Saturday, May 17, 2008

Sunday 05/18 (Very) Quickie

Big Brown wins Preakness: OK, so NOW we can talk about the Triple Crown, probably one of the Top 5 most respected accomplishments in sports.

Candace Parker's WNBA debut: 34 points. Hmm...I think she's going to be good at this.

MLB: Ryan Ludwick makes me regret not picking him up off the fantasy waiver wire before last weekend. I missed him, and now I'm kicking myself, particularly after his 2-HR performance yesterday.

Tale of Two Santanas: Johan gets his 5th win for the Mets, against the Yankees no less. And Ervin was hit with his first loss of the season, against the Dodgers.

Ryan Braun hits No. 11. OK, so after his monster HR week last week AND his big new deal with the Brewers, I think it's time I got a replica jersey T-shirt. (I can't get the actual jersey, but I am willing to go to the jersey T-shirt level.)

-- D.S.

Saturday 05/17 (Very) Quickie

The Lakers finally broke the home-court thing in the NBA conference semis, dispatching the Jazz in a Game 6 in Utah. Think they are rooting for the Hornets or what?

Meanwhile, the Celtics continue to go winless on the road, setting themselves up for a much tougher Game 7 in Boston than they had with the Hawks: LeBron is no Josh Childress.

(And even if Boston wins, it still does nothing to quell fears they are ultimately doomed for not being able to win on the road - putting pressure on them to win EVERY game at home.)

MLB: The Josh Hamilton Comeback Story has been one of the best in baseball this decade (second only to Rick Ankiel, only with coke instead of HGH...comebacks don't come easy, y'know). But last night was his best game yet: 2 HR, 5 RBI, 5-5, 4 R, BB. Amazing.

Speaking of amazing, Jayson Werth had 3 HR and 8 RBI -- 8!!! (Alfonso Soriano also had a 2-HR game).

Rays handcuff the Cards in St. Louis: Of all the projections of the solid Rays rotation, who had Andy Sonnenstine at 6 wins?

D'backs beat Tigers: AL, NL it doesn't matter -- the D'backs keep winning, and the Tigers keep losing.

Spygate (sigh-gate): Bill Belichick calls Matt Walsh's allegations "absurd." This from a self-admitted cheater, so consider the source. (By the way, by reacting -- in any way -- Belichick keeps this story alive.)

Oscar Pistorius declared eligible to run in the Olympics: This is really, really big. By putting it at the bottom, I don't mean to diminish how big it is.

Not only does it set up the most must-see, most-watched moment of the Olympics in 2008, but it creates an entire new barrier being broken in sports -- bionic athletes.

Interestingly, yesterday I had a disagreement with someone about this: I argued that Speedo's new LZR swimsuits -- which have been obliterating records since being introduced a few months ago -- are a similar external enhancement as the prosthetics that Pistorius uses.

Now, that's not entirely (or even remotely) accurate (Michael Phelps would still be Olympic-record fast without the new suit; Pistorius would not be an Olympic runner without his prosthetics), but both speak to the emerging influence of technology on competitors...and competition.

-- D.S.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday 05/16 A.M. Quickie:
Spurs, Spying, Webb, Barkley, More

Crazed this morning, but here's a link to today's Sporting News column. Highlights: I'm loving the Spurs-Hornets series, Brandon Webb, Ryan Braun and questioning Charles Barkley's integrity. And I'm hating Spygate, in all of its various forms this morning. You all have turned me to the "sick-of-this" side of this, over the course of the week. More later. -- D.S.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Will the Wii Fit Make Me Fit?

I'll admit it: I'm not a particularly hard-core gamer. I'm terrible at Madden and the other games. I used to have a PS2, but it was frustrating and annoying to be so bad at the games. That's one of the reasons I was a perfect candidate for the Wii.

I got it a few months ago. I like playing the Sports games. I liked buying some of the old-school games like Tecmo (though, like many of you, I'm not nearly as good as I was in college). I got Mario Kart -- complete with the steering wheel -- and I have enjoyed that.

And, yes, I placed a pre-order for the Wii Fit, which comes out next week. Not necessarily because I think it can help me get in shape -- most reviews are skeptical -- but because I'm intrigued by these applications aimed at casual users.

(Just a thought: Can EA build a spin-off Wii Fit version of Madden that will let me do the actual running as the QB, RB or WR? Now THAT would be kind of cool.)

