Saturday, September 17, 2011

09/17 (Gameday) Quickie

Kicked off a college football gameday with my first experience with the suburban soccer experience -- my 5-year-old joined a league. I wore my swaggiest mom jeans to the first day.

The big story is Pitt and Syracuse bolting the Big East for the ACC. You're hearing a lot of griping from college hoops pundits about the woeful disservice to the Big East's tradition.

I grew up on Big East hoops in the 1980s -- its glory days. But for as big as the NCAA Tournament is, college hoops is a trifle compared to college football.

The analogue is the power of the NBA versus the power of the NFL; in other words: It's not even close. Again: I'm not dismissing the sport or the power of March Madness.

I'm just saying that college football is king in college sports -- basketball is the fun diversion between the end of the college football season and the start of spring practice.

What I'm watching:
*Noon: Auburn-Clemson (sneaking peeks at WVU-Maryland)
*3:30: Florida-Tennessee (sneaking peeks at N'western-Army)
*8: Oklahoma-Florida State -- one of the games of the year.

Enjoy the day!

-- D.S.

Friday, September 16, 2011

09/16 (Weekend Picks) Quickie

This weekend's headlines: Mike Vick will lose in his Atlanta homecoming... Florida State takes a BCS pole position with a win over Oklahoma... The Rays catch the Red Sox...

Saturday: Oklahoma at Florida State is one of the Top 3 games of the season, in large part because it has national-title implications. Forget what other people are saying -- the loser of this game is out of BCS title-game contention (unless every other team takes a loss, which isn't happening).

I shouldn't be buying FSU, but I am: Home-field advantage is huge, the motivation of last year's beat-down is significant and I'm convinced that Oklahoma is, as usual, overrated. It will be a breakthrough win for "FSU 2.0" and the Jimbo Fisher Era.

That's a big enough pick that it doesn't bother me that I'm not seeing any other upsets in the Top 25 this week. (I'm intrigued by Toledo at home tonight against Boise State, but Boise plays great in challenge games like this. Tennessee will keep things tight at Florida, but it'll be a UF win. Ohio State will roll Miami. And I think Maryland has a shot at upending West Virginia.)

(Last night: Unsurprising that LSU beat Mississippi State in Starkville, but it's a huge win -- how many other national contenders can claim that big of a win on the road, not to mention LSU's season-opening win over Oregon. There's a temptation to install the OU-FSU winnner at No. 1, but no one can match the ranking resume of LSU right now.)

Sunday: Vick's ATL homecoming is the biggest story of the weekend (although if you strip away the off-field storyline, Pats-Chargers seems like an amazing game), but there are plenty of others: Can the Bills and Lions zip out to 2-0? Was the Colts' Week 1 an anomaly or the new standard? Donovan McNabb can't play worse, can he? Must-win for the Steelers? Anyone not on the Rex Grossman bandwagon? And, of course, how will Cam Newton do?

Picks: NO d. CHI, BUF d. OAK, DET d. KC, BAL d. @TEN, IND d. CLE, TB d. @MIN, NYJ d. JAX, PIT d. SEA, WSH d. ARI, GB d. @CAR, DAL d. @SF, DEN d. CIN, MIA d. HOU, NE d. SD, ATL d. PHI, NYG d. STL. (LW: 10-6, YTD: 10-6).

MLB: The Rays won at Fenway last night and they are 3 games behind the Red Sox with 3 still to play in Boston. There isn't much room for error for Tampa, although winning 2 of the next 3 rather than sweeping still leaves them in shouting distance. I'm struck by the idea that there's a compelling argument for the Yankees to tank their remaining games against the Rays in order to ensure the Red Sox miss the playoffs.

Quickish is rolling all day, all weekend, all the time. Pop by to catch up quickly on the best takes on the biggest stories.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

09/14 (Mid-Week) Quickie

Today's Name to Know: Glen Rice, apparently.

Mariano Rivera: 600 saves. You can dismiss saves as a statistic and closers as a category, but it's hard to ignore that Rivera is the greatest at his job in the history of baseball.

Tim Wakefield: 200 wins. I'm a little obsessed with the "200 is the new 300" idea -- that no pitcher will ever reach 300 wins... and it's possible no pitcher will ever reach 250.

Roy Halladay is at 186. He'd need 3-4 more seasons at 15-20 wins each. Doable. Ditto for CC Sabathia, who is at 176. If you think Justin Verlander can win 20 games a year for the next 8 years (or 15 a year for the next 10), he might.

In fact, when you look at the list, aside from that handful of pitchers above, no one reasonable is even close... to reaching 200. In 10 years, the 200-win milestone will be much more impressive.

Speaking of Verlander: That's 23 wins. If you enjoy a "We'll never see a [...] again" fetish, the "We'll never see a 25-game winner again" milestone might be going down in two weeks.

