Saturday, November 17, 2007

Saturday 11/17 (Very) Quickie

College Football Saturday! Watching today: A logjam at noon-ish -- Northwestern at Illinois on ESPN, Ohio State at Michigan on ABC, Florida hosts Florida Atlantic on GamePlan. Definitely tracking the Big 12's Big 3 (Kansas, Mizzou, Oklahoma).

CFB Last Night: Any poll voter who includes Hawaii in their Top 25 should have their privileges revoked, even with Hawaii's last-second win to remain unbeaten. If they end up in the BCS simply for being unbeaten after 12 games -- with that ridiculously easy schedule that makes Kansas look like they've played LSU for 10 weeks -- THAT would be the BCS' biggest crime ever.

Oregon's Dennis Dixon out for the season: That's really a shame. Can you remember the last time a Heisman front-runner was injured like this this late in the season (or national-title contender who lost their best player this late in the season)?

NBA Last Night: Celtics still unbeaten (beating the Heat, with more value as symbolism than in the standings), but to me, the best story was Kevin Durant hitting a buzzer-beating 3 in a second OT to carry the Sonics over the Hawks.

CBB: Memphis racks up another quality win, beating UConn in the finals of that tournament at MSG in NYC. They've done more than any other team this early in the season to prove they are worthy of being ranked No. 1 (not that CBB rankings mean anything). In the most interesting result of the night, unranked Providence absolutely smoked No. 18 Arkansas in Puerto Rico. PC underrated? Hogs overrated? A little of both?

Barry Bonds to turn himself in on Monday: What an underreported story THAT will be...

-- D.S.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Friday 11/16 A.M. Quickie:
Bonds, Oregon, A-Rod, Ricky, Picks, More!

Today's Names to Know: Barry Bonds, Oregon Ducks, Dennis Dixon, The Big Game, Lloyd Carr, Alex Rodriguez, Ricky Williams, Tom Brady, Brett Favre, Grant Hill, Derrick Rose, Jimmie Johnson and tons More!

Barry Bonds indicted: OK, who else is already sick of this story? I'm going to quickly move on.

Is Bonds' baseball career over? Possibly/probably (though those definitive pronouncements by TV analysts within minutes of the news made me laugh that anyone ever actually labeled me an instant-history hysteric), but to be honest, that would be too bad. I was actually interested to see him on a new team next season.

I will only add one of my favorite scandal maxims I've been spouting since the Quickie's earliest days: It's always the cover-up, never the crime.

Far more intriguingly...

Oregon is OUT of the BCS hunt! The Ducks were rocked on the road, losing under the lights by an inspired (and unranked) Arizona team.

Perhaps we should have seen it coming (5th No. 2-ranked team to lose this season), but regardless, it's yet another wild twist to the college football season (and, personally, perhaps redemption for me from the abuse I took for ranking Oregon No. 3 in my latest BlogPoll).

Amazingly, after all the upheaval we have seen this season, the BCS title game sets up rather cleanly: LSU versus the survivor of the Big 12's virtual playoff among Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Done.

(On the outside looking in is West Virginia, but as you'll see below, I have WVU losing at feisty Cincinnati tomorrow anyway. And, of course, things get crazy again if LSU stumbles in the SEC Championship Game and/or the Big 12's Big Three lose unexpectedly.)

Heisman Watch: Meanwhile, with Oregon's loss, QB Dennis Dixon (injured in the first half) is effectively bounced as the Heisman front-runner (if not because Oregon lost, then because he simply didn't play).

UPDATE: It has been mentioned in the Comments, fairly, that the above opinion was callous, particularly about a player leading the Heisman race. Upon further reflection, that's right: It's a shame that a player as dynamic as Dixon was KO'd from the game and the Heisman race (along with his team's title hopes), and I certainly wish him a full recovery and a shot at an NFL career.

That presumably makes Tim Tebow the new front-runner, but I still think Missouri's Chase Daniel makes a run if the Tigers beat two Top 5 teams (Kansas, Oklahoma) in back-to-back weeks and play their way into the national-title game.

