Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Father's Day To the Dads

In case you're not stopping by later today or this weekend, happy father's day to all the dads out there -- certainly to mine.

This will be my first Father's Day with TWO kids to celebrate with -- it's more than twice as awesome as last year (although more than twice the hard work, too).

Personally, I think that Father's Day should be a celebration of how much work the MOMS do. I would be a dramatically worse dad if my kids' mom wasn't heroically carrying all three of us.

-- D.S.

Breakout Star of the U.S. Open: Dan Jenkins

UPDATE: Sally Jenkins filed a column for the Washington Post on her dad's Twitter presence.

Was going to publish this elsewhere -- yes, somewhere more "mainstream," which is why this reads for an audience with little knowledge of Twitter -- but opted for here:

The breakout star of the 2009 U.S. Open?


That is the Twitter handle of legendary sportswriter Dan Jenkins, who covers golf for Golf Digest (a bit of an understatement: this is Jenkins' 200th major) but has been something of an unlikely phenomenon on Twitter, going from a handful of followers at the start of the week to more than 1,500 by mid-day Friday.

Jenkins, who will turn 80 in December, signed on to Twitter on June 3rd with a simple tweet at 2:50 pm: "I'll have this Twitter thing figured out by the US Open, so check back as we get closer to Bethpage."

Since the 15th, he has been putting out a steady stream of tweets ranging from observations on:

*Thursday's weather conditions ("
If you want to get a swing tip today, try the aquarium. It's still cold, windy and rainy--beach weather at the British Open.")

*To the hilarious ("
Bulletin: Tiger Woods just made his second double bogey of the first round. Golf is dead.")

*To the bawdy ("
The portable toilet outside the media center has signs with tips on putting and hitting drives, irons and sand shots. Nothing on the grip.")

*To the
sublime ("My life on deadline: As my first boss, Blackie Sherrod, enjoyed saying, 'Stop feelin’ up that story, and get the damn thing in here.'")

Perhaps most enlightening the age of comments with time-stamps of "Less than one minute ago" is Jenkins' pitter-patter history lesson:

*10:30 a.m. Friday: "
I haven't seen players throw darts at the greens like this since Johnny Miller and Lanny Wadkins on the final day at Oakmont in '73."

*1:00 p.m. Thursday: "
Guys who were good wet-weather mudders: 1. Middlecoff, 2. Watson, 3. Nicklaus, 4. Ballesteros, 5. Player. But they ain’t here."

*10:58 a.m. Thursday: "
The worst-weather Opens include ’72 and ’92 (the final day) at Pebble, but this is the worst first day. Could be the most miserable week."

*7:48 a.m. Wednesday: "
Arrived yesterday; out to the course this morning. After you've seen 199 majors, one practice round is plenty."

It feels like an unlikely union of sportswriting's Texas-grizzled legend and technology's hottest new platform. But he is making it work for him. His daughter, the sportswriter Sally Jenkins, is covering the Open, too, and has her own Twitter feed (@sallyjenx): "
Talking to Pops, who has designs on Britney Spears' audience. He also just did a podcast. He is a renaissance man! A Medici." (2:30 p.m. Wednesday)

Beyond his legion of followers, he is earning "re-tweets" (or "RT," in Twitter shorthand), a combination of copied versions of his tweets, along with side commentary expressing astonishment and enthusiasm for Jenkins' embrace of the platform. Today, he is a popular choice for "#FF" treatment -- "Follow Friday" is the day of the week when folks on Twitter traditionally recommend their favorite follows to others in their network.

Perhaps his most telling tweet came at 1:38 pm Wednesday:

Another writer just dropped by and said, 'I never thought I'd see the day: Dan Jenkins on Twitter.' I told him, "Bob, it's a new world.'"

-- D.S.

More NBA Draft PG Talk: Calathes? Really?

Honestly, experts: Nick Calathes as the 3rd-best PG in the draft? John Hollinger rates Nick Calathes as the 6th-best player in the draft, overall. (Behind a pay wall: Boo!)

I'm a huge Florida hoops fan, and I just don't see it. (Then again, Hollinger was very high on Marreese Speights a year ago, and I thought Speights would be a terrible pro. So there you are.)

In addition to Calathes, the stats support Ty Lawson as having massive NBA potential -- maybe he IS the next Jameer Nelson (consider Nelson was underrated by draftniks, too). But maybe Lawson is just the next Raymond Felton. Put Flynn, Jennings, Rubio, Evans, Holiday or Maynor at the point for UNC and the Tar Heels still win the national title -- with one of those guys winning MOP. I'm not particularly high on Lawson -- most NBA execs seem to agree with me.

