Saturday, March 05, 2011

03/05 (Very) Quickie

*I'm still in Boston at the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, and here's my big takeaway from yesterday:

As they should, the "names" drew big crowds -- guys like Mark Cuban and Bill Simmons and Mike Wilbon -- but the stuff that's going to impact sports and fans was going on in some of the smaller panels, where R&D was being discussed that will change the way teams optimize their performances (and the way fans appreciate the games). Very cool.

*Championship Week really tips off today, when three small(er) conferences crown champs -- it is one of my favorite moments of the sports year, because for these leagues and schools and fans, it's all or nothing. That's why you can't help but root for 15-18 North Florida, the 6-seed out of the Atlantic Sun, which has gone on a run to get one W from the Big Dance.

*The Heat got routed by the Spurs: Did people really think the Heat were going to be legitimate contenders this year? What a stark contrast: The Heat's "Big Three" against the Spurs putting 8 players in double-figures, affirming their place as the best team in the league this season. For all the glitz of Miami, it is decidedly unglitzy San Antonio that is dominating.

*The story about the Michigan high school hoops player who collapsed and died seconds after hitting the game-winning basket to seal his team's perfect season is so sad, it's hard to even fathom.

*Are you going to SXSW? Join me and Darren Rovell on Selection Sunday for a Quickish live event. You'll be enjoying the bracket reveal -- I'll be furiously updating the site. Good times!

-- D.S.

Friday, March 04, 2011

03/04 Quickie: Oregon, NFL, Stats

Dateline: Boston, Mass.

I'm in Boston for the Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, an event I spoke at last year and found to be one of the most enjoyable events I've ever been to, full of great ideas and even better people.

That's why this year, even without a speaking gig, I am back to hang out, learn, chat and otherwise soak up the smarts.

Quickish is still going full-throttle -- you don't want to know how the site was updated while I was making the 6-hour ride from NYC to Boston (hint: it's normally 4-ish), but suffice to say that today will be a mix of Quickish updates and judicious commentary on my @danshanoff Twitter feed.

One big Quickish thing that I could really use your help with: Last night, we rolled out a "Share" function that lets you recommend individual Quickish posts (or "tips") via Facebook and Twitter. (Just look for the "share" link on the top right of each post.)

We tested it, but until it's live and a bunch of people use it under lots of different conditions, you never know. So if you see something you like and are interested in sharing it with your Facebook or Twitter folks, please give it a try and -- more than anything -- let me know if it doesn't work the way you want it to, why it didn't and what could be better. Just shoot me an email at dan-[at]-quickish-[dot]-com. (I'll take any of your feedback on any Quickish issue, btw.)

Anyway, huge thanks for that -- readers being able to share Quickish recommendations with their friends has been glaringly missing for the past two months and I can't wait to see if it increases the number of people who hear about (and ultimately visit and enjoy) Quickish.

Thanks again. Now...

*Oregon recruiting "scandal"-ish: I break out the "-ish" suffix because Oregon, on its face, didn't do anything wrong. It paid a scouting service, like basically every other major college football program does.

That these "services" might do more than provide video clips or recommendation lists or put together helpful camps or clinics has long been one of the murkier, seedier underbellies of the sport. Frankly, it's one of the ways business simply gets done.

That doesn't make it right, but it does make it de facto institutionalized. Nothing is going to happen to Oregon with this, but to the extent that "sunlight is the best disinfectant," it feels like a net-positive that it's out in the open as a topic of discussion.

*NFL Labor Deadline (or "Deadline"): The 24-hour extension really doesn't mean anything, except that perhaps... well, perhaps nothing. I either expect more extensions or the NFL players' union will de-certify today. (I still contend that the owners are going to win this and win big, that they know it and that the players kind of know it, too. So anything that disrupts the thesis is welcome, but in general, following the tick-tock of this story has been the lamest "big" story on Quickish in its 2 months.

*Tina Stewart Murdered: What a tragedy at Middle Tennessee State. The roommate allegedly did it? It's awful. Thoughts are with her family, friends and the MTSU community.

*Magic shock Heat: It is in the best interests of basketball fans that the Magic become a viable playoff competitor in the East to the Celtics, Heat and Bulls. What a semifinals that will be. (And what amazing schadenfreude to see the Heat lose after being up 20-something.)

*Nuggets beat the Jazz: I know the Jazz aren't the same team as two weeks ago, but the Nuggets aren't either -- they are better. How many wins will it take for "The Carmelo Theory" to supplant "The Ewing Theory?"

*Kings relocation to Anaheim an all-but-done-deal? I feel very badly for Kings fans, who are even more die-hard than Sonics fans (no offense, Seattle friends -- at least you've got the Seahawks and Mariners and Huskies).

*College hoops: So much for St. John's' momentum. Reminder that no matter who the Johnnies have beaten this season, pick in late March at your own risk.

*Championship Week: Title games tomorrow in the Big South (4 p.m. ET), Atlantic Sun (6 p.m.) and Ohio Valley (8 p.m.) -- one-bid leagues where you really appreciate how much the players and students appreciate the ticket to go dancing. Always an annual treat.

