Saturday, September 29, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
Though they have been a rising team for years, South Florida is officially this season's national Cinderella. Undefeated. Suddenly the team to beat in the Big East. And, at least on my Top 25 ballot, a serious contender to vault from the teens into the Top...5? They sure look like it.
(For West Virginia, any shot at the national title is over. Crazy: West Virginia and Louisville -- the Big East's presumptive "national" contenders -- are done, replaced by South Florida and Rutgers. Lurking as the spoiler -- the "new South Florida," if you will -- is Cincinnati.)
Names to Know: Mets, Phillies, Rockies, D'backs, Padres, Cubs, Brewers, Brian Griese, Brett Favre,
HUGE weekend ahead in sports: MLB has its final weekend (with pre-playoff playoffs on the horizon for next week), with the NL playoff field still up for grabs... NFL Week 4... CFB with something close to a playoff quarterfinal (
MLB NL Playoff Racing: Amazingly, there was only one NL game played last night without playoff implications. Here we go...
Aaand we have a tie in the NL East! The Mets collapse is near-complete. After a limp (even resigned?) 3-0 loss to the Cards and a 6-4 win by the Phillies over the Braves,
NL West: D'backs, Padres,
The D'backs saved ace Brandon Webb for the
Still: If you have no rooting interest in this NL race, how can you not cheer for the
Wild Card: The Padres lead the
NL Central: The Brewers missed a chance to pick up a critical game on the Cubs; both teams lost. With three to play, the Brewers are down 2, so the Cubs would have to REALLY screw this up to not make the playoffs.
NFL Week 4: It's the first bye week (TEN, NO, WSH, JAX), so manage your fantasy team accordingly. If you have Steven Jackson or Larry Johnson, however, there is no help for you, no matter what you do. For those two, every week is a bye week. The picks:
HOU d. at ATL
NYJ d. at BUF
BAL d. at CLE
At DAL d. STL
CHI d. at DET
At MIA d. OAK
At MIN d. GB
SEA d. at SF
At CAR d. TB
PIT d. at ARI
At SD d. KC
PHI d. at NYG (SNF)
NE d. at CIN (MNF)
LW: 6-10 OUCH! (07: 29-19)
Notes: To recap, I'm picking road teams to go 8-6... All eyes on: Brian Griese... Freak Watch: DeAngelo Hall... If the Ravens are going with "McNoller" at QB, I want to see the Browns go with "Anderquinn"... Will the Rams officially take over as the league's worst team?... Is it midnight yet for Brett Favre? Yet, the records will keep falling... Maybe Alex Smith will play better without Vernon Davis bugging him for the ball... Think Ken Whisenhunt is bitter about running the Cards' offense, not the Steelers' offense?... Here's a solid ultimatum: If Norv Turner can't beat the lowly Chiefs (in
CFB Tonight: One of the most intriguing games of the year --
Game of the Week:
1 USC over at
2 LSU over at Tulane
10 Rutgers over
UMass over 12 B.C. (UPSET SPECIAL!)
13 Clemson over at Georgia Tech
21 Penn State over at
NBA: LeBron will host "SNL" season premiere on Saturday. Sort of like "Anything Peyton can do, I can do better?" I actually think LeBron, based on his "multiple-personality" Nike ads, has a nice little sense of comedic timing. Still, I know LeBron is a huge celebrity among athletes, but... THIS is the best SNL could do for booking a host for its season premiere?
Notre Dame SuckWatch: Former QB Demetrius Jones, forbidden from transferring to Northern Illinois, will transfer to
Top 100 Most Powerful in Sports: Roger Goodell leads the list, compiled by Business Week and ESPN Mag. Taken as a whole, the list is a little too stale for my tastes.
(Really: John Madden at No. 81? The most influential sports-media talent? Why: Because he lends his name to a popular video game? Because it sure can't be because of his actual on-air influence. Not to slurp, but I'd argue that Will Leitch or even PFT's Mike Florio is a lot more influential than Madden.)
Anyway, the best analysis of the list comes from Darren Rovell, who – in his own right – probably merits consideration for the Top 100, given his status as the leading pundit of sports business. Here's his take.
NHL Season Opener: Umm...yeah. I leave that up to you hockey fans to fill in.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Today's Names to Know: NL West, Kyle Lohse, Josh Fogg, Barry Bonds, Michael Vick, Mike Winters, Hope Solo, Shawn Marion, T.K. Weatherell, Reggie Bush vs. Percy Harvin and More.
