Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saturday (Very) Quickie: McNabb, Vick, Ben

That jostling you felt? Folks speed-walking over to the station to pick up the Mike Vick Bandwagon.

More NFL Preseason:

*Donovan McNabb looked just fine in his debut with the Redskins. (Plus... Brandon Banks!)

*Dexter McCluster is going to be fun to watch (and that Chiefs backfield is going to be maddening for fantasy football GMs).

*Today's most intriguing: Ben Roethlisberger makes season debut at home. Guaranteed it will be 95 percent cheers, but you'll hear the boos.

*Hmm: Sam Bradford's Rams debut vs. the Vikings. Let's see how Bradford holds up to the hits -- bet the Rams keep him pretty shielded. That'll only last so long.

Nelson Cruz: Hero to Red Sox-haters everywhere. (And when combined with Thursday's loss? Brutal. Any lingering hopes fans had that this team would make a run? Gone.)

No no-no for Mets, but pretty close: RA Dickey's 1-hitter joins the list of other Mets' pitchers who have come as close as possible to the franchise's first no-hitter. What a season for Dickey. Knuckleballers rule.

Loved the emotion from Karl Malone during his Basketball HOF induction speech.

(As long as the Hoops Hall is enshrining entire teams, I think it would be appropriate if they took the 20th anniversary of the debut of the Fab Five to induct the 1991-92 Michigan starting 5 in next year's class.)

More people will learn who Matt Kuchar is as the latest "guy who isn't Tiger Woods winning the latest tournament Tiger is entered into" than knew of him before.

So, wait: Reggie Bush didn't apologize?

The AVP pro beach volleyball tour has cancelled the rest of it season: Remember back during the mid-decade when new leagues would enter, do really well and it looked like we were headed for a golden age of niche-y sports?

Obligatory Tebow item: Lee Corso -- so take it or leave it -- says he thinks Tebow will be starting for the Broncos by Week 6. If the Broncos are 1-4 going into the week? Absolutely could see it.

Enjoy your Saturday, everyone!

-- D.S.

Friday, August 13, 2010

08/13 Quickie: NFL Pre, Tiger, HOF

For those who care about NFL preseason games, a triple-header last night to kick off a long weekend of openers for every team:

*Slow start for the defending champ's 1st-team offense.
*The Cowboys offense still stinks.
*The Ravens offense looks pretty good.
*Jimmy Clausen didn't embarrass himself.

Honestly, it's all fluff. The starters play a couple of series, then it's all backups and players that will get cut inevitably. Tonight: McNabb debut for Redskins; Kolb's first game as clear QB1.

(Apparently, McNabb is not having an easy time executing Mike Shanahan's offense, so tonight -- even only a series or two -- could be a train-wreck. Expect lots of hand-offs.)

Yes, that would be Tim Tebow's NFL debut coming on Sunday. It will get more attention than any other preseason detail this weekend.

Tiger at the PGA: Only 3 back. OK, OK, not bad... Wow: Tiger has created expectations to the point where not sucking is reason to view him as a success.

MLB: What was more shocking -- the Blue Jays scoring 4 in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Red Sox or the Phillies scoring 4 in the bottom of the 9th to beat the Dodgers?

The big question isn't whether Chipper Jones will return this season (he most definitely won't), but whether this is the way his career ends, period.

MLB Fantasy Stud: Johan, who made fans momentarily forget about K-Rod by taking care of everything himself (10 Ks, 0 ER and -- naturally -- playing for my fantasy opponent this week.)

CFB Season Preview: Playboy magazine thinks that Ohio State will be national champs, beating Texas in the title game. Umm.... no. Oh, sure, OSU might make the title game, but they wouldn't beat Texas... or Alabama... or Boise State... or even Florida, should it come to that.

USA Hoops: Is it me or did the intramural scrimmage not showcase the team in the best light? Durant looked good, obviously, but otherwise I was underwhelmed.

NBA Labor Woes: Don't let yesterday's meeting fool you -- there is a lockout coming. The owners will win the battle to cut/cap salaries and the players might strike or get locked out, but they aren't going to win. It is really hard for NBA players to gain fan sympathy when the NFL system of no guaranteed contracts is something we've all gotten used to.

