Thursday, July 29, 2010

07/30 Quickie: MLB, Tebow, LeBron

On the radar today: Tim Tebow, Roy Oswalt, Ted Lilly, Arash Markazi, Stephen Strasburg, Buck Showalter, Rick Pitino, T.O., Travis Pastrana and More.

Phillies get Roy Oswalt: "Roy and Roy and three days of rain" -- and that's probably enough for the Phillies not just to make the playoffs, but win the NL pennant again.

(UPDATE: Reader Brian T. correctly points out that Cole Hamels is killing it lately. All the more reason to consider the Phillies the most dangerous team in the NL, once we get to the playoffs. This is a team built to win series in October.)

Trade deadline "prizes": Ted Lilly? Jake Westbrook? Jeremy Guthrie? That doesn't include anyone who is going to catapult a team into the playoffs, like aces Lee and Oswalt were.

: How much of the potential between Tim Tebow's base deal of $11 million (over 5 years, $8.7M guaranteed) and his potential earnings of $33 million will he pick up when he wins NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year?

The spiked LeBron-in-Vegas story: Bad news, all the way around. Bad for LeBron (I guess). Bad for ESPN. Bad for Arash Markazi, who is a good guy. Bad for fans.

Stephen Strasburg to the DL: I'm not going to fault the Nats for being overly cautious -- even if it does kill any chance I have of making my fantasy league playoffs, after drafting Stras back in March and stowing him for all those months. But it is just not a good sign that he is suffering shoulder issues already. The foreshadowing is ominous.

O's hire Buck Showalter: It. Won't. Help. (Honestly, MLB is like the NBA -- there is a fundamental problem with the development pipeline for managers/head coaches.)

Ubaldomania returns? Not quite, but at this point, merely winning is a big deal.

Love the old-school Padres uniforms. (Less enthusiastic about the Padres getting Miguel Tejada.)

Rick Pitino should have settled.

I'm sorry: Was there actually a question that Lorenzen Wright died from gunshot wounds related to a homicide?

T.O. Watch: Bengals fans are like Bills fans or Eagles fans or 49ers fans before them: When T.O. isn't on their team, they hate him; when he is on their team, they love him. When he inevitably gripes or freaks or, certainly, leaves, they will claim they never cared. But they do.

Is Travis Pastrana the best-ever in his sport (freestyle moto-x)? Probably. Amazingly, it might not even be his best sport.

Idol: Fact -- Ellen was not a particularly good judge anyway.

Happy retirement to David Tyree: He will be eternally remembered as one-half of the greatest play in the history of the NFL.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

07/29 Quickie: Phillies, Amare, LeBron

Hold on... I'm still processing the reality that Amare Stoudemire is Jewish.

*The one thing I love about the Phillies is that they recognize this is their window to win championships -- even just to make the playoffs -- and make moves to take advantage of that... like trading for Roy Oswalt.

(Combine that with the Phillies heating up, last night's win behind Halladay's 6-hitter and the call-up of top prospect Domonic Brown -- who had 2 H and 2 RBI in his debut -- and things are looking good for Philly. If they make the playoffs, yikes: The Halladay-Oswalt combo alone could be enough pitching to get them the NL pennant.)

*A-Rod: Still at 599. This could be a while.

*After reading the (pre-)released draft of Arash Markazi's brilliant-for-its-detail LeBron-in-Vegas profile, the only thing that seemed wrong with it was that it embarrassed LeBron.

*RIP, Lorenzen Wright. What a tragic ending.

*Rick Pitino is unlikely to shake the whole "15 seconds" thing, especially when Louisville goes on the road.

*Antonio Gates is -- appropriately -- the highest-paid TE in the NFL: 5Y extension at $7+M a year, with the all-important "guaranteed" money at $20M.

*The best thing that could happen to sports in the state of Arizona is the judicial ruling to put the controversial SB 1070 on hold. Certainly better than what's happening to the D'backs.

*Jeremiah Masoli to Ole Miss? Troubled guy, but supremely talented. Hope the Rebels have a great support system in place for him.

*Soccer: Again, MLS confirms that when they involve European clubs, tons of fans want to get out and watch. The question: How can MLS get 70,000 fans to continue to turn out, even without the lure of Man U.?

*USA Hoops: Are we going to look back in a year or so and wonder how Tyreke Evans didn't make the Top 15 of the non-Olympic-year national basketball team roster?

*Tim Tebow is officially a training camp "holdout." His deal is imminent, but technically, it is a hold out. Mangia, haters.

*Must-Read: SI's list of the 25 Most Hated Teams of All Time. Terrific stuff by Deitsch and the crew. One quibble: It wasn't that fans hated the 89-90 UNLV hoops team (ranked No. 9); they hated the 90-91 team (and even that, I'm not sure about). That 1990 team ripped out Duke's soul -- that alone made it beloved.

-- D.S.

07/28 Quickie: T.O., Yao, Stras, Pac-12

Number of weeks until fans are sick of Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco playing "can you top this?" Actually, if you enjoy flamboyant behavior, this is incredible news.

