Saturday, September 04, 2010

College Football Quickie Hangover

UPDATE: I can already tell you who will be 1-2 in my next BlogPoll Top 25 -- the winner of Boise State/VA Tech at No. 1, and TCU at No. 2.

While the rest of the country (mostly) took on cupcakes, TCU played a very solid Beavers team and made a statement that their Top 6 ranking is justified.

(Here is something else to consider: Boise State plays Oregon State in 3 weeks -- wow, kudos to OSU for scheduling BOTH Boise and TCU -- and you can bet comparisons will be made.)

If there is such a thing as a moral victory, it was achieved by UNC last night: Down a dozen or so suspended players, they played gamely against a talented (if typically underachieving) LSU team. "Expectations management" matters: UNC will earn points for avoiding a blowout. (I mean: Look at Yates -- 412 yards passing with 3 TDs. Patrick Patterson, what's up?)

Forget John Brantley or Garrett Gilbert or Aaron Murray -- the Denard Robinson Award for most impressive QB making his debut (see what I did there?) was arguably Northwestern's Dan Persa, who threw and ran the Wildcats past Vandy on the road.

But there are plenty of other candidates, including Penn State (true) freshman Rob Bolden and Auburn's Cam Newton, the ex-Florida/ex-JUCO transfer.

The best "debut" of the day, of course, went to BC's Mark Herzlich, who missed all of last year battling cancer, but came back to lead BC to a season-opening W.

More notes from the night set:

*The Jake Locker Bandwagon took a hit at BYU.

*More BlogPoll: So much for my preseason bullishness on Cincinnati.


If it makes you feel better -- call it "Swampenfreude"
-- sitting in the Swamp watching Florida today was damn near painful. It was, by far, the most frustrating game of the Meyer Era.

In part it was the snap problem. In part it was the play-calling on offense. In part it was the overall lack of intensity and focus. In part it was the stifling heat, combined with a cold I'm battling.

What a treat that Florida's utterly pedestrian performance led ESPN's highlight shows tonight. And, given their Top 5 ranking (not for long!), probably appropriate.

If they get the muffed center-QB exchanges right, they probably score 50+ and this is a non-issue. But they didn't, and so it IS an issue. They looked terrible.

HOWEVER: At least I'm not an Ole Miss fan. Kudos to ESPN for bringing fans the 2nd OT and that combination of the Jax St TD on 4th-and-15, followed by the brilliant 2-point conversion.

Holy s--t: Denard Robinson. (Of first-time starting QBs, Georgia's Aaron Murray played great. John Brantley and Garrett Gilbert were so-so.)

Speaking of first-timers, congrats to Brian Kelly on his first win as coach of Notre Dame. (And you know how much it pains me to say that.) Should be a very interesting match-up next week with Michigan. Strong debut for Jimbo Fisher at FSU, too.

I'm going to give Robinson my Player of the Day, but here's a shout-out for Kenjon Barner, who had 147 yards and 5 TDs (4 rush, 1 rec) replacing the suspended LaMichael "Who?" James.

Here's how things net out: It's a lot easier to be concerned about teams that didn't look good in games (cough-Florida-cough) that should have been blowouts than accurately evaluate teams that destroyed their overmatched opponents.

Settling in for TCU-Oregon State, with an eye on LSU-UNC and Northwestern-Vandy.

Non-college football notes:

*Jim Thome > Mark McGwire

*Sam Bradford > Matt Leinart

*Mark Prior > San Diego Padres

-- D.S.

Saturday (Gameday) Quickie

St. Augustine, Fla. -- In an hour, I'm hitching a ride from the beach to Gainesville for Florida's season opener -- the first game of the "Post-Tebow Era" (the first game of the "Brantley Era?").

I'm sitting on the home side, around the 10 yard line (right side on your TV angle), around 20 rows up. You can look for me on ESPN -- I'll be the guy in the Tebow jersey. Ha. (Actually curious how many of those we'll see.)

I love the first Saturday of the college football season because of the giddy realization that starting today for the next 14 weeks, my Saturdays are booked solid with watching games. (If you're looking for a good read to get you between now and noon kickoffs, try this terrific essay from Spencer Hall.)

So be sure to check out this week's predictions -- I'm off to a good start with Utah-over-Pitt from the other night.

Let's get to the other big storylines today:

*Oh wow, is UNC going to get clobbered.

