Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 21 (Rapture) Quickie

Everyone still here? Good.

*I said this over at TimTeblog yesterday: I knew Judgment Day wasn't upon us because Tim Tebow's autobiography doesn't come out for another 10 days. He wouldn't schedule its release after today if he thought he (and the rest of us) would have other plans.

*The lack of an NBA game last night meant that it's a slow morning -- but between the Rapture and the death of Randy Savage, which became an overwhelming sports sensation (mostly because Savage's prime came at a moment when many/most in sports media where impressionable kids),

*The Cubs' return to Fenway after forever was memorable -- one of those things where it kind of doesn't matter that the game itself sort of sucked.

*Preakness: I'm all for an Animal Kingdom win -- the potential for a Triple Crown is the only thing that keeps horse racing relevant -- but it would be beyond absurd/amazing if Mucho Macho Man won.

*Mavs-Thunder Game 3 tonight at 9: Is it me or is it absolutely ridiculous that the Heat and Bulls are taking a full three days between games. Imagine if baseball ran the ALCS or NLCS like this -- the outrage that would be involved. Anyway, fascinating game tonight on a couple levels: Can the Thunder press the newfound home-court advantage? Can the Mavs snatch it back? What happens with Russell Westbrook int he 4th quarter if the game is close? (I have to figure Brooks plays him regardless, even if it costs them the game.) Will Kevin Durant make another poster?

Speaking of Westbrook, I found this amazing animation over at Daily Thunder this morning. Random but awesome.

Enjoy the day. We're all still here and it's a good day to go appreciate your life.

-- D.S.

Friday, May 20, 2011

05/20 (Thunder Mania) Quickie

That the NBA conference finals -- both of them -- found a road team winning by the end of Game 2 only underscores that we are in the middle of the best NBA Playoffs in recent memory.

The story of the Thunder's win over the Mavericks in Dallas to tie the series (to MAKE it a series, really) is that starting/star PG Russell Westbrook spent the prime minutes of the 4th quarter on the bench, while Kevin Durant led a team of OKC reserves to the win. Just one more thing to add to the Thunder's mystique -- that their bench is so loaded that it can topple the Dallas' starters.

The reactions to the Westbrook thing range from "This is SO going to be a thing!" to "This is SO not a thing." Let's see what happens in Game 3. I can't believe that coach Scott Brooks is going to keep Westbrook on the bench late in a second straight game, even if it is not unreasonable after last night to wonder if -- in fact -- the Thunder are better with a less spectacular (if more steady) hand running things late against the Mavs.

BTW: You have GOT to watch this dunk by Kevin Durant, an instant poster.

*It is totally lame that there isn't another Heat-Bulls game tonight. Wouldn't it be ideal for the NBA to alternate between conference-title games on a nightly basis?

*NHL: Thrashers to Winnipeg? I feel bad for Atlanta hockey fans, but NHL hockey in Winnipeg just feels so right.

*CFB: Paying players? Fascinating to see conferences like the Big Ten routing around a potential NCAA nationwide rule about "paying players" by offering "stipends." Two observations:

(1) If one league does it, everyone else will do it (the Pac-10 and SEC have already indicated they are interested), because it is a recruiting advantage, however small the extra payment might be.

(2) I have always felt that the biggest issue with paying college athletes extra was the slippery slope. I guarantee a lot of people will quickly say "Why only $3000?" Let's call it progress.

*MLB: Jason Giambi with 3 HR last night, in one of the most unlikely single-game power bursts of the past half-decade in baseball.

*NBA: Jerry West joining the Warriors? Even if it's just as an "advisor," it is still a huge get for a franchise trying to re-invent itself under new owner Joe Lacob. (The league's young star power is amazing, but don't discount how valuable it is to have owners like Lacob and Ted Leonsis trying to turn around historically mediocre franchises.)

*Lance Armstrong: Yikes. No athlete has built up more goodwill with fans and media than Lance. Which is the only way he has withstood the barrage of claims against him like no other athlete of this era. I suspect most fans think Lance used PEDs -- and are totally fine with it, in a way that they simply aren't with Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens.