CFB Preview and Picks: It's all about jockeying for BCS positioning. LSU must win, obviously, but winning with style wouldn't hurt. Same goes for Kansas, Oklahoma and Mizzou, all still on a collision course to combine to crash the BCS.

And last year's Game of the Year – Ohio State/Michigan – is merely a game to determine the Big Ten champ. That's all fine and good, but it's not like playing for a spot in the BCS title game, like last year. Oh, and it could be Lloyd Carr's final shot at beating Ohio State, so there's that.

1 LSU over Ole Miss
3 Kansas over Iowa State
4 Oklahoma over Texas Tech
5 Missouri over Kansas St
22 Cincinnati over 6 West Virginia (Upset Special)
21 Michigan over 7 Ohio State (Game of the Week)
9 Georgia over 23 Kentucky
10 Virginia Tech over Miami
12 Florida over Florida Atlantic
15 Clemson over 17 BC
16 Hawaii over Nevada
18 Boise State over Idaho
19 Illinois over Northwestern
20 Tennessee over Vanderbilt
24 UConn over Syracuse
25 Wisconsin over Minnesota

NFL Preview and Picks
Top 5 NFL Storylines
1. Pats 19-0 Watch: Streaking to 10-0
2. Fins 0-16 Watch: Beck Era begins!
3. Tomlinson: 10K Watch
4. Packers flying to 9-1?
5. Old Browns-New Browns: Must-win?

NFL Picks:
Bucs over at Falcons
At Bengals over Cards
At Lions over Giants
At Packers over Panthers
At Colts over Chiefs
At Vikings over Raiders
At Eagles over Dolphins
At Jags over Chargers
Browns over at Ravens
At Texans over Saints
Steelers over at Jets
At Cowboys over Redskins
Rams over at 49ers
At Seahawks over Bears
Pats over at Bills
At Broncos over Titans

A-Rod back with Yankees for 10Y/$275M: I love it: "agree to the outline of a deal." Who gets that kind of treatment? The intrigue, of course, is less about A-Rod and more about Scott Boras rumored to have been cut out of the negotiations. What a public come-uppance for that guy.

Meanwhile, I love the rumor of a contract clause that gives A-Rod a huge bonus if he breaks the all-time home-run record as a Yankee, rumored to be something like $25 million, which Hank Steinbrenner wouldn't call a performance clause, but instead a "historic-achievement bonus." (via NYT) Let's hope they included a "historic achievement" clause that would come with A-Rod actually winning a World Series.

MLB Awards Season: Jake Peavy wins the NL Cy Young, unanimously. Not much more to add to that, now, is there? MVPs coming next week, and the AL side is going to dovetail nicely with the A-Rod contract story. On the NL side, it's Rollins vs. Holliday.

More MLB: Derek Jeter doesn't want to pay his fair share of taxes. Tough spot for the Captain: Either he's a tax cheat or he hates New York.

It is ludicrous for him to live and play in New York City 7 months out of the year – claiming his loyalty to the city of New York, but yet claim he's not a New York resident, a status which would open him up to paying his fair share of taxes to support the city's operations.

God forbid the multi-millionaire who has built his career on the backs (and greenbacks) of the loyalty and support of millions of New Yorkers rightfully pay taxes on the income he earned while living in New York and taking financial advantage of that support.

NFL: Ricky Williams to rejoin Dolphins on Monday. The stat to track, obviously, is what percent of fantasy football owners, desperate for a running back, pick up Ricky. (Um, I know I will. Hey: Why not?)

More about Ricky: I was thinking yesterday how in today's NFL, where we increasingly see arrests and steroid busts seemingly every week, how quaint it seems that Ricky Williams simply had a problem with smoking pot.

I'm not saying that wasn't wrong or idiotic or against league policy, but just that I feel like fans will have a lot greater tolerance for Ricky these days than even a year ago.