Foreshadowing: Stephen Strasburg was scratched from his start last night because of shoulder inflammation. Already? So not good.

Yao will retire from the NBA if his foot injury doesn't totally heal: The Rockets have done admirably well without him, but it would be a Top 3 all-time "What if...?"

Pac-10 becomes "Pac-12": Larry Scott might be getting mocked, but I really like the Pac's effort to make its brand more national and powerful.

The league has been a weak sister for years -- despite USC's success -- and the fact is that East Coast Bias exists in the media and with fans, and unless you're on the radar back East (or even in the Midwest), you're at a disadvantage: With TV deals, with sponsors, with recruiting.

The idea seems lame-brained... right up until the league actually gets more exposure and improves all those metrics. Scott's willingness to do whatever is a refreshing change for that league. I wonder if, a few years ago, Scott would have openly supported a playoff?

Cliff Lee is awesome: 13 Ks in 9 innings. But it still wasn't enough to get the W -- the Rangers needed Nelson Cruz to hit a game-winning HR in the 10th. They are just having one of "those" years.

MLB makes a smart move: They move the start of the 2011 schedule up and ensure the regular season ends before the start of October, which means that the season -- including the World Series -- will be done before the calendar flips to November. (Baseball nudging into November was greeted with an opposite feeling to the NFL extending into February.)

BCS 2004: Leave it to the BCS to do precisely the wrong thing when it comes to USC. If the NCAA sanctions stand, the BCS will vacate USC's 2004 national title -- there is no champ that year; in the BCS' words, it's like the game was never played.

That would be rather than calling an audible to the group's rules (like they would ever have a rule on the books about a BCS member being declared ineligible) and giving the national title to runner-up Auburn, which never even had a chance to beat USC (which it might have).

If, in today's college football landscape, you find it absurd that an unbeaten SEC champ wouldn't get a direct shot at the national championship, get ready for more: I can totally see the SEC champ having one loss and getting shut out of the NCG by two unbeatens from lesser leagues.

Diego Maradona was fired as Argentina's national soccer coach: We all saw this coming, as soon as ARG got humiliatingly booted. But he will always have the adulation of the group stage.

"Don't talk to Chris Paul": That's basically what the NBA told teams. They don't want a redux of the LeBron debacle, but it has already been set into motion.

Teams don't need to talk with CP3 anyway; they merely need to make a successful trade offer to his GM. I see the Hornets holding on to Paul until his contract year, then trading him before he can bolt leaving them with nothing.

Speaking of leagues telling teams, I missed the story yesterday about the NFL putting up posters in locker rooms warning players about taking concussions seriously, because -- y'know -- playing football causes concussions.

(a) What about non-concussion head injuries, the ones that seem to have an equally debilitating effect on players over time, and

(b) What about getting the posters not just into high school football locker rooms, but into the hands of parents who would make the choice to let their kids get their brains rattled?

Tim Tebow gets another endorsement deal: It's with Jockey, which has a couple of implications. (1) That's a big endorsement. (2) He goes head-to-head with Michael Jordan, who is the lead endorser for Hanes. (3) He picks up the brand's legacy that goes back to Jim Palmer.

Brett Favre still unsure: YOU DON'T SAY. He's going to come back. He doesn't want to deal with training camp. Why doesn't he just say that?

Oh, yikes: Huston Street.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

07/27 Quickie: Garza, CP3, Haren

Looking for another sign that Tampa's stellar pitching is going to lead it to a playoff season? How about Matt Garza's no-hitter, the first in Rays franchise history?

Dan Haren's Halos debut: The good? 8 Ks through 5 IP. The bad? Didn't keep the Angels from losing to the Red Sox. The ugly? When Haren took a Youkilis shot off his forearm.

Chris Paul says he does NOT want to be traded? What b.s. He obviously learned from LeBron that open infidelity is not optimal; it will only make his inevitable betrayal of Hornets fans that much more painful.

T.O. to the... Bengals? Can the world handle T.O. and Ochocinco on the same field? (Can either guy handle the other as a teammate? Cripes: Talk about enabling.)

Big 12 Media Days: I love how Nebraska doesn't want to talk about its move to the Big Ten -- the "Good Riddance Tour" is only the biggest story in the conference this season.

NBA Trades: Finally, some good news for the Cavs, trading for Ramon Sessions from the T'wolves and giving up Delonte West -- who, immediately after the LeBron debacle, was the face of the franchise -- and Sebastian Telfair. Sessions is underrated. (Let the "now-it-can-be-told" stories about West...commence. BTW: Jonny Flynn is out for 3-4 months with a hip injury -- not that even a Flynn injury will make it reasonable for Telfair to get playing time.)

MLB Fantasy Stud: Joe Mauer (career-high 7 RBI)

Dept. of Litigiousness: The Titans are suing USC for poaching their RBs coach Kennedy Pola. No hard feelings or anything.

T-Mac Watch: That's going to be a "no" from the Bulls. Even as a 12th man? Yikes.