I will say this about Calathes: Because he's going to Greece next season, a team can use a 1st-round pick on him but not have to deal with his salary, but still retain his rights. (And, presumably, a year in Europe would make him more pro-ready than another year in college.)

But when a player's top skill is "He'll save you money!" that's not saying much. But the stat experts seem to argue otherwise -- that he has serious pro potential. I actually really hesitate to dispute or dismiss sound statistical reasoning. But...really?

If I had to take a flier on one of those PGs, I'd draft Evans, who isn't a true PG but can play a PG role alongside another combo guard, and in some kind of best-case scenario world, he is sort of like a poor man's Dwyane Wade. If I was playing it safe, I'd take Maynor. I'm not down on Jennings like many, but he can't shoot. Rubio? Ehh. Sizzle. Experience. But can he shoot?

-- D.S.

Friday 06/19 A.M. Quickie:
NBA Draft, US Open, Stallworth, Dads

Perhaps because the US Open was rained out yesterday -- or perhaps because I love the NBA Draft and don't really care all that much about golf -- I led today's SN column with a we're-a-week-out Draft update.

Guess what: Blake Griffin is an afterthought. It's all about the point guards. By my count, you could have 6 PGs in the Top 10, with another two in the Top 15 or 20. Is it because the PG crop is that good? (The big men crop that bad?) Daryl Morey thinks the NBA is turning into a PG-driven league AND it's a particularly deep class.

(Interesting, as the Rockets have as their PGs... Aaron Brooks? Kyle Lowry? And the Lakers have no real PG. And the Cavs have no traditional PG -- don't need one, obviously, although Mo Williams IS a PG. And the Magic had Rafer Alston, not exactly a Lottery pick. And even the Celtics have Rondo, a freak and scouted before the draft as a dud.)

Anyway, the draft is a week away. Can't help but be excited.

There's a lot more in the column today -- actually, it was one of those days where I was WAY out in front on most mainstream media outlets on stuff like Dirk's interest in sole custody of his love-child (or hate-child) and I hadn't seen much on Mark Jackson to the T'wolves, beyond smaller sites. (Although it's leading HoopsHype, so there you go.)

Read the whole thing here. More later.

-- D.S.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Joe Posnanski, You're Killing Me

So Joe updated his "True To Your School" challenge with an entry for Florida, which I wrote about here yesterday with my own suggestions for Florida:

Joakim Noah? Check.
Al Rosen? Check.
Andy North (rather than my pick, Dara Torres)? Fine.

Emmitt Smith? Over my pick, Tim Tebow? ACK.

Yes, Emmitt had a Hall of Fame NFL career with multiple Super Bowls. But for college careers, Emmitt cannot compare to Tebow. OK: Maybe the point was to consider everything that player had done in their entire careers, college and pro. (See Rosen, North, Torres, etc.)

Yes, Emmitt is one of the greatest NFL players of all time -- certainly a top-5 all-time RB, but Tebow is one of the greatest college football players of all time. Ah well. I guess I see Joe's point. (BTW, Mrs. Quickie's favorite Florida football player all-time? Emmitt.)

-- D.S.

UFL Draft Tonight? OK, One More Time...

The UFL isn't really even having a draft. Sounds like the four coaches are going to sit in a room and try to spread out the talent. Or "talent."

I feel the need to keep saying this until someone from the UFL finally explains why this won't work: Their "talent" should be players the NFL won't let in because of something as silly as age.

Let's use my working definition: You have to have at least one year of college football experience to play in the UFL.

With that in mind -- and taking out the rising seniors and redshirt juniors who voluntarily opted to put off the NFL until next year -- who would be the UFL's first picks?

Julio Jones? Eric Berry? Dez Bryant? Gerald McCoy?

We'll never know. Instead the league is divvying up...JP Losman.

-- D.S.

HOF-Worthy: The Guy Who Outed McGwire?

I appreciate what this reporter did. But when I read this column, all it makes me think is how mainstream baseball media failed fans, the game and their profession so thoroughly, for years.

-- D.S.

UPDATE: Craggs nails it.

Thursday 06/18 A.M. Quickie:
Tiger, Open, Zack, Al For Amare, More

Finally: A golf major with more subplots than, simply, "How is Tiger doing?" There is the whole "Sympathy for Mickelson" angle, but the one I love (and led today's SN column with) was that there is no gallery in golf like the Bethpage gallery, which was THE highlight of the '02 Open.

Did you see that Slate-produced video yesterday? (I posted a tweet linking to it, but you may have seen it elsewhere: It overlaid Gus Johnson, Dick Vitale and other boisterous college hoops announcers over golf video.) Bethpage is as close as we'll get to that.

