Today's Names to Know: LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Kobe, Steve Blake, Cliff Lee, Kristen Lee, Tim Lincecum, Tony Romo, Boise State, Sandy Alderson and More.
The Heat will be fine.
It was the first regular-season game of roughly 400 they will play together over the next five years. They played a highly motivated championship contender, on the road.
They will never again score just 9 points in a 1st quarter. (Nine! As an opening statement, it was like I wanted to bottle the schadenfreude of those first 12 minutes and save it forever.) It is unlikely that D-Wade will shoot that badly (although it is tempting to blur correlation and causality with LeBron as his new co-star).
They could have really used a healthy Mike Miller (then again, the Celtics were without Perkins and West).
Still: It is hard not to watch last night's game and see it as foreshadowing for the Heat's situation next May -- initially overmatched, furiously rallying, ultimately falling short.
Wow, is it going to be a long regular season.
More NBA: The Lakers will be fine, too. Kobe didn't shoot great (what else is new?) but Pau Gasol was dominant. Most promisingly, the defending champ's offseason imports -- Matt Barnes and Steve Blake (Mr. Clutch!) -- fit in well, right from the start. Meanwhile, the Rockets are an underrated team. Between a nominally healthy Yao and Brad Miller, they showed they have a full-time NBA center. Kevin Martin is like a poor man's Kobe.
World Series Game 1: Cliff Lee vs. Tim Lincecum is must-see. The Rangers appear to be the favorites, but it seems crazy to count out the Giants -- their pitching has just been too good over the last month. Games will be close, and that's the biggest thing that MLB needs.
Meanwhile, it is now cool to bemoan talk that most fans don't care about this match-up and to hype the series as must-see. I think this is more reflexive contrarianism to the initial "Dud!" (which started long before the LCS were resolved) than it is actually loving this match-up.
Here's where I net out: You should watch because it's the World Series. It doesn't matter who is playing in it -- what matters is that we get dramatic moments on a championship stage. Lee vs. Freak is a pretty good place to start.
Prediction: Rangers in 7.
Related: Sounds like the players' union is open to expanding the playoffs to include more Wild Cards. I am a fan, although I appreciate why the issue is contentious with purists. That said: Given that the Wild Card was the single-greatest baseball innovation of the past 30 years (since, say, free agency in the 1970s), fears of "more as less!" are entirely overblown.
No Romo: On the bright side, he doesn't need surgery. On the brighter side, it's not like the Cowboys were making the playoffs anyway. And on the brightest side, if your fantasy team's QB situation has been terrible, why not try Jon Kitna?
Boise State rolls, again: Of course they did. That's because they are a phenomenal team -- it was unfortunate that their ESPN-televised appearance last night was overshadowed by the must-see NBA game over on TNT. It is also because their schedule is flimsy. I think you can simultaneously admire Boise's awesomeness and nick them for the lightweight resume.
(Meanwhile, my preseason pick of Kellen Moore for the Heisman might have been seen as a little pie-in-the-sky, but I think a strong argument could be made that he is the No. 2 contender right now -- behind Cam Newton -- and obviously worthy of the finalists' invite to New York City.)
MLB Hot Stove: Mets to hire Sandy Alderson as GM? Alderson has a long track record of success, although you could hardly call him one of the innovative young minds in baseball (as you might about GM runner-up Josh Byrnes). Like so many companies in New York, the Mets obviously were won over by the gray-haired gravitas and inevitable nods of approval from the baseball Establishment. What they really needed was a 21st-century re-boot; Alderson, while esteemed, isn't it.
Speaking of re-ups: Looks like the Yankees are going to extend Joe Girardi, despite this October's failures. A few mores seasons with, say, Cliff Lee will help.
Oh, and it sounds like Lee's wife didn't like the vibe thrown off by Yankees fans during the ALCS. It's easy to paint the entire fan base as boorish, but unfair: The Yankees' bigger problem seems to be fans leaving games too early, not rooting too priggishly. Besides, when Lee is on THEIR team, Yankee fans will love him -- just ask Roger Clemens.
Favre Watch: Brad Childress is getting it from both sides. One day, he is scrutinized for seeming to rip Favre publicly (when in reality Childress was only expressing what everyone who watched the game was thinking); the next day he is getting fined $35K by the league for criticizing the refs. The only common link is that everyone finds it fun to criticize Childress.
CBB: It was unlikely that Memphis' Josh Pastner was going to be able to create such an awesome recruiting class without at least one piece of it -- in this case, super shooting guard Jelan Kendrick -- fraying. Kendrick has been suspended from the team and may or may not return. That's never a good sign, when a team isn't even into November yet. Still: High expectations for the Tigers; they are so loaded, they will be fine.
Nearly full NBA schedule tonight as most of the league tips off: The Heat are in Philly. It'll be interesting to see how they do with a back-to-back road game against a seemingly overmatched team with fresh legs... Amare makes his Knicks debut in Toronto... Durant's SRO bandwagon Thunder get a national-TV game against Rose's Bulls... Carmelo starts what will be his final season in Denver... Blake Griffin's NBA regular-season debut against the weary legs of the Blazers playing on back-to-back nights... DeMarcus Cousins shows the T'wolves what they missed by not drafting him... The John Wall Show will wait until tomorrow night in Orlando.