*Hot seat: Brian Kelly. (Already? Already.)

*Extremely hot seat: Rich Rodriguez.

*Game of the Day: Oregon State vs. TCU.

*Big Ben suspension reduced to 4 games: The lesson? Keep your head down and leniency generally follows. (But I would make any bets he never gets in trouble again.)

*Jeremiah Masoli is eligible, immediately: It was the right ruling, if a flawed rule to begin with. Houston Nutt says Masoli won't start today vs. JAX St. -- we'll see how long THAT lasts.

*Strasburg has Tommy John surgery: See you in 2012...maybe.

*Rays' Garza wins 14th: The Rays starting pitching is so good that I really like their chances in a playoff series.

*Attention Giants fans with a particular rooting interest: Sage Rosenfels is NOT Jewish.

Will likely be tweeting throughout the day (@danshanoff), and back online tonight.

-- D.S.

Friday, September 03, 2010

College Football Week 1 Picks

Don't forget to join the Daily Quickie Readers group of the College Fooball Pick 'Em.

Wow, I missed this...:

1 Alabama over San Jose St.
2 Ohio State over Marshall -- Thursday
3 Boise State over 10 VA Tech -- Game of the Month
4 Florida over Miami (OH) -- I'll be there.
5 Texas over Rice
6 TCU over 24 Oregon St -- Great game
7 Oklahoma over Utah St
8 Nebraska over W. Kentucky
9 Iowa over E. Illinois
11 Oregon over New Mexico
12 Wisconsin over UNLV
13 Miami over Florida A&M -- Thursday
14 USC over Hawaii -- Thursday
Utah over 15 Pitt -- Upset Special (or "upset")
16 Georgia Tech over South Carolina St.
17 Arkansas over Tennessee Tech
21 LSU over 18 UNC
19 Penn St over Youngstown St
20 Florida St over Samford
22 Auburn over Arkansas St
23 Georgia over LA-Lafayette
25 West Virginia over Coastal Carolina

Other games of note:
UConn over Michigan -- yikes
Notre Dame over Purdue -- barely!
BYU over Washington
Cincinnati (should be ranked!) over (at) Fresno St
Kansas St over UCLA
Navy over Maryland
Northwestern over at Vanderbilt

09/03 Quickie: CFB, Earl, Labor Day

Today's Names to Know: Utah, USC's D, Matt Barkley, Terrelle Pryor, Jacory Harris, Terry Bradshaw, Montario Hardesty, Tim Tebow, Nyjer Morgan, Chase Utley, CC Sabathia, Labor Day Weekend, Hurricane Earl and More.

Here's to a safe and enjoyable Labor Day weekend everyone
. I'm flying down to Florida this morning -- Earl-willing -- for my annual pilgrimage for a couple of Florida games at the Swamp (plus a family beach vacation plus the Jewish holidays plus plenty of work), but I will be posting all weekend and probably tweeting up a storm on Saturday, both from the game and about all of the opening Saturday of college football.

Let's get to it:

*Utah stakes its claim to being the best team in the Pac-10* (for now): It wasn't pretty, but the Utes (ridiculously unranked in AP poll/ranked No. 24 in Coaches', but ranked No. 18 on my preseason BlogPoll ballot) held off a Pitt team (over-)ranked No. 15.

Meanwhile, USC may have put up 49 points on Hawaii, but Kiffin's Trojans allowed 36, which is the foreshadowing you should pay attention to; USC is going to have a lot of trouble against teams in the Pac-10 with offenses superior to Hawaii but defenses slightly tougher. That said: Matt Barkley (5 TDs, incl. 3 to Ronald Johnson) had a huge game.

(Compare USC's sieve-like performance to the D-first throttlings of Ohio State -- 45-7 over Marshall -- and Miami, 45-0 over FAMU.)

* - Yes, I know Utah isn't in the Pac-10 yet. It's a joke, although I'm pretty sure Utah will be the best team in the Pac-10 once it gets in there, officially.

This weekend's best games: Boise St vs. VA Tech on Monday night, obviously, but keep an eye on TCU-Oregon St on Saturday night.

*Which is less surprising: That Byron Leftwich hurt his knee last night or that Terry Bradshaw went public with an opinion that Ben Roethlisberger's suspension should stand as-is? By the way, it looks like contrary to earlier reports, Big Ben won't ask Roger Goodell to reduce his suspension, which is the smartest thing he has done in any of this.

