Friday, January 27, 2012

01/27 (Friday) Quickie

Peyton Manning vs. Jim Irsay: The cynic in me thinks that this is orchestrated to minimize the damage stemming from the inevitability of Peyton leaving/the Colts booting him.

But I suspect I overestimate the machinations of even the canny Manning and the loony Irsay.

What should be obvious to everyone -- and welcome to Colts fans -- is that the Colts should dump Manning, replacing his injured neck* and his massive salary for a spry, ready-to-takeover Andrew Luck and his reasonable rookie deal.

* - I'm baffled that reporters and fans think that a free-agent Manning is something to seek out. There is no evidence that he will be ready to return to NFL form (let alone Manning form!) next season. In fact, until proven otherwise, he is less useful than a backup QB, who at least could take a hit without worrying you'll break his neck. I wouldn't sign Manning, even if I was the most QB-depleted team in the league. And that's not even considering what he'll demand in costs.

I appreciate that Colts fans are attached to Manning. I also hope THEY appreciate that few teams ever get such an obvious, easy and affordable succession plan -- there will be no awkward situation where the expensive vet continues to start while the future sits and waits (and perhaps pouts). If the Colts didn't have Luck lined up, perhaps it would be a different conversation. But they do, and that means they have the ideal replacement -- immediately -- for Manning. I suspect most Colts fans are nostalgic about Manning leaving but absolutely thrilled about Luck.

Let's put it this way: If you asked most Colts fans what they would rather have -- Manning coming off a career-threatening neck injury that has yet to be proven he is healed from (at $26 million) or rookie Luck in full health and as ready to start immediately in the NFL as any college QB in the history of the sport (and at a bargain rate) -- they would take Luck.

Please give Quickish a look today, and thanks for your continued support. Have a great weekend.

-- D.S.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

01/26 (Paterno) Quickie

The public memorial for Joe Paterno is today. Best thing I've read about Paterno in the last 24 hours is Wright Thompson's walk-around with Jay Paterno.

If you are following the Paterno story, I'd also recommend Jonathan Mahler's just-published Kindle Single "Death Comes to Happy Valley." Well worth the $1.99.


*Greg Schiano leaves Rutgers for the Bucs: It's the Northwestern alum and Gary Barnett fan in me that thinks that it is infinitely harder to turn around a historically wretched college football program than it is to steer the ship at an existing or underperforming traditional winner. I appreciate that college coaches going to the NFL is, aside from Harbaugh, an iffy proposition. I think Schiano becomes one of the exceptions and does well.

*Colts hire Ravens DC Chuck Pagano: He gets the cushion of being the Colts' first coach in the post-Peyton era AND the benefit of starting that era with the most NFL-ready college QB of the last 30 years (which includes Peyton). Good hire by the Colts.

*Nadal beats Federer: A great match, one that started live at 3:30 a.m. ET, making it all the more fun to watch (if you were willing to get up and sneak peeks in between hitting the snooze button), particularly that it concluded during breakfast.

*The most interesting result in the NBA last night: The Cavs beating the Knicks by 10. The Knicks are terrible -- even worse given the expectations set up by importing Carmelo and Amare. Is it possible that Knicks fans feel even worse than Wizards fans? (Yes!)

*Hot Stove: Lidge to Nats. The Nationals might have missed out on Prince Fielder, but they shored up an already potent young bullpen by signing Brad Lidge, who will provide a steady veteran presence and put the bullpen in the Top 3 in the NL. With a solid top 3 in the rotation (Strasburg, Zimmermann, Gonzalez) and a 'pen that is lights out if the starters can take a lead through 6 innings, the Nats look like a darkhorse playoff team in '12.

*College hoops last night: So much for the Mizzou bandwagon. That lasted all of -- what? -- 5 days. Losing at Oklahoma State -- motivated beyond belief -- doesn't mean that Mizzou isn't fiesty enough to make the Final Four. But it IS one of those losses that makes you wonder when you're deciding if Mizzou makes it through the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

01/25 (Garyland) Quickie

Another day in my new life in DC, another big sports event here I won't be attending in person. This time it is tonight's Gary Williams court dedication at Maryland.

Like all my rooting interests, I have a complicated relationship with Maryland. I grew up a huge Maryland basketball fan -- Len Bias was and will always be my favorite player ever. I was 13 when he died. The next few years were spent in the purgatory of Bob Wade, then the NCAA sanctions. Then Gary Williams arrived -- I was 16.

By the time I was mostly through college, Williams had resuscitated the program, mining Baltimore for top prospects willing to bring Maryland back to glory: Booth. Rhodes. Simpkins. The unexpectedly sublime game of Joe Smith. The foundation of what would come a half-dozen years later, when Maryland would push Duke to its limits in 2001, the Terps forging themselves into the team that would, in 2002, win the school's first and only national title. It was Gary Williams' finest achievement -- it was Maryland's finest sports moment.

From there, it was a slow descent over a decade to the sorry state of the program now -- certainly better than when Williams found it in the late-80s. But nowhere near where it was during the peak of his effort -- the mid-90s through that championship season.

