Today's Names to Know: David Price, CC Sabathia, Roy Oswalt, Vincent Jackson, Kevin Kolb, Darrelle Revis, Jacory Harris, Pac-10 goes to Vegas, Gary Williams, Joakim Noah, Steven Tyler, Phil Dunphy and More.
I remain kind of shocked by the divided response to Andy Reid benching Kevin Kolb in favor of Mike Vick. I thought it was kind of obvious. Maybe I'm not thinking it through enough.
Rays bop Yanks, now 1.5 GB heading into their series finale today at Yankee Stadium -- CC Sabathia vs. David Price.
If the Rays win tonight, give them the edge to win the division (and home-field advantage), given their remaining 10 games (Seattle, Baltimore, at Kansas City). The Yankees finish with 6 versus Boston (half at Fenway) and 3 on the road at Toronto.
I should hope that the Red Sox -- out of the playoffs this year -- would consider it "playoff-ish" to keep the Yankees from winning the division.
Because Roy Oswalt gives me the fodder (1-hit shutout over 7 IP with 8 Ks), for the 3rd straight day, I'm going to hammer home that Halladay-Hamels-Oswalt is an amazing playoff pitching rotation. (Oh, and the Phillies are rolling: 10 straight Ws, up 6 in the division and zeroing in on home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs.)
NL West Watch: The Padres edge back in front of the Giants. The Rockies are choking away their chances. (The Giants are .5 GB the Braves for the WC; the Rockies are 3 GB.)
Fantasy Stud: Seattle's Jose Lopez, who -- at least symbolically -- showed more offensive pop in one game (3 HRs) than the entire Mariners team has all year.
Chargers don't trade Vincent Jackson: His agent wins the day for labeling San Diego GM AJ Smith "The Lord of No Rings." I'm not sure why Minnesota's offer of a 2nd-rounder plus a conditional extra pick wasn't enough. What more are the Chargers going to get for him?
Revis Island closed for Week 3: Rex Ryan said he won't play. It'll be just like the preseason.
Kevin Kolb may not be starting, but that doesn't mean he isn't startable: A bunch of teams called the Eagles about trading for him. On the one hand, Philly is in the position to hold on to him, in the event Mike Vick stumbles -- then again, there's no guarantee that Kolb's brief, unremarkable Week 1 appearance wasn't foreshadowing. If they trade Kolb, they had better be sure Mike Vick was locked up for the next two years (and it would leave the Eagles with Vick's backup as rookie Mike Kafka). I don't think they will get rid of Kolb -- at least until the offseason.
CFB Tonight: Miami at Pitt. After the loss at Ohio State, The U could use a nationally televised win to regain some of its momentum. This is precisely the kind of game Pitt bafflingly wins. (Pick: Miami)
Pac-10 title game in Las Vegas? This is a brilliant idea, although then they would have to take the game off the boards at sports books. (That's not a big deal.) I suspect that fans of the two participating teams will travel no matter where it is, but there's no question that Vegas has more to offer than, say, Glendale, Arizona.
Gary Williams thinks that revenue-generating college athletes should be paid: He suggests $200 a month as a stipend, which -- for the stars -- seems laughable.
Carmelo Watch: If you were Chicago, would you trade Joakim Noah for Carmelo? Carmelo is the bigger star and -- if you really need scoring -- better offensively. But I don't think the Bulls are hurting for offense; I think Noah anchors the post, plays better D, will only get better on offense and -- to the extent this matters -- is already a pretty big fan favorite. (Related: If I was the Nuggets and had to pick between trading for Noah or Derrick Favors, I'd take Favors, even though Noah is the more proven NBA talent. Favors has a higher ceiling.)
NASCAR: Clint Bowyer docked 150 points. I don't usually write about NASCAR, but can we all agree that the euphemism "didn't meet specifications" means "cheating." I'm not making a value judgment -- presumably, part of racing's allure is that the crews attempt to maximize their advantages, in many cases seeing how much they can get away with. I'm just saying let's not sugar-coat.
Pop Culture: I am a pretty big Idol fan -- but I am also Idol's big problem. The new judging line-up of Randy, J-Lo and Steven Tyler does nothing for me. Even worse, it actually makes me NOT want to watch. It makes me realize how entirely essential Simon was to that show. I am intrigued by Jimmy Iovine as permanent "mentor," but only if he is brutally honest.
(Meanwhile, did anyone else watch the "Modern Family" season premiere last night? Phil Dunphy is my favorite character on TV -- Cameron is Top 5, too.)
In case you missed it yesterday, basically every post produced by the Fire Joe Morgan crew over at Deadspin was brilliant.