Saturday, April 26, 2008

NFL Draft Mania

My attempt to post this from my cell phone didn't work. Hopefully, you're following my comments on my Twitter page. What a fun draft so far -- lots of trades, some very intriguing picks. You can find my Twitter page here -- or just look in the "Twitter" area on the right side of this page.

Saturday 4/26 (Very) Quickie: Draft Day

Waiting on the start of the NFL Draft: Will Darren McFadden end up in New York City? Will Chad Henne skyrocket into the first round as some kind of poor man's Tom Brady? How will the "experts'" mock draft boards fall apart, as they most predictably will?

Who would have guessed that the lamest NBA West Playoff series would be Spurs-Suns? (Even the Mavs won once they got back home.)

I guess the Sixers were more legit than we thought.

I really really really wish Brett Favre would shut up finally and go away. If he didn't want to retire, he shouldn't have, but all this "look-at-me" teasing is insulting to the fans who sent him off with respect.

Wow: It's been a long time since we could say "Randy Johnson gets the win."

More later.

-- D.S.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Suckiest Sports Blog? Perhaps This One!

It is hard work to be either (a) the best or (b) the worst. I accept this title with all the shallow, lazy, self-indulgent effort put into earning it that you have come to expect and appreciate.

(It is a worthy addition to my No. 1 regional seeding in the Hot Blogger Contest and Honorable Mention status from as "Best Non-Corporate Sports Blog of 2007.")

-- D.S.

Just to clarify, I did not guest-post on that guy's blog. He wrote a parody. Or, should I say, "parody." Not sure where he got "profitable book sales." There's not even a book, let alone sales. But perhaps with help like this post, it will one day come to be.

How To Spend Your NFL Draft Day

Here's how I'm spending my NFL Draft day online:

Laugh: Following the Kissing Suzy Kolber live-blog.
Think: Relying on New Era Scouting to help me interpret.
Google Reader: To keep up on PFT and everywhere else.
Twitter: Me, obviously. (What? You're not following me there?)

Don't know NES? Here's the site. Here's their awesome draft guide -- the very latest version. (Hat-tip to NES head honcho Matt Miller and his crew for the help this spring on draft prep.)

-- D.S.

Update: Can I just throw something out there about the Falcons and Matt Ryan? They're picking the wrong Matt! Understanding that Matt Ryan seems overvalued in a weak QB class and that the Falcons will likely be bad enough next year to have a Top 3 pick again, why wouldn't they save their "Franchise QB" chip for the REAL superstar QB named Matt: Georgia's Matt Stafford, who after the 2008 season should be viewed as the Top NFL QB prospect in college football. OK, yes, I'm kind of geeked up for the Draft -- enough that I'm already thinking about '09.

New Pro Football (Minor) League?
Why the NFL Draft Holds The Key

PFT's Florio has some interesting ideas about what would make a second pro football league work. This "UNFL" league is not quite there, despite a clever positioning as a "minor league." (I thought that was Arena League's function?)

Still, I can't help but go back to my go-to strategy: The only alternative pro football league that can possibly succeed will allow -- and recruit -- players otherwise draft-ineligible by the NFL.

That means college freshmen and sophomores -- and I'd even argue that with the rise of prep recruiting as its own massive industry, they should recruit high school seniors (like Terrelle Pryor, already a household name to football fans) go to from prep-to-pro.

Otherwise, "minor league" football just means "players not good enough make the NFL" -- it's hardly appealing, particularly given that the NFL seems to have zero interest in making the UNFL (or any other league beyond the one whose acronym is "NCAA") their minor league, officially or otherwise.

Instead, a start-up league needs to feature players who absolutely would make the NFL, but the NFL simply restrains from allowing in. Sure, your minor league can have UFAs or taxi-squad veterans, too. But the marquee young college players -- the ones who get fans (and NFL scouts) to tune in -- will be the key.

And the NFL -- with its draconian draft-eligibility rules -- has created an incredible opportunity for a rival: There isn't much competitive room left for anyone else in pro football, but this is a known and exposed flaw of the NFL that is just ripe to be taken advantage of.

