Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Ahead to 2011

Prepared a really long post talking all about 2011 and Quickish, but I think I'm going to save it for the Quickish launch in 10 days.

I'll leave it at this: It's easy to know what I'm looking ahead to in 2011 -- the launch of Quickish, then, as I just tweeted, "Go. Go. Go." Full throttle. It's a simple new year's resolution.

Can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to having you all be a part of it. It's going to be incredible. (One last pitch in 2010: Stay updated on it by liking on Facebook or following on Twitter.)

Otherwise, there are a few other things in the sports world I'm looking forward to:

*Will Muschamp at Florida.
*The Onion's new "SportsDome" TV show
*Jonah Keri's new book "Extra 2%"
*Heat not winning the NBA title.
*And one I'm dreading: The NFL and NBA labor mess.

Beyond that, the sheer unpredictability that makes every year so unique and fun.

Looking forward to another great year with you. Here's to a happy, healthy new year for you and your family.

12/31 New Year's Eve Quickie

Happy new year (in advance)! Wow, it's been a fascinating 2010 in sports (and life). Here's to a fun and safe New Year's Eve for all of you.

It's a shock but not a surprise that UConn's women lost at Stanford. If any team was going to do bust the streak, it was going to be the Cardinal at Maples. I just didn't think they'd do it.

(Question: Doesn't this kind of mitigate any chance Stanford has of beating UConn if/when they meet in the Final Four? Hard to see Stanford beating UConn twice in one season.)


Yesterday's CFB Bowl Insanity: The end of that Tennessee-UNC Music City Bowl was ridiculous. I actually feel bad for Tennessee fans (rather than the schadenfreude of the LSU loss).

Then there was the end of the Syracuse-K-State game, where the K-State receiver was flagged for a penalty for saluting after the late TD that brought KSU within 2. It pushed the would-be game-tying 2-point conversion back to the 17-yard line and cost KSU any reasonable chance at tying the game.

Was the call right? By the letter of the rule, yes. But it is so inconsistently applied that it was best left as a no-call, especially given the timing. (Then again, players should know better -- and if they don't, then the coaches haven't done their job preparing them.) I personally don't find post-TD celebrations offensive in the least, and so I have a high tolerance for gestures before I'd think throwing a flag was appropriate.

(Both games eclipsed what should have been a pretty notable win by Washington over Nebraska, especially considering how badly NU pounded UW back in September.)

Four bowls today, headlined by Notre Dame-Miami in the mid-afternoon. It's not what it once was, but we'll watch, of course, because it's ND vs. Miami. Nostalgia!

(More: USF-Clemson -- dud. Georgia-UCF -- upset watch! South Carolina-Florida State in primetime -- SC, jumped by New Year's Day bowls, should roll. They were very good in '10.)


New Year's Day Bowl Mania! Six bowls tomorrow, which I'll try to summarize as shallowly as possible:

*Will Northwestern get its first bowl win ever? (Remember: NU regularly ends up in some of the most exciting games of the season.)

*An hour into a Northwestern bowl game I would usually watch in its entirety, Florida kicks off against Penn State, so you know what's happening there. It's Urban Meyer's Florida finale -- frankly, it is a bigger deal that it is Steve Addazio's Florida finale. One more chance to enjoy that ineffective dive play, Gator fans.

*What a disappointing finish for the defending champs. Remember when Alabama's place in the national title game was a presumption? That's why college football is so amazing.

*Is this Rich Rodriguez's final game at Michigan? (If Michigan was smart, it would pay RichRod his reduced buyout -- but only having already backroom-secured Jim Harbaugh as its next coach.)

*The day's headliner is the Rose Bowl: Wisconsin -- which had a pretty awesome year -- against TCU, trying to win one for all the non-BCS teams out there (not to mention prove its bonafides as a team worthy of a national-champ vote or two). Wisco doesn't offer much of a strategic challenge: TCU simply has to stop the most punishing run game in the country.

*UConn-Oklahoma's Fiesta Bowl is as lame as all the UConn fans who aren't going know it will be. TCU's place as the Big East's automatic-qualifying BCS bowl champ can't happen soon enough.


NFL Week 17 Preview: For all of you whose teams play their final game of the season, I'm sorry. Even watching your pathetic team stumble not into the playoffs is better than no football at all.

I love that the weekend's headliner is the "playoff play-in" game for the NFC West title between the Seahawks and Rams, which could leave us with our first-ever sub-.500 division champ, an outcome I am rooting for hard.

Otherwise, it's a handful of teams still playing for a playoff spot -- or playoff position. But most of the league is phoning it in. The good news: The NFL playoffs start next Saturday.

More NFL: Sal Alosi and the Jets fined $100K; Brett Favre fined $50K. Gotcha. (Actually, I suspect that the Jets are guilty for the same thing Favre is: "Misleading" the league. Do you think the Jets actually copped to anything more than the "lone bad actor," as far-fetched as that seems? You bet. In sports, obfuscation has always been the optimal strategy.


More CFB: Quick thought about the Ohio State 5 apparently committing to return next season: If the presumptive threat was that there is no way Tressel would play them in the game if they didn't say they were returning (no matter how much pressure the Sugar Bowl CEO puts on the school), what would be their incentive to tip that hand now? What's the punishment if they say they are coming back, play in the game, then declare for the draft a week later?

As a nominal Maryland football fan, I heartily endorse Mike Leach as the next coach, if only because he would make the Terps the most entertaining/telegenic football team on the East Coast. If you're not winning a national title -- and Maryland most definitely is not -- then you might as well be fun to watch.


NHL Winter Classic: My favorite NHL event of the year -- and, in my opinion, the best idea in the history of the sport. That it pits the league's two biggest stars -- and had the promotion of HBO's incredible 24/7 series -- only makes it bigger. Shame the weather might mess things up. It's scheduled for a 1 p.m. start, but it could get pushed into the evening. At worst, it gets moved to Sunday. No problem: Fans will still tune in. (Yes, even on Sunday, against the NFL.)


Baseball Hall of Fame ballots are due today. Here's hoping for a good result for Bert Blyleven and Tim Raines, among others. For the record, I am part of the camp that would vote Bagwell in.

Again, best wishes for a happy, healthy and satisfying 2011 to all of you. Huge stuff ahead. Posting all weekend.

-- D.S.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

12/30 Quickie: Favre, KG, K, Bowls

Per yesterday's end-of-2010 post, a bit of unexpected extra time with my kids this morning was (more than) worth the late post. Anyway, as they say: Legggooo...

Brett Favre "punished" with $50K fine: Without diminishing the underlying gravity of sexual harrassment, Favre lying to the league should have been taken by the league as worse than the original offense.

KG injured: It goes without saying that without KG and Rondo, the Celtics are not a contender. However! All that matters is that they are healthy by April and stay healthy through June. It's no sure thing, but if they are -- again: big "if" -- they will win the title.

Coach K wins No. 880, putting him alone at No. 2 on the all-time wins list -- with no question he will pass Bobby Knight early next season. You can hate Duke and still recognize that K is the best men's college hoops coach of all time.

Sugar Bowl CEO influenced Ohio State players' suspension: My favorite part is how this bowl CEO was so open -- even bragging -- about it. That is the clarity that comes with no misunderstanding about greed driving your decisions. Where Ohio State and the Big Ten and the NCAA get tripped up is in the haze of their own cynical opacity.

CFB Bowling Yesterday: Maryland sends out Fridge with a big win (really hope they get Gus Malzahn)... Illinois wins a bowl for the first time since '99 (Zooked!)... Oklahoma State showcases OC Dana Holgorsen's monster offense one last time before he leaves for WVU.

CFB Bowling Today: Quadruple-header! Noon (Army-SMU in the Bell Helicopter Bowl)... 3:20 (Kansas State-Syracuse at Yankee Stadium)... 6:40 (UNC-Tennessee in the Music City Bowl)... 10 (Nebraska-Washington in the Holiday Bowl, which annually produces high scores).

Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot Week, Cont'd: Joe Posnanski has been killing it this week, and today's post is the best yet -- about Jeff Bagwell. Baseball HOF voters coming out against Bagwell -- with some really terrible arguments -- are having their worst moment (well, worst moment since not covering the steroids story to begin with).

More NBA: Another 40-plus game for D-Wade (45) and another win for the Heat... the Lakers get off the schneid... Tyreke Evans!

Posting a look-ahead to 2011 around noon-ish, and I'll be posting tomorrow to preview the weekend -- hope you'll drop by to check it out.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Looking Back on 2010

Maybe this is a function of being a parent of young kids and the founder of a start-up, but things were fairly simplified for me in 2010:

*Be the best spouse and dad I could be. (A task that where -- probably, but not always, for the best -- there always seems to be vast room for improvement.)

*Work as hard as I've ever worked to get my company founded and positioned to succeed. And it's exciting as hell to know that as hard as we've worked this year, things hit another level when it launches in two weeks.

Both those things have a million small pieces that go into them, but there is a clarity that comes with an overarching goal.

Looking back to this time last year, I wanted to start my own company, but it sure seemed like a long way from intention to execution. But things are positioned to be amazing in 2011.

I cannot overstate how much I appreciate you continuing to want to connect with me here, hear what I have to say and support the effort.

