Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday 08/29 (Very) Quickie reasons to be concerned about Tom Brady's shoulder after Albert Haynesworth crushed it?

Albert Pujols game-winning walk-off HR: It's not that Pujols is merely the 2009 NL MVP in a runaway... or the best active player in baseball, again in a runaway... I think when it's all over we will realize he is a Top 5 player of all-time.

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' 1st-team offense just steamrolled the Cards last night (but Beanie Wells made his statement with 2 TDs)

Tim Lincecum rules: I officially clarify my "Cliff Lee for NL Cy" as an earnest bit of fun-ish cheerleading that has no basis in the reality that Tim Lincecum is the best pitcher in baseball... again.

Am I still thinking of '08 or '07 Scott Kazmir when I contend he's going to be the X-factor of the AL playoffs?

Brandon Marshall isn't worth the headaches... especially when your starting QB is Kyle Orton.

Anyone else watch that HS football game last night between Top 10 Smith (VA) and Venice (FL) on ESPNU? No? Featuring QB Phillip Sims (headed to Alabama) and QB Trey Burton (Florida)? No? Well, both looked good -- Sims looked particularly good. (Sure, you could say I need a life, but when you have two kids under the age of 3, you don't have much of one. Friday night TV is it!)

Will any punters just keep hitting the Dallas jumbotron, over and over, just to be a dick about the rule that says any punt that hits the jumbotron is replayed?

Who's watching LLWS today?

-- D.S.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Today on TimTeblog: Thamel Does Work

Today on, I am dissecting a double-shot of terrific work from Pete Thamel.

The New York Times writer -- for my money, the best college football reporter in the country -- has a feature on Tim Tebow's philanthropic efforts (the most extensive I have read anywhere) plus a huge Q&A that supported the story (but contains a lot more, including affirmation of my Patriots-will-draft-Tebow theory).

You will also find a follow-up to yesterday's piece about "How to Stop Tebow," highlighting Yahoo's Matt Hinton building on the point. (The key: Control the clock. Not as easy as in '07.)

And I try to deliver a "last word" about the ill-fated (but widely publicized) minor-league baseball "What Would Tebow Do?" Night.

I will leave you with a typically blunt Urban Meyer quote from Thamel's piece:

"Tim has come at the right time. I'm a father, and I want to give my kids something positive to watch. I think that's why Tim is the phenomenon that he is. Enough about steroids and Michael Vick; let's talk about Tim Tebow."

-- D.S.

Friday 08/28 Quickie: Vick, Barkley,
Kinsler, LLWS, Bucs, Piniella, More

I could take or leave the actual way Vick played last night -- number of snaps, where he lined up, any productivity (not that any of us could watch it live). I was looking for one leading indicator:

What would the Eagles fans do?

And the standing ovation Vick got was the ultimate symbolism of how relatively smoothly -- and incident-free -- his return to the NFL has been.

Once the fans start cheering, the protesters -- the bad memories -- are washed out. That leads today's SN column, but there is a lot more:

*Ian Kinsler: How was he not an All-Star starter again?

*Matt Barkley: True frosh is THAT good (or Corp is that mediocre)

(Trying to remember the last time a true freshman started for a Top 5 team -- I guess the question is whether that team that started a true freshman ended the season in the Top 5...)

*I'm a Byron Leftwich fan, but even I couldn't care less about the Bucs QB situation. (I was in a fantasy draft last night and the Bucs were a consistent and constant source of mockery.)

*LLWS: OK, now THAT was the game of the night last night. Who else will tune in for the US title and/or the LLWS championship game?

*One week from now, the college football season will be underway -- with that great late Thursday night game Oregon-Boise St -- and a week from tomorrow: It begins.

