Thursday, July 22, 2010

07/23 Quickie: CP3, Henry, More

I know I've been running long the past two days -- that's hardly my style...

Good riddance to Chris Paul: That's what I would be thinking if I was a Hornets fan. I appreciate that he is a star, but he doesn't appreciate the team, the fans or the region. Let him walk. (For more, see yesterday's bonus post.)

A-Rod hits No. 599: Like him or not, care about PEDs or not, "600" is a big deal. In A-Rod's case, the only reason it might not be such a big deal is that it's not like he is at the very tail end of his career, where he is nudging over 600 and that's that; will we remember 600 when he crosses 700? Unlikely.

MLB Hall of Fame Weekend: As a Cubs fan growing up, I loved Andre Dawson -- loved that he took a discount to play at Wrigley, loved that he put up MVP numbers (if winning a controversial MVP award), loved that he remains beloved with Cubs fans.

I also like that his induction creates a cool Marvel Team-Up combo of Cubs fans and Expos fans. Now, HOF voters, about Tim Raines...

More HOF: I grew up in suburban DC within earshot of Frick enshrinee Jon Miller calling games for the Orioles. He is, by far, my favorite baseball play-by-play person ever. As a kid who similarly grew up playing Strat-o-Matic and calling my own games, with short-lived aspirations of being a baseball broadcaster, he's a bit of a hero.

In praise of Robbie Caldwell: Two words: Turkey. Insemination. The new/interim Vandy football coach earned a standing ovation from the media folks at SEC Media Days, for his disarming and charming interview session under the bright lights. (Great post by Clay Travis about it.)

Dez Bryant signs: What a smart P.R. move to avoid the holdout, become the first 1st-round pick to sign and make people forget about the mess with the NCAA that ruined his last college season. Holdouts are rep-killers with fans; the opposite is true, too: Players who sign quick earn a ton of cred.

I was wrong about Thierry Henry in MLS: For soccer fans, it's a very big deal. I'm still bummed I didn't get out to Red Bull Arena last night, but I would have been there to watch Tottenham, which is my Premiership team (preceding the bandwagon-jumping by some other sportswriters). BTW: Henry took the PATH train (public transportation) from Manhattan to the game -- very cool.

T'wolves GM David Kahn does it to himself: Why call Chris Webber a schmuck during an on-air radio interview? Points for solid Yiddish, but the guy is a buffoon.

NBA Free Agency: What if I told you that Matt Barnes was going to be the X-factor that would give the Lakers the ultimate edge over the Heat when they inevitably battle in the Finals? (You wouldn't believe me, but let's revisit in 10 months.) Theo Ratliff? Another big doesn't hurt -- he can certainly be the answer to Miami's... oh, Joel Anthony.

NFL Offseason: Broncos sign Elvis Dumervil for 6Y/$61M. Well worth it for a disruptive pass rusher in his prime. That Denver Post article about Tebow's potential "hold out" was kind of ludicrous; training camp starts next Wednesday -- he'll have a deal hammered out by then. If Dez Bryant can manage it....

Your Moment of Tebow: The next Bachelor? I freaking hope not.

Last question: How many MLB players would fail if there was a league-wide test given today for HGH? 5 percent? 10 percent? 25? 50? More?

-- D.S.

So Chris Paul Wants Out?

I was reading Henry Abbott's terrific analysis of the Chris Paul situation in New Orleans and saw this line:
There are a lot of different stories you can use to rally your fanbase -- good ones include: we're young and growing, we're fun to watch, or we're contenders.

A less compelling story: We're on the playoff bubble, and likely to stay there. In other words, it's entirely possible they won't be exciting in the playoffs nor the draft.
Yes. This is, approximately, my Unifying Theory of the NBA. I went through it last year, in a less nuance form: You're either contending or not, and I argued that the list of real contenders -- not teams with a shot at the title but teams that were actually trying to win a title, this season -- was about a half-dozen long. Maybe a few more.

Everyone else fell into categories like Henry described: Young and growing (Thunder) or fun to watch (Warriors). Everyone else was in a neutral zone of tanking or sucking. And, by sucking, I mean that even if you make the playoffs, if you're not eventually going to contend for a title, you're not going the right way.