And I probably can't overstate how much I will want and need your support next year with Quickish. More on that tomorrow.

As for sports -- let's not lose sight of that, right? -- 2010 continued to affirm something I have experienced since the old Quickie days: Just when I think it can't get better, it gets better.

The Decision was perhaps the pivotal sports event of the year -- and a complete debacle -- but consider the impact. Who said sports always has to be feel-good stories like the Saints winning the Super Bowl, which I'd rank as "1A" among the top stories of the year.

Looking at it from a macro perspective, you could argue that despite the uncertainty in the economy -- and maybe partly because of it -- sports have never been more popular.

The NFL with record ratings. Same with college football. Same with the NBA. And my god: The World Cup.

I try to steer clear of meta discussions about TV ratings and sports business, but at the very least, let's use the audience numbers as a proxy for enthusiasm. If you don't like TV ratings, you can swap in online attention. Sports have never mattered more.

I already went through my favorite sports moments of the year. The real exercise is to think back and ID the ones that immediately come to mind: The Decision (obviously), the World Cup goal by Landon Donovan and -- weirdly -- that buzzer-beating miss by Gordon Hayward in the NCAA Tournament title game is seared in my mind.

This fall is kind of a blur -- Quickish work was all-consuming, but there was enough left over for me to feel epic disappointment, week-in-and-week-out, by the performance of Florida football. Believe it or not, I renewed my optimism each week that they would win, making the awful play and brutal loss all the more devastating. I would have been better off assuming the worst; I couldn't. It was the worst experience I have ever had as a fan: Sisyphean. (Sisyfan?)

Our memories of a sports year are a combination of the intensely personal and the intensely universal -- it's not just that there is room for both. There HAS to be both.

Sports fandom can't just be "my team." Too much of the experience is the communal -- you can love your team, but still appreciate Butler or the World Cup or the pain of Cavs fans or the elation of SF Giants fans.

But sports fandom can't just be "what everyone is talking about." That's the place I've made my career, obviously, but you need something that is yours, a uniqueness to your fandom -- some combination of allegiance to team, player, perspective, time commitment, media diet... it all combines to make your experience as a fan...yours.

I think it's both, and this year didn't just affirm that, but -- as you'll see -- I'm willing to stake my career on it.

Hope you enjoyed the sports year -- and the whole year -- as much as I did.

Coming tomorrow: Looking ahead to 2011.

-- D.S.

12/29 Quickie: Eagles, Spurs, Bowls

Well, two days late, the Eagles blew it. With a chance to put themselves in a position to win the No. 2 seed in the NFC -- and that 1st-round bye, not to mention home-field advantage in the Division round -- the listless Eagles choked at home to the Joe Webb-led Vikings.

Joe Webb Bandwagon!
(Although it's clear that if Favre can go in Week 17's season/career finale, he will start and play -- as he should, obviously. We all need closure with this.)

By the way, I think that ends any chance Mike Vick had of upending Tom Brady for the league MVP award. Vick will have to content himself with earning the starting NFC QB nod in the Pro Bowl -- a combination of fan vote plus peer/coach vote that should feel as meaningful as an MVP award... even if the Pro Bowl game itself is pretty meaningless.

NBA Last Night: Are the Spurs the team to beat in the West? It's hard to count out the Lakers until another team has won that 4th game against them in a playoff series, but through two months of the 10-11 NBA season, the Spurs sure look like the best team in the conference, affirming it with a head-to-head win over the Lakers last night.

(Meanwhile, without Dirk, the Mavs were in trouble, losing to the Raptors. In Miami, D-Wade had 40 in another Heat win over the Knicks. It's not just LeBron who lights them up.)

CFB: JoePa on board for 2011. Back in the mid-decade when Penn State was reeling, I used to be with the "Oh, why doesn't JoePa retire already?" crowd, but since then I have done a 180: JoePa can do what he wants, and I kind of get a kick out of his enthusiasm to keep going.

Bowls last night: Wins for NC State (OK State OC Dana Holgorsen can't get to Morgantown fast enough) and Iowa (name to know: Iowa frosh RB Marcus Coker, who had 219 rushing yards).

Three bowls on tap today -- starting at 2:15 and going straight through until 1 in the morning, if that's your bag: At 2:15, the Military Bowl (East Carolina vs. Maryland, which appears to be zeroing in on a new coach)... at 6-ish, Illinois vs. Baylor in the Texas Bowl, which should be a points bonanza... at 9:15, Oklahoma State vs. Arizona in the Alamo Bowl, which should be an even bigger shoot-out.

CBB: As usual, Wisconsin (which beat Minnesota last night) is better than anyone thinks they are.

MLB Hot Stove: Is Andy Pettitte going to retire? (As this is Hall of Fame voting week, it begs a question: Is Pettitte a Hall of Famer? I think by the time he is up for it, the standards for pitchers -- particularly related to career wins -- will have been impacted by the quant-leaning community, and he will get in, a combination of longevity, starring in the Yankees dynasty and his performance in notably big games in the playoffs.)

NHL: Crosby's scoring streak is up to 25 games. Can't wait for the next episode of HBO's 24/7 tonight -- it really is the best piece of NHL programming I've ever seen. (A nice complement to the Winter Classic, which is the best marketing innovation in the history of hockey.)

-- D.S.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

12/28 Quickie: TNF, Saints, Wusses

Forget the debate over the 18-game NFL season for a second -- when tonight's make-up "Tuesday Night Football" game gets seismic TV ratings, why wouldn't the NFL seriously consider creating a weekly Tuesday night game, to join the Monday night and (late-season) Thursday night editions?

Overkill? Not if you watch the out-sized success of the Sunday night and Monday night games. Fans can't get enough.

So consider how much money a network would be willing to pay to have throttle-the-comp, defy-the-DVR programming that would almost assuredly "win" Tuesday nights?

Fans would love it. TV networks would love it. Advertisers would love it. (Thus, the league would love it.) It makes too much sense NOT to try more aggressively.


MNF: Saints upend Falcons. Now, on the one hand, the Falcons had little motivation to do anything but avoid injury. On the other hand, it is hard to now simply assume that home-field advantage for the Falcons in the playoffs means they will coast to the two wins they need to win the NFC. Meanwhile, the Saints needed (and got) a gritty win on the road that might give them all the momentum they need to make a repeat run in the NFC playoffs.

More TNF: Are we "wusses" for not playing the Eagles-Vikings game in a blizzard on Sunday night? That's what Pennsylvania governor/uber-Eagles fan Ed Rendell thinks. Yes, they probably could have played the game on Sunday -- and it would have been a spectacle -- but way more ticket-holders will get to see the game tonight. Is that so bad?

Brett Favre Watch: He won't play. Well, let's hedge that -- he PROBABLY won't play. But, of course, you never know.

CFB Bowling Tonight: Champs Sports Bowl (West Virginia vs. NC State) and the Insight Bowl (Missouri vs. Iowa). Both are kind of meh, honestly.

LeBron claims he doesn't know what "contraction" means when he said that the Nets and T'wolves should be, y'know, contracted. LeBron is either a dope -- or thinks we are.

NBA Last Night: The Mavs got a big win over the Thunder, but Dirk went down with a knee injury. Needless to say, that's a big deal.

NBA Tonight: Knicks at Heat and Lakers at Spurs are the headliners. Miami should throttle the Knicks in a redux of last week. The Lakers are coming off that Xmas Day loss to Miami, and the Spurs are still smarting from last week's shellacking in Orlando. (And yet both remain the Top 2 teams in the West.)

More: The NBA had its best ratings ever for the Christmas Day games. So much for the complaints about overkill.

CBB: Pitt staked a claim as the best team in the Big East with a win over Top 10 rival UConn, their only meeting of the regular season.

MLB: Lots of talk heading into Friday's deadline for Baseball Hall of Fame voters to submit their ballots. The most intriguing, as always, is Bert Blyleven. More:

*Jack Morris is most notable for a single game (Game 7 of the 1991 World Series), as well as being the crux of the "You can't vote for Morris if you don't vote for Blyleven" argument.

*Robbie Alomar will likely get in. Tim Raines SHOULD get in -- and ultimately will, I think.

*Mark McGwire will get closer -- enough that "Will McGwire get in?" will again become a topic of conversation.

More later. Have to put together my end-of-year lists....

-- D.S.

Monday, December 27, 2010

12/27 Quickie: NFL Playoff Scenarios

Gotta love NFL playoff scenarios. The AFC is pretty clear-cut: The Patriots are winning the conference title anyway. The only open slot is the AFC South, which is the Colts for the taking with a win next week (which they'll get). No, really, does it really matter? The Pats are going to roll all the way, anyway.

The NFC is much more fascinating: The Packers, Giants and Bucs are vying for the final Wild Card spot. And the Seahawks and Rams are playing with the tantalizing chance that we'll see our first-ever sub-.500 division winner.

Then there is Philly trying to keep pace with the Bears to earn that key first-round bye (plus home-field in the Divisional Round). We'd have clarity, if not for the NFL's decision to postpone the snowed-out game until Tuesday.

(It's the NFL's first Tuesday game since 1946, a bit of novelty that will surely set viewing records on top of what was already a record-breaking season for primetime games.)

The bottom line is that the NFL is so much better off when meaningful games happen in the final week of the regular season.