*For the record, my fantasy roster (obviously, you'd want to know who I had the chance to draft, but didn't, etc. And I picked 6th in a 14-team league with 16 slots per team.):

QB: Schaub (no backup)
RBs: Tomlinson, McFadden, McCoy, L. Washington, Coffee, M. Bush
WRs: Wayne, DeSean Jackson, Walter, Harvin, N. Washington, Bennett
TE: Boss
K: Folk
D: Seattle

(I intentionally waited on D until the last pick. I was the last in the league to draft a TE, very late, so I could stockpile RBs and WRs. I didn't pick a backup QB because I plan to start Schaub every week but the bye week, when I can pick someone up, and if he gets injured, I'm screwed anyway. Or, alternatively, I could use any of my depth at RB/WR to trade for a decent QB. My biggest problem will be figuring out who to sit and start at RB and WR. What happens when McCoy and Coffee start producing more than LT and McFadden?)

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Today on TimTeblog:
Best Ever Talk, Plus How To Stop Tebow

So this morning kicked off with me playing off SN's magazine cover story by Tebow about Tebow -- yes, I talked about the "Best Ever" discussion, but on TimTeblog, I went into Tebow's essay to explain why the reasons he came back -- "platform" and "history" -- are intrinsically tied together.

Then Stewart Mandel published a statistical analysis of why Tebow will likely end his college career as the greatest player ever. My reaction post highlighted that "Greatest Ever" is not simply stats -- and even winning titles. There is a certain mythic quality we like in our GOATs.

Finally, I break down a terrific "How To Stop Tebow" column (by Andy Staples), which goes into the final play of the Ole Miss game. Ultimately, I think that was a fluke. (Not a fluke? Auburn's win in 2007, masterminded by Will Muschamp, now defensive coordinator of Texas. And so I build on Andy's column by signaling to cue ominous foreshadowing for the national-title match-up between Florida and Texas...)

Plus smaller two bonus posts:
*NFL Draft: Jags based on emotion vs. Pats based on analysis.
*Minor-league "Tim Tebow Night" cancelled!

Not bad for the Thursday 10 days before the first game...

This whole "Is Tebow the Greatest Ever?" meme is only going to become more of a thing. I promise I will (mostly) keep my Tebow comments to, and not put it on -- except when I'm promoting TimTeblog posts, apparently...

-- D.S.

Fantasy Football Draft ADP Question Answered

Thanks to everyone who emailed off of this morning's request for best available ADP rankings for fantasy football. The one I ended up liking the most was Fantasy Football Calculator -- among other reasons, because it allowed me to sort by 14-team leagues. But even the best ADP list can't help you if you do dumb things like draft Percy Harvin high because "how could I not?" (Kidding. Or am I? Longtime readers know that I love to draft rookie WRs and RBs with hidden upside.)

-- D.S.

Thursday 08/27 Quickie: Tebow, Vick,
Papi, Dodgers, Pitino, Pryor, Kennedy

I swear, I had no intention of leading today's SN column with Tebow -- I was saving that for next week, truth be told -- but led with a Tebow package, and the moment was here.

(If you are interested, I have a longer post about Tebow's SN first-person column here.)

It is the crux of -- and something you have seen a lot here over the last year -- but expanded for the "national" audience: Is Tim Tebow the greatest college player ever?

The answer: He's in the conversation, assuming things break a certain way this season. "A certain way" meaning, precisely, 14-0 and a national title.

Then he will have the team accomplishments, the individual accolades and -- of course -- the mythology (which is really the feature that distinguishes him from other GOAT contenders).

But -- and this wasn't in the SN argument, but probably should have been -- remember the cautionary tale of Matt Leinart, who entered the 2005 season with "GOAT" aspirations.

That USC team was as highly touted as this Florida team -- defending national champs, returning Heisman winner. I think 2009 Florida's defense and special teams, both of which have the potential to be the greatest units in college football history, were much better than USC's in 2005, but you get the idea.

Then: Leinart loses in the national title game, and all of a sudden, not only is Leinart NOT the GOAT, but Vince Young catapults past him and leaves not just a legacy of being better than Leinart on the all-time rankings, but makes a strong argument he should be at the very top.

That is the difference between 14-0 and 13-1 for Tim Tebow. We can all agree that Tebow is already an immortal in college football -- the fact that he is probably in the Top 5 all-time players conversation without playing a snap of his senior season surrounded by an all-time great team is pretty staggering. But "GOAT" demands a more exacting standard.

More you'll find in today's SN column:

*Vick tonight as most intriguing NFL preseason game ever. I can tell you what tomorrow's SN lead will be already, obviously.

