Friday, January 25, 2008

Shanoff Twitter Mania: All Weekend Long!

Shanoff Twitter Mania! I will have spotty laptop access all weekend, but I've got two things that will get the job done: My Blackberry and my Twitter page (which everyone who uses Twitter should have already been "following" me with...right???).

So sign up to "follow" me at the Dan Shanoff Twitter page ( and follow along all weekend as I tweet while driving, tweet while I should be minding my kid, tweet during family dinners and tweet during "discussions" about wasn't-I-supposed-to-take-the-weekend-off-from-blogging.

(I guess you're either a Twitter'er or a Tumblr'er: I have both, but for now Twitter is my preferred medium between the two -- come on: For a guy who made his living writing the "Quickie," Twitter is a dream come true. Tumblr lets me put my Twitter tweets as a post itself; hmm... anyone know how to convert a Blogger blog to a Tumblr blog?)

The other option is to check the blog and look on the right side for the area that says "Shanoff on Twitter," which updates just as quickly as the actual Twitter page. (I will also use Blogger's email-a-post function to try to get a standard post or two up between now and Monday morning.)

Have a great weekend.

-- D.S.

New Varsity Dad Post Up:
Naming Your Kid After an Athlete

New post up at Varsity Dad: Anyone ever named their kid specifically after an athlete? Know anyone who did? Check out the post and share your stories.

(Let me reaffirm: Gabe was NOT named after Gabe Kapler, although I could pick worse than a rare Jewish baseball player.)

This reminds me of when my wife was pregnant, and the Morning Quickie chatters were guessing at baby names and the clubhouse leader going into the due date was "Noah," specifically named for Joakim. (It was just after the Gators had won their first title and Noah was named Tournament M.O.P.)

Noah is a great name, but the connection to the Gators has to make it ineligible. I couldn't take the abuse, even if it would have had nothing to do with Joakim. Seriously: No judgments from me if that's what you've done, but naming your kid after an athlete (or any celeb) ain't for me.

Imagine all those TONS of people who named their kid "Britney." Good luck with that.

-- D.S.

Latest NYT PLAY Mag Essay: 19-0 vs. 18-1

So: Would you rather see the Pats finish the perfect season or suffer the biggest upset in pro sports history?

That's the topic of my latest essay for the New York Times' PLAY Magazine. (Here's the link to PLAY's main page this week.)

My answer? You'll have to check it out. But regular blog readers know I have been conflicted all season long. Still not sure how I'm going to go. (This is different from who I think will win, which is the Pats. This is about what result I'm rooting for: The Pats to win or the Pats to lose.)

Check it out, and weigh in through the Comments (and feel free to take the poll to the upper-right, if you haven't yet).

-- D.S.

Friday 01/25 A.M. Quickie:
Federer, Belichick, Senior Bowl, More

The biggest Names to Know included in today's loaded week-ending Sporting News column, which leads with why Roger Federer's stunning loss in the semis of the Australian Open is a cautionary tale for Pats fans everywhere:

Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Bill Belichick, Tom Brady, Chase Budinger, Kevin Love, Xavier, OJ Mayo, Tim Floyd, Allen Iverson, Dwight Howard, KG, Monta Ellis and Baron Davis, Jose Canseco, Magglio Ordonez, Roger Clemens, Robinson Cano, Joe Flacco, Matt Forte, NHL All-Star Game, All-American Football League Draft, Kelly Tilghman and More!

Plus: At least 3 original posts coming to throughout the day. So check back later this morning and in the early afternoon.

-- D.S.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Big Daddy Drew on Bloggers vs. Reporters

Here's the must-read post, part of his weekly Jamberoo on Deadspin. Obviously, you all know this is stuff I'm extremely interested in. I'm going to take a little time to sort through it then post a reaction.

Tony Romo Dumps Jessica Simpson

Tony Romo dumps Jessica Simpson!

Wow: My SN column prediction took exactly one week to come true.

As one reader emailed, he "gave her the Romo."

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

Thursday 01/24 A.M. Quickie:
Canseco, Baylor, Falcons, T'wolves, More!

Must-Know Names from today's Sporting News column:

Jose Canseco, Magglio Ordonez, Curtis Jerrells, Mike Smith, Al Jefferson, Jose Calderon, Jannero Pargo, Josh Smith, Andres Nocioni, Barry Bonds, Colt Brennan, Nolan Ryan, EMC, Chris Samuels and Chris Cooley, Cam Cameron, OJ Mayo, Urban Meyer (gack!), Tom Brady Sr. and More!

