Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday 07/12 Quickie: Favre Coming Back

Brett Favre is coming back to the NFL. Just not with the Packers.

He wants his release from the team -- he isn't part of the team's plans for 2008 or beyond, unless you count "jersey retirement ceremony" -- and it ensures two things:

(1) He will be playing in the NFL this season.
(2) He will not be playing with the Packers.

This conjures up all sorts of issues:

(1) Who will he play for? (Who wants him? Who needs him? And what jersey will he be wearing on the cover of Madden 09, which is coming out one month from today?)

I could totally see him staying in the division -- heresy! -- and playing for either the QB-challenged Bears or QB-challenged Vikings, both of whom might be one All-Pro unretired QB from competing for the NFC title.

UPDATE: It's important to distinguish between his outright release -- which could trigger the Doomsday Scenario of him landing within the NFC North -- or a trade, where the Packers could ship him out of sight (or at least to the AFC). Imagine the insanity if he joins Bill Parcells in Miami.

(2) How will Packers fans react? (Badly, I'm assuming. Not only is their football god coming back and NOT playing for them, but the team is perceived to have run him off.)

Aside from ruining Aaron Rodgers' psyche forever, I don't understand why the Packers don't bring Favre back; it seems to me that he is more meaningful to the franchise than whatever wins -- and it won't be a Super Bowl win, certainly this year, than Rodgers might deliver.

This isn't a Michael Jordan-playing-for-the-Wizards. At least there, there were a few years between his last Bulls moment and his jump to D.C. With Favre, the proverbial body isn't even cold yet.

I appreciate his interest in unretiring, by the way. Superseding my natural dislike of Favre is my long-standing rule that individual athletes -- and only the athlete themselves -- have the ultimate right to determine their own retirement fate.

Even if it has come across as -- hmm, not wishy-washy... but typical attention-whoring Favre. Celebrate me, I'm retiring! No, celebrate me, I'm unretiring!

That said, I'm quibbling: The drama that this will cause throughout the league -- from the question over who he will play for to the hell that Packers fans will go through watching him suit up for another team -- is instantly the defining storyline of the 2008 NFL season.


OK, it turns out that there will be no Obama NASCAR car. That's too bad. I was all set to plunk down my $100 to be listed on the side of the car as a co-sponsor.

MLB Stud: Roy Halladay, who threw a 2-hitter to beat the Yankees. I'm sure Terry Francona was watching with great interest, in deciding which pitcher starts the ASG on Tuesday.

(For what it's worth, I am a huge proponent of this gimmick that Mariano Rivera should start the game. Hell, ASG SPs don't go more than an inning anyway. This should be a no-brainer.)

NBA Summer League intrigue:
Anthony Randolph: 30 points (!)
Eric Gordon: 23 pts (5/18 FG)
Marreese Speights: 22 and 13.
OJ Mayo: 15 points.
Darrell Arthur: 19 points (9/12 FG)

Scandal Watch: Why would Jim Bowden skim bonus money from poor prospects in the D.R.? He isn't doing well enough for himself?

Meanwhile, it doesn't surprise me that top-level MLB scouts are gambling (on baseball or anything else). It does beg the question of smoke and fire.

More later, but I would imagine that the "Favre Watch" becomes a permanent fixture within sports media between now and... oh, too long to bother figuring out.

-- D.S.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Erin Andrews Homecoming, Obviously

We know which town Erin Andrews will be voting for as "Titletown." EA and I have a mutual friend. This really must yield an interview at some point.

UPDATE: Clay Travis has been doing an impressive job in his first week at Deadspin -- big shoes, Commenters relationships, mainstream-to-"underground," yada yada yada -- and I give him extra points for swallowing the non-stop Tebow coming this week.

Only 71 days until Florida at Tennessee, Clay. (He and I hung out in Gainesville during last year's Florida-Tennessee game. He walked around the tailgate area wearing a subtle yet obvious Vols polo shirt, for which he took a fair amount of curse-heavy grief.)

-- D.S.

Greatest. Homage. Ever.

This might be the best tribute I have ever seen. Ex-Commenters, I salute you!