More notes from NFL Week 16:

*Fantasy Football Championship Week: If you started Josh Freeman, you deserved to win. If you started LeGarrette Blount, you deserved to win. And if you started both, you deserve some sort of Fantasy GM of the Year award.

(How wild that many leagues won't be decided until late Tuesday night?)

*Only the 2010 Jets could lose -- giving up 38, no less -- yet still qualify for the playoffs in the same game.

*The Giants sure don't LOOK like a team that is worthy of making the playoffs, do they? (Hard to watch that head-to-head with the Packers and not think the Pack more worthy.)

*Tim Tebow. Allow a moment for triumphalism after Tebow led the Broncos on two 4th-quarter TD drives (both 70+ yards) for the comeback win. Plus 300 yards passing. And bringing the total number of TDs he has accounted for this season to 8 (in 2 GS + 13 other snaps).

*And yet Sam Bradford, who has the Rams on the cusp of a playoff spot, will surely run away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. (As he should. But can we get a little love for Tebow from the nay-sayers?)

*Tom Brady may or may not beat out Mike Vick for league MVP (he probably will), but he will finish the season with the best mark ever for TD-to-INT ratio.

*Norv Turner should be fired at the end of the season. So should Jeff Fisher. And, for blowing it at home and almost surely costing his team a playoff spot, Jack Del Rio. (That Gary Kubiak will be fired -- and likely hired in Denver the next day -- is a given, right?)

*Mike Singletary would have been on that list -- but he might not even make it to next week. Needless to say, he's as good as axed.

*You have to feel good for the Lions finishing so strong.

*Tonight: Saints at Falcons in the Monday Night Football season finale. The defending champs against the presumptive favorites to win the NFC this year. I'm going to be a sucker for my "pick-the-champs-to-repeat" thing until the bitter end. God, the Pats are going to throttle whoever the NFC offers up in the Super Bowl, aren't they? I'm steeling myself already.


*Rangers get Brandon Webb: This barely qualifies as a consolation prize from losing Cliff Lee. (Did I say "barely?" I meant "doesn't.")

*Bowling tonight: AdvoCare V100 Indepedence Bowl, featuring Air Force and Georgia Tech, which should give triple-option fetishists a thrill.

*NBA Weekend Recap: Everyone still hates the Heat. It's just that they are clearly the team to beat. That said: It's a far different thing to beat the Lakers in December than in June.

*RIP, Bud Greenspan.

The countdown is on to the Quickish launch. Please "like" the Facebook page and/or follow the Twitter feed to get the latest info (including beta-testing invites in advance of launch.)

-- D.S.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday (Very) Quickie

My default is to not put much stock into the NBA regular season, particularly match-ups between top teams -- the playoffs are an entirely different game.

But it's hard not to see at least some symbolism in the Heat going into Staples Center and thoroughly beating the Lakers. Still: Let's see them do it in June.

(Meanwhile, on paper, the Magic beating the Celtics was impressive -- but the C's were without their best player and MVP, Rajon Rondo. Again: Let's see the Magic beat Boston with Rondo.)

I loved the shoe stuff that went on -- yes, even the Lakers' Grinch-colored Kobe sneaks. But I particularly liked the Thunder all wearing special-edition yellow Durant models. (Durant celebrated the occasion with a season-high 44.)

NFL Week 16 today: Good luck to everyone competing for fantasy championships. Here in NYC, we're buckling down for snowpocalypse.

More later.

-- D.S.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Saturday (Christmas) Quickie

Merry Christmas, one and all. I have watched parts of at least 4 airings of "A Christmas Story." And, yes, I think I'm burning out.

NBA on Christmas Day: My favorite NBA tradition (sorry, Phil Jackson and LeBron) and the most popular day of NBA of the year.

LeBron spiced things up by supporting contraction -- and the loss of jobs for his fellow players -- which should add a layer of enmity to his duel with the Lakers (Derek Fisher is president of the players' union).

Meanwhile, the Knicks are relevant on Christmas Day for the first time in forever. The Garden should be rocking at noon. (And Celtics-Magic will be a fun one, too.)

Ho, ho, ho: I'm inclined not to obliterate Renardo Sidney over this fight with a teammate -- on top of everything else. He simply was a guy who should have skipped college altogether to play in the D-League until he was draft-eligible.

Mike Vick would pick himself for MVP: I appreciate his candor -- and I agree with him. (Although I totally understand the case for Tom Brady.)


Enjoy your days. More later.

-- D.S.

Friday, December 24, 2010

12/24 Quickie: Ohhh...Fuuudge

Can't help it: My favorite Christmas tradition is watching "A Christmas Story." Over and over.

If you are celebrating, here's to the merriest of Christmases to you and your family. If you aren't, enjoy the Chinese food and movies. Forward...

Steelers crush Panthers: As expected. Looking ahead to Week 16: Good luck to everyone competing for a fantasy championship this weekend.

Weekend's Best: Revolves around New York -- Jets/Bears and, more importantly, Giants/Packers. Let's also keep an eye on the mess in the NFC West.

LeBron hates the NBA labor movement: He publicly supported contraction (and thus the loss of jobs for his fellow players), an odd position for the league MVP.

(It's particularly bad timing heading into tomorrow's slate of Christmas Day games, annually the NBA's biggest regular-season day of the year, headlined by Heat-Lakers.)

Magic over Spurs: If they can do that, no excuses for Orlando not to make a strong push to win the East -- at least get to the Finals. (Would love to see Orlando-Miami in the semis.)

Ohio State vs. the NCAA: Let me get this straight -- these 5 players are suspended for the first 5 games of 2011, but they can play in the bowl game? NCAA hypocrisy writ large.

San Diego State over Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl: Only relevant to Florida fans who were watching, because SDSU's OC is a contender to be Florida's new OC.

Related: Temple hires Steve Addazio. I actually like this hire for Temple. Addazio was a horrible OC, but he is a great leader and an amazing recruiter -- he is way better as a HC than OC.

Tonight: Hawaii-Tulsa. Nope, won't be watching (unless the game is sponsored by Red Ryder).

CBB: Renardo Sidney never should have gone to college, let alone stuck around for this year. He should have gone straight to the D-League and been draft-eligible last June. Now, he's sunk.

Tourney-quality win for Georgetown over Memphis. Filed away for March. (To continue my annual in-the-tankness for G'town.)

Gillette splits with Tiger: Why now and not a year ago? In the end, Tiger is less marketable for his lack of titles than his lack of marital fidelity.

Hot Stove: Would the Yankees really sign Manny? Yes please.

Feuds: Both Kyle Shanahan and Donovan McNabb (or his agent) need to grow up.

Again: Wishing you a wonderful Christmas holiday. I'll be blogging tomorrow and all weekend.

-- D.S.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

12/23 Quickie: Happy Festivus

Is it wrong that Festivus is my favorite holiday of the year? It's just not the holiday season without "the airing of grievances."

Ryan/Foot thing, cont'd: Oh, he's totally right that it's a "personal matter." Frankly, I'm quite impressed that aside from the easy jokes, most people are like, "Hey, more power to you."

Ohio State Tattoo scandal: Did players trade autographs and memorabilia for free tattoos? I'm coming around to the idea that a straight barter isn't the worst thing in the world. (I have less clarity when it comes to cash transactions, although I understand there's not much difference.)

Actually, that might be the best way for players to get compensated without the NCAA actually getting into the murky area of paying them: Let them barter their autograph or appearance for whatever they can get for it; that's much closer to a fair market value than trying to come up with a regular payment system.

Larry Brown out in Charlotte: Longtime readers know that I can't stand Larry Brown's whole "Right Way" schtick. I'd call him the Brett Favre of NBA coaches, but Favre lacks Brown's fundamental smugness.

NFL Tonight: Panthers at Steelers. Could be the worst game of the year -- Pittsburgh is going to roll.

CFB Bowling: Boise State ends season on an up note, by smothering Utah in the MAACO Bowl in Vegas. Has to be so bittersweet for the Broncos -- more than any other team.

Tonight: Poinsettia Bowl, featuring Navy and San Diego State. Have you seen that field? It's underwater -- cue Navy jokes...

CBB: Here's a grievance -- why did I pick Michigan State to win the national title? That team is having serious problems this season, the latest being losing at home to Texas last night.

More NBA: Celtics win 14th straight. But, really, did you see that dunk by Blake Griffin where his head was above the rim? Not sure there has been a more exciting finisher in the NBA since early-career Vince Carter (all the more remarkably because Griffin is a power forward, not a guard.)

TV: Catch the latest HBO 24/7: Pens-Caps last night? Seeing Mario Lemieux on the ice was incredible TV. They are really doing an awesome job with the show.

(Oh, and don't forget ESPN's documentary about Tim Tebow will be on Jan. 6. I'm sure you're just giddy with anticipation.)

Know things have been slow lately around here, friends, but hopefully more than anything it's an indication of how hard I'm hustling to get ready for early 2011. I cannot wait.

Keep coming back: Posting tomorrow and all weekend long.

Happy Festivus!

-- D.S.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sponsored Post: It's Over

Your weekly update on my travails in the Blogger Football League, sponsored by Procter & Gamble. For background, see this intro post.

