Saturday, January 29, 2011

01/29 (Very) Quickie

So I actually watched the entire NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft last night, and mostly, it showed me how far the sport had drifted from my attention.

But as for the draft itself, I thought its reality came about as much to matching the promise of its premise as the league could have hoped for.

The Sedins were split (in the event's biggest drama). The Staals stayed together. Alexander Ovechkin was NOT a 1st-round pick. Phil Kessel was the last player selected, and the visual of him sitting by himself, sheepishly, was every bit as interesting as we thought it would be. (Schadenfreudishly, Ovie even was caught taking a picture of lonely Kessel.) For his trouble, Kessel got $20K for charity and a new Honda -- not a bad consolation prize.

It remains an experiment worth trying in the NBA and NFL.


College hoops today: Jimmer's not on TV, so we're reduced to tracking his scoring on an online scoreboard. Otherwise, G'town-Nova tips things off at noon and the day winds up with its headliner, Mizzou at Texas.

Clijsters wins Aussie Open: Go moms!

Is this the slowest sports weekend of the winter in sports? Has to be one of them, right? There's still the NHL All-Star Game, the NFL Draft Senior Bowl. That's OK.

It makes it all the more cool that Quickish is zipping away -- the pace of real-time talk in places like Twitter might be slower, but there are a ton of good stories to recommend. Check back throughout the day to keep up. So many good things published yesterday, if you didn't drop by.

-- D.S.

Friday, January 28, 2011

1/28 Quickie: NHL, Knicks, Fisher, Morgan, More

Kudos to the NHL, which is launching the 2nd-most innovative thing the league has ever done (and one of the more innovative ideas in large-league sports in recent years):

Tonight, the NHL's All-Star captains are "picking sides," just like you did when playing in the schoolyard (or community rink) as a kid. There will be a first pick. More interestingly, there will be a LAST pick. (And that the NHL didn't sugar-coat this is to their massive credit.)

All in all, it's enough to make a casual (even a "non-") NHL fan tune in to watch, and you can only hope that the NBA and NFL follow suit. It's a phenomenal idea.


NFL: Titans part ways with Jeff Fisher, previously the longest-tenured coach in football. Better for him to leave now than have a lame-duck year, THEN get exit.

NBA: Knicks beat Heat. The game had a playoff intensity, right down to Tracy Morgan making news before the game with his Sarah Palin thing. (Yeesh. Live, it was insane to see.)

But about the Knicks: Amare is obviously the most popular player on the team, but rookie Landry Fields can't be far behind. NBA draftniks haven't whiffed on a player so badly in a while.

NFL Labor: It's not that Antonio Cromartie is "going Crogue." It's that the union is freaking out in dealing with him, extending to Matt Hasselbeck's ill-advised Twitter confrontation.

Let's be more clear: Hasselbeck was a moron to engage Cromartie on Twitter. Cro couldn't care less what he says; Hasselbeck cares a great deal what you think about him.

And so when Cro smacked Hasselbeck back, and Hasselbeck returned a weak volley of "Heh heh, just kidding. So sorry!" the QB looked like a chump.

It's not so far off from the way the union looks when its players all tweet out bleats of solidarity whenever Cro tees off through Twitter. It's beneath them.

(For gosh sakes: Just give Cro some cash under the table to stop. Is it really that hard?)

The union gets some back with the new Esquire piece detailing some serious institutional injury issues among NFL players -- nothing you don't already presume, but it's always stark to see the numbers.

NFL Draft: The Senior Bowl is tomorrow. It's just not the same without the Tim Tebow insanity of last year.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek released it's Top 100 most business-influential athletes list, and Peyton was No. 1. LeBron wasn't in the Top 10 and Tim Tebow wasn't among the Top 100, so it's very hard to take the list seriously.

Must-read: Yesterday's amazing essay on Deadspin by contributor Katie Baker about her life in the late-90s as an online "puck tease." One of the best sports stories you'll read all year.