*CFB: Condolences to family, friends, teammates and fans of Oklahoma LB Austin Box, who died yesterday of an apparent drug overdose, which makes it all the more tragic.

Please be sure to check out Quickish all day today (and throughout the weekend) for the best takes on the biggest stories (plus other recommendations of things you might find interesting).

Going strong all weekend -- then again, if things break wrong tomorrow, I'll only be seeing some of you on Sunday and next week. To the rest of you, enjoy!

-- D.S.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

05/19 (About The Heat...) Quickie

This is the era we live in -- perhaps the way it has always been: Conventional wisdom one day flip-flops entirely just 48 hours later.

After Game 1 of the Bulls-Heat series: THE HEAT ARE DONE!

After last night's Game 2: THE HEAT SOLVED IT AND WILL WIN!

It's not something to get frustrated about -- again, this is the reality of "instant history" and I have been propagating it (or perhaps merely following fans' interests) for a decade.

The reason why the Heat's win last night DOES qualify for more meaning than most is not just because it came after that Game 1 seeming-beatdown. It is because it came on the road, flipping home-court advantage to the Heat and proving after an "oh-fer" season that Miami can solve Chicago's perceived defense and rebounding advantage.

And so exhort your "THINGS HAVE CHANGED TECTONICALLY" storyline -- right up until the Bulls win one of the next two in Miami. Then we can go round-and-round again.

But that's totally fine. It's what we all do. For now, advantage Heat.


Other things on the radar:

*Canucks go up 2-0: And their fans flash Sharks' players in the penalty box.

*Must-see: Dirk vs. Durant tonight for Mavs-Thunder Game 2.

*NBA Draft Combine: Expect at least one player to get the "Ooh: More athletic than we thought!" tag and, consequently, rise on draft boards.

*Ohio State scandal: It should be unsurprising the school's AD supports Jim Tressel. But let's add that it's not labeled the "dreaded vote of confidence" for nothing.

Lots on Quickish this morning already -- a few choice recommendations on Heat-Bulls -- but scroll down the page to see what you might have missed yesterday afternoon.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

05/18 (Dirk) Quickie

Oh, wow: Dirk.

We have entered a Dirk Nowitzki moment where he has elevated his game (and his team) to such a level that even though he was already an NBA superstar, he (and his damn-near-patented step-back jumper) has gained new admiration from all corners of NBA fandom.

We have been looking for "the next Dirk" for a decade -- it's not unlike looking for the "next Durant" now. But the thing is that Dirk, like Durant, is exceptional for his size-n-shooting combination, as well as his single-minded obsession with improving.

The transcendent players -- and Dirk is there -- don't really have an analogue and they aren't replicable. That is worth keeping in mind as the NBA Draft moves into its post-Lottery phase -- and worth keeping in mind as we all find a renewed appreciation for Dirk's game.

NBA Draft Lottery: Great for the Cavs, who -- thanks to their midseason trade with the Clippers -- get a franchise PG in Kyrie Irving plus another talent at No. 4 (isn't it worth at least asking if the Clips are better off with Derrick Williams at No. 1 and their pick of Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker at No. 4?) Great for 14-year-old Nick Gilbert.

Not great for David Kahn, who not only fronted an extremely unwise joke about the Lottery being fixed (and let's presume he was joking), but he uniquely manages to turn a "two-star draft" (Irving and Williams) into a one-star draft, because Williams plays the same position as the T'wolves' existing young talents.

The big question marks: The international players, from Enes Kanter to Bismack Biyombo to the Euro "V" guys (Valanciunas and Vesely). They should all go Top 10, and at least one will out-perform his pre-draft expectations (so much of that depends on context and opportunity, but I love Biyombo's potential).

NHL: Tyler Seguin is the New Big Thing in Boston. And if you get the Boston sports fans behind you, the national media will follow.

