Friday, May 21, 2010

05/21 Quickie: LeBron, Lance, Lakers, Rays

My favorite part of Mark Cuban's open discussion of a sign-and-trade for LeBron is that it should break us out of the KnicksBullsHeatNets contraint of creative thinking and open up LeBron to EVERY team.

If you can conceive of a trade package that works under the cap -- and come up with even a tenuous reason LeBron would want to play for your team -- you can join in the fun. Why should reporters and bloggers in New York or Chicago have all the fun?

The larger point is more serious: If LeBron leaves the Cavs as a free agent, they are done. Like, for a decade or more. If he really cares about the city and its fans, he would at least think about accepting a sign-and-trade that leaves the Cavs better than they would be otherwise.

My personal Mavs scenario is very simple: You want LeBron, Mark Cuban? Fine. Give me Dirk, Beaubois and Caron Butler. You can have LeBron and my worst contracts, to make it work. Done. The point is that (a) everyone should join in, and (b) sign-and-trade is the most humane thing LeBron could do for the Cavs and Cleveland.

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

*This is sizing up as the lamest NBA Playoffs season ever.

*If the NCAA finds Reggie Bush ineligible, not only should the BCS cabal take away USC's 2004 title, but the AP voters should RE-VOTE on the 2004 No. 1 team. Give it to Auburn!

*The sweep in New York was all the confirmation you need that the Rays are the team to beat in baseball.

*Who's ready for interleague? (Does this still have any novelty?)

*Doug Collins? Really? (I've said this before: The NBA has the worst head-coaching development pipeline in sports. It's atrocious.)

See the entire thing here. More later, hopefully, and a.m. posts through the weekend. With no kid's birthday to put on, more attention!

-- D.S.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

MLB Creating Its Own Foursquare

It isn't surprising that MLB is creating its own Foursquare-like application (on the heels of ESPN announcing its own foray into location-based services via mobile).

On the one hand, it would make sense for MLB to partner with Foursquare and other big competitors in the LBS space (including Facebook). You want to be where the fans are.

On the other hand, having its own app offers a really interesting opportunity for MLB to engage fans at the ballpark.

I'm less bullish on the idea of using it to chat with fellow fans who are at the game -- frankly, that's old win in new bottles -- than I am about the team being able to connect with fans:

*Let people who have checked in know that there is a half-inning special: "$10 off authentic jerseys at every team store location in the stadium."

(Even better: Group-buying deals, like "If at least 100 people are willing to buy jerseys, they will be 50 percent off.")

*Provide helpful tips: "If you're looking for a restroom with the shortest line, try section 21." "Section 21 bathroom lines are now long. Try Section 75."

*Integrate with the Jumbotron to allow fans to interact with the screen. Not just voting and not just making sure fans don't write inane messages. Something like "In six words, what is your favorite team moment?" Great chance for qualitative contributions.

*Pass along interesting statistics from the media team, exclusive to folks who check in. A lot of the buy-in from fans will come from "I check in, otherwise I wouldn't get X value."

The point is that when you control the check-in platform, you can be a little more customized in your applications than if you just create an event on Foursquare and hope everyone in the park checks in and checks messages.

Instead, you can prompt fans to have the app, check in and interact. Obviously, this is run at the MLB level, but the real value is when it gets unlocked at a team-by-team level.

It would behoove local dominant media -- like newspapers -- to either create their own version or, seemingly beaten to that, partner with Foursquare or another service.

There can be multiple winners here, but it feels like the agnostic platform (Foursquare) and the team (or MLB) are going to squeeze out the media partner.

Larger point: MLB leads the way with forward-thinking applications of popular emerging new technology and applications.

-- D.S.

Books: ESPN World Cup Companion

I will not pretend to be a soccer aficionado. However, I absolutely appreciate -- even love -- the World Cup. I love it as the world's biggest sports event (with this year's edition to be, arguably, the biggest event in sports history). I love the pageantry. I love the passion of the fans.

I don't usually recommend hardcover books. In this case, I am going to recommend ESPN's "World Cup Companion," because it felt like the only World Cup book you will need to appreciate the history and spectacle -- the context -- of the event. It is entirely valuable.

For the past two Cups, I have tried (and failed) to find a book that distills everything I would need (or want) to know into one package. That is the value of "Cup Companion." It has some cheeky charm (the imprint of brilliant co-author David Hirshey), but it is the ultimate catch-up.

It's fine to have a grasp of the teams involved this year, which you will be able to get in a bunch of places. But I think you need to get a glimpse of Cups past -- the heroes and storylines, age-old conflicts and mythologies. It helps to appreciate the Cup today. The "Companion" filled that for me.

The book has a breakdown of every Cup, including a summary of the tournament; the greatest teams, players and rivalries; the "cult figures" and a bunch of really smart essays about the past and future of the event.

The subtitle "Everything You Need to Know About the Planet's Biggest Sports Event" is accurate. You will feel vastly more literate about the World Cup, at a moment when that literacy will be the most valuable form of social currency you can have.