There's a ton more on Quickish, so drop by to catch up on yesterday, keep up during the day and stay on top of everything throughout the weekend. It takes about 30 seconds per visit to catch up, with plenty more to read through links (but only if you want).

Otherwise, have a great weekend! (But, sincerely: Please check out Quickish. And, in advance of a big push next week, please tell a few friends today about it. It would really help.)

-- D.S.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

01/27: We Got Jimmered

Jimmer Fredette has picked his spot nicely.

During the slow mid-week before the week before the Super Bowl, Jimmer -- BYU's superstar scoring guard -- went from object of obsession for the college hoops intelligentsia to...

Full-blown sports rock star.

In the biggest game of his season last night -- hard enough to catch on TV (CBS College Sports, which had even me looking for an illicit internet video feed) that it almost felt more interesting, like watching Prince at a small club rather than an arena -- Jimmer had 43 in a W.

And it felt... quiet. Not just quiet: Easy. As quiet as 43 can be in an arena packed with rabid fans. Just look at this photo -- it was taken not by a pro, but by Jags LB Kirk Morrison, who was just there to watch the game.

We have had smaller-school college hoops phenoms recently -- Stephen Curry, Adam Morrison -- but Jimmer is the first real one of the Twitter Era, where buzz can elevate "CBS College Sports" to a Twitter Trending Topic (to be replaced by "Jimmer," undoubtedly).

His NBA future? He is expected to be a 1st-round pick, and like super college scorers who are presumably odd NBA fits before him -- like Curry and JJ Redick -- his stock will go up and he will go in the Top 10. Someone will do it.

His NCAA Tournament future? Curry made it deep into the second weekend. I'm not sure Fredette will get that far, but it sure would be good for the sport and the event if he did. San Diego State is no joke; that was a Sweet 16-quality win (if benefiting from home cooking).

But those are for another time. For now, it's just Jimmer the Rock Star, the big story of the day.


More on the radar:

Li Na is going to take over the world: When you become an instant sensation with a billion fans in China, you tend to move the needle. This showed up on Quickish this morning -- more fans could watch the Aussie Open women's final than the Super Bowl... by a lot.
Federer KO'ed: He's just not the same anymore. Hope you enjoyed his dominance while it lasted.

Kevin Durant is the Jimmer of the NBA: Kidding. Kevin Durant is just awesome, with 47 and 18 in an OT win over the T'wolves (Kevin Love wasn't bad either: 31 and 21. Sheesh.)
Tonight: LeBron and the Heat at Madison Square Garden. I think they beat the Knicks by 20, even without Chris Bosh. These Knicks could barely shake off the Wizards on Monday.
NFL union civil war? I'm dubbing it "Going Crogue," because Antonio Cromartie has been spouting off in ways that undermine the union's cause, so the union -- in a bit of a panic -- asked some members to tweet out their support. It came across as somewhat desperate; you're so afraid of a single player? Doesn't say much for the strength of your hand.

More later

-- D.S.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

01/26 Quickie: Let's Get Quicker

I'm realizing that I'm hitting on only the really big topics here, when on Quickish, there seems to be a lot more going on -- and a lot more I want to cover in a Quickie column. So today is going to be fast(er) and (not quite) furious....

*Ohio State throttles Purdue: Oh, OSU is No. 1, clearly. But in college hoops, that is completely meaningless. Unless the Buckeyes win the national title, the season is a failure.

*Tonight: San Diego State at BYU, one of the best college hoops games of the regular season. SDSU is unbeaten; BYU is once-beaten and features the nation's most must-see player, Jimmer Fredette. Shame this game is shunted off to CBS College Sports.

*Dozen Iowa football players get sick after offseason workout: How many things have to go wrong before the Iowa administration finally fires Kirk Ferentz? Apparently, it's unlimited.