*Watch out for the Red Sox. And the Dodgers showed they won't be rolled by the insurgent Rockies, either.

*Say this for Rick Pitino: In an era of genuflecting press conferences, Pitino's defiance was distastefully refreshing. And name-checking Ted Kennedy was ne plus ultra.

*Tebow aside, I am more than willing to say that Terrelle Pryor is the freakiest talent at QB I think any of us have ever seen. Tebow is a freak, obviously, but Pryor is a f-r-e-a-k. (USC-Ohio State is going to be tremendous, if Tressel is willing to turn Pryor into VY 2.0.)

*There's a link to a Christine Brennan column about Ted Kennedy's connection to sports that is terrific. I'm not saying that explains why we need newspapers -- the column is more easily found online than in a physical paper, obviously -- but it certainly speaks to the idea that you couldn't have written that column in the first hour after Kennedy died, in some sort of "instant history" way. I say something shallow like "Kennedy was a great Red Sox fan! He played football at Harvard!" Brennan actually goes out and reports -- and files the gold standard for Kennedy-sports takes.

Complete SN column here. More later.

Oh, and a favor: Later today, I have the first of a couple of fantasy football drafts. Need some help: Who has the ultimate (free) Average Draft Position rankings? I have found multiple versions of ADP lists, which are all fine, but no one who has aggregated all ADPs across Yahoo,, and all of the smaller fantasy-sports sites out there. Ideally, I can adjust based on my league teams (on the high side: 14). Can anyone point me to a great one?

-- D.S.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Preseason BlogPoll Top 25: Complete List

The official Preseason BlogPoll Top 25 is out. Poll administrator Brian Cook previews the Top 10. has the full list. MGoBlog has the individual ballots, including mine.

I will have a compare-and-contrast between the full BlogPoll and my ballot tomorrow. Just wanted to get you the preseason poll ASAP.

-- D.S.

Huffington Post Sports: What Will It Be?

It has been talked about for a few months now, but the Wrap has confirmation that Huffington Post Sports will launch in October.

So what might it look like and what will its impact on online sports media be?

Let's start with this: It is a natural vertical for HuffPo to expand into. They have a large audience that has come to rely on them for news -- sports is an extension of that. And there is money to be made from that.

HuffPo's aggregation system works ideally with sports, where there are a lot of sources but few places that put them all together. They can filter everything from ESPN to Deadspin, local newspapers to blogs. There is value to being a one-stop, source-agnostic shop for the big sports stories.

And don't discount HuffPo's expertise in search-engine optimization: On any given sports-news story, that is one less spot on the first page of Google News that won't be available to someone else -- whether that is ESPN or a newspaper or SEO-savvy Bleacher Report.

Beyond aggregation, HuffPo's editorial model of using unpaid contributors who want to use the platform to promote their expertise should translate smoothly to sports, where there is no end of "opinion" experts, law experts, business experts, social-media experts, fantasy experts and others who will be thrilled to trade promotion and affiliation for their contributions. That will help to create a pretty compelling mix of posts -- they don't need 200 great contributors; they need 5-10 great participants and a bunch of other people who drive incremental audience and tons of renewable inventory.

(Memo to Arianna and CEO Eric Hippeau: Off the top of my head, I would try to recruit Dave Zirin, Gabe Feldman, Justin Wolfers, Peter Casey, Jeff Ma and a bunch of others -- compelling writers all, across a range of subjects -- who seem to fit the HuffPo model. And find the HuffPo Sports version of Lawrence O'Donnell, the Huffington Post "contributor" who spends a fair amount of his day as a talking head on MSNBC. Find folks who can do TV on the big, "national" sports stories that hit the cable-news radar.)

One other thing to leverage: HuffPo's new "HuffPo Social" relationship with Facebook. If they can translate that to sports content, they may create a new toehold with sports fans via Facebook. (Though you have to presume every other major sports site is planning something similar for launch sometime between now and the end of 2010.)

Where HuffPo gets it is that it was built from the ground up to fit the emerging cycles and systems and rhythms of the Web, whether they point that at politics or entertainment or tech or sports. In that way, it allows the site to play in a way that others won't, because they can't.