There was a pretty interesting hands-on review in the NY Times today -- it was actually a little more bullish on the Fit's potential to actually be a tool to tone up the user. But it remains to be seen what it can do for me. I have reached new levels of doughiness.

-- D.S.

Thursday 05/15 A.M. Quickie:
Celtics, Lakers, Specter, Indians, More

I'm torn: The split-personality of the Celtics -- home vs. road -- fascinates me, but it also sort of bores me. Something needs to happen: Either they need to win on the road or they need to lose at home.

I lead with the Celtics' home-road dichotomy in today's Sporting News column.

There's this prize of novelty if they keep winning at home (and losing on the road) -- no team has ever made the conference finals (let alone won the conference finals...or the NBA Finals for that matter) without winning on the road at least once in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

But that seems so far away -- the Celtics are still 9 home wins away from that. And the Pistons and whoever wins the West will be a much tougher matchup than either the Hawks or Cavs. I think they can't keep going in the current direction: "Win (on the road) or go home," I guess is the slogan.

Meanwhile, I'm with most of you that Spygate is played out. Then you read Greg Bishop's best-in-the-country reporting in the NY Times -- today's is a must-read -- and you find yourself saying, "Wait a second... there IS a lot more here than Roger Goodell would want you to believe."

In MLB, I am in as much awe of the Indians starting pitching as the rest of you: 43 IP without a run? And what's gotten into Ted Lilly and Mike Mussina?

There's a lot more going on in the column today.

More coming later today.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Kornheiser Takes Washington Post Buy-Out

Tony Kornheiser ends his newspaper career at the Washington Post: Tony Kornheiser hadn't been a particularly active "newspaperman" for years -- perhaps not since he became a better radio guy than newspaper guy, then an even better TV guy (on PTI) than radio guy.

Kornheiser was one of the original "cross-platform" talents, even though he probably doesn't see himself (or want to see himself) that way. Ironically, when you say "cross-platform," you almost always mean "online" as part of that "platform" group; TK was NOT an online guy.

Ironically, if he had started his career two decades later than he did, TK would have been an incredibly online guy -- his schtick always struck me as being ideal for a blogger (although I think he would quickly find that blogging is a lot more work than he thinks it is).

I grew up on Tony Kornheiser. I grew up on the Washington Post sports section as a whole -- and from the mid-80s to the mid-90s it was, by far, the best sports section in the country, and if you look at the alumni list, you'd agree with me.

But when I was a kid and young adult, TK was my favorite. I knew I wanted to be in journalism -- sports, hopefully -- and TK seemed to have the best job in the world.

I'm quite sure that some of my shallow, from-the-couch analysis in the Quickie days (and now with the blog) was inspired by Kornheiser. And I say that with all the respect in the world, because -- as I think we've found -- "shallow" and "from-the-couch" has emerged as the dominant form of sports punditry.

I think that it's not unfair or inaccurate to say that TK's column-writing quality (along with Wilbon's) declined as their TV jobs got bigger; it's simple math: If you're spending your entire professional life on writing a fabulous 800-word column, you will do a better job than when you are spending most of your professional life on creating a fabulous TV show (or, even on top of that, a great radio show).

Something has to take a hit, and when they looked at their lives, both Kornheiser and Wilbon decided that TV (and, to a lesser extent, radio) were more important than their newspaper careers, the newspaper audience or the newspaper industry, in general. And I don't blame them one bit: TV offered more reach, more influence, more fame -- and god knows a LOT more money.

But that's also why I can't get behind Tony hoping his headstone reads "newspaper guy." I know Wilbon also says something similar. I appreciate the sentiment, but it rings hollow. Twenty years ago, I'm sure both guys would have earned that title -- but 20 years ago, I'm not sure either saw the glory and cash from TV coming either.

In a way, Kornheiser taking the Post's buy-out is a perfect symbol of the state of the newspaper industry: Eclipsed by other forms of media, both for talent acquisition and relevance to audiences. You can't take the buy-out and go back to the TV and radio studio (not to mention "Monday Night Football") as the foundation of the newspaper industry -- including the Post -- is imploding, then claim "newspaper guy" status.