I just filed the column, which should be up at my usual spot momentarily (if not already).

New posts coming later today, so check back.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Wednesday 01/23 A.M. Quickie:
Brady, Kentucky, Fassel, Majerus, More!

Today's Names to Know from today's Sporting News column:

Tom Brady (ugh), Kentucky, Jim Fassel, Mike Holmgren, Drake, Rick Majerus, Raymond Burke, Larry Brown, Steve Nash, Ron Artest, Ryan Howard, Chuck Knoblauch, Octavio Dotel, Lloyd Lake, Ted Sarniak and More!

Check out the column here. (Up shortly.)

-- D.S.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Tuesday 01/22 A.M. Quickie:

In honor of the ridiculous breathless sports-media coverage of a celebrity-media-driven story -- Tom! Brady's! Foot! (photo/video courtesy of Page Six and TMZ) -- here's a preview of today's column at

Tom Brady! Scandal!
NFC Title Game TV Ratings! Scandal!
Tom Coughlin! Scandal!
Tony Dungy! Scandal!
LaDainian Tomlinson! Scandal!
Pat Riley! Scandal!
Doc Rivers! Scandal!
Dwight Howard! Scandal!
Syracuse! Scandal!
Memphis! Scandal!
Troy Tulowitzki! Scandal!
Will Leitch! Scandal!
Bud Selig! Scandal!

Wow, I'm kind of tired after writing all that. Check out the column (up shortly) and check back here throughout the day for more original posts.

-- D.S.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Review: "God Save The Fan" by Will Leitch

Book Review: "God Save The Fan," by Will Leitch.
Publish Date: January 22, 2008 by Harper Collins.

We are living in a Golden Age of Fandom: Despite the Vick and Clemens scandals, Mitchell Reports and hundreds of other smaller scandals and disappointments that plague sports fans every day, we are living in a Golden Age of Fandom.

Why? Fans are empowered like never before, mainly through technological innovations brought on by the Internet Age: YouTube, Web 2.0 and, of course, blogging platforms, which have democratized opinion and revolutionized information-sharing:

As fast as a "traditional" sports-media outlet can break a story, everyone can have it, and the opinion from a well-informed fan -- passionate enough to blog essentially for free -- is often far more compelling or interesting than that which comes from the mainstream "expert."

It is appropriate that the ultimate manifesto of this new era of sports-fan empowerment comes from the creator and editor of Deadspin, which serves as the epicenter -- and id -- of 21st Century fandom.

Will Leitch's "God Save The Fan" – a must-have, must-read book for every sports fan – goes on sale tomorrow (Tuesday, Jan. 22) and entertainingly lays out both the provocative theory and compelling, often hilarious case studies behind this revolution – at the same time Will shatters the traditional sports-book mold.

Much like Deadspin itself, "God Save The Fan" is the "outsider's" perspective – but what does that say about the state of sports (and sports books) when the fan is the "outsider?" As much as anything, it is a reminder that the moment for a book like this is now. And as in his blog, Will captures and articulates the sentiments of the Everyfan.

The topics will be familiar to regular readers of Deadspin, but are accessible even to the fans who have never seen a blog before: The book is divided into four parts – Players, Owners, Media and Fans – each part with a dozen or so essays, all but one written entirely originally for the book. (The one that wasn't – a reprint of Will's famous/infamous Deadspin interview with John Rocker – contains hilarious new extra commentary.)

That is a key detail: Too many "books by bloggers" (and some notable mainstream sports media names) fail because they are merely rehashed blogs or reprinted columns, rather than using the topics covered on the blog as a jump-off point for a more complex and interesting conversation.

That's not to say "God Save The Fan" isn't a fun read: The format comes as close as any book I have ever read – certainly any sports book – to capturing the punchy ethos and conversational patter of blogging: Each essay is complex enough to dive into a topic in a more satisfying way than you get in a blog post, but short enough not to lose the attention of a reader. The four parts also are helpful organizing tools. That's not to say the book doesn’t have a touch of ultra-short-form blogginess: Each part's conclusion also includes a funny "Glossary" of notable names – and the Appendix includes a team-by-team guide to fandom, almost like a "Zagat's" for fans. (A very neat little conceit.)

But is it good for the bloggers? Books by bloggers in politics or entertainment have failed, mostly. Why will this book succeed? First, sports is the perfect topic: While it engenders all the passion of politics, it doesn't have nearly the bipolar rage. (Unless you're from Boston and New York.) Second, Will is an even better essayist than he is a blogger (see his ongoing contributions to the New York Times around big sports events).

