Friday, September 23, 2011

09/23 (Moneyball) Quickie

I was/am a big fan of "Moneyball" the book, if only because it made the notion of statistical analysis in baseball so accessible and its value so easy to understand.

There's a lot more to the book than that, of course, starting with the idea that it's not really about stats -- it's about identifying and exploiting inefficiencies in a market, which has been a principle that I've built my career around, with the Daily Quickie and being the best examples.

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I love the curated coverage of the movie and the topic over at Quickish -- check out our "Moneyball" stream; there's some terrific stuff there.

I'm back in New York this weekend for the 4th "Blogs With Balls" conference -- I'm pushing for a name change, because it doesn't appropriately cover the breadth of the event -- and my panel is, on its face, about whether "Blogging is dead." But really, if I can pull it together as the moderator, it's about "Moneyball" -- where are the inefficiencies in sports media and how have they recently been exploited (and which are still there to exploit). Quickish will still be rolling all weekend.


*CFB Weekend: Some great games, led with a "Top 10 vs. Top 10" between Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, the winner of which will likely vault into my Top 5... LSU gets yet another chance to showcase itself against quality comp at West Virginia... Arkansas at Alabama is strong on paper, but Bama will showcase just how good it's D is in an easy win... Upset Watch: San Diego State over Michigan (but not Vandy over South Carolina).

*NFL Week 3:
(1) Will the concussion impact Vick? (Yes.)
(2) Can the Bills hang with the Pats? (No.)
(3) Will Cam Newton throw for 400+ yards? (No, but he'll win.)
(4) How bad will the Colts lose to the Steelers in Indy? (Very.)
5) Game of the Week: Falcons at Bucs.

*MLB Wild Card Watch: Nothing is more exciting than the idea that the Rays might come out of the weekend ahead of the Red Sox in the Wild Card standings. If that happens, I could see the Yankees tanking against the Rays to ensure their rival gets shut out of the playoffs.

(Tough break for Cardinals fans: The team did just enough to get hopes up -- with a 6-2 lead heading into the 9th yesterday, they could have entered the weekend just 1 GB the Braves -- only to screw it up and likely snuff out the improbable leapfrog. But you never know!)

*NBA Lockout: Does the decision to not start training camp and cancel some preseason games surprise anyone? BTW: I disagree with the notion that a shortened season would suck a la '99. Oh, the play on the court might be a little ragged, but I'd predict that TV ratings would be up over last season in a "sprint-season" scenario.

*College realignment: Big 12 axes Dan Beebe, and apparently all is right in the world? I'm still waiting for a good reason why "super-conferences" are such a terrible idea. Wouldn't 4 16-team leagues create a de facto playoff quarterfinal layer for the conference-title games, which could easily be followed by a seeded 4-team semifinal playoff, which would basically yield a "plus-one" title game? (I hate the "plus-one" idea, fwiw.)

Enjoy your weekend -- should be a fun one! Be sure to check out Quickish all day (and all weekend).

-- D.S.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

09/21 (Midweek) Quickie

As a recent convert to Red Zone Channel obsession, it was great to see this New York Times profile of the service today.


*Pac-12 spurns expansion: It sends Oklahoma and Texas back to the Big 12. It was a stinging rebuke of Texas' TV network. It was yet another brilliant move by Pac-12 commish Larry Scott, who zagged toward restraint when everyone else was busy zigging toward panic.

*Red Sox Panic Watch: Needless to say, the Red Sox are damn lucky the Yankees haven't decided (yet) to tank against the Rays in the hopes of bumping their rival out of the playoffs. (Yes: Yet.)

*The Big East schools reaffirm their commitment: Well, not Syracuse and Pitt, obviously. But the rest of them -- the ones that don't really matter in football (although I really like what South Florida is doing). Love the idea of the Big East adding Navy.

*Will Mike Vick play in Week 3 against the Giants? That's the presumption, but with concussions, you never know. I think he plays, but it's a mistake -- he's one more hit from being out for way more than a week. And the Giants are so flimsy right now, even backup QB Mike Kafka could carve them up.

*Metta World Peace booted from "DWTS": Not surprising. It's on you, Hope Solo.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

09/20 (Tuesday) Quickie

"Moneyball" and Brad Pitt are on the cover of this week's SI. As usual, a year ago, this was talked about as a lark; now, it's THE movie release of the month.

NCAA under pressure: Jeff MacGregor has a provocative column on about imploding the NCAA. The easiest solution is to simply create a true minor-league for pro football that takes the best potential-pro players out of the college system and puts them in a paid training program, leaving everyone else comfortable with the deal they are getting.

NCAA realignment: I like Dan Wetzel's idea of Notre Dame joining the ACC, but it still feels like the Big Ten is more realistic.

Mariano Rivera sets the career saves record: I like the takes from Jayson Stark and Joe Posnanski for historical perspective.

Red Sox split with O's, still 2 games up from the Rays: It's not over yet, by any stretch. But every day they remain up 2 games makes it harder for the Rays to catch up. Meanwhile, could the Braves actually lose their seemingly insurmountable Wild Card lead to the Cardinals? Even less likely than the Rays catching the Red Sox, but the drama is welcome.