(I will add that I'm sure Tony will still earn oodles of cash from the Post to do "contract" work, which means quick-hit video clips and perhaps 200-word "columnettes," which seems like a nice deal for him, if you add in the presumptive cash from the buy-out. What is weird is that the Post probably has the best online sports section of any newspaper in the country, led by Dan Steinberg and their beat writers, who have transformed themselves into pretty good part-time bloggers.)

Here's a personal lament: My son won't have an experience with a columnist like I had with Tony Kornheiser when I was growing up. Oh, sure, I'm hoping he will find pundits he enjoys, but I will tell him stories about reading TK at the breakfast table before school and loving his schtick, and my son will have a complete inability to relate.

Kornheiser's life as a "newspaper guy" ended almost a decade ago when PTI launched -- if not before that, when he got his national radio show. Heck, a lot of people don't know he left the newspaper sports section for a while to write newspaper "lifestyle" columns geared towards parenthood, Seinfeldian "what's-the-deal-with..." and other non-sports issues, before coming back to the sports section.

But here's the thing: I don't think that Kornheiser's headstone should say "newspaper guy," but -- if it is any consolation to him (and I doubt it is) -- that is how I personally will remember his career.

-- D.S.

Wednesday 05/14 A.M. Quickie:
Walsh, Goodell, Hornets, Rays, More

I give: I'm ready to stop talking about the Pats' cheating scandal...if everyone is ready to stipulate that they are cheaters and that for all their greatness, the are indelibly tainted.

That's the lead of today's Sporting News column.

Speaking of tainted, the Boston Herald is the sports media punchline for admitting they were totally wrong about the Super-spying scandal from XXXVI.

Can we all move along to more interesting topics now? Good.

The Hornets are looking very good against the Spurs. At least in New Orleans. Which is all that matters. Because even if the Spurs win in San Antonio in Game 6 (which they surely will), the Hornets have looked unbeatable at home. Game 7s are a bit of a different story, but you have to give the edge to New Orleans.

Speaking of unbeatable at home, if the Cavs or Jazz can pull off a win on the road tonight, either should be favored to win their series.

The Rays are in first place with the best record in the AL. They jumped ahead of the Red Sox. They swept the Angels. And, most impressively, they hung a loss on Mariano Rivera. They are the story of the spring in sports.

Question: Would the NCAA be investigating the OJ Mayo thing if it wasn't all over the news over the last 48 hours? Doubt it. (And where was this kind of crusading about Reggie Bush?)

Billy Gillispie recruits another high school freshman: I was fairly benign in my Sporting News column about it, but what I really wanted to say is that Gillispie is apparently interested in starting a NAMBLA chapter in Lexington. His fascination with 14-year-old boys is skeevy.

There's a ton more in the column today, so check it out.

More later.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Matt Walsh vs. Goodell and Specter

So there was no Super Bowl walk-through tape, but there reportedly was a Super Bowl walk-through spying, albeit in person -- by Walsh, relayed to the Pats. Not cheating necessarily, but iffy.

Roger Goodell's declaration that "there was no tape" comes across as the NFL's version of "I did not have sex with that woman" -- technically true, but arguably misleading.

Given Goodell's history with the destruction of evidence, I don't expect anything less than him portraying this in the best light possible for the league.

However, I just don't buy it -- why wouldn't he disclose that Walsh told him he personally spied on the Rams, unless he felt like it was something to hide.

-- D.S.

Tuesday 05/13 A.M. Quickie:
Celtics, Braun, Mayo, LeBron's Mom, More

I'm sorry: I just can't see the Celtics winning the East -- let alone the NBA title -- if they can't win on the road.

The Pistons already won in Orlando (and I had earlier picked them to beat the Celtics in the East finals). Meanwhile, someone in the West will eventually break HCA in this round, and that team will instantly be my favorite to win the title.

That's the lead of today's Sporting News column, found here.

Meanwhile, the OJ Mayo saga continues, with the agent denying everything, the NCAA being its ineffectual self and the NBA finding out that its age-limit has some serious unintended consequences. (Although anyone could have seen them coming.)

In MLB, how can you not love the unassisted triple-play? It's baseball immortality! (I still remember the game in '94 I was at where it happened.) Oh, and Ryan Braun rules.

Want a tale of two no-decisions? There's Cliff Lee, who missed out after 9 shutout innings, then there's Barry Zito, for whom an ND is actually a huge improvement.