It's over. My season -- once so promising -- fell apart in the semifinals, after Team Gunaxin unleashed Mike Vick on me. If not for about 7 minutes of awesome from Vick, it would be a different story. But he rolled, and so did Gunaxin.

And so my season in the league ends short of a championship -- but probably as well as I had ever done in a fantasy league in my life. (Kinda sad reality.)

I had the No. 1 overall pick: Chris Johnson. His up-and-down year, punctuated on Sunday, cost me. I also had Tom Brady, my team MVP, who won me plenty of weeks. Even Brady couldn't top Vick in Week 15.

I will celebrate my best in-season move -- picking up LeGarrette Blount -- and mock my misses, like having any faith in Michael Crabtree.

It's disappointing for a lot of reasons -- I certainly would have liked to have won the $10,000 for the youth-sports charity of my choice; I had already thought through donating it to my brother's elementary school in Florida, which could use it.

Here is this week's league recap post from Diana. I'll keep you apprised of how the league championship shakes out.
Check out P&G's Take It To The House page on Facebook. Be sure to look for the new contest where you predict the players who will have the top 5 rushing or receiving plays from scrimmage, and if you get them all, you win some insanely good prizes.

The P&G Blogger Fantasy League (BFL) is a group of 12 online sports folks competing on the fantasy platform for the chance to win a donation for a local charity, furnished by P&G. The NFL Entities have not offered or sponsored the sweepstakes in anyway.

12/22 Quickie: UConn's 89, More

I really am baffled when I see backlash to coverage of UConn's winning streak -- 89, as of last night. The comparisons to UCLA in the early 1970s get people particularly riled up.

Nevermind that I see UConn's streak as more impressive -- that's just my opinion, and I'm not insisting it be yours -- but why can't we just appreciate what UConn is doing for its own sake?

The irony is that I have a complicated relationship with sports-team dominance. By default, I'm not a fan of dynasties (despite the data that shows it increases interest in a sport).

And, yet, almost to a compulsive extent, I usually pick previous champs to repeat. I was was one of the first -- and remain one of the only -- to say that two titles in a row qualifies as a dynasty.

Despite my inclination to dislike dynasties, I love this UConn team, because it's not just your typical winning -- yes, it's The Streak. But it's also HOW they are winning: By destroying almost everyone.

I was glued to the game last night not just for the history, but because I couldn't believe what UConn was doing to a very good Florida State team. They made them look like JV.

I admire UConn women's hoops for their sustained success, yes, but just as much -- maybe more -- because they are merciless in their swath of destruction.

The entire program is built around optimizing the sport for winning -- and winning big.

Now, I'm sure that part of the reason I like/admire this is because it is women's hoops, a sport I follow only for its superlative moments, like UConn's streak or the Final Four.

If there was a team in the NBA or NFL or MLB or either major men's college sport like this -- and there never has been -- I'm sure I would loathe them.

But there is something about one team out there maintaining a standard of excellence that is so high that it can turn even dynasty-haters into fawning admirers.


So: Rex Ryan and his wife and the feet thing. I say: Live and let live. It is a detail that makes Ryan all the more complex and fascinating.

CFB Bowling Tonight: Utah vs. Boise State in the MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas. Ouch. Consider where we were two months ago with these two teams. Now look back at me. Now look at the tumble for Boise from BCS bowl to MAACO. Now back to me. This might be the best bowl match-up of the year, and we're getting it on Dec. 22. Um, enjoy?

No, Tiger Woods isn't injured.

Congrats to Charlie Strong and Louisville on their bowl win in the much-maligned Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.

No. 11 Kansas State losing to UNLV could be spotted a mile away -- or, however far away it is where KSU's starting backcourt got those improper benefits. (And, ouch: Tennesee.)

More later.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

12/21 Quickie: Favre,

Today's Names to Know: UConn, Brett Favre, Joe Webb, Lovie Smith, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Charlie Strong, Beef O'Brady, Ralph Friedgen, Tim Tebow, Coach K, John Shurna and More.

Note: Thanks for the response to the Quickish intern post from yesterday. I think we'll be good, but if you missed it and feel strongly about it, shoot me an email via the post.

UConn women go for 89th win in a row: And they'll get it. Hard to envision when this team will lose again. And, yes, it IS a big deal. (Count me among the folks who think that winning 89 in a row today is a lot more impressive than winning 88 in the early 70's. Apples-to-oranges, yadda yadda yadda... I'm blown away by this UConn dominance.)

Favre: The end? There are two lasting myth-buttressing images from what might be Brett Favre's final game in the NFL:

First, him trotting out to start the game, in the snow, defying the "out" designation that has only been reversed by game-time less than two dozen times in the past decade.

Second, Favre face-down on the turf after Corey Wooton's hit, knocked out of the game. From Favre's perspective, I presume that in the hierarchy of career conclusions, being KO'ed is not as good as going out on a game-winning TD pass -- but better than standing limply on the sidelines.

Then again, he might play next week, rendering all of this moot and recycling the encomiums. That would be most Favrian of all.

Bears clinch NFC North: Does this get Lovie Smith off the hot seat? At the very least, it means playoff football at Soldier Field in January. If last night's snowy conditions were any indication, they might even win one. (Then again, they will be going against a playoff team, not the Vikings.)

Joe Webb Fan Club: Why was it such a presumption that Joe Webb would be a WR, not a QB? Shows a lack of insight from the traditional NFL draftnik-scouting complex, because Webb looked pretty good last night, particularly for a rookie who hadn't played QB all year. I know the Vikings will likely draft a QB in the 1st round next spring, but why not give Webb a chance?

Mavs stop Heat streak: As Miami has rolled along, it feels like they have feasted on many of the NBA's lesser teams; we're back to the old meme: They can't beat the elite -- at least not consistently, on the road. Leaves things pretty opaque about their playoff chances.

Magic's new additions don't help much: Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richarsdson started, and Gilbert Arenas came off the bench -- no matter, the Hawks won. (It was to be expected that the new group wouldn't gel instantly. I'm still bullish for the long term on them.)

CFB Bowling: Beef O'Brady's Bowl in St. Pete! Southern Miss vs. Louisville, which just signed its biggest recruit ever: Miami-area star QB Teddy Bridgewater. Oh, and I saw a stat yesterday that L'ville lost its 6 games never by more than a TD. Charlie Strong has the program on the rise.

Maryland buys out/fires Ralph Friedgen: Setting the table for Mike Leach. Unclear why they are having a "search committee"; this should be done quickly and simply, bringing in Leach. Every day the new coach isn't installed is a day when they lose ground in recruiting. Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank needs to shoot Maryland's president a note about that.

NFL Draft: Is Nick Saban using the uncertainty over the NFL's labor situation to scare his juniors into not going into the Draft? Savvy by Saban, but ultimately, if the players are Draft-worthy (particularly 1st-round picks), they should get into the league as fast as they can.

Tim Tebow will start next week: Of course he will. (a) He played well enough to merit it, and (b) what would be the point, in a lost season, of leaving the young QB on the bench in favor of the vet, in an otherwise meaningless game?

CBB: Coach K is now No. 2 in all-time wins among college hoops coaches.

Florida shocked by Jacksonville: After the K-State upset, what did I tell you about Florida's inconsistency? Maddening.

Northwestern rolled at the Garden last night, thank you very much. I was the only one in the arena in the hard-to-find John Shurna jersey-style T-shirt, which will look even better in March.

-- D.S.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Serendipity in Fan Allegiance

My alma mater Northwestern is heading to my 'hood to play at Madison Square Garden tonight (and tomorrow). I will be there. I even bought a John Shurna jersey-style T-shirt to wear.

In a bit of irony, they will be playing St. Francis of New York -- D-1's smallest program, which happens to be located down the street from my apartment. (Site of my kid's 1st-ever game.)

The occasion of NU being here inspired me to combine it with this month's 20th anniversary of my acceptance to NU to point out that college fandom is largely based in serendipity.

Check out my essay over at The Awl. The premise is simple: How different would your life as a fan be if you didn't end up at the college you went to?

You certainly wouldn't, say, be going to Madison Square Garden to watch Northwestern play St. Francis in the 1st half of a doubleheader.

Want to Be The Quickish Intern?

So what are you doing over your winter break?

Quickish needs an intern. With the launch coming up soon, there is a ton of stuff to get done. I could use someone reliable, creative and detail-oriented (with some writing skill) to help me with a bunch of the different things that are getting pulled together. The job is mostly editorial(-ish) work, but I can’t claim it’s glamorous.

Enticing, I know. But you get to join in on what will hopefully be one of the most exciting media start-ups of 2011. And hopefully get some interesting experience.

I’m looking for someone who has a passion for the intersection of sports and media (but NOT “sports media.”) Ideally, you’re on break from college from now through mid-January, with little to do but help me out. (This is NOT meant to dominate your time; call it 15-20 hours a week, but it’s flexible.) FWIW: This is different than the "legwork" project from the fall -- that was just a few days of work and nominally paid. But if you were interested then and emailed about it, just shoot me a quick note.

You don’t have to be in New York (where I am), but if you are, that’s a bonus. You’ll be working from home/dorm/Starbucks/Gchat/Skype anyway.

If you’re interested, shoot me a note at

-- D.S.