More later.

-- D.S.

Monday, July 26, 2010

07/26 Quickie: Leaks, Haren, More

It will/would never happen (and the news itself is hardly comparable), but imagine if a news organization got its hands on 100,000 secret documents involving tons of colleges and recruits that exposed widespread problems in recruiting or 100,000 secret documents exposing widespread use of HGH in the football or baseball.

(Forget for a second that everyone already knows/assumes that recruiting is a fairly large racket and that everyone already assumes that PEDs are still widespread in football and baseball.)

It would be massive. But still: For all the information, it is likely that things wouldn't change much. Go back to last week's "we're all pimps" argument -- fans opt to be willfully ignorant of the seedy underbelly of college sports or PED measures some players take to play, because we just want to root for some teams and watch some wins.

I'm not saying that there's an analogy to popular opinion about the war in Afghanistan -- I'm just trying to envision a Wikileaks-like scenario in sports.

More on the radar today:

*It's not a good morning to be a Diamondbacks fan. Your team just gave up your ace for virtually nothing. Go back to last week's discussion of the variety of ways you can position a team so that fans will still be happy; "giving up/dumping salary" -- at least without accompanying it with a plan for why you're doing it -- isn't one of them.

(I couldn't tell whether Rob Neyer was being silly or serious -- acknowledging the reality or satirizing it -- when he referred to the trade as being referred to as the "Most Lopsided Trade in Major League History." It sure feels up there.)

*Meanwhile, the Angels just got an ace. Not sure if it's enough to catch the Rangers -- after all, Texas got its own ace (an even better ace, actually) two weeks ago -- but it might be enough to put some pressure on the Rays and Red Sox for the Wild Card. (The Angels could still use some extra pop in their lineup. Who's playing 1B these days?)

*Is Roy Oswalt next? Not if the Astros aren't willing to have a D'backs-like fire sale. (See, there's the killer for D'backs fans: Your team is now associated with just giving ace talent away.)

*Tom Brady is in camp: What a non-story THAT turned out to be. Anyone NOT see this coming?

*I love that Dez Bryant refused to carry Roy Williams' shoulder pads. It's not exactly in line with Bryant's previous strategy of keeping his head down and just focusing on football -- which has been genius -- but it shows a little bit of spice and keeps him at the top of NFL headlines. There has been no bigger winner in the NFL this month.

*A-Rod: Still at 599. AND he got hit by a pitch and had to leave the game. Yesterday, I said it would take 5 games for him to get to 600. So I'm down to 4.

*The Marlins keep winning in walk-off style -- no team in the NL (and no team besides the Rays) does more with less money. If there was a payroll-adjusted standings, the Marlins would be running away with it.

*You also knew that Carlos Zambrano was going to end up back in the Cubs' rotation. (Whether he is actually effective? Another story.)

*USA Softball's 22-game win streak ends: Apparently, all it took was a fluke (3 hours of rain delay).

*That had to have been Lance's final Tour de France, right? Give him tons of credit for competing, but it's out with a whimper.

*Chip Ganassi with a racing first: His team's cars won the Daytona 500, Indy 500 and Brickyard 400.

*Very smart for MLS to import top European clubs: Yesterday, they set a record for the largest crowd ever to watch a soccer game in Kansas City, with the local Wizards beating Manchester United. Now, it's on the Wiz and MLS to convert those fans into bigger/better MLS fans.

*"If you love the game, it will love you back." -- Andre Dawson, with a lovely coda to his Hall of Fame induction.

-- D.S.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday (Very) Quickie

Congrats to Andre Dawson and the rest of the Baseball Hall of Fame inductees. '87 forever -- I don't care how much of a joke you might be able to prove that it was!

(And, if I may throw the SABR folks who make a strong case about the bad decision-making behind Dawson's MVP, let's all rally around Tim Raines!)

It is fair to say that Ubaldomania is over. It's been fun, but the best pitcher in the NL is Josh Johnson.

Oh, yes: T.O. would do wonders for the confidence of Rams rookie franchise QB Sam Bradford. Yikes.

A-Rod stuck on 599. Prediction on how many games it takes to get him to 600: 5.

It shouldn't surprise anyone -- especially a USC alum like Jeff Fisher -- that Lane Kiffin would poach Fisher's RBs coach without calling him first. Stay classy, Lane!

The rehabilitation of Dez Bryant's reputation -- through being the first 1st-rounder to sign a contract, through being the first player on the field at training camp -- is remarkable.

More NFL Camping: Take it easy, Wes Welker! No need to put yourself out now.

CP3 + D12 > LBJ + DW + CB4? Chris Paul to Orlando? The Magic can offer the best chance of winning a ring. But can they offer the best trade package?

(It would be phenomenal for the league for its best PG and best C to team up to battle its best SG, best SF and one of its best PFs. In the same state, no less.)

USA Hoops: Kevin Durant dominates the intrasquad scrimmage last night, which I caught glimpses of (hot Saturday night, woo!)

-- D.S.