Saturday, February 05, 2011

02/05 Saturday (Very) Quickie

For all my obsession about the Volkswagen "Darth Vader" ad this week, this tweet last night from Parks & Recreation's Michael Schur (aka Fire Joe Morgan's Ken Tremendous) was validating:

"That Passat ad with the kid dressed like Darth Vader is the best ad of the Super Bowl, regardless of what other ads are in the Super Bowl."

He is 100% correct. I can't believe how obsessed I am with this ad -- and I can't wait for the moment when the 100 million people who haven't seen it yet (6 million have) finally watch. (Haven't seen it? Watch it here.)

Oh, there's a game, too? Not that an injured, half-speed Maurkice Pouncey was going to make a huge difference, but that Pouncey is out makes me even more comfortable picking the Pack.

(There is this other, entirely qualitative rationale, too: Aaron Rodgers' career appears to be headed as being defined as entirely relative -- and eventually eclipsing -- Brett Favre. Winning the Super Bowl -- and playing at an insanely high level -- would be a big step.)

The NFL Commish Speaks: He says all the right things, but he's not fooling around. I think the union ultimately will have to bend to the league, because the league -- to Goodell's point -- is looking at this from a 10-year horizon, while the union is looking at it from a shorter-term perspective.

That said, it's heartening to see Pats owner Bob Kraft so vocal about wanting to get a deal done -- "it's criminal if we don't get a deal done" -- he seems to be the most reasonable person in all of this, and he probably has the clout to help make something happen.

NBA Last Night: I will never buy the Mavs in the playoffs, but they sure looked good beating the Celtics.

Meanwhile, the Cavs lost their 23rd straight -- epic losing is as dramatic as epic winning, and I encourage Cleveland to keep losing, because at least it makes them interesting. And interesting is better than mediocre.

Kevin Love an All-Star: This was the right move by the NBA, although it would be terrific if they could find a way to make room for Steve Nash, who -- turning 37 on Monday (37!) -- is having one of his best years ever. He is one of the most remarkable players in NBA history. (If I had to rank my Top 3 favorite NBA players, Nash is on the list.)

College hoops today: A bit of a low-key day, except that Northwestern makes an exceedingly rare appearance on CBS nationally (except in New York City...grr) at 1 ET, then Jimmer on Versus at 4, then Florida hosting Kentucky at 9. So my day is accounted for, at least.

MLB Hot Stove: Vlad to the O's. Another player who is typically high on the "interesting" scale but doesn't necessarily translate into many more wins for the O's. (Last year, despite finishing 11th in MVP voting, only had a 2.1 WAR.) Still: Exciting-ish?

The Mets -- or, more specifically, their owners -- are so screwed. That is all.

Andy Pettitte retires: Mark it down -- he is pitching for the Yankees in 2012. If his body is willing but he simply doesn't have the "hunger" anymore, he'll get the hunger back -- especially if the Yankees miss the playoffs next season (and, without him, they very well might).

NFL Rookies of the Year: Bradford on offense and Suh on defense, and it was obvious from a few games into the season. (You could make a pretty good case for Pouncey on offense, but even if he was anchoring the O-line for the AFC champs, that's not as impressive as stepping in as a rookie QB on a terrible team and actually helping them become respectable.)

Enjoy the day. Please give Quickish a look throughout the day, if you want to keep up with the big things that are happening.

-- D.S.

Friday, February 04, 2011

02/04 Quickie: Super Bowl Eve Eve

First, thanks to everyone who came out to Varsity Letters last night. At least 200 people were there to see 13 readers, who all blew the doors off the place. Hoping to have at least a podcast available at some point.

Now: Super Bowl. (Well, Super Bowl Eve Eve.)

*I can't remember being more muddled about a Super Bowl pick. I'm probably rooting for the Packers -- and even though I think it's easy to convince myself the Steelers are going to win, I'm picking the Pack. It's Aaron Rodgers' moment.

*The Super Bowl "Ad Bowl" winner will be the Volkswagen "Force" ad, which already has 5 million views on YouTube. (The only thing that might hold it back is that it will have lost its novelty by game-time; then again, with 110 million people watching, that's 105 million people who haven't seen it yet -- and who will be as blown away as I am.)

