Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday 04/10 A.M. Quickie:
Adenhart, Tiger, Bynum, Burnett, BU, More

Longtime readers know that of the many things I don't do well, gravitas is at the top of the list.

It is hard to lead today's SN column with Nick Adenhart's death. My own inadequate contribution is merely that the circumstances -- coming off an impressive '09 debut, basically his MLB career debut -- remind me how fleeting the thrill in sports is, and how I should appreciate it. I can't speak for MLB players appreciating every minute; I can only say it for myself, as a fan.

Beyond that tragedy, the season is off to an intriguing start: The Yankees finally winning (behind Burnett); the Rays topping the Sox at Fenway; the breakthrough(?) Royals; Joey Votto (drafted him!)

The NBA playoffs are going to be boring -- at least in the West, where the Lakers should roll. Why are they bothering to even play the series? With Bynum back, they're even better.

Hope Syracuse fans enjoyed the ride this year: Flynn, Devendorf and Harris all declare for the draft. Flynn says he may come back -- and he's be preseason national POY if he did -- but I also think he could be a Top 10 NBA pick. Why would you come back to school if that was the case? Hansbrough-Lawson-Green sure as heck wouldn't have.

NFL Draft: Two weeks away. Rumor-mongering should start to pick up next week.

More in the column here.

-- D.S.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Register Now: Blogs With Balls Conference
June 13, 2009 in NYC - Event of the Year!

When I first started blogging in the summer of 2006, it was quickly apparent that there was an incredible community of sports bloggers -- a universe that has only grown, exponentially.

Since then, I have been desperate for a legitimate conference about online sports media -- specifically powered by and featuring folks in sports blogging who are on top of their game.

That conference is now a reality: Blogs With Balls, coming June 13 in New York City. The speaker list is incredible (yes, I'm on it, but I would attend even if I wasn't, just for the folks who will be there). It'll be like SXSW for sports-blog fans -- but so much dorkier. (In a good way!)

It sizes up as the biggest event in the short but somewhat insane history of the sports-blog universe. I hope you'll think about making it there. Get details here and get tickets here.

And, in true blogger style, here is a promo video on YouTube.

-- D.S.

Comment of the Month: Larry Calls Me Out

By far the Comment of the Month. Kudos to Larry, who totally scores with this
Why wasn't UNC's win a validation of the stay-in-school crowd? Why are you so begrudging, as you say, in your respect for Tyler Hansbrough? Would the game have "sucked" as much if it was "Florida" on the jerseys instead of "North Carolina"? Bemoaning the lack of competitiveness wasn't how you led your post on Tebow's first championship. And why didn't you talk about the diluted talent pool in college basketball after the 2006 and 2007 championships?

Seems you could have written a lead like this:

"Certainly UNC's starting five should go down as college hoops' greatest ever.

"Carolina's four biggest stars all could have gone pro a year ago; they gave up the NBA millions in the short term for the chance to come back to school and make history. And they did.

"You can hate Hansbrough. You can hate Carolina. You can hate UNC's perennial success in basketball. But if you love college hoops, you have to appreciate what this group chose to do -- and did."

If that sounds familiar, it should:
Hat tip to you, Larry. Well-played.

-- D.S.

Thursday 04/09 A.M. Quickie:
Tiger, Yankees, DeRozan, Stafford, More

Maybe I only speak for the "casual" or "non-" golf fan, but it feels like the only reason to watch the Masters is Tiger: If he wins, great. If he loses, interesting. But do you really care who beats him? Or who pushes him? Or who leads after today's opening round?

This is the blessing and curse of having a sport that is so thoroughly dominated by a single player. When Tiger was out last year, golf evaporated. When he returned, he was the story. THE story. The ONLY story. That leads today's SN column.

Perhaps avid golf fans care about rising stars or Phil Mickelson or the day-to-day drama of what's going on at Augusta. But the rest of us hear "Tiger vs. the Field" and pick Tiger. What else is there to know about golf right now?

