Saturday, October 20, 2007

Saturday 10/20 (Very) Quickie

Rick Reilly leaving SI for ESPN: See end of post.

ALCS Game 6 in Boston: Do or die for Red Sox.
And they've got Schilling on the mound, in what could be his final performance in/for Boston. (There's a Shanoff-Schilling connection to announce, coming Monday.)

Torre has his say, and he's "insulted": And the Yankees lose the PR game, in the same way they've lost in the playoffs the last seven seasons.

Royals hire Trey Hillman as manager: Sorry, but "Who?"

UConn beats Louisville: Sorry, but UL's Kragthorpe should be fired, not just for the many losses this season, but specifically for not yanking his team off the field after the "Fair Catch TD." It cost the Cards the game. (Side note: How is a fair-catch signal NOT REVIEWABLE?! Biggest myth in CFB propagated by TV announcers: "Every play" is reviewable. That's absolutely inaccurate.)

CFB Today: 3:30 ET is a big time slot. Florida at Kentucky on CBS, Michigan State at Ohio State on ABC. If/when Kentucky beats Florida, would you rank them as the top 1-loss team? I would.

NBA: Would you trade Dirk for Kobe straight up, if you were Mark Cuban? I know he's loyal to Dirk, but the Mavs have gone as far as Dirk can take them. I would do this in a second. Why would a marketing mind as savvy as Cuban's turn this down?

(And it is a great deal for the Lakers, too: It's easier to find a guard to complement Dirk than a big man to complement Kobe. On the other hand, maybe Cuban thinks Dirk is more valuable than Kobe; not quite sure how he comes to that conclusion, however. I guess because he's built the rest of his team around a versatile big man, not a scoring guard.)

NHL: Are the Columbus Blue Jackets the NHL's Colorado Rockies? Not until they take that fast start, put it at the END of the season and streak through the playoffs.

Rick Reilly leaving SI for ESPN: I know ESPN has coveted Reilly for years, so this is a big deal, because of his name and formerly hallowed place among sports-media types. But do they really need him? Does Reilly really move the needle with consumers under the age of 30, as he does with consumers over the age of 40? That's debatable.

The question, of course, is how ESPN will use him. Obviously, he's leaving for the TV opportunities. Will they give him his own show? Put him on "Around the Horn?" A guest-sub on "PTI?" On "Monday Night Football" halftime? On "E:60?" Online video, like "Riffs of Reilly?" Most assuredly on (Page 2?) and ESPN the Magazine (front-of-the-book column?) Or maybe not, if The Big Lead's accounts are right. Probably an ESPN Books deal and a Disney movie deal thrown in for fun. Gotta reach that $2 million figure somehow.

And what next for SI? If they were smart, they would take advantage of the opportunity to turn the back page of the magazine into the amazing, must-read spot it was BEFORE Reilly was the permanent guy there: Rotate the columnists each week, with each one offering something truly provocative. Make it online-friendly -- turn it into a hub of (But it certainly steals the thunder from the Dan Patrick signing. Memo to SI: A notable -- cough -- "other" Dan is still available! And cheap!)

It's going to be a feast of sports-media navel-gazing and inside baseball. Just so you're prepared. (h/t Big Lead, Neil Best, Sandomir)

-- D.S.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Friday 10/19 A.M. Quickie:
USF Loses! BoSox Win! Torre Era Over! More!

Today's Names to Know: South Florida, Boston College, Josh Beckett, Joe Torre, Michigan State, Patriots, Matt Schaub, Adrian Peterson, Byron Leftwich, Javon Walker, Priest Holmes, Bill Callahan, StubHub, Dan Patrick and More!

South Florida loses at Rutgers: There will be many doubters and haters who are giddy today at No. 2 USF (No. 1 in the BCS computer polls) losing at Rutgers. I lament it.

The Bulls were THE story of college football: The representation of everything that was wacky and out-of-balance about the season. USF was this year's Cinderella; they were, by far, the most compelling remaining unbeaten team.