Haven't seen it yet? Here you go.

*Promo! If you are planning to follow real-time commentary about the game online while watching on TV -- on your laptop or phone or iPad -- please give Quickish a try. Based on the reaction to how things went during the NFL Playoffs, you'll really enjoy it. (And please tell friends!)

*Designated Super Bowl snack: My 4-year-old has expressed his preference, and it will likely rule -- Doritos. Ahh: Brand awareness.

*Will Maurkice Pouncey play? I'll say no (but you never know).

More non-Super Bowl news:

*Andy Pettitte retires: Great pitcher. Big game pitcher. 5 rings. Yankee all-timer who should have his number retired. Hall of Famer? No.

*Pro Football Hall of Fame vote: Deion is a lock. Marshall Faulk is a lock. Then it gets contentious. My personal campaign is for NFL Films' Ed Sabol. Few non-players should be in the Hall of Fame. Sabol is one of them, without question.

*LeBron destroys the Magic: That'll teach Dwight Howard to mock LeBron before the game.

*Spurs tip Lakers: It's not even the All-Star break yet. Count me among the folks who think the Lakers will be fine in the playoffs.

*NBA All-Star reserves: I can't believe Kevin Love was left off the West team. (Steve Nash either.) Ridiculous snubs.

*DeSean Jackson takes on bullying. You have to be heartless not to be moved by Jackson on the View yesterday helping a bullied kid. (The kid's reaction when Jackson comes out? Oh my god.)

*College hoops: A loss at Oregon State late last night effectively ends any Washington bandwagon that was left.

*Thanks for giving Quickish a look today -- and for telling your friends, colleagues, etc. Again: The Super Bowl should be a ton of fun -- hope you'll join me there for some of it.

-- D.S.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

02/03 Quickie: Excess

For the next few days, I am going to remind you not just to check out Quickish (daily! or even more often!) and not just to tell all your friends (many!)...

...But also to be sure to drop by Quickish during the Super Bowl
(laptop, phone, iPad, whatever!) on Sunday for what I think is going to be the best complementary experience of the game you'll find online. After two rounds of playoffs with Quickish, I feel good about making that claim. (And, again, please tell friends. Your referral is the most key thing here.)

As the kids say: Legggooo....

*If nothing else, I am not Justin Bieber
sitting courtside at last night's Knicks game getting booed at MSG when my face is on the Jumbotron.

However! If you live in NYC and you'd like to publicly mock me, join me and more than a dozen far-more-qualified writers at the Varsity Letters 5th Anniversary extravaganza tonight.

*National Signing Day: So who was the "champ?" Rivals picked Alabama. Scout picked Auburn. ESPN picked FSU. CBSSports picked... Notre Dame. (Ha!) If I had to pick the class I was most impressed by, it would be FSU (and you know it pains me to say that.)

*The real champ was that running back from Georgia who brought the baby bulldog onto national TV to make his announcement. I cannot begrudge the kids making a big deal out of this.

*Debunked: Those ridiculous rumors that Syracuse hoops players were point-shaving. That's about as brutal of a rumor as you could start in sports.

(I'm perennially in the tank for Syracuse in March, but I can't help think that their frustration over the rumors helped them get off the schneid and beat UConn at UConn. Bandwagon!)

*Big Ben was caught by TMZ drinking at a bar on Tuesday night and singing "Piano Man." I just can't buy this is as a "thing." Maybe it's managed expectations about Roethlisberger, but in an absolute sense, players drinking and having fun early in Super Bowl week just isn't an issue.

*Super Bowl Meme of the Day: GM Ted Thompson jettisoning Brett Favre -- despite howls from Packers fans -- set the table for this Super Bowl run and the several to follow. Anyone who dislikes Favre (so many of us!) should be thrilled to give Thompson all the credit in the world. And here's some real talk: Rodgers is better now than Favre ever was, even during Favre's MVP years. (And Rodgers is only getting better.)

*Video of the Night: How can you not love a hockey goaliefight?