It is SO good for golf -- not to mention great TV -- that you wonder why golf doesn't promote more rowdiness in the gallery (at least between shots).

Meanwhile, two things worth noting this morning (among others):

(1) Amare for Al Jefferson? Straight up, I might consider that deal, although Amare could bolt next summer and, as long as his knee is healed, Al Jefferson is the better player, both now and into the future. But the rumor includes that the T'wolves would throw in the No. 6 pick. WHA?!

(2) Zack Greinke is struggling. Another up-and-down outing last night. It sort of proves how dominant his start to the season was that even though he hasn't been pitching well in his last few starts, he is still the best pitcher in the AL, statistically. I would question whether he has lost his lock on the AL All-Star SP spot to Roy Halladay, but Halladay just went on the DL.

I'm looking out my window right now and the weather couldn't be worse -- I suspect the Open's start will be delayed for a while.

Complete SN column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pittsburgh: Best Pro Sports Year Ever?

You KNOW I love a good superlative. "Best Year Ever For a Pro Sports City" is a pretty good one, and Carl Bialik makes a pretty good case for Pittsburgh 2009 (Steelers, Penguins) in the WSJ.

I will say this: If you expand it beyond pro sports to include college cities, I think you could make a case that Gainesville, Florida 2006 was better: College basketball champ AND college football champ in the same year, the first time that has ever happened in college history.

-- D.S.

PS: And if you want to quibble and say that the hoops title was sorta/kinda technically the 2005-2006 season and the football title was the 2006 (ending in 2007) season, then let's just count Gainesville's SECOND NCAA hoops title, which bookended the football title in 2007.

Joe Posnanski's "How About This" Challenge

Joe Posnanski -- whose blog is a must-read, even if you couldn't care less about the Kansas City Royals or the Big Red Machine -- launched an interesting "How About This?" challenge:

Take any college and name its best football, basketball and baseball player ever, plus one wild-card from any other sport. Which college has the best foursome?

It started here (halfway down the post), with Joe using Ohio State as an example. He ran a bunch of others submitted by his readers -- I couldn't believe that Florida wasn't repped yet.

So here's my ballot, which I sent to Joe. Maybe it'll make the cut:

Football: Tim Tebow (2-time national champ, Heisman winner, Heisman 3rd-place, may finish career as best college QB -- or player -- ever.) Runners-up: Emmitt Smith or Danny Wuerffel.

Basketball: Joakim Noah (2-time national champ, 2006 NCAA Tournament Most Outstanding Player -- widely ranked as one of the Top 10 Tournament MOP 6-game performances in history).

Baseball: Al Rosen (1953 AL MVP - unanimously, 5-time All-Star, probably the 3rd best Jewish baseball player of all time, behind Greenberg and Koufax.)

Wild Card: Dara Torres (Medalist in 5 Olympics)

Not bad. Not the best in the country, but not bad.

-- D.S.

Dan Jenkins Is On Twitter @danjenkinsgd

Dan Jenkins -- one of the Top 10 sportswriters of all time* -- is on Twitter: @danjenkinsgd

And he's kind of awesome already. Like this: "My life on deadline: As my first boss, Blackie Sherrod, enjoyed saying, “Stop feelin’ up that story, and get the damn thing in here." (h/t: Craggs)

But Gregg Doyel, please keep hating. You know way more about sportswriting than Dan Jenkins. (The Twittering folks in Iran would chime in, too, but they're a little occupied right now...)

-- D.S.

* - Surprising: I'm not ready to call Jenkins "best. ever." But he's way way way up there.

UPDATE: Jenkins himself just posted a tweet from the Open: "Another writer just dropped by and said, 'I never thought I’d see the day: Dan Jenkins on Twitter.'"

Why, because he's old and Twitter is "for the kids?" Great reporters value reaching audience. Great reporters value brevity. Great reporters value immediacy.

Wednesday 06/17 A.M. Quickie:
Sosa, Rays, Marshall, Jennings, Epiphanny

In today's SN column, I lead with a review of a valuable lesson in journalism -- or any sort of reporting/commentary/opinion-spouting/punditry:

If you imply or question that a particular person might be using PEDs -- say, Raul Ibanez -- you are going to get crushed for it.

If you announce outright that "everyone" was using PEDs -- say, in 2003 (when we all know that everyone was using steroids) -- you are perfectly safe in your generalization.

Because the fact is this: Back in 2003? Everyone WAS cheating with PEDs. Maybe not all were using steroids. But all WERE using amphetamines -- now banned for being... ta-da... PEDs.