NBA Lockout: We're so far from critical deadlines that shrieking yesterday that we might lose the season is absurdly premature. Talk to me in late October.

Meanwhile, avid NBA fans and pundits don't want to acknowledge this, but if the season didn't start until January, TV ratings and fan interest would go... up. Way up. In fact, as long as the Heat are in the Finals, ratings for the championship series will go up, too, no matter when the season starts.

It's a much bigger problem for the NBA if it's Grizzlies-Magic in the NBA Finals than if the season tips in '12.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

09/13 (Brady) Quickie

Well, then: Tom Brady. What Brady displayed last night was a master class on how to be a quarterback.

Novak Djokovic is incredible, having one of the Top 5 seasons in men's tennis history. The match yesterday with Nadal was jaw-dropping, even in what turned out to be mostly a rout.

The Broncos are terrible: If it wasn't obvious before (and it should have been), John Fox is not a very good coach. His archaic "Run first! Stop the run!" system failed on both counts. Meanwhile, if Kyle Orton was going to be ineffective anyway, they might as well have played Tebow. (Don't let Orton's 300 passing yards fool you; his INT and horrible fumble defined his game.)

Sebastian Janikowski!

MLB: How can you not be rooting for the Rays to catch the Red Sox at this point?

CFB: So Texas is reduced to begging Oklahoma to stay in the Big 12? OU ain't staying, but it would be amusing if they would demand that Texas rename the Longhorn Network the "Red River Network" and relocate the headquarters from Austin to Norman.

Oh, cripes, Manny. He makes it so hard to be a fan.

NBA: Rick Adelman feels like a terrible fit for a young, potentially exciting team like the T'wolves. I guess you could make a comparison to the young exciting Kings of the early 2000s, but Adelman ain't spry anymore. (Yes, yes: He brings "professionalism"; he's also a coaching re-tread.)

Serena fined $2K: Deadspin's Emma Carmichael has a really smart take on all this that I haven't seen from anyone else.

Yesterday was an amazing day in sports -- NFL reactions all morning, the tennis match in the late-afternoon/early-evening and the NFL double-header last night. Today is a bit slower, so take a breath. Quickish has you covered with all the best must-reads. Pop by!

-- D.S.

Monday, September 12, 2011

An Entirely Fair Question

If you were a Colts fan, would you trade a 0-16 season in 2011 (a season you presumably already know is lost anyway, whether it's 0-16 or 4-12 or even 8-8) in exchange for locking in Andrew Luck as your franchise QB from, say, 2014-2025 and beyond?

It strikes me that the Colts are in a uniquely luxurious position to make chicken salad out of chicken s--t: If the fans (and almost certainly the players and absolutely positively the execs) know the season is down the drain anyway, you can think about the long-term in a way that other would-be Luck tankers can't.

Who cares if you go 0-16 in 2011 if you're going to win between 11 and 14 games a year for the next decade and a half, precisely because you were bold enough to recognize that a single season -- when you were going to suck anyway -- is worth sacrificing for 10 subsequent seasons of success.

UPDATE: Via a leading Colts blog, apparently there's a "#suckforluck" hashtag on Twitter. I fully support that there's a part of the fan base on board with the strategy.

09/12 (Early Edition) Quickie

With 9/11 commemoration in the backdrop everywhere, what was the on-field story of Sunday?

Go F--- Yourselves.

"Go F--- Yourselves," Part 1: For its combination of backstory and (if you ask the "experts") improbability, it had to be Cam Newton's record-setting debut, which doubled as one of the great "Go F--- Yourselves" performances in NFL history.

"Go F--- Yourselves," Part 2: Texans wax the Colts, who had been a perennial nemesis. It was cathartic, but unless Houston wins the division, it was superficial. We knew Indy would suck without Peyton Manning, but they got eviscerated. We're one step closer to the league eventually naming the MVP trophy for Peyton Manning. After today, I'm not sure anyone would argue.

"Go F--- Yourselves," Part 3: With every forced turnover, the Ravens gleefully rubbed the Steelers' nose in today's thrashing. It doesn't make up for Baltimore's loss to Pittsburgh in the playoffs last year -- only a 2011 playoff exorcism will make up for that -- but it had to have felt good to give that kind of a beat-down to the reigning conference champs (and division rival).

Checking in on the "Dream Team": 1-0. Should that be all that matters? (How about Michael Vick nearly claiming the "double-triple" -- triple-digits in passing and rushing yards (only a couple end-of-game kneels kept him from cracking 100 rushing).

News from other bandwagons: Wow, the Falcons looked terrible. That's gotta be one of the more vicious SI jinxes (they were the mag's preseason pick to win the Super Bowl) in a while.

