Saturday, August 09, 2008

Saturday 08/09 (Very) Quickie

Olympics open: Wow, that was a jaw-dropping spectacle. Any more questions that China is going to own us all?

USC loses QB Mark Sanchez: Wow. Remains to be seen how bad the knee injury is, but if it's bad, it implodes an entire assumption system about how this season will go.

Hawks keep Josh Smith: Of course they did; the Grizz should have done this at the start of free agency. (I will say I was intrigued to see a Mayo-Gay-Smith troika in Memphis.)

Dolphins sign QB Chad Pennington: He's fragile, but he's better than anything else Miami has. And, wow, would you look at that -- the Fins play the Jets in Week 1.

MLB: Big night for series matching teams right in the playoff hunt. Mets beat Marlins...Cubs beat Cards...White Sox beat Red Sox...Angels beat Yankees.

The image of the Olympics so far: President Bush slapping Misty May-Treanor's tramp stamp.

More: US Women's Soccer gets a W... China gets its first of many gold medals... Phelps sets an O.R. in the 400 IM prelims (finals tonight)...

-- D.S.

Friday, August 08, 2008

College Football Pick 'Em: DQ Readers!

It's that time of year: Sign up for the College Football Pick 'Em. As usual, the group name is Daily Quickie Readers and it's open to anyone. Sign up now!

LeBron, Kobe, Europe and the NBA's Future

Just testing a theory: So there's the LeBron/$50M/Greece meme. Now the Kobe/$50M/Italy meme (and a lot more plausible). It's not a joke; the idea of a true NBA superstar bolting for Europe (or China) WILL become a reality in the next few years. And the current NBA salary structure can't deal with it.

I wonder if the NBA will be forced to adopt an MLS-style "Beckham Rule," where one player (presumably the superstar) can be signed for any amount of money and would not count against the team's cap. (Or, alternatively, allowing for players to become part-owners.)

Sure, that favors the free-spending NBA owners and it blows the economics of salary management right out of the water, but it beats watching the stars not play in the NBA at all, right? Your reactions via the Comments.

-- D.S.

Friday 08/08 A.M. Quickie:
Olympics, NFL Preseason, Ibanez, More

Goodbye, Brett. Hello, Beijing. As you'll see in the lead of today's SN column, I'm a huge fan of the Summer Olympics, and I can't wait for things to get going, as early as tomorrow with some swimming finals.

There are a couple of non-athletic sidebars worth tracking:

(1) Protests, particularly by athletes. I remain unconvinced that NBC Sports' allegience to the IOC and their overlords in China won't trump their allegiance to a U.S. viewership that deserves to see all the athlete protests you know will happen.

(2) Pollution, specifically the athlete reaction to it by wearing masks that will be unavoidable on TV. Personally, I'd be wearing that thing 24/7 if I was an athlete. You shouldn't work for 4 years to get to this point, only to be derailed because you're too macho to recognize the debilitating effects of hyper-pollution on your body's finely tuned system.

Meanwhile, I like that other Brett who plays QB for the Jets. I'm not so sure about this Favre guy. This is a fling for him; for as much stake as he used to have in the Packers franchise, he has as little stake in the Jets. But let's reinforce the key point: As long as the Jets aren't going to make the playoffs (let alone the Super Bowl), at least Favre makes them relevant. That's the next best thing.

NFL Preseason last night: Wow, the Bears need another solution at QB... Reggie Bush is going to continue to not live up to his pre-draft hype... the Pats have now lost 2 straight (but Lamont Jordan is going to be a fantasy steal)... Darren McFadden begins the takeover tonight.

MLB: I think Raul Ibanez has locked up AL Player of the Month, and it's only August 8... Manny should be the leading contender for NL MVP... the Marlins aren't going away.

CFB: Does the season-ending (perhaps career-ending) injury to Florida TE Cornelius Ingram make me any less bullish on the Gators' chances of winning a national title? Perhaps a tad -- if they weren't so loaded with other weapons on offense. The question continues to be the D.