*Brian Cashman says Derek Jeter will eventually have to play the outfield: But this is a non-issue. I'm sure Jeter will insist on remaining at shortstop. (Frankly, everyone knows he should have moved over to 2B when A-Rod got to NY, and it was the antithesis of being the "captain" to not do what was best for the team. Then again, where would Cano play?)

*CFB: UConn booster wants his money back. I love this story. First of all, it's the guy's right to take his money back, for any reason. Second, let's not be naive: The biggest booster of a school's football program SHOULD have a say -- or at least he should be given the chance to have a say. It's a business, and this is an investor, whether we call them that or not. Third: Let's not argue the guy doesn't have a point -- Paul Pasqualoni was a TERRIBLE hire. Fourth: Don't think the top-money booster doesn't matter to a program? Let's see how UConn does without his money. (Robert Burton: You are welcome to join the angel syndicate for Quickish.)

*Herschel Walker back in NFL? Who doubts that, if given carries in an actual game, he couldn't be productive -- probably very productive? He is one of the most unique athletes in the history of sports. Totally doable.

*Rankings: Top 25 Coolest Athletes Ever? I'm a sucker for superlative rankings, so GQ got me. Hard to top Ali as the coolest of coolest. Nice to see at least one new-ish athlete on the list, Tim Lincecum. Can't help but think they're missing a few (including anyone pre-1950's).

*State of the Union address: The big/only sports crossover was when President Obama said we needed to celebrate the Science Fair winner as much as we do the Super Bowl winner. We already do: No Super Bowl winner is more celebrated that Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg or the Google guys, who are the "science" equivalent of Super Bowl winners.

*Great reads: The Slate sports folks are crushing it the past few weeks, and their columns the past two days have been absolutely phenomenal. Find them here.

*Book Club: "Scorecasting," which is like "Freakonomics" for sports. Great early reviews.

*Media: What did you think of that Peter King post yesterday? He actually acknowledged on Twitter that he remembered me (not that that was something I was going for). From last night's HBO report about him, I do wish they had changed one thing: They said his column gets "3 million hits" a week. Ugh. Page-view totals are worthless, particularly when you cynically chop up columns into as many pages as possible (Not King's fault, but chops his into 6 pages. So if you assume all users click through all 6 pages -- a terrible assumption, btw -- he only really has about 500,000 readers a week. That's still a really huge number. But, just for comparison's sake, the Daily Quickie -- publishing 5x as frequently, obviously -- did about 500,000 unique users a week, on average.)

*Happy 50th birthday, Wayne Gretzky: "Skate to where the puck is going, not where it's been."

After a few weeks of struggling with the Quickie post because I was juggling Quickish launch stuff, I feel like I got the groove back today. Speaking of which, visit Quickish now, pop by throughout the day, and tell your friends.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On Peter King's MMQB

HBO "Real Sports" will profile Peter King tonight, with a specific focus on King's popular "Monday Morning Quarterback" column. Taking a second out from keeping up Quickish (what? you haven't tried it yet? please do!) I'd like to add a bit of context...

Peter King will not remember me*, but between 1998 and 1999 I was his “editor” at (nee and was responsible, along with my boss, for back-reading what was then the 2nd year of King’s online column “Monday Morning Quarterback.”

King, to his credit, understood intuitively the voice and pace and essential populism of what makes great online content -- particularly impressive in 1998, when most mainstream media’s interest in the Web ranged from ignorance to hostility.

Taking enthusiastically to the opportunities of the web format, King did four things very right with MMQB:

(1) He wrote naturally. It was like you were sitting on a barstool (or, more in King’s wheelhouse, airline seat next to him). This was a dramatic departure from the heavily edited, depersonalized pieces you normally saw in Sports Illustrated and elsewhere in mainstream sports media.

(2) He wrote at whatever length he wanted, but wisely deployed tons of formatting. Some people took to the online format because they could write at whatever lengths they wanted, but King’s word count never felt gratuitous, in part because the column was parsed into natural sections: Some kind of lead, lists and rankings, personal stories. It was long, but easy to consume.