Now, USF has virtually no shot at the national title game. Even if they end up 11-1, there will be so many other 1-loss teams that the Bulls will be squeezed out.

Of far more consequence to the rest of the country, one of the two coveted BCS slots is now open -- there for the taking. Presumably, No. 3 Boston College (playing vaunted "Idle," which would finish in the top half of the ACC this season) will back their way into the position, in the biggest "win" of the week. Yes, there's nothing like "earning it."

It's also a warning shot to BC, Ohio State, Arizona State, Kansas and Hawaii – the five remaining unbeatens: No team is safe... not even Cinderella.

(Losing at Rutgers, a very tough team, particularly at home and particularly playing their own Game of the Year, is hardly a shame, like losing at home to an unranked team; any of the five unbeatens above would have lost at Rutgers on a Thursday night at this point in the season. And, yet, USF still had their chances to win.)

On a navel-gazing note, it's nice to get off the schneid for my fall predictions track record, which had been previously miserable before picking RU over USF. I will now resume my pick-sucking.

MLB: Red Sox crush Indians in Game 5, bring series back to Boston down 3-2. First, let me just say that Josh Beckett affirmed, once again, that he is the greatest postseason pitcher of our generation.

Not only did he dominate the Indians (8 IP, 11 K, 1 BB, 5 H, 1 R) in a must-win game for Boston, but he stared down the pressure of performing in front of his ex-girlfriend, Danielle Peck, who sang "God Bless America." (He had more trouble, actually, with Kenny Lofton in the 5th, which didn't turn out to be more than preening.) Beckett's legend grows...

Meanwhile, we now have a situation unique to the 7-game format: One team is down 3-2, facing elimination in either of the next two games, but coming home to play those two games (having already lost 1 of 2 games played with that home-field "advantage").

And, yet, all momentum, confidence and presumption of victory resides with that team. Forget previous expectations: The upset now would be if Boston lost the series.

Joe Torre turns down Yankees' offer: I can understand Torre not wanting to take the pay cut, but he still would have been the highest-paid manager in baseball -- if he reached his incentives, which weren't particularly draconian, given his inability to win any championships since 2000. I thought that based on Torre's recent performance, the deal was fair. If he didn't want to take it, that's on him, not the team management.

Torre Era is over: What next for the Yankees? They've got to find Torre's replacement, hardly an easy seat to fill. Will they go with the presumptive in-house heir (Mattingly)? Will they go for a more experienced manager who can take this veteran team back to the World Series? Another day, more drama.

What next for Torre? I'm betting a nice deal with ESPN. But if Fox was smart, they would sign him up to provide World Series analysis. (And if Torre was smart, he'd do it.)

College Football Preview and Picks

After the last three weeks (Massive upsets in the Top 10, USC loses to 41-point underdog, teams ranked 1-2 both lose), I cannot possibly see how things could get any crazier. Then again, I've said that in each of the last two weeks.

The wildest outcome, of course, would be that Ohio State loses at home to Michigan State. MSU is unpredictable, but Ohio State is just too tough at home.

All eyes on the five remaining unbeatens: I think that, of the five, No. 13 Kansas is in the most tenuous position, playing at Colorado (who already beat Oklahoma in Boulder).

The Game of the Day is Florida at Kentucky: The Wildcats are coming off that epic biggest-in-program-history win over LSU. The Gators are coming off a bye week following two straight SEC losses. It's a must-win for both teams, if they want a shot at the SEC East title. (Yes, I'll slurp the SEC for a sec: In what other conference does a DIVISION race involve FOUR teams in the Top 25?)