Maryland basketball maintains a special place for me -- as does Gary Williams, for delivering that championship I don't think any fans ever thought would come. For a really good retrospective of Williams, check out this from just after he retired, by the Baltimore Sun's supremely talented columnist, Kevin Van Valkenburg.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

1/24 (Quicker) Quickie

*Super Bowl lead-up: Yes, yes, we get it -- Pats-Giants Rematch. Boston-New York. Anyone else already sick of that storyline? Get used to it.

*Pop Culture: Oscar nominations came out this morning and "Moneyball" earning Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor noms make it the most Oscar-acclaimed baseball movie ever (and one of the most Oscar-acclaimed sports movies ever).

*Peyton Manning: Says he has no idea what's next. Says he's going to talk about it with Jim Irsay. Says he would like to stay but realizes he probably won't get to. More indications he's gone.

*Tim Thomas: Thomas has the right to do what he wants (and say what he wants). I think it's less disrespectful to the President (or the office of the President or even the American people who the President represents) than it is disrespectful to his teammates -- first, for putting his own interests ahead of the team's and not joining them, despite his reservations, and second, for creating a situation where everyone is ignoring what should be a great day for his team and teammates to concentrate exclusively on his unnecessarily inflammatory gesture and rhetoric.

*Wozniacki out in Australia: We can finally stop talking about her being the least-qualified No. 1 player in women's tennis history. She'll lose the ranking next week. (If you haven't been watching the Aussie Open, the upcoming Nadal-Federer semifinal will be your must-see.)

*CFB: Navy joining the Big East (three years from now). Good fit all around.

*Best Thing I Read Yesterday: SBNation's Spencer Hall on Joe Paterno, the best of the (largely, very good) Paterno retrospectives of the past 48 hours.

*Also Very Good: Slate's Stefan Fatsis -- who literally wrote the book on kickers in the NFL -- had an excellent (and spontaneous) three-part series about ill-fated Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff that had a surprise ending.

-- D.S.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

01/23 (Too Much) Quickie

RIP Joe Paterno: In the end, the child sexual-abuse scandal and dismissal made the first paragraph of Paterno's obituary, right alongside sweeping declarations about the scope and success of his legendary (if tarnished) career.

I'm left feeling bad for him that his final months were so painful -- while still reserving the right to begrudge him the way he handled the Sandusky situation. As fans, we can feel both things for him, and his legacy should consider both.

It remains a sad day for his family, for Penn State fans and for college football fans everywhere -- my condolences are with the Paternos and JoePa's vastly larger Penn State family.

*There is an incredible collection of Paterno obituaries, analysis and reflection at Quickish. Click here to check it out.

Super Bowl: Pats vs. Giants. Yes, the rematch. Yes, Tom Brady vs. Eli Manning. Yes, Bill Belichick against Tom Coughlin, who foiled the perfect season. And, yes, Boston versus New York, which should send the rest of the country scurrying for cover.

NFC: Giants escape San Francisco in OT. Others have said it, and it's worth repeating -- so the NFC title came down to the 49ers not having Ted Ginn available? This doesn't take away from Jim Harbaugh's first season as an NFL head coach -- the most brilliant NFL debut by a head coach in recent memory. The Giants put together the least impressive regular season of any team ever to get to the Super Bowl -- far less qualified than a 6-seed Wild Card like the Steelers a few years ago. Then again, the Giants have played brilliantly in the postseason and more than earned their way with wins over the Falcons, Packers and 49ers -- the final two on the road -- in consecutive weeks. They are worthy conference champs.

AFC: Ravens choke against the Pats. Let's stipulate that even if Billy Cundiff had made the field goal, there is no guarantee the Ravens win in OT. But let's say the win the toss, then kick a FG, then hold the Pats to a FG, then kick another FG. The point is that if you hate the Patriots, this was a tough loss. But if you like the idea that the league's best coach and the league's best QB earned their way back into the Super Bowl for the 5th time in the past decade with a win over a very good conference foe, you're happy enough. (But you're probably feeling a bit like you did a few years ago -- hoping they'll lose to the Giants in an upset.)

*Again, there is an incredible collection of NFL analysis this morning at Quickish. Click here to check it out.

CFB: Oregon's Chip Kelly reportedly leaving for NFL's Bucs, then flips around and stays at Oregon. As a Florida fan, this is reminiscent of when Billy Donovan left after the back-to-back championships for the Magic, only to come back to Florida the next day. Kelly didn't go quite that far -- his interest in the NFL is clear (I think he'd be an excellent NFL coach, way more Harbaugh than Spurrier), but he's got a good thing going in Eugene... arguably as good of a thing as any coach in the country, including Saban at Alabama (which feels like the gold standard). Too bad for the Bucs -- great news for college football in '12, where the budding Oregon-USC rivalry should be the marquee showdown of the season.

College hoops this weekend: I watched most of Mizzou's win over Baylor in Waco, and I'm ready to hop on the Tigers' bandwagon as a very legitimate Final Four team, size issues be damned.

-- D.S.