I find it quaint that LeBron, Wade and Melo showed up -- like their presence was going to dazzle the owner's side (either that, or that they are somehow populist supporters of the union, rather than mostly concerned that their own deals will be ripped up and replaced with much less).

Congrats to the new Basketball Hall of Famers, getting inducted tonight: Karl Malone (who redefined the power forward position, a foreshadow of FreeDarko's positionless revolution), Scottie Pippen (best sidekick ever?), Cynthia Cooper (all-time great women's player), the late Dennis Johnson and Gus Johnson, Lakers owner Jerry Buss (good timing) and legendary high school coach Bob Hurley.

Reggie Bush privately apologized to new USC AD Pat Haden? That's the first smart PR move Bush has made in this whole fiasco. Now, if only he would offer a public apology to USC fans.

Great hire by Georgia to poach Florida assistant AD Greg McGarity, who has strong personal ties to UGA and the experience of working in the best-run athletic department in the country.

-- D.S.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

08/12 Quickie: Isiah, Pavin, Knocks

Today's Names to Know: Isiah, K-Rod, Tiger, Corey Pavin (& Jim Gray!), Roy Oswalt, Marcus Thames, Rod Thorn, Darren Collison, Rex Ryan, Evander Holyfield, Nick Saban and More.

Naturally, the whole Isiah-returns-to-Knicks story ends with a whimper...

Stat of the Day: Tiger has been the favorite in every tournament he has entered since 1997... until today's PGA.

(This has become the dominant meme: Tiger's struggles as amazing for golf -- tournament results are uncertain and Tiger is a "redemption-or-failure" proposition. I think most fans tune in to see Tiger win, but are getting accustomed to the idea of tuning in to see him lose.)

Are you on Team Pavin or Team Gray? (As jerky as Corey Pavin seems to be, it's very hard to be sympathetic to Jim Gray, who is still dealing with residual bad feelings over his participation in The Decision. On the one hand, I don't believe Gray would go public with a made-up story; on the other hand, I believe Pavin did not explicitly say "Tiger is in.")

Big win yesterday for the Cardinals to take over 1st place in the NL Central. And without the need for bench-clearing brawls, no less.

Roy Oswalt's debut for the Phillies went about as well as could have been expected: 7 IP, 0 ER.

Um... wow, K-Rod. That's a lot of in-law rage. (What did his father-in-law say? "Mets suck?" Is his F-i-L really going to press charges?)

LaRoche, Montero, Reynolds, Drew: Back-to-back-to-back-to-back HRs.

That Yankees' win over the Rangers was a nice foreshadowing of what's going to happen in the playoffs: Cliff Lee pitches amazingly against NYY, but ultimately, the Yankees win.

USC suspends RB Dillon Baxter for opener: I presume you have to screw up pretty badly to be suspended by Lane Kiffin.

Not sure why Nick Saban would think limiting pro scout access to his practices would stop agents from approaching his players -- all it becomes is a datapoint for other coaches to (negative) recruit with.

Wait: Didn't Rod Thorn leave the Nets for retirement because he was old and it was time? Apparently not! (Don't mess with the Russian....)

NBA Trade: Great news for Darren Collison, who gets to run his own team in Indiana and step out of CP3's shadow in NOLA. (Doesn't it feel like Collison was traded for dimes on the dollar?)

The Hornets get a solid frontcourt player in Trevor Ariza. The Nets get a solid frontcourt player (with an expiring contract) in Troy Murphy. The Rockets dump Ariza's salary. Small wins!

Can anyone explain what Evander Holyfield is thinking?

Wow, "Hard Knocks" was kind of great. Rex Ryan is made-for-TV.

I just realized that I have two fantasy football drafts next week. Entirely unprepared, except that I won't draft Tim Tebow with my first-round pick. Clarity!

-- D.S.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

08/10 Quickie: LeBron, Cards, Stras

As if the Amare-is-Jewish stuff didn't blow my mind enough, now there's this whole LeBron-hiring-the-rabbi thing. Seriously: What's going on here?

"Don't think I haven't been taking mental notes of everyone taking shots at me." -- LeBron on Twitter last night. Does he understand that only encourages the jokes?