That's just a little context as you consider why the reaction to "Sammy Sosa tested positive for PEDs back in 2003!!!!!!!!!" just doesn't move the needle.

(1) We already figured he was using them.
(2) 2003? Cripes: Who WASN'T using PEDs?

That's two straight days of non-story: Yesterday, the Lange-Buck fake drama. Today, the Sosa unshocker.

Can't we focus on more interesting things? Like:

*Here come the Rays...
*Epiphanny Prince tells the WNBA/NCAA restraint-of-trade to eff off.
*Who will end up trading for Brandon Marshall?
*Kevin Love breaking news on Twitter

It's all in today's SN column. Check it out here. More later. If you were tracking yesterday, you see I'm ramping it up a bit.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Top 10 Moments in Sports Blog History

I helped the Real Clear Sports folks with some ideas for this clever list of the Top 10 Moments in Sports Blog History. (Though it was late-breaking, I would have fit PFT/NBC into the Top 10 and not relegated it to Honorable Mention, if only for the $$$ consideration involved.)

And, no, the creation of on the final day of the Daily Quickie didn't make the cut, even though it was perhaps the first example of a mainstream media columnist to migrate to blogging.

The irony of the Bissinger-Leitch event -- which clocked in at No. 1 -- is that it effectively ended the sturm und drang over "MSM-vs.-Bloggers." (The Ibanez thing last week was a hysterical overreaction that is best defined as an outlier from current conditions.)

-- D.S.

Fanarchy: What a Train Wreck

Maybe you thought Artie Lange on "Joe Buck Live" was a train-wreck. That had nothing on "Fanarchy," a new TV show on Versus last night that was originally announced with the terrific premise that fans can be just as good at sports punditry as the so-called "pros."

Or, as it turned out, just as awful.

There was so much potential there (I liked that they had partnered with Yardbarker) -- but, oh god, the show was a trainwreck from the first minute.

I feel compelled to admit that I could only take about 3 or 4 minutes of it before I had to turn it off; I had seen enough. It was unwatchable, with every terrible stereotype of the "avid fan" -- Painted Face Guy, Loud New Yorker, Guy in Basketball Jersey, Hottie.

Incorporating the fan perspective into sports TV is a great idea -- and I'm not just talking about the patronizing "BlogBuzz" segment/ghetto on the morning SportsCenter. As I have mentioned before, I have incredibly high hopes for ESPN2's upcoming "SportsNation."

The devil is in the details. Or, in the case of "Fanarchy," hell was on my TV screen.

-- D.S.

Blogs With Balls Conference Recap

In a room of 300 Blogs With Balls sports-blog conference participants, I was the only one wearing khakis, not jeans.

That alone qualified me as the biggest tool in the room. And it would have been my biggest regret, except I ended up trading moderator slots with Dan "On the DL" Levy, who moderated a raucous, day-ending panel (sort of) about MSM vs. bloggers -- I loved the panel I moderated (CEOs of content networks); I wanted to do both!

But I'm getting ahead of myself, as I wanted to report back from Saturday's first-ever sports-blog conference, held in NYC, known as "Blogs With Balls" (or BWB).

Huge kudos to the organizers: They thought they'd get 150 attendees. They got 300. They found a space to accommodate everyone -- the basement of a bar, complete with spill-over rooms that were wired with HD TVs and sound, so you could follow the conference even if you weren't sitting right up in front of the stage. The HHR Media guys got half a dozen sponsors -- in this economy? (exactly) -- and attracted a wide variety of panelists and conference-goers.

That was probably my favorite part: Walking around the room, my eyes locked down at everyone's shoulder-level, where I could see their name-tag and -- naturally -- what blog they were affiliated with. I met folks who I have gotten emails from (or emailed with) or who I have read with great enjoyment (or even read with less than enjoyment). It was a "Oh, YOU'RE to finally meet you in person!"

This wasn't your typical business conference (and most are sadly typical) -- replacing your standard executives were folks who were the proprietors of their own blogs. Some are making money. Some are just in it for the love. Some are in networks like Yardbarker or SB Nation. Some are "indie." Some were big. Some were small. Some use T&A. Some use stats analysis. Some spam email, looking for links. Some thrive with a more modest approach. Some cover specific teams. Some cover sports. Some cover everything.

Regardless of whether or not folks were veteran conference-goers, you come to something like this for a couple reasons:

(1) To "network" (whether for business or, like many here, for fun). On the plus side, there were plenty of folks to network with. I found myself in conversation after conversation with folks with whom a better relationship will either (a) help me in some way in my professional and/or blogging career, or (b) simply earn me a new colleague in the space, which I value incredibly highly. We are all only as strong as our networks. To a point others have made, more dedicated time for networking in an otherwise packed panel schedule would have been welcome -- a consistent theme was asking folks NOT watching the panels to keep their voices down so the audience could hear the panelists.