The major sports sites have admirably ramped their innovation, particularly in the last 12-18 months, with presumably much more on the horizon. But none are set up to digest sports like HuffPo can do it. (That's not to say there aren't lots of ways to serve fans.)

Will sports fans embrace it? Throw out a portion that won't use Huffington Post regardless of its content -- even if the brand was hidden and they found the interface valuable. Still: That leaves a lot of sports fans. Casual fans on HuffPo for other stories will be lured by HuffPo's take on the "big" sports stories that break into the mainstream conversation (see Google Trends).

Maybe the approach works best with slightly more than casual fans (ID them as "busy fans") who want a scan of the big stories throughout the day, agnostic about where those stories originate. (In addition to those fans going to or Yahoo blogs or their favorite team blog on SB Nation or checking their fantasy team.)

Avid fans are always happy to add another site to their mix -- if that site is adding value to their sports diet. By being source-agnostic, building on HuffPo's "big topic page" strategy and bringing in engaging voices as contributors, they might break into that diet.

Sports media may sometimes seem like an ESPN hegemony, but even ESPN editors will tell you that it is actually absurdly competitive. Not in the same way that cable news is competitive or political coverage is competitive, but especially online: In addition to the other major sites trying to compete with ESPN head-on, there are a lot of nimble, fiesty smaller players trying to fill niches, often trailed by fast-followers.

The key is to actively NOT try to be, NOT try to be Deadspin, NOT try to replicate Y! Sports Blogs and NOT try to be SB Nation. Let those sites win their categories -- partner with them (see's local partnership with... Huffington Post Local). There is a very compelling space in the middle of those cornerstone properties. Perhaps not for long, but for now -- and it's not like HuffPo would be starting from scratch.

Don't dismiss HuffPo as an online sports news competitor, just because that isn't what they have done before. If HuffPo has shown anything, it is that the company is VERY good at generating buzz and getting people to talk about (and visit) the site -- 7.8 million people last month prove it.

Think of it another way -- like PTI: Yes, one big secret to the show's success is the cult of personalities around Tony Kornheiser and Mike Wilbon. But the other big secret is the innovative platform the show was built on.

Similarly, don't get bogged down on "What does Arianna Huffington know about sports?" The site has transcended her personal brand, in large part to a platform that seems instantly ready to be directd into becoming a powerful player in online sports media.

-- D.S.

Wednesday 08/26 Quickie: MLB Races,
Vick, Rockies, Johan, Wagner, Oklahoma St

Yes, it is a calm-before-the-storm news morning -- particularly in NFL and college football -- and based on last night's results, it felt like a signal moment in MLB's playoff races.

It's not necessarily the "end" of the dog days of August or the "start" of the playoff races, but it seems like an extreme confluence of Important Results (and ideal SN column lead today):

*The Rockies beat the Dodgers on a dramatic walk-off, now 2 GB.
*The Rangers show they can hang with the biggest boy in the AL.
*The Tigers say "Why not us?" by beating the playoff-locked Angels.
*The Phillies suddenly look vulnerable -- at least Brad Lidge does.
*Don't forget about the Cardinals: Adam Wainwright wins NL-leading 15th.

All that, and Billy Wagner is on the Red Sox. I don't know if that will actually HELP the Red Sox, but whatever post-ASB problems Boston seemed to have, they appear to be working them out and ready to charge. And, of course, if you discount the Rays -- 3 GB for the AL Wild Card -- you're crazy. They are as "playoff-race-toughened" as any team in the AL.

More you'll find:
*More on this tomorrow, but Mike Vick's Eagles debut makes tomorrow night's Eagles-Jags game the most intriguing NFL preseason game of all time. (Can you name another?)

*SN picks Oklahoma State No. 10, which is just about right. Too bad they are the 3rd-best team in their own insane division. (They do represent the best shot anyone has of beating Texas.)

*More CFB: The Big East is down, yes, but I still believe in Cincinnati... and how can you not want to watch Noel Devine? And the Pac-10 may have its best shot at dethroning USC this season -- and it's on Oregon to do it.