It would actually improve the NFL: By allowing super-talented draft-ineligible college players -- the ones who would absolutely be drafted, if only the NFL let teams have the chance -- to ignore things irrelevant to their pro potential... like, um, college requirements... those players could focus entirely on their NFL development, coached by coaches focused entirely on their NFL development.

It is a 1- or 2- or 3-year experience that would have the players more ready to contribute immediately at the NFL level than college allows them to, while paying them really well for that training, compensation that doesn't even begin to account for endorsement dollars that they would instantly be eligible to generate.

It is fine for these superstars to cycle in and out after 1 or 2 or 3 years -- there will be a steady pipeline behind them. And, make no mistake, they will forego college for this TRUE minor league. Maybe after 1 year, maybe after 2 or 3.

It won't hurt college football: Like the NBA's relationship with college hoops has shown, fans of college sports tune in for -- all together now -- the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.

Only the very best players will opt for this new pro league, because only the very best players will be given signals from the marketplace that it is worth their time and risk to do it. Maybe that signal comes after a freshman year -- or even after a sophomore year. Still: Freshman and sophomore players with draft-worthy NFL talent would be better off turning pro with a minor-league dedicated to their talent (and financial) development than playing another year or two of college football.

Meanwhile, college football will roll on; without the previous stars in front of them, new stars will emerge -- it is an inevitability. And some players will skip out on the pro option altogether, because they love the college environment. That's fine -- more power to them! It's not for everyone. But it should be out there as an option for some.

The NFL's insistence on artificially limiting the market forces of their player development creates -- like any artificial limits placed on anything -- a unique opportunity to capitalize on it, creating value for the players and, ultimately, the NFL and its fans.

Until any of these so-called "minor" or "alternative" leagues take advantage of this NFL-sanctioned (and tacitly encouraged) arbitrage opportunity and pursue the recruitment of players otherwise locked out of the NFL Draft process, I can't take them seriously.

-- D.S.

Update: Already got an email from someone agreeing with the premise. Here was my reply:
Even if each team in a 4 or 6 or 8 team league had one "Beckham-rule"-style player, alongside a bunch of wannabes, why not?

Because here's the thing: You wouldn't just get a handful of early entrant players -- you'd probably get 15-20 (or more) in any given class. In a 4-team pro league, that's 5 guys per roster -- most college teams don't have 5 NFL-quality stars.

And as soon as you proved that players who go through the "development league" (or whatever) end up (a) making money immediately, (b) get drafted higher and (c) have better NFL careers faster, the best players would flood in.

I don't get why that isn't the first thing an alternative league promotes as a differentiator: We won't keep NFL-quality players out just because of their birthday. The key is to emphasize that these are NFL-quality players -- first-round material, future stars of the NFL that you can catch NOW, as they develop -- playing in the new league.

Friday 04/25 A.M. Quickie:
Draft, Wiz, Cliff Lee, Favre-Madden, More

I was putting together my SN column this morning and I included the annual "NFL Draft Buzzword Drinking Game" guide. I realized that this should be some sort of public wiki situation, where fans can create a massive and constantly updated list of buzzwords worthy of inclusion. Maybe next year.

Meanwhile, my lead is about the biggest impact player at the draft: The new 10-minute deadline between picks. Down from the endless 15-minute standard, I think this will make the draft a lot more enjoyable -- it would be even better if they made it 5 minutes.

And if they wanted to create the highest-rated sports-TV show in history, they would format the Draft to have 3 minutes per pick, with 2 minutes of on-screen advertising included in each 3-minute block -- almost all of the analysis can come after the first 90-minute first-round burst.

Minute 1: Analyze pick
Minute 2: Interview with athlete/GM/coach
Minute 3: Look-ahead to next pick.

If you've sat through the 15-minute (and even this new 10-minute) segment between picks (as I suspect almost all of you have), you know that there is about 1-2 minutes of good analysis, followed by fluff.

Meanwhile, which live-blogs will you be following? I'm going to try to post a small guide later today. (I won't be, but to the extent I can be sitting in front of the TV, I'm going to make it a Twitter-worthy event.)