Bulls-Heat Game 2 tonight: This isn't a must-win for the Heat, but at the very least, you want to see some improvement in their rebounding deficiencies from Game 1 (not to mention their inability to solve the Bulls' defense).

A ton of great stuff on Quickish today: Amazing analysis of Dirk, a few mock drafts, some love for Seguin and a link to the must-read SI cover story on the aftermath of the tornado in Alabama -- and that's just this morning. Stick around all day -- and into the evening for Bulls-Heat.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

05/17 (NBA Lottery) Quickie

Thanks to all for the good wishes for my kid's 5th birthday yesterday. Much appreciated.

He ended the day by opening a dozen or so presents, ranging from a new box of crayons to a LEGO Pizza Store that he REALLY wanted to a new two-wheel scooter (gifting his old three-wheel scooter to his little brother, who was ecstatic). There was also a new mini basketball hoop (the old one got demolished in an unfortunate dunking accident), which he is now obsessed with. The next Jon Scheyer!

Tonight is the NBA Draft Lottery or -- as it is known to we Bullets/Wizards fans -- "The Playoffs." Winning the Lottery this year is underwhelming -- Kyrie Irving or Derrick Williams? The Wizards winning the John Wall Lottery last year was one of the most exciting moments of my life as a fan, if only for the combination of the player involved and the sheer unexpectedness of the Ping-Pong balls going for the Wiz, which only happens when Kwame Brown is involved.

I think the draft isn't nearly as bad as many say -- just because so many of the top college players skipped out doesn't mean it is full of duds, and I could easily see the foreign players that will make up at least half of the Top 10 turning into legit contributors. (Euros, typically, get short-shrift from fans in advance of the draft.)

Speaking of lightly regarded (at the time) Euro draftees, Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs play Game 1 tonight against the Thunder. The Thunder have youth, energy and some tough match-ups; the Mavs have veteran savvy and arguably the best player of the playoffs so far in Dirk. I'm rooting for the Thunder but will say Mavs in 5.

The story of the day? I'm sort of obsessed with Royals RP Vin Mazzaro, who gave up 14 runs in less than 3 innings of work last night, unprecedented and probably underappreciated. Before last night, no one knew who Mazzaro was; now, everyone does. That's something, isn't it?

Last question: The Heat figure out how to rebound yet? Even with a few extra days between games, doesn't seem like the kind of adjustment you can make in the middle of a series.

-- D.S.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Varsity Dad: My Older Kid Turns 5

My older son Gabe turns 5 today. It is impossible not to reflect on the last five years and how it so dramatically changed my life.

Here's a wild thought: Five years ago today, I was into my 4th year of writing the Daily Quickie for

...Well, wait: I was in the hospital on May 16th, so here's the edition I filed the first day back from a brief paternity leave (I don't make a habit of going back and re-reading old Quickie columns, so what I'm struck by when I look at the one from May 24: goddamn, I wrote the hell out of that column every day. /reverie).

Little did I know with that little newborn that I would leave a few months later. Then start blogging here. Then do some consulting (and more blogging, Varsity Dad, along with finishing that awesome screenplay), while coming nominally close to creating my own indie version of a blogging all-star team (others pulled it off, to spectacular effect). Then join Associated Content. Then another kid. Then leave AC and do more consulting, projects and blogging (TimTeblog). Then found and launch Quickish.

Aside from my wife, the constant over the past five years is Gabe, from super-cute infant to yapping (and still-cute) toddler to the brilliant and joyful boy he is today. My wife and I have been beyond lucky.

But for now I'm just going to focus on a sports angle: We had exposed Gabe to spectator sports when he was 3 and a half or so. We took him to the local minor-league baseball and I took him to a college basketball game (and, later, the Knicks). He was kind of interested, but mostly too young to really appreciate it. A big lesson I learned: You just can't -- or shouldn't -- force these things. There's plenty of chances to dress them in team-logo'd T-shirts and jerseys.

But right around this past Selection Sunday, something clicked: He became as obsessed with sports -- the NCAA Tournament, specifically -- as he had previously been about animals or ice cream or doing tricks on his scooter.

