Saturday, February 07, 2009

A-Roid: Alex Rodriguez Cheated

Saturday 02/07 (Very) Quickie

In the debate whether Kevin Durant or Greg Oden has made the better pro -- to the extent that last night's first head-to-head match-up between the two can be used as a proxy -- Durant wins: Not just for scoring 31 points to Oden's 4, but because KD's Thunder beat Oden's Blazers. (But let's not make any career-long pronouncements -- and this comes from Mr. Instant History.)

Marquette was SO overrated -- and if they lost to South Florida, just wait until they play their final 5 games of the regular season, as brutal of a stretch as exists in the country over those last 5 games. Marquette's record and ranking were built on the softest of schedules.

Chiefs hire Todd Haley: I'll skip the easy jokes about his problems with his star receivers and simply echo yesterday's comment -- given the first-year success of rookie coaches like Smith, Harbaugh and Sparano, Haley better show progress immediately. The era of "Just give me a couple years to get things going" is over.

LeBron loses the MSG triple-double -- not just the triple-double, but the 50-double-double, which put him in truly rare air. (I had forgotten that the NBA had stripped Hakeem of his quadruple-double in the same way, after the fact.) The new accounting is not insubstantial -- LeBron's 50-double-double was more impressive than Kobe's 61; LeBron's 50 (plus double-digit assists and single-digit rebounds) is not.

Name to Know: Erin Hamlin. You can not care about women's luge at all, but Hamlin snapping the epic dominance of the German lugers was damn impressive.

More later, hopefully. Enjoy your Saturday.

-- D.S.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Friday 02/06 A.M. Quickie:
Lakers, Phelps, Cassel, Summitt, More

The Lakers are the NBA team to beat.
USA Swimming is idiotic.
Pat Summitt is the best coach in college basketball.
Matt Cassel will play the '09 season as a Pat.
Zaga-Memphis is the Game of the Weekend.
Who else isn't watching the Pro Bowl?
Ray Allen is the All-Star super-sub.
Brad Pitt as Billy Beane? Don't see it.

All that and a lot more in today's SN column. Sorry for the short post. More later.

-- D.S.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Varsity Letters Tonight: Leitch, MMA, Walsh

If you live in NYC, the Varsity Letters Reading Series returns tonight at Happy Ending, 8 pm and FREE. Featuring: Will Leitch, Jon Wertheim on MMA and a guy who wrote the book on Bill Walsh. Should be a great event, as always. Hope to see you there! More info here.

-- D.S.

Thursday 02/05 A.M. Quickie:
LeBron, CFB Signing Day, Duke, Koufax

I did not possess the imagination to envision how LeBron might top Kobe's 61 at MSG.

I see it now: 50+ points AND a triple-double. Based on the history, scoring 60+ seems sort of blah when compared to the 50-3D.

So it even managed to nudge over Signing Day as the lead of today's SN column.

That doesn't mean I don't go crazy over Signing Day:

*Alabama wins. You can keep Ohio State (I guess if you are from the Midwest and you don't want to win national titles, OSU is the place to go) and even LSU, I think Bama had the best class.

*Manti Te'o to Notre Dame: What will be particularly fun is when Te'o leaves for 2 years on his mission -- Catholics and Mormons don't historically have a great relationship, do they? (Or is that Evangelicals and Mormons?)

*The SEC rules: And I don't say that with bias -- they put 10 teams in the Top 25, including late-starting/fast-finishing Lane Kiffin at Tennessee and Dan Mullen at Mississippi State.


*Duke got walloped.
*Since beating Duke, Wake has been terrible.
*Another home loss for Texas?
*Koufax: Scammed by Madoff.
*Phelps on Phelps.
*And another gratuitous shot at Jeter.

Complete column here
. More later.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Wednesday 02/04 A.M. Quickie:
National Signing Day Mania!

Sorry for the woefully late post today. Obviously, I am so excited about National Signing Day that I couldn't even blog. Hopefully, you saw the column at SN earlier today. If not, here you go.

I get very excited about the guys who sign with my team, but I simply can't get outraged or mad when a kid -- even a previous commitment -- backs out and goes elsewhere.

Maybe it goes back to college, where I spent a semester being wooed by one fraternity and seemed like a lock to pledge there, only to go to a rival fraternity after an agonizing decision process.

Some of the guys at the first fraternity were cool about it; a bunch of them were really dickish. It's like: I'm 18, being "recruited" and mistakenly think I'm all that -- give me a break.

So good luck to you, Nu'Keese Richardson. If nothing else, it'll be fun greeting you and your new Vols teammates at the Swamp next September.

(And welcome Jelani Jenkins, Andre Debose and Co.!)

More tomorrow!

-- D.S.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Tuesday 02/03 A.M. Quickie:
Kobe 61, SB 43, UConn, UWGB, Paris, More

There is a longstanding perception that there is some sort of "lull" from the end of the NFL season until, say, March Madness.

That's insanely wrong, of course. Between CFB's National Signing Day (tomorrow, as big a single day as there is in the college football year); the NBA All-Star Game; Daytona 500; Bracketology jostling; and the start of spring training (and your fantasy baseball drafting), it's plenty busy.

Still, of any day in the sports year, the day after the Super Bowl, you just don't expect much. Among other things, that's why Kobe's 61 was so epic. (Leads SN column.)

Beyond it being the highest point total in the NBA this season. Beyond it being at Madison Square Garden, eclipsing MJ's 55 and King's 60. Beyond it being one more thing to add to Kobe's myth. Beyond it came on the day that we learn Bynum is out 3 months (or more).