As the only sports blogger with a Harvard MBA (and perhaps the only one with an MBA, more generally -- holler if you're with debt!), it was really important to me that I get a chance to sit down and talk with some of the folks who own and operate the most successful businesses in the online sports media universe; it's a big reason I switched with Levy to moderate the panel about content networks -- the opportunity to dig into the topic with guys like SB Nation's Jim Bankoff, Yardbarker's Pete Vlastelica, Bleacher Report's Dan Kelly, Uproxx's Jarret Myer -- plus other business owners like FSV's Chris Russo, Octagon's Jim DeLorenzo, SMC's Kathleen Hessert and Real Clear Sports' Jeff Pyatt were really important to me. Online sports media has been my passion -- and my professional life -- across my entire 15-year career; this was a great chance to talk with some folks at the leading edge of where things are going (or should be going).

(Don't get the wrong idea: I already knew I was going to bounce around the room meeting bloggers I know -- or "know," virtually -- or just plain respect, which made the event the most energizing day I have had in a long time. I hesitate to name names, because I will leave out 95 percent of the folks I really enjoyed meeting. I will say that Spencer Hall stood out for his natty, Tom Wolfe-ish white suit and his typical raconteur flair.)

(2) To get some tactical advice. Now, I don't want to overemphasize this -- you go to any conference, and panelists are MUCH more tight-lipped than the folks here with success tactics. One thing I found was that panelists seemed very free with providing tactics and advice. More would have always been helpful. I think something to consider was that the audience -- most of the audience -- was VERY experienced bloggers; a greater emphasis on tactical insights -- even small-group info-sharing groups -- will make v2.0 even better.

(3) To hear from a wide variety of panelists on a wide variety of topics. Some would have liked to see more, but here were the interest groups represented: Huge marketing firms like Octagon, social media marketing firms (Sports Media Challenge), podcasters, successful individual bloggers, mainstream media reps, CEOs (a couple of them), indie entrepreneurs. Panels covered "Big Picture"; social media; earned media; how I made it (I was on it, and I'll agree it needed work, despite our best intentions); how to work with content networks; making blogging your full-time job; advertising; and the obligatory MSM-vs-Blogger panel. Oh, and Gary Vaynerchuk.

So the disciplines covered were mostly on point, particularly for v1.0 of this event. Room for improvement: I'm with Brian Cook (whose critical analysis of the event is worth reading), who pointed out that we really needed either a dedicated panel or representation on every panel of the "team-specific blogger" perspective, which makes up a huge portion of the sports-blog universe. I'm sure that will be added in for v2.0.

I also think that, aside from the CEO panel and "industry overview" panels, you're talking about panelists with an uneven level of experience of being on a panel -- the ability to talk in short sound bites and put an emphasis on clear and actionable takeaways, keep the flow going, question and press each other. Additionally, a strong moderator can usually have an outsized impact on the quality of a panel. As a moderator myself, I think I could have done more.

(If nothing else, Gary Vaynerchuk was a total pick-me-up at the end of the long day. Actually, I was somewhat obsessed with watching him on the TV screen, because he actually sort of looks like me, physically. And we both are sort of high-talkers. But he has a LOT more energy than I have, which may be the understatement of the year. He is VERY high energy, and -- like him or not -- you can totally understand why he has been successful. But to his own point: If being salesy isn't in your DNA, being as successful as him -- in that self-starter, entrepreneurial way -- will be very difficult. I think half the folks in the room had that drive and the other half would love a salaried gig with a mainstream sports site to just blog.)

(4) To get some media attention. This is sort of optional, but you'd like your conference to generate some earned media about the topics you are covering, particularly important for sports bloggers looking to mainstream media to push the ball forward on the credibility of the platform. (I'm talking about beyond coverage from attendees themselves.) Now, we did see ESPN cameras covering it for Outside the Lines. And a bunch of ESPN folks were there -- and welcome. And I think I saw Newsday's Neil Best wandering around. And I know SI's Richard Deitsch, who is as obsessed with sports blogs as anyone in MSM, had a prior commitment.

But putting 300 bloggers in a room together is a pretty big event -- not sure why more sports media didn't pick up on covering it. I think that the USA Today sports-media folks like to think of themselves as the biggest sports-media outlet there is; did they not know this was happening or just choose not to show up? (There was even a lot of free food, free Guinness, etc., catnip for sports media reporters.)