*Ouch, the Yankees are off to a terrible start.
*But the Phillies show 0-2 ain't fatal.
*DeRozan, Harden, Hill: Did we just see 3 slots in the NBA Draft Top 10 get filled? And that does't even count DeJuan Blair.
*I guess the Lions are going to take Matt Stafford. OK. I'll stop harping on him now.
*Lots more where that came from.

Complete column here.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Dan Shanoff Dan Levy On The DL Podcast:
High-Talk, Tebow, Twitter, Passover, More

Would you like to hear me:

*Appall even myself with Tebow-fawning? (And bonus Hansbrough-fawning!)

*Reveal my secret strategy from "Around the Horn?" (I cheated! No! Well... actually: Yes!)

*Discuss why old sports media is confounding? ("Murray Chass has a purple mohawk!")

*Break down Passover strategy? (Which matzoh-based delicacy is my favorite?)

*Ramble, stutter and otherwise speak non-sensically? (As opposed to...?)

*Put on display the top "high-talker" voice in sports media? (You'll swear it's a young girl!)

Then snuggle up for a 45-minute marathon session of me making my debut appearance on Dan Levy's On the DL podcast.

What? You don't already subscribe to On the DL through iTunes or visit the On the DL podcast Web site? Let me help: DO IT NOW. It's a terrific daily show.

Thanks to Dan for having me on. He is a fantastic host -- he asks smart questions of his guests that you or I would want to ask, too, as opposed to the usual superficial queries. Subscribe now!

-- D.S.

Wednesday 04/08 A.M. Quickie:
UConn, Griffin, Beckett, Rockets, More

39-0, with no team ever coming closer than double-digits in any game result this season. I don't know if the 2009 UConn women are the best women's hoops team of all time, but that certainly puts them on the short list -- and eclipses the definition of "domination" applied yesterday to UNC.

Kudos to UConn leads today's SN column, but I also dive into the 2nd full day of MLB games... Blake Griffin turning pro... Who the Lions should draft (or not draft at all)... and More.

Complete column here. More later. Feel free to check out my bonus post from last night, directly below, if you haven't seen it yet.

And, hmm: After a terrific experience last night on Dan Levy's "On the DL" podcast, should I create my own podcast? I mean: Between my "high-talker" tones and my tenuous grasp on anything but the most superficial opinions, who wouldn't listen?

-- D.S.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Future of Sports Team Beat-Writing

Must-read in today's Wall Street Journal. And a nice piece of follow-up analysis by Rob Neyer.

Does beat-reporting need to come in the form of a newspaper story? Is the newspaper the best promotional vehicle for a team? (Hey: A rare super-value for the physical newspaper!)

How many beat reporters does a team need? Could the responsibility be shared, or syndicated? What's the value of a game story? What's the value of the "notes" column? How many newspaper beat reporters have successfully embraced new technology (blogs, Twitter) to serve their readers?

Can the teams or the leagues themselves disintermediate? (See's extensive and editorially mostly-rigorous beat system.)

And what do fans need from the beat reporter? Game recap? Quotes? I can find those elsewhere. How many of you are happy to read the AP recap on the scoreboard, then dive into the stats or the commentary elsewhere, like on a hyper-fan site, like a great team blog?

Analysis? I can DEFINITELY find that elsewhere. I need exclusive news breaks, yeah -- someone's gotta do that -- but as soon as it's broken, it's commoditized.

I think most bloggers would agree that -- of any part of the mainstream media -- the beat reporters are the most valuable. Columnists could all be replaced. Editors are mostly unnecessary -- in their traditional form. But the beat reporter provides the fodder for the conversation. You can't have an opinion without some news to base it on.

How many link-backs to a newspaper web site go to a columnist, versus a news story? It's probably not a bad thing to understand.

As for beat reporting in the physical paper? That ain't the beat reporters' fault -- or from a lack of interest by consumers. The print paper is simply bad economics.