Enjoy the day. Lots going on at Quickish. Please stop by.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

03/03 Quickie: On BYU

I have a pretty clear-cut reaction to the BYU-Brandon Davies story.

I don't personally live by the same rules that folks at BYU do, but I respect that they believe in their Honor Code.

Here's something I don't get:

When did it become OK to openly make jokes about Mormons and Mormonism? You see it constantly, especially when talking about Jimmer Fredette or BYU, and especially in light of the Brandon Davies situation.

If folks -- and I'm talking about people in the media -- made jokes in the same ballpark about Muslim or Jewish or Catholic people, they would be fired. And yet, it's somehow OK to do it about Mormons. I don't get that.

I'm thrilled to engage in a discussion about the ramifications for BYU basketball from Davies' booting for the rest of the season -- they are severe, and they have a MASSIVE impact on the NCAA Tournament (especially if -- ahem -- you had them winning it all).

That BYU was absolutely throttled last night by New Mexico -- in Provo, no less -- makes this an even more fascinating story.

But it's a basketball story, not a debate over one religion's value system versus your own.

That this story involves about sex -- sex and religion, no less -- makes it titillating and almost irresistible to chime in on in a catty way.

You are free to say what you want, obviously. You are entirely entitled to your own opinion about honor codes and morality. But when it veers into ugly jokes, I just wonder if people would go there if it involved other religions.

-- D.S.

(Sidebar, which hopefully doesn't diminish my larger point above: Some of the same people that would root for a colleague to be fired for clapping in a press box are making disparaging comments about someone else's Honor Code.)

03/02 Quickie: Sheen, BYU, CFB, More

Let's start with this, one of the most profound moments in the history of this blog:

Yesterday, I said that I was picking BYU to win the NCAA Tournament. I was being entirely serious about that.

Last night, BYU's best frontcourt player was booted off the team for the rest of the season (or, cynically, until he apologizes profusely, the coach reminds the "Honor Code" committee about the greater glory for BYU of a college basketball national championship -- or even a deep run in the Tournament -- and he is reinstated).

But, as it stands, this would be the most vicious example of the "Quickie Jinx" in the 8-year history of the Quickie and its accompanying jinx.

I did not think that I would ever be able to top the "Two Words: It's. Over." Quickie headline from 2004 after Game 3 of the ALCS, blared across the top of the front page of

But this BYU whiplash is so severe, I actually allow for the idea that -- really? -- the Quickie Jinx might just exist for real, and not just as an inside joke.

Anyway, until Davies is reinstated -- and, to double-down on my BYU prediction skills, I'm going to say that by the end of the week, his expulsion is mitigated to a temporary suspension that leaves him eligible to play for BYU in the Tournament -- I will NOT be picking them to win the national title.

The biggest problem for me with that, of course, is that without the clarity of my BYU pick, I am completely at a loss for who to pick to go 6-0 in late March.


Speaking of which, Championship Week started last night with the very early rounds of the smaller conferences. Here is why I love C-Week:

Theoretically, any team in the country can win the national title, regardless of how they played from November through Februrary.

All they have to do is win 10 straight, starting with the prelim round of their conference tournament. Win a few more and you've got the league's automatic NCAA bid. From there, win 6 straight and you've won the national title. No muss, no fuss.

Cinderella doesn't get going the first Thursday of the NCAAs; it starts right now.


NFL Labor: I think the NFL will be just fine without its TV money (at least temporarily). A lot better than the NFL players will be without THEIR money.

CBB: I really want to believe in Florida this season. Since the back-to-back national titles, the team has endured a severe karmic payback. But I'm still skeptical. The SEC is so terrible this year, that the Gators' record is hard to calibrate against other teams that will end up on the 3-seed or 4-seed line, like Florida will. I'm hoping the team's experience will help -- plus two NBA-quality bigs in Vernon Macklin and Patric Young -- but the last few seasons have scarred me. I will content myself by following which contending NBA team Corey Brewer picks...

More: Ohio State's Jon Diebler (30 pts on 10 3s last night) is an incredible complement to Sullinger, Lighty and Craft. I'm loath to buy OSU to go 6-0, but 4-0? Probably.

Mets Mess: If the Wilpons really cared about the team and its fans, they would sell the team outright.

Serena health scare: "Pulmonary embolism" and "hematoma" and "emergency surgery" sound insanely scary. Here's to Serena's complete recovery and long-term health.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

03/01 Quickie: Sheen, Hoops, More

Charlie Sheen has totally taken over everything. I guess that's "winning."

So here's an update to last week's "Charlie Sheen-inspired Fantasy Baseball Team Names" list.

More on the radar today:

*NFL Combine: It's all about LSU CB Patrick Peterson's 40 time. Will he go under 4.3?

*Thunder sign Kendrick Perkins to an extension: Let's give them at least two NBA titles in the next 5 years. Not just because of Perk, but just the whole combo they have there.