Perhaps the biggest reason I am so engaged in baseball right now -- on the cusp of the CFB and NFL seasons -- is that my fantasy baseball team is in playoff contention for the first time in my fantasy-baseball career. I am currently in 7th with a 6-team playoff field, one game behind No. 6 -- who I play next week. I am in a vicious head-to-head battle this week where I will be lucky to split 5-5, setting up a "play-in"/virtual play-off next week -- which, if I can't make the playoffs, at least will be a de facto playoff. Sorry for the obsessive rantings about my team, but I came into this season committed to not finishing in last, like I almost always do. I'm on the cusp of a Rays-like turnaround.

Complete SN column here. More later, including an analysis of the newest big competitor in the online-sports space.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Today on TimTeblog: Why Do Fans Have An Allergy To Certain "Best Ever" Arguments?

What you'll find today on TimTeblog -- more than just Tebow talk!

*Why are people so resistant to "Best Ever" label?

This post above is actually kind of a fascinating topic, and I'd love your take on it. Forget the "too premature!" argument for a sec; are fans allergic to "best ever" after this decade of hyper-instant history? Michael Jordan was 11 years ago, folks.

Sure, you're willing to say it about Phelps and Bolt -- even Federer -- but you don't really care about those sports. What about college football? What about baseball, where in Albert Pujols we might just be watching the greatest player of all time?

*Kirk Herbstreit isn't fazed by the "best ever" talk.

*This is the best visual summary of Tebow I have ever seen.

*Sporting Blog on Tebow (NOT by me)

*Tebow's back is fine. His shoulder is fine. Keep walkin'.

-- D.S.

Tuesday 08/25 Quickie: Plax, Lee, Rox,
Rivers, Beasley, Tebow, GA Tech, Delaware

If the Plaxico Burress story was good for anything, it was the comedy gold that his "original sin" was wearing sweatpants out on the town.

Beyond being a hilarious fashion faux-pas, it stands to reason that no sweatpants, no loose waistband; no loose waistband, no gun slippage; no gun slippage, no accidental shooting self.

And now Plax wants to rewrite history: The biggest news -- at least for me in today's SN column -- coming out of his ESPN interview last night was that he insists he wasn't wearing sweatpants.

But go back to that chain above: None of it makes sense if he was just wearing normal pants. And it is certainly 1000 percent less funny. So I choose not to believe the convicted felon.

Yet I understand why, of all things, he would want to try to change our lasting memory of him being that he wore sweatpants to a nightclub. A legacy is a legacy.

More you'll find in today's column:

*Cliff Lee for NL Cy: You can't slow me down.

*How fun is the NL Wild Card race between Colorado and SF?

*Philip Rivers: Worth the money? Oh, probably. He's a Top 5 QB in the NFL.

*Shaun Hill: Placeholder until Bradford or McCoy.
(I even go so far as to say that McCoy could be the next coming of Joe Montana. ?!?!)

*Michael Beasley: Pot in the NBA? YOU DON'T SAY!
(Really: Pot in the NBA is like HGH in the NFL -- you just take it for granted that it's there.)

*Tim Tebow's back is not only fine, but his injured shoulder -- that no one really knew about -- feels as good for him as it has since 2006. So there's that.

*It's a sad day as it looks like single-game sports gambling in Delaware is dead. (The irony is that I'm not even much of a gambler -- I just liked the IDEA of sports gambling on the East Coast.)

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fanbase Launches With Some Fanfare, $5M
(Verdict: Unimpressed. Where's the Need?)

Quick take on Fanbase: If VCs are handing out $5 million investments (and the New York Times dishing out plum features) for an idea that is basically the Nth version of "Wikipedia for sports!" I would like to know where I might send my pitch for my own derivative product.

As a consumer, I'm just not seeing how this target of content -- all teams ever! all players ever!-- is being underserved by Wikipedia, the dominant player. And as a potential content producer, Wikipedia offers no barrier to entry to create a page on even the most obscure team or player.

(Few other thoughts: (1) If there is going to be a non-Wikipedia standard in sports information, it will come through ESPN-DB. (2) Allowing users to post YouTube clips is a recipe for the leagues to demand they are taken down, leaving you with non-working links. (3) Ummm: Is there a revenue model?)