NL Playoff Racing: The National League presents the most exciting season-ending four-game stretch I can remember. The NL West is raging. The NL East is up for grabs, with the Mets on the verge of an epic collapse to rival
Mets collapse continues: Only 1 game in front of the Phillies. Four games to play, and it's too close to call. (If you're not a Mets or Phillies fan, you've got to be rooting for the one-game playoff.)
Phillies win: Behind...Kyle Lohse?! OK, let's give him the MLB Stud of the Day award. What an unlikely September hero.
NL West is best: If this situation was happening in the AL East, people would be freaking out and saying "Best Division Race Ever!" The division is up-for-grabs, and the Wild Card is too.
Meanwhile, the Rox have one game left against the Dodgers tonight -- then three at home against the D'backs to end the season.
Yankees clinch a playoff berth: 13th straight, but that's not the point. Think back a few months to when the Yankees were absolutely reeling. Most fans had gleefully written them off. And, yet, here they are: Back in the playoffs... again.
Bonds 756 Ball: The fans have spoken and the ball will be branded with an asterisk then sent to the Hall of Fame. I think that any self-proclaimed "purist" who voted for the asterisk loses their "Purist Club Membership." But I also appreciate the asterisk as a symbol of an era in baseball that should be marked, no pun intended. I wish it wasn't on the ball, but I'm nothing if not a fan of letting fans decide. 81 percent of fans wanted to see the ball in the Hall of Fame, one way or the other.
Bonds' final game in
Now, here's the natural intrigue: Next season, when Bonds comes to town with another team, will Giants fans cheer or boo?
Vick tests positive for marijuana: Just when you thought the story couldn't get any more effed up... there you go. Let's see: House arrest until he stands trial? Sure! Additional suspension time from the NFL? Why not! It's not like he'll ever play again anyway. At least, NOW he won't.
Mike Winters is the new Joey Crawford: For being a complete d'bag to baseball's biggest nutjob player, ump Winters was suspended for the rest of the season (which means how he acted was probably WAY worse than what anyone in the public really knows).
US Women's Soccer controversy! Coach Greg Ryan benches Hope Solo for Briana Scurry. Here's the problem: Solo is a total hottie – by far my favorite on the team. (I'm not saying to play her only because she's hot. I'm just saying that she's my favorite on the team.) By the time most of you read this, the
UPDATE: US routed by Brazil, 4-0. Ouch. Yikes. Even Dwight from The Office in those hilarious ads can't help them now.
Shawn Marion wants to be traded: The question is: Can Marion be anywhere near as effective without playing alongside the best point guard in the NBA? I think he merely needs to play with a GOOD PG to continue to be one of the weirdest matchups in the NBA. And if he can get himself into the East, he could maintain his status as a Top 20 player.
More NBA: The league hired an ex-ref to monitor refs, an obvious move (almost as obvious as firing Jackson and Nunn, who ran the refs before). I wouldn't have hired an ex-ref: I would have hired a quant expert from Vegas' top sportsbook.
Roy Tarpley is suing the NBA and Mavericks, claiming they violated the Americans with Disabilities Act when they wouldn't reinstate him. His disability? Being a recovering drug and alcohol abuser. He doesn't want to play (he's 42) but is looking to restore his reputation. Feels a little late in the game for that. (But, then again, isn't it quaint to remember that players used to be banned for drug and alcohol abuse, rather than, say, gambling on games or killing dogs?)
Academic scandal at
PED Watch: Of the huge DEA steroids bust from earlier this week, the craziest detail (via the NYT) was that a bunch of dealers were peddling PEDs on MySpace... to the children! (Obligatory Helen Lovejoy quote: "Won't anyone please THINK of the children!")
Beckham Watch: David's dad had a heart attack and Beckham flew back to
More MLB: Jim Leyland wants a contract extension with the Tigers. I'd say he's earned it.
Wait: Where's the NFL news? We've already covered Rex Grossman ad nauseum. Interesting tidbit at the top of Pro Football Talk this morning: Is Reggie Bush overrated? (Or, more precisely, is he not nearly as good as he is popular?) It all comes down to how creatively they can use him, because he's simply not an every-down running back (like, say, Adrian Peterson).
One interesting point made in the PFT item was that it might impact the draft status of
But where Harvin will have an easier time proving NFL value and worth is that he's a wide receiver who happens to sometimes get the ball in the backfield, rather than Bush, who is a running back who happens to sometimes line up at wide receiver.
Tebow Watch: Was I so crazy to rank Tim Tebow as my Heisman front-runner as of this week? Was I so crazy to devote the lead of my Deadspin guest-post to him? Well, Pete Thamel (the best college football reporter in the country) has Tebow ranked No. 1 right now, with an inspired pick of Andre Woodson at No. 2. Here's the link.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Today's Names to Know: Michael Vick (ugh: still?), DeAngelo Hall, Deuce McAllister, Rex Grossman, Barry Bonds, Prince Fielder, Mike Gundy, Carl Edwards, Bill Wirtz and More.