The book is an easy read and aesthetically gorgeous -- ESPN's designers know their stuff. It is a must-read before things start in three weeks and an ideal coffee table book for June and July. That's why I am alright with the hardcover recommendation.

I should mention that the publisher sent me a review copy, but I would have paid the $20 for it on Amazon. Think of it this way: After reading it, you'll have enough to say that it'll probably be worth at least two free pints to you at the bar when you've struck up a conversation with a soccer fan.

-- D.S.

05/20 Quickie: Strasburg, Lance, Gasol

It's two weeks until Stephen Strasburg makes his MLB debut, and I'm not sure the hype or anticipation could be any bigger.

In today's SN column lead, I pivot from SN's annual "Top 50 players in baseball" list to ask where Strasburg would slot if you offered him straight up for the guy on the list.

Let's think of it two ways: How much Strasburg can help THIS season -- would you swap him for King Felix at No. 12? Certainly Chris Carpenter at No. 20.

But if you add in the idea of swapping him for his lifetime of upside, I find it hard to believe he would fall much further behind Lincecum at No. 5 or Halladay at No. 6.

That Strasburg is a national story -- as future Nat top draft pick Bryce Harper will be a month from now -- and John Wall is and Alex Ovechkin is, you can understand why DC sports fans (and fans of DC sports) are excited.

More in today's column:

*I really really dislike PED scandal stories. The ones about Lance are particularly tired. At this point, I presume quite a bit -- given the era in the sport (in ALL sports, really). We get it: Everyone did it. Didn't stop us all from being enthralled by Lance or baseball players or, on an ongoing basis, the NFL. But it will be a big issue, because it's PEDs and because it's Lance.

*There seems to be a very good chance that both NBA conference finals series will end in sweeps. I appreciate that "Lakers-Celtics!" is a best-case scenario for the NBA, but having them both sweep to get there takes a little bit of the fun out of the playoffs.

*NBA Draft Combine! See today's column for my ode to Patrick Patterson, who I openly admit to being in the tank for. This, despite the fact that he not only played for Kentucky, but he originally said he was going to Florida only to change his mind and leave for UK. (Patterson's presence the past 3 seasons would have gone a long way to helping Florida avoid the post-championship drop-off, particularly in the front court.) Still: I am a huge fan of his.

*There's nothing I like more than a good busting of conventional wisdom, particularly in a sport I don't have an expertise in, like hockey.

*Brandon Marshall giving the Dolphins a problem? Go figure.

Lots more in today's column. More later -- I've got a World Cup book review coming around lunchtime.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

John Wall Hangover: Carmelo, Too?

OK, now I'm going to get greedy:

I want Ted Leonsis to sit on the Wizards' cap room in 2010 (they weren't going to get LeBron or Wade anyway, and Bosh and Gay aren't worth it), setting up a compelling pitch to Carmelo Anthony in the summer of 2011. The Wiz can offer max money, a tandem with Wall and -- this is huge -- proximity to Melo's beloved Baltimore.

Here is my killer idea: If I was Leonsis, I would absolutely dangle putting 4-6 Wizards "home" games in Baltimore as a sweetener to Carmelo; I believe that kind of detail would seal the deal. Combine that with plenty of draft picks this year and next year, and things suddenly get very interesting for the Wiz.

One other detail. Consider DC's athlete Mount Rushmore today: Alex Ovechkin, Stephen Strasburg, John Wall and Bryce Harper. (Sorry, Donovan McNabb. You too, Gilbert Arenas.) Cripes: That's a sick sports-star foundation for a city, and it doesn't even include an NFL star or a rep from one of the city's local college hoops teams.

Hmm: Given all the national-level star wattage, could "ESPN DC" be far behind? (If that's the case, memo to Rob King and Kevin Jackson: Pay what it takes to get Dan Steinberg to be the editor of

-- D.S.

Congrats to Associated Content and Yahoo

As if my Wizards winning the John Wall Lottery wasn't enough, yesterday my former company Associated Content was acquired by Yahoo. I'm not going to get all media-wonky on you right now about it; suffice to say, I think it is a terrific fit.

AC has a phenomenal management team I was proud to be a part of, great investors, a devoted and talented group of employees and many, many thousands of quality individual contributors. Congratulations to all of them, as well as Yahoo! Between my history at AC and my weekly Tebow columns for Y! Sports, it is like worlds colliding. The two will get along great.

-- D.S.

05/19 Quickie: Wall, Magic, Hanley, More

See the post below for my instant reaction to my Wizards getting John Wall -- I won't even consider the idea that they would take Evan Turner over Wall.

I also lead today's SN column with it, translating that blog post for the national SN audience: Wall matters not because of championships -- if that was the standard, then LeBron, CP3, Carmelo, Durant and Dirk would all be failures -- but because of the relevance.

Wall makes the Wiz matter, not unlike the way that Arenas made the Wiz matter when he was at the height of his loony powers in the mid-decade. I'm not sure what the Wiz do with Arenas -- I'd like to try the Wall-Arenas backcourt -- but as long as Wall is the face of the franchise, they're OK.