*Fantasy Football Watch: For those of you who have yet to do your fantasy football drafts, do NOT draft Browns RB Montario Hardesty, who suffered a knee injury last night. Jerome Harrison's stock just went up.

*Aside from injuries, nothing is more value-less than the final week of preseason games. Let's get to next week already.

*Tebow Watch: The good (in his most extensive playing time of the preseason, he was 12/16 for 167 yards and a TD); the bad (threw another pick); the ugly (fumbled the ball on his first snap, which was picked up by the Vikings' Erin Henderson and run back for a TD). He should be the Broncos' No. 2 QB, with a chance to contribute immediately in short yardage situations.

*How many games will Nyjer Morgan be suspended by MLB for? It becomes a bit of an accounting conundrum: He was already appealing a 7-game suspension BEFORE Wednesday night's charge-the-mound/hit-the-ground brawl-starter. So let's say MLB denies Morgan's appeal and keeps the 7-game ban -- but then throws another 5 games on top of that. Can Morgan appeal those? The possibilities are confusing.

*Chase Utley has been back for a little while now from his midseason injury, but last night's HR + 6 RBI in Philly's win over would-be Wild Card contending Colorado feels like his official "I'm back" game.

*CC Sabathia (19th W last night) is going to win the AL Cy Young because he has the most wins, isn't he? My vote would go to Felix Hernandez, who would set the record for fewest wins by a Cy-winning pitcher but whose performance -- independent of the shoddy team around him -- has been phenomenal.

*MLB Playoff Jockeying: With 30-odd games left in the season, it's hard to say "now-or-never" for a contender. But this really does feel like now-or-never for the Cardinals, playing a 3-game home series against the Central-leading (and nouveaux rivalrous) Reds. That wild Cards sweep of the Reds in Cincy a few weeks ago feels like forever ago. Plus: Keep an eye on the Padres-Rockies/Giants-Dodgers series this weekend; San Diego is faltering in the NL West.

We might be heading into a long holiday weekend, but the new sports year is officially here. Enjoy it, everyone.

-- D.S.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Greatest. College Football Upset. Ever.

I nearly let the day slip away without recognizing the 15th anniversary of the greatest upset in the history of (regular-season) college football:

Northwestern 17, Notre Dame 15 (South Bend, 9/2/95)

This is one of those can-not-argue-about-this situations, although I'm happy to trot out plenty of supporting evidence.

For those under the age of 25, Notre Dame wasn't always mediocre; from the middle of the last century until its final years, Notre Dame DEFINED successful college football.

Similarly, from roughly the early 1970s through the mid-90s, Northwestern DEFINED losing college football.

Notre Dame was opening the season with championship aspirations (as always), playing at home, a 27.5-point favorite over an NU team with few aspirations beyond an unprecedented run for bowl eligibility.

But it is the symbolism -- NOTRE DAME(!) losing to NORTHWESTERN(!) -- that puts this at the top of the list of all-time great college football regular-season upsets.

-- D.S.

Shallowest College Football Preview Ever

Note: Don't forget to join in the College Football Pick 'Em Group (Daily Quickie Readers).

As for the upcoming season, a few notes:

*A confession: Last season beat the hell out of me. For starters, I was obsessively updating the Tim Tebow blog 2-3 (or more) times per DAY.

But more than that, it was the crushing weight of the expectations I put on the season for Florida: Nothing less than a national championship would be considered success.

I wasn't alone, and the team slogged through the season carrying that weight, right up until they were destroyed by Alabama so badly, I couldn't even feel that bad about it.

Last season was the epitome of why I found Florida so appealing to begin rooting for nine years ago: Championship expectations. And falling short was brutal.

This season, I don't expect that Florida will go 14-0 and win a national title, but I do honestly believe that the Gators will only lose one game -- at No. 1 Alabama -- before winning out, including beating No. 1 Alabama in a rematch in the SEC title game.

*Here is where I think things get really messy for the BCS: With the SEC's national-championship dominance -- a dynasty, really -- clearly established, what happens when a 1-loss SEC champ is vaulted for a spot in the national title game by an unbeaten Ohio State? Or unbeaten Texas? Or unbeaten Boise State? Each of whom having played a far less treacherous schedule than the SEC champ?