Michael Vick indicted (again), cont'd: (Why do I feel like I should apologize for leading with Vick? Feel free to skip right ahead.) So grand jurors didn't stick Vick with an indictment on the killing of dogs, which could have brought 40 years of jail time. Apparently, the local DA Poindexter completely screwed up the process. This was a lay-up: Vick had already confessed to killing dogs! Yet somehow the jury didn't come back with any indictments about that. Vick could still do another 10 years, which ain't puppy dogs and ice cream. (What: Hits too close to home?)
DeAngelo Hall's teammate beat-down: There's no justice like the kind dispensed by teammates, behind closed doors. This was no dorky "Kangaroo Court" or standard hazing; that's apparently the beat-down Hall got for being such a complete dolt both on the field and off of it during Sunday's meltdown.
Deuce McAllister is out for the season: As mentioned yesterday, this means that it's put-up-or-shut-up time for Reggie Bush and his legion of fanboys. Is he an every-down running back in the NFL? I suspect not. And how much will increased carries impact his ability to do things as a receiver? Bush has yet to prove he's the next coming of Marshall Faulk.
Rex Grossman to be benched by the Bears: The QB affectionately known around the blogosphere as the "Sex Cannon" (h/t: KSK) will now become the league's most virile backup. I'm just not sure how much Brian Griese will change things. However, I'm willing to trust the market: What do Griese's "Added" percentages look like in the fantasy leagues? Personally, I remain a fan of Grossman's, going back to college – he was the QB at
(* - Standard disclosure: Utterly shameless and nominally humiliating bandwagon
Barry Bonds' final home game in
MLB Playoff Chase:
(If I had my preference, I'd like to see the Cubs win the NL Central, the Phillies win the NL East, the D'backs win the NL West – because they're so freakish, see link below – and the
Meanwhile: Mets lose, but Phillies lose, too. The Cubs lost, and the Brewers won –
MLB Stud: Prince Fielder, who hit 2 HR and at 23 became the youngest player in MLB history to hit 50 home runs. I don't think this should be understated: He's one of baseball's true phenoms – I mean, just look at his body – and has the chance to be a Face of Baseball.
MLB Must-Read: Great WashPost article about the how the D'backs have defied the Pythagorean theory about runs scored relating to expected winning percentage.
MLB Hiring: Are Pirates fans excited about the team hiring Neal Huntington as GM?
Upon further reflection, Milton Bradley's season-ending injury is quite possibly the most effed-up on-field-ish injury I have ever heard of. Not only was he hurt being held back by his coach during a tirade on an ump, but apparently the ump went rhetorically batshit crazy on Bradley to incite him.
Jenni Carlson vs. Mike Gundy, Cont'd: He wants to put his YouTube moment behind him; she wants to know where the errors were in her column. I think Gundy was a moron to blitz Carlson like that. It had to have been intentional and premeditated; in the age of YouTube, only a moron would do something like that not understanding the consequences. (It doesn't help that I suspect his tirade was based in part on misogyny, not entirely on a dislike of sports media.) Now, Gundy is forever best-known as the college coach who freaked out; unfortunately for Carlson, when you're a top Google search for the day, she will forever be best-known as his target.
Kudos to reader Jason H., who called me on ripping AP voters for having
(Also: Settle another email question I had about my BlogPoll rankings – who should be ranked higher this week:
Notre Dame SuckWatch (TM): Quote from
NASCAR Cheatin': Carl Edwards drops from 3rd to 6th in the Nextel Cup standings, both because of -- and despite -- winning in
NHL: Bill Wirtz, longtime owner of the Blackhawks, is dead at 77. Condolences to his family, friends and Blackhawks fans. The team may have been frustrating to its fans in the last few seasons, but that's not the point today.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
UPDATE: Michael Vick indicted locally in Virginia. Given that the prosecutor plans on using Vick's own sworn statement of facts from the Feds' conviction against him here, Vick is SO screwed. (The key detail: Up to 5 years for every dead dog, which the statement of facts already affirms he was involved in. Yikes.)
Plus: How did I miss the Devil Rays' name change to just "Rays," along with new logos and uniforms. I'm late on this, and I'm bummed by their choice. The team -- which has one of the best ownership groups in sports -- totally blew a chance to do something interesting that could help the team gain traction. Did they really think there was so much brand value in "Rays" that they were compelled to keep it? Really? Verdict: Swing and a miss.
