And away we go...
Rooting for the Giants, if only because I'm rooting against the Patriots. But, alas, I think the Patriots are going to win, even without a full-strength Rob Gronkowski.
(It's not quite a "Rematch" in the sense that we'd all like it to be -- or that Alabama-LSU was -- but enough of the principals are still there that I still like the "revenge > repeat" mentality.)
Super Bowl MVP: Tom Brady.
The ad everyone will be talking about will be... Volkswagen. They had the best ad last year and released a "teaser" for this year's ad that is better than 99% of the ads we'll see.
However! My favorite ad is one you won't even see...unless you live in Canada, where Budweiser has produced a hockey-flavored spot that would win the Ad Bowl if it played in the U.S., even if most American fans couldn't care less about hockey. Check it out. Amazing.
Super Bowl Halftime: Everyone will be totally satisfied with Madonna, who was perfectly adept during her press conference yesterday (it was the media that was the joke, with the exception of the reporter who asked Madonna about A-Rod's portrait of himself as a centaur).
Peyton Manning cleared to play: Or so he says. Jim Irsay tweeted out in the middle of the night that the Colts haven't cleared anything. Let's hope the Colts cut Manning as soon as they can -- like ripping off a Band-Aid -- rather than trying to massage what will be an awkward split.
Josh Hamilton reportedly has a relapse, with reports that he was in a bar drinking on Monday night: Sad story -- this happens. Let's not judge him; alcoholism is a disease that he continues to battle every day. It still has such a strong hold on him that he'd even walk into a local bar -- knowing he'd be spotted -- and proceed to fall off the wagon. Let's hope he continues to seek help.
MLB Hot Stove: Nats sign Edwin Jackson. I trust Joe Sheehan (you absolutely should subscribe to Sheehan's baseball newsletter, which just started its new season earlier this week and will give you 200+ emails over the next 52 weeks that will make you a smarter, better fan -- cannot recommend it more), and Sheehan has been making a great argument all Hot Stove season that Jackson was the best value on the board of any free agent. The Nats picked up a solid innings-eater -- as good of a No. 4 starter as any team in baseball has, including the Phillies -- at very low risk... just a single year at $10 million, with Jackson having every incentive (free agency again next season) to pitch at his best.
CFB: Jim Tressel gets a job at Akron -- "Vice President of Strategic Engagement," which is the best fake-sounding title in the history of college football (and perhaps anywhere). If you think Tressel doesn't end up back on his feet with a program, you don't understand college football.
NBA All-Star Starters: Hard to quibble with the East (Rose, Wade, LeBron, Carmelo, Howard), although I might not argue Carmelo has had an "All-Star starter" first half, given the injuries and his team's lousy performance. In the West, an LA-heavy squad (CP3, Kobe, Durant, Griffin, Bynum), with my only quibble that Kevin Love deserves a start, which I'd give him ahead of Bynum (and just have Griffin start out the game guarding D12).
CBB: Murray State remains unbeaten. I love this story, even if I'm confounded how far they will go in the NCAA Tournament. The Racers are 53rd(!) in KenPom's rankings (which are math-driven and, for my money, the gold standard), which means they are a double-digit seed that will -- if they stay unbeaten -- earn a Top 4 seeding (and a match-up against a fiesty 13-seed, followed by either a 5-seed or, if form holds, a talented 12-seed). They are a great story; I won't be picking them to get out of the first weekend -- and maybe not even the first day.
Reminder: While you are watching the Super Bowl on TV -- and maybe even checking Twitter and/or Facebook -- don't forget to pop by Quickish during the game for "just-enough" updates of the very best of the in-game chatter, mostly weeding out the dumb stuff from Twitter or live-blogs and only giving you the gems. And please tell friends!
Meanwhile, tons of great Super Bowl recommendations all day (and all weekend) long -- please check it out! Enjoy the game.