Saturday, May 16, 2009

Jack Kerouac Played Fantasy Baseball

Perfect for a Saturday morning, now THIS is interesting: Jack Kerouac played fantasy baseball -- a version of his own creation, in fact.

There it is: The king of the Beats and this guy held up as uber-cool... a fantasy dork, just like you and me. NOW it can be asked: What would Kerouac do with David Ortiz this season?

(This is a great moment to re-recommend one of the top 10 baseball books of all time: "The Universal Baseball Association Inc., J. Henry Waugh Prop" by Robert Coover.)

Enjoy your Saturday.

-- D.S.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Friday 05/15 A.M. Quickie:
NBA Game 7s, Preakness, Paulus, Phelps

Who doesn't love an NBA Game 7? We get two of them. Admittedly, the Celtics are going to smash the Magic in Boston, but don't you get the sense that -- Game 5 notwithstanding -- the Rockets have a puncher's chance against the Lakers? Houston is just too freakily constructed.

That leads today's SN column, with more on:

*Rachel Alexandra! (Hottest lady in sports!)
*David Ortiz! (Wow, does he suck!)
*Greg Paulus! (Kind of like him now!)
*Michael Phelps! (50 free is new 400 IM!)
*John Wall! (Pick Kentucky -- ugh, did I just say that?)

Complete SN column here. More later. If you saw my latest Twitter entry, you'll see that I'm immersed in putting Tim Tebow in historical context in the "all-time best college QB" discussion. Goodygoodygoodygoody....

-- D.S.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hurley Doin' Work: New Documentary Film About Awesome St. Anthony Basketball

The 2008 St. Anthony High basketball team was arguably one of the greatest high school hoops teams ever. Unbeaten season. National championship. Half a dozen D-1 players.

A production company I have worked with in the past was there to document the entire season, and their film about it is finished -- and pretty awesome. They just released a trailer:

It's still an indie, but any number of networks would be crazy not to acquire it. (BTW: It's not really called "Hurley Doin' Work," of course. But that's the theme of hoops docs this week, isn't it?)

-- D.S.

Thursday 05/14 A.M. Quickie:
Pens, Nuggets, Floyd, Crede, Kiffin, More

You know what I really wanted to lead today's SN column with? Kris Allen topping Danny Gokey for the Idol finalist spot to meet juggernaut Adam Lambert.

I wanted to talk about how that -- combined with David Cook's win last year over David Archuleta -- continues to affirm that America does indeed know what it's talking about, when left to the decision-making.

I wanted to talk about how perhaps there is a decent analogue to my decade-old college football "Fan Poll" concept that would let fans be part of the BCS selection process.

I should have led with Idol. How can you go wrong with Idol?

Because Caps-Pens Game 7 was a dud (unless you're a Penguins fan). Zero drama, except maybe for the fleeting moment it was 0-0.

The Nuggets-Mavs series was a dud, too. For all the yapping from Game 3 into Game 4, the series was over in 5, and it wasn't really ever close.

All you can hope for is that the Rockets and Magic make it interesting by winning at home tonight and pushing their own series to 7 games.

Did I mention yesterday that Tim Floyd is screwed? How about so so so screwed?

I give props to Lane Kiffin in the column today. Yes, really.

Wow, there was a lot of offense in MLB yesterday. And yet my fantasy team? Nada.

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mike Leach And Dan Shanoff Agree:
Super-Size a College Football Playoff

Posted this years ago. Worth re-publishing, after Mike Leach gained a little traction for "daring" to suggest that we put 64 teams in a college football playoff.

Short answer: He's not thinking big enough.

It's very simple: Create a half-season-long playoff that lets everyone in and therefore produces the most meaningful, least controversial champion. It's unrealistic, but only because the powers-that-be lack the imagination to see its genius:

(1) Increase the number of D1-A programs from 119 to 128.

(2) Play 5 regular season games: Your annual "tradition" games, your homecoming, your cupcakes, whatever. This also allows teams to find their stride.

(3) National Bye Week. Rank all 128 teams, using the same committee system that fans have come to accept for college basketball. Except this committee is NCAA officials, media and a few computer gurus. Place into four 32-team regional brackets.

(4) Play Week 6. Number of playoff teams remaining afterward: 64. Losers are eliminated and have 24 hours to cut deals to play each other in Week 7.

(5) Each week, the bracket advances along. Winning teams move on to the next game on their bracket. Losing teams are eliminated and may cut deals to play any other eliminated team the following week, creating an innovative, musical-chairs-style free market of scheduling that will also keep fans engaged.

After Week 7, 32 teams are left. After Week 8, 16 teams are left. After Week 9, 8 teams are left. After Week 10, 4 teams are left. After Week 11, 2 teams are left. (Again, eliminated teams simply pick from the increasingly deep pool of eliminated teams to fill out their schedule.)