MNF: If there's a single most disappointing team (or even storyline) in the NFL this season, it's that the Saints are terrible. Not just a hard-luck 0-3, but their offense – which was so exciting last year – is anemic this season.
Meanwhile, what's the deal with Reggie Bush? Sure, Reggie Bush scored 2 TDs, but he accounted for only 35 total yards, including a mere 15 rushing (on 7 carries). At what point do we get to say that Bush isn't (or hasn't) fulfilled his "game-changing" potential?
(Now: Will things get better or worse for Bush with Deuce apparently out for the season? On the one hand, Bush gets tons more carries; on the other hand, is he really an every-down RB? If you had a two-player draft today to start your franchise, and the choices were either Reggie Bush or Adrian Peterson, who would you take? Consider: Bush is a Swiss Army knife of a threat; Peterson can actually be a franchise-carrying every-down RB.)
As for the Titans, once again, Vince Young gets the best of Reggie Bush. It was a solid – if not spectacular –- line for VY. But the Titans got a much-needed win.
Vick Watch: Looks like the local county prosecutor is going to the grand jury, which means that charges can't be too far away either. Anticipate the media craziness, even if you really don't care (or never cared) that much anymore.
NFL Injury Watch: Steven Jackson, one of the most disappointing fantasy players of the season so far, will miss at least one week with a groin injury. Can you think of a year recently when the consensus No. 1 (LT), 2 (SJ) and 3 (LJ) fantasy players have gotten off to such sorry starts?
MLB Playoff Races: The Mets' lead in the NL East is down to 2 after losing to the Nats (who deserve credit for easily surpassing the doomsday projections that they would be the Top 5 worst teams in baseball history. Hell, they're on the verge of not even being one of the Top 5 worst teams in baseball this season.)
NL Wild Card: The Padres lost and are now tied with the Phillies, a mere one game ahead of the surging
AL Wild Card: The Yankees clinched a tie for the WC and can clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win Tuesday or a Tigers loss.
MLB Dud: Milton Bradley, whose season is over after he tore his ACL during his latest Bradley freak-out.
PED Scandal: Wow, that was a massive DEA steroid-ring bust. It's not just that it probably reaches into all levels of sports (and let's get those names going!), but that it reaches into EVERYWHERE. You think it's just a pro-athlete thing? Ha!
Tyson pleads guilty to drug and DUI charges: And one of the sorriest tales in modern sports history gets even sorrier.
CFB: If you didn't see it yesterday, here's my latest Deadspin CFB guest-post. Yes, I lead with Tebow, but there's a lot more than that packed in there this week.
More: Everyone in the Comments is talking about the Mike Gundy press conference freak-out. Here's the video.
More CFB: Heisman Watch. I realize I didn't update my weekly Heisman Top 5 yesterday: (1) Tim Tebow, (2) Ray Rice, (3) Darren McFadden, (4 – tie) Pat White and Steve Slaton, (5) Andre Woodson.
Why 1-AA rules, Part Nth: While the "F.B.S." (1-A) can't get its act together to set up a playoff, the "F.C.S." (1-AA) is thinking about expanding its playoff system to 18 teams, which I heartily endorse.
NASCAR: Coors Light is becoming the official beer of NASCAR. I can't think of anything clever to say about that. Is there even auto racing in the Mountain time zone?
A-Rod getting an ownership stake as part of his next deal? Huge kudos to Deadspin's Will Leitch for not only writing a phenomenal story for New York magazine about A-Rod, but breaking the most intriguing off-field baseball story of the week: That after opting out, A-Rod could be courted with an ownership stake in the Chicago Cubs as part of his compensation.
First of all, this would be amazing, simply because it's unprecedented in baseball. Second, if any player deserves $30M a year (or $300M for 10), it's A-Rod (even if he'll be 42 when it's up). Let's be clear: NO player deserves $30M a year (though the market will bear what it will bear).
By the way, I think Will just gave Angels owner Arte Moreno a new idea of how to land A-Rod. I could see
UPDATE: As Commenters are pointing out, this theory has been (mostly) debunked. It's still a fun read, as it is only minimally about the Cubs/ownership thing, and mostly about A-Rod's future.
CFB Coach of the Year: Here's a fun side project I've been working on – this football season, I'm blogging at CoachOfTheYear.com, the site of the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year Award. (Rutger's Greg Schiano won last year.) The fans get a vote (in fact, there's a ballot updated a couple times a day), and I'm writing three blog posts a week. Feel free to head over there, check it out, vote and comment on the blog posts about the topic at hand (or anything related to analyzing college football coaches this season). And since you know the guest-blogger, you've got an "in." Check it out!