If I had known it would make a difference, I would have carpooled with Richard Sandomir myself, because I think he's an example of an influential sports-media critic who doesn't quite understand new media as well as he understands traditional media, and this would have been a good place for him to talk with some folks about it. So, another takeaway for v2.0: Expanded media outreach.

(As it stands, On The DL's Dan Levy had a great podcast analysis yesterday. Worth your time. And even folks who didn't attend, like Smart Football's Chris Brown, were inspired to write about the state of the industry.)

I think it's opaque -- not to mention rude -- not to talk about (and sincerely thank) the sponsors that, frankly, made the event possible: Yardbarker,, NESN, SB Nation, Lijit, Bleacher Report, Real Clear Sports, Diageo (for the complimentary Guinness and a bottle of Crown Royal for me to take home) and an incredibly fun afterparty sponsored by GQ. They show a terrific commitment to events like this that help bring sports bloggers together to meet each other, talk, hang out and otherwise see what a vibrant community it has been.

There were a lot of PR folks at the event -- as there should have been, if they want to create contacts within the industry -- and we need more conversation, not less, about how to work together in a way that is transparent for the audience and authentic to the writer. The brand wants it that way -- or should (or soon will). And it is critical for the bloggers. (Actually, for future events, I would love to see a panel talking about standards and best practices for working with both PR firms and advertisers who come directly to bloggers.)

But the biggest thanks goes to the organizers from HHR: Chris and Don and Kyle -- guys, who am I missing? They pulled off something that I think has been at least 5 years in the making, and the result is something that can happen annually (if not more frequently, with v2.0 coming in October in Las Vegas).

I know that they are particularly obsessed with constructively building off this inaugural event -- the good and the "needs improvement" -- to make the next version even better. I encourage attendees (and even non-attendees, but perhaps future attendees) to take Brian Cook's lead and think about what types of panels or discussions would create the most value.

I will say this: For all the value of walking out of a conference with new tactical tips and a couple free pints, it was a success for me personally because I got to meet and talk with so many great people, conversations that started before the conference, continued through the conference and will hopefully extend far beyond the conference.

We had fun. We ate chicken fingers and pigs-in-a-blanket (or, at least, I many...) Folks enjoyed some good beer and what was hopefully some quality conversations, both on the stage and in the wings. I enjoyed myself, hopefully others enjoyed themselves, and that's about all you can ask for.

Except for my Dockerrific outfit. Next time: Jeans. Definitely.

-- D.S.

(PS: If you think I missed any big points -- I didn't want to necessarily build or comment on every single critique that Brian made -- please let me know. But I think that everyone can agree: The HHR guys deserve huge kudos, simply for pulling this off with the professionalism and enthusiasm that they did.)

Tuesday 06/16 A.M. Quickie:
Joe Buck, Artie Lange, Brett Favre, More

Be careful what you wish for, Joe Buck. That lesson leads today's SN column.

You want to be the next Costas -- or the next sportscaster who can transcend into "entertainment?" Buck had already gone down that road with his endorsements for Budweiser and National Car Rental. Then he gets his own live irregularly broadcast HBO show.

The date picked was ideal: Nothing else going on in sports yesterday (or today). Brett Favre was the guest. He confirmed most of what we suspected about him. (That he's a media whore! No, kidding: That he is coming back, to the Vikings, at some point.)

Then Buck had to get cutesy with the comedy -- so he invited on Artie Lange... not exactly the gentle comedy of "Family Circus," which is where Buck had positioned himself (especially with his career-defining -- and utterly ridiculous -- call-out of Randy Moss a few years ago).

And Lange went blue -- of course he did: The scorpion and the frog, remember? Buck wanted to be "edgy." And Lange tries to be edgy. Buck knew exactly what he was getting into.

For all the "Golly! I guess that's the end of my talk-show career!" from Buck, you know he was happy about it. Why? Same reason Costas was happy a year ago: Buzz. Not Bissinger, just buzz -- people are talking about the Joe Buck Show this morning, just as they were tweeting about it last night.

The show itself was not particularly good -- and the laughs felt forced. The final segment -- Buck's version of "I think I think..." was cringe-worthy. Also, what's the good of a TV talk-show that pops up in June, then doesn't show up again until September? I want THAT gig.

But the harangue from folks like the sports-media guys at USA Today is exactly what Buck wanted -- even if it completely confuses his current, Midwestern gentle-comedy brand. Folks are talking about Joe Buck. Just like Joe Buck wanted.

More in the column today:
*Luke Harangody: The next Tyler Hansbrough.
*Rossi: The US Soccer star who got away.
*Brandon Marshall: Get him to Chicago!
*Pablo Sandoval: Another reason I'm going from perennial worst in my fantasy league to Top 5.

