Friday, April 16, 2010

Joakim Noah Has a Message To Share

Blogs With Balls 3.0 | Joakim Noah from HHR on Vimeo.

Ironically, he probably has no idea about my insane Florida fandom.

Blogs With Balls is in Chicago in June. Tickets are on sale now.

Sports Bloggers as Godfather Characters

The sure-fire way to get bloggers to link to you is to talk about them. Especially when you come up with a gimmick like mapping sports bloggers to characters from "The Godfather."

So which character did the Gally guys attach to me? Hyman Roth.

I'm going to go ahead and not assume that it was entirely because of the Jewish thing -- although if you scan the list of bloggers, there are surprisingly few Jewish folks on there.

Anyway, the Roth character is a meaty one: The token Jewish guy in the Corleone family, who then becomes an antagonist while building his own empire.

(The great acting coach Lee Strasburg was nominated for an Oscar for his portrayal of Roth.)

Maybe I'll build my own empire some day (although I'd prefer not to end things as Roth did).

-- D.S.

04/16 Quickie: NBA Playoffs, Draft, More

Today's SN column lead was the follow-up to Wednesday's column that the entire NBA season was all about LeBron. The playoffs are no different -- perhaps even more so.

Because it's "Title or Fail" for Mr. James. Not unlike Florida football in 2009 -- even the Colts in 2009 -- anything less than a national championship is a failed season. I think that goes even more for LeBron than Florida, if only because of its weight on the pending Summer of LeBron.

And so one's playoff predictions come down to this: Where do you think LeBron's season ends?

*With a championship?
*Losing in the Finals, say to the Lakers?
*Losing in the East finals, say to the Magic?

It's that last scenario that we've seen before -- LeBron's Cavs were the favorite in the East (if not the entire NBA) a year ago. That dream collapsed in 6 games -- in large part due to Cleveland's inability to stop Orlando's "stretch-4," Rashard Lewis. So the Cavs went out and got Antawn Jamison. The Magic, of course, did their work in the summer, getting Vince Carter (losing Turkoglu), Brandon Bass and Ryan Anderson, and re-signing Marcin Gortat. On paper, it was unmatched depth. On the court, they have "hand" (in Costanzan terms) over the Cavs.

Considering I'm a leading "instant historian," I'm a sucker for believing too much in what happened last year as forecast for what will happen this year. It remains my biggest weakness as a prognosticator of seasons or playoffs (or brackets).

But I think the Cavs fall short again -- losing to the Magic in the East finals, before the Lakers beat the Magic again in the NBA Finals.

What are your NBA playoff picks? Put them in the comments.

Tons more in the column today, including a reaction to Big Ben (yikes), yawning at the Browns' play for Bradford, celebrating Jorge Cantu and anticipating the reception for Tiger Woods at Quail Hollow, plus a lot more.

More later.

-- D.S.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

04/15 Quickie: Hayward, NBA Playoffs

I'm saving my NBA Playoff picks for tomorrow's SN column lead, and I'm glad I did, because the news of Butler's Gordon Hayward testing the NBA Draft is a pretty compelling topic to lead with: It is the anti-"Hoosiers." As I said in the column, Jimmy Chitwood didn't bolt Hickory for the NBA.

I don't begrudge Hayward -- at all. Just ask Da'Sean Butler about what kind of freak things can happen to ruin your pro career. And although Hayward would be an All-American next year, his draft prospects won't get better than this year (projected around 15-20).

Hayward going pro doesn't fit the wholesome movie-script storyline, but it fits entirely with reality.

The column is loaded today:

*Reggie Bush will pick torching USC over perjury.

*Brandon Marshall was worth it for the Dolphins.

*SN has Tim Tebow going to the Raiders at No. 39.

*I have Kevin Durant, youngest NBA scoring champ ever, as the No. 2 guy on my MVP ballot.

*Stephen Curry's 42 to end the season was ridiculous.

*So was DaJuan Blair's 20/20 double-double.

*I'm much less intrigued by Brandon Knight becoming the latest top PG to go to Kentucky than I am about Ray McCallum following his dad to U. of Detroit. Both will end up in the NBA soon enough.

*Jorge Cantu: H/RBI record to start a season. Not bad!

*But probably not as interesting as Jose Guillen hitting a HR in his 4th straight game...

*Which, in turn, is not as interesting as Colby Lewis -- spot-starting for CJ Wilson -- striking out 10....

*Which, in turn, isn't as fascinating as Twins fans' first experience with rain at a home game.

*Elin divorcing Tiger? Well, obviously.

*It's official: My first fantasy championship.

See the whole column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Finally, a Fantasy Championship

I have been playing some form of fantasy sports since the mid-90s: Football and baseball, mostly. A few seasons of basketball. I have been in leagues with co-workers, with friends, with randoms. I have been in snake drafts and, a couple years ago, even tried an auction-draft baseball season.