That's why I was so happy the Wizards got John Wall: They may not contend for years -- they may not contend ever -- but they will be fun to watch. And that's enough. Only one team can win a championship; in the NBA, the calculus is brutal. (See the limited number of teams that have won titles in the last 20-30 years.) I am perfectly happy for my team to be fun to watch.

Here is why the Hornets should trade Chris Paul, even though he is a megastar and they will get back dimes on the dollar: Because they have Darren Collison -- who isn't Chris Paul but proved that he isn't devastatingly far behind, either -- they can still be entertaining, but a hell of a lot more financially sound. And, even at dimes on the dollar, Paul should command a premium of talent complementary to Collison.

The game isn't competing for championships -- any Hornets fan who thought the team was in that position is deluding themselves. It's about being fun to watch and having the financial flexibility to maintain the fun in the near and long-term future. Dumping CP3 gives them that.

If it's the Lakers, I demand Bynum.
If it's the Knicks, I demand Gallinari AND Randolph.
If it's the Celtics, I demand Rondo (and make it work).
And 1st-round picks from all of them.
And taking on my worst contracts.

The Hornets will be better off.

(And that doesn't even get into CP3 not wanting to be there, which -- as a fan -- would make me want to ship him out as fast as possible. Good riddance.)

Don't get LeBron'ed, NOLA.

-- D.S.

07/22 Quickie: On Pimps

Let's talk about pimps.

That's what Alabama's Nick Saban called agents yesterday: Pimps.

Here's the thing: Many of them are -- or, at least, many of them act like that. Obviously, the worst ones are particularly bad.

Then again, many coaches are pimps -- or, at least, pimp-ish. So are many assistant coaches. So are many would-be coaches.

So are many boosters.

So are many high school coaches or AAU "coaches." So are many in the "recruiting industrial complex."

So are many "advisors." So are many family members.

So are many in sports media. Even fans are willing to be exploitative.

And so are many players.

Now, let's stipulate that players are the most vulnerable here -- although it's pretty hard to consider OJ Mayo "vulnerable." Plenty of players have a sixth sense: Entitlement.

But as a relatively new parent, I'm not willing to say that players' entitlement is natural; it is nurtured, by all those folks around them I just listed above.

The fact is that the entire system is built around exploitation -- exploiting players, yes, but ultimately exploiting consumers.

The daisy chain is convoluted, but our dollars as fans drive this process. And so underlying all of this is greed: Sometimes it's for money, sometimes it's for fame, sometimes it's for winning.

A long time ago, we all decided -- collectively -- that we didn't want to know how the sausage was made. Only that it was tasty.

Whether you are the NCAA, sports media, fans, coaches, whoever: It is disingenuous to be shocked -- shocked, I say! -- to find out that the social contract we signed came with some costs.

Want to crack down? First of all, you'll get some really bad situations as the tectonic plates shift. Second, you will change sports, and I'm not sure all fans want them changed in this way. Third, there will always be greed, and there will always be sleazy chicanery at the margins. To layer on yet another metaphor: It is dangerous to paint with an overly broad brush. That said:

We're all pimps, at one level or another.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

SB Nation Acquires The Sporting Blog

My column's most recent home is traded to one of my favorite sports media companies.

07/21 Quickie: USC, Lou, SEC, More

Let’s start with this: It’s not enough for USC to return Reggie Bush’s Heisman Trophy -- now, it’s on the Heisman Trust to give the Trophy to the player who deserved it: Vince Young.

Meanwhile: Can someone point to the part of Pat Haden’s resume that would minimally qualify him for a job like Athletic Director?

Oh, that’s ideal: Take a corrupt program and put the guy with no actual experience in charge. Haden’s interpretation of “compliance” is fluffing Notre Dame as a TV “analyst.”

This whole agent-crackdown by the NCAA feels like an overreaction. It is cynical to say “It’s widespread and that’s that,” but is this really a rock that the NCAA wants to turn over?