Complete column here. More later, including my Blogs With Balls recap/analysis.

-- D.S.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Jodie Meeks Turning Pro: UK Still No. 1?

Jodie Meeks is kind of an idiot. He's not good enough for the NBA -- he may not even get drafted. (That said, there's no evidence that another year of college would get him any more prepared for the NBA... at least not as prepared as a year in the D-League.)

So he's not an idiot for turning pro early. He's an idiot for turning down the chance to be part of a national-title team, presuming he has very little pro future ahead for himself, at least in the NBA. I'm not saying money doesn't matter; I'm saying I'd swap a D-League salary for a ring, at least for one year. If Meeks wasn't poised to win a title, it would be a different story.

But, at the very least, Meeks could have won himself a national title at UK. Now he'll have to watch from the D-League as they win one without him -- but I say: Meeks would have only taken shots away from John Wall. And who wants that? (Is UK still my pick to win it all? Yes, even without Meeks.)

-- D.S.

BTW: Per the earlier post on Twitter -- um, didn't John Calipari break Jodie Meeks turning pro on Twitter today?

Thought for the Day: Adam Morrison Wins

Adam Morrison has more rings than Charles Barkley.

-- D.S.

Originally in my SN column this morning, but annually my favorite post-NBA Finals accounting. I love the idea of Barkley mocking Morrison for, y'know, sucking as a pro and having AdMo wave his fingers in Barkley's face as the unbeatable retort.

As usual, let me remind: Do NOT feel bad for Barkley. In fact, have anything but sympathy for him. If he really cared about winning a championship -- say, more than money -- he would have played for the league minimum to play alongside Michael Jordan.

Bryce Harper: Doing The Right Thing

So first there was Kevin Garnett, skipping college for the NBA. Last year there was Brandon Jennings, who skipped college to play pro in Europe the mandatory enforced one-year exile from the NBA before he was draft eligible.

A few weeks ago, Jeremy Tyler did that one better, skipping his final season of high school to play pro not only for what would have been his senior season, but also that mandatory one-year-out ban from the NBA.

And now here's Bryce Harper, most recently of the cover of Sports Illustrated as baseball's LeBron. Having just finished his high school sophomore year, he would not have been eligible for the MLB Draft until 2011. But instead, he's going to junior college and will be eligible for the 2010 MLB Draft... where he will be the No. 1 overall pick and make roughly $30 million dollars in his first deal. So let's not talk about "readiness."

Of course, because it's baseball -- or, perhaps, because baseball lacks the overreaching (and implicitly discriminatory) paternalism of the NBA -- we will get a "Oh, wow, isn't that wild!" and "What a smart kid, to work the system like that!" He will be lauded even more as we countdown to the 2010 draft, in which he will be the No. 1 overall pick and make millions instantly.

Compare that to Greg Oden, who similarly would have been the No. 1 overall pick of the NBA Draft after his junior -- perhaps even sophomore -- year of high school. But he had to go to high school for that senior year. Then he was forced to go to college for a year. Thanks to those two years, he developed injuries that have dramatically slowed or altered his NBA potential, not to mention restrained him from the financial reward that the market would have been ready to show him.

Good for Bryce Harper. And it is one more example of the ridiculous hypocrisy that exists between MLB and the NBA. And, with the launch of the iHoops initiative and the NBA Draft just two weeks away, let's spend some time talking about how to fix the NBA development pipeline.

Oh, by the way, Brandon Jennings is doing just fine: He is a lock for the Top 10 of the draft and spent his weekend trash-talking Ricky Rubio and schooling Johnny Flynn -- who was, by the end of last season, the best point guard in college basketball.

-- D.S.

Gregg Doyel: Another Fine Career Moment

Going on CNN on Sunday morning to bash Twitter... just as Twitter is out-performing the news-negligent CNN in coverage of the insanity in Iran.

Well played, Doyel -- your keen insight into the media and consumers is staggering. Keep up the stand-out work!

-- D.S.

UPDATE: My talented, media-analyzing friend Rachel Sklar -- who knew nothing of Doyel's life as a sports columnist, only his appearance on Reliable Sources -- has a more insightful takedown.

(Great point she makes about Shaq's Tweets and Doyel's oblivious take that they "make no sense": As you've seen in my SN columns, they have recently provided the essence of the story at hand. FWIW: Shaq's tweet was the lead headline of today.)

ProFootballTalk Partners With NBC Sports

Yes, it is a big deal. A very big deal. Certainly as important in the 15-year history of online sports -- and the 5-year history of sports blogs -- as ESPN acquiring TrueHoop a few years ago.*

NBC Sports has such a massive investment in the NFL that it makes sense to partner with the leading NFL blog to combine with their reach through They shouldn't stop there.