It was even more spectacular because there was nothing else going on. It was right player, right place, right moment, right kind of performance -- all the way.

Other storylines you'll find opined in today's column:

*UConn: Who's afraid of No. 1? Winning at L'ville is no joke.
*Butler: Overrated? Or is Wisco-Green Bay pretty good?
*Courtney Paris: Best women's CBB post player ever?
*Chris Paul injured: Yikes. "Injury-Proves-MVP" theory.
*Michael Phelps: No endorsement hit for bong hit. (Duh.)
*Manny turns down 1Y/$25M -- hey, he wanted 4Y.
*Clemens: Screwed (as if you didn't know he was already)
*SB 43 Hangover: Sure, I'll take Pittsburgh to repeat.

Check out the entire thing here. More later.

-- D.S.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Monday 02/02 A.M. Quickie:
Super Bowl Analysis, Ads, Bruce, More

First this: That was a great game, an all-time great game.

If the regions involved were "New York" and "Boston" rather than "Pittsburgh" and "Arizona," we'd be calling it even better than last year's game, which had hype, an upset and a Best Play Ever.

This game had little hype, a back-and-forth near-upset (almost as amazing as a real upset) and not quite the Best Play Ever, but at least three memorable plays (Harrison Pick-6, Fitz's 2nd TD, Holmes' Catch) that are likely to be in the top tier of "most memorable" Super Bowl plays.

And controversy:

Don't think for a second -- a second -- that if it was Big Ben (or Tom Brady) "throwing" that ball, it wouldn't have been reversed by review as a fumble and turned into an incomplete.

I do think the Cards got jobbed -- I think Warner's arm was going forward. At the very least, it merited a full earnest review; it felt like the refs let the Steelers hike the ball too quickly to end the game. Gamesmanship by Pittsburgh, but shoddy work by the refs.

Because -- and this is key -- you could totally see the Cardinals scoring on a last-second play. Larry Fitzgerald, of any player in the league, could have willed that to happen. And I think he had earned the chance to try.

The refs blew the play twice: First, by ruling it a fumble, not an incomplete pass; finally, by not allowing a proper review, robbing the Cards -- and fans -- of one last play of an amazing game.

You can check out my Twitter feed from last night for the running commentary. My favorite ads were different than the USA Today AdMeter or other reviewers. I liked the Potato Heads. I liked Alec Baldwin in Hulu. I was oddly grabbed by "Land of the Lost."

I'm not one for animal ads, and I think that the slapstick humor is so overdone as to be cliche:

Doritos "Crystal Ball" ad won the USA Today AdMeter comp; doesn't anyone remember that Sprint did this last year with the "thrown-phone" ad? Of course, you can never discount the power of the Groin Shot.

My new litmus test was whether you liked "Pepsuber" -- it was a bad SNL sketch, which I think it was actually trying to parody. I like Kristin Wiig, too, but...cripes, awful.

On the other hand, you have to understand the genius of doing a Super Bowl ad -- not for the cheesy McMahon/MC Hammer cameos, but as a sign of the times we are living in that is a Super Bowl sponsor at all.

I thought Bruce Springsteen was excellent -- all you want is high energy and some songs you know and enjoy, and he delivered on that. I also took it incredibly personally when he looked at me through the TV and told me to drop the chicken finger -- I was literally holding a chicken finger in my hand when he said it, so it was both amazing and totally unnerving.

(Seriously: Why "chicken fingers?" Are they really that popular of a Super Bowl snack food? I didn't think so -- within the chicken family, I have to believe that wings rank far higher on the popularity list. It's as if Springsteen was hanging out in my living room with me. Freaky.)

A few other notes:

James Harrison's 100-yard Pick-6: Despite the fact that the Cards played their way back into the game (no: the lead!), I think this will go up there among the top few most consequential plays in NFL history. The swing was simply too wide; it changed everything. If he hadn't have scored, another story -- but he did, and it was 100 yards, just as Arizona was knocking on its own TD.

Larry Fitzgerald: Even in defeat, he added to his legend -- his ongoing legend, I should say. That 2nd TD was absolutely amazing.

Santonio Holmes's "Catch": I'm willing to concede the TD, obviously, but I honestly don't think he got his right toe on the turf; I think it was trapped behind his left shoe and never actually touched the ground. Too close to call, but on a play that big -- with HD cameras to prove it -- it would be nice to have a conclusive shot that the right toe touched.

What next for Kurt Warner: I hope he comes back. First, he is back at the top of his game, with an amazing array of receivers to go to, including the best WR of the generation. Why leave after that? There is this idea of going out on top -- there is no way the Cards repeat as NFC champs or acquitting themselves in a Super Bowl as they did here. But if he can perform, why leave now, just when he has re-built the Warner Bandwagon?

How can you not love the Cardinals? I wrote this in the SN column, but it's worth restating:
The Cardinals deserved to win more than any other Super Bowl runner-up in history. At a minimum, the Cardinals have wiped out the franchise's legacy of being the NFL's biggest losers. They earned something almost as good as a Super Bowl title tonight; they earned the respect of fans everywhere.
I haven't seen a Super Bowl loser ever earn this much cred. For a franchise this bedraggled, it was as close as it gets to a moral victory. At the very least I think they came much closer to winning their Super Bowl than the Pats did against the Giants a year ago.

More in the column: HOF, Bynum, Wake, Clemente, Nadal and -- of course -- Phelps.

Leave your own SB analysis -- about the game, the quasi-controversy, the stars, the ads, the pomp, etc. -- in the Comments. I'll update as fast as I can get to them.

-- D.S.