Today's Names to Know: Halloween candy, Matt Cain, John Wall, Heat vs. Magic, Brett Favre, Tony Romo, Matt Cassel, Troy Smith, Tim Tebow (in London!), Russell Wilson, Kyrie Irving, Jamie Moyer, Jose Guillen, Declan Sullivan and More.
First, a Quickie tradition: What is the best Halloween candy of all time? Or, probably more relevant, what's the candy you are most hoping to get on Sunday night? (For those of us with kids, it's more like "steal" and/or "tax your kids' bag.") I'm going to go with mini-Twix.
Now: The Giants. Wow. An even-bigger ass-kicking than Game 1. And where Lee and Lincecum were pounded, Matt Cain was the ace -- with a performance like that on a World Series stage, Cain's respect rating with fans just skyrocketed.
I'm trying to hold the line with the old NBA adage "It's not a series until someone wins a game on the road," but baseball is different than the NBA. Sure, the Rangers could get a jolt of energy -- or hitting -- from heading back to Arlington, but that is a big hole they have to climb out of, winning 4 of the next 5, including at least 1 of 2 back in San Francisco, where they were just neutered.
John Wall's NBA Debut: It was almost unfair, that he had to make his first NBA start against the Magic, a team that is at worst among the league's elite and at best is probably the No. 2 team in the league behind the Lakers. It was definitely unfair that Wall is surrounded by some of the worst supporting cast in the NBA.
Wall shot horribly, which was not unexpected. He also had 9 assists, which -- considering the bumblers he's playing with -- is remarkable. And there were glimpses of his phenomenal speed. When he doesn't have to deal with Dwight Howard -- only one of the Top 3 defensive post players of the past two decades -- he will be fine.
Tonight: Magic at Heat, for the Miami home opener. The NBA is so smart -- this is one of the marquee match-ups of the entire season. The Heat started with back-to-back games, but had last night off; the Magic will be directly coming off last night's game, but it was a snoozer. Should be a great game.
NFL Week 8: It's all about Brett Favre. Yet again. Ugh. But this time, it actually IS kind of intriguing -- if only because of the streak. Will he sit? Or will he hobble out on it? Does he hobble out to start the game -- selfishly (and Favrishly) preserving the streak -- then sit?
Does he try to actually play on it, which can only result in even more Favrian endings (INTs, pick-6s) than usual? Please don't tell me that he limps out there in Foxboro and leads the Vikings to an upset win over the Pats. My mind would implode.
Speaking of decisions about QBs: Should the Cowboys sit Tony Romo for the rest of the season? Why not? It's not like they are making the playoffs -- particularly by the time Romo would be ready to come back, 6 or 8 weeks from now. Why risk further injury that could impact NEXT season? Just shut him down, put him up in the coaches' box and help him refine his football IQ.
More Week 8 Storylines I Like:
*GOTW: Steelers at Saints.
Playing at home, N.O. drops to .500?
*Jets get back to playing.
I'm not even a fan and I kind of missed them.
*The Chiefs move to 5-2?
Well, they play the winless Bills in KC.
*Fantasy intrigue: Troy Smith
If you have Ryan/Cutler/Flacco, why not use Smith?*
*Tim Tebow in London!
(* - In fact, in one of my leagues, I have Matt Ryan, and picked up Smith to sub for him this week. Of course, in that league -- a keeper -- I am 1-6 and a perennial bottom-feeder. I should have just said "Screw it" and picked up Tebow as my starting QB this week. If Josh McDaniels hadn't given Tebow that ridiculous DNP last week during the zillion-to-zilch beat-down by the Raiders, I very well might have. But if Tebow won't play in THAT kind of game, when will it ever happen?)
CFB: Florida State falls in typical Thursday night fashion. Ranked teams that play on the road on the ESPN-televised Thursday Night game against talented motivated (unranked) opponents always seem to lose. We talked about this yesterday. But let's trickle this result to the national-BCS picture:
What Boise State really needed was for FSU to go unbeaten in the ACC (11-1 overall and undoubtedly ranked in the Top 10), then lose to a similarly ACC-unbeaten Virginia Tech (10-2, with 10 straight wins and huge momentum), which would make Boise's season-opening win over Virginia Tech that much stronger. These derivative points matter!
(PS: NC State QB Russell Wilson is kind of awesome. Or at least he was last night.)
CFB Weekend Preview: Four great games with national-title implications, notable because all four contenders go on the road against very good teams, which should either produce at least one upset or a hell of an addition to the team's resume (one that Boise is hard-pressed to match).
*Oregon at USC: Don't be fooled. Ducks in a rout.
*Michigan State at Iowa: Upset Special!
*Mizzou at Nebraska: Upset! Season-maker for Huskers.
*Utah at Air Force: Compare how Utes do to how TCU did.
CBB: Duke is No. 1, by a wide margin, in the preseason AP poll. Of course they are -- only the most stacked returning champ since Florida in 2007. (Key difference: That Florida team brought back everyone; this Duke team loses the hugely valuable Jon Scheyer and Greg Zoubek to graduation, even if they are replaced by the talented Kyrie Irving and the growth of the Plumlees.) Still saying they won't repeat (with my nod to Michigan State). That means I would give Michigan State my No. 1 vote in the preseason, right?
Careers: The Phillies released ageless Jamie Moyer. I really hope he latches on with another team. He is still good enough to be better than a typical replacement pitcher, and his Methuselah storyline is one of the best in the MLB regular season.
Scandals: The potentially soon-to-be-World-Series-champ Giants involved in an HGH scandal?! Say it ain't so?! (I'm kidding: But Jose Guillen -- not on the Giants post-season roster, but on the Giants roster, more largely -- IS involved in an HGH situation. After the Bonds Era -- and giddy by the state of their team right now -- I am quite sure that the Giants fans COULD NOT CARE LESS. And neither will you.)
The Tragedy of Declan Sullivan, Cont'd: I put this last not because it is the least important, but because it is the most, and I didn't want to diminish it by shoving it in between something as insignificant as a World Series blurb and a college football weekend preview. In fact, the more I read and think about this, the more angry and outraged I become at Notre Dame's seemingly obvious negligence. I wrote a longer post, which will publish at noon if you want to see it and comment.
Light posting all weekend, as usual. If you won't be stopping by, have a great weekend. If you have kids, enjoy the Halloween spectacle. In my 4+ years as a parent, I have a renewed appreciation for it. My older kid, 4, is going to be a shark. My younger kid, 2, has a choice of hand-me-down costumes, but my current favorite is him going as the miniature giraffe from the DirecTV commercials.