(3) He provided a combination of insider details that were manna for football fans and simply weren’t found online at the time... and insider details about his life. It’s a point of contention throughout the history of MMQB between the folks who just want the football and can’t stand the stories about King’s take on coffee or travel or baseball or his daughters’ sports teams -- and those who absolutely love that stuff. If you hate it, you can skip over it; however, I would contend that it was the personal details as much as the football ones that drove the column’s success.

(4) It was a “franchise,” right down to its name: Every Monday morning, you’d get the column. It was built on King’s brand, yes, but also on a programming schedule that readers could easily follow (Mondays also not coincidentally also the biggest traffic day of the week in online sports media).

And MMQB was successful --’s most popular content then and now. Along with Jimmy Traina’s Hot Clicks, it is the signature piece of programming for, and MMQB is one of the most recognizable and popular pieces of sports content on the Web. There is an argument to be made -- successfully -- that it is the single-most popular and successful programming “franchise” in online sports (which I’ll distinguish from a writer’s overall popularity, which Bill Simmons claims by a wide margin).

As someone who has been around online sports media since 1995, I’ve seen a lot and have a long institutional memory. To oversimplify, what King did was groundbreaking. Specifically:

*WHO was doing it (traditional and widely respected sports reporter);

*WHERE he was going it (venerable Sports Illustrated);

*HOW he was doing it (formatted, fan-friendly, franchised, near-real-time deadline);

*WHY he was doing it, which is not to be understated (unquestionably, it raised his profile -- far more than any work he ever did in SI’s magazine and almost certainly contributed to the overall popularity that got him the NFL Sunday Night TV gig).

In fact, the HBO segment tonight is specifically pegged off of King’s success with the “MMQB” column.

(It is worth noting that this is not some one-trick element in King's philosophy. He is among the most active mainstream sportswriters on Twitter -- with nearly half a million followers -- and spends a good chunk of his Twitter time responding to readers, both folks with questions and ones with complaints. He has shown as much of a facility with the new platform as the old one, and it begs the quiestion of whether King qualifies as one of the few talents in online sports media whose popularity could support his own stand-alone brand -- and the list is very short. I'm not suggesting he would or should try; like Simmons and ESPN, there is little-to-no upside to leaving the larger company.)

I don’t think Peter would argue if I said that, starting more than a decade ago, he became an online sportswriter who happened to write for a magazine and appear on TV.

Please be sure to visit Quickish, Dan's newly launched company, offering real-time quick-hit recommendations about the biggest topics in sports news.

* - OK, he remembers.

-- D.S.

State of the Sports Union: Your Turn

Today's theme is "State of the Sports Union" and I want you to have your say...on Quickish.

Just Tweet out your quick take on the state of the sports union, using the hashtag #quickish.

If you're not on Twitter, shoot an email to tips[at]quickish[dot]com.

I'll post as many as I can on Quickish throughout the day. Thanks!

--- Dan

01/25: State of Sports Union,
Cutler Hangover , Oscars, More

Today is the State of the Union address, and it's an annual tradition that I offer up my own "State of the Sports Union," and so here we go:

The state of the sports union is, as I have said every year, as strong as it has ever been. More people are consuming sports than ever. More people are into fantasy. More people are transfixed by whatever the story-of-the-day might be.

Things like "The Decision" or the Cam Newton saga or Brett Favre "dong shots" or even the insane flurry surrounding Jay Cutler over the last 36 hours are not, per se, "bad" for sports. On the contrary, it is entirely healthy. It's hard to argue with the fan interest.

Then throw in the things that we already agree are awesome -- the Saints winning the Super Bowl, the World Cup, Tim Tebow putting up monster stats as an NFL starting QB (kidding), the Pats losing to the Jets (not kidding).

The volume and velocity of sports consumption has increased over the last year -- but I'm actually going to argue that we've reached a sort of "terminal velocity." The next evolution is managing life at that pace and intensity, which is part of the reason I founded Quickish.

