Monday, December 05, 2011

12/05 (Fire Up) Quickie

This is a phenomenal day in sports: The BCS system produced one of its most (if not THE most) divisive results yet... MLB Winter Meetings are kicking off, and Jose Reyes is on his way to the Marlins (Pujols next?)... NFL Week 13 was Tebow-tastic (no, seriously, it's beyond even my own highest expectations at this point)... college hoops is coming off its best regular-season game in years (Kentucky edging UNC in an NBA-laden insta-classic)... Oh, and Tiger is back. Let's dive right in:

BCS: In a way, this represents the culmination of the last half-decade in college football -- the SEC has been so dominant that its second-best team gets what amounts to the benefit of the doubt from pollsters, even though it already had a chance to beat the top team and couldn't, even while there is another contender that has made an entirely legitimate case.

I always thought that the SEC's market power would eventually drive it to secede from the BCS when the conference gets screwed -- in this case, the SEC's market power has proven so strong that it has overwhelmed the BCS system... and may trigger reforms anyway. (The on-field result is still the same: The best SEC team is almost assuredly the best team in the country.)

My late-night conversion on Saturday supporting LSU-Oklahoma State over LSU-Alabama II turned out to be just another Quickie Jinx. I give Alabama -- fueled by a sense of payback -- more than a puncher's chance against LSU (certainly a better chance than OK State would have had). But that doesn't mean it's a satisfying result.

Final Coaches Top 25: It's an annual treat to see the pettiness of the final Coaches Top 25. For example, Air Force's Troy Calhoun had Oklahoma State FIFTH, the lowest of any coach. (Now, to his credit, he had OKS ranked low every week leading up to the final one.) But you have to love Nick Saban ranking OK State 4th on his ballot. Syracuse's Doug Marrone and Duke's David Cutcliffe did, too.

But the big winner is Missouri's Gary Pinkel, currently in the Big 12 but bolting for the SEC -- he had Oklahoma State ranked 4th, too. He knows what side of his bagel is buttered... at least starting today.

MLB Winter Meetings: Love the Marlins taking a big swing by paying Jose Reyes $106 million, giving them an exciting superstar to complement Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton (and Ozzie Guillen). I fully support them doubling down (doubling up?) and overpaying Albert Pujols. For all the grief the franchise has taken -- under a couple of different owners -- let's remember: "Flags fly forever." And the Marlins, using an intentional boom-and-bust strategy, have two flags over the past 15 years, a trade plenty of fans would be willing to make. Should be an exciting week that harkens back to my private test run of Quickish last December, where I was feverishly covering the MLB Winter Meetings and Hot Stove craziness for an audience of... me.

NFL Week 13: Tebow Time... again. Or is that "again again again again again again..." For everyone focusing on the funky option-style offense, Tebow ran the ball exactly three times yesterday. Instead, he threw the ball efficiently (that one sideline scramble into a TD pass was his best play as a pro, without question) and didn't throw an INT and -- here's where it gets interesting -- the mere threat he presents as a runner (actualized or not) turned into part of the Broncos' offensive strategy. Yes, it was the woeful Vikings D, but whatever: Tebow has led the Broncos into first place, with a better-than-not chance of advancing to the playoffs. I would never suggest that Tebow displace Aaron Rodgers as 2011 NFL MVP -- Rodgers is playing better than any QB in the history of the league, frankly -- but I have absolutely no problems promoting Tebow as the runner-up candidate. He should be on the down ballot.

Speaking of Rodgers: Good golly. He's so good. He's just so so good. You need to watch Packers games because you are watching as close to the idealized version of a quarterback playing as you will ever see. (BTW: Rodgers is my 5-year-old son Gabe's second-favorite player, behind Cam Newton.)

Navel-gazing fantasy talk: Yesterday was the greatest fantasy game I have ever played in. I am tied for first in my league, which is crowded at the top for four playoff spots. I was playing a team in the pack one game behind the leaders; my opponents' team leads the league in scoring -- my team is, by far, the lowest-scoring of any of the playoff contenders. All day, he and I watched our match-up swing back and forth: In the early-afternoon, I beat back his surge led by Gronkowski and the Steelers D with my own surge of Mike Wallace, Percy Harvin (mercy!) and... Tim Tebow. My lead evaporated in the late-afternoon because he has... Aaron Rodgers. It was a series of haymakers by both sides. Where it stands now: He is 9 points ahead, but I have the Chargers D going up against the inept and rudderless Jaguars offense. It'll be close. But however it ends, it was a phenomenal day in front of Red Zone.

Speaking of Red Zone (my favorite thing of 2011, if not ever): I got a retweet from Red Zone Channel host Scott Hanson -- in the middle of the Packers-Giants finish, no less -- for a tweet I sent out, which is totally real: "My 5-y.o. calls the #nflredzone Touchdown Montage the "touchdown massage," which also works." I'm not prone to be star-struck, but for Scott Hanson? Oh, that made my weekend (and Gabe's, too).

College hoops: Whoa, Kentucky is really really good. And that is despite the fact that high-ranking frosh PG Marquis Teague isn't nearly as good as his hype. But Terrence Jones? Awesome. Anthony Davis? A defensive force. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist? As high of a motor as I've seen in college hoops in years. The rest of UK's supporting cast? Good enough to win a championship. (Then again, that's been the look for the past few years -- we'll see if they have the will to elevate themselves when it matters, not in mid-December.)

Tiger: My favorite detail is that after he won, he tweeted out a link to LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out," presumably for its iconic opening lines: "Don't call it a comeback! I've been here for years...."

SI Sportsman of the Year: Comes out later this morning. I had a couple of whiffs -- Aaron Rodgers, "The Fan" (ugh) -- but I have my "final answer" of a guess: Coach K.

Seriously: We're off to an amazing start this week. Check out Quickish to keep up.

-- D.S.

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