Will teams and leagues suffer for lack of coverage in local print papers? I guess I think that every team needs to focus on their core fan first -- converting a casual fan into a core fan is folly. At best, you can convince the casual fan to show up a few times a year, for the fun of it.

And the core fans started looking for media sources beyond the physical newspaper a while ago.

The beat reporter is part of the mix. Not sure how many beat reporters each team needs, though.

Entrepreneurship alert: This is a big opportunity. MLB will subsidize their own beat reporters, but fans will always want something a little more independent. I'm pretty sure -- though not totally sure -- that major markets will always support at least one newspaper, and with that newspaper, at least one beat reporter per major-league sports team.

But if I approached a newspaper company -- or a sports team -- with a low-cost, high-quality alternative to their current economic structure? I think you could find the audience -- and revenue -- to support it.

So what am I saying? meets Sports? Or maybe that is the future of local sports coverage. The fan interest is there -- the coverage will follow, in one form or another.

-- D.S.

Tuesday 04/07 A.M. Quickie:
UNC, Hansbrough, Lawson, Opening Day

Last night's game sucked, but domination is rarely fun to watch. It's just plain impressive.

I'm no UNC fan. And though I have a begrudging respect for Tyler Hansbrough -- increased substantially this morning since 24 hours ago -- I'm not a huge fan.

But I appreciate the ass-kicking that UNC laid down. They are a very worthy champ, and that leads today's SN column.

What last night was not was a validation of the "stay-in-school" crowd. Make no mistake: If Lawson or Hansbrough or Ellington or Green were guaranteed to be Top 10 picks in any of the last few years, they would have gone pro immediately.

What it DOES display is the level of basketball we would be seeing if NBA early-entrants stuck around an extra year or two (or, in the case of Hansbrough, three). Was UNC '08-09 legitimately awesome -- or was the field that watered down? Probably a bit of both.

The fact is that Michigan State decisively beat both Louisville and UConn, and UNC just smoked the Spartans. And Oklahoma was the best of the Big 12, and UNC smoked them. And Villanova beat arguably the best team in the Big East, and UNC smoked Nova, too.

This was a great team, and a worthy champ.

Oh, and baseball started yesterday. And it was quite an awesome day. CC sucking. K-Rod acing. Hanley rolling. Griffey's turn-back-the-clock moment. And particularly if you drafted Adam Lind onto your fantasy roster, as I did.

See: Because of my worst-ever finish in the Tournament Challege -- 12th percentile. Seriously: 12th. Jaw-droppingly bad. -- I am SO due for a great season in fantasy baseball.

Meanwhile, for his slow start, Obama finished in the 80th percentile. And if I had followed the "National Bracket," I would have out-performed 88 percent of pool entrants.

Next year: National Bracket.

Complete column here.

-- D.S.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Tournament Challenge Update: Down to Two!

The Daily Quickie Readers group is down to two finalists:

If UNC wins, J. London is your champ.

If MSU wins, S. Medema is your champ.

I will be cringing to see what my final percentile will be, hoping to avoid single-digits.

-- D.S.

Opening Day

Apropos for Opening Day:
"Of course, there are those who learn after the first few times. They grow out of sports. And there are others who were born with the wisdom to know that nothing lasts. These are the truly tough among us, the ones who can live without illusion. I am not that grown up or up-to-date. I am a simpler creature, tied to more primitive patterns and cycles. I need to think something lasts forever, and it might as well be that state of being that is a game; it might as well be that, in a green field, in the sun."
-- Bart Giamatti. (h/t: TK)

Kevin Durant: The Next Chris Mullin

Longtime readers know that I loathe lazy player comparisons that rely (mainly) on race -- hell, see the post below from this morning, where I compare Hansbrough's NBA prospects to Millsap (as opposed to, say, Madsen).

Here is a fantastic comp -- derived from quality statistical analysis, no less: Kevin Durant as Chris Mullin 2.0. (Kudos to Kevin Pelton.)