I mean: Compare Ricky to, say, Pac-Man Jones. Ricky is the doddering stoner you can root for; Pac-Man is the douchebag criminal you can't.

More NFL: To his credit, Tom Brady calls out any Pats teammates who don't want to deal with the 19-0 thing. "If you don't want to be in that position, you might as well quit the game. Because if it's too much that you're winning and all of a sudden that's pressure, this probably isn't the right sport for you." Damn straight.

NFL Pro Bowl Voting: Brett Favre is the leading vote-getter, and even as a confirmed Favre-hater over the years, I think that's pretty impressive. Equally impressive, leading the votes among all running backs? Rookie Adrian Peterson. NFL fans are voting right this year.

NBA: The Stud of the Night was Grant Hill, who had 24 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists in leading the Suns to their 4th straight win (over the increasingly hapless Bulls, who must be regretting their decision not to trade for Kobe when they had the chance). Hill's resurgence is one of the great stories of the season; what a reminder that a player's success can and does often hinge on the system he is playing in and who he is playing with.

(I will lift my ban on talking about the Mavs until they make the second round of the playoffs long enough to remind everyone that a regular-season win by Dallas over the Spurs is utterly meaningless. The Spurs are the defending champs; the Mavs are the defending chumps.)

College Hoops: Memphis picked up a quality win against one of the solid teams on their brutal non-conference schedule, beating Oklahoma by 10 at Madison Square Garden. Derrick Rose led the Tigers with 17. (In another quasi-quality win, Georgetown beat Michigan.)

Meanwhile, add another super-frosh to the growing list of ones to watch: NC State's JJ Hickson had 31, the second-highest scoring total for a freshman in school history. The No. 21 Wolfpack also won the game.

NASCAR: The biggest problem with the points championship system is that this weekend's finale has zero drama. Jimmie Johnson will win the title, barring catastrophe. (Now, if a bitter rival intentionally knocked Johnson out of the race, giving the title to Jeff Gordon? Now THAT would be dramatic.)

Strat-O-Matic 1986 Update: The Expos' Vance Law clubbed my Cubs for 5 RBI (including a grand slam) and we lost our second game in a row, dropping to 3-4 on the season. Adding insult to injury, Montreal is managed by league commissioner and Strat god Bernie Hou. At some point, I think this entire league is his own personal experiment to re-live the 1986 season with the Expos winning the division, NL pennant and World Series.

-- D.S.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday 11/15 A.M. Quickie:
A-Rod, P-Jax, Dixon, Ricky, UNC, More!

Today's Names to Know: Alex Rodriguez, Bob Melvin, Jake Peavy, Dwayne Wade, Phil Jackson, Dennis Dixon, North Carolina, Ricky Williams, Dwight Howard and way More.

A-Rod and the Yankees are talking about a deal: This shouldn't surprise you at all. The highest-paid player in baseball was never going to eliminate the freest-spending team in baseball from the discussion – even if he just opted out of playing for them. The odds-on bet is still that A-Rod returns to the Yankees.

UPDATE: The hot rumor is that it's a done deal – 10 years for $275 million, which represents a small increase from his previous deal (and a substantial increase in what portion of that salary the Yankees are paying), but certainly more long-term security for the player.

If this rumor holds up, A-Rod will likely retire a Yankee, break Barry Bonds' career home-run record as a Yankee, hit No. 800 as a Yankee, wear a Yankees cap into the Hall of Fame – but it remains to be seen whether he will win any championships as a Yankee. If he is there for 10 more years, given his previous success with the team, I'll put the over-under on A-Rod/Yankees World Series titles at one. (And the over-under on Red Sox World Series titles within the same decade span at two.)

MLB Awards: Your managers of the year are Eric Wedge (a rare correct preseason pick from me) and Bob Melvin (who no one saw coming). I was surprised Colorado's Clint Hurdle finished 3rd. Between Hurdle and Tulowitzki, I guess voters didn't put much stock in the Rockies' late-season surge. We'll see if it impacted the biggest award race: NL MVP.

