Today's Names to Know: Sportsman of the Year, Cam Newton, Jazz, John Wall, Michael Beasley, Chad Pennington, NHL All-Star captains, Brian Cashman, Scott Rolen, WAC football, Dave Niehaus, military veterans (thank you!) and more.
In keeping with yesterday's not-necessarily-directly-off-the-news NFL midseason theme...
Sportsman of the Year nominees? SI has been running arguments from its contributors about who they would pick for Sportsman of the Year. It's an interesting choice this year.
I'm partial to Drew Brees, as a proxy for the entire Saints team. (On the other hand, how about Sean Payton, for calling the single greatest play in NFL history?)
I also would accept something related to the World Cup, given that it dominated this summer. Kobe is a pretty good choice, as is Butler basketball. How about Galarraga and Joyce? (Hmm: What about Zenyatta -- sportswoman of the year?)
However, if the criteria is the athlete that impacted the sports landscape most in 2010, I think there is only one who deserves it (and it would be an inspired -- if perhaps cynical -- choice by SI):
I cringe myself while typing it, but no one ever said that "sportsman" had to be positive. Who would you nominate and/or pick?
Thursday Night NFL begins: Ravens at Falcons. Another game many (most) of you won't see. That's too bad, because it is a match-up between two teams that seem headed for the playoffs. Baltimore is a top contender to win the AFC; Atlanta could very well win the NFL (anyone else look like they have a lock on it?). SET. YOUR. FANTASY. ROSTERS.
How about Cam Newton! Kidding, although you'd be forgiven for thinking the sports universe revolves around him, given the way he has dominated the news over the past week. The latest: Mississippi State reported the iffy conversations back in January (didn't we know this already?). The fact that nothing came of that either means (a) there's nothing there, or (b) the NCAA isn't looking very hard.
BlogPoll Top 25: The group vaults TCU over Boise into the No. 3 spot.
NBA Last Night: Jazz roll on. As impressive as Utah's win over the Heat was two nights ago, it is arguably even more impressive that last night, in a back-to-backer, they beat the Magic in Orlando.
John Wall Watch: His first career triple-double (19 pts, 13 assists, 10 reb + 6 steals) in a Wiz W. He's the 2nd player ever to have a triple-double plus 6 steals within the first 6 games of his career. (The only other one? Magic Johnson.)
Don't give up on the Beaz! Michael Beasley had 42 last night in a T'wolves win.
NFL Midweek: Chad Pennington > Chad Henne. Looks like the Dolphins will be in the market for a new franchise QB next spring.
NHL All-Star Format: Captains pick teams. If the Winter Classic -- the New Year's Day game held outdoors in a classic stadium not necessarily known for hockey -- is the best idea hockey has had in a generation for reaching casual fans, this might be second-best. The selection show is actually more interesting than the game itself, which is a pretty neat trick by the league.
MLB Hot Stove: Did anyone think that Yankees GM Brian Cashman wouldn't head to Arkansas ASAP to woo Cliff Lee? Feels more like confirmation of a presumption than news.
MLB Award Season: Scott Rolen -- an 8-time winner -- headlines the NL Gold Glove list. Not nearly as contentious as the AL version (or, more specifically, Derek Jeter).
Uniforms: Totally approve of the Nats' new uniforms. The focus on the "curly W" is exactly right.
CBB Signing Day: As expected, Kentucky cleaned up. Duke got a great class, too (headlined by Austin Rivers). Most notable: St. John's is considered to have a Top 10 class (Steve Lavin Effect), and Arkansas broke through, too.
CFB Tonight: I suspect that schedulers probably figured that Pitt-UConn would be a little bit more meaningful than it will turn out to be. Anyone outside of Pitt and UConn fans going to watch this?
CFB Expansion: The WAC -- losing Boise State -- will add Denver, UT-San Antonio and Texas State. I think Denver is an inspired choice (does the WAC get credit for UD's lacrosse awesomeness?), and you can rarely go wrong picking up football teams from Texas, even if they are lower-tier.
RIP Dave Niehaus, the Seattle Mariners broadcaster. Condolences to his family, friends and fans.
On Veterans' Day, a moment of sincere thanks to everyone who serves or served the country's military -- I know that there are a bunch of readers in the military now (and plenty who served in the past). Your effort and sacrifice are so appreciated.