12/20 Quickie: Eagles, Pats, UConn

Today's Names to Know: DeSean Jackson, Mike Vick, Matt Dodge, Matt Flynn, Dan Connolly, Ti Tebow, NFC West, Rex Grossman, UConn women's hoops, Zack Greinke, Grant Hill and More.

So: That DeSean Jackson walk-off punt-return-for-a-TD. Good gosh -- and made all the more dramatic coming at the end of a massive 4th-quarter rally for the Eagles. On the road, in New York, their biggest division playoff rival this season.

I don't blame Jackson for hot-dogging at the goal-line (although I really do think that it was a combo of wanting to be flashy and legitimately wanting to ensure the clock had run out). He is one of the glitziest players in the league, in an unprecedentedly glitzy situation. What did you THINK he was going to do?

(Meanwhile: Poor Matt Dodge, goat emeritus for Giants fans. The Giants punter screwed up. Undoubtedly, he knew he screwed up. Given that Tom Coughlin is going to cut him today, assuredly, when he was being reamed on national TV by his coach, Dodge should have shouted back: "Do you NOT think I get it?")

MVP Watch: With two weeks to go -- and after yesterday's comeback -- I have absolutely no problems putting Mike Vick at the top of the list. (And I say that having had Vick likely cost me a title in the P&G fantasy league -- which would have netted me $10K for charity and a trip to the Super Bowl. Oh, well. Speaking of fantasy, HEY RAY RICE: WHERE WAS THAT BEFORE?)

Meanwhile, kudos to Dan Connolly, the Pats offensive lineman who became an instant star after his 73-yard kickoff return/rumble just before halftime. Frankly, given how close this game was -- and did ANYONE see that coming? -- it was the pivotal play of the game.


*Jets off the schneid: At Pittsburgh, no less. Wow, did they need that. (Anyone else think that the Steelers were definitely going to score at the end?) So if they can win at Pittsburgh in December, not much excuse for not being able to win a couple of playoff games on the road, is there?

*Tim Tebow's debut as a starter: You could probably hear my whooping up and down the block when he took off for that 40-yard TD run on the game's 2nd series. (And almost as loud when he threw that bomb TD on the very next series.) TDs included, it was a good -- not great -- start. He will get better. The Broncos' problem isn't Tebow; it's the defense.

*The NFC West is insane: With just 2 weeks to go, the 5-9 49ers nearly control their own destiny. If they win out -- no guarantee, obviously -- they only need one small break to find themselves in the playoffs (and hosting a game!) at 7-9. Nothing will hasten playoff-seeding reform like that kind of result.

*Rex Grossman: Admit it -- not nearly as bad as you thought he'd be. (Again, as with Tebow and the Broncos, the Redskins' problem wasn't Grossman; it was letting the Cowboys score 30+ points.)

*Congrats to the Lions for finally winning on the road. (Signature victory of Detroit's Calvin Johnson Era?)

Non-NFL News:

*UConn women's hoops win 88th straight: You might have missed the game yesterday because you were watching football. No excuses not to watch the record-breaker on Tuesday. It is going to be something you want to be able to say you saw first-hand.

*Brewers get Zack Greinke: The Royals had to move him for the right package; unfortunately for KC fans, it'll take years to know whether it pans out. Gratification is more immediate for Brewers fans: Greinke joins a stacked rotation that should have Milwaukee the favorite in the NL Central.

*NBA Last Night: Vintage Grant Hill. As the league still settles down from the huge pair of Orlando trades, the new-look Suns were supremely old school last night -- Grant Hill had 30 and 10 in a Suns win over Oklahoma City (and that was without the new players from Orlando). Has to rank among the best single-game performances from an NBA player age 38 or older. (Given his age and the circumstances, possibly the most impressive performance of his career.)

More later, including a Quickish update.

-- D.S.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday (Very) Quickie

Let's start with the notion that Tim Tebow might/could/will start today in Oakland for the Denver Broncos. Now that's out of the way...

UConn women go for consecutive win No. 88 -- tying UCLA's legendary streak -- today vs. No. 10 Ohio State at Madison Square Garden, the biggest stage possible for one of the biggest wins in women's college hoops history. (Now that I'm back in NYC, I'm a bit bummed I'm not going to this game. I would love to have taken my kids, so they could see the history.)

Magic center of NBA mega-trade(s): This was a fun one. The Magic improved their offense considerably, dumping Vince Carter for Jason Richardson and old fan favorite Hedo Turkoglu (while giving up underrated Dwight Howard backup Marcin Gortat), then swapping overpriced tall 3-point shooter Rashard Lewis straight up for Gilbert Arenas, who is a better shooter than Lewis (and desperate for a career reboot).

*The upshot: The Magic need to try to win now. Dwight Howard is a free agent after the 2012 season, and they have to try to show him they are committed to chasing a title; the old roster wasn't cutting it. J-Rich is an upgrade over VC. Arenas is high-risk/high-reward. They might miss Gortat. (They won't miss Rashard Lewis.)

*The Suns are dismantling themselves -- Carter's massive salary comes off the books after this season. Pity Steve Nash, the franchise star who will never be traded, but has to suffer through the descent to rock bottom. Gortat will actually help a lot, I'll bet.

*The Wizards get rid of the face of the franchise, replacing him with a shooter who they can't wait to dump off the books in a year or two. Like almost every other Wizards fan, I adored Gilbert -- at least, I was obsessed with him during that glorious run when he was not only playing like a 1st-team all-NBA player, but being eccentric and wacky and blogging and doing freakish things that showed a joy for the game and a joy for life. That changed with the injuries and the "guns incident," but I will never stop appreciating how good Arenas made it to be a Wizards fan. No matter what team he plays for, I'll always be a fan of Agent Zero.

Wizards nearly beat Heat: And, in typical fashion, the Wizards -- playing without Arenas, without Wall, without Rashard Lewis and without much talent to speak of -- took the Heat to the final seconds (up 4 with 13 seconds to play!)... but ultimately choked in only the way the Wizards can (and, predictably, do).

It's possible to claim moral victory that the Wizards didn't lose by 40 -- as I honestly thought they would -- but it was deflating that they came so close to their biggest (and most unlikely) regular-season win in franchise history, only to bumble it away at the end.

CFB Bowl season starts: With blowouts! Frosh QB Jake Heaps led BYU to its final win as a member of the Mountain West... Northern Illinois and its hilariously candid interim head coach throttled Fresno State... Troy walloped Ohio in New Orleans (behind a huge performance from another frosh QB, Corey Robinson). By the way, Troy's punter has the greatest beard ever.

1-AA Playoffs: It'll be Delaware vs. Eastern Washington for the national title.

CFB Coaching Carousel: Mike Leach to Maryland? (Or is that "Marrrrryland?" I have to get on trademarking that pirate-speak version of the school's name.) Leach's issues at Texas Tech aside, this would be the ideal hire for Maryland. Leach is brilliant. His style of play is incredibly entertaining (meaning that even if Maryland doesn't win the conference, they will be fun to watch). And he is buddies with Maryland uber-booster Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour.

CBB Upset Du Jour: Illinois lost to Illinois-Chicago, in the kind of regional-guppy-beats-regional-powerhouse win that MAKES a program for a mid-major conference.

Plus: Gonzaga over Baylor. Gonzaga had seemed "down" this season, but this was a big win over a very good Baylor team -- probably enough to right the Zags and keep them on track for an NCAA bid.

(Meanwhile, I am baffled at how Florida locked down Kansas State. Florida has not been impressive at all this season. K-State is precisely the kind of "tough" team that typically gives Florida fits. Instead, Florida held KSU under 50. Many fans will file this one away when they look at Florida on their bracket next March; I see it as a near-annual "great" win for Florida that shows how much potential they have... but ultimately sets you up for a let-down loss when it matters most. Wow: We've come a long way since 2007, where my expectation was "National championship or bust.")

Josh Selby's Kansas debut: Showcasing a sweet shot, he is as good as his prep reputation that preceded him. He is likely one-and-done, but he will make KU much more of a threat to go into the 2nd weekend (maybe the final weekend) of the NCAA Tournament.

Congrats, Penn State women's volleyball: 4th straight national title.

NFL Week 15: Rex Grossman is starting in the NFL. That is all. (Actually, there's a lot more. More later.)

-- D.S.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Saturday (Very O-Town) Quickie

Greetings from Orlando, where the warm weather is a happy trade-off for not having been in NYC yesterday for the Heat-Knicks vibe, which turned out to be the "Oh-Things-Have-Been-Great-And-All-But-This-Is-What-It-Would-Have-Been-Like-With-LeBron" game. Yup. (Wow, the Heat are cruising. The Knicks had a ton of momentum, and Miami just stifled 'em.)

Redskins bench McNabb: You knew things weren't great, but I don't think anyone knew they would implode as spectacularly as they did yesterday. This was the player who just got a nice new deal a few weeks ago; this was the guy who commanded so much optimism at the start of the season. This is now the No. 3 QB for the Redskins, his career in D.C. essentially over after less than a full season. But he sure will look good in Arizona next season (even if he's no Warner 2.0).

Meanwhile: Rex Grossman. Is starting in the NFL.

