Saturday, May 01, 2010

Saturday (Very) Quickie

Thoughts while contemplating my favorite name of a 2010 Derby horse. And this.

*Ever think you'd see Tiger phone it in? Now you have.

*Tough luck for the Thunder. The difference was Durant shooting 5-for-oblivion. I know Durant is universally loved and I know that Ron Artest is arguably the best lock-down defender in the NBA, but if you're over 30, you're allowed to think "John Starks '94."

*The Nuggets are in the same boat as the Mavs: They ain't winning anything, as currently constructed. Implode 'em. Put Dirk in Denver. Put Melo in Dallas. Something...

*LeBron is NBA MVP: Of course he is. Who were the cranks who didn't vote for him?

*My only question about Favre is why he didn't get the ankle surgery -- minor or not -- in February, which would ensure he was all set by July. (Oh, I know why: He's the most selfish player in NFL history.)

*Barry Zito is 4-0. The Mets have won 8 straight. The Nats are 13-10. What's going on here?

*Where was THAT Jaroslav Halak against the Caps in Game 7?

*Holmes vs. the iPod: Anyone else flown next to someone who refused to turn off their iPod or phone when instructed to? It happens to me virtually every time I fly.

*Tebow looked good in his Broncos mini-camp debut. It was funny to watch the local Denver media finally figure out what a mania they have on their hands.

*Derby Day. Be sure to support your local OTB with a $2 flyer.

-- D.S.

Friday, April 30, 2010

04/30 Quickie: Derby, Mavs, LeBron, More

If you're a Seinfeld fan, yesterday's Twitter flash-meme of naming Kentucky Derby horses using Seinfeld references was an amazing distraction during the afternoon. So much so that I led today's SN column with it. I'm torn between the very obscure references and the ones that actually sounded vaguely like something you'd name a racehorse after ("The Boca Breeze").

But it's not like there isn't a ton to talk about today:

*Mavs bounced out. First time a 7 beat a 2 in the NBA Playoffs. But more than that, it's an indication that the Mavs need to be imploded. If Cuban's goal is to win a championship, he isn't going to do it with this group, including Dirk. Here's a scenario: Dump 'em all and make a play for LeBron, who is (and should be) intrigued by playing for Cuban.

*I'd really like to see the Thunder beat the Lakers tonight to force a Game 7. I'd really like to see the Cavs stumble with that LeBron elbow injury (as much as I dislike the Celtics). I'm really surprised that this is Grant Hill's first time beyond the first round of the playoffs.

(I have a soft spot for Grant Hill, who is just a few months older than I am -- back when I turned 37, I think I counted -- at most -- a half-dozen players older than me in the NBA. That block Hill had on Bayless at the end of the 1st half was a turn-back-the-clock moment for all of us oldies.)

*The most intriguing team in baseball? The Diamondbacks, and it has nothing to do with their play on the field and everything to do with their place as a traveling symbol for Arizona's immigration law and the protests surrounding it. Everywhere they go, they will find protests - for now, those protests will get a ton of coverage, which will beget more protests.

*Today's column also has my after-1-month MLB awards: Longoria and Pujols for MVP (over teammates Crawford and Rasmus), Garza and Lincecum for Cy, Maddon and Manuel for Manager... and I leave Rookie blank for now.

There's a lot more in there. Check it out here. More coming later and throughout the weekend, as usual.

-- D.S.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

04/29 Quickie: Caps, Bucks, Mets, More

I'm not going to offend Capitals fans by claiming to be a big Caps fan and fully understand the obliteration of last night's loss. But you don't have to be a Caps fan -- or even a hockey fan -- to appreciate the chokery in DC: The first 1-seed to lose a 3-1 series lead in NHL Playoff history.

As I lead in today's SN column, it instantly becomes the defining detail of Alexander Ovechkin's MVP career.

Again, I try to stay away from hockey, because I don't follow the sport closely. But this result transcends hockey into something bigger, particularly because it involves the league's best player -- and one of the biggest stars in all of sports. And it's rough.

More you'll find in today's column:

*Speaking of chokes... the Hawks?

*Does the Mavs season end tonight in San Antonio?

*Suspend Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland?

*The Mets are the new Braves -- and vice versa.

*Tim Lincecum with the ND of the Year

*Hopefully, Tiger will get at least one heckler at Quail Hollow.

See the complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

04/28 Quickie: NBA Playoffs, NHL Game 7s

It's a pretty intriguing morning in the NBA, I think. Worth leading today's SN column, for sure:

*The plucky Thunder got a lesson in "pivotal Game 5s" from the defending champs. OKC will file that away for when they are hosting a Game 5 down the road. LA in control.

*LeBron's elbow! LeBron's elbow! Meh: Overrated issue, until he takes the floor against the Celtics in Game 1 and the Cavs lose HCA. Otherwise: Let's focus on the dislikability of both teams.

*I think the most intriguing storyline of the night: Was that Dwyane Wade's last game for the Heat? He talks a good game about being loyal -- what else would he say? -- but he also leaves plenty of room for bolting, if it doesn't look like the team is better than a 1st-round/5-game exit. As I said in the column: If your goal is a championship, going out in the 1st round in 5 games is closer to not making the playoffs at all than winning the championship.

*Wizards fans vicariously enjoy a playoff win through Caron Butler (and even Brendan Haywood). Better times ahead for Wiz fans: Ted Leonsis is one step closer to ownership.

