Friday, February 03, 2012

02/03 (Super Bowl) Quickie

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.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

02/01 (Signing Day) Quickie

Count me among the folks who enjoy National Signing Day, that college football recruiting bonanza when high school stars affirm their commitment to schools -- and a handful of uncommitted players make their announcements on national TV.

It's not that it isn't a little creepy. But the professionalization of college football recruiting -- at least a decade in -- has happened, and there's no going back to whatever it was before superstar 18-year-olds took a podium surrounded by family and picked from a couple of hats. The only question now is which players take the ceremony to a new level -- not unlike the way Isaiah Crowell pulled out an actual bulldog puppy when he announced for Georgia last year. That was, inarguably, the greatest moment in National Signing Day history.

Here's what I'd like to see: National Signing Day ceremonies for top-ranked high school engineering students or pre-med or journalism get the same hat ceremony. Why? Because it's fun, and it's a thrill for the kids.


Super Bowl Media Day: The big story was Rob Gronkowski's ankle, which appears better than it was a week ago but still unknown whether it will be good to go on Sunday. The Patriots sure won't be giving anything away. I think there's no question he plays -- the only question is how effective he is. Without a full-strength Gronk, the Pats' offense isn't nearly as devastating.

(Otherwise, Media Day was kind of a dud.)

Peyton Manning Watch: Manning claims he feels good and thinks he'll play again. My default is to assume he might remain in the league but will never reach his All-Pro status again. Frankly, I think that even if he is cleared to play and is a high-profile signing for some QB-strapped team, he is going to get injured quickly and mercilessly and either be entirely ineffective or KO'ed altogether. That's certainly a shame -- for him, for the team that signs him, for his many fans. It's just the reality: What Peyton said yesterday is, at worst, wishful thinking and, at best, spin.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

01/31 (Media Day) Quickie

A bit about Super Bowl Media Day, but first...

Holy smokes, did you see Blake Griffin's dunk over Kendrick Perkins from last night? Gah!

With that as a wake-up call, we can dig in to Media Day, which has become a tradition all to itself of Super Bowl week (almost as much of a tradition as complaining about Media Day).

Here is the reality: Reporters still get a week's worth of stories out of the group availability (Pats from 10-11, Giants from 12-1).

But in a real-time world, what is said during Media Day is instantly news (and, yes, the dumb stunts also get some attention -- for a company that cares deeply about how its product is produced and promoted, it seems counterproductive for the NFL to encourage the sideshow freaks of Media Day.) This was clear when I covered it for Quickish last January.

In the end, Media Day isn't a necessary evil, because it is neither necessary nor evil. It is, however, the most appropriate testament to the excess of the week.


*Once again: Blake Griffin's dunk.

*CFB: Tomorrow is National Signing Day, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I get into it over the final 48 hours or so.

*NBA: This is a day late, but one quick observation about the Heat-Bulls game from Sunday -- normally, I think that regular-season match-ups are entirely overrated. But that one felt like foreshadowing for late March.

*Pop Culture: How do you feel about Honda's Super Bowl ad featuring Matthew Broderick and a remake/rip-off of "Ferris Bueller?" I appreciate those who find it blasphemous, but note that Honda is going to own this week of Super Bowl ad hype because of it.

*Recommended: No, highly recommended -- Joe Sheehan's baseball newsletter is entering its new season, and I think it was the best $30 I spent last year. If you're a big baseball fan, it's a no-brainer. And if you're a casual baseball fan, it will increase your appreciation and enjoyment of the game exponentially. (And if you know a baseball fan, it's a fantastic gift.) Subscribe here.

*In case you missed it: There were several outstanding pieces written off the epic Djokovic-Nadal Aussie Open men's final. Check them out here.

But, really, Blake Griffin. Yikes.

-- D.S.