Friday 07/11 A.M. Quickie:
Final Vote, Favre, Ryan Howard, More

I always had faith in the power of the fan vote, but the MLB Final Vote affirmed it: Evan Longoria in the AL; NOT David Wright in the NL. It's cause to celebrate, which I do in the lead of today's Sporting News column.

Meanwhile, anyone who doubted Ryan Howard back in April or even May? I presume there aren't doubters now. I don't care about his .230 BA; it's the 27 HR. Although one player, who also had a great day yesterday, remains the one I'd draft if I was starting a franchise today from scratch: Hanley Ramirez.

(Great comments question: If you were starting a team from scratch today, who would you pick? Do you agree with Hanley? Do you go another way?)

I'm getting so tired of the Brett Favre Watch: Cripes, isn't it obvious that he's coming back? This dribs-and-drabs stuff ("50/50" from his brother; "80 percent" from Pat Kirwan, whatever the hell that means). The only intrigue is whether it's with the Packers or another team. Period.

I consider tracking Michael Beasley at the Orlando Summer League to be an appetizer; the everyone-in-the-pool Vegas Summer League starts today, and there are enough names floating around that something interesting should happen every day.

Full SN column here.

Speaking of interesting, please let me know if you download the MLB At Bat app from the iTunes store and how your experience is with it. I recognize it might take a few days to get there; I'd love to cover it next week.

Have a great weekend. I'll be blogging "(Very) Quickies" all weekend right here. Back at SN and on Monday morning, as usual.

-- D.S.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Prep for the New iPhone App Store: MLB

I wrote a few weeks ago that MLB's application for the iPhone and iPod Touch via Apple's new iTunes "app store" would be a ground-breaking killer in sports media. Valleywag (sort of) agrees, putting it in its ten must-have iPhone apps. Store launches tomorrow. Kudos, MLB. -- D.S.

(UPDATE: You can get into the App Store now, with iTunes v. 7.7. It's $4.99 for the rest of the season. And now I face the reality that I have neither the iPhone nor iPod Touch. Hey, MLB: I'm SO open to reviewing your product if you'll just ship me a new iPod Touch loaded with the new MLB app! Call me, Bob Bowman!)

Tim Tebow. Heisman Pose. Live Infant.

Here. Here. Here. Here.

And, yes, I have tried that trick myself. Not as cool. At all.

-- D.S.

Thursday 07/10 A.M. Quickie:
MLB Final Vote, Brand, Favre, R-Rod, More

The populist in me can't help but be obsessed with the MLB All-Star "Final Vote" situation, which leads today's Sporting News column.

I love that it is setting new records for votes. I love that it is discrete enough of a task that teams and fans can set up "campaign" operations. I love that there's a chance for fans to show how smart they are by picking the Rays' Evan Longoria -- and to prove doubters wrong by NOT making David Wright the automatic candidate in the NL, simply because he plays in New York. If Wright and Giambi are both shut out, the fans win.

Meanwhile, it's an open question whether Josh Hamilton is the best player in baseball right now, but his walk-off winner (off K-Rod, no less) certainly emphasizes the point.

Tomorrow, I am going to do my MLB midseason award winners, and I encourage you to submit your own choices for each league's MVP, Cy, Rookie and Manager in the comments. I'll lead tomorrow's column with it, I think. That, or Monday.

In NBA Free Agency, all of a sudden, the Sixers are the new hotness. That's what a career 20/10 post player relocated to the East will do for you. I don't blame Brand -- all money being equal, I'd bolt for the East too. Just look what it did for KG's career. He leaves the Clips (and Baron Davis) in the lurch; then again, Davis did the same thing to Golden State. The move puts the Sixers in the Top 5 in the East -- but what does that mean, exactly, when they are obviously still behind the Celtics next season... and perhaps behind the Pistons and Wizards, too.

I will repeat yesterday's sentiment: The Packers are totally screwing up the p.r. around this Favre story. Maybe they're in a no-win situation, but they certainly aren't helping themselves out with the way they're handling it.