The complete NBA schedule came out, and there's only one date everyone wanted to know: December 2 -- when LeBron returns to Cleveland.

The NL Central is all tied up. And these two teams appear to loathe each other, which is excellent. I love that Brandon Phillips yapped about hating the Cards, and I love that Molina got in Phillips' face about it last night. I love that, during the on-field scrumming, the Reds took a shot at Monday's winning pitcher, Chris Carpenter, and I love that everyone is just a tad pissy. It's exciting, it's healthy and it makes for a thrilling stretch run, particularly if you want a counter-balance to the AL East myopia.

Stephen Strasburg: Ouch.

Jeremy Hellickson is the new Strasburg: That's overstating by a wide margin, but the Rays rookie -- pitching in place of the injured Wade Davis -- gives Tampa yet more depth at SP.

The Twins are back in first in the AL Central. Another fun race -- will be hard to top last year's playoff.

Would it have been so tough for the Nats to play the entire game wearing the old Expos hats?

Fantasy Watch: Typical of my season that after two months of lackluster starts, I dumped Wade LeBlanc -- just in time for him to have 8 Ks in a W. I'm clearly out of playoff contention, but as usual, I will consider finishing in the "first division" (top half of the 14-team league) to be a success. It's never happened before, so there's that.

I have no doubt that Carmelo would love to play in New York for the Knicks -- I still find it crazy that he would turn down what could be a LOT more money to stay in Denver. But more power to him if he does forgo the cash to play where he wants to play. (Cough: D.C.!)

Does anyone really believe that Mike D'Antoni is fine with Isiah being a consultant for the Knicks? No one else is -- why should the coach be?

SI's CFB Preview issue has four regionalized covers, featuring Alabama, Ohio State, Texas and Boise State. Can't argue with that. Always one of the great issues of the year.

Obligatory Florida football item: The Gators had their Media Day yesterday, and I'm giddy that frosh DE Dominique Easley compared he, fellow frosh DE Ronald Powell and fellow frosh DT Sharrif Floyd to LeBron, Wade and Bosh. 2012 National Champs.

So the Nets are going to change their name, just in time for the move to Brooklyn. What should the name be? My vote is for "Biggies."

Tough timing for US Soccer, getting a Brazil team coming off its World Cup humiliation. They are reconstructing themselves as "new old Brazil," and the 2-0 win over the US was the first step toward a World Cup title in front of home fans in 2014.

Usain Bolt is taking the rest of the year off over humiliation over losing back pains.

The new season of "Hard Knocks" starts tonight, and I hope that HBO focuses a ton of its attention on the Darrelle Revis holdout -- I'm not holding my breath. Unfiltered Rex Ryan is decent consolation.

-- D.S.

08/10 Quickie: Happy Madden Day

Happy Madden Day! Yes, this IS a national holiday, for many -- the release of EA's latest in the Madden franchise, "Madden 11," with Drew Brees as the cover guy.

I believe that I once argued in the Quickie that Madden Day was the 2nd biggest single day of the year, related to pro football. (I'll probably revise that now to fall behind Day 1 of the Draft.)

The point is this: It's a big day, a huge day. Through Madden, people are talking about the NFL -- they are immersing themselves in the NFL.

The game is far more immersive than merely reading updates from your team's training camp or watching NFL shows on TV. It is even more immersive than fantasy football, at least in terms of the level of concentration you are applying to football in any given stretch of time.

I'm not a video-game guy -- I'm just not coordinated enough -- but I absolutely respect the sports-game culture, particularly the loyalty and enthusiasm for Madden.

For those of you who have your game in hand and plan to spend the rest of the week not doing much besides playing -- I salute you.

*I'm not a Jets fan, but even so: What a shame it would be if Darrelle Revis sat out the entire season.

It would jeopardize the Jets' shot at a Super Bowl and deprive fans of seeing the best cornerback in the league, in his prime. Make no mistake: Woody Johnson knew exactly what he was doing when he said that.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out: Fans love and respect Revis, but they generally hate hold-outs -- even if he IS being underpaid. Players usually cave, ultimately.