NBA: Gilbert Arenas to the Magic? That was the hot rumor last night, and as a Wiz fan I'm torn. On the one hand, Gil doesn't fit on the team, and I'd like to see what they can get from Orlando. On the other, Arenas is one of my favorite players, and I will miss seeing him go -- but I want the best for him for his career. Ironically, me physically being in Orlando right now offers me absolutely no reportorial or analytical advantages in working through this.

NFL: Aaron Rodgers doubtful for tomorrow vs. Pats -- but he still might play? Yikes, it's like he wants his brain over-easy rather than flat-out scrambled. I appreciate why he wants to play, but this season, of all of them, shouldn't the team be saying, "Let's just be safe here."

College football bowl season is here! (How awesome was that red turf in the Villanova-Eastern Washington 1-AA playoff game last night? Whether you liked it or hated it, so visually stunning.)

-- D.S.

Friday, December 17, 2010

12/17 Quickie: NFL Week 15, Bowls

En route to Orlando today to celebrate my brother getting his PhD this weekend. Much Chik-Fil-A to be eaten.

NFL Last Night: The Chargers win (as expected), but the real revelation was Vincent Jackson, who had 3 TDs and probably single-handedly will win playoff weeks for folks who started him.

NFL Week 15 Storylines:
*Fantasy football playoffs
*Forget Favre: No beer in Minny on Monday night?
*Tim Tebow better freaking finally play.
*Jets at Steelers: Jets need this one badly.
*GOTW (NFC): Giants-Eagles
*GOTW (AFC): Jags-Colts

NBA Tonight: Heat at Knicks, in the Knicks' 2nd "Wow, you've kinda got to watch" game of the week -- which is two more than they have had since they played in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1999.

Yao done for the year: And you have to wonder if he's done for good. By the way, if he IS done for good, I would vote for him to make the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Rajon Rondo out for "weeks": As long as he's healthy by April (and stays healthy through May), the Celtics will be fine.

MLB Hot Stove: Bobby Jenks for $6M a year for 2 years feels like a pretty good deal for the Red Sox. (Does that mean Papelbon is on the block? Or at least expendable?)

CFB Bowls start: New Mexico Bowl (BYU-UTEP: I'll take UTEP.)... uDrove Humanitarian Bowl (Northern Illinois vs. Fresno St: I'll go Fresno)... R&L Carriers New Orleans Bowl (Ohio vs. Troy: I'll say Troy, but not for any good reason.)

Be sure to enter the Daily Quickie Readers College Bowl Pick 'Em!

CBB This Weekend: Kansas State-Florida is the headliner, but honestly, K-State is going to throttle the Gators. Texas-UNC is also interesting.

-- D.S.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

College Bowl Pick 'Em Contest!

CRAP. Knew I had lost track of something. Rather than it turning out to be, say, my mortgage payment, instead it was the Daily Quickie Readers college football Bowl Pick 'Em league. It's set up now, so please join! My title in this league in '08 remains my, um, only DQR win ever.

Remember my personal strategy: I pick the games, assigning confidence points not by actual confidence level, but by calendar, meaning the first bowl game gets 1 point if I get it right, but the last bowl gets the most confidence points if I get it right (and I'll get that one right, for sure). That's how I won the league in '08, and I'm sticking to it, even after last year's debacle.

Bowls start Saturday -- join now!

Sponsored Post: Playoff-Bound

Your weekly update on my travails in the Blogger Football League, sponsored by Procter & Gamble. For background, see this intro post.

After a fast start, a brutal middle and a strong ending, I made the 4-team playoff field as the No. 2 seed. I play Team Gunaxin, starting tonight.

I will not have Antonio Gates -- or, at least, I won't be starting him, given his injury situation. Instead, I'll be going with Rob Gronkowski and doubling down on team MVP Tom Brady's ability to win me this league title.

Backfield is the same it's been for weeks: Chris Johnson and LeGarrette Blount. I need a game from CJ like he had a week ago.

Receivers are Miles Austin, Malcom Floyd (questionable!) and Pierre Garcon (who I can only hope didn't use up all his fantasy mojo in last week's huge performance). Let's go get it.

Here is this week's league recap post, from JoeSportsfan's Matt Sebek.

Check out P&G's Take It To The House page on Facebook. Be sure to look for the new contest where you predict the players who will have the top 5 rushing or receiving plays from scrimmage, and if you get them all, you win some insanely good prizes.

The P&G Blogger Fantasy League (BFL) is a group of 12 online sports folks competing on the fantasy platform for the chance to win a donation for a local charity, furnished by P&G. The NFL Entities have not offered or sponsored the sweepstakes in anyway.

Memo to Mark Cuban re: BCS

I love that Mark Cuban wants to create a competitor to the BCS. He's no dummy: It's good business.

The plan is a lot less complicated than he might think. All he has to do is nudge the SEC -- which doesn't and shouldn't give a shit about the rest of the BCS cabal -- to create a playoff.

Right off the bat, with only the SEC involved, an 8-team, 7-game, 3-week playoff would command a billion-dollar TV rights fee, and that doesn't even count sponsorship and any offers cities make to host playoff games. Hell, they could do it in single-year auctions and likely make even more than a multi-year commitment.

So the SEC isn't part of the BCS system anymore: OK... and?

The league and its partner, Cuban, will be printing money, satisfying existing SEC triumphalism and, frankly, crowning a champ with more legitimacy than any unbeaten team that comes out of the old BCS system.

Then watch what happens next: When the other leagues see what is happening in that first year of an SEC playoff, they will be clamoring to join.

The Big 12 will be on speed-dial within 5 minutes. The Pac-10 will be on call-waiting. The Big East and ACC will be begging. (Notre Dame? Sure: They can pay to join.)

Equal splits? No chance. Leagues can bid on participating -- everything from revenue share to how many teams they get included. (They can all feel free to set up their own conference playoff system, beyond the current 2-team format that most leagues use.)

Notice that I haven't included the Big Ten. Here is the reality: The Big Ten can try to ignore what everyone else is doing, but good luck when they run out of dance partners. Eventually, if only to remain relevant, the Big Ten will join. (And if they don't: More power to them, and more power to the playoff group.)

The simplicity of the idea is that it all hinges on the SEC, a league with a commissioner and school presidents already inclined to support a playoff.

(This is why I keep arguing that the fastest route to a playoff is the SEC getting screwed by the BCS system -- like a one-loss SEC champ getting vaulted by an unbeaten champ from a lesser league. The SEC would walk away in 10 seconds, and everyone kind of knows it.)

So when Mark Cuban says he has talked with folks in college football who like the idea, I cannot believe that the SEC wasn't a part of that.

It's so easy: Mark Cuban and the SEC walk away from the BCS. It fits Cuban's maverick style; it fits the SEC triumphalism. It makes a ton of money for everyone. And, for fans, a real playoff.

-- D.S.

12/16 Quickie: Feller, Knicks, More

RIP Bob Feller, one of the great pitchers of all time. If you are only nominally familiar with him, the extensive retrospectives on his career will give you a greater appreciation.

(If you read one thing on Feller today, make it Joe Posnanski.)

Knicks win! (Even if they lost!) I don't watch much regular-season NBA, but I did watch Knicks-Celtics, and it was an Event.

The Knicks are relevant again -- you get the sense that the fans were going bananas simply because they finally matter. I found it much more visceral than the late-90s, where success was expected; there is a genuine appreciation, given how bad the team has sucked.

That they lost almost gives them more cachet -- to come so close to knocking off the standard-bearer in the East, to show that the early success wasn't flimsy, to show the potential.

Heat win 10th straight: With a trip to New York up next that should prove to be even more insane than the Celtics game. I think NYC fans could be more brutal than Cleveland fans.

Mark Cuban wants to implode the BCS... with cash: He's not wrong; money drives the system, and a better economic proposition will have some influence. But we've been down this road before with other people. That said: Cuban has the cash and marketing savvy to make hay.

NFL Midweek: Matt Cassel was practicing, but I really can't see him playing on Sunday -- taking hits? Doesn't that put the REST of his season in jeopardy?

CFB Coaching Carousel: Miami (Ohio) Mike Haywood to Pitt. Miami continues to be the cradle of coaches. It's hard not to be more inspiring than Dave Wannstedt.

CBB: Week of upsets continue. First Tennessee and Louisville lose, now UNLV, which lost to UC-Santa Barbara. (Meanwhile, the countdown is on for Northwestern's appearance at Madison Square Garden next Monday and Tuesday nights.)

Women's CBB: I agree with Christine Brennan's point here, but count me among those who are very excited to see history made by the UConn women.

NHL/TV: Caps lose 7th straight. On the plus side, the new HBO show "24/7: Caps-Penguins" is AMAZING, in part because the Caps' troubles are so in-your-face. (So many F-bombs...)

NFL Tonight: 49ers at Chargers. Implications for fantasy playoff teams. A must-win for the Chargers. But otherwise, kind of a snoozer.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Must-See TV: Rovell on Franchises

Just a heads-up to watch (or set your DVR for) Darren Rovell's newest documentary on CNBC, "Behind the Counter: The Untold Story of Franchising." It's on at 9 p.m. ET.

Rovell is the best sports-business reporter in the country, but he is even better as a documentarian (see his awesome earlier CNBC doc on infomercials). This one looks to be a great one.