Meanwhile, today is NL Cy Young, and you have to imagine it will be Jake Peavy, even with his unclutch performance in Game 163 (but, apparently, voters aren't really taking that game into consideration – or at least giving it more weight than the previous 162… which they should. Yes, when it comes to awards, some regular season games are more important than others.)

Dwayne Wade returns, Heat still stink: I mean, they even lost to the Sonics, sorry Seattle's first win of the season. And the game was in Miami! (Wade had 15 points on 5/9 FG shooting in 25 minutes.)

Phil Jackson's "Brokeback" scandal: Normally, I think Jackson is one of the most intelligent, thoughtful sports figures out there. I think this remark was just plain dumb, rather than maliciously intended.

CFB: Heisman Watch – It's Dixon and Tebow down to the wire. That's how Heisman Pundit is calling it, after doing another (rather unscientific) poll of the Heisman pollsters. (h/t: Fanhouse) I still think that Chase Daniel can come from behind if he puts on spectacular performances while leading Missouri past both Kansas and Oklahoma in back-to-back weeks.

Totally related: Oregon on national TV tonight. Dennis Dixon gets the national stage all to himself tonight, as Oregon takes on Arizona in yet another must-see ESPN Thursday Night game. The matchup itself might seem like a dud, but here's a chance to watch one of the Top 2 teams in the country, up-close, along with the leading Heisman contender.

If Dixon stumbles, he could lose ground to Tebow or Daniel. Far more important, Oregon can go a long way toward shoring up their support with human BCS pollsters by winning decisively and impressively; however, if they look shaky (even in victory), that's going to open the door for both Oklahoma and Kansas to potentially jump ahead of the Ducks. (Pick: Oregon)

North Carolina is NOT No. 1 in college hoops: Hard to take them seriously at the No. 1 spot when they are barely getting by Davidson (by 4). Now, Davidson is a really good mid-major (see their Tournament performance a year ago vs. Maryland), but still: If you're going to claim a team is No. 1 (and that's the "experts," not Roy Williams himself), they should win a little more impressively, shouldn't they?

(Meanwhile, for an example of a real early-season throttling, check out Tennessee's 57-point win over D-II Arkansas-Monticello.)

NFL: Ricky Williams is back! I don't think the winless woeful Dolphins are in a position to sniff their nose at ANY player that they have the option to use, including one who hasn't played in 18 months – and particularly a running back. What I won't understand is if Ricky isn't in the best shape of his life; something tells me, though, that he didn't spend the last 18 months preparing to resume his NFL career.

NFL Notes: Is it really that big of a deal that Dwight Freeney is done for the season? It's not like the Colts were/are going to win the AFC... John Beck starting at QB for the Dolphins, and, yes, on several of my QB-starved fantasy rosters, I picked him up and will start him, too… Speaking of starting, Rex Grossman is back… Interesting to see the NFL showing its 8 NFL Network games online. Unfortunately, it's not available everywhere online, but just to certain Verizon DSL subscribers…

More NBA: The Celtics are 7-0 for the first time in 35 years. Yes, that's better than the legendary 1986 team started… What a duel between the East's best wing player, LeBron James (34 points, 13 rebounds, 14 assists), and its best post player, Dwight Howard (35 points, 16 rebounds). Howard's team won the game, and if you had to choose between investing long-term in the standings success of LeBron's Cavs or Howard's Magic, you would have to seriously consider favoring Howard's Magic… Looking for scoring help for your fantasy team? Perhaps you have Tracy McGrady and will see him out the next week (or more) with an elbow injury. Try Minnesota's McCants (if he's even still available)... Stephon Marbury is back with the Knicks, and $180,000 poorer for it…

College Hoops Recruiting Signing Begins: Florida may be in a rebuilding year, but they are leading the nation with the No. 1 a Top 5 (my bad) recruiting class, led by two stud post players. UCLA picked up a great PG (Jrue Holliday), and Georgetown got arguably the best big man (Greg Monroe). "Official" signings continue today.