*More CBB: Michigan State got destroyed by 20 at Iowa, a terrible team. I only mention this otherwise inconsequential game because -- and I full 'fess up to this -- Michigan State was my preseason pick to win the national title. Oh good gracious. Worst pick ever? Worst pick ever.

*NBA: Cavs lose 22nd straight. Ouch. On the plus side, Kevin Durant had 43 in a Thunder win over the Hornets -- and Blake Griffin continued to provide a new jaw-dropping highlight with every new game.

*NFL Awards: Bill Belichick named NFL Coach of the Year. I'm a huge Belichick fan -- ironic, given that I hate the Pats and all Boston sports (except man-crush Theo) -- but my vote would have gone to Tampa's Raheem Morris, who did more with a worse team than Belichick could ever have dreamed of when he was under the age of 40.

*This is the best TV ad of the past year, and if it debuted during the Super Bowl -- rather than on YouTube -- it would have been a top contender for "Best Super Bowl Ad."

*So many good reads on Quickish yesterday -- with even more coming today. Please give it a try.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

02/02 Quickie: NSD, Super Bowl, More

Today is "National Signing Day" -- or "NSD" -- the day that college football recruits (I'm sorry, or is that "high school seniors") can formally send their Letter of Intent (or LOI) to schools.

If you love college football, it's a big day. (If you love college football recruiting -- and it's far more than a cottage industry -- it is the biggest day of the year.)

The funny thing is that most recruits have already committed somewhere, so the only drama is whether they flip-flop their choice (always iffy!) or where the handful of uncommitted players go.

Even that one is no guarantee -- this year, the nation's top recruit (DE Jadeveon Clowney) will delay his decision by two weeks, until his birthday (Feb. 14) and having the stage to himself.

I happen to like NSD for the same reason fans like the NFL or NBA or MLB or NHL Draft: It's about hope. Hope that these players (or one of them) will bring your team Ws down the line.

That's up to the coaches and the college environment and the opportunities they get given the depth ahead of them. But for today, it's just optimism of what COULD be.


Super Bowl Media Day wrap: The most substantial thing that happened was James Harrison blitzing the NFL for his mid-season fine. Good for him for speaking his mind.

Is Maurkice Pouncey really "75 percent" to play in the Super Bowl? (1) I don't believe that, and (2) how effective could he possibly be?

Tom Brady wins AP Offensive Player of the Year: You don't say!

Rays introduce Manny and Johnny: The Rays were already going to be good; this just makes them more entertaining.

CBB: I try not to put too much stock in any single win or loss, but I'm going to have trouble not filing away Kentucky losing to Ole Miss, when it comes to picking brackets in a few weeks.

NBA: Justin Bieber is playing in the NBA All-Star Celebrity game. That makes him bigger than Blake Griffin, who I hope will play in both the Rookie-Soph game and the adult version. (I presume he'll only play in the real-deal ASG -- frankly, he should be starting for Yao.)

Finally, it's Groundhog Day, which has come to symbolize nothing if not a day to appreciate the brilliance of the eponymous movie.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

02/01 Quickie: Media Daze

Media Day is awful. I would have written that had I gotten the Quickie today ready in time, but I can say it with a bit more authority now that the day is over.

Quickish had fairly intensive coverage -- but only good stuff! But largely, the day was awful.

Winners: James Harrison for his forthright discussion of his fine earlier this season; Brett Keisel's beard; Ines Sainz, who was a worldwide trending topic. (Really?)

Losers: People looking for anything more than platitudes. At least it was light on buffoonery.

Otherwise, I would highly recommend giving Quickish a look today from, say, 2:15 p.m. ET onward, when I was able to unleash great read after great read, none of which having to do with Media Day.

Much much more tomorrow. I'm starting a new system to make sure this is up and out in the early morning, as usual. Today just got away from me. Apologies.

(And congrats to my friend Rob Neyer for his new gig at SB Nation. I'm long on the record as being a huge fan of that company; it's another savvy move.)

-- D.S.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Rob Neyer Leaving An Appreciation

I met Rob Neyer in 1996 in Seattle, joining him at an amazing company called Starwave, which was charged with creating and producing what was then called (Really.)