If you hate the BCS, you are rooting for this scenario, because if a BCS-title-game-worthy SEC team is jumped -- and it doesn't matter whether or not you disagree with the evaluation of "worthy" -- I honestly believe that the SEC will seriously and immediately consider leaving the BCS. Or at least imploding the BCS and forcing a playoff where their champ will always have a shot to win it on the field. And if the SEC leaves the BCS, the BCS has even less legitimacy than it has now.

*I have been on the record since early January that I think Boise State is the best team in the country, and if they had a head-to-head shot against any team -- Alabama, Ohio State, Texas, Florida, whoever -- Boise would win. They won't necessarily get that shot, even if they beat VA Tech and Oregon State en route to going unbeaten. If Alabama and Ohio State both go undefeated -- not to mention Texas -- I don't see Boise State jumping them into the Top 2 of the BCS standings. And that's a shame.

*Kellen Moore is my pick to win the Heisman. I have soured on Terrelle Pryor. I don't think Mark Ingram can get through the season uninjured (let alone overshadowed by his backfield-mate Trent Richardson).

Sidebar: I think Florida QB John Brantley will finish in the Top 5; I have watched virtually every snap he has taken at Florida and he is phenomenal. The team will score points like it did in 2008. I said this over at TimTeblog today, but Brantley will be so good that people won't say "Tim who?" but they will say "Uh, that guy behind Tebow on the depth chart might be the best QB in college football." That it is Brantley's first year as a starter doesn't faze me; Tim Tebow won the Heisman in his first year as a starter, with one of the greatest statistical seasons in the history of college football. Brantley is going to crush it. I will be in The Swamp on Saturday and for Week 2 against South Florida, and I can't wait to see the offense up close.

*The Game of the Year is on October 2, when Florida plays at Alabama. The 2nd best game of the year would be if they had a rematch in the SEC title game with a spot in the national-title game on the line. Beyond that, the next-best game of the year could be Monday night when Boise State plays Virginia Tech in the biggest game in the history of Boise State football.

*I'm not bullish on an unlikely team breaking through. There are good arguments for game-to-game parity in college football, but the top of the sport -- the teams that can legitimately compete for a national title -- is the same handful of teams. There are, however, some really interesting storylines:

-TCU as the new Boise State

-Terrelle Pryor being unleashed? (Or still stifled?)

-Garrett Gilbert and John Brantley performing more effectively than their predecessors.

-Lane Kiffin (vs. Derrek Dooley)

-Auburn as SEC spoiler

-Pitt RB Dion Lewis

-The kind of reception Nebraska gets on the road in the Big 12.

-Brian Kelly at Notre Dame. You all know I hate ND and have reveled in the schadenfreude throughout the Weis era, but I really do think BK is phenomenal.

What storylines are you looking forward to most? Leave them in the comments. And here's to an awesome season -- for its own sake, not because of once-in-a-lifetime superlatives.

-- D.S.

09/02 Quickie: CFB, Big Ten, Nyjer

Today's Names to Know: Nyjer Morgan, Kyle Whittingham, Dion Lewis, Jim Delany, Michigan-Ohio State, NFL Preseason, Ben Roethlisberger, Aroldis Chapman, Tim Lincecum, Marvin Austin, BYU, Robert Bolden, Victoria Azarenka, Andy Roddick, Rex Ryan's snacks, Rob Dibble, Twitter on iPad, More.

Worth noting: Right now, Nyjer Morgan is the No. 1 trending search on Google. Folks love their baseball brawls.

College football is here! Tonight's season-opening headliner pits Utah (a team I'm very high on this year -- and next season's Pac-10 champs!) against Pitt (a team I'm less high on, but everyone else seems relatively high on). It's a great way to open the season. (Versus: Enjoy the moment.)

My longer, larger, shallower annual college football preview post is coming later this afternoon. Check back then!

Big Ten re-alignment into divisions...mania: The headline is that Ohio State and Michigan are in separate divisions, but that doesn't seem like a particularly big deal.

After all, the thing everyone from OSU and UM was freaking out about was changing the date of their annual regular-season-ending game, which wasn't changed. Verdict: Divisioning the league is NO BIG DEAL.

(Honestly, would you rather have them in the same division? Actually, that would probably be my preference, so then only one of them survives their regular-season game with a championship, making their game a lot more meaningful. It is far more cynical to split them up than anything else in this whole deal -- including moving the game, which turned out to be moot.)

I actually like the idea of them playing each other on back-to-back weekends, once in the regular season and the next week for the Big Ten title. I just don't think it will happen that often. Meanwhile: Don't worry about (or, I guess, look forward to) an Ohio State-Michigan rematch for the Big Ten title a week after they play their regular-season game -- at least while Rich Rodriguez is coaching Michigan and, presumably, the 3-4 years it'll take the coach who follows RichRod to clean up his mess.

Sidebar: I emailed my buddy who runs the leading Northwestern football blog that Pat Fitzgerald would be wise to follow the lead of Urban Meyer and the SEC coaches and quickly re-orient Northwestern's season goals to, first and foremost, winning their division. You never hear Meyer talk about the SEC title; he talks about winning the SEC East first and foremost -- things tend to take care of themselves after that.

The sooner Big Ten teams pivot from "We want to go to the Rose Bowl" to "We want to win the Agribusiness Division" (or whatever it will be called), the better.

MLB Notes:
*Nyjer Morgan needs to switch to decaf: Gaby Sanchez nearly took his head off.

*Chapmania: 103.9 mph? Cripesamighty. (And he even got the win!)

*Manny's debut: And yet Paul Konerko played the hero. Sox fans will take the wins however they can get 'em.

*Tim Lincecum: Off the schneid, finally.

*Eerie foreshadowing: Cliff Lee getting his back examined.

Final Week (Day?) of NFL Preseason Games: The entire league plays tonight, mostly trying to escape the game without injury. Next week can't get here fast enough.

(By the way, I presume that it's only because it is the preseason that Tim Tebow and Brett Favre on the same field tonight doesn't cause some kind of sports-media singularity that consumes us all.)

Is Big Ben's suspension going to be lowered to 3 games? Roger Goodell foreshadowed this from the start by saying that he would monitor Ben's behavior from the time of the suspension onward. And Ben has kept his head low. Consequently, he can certainly ask the Commish about knocking a game or two off his ban. I'd ask for a few and hope to get one. (Separate issues: Whether Goodell will accept, that it is notable that Ben actually kept his head low.)

The BYU-gone-indie deal was totally worth it: Freedom to put together their own schedule, backed by a national TV deal with ESPN? More teams should think about it.

UNC suspends Marvin Austin indefinitely: Would Austin have been an early-round NFL pick had he been eligible after last year, his sophomore year? If his draft rating for the 2011 draft is any indication, yes. Shame he can't get a hardship entry into the NFL, because a team would absolutely give up an early draft pick next year to get him now, even if all they did was stash him for the year, giving him NFL coaching and conditioning.

Robert Bolden is Penn State's starting QB: This is note-worthy because anytime you can find novelty with Joe Paterno, it's worth pointing out -- Bolden is the first true freshman QB to start in the season opener in Penn State history. No pressure or anything. (And how limited must the two soph QBs be?)

Don't mock Victoria Azarenka: My kids' day care was closed today and I was taking care of the boys all day -- we spent maybe 3 or 4 hours outside today, and it was brutal. The only reason I took them out of the house was because it was crueler to keep them penned into our tiny apartment than it was to have them out in the hot sun. (Glad to hear she was released from the hospital and appears to be OK. She's in better shape than, oh, Andy Roddick.)

Hard Knocks Rex Ryan Quote of the Day: "Now let's go and eat a god-damn snack." (Ryan, after blistering the team for a lack of leadership, professionalism and enthusiasm.)

Media: Good riddance to Rob Dibble. It wasn't that he said such inane things about Stephen Strasburg (or, more misogynistically, women). It was that he was a terrible baseball analyst.

Obligatory Tebow item of the day: Dare I try to become the winning bidder for this? Today is the 5th anniversary of Tim Tebow's first college play -- a rushing TD, naturally.

Tech: I consume a LOT via Twitter -- I try not to post too often (I delete far more drafted tweets than I publish), but I read it constantly. (Probably too constantly.) Anyway, the new Twitter app for the iPad IS phenomenal. If you have an iPad, it's a must-must-must-have.

Events: TONIGHT for New Yorkers, the September edition of the Varsity Letters Reading Series, featuring two authors from my Summer Reading list: Michael Weinreb and Dave Zirin. Never seen Weinreb speak live, but how can you go wrong reminiscing over Bo Jackson, Brian Bosworth, Len Bias and the '85 Bears? And Zirin is phenomenal live - he's done VL before, and it's a show. If you're in NYC, it's a great night out.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Deal of Day: Sheehan Newsletter $15

It is September 1. There are approximately 2 months left in the baseball season -- a month of season-ending playoff jockeying and the playoffs themselves. Then, two months of Hot Stove.

Joe Sheehan has just reduced the price of his must-read email newsletter to $15 for the rest of the year -- pennant race, playoffs and Hot Stove. It is an incredible value.

If you aren't a subscriber yet, I said this earlier this summer that Sheehan's newsletter was my favorite media purchase of the year -- multiple times per week, I pop open his email (usually on my phone) and feel entirely smarter by reading it. Very few in baseball writing combine clever analysis with clear prose like Sheehan.

Hard-core baseball fans will enjoy the analysis. But if you are only a casual baseball fan, your understanding and enjoyment of the game will increase substantially. This seems particularly relevant for the playoffs. (As a bonus, you also get access to his complete archive.)

Even if he wasn't including offseason analysis, the idea of paying 25 cents a day for the next 60 days -- the best 60-day stretch of the MLB season -- to get "smart, fun baseball writing" (Joe's description, which I agree with) seems like a phenomenal bargain.

Find the registration info here

-- D.S.

09/01 Quickie: Chapman, Bama, BYU

Today's Names to Know: Aroldis Chapman, BYU, West Coast Conference, Mark Ingram, Trent Richardson, Jeremiah Masoli, Plaxico Burress, Stephen Strasburg, Jeff Francoeur, Manny Ramirez, Knowshon Moreno, Carmelo Anthony, Spanish basketball, Chelsey Gullickson and More.

"Chapmania!": New MLB sensation Aroldis Chapman hits 102 on the radar gun in his MLB debut, which included a three-up/three-down performance.*

In the absence of Stras-mania, "Chapmania" will suffice -- particularly because the Reds appear headed for the playoffs. It will be wild to see Chapman pitching in critical situations in October. All signs point to the mania skyrocketing at that point.

BYU is now "independent" in football: It kicks in next season, at which point they also ruin Gonzaga's good deal in the West Coast Conference by joining in hoops and other sports.

Preseason No. 1 and defending national champ Alabama's Heisman-winning RB Mark Ingram is injured and will miss (at least) Week 1: As you probably have heard by now, his backup -- Trent Richardson -- is even better than Ingram.

That makes Alabama's biggest problem how to handle it when Ingram comes back, if Richardson has established himself as the best RB in the SEC.

ChatRou...heynow: Former Florida All-American LB and current New England Patriots rookie Brandon Spikes apparently made an odd choice related to ChatRoulette: His NFL legacy is secured.

NCAA says Ole Miss QB Jeremiah Masoli is ineligible: The "my original college doesn't offer these grad-school courses" transfer loophole deserved more scrutiny.

Plaxico Burress staying in jail: What has to happen while you're in prison as a celebrity for you to be denied work release? (Maybe it's the nature of the underlying crime.)

Stephen Strasburg to have Tommy John surgery on Friday: Unless, like the rest of the East Coast, it is impacted by Hurricane Earl.* (* - Entirely not true. Only those of us flying on Friday -- or, at least, trying to fly -- will be impacted.)

I'm sure that White Sox fans will take it however it happens, but the rest of us would have liked to have seen Manny make his Chicago debut in a crucial, late-game situation. Curse you, AJ Pierzynski...

Playoff races:

*As someone who would like to see the Rays in the playoffs, I'm not particularly concerned whether they make it by winning the division or the Wild Card. (Does that sound like rationalizing their loss last night to drop them out of 1st in the AL East?)

*Meanwhile, in the NL, the Padres appear to be trying to do everything they can to stumble their way in -- that's 6 straight losses. The Giants are 4 back in the NL West (1.5 GB PHI for the WC) after beating the Rockies (7 back, but only 4.5 GB of WC lead)

What MLB Trade Deadline? Jeff Francoeur has been dealt to the Rangers, where he will presumably be used in the playoffs to pinch-hit against lefties. That sure beats where the Mets will be this October.

NFL Preseason: Knowshon Moreno at self-identified "80 percent" is better than any other running back on the Broncos at 100 percent. But how can the team (not to mention fantasy owners) not be concerned about his durability for an entire season?

NBA Offseason: Sounds like the Nuggets are going to try to convince Carmelo to stay. I think that's a lost cause; he isn't changing his mind, and begging only makes Denver look desperate (which I guess they could be labeled, at this point). I will continue to push this: Offer Carmelo (with a max re-signing, of course) to the Nets for Derrick Favors and their choice of anyone on the roster other than Brook Lopez.

Basketball World Championships: Spain may be struggling, but will be poorly seeded -- yet still entirely dangerous -- in the knockout round. Nothing about the top teams across the rest of the tournament suggests that the US is going to have an easy time winning this. (IF they win.)

US Open: NCAA tennis champ Chelsey Gullickson might have been ousted last night by Caroline Wozniacki, but at least she is at the top of Google Trends.

* - Re: Chapman. Astoundingly, I was able to pick up Chapman on Monday for my fantasy team on Monday. I am currently in 6th place in a 14-team league. In this final week of the regular season, I am playing the No. 4 team, which is scrambling to keep one of four playoff spots, while my injury-laden roster tries to hold off the Nos. 7 and 8 team to earn my first "first-division" finish in my 6 years in the league. This is my playoffs.

Coming tomorrow -- or perhaps later today -- a ton of college football talk. One more day.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

08/31 Quickie: Happy Anniversary

August 31 is always a big anniversary for me: Four years ago today, I filed the final edition of the Daily Quickie on -- and launched this blog. It's a meaningful day for me.

Roger Clemens pleads "not guilty": Well, no s--t.

MLB (AL): The Rays are on fire. 6 straight wins, and you have to wonder if the Yankees are sitting there scoreboard-watching, going "Oh, come ON."

MLB (NL): Wouldn't it be ironic if the Dodgers jettison Manny, and only then go on some sort of playoff tear? I'm reading too much into Hiroki Kuroda's no-no through 7 and change, aren't I?

Close call for Team USA: They very easily could have lost that game to Brazil -- it doesn't bode well for the elimination rounds. Expect the pre-fab excuses to start being formed now.

(I pinged M. Haubs from The Painted Area, and he said to think of it like a one-off NCAA Tournament game, where style -- or in this case, rule changes -- keep games a lot closer than they would normally be, between roster talents levels that are wildly different.)

Brett Favre is ALREADY getting mid-game injections in his ankle? There's no way he makes it through the season, especially now that his WR corps has been obliterated.

US Soccer signs Bob Bradley to a new 4-year deal: Guess they couldn't come to an agreement with Klinsmann. I was not a big Bradley fan before the World Cup -- and I still put the blame for the team's consistently slow starts directly on the coaching -- but he has earned another shot at making a run in Brazil in 2014.

As long as the UFL is giving Maurice Clarett a job -- in a cynical move to get some much-needed PR -- they might as well take my advice and let draft-ineligible rising college sophs and juniors into the league. (I appreciate the plight of the start-up company; I only hammer them on this point because I think they need to be way more innovative than they have been.)

Kudos to the "Around the Horn" team for even talking about Jay Mariotti on the show. That said: Their discussion really only danced around the big issues and came across as clubby and defensive. (Preening disclosure: I appeared on Around the Horn as a panelist 4 times in 2004. And I even have the tapes -- not to mention the 0-4 record -- to prove it. I said many dumb things, including that the Lakers would sweep the Pistons in the NBA Finals. As they say, the camera adds 10 pounds of hyperbole.)

Good luck to the WAC in getting Nevada or Fresno State to pay up the $5 million the league is demanding for the schools bolting for the Mountain West. As usual, the counterparties will spend more in legal fees than a reasonable settlement.

Tiger Woods is NOT moving to New York City: Although, if he's visiting, he is welcome to babysit my kids anytime he wants a fix.

I like this story: Head & Shoulders insured Troy Polamalu's hair for $1 million. (Disclosure: I am in a blogger fantasy football league sponsored by Procter and Gamble.)

Heisman Watch: Mark Ingram is the defending Heisman winner (even if it's not entirely clear that he is the best RB on his own team), and he leads the initial straw poll, with a slight edge ahead of Terrelle Pryor. I'll stick with my original pick: Boise State QB Kellen Moore (with Florida QB John Brantley as a surprise Top 3 finisher).

Dancing With the Stars: I remain entirely fascinated by the success of sports folks on this show. The new season includes two notable sports alums: Kurt Warner and my pick to win it all, Rick Fox. I could also see David Hasselhoff or Jennifer Grey winning. There are a lot of votes that will come out of "Dirty Dancing" nostalgia.