David Stern hates the pre-game pyrotechnics at NBA games, and while I like to think of myself as a highly progressive fan, I totally agree with him. You don't have to be a purist or a fuddy-duddy to think it is out of control.

Matt Walsh is talking with Roger Goodell RIGHT NOW (wonder what they're talking about?) and he meets with Arlen Specter this afternoon. Should be lots of fun hearing the Commish and the Senator spin their conversations.

There's a bunch more in the SN column today and more coming later today on the blog.

-- D.S.

Monday, May 12, 2008

I'm Kind of Intrigued to Apply

This is the kind of thing I have always wanted to enter (and win). I'm not an alum of Washington? So what? I spent a year living in Seattle -- I figure that's enough. "U-Dub," Huskies, lakes, tailgating in boats, Pacific Northwest, Don it. Although I guess, as I think about it, I've wanted to write a fight song, not an alma mater, which always comes out like a dirge. -- D.S.

Name to Know: Britt Robson

Pretty fascinating three-part interview with Britt Robson, who is mightily respected among Those Who Know the NBA. Very long, but very interesting. Part 1... Part 2... Part 3.

Monday 05/12 A.M. Quickie:
Mayo, Jazz, Spurs, MLB in Florida, More

It's a very simple concept: How could you NOT see the OJ Mayo scandal coming? How could USC administrators... or Tim Floyd... or the media... or the fans... come on.

That's at the heart of the lead item of today's Sporting News column. More simplicity: Either USC, as an institution, knew but did nothing -- or didn't know. Both are worthy of punishment.

NBA Playoff series get very interesting at Game 5 if the first four games are won by the home team -- but only if something interesting, like a road team winning, happens.

Would you believe that it's May 12 and the two hottest teams in baseball are the Rays and Marlins? The Rays are the AL Wild Card team, if the season ended today.

For the Marlins, it's even more staggering: They have the best record in baseball.

(It's a return to an old regular Morning Quickie chat argument: Are the Marlins a miserably run franchise... or the ideal? Consider 2 championships in the last 10 years, along with unexpected contention of this season. Sure helps offset the bad years, doesn't it? Lots of other teams would LOVE for that kind of "crappy" management.)

Arguing that Mike D'Antoni would have been better off with the Bulls over the Knicks is moot; the question is: Was it a great move for the Knicks? And the answer is an unequivocal: YES.

There's a lot more in the column today, so check it out.

Oh, and please welcome Paul DePodesta to the sports-blog family. I think he will find a more professional reception than he got from, say, the "professional" and "mainstream" sports-media pundits in L.A.

-- D.S.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sunday 05/11 (Very) Quickie

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there! (Especially mine and my baby-mama. Do you think Tom Brady and Matt Leinart are doing anything for their kids' mamas? Doubt it.)

Guess what: The Celtics still can't win on the road...

The Magic missed their best (and last?) opportunity to stun the Pistons...

Knicks hire Mike D'Antoni: Doesn't matter how much it cost, this is the best possible coachin-search outcome for the Knicks, importing a proven (and recently proven) big winner who -- more importantly -- has a defined (and exciting) style to bring to the team.

I think it is good news for David Lee, who should thrive, and bad news for Eddy Curry, who won't. (Curry was already on the hot seat for being Isiah's biggest import with new management in town.)

Next step: The Knicks REALLY need to win the draft lottery, so they can grab Derrick Rose. I think a top-notch PG is a must for D'Antoni's system, and it's not like the Knicks have the cap room to bring in Jose Calderon (unless Calderon is serious that he would play for less money if he was guaranteed to start, a guarantee I'm sure D'Antoni would be sure to give him).

Anyway, all this rambling is the point: D'Antoni instantly brings a new excitement to the Knicks. I suggest all Knicks fans read Jack McCallum's book "7 Seconds or Less."

MLB: The Marlins have won 6 in a row, and the new center of power in baseball is Florida (a little further north, Scott Kazmir got his first win of the season for the Rays, at Joe Saunders' expense)... Maddux wins No. 350... Dice-K is 6-0 and Kevin Youkilis has 8 HR... Tim Lincecum is pretty awesome right now... Fantasy Stud: Grady Sizemore (2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R in what will likely be his most productive game of the season)... Speaking of baseball in Florida, the Marlins are close to locking up franchise star Hanley Ramirez for the long-term.