Fall TV: It's no secret that I'm a bit of a TV junkie. While the "Fall Premieres" aren't what they used to be (with networks putting shows out all year round), it's still a big week, particularly for returning shows.
Last night, I watched one returning show (Heroes) and one new one (Chuck). Heroes had a lot of balls to keep juggling in the air; it felt like the beginning of another long season.
Chuck was more self-contained. I'm always intrigued by series premieres, because they have to explain the main plot and the characters in a very short amount of time. Chuck's premise is simple. Its main character is very likeable. I think there's promise there.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Today's Names to Know: Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre, Norv Turner, Tony Romo, Larry Johnson, Adrian Peterson, Calvin Johnson, Earnest Graham, Vince Young, Tim Tebow, Angels and Indians, Colorado Rockies, Jamie Mottram and More!UPDATE: New Deadspin CFB column up.
I suppose in a season where there is such clarity at the top – the Pats are the league's best and no one else is even close right now – that it makes sense that the rest of the league would be so utterly confusing:
What McNabb controversy? In a classic "STFU" performance and Sunday's top NFL story, McNabb led the Eagles to more than a half-century's worth of points, including 4 TDs, 381 yards and 0 INTs. Given the circumstances, it just might have been the best performance of McNabb's career.
The Packers are 3-0...: And if this is Brett Favre's swan song, it's already a hell of a ride. (And I say that as a constant naysayer for the past few seasons.) Next week: All-time career TD record.
...And the Chargers are 1-2: Wow, this is disappointing. Is it Norv Turner's fault? All I know is that I'm pretty sure that I could be the head coach of this much talent and come up with more inspired performances. I know their early schedule has been tough, but still...
Sunday Night Beat-Down: Cowboys throttle Bears in
The hapless Chiefs beat the Vikings: And that was basically without any production from Larry Johnson, who has been a complete bust this season. Karmic payback from his holdout? Meanwhile, why was Adrian Peterson on the sidelines for the Vikings' final chance to tie or win the game? (He can't block? So what? Give him the freaking ball!)
The Jags beat the Broncos in
Very simple question: How do the Redskins not score from "First and Goal on the 1?"
Fantasy: Earnest Graham, "Add" superstar. I'm quite sure no one saw this coming. Nor did you probably expect Kevin Curtis to be fantasy's leading WR this weekend. (Injuries: How bad is Calvin Johnson's bruised lower back? How bad is Hines Ward's "bone bruise" in his leg?)
MNF Tonight: Saints/Titans. It doesn't lack for "young" star power, featuring Vince Young and Reggie Bush. Could be a showcase game for either/both. I'm betting, like the 2006 Rose Bowl before it, VY comes up bigger in tonight's game.
CFB Weekend Wrap:
MLB Playoff Races: AL. The foursome is all but a done deal: Red Sox, Indians, Angels, Yankees. All that's left to be decided is who has the best record in the league and home-field advantages.
The Angels clinched the AL West on Sunday, their third AL-W title in the last four years. It's going to get even more interesting when they import Alex Rodriguez this winter.
UPDATE: Will Leitch has a must-read story about A-Rod for New York magazine, which suggests not only that the Cubs have the inside track, but that there's a chance his deal could include the chance to buy an ownership stake, which would be HUGE. Here's the link.
The Indians clinched the AL Central on Sunday, too, their first division title since 2001 and one that feels a long time coming, given how close they've come the last few seasons. I think
MLB Playoff Races: NL. From most fans' perspective (and certainly the league's), the only thing that matters is that the Cubs make the playoffs and – hopefully – advance to the World Series. They won't, of course. Even with only a half-dozen or so games to play, the division races are tight enough to pay attention, and the Wild Card remains up in the air -- and hopefully down to the wire.
(You know who's intriguing?
Varsity Dad: If your last name was "Fields," would you name your kid "Wrigley?"
Bonds Watch: Where will Bonds play next year? Any contender – particularly in the
Online Media Inside Baseball: Jamie Mottram joins Yahoo! Sports. Yahoo has made some aggressive hires in the past 12-18 months, but none are as big or important as this one, announced Friday, securing the talents of one of the smartest (not to mention one of the nicest and most-admired) people in the sports-blog universe. For gosh sakes, he was the architect of the Fanhouse, arguably the most successful mainstream online-sports editorial concept of all time. (And second-cleverest... cough!) Jamie will be running Yahoo Sports' blogs and community efforts, and if his impact on things at AOL is any indication, Yahoo Sports will add to its already sizeable momentum. Congrats to "Mr. Irrelevant," and kudos to Yahoo.