Unless someone can prove otherwise, Neyer was the Web's first full-time online sports columnist. And there is a good chance he was the first full-time online columnist for ANY mainstream news company.

Rob was (and remains) a pioneer in not simply statistics in baseball media, but the application of those stats in talking about baseball.

And his contributions -- not to mention his longevity on the platform, basically for its entire existence -- is why it's such a big deal that he announced today he is leaving

There is a strong argument to be made -- one that I personally believe in (and I'm not alone) -- that Rob has done more to popularize the understanding of baseball statistics by baseball fans than any writer in baseball history, including Michael Lewis.

(I hope that in the not-too-distant future, Rob receives the Ford Frick Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame, because he has already earned it.)

I will leave it to someone else to quantify Rob's accomplishments by trying to figure out how many readers he has reached over his 15-year career at -- or qualify Rob's impact by figuring out how many baseball writers today found him an inspiration:

Not only can you make a living writing about sports on the Web, but you can be really, really good at it.

At, Rob combined accessible voice with smart writing. He wrote columns, did mailbags with readers, participated in marathon chats (at one point holding the chat-marathon record) and applied his style to his most recent project, the SweetSpot blog. (To say nothing of his amazing books, a totally different subject, but part of the whole Neyer story.)

I'll echo something I wrote about Peter King last week -- and Rob preceded King by at least two years. It can't be understated that back in 1996, people were just trying to figure out how to write for this new medium. Many were doing a lousy job at it, mostly applying what they knew from other mediums -- like newspapers -- and simply plopping in the same everything.

(This is the place where Rob would insist -- and I would concur -- that we pay tribute to Rob's longtime editor at, certainly during those formative, influential years of the late-90s, David Schoenfield. Without David's leadership and vision and collusion and sense of revolution as an editor, Rob wouldn't have had nearly the impact he did. Same goes for longtime publisher Geoff Reiss, who originally had the vision to hire Rob and give him that unprecedented role as sports' first full-time online writer/columnist. I count both David and Geoff as close friends and marvel at their impact, here and elsewhere.)

But perhaps because he didn't come from a newspaper or traditional media background, Neyer could allow his style and voice to flow more naturally. He was (and is) made for this medium, and the medium is better off for his contributions in its early formative years.

(I still have a copy of a column Rob wrote for me about college basketball -- I was's college hoops editor -- and it always made the coverage better to have Rob's contribution, almost always ideas he came up with on his own, noodling at his desk.)

Don't know what's next for Rob, but as he might describe it: 15 years creates a lot of data to draw conclusions, and it is easy to predict his continued success.

And it is easy to thank him for his 15 wonderful years at In a medium as fleeting as online, it is perhaps the highest compliment to pay: Rob Neyer has mattered.

-- D.S.

01/31 Quickie: Super Bowl, Pro Bowl, Kobe, Duke, NHL ASG and More

It's Super Bowl Week -- prepare for the over-saturation now.

Frankly, it's a week that makes Quickish all the more valuable -- cutting through the noise and clutter to bring you only the really good stuff to help you keep up. Please pop by today -- and all week, culminating with the Super Bowl in-game stream, which should be amazing.

*Mock the Pro Bowl all you want (and you did), the game had a ton of viewers. (But the game itself was unwatchable; it's like a Zen koan.)

*Celtics thump Lakers in LA: Not for lack of Kobe scoring, but for a serious lack of defensive effort by the defending champs.

*Oh, and then there was KG telling a Lakers ball-boy he had as much of a chance as "Bin Laden" of getting an autograph from him. Sometimes KG's dickishness is cool; mostly, it's not.

*Duke gets throttled in NYC: One of those games Duke-haters love to watch -- you'd think I would like the close calls more than the beat-downs, but nope: I love the beat-downs more. Of course, it means nothing in the grand scheme of what matters -- the NCAA Tournament. (Remember Duke getting crushed by Georgetown this time last year?)

Duke is still the team to beat; that said, they can't possibly repeat the gift-wrapped bracket path they had a year ago. That, more than anything we saw yesterday, is the biggest impediment to repeating. (Continuing not to have Kyrie Irving hurts too.)