The Picks:
1 Ohio State over Michigan State (Hmmm...)
4 LSU over 17 Auburn
5 Oklahoma over at Iowa State
6 South Carolina over Vanderbilt
15 Florida over at 7 Kentucky (Game of the Day)
9 West Virginia over Mississippi State
10 Oregon over at Washington
12 Cal over at UCLA
Colorado over 13 Kansas (Upset Special)
14 USC over at Notre Dame
24 Texas Tech over at 16 Missouri
over 19 Virginia
21 Tennessee over at Alabama
22 Texas over at Baylor
23 Cincinnati over at Pitt
25 Michigan over at Illinois

NFL Preview and Picks

Five Storylines Of Interest:
(1) Pats 19-0 Watch: vs. nemesis Dolphins
(2) Colts at Jags on MNF: Game of the Week
(3) Matt Schaub: Make Texans fans forget VY?
(4) Adrian Peterson: NFL's most "must-see"
(5) This Week's Testaverde: Byron Leftwich

The Picks:
Ravens over at Bills
At Lions over Bucs
Pats over at Dolphins
At Saints over Falcons
At Giants over 49ers
At Redskins over Cards
At Texans over Titans
At Bengals over Jets
Chiefs over at Raiders
At Cowboys over Vikings
Bears over at Eagles
At Seahawks over Rams
Steelers over at Broncos (SNF)
At Jaguars over Colts (MNF)

Javon Walker out indefinitely: More bad news for a Broncos team that is full of it this season.

Priest Holmes returning this Sunday? It's possible. No, I wouldn't drop an active player from your fantasy roster to pick him up... yet.

Bills want to play home game(s) in Toronto: I'm all for expanding your fan base (and the NFL's appeal internationally), but with only 8 precious home games, this totally screws their die-hard fans, which are among the best in sports.

Bill Callahan doesn't like Tom Osborne: At least that's what a student sports reporter says in a new book (self-published), in which he reports Callahan calls the Nebraska legend "crusty" and "old" and attaches those words to an expletive. Osborne graciously sets it aside, but you just know he's filed it away to beat Callahan with later.

Pats are evil geniuses, Part Nth: In a move far more insidious than spying on the football field, the Pats will get the names of their season-ticket-holding fans who (re-)sold their tickets on StubHub (presumably to punish them for not letting the team re-sell them).

I'm no fan of price-gouging (or the ticket brokers who mostly engage in it), but I'm even less of a fan of a team's invasions of privacy against its fan base.

(The best system is where leagues, fans and a company like StubHub collaborate to let fans re-sell their unused tickets; I recognize this works a lot better in a sport like baseball, where there are 81 regular-season games and a season-ticket holder who can't attend might just want to make back their original ticket cost. Or more, when the game is meaningful.)

Still, the main point is that this is an iffy issue, but alienating your fans by threatening them generally isn't a good policy – even if you are in total control because there are only 8 home games and the wait-list for tickets is decades long.

Now, I'm not saying the Pats fans who scalped on StubHub don't have their own issues: If you're a season-ticket holder in it to make a lot of money off your tickets through the secondary market, you shouldn't get them -- there are plenty of fans out there who would kill to pay for (and attend) all 8 home games.

To summarize:
Privacy-infringing team: Bad
Price-gouging ticket-holders: Bad

Dan Patrick teaming up with SI: could use the relevance. DP could use the audience.

-- D.S.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thursday 10/18 A.M. Quickie:
South Florida, ALCS, Leftwich, Ohio State, More!

Today's Names to Know: Jim Leavitt, CC Sabathia, Byron Leftwich, Sammy Morris, Ohio State, Ron Zook, LeBron, KG and More!

South Florida at Rutgers: College Football's Game of the Week, and it's tonight in prime time. Here is USF's chance to put on a show, on their own separate day, for the entire country in primetime. (They did against West Virginia, too, but that was a Friday night, not a Thursday.)

Now, this is the Bulls' toughest remaining game. If they win this – convincingly or otherwise – they will be on track to maintain their Top 2 BCS ranking through the end of the season. (It would give South Florida 3 quality wins compared to, say, Ohio State's 1.)

On the other hand, as USF's toughest remaining game, they could very well become the latest unbeaten team to lose. After all, the game is on the road, against a Rutgers team that knows a WEE bit about being a national sensation.

I had RU pegged as a Top 5 team in the preseason; they are actually better than they were a year ago, when they were simply an 11-2 Cinderella story. I'm sure they would like nothing more than to show this year's Cindy what a clock striking midnight sounds like.