Third, and most importantly, the sports-fan universe is, for the most part, one big community. Sure, we have our distinct faiths and our biases and our rivalries, but in the end, there is a sense of communal participation – particularly among those who write and consume sports blogs, from the bloggers to the readers to the commenters.

That will be the most interesting development to watch: Given Will and Deadspin's place at the center of gravity of the sports-blog universe – its reach, its influence, its driving support for the sports-blog ecosystem – it will be interesting to see how that translates into commercial traction.

Will bloggers promote it?
(If they've ever gotten a link from Deadspin, they should. If they haven't gotten a link from Deadspin – but have any aspirations to write a book themselves – they should. And if they care about this era of fan empowerment, of which they are a part, they should, too.) To use a sports metaphor, the biggest "X-factor" is the "Deadspin bump" -- will the blog's massive audience buy the book?

And will fans buy it? I think given the overall exceptional quality of the writing in the book itself – plus the "pro-Fans" statement that buying the book makes – it will be a hit, both with those familiar with Deadspin and the curious fans who hear about it through what is sure to be a massive publicity blitz surrounding the book's launch -- both inside and outside mainstream media. Will has many friends and admirers in the media – sports and otherwise.

I go back to the "You're With Me, Leather" meme that was probably the first truly "Deadspin moment" that signaled that the blog (and its author) were leading the changing relationship between sports fans and the media and athletes who they follow. It showed that sports fans want something they can consider under their control, that is open to everyone and that recognizes that sports is gloriously messy – something the mainstream myth-making machine doesn't always want to showcase. In a sports-media landscape built on catch-phrases and highlights, it was the fans' catchphrase and the fans' highlight.

Most of the first three sections will have readers either (a) nodding their head in agreement or (b) laughing their ass off, even if you have heard the stories before. To the point about head-nodding, this book jumps right up to the top of my list of "Damn, I Wish I Had Written That." More than anything, it feels like the ultimate sports book written by a fan for fans, a genre I not only find extremely appealing (when done right, like "God Save The Fan" or "High Fidelity") but I also think has remarkable potential. Self-servingly, the huge success of "God Save The Fan" would open the door for many blogger-turned-authors to finally get that book deal. Cough.

(It is worth mentioning that there is an anecdote Will recounts in the "Media" section that came from me, first told to a Varsity Letters Reading Series audience back in early 2007, a dramatic, satiric recounting of my national-TV debut on "Around the Horn." Later this week, I will try to adapt that reading into an expanded version of the story that is told in the book. Then I will wait patiently – as I always do – for the call to make my glorious return.)

That doesn't mean I don't take serious issue with some of the arguments that Will makes, particularly in the "Fans" section. Will has harsh things to say about "bandwagon fans," a topic that hits entirely too close to home.

(As I mentioned at the most recent Varsity Letters event, where I was the opening act for Will and Dave Zirin, my most memorable conversation of 2007 came when I asked Will if he thought I was less of a fan than someone who had rooted for a team their entire life, and he said, unhesitatingly, "Yes." For some of you, that might clinch book-purchase.)

And I completely disagree with Will's perspective against the idea of rooting for your team to "tank," a short essay that had me so miffed when I first read it that I actually had to explain my counter-theory to the poor soul sitting next to me on the plane.

Hopefully, you'll have a few disagreements of your own with Will's arguments to go with your head-nodding. (Skip Bayless may have more than a few.) That's the underlying point of the book: Have your own opinions, make them heard, be the fan that you want to be… not the one that the mainstream media and leagues want you to be.

There's a fantastic passage near the end of the book that I think sums it all up:

"The key to taking our games back rests not just with blogs – though it has been immeasurably exciting to watch talented people who never had a voice succeed just by starting up a free Blogspot site and showing off their stuff – but with recognizing our power. It's not a matter of organizing fan boycotts, or somehow pretending that you don't care about sports as much as you actually do. It's about embracing the matters you DO have control over; whether it's through blogs or through demanding results on obvious antifan decisions like baseball's infamous Extra Innings fiasco, or just remembering the basic tenet of fandom: You are the one who decides what's important… If we prove to those who have the power that we are smarter than they think we are, they will have no choice but to follow our orders. We're in charge. Let's make the rules."And with that, the manifesto concludes. But the reverberations from Deadspin, from sports blogs, from "God Save The Fan" and from an increasingly empowered fandom are just beginning.