New CBB postseason tournament: I'm all for this third-tier postseason tournament, which is subordinate to both the NCAAs and the NIT. The market will decide if fans are willing to show any interest in the teams involved, but for the fans of those teams, it's a chance to participate in a postseason – any postseason – and extend their season. No one is claiming that the team that wins this tournament is particularly good; the organizers just recognized that college hoops fans of teams not in either of the main postseason tournaments have an appetite in March, too. Count me interested, College Basketball Invitational.

Sports Media: Mike Golic admits he used steroids: And that's just the steroids he was WILLING to admit he used. He tried to explain himself, but I think it's a little disingenuous that he has been commenting on the radio and TV every day through the years of the various steroid scandals in baseball and the NFL while keeping this particularly relevant personal detail to himself.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Wednesday 11/14 A.M. Quickie:
Lloyd Carr, Paul Pierce, CC Sabathia, More!

Today's Names to Know: Lloyd Carr, Les Miles, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia, Josh Beckett, Paul Pierce, Stephon Marbury, Kevin Love and More!

Michigan's Lloyd Carr to retire after this season? That's what the excellent Brian Cook at MGoBlog is reporting (let's see how many mainstream sports media outlets give him the credit he deserves for being the first to have it). Let's quickly move into: Who should replace him?

LSU's Les Miles is the obvious front-runner, setting up the incredibly awkward situation of Miles' current team being the front-runner for this season's national championship. Beyond being a distraction, how weird would it be if Miles won the national title, then immediately left his powerhouse to go back to Ann Arbor? A coach leaving a national-title team to go coach another college team.

So maybe Miles will give up his dream job and stay in Baton Rouge. If that's the case, I know Iowa's Kirk Ferentz is being mentioned, but can I nominate Cincinnati's Brian Kelly:

Kelly was successful coaching in Michigan (if not AT Michigan). He is one of the brightest Xs and Os guys in the country – he has managed to install an entertaining and powerful spread offense while still developing a stout defense. And, by all accounts, he's a positive, congenial presence. If Miles passes, Michigan should go for Kelly. (Huge hat-tip to Brian Cook on the Carr scoop. His post yesterday titled "Heat" is a must-read. Can't grab the permalink for some reason.)

MLB Hot Stove: The Yankees are said to be offering Mariano Rivera a 3Y/$45M deal to stay with them, which I'm sure he will accept. Locking up Posada and Rivera is key to keeping a foundation of vets to go with the youth movement. (More Stove, still in New York: Are the Mets going to sign Rockies C Yorvit Torrealba?)

MLB Awards: CC Sabathia edges Josh Beckett for AL Cy Young. It's refreshing to see Boston sports take one on the chin for once, because since, say, Labor Day, that hasn't really happened. I personally would have taken Beckett, but then again, I personally would like to see the postseason count when considering awards.

Today's Award: Manager of the Year. You've got to give it to Clint Hurdle in the NL for the way the Rockies surged at the end of the season. In the AL, eh, the way Joe Torre guided the Yankees from dregs to playoffs was impressive enough, I guess.

NBA: Celtics are 6-0 for first time since the late 80s. No guarantees how they'll do against the best of the West (particularly in a 7-game series), but for now, they are easily the best in the East – and, amazingly, living up to the larger-than-life hype. In the Big Three merry-go-round of performances, Paul Pierce was the star: 31 points (including, at one point late, 13 in mere minutes), 11 rebounds and 6 assists.

The Heat stink: On the other end of the spectrum, the Heat lost…again. Champs two years ago, Miami is now one of the weakest teams in the league – obviously, that's without Dwayne Wade and with Shaq a shadow of his former dominant self. Pat Riley should have quit while he was ahead.