He filled out a bracket, then followed the games avidly. He picked Florida to win it all, then jumped on the Butler bandwagon when Butler knocked out the Gators. (An early application of the transitive property of picking up the team that knocks out your team.)

Now he will watch any sports on TV we can find: NASCAR (and funny cars!), Premiership and La Liga soccer on ESPN. Just yesterday, we spent at least 10 minutes watching women's billiards.

But he has been really into the NBA Playoffs. He picks teams to root for based mostly on who happens to be winning the game -- or who won. (Bandwagoning during the playoffs? This makes him fairly typical among sports fans -- certainly among sports media and punditry.)

He wants to know not just who is winning and not even merely by how much, but the precise score, so he can calculate the spread himself. He yelps out from his bedroom "What's the score?" while I am watching games in the living room. And when he rolls out of bed in the morning, his first question usually is: "Who won the game?"

His new obsession with big-time sports is kind of awesome. (By the way, his mom and I are certainly doing our best to encourage participation in sports so he learn good lessons about being active -- I appreciate the secondary effect of a deeper appreciation of the game by playing).

It has allowed Gabe to connect with my wife and me on a new level. We already did all sorts of fun things together -- reading, games, biking, practicing his writing -- but this is so close to what I have spent my lifetime doing professionally (and something my wife and I have invested so much of myself personally) that being able to share it with him and expose him to it is surprisingly meaningful for both kid and parents.

As a parent, it is really hard to take the 10,000-foot view -- there are just too many little details you have to focus on all day, every day that keep you in the moment.

But in a way, that is a great thing, because it allows for extra (and extraordinary) meaning for things as simple and surface-level as "Daddy, what's the score?"

-- D.S.

05/16 (Heat Thumped) Quickie

If you want the Heat to lose this series, last night's Game 1 in Chicago was a best-case scenario.

After looking so unstoppable against the Celtics, the Heat looked overmatched against the Bulls' defense (quantum leap from Boston) and rebounding (offensive) and posterizing (Taj Gibson!)

Chris Bosh even had a good game, and it didn't matter. The home crowd cheered the Bulls, everyone at home (or on Twitter) jeered the Heat and after a taut 1st half, it was essentially over after the 3rd quarter, without even a "patented NBA run" proffered by the Heat.

Now, let's go back to the old playoff maxim: They don't really start until someone loses at home. If the Heat win Game 2, the series script instantly flips.

So enjoy it now.


Thunder run past Grizzlies to reach NBA West finals: Hard not to root for OKC to get past Dallas, putting Kevin Durant on the Finals stage (although it's hard to pick against the Mavs, who dispatched the two-time defending champs so effortlessly).

By the way, let's take a sec to praise the Grizzlies, who as an 8-seed nearly got to the conference finals -- all without their best wing player, the injured Rudy Gay. If they can keep Marc Gasol, making it back to the NBA's version of the Elite Eight isn't unreasonable to expect.

Jorge Posada apologizes: I understand why he did (and, by the way, it was a half-hearted "kind of" apology), and he's certainly not very good, but I go back to Joe Sheehan's point that this all comes back to Joe Girardi's unwillingness to do anything about the Jeter issue. And when the Yankees end up not making the playoffs -- and Girardi ends up being fired -- maybe they will finally deal with it. (Meanwhile, don't let this noisy object off to the side distract you from the way the Red Sox came to NYC and swept the Yankees.)

Jose Bautista hits 3 HR: Three words -- Not. A. Fluke.

Amazing story out of Phoenix, where Suns CEO Rick Welts went public yesterday that he is gay, a rare open exec at the top levels in sports. (It dovetails with that PSA that ran on TV yesterday of the pick-up hoops players using "gay" as a slur for "dumb," then being admonished by Grant Hill and Jared Dudley for it. Great to see that effort getting airtime on a game as watched as Bulls-Heat Game 1.

It is my older son's 5th birthday today. More on that milestone later. It's a big one for him -- and for me and his mom.

-- D.S.