* -- Let's all review the lesson here: Be the very best in your sports category -- covering it nationally, not at the team level (for which there is certainly a place, but a necessarily smaller footprint) -- and you put yourself in a position to do a deal with a larger media company.

Now: There is at least one sport with a clearly-the-best blog of national scope -- Every Day Should Be Saturday. Any media company with a big investment in college football should be sprinting with an open wallet to partner with Orson Swindle (who also writes under his real name for

While and both have massive investments in college football, already has a much more robust blog network of in-house correspondents, plus a ton of columnists. Let's be honest: They're loaded.

On the other hand, CBS Sports has their expensive tie-in with the SEC, which is EDSBS native country, plus the good sense to sponsor the BlogPoll. Verne Lundquist loves his site, for crying out loud! But has few high-end editorial resources, certainly none as good as (or with the reputation of) EDSBS (he owned the sports-blog conference on Saturday). has shown recently that they "get it" as it relates to diversifying their product line. At the sports-blog conference this past weekend, I moderated a panel featuring Dan Kelly, CEO of Bleacher Report, which recently signed a win-win deal to provide with full-time "citizen/fan-journalism" correspondents for every NFL team. There are plenty of aggressive, interesting, value-creating moves left to be made.

Anyway, congrats to Florio and the PFT team on a very good deal -- and congrats to NBC Sports for understanding the landscape in such a way as to do the deal.

-- D.S.

UPDATE: AJ's got a good take at Deadspin. Point I want to build on from his analysis:

The way Florio covered the NFL -- very bloggy, to be sure, but also in his technique of tone, style, frequency of updates and...yes...level of scoopage via tipsters -- directly correlates to his success and, presumably, NBC's interest in his type of coverage.

(1) That type of coverage had already started to become a big part of MSM sports coverage; will that accelerate? (2) Even if Florio writes exactly the same, there is suddenly a void under "indie NFL blog" -- anyone going to try to claim it?

Monday 06/15 A.M. Quickie:
Lakers, Penguins, Lee, Jrue, Bryce, More

Absolutely loaded SN column this morning, starting with this:

It's not just that Phil Jackson is the greatest coach of NBA history -- I'd argue he was that before last night, but Title No. 10 helps to provide a little oomph.

It is that his 10th title in the past 19 years means that it is Phil Jackson -- not Michael Jordan, not Hakeem, not Shaq, not Kobe, not Duncan -- whose "dynasty" reigns supreme in NBA history.

When we look back at the post-Bird/Magic Era of the NBA, which I would argue started in 1989 with the Pistons first title, if one person defines it, it is Phil Jackson.

Jackson transcended the Jordan Era through the Shaq Era through the Kobe Era (sorry, LeBron: Obviously not yet) -- the one consistent thing: Phil Jackson winning championships.

We can argue about what classifies as a dynasty, either historically or in this era of instant-history. But what seems inarguable is Phil Jackson's place in history.

Shaq's tweet to Kobe was amazing.
Joey Buss came off as a buffoon.
NBA Finals 2010: Lakers over Magic.

It might not be too high on the radar, but Bryce Harper skipping his final two years of high school to go to juco and, subsequently, be eligible for the MLB Draft next season is a HUGE deal. (So much so that I'll have a stand-alone post about it later today.)

I believe I was pretty early on the "Stephen Curry will go really really high in the draft" bandwagon. I think I cautiously started the bidding at "no less than 10th." Last week, I lowered that forecast to "no less than 5th." Now he's in the mix for No. 3?

Tons of MLB in today's column, too: Red Sox come out of interleague weekend as the favorites to win the World Series, taking 2 of 3 from the defending champs in Philly... Billingsley has emerged as one of the Top 3 pitchers in the NL this season... Hey, welcome back, Cliff Lee!... June '09 Rockies = September '07 Rockies... and More. (Ronny Paulino!)

Pleasepleaseplease don't let Brett Favre announce his return to the NFL on the Joe Buck Show premiere tonight...

I am not looking forward to the anti-BCS hysteria this week. Look: I'm with everyone else -- a playoff would be nice. I continue to insist that any playoff formats that are being discussed (say, anything less than one involving a minimum of 16 teams) will not stop the griping. (God, when will the SEC and Big 12 finally take my advice to secede and create a self-contained playoff to play each other for "best team in the country," if not "national champion.")

Tons more here, plus a ton of bonus posts today, including -- hopefully -- my wrap-up of the big sports-blog conference this past weekend in NYC. Drop by throughout the day.

-- D.S.