(Question: If UNC’s Marvin Austin was eligible for the past NFL Draft, where would he have gone? Well, he’s projected as a mid-1st pick in 2011, so let’s say no lower than mid-2nd. It’s probably even more severe for Alabama’s Marcel Dareus, projected as a high-1st in 2011.)

I’m with Joe Sheehan: Lou Piniella should be in the Hall of Fame. The job he did with the Reds in 1990 is one of the great single-season managerial jobs in recent memory.

I’m partial to Lou: My baseball glove was a Piniella model, and a former girlfriend’s dad was very close to Lou; somewhere, I have a signed ball, made out to the two of us.

It’s a double-whammy for me: Ryne Sandberg is my all-time favorite player, and he appears to be the leading contender for the Cubs job next season. He better get seasoned up fast.

Are the Phillies about to trade for Roy Oswalt? Because when you say that they are in the market for another top-line pitcher, the list is pretty short.

Link of the Day: OK, the ending of the Giants-Dodgers game was totally convoluted. Luckily, Rob Neyer can make as much sense of it as anyone -- but some things are still left unclear.

Of course Brad Childress and Brett Favre didn’t discuss some kind of actual deadline. That would undermine the entire process of the enabling.

I should always stay away from hockey analysis, but I’m not sure what the NHL is thinking in rejecting Ilya Kovalchuk’s unprecedented 17-year deal with the Devils. Can’t see how the net result of teams locking in their stars for the rest of their careers is a bad thing.

Given that they already have two combo guards, are the Warriors signing Jeremy Lin for the local marketing value? Nothing inherently wrong with that -- btw, he played well enough in Summer League to merit a roster spot, regardless of potential jersey sales -- but I’d appreciate it if they at least acknowledged it.

Jimmy Johnson as a contestant on Survivor: Nicaragua? I just don’t see Jimmy putting himself in a position where he might have to get off his boat. Let alone mess up his hair. (Also: Doesn’t Fox have a problem with Johnson appearing on a signature CBS show? If Johnson wants to be a reality-TV star, can’t Fox make that happen for him?)

Looking ahead to today’s big story: SEC Media Days, the king of all college media days. Last year’s total “Teclipse” won’t be matched, and it feels like the recent NCAA/agent run-ins involving Florida and Alabama -- only the two biggest teams in the league, with the two biggest star coaches -- will be the big topic of conversation. Can’t we just talk about how awesome John Brantley will be?

-- D.S.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

07/20 Quickie: Final Wake-Up Call

I break a huge scoop in today's SN column: Today will be my final column for

It has been a fun run with the Wake-Up Call, and I sincerely thank the folks at Sporting News for giving me a home for the last 2+ years and 600+ columns.

Next up: TBA.

-- D.S.

Monday, July 19, 2010

07/19 Quickie: Cubs, Heat, More

Recovering from a busy weekend in Chicago, but the game was terrific. A friend who works for the Cubs got us onto the field before the game for pictures and couldn't have been sweeter to my kid. (Per the comments on the last post, he got that certificate of "First Game at Wrigley." Nice touch.)

It was hard to tell how he was experiencing the whole thing. As with the Knicks game, the food was a major focus: He started with an ice cream-in-the-mini-helmet before moving on to cotton candy. At that point, he was like Cornholio.

He did make it to the 7th-inning stretch, which in 95 degree heat is pretty good. He knows the song, but I think the enormity of the collective experience finally hit him as everyone around him got up and started singing.

All in all, it was a terrific first MLB game -- again, simply having at Wrigley on a Friday afternoon alone puts it in the 99th percentile of baseball experiences. That he was there with me, my brother, my dad, my wife and my sister-in-law only made it more memorable.

The rest of the weekend was a sprint to stay ahead of two antsy kids.

Today's SN column leads with MJ's comment about LeBron, dissing The Decision. However, one comment on Twitter really resonated: Jordan's judgment is so bad that perhaps that actually means LeBron made exactly the right decision. Man, wish I had said that.

Speaking of saying things, Dwyane Wade needs some perspective. As if the Heat wasn't going to get booed in New York as it was.

Much more in the column. And more later today, hopefully.

-- D.S.