Pick: Rutgers. (And you all know I'm on the USF bandwagon this season. I just think Rutgers is very tough, and the game is on the road. I'm sure BC fans and Oklahoma fans and LSU fans are the biggest Rutgers fans outside of New Jersey today.)

ALCS Game 5: The Indians can close out the Red Sox tonight. Can I ask a presumptuous question, and it's not supposed to be anti-Sox:

How is Boston not making the World Series any less of a complete dud of a season than the Yankees not making the World Series... except perhaps that the Red Sox had even MORE expectations of making the World Series than the Yankees did.

Short series, anything can happen in the playoffs, the Indians are really good, yada yada yada: The fact is, a loss tonight and the Red Sox have underachieved based on the expectations for the season, which were that anything less than an AL title is a bust.

(BTW, I just can't see the freak-out over Manny Ramirez's "Who cares?" quote. If ever there was a symbolic statement of the cliche'd "Manny being Manny," this was it.)

UPDATE: This Danielle Peck/Josh Beckett "God Bless America" story is amazing. I know it's coincidence, but -- as gamesmanship goes -- this has to be up there with the best of them.

Yankees have no decision on Torre (yet): OK... not much to say about that. Are they obligated to have an answer by yesterday? Hardly.

Byron Leftwich, a favorite, will get the start this weekend for the Falcons. If only he was wearing his old jersey No. 7...

Pats RB Sammy Morris out for up to 4 weeks (or more): He was one of the more pleasant surprises of the season, particularly if you were savvy enough to pick him up for your fantasy roster at the end of preseason, when word started circulating that, at the very least, Morris would get Maroney's goal-line carries. (But now where does that leave us?)

Speaking of fantasy: So who is so hard up for a wide receiver that they're going to pick up newly reinstated Koren Robinson?

CFB: This week's complete BlogPoll, with analysis from poll director Brian Cook.

OK, so is Ohio State overrated or not? I think they are. Judging by the response I got Monday from Ohio State fans, some think they aren't. Pete Thamel lays out both sides, but at least is a mainstream media writer who acknowledges that the debate exists.

Ron Zook gets a contract extension: Of course he does! When you take a school with 6-6 aspirations and deliver, you get an extension pretty quickly (that, and he's a Top 10 recruiter, even if the program ain't.) Now, obviously, he'll suffer the "Contract Extension Jinx" this weekend for the Illini's home game in primetime against Michigan.

NBA Preseason: LeBron owns China, but the Magic beat the Cavs in Shanghai. Still: LeBron owns China.

Celtics' "Big Three" make debut in Boston: Newcomers KG (13 and 8) and Ray Allen (13 points) undoubtedly amped up the expectations even further. So: What SHOULD those expectations be? NBA title? East title? East finalist? Making the playoffs? Is anything less than a trip to the NBA Finals a total disappointment? (NBA Preview coming next week, by the way.)

Jason Kidd accused of groping a woman: Tracking...

-- D.S.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wednesday 10/17 A.M. Quickie:
Indians roll, Kobe rumors, NFL glory, More!

Today's Names to Know: Paul Byrd, Kenny Lofton, Pats-Cowboys, Kevin Everett, NFL Draft, Tiger Woods, Gatorade, Al Jefferson, Kobe Bryant, Chris Chambers, Tom Osborne, Mike Hopkins and More!

MLB ALCS: Indians put Red Sox in 3-1 hole, heading into Game 5. I did enjoy, however, the back-to-back-to-back home runs by Boston. Though not as much as the Indians' 7-run 5th. (Am I wrong to sense that Boston fans are kind of like, "Eh, we'll take it or leave it this year… how about those Patriots! And KG!" Indians fans, meanwhile, seem generally ecstatic, which probably comes from not winning a World Series in multiple generations.)

Milestone Watch: Kenny Lofton became the all-time playoff steals leader (34), breaking Rickey Henderson's old record.