08-08-08: Should be a wild kick-off to the Olympics. More later today and, as usual, all weekend.

Full SN column here.

-- D.S.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

B.D. Drew's Guide to Fantasy Football

Definite must-read, and not just because he craps on me personally at the end, which is only a bonus. Apparently, participating in not one but TWO drafts with me a year ago was scarring. Here's how unprepared I am right now: I actually took the various players he mentions in the Deadspin post and jotted them down for future draft reference.

Must-Read: SMQ's Farewell Week

You know Sunday Morning QB is ending. You know CFB savant Matt Hinton is going to Yahoo Sports, in a coup for Jamie Mottram's blog unit. You know Hinton picked Florida to win the national title. You may not know that, this week, he is going out with a huge bang -- his long-form essays on the state of the game have been very very good. Just kick back, head to the site and read it all. Been a hell of a run -- with more to come. -- D.S.

Tonight in NYC: Varsity Letters Returns!

If you live in NYC, tonight at 8 at Happy Ending: Varsity Letters Reading Series returns, with a super lineup, including Stefan Fatsis and Aaron Schatz. I personally would like to ask Fatsis to demonstrate his Broncos-swooning kicking style -- and ask Schatz about his KUBIAK projections for Favre on the Jets. Should be a great event. And it's FREE. Complete details here.

Thursday 08/07 A.M. Quickie:
Favre, NFL Preseason, Olympics, More

Depending on your perspective, this Favre-to-the-Jets story -- which will assuredly dominate the day -- is either the blissful end of a grueling chapter of our fan experience this summer OR merely the start of the next grueling chapter. It was unavoidable that Favre would lead today's SN column. Here are a few non-column observations about Favre in New York:

Favre in New York is like media wish-fulfillment -- god, can you imagine what emotions Peter King is feeling right now? The Jets store already had Favre jerseys to sell (or pre-sell) when I checked at 6:30 this morning; by 8, the site was down, presumably overloaded with would-be buyers.

Packers fans had sort of frustrated me during this whole saga -- although polling this week made me feel better that at least half of the fans were sick of Favre, too -- but now that his departure to another team is real, I feel kind of bad for them.

It can't be easy to see your icon -- your favorite player -- in another team's jersey, with another team's fans now with more claim to root for him than you have.

The Jets now become the center of gravity in the NFL -- maybe not for the duration of the season, but certainly for the next month. That's a hell of a trick, given that they share a city and stadium with the defending champs and given that they share a division with a team that hasn't lost a regular season in a long time.

Of all the thoughts I have about this swirling around this morning, I think the one that resonates is the "KG Great Man" Theory: On at least a few superficial levels (stardom level, jersey color, Midwest-to-East-Coast relocation, crappy team), Favre is like KG last fall in his move to the Celtics.

But KG was in a title-or-bust situation: Anything less than an NBA title would have been an utter and conspicuous failure for Garnett.

With Favre -- with the NFL -- there is no one-man fix for the Jets. Given the vagaries of NFL success from year to year, the Jets' 4 wins from a year ago could easily become 8 or 9 -- that won't be enough for the playoffs in an AFC where 5 playoff spots seem locked up already.

But Favre is in a different situation than Garnett: KG had to win a title, simply had to. Favre is merely looking to finish up his career. Obviously, he'd like to go out a winner, but I don't think anyone has any expectations that can or will happen with the Jets.

For Favre, getting the Jets to .500 this season might just be enough to call the season a successful one. I appreciate the Jets' interest in "win now," although the chances of going from 4 wins to the Super Bowl on Brett Favre's back seems fantastical -- not fantastic.

I said this about the Wizards and Gilbert Arenas, and I think it applies to the Jets with Favre: As long as they're not winning a championship, they can at least be relevant. For a megomaniacal guy like Favre and a team that plays in a megomaniacal city like New York, that is probably all that matters at this point.