Lots more in the column today:

*You can't stop the Mets!
*You can't stop Francisco Liriano!
(Or Livan Hernandez!)
(Or Stephen Strasburg!)
*Jeff Ireland has a new big-detail-in-obit moment.
*Scott Sicko: From NFL novelty to standard UFA.
*I imagine Fred Hoiberg keeping Harrison Barnes in Ames.
*Nothing beats a NHL Playoffs Game 7, especially when it involves the league's best player.

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

On Bill Simmons and Jay Penske

What would Bill Simmons do? Everyone makes this assumption that with Simmons' ESPN contract (nearly) up, he will either (a) take a huge payday to re-up with ESPN; (b) entertain offers from mainstream media competitors like AOL or CBS or Yahoo or Fox; or (c) strike out on his own, as he has intimated and not unlike his buddy Adam Carolla.

I want to go back to something I wrote about a few months ago, because I think that an ultimate option is (d) none of the above.

Instead, watch a recent development in the entertainment and tech news categories: Burgeoning media mogul Jay Penske throwing gobs of cash at successful indie publishers like Nikki Finke and, most recently, Boy Genius Report.

It only makes sense that Penske -- scion of the Penske auto-racing empire -- would want to create his own empire in sports. Penske's Mail Media even owns the ideal sports URL:

And so it would seem to make sense for the LA-based Penske to send an invite to the LA-based Simmons to meet halfway and discuss the kind of deal both seem to want. Penske can offer Bill a few things Simmons would find desirable:

*Tons of money: Penske can afford to pay Bill more than ESPN pays Rick Reilly, commensurate with Bill's status as the most popular sportswriter in the country. Forget the ROI of ad sales; it is reasonable to say that a mere $10 a year iPhone app would more than cover Simmons' annual compensation.

*Equity in his own enterprise: Beyond mere paychecks, Penske can give Simmons a stake in Mail Media -- or an even bigger stake in a spin-off sports property over which Simmons would be given the opportunity to ride the upside.

*Total creative control: It is one thing for Bill to get to write about anything he wants. It is another for Bill to expand on his executive role with "30 for 30" and invest in any project (or talent) he wants. Meanwhile, Penske's team can handle the finances and ad sales.

In this way, it's not unlike Howard Stern's deal with Sirius -- talent not merely as the brand, but as the entire business.

In exchange, Penske gets the biggest individual brand in sports media -- someone who will instantly bring an audience, creative vision and the ability to recruit other talent. Penske's media empire has its biggest star and a platform to be a player in sports media, online or off.

The odds-on result of Simmons' pending free agency is not unlike LeBron's: Rumors of interest elsewhere abound, but ultimately, he will more than likely re-sign with the home team, which has a vested interest (and plenty of resources) to make that happen.

But if Bill is serious about doing something new -- something his -- then no amount of money or responsibility at ESPN (or other mainstream sports media company) will ever totally satisfy him.

And that is an opportunity for Penske -- or any other media-focused investor -- to show Simmons another way.

04/27 Quickie: Howard, Big Ben, NBA

Sorry for the quick entry this morning, riffing on today's SN column:

*Cripes, that's a lot of money to pay for a 36-year-old Ryan Howard.

*Big Ben's acceptance of responsibility? Unimpressive.

*So this means Roy Halladay won't go 30-0, right?

*It's going to be hard to stay up for a 10:30 tip for Lakers-Thunders, but you have to try, right?

*My favorite late-round draft pick: UAB's Joe Webb by the Vikings

*Jan Vesely wouldn't have ignored the NBA draft if he was a college kid.

*Tim Tebow's NFL jersey > Sam Bradford's NFL jersey.

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.

Monday, April 26, 2010

04/26 Quickie: Draft Winners, NBA Playoffs

Love the Scott Sicko story. That guy will get more attention for not playing in the NFL than he ever would have for playing in the NFL.

Speaking of the NFL, the Monday after Draft weekend is for the post-mortem: Winners, losers, projections, notable UFAs and more.

As I lead in today's SN column, Pete Carroll is off to a good start; Detroit is starting to look respectable; and Jason Campbell is starting in Oakland.

And even though Tim Tebow won't start in Denver this year, I think he can win Offensive Rookie of the Year, because Josh McDaniels has a vested interest in getting Tebow TDs near the goal-line.

(There's my Monday-morning contribution to the "Tebow exceptionalism" argument I made at the Teblog on Friday to make the point that we should default to his success, not failure.)

I know many of you are gagging on your Wheaties over that prediction, so let's move on...

The NFL hits a hiatus (before mini-camps and, undoubtedly, more Tebow-Mania... and not just by me), just in time for the NBA Playoffs to get really, really interesting:

I am loving this Spurs-Mavs series, with San Antonio on the verge of bouncing out Dallas, the 2-seed. The 5-seed Jazz are on the verge of bouncing out the 4-seed Nuggets. The Suns and Blazers are a total toss-up (particularly given Roy's return), and you can't have watched even a little bit of the Thunder win over the Lakers in Game 4 and not been at least a little bit intrigued that OKC is not going to go down easy.

Oh, and then there's LeBron's triple-double and Wade's 46, for the only reason that Heat-Celtics series is still interesting.

At a minimum, Lakers-Thunder Game 5 is a must-see.

There's a bunch more in the column, including why the Rays are the best team in baseball right now and why Oregon hoops is a tough job, even for the qualified Dana Altman.

Complete column here. More later.

-- D.S.