(This is an interesting position: Arenas is my favorite NBA player -- yes, even after the gun incident, I couldn't abandon him. But it is very possible that by the time we get to draft night, Wall could be my favorite NBA player. I'll always be in the bag for Gil, though.)

More in today's column:

*The Magic are finished.

*Don't overstate the Marlins winning w/o Hanley.

*The Nets are fine. Favors is a good fit.

*Who else is bored by the NFL-PED scandals.

*Erin Andrews: In. Chad Ochocinco: Out.

Lots more in there today. More later. (Why haven't the Wiz simply declared that Wall is the pick?)

-- D.S.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Wizards Win John Wall Lottery

Tonight is arguably the greatest night for Wizards fans in the history of the franchise -- at least since the NBA championship in the late-70s, so as good as "ever" for any fan under, say, 40.

You have to understand: Things like tonight just don't happen to the Wizards. They perennially miss the playoffs. They perennially blow the Lottery. They win the Lottery; they get Kwame Brown. They perennially draft duds. They make terrible trades. Their stars get injured. Their stars get suspended for the season. They bring in the greatest player of all time, and it is a debacle on almost every level.

I'm not sure any franchise in the NBA -- OK, perhaps the Clippers -- has been more ill-fated than the Wizards for the last 30 years or so.

And so it's hard to describe, but I felt this elation when the No. 2 Lottery card turned up "76ers," meaning the Wizards would win the chance to draft John Wall, arguably the most exciting guard since Allen Iverson -- the biggest draft prize since LeBron.

I jumped up and down, repeatedly. I shook. I grinned. I yelped.

The Wizards have never given their fans a championship -- not even close. But this is the closest thing to it that I have ever experienced as a Wizards fan.

I have always joked that the Lottery was the Wizards fan's playoffs. Finally -- finally -- we win it all.

05/18 Quickie: Lottery, Kobe, Hanley

As a long-time (long-suffering) Wizards/Bullets fan, I have an unhealthy obsession with the NBA Draft Lottery. Maybe that's because it is the Wizards fans' playoffs, perennially. (And, my god: No team has had worse Lottery luck.)

So tonight's Lottery is, of course, an Event, leading today's SN column. But mostly because the prize is John Wall, the most electrifying guard in the draft since Allen Iverson, a player who can instantly make a franchise must-see. Not sure if a player in the Lottery has been this big since LeBron.

With the 5th-best chance, I'm quite sure that the Wizards won't get him. I think he ends up with the Nets, if only because Mikhail Prokhorov will be in attendance, and that guy gets what he wants. (Don't listen to the folks arguing for Evan Turner; just draft Wall and sort it out.)

My favorite part about the Wizards is that even if they hold their position, it is regarded as a 2-person draft at best (Wall/Turner), with 2 more elite talents (Favors/Cousins), then a total crapshoot. There will be the Wiz, picking 5th. They could have had Rubio or Evans or Curry.

Meanwhile, Kobe's knee looks just fine. The Magic better hit a few more 3s if they don't want to be finished in this series. And Hanley Ramirez just torched his rep, because there is nothing -- nothing -- that fans hate more than "lollygagging."

See the complete column here. There's a lot more in there today. More later.

-- D.S.

Monday, May 17, 2010

05/17 Quickie: Celtics, Mo, Cuse LAX

Today's SN column leads with a question: What was more surprising...

*The Celtics winning Game 1 in Orlando?

*Syracuse lacrosse losing at home in the NCAA Tournament to Army?

*Mariano Rivera completely imploding?

Well, it's not the C's, even if I still think Orlando is winning that series. The Cuse loss might be the biggest upset in NCAA Lacrosse history. But the Rivera thing feels most shocking -- arguably, more shocking than Dallas Braden's perfect game. It's questionable which is more rare.

More in today's column:

*Lakers in 7.
*Flyers win Game 1 of the NHL's Storyline Series.
*UVA mourns (and wins)
*Phils sweep.
*Obama pitches for LeBron.

Lots more. See the whole thing here. More later.

-- D.S.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday (Birthday) Quickie

Four years ago today, my first kid was born.

It happened at 4 in the morning, so my Page 2 editor David Schoenfield pinch-hit in that day's Quickie, with only a subtle mention on the lower-right of the column that the kid was born. (Such a difference 4 years later, when it would have been tweeted and Facebooked near-instantly.)

I remember that Morning Quickie chatters had put even odds that the kid would be named "Joakim" (or, more realistically, at least "Noah"). Not quite: It was Gabe, after Jewish baseball legend Gabe Kapler. Kidding. It was a "G" name in honor of my wife's grandma.

So today is dedicated to throwing a birthday party in a local park for 30 4-year-olds from my son's preschool. The theme is a combination of jungle animals and financial literacy, which seems appropriate in 2010. (No, Chase or Bank of America didn't sponsor. But hey!)

There will be cupcakes. There will be chicken fingers. There will be a fun activity age-appropriate for 4-year-olds.

And, naturally, there will be quite a bit of reminiscing about how my and Mrs. Quickie's life changed 4 years ago today. Happy birthday, Gabe!

-- D.S.