(6) Teams that are over .500 are eligible to be selected to play in the 25 different bowl games played in December and early January; bowls may invite any teams they want, again creating a vastly more efficient market than the current system where a team is slotted to a bowl by its conference finish.

(7) The final 2 teams play in the championship game.

The biggest problem is that schools can't finalize their teams' travel or ticket sales plans a year in advance, as they do now. If that's the biggest problem -- but in exchange fans get the best championship tournament in sports and an undisputed champion -- I think fans will take it.

Everyone in, controversy out.

-- D.S.

Wednesday 05/13 A.M. Quickie:
Caps, Big Baby, Clemens, Mayo, Halladay

You all know my theory: There are two sports -- only two -- that command ongoing "appointment" attention throughout their seasons: The NFL and college football. And that's because they have such a limited -- and regimented -- season.

Every other sport battles for relevance on any given day. Some sports have built-in "events" that generate mass enthusiasm: The three-week NCAA Tournament; the MLB All-Star Game and playoffs; the NBA All-Star Weekend and NBA Draft. Obviously, the NBA Playoffs prove you can sometimes catch lightning in a bottle. And scandal tends to trump all.

Among other sports, it is a battle to capture -- at best -- a handful of days in a sports fan's year: The NHL's Outdoor Game, the four Sundays of golf majors, the four finals of the tennis Slam events, the Daytona 500 or Indy 500, the NCAA Frozen Four or lacrosse Final Four.

But sometimes these moment happen organically, and it is as much of a litmus test for the NHL's presumptive resurgence as anything else when the Caps and Pens play Game 7 tonight. How many NHL fans will watch? How many casual fans will tune in? If you're not watching tonight, as a casual fan (and I qualify myself as APALLINGLY casual), when WILL you watch?

Leading with hockey (as I did today) is normally trouble for a sports column trying to find traction with mainstream fans, but -- again -- a handful of days out of the year, the non-"Big" sports can own the sports-news cycle and merit being the lead story. Will the fans follow?

More in today's column:
*Big Baby: Biggest breakout of the NBA playoffs.
*Lakers rout: So much for Rockets' amazingness.
*OJ Mayo: Tim Floyd is so so so screwed.
*Jays: Yes, they are for real.

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Tuesday 05/12 A.M. Quickie:
Cavs, Mavs, Caps, Favre, Johan, More

The Cavs are utterly without drama -- 8-0 through the first two rounds of the playoffs isn't fun or sexy or "amazing." It's just dominant.

You could almost forget about them, while we watch the Celtics try to survive or the Lakers-Rockets awesomeness or the Mavs' last desperate gasps.

Almost forget about them. Until you realize they are the best team in the playoffs right now (although they'd have a hell of a tougher time with a harder schedule).

Complete SN column here.

-- D.S.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Taking Down The Manny-Fueled Sanctimony

In the absence of the late Fire Joe Morgan, we can still look to brilliant autopsies of truly terrible columns, like this one from Deadspin's Tommy Craggs about Kurt Streeter's hysteria-laden LA Times column about Manny. Well done, Tommy.

-- D.S.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Monday 05/11 A.M. Quickie:
Rockets, Big Baby, Papelbon, HeyBay, More

The Rockets win was no fluke -- in fact, it was a triumph of intention. That leads today's SN column, and it is an homage to Rockets GM Daryl Morey.

The "Moneyball" stuff is not about stats -- it is about recognizing undervalued assets and market inefficiencies.

It is the same theories that allowed Morey to draft Aaron Brooks 26th (a 6-foot, 160-pound, shoot-first PG who allowed them to trade incumbent starting PG Rafer Alston); to swindle Luis Scola from the Spurs; to trade for consummate glue guy Shane Battier; to "take a chance" (myth) on Ron Artest; and to pull undrafted Chuck Hayes from the D-League into last night's starring role as Yao's replacement... all 6-foot-6 of him at center.

Put it all together, and you have the complementary parts that -- without Yao (or T-Mac) -- obliterated the presumptive favorites for the NBA championship. What's not to admire about that? It's easy to build around a superstar -- try building a winner around nothing. (Well, nothing except fantastic analysis and scouting.)

This win was the culmination of a multi-year project by Morey to take advantage of NBA inefficiencies. Can the Rockets win 2 of 3 against the Lakers, including 2 games in L.A.? The Lakers won't be surprised next time, but at least at this point, the Lakers have to stop the Rockets, not the other way around.

*Amazing parody video about the egregiously bad call in the Mavs game from Saturday.
*Big Baby as the hero? This is why the Celtics will get crushed by the Cavs.
*Papelbon mows down the Rays' chances last night.
*And a ton more.

Speaking of the Mavs officiating, how is it that the ref who blew the call on Derek Fisher vs. the Spurs was reffing in the playoffs again? I'm sure Mark Cuban is asking the same question.

Complete SN column here. More later.

-- D.S.