Today's Names to Know: Bryce Harper, K-Rod, Max Scherzer, Shawn Marcum, Eli Manning, Brian Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, Christian LeMay, Tim Tebow, Pro Football Talk, Jason Whitlock and More.
Don't blame Bryce Harper for taking until 11:59 p.m. on a midnight deadline to sign his deal with the Nats. Blame MLB for having a deadline that isn't, say, 6 p.m. Or, instead of months after the draft, a few weeks, which would allow signees to get developmental experience faster.
All that said, contract negotiations are rarely something fans ultimately care about. For Nats fans' purposes, they have locked up (at a highest-ever cost for a non-pitcher) the best hitting prospect in years -- a perfect running mate for Stephen Strasburg and yet another rookie who will fill seats and get the team attention, no matter how they are doing in the standings.
K-Rod: From bad to worse. Typical Mets luck that when K-Rod allegedly smacked his father-in-law, he tore a ligament in his hand (throwing hand) while doing it. His season is over, but the mockery has just begun.
Cliff Lee vs. David Price: Lee pitched further into the game, but it turned out to be long enough to let the Rays finally get to him. Tampa won the game between likely playoff teams. They'll play another good one today: Tommy Hunter vs. Matt Garza.
First Brian Bullington... now Max Scherzer? The Yankees are struggling with super-high-draft-picks who have traditionally struggled. The Red Sox will undoubtedly try to sign (or perhaps merely find) Todd Van Poppel and Brien Taylor for their rotation next year.
The lasting image from the Giants-Jets game (or is that "Jets-Giants"... in NYC, you can never know who you're going to offend) isn't the new stadium, but Eli Manning's bleeding noggin. He'll be fine, and the Jets 2nd-stringers will give Rex Ryan plenty to bleep about on the next episode of Hard Knocks.
Brian Westbrook signs with the 49ers: He hadn't attracted much attention, and then the 49ers' RB depth imploded and it suddenly became a good situation. (Whither Anthony Dixon? Nowhere, apparently. Glad I didn't do my fantasy draft yesterday.)
Carmelo Anthony ain't gonna re-sign with the Nuggets: We have all seen this coming for months -- since his wedding, since he hemmed and hawed about their 3Y/$65M contract offer, since he recognized that his fellow superstars were all bolting for super-teams.
So what next? The Nuggets would be wise to trade Melo now -- or perhaps the trade deadline. It would be nice if it was to a team that Carmelo would be interested in signing with as a free agent (say, the Knicks or Wizards), but the Nuggets have a bigger problem: How to get back even dimes on the dollar for Melo's talent. Who, exactly, would the Knicks be able to trade? At least the Nets could offer something like Devin Harris and even Derrick Favors.
The thing is: Carmelo could simply play out the string for the season, then leave Denver hanging next summer -- not unlike the way LeBron and Bosh played it. It's not his problem; it's Denver's. (I have to say: As a Wizards fan, I really really really hope they clear enough cap room to make a play for Carmelo, who I think could be swayed by the Wiz's proximity to Melo's beloved Baltimore. Maybe I'm just engaging in wish fulfillment.)
Tiger Watch: I can't see how Corey Pavin doesn't pick Tiger for the Ryder Cup team. And when we look back, playing for the U.S. will be the resurrection of Tiger's career.
Fascinating: A top high school senior quarterback is skipping his final season of high school to spend the year (or the fall, if he's enrolling early) preparing for college football. Now, Christian LeMay is doing that because a suspension forced him to, but given the recent trend of players skipping their final high school semester to enroll early at college, why wouldn't top players -- at least more of them -- who have made a commitment heading into their senior years skip that year entirely to focus on preparing for college?
(This isn't far off from top college players skipping, say, their junior season to spend an entire year getting ready for the NFL Draft. I wonder what that would do to their draft stock? On the one hand, they lose out on "live" reps; on the other hand, they can focus specifically on developing NFL skills -- see the way most QBs ultimately have to work with pre-draft tutors to fix mechanics and the leap from simple college playbook to complex NFL schemes.)
Obligatory Tebow Item: They need to call him "Tim Pageviews," because bloggers and sites can't resist writing stories about him, they get so many people clicking on anything Tebow. Yesterday, there was that oddball story of the two media folks (a reporter and a photographer) who asked Tebow for his autograph after the Bengals game. And then you get stuff like today's massive feature on Tebow in USA Today.
Media: Here's a dumb one -- that Arkansas radio person who was fired for wearing a Florida hat to a Petrino press conference. Unless she was being ironic, it wasn't the hat itself that should be considered a fireable offense, but that anyone would ever think that was a good idea.
Jason Whitlock leaving the Kansas City Star: This has been a long time coming, as Whitlock's profile has catapulted from the provincial to the national. (Something similar happened to KC Star columnist Joe Posnanski -- as well as KC Star baseball writer Jeff Passan and feature writer Wright Thompson.) I have to believe Whitlock will end up at a national sports site -- perhaps FoxSports.com, where he currently writes on the side (but as FoxSports.com's leading draw)? He is also a candidate to host a national radio show. I'm sure he already has something lined up.
So the Rivals.com founders are launching their version of Rivals 2.0 -- "247Sports.com," a network of team-focused sites, starting with leading college teams. Sounds familiar. They promise the company will be even more extensive than Rivals, both in terms of team coverage and use of social media tools. They are also putting in $6M of their own money, which gives them a ton of runway. (Hell, for $6M, they could make compelling offers to the Top 20 bloggers who write for other team-focused online-sports networks.)
More inside-baseball sports-media news: NBCSports.com is re-launching its site next month with a focus on the ProFootballTalk network of sites they have built. NBCSports.com has been smart: They have used PFT has a hub to create a Yahoo-like network of nationally focused sport blogs, which can then be promoted from high-traffic entry points like MSNBC.com.
(Of course, any relaunch is a drop in the bucket compared to the potentially massive collaboration between NBCSports.com and its presumptive acquirers from Comcast.)
Coming later today: Day 1 (of 4!) of Summer Reading Week.