The common factor among every season: I was a loser.

Almost always, a second-division loser. I can remember making the playoffs once or twice, but that feels hazy -- like I created that in my head to make myself feel better about the perennial sucking. (Wait: I just remembered that somewhere in a box in a storage unit, I have one of those old pennants for winning my league. I cannot remember how or when I won it -- maybe the late-90s? It is also possible I merely swiped one from the fantasy storage closet while I was working next to it.)

My failures have been pretty epic: In my main baseball league, I had a breakthrough year in 2009... finishing 9th or 10th out of 16 teams. In my three football leagues, I was so bad that I had to claim moral victory in my Kissing Suzy Kolber keeper league by capping yet another last-place season by knocking DJ Gallo out of the playoffs with a rare win.

All that said, I am going to win my first fantasy championship tonight, when my "Gilbert's Arenas" wins the "6-Inch Verticals" NBA fantasy league, defeating Deadspin's Tommy Craggs in the two-week championship series. The league was organized by Yahoo's Brett Dykes (aka Cajun Boy), who set up a scoring system so convoluted -- a Byzantine calculus including made (and missed) field goals and free-throws, made (and missed) 3s and all sorts of other traditional stats -- that someone like me could stumble my way to a championship. In fact, I was somewhat of a juggernaut.

And, oh, did it feel good to finally win consistently. And does it feel good to finally win that championship.

And so I want to take a moment to spotlight my team of champions:

PG: Chauncey Billups, Aaron Brooks
SG: Dwyane Wade, Stephen Curry, Eric Gordon
F: Josh Smith, Al Horford, Carlos Boozer

Drafted but Dropped At Some Point (but still getting a playoff share): Tyreke Evans (!), Al Harrington, Jonny Flynn, Andrei Kirilenko, Greg Oden, Charlie Villanueva.

Critical Mid-Season Pickups: George Hill, Chris Andersen, Omri Casspi, Anthony Tolliver and Late-Season Pickups: Terrence Williams, Tayshaun Prince, Taj Gibson, JJ Hickson.

Finally: I might have kicked myself for dropping Tyreke Evans after the first week of the season, but the player I ended up swapping him for turned out to by my team -- and arguably league -- MVP: Marc Gasol, who under the scoring system, was an absolute monster. Because of his role on my one and only title team, he will always have a special place for me.

Team of Champions: I salute you!

(As for the rest of the players under my management, across all sports: New standards!)

-- D.S.

04/14 Quickie: LeBron, Marshall, NBA Finales

The NBA regular season revolved around LeBron. The offseason certainly will. Sandwiched in between, the postseason will, too: It's "Title or Bust" for LeBron, period. Fair or unfair?

More you'll find in today's SN column:

*Great deal for the Dolphins to get Brandon Marshall.
*Does anyone want Dez Bryant?
*Jazz-Suns the linchpin of NBA postseason seedings.
*Ricky Romero!
*Ekpe Udoh: I like his NBA prospects a lot.
*Larry Brown to the Sixers: Really? Ugh.

There's a bunch more in there. Sorry for the quick post this morning. More later, including a long-awaited championship.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

04/13 Quickie: QBs, Target, NBA Seeds

Intriguing day for QBs around the NFL, leading today's SN column

Big Ben's meeting with the Commish should be a good scolding... Sam Bradford is meeting with the Rams, and presumably they will not ask "Can you take NFL punishment?" but "Can you sign before the draft?" 

And, yes, there's even a new Tim Tebow storyline: He wasn't on the NFL's list of 16 players attending the draft. I'm not sure that means he WON'T attend (I think he should, because he's the biggest storyline of the draft), but for now, he won't. (He will be in NYC next Tuesday for an EA event. I might be there. More on that later.)

More on the radar today:

The NBA's regular season is nearly over, and the West has its 8-seed locked in to play the Lakers: Durant's Thunder, which will get a valuable education in playoff basketball. Actually, I love the Lakers-Thunder 1st-round pairing.

NBA early-entries: Wes Johnson is a Top 5 pick. Ed Davis is a Top 5 pick... in 2009. In 2010, he might slip into the 6-10 range, particularly if his injured wrist doesn't let him work out for teams in advance of the draft.

Target Field looks really nice. Certainly nicer than the Metrodome.

The A's are the new Mariners (while beating the Mariners, coincidentally).

Yankees home opener today: Expect the usual triumphalism as they put up the championship banner.

-- D.S.

Monday, April 12, 2010

04/12 Quickie: Phil, Holmes, Halladay

Sorry for the brief intro to today's SN column, but check it out here, including:

*Phil as the anti-Tiger.
*Jets steal Holmes.
*Just give Halladay the NL Cy now.
*John Brantley is pretty good.
*The new "short-term" LeBron plan.

Lots more. More later.
--- D.S.