The system is color blind: There is also a result that favorably links Durant to Bernard King. Kevin Durant as the love-child of King and Mullin? Love it. All KD needs is the Brooklyn accent.

-- D.S.

Monday 04/06 A.M. Quickie:
UNC, Michigan State, Hansbrough, Shining

I'm no fan of UNC. You might think that, similarly, I'm no fan of Tyler Hansbrough -- what with the whole "if he doesn't win a title, he's a failure" thing. (Leads today's SN column.)

But I actually have come around on Psycho-T. I'm not sure I like him, but I definitely respect him. He is already on the all-time college player list; with a title, he will get into some really rare air.

I also find the prospect of him NOT winning a title to be even more dramatic. Every generation needs its Ralph Sampson -- if UNC loses, that will be Hansbrough (albeit without the NBA cachet).

I actually think that Hansbrough will be a decent pro. If Paul Millsap can be a double-double machine, why can't Hansbrough. (I won't hold my breath waiting for that comparison from subtly racist draft experts who can't seem to do more than compare white players with white players.)

Anyway: Michigan State has a puncher's chance. They have great depth. The guards are playing very well. Suton may draw Hansbrough out of the lane (why not play Hansbrough and Ed Davis together, letting the springy Davis play Suton outside?) Tom Izzo is the best Tournament coach. And then the whole "Michigan State playing the game in Michigan when Michigan is totally getting hammered by the economy." That, by the way, is meaningless.

UNC just played a team that came into the game with just as much mojo as MSU has now: The Heels blitzed Villanova, and while I don't think it will be that bad in the final (nor as bad as the 35-point beat-down they delivered the Spartans at Ford Field in December), it's UNC FTW.

Oh, and it's Opening Day. Set your fantasy rosters!

Complete SN column here. See post below for the worst-ever state of my bracket.

-- D.S.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

State of My Bracket: Oh The Humanity

Last year, I finished with my bracket in the 18th percentile -- my worst showing ever.

Until now.

I am in the 12th percentile, heading into the title game. And if UNC wins Monday night, it will surely dip into the single digits.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama has surged into the top third of all brackets. And he has UNC winning it all.

By the way: If I just used the National Bracket, I would be beating 80 percent of the country right now, with more room to climb if UNC wins the title.

Next year, maybe I'll just go with the National Bracket. It cannot possibly be worse than my own picks.

Then again, I said the same thing after last year: How could it get worse? It has.

Worst. Year. Ever.

-- D.S.

Sunday 04/05 (Very) Quickie

And the real champion of the Big East is... Michigan State.

For all the talk of how good the Big East was this year, the Spartans dispatched the league's regular-season champ/tournament champ and arguably its 2nd-best team in back-to-back games.

And if they can beat the best of the ACC, they will be national champs.

It was minor consolation for me that I predicted MSU's win over UConn -- I also picked Nova over UNC, and the way UNC thumped the Wildcats, I couldn't have been more wrong.

UNC is very very good. But the way Michigan State has been handling "superior" teams over the last two games, there is no reason to think they can't beat the Tar Heels.

I'd like to see it, but I don't think they will.

Great stat: Only 3 teams since '85 have won their 5 tournament games by 10 points or more -- they all went on to roll in the title game.

Folks will be analyzing the game that UNC and Michigan State played at Ford Field back on December 3 -- the Tar Heels won by 35, one of the worst beatings of Tom Izzo's career.

There is one big difference: Goran Suton didn't play in that game. Is he worth 35 points? No, but combined with four months' seasoning -- including the remarkable 5-game Tournament run -- the Spartans are a different team. Again: 35 points better?

A Spartans upset wouldn't be quite Nova-over-G'town '85, but it would be as big of a title-game upset since Arizona over Kentucky in '97.

It's going to be a big night on Monday for Tyler Hansbrough -- this game will define his tremendous college career.

-- D.S.