There's a ton more in the column, including more on Brandon Jennings, more on Rich Rodriguez, more on MLB and more on the Jaguars' potential relocation. Check it out here. More later.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Ballhype Sports Blog Atlas: Shanoff Less Opinionated, More Newsy Than Schilling

This is kind of genius. (When I saw this in Vanity Fair about non-sports bloggers, which itself was a rip-off from a regular New York magazine conceit, which itself was a rip-off from Spy, I wanted to do something exactly like this. Ziller beat me to it. Awesome stuff.) -- D.S.

Wednesday 07/09 A.M. Quickie:
Jennings, Harden, Sabathia, Brand, More

And I was just saying how slow this week felt...

Loaded Sporting News column today

As you know, I'm slightly obsessed with the Brandon Jennings story. He's officially giving up on the NCAA/NBA system in favor of Europe, and I say mazel tov, young man.

Now, Europe wouldn't be MY choice -- I would have done the shoe deal and the documentary deal and trained individually in the U.S. to get ready for being a Top 3 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.

But I appreciate his intention here: Opting out of a system designed not help the "one-and-done" players reach their pro potential, but to either exploit it (NCAA) or quash it (NBA).

Anyway, I hope other players follow him next year (this year would be too much to ask for), and it forces the NBA to turn the D-League into a pro development arm for the players who need it most (and the ones who will do the most for the league) -- the "one and done" candidates.

Meanwhile, I love that on July 8 -- not even at the All-Star Break -- the Cubs and Brewers are in an arms race. The Brewers get CC Sabathia (who won his debut yesterday, naturally), so the Cubs get Rich Harden, who -- if healthy (big if) -- is every bit the ace that Sabathia could be.

And in the NBA, Elton Brand signs with the Sixers -- and (again, IF healthy) the East suddenly has one more pretty potent team. Not just "potent for the East," but very good by any measure. I think it locks Philly in as a playoff team. I'm not sure about Thaddeus Young's development curve, but you could do a lot worse than a duo of Brand and Andre Miller.

Meanwhile, the Warriors -- oozing desperation -- gave Corey Maggette a 5-year deal. With Baron gone and Brand off the table (and apparently -- mystifyingly -- no interest in Josh Smith), they had to do something, and Maggette goes from "MLE" to more millions.

Josh Smith is now a bit screwed: The Sixers were his top suitor, and are presumably out of the FA market. The Warriors don't want him. The Hawks do, but now no longer have to deal with a competitive bid from Philly. If Memphis was smart, they would sign him with all their cap room -- imagine Conley, Mayo, Gay and Smith. (Memphis isn't smart, though.)

NBA Summer League: Um, so about Michael Beasley... meanwhile, Kevin Durant makes a summer league appearance!

I have no idea what Ted Thompson is thinking. The Brett Favre story isn't about whether or not the Packers want him -- it's pretty obvious they don't. The Packers' real issue is how they handle the p.r. -- currently, badly.

It's not like they're in a good position: Not bringing him back will anger fans. Ticking him off will anger fans. Letting him go to another team (wear another team's jersey) will anger fans. Those fans won't hold it against Favre for being a traitor to his franchise and playing for another team -- that idea is 20 years stale -- but they will hold it against the team execs for letting it happen.

And, yet, Thompson does precisely the wrong thing and blunders his way through the story. Instead, he should be forcing Favre to publicly shun his Packers fan base. ("Brett, don't you want to do what's best for the Packers and their fans?")

Anyway, the full column is here.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

On Olbermann and Patrick's TV Reunion

Given that most sports bloggers came of age as fans during the Olbermann-Patrick era of the 11 p.m. SportsCenter -- making them one of the most influential guides to sports at the most influential time of our fan development -- it's no wonder their return (on NBC's Football Night In America show) is greeted as a big deal.

Count me among the intrigued. My question is this: Do they still have it?

"It" not just being their chemistry -- which I'm sure is still world-class -- but the wit (dare I say: snark) that made the Big Show THE show that made ESPN what it is.

We have come a long way in sports media since Keith and Dan ruled, mostly exclusively. Their brand of snark is now a commodity -- not on TV, mind you, where imitators still try (and fail) to re-create the Big Show's original awesomeness.