Complete SN column can be found here, including all sorts of other topics, like MLB Instant History, LeBron vs. David Beckham, BYU's chances of crashing the BCS, Olympics ramp-up and more.

More later.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Wednesday 08/06 A.M. Quickie:
Favre, LeBron, Webb, Olympics, More

It's almost over. You can feel it. The Favre saga is almost over: Favre is over it. The Packers executives are over it. Packers fans seem to be ready for it to be over. (Check the SN column for a link to some very interesting local polling numbers.) The rest of us certainly cannot wait for this to be over. Bucs fans, presumably, are anxious to have things start.

Today's SN column leads, regrettably, with Favre -- but quickly gets into more interesting things!

*LeBron playing in Europe! (I say: Yes!)
*Brandon Webb vs. Dan Haren
*Nick Swisher vs. Raul Ibanez
*Olympic facemasks -- THE fashion accessory
*The Texas Tech bandwagon
*USA Oops: Not as great as they think

There is lots there -- not just Favre (mercifully, not just Favre). Check it out here.

PS: Will the Favre Bucs jersey be the NFL's hottest seller? Consider how many fans you saw wearing the Joe Montana Chiefs jersey. (Not many, if I recall...maybe in K.C., I guess.) The real question: Will Favre Packers jerseys hit the discount bin in Green Bay? Doubt it.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

SI Picks Georgia To Win the National Title

From SI: (1) UGA; (2) tOSU; (3) USC; (4) Mizzou; (5) Florida

This implies two things SI predicts: That Georgia will beat Florida and that Ohio State will win at USC. I think both of those suppositions are wrong; therefore, SI's ultimate predictions are wrong.

One Last Time: Not. A. Story.

I hate Notre Dame as much as anyone, but college kids drinking just isn't a scandal. Period. (h/t: TBL)

Air Obama T-Shirt: Must Have One

It's no secret that I'm pretty obsessed with the Obama-basketball connection. Here is a new must-have T-shirt: Air Obama.

Catch Barca Playing 4-on-4 in NYC

If you live in NYC: Very cool event this afternoon at 5: An incredible exhibition involving Barca players at Chelsea Waterside Park (23rd St./12th Ave.) It's for a great cause (Malaria No More). Here is a link, but it doesn't explain much, unfortunately. All you need to know is that things kick off before 5, so get there early for good seats, the chance to take photos and win prizes, etc. -- D.S.

WePlay Gets $8.6 Million in New Funding:
Yes, But Will It Play In Pee-Wee Leagues?

WePlay is an interesting business: The "operating system of youth sports" is its positioning, with renewed interest in the wake of yesterday's news they raised another $8.6M in B-round funding.

There's a Yardbarker-type element to it: Its big p.r. draw is the inclusion of pro athletes. In YB's case, it's the athlete blogs being the consumer draw (ahead of its member blogs or, the backbone of the entire venture, its ad network roll-up of smaller sports blogs).

In WePlay's case, it is the A-list cachet of the B-round investors: LeBron. Jeter. Peyton.

The site is geared to pre-high school sports. It isn't a social network, but there are social network aspects to it: Hyper-localized mini-networks. It has a robust enough market potential, but I remain skeptical that hyperlocal content needs a universal aggregator. As with any platform, it's all in the utility of the tools. If they work, it could be a winner. But there are no network effects with local youth sports -- the T-ball team in Malibu doesn't need to be on the same system as the hoops league in Tampa. However, what they commonly need is an online system to organize themselves.

The well-funded WePlay can afford to build the best system -- one that would out-do any locally based system. (Yet another area where local newspapers totally blew an opportunity.)

The exit strategy seems simple enough: Become the youth-sports solution to a major sports media company's youth-sports need. The travel down the continuum is only getting younger.

Ideas like ESPNU and the CBS College Sports Network have begat the makings of "ESPN HS" -- signaled by ESPN's acquisition of Rise, in addition to its larger focus on the obsessive market for high school recruiting news and information.