*Tony Parker out 2-4 weeks. As long as he's healthy by the playoffs -- that goes for every injury between now and April -- the Spurs are fine.

*College hoops: Pick Texas in the NCAA Tournament to go beyond the first weekend at your own risk. (And Kansas State is a total wild card for the bracket. Could go Elite Eight; could flame out on the first day. Playing amazing right now, though.)

Meanwhile, everyone suddenly making BYU a No. 1 seed makes my prediction that they'll win the entire tournament much less bold. In a season this wide open? Hell, it's almost conventional. (In fact, I'll bet you RIGHT NOW that BYU is Sports Illustrated's pick to win it all.)

*More NBA: I actually found myself riveted to the end of the Nets-Suns game, in part because I wanted to see Deron Williams in his home debut, in part because I'm a huge Steve Nash fan and in part because... well, it was just a really exciting finish. (The Nets? Really? Progress!)

*UConn retires Maya Moore's number. I think she's the best player in UConn history, which puts her up among the greatest women's college hoops players ever.

*Dancing with the Stars: Hines Ward will be participating. You know how I feel about this -- football players have an unbelievable track record on the show, and it would be an upset if Ward DIDN'T make it to the final 3. (Expect big voting numbers from Steelers Nation.)

*Must-See Video: The American U. hoops team released a trick-shot video that is awesome.

More later. Pop by Quickish -- the true test is on the slow news days, which today definitely is. And yet: Quickish is rolling along with all sorts of interesting recommendations and quick-hit analysis. Give it a try!

-- D.S.

Monday, February 28, 2011

02/28 Quickie: Oscars, Knicks, Combine

We had a ton of fun over at Quickish last night during the Oscars. Check out the best-of here and see the entire stream here.

Here is the biggest sports implication: Given the Oscar haul for "The Fighter" -- BOTH "Best Supporting" awards -- where does that nudge the ranking of the movie among all sports movies?

(BTW: Released a really cool little tech enhancement this weekend: "Endless Scroll." That's where you get to the bottom of the page and more posts load effortlessly. Theoretically, you could go back all the way through the month, through the launch and see the month of test posting I did before Quickish launched. Yes: Re-live that Cliff Lee signing! Or Urban Meyer quitting!)


Knicks beat Heat in Miami: It was kind of awesome last night when everyone en masse switched from the Oscars to the final minutes of the game.

That final big play -- Carmelo guarding LeBron and, contrary to his rep as a soft defensive player, forcing him (arguably fouling him) into an awkward shot that Amare swooped in and rejected -- was as good as regular-season NBA gets.

Welcome your new meme: The Knicks are legit; the Heat can't beat good teams in big games.


RIP Duke Snider. As a Brooklyn person -- not just recently, but going back more than a decade (not to mention an entire half of my family going back in Brooklyn to the early 20th century) -- Snider holds a place that neither Mays nor Mantle has. I remember rolling through Flatbush -- god, it had to have been 14 years ago -- and having my late grandfather point out Snider's old house. A bit different than reading profiles of Jeter's mansion in Tampa.


College Hoops Weekend in Review: BYU. I am fully 100% aboard the bandwagon, to the point where I was watching that BYU win over SDSU on Saturday afternoon and completely convincing myself -- regardless of what happens between now and a week from Sunday -- that I will be picking BYU not just to make the Final Four, but win the national title. BOOM. This is either the most brutal Quickie jinx I have ever applied -- or its exorcism.

Good for VA Tech -- they earned that win over Duke. And even if Duke is a wee bit overrated, it's a win that should put VT on the right side of the Bubble (as long as they don't screw it up against inferior comp over the next week).


NFL Combine: I'm still drafting Cam Newton over any other QB and find his long-term prospects to be thrilling. But this isn't the NBA, where a single player can turn things around -- even an elite QB. If he does go to the Panthers or Bills or Bengals or Redskins, it's on the team to match futher talent upgrades with a game-plan that maximizes his talents, not fit him into some orthodoxy of what an NFL offense should be. If this sounds remarkably like what I said about Tim Tebow a year ago, it's because the same rules apply -- and Newton is even more talented.

Oh: That Oregon State guy putting up the 225 bar 49 times was absolutely riveting.


I don't want the month's end to slip by without thanking you, sincerely and effusively, for your support of Quickish, which saw a really big jump in traffic from January's hot start to February.

More about the future tomorrow, but I have audacious goals for March: Doubling February's number of visitors. I think between some new social-sharing tools we're launching imminently, some distribution partners, some good PR, expanding the editorial staff and -- of course -- the NCAA Tournament (which is like Quickish's ultimate moment of the year), it is doable. And I'm going to be counting on you to help spread the word.

What's the point in doing this if the goal isn't to go all freaking in and build an incredible experience that every fan would enjoy? As excited as things were with January's launch and February's growth, I am more excited about Quickish than ever.

I'm really really glad you're in this with me and thank you again for your support.

-- D.S.