Fantasy Studs:
QB Matt Stafford: Elite.
RB Ben Tate: Arian who?
WR Steve Smith: He's back!
TE Scott Chandler: Still available?(!)

Dud of the Day: Donovan McNabb. (Runner-up: Chris Johnson)

You have to wonder if...: Jim Harbaugh felt bittersweet about today's win, which may have eliminated the 49ers from contention for Andrew Luck.

Unlikely Hero of the Day: Rex Grossman, who would like a word with the haters.

All in all, more than enough interesting storylines to get things off to a fascinating start.

-- D.S.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

This Week's BlogPoll Top 25 Ballot: Status Quo

Nothing happened this week to dislodge LSU at No. 1 -- if anything, Oregon's return to ass-kickery made LSU even stronger (as did Boise State's defense on Georgia, which had no trouble running up points on South Carolina's seemingly solid defense). Here is thereality: Because I like to put a lot of stock in the quality of opponents beaten, the Oklahoma-Florida State winner has a good shot of surging past LSU into the top spot (although a strong performance by LSU against Mississippi State this week will certainly help its cause).

A quick word about the insane finish to Michigan-Notre Dame: Haven't seen as fun or thrilling of an inconsequential game in a long time. The reality is that neither of these teams is relevant beyond their sheer brand names -- the game was only in prime time for the novelty of the first Michigan night game (which was, to be sure, cool as hell). The finish helps rationalize the amazingness, but in the end, these two teams aren't in the Top 30 -- even if they played the most exciting game of the season thus far and set the bar for the rest of the way. There's something to be said for that as a consolation prize. Now, the poll:

SB Nation BlogPoll Top 25 College Football Rankings Ballot - Week 3

Rank Team Delta
1 LSU Tigers --
2 Boise St. Broncos --
3 Alabama Crimson Tide --
4 Oklahoma Sooners --
5 Wisconsin Badgers --
6 Florida St. Seminoles --
7 Stanford Cardinal --
8 Baylor Bears --
9 South Florida Bulls Arrow_up 1
10 South Carolina Gamecocks Arrow_up 7
11 Virginia Tech Hokies Arrow_down -2
12 Houston Cougars Arrow_down -1
13 Arkansas Razorbacks --
14 Nebraska Cornhuskers Arrow_down -2
15 Texas A&M Aggies Arrow_down -2
16 Oklahoma St. Cowboys Arrow_down -1
17 Auburn Tigers --
18 Florida Gators Arrow_down -2
19 Oregon Ducks Arrow_down -1
20 TCU Horned Frogs Arrow_up 5
21 Mississippi St. Bulldogs Arrow_down -7
22 Michigan St. Spartans --
23 Arizona St. Sun Devils --
24 USC Trojans --
25 Fla. International Golden Panthers --
Dropouts: Ohio St. Buckeyes, West Virginia Mountaineers, BYU Cougars, Texas Longhorns, Northwestern Wildcats, Utah Utes

SB Nation BlogPoll College Football Top 25 Rankings »

Oh My Goodness: Red Zone Channel

Yes, Red Zone Channel has been around for years. But living in New York City with Time Warner Cable, I have never had access to it. Now that I'm in DC and using Verizon FIOS, I have Red Zone Channel and so it's my first-ever experience with it today and...

Oh. My. Goodness.

-- D.S.

9/11 (9/11) Quickie

I was not in New York for 9/11. I was in Boston, in my dorm, watching on TV. At the time, my sister was living in my old apartment in Brooklyn and took the train under the World Trade Center every morning to get to work; my first priority was making sure she was OK. (Thankfully, she was.)

I had been dating Mrs. Quickish for a few months -- she worked up by the Empire State Building and was evacuated. She lived downtown and it was not a place you wanted to be; she joined me up in Boston for a few weeks. When I took her back to NYC -- my first visit back since 9/11 -- I was overpowered by the smell, which persisted for months, and the horrifying mosaic of homemade "Have you seen him/her?" signs by friends and loved ones of people who were missing.

My inconsequential contribution to the media cacaphony was an essay in the business school newspaper the following week. The takeaway is that everyone -- inside and outside of the school -- was impacted in their own way, but the way communities collectively came together (schools, cities, organizations, friends) should be a source of strength, even in the face of harrowing events.

Ten years later, I feel the most pain for those most directly impacted -- people who lost loved ones, first-responders who got sick (and their families who face the burden), the firefighters and police officers, the soldiers.

There is going to be a lot of tributes during NFL games today -- some are heartfelt (Mark Herzlich's tweet, which you can see on Quickish), some seem maudlin (the gaudy red-white-blue shoes worn by players, whose hearts I know are in the right place).

I hope the commemoration bring some measure of comfort to everyone impacted that, once again, the way we can support ourselves collectively is our greatest strength.

-- D.S.