MLB NLCS: Least-watched LCS series in history! (That's a shame, given the unprecedented way the Rockies have been playing for the last month.) I know most of you find talk about TV ratings to be pretty lame. I have stopped really being blown away by "lowest ever" ratings like we saw in the most recent NBA Finals (or this upcoming World Series). We get it: Fans' attention span is fragmenting… We need to set our expectations bar lower… we… WHAAAA?!

NFL: Pats-Cowboys rout was the most-watched TV show of the fall season so far -- and CBS' highest-rated game since they got the NFL back in 1998. OK, so "highest ever" ratings numbers, in this day and age, is pretty freaking remarkable. (h/t Sports Media Watch via Fanhouse)

Kevin Everett standing, with a walker: Best news of the NFL season.

NFL Trading Deadline: Chris Chambers sent from Dolphins to Chargers. At this point, this is a win for both teams: The Chargers could use the WR (Chambers could use a situation where he is the 3rd option, at best). The Dolphins could use the extra draft pick.

NFL Draft first round going from 15 minutes per pick to 10 minutes per pick? This is a fantastic development, even more so if it means that the draft's first round is moving from Saturday afternoon to Friday night. (h/t PFT)

Some traditionalists may lament either or both switches, but with the way the NFL Draft has become one of the landmark sports events of the year (arguably behind only the Super Bowl and, perhaps, the college football national championship game – oh, and apparently a Pats-Cowboys regular season game) and this makes it even more accessible and even more of an "event."

NBA: Kobe to be traded to the Mavs? Who else is getting tired of the 24/7 Kobe Trade rumors? Wake me when he's in his Bulls jersey.

NBA Preaseason: I think Al Jefferson is going to be a superstar. The centerpiece of what the T'wolves got in return for KG had 20 and 15 last night, yet another great preseason performance in a lead role… I'm a Wizards fan, but you don't have to be bullish on the team to see that they are totally overlooked in the East, a conference they were poised to finish first in last season before injuries decimated their chances. Keep an eye on the Wiz rookies (Pecherov, Young, McGuire), who have helped turn the Wizards' second-unit into a strength, rather than a liability. (Yes, the Wiz were routed by the Bulls last night.)

Golf/Business: Gatorade to partner with Tiger Woods and launch a new line of drinks, "Gatorade Tiger." I love Gatorade (Best. Hangover Cure. Ever.), and I pride myself in being enough of a mindless lemming to know I'll definitely try the stuff. Otherwise, Tiger is rumored to be getting $100 million in the licensing deal.

Meanwhile, there is one person out there who knows Gatorade and sports business better than anyone: Darren Rovell's post on this story is a must-read.

Fantasy: MLB and the players' union lost another ruling to the fantasy folks about owning player names and stats. Presumably, under the ruling, I could create my own fantasy game without having to pay a licensing fee. If only I wasn't so lazy...

CFB: Tom Osborne is returning to Nebraska as interim AD. Sure, he was in charge of the football team during its heyday (and, arguably, the greatest single season any team has ever had, in 1995), but there was some serious sketchiness that went along with that success that people either never heard about (or just don't talk about).

CFB: Jimmy Clausen is benched. So much for being the greatest QB prospect since whenever. (Wait: Why am I talking about Notre Dame? What a waste of time.)

CBB: Syracuse assistant Mike Hopkins officially anointed as Jim Boeheim's successor. That's the type of continuity that can really help a program. In some teams' cases, I like the idea of bringing in a new regime; in the case of Syracuse, they are better off with an extension of Boeheim (whenver the transition happens).

More CFB: Don't forget to check out my guest-blog over at, this week to be updated with praise for Kentucky's Rich Brooks, a look at the latest standings and another round of reader comments – they sure do like that Jim Leavitt. Feel free to leave your own comments, analyzing the latest developments in the Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year award race. Special consideration for commenters, of course. (As should be plainly obvious, but I'm happy to affirm: I have a business relationship with the folks behind

-- D.S.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Tuesday 10/16 A.M. Quickie:
You Cannot Stop the Rockies

Today's Names to Know: Colorado Rockies, Matt Holliday, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, Roger Goodell, Steve Pederson, Bill Stoneman, Trent Green, Marc Bulger, Brandon Lloyd, Don Mattingly, Michael Bennett, Michael David Smith and more!