Where is Stephon Marbury? He walked out on the Knicks. Under any other management, he would be severely punished – perhaps even waived. Under Isiah, it's "I got permission to leave." Really? (Despite his summer freak-out, he's still riding a net-positive wave of pub for his sneakers; why would he mess with that by doing this?) The Knicks lost to the Suns, as you would imagine. The best outcome here is that Marbury never comes back, resurfaces in Italy (as he has said he would) and becomes a Euroleague icon. Isiah could then use Marbury's salary hole to overpay Yorvit Torrealba.

Kevin Durant Watch: Ugh. 10 points on 4/13 FG shooting, with 4 turnovers, yet only 1 rebound and 0 assists. Seattle is 0-8, fairly awful, probably with one eye on the move to Oklahoma City and the other eye on drafting Michael Beasley next June.

College Hoops: Kevin Love, yet another spectacular freshman, had yet another great game: 19 and 9 in a UCLA rout. His fellow frosh, Syracuse's Jonny Flynn, couldn't match his 28-point debut from Monday, but he did coolly nail an NBA 3 in the final seconds to carry the Cuse over pesky St. Joe's. (Meanwhile, Arizona won their season debut without Lute Olsen; still waiting on the reporting of why he is not coaching.)

Good news for Seattle fans: No, the Sonics aren't staying in town (despite rumors yesterday that there was a chance). But in 2009, you WILL be getting an MLS franchise. Can they use the Sonics name? That would be cool (No? Oh. Well, it's not like the Oklahoma City guys want to keep it.)

CFB Coach of the Year Update: All season long, I have been doing a partnership with Liberty Mutual Coach of the Year, maintaining a blog for them tracking the LMCOY race. This week, I praise Sylvester Croom and reveal my latest Top 10 rankings. Check it out, post a comment if you have an opinion and don't forget to vote. I've got to still go with Mangino. The site can be found at

-- D.S.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tuesday 11/13 A.M. Quickie:
A.I., Eric Gordon, Ryan Braun, NFL, More!

Today's Names to Know: Allen Iverson, Eric Gordon, Jonny Flynn, Adrian Peterson, Jorge Posada, Ryan Braun, Dustin Pedroia, Mark Messier, BlogPoll Top 25 and More!

Who is on your list of athletes you would really like to see play in person?
Mine is a fairly short list, but there was one player who has been on it for more than a decade: Allen Iverson.

I finally got the chance to see him last night in person, and he didn't disappoint, scoring a season-high 37 (with 8 assists), turning in an NBA Stud of the Night performance. AI is so much more mesmerizing when you watch him in person than when you see him on TV.

This is an interesting discussion point: Which active athletes are on your must-see-in-person list?

I would imagine the top criteria includes legends before their career is over, college players (in college) before their relatively short college careers are over or simply too-talented-to-miss players whose skills have to be seen in person to truly appreciate.

(This is different than the list of players you regret never seeing live, which we will save for another day.)

College Hoops: The freshmen continue to impress. Eric Gordon made his Indiana debut and scored 33 points. Want another sick frosh to watch? Syracuse's Jonny Flynn, who had 28 points and 9 assists in his Syracuse debut.

By the way, I totally whiffed yesterday in not pointing out Michael Beasley's debut for Kansas State, which –frankly – dwarfed Kevin Durant's debut for Texas a year ago. (And I'm not even mentioning Florida's impressive combo guard Nick Calathes, who UF fans have already anointed their new favorite.) If you thought last year's freshman class (Durant, Oden, Conley,etc.) was either talented or dominant (or both), this year's class is even better.

I might be prematurely wrong (go figure) that Derrick Rose is the best player in college hoops; it likely will turn out to be Beasley. (Do the K-State fans call him "Beastley" yet?)

But what does it say that the nation's best guard - whoever it is - AND best inside player are both freshmen? (It means that David Stern's dastardly age limit might artificially keep NBA-ready talent out of the NBA for a year, but it sure livens up college hoops.)

Based on what has happened so far with Rose, Beasley, Mayo, UCLA's Kevin Love (team-high 21 last night), Calathes and now Gordon and Flynn, the freshmen class could field a team that could thump the other classes put together.