But certainly in blogs, that snark -- no doubt influenced by KO and DP -- abounds. As good as KO and DP might be, I will take MJD's live-blog (or whatever Drew Magary is planning for NFL coverage on Sundays this fall) for pure humor value combined with some insight.

Here is one thing they have going for them: NBC's Sunday night highlight show remains one of the last places where many fans are seeing highlights for the first time. Part of what makes weekday news shows (particularly at 6 p.m.) so weak is that by the time you see them, you have already fully digested everything in their rundown, thanks to your "workday" online.

On Sundays, however, you've spent the day following your team (real and fantasy); FNIA is the "first pass" on TV at digesting everything at once (more than the banal 2 clips per game that the Fox and CBS post-game shows might provide), and Keith and Dan get to offer it up. Their take is fresh; by Monday mid-day, it would be trite. Advantage: NBC.

Here is my suggestion to NBC and FNIA: Hand the keys to Keith and Dan and make the show about the highlights -- and their narration. Minimize the chirping from the essentially valueless "analysts" like Barber and Bettis.

If anything, ramp the "info" segments from King -- and, if they want to really do something different that adds value, layer in a "Best of the Blogs" segment that gives a real-time snapshot of how bloggers are reacting to the day in the NFL. (Hey, let Costas host THAT segment.)

Olbermann and Patrick were the original sports-tv tag-team and, still, the best. Times have changed, but their gravitational pull remains so strong that I think we're all ready to take things back to the early 90s -- when sports undoubtedly felt more fun for many of us...and KO and DP ruled.

-- D.S.

Tuesday 07/08 A.M. Quickie:
Beasley, HR Derby, Torres, Big Show, More

I totally reject the claims that Dara Torres is cheating. You know I'm pretty comfortable with skepticism, but the knee-jerk contrarianism on display is just cynicism.

I'm not going to load down this post with that argument. You can read it here at today's Sporting News column. But there were plenty of other contenders for the lead item:

(1) Michael Beasley's sick NBA debut. Doubters were so very very wrong.

As a guru of Instant History, I cannot stand the "well, it was only one game" talk. My freaking CAREER is dedicated to the idea that what happened today is the most important thing in sports. So, naturally, I would go crazy over Beasley's 28-point rampage.

Of course, I am not willing to write off Derrick Rose, even though his debut was far less intriguing or exciting. But, affirmatively, Beasley had the kind of debut that says: Um, yeah -- he's going to be a sick pro.

Given that there were obvious questions about Beasley's worthiness as the top talent in the draft, I think it's not too early to question that assumption: The doubters were wrong. The Bulls may have had a position need, but Beasley is the best talent in the draft class.

(2) Olbermann and Patrick reuniting on Football Night in America. I have a bonus post coming a little later this morning on that. (No empty promises: I wrote it last night, and it's already teed up and ready to go!)

There's a lot more in the column: On A-Rod's divorce situation, on Hiroki Kuroda (whom I gave up on in my fantasy league a month ago...d'oh!), on the amazingness of Mario Chalmers, and on why Josh Hamilton is the obvious pick to win the Home Run Derby.

Here is a link to the full Sporting News column.

Meanwhile, continuing last week's momentum for Stefan Fatsis' must-read new book, "A Few Seconds of Panic," KSK's Drew Magary weighs in with his review.

-- D.S.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Monday 07/07 A.M. Quickie: All-Star Mania, Nadal, Torres, More

Crap: Couldn't put a post up with a link to today's column before I had to jump on a flight. You know where to find it, hopefully.

Today's biggest arguments:
*Can an entire franchise receive an All-Star snub? (Yes: Rays)
*Is CC Sabathia the next Rick Sutcliffe?
*Nadal-Federer: Best. Tennis Match. Ever.
*Beasley-vs-Rose is the NBA Summer League game of the year.
*Dara Torres is utterly amazing. The haters/doubters are kind of pathetic.

More later. Head to to find today's column. Sorry for the lack of direct link.

- D.S.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry