Saturday, December 25, 2010

Saturday (Christmas) Quickie

Merry Christmas, one and all. I have watched parts of at least 4 airings of "A Christmas Story." And, yes, I think I'm burning out.

NBA on Christmas Day: My favorite NBA tradition (sorry, Phil Jackson and LeBron) and the most popular day of NBA of the year.

LeBron spiced things up by supporting contraction -- and the loss of jobs for his fellow players -- which should add a layer of enmity to his duel with the Lakers (Derek Fisher is president of the players' union).

Meanwhile, the Knicks are relevant on Christmas Day for the first time in forever. The Garden should be rocking at noon. (And Celtics-Magic will be a fun one, too.)

Ho, ho, ho: I'm inclined not to obliterate Renardo Sidney over this fight with a teammate -- on top of everything else. He simply was a guy who should have skipped college altogether to play in the D-League until he was draft-eligible.

Mike Vick would pick himself for MVP: I appreciate his candor -- and I agree with him. (Although I totally understand the case for Tom Brady.)


Enjoy your days. More later.

-- D.S.

Friday, December 24, 2010

12/24 Quickie: Ohhh...Fuuudge

Can't help it: My favorite Christmas tradition is watching "A Christmas Story." Over and over.

If you are celebrating, here's to the merriest of Christmases to you and your family. If you aren't, enjoy the Chinese food and movies. Forward...

Steelers crush Panthers: As expected. Looking ahead to Week 16: Good luck to everyone competing for a fantasy championship this weekend.

Weekend's Best: Revolves around New York -- Jets/Bears and, more importantly, Giants/Packers. Let's also keep an eye on the mess in the NFC West.

LeBron hates the NBA labor movement: He publicly supported contraction (and thus the loss of jobs for his fellow players), an odd position for the league MVP.

(It's particularly bad timing heading into tomorrow's slate of Christmas Day games, annually the NBA's biggest regular-season day of the year, headlined by Heat-Lakers.)

Magic over Spurs: If they can do that, no excuses for Orlando not to make a strong push to win the East -- at least get to the Finals. (Would love to see Orlando-Miami in the semis.)

Ohio State vs. the NCAA: Let me get this straight -- these 5 players are suspended for the first 5 games of 2011, but they can play in the bowl game? NCAA hypocrisy writ large.

San Diego State over Navy in the Poinsettia Bowl: Only relevant to Florida fans who were watching, because SDSU's OC is a contender to be Florida's new OC.

Related: Temple hires Steve Addazio. I actually like this hire for Temple. Addazio was a horrible OC, but he is a great leader and an amazing recruiter -- he is way better as a HC than OC.

Tonight: Hawaii-Tulsa. Nope, won't be watching (unless the game is sponsored by Red Ryder).

CBB: Renardo Sidney never should have gone to college, let alone stuck around for this year. He should have gone straight to the D-League and been draft-eligible last June. Now, he's sunk.

Tourney-quality win for Georgetown over Memphis. Filed away for March. (To continue my annual in-the-tankness for G'town.)

Gillette splits with Tiger: Why now and not a year ago? In the end, Tiger is less marketable for his lack of titles than his lack of marital fidelity.

Hot Stove: Would the Yankees really sign Manny? Yes please.

Feuds: Both Kyle Shanahan and Donovan McNabb (or his agent) need to grow up.

Again: Wishing you a wonderful Christmas holiday. I'll be blogging tomorrow and all weekend.

-- D.S.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

12/23 Quickie: Happy Festivus

Is it wrong that Festivus is my favorite holiday of the year? It's just not the holiday season without "the airing of grievances."

Ryan/Foot thing, cont'd: Oh, he's totally right that it's a "personal matter." Frankly, I'm quite impressed that aside from the easy jokes, most people are like, "Hey, more power to you."

Ohio State Tattoo scandal: Did players trade autographs and memorabilia for free tattoos? I'm coming around to the idea that a straight barter isn't the worst thing in the world. (I have less clarity when it comes to cash transactions, although I understand there's not much difference.)

Actually, that might be the best way for players to get compensated without the NCAA actually getting into the murky area of paying them: Let them barter their autograph or appearance for whatever they can get for it; that's much closer to a fair market value than trying to come up with a regular payment system.

Larry Brown out in Charlotte: Longtime readers know that I can't stand Larry Brown's whole "Right Way" schtick. I'd call him the Brett Favre of NBA coaches, but Favre lacks Brown's fundamental smugness.

NFL Tonight: Panthers at Steelers. Could be the worst game of the year -- Pittsburgh is going to roll.

CFB Bowling: Boise State ends season on an up note, by smothering Utah in the MAACO Bowl in Vegas. Has to be so bittersweet for the Broncos -- more than any other team.

Tonight: Poinsettia Bowl, featuring Navy and San Diego State. Have you seen that field? It's underwater -- cue Navy jokes...

CBB: Here's a grievance -- why did I pick Michigan State to win the national title? That team is having serious problems this season, the latest being losing at home to Texas last night.

More NBA: Celtics win 14th straight. But, really, did you see that dunk by Blake Griffin where his head was above the rim? Not sure there has been a more exciting finisher in the NBA since early-career Vince Carter (all the more remarkably because Griffin is a power forward, not a guard.)

TV: Catch the latest HBO 24/7: Pens-Caps last night? Seeing Mario Lemieux on the ice was incredible TV. They are really doing an awesome job with the show.

(Oh, and don't forget ESPN's documentary about Tim Tebow will be on Jan. 6. I'm sure you're just giddy with anticipation.)

Know things have been slow lately around here, friends, but hopefully more than anything it's an indication of how hard I'm hustling to get ready for early 2011. I cannot wait.

Keep coming back: Posting tomorrow and all weekend long.

Happy Festivus!

-- D.S.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sponsored Post: It's Over

Your weekly update on my travails in the Blogger Football League, sponsored by Procter & Gamble. For background, see this intro post.

It's over. My season -- once so promising -- fell apart in the semifinals, after Team Gunaxin unleashed Mike Vick on me. If not for about 7 minutes of awesome from Vick, it would be a different story. But he rolled, and so did Gunaxin.

And so my season in the league ends short of a championship -- but probably as well as I had ever done in a fantasy league in my life. (Kinda sad reality.)

I had the No. 1 overall pick: Chris Johnson. His up-and-down year, punctuated on Sunday, cost me. I also had Tom Brady, my team MVP, who won me plenty of weeks. Even Brady couldn't top Vick in Week 15.

I will celebrate my best in-season move -- picking up LeGarrette Blount -- and mock my misses, like having any faith in Michael Crabtree.

It's disappointing for a lot of reasons -- I certainly would have liked to have won the $10,000 for the youth-sports charity of my choice; I had already thought through donating it to my brother's elementary school in Florida, which could use it.

Here is this week's league recap post from Diana. I'll keep you apprised of how the league championship shakes out.
Check out P&G's Take It To The House page on Facebook. Be sure to look for the new contest where you predict the players who will have the top 5 rushing or receiving plays from scrimmage, and if you get them all, you win some insanely good prizes.

The P&G Blogger Fantasy League (BFL) is a group of 12 online sports folks competing on the fantasy platform for the chance to win a donation for a local charity, furnished by P&G. The NFL Entities have not offered or sponsored the sweepstakes in anyway.

12/22 Quickie: UConn's 89, More

I really am baffled when I see backlash to coverage of UConn's winning streak -- 89, as of last night. The comparisons to UCLA in the early 1970s get people particularly riled up.

Nevermind that I see UConn's streak as more impressive -- that's just my opinion, and I'm not insisting it be yours -- but why can't we just appreciate what UConn is doing for its own sake?

The irony is that I have a complicated relationship with sports-team dominance. By default, I'm not a fan of dynasties (despite the data that shows it increases interest in a sport).

And, yet, almost to a compulsive extent, I usually pick previous champs to repeat. I was was one of the first -- and remain one of the only -- to say that two titles in a row qualifies as a dynasty.

Despite my inclination to dislike dynasties, I love this UConn team, because it's not just your typical winning -- yes, it's The Streak. But it's also HOW they are winning: By destroying almost everyone.

I was glued to the game last night not just for the history, but because I couldn't believe what UConn was doing to a very good Florida State team. They made them look like JV.

I admire UConn women's hoops for their sustained success, yes, but just as much -- maybe more -- because they are merciless in their swath of destruction.

The entire program is built around optimizing the sport for winning -- and winning big.

Now, I'm sure that part of the reason I like/admire this is because it is women's hoops, a sport I follow only for its superlative moments, like UConn's streak or the Final Four.

If there was a team in the NBA or NFL or MLB or either major men's college sport like this -- and there never has been -- I'm sure I would loathe them.

But there is something about one team out there maintaining a standard of excellence that is so high that it can turn even dynasty-haters into fawning admirers.


So: Rex Ryan and his wife and the feet thing. I say: Live and let live. It is a detail that makes Ryan all the more complex and fascinating.

CFB Bowling Tonight: Utah vs. Boise State in the MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas. Ouch. Consider where we were two months ago with these two teams. Now look back at me. Now look at the tumble for Boise from BCS bowl to MAACO. Now back to me. This might be the best bowl match-up of the year, and we're getting it on Dec. 22. Um, enjoy?

No, Tiger Woods isn't injured.

Congrats to Charlie Strong and Louisville on their bowl win in the much-maligned Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl.

No. 11 Kansas State losing to UNLV could be spotted a mile away -- or, however far away it is where KSU's starting backcourt got those improper benefits. (And, ouch: Tennesee.)

More later.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

12/21 Quickie: Favre,

Today's Names to Know: UConn, Brett Favre, Joe Webb, Lovie Smith, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Charlie Strong, Beef O'Brady, Ralph Friedgen, Tim Tebow, Coach K, John Shurna and More.

Note: Thanks for the response to the Quickish intern post from yesterday. I think we'll be good, but if you missed it and feel strongly about it, shoot me an email via the post.

UConn women go for 89th win in a row: And they'll get it. Hard to envision when this team will lose again. And, yes, it IS a big deal. (Count me among the folks who think that winning 89 in a row today is a lot more impressive than winning 88 in the early 70's. Apples-to-oranges, yadda yadda yadda... I'm blown away by this UConn dominance.)

Favre: The end? There are two lasting myth-buttressing images from what might be Brett Favre's final game in the NFL:

First, him trotting out to start the game, in the snow, defying the "out" designation that has only been reversed by game-time less than two dozen times in the past decade.

Second, Favre face-down on the turf after Corey Wooton's hit, knocked out of the game. From Favre's perspective, I presume that in the hierarchy of career conclusions, being KO'ed is not as good as going out on a game-winning TD pass -- but better than standing limply on the sidelines.

Then again, he might play next week, rendering all of this moot and recycling the encomiums. That would be most Favrian of all.

Bears clinch NFC North: Does this get Lovie Smith off the hot seat? At the very least, it means playoff football at Soldier Field in January. If last night's snowy conditions were any indication, they might even win one. (Then again, they will be going against a playoff team, not the Vikings.)

Joe Webb Fan Club: Why was it such a presumption that Joe Webb would be a WR, not a QB? Shows a lack of insight from the traditional NFL draftnik-scouting complex, because Webb looked pretty good last night, particularly for a rookie who hadn't played QB all year. I know the Vikings will likely draft a QB in the 1st round next spring, but why not give Webb a chance?

Mavs stop Heat streak: As Miami has rolled along, it feels like they have feasted on many of the NBA's lesser teams; we're back to the old meme: They can't beat the elite -- at least not consistently, on the road. Leaves things pretty opaque about their playoff chances.

Magic's new additions don't help much: Hedo Turkoglu and Jason Richarsdson started, and Gilbert Arenas came off the bench -- no matter, the Hawks won. (It was to be expected that the new group wouldn't gel instantly. I'm still bullish for the long term on them.)

CFB Bowling: Beef O'Brady's Bowl in St. Pete! Southern Miss vs. Louisville, which just signed its biggest recruit ever: Miami-area star QB Teddy Bridgewater. Oh, and I saw a stat yesterday that L'ville lost its 6 games never by more than a TD. Charlie Strong has the program on the rise.

Maryland buys out/fires Ralph Friedgen: Setting the table for Mike Leach. Unclear why they are having a "search committee"; this should be done quickly and simply, bringing in Leach. Every day the new coach isn't installed is a day when they lose ground in recruiting. Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank needs to shoot Maryland's president a note about that.

NFL Draft: Is Nick Saban using the uncertainty over the NFL's labor situation to scare his juniors into not going into the Draft? Savvy by Saban, but ultimately, if the players are Draft-worthy (particularly 1st-round picks), they should get into the league as fast as they can.

Tim Tebow will start next week: Of course he will. (a) He played well enough to merit it, and (b) what would be the point, in a lost season, of leaving the young QB on the bench in favor of the vet, in an otherwise meaningless game?

CBB: Coach K is now No. 2 in all-time wins among college hoops coaches.

Florida shocked by Jacksonville: After the K-State upset, what did I tell you about Florida's inconsistency? Maddening.

Northwestern rolled at the Garden last night, thank you very much. I was the only one in the arena in the hard-to-find John Shurna jersey-style T-shirt, which will look even better in March.

-- D.S.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Serendipity in Fan Allegiance

My alma mater Northwestern is heading to my 'hood to play at Madison Square Garden tonight (and tomorrow). I will be there. I even bought a John Shurna jersey-style T-shirt to wear.

In a bit of irony, they will be playing St. Francis of New York -- D-1's smallest program, which happens to be located down the street from my apartment. (Site of my kid's 1st-ever game.)

The occasion of NU being here inspired me to combine it with this month's 20th anniversary of my acceptance to NU to point out that college fandom is largely based in serendipity.

Check out my essay over at The Awl. The premise is simple: How different would your life as a fan be if you didn't end up at the college you went to?

You certainly wouldn't, say, be going to Madison Square Garden to watch Northwestern play St. Francis in the 1st half of a doubleheader.

Want to Be The Quickish Intern?

So what are you doing over your winter break?

Quickish needs an intern. With the launch coming up soon, there is a ton of stuff to get done. I could use someone reliable, creative and detail-oriented (with some writing skill) to help me with a bunch of the different things that are getting pulled together. The job is mostly editorial(-ish) work, but I can’t claim it’s glamorous.

Enticing, I know. But you get to join in on what will hopefully be one of the most exciting media start-ups of 2011. And hopefully get some interesting experience.

I’m looking for someone who has a passion for the intersection of sports and media (but NOT “sports media.”) Ideally, you’re on break from college from now through mid-January, with little to do but help me out. (This is NOT meant to dominate your time; call it 15-20 hours a week, but it’s flexible.) FWIW: This is different than the "legwork" project from the fall -- that was just a few days of work and nominally paid. But if you were interested then and emailed about it, just shoot me a quick note.

You don’t have to be in New York (where I am), but if you are, that’s a bonus. You’ll be working from home/dorm/Starbucks/Gchat/Skype anyway.

If you’re interested, shoot me a note at

-- D.S.

12/20 Quickie: Eagles, Pats, UConn

Today's Names to Know: DeSean Jackson, Mike Vick, Matt Dodge, Matt Flynn, Dan Connolly, Ti Tebow, NFC West, Rex Grossman, UConn women's hoops, Zack Greinke, Grant Hill and More.

So: That DeSean Jackson walk-off punt-return-for-a-TD. Good gosh -- and made all the more dramatic coming at the end of a massive 4th-quarter rally for the Eagles. On the road, in New York, their biggest division playoff rival this season.

I don't blame Jackson for hot-dogging at the goal-line (although I really do think that it was a combo of wanting to be flashy and legitimately wanting to ensure the clock had run out). He is one of the glitziest players in the league, in an unprecedentedly glitzy situation. What did you THINK he was going to do?

(Meanwhile: Poor Matt Dodge, goat emeritus for Giants fans. The Giants punter screwed up. Undoubtedly, he knew he screwed up. Given that Tom Coughlin is going to cut him today, assuredly, when he was being reamed on national TV by his coach, Dodge should have shouted back: "Do you NOT think I get it?")

MVP Watch: With two weeks to go -- and after yesterday's comeback -- I have absolutely no problems putting Mike Vick at the top of the list. (And I say that having had Vick likely cost me a title in the P&G fantasy league -- which would have netted me $10K for charity and a trip to the Super Bowl. Oh, well. Speaking of fantasy, HEY RAY RICE: WHERE WAS THAT BEFORE?)

Meanwhile, kudos to Dan Connolly, the Pats offensive lineman who became an instant star after his 73-yard kickoff return/rumble just before halftime. Frankly, given how close this game was -- and did ANYONE see that coming? -- it was the pivotal play of the game.


*Jets off the schneid: At Pittsburgh, no less. Wow, did they need that. (Anyone else think that the Steelers were definitely going to score at the end?) So if they can win at Pittsburgh in December, not much excuse for not being able to win a couple of playoff games on the road, is there?

*Tim Tebow's debut as a starter: You could probably hear my whooping up and down the block when he took off for that 40-yard TD run on the game's 2nd series. (And almost as loud when he threw that bomb TD on the very next series.) TDs included, it was a good -- not great -- start. He will get better. The Broncos' problem isn't Tebow; it's the defense.

*The NFC West is insane: With just 2 weeks to go, the 5-9 49ers nearly control their own destiny. If they win out -- no guarantee, obviously -- they only need one small break to find themselves in the playoffs (and hosting a game!) at 7-9. Nothing will hasten playoff-seeding reform like that kind of result.

*Rex Grossman: Admit it -- not nearly as bad as you thought he'd be. (Again, as with Tebow and the Broncos, the Redskins' problem wasn't Grossman; it was letting the Cowboys score 30+ points.)

*Congrats to the Lions for finally winning on the road. (Signature victory of Detroit's Calvin Johnson Era?)

Non-NFL News:

*UConn women's hoops win 88th straight: You might have missed the game yesterday because you were watching football. No excuses not to watch the record-breaker on Tuesday. It is going to be something you want to be able to say you saw first-hand.

*Brewers get Zack Greinke: The Royals had to move him for the right package; unfortunately for KC fans, it'll take years to know whether it pans out. Gratification is more immediate for Brewers fans: Greinke joins a stacked rotation that should have Milwaukee the favorite in the NL Central.

*NBA Last Night: Vintage Grant Hill. As the league still settles down from the huge pair of Orlando trades, the new-look Suns were supremely old school last night -- Grant Hill had 30 and 10 in a Suns win over Oklahoma City (and that was without the new players from Orlando). Has to rank among the best single-game performances from an NBA player age 38 or older. (Given his age and the circumstances, possibly the most impressive performance of his career.)

More later, including a Quickish update.

-- D.S.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday (Very) Quickie

Let's start with the notion that Tim Tebow might/could/will start today in Oakland for the Denver Broncos. Now that's out of the way...

UConn women go for consecutive win No. 88 -- tying UCLA's legendary streak -- today vs. No. 10 Ohio State at Madison Square Garden, the biggest stage possible for one of the biggest wins in women's college hoops history. (Now that I'm back in NYC, I'm a bit bummed I'm not going to this game. I would love to have taken my kids, so they could see the history.)

Magic center of NBA mega-trade(s): This was a fun one. The Magic improved their offense considerably, dumping Vince Carter for Jason Richardson and old fan favorite Hedo Turkoglu (while giving up underrated Dwight Howard backup Marcin Gortat), then swapping overpriced tall 3-point shooter Rashard Lewis straight up for Gilbert Arenas, who is a better shooter than Lewis (and desperate for a career reboot).

*The upshot: The Magic need to try to win now. Dwight Howard is a free agent after the 2012 season, and they have to try to show him they are committed to chasing a title; the old roster wasn't cutting it. J-Rich is an upgrade over VC. Arenas is high-risk/high-reward. They might miss Gortat. (They won't miss Rashard Lewis.)

*The Suns are dismantling themselves -- Carter's massive salary comes off the books after this season. Pity Steve Nash, the franchise star who will never be traded, but has to suffer through the descent to rock bottom. Gortat will actually help a lot, I'll bet.

*The Wizards get rid of the face of the franchise, replacing him with a shooter who they can't wait to dump off the books in a year or two. Like almost every other Wizards fan, I adored Gilbert -- at least, I was obsessed with him during that glorious run when he was not only playing like a 1st-team all-NBA player, but being eccentric and wacky and blogging and doing freakish things that showed a joy for the game and a joy for life. That changed with the injuries and the "guns incident," but I will never stop appreciating how good Arenas made it to be a Wizards fan. No matter what team he plays for, I'll always be a fan of Agent Zero.

Wizards nearly beat Heat: And, in typical fashion, the Wizards -- playing without Arenas, without Wall, without Rashard Lewis and without much talent to speak of -- took the Heat to the final seconds (up 4 with 13 seconds to play!)... but ultimately choked in only the way the Wizards can (and, predictably, do).

It's possible to claim moral victory that the Wizards didn't lose by 40 -- as I honestly thought they would -- but it was deflating that they came so close to their biggest (and most unlikely) regular-season win in franchise history, only to bumble it away at the end.

CFB Bowl season starts: With blowouts! Frosh QB Jake Heaps led BYU to its final win as a member of the Mountain West... Northern Illinois and its hilariously candid interim head coach throttled Fresno State... Troy walloped Ohio in New Orleans (behind a huge performance from another frosh QB, Corey Robinson). By the way, Troy's punter has the greatest beard ever.

1-AA Playoffs: It'll be Delaware vs. Eastern Washington for the national title.

CFB Coaching Carousel: Mike Leach to Maryland? (Or is that "Marrrrryland?" I have to get on trademarking that pirate-speak version of the school's name.) Leach's issues at Texas Tech aside, this would be the ideal hire for Maryland. Leach is brilliant. His style of play is incredibly entertaining (meaning that even if Maryland doesn't win the conference, they will be fun to watch). And he is buddies with Maryland uber-booster Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour.

CBB Upset Du Jour: Illinois lost to Illinois-Chicago, in the kind of regional-guppy-beats-regional-powerhouse win that MAKES a program for a mid-major conference.

Plus: Gonzaga over Baylor. Gonzaga had seemed "down" this season, but this was a big win over a very good Baylor team -- probably enough to right the Zags and keep them on track for an NCAA bid.

(Meanwhile, I am baffled at how Florida locked down Kansas State. Florida has not been impressive at all this season. K-State is precisely the kind of "tough" team that typically gives Florida fits. Instead, Florida held KSU under 50. Many fans will file this one away when they look at Florida on their bracket next March; I see it as a near-annual "great" win for Florida that shows how much potential they have... but ultimately sets you up for a let-down loss when it matters most. Wow: We've come a long way since 2007, where my expectation was "National championship or bust.")

Josh Selby's Kansas debut: Showcasing a sweet shot, he is as good as his prep reputation that preceded him. He is likely one-and-done, but he will make KU much more of a threat to go into the 2nd weekend (maybe the final weekend) of the NCAA Tournament.

Congrats, Penn State women's volleyball: 4th straight national title.

NFL Week 15: Rex Grossman is starting in the NFL. That is all. (Actually, there's a lot more. More later.)

-- D.S.