The next frontier is getting even younger: Think "ESPN Kids." The twist is that rather than covering youth sports as news -- like recruiting -- this is about facilitating participation. Any media company in the business of selling sports has a vested interest in facilitating -- and generating -- enthusiasm for sports among kids.

(One of the most trenchant pieces of analysis in Tom Farrey's must-read book "Game On" was the concept that kids who play become kids who are fans, not the other way around; kids who don't play don't become fans -- a concept that better have pro sports leagues thinking hard about the future.)

And so I could see the ultimate exit of WePlay being a beachhead for ESPN -- or any of its competitors -- in the must-have youth-sports market. That it plays -- at least theoretically -- in the hot "social media" space only makes it more appealing. (WePlay has raised $13 million; who knows what its valuation is at this point -- but it'll be pricey.)

Given the high-profile athlete backers, buzz for WePlay is there. Will the kids follow?

-- D.S.

SMQ Picks Florida to Win the National Title

Validation? Hell yes. Between SMQ and Phil Steele, I no longer feel like I'll get crushed for picking Florida to win the national title this season.

Tuesday 08/05 A.M. Quickie:
Favre, Brewers, Olympics, CFB, More

It is the rallying cry of a nation of fans: Anything But Favre.

I know that many/most of you reached this point weeks ago, but I have felt compelled to continue to track this godforsaken story. In today's SN column, I try to back away.

Everyone has their own breaking point: Maybe it was the first day he announced his retirement. Maybe it was the first day of the comeback talk. Maybe it was the day the Packers offered him $20 million to stay retired. Maybe it was the day he arrived back in Wisconsin to go to camp.

Last night's non-news (McCarthy press conference cancelled because his talk with Favre went long!) might have been my own personal breaking point.

Especially when there is a ton of other things to cover: The Brewers are imploding -- in real-time!... Steve Smith is sorry -- but Ken Lucas isn't!... SMQ agrees with me that Florida will be national champs! (Yes, I know I posed about this earlier this morning.)

There is a ton of stuff in the column today -- including a bunch of random details that I'm pretty sure will hit the radar today (or maybe I'm just late to the party). Check it out here.

Couple of posts coming throughout the day.

-- D.S.

Real Story Behind the Erin Andrews Story

Leave it to Spencer Hall to apply the proper perspective: They're all a bunch of misogynists. (Um, I'm paraphrasing.)

Monday, August 04, 2008

Favre Watch: No Trade to Vikings?

Not that NFL coaches are known for their truthfulness in the face of media reports, but Brad Childress says the Vikings haven't talked to the Packers about Favre. (No, they've only talked with Favre directly about Favre...) That doesn't mean they won't, but it certainly takes some air out of today's hot rumor. Instead, the Packers can focus on getting Favre into camp and either letting him compete for the starting QB job -- or telling him that he'll be the with it.

Monday 08/04 A.M. Quickie:
Favre a Viking, Manny a MVP and More

Sorry for the delay today. I guess I'm just overwhelmed by all of the raging ridiculousness packed into today's SN column. Check it out here.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sunday 08/03 (Very) Quickie

Do you REALLY think Roger Goodell's Monday "deadline" to answer the Favre reinstatement question will change anything?

The CC-for-Cy campaign is back on!

Now: How about Manny for NL MVP?

More Trade-Deadline pay-off: Blanton earns first Phils win...

Nice to see the Angels finally play in a game where their competitor for the AL title doesn't completely cede the race to them...

Yeah: Go ahead and try to argue that Rafael Nadal still doesn't deserve to be No. 1...

Was Javon Walker ready to retire? Would you really care or notice if he did?

The Packers got at least one awkward situation fixed, and it wasn't the Favre thing: Ryan Grant was signed...

It's the four words Chiefs fans didn't want to hear: Glenn Dorsey. Knee injury.

-- D.S.