"God Save The Fan" is an instant classic – to borrow ironically from one of ESPN's more legendary sports-cultural framings – and absolutely worth your time and money to buy, read, consider and enjoy. I don't want to say that the future of sports fandom depends on it – but the future of sports fandom certainly reveals itself within it.

(Actually, I think the book is so compelling, let's convene the first-ever Book Club to discuss it. Pick up the book online or in bookstores starting tomorrow – Tuesday, Jan. 22 – and let's tentatively plan to re-convene on Thursday, January 31 to talk about it here, via the Comments section, time of day to be announced, but probably lunchtime ET. I will put out some discussion questions in advance. I'll also see if Will can pop by to join in.)

* - Disclosures: (1) Will is a good friend, and I am both friendly with and a great admirer of his editor at Harper Collins, David Hirshey. My name is listed in the book's acknowledgements. (2) I contribute regularly to Deadspin and have been paid by Gawker Media. (3) I have a book proposal in this genre and could really REALLY use the success of Will's book to boost my own potential. (4) Will and I play in the same fantasy football and baseball leagues, and you always want to suck up to The Commish. (5) I wrote this. (So: Biased? Absolutely. But give me at least some credit that I simply wouldn't have written anything if I thought the book was lousy.)

-- D.S.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

01/21 A.M. Quickie: Slurper Bowl Mayhem!

Get ready for the Super Slurper Bowl with today's column found at my spot at the Sporting Blog. Check it out (should be up shortly).

Why you shouldn't care about Super Bowl XLII storylines...
Why the Chargers should be accused of chokery...
Why the Giants win was a true shocker...
Why Pack fans wanted "Favre to be Favre" -- and got it...
Why UCLA's loss at home wasn't as bad as UNC's...
Why Tracy McGrady is more important than Pat Riley...
Why Golfweek is apologizing...
Why John Harbaugh is the new Bobby Petrino...
Why Norm Chow makes UCLA the new USC...
Why Herschel Walker's records need to be re-examined...
Why Terrelle Pryor is going to Michigan...
And More!

Take today's poll to the right!
Check out the weekend's columns below!

I especially encourage you to check out the post immediately below, where I lay out the stakes: The Pats are playing for 19-0, but the Giants are playing for nothing less than to exorcise the ghosts of the 2004 ALCS, because denying the Pats 19-0 should be every bit as devastating to Boston fans as choking away a 3-0 ALCS lead was to Yankees fans.

Pats vs. Giants in Super Bowl XLII

Here are the stakes in Super Bowl XLII between the Patriots and Giants:

The Pats are playing to go 19-0 and to complete the most perfect season in pro sports history.

The Giants are playing for nothing less than exorcising the ghost of the 2004 ALCS, when the Yankees blew a 3-0 series lead to the Red Sox.

If the Giants could deny the Pats -- and Pats fans -- this most-perfect of accomplishments (and bragging rights), it would even the balance.

I never thought anything would ever come close to allowing New York fans to recover the bragging rights from the 2004 ALCS; beating the Pats and denying them 19-0 would do it.

(But the Giants are NOT beating the Pats.)

PS: Don't forget to take the poll. If you aren't a natural Pats or Giants fan, would you rather see the Patriots go 19-0 or see them lose?

NFL Conf Champ Games: Pats Win

UPDATE: Pats win the AFC title. 18-0. Super Bowl-bound. Regardless of their NFC opponent, let the insanity of their potential perfection climax, starting... now. Enjoy the next two weeks. You'll loathe them by the end.

(Truly: America will be divided between those who want to see 19-0 and those who can't stand the idea of these Pats -- and these Pats fans -- enjoying this unprecedented greatness.)

As for the Chargers, they were unable to get it done: Both within the 10-yard-line, where they had 3 shots and came away with 3 FGs -- and on D, where they let the Pats run out the clock.

Next up: Giants vs. Packers.


I'll try to post your comments as often as possible, so drop on by.

Pats-Chargers, Packers-Giants.

Odds on that we'll see Pats-Pack in the Super Bowl, leading to the Brady-Favre "Slurper Bowl" -- along with the frenzy over the potential of 19-0.

Anything else: Giants winning... god forbid, Chargers winning... would be huge upsets. Obviously, the Chargers winning would be epically huge. We'll see...

UPDATE: AFC at Halftime. Good news, bad news for the Chargers. Good news: The D has played really well. Bad news: The O hasn't matched, particularly inside the 10.

(Oh, and if you saw that IBM ad with "Buzzword Bingo," we totally used to play that in business school during the classroom discussion. You won't find more buzzwords per hour than you will from a group of 85 MBA students.)