NFL MNF: Seahawks blank 49ers in Seattle. Didn't watch the game, but can only imagine it was the ugliest MNF outcome possible.

Adrian Peterson Injury Watch: Out at least the next game. At least. Karmic payback is a beee-otch.

NFL Scandal Watch: Will a new steroids bust bust open a PED connection in the NFL? (Steroids in the NFL!? Say it ain't so!?) Worth tracking, although the league is pretty good at tamping down any sort of PED outrage you see devouring baseball. (h/t: MDS at Fanhouse)

MLB Awards: Ryan Braun, Dustin Pedroia win Rookie of the Year awards. Hard to argue with either, though I know Tulowitzki fans in Denver are disappointed (but hoping that means voters split their ballot in Colorado's direction, giving Holliday the MVP). As most of you would guess, I am quite excited about Braun's win – as I have been excited about him since his debut in the spring. He might have just overtaken Morgan Pressel as the reigning active "Best Active Jewish Athlete."

(Although Duke's Jon Scheyer DID lead the team with 22 points last night. How conflicting: I loathe Duke basketball but root for Scheyer's success. By the way: Note how I emphasize Duke hoops; Duke football, on the other hand, I couldn't be rooting for harder against Notre Dame this weekend. Yes, even though a humiliating early-season loss to Duke football effectively ruined the chances of now-bowl-eligible Northwestern to actually participate in a bowl. Yes, I'm still allowed to talk about Northwestern.)

MLB Hot Stove: Jorge Posada staying with Yankees: All it took was 4Y/$52.4M, which I'm sure was far more than any other team was offering. What price continuity? Meanwhile, free agent signings officially happen starting today. It's a pretty weak class, aside from A-Rod (and who cares about A-Rod?) How about some big trades?

CFB: After thinking it over, I think I'm going to adjust my BlogPoll rankings and move Kansas out of the No. 1 spot. If they beat Missouri in two weeks, maybe. If they beat Missouri and then beat Oklahoma, in back-to-back weeks? Definitely. But it was premature for me to put them there. I was projecting my personal enthusiasm for their story. I am strongly considering LSU-Kansas-Oregon, though I can understand Oregon fans saying, "Hold on!" and demanding KU be put third until after the Mizzou game.

Hockey: Hall of Fame inductees. I became a huge fan of Mark Messier when he led the Rangers to the Stanley Cup. Not that I liked the Rangers. I just was blown away by Messier's leadership skills, enthusiasm and will to win. There's that iconic image of him madly celebrating with the Stanley Cup in '94 that EA used in a classic ad to promote their sports games a few years ago, and that to me was the quintessential vision of success in sports.

-- D.S.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday 11/12 A.M. Quickie:
NFL, BCS, Heisman, MLB Awards, More!

Today's Names to Know: Adrian Peterson, Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Fred Taylor, LSU and Oregon, Big 12, Tim Tebow, OJ Mayo, Ryan Braun and Troy Tulowitzki and More.

NFL Roundup: OK, so of COURSE Adrian Peterson had to have a terrible injury-plagued game following last week's jaw-dropper. That's just how things are supposed to work, aren't they? Doesn't mean that he's not the best RB in the NFL -- just means that he's a rookie. (And maybe fragile: More Billy Sims than Eric Dickerson.)

Pack wins (again): Over the last half-decade, I've been pretty rough on Brett Favre. But I'm the first to say: Wow. This is a hell of a season he's having, both individually and leading the team to unexpected success (even the most optimistic Packers fan couldn't have thought it would be THIS good).

So the Cowboys very well could be the best team in the NFC, but this season, with a resounding loss in Dallas to the Patriots already in the books, does that mean anything? (As long as the NFC is a sacrificial lamb in the Super Bowl this year, I'd rather see the Packers make it.)

Chargers hold on against Colts on Sunday Night: Peyton was picked six times. Wow. And the Chargers built a 23-0 lead. Wow. And San Diego was wearing those dazzling powder-blue jerseys. Wow. And yet, they still almost blew the game. Wow.

NFL Milestones: Fred Taylor reaches the 10,000-yard mark, still without a Pro Bowl appearance. Is he a Hall of Famer? Is he destined to be the Art Monk of running backs?

CFB Weekend Wrap: Who's the idiot who took the under on the Navy-North Texas game?... Congrats to Colt Brennan for breaking the NCAA's all-time record for TD passes... I am no Mark Richt fan, but his decision to go with the black unis was inspired...

CFB BCS Update: LSU is No. 1. Oregon is No. 2. Kansas is No. 3. But the computers have Kansas ahead of Oregon, which means that the survivor of the Big 12 three-way has a great shot at jumping into the Top 2.

BlogPoll: I have Kansas at No. 1, followed by LSU at No. 2, Oregon at No. 3 and the Big 12 one-loss posse of Oklahoma and Mizzou at 4 and 5. I gave KU the final push because they finally silenced doubters who claimed they haven't beaten anyone. LSU gets a nod over Oregon because (1) Oregon was idle (sorry), and (2) because LSU's loss was on the road in multiple OTs to an insanely hot team, while Oregon lost at home (and Cal is even more of a disappointment since that win than Kentucky has been since the win over LSU). Meanwhile, Oregon is in trouble if you look down the road at what's brewing in the BCS rankings. See my Deadspin CFB post later today for more.

Here's the full ballot.

Heisman Watch: Believe it or not, I have hesitated to put Tim Tebow at the top of the list all season long. He's certainly valuable and is arguably among the best players in the country, but I stopped short because the Gators aren't a championship contender.

But Tewow's performance on Saturday (7 TDs, 424 total yards) won me over. As loaded as the Gators are, there isn't a more valuable player to his team, and while "best" or "most talented" is certainly debatable, Tebow is in that conversation, too. Good enough for me.

Current Heisman Ballot
1. Tim Tebow
2. Dennis Dixon
3. Darren McFadden
4. Todd Reesing
5. Pat White/Chase Daniel

NBA Update: Hmm, who else let Brandon Roy (career-high 32 in a Blazers W over Dallas) slip by in their fantasy drafts?... Same could be said for Leandro Barbosa: Might not get you anything more than points, but boy can he rack up the points... The Celtics are even better than people thought; the Bulls are way worse...

CBB Update: Guess what? OJ Mayo ain't all that, if winning matters over style. If people thought his mere presence at USC would turn the Trojans into contenders, they were sadly mistaken. USC lost to mighty Mercer in Mayo's debut. He did have 32 points, and looks every bit like the real deal. But, like Kevin Durant a year ago, he is a spectacular talent unlikely to carry his team particularly far in March. (However, I may have to add Mayo to my preseason All-America team: Derrick Rose, Chris Lofton, Tyler Hansbrough, Stephen Curry and OJ Mayo. Does that look right?)

MLB Awards Season: Today is Rookie of the Year. In the AL, the winner is expected to be Dustin Pedroia (which would be more obvious if they allowed voters to factor in the postseason), with Delmon Young a strong second.

The NL is a wild debate: Ryan Braun vs. Troy Tulowitzki, both of whom established themselves as two of the best young players at their positions in the game. You know I'm partial to Braun because "NL Rookie of the Year is also Jewish" isn't a phrase you hear particularly often. That said, as the Rockies surged, I found myself increasingly impressed with Tulo. I would prefer a tie, but if I had to pick one...

Yikes: To be honest, I really can't decide, which given the lead I gave Braun all the way into September, should probably indicate that Tulowitzki surged ahead in Game 163, much like Matt Holliday did over Jimmy Rollins for NL MVP.

Sports Media/Navel-Gazing: As the year-end awards start to roll in, at least one blogger thought my Reilly/Leitch piece was one of the Top 20 sports-blog posts of the year. Much appreciated.

-- D.S.