MLB: Rockies sweep D'backs, win NL pennant: Oh, and don't forget it was their 7th straight playoff win (8th if you count the play-in game) and 21st win in their last 22 games. What a story. Totally unprecedented.

I was lucky enough to be at Coors Field last night. (I should call it the "frozen tundra of Coors Field.") Great atmosphere, with fantastic fans who had such a sincere appreciation for what was going on – it was very different from a winning scene in New York or Boston (or even any other team who has a tradition going back beyond 1993). Congrats to the Rockies fans.

The win itself was typical: Unknown starting pitcher delivers, bullpen-by-committee (with Fuentes as the only shaky member), the team/league/playoff MVP with a big game (Holliday HR that was an amazing in-person experience), and a key contribution from an unlikely source (PH Smith's 2-RBI dink to shallow left).

The only thing that can stop the Rockies now is time: They have an 8-day wait until the World Series starts. If they maintain their momentum, it won't matter who wins the ALCS.

(Don't know if you stayed up to watch it. Will Leitch did, for his sensational NYT baseball playoffs blog. Here's another must-read post. Jumping off a point he made: Given the unexpectedness of the Rockies' run over the last month -- let alone last 3 months, let alone last 12 months – it should ramp up expectations among every team's fans that their team, if run right, can contend immediately.)

ALCS: Indians beat Red Sox in Game 3, 4-2. Important win for Cleveland to hold serve in this first game at home and really put the pressure on Boston to get a game-winning performance out of the rested (or is that rusty?) Tim Wakefield tonight in Game 4. Game 3 starter Dice-K was more Dud-K, giving up all 4 runs in 4.2 IP. (I thought he was supposed to be the ultimate big-game pitcher? Yikes.)

Super Bowl in…London?! Yes, because nothing reflects the most American of events like "Toodle-pip!" I am stunned that NFL Commish Roger Goodell would even suggest this. I'm neither a jingoist nor a nativist, but talk about a U.S. outsourcing crisis!

Giants beat Falcons on "MNF," 31-10 in an entirely forgettable game. Eli was iffy, but connected with Burress on a TD, for those of you who needed the fantasy points.

Nebraska fires AD Steve Pederson: I'm not sure the football team's recent struggles are as much the AD's fault as they are Callahan's. Is the rest of the athletic department such a mess? (Wait: At Nebraska, why am I bothering to ask?)

Angels GM Bill Stoneman leaving the team: Could owner Arte Moreno want to make a play for free agent Walt Jocketty? (Would Jocketty go anywhere without Tony Larussa?)

Vince Young is day-to-day: Pretty disappointing season for the sophomore. Go ahead and say it, if you haven't already: "Madden jinx."

Trent Green wants to play again: That guy should get his head examined. No, not for physical damage, but to see a shrink – he is insane to want to keep playing after his most recent concussion. Let it go, man.

Marc Bulger returning to Rams: Psst…it won't make THAT much of a difference.

Brandon Lloyd should step carefully: The WR probably thinks he is gaining some sort of upper hand by bringing up old rumors about Troy Aikman's sexual orientation, but he really just looks and sounds like a jerk. Does he really want to be the NFLPA's version of Skip Bayless?

Torre Watch: Don Mattingly reportedly told members of Steinbrenner's family that he's not ready to be the Yankees manager yet. What a refreshingly candid assessment (and probably not a little bit supportive of Joe Torre's future).

Did you know today is the NFL trading deadline? Unlike baseball and the NBA, it's just not that big of a deal. Do you really care that Michael Bennett was traded from the Chiefs to the Bucs? (Well, maybe if you're desperate for an RB and Bennett isn't claimed in your league.)

Must-Read: The indefatigably talented Michael David Smith is interviewed by sports-blogger Larry Brown. Great way to get to know one of the sports blogosphere's biggest talents. (And I want to thank him for his compliments in Question 10. He raises an interesting point: Maybe I'm less of a traditional blogger than a writer who blogs. Damn you, One-Post-Per-Day format addiction!)