But where we are is by no means bad or, as crotchety Frank Deford put it this morning, "terrible." In fact, the state of sports is better than it has ever been.


The Jay Cutler reaction torrent yesterday was wearying, but it's worth noting where we netted out:

The initial, in-game reaction was largely recanted -- naturally, the same media who were ripping Cutler (or facilitating the ripping during the game) turned it into some kind of meta "It's Twitter's fault!" argument, or some such thing.

Cutler may be a pretty repulsive personality. Cutler may not have displayed the bearing of someone who wanted-to-go-but-couldn't. But that's our problem, not his. If we (we meaning his fellow players on Twitter or the media or certain fans) wanted to see him wince or limp or something, that's on us, not him.

I think it's clear that if he could have played, he would have.


Now, as for this bunk argument about "oh-woe-is-us-this-insta-opinion-world-we-live-in!" Come on. (1) It's been that way for at least a decade, but probably longer. (2) Twitter in sports is a vast net gain, and if you're going to worry about the stuff at the margins, you're missing the bigger picture.

And (3) As someone who has built a BUSINESS on real-time news, I am going to tell you that when you weed out the crap (thus: Quickish), the insta-reactions are largely...awesome. Not shallow. Not knee-jerk. Not ill-informed. But smart, provocative and -- largely -- the framework for "morning-after" columns and coverage.


CBB: Notre Dame shocks Pitt at Pitt. That's the best game ND will play all year. Still not buying them to get out of the 1st round of the NCAA Tournament.

Tonight: Purdue at No. 1 Ohio State. Should be a great one.


Movies: The Oscar-nomination successs of "The Fighter" makes it one of the most decorated sports movies of all time. Best Picture. Best Director. Best Supporting Actress (two!) and Best Supporting Actor (Christian Bale, the favorite to win).


TV: HBO's "Real Sports" tonight will profile Peter King. I'm trying to pull together a post for later today about him. Check back.


It's 12 days until the Super Bowl and I'm already weary of the "TWO CLASSIC FRANCHISES!" storyline.

-- D.S.

Monday, January 24, 2011

NYC Save the Date: Feb 3

If you live in NYC (and aren't, say, going to the Super Bowl), save the date: Feb. 3 for the greatest Varsity Letters event in its history.

That's because VL is celebrating its 5th anniversary -- good grief, it's older than my older kid. And doing it with an all-star lineup, featuring a mix of alums and noobs:

Klosterman. Leitch. Joe Drape. Alex Belth. Jason Fry. Amy K. Nelson. Henry Abbott. Jeff Pearlman. Katie Baker. Emma Span. Ben Cohen. Michael Weinreb. Sam Walker (the very first Varsity Letters reader). Current VL curator Carl Bialik.

And me, if only because I founded the damn thing. I promise not to talk long. Actually, none of them are going to talk long.

As it happens, Quickish is sponsoring the event, and true to form, everyone is limited to 3 minutes of all-new material on a topic related to "defining moments." Presumably about sports. But we're offering a lot of leeway.

It should be a terrific night at a terrific new venue. Hope to see you there.

-- D.S.

01/24: Cutler, Steelers, Packers, More

Can you recall any time in NFL history when, on the Monday morning after the conference championship games, our No. 1 focus wasn't on the winners, but on a losing team's QB?

Jay Cutler IS the story of the day, and I've been trying to figure out if I can add anything substantial to a discussion that has really come down to:

(1) Was he dogging it? (HE WAS DOGGING IT!)

(2) Was he injured? (LEAVE HIM ALONE!)

And I think I'm going to focus on the question marks, not either side, because it is the question marks that define the story.

Jay Cutler's problem was one of perception, but it wasn't the perception that he's an asshole normally thus he is dogging it now.

I put the blame for this entire "cutlerf--k" on the Bears PR team, which could have de-fused the entire situation with a simple "The docs said he can't play." That's it.