Oh, KSK's surely makes my list

More from today's column

If every team was as insane as the Wizards, perhaps the NBA wouldn't be a niche sport... Cliff Lee is the first-month AL Cy Young winner... Frank Thomas will be awesome for the A's, just watch... Madden 09 having Brett Favre on the cover couldn't be more lame... Larry Brown is an idiot (but not as big of an idiot as any team that hires him)... T-Mac's effort in the 4th last night only silences his critics if the Rockets use last night's improbable win in Utah to springboard to an even more improbable series victory.

More tomorrow and Sunday, then back here Monday morning.

-- D.S.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

2008 Blogger NFL Draft's 2008 Blogger NFL Draft: I picked for the Jaguars at No. 26, but the whole thing is worth your time. (I am, by far, the least worthy person to be a part of this group, but I certainly enjoyed participating.)

Back at you: Who are your biggest Draft superstar locks (Darren McFadden, duh), "obvious" busts (Matt Ryan, duh) and sleepers? Put them in the Comments, and I'll update the Comments section all day long.

(Consider that this was a team's top blogger making their own pick for the team, regardless of reality. It's not a what-will-happen draft; it's a what-should-happen draft. BTW, "what-will-happen" mock drafts are even less accurate.)

-- D.S.

Thursday 04/24 A.M. Quickie:
Lakers, Pac-Man, Walsh, Celtics, More

Oh wow, do red-eye flights suck. But enough complaining: Spencer Hall is pinch-hitting this morning for me at, which I could never complain about.

Bleary-eyed and briefly:

Lakers beat Nuggets: I was watching this game at a sports bar in Denver, and you can feel the frustration from Nuggets fans about their team.

(But not nearly the frustration that they have in the Rockies' relief situation: I went to games the last two nights -- both blown saves. Ridiculous.)

Cowboys trade for Pac-Man Jones: Presumably, he will be taking the Michael Irvin Distinguished Professorship in Troublemaking.

Matt Walsh to talk with Roger Goodell, NFL: This will never happen, but they should stream the conversation live at; it would set online-sports records for audience size.

NFL Draft: Are the Rams going to draft Glenn Dorsey? I hope they actually sign him before Saturday, and the "pre-draft" can continue to the Falcons.

Are the Packers going to sign Daunte Culpepper? That's a strong move.

Gee, thanks Trevor Hoffman: You blew Greg Maddux's shot at win No. 350. Speaking of milestone wins, Mike Mussina moved ahead of Bob Gibson on the career wins list.

(In 5-10 years, when it becomes obvious that Mussina will be the last pitcher ever to reach the 250-win plateau, will he make it to the Hall of Fame? Hell, 200 might be a stretch.)

Celtics, Pistons win in routs: The C's are on track for a sweep; the Pistons, obviously perturbed at the Game 1 result, might win in 5 after finding their focus.

Is Tony Stewart leaving Joe Gibbs Racing? That means the most charismatic (and interesting) NASCAR driver is up for grabs -- if I was an owner, I'd pay to get him.

CFB: Is there any greater sin than transferring from Michigan to Ohio State? Justin Boren will find out. I don't begrudge him for leaving Michigan -- Rich Rodriguez isn't everyone's taste -- but how could he go to Ohio State? That's not a transfer; that's an allergic reaction.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wednesday 04/23 A.M. Quickie:
Long, Spurs, CP3, Lupul, Vikings, More

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

Jake Long, Spurs, Chris Paul, Dwight Howard, Joffrey Lupul, Jeremy Roenick, John Smoltz, Brandon Webb, Jacoby Ellsbury, Casey Blake, Frank Thomas, Cynthia Rodriguez, Kevin Garnett, Mike Bibby, Jared Allen, Chad Johnson, Shaun Alexander, Howard Schultz, John Arne Riise, Spencer Hall and More!

Why the NFL "Pre-Draft" trumps the real Draft...
What the Rams should do with the No. 2 pick...
Why Chris Paul is superior to Dwight Howard...
Why Joffrey Lopul gets free drinks on Broad St...
Why John Smoltz joins elite company...
Why Brandon Webb is part of the best 1-2 in MLB...
Why Cynthia Rodriguez is more clutch than A-Rod...
Why Kevin Garnett deserved the hardware...
Why Mike Bibby is only half-right about Boston fans...
Why Shaun Alexander his a has-been...
Why the Champions League is kind of awesome...
Why Spencer Hall is the new Dan Shanoff...
And a lot more... after the jump.