From an email from reader Michael M. just before I published this post: "no update as of 9am + shanoff at rockies clincher = shanoff probably in jail. now thats a story i wanna read about in the quickie."

-- D.S.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Monday 10/15 A.M. Quickie:
Pats Rout, Rox Roll, AP Runs, USF Rules!

Today's Names to Know: Tom Brady, Yorvit Torrealba, Adrian Peterson, Maurice Jones-Drew, LaDainian Tomlinson, Devin Hester, Vinny Testaverde, South Florida, Greg Monroe, Kelvin Sampson and More!

NFL: Pats rout Cowboys, 48-27. There is very little to say about this game, except that it was yet another statement that the Pats are out to absolutely eviscerate the rest of the league en route to 19-0. They just took the best team in the NFC and destroyed them in their own house. (I love how some people think the Colts are right there with the Pats as the NFL's clear-cut best. Right now, I think the Pats would beat the Colts worse than they beat the Cowboys.)

Sunday's NFL Stud: Tom Brady, who threw a career-high 5 TD passes and became the first QB ever to throw at least three TD passes in each of the first six games of a season. (Take that, Peyton.)

MLB Playoffs, NLCS: Rockies beat D'backs in Game 3, one win away from a sweep. So add "rain or shine" and "cold or warm" to the list of conditions – now most properly described as "any" – under which the Rockies will win.

20 of their last 21. Three in a row in the NLCS. Six in a row in the playoffs. Led most recently by mostly anonymous players with mythical-sounding names like Yorvit Torrealba and Josh Fogg.

And I will be at Coors Field tonight for Game 4, rooting like crazy to witness a pennant-clincher. Franklin Morales vs. Micah Owings (known more for his bat than his arm.) More tomorrow on the game tonight.

ALCS: Indians, Red Sox tied 1-1 with series moving to Cleveland: Despite Boston's Game 1 clobbering, I had targeted Game 2 as the quasi-"pivotal," whichever-team-wins-this-wins-the-series event. The momentum belongs with the Indians, heading into three straight games in Cleveland.

Where to start with Game 2? Eric Gagne pooped the bed (in a "didn't-he-used-to-be?" performance that will linger in the memory far longer than his record-breaking season just a few seasons ago); Trot Nixon enjoyed a moment of ironic revenge; and Papi/Manny combined to go 1/6. (Tonight: Matsuzaka vs. Westbrook.)

More NFL: A handful of notes that won't come close to doing the day justice.

(1) Adrian Peterson is amazing: It's not just that the NFL might as well engrave the Rookie of the Year trophy with Peterson's name; it's that Peterson is arguably the best running back in the NFC right now, rookie or otherwise. Yesterday, he set the record for rushing yards by a Vikings RB (again, rookie or otherwise).

(2) Maurice Jones-Drew is back: 12 carries for 125 yards and 2 TDs, and the TD celebration of the day: Karate Kid, which out-did his flip into the end-zone. And with a solid game from QB David Garrard, the Jaguars are suddenly looking like one of the top non-Pats teams in the AFC. Next week's MNF game against the Colts will be the true test (not that last season's Jags throttling of the Colts meant anything in the larger scheme of either team's long-term fortunes).

(3) Vinny Testaverde is ageless. If Tom Brady didn't steal it from him, Vinny would have been this week's stud, for being the oldest starting QB to win a game in NFL history – a week after being signed, no less. He threw a TD pass, the 21st consecutive season he has done that, which strikes me as a record damn near unbreakable. Unless you're a Cardinals fan or playing against the Panthers, how can you NOT root for Vinny T?

(4) If you don't like Brady Quinn, you can't possibly help but like Derek Anderson.

(5) Welcome back LaDainian. (You, too, Larry Johnson.) 4 TDs is exactly why you were the consensus No. 1 overall fantasy football pick.

(6) And, apologies to both LT and AP, but Devin Hester is the most exciting player in the league right now.

