Friday, February 26, 2010

Quickie: Kim, Hockey and Olympic Legacy

I feel foolish for having mocked the Winter Olympics before they started as irrelevant and something that most fans don't care about and don't watch.

The ratings have been the biggest they have been in a generation. And some of the performances have been legendary -- Kim last night wasn't just the greatest skating performance of all time, but arguably one of the greatest Winter Olympics performances of all time, period.

For the Olympics to have its greatest moment in its biggest event caps what was overachievement on almost every level for these Games. That's the lead of today's SN column.

There's a lot more. I'm rushing off to try to catch a flight to Atlanta, where I will hopefully, weather-permitting depart and arrive in time to catch the Hawks-Mavs game tonight. More later or via Twitter.

-- D.S.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Quickie: Where Expectations Meet Injuries

I love mashing up topics for my SN column lead, but it really doesn't lend itself to attaching itself to a particular story. For example, I was struck by two very separate pieces of news:

Lindsey Vonn's injury when she fell in yesterday's race, and Robbie Hummel's knee injury in Purdue's win.

I want to tie them back to expectations: Vonn was expected to compete for five medals -- now she might not even get through 4 races, let alone race her 5th. And Purdue is on the short list for bonafide Final Four contenders... that is, if Hummel is healthy. Without him? Not so much.

It's a reality in sports -- just ask Texas football fans about Colt McCoy in the national title game -- and it feels like one of the more unfair bits of random luck.

By all accounts, this should be One Of Those Years for Purdue -- a program for whom Those Years don't come along very often. If Hummel is healthy, they're in it. If not: Tough luck.

Vonn is in a slightly better position: She already has a dramatic gold -- her first race of the Games -- and a bronze, to go with her two spills. Still: Not quite "cover" worthy.

(It won't matter: If the US hockey team wins gold, they will be next week's cover. They better hope no one gets unexpectedly injured.)

More in today's column:
*Sucks to be Russia hockey.
*Canada: Better off for US loss?
*Combine: All about Bradford
*Kobe: Not ready for back-to-backers?
*Bubble pops for Dayton, San Diego St?

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Quickie: Best Game of the Year?

My biggest problem with the US win over Canada was that it lacked "win-or-else" stakes that undermine virtually every regular-season game in every sport (except, relatively, college football).

But that is precisely what makes today's Canada-Russia so awesome: The two pre-Olympic favorites for gold (featuring the top two players in the world, no less), playing with some crazy stakes: The winner moves onto a medal opportunity, the loser is utterly humiliated.

Period. Zero-sum.

This is not a professional championship on the line; this is nationalism at its most fervent. This is psyche. This is bragging rights that make UNC-Duke or Red Sox-Yankees look insubstantial.

I think that it is one of the most intriguing single games of the year -- either the past year or the upcoming year, I don't really care which. (You'll groan, but it reminds me of Alabama-Florida in the SEC title game.)

You all know that I don't know much about hockey -- it's why I stay away from it here and in the SN column. But I think this transcends "just" a hockey game. So it leads today's column.

That's not to say that there isn't a ton more in the column:

*Did Kim just put on the performance of the Olympics?

*Did Kramer suffer the biggest choke of the Olympics?

*NFL Combine: Count me among the "meh" crowd.

*Brian Westbrook: Retire his number, Philly. And maybe he should retire, period.

*Kobe is back: And killing it, of course.

*Florida: Off the Bubble with the most energizing win since the 2007 team made its Tournament run. Naturally, this sets up the Gators getting their clock cleaned on the First Thursday.

*More Bubble: Watch San Diego State (at BYU) and Dayton (at Temple) tonight. If either pull an upset on the road, they should move into the field.

(It's this time of year that I look back on my time as college basketball editor at and remember how much fun I had with the Bubble Watch.)

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

2/23 Quickie: Appearances And Reality

Canada hockey has benched its goalie. UConn notches another win over a Top 10 team. Tim Tebow has remade his throwing mechanics. LT will have a new jersey next year. The Hawks won in Utah for the first time in forever.

The common thread of most of the biggest storylines this morning in today's column is that appearances are reality.

Is Luongo better than Brodeur? It doesn't matter: Canada HAD to make a cosmetic change.

Is UConn worthy of making the Tournament? My point in this morning's column is that when you fill out the "at-large" field, you want a couple teams that are inconsistent enough that they could seriously freak out the chalk -- that's UConn.

Are Tim Tebow's new mechanics going to be enough to quiet the haters? As long as he ingrains them, yes. (See Teblog for more on that.)

Is the Hawks win in Salt Lake City one of those "symbolism" games that points to a larger season of breakthrough? Probably. (I'm going to Atlanta this weekend and to the Hawks game on Friday night, so I'll get to see for myself.)

Will LaDainian Tomlinson look weird in another team's jersey? Probably, but all he really wants is those reps. He will go into the Hall of Fame as a Charger, but the LT/Charger era is over.

What I'm trying to figure out is whether I could have that column theme EVERY day, not just today... I don't think so. Some days, it's simply about appearances.

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Quickie: Hockey Win Was No Miracle

Forgive me for being entirely underwhelmed by the US hockey win over Canada. Well, not entirely: It was certainly an upset. But hardly anything definitive.

It wasn't for a medal. And, leading up to the game, a lot of folks had gone a long way to downplaying this US squad, talking about 2010 as a stepping stone to REAL success in 2014.

The operating theory I come back to is that this was no more meaningful than any regular-season win. Did the Cavs' win over the Lakers this season really mean anything? How about the Colts beating the Pats? Or the Red Sox beating the Yankees? Or UNC beating Duke?

The proof is in the championship -- or medal. And all that the US has done is implode the old expectations and move themselves into more the more standard scrutiny of American Olympic exceptionalism:

Medal or bust.

That's the lead of today's SN column, but you'll find a lot more, including:

*The most interesting thing about Tiger's thing on Friday.
*Why I'm off the Villanova Final Four bandwagon.
*Why I'm still not convinced the Cavs are the team to beat in the East.
*Why T-Mac saves the Knicks' season.
*Why the Hot Rod circuit is in for a huge change.
*Why Oregon is the new The U.

And more. Check out the complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.