*More CBB: So who's Number 1? Ohio State? OK, but let's file away the fact that a Northwestern team that slowed the pace of the game to a crawl -- but, more important, had absolutely no interior presence (literally: NU has the worst center in major-conference basketball) -- and nearly knocked them off. That's no resume-builder. And yet I can't believe in Texas -- at least not as a team to win six straight in late March, which is all that counts. What this weekend did, more than anything, was preclude you from feeling particularly good about ANY team's chances of winning it all.

*More NBA: Heat close out Thunder in OKC. I think we just saw the birth of a new (and not-fake) NBA rivalry. They may only play twice a year -- and never meet in the Finals (let's give it 3 years or so) -- but there's an obvious enmity. I mean, the normally staid Kevin Durant was inspired to call Chris Bosh "fake-tough," which is hardly controversial. Let's be real: Did anyone think Bosh WAS tough?

*NHL All-Star Game: Personally, I loved the "pick-sides" format, and the game was a goal-scoring frenzy. As a non-fan (I realized this weekend it's not fair to call me a "casual NHL fan" anymore), I tuned in a few times while watching other games, which is all the NHL can ask for from non-fans. (They won't want/need me anyway; they need the ASG to bolster support among the faithful, which I think it did.)

*Super Bowl mania: There was plenty of Gator gear for my kids when they were born, but if the folks in the nursery at the hospital wrapped either of them in a Yankees towel (like they do in Pittsburgh), I would have gone mildly ballistic.

*So many awesome reads on Quickish from this weekend. Head over and scroll down, hit the "More" button a few times and in less than 3 minutes, you'll get a ton of interesting perspectives and a slew of great reads for later.

-- D.S.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

01/30 (Very) Quickie

So close: I thought Northwestern (without star John Shurna) was going to lose at home to No. 1 Ohio State by 30. That they came within a single basket should be a moral victory; it sure didn't feel that way.

The lesson of yesterday's college hoops slate -- from Ohio State to the slew of upsets (too many to count) -- is that any assumptions you're making already about the bracket are wrong.

If Ohio State can get taken to the final second by Northwestern, a better team that runs at a slow pace with even a nominal presence inside (NU has none) can knock them off.

If BYU plays D like they did against New Mexico in the final 10 minutes of the game -- and UNM was playing at home and on fire, but still -- it doesn't matter how prolific Jimmer is.

UConn? They lost at home to Louisville. Villanova? Lost to Georgetown. Pitt? Nearly lost to Rutgers. Wisconsin? Lost to Penn State. Vandy and Florida? Don't get me started.

The point is that your bracket is effed already -- and you don't even know it.


On the one hand, this Rodgers-disses-the-Packers-on-the-IR story is overblown -- it's the first "scandal" of Super Bowl week, so folks are jumping on it. On the other hand, what was Rodgers thinking? He knew what he was saying, and I'm just not sure why he said it.


*The Senior Bowl really suffered for lack of a super-duper-star like Tim Tebow.

*The Pro Bowl will similarly get little attention.

*I think folks are missing a big piece of this Pujols story: So if the Cards don't sign him by the start of spring training, he's going to play the entire season with the idea he's leaving hanging over the heads of him, the team and the Cards fans? Has he thought this position through? It will dominate every. single. series. he plays. In a post-"Decision" world -- and like it or not, that's where we are -- this will be framed as LeBron 2.0. Cards fans are super-nice, but this should stretch the limits of their patience.

*Great NBA day today: Heat-Thunder (LeBron vs. Durant), then Lakers-Celtics. As it relates to top contenders, I think the NBA regular season is right up there with college hoops and the NHL as the most inconsequential in sports, but some games are absolutely must-see, and these are two of them (and on an otherwise slow day in sports -- great programming by the NBA).

*Yes, it IS a slow weekend in sports, but Quickish is hopping -- I think you'll be astounded at the depth of quick-hit content that has been collected there from yesterday and rolling along all day today. Give it a quick glance to keep up.

-- D.S.