Giants beat Rams on MNF: Zzz.

College hoops recruiting: Huge win for UCLA to get Kyle Anderson, the No. 2 recruit in the country. Hope he enjoys slow-tempo offense and grinding defense. (Then again, Ben Howland has a nice track record prepping players for NBA success. Anderson is clearly a one-and-done.)

If you didn't check out Quickish yesterday, it was loaded with phenomenal NFL recommendations. Tuesdays are fun because we showcase the best pieces from this week's SI magazine way before SI puts them on So come by -- and tell a friend or two!

-- D.S.

Monday, September 19, 2011

09/19 (Monday) Quickie

Fast, fast, fast....

*Big winner of NFL Week 2: Tony Romo. After last week's fiasco, he earns the "gritty" label from erstwhile haters for leading the Cowboys to a W with a broken rib.

(Other contenders: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Matt Ryan, the holy s---t Lions, Josh Freeman, Cam Newton.)

*Big loser of NFL Week 2: Mike Vick. Between the concussion and pointing at the scoreboard and ultimately losing the game, it was a less-than-ideal ATL homecoming for Vick.

(Other contenders: The Chiefs, Tebow as a WR, the Ravens' dud vs. Tennessee, Luke McCown and any fantasy owner who had Jamaal Charles.)

*Colts "Suck for Luck" Watch: What will it take for the team to realize that the fans would be THRILLED to go 0-16 and secure Andrew Luck, rather than muddle through a lost season at 4-12 -- if they're lucky! Next week vs. Pittsburgh is going to be a massacre, but the upside could be that everyone realizes that tanking the season is entirely the way to go.

*Rays beat Red Sox, now 2 GB for Wild Card: I honestly think that the Yankees should tank a few games against Tampa to help the Rays vault Boston. NY needs to consider the competitive value -- short-term and long-term -- of a Boston collapse.

*Justin Verlander wins No. 24: His bid for a 25th win is one of the must-see events of the week in sports.

*Floyd Mayweather: Are you on the side of "He sucks; it was a sucker-punch" or the side of "Protect yourself at all times." I think I fall in the latter.

*Oklahoma is No. 1 with the pollsters: They were No. 1 going into the weekend and came away with a win at FSU. This isn't surprising. LSU still has a much stronger resume. (And let's just consider for a second: Does anyone think Oklahoma would beat LSU head-to-head?)

*Realignment: I have no problems with realignment, be it the ACC poaching Pitt and Syracuse (though it sounds like they were entirely willing) or the Pac-12 doing a deal with Texas and Oklahoma et al, consequently either killing the Big 12 or scattering its members wherever. I have more problems with the folks griping that this is somehow killing college football or college basketball.

It's not, and it's a stunning lack of faith in the power of each sport to push that line. College football will be fine; college hoops will be totally fine -- as long as there's a bracket in March, college hoops will be totally fine. I have yet to read or hear a compelling argument or evidence why realignment is inherently bad for the sport.

*Pop culture: Congrats to "Friday Night Lights" for getting Kyle Chandler a "Best Actor in a Dramatic Series" Emmy and another one for Best Writing in a Dramatic Series.

-- D.S.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

This Week's BlogPoll Top 25 Ballot: LSU, Okla

Based almost entirely on the season so far, I think the top two teams in the country are obvious this week: LSU and Oklahoma.

LSU complemented its season-opening win over Oregon with a win at Mississippi State -- no easy feat. Oklahoma merely went into Tallahassee and out-slugged FSU.

There is room for more statements next week: Alabama plays Arkansas, Oklahoma State is at Texas A&M, Vandy at South Carolina, USC at Arizona State and yet another challenge for LSU, at West Virginia.

Here is the latest BlogPoll ballot. As always, a work in progress:

09/18 (Sunday) Quickie

*Protect yourself at all times: That's all you need to know about the ending to Mayweather-Ortiz.

*ACC gets Syracuse, Pitt: I simply can't get aggrieved about conference realignment.

*RIP Dave Gavitt: The most influential leader in college basketball history? He founded the Big East -- the boldest, most radical, most commercialized realignment idea in the history of college sports, before or since. All of these folks clucking about realignment today are seemingly fans of Gavitt -- as they should be -- but if they were around to be pundits at the time the Big East was founded, I'm sure they would be griping "TEARING AT THE FABRIC OF THE GAME!" Give me a break. If Gavitt has a legacy with what he created in the Big East, it is precisely what we're seeing now: Teams and leagues moving because of the power of TV money. There is nothing inherently wrong with it.

*CFB Saturday: Can't deny how strong that win was for Oklahoma at Florida State. Unsure the resume tops LSU, but it certainly will affirm OU's status at No. 1 for those who already had them there. Otherwise, the most notable results of the day were Miami throttling an obviously overrated Ohio State, Clemson giving Auburn the loss we all thought has been coming since late 2009 and South Carolina nearly losing at home to Navy.

*NFL Today: Can't wait to settle in with Red Zone Channel, my new favorite thing. Don't forget to set your fantasy lineups.

-- D.S.