12/15 Quickie: Favre, Melo, CFB

Well, try as we all might, we just can't shake Brett Favre. First, it's "Streak over!" Now, it's "Will he play this week?"

Like everything else Favre-related, I see it in fairly simple terms: If he is pushing to play out of ego-gratification, it's a mistake. If he is actually healthy enough to play -- and not just play, but play better than the next-best alternative, Tavaris Jackson -- then he should play.

Carmelo trade talk: There was this hilariously odd-sourced rumor last night that the Nuggets had reached a deal to trade Carmelo to the Nets. It was debunked. Here is the reality: The Nuggets would LOVE to do this deal -- multiple high draft picks AND a young talent like Derrick Favors? -- but they are hamstrung by Melo's unwillingness to sign a long-term deal with the Nets. I can understand why he would rather play with the Knicks, but are the Nets that bad of an option? (The answer, aside from the upcoming Brooklyn location, is yes, probably.)

Cliff Lee Post-script: And the Yankees counter with... Mark Prior! Ah, if only this was 2001. (Look: It's more interesting than the Yankees signing Carl Pavano. Not that they were going to.)

CFB: Will Muschamp intro'ed as Florida head coach. He is dynamic. He is no-nonsense. And he is going to run a pro-style offense, rather than the spread. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I appreciate that Alabama's pro-style -- which Muschamp is obviously modeling -- was fairly effective, particularly against Florida. But I still think that the evolution of strategy favors the spread as a clearly optimized offense (see Oregon, Auburn).

Oregon uniforms for the BCS title game: The Ducks get a lot of grief for having more costume changes than Lady Gaga -- and garish combos to match. But I kind of love that they do it; it is unique in college football, and in a way, the equivalent of Facebook to, say, Penn State's Saturday Evening Post. I am a sucker for highlighter green, btw.

CBB: How does Tennessee beat two of the best teams in the Big East, then lose to Oakland? (Come to think of it: How does Louisville lose to Drexel? File both losses away under "Why I won't pick either to go past the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament.")

More later.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When the Audience is No One (Yet)

The tough news about having a new product that is still in stealthy "test" mode is that I can't show everyone the awesome stuff being produced -- particularly during what has been a GREAT sports week, capped by the double-whammy last night of Brett Favre sitting and Cliff Lee taking the deal from the Phillies, not the Yankees or Rangers. I'm producing great product! Going to waste because no one can see it!

The good news is that, having a bit of experience when it comes to day-in-day-out news coverage (particularly sports) is that as exciting as it might be at any given moment -- "most. whatever. ever." -- the system continuously replenishes itself with more. When I was writing the Quickie, I would always wonder "Wow, how could it get better than THIS?" And, yet, the news never failed to deliver.

Just from last night...

*Just when you think there's nothing left to say about Brett Favre: He sits.

*A few hours later, just when you think the Texans are finished: A wild comeback (THEN they are finished, in even wilder fashion).

*A few hours after that, just when you think the Yankees' cash rules (or you can get a good night's sleep): Cliff Lee takes less to go to Philly and create the best pitching rotation... well, we're all still figuring that out. (Braves '97? Ever?)

Anyway, let me get back to the point at the top: Very soon, I'm going to want you to check out (and test out) this product I've been working on, give feedback and generally help me make it better before it gets released publicly early next month.

I will be giving out a limited number of Quickish beta invites soon. (Limited because I want to be able to talk fairly intensively with folks testing it out. I will continuously release more invites over the rest of the month.)

If you want to hear about that first, I will be posting a message through the Quickish Facebook page and Twitter feed first, so be sure to like the FB page and/or follow the Twitter feed.

Meanwhile, back to Quickish development for me -- even if no one can see it (yet). Can't wait for you to try it out.

-- D.S.

12/14 Quickie: Lee Eclipses Favre

The biggest winner from Cliff Lee's decision to pick the Phillies over the Yankees and Rangers? People sick of Brett Favre.

As of last night, we were looking at a news cycle of continuous coverage of Brett Favre's STREAK ENDING. It was eye-roll-worthy within 5 minutes of it being announced.

Then, overnight, a truly shocking bit of news: Lee to the Phillies. Celebration in Philly. Dejection in Texas. Despondence in New York. (Yankee schadenfreude for the rest of us.)

Start with this: Lee took less to play in Philly, the team that traded him away last season to make room for Roy Halladay. How refreshing: The most money doesn't always win.

Now, the superlatives: Can you think of the most recent pitching foursome as spectacular as Halladay-Lee-Oswalt-Hamels?

The closest I have seen is folks bringing up the Braves in '97: Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz -- three future Hall of Famers -- along with Denny Neagle. And Philly has four, which I immediately dubbed the "Phab Four." (With "Phab Phour" thrown out for inelegance.)

Then again, that Braves rotation killed it in the regular season... then couldn't get past the Florida Marlins in the '97 NLCS.

And, not unlike the Heat's Superfriends, that's the burden of the Phab Four: It's World Series championship or bust.

(It is no coincidence that the best #realtalk coming from Twitter in the wake of the Lee news was from Giants fans, who saw their team beat back the Phillies AND Cliff Lee -- twice.)

But between the Yankees getting snubbed -- and now facing the same questions about their rotation that they had last season (not to mention a rejuvinated Red Sox rival) -- and the Phillies' new bounty, Cliff Lee has already done the improbable:

He stole the spotlight from the Yankees... AND Brett Favre.


Brett Favre sits: I think celebrating a streak for streak's sake is kind of lame. (This coming from someone who continually brings up writing his daily column 420 weekdays in a row.)

However, that's not to say that it wasn't the most impressive thing about Brett Favre's career. (It's not like I'd say it was the "gunslingerness" -- his feast-or-famine TD-INT ratio.)

In a sport as brutal as pro football, to string together that many weeks in a row IS worth a respectful hat-tip. The bigger question: Is his career over, period?


MNF: As it turns out, the Vikings-Giants game was horrible -- the game was listless, not insubstantially because the fans in Detroit, there for the free football, just weren't that into it. As it turns out, it helps to have fans who care about one team or the other, not just the cheerleaders and the notion of a free ticket to any old NFL game.

MNF, the OTHER game: Meanwhile, the Texans-Ravens game was kind of awesome. The Ravens were in complete control, let Houston rally back into it in the 4th quarter (including that 2-point conversion to tie), then won the game on a pick-6 of goat-to-hero-to-goat Matt Schaub (whose 4th quarter cost me a spot in one of my fantasy leagues -- anyone else?)


CFB: Turns out Gus Malzahn won't be going to Vanderbilt after all. He will stay at Auburn as offensive coordinator (sure to get a head-coaching job next December). It's a shame he didn't want to take on the Vandy challenge -- if any school could have tested out his theories, it was Vandy. Instead, Auburn -- even without Cam Newton -- should remain tough in 2011.

Trouble at Iowa: Something very very wrong is happening at Iowa. This has become a hallmark of Kirk Ferentz's time there, but the school's administration seems intent on backing him no matter what. Tracking....

The Big Ten's new logo and division names: The logo didn't get a great reception, but that was nothing compared to the howls of ridicule for the league's new divisions -- "Legends" and "Leaders." I'm inclined to appreciate a little innovation in brand marketing, but this idea is terrible. These names are awful. The connection to the teams they cover is arbitrary, at best. They are meaningless. Ultimately, who really cares -- but what a misstep by the conference.


MLB Hot Stove: So will Zack Greinke end up with the Yankees? It's not that they can't use him -- it is whether they are willing to give up their top prospects to get him (they should).


NBA: Heat win 9th straight. The early-season troubles are long-forgotten. This is the team we expected from the start. Still: We can appreciate what they are doing now, yet still remain skeptical until they can win 4 of 7 from the Celtics in the playoffs.


Finally: Sal Alosi, the Jets strength coach who tripped a Dolphins player running down the field on Sunday, was suspended by the team for the rest of the season (and fined $25K). It feels a bit ridiculous that they feel compelled to ban him for the rest of the year, but think it would be OK if he showed back up for work next spring -- let alone was on the sidelines next fall. Despite the superlatives, I consider myself a relativist, and even I think this was an obviously fireable offense.


What to expect the rest of the day around the Web: Lots of Cliff Lee "What Does It All Mean?" talk, less Favre post-mortems than we would have had if Lee had not signed and a bonus post from me a bit later this morning about the state of my new company.

-- D.S.

Monday, December 13, 2010

12/13 Quickie: Dome, Pats, Jets
Vick, Troy P, CFB Coaches, Melo

Today's Names to Know: Metrodome, Ford Field, Tom Brady, Sal Alosi, Michael Vick, DeSean Jackson, Tashard Choice, Troy Polamalu, Aaron Rodgers, Will Muschamp, Al Golden, Gus Malzahn, Dana Holgorsen, Carmelo Anthony, Cliff Lee and More.

That was an odd day in the NFL, wasn't it? Let's just dig in...

*Metrodome deflates: The video was the must-see of the weekend. And, now, it's a public event in Detroit -- free for all... if you want to watch the Vikings and Giants, that is. Novelty!

*Pats destroy Bears in snow: It was like Tom Brady was playing in a balmy dome; if it wasn't obvious he is on another plane right now against the Jets, it is now.