(7) The Rams are absolutely utterly awful. The Dolphins aren't far behind, but if you were forced to pick the worst team in the league, the Rams would be it.

(8) Is it NBC's Football Night In America or Watch For Plummeting TV Cameras Night? Either way, it was good for the Saints, who won their first game and got 141 yards out of Reggie Bush and a solid game out of Drew Brees.

NFL Milestones: Tony Gonzalez set a new record for career TDs by a tight end. Enough to get him into the Hall of Fame? I don't think so.

MNF: Giants-Falcons? Ugh. Maybe if Michael Vick was playing (or even just in attendance), this would be something to watch. Otherwise, I'm glad I'll be in Denver at the Rockies-D'backs Game 4.

CFB: First BCS standings revealed. Ohio State and South Florida are in the driver's seat at 1-2, with USF set to leap OSU if/when the human pollsters ever lose their insane bias against them to match the computers, who rank USF at No. 1 (as I do -- see this week's BlogPoll ballot).

I think it's an embarrassment that Harris Poll and Coaches Poll voters – who are supposed to be so-called EXPERTS in college football – don't know anything about South Florida; discount their season's accomplishments because they don't have a brand name as established as other teams in the Top 5; and otherwise plead ignorance.

In a season as insane as this one, it's key to see who this year's Florida might be: The 1-loss team in the best position to capitalize should the (dwindling number of) unbeatens (continue to) stumble.

That 1-loss team with the inside track is LSU, with a healthy margin ahead of the next-highest-ranked 1-loss team, Oklahoma. And the Sooners are just a smidgen ahead of South Carolina, which assuredly benefited from beating Kentucky (which beat LSU).

CFB Weekend Wrap: You know it's an insanely great season when, after three straight weeks, you can't decide which had the wildest result:

(a) Three weeks ago, when all those upsets in the Top 10 happened;

(b) Two weeks ago, when preseason and presumptive national-title favorite USC lost at home to a 41-point underdog in the biggest regular-season upset in modern CFB history;

(c) This past weekend, when the No. 1 team lost, then the team presumptively poised to take over the No. 1 spot lost (at home to an unranked team on an insanely boneheaded game-ending play).

You'll forgive me if I don't take the BCS too seriously right now: Of the remaining BCS-conference unbeaten teams:

Ohio State: Will lose at Michigan.
South Florida: Will lose at Rutgers.
B.C.: Will lose at Virginia Tech.
Arizona State: Will lose at Oregon.
Kansas: Will lose in the Big 12 CG (if not sooner)
Hawaii: Will lose to Boise State.

Meanwhile, the most highly regarded 1-loss teams have both remaining gauntlets of their own (South Carolina and Kentucky still have to play Florida) or have fatal flaws (i.e., USC and Cal lost at home to unranked teams, Oklahoma lost to an unranked team).

If I had to make a prediction now, I would say that no team will finish the season unbeaten, and that the national-title match-up will be LSU vs. Oklahoma, with a third team earning half a national title on a playoff-protest vote by the AP voters.

College Hoops Recruiting: Georgetown was already poised to repeat their 2007 Final Four appearance next March. Now, it looks like they may be a presence there for even longer, after getting a verbal commitment from 6-10 star Greg Monroe, the top player in the 2008 high school class.

By the way, I would like to modify my preseason pick of UCLA to win the national title to include my entire Final Four: UCLA, Tennessee, Georgetown, UNC.

More CBB: Indiana to punish coach Kelvin Sampson for more illegal recruiting calls. Given that he was already being punished for the same violation, I find Indiana's punishment of a $500,000 raise and a scholarship to be inadequate. He brokes the rules originally, but then compounds the problem now by SNUBBING the rules. I don't care if Indiana was being proactive -- cripes, isn't this what the NCAA is for?

MLB Offseason: Reds hire Dusty Baker. Meh.

More CFB: Boise State beats Nevada in 4 OT, 69-67. The reason we don't have to talk about Hawaii crashing the BCS is because the Broncos are going to beat them in Hawaii in the season finale.

-- D.S.