More on the ads: Did you see that Southwest ad featuring Clay Davis from "The Wire?" (The actor who plays Clay Davis, obviously, but it seemed unnatural: Like the actor was going to say, all of a sudden, "Wait in some got-damm line to get on the got-damm plane?! Sheeeeeee-it!" Actually, having the actor play Clay Davis IN CHARACTER in the ad would have been the greatest moment in TV ads in the last year.)

More ads: The new Air Jordan ad, promoting the upcoming AJ XXIII. I love when Nike uses old high school clips. I could take or leave the guys involved -- T.O., Rip Hamilton, Chris Paul, Ray Allen, Derek Jeter -- but points for creative presentation.

Sunday 01/20 A.M. Quickie:
CBB Shockers: UNC, UCLA, A&M, Pitt!

College Hoops Mania! With college football a few weeks behind us and the NFL about to wind down, this was the first Saturday where I really spent it obsessing entirely over college hoops. And it was a good one to do it...

Maryland shocks No. 1 UNC in Chapel Hill: Let's start with this. This ends any argument that UNC was the best team in the country – the best of the so-called "Big Three" of previously unbeaten teams. This stat about Maryland's success against No. 1-ranked teams is incredible.

USC shocks UCLA at Pauley Pavilion: Now this was a true head-scratcher. As most of you know, UCLA was my preseason pick to win the national title, and nothing this season has changed my mind about that. (Even this result.)

I still think Kevin Love is the best player in the country – not the best freshman, the best player... period. I think this loss will offer more teaching lessons and motivation than any single win might have between now and the NCAA Tournament. (Losing to the cocky young crosstown rival at home? Definitely.)

But credit the Trojans – an extremely young and extremely talented team. They had a right to be cocky – it was the only way to go into Pauley and gut out this game in the face of UCLA's superior everything. Everyone talks about OJ Mayo; Jefferson is the real freshman revelation of that team (though it begs the question how much more effective Jefferson is because opposing defenses have to key on Mayo).

Kansas State throttles Texas A&M by 21: Were the Aggies really a Top 10 team? I guess not. Either that, or K-State has proven itself as an unranked team with the talent (Beasley and Walker, who combined for 40) and potential to knock off anyone -- anyone -- on any given night.

Cincinnati stuns Pittsburgh: I don't get Pitt. One week they beat Duke. The very next game, they lose by 25 to Dayton. Then they beat Georgetown. The very next game, they lose to Cincinnati. It's that kind of inconsistency that will keep me from taking them beyond the Sweet 16 (at best) in my NCAA Tournament bracket.

Kansas holds off Missouri's upset bid: Again, you would like to argue that THIS is the No. 1 team? I am going to say Memphis, despite their woeful conference strength-of-schedule -- what they have done out of conference more than makes up for it.

Tennessee beats Ohio State: Remember the brutal chokery that the Vols suffered against the Buckeyes last March? This win might not make up for it, but perhaps it exorcises enough of the memory to provide a symbolic stop en route to the Vols making the Final Four this season, as I predicted they would before the season started.

Florida fends off Kentucky in OT: It wasn't pretty, but it WAS on ESPN. Nick Calathes joins the short-list of Top 10 impact freshman with 24 points, 8 assists and 8 rebounds in a national breakout game. (I'm telling you: If you gave me my pick of the Top 10 freshman as my team, I would give you the rest of the country to find your 10, and I would decimate your team.)

Name to Know: Dre Smith, who hit an NCAA-record 10-of-10 3-pointers to lead George Mason over James Madison.


NBA Studs: McGrady returns to the Rockets, they beat the Spurs: Coincidence? Hmm... (As long as we're not talking about the playoffs, right?)

NBA Duds: The Heat lost their 13th straight – the worst such streak of Pat Riley's career. Adding insult to insult, they lost to the Knicks. The Knicks!

Uber-recruit Terrelle Pryor visits Michigan: Given that the presumption is that new coach Rich Rodriguez has offered Pryor the keys to the kingdom (focus of the offense, start as a freshman, etc), it would be the ultimate backslide if Pryor were to turn Michigan down. The fans did their part, with the obligatory "We want Pryor" chant for the recruit at a basketball game he was attending.

Roy Jones Jr. beat Felix Trinidad in a "Wait: This Still Matters?" match...

Must-Read: Wilbon on the Golfweek/Tilghman controversy. Makes a lot of great points.

-- D.S.