What compounded the failure was that they should have TOTALLY seen this problem brewing -- it was right there for everyone to see on Twitter, literally within 10 seconds of Cutler limping.

Jay Cutler doesn't need to get off the bench and look attentive, if that's not how he normally is and his teammates know it. The guy is a bit of a laconic chucklehead.

However, count me among the camp that believes that if he could have been in there, he would have been. Just because he's not emotive about it -- just because he has possibly the worst media-management skills of any player in the NFL (and, again, not helped by his own team's PR staff) -- doesn't mean he was faking it. Or didn't want it. Or gave up.

Or quit.

I will not condemn the rush-to-judgment that happened on Twitter during the afternoon -- hell, it made the game's Quickish stream infinitely more compelling.

I do think, however, that you can already see some walking-back as more of the story comes out -- as the Bears defend him, as columnists defend him, as players reconsider their snap judgment.

There is no question: Fair or not, Cutler has seen his career indelibly tarnished by this. It is, for now, the new defining moment of his career.

I don't think he cares (except perhaps to the extent he is hurt by fellow members of the football-playing fraternity ripping his heart, after the way he got pounded all year long).

One thing is clear: I'm quicker to blame the Bears' inept PR department than I am to blame Cutler.


I will miss these Jets. They played one of the worst halves of football you could think of, yet came within a Big Ben 3rd-down conversion of having a very good chance of winning the game. I think, in defeat, they did even more to humanize themselves than beating the Pats -- which, by the way, was a pretty good consolation prize. I know not for Rex or the players, but it should be for the fans.


The Packers were/are better than the Bears. But give the Bears credit for making a lame blow-out into one of the most dramatic halves of football of the year, behind Caleb Hanie, who -- if nothing else -- goes down in Chicago sports mythology.


More coming later. I'm working on a couple of bonus posts, when I'm not frantically updating Quickish. If you would, please give it a visit (or few) today -- and if you wouldn't mind reminding your friends about it, I would really appreciate it. Can't believe it's only been live for two weeks.

-- D.S.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

1/23 (Very NFL) Quickie

This is going to be an awesome double-header of NFL conference championship games.

The weather is forbidding. The biggest personality in the league is involved (Rex Ryan). The biggest TV -- and most self-centered -- market (New York). The most legendary franchise (Packers). The hottest player (Aaron Rodgers). The best defensive player (Troy Polamalu). The best fan base (Steelers). One of the best rivalries (Chicago-Green Bay). Some regular-season precedent to affirm or overturn. And legitimate uncertainty over who will win.

Because if the Jets can beat the Pats in New England, anything can happen.


Please check out Quickish throughout the day -- and, if you want to see the system at its most up-tempo, no-huddle, fun-n-gun best, drop by during the game. Better yet: Leave it on a "second screen" (laptop, phone, iPad) during the game to keep up with the best real-time analysis we can find. And, if you wouldn't mind, tell a friend or two (or 10) about it.


Picks: Jets over Steelers, Packers over Bears.


NBA: Check out Quickish for two great highlights from the NBA last night: Blake Griffin's alley-oop and Kevin Durant's buzzer-beating game-winner.

(And John Wall and the Wiz beat the Celtics, in what will almost certainly be the Wizards' single-greatest highlight of the year -- perhaps the past few years. Thanks, League Pass.)


College Hoops: What a win by Texas yesterday. As top UT blogger Peter Bean of Burnt Orange Nation told Quickish (exclusive-ish-ly!), it was the biggest regular-season win in UT hoops history. Now, that team has no excuse not to make the Elite Eight.

Ohio State survives at Illinois: As I said yesterday, Jared Sullinger is the best post player in the country - and possibly the best player, period. (With respect to both UConn's Kemba Walker, who led UConn over Tennessee , and BYU's Jimmer Fredette, who had 42 in a Cougars win.)


Tons hopping over at Quickish. Would love to have you check it out. It'll keep you occupied until gametime -- and then keep you up during the games.

Enjoy 'em.

-- D.S.