFB Column Debuts on Deadspin!

Here's the link. Totally exciting. Running weekly, every Monday, on Deadspin. Sort of like David Hirshey's weekly soccer column -- eh, less brilliant.

Monday 08/20 A.M. Quickie:
Vick, Santana, Quinn, Artest, HS Musical 2(?!)

OK, so why hasn't Michael Vick entered his negotiated guilty plea yet?

I ask because, reportedly, the Feds are set to create a "superseding" set of charges, including racketeering. That's the charge that serves as code to the NFL (and everyone else) of GAMBLING.

("Superseding" means that the new indictment takes over for the other one, and it means things get MUCH worse for Vick: Tougher plea bargain, longer jail time, the works.) It could happen as early as today.

Meanwhile, the judge wants to remind everyone that while Vick can negotiate a specific jail sentence, the judge isn't bound by that. He can (and should) use it as a guideline, but he has the discretion to do whatever he wants, in the event of a guilty plea (or verdict). Wouldn't that be crazy if Vick negotiated a 12-month sentence and the judge boosted it to, say, 48? It's not like it matters: By all accounts, Vick has seen his last game as an NFL player.

UPDATE: Jason from East Coast Bias actually talked with the local county prosecutor Poindexter, who rejected rumors that Vick's plea deal with the Feds will include dropping state charges. Poindexter, apparently, wants his own bite, too. (Kudos to Jason: Sports bloggers doing first-hand reporting... and investigative reporting, no less! A credit to all of us!)

MLB Stud: Johan Santana, who struck out 17 in a 2-hit, 8-inning masterpiece on Sunday. He might not win the AL Cy Young award this year, but it was a reminder who the best pitcher in baseball is.

(Milestone Watch: John Smoltz passed Phil Niekro as the Braves' all-time strikeout leader?)

CFB: AP Top 25 announced over the weekend, and unsurprisingly, USC is No. 1. Let's kick off our two weeks of college football preview coverage with this question: What did you think of the opening AP Top 25? Who is overrated and who is underrated? Which unranked team is most likely to surge into the top half of the polls by the end of the season? I'm so excited about the start of college football season.

NBA Scandal Watch: While it doesn't look like any other refs were involved in anything criminal, all signs point to more refs being involved in inappropriate behavior related to gambling. One official mentioned "football pools," which are benign enough in the abstract, but the league's prohibitions against refs getting involved in ANY type of gambling are there for a reason.

MLB Pennant Races: The Yankees are 4 GB the Red Sox in the AL East, but still .5 GB the Mariners for the Wild Card.

(I wonder if that rain-cancelled Cubs-Cards game will come back at the end of the season with huge playoff implications?)

Colts-Bears tonight: Please don't call it a Super Bowl rematch, except for the handful of plays where both teams' starters will be on the field facing each other. And, even then, it's a stretch...

NFL Weekend Review: Two words: Brady Quinn. Tough weekend for the Quinn-haters, because he came off the bench to win back Browns fans and amp up the pressure to get him in the lineup ASAP.

NFL Fantasy Watch: So what were the biggest revelations of the weekend, as they relate to fantasy drafts being held this week? Was it Quinn? I'd nominate the Travis Henry injury, which just affirms that you take ANY Broncos RB at your own risk. Looks like Brandon Jackson is going to be the Packers starting RB...hmm... Any others?

Have you signed up for any/all of the football-prediction leagues that I created? Check out the links on the right: Two for the NFL and two for college football. It's going to be a ton of fun. Sign up today!

NBA: Ron Artest to the Heat? That would continue the East's surge and effectively kill the mo that Boston has been enjoying. Start with this: Wade, Shaq and Artest is a better "Big Three" than Garnett, Pierce and Allen. (And, like the Bulls and Rodman in the late-90s, I think Wade and Shaq could keep Artest in check.)

Just because I'm always impressed by superlatives: "High School Musical 2" was the most-watched cable show ever. Wow. Take that, MNF. (Perhaps Jaworski and Kornheiser should sing their analysis?)

-- D.S.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday 08/19 A.M. (Very) Quickie

Brady Quinn: All is forgiven, forgotten? After his stupid holdout, he's back in the good graces of Browns fans after getting into his first exhibition game and leading the team with two 4th quarter TD passes. It's exciting, to be sure, but Browns fans lose any future rights to mock other fans for being bandwagoneers. They earn the label "Flip-Flop of the Year."

More NFL Preseason: Matt Schaub: No, wait: He's good! (9/12 for 108)... Jay Cutler: No, wait: He might not be ready for prime time... Matt Leinart: No, wait: The breakout just might come this year after all... The Bengals Defense: Booed by the home crowd (Drew Brees and the Saints offense picked them apart).

Fantasy Football Injury Watch: Keep an eye on Travis Henry's knee...

Bonds: 760.

CFB AP Top 25: USC is No. 1, of course. Defending champ Florida -- No. 3 in the coaches' poll -- is No. 6, behind LSU, West Virginia, Texas and Michigan, in that order. (Man, that Florida-at-LSU game is already shaping up as a de facto national-championship semifinal.)

(Meanwhile, now that both major preseason polls are out, it reminds me of three ludicrous things: (1) That we put any cred in a poll before a game has been played. (2) That any sport has two recognized and competing standards -- that USA Today and ESPN will rank a team differently than an organization that follows the AP. (3) That the AP, which so high-mindedly yanked itself from the BCS formula because they insisted they didn't want to "make the news" continues to make the news by running and promoting a poll of its own.)

Beckham in NYC draws 66K in his first MLS start: At least MLS will realize that they need to import a European soccer star to the Red Bulls, like, NOW.

White Sox keep Jermaine Dye: 2Y/$22M. Given the rest of their roster, they were smart to make a move to try to win big (again) in a two-year window.

CFB: Notre Dame Watch. Even if ND *is* "rebuilding," as long as they hit that X-win BCS hurdle -- regardless of ranking or actual worthiness -- one of the BCS bowls will pick them, as they always have. (Now, whether ND can actually win 8 games is up for debate. Says here they will: With the usual BCS bowl blowout loss as a reward.)

43-year-old Vinny Testaverde -- the NFL's Julio Franco -- re-signed with the Pats.

-- D.S.