Today's Names to Know: Rangers, Lance Berkman, Tim Lincecum, Roy Oswalt, Brett Favre, Randy Moss, Jay Cutler, Taylor Martinez, Alabama, Michigan vs. Michigan State, David Stern, John Wall, Tony Wroten and More.
*I downplayed the umpiring issues this morning. Maybe that's because I am and have been so adamantly pro-replay -- and I'm not talking expanded replay, but extensive replay -- that I simply sit back and let everyone else say what I've been saying for years: More. Replay. Now.
*Whoa, two days in, and the Rays look finished. Two games at home, two punchless efforts. Tampa was supposed to have the superior starting pitching, but Texas has flipped that script. A sweep would eclipse what was a best-in-baseball regular season.
*Tim Lincecum: 14 Ks in a 1-0 Giants win that can be attributed virtually entirely to Tim. Tell you what: It's not a no-hitter, but with zero margin for error, The Freak came pretty much as close as you can (while allowing any hits) to topping it.
UPDATE: Maybe he DID top it. Great post by Posnanski talking about the amazingness of the Lincecum and Halladay games and where they stack up historically.
*Lance Berkman! I hate the Yankees, of course, but the one redeeming quality of another Yankees World Series title would be that Berkman wins a ring.
*Today: Another day, another dominant "Roy." Roy Oswalt will see how long the Reds will remain hitless.
NFL Game of the Week: Vikings vs. Jets.
*Moss Minnesota homecoming: I love how enthusiastic he is about returning to Minnesota. A motivated Moss is a "best-WR-in-the-league-and-oh-by-the-way-maybe-ever" Moss.
*Yes, yes: The Favre pics. Kudos to the NY Post reporter who asked Favre to his face about them. (Favre deflected.)
NFL Week 5: My Top 5 Storylines
*Favre/Moss vs. Jets on Monday night
*3-0 Chiefs with ultimate "prove-it" game at Indy
*Wow, the Rams (playing 0-4 Lions) could be 3-2?
*Toughest to call: Giants at Texans
*Vickless Eagles will help 49ers get off schneid
Concussion Watch: Jay Cutler won't play this week -- as he shouldn't. (So interesting that mere days after a concussion, there is an actual question about whether Cutler should play; meanwhile, Twins MVP Justin Morneau has been out for months with his concussion -- and his team is about to get swept out of the playoffs -- and you don't hear anyone arguing "Suck it up, wuss.")
Nebraska rolls Kansas State: I think Nebraska has proven it is underrated at No. 7, going into Manhattan and destroying a previously unbeaten K-State. Taylor Martinez (242 yards rushing and 4 rush TDs) is the Heartland's version of Denard Robinson.
Looking ahead to the CFB weekend:
*Alabama at South Carolina will be the Tide's toughest test until they play Auburn and the SEC title game in back-to-back weeks.
*Game of the Week: Michigan State at Michigan. It's a grudge match. It's two teams who need to "prove it." It's Denard. What more do you want?
*Speaking of grudge matches: FSU at Miami. Could end up being a de facto ACC title game?
*Shield your eyes: LSU at Florida. The nation's most inept (yet lucky!) coach versus a stalled-out offense. It might make last year's Tebow-concussion grinder look explosive.
*Here's how far USC has fallen: Not only do we all expect Stanford to win, but does anyone really expect it to be close?
*Upset Special: Oregon State on the road at Arizona. (I'm riding the Oregon State bandwagon for one more week. If they get thrashed, I'm off. But after playing Boise in Boise and TCU in Dallas, the Beavers will hardly be intimidated by playing Zona on the road.)
Best. Season. Ever.: That's basically what David Stern said ("greatest season ever") the 2010-2011 season would be for the NBA. And he's right. The Heat will be the most intriguing team of all time. The question in the East is whether the Celtics, window closing, can knock them off. The Lakers are still the team to beat. Kevin Durant has emerged as the best player in the league. And John Wall is the most exciting rookie since LeBron.
Once again, there may only be a handful of teams with a legit shot at winning the championship, but on any given night on League Pass, there will be at least a few things worth watching.
Wall Watch: Here's how good he is -- he can miss his first nine shots, not make a basket until the 3rd quarter and still lead the Wiz to a romp over the now-hapless Cavs.
Who is the best basketball team in the world? After yesterday, Europeans might say Barcelona, given the way Barca beat the NBA's two-time defending champ. But the Lakers barely played Kobe -- who was hardly playoff-fit -- and obviously Andrew Bynum wasn't playing. I would be curious to see how Barca would do in a full NBA season. Over-under 25 wins? Certainly not the worst in the league.
College hoops: Tony Wroten, perhaps the most talented prep player in the illustrious history of Seattle-area hoops, committed to play for hometown Washington, where he will be the most popular player since Nate Robinson.
Enjoy your weekends everyone. I'll be filing throughout the weekend.