*Tons of positive buzz for Sam Bradford -- yesterday's MMQB from Peter King was gushing -- and not a trace of question that he might crumple when he takes his first rough hit or 20.

*Huge win for the Cardinals over the Reds -- is this the moment Cincinnati flails?

*Don Wakamatsu made some mistakes, to be sure, but it is unclear that the Mariners' disappointing season was enough of his fault to make him worthy of being axed.

*Strasburg is back tonight. We'll see....

*It's only a matter of time before the NBA is playing a full slate of regular-season games in London, with a full-time London franchise.

*Brian Cushing Watch: What, exactly, is "overtraining?" And what does that have to do with accidentally testing positive for PEDs?

*MJ to introduce Scottie Pippen at HOF ceremony: Let's hope his speech this time is a little less bitter than the last time he was at the Hall.

*Jeff Van Gundy thinks that the Heat will win more than 72 games this season -- I will absolutely take the under there.

*Joe Paterno for the Presidential Medal of Freedom? Um, I guess so?

-- D.S.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

08/09 Quickie: NFL, Tiger, Morrow

It's nice to have NFL football back and all, but you couldn't have watched any part of last night's preseason opener and not been reminded that preseason football stinks.

(If you're curious: T.O. had 2 catches for 18 yards, but Carson Palmer didn't seem to mind throwing at T.O. early and often.)

*Speaking of stinks: Tiger. No, really: It was the worst tournament of his pro career -- and likely his life. Just when you think he can't bottom out any further, he does. Crazy.

Let's be totally clear: Strictly talking about his golf, Tiger has never been more compelling in success than he is in failure right now.

*I would have thought that Chad Ochocinco would have insisted on being Batman and having T.O. be Robin. And, frankly, that's the way it should be.

*Brandon Morrow was jaw-dropping dominant -- 17 Ks in a complete-game 1-hitter. You can have the perfect games; that was the best pitching performance of the year.

*Milestones: Derek Jeter now has more hits as a Yankee than Babe Ruth had as a Yankee. I'm as underwhelmed by this as you are.

*Um, wow: That sounds like the greatest pickup hoops game ever. And I really hope there is some video or at least one reporter who got to chronicle the thing for posterity.

*Love the idea of Alabama and Michigan playing each other in a non-conference CFB game -- it's a sign of the brand power of both schools that they could play that game in Dallas. Of course, Alabama would eviscerate Michigan if they played, but that's kind of beside the point.

*Tina Thompson became the leading scorer in WNBA history last night. She is a lock for the Basketball Hall of Fame.

*Let's not make too much of Emmitt Smith's "dis" of Florida by not mentioning them in his HOF induction speech; he went on Twitter last night to profusely apologize for the snub.

*Instead of defiantly denying he had anything to do with A-Rod's BP injury, why doesn't Joe Buck admit he might have had something to do with it -- and if that's the case, he's sorry.

*In case you missed it: Tim Tebow's hazing haircut. Yes, you may laugh.

*Sincere thanks again to all for the interest in the legwork project. If you emailed me or filled out the form, expect that I'll get back to you this week.

-- D.S.

Sunday (Very) Quickie

Well, for starters, there's this:

That's Tim Tebow, post-haircut as part of his rookie hazing. I don't know if this was intentional, but the "Friar Tuck" look is fairly inspired by the Broncos vets.

More for a Sunday morning:

*Congrats to the 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame class. Who's watching the preseason opener tonight?

*Would YOU want Tiger Woods on your Ryder Cup team right now?

(Actually, playing for something other than himself, among his peers, might be exactly the right thing for Tiger right now to get him out of his funk.)

*I don't follow UFC (yes: probably should), but apparently the Silva-Sonnen ending last night was insane, with Silva improbably coming from behind to get Sonnen to tap out.

*So much for that momentum for the Red Sox. (Also known as: "No A-Rod, no problem for the Yankees." Also known as "For Boston, it's Delgado time!")

*JP Arencibia leads the Jays to what will undoubtedly be the highlight of their season: a 17-11 win over the Rays, which included 8 Jays HRs (2 by rookie Arencibia, including a HR on his first MLB pitch).

*Oh, so now the Pistons want T-Mac?


-- D.S.