If you like start-ups, this is kind of awesome.

-- D.S.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Teams and "Social Media"

Last week, we had the flare-up with certain NHL teams wanting to put limits on media-credentialed bloggers from interviewing their teams in the visitors locker room.

This week, Matt Sebek of JoeSportsfan presents an interesting analysis of the St. Louis Cardinals' upcoming "Social Media Night."

Here is what I like best about Sebek's post: It is constructive not overly critical in looking at the team's approach to the evening.

To that end, Sebek does a terrific job of offering a great list of potential contributors to the night from the non-mainstream Cardinals media ecosystem.

The Cards would be well-served to connect with Sebek to figure out who on the list should be included in the program. (To his point, love the folks currently included; worth supplementing.)

Per Jason Fry, they might even be able to help the team better understand the huge potential of the landscape.

Plus: Read Eric McErlain's awesome take on the NHL situation. More phenomenal insights for everyone involved -- from teams to mainstream media to bloggers to fans.

There is so much more to all this, I'm not doing it justice here -- that it remains a topic of open conversation is in the best interests of everyone.

-- D.S.

08/30 Quickie: Manny, Big Hurt, Tebow

Today's Names to Know: Manny Ramirez, Frank Thomas, Roger Clemens, Ben Roethlisberger, Tim Tebow, Donovan McNabb, Michelle Wie, Japan at the LLWS, Bucky Gunts and More

Manny is going to the White Sox: The success of the move is judged entirely on whether or not Chicago wins the division.

More ChiSox: Retire Frank Thomas' No. 35. As they should. Thomas is only one of the greatest hitters of all time, and -- adjusted for PEDS -- arguably the best hitter of his generation.

Any chance Roger Clemens pleads guilty when he is arraigned today for lying to Congress? (No? Oh well.)

Anyone else think that Roger Goodell is going to decrease Big Ben's suspension when they meet on Friday?

If Mike Shanahan is already saying that Donovan McNabb might not play in Week 1, he's not going to be playing in Week 1.

Tebow Watch: Hey, he threw a TD pass last night! (He also threw an INT, but we'll overlook that. So about that TD pass! Honestly, I was most bummed about his missed 3rd-down conversion on his 1st series.)

Heading into the final week of NFL preseason -- and most meaningless yet! -- watch for preservation from injuries and cuts, like the Bengals releasing pricey WR Antonio Bryant.

The most interesting thing that happened in baseball last night was the first-ever use of replay in a "walk-off" situation (Brian McCann's game-winning HR for the Braves in their comeback over the Marlins) -- not just that, but overturning an erroneous call to correct it, using replay. Now imagine that happening in a playoff game or World Series. Friends, this is an absolute affirmation of replay in baseball -- and why we need it to be even more expanded.

Anyone at all have Michelle Wie getting off the schneid before Tiger?

US Open Prediction: Federer FTW.

All hail our new Little League World Champions from Japan. I'm sure some people will find a way to pin the end of the US' 5-year LLWS winning streak on the current US government.

So much for Connie Britton's Emmy mojo: It turns out that sports' big winner at the Emmys was... Bucky Gunts! (Director of the Opening Ceremonies of the Vancouver Olympics).

-- D.S.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

08/29 Sunday (Emmy) Quickie

Let me hit on the one distinct sports angle of tonight's Emmy Awards: Connie Britton -- who plays Tami Taylor on "Friday Night Lights" deserves to win Best Actress in a Drama.

Britton's character -- and weekly performance -- is, by far, the acting highlight of the show, this season more than ever. (I am less bullish about Kyle Chandler's Eric Taylor. Overrated, sorry. Not the character, but how Chandler plays him.)

Tim Tebow in primetime tonight? Given his injured ribs, I wouldn't be surprised if Tebow didn't play tonight, although you can guarantee that Fox would love to see it.

It's fascinating how Boston's season can go from "signs of life!" to "oh god, why?" from one night (Friday) to the next (Saturday's walk-off win by the Rays).

Kevin Durant might be the alpha star of Team USA hoops, but Kevin Love is using the opportunity to establish himself as one of the best young power forwards in the league. (Take that, Slovenia.)

Hawaii vs. Japan for the LLWS title: Who ya got?


-- D.S.