-- D.S.

Monday 08/24 Quickie: Bruntlett, Smoltz,
Daniel, Cowboys, Rockies, Florida, More

So many storylines this morning that I had to lead today's SN column asking who the weekend's biggest winner was.

It really has to be Bruntlett, if only for the novelty. Not just an unassisted triple play -- which is more rare than a perfect game -- but a game-ending UTP, which is more rare than Halley's Comet. (That it took can't-go-lower Mets fans and actually made them say, "Oh COME ON." was a bonus.)

But a fast finisher was John Smoltz, left for (career) dead a week ago, suddenly looking like he is in his mid-20s, with a scoreless 5 IP with 9 Ks for the Cards. Meanwhile, the Red Sox are on the verge of trading for Billy Wagner, and their current bullpen is kind of pissed about it.

Finally, there is Chase Daniel, maligned as the prototype college spread QB who could NEVER play in the pros -- with that big 2-TD weekend for the Redskins. On the other end, you have Jerry Jones, who personally decided to set the height of the enormous jumbotron at the $1.2 billion Cowboys Stadium at a height that a punter can easily reach. [Shakes head sadly.]

There is a TON in today's column, takes on all the storylines above, plus more, about Florida (and Tebow's back), Rich Rodriguez, Lou Holtz, Scott Feldman, Jake Fox, Rex Ryan, Penn State, Jim Rice and More.

Don't forget to sign up for the Daily Quickie Readers groups of the Pigskin (NFL) Pick 'Em and the College Pick 'Em!

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

On Lou Holtz, Notre Dame and the BCS

Give Lou Holtz credit: On the day the AP Top 25 came out, he dominated college football talk with a simple prediction that Florida would play Notre Dame in the BCS title game.

Half his logic was not half-bad: Notre Dame's schedule is so easy that it could, in theory, cruise to an 11-1 regular-season and enough Coaches/Harris mojo to be BCS No. 2.

Half his logic was absurd, and it has nothing to do with Notre Dame: A 1-loss Notre Dame would have to beat out an unbeaten Texas/Oklahoma winner, USC, Penn State, Ohio State et al.

In other words, if any (BCS-league) team besides Florida goes unbeaten, they will be the clear choice for the 2nd BCS title-game spot, no matter HOW good ND's record might be.

And, chances are (despite recent history) one of those teams -- I think it will be Texas and probably one other (Penn State) -- will go unbeaten and make the BCS title-game pairing easy.

And it won't include Notre Dame.

But kudos to Holtz for figuring out how to take over the late-August college football debate -- even if everyone is saying he is a lunatic. He's not paid to be right -- just provocative.

(Meanwhile, here is my preseason Top 25, predicting a Florida-Texas BCS title game.)

By the way: Florida being the biggest preseason AP poll favorite ever is one more data point for the "Best Team Ever?" debate, if -- IF -- the Gators can win out this season.)

-- D.S.

Sunday 08/23 (Very) Quickie

Morning plan: Watching Spurs at a nearby bar that is a NYC home of Tottenham fans. If it's going to happen ANY time, this would be the moment, wouldn't it?

NFL: You go, Jay Cutler... Do the Dolphins have a swine flu epidemic?... Josh McDaniels is going to be feeling the heat this week... Not a great game for Matt Stafford... Let the "Chase Daniel" bandwagon begin in DC...

If Rockies-Giants was Phillies-Mets, the NL Wild Card would be the lead sports story every night. Great win for the Rox last night.

Charlie Haeger! If you love the knuckleballers, this was a big moment.

Red Sox finally punish the Yankees -- will this turn their final six weeks around?

Big win for the Rays (Pena: 2 HR) in a WC-level match-up with Texas.

Indiana to put Bob Knight into its Hall of Fame: I am not a Knight fan and his ending at IU was not pretty, but this is appropriate.

Tim Tebow may have minor back issues (expect the NFL draftniks to hop all over that in about 5 months), but Urban insists it's no biggie and he will be at full strength tomorrow. So no worries.

-- D.S.