More later today: I'm curious for your take on the Bibby item in the column. Also, who would you take with the No. 2 pick if you were the Rams (if you use the pick at all...)

Oh: If you haven't seen this Steve Nash "$6 Million Man" take-off video, it's awesome. (The Amare and Raja cameos are the best part... just enough silly.) There: You've done your part for Earth Day (belatedly).

-- D.S.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesday 04/22 A.M. Quickie:
Jazz, Cavs, Ovie, NFL Draft, More

I figure 3-plus years is long enough self-imposed purgatory to break out the "series over" tag -- no one seriously gives the Rockets a chance to come back after losing 2 straight at home to the Jazz, do they? And, frankly, the Cavs seem to own the Wizards, too, after last night's record 30-point ass-kicking.

Still, stranger things have happened, like the Caps taking a 3-1 series deficit to Game 7 in D.C. tonight -- or trying to make sense of the misdirection at the top of the NFL Draft... or trying to make sense of Obama, Clinton and McCain doing WWE promos. It's all in today's Sporting News column, available by 9-ish. There's a ton more in there, too.

If you live in Pennsylvania, don't forget to vote. (As if you could.)

-- D.S.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Monday 04/21 A.M. Quickie:
Gasol, Danica, Big Hurt, Draft, More

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

Pau Gasol, Sixers, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul, Spurs-Suns, Danica Patrick, Habs-Bruins, Jared Allen, Jason Taylor, Eli Manning, Lorena Ochoa, Aaron Harang, Chase Utley, David Ortiz and More!

Pau Gasol IS the Lakers' missing ingredient...
The Sixers enjoy more than moral victory...
Chris Paul and Dwight Howard are even better now...
I'm no NHL fanatic, but I love NHL Game 7s...
Eli Manning is better prepped for marriage than most...
Why I am not making fun of Big Papi anymore...

And here's an interesting one: Danica Patrick may have had the best weekend of the year of any woman in sports, but Lorena Ochoa had the best weekend of the year in women's sports.

A lot more in the column, after the jump.

I'm traveling back from Gainesville to NYC this afternoon, so posting may be light. If you have way too much time on your hands, there's always my TMI interview from Friday with the Northwestern football blog, Lake The Posts.

-- D.S.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday 04/20 (Very) Quickie

If yesterday's Spurs-Suns game was a Game 7 -- particularly a conference finals Game7 -- we would be talking about it as one of the greatest games in NBA history.

The NBA got the next-best thing: As the kick-off to the playoff season, the NBA and its fans couldn't have gotten off to a more exciting start. Now, you can't possibly miss a Suns-Spurs game, for fear of missing something -- to use the cliche -- "amazing happening."

It was arguably the best game of the 2007-08 season. And as great as Ginobili was in OT (especially the second), that Tim Duncan 3 was the signature moment of the game -- perhaps the playoffs: Expect players to raise their games.

And Cavs-Wiz wasn't bad either: It was a little bit of an uglier game, but it featured a big performance by LeBron (for the final 3 quarters), including a dunk finish off an alley-oop that will probably go down as one of the Top 5 "signature" in-game dunks of LeBron's career. You didn't need to watch the game (though I did) to capture its essence in that dunk -- the ultimate response to the Wizards' pre-series trash-talk.

And just think: The Lakers don't even tip until later today.

(More: Huge wins for the Hornets -- off to the best start possible in their first-round series -- and the Jazz -- with a punch to the face to the Rockets in Houston, taking back home-court advantage...just like that.)

Danica Patrick breaks the "rubber-tire ceiling," becoming the first woman ever to win an IndyCar event.

You don't have to be a hockey fan to want/need to tune in for Canadiens-Bruins Game 7 tomorrow night.

MLB: Andy Sonnanstine! Tim Lincecum! 6th save for Gagne?! And David Ortiz is heating up with a vengeance...

-- D.S.