*Jets coach trips Dolphins player: Sal Alosi, the Jets strength coach, should be in a ton of trouble. Frankly, he should be fired. At the very least: What a putz.

(And that was a highlight of the day for the Jets, who seem to be unspooling. The team is a high-tension product that does great when functioning, but will fall apart when not.)

*Vick, Jackson put Eagles over Cowboys: What was more wild -- DeSean Jackson's pre-TD celebration at the 1-yard-line...

*...Or Tashard Choice getting Mike Vick's autograph on his gloves (for his 3-year-old nephew) after the game?

*Troy Polamalu turned Carson Palmer into the worst QB of the day -- on a day when plenty of QBs stunk it up. Polamalu for NFL Defensive Player of the Year?

*Injury Watch: Aaron Rodgers' concussion throws the Packers' entire season into question. He will likely miss next week, and it's unclear how he will come back after that.

*Tonight: TWO Monday Night Football games -- you get to watch both if you live in the NYC area, Minnesota or have DirecTV -- plus plenty of fantasy playoff spots on the line.

*Will Brett Favre play tonight? If he doesn't, it ends his record consecutive-start streak; if he does, it adds another layer to his eye-rolling mythology. So, naturally, everyone is watching.


CFB: Coaching carousel spins on high. Texas DC (and "head-coach-in-waiting") Will Muschamp to Florida. Temple coach Al Golden to Miami. Auburn OC Gus Malzahn apparently to Vandy. Okla St OC Dana Holgorsen possibly to Pitt.

All these moves... well, they actually all seem pretty good:

*Muschamp has no HC experience, but he is the best assistant in the country (and if he was good enough to be the next coach at Texas, he's certainly good enough for Florida). As a Florida fan, I have become very excited about this hire.

*Golden -- who I thought was a natural candidate to eventually replace Joe Paterno at Penn State -- will bring Northeast hard-assness to Coral Gables.

*Vandy made a brilliant hire, frankly. Malzahn can turn a sandlot team into a 40 ppg offensive monster (Tulsa); Vandy might not win the SEC East, but remember the Quickie mantra: If you're not going to win a title, you might as well be entertaining. Vandy will be. (I will offer one other note: Northwestern -- once considered the Big Ten's Vandy -- rode a Malzahn-like no-huddle spread to a Big Ten title in 2000 and inspired coaches everywhere.)

*Holgorsen could have a good year or two at Pitt... until TCU gets into the Big East and wins every league title from now through the end of the century. But that year or two could be enough to vault Holgorsen to an even better job.

Meanwhile, did Urban Meyer quit because of health concerns? If so, why keep it so secret (especially if he had to have known that would come out)? And why position it as all about his family? Is it because if it IS health concerns, those can be worked out -- see last January/February -- and he can return to coaching? It's all very murky.


NBA: Carmelo says, basically, "Knicks or nothing." So the Nuggets are kind of screwed. Why should the Knicks trade ANYTHING to Denver for Carmelo, when they can simply wait until the summer and sign him as a free agent (they have plenty of cap room). Especially given the way the Knicks are playing right now (I was a doubter, but I'm starting to come around... not a ton... I'm not saying they are East elite. But they ARE a playoff team.)

Meanwhile, the Nuggets should try to trade Carmelo to ANY contender that will take him -- Orlando? -- and give them back even pennies on the dollar. Beats losing him for nothing.


MLB Hot Stove: Hey, maybe we'll get a decision from Cliff Lee this week.


Some news on the Quickish front coming this week. For the most direct pipeline to all things Quickish, like the Quickish Facebook page and/or follow Quickish on Twitter.

(I will say this: After getting the back-end development where I needed it to be, I've been testing the initial product for the past week, and I am more excited than ever.)

-- D.S.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday (Very Late!) Quickie

Late filing today, with a few quick hits:

*Metrodome collapses -- on top of a snowstorm that was already going to move the Vikings-Giants game to Monday night. So now the game is in Detroit. Novelty rules!

*Florida hires Will Muschamp: OK, I'm totally in. You can hire someone with head-coaching experience (like Urban at Florida in 2005), or you can hire the best available assistant without it (like Bob Stoops at Oklahoma in '99). Stoops, Chris Petersen, Jim Harbaugh, Dan Mullen -- all were good, but not necessarily the best fit. Muschamp is a great fit, and I'll take his energy and experience. He needs a great offensive coordinator.

*Cam Newton wins the Heisman: The 105 voters who left him off their ballots entirely -- Top 3 -- should have their voting privileges revoked for being so ludicrous. BTW: Please note how Andrew Luck surged to No. 2; if nothing else, he is the best NFL prospect in CFB.

More tomorrow a.m.

-- D.S.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday (Very) Quickie

Heisman ceremony tonight: It will be Cam Newton in a rout -- it remains to be seen just how historic of a rout. It's a nice rebuke for the kneejerk Cam-haters out there.

The fact is that you can find his recruiting scandal unseemly, but you cannot deny that Newton has had one of the greatest -- if not THE greatest -- season ever by a single CFB player.

Army-Navy Game
: There isn't a more universally beloved game in college football. (And that rare occasion where the records of the teams involved doesn't matter at all.)

Florida football coaching search: Attention seems to be zeroing in on either Bob Stoops or Chris Petersen. Stoops has the national title and has managed the bigger program, but I actually would like Petersen more.

TV: Big night for football documentaries. On HBO at 8, it's one about Lombardi. On ESPN at 9, it's one about SMU's "Pony Expre$$," in the finale of the amazing "30 for 30" series.

MLB Hot Stove: Cliff Lee -- no decision yet. I'll stick with my pick: The Yankees will offer slightly more money, but all things being equal, Lee would rather play in Texas. (That doesn't mean he won't pick the Yankees, if the Rangers balk at the money or contract length.)

NBA: Big win by the Rose-led Bulls over the Lakers, validating the Bulls as... well, what exactly? A Top 4 team in the East? Are they going to win the East ahead of Boston, Miami, Orlando? No. (But you know who might win the West ahead of the Lakers? The Spurs, who kept rolling along with a win over the Hawks.)

Amare goes 30+/10+... again: Quarter-season MVP.

Bill Simmons' NBA game-analyst debut: I give him a lot of respect merely for putting on the headset and doing it. He did a pretty good job, all things considered.

CBB Today: Tennesee-Pitt is the game worth tuning into. Good scouting for March, in a Sweet 16-quality match-up.

NFL Week 14: Skelton Mania. Raise your hand if you thought that Cardinals rookie QB John Skelton would get more snaps this season than Tim Tebow. Skelton will get more snaps in the 1st quarter tomorrow than Tim Tebow has had all season. Shaking my head.

Brandon Spikes suspended 4 games: Ugh (if you're a Florida fan). Ha! (if you're a Pats-hater). Normally, I'd greet protests from a suspended player that "it wasn't steroids! it was a... mix-up!" with cynicism, to say the least. Have to stick with that here. But I can say: Why Brandon?

John Elway wants into the Broncos front office? What's his front-office experience, besides managing an Arena league team and running a local steakhouse?

College Soccer: Louisville vs. Akron for the men's national title.

In case you missed it yesterday: The T0p 10 sports moments of the year -- with updates, based on your totally spot-on comments.

And, with the launch of Quickish in sight, I'll gently nudge you to like the Facebook page (232 people and growing) and/or follow the feed on Twitter (174 as of Saturday morning). Get on the bandwagon early!

Enjoy your Saturday.

-- D.S.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Top Sports Moment of the Year?

Blame those sneaky Time editors: I can't resist a year-end "Top 10" list. Even if it is in the form of a slideshow that cynically forces you to click through 10 times to get through it. (Oh, wait: Here's a full list of all their lists.)

Anyway, they list their Top 10 sports moments:

Number 1 was the Armando Galarraga near-no-hitter.
No. 2 was LeBron's Decision.

At this point, I'm still looking for my absolutely, clear-cut No. 1 moment. While I think Galarraga's game and the Decision were both huge, there was something even bigger...

No. 3 was Gordon Hayward's near-make vs. Duke.
No. 4 was the NFL's concussion problem. ("Moment?")
No. 5 was Ghana blowing the World Cup.
No. 6 was Graeme McDowell at the Ryder Cup.

Still no sign of my No. 1.

No. 7 is the Saints winning the Super Bowl.

No. 7. Seriously? And while the Saints winning the Super Bowl as a "moment" certainly qualifies, my No. 1 sports moment of the year was the Saints' onside-kick, which gave them the momentum that led to them winning the Super Bowl.

For the record: No. 8 was Isner-Mahut, No. 9 was Joannie Rochette, and No. 10 was Sachin Tendulkar's double-hundred in cricket.

Honestly, I have absolutely no problems with the 10 they picked (although I might not rank Graeme McDowell ahead of the Saints winning the freaking Super Bowl).

But to me, the best sports moment of the year -- and, even more, the greatest moment in NFL history -- was the Saints' onside kick. Still brilliant.

UPDATE: From the Comments, I can't believe I didn't recognize Landon Donovan's goal for the US in the World Cup or Sidney Crosby's goal for Canada in the gold-medal game of the Vancouver Olympics. Both were Top 10 worthy: Bump McDowell and the NFL concussion problem, which wasn't a "moment" (but is obviously a big deal).

-- D.S.