Saturday, April 28, 2012

04/28 (Very) Quickie

I'd say it's a pretty good sports day today: End of NFL Draft, start of NBA Playoffs, Caps-Rangers Game 1, Bryce Harper's MLB debut (with Stephen Strasburg pitching, no less).

My favorite NFL Draft storyline from last night was Rutgers WR Mohamed Sanu -- victim of a nasty prank call on Thursday night that he had been drafted by the Bengals -- was... drafted by the Bengals.

(Runner-up: Much-maligned former Florida CB Janoris Jenkins was taken in the 2nd round by the Rams -- arguably the most high-risk/high-reward prospect since Randy Moss.)

Heat-Knicks at 3:30 is the most must-see NBA game -- although Thunder-Mavs tonight is close. If the Knicks were going to steal one, today is the day.

DC is having a hell of a sports week, but as exciting as drafting RG3 and the MLB promotion of Bryce Harper might be, this afternoon's opener against the Rangers is the biggest event.

That said: There are few MLB "live cut-in" at-bat moments worth making sure you're around for -- even though the chances are he'll fizzle in his first game, Harper feels worth tuning in to check out.

-- D.S.

Friday, April 27, 2012

04/27 (Draft and More) Quickie

Whew, what an absolutely loaded morning. Let's get to it:

NFL Draft: The big storyline was the flurry of trades near the top. Kudos to the teams that traded up, taking advantage of a brief "Moneyball"-style inefficiency of the new labor deal that creates new rookie cost certainties that make taking a pick high not nearly the financial risk it once was.

The other big storylines:

*Luck and RG3 go 1-2, as expected. RG3's socks were a highlight, and it is hard to imagine there is a fan base more fired up about their pick than the Redskins fans.

*The Giants' rivals go big: The Cowboys traded up to No. 6 to get exceptional LSU DB Morris Claiborne, which was arguably the biggest power move of the night. The Eagles traded up to get exceptional Mississippi State D-lineman Fletcher Cox, which was another phenomenal deal. (And that's on top of the Redskins trading everything to get RG3.) Big moves needed, big moves made.

*The consensus winner? Arguably the Pats, a team that historically trades down/out of the first round instead traded up -- twice -- to get DE Chandler Jones and LB Donta Hightower. It is an instant upgrade to a defense that was suspect (even porous) last year. (The Pats could cap the coup by finagling embattled DB Janoris Jenkins early in the 2nd round; Bill Belichick has historically liked Urban Meyer's stars at Florida, even if they have potential red flags.)

*"Value" picks: As talents surprisingly slide down the board, better/playoff teams are there to snag them, with no better example than the Steelers getting Stanford OG David DeCastro. (Other late picks that pundits liked: The Chargers getting DE Melvin Ingram and the Bucs getting RB Doug Martin.)

*"Reaches": The Chiefs taking mercurial Memphis D-lineman Dontari Poe at 11 was questioned, as was the Seahawks taking West Virginia DE Bruce Irvin when Ingram and Quentin Coples (drafted by the Jets) were available. The 49ers were questioned for taking Illinois WR AJ Jenkins late in the 1st -- he was graded as a high 2nd-round pick, so it wasn't quite a reach, but he didn't have nearly the positive evals of LSU WR Rueben Randle. And then, of course, there was the biggest risk in the draft: The Dolphins taking Texas A&M QB Ryan Tannehill at No. 8.

*Brandon Weeden: The Colt McCoy Era appears to be over in Cleveland. The Browns spent a first-round pick on the 28-year-old rookie QB from Oklahoma State, who can't possibly be less effective than McCoy, who will still have a long NFL career, simply as a back-up who gets occasional chances to start when the QB1 gets injured. Weeden's transition would be clearly helped by the presence of new RB Trent Richardson in the backfield.

*Looking ahead to the 2nd round: WR Rueben Randle is the top name on the board, but it will be intriguing to see where Janoris Jenkins lands -- he is, by far, the most talented prospect left.


*NHL Game 7 thrillers: Devils win in OT, Rangers hold off Senators. The East semifinals might as well be sponsored by the Amtrak Acela -- Rangers-Caps and Flyers-Devils. Should be fun.

*NBA Playoffs set: The leading storyline is clear: It is "championship or fail" for LeBron and the Heat. I'll stick with my preseason prediction of Thunder-Bulls in the Finals, with Chicago knocking off Miami in the East finals -- by far the most highly anticipated match-up of the playoffs.

*First-Round Picks: Chicago over Philly in 5; Boston over Atlanta in 6; Indiana over Orlando in 5; Miami over New York in 6; San Antonio over Utah in 7; Memphis over the Clippers in 7; the Lakers over the Nuggets in 7; Oklahoma City over Dallas in 7. Wow, does the West look fun to watch.

*NBA History: Worst team ever? The Bobcats finished the season with the worst winning percentage of all time. I love superlatives, so it's intriguing that "Worst Team Ever" is on the table. You have to adjust a bit for the compressed season and lack of any development time, but even in a full 82-game season with summer league and training camp, I'm not sure the Bobcats do much better.

*A playoff is coming to college football: It will be only a four-team bracket -- and I will guarantee you there is even more of a clusterf--- around picking that 4th team than there was picking the 2nd team in a two-team title game -- but it certainly beats the current system.

*Manager Pep Guardiola quits Barca: Does he want to coach the Wizards? (OK, how about my 5-year-old's kindergarten team?)

*MLB: Carl Crawford is being shut down for a while, and it adds insult to injury to insult for the Red Sox, who shelled out a gazillion dollars for him only to see him underperform last year -- and, now, not perform this year. (More Red Sox: They did shell Philip Humber, coming off his perfect game. So there's that.)

The morning after the draft is a fun moment -- it's all promise and potential, with more picks coming tonight and all weekend, with the hope that your team is getting better. Same with the day before the NBA Playoffs start: If your team is in it, they have a theoretical chance, and you can spend today talking yourself into thinking your team can at least beat expectations (if not win a title). And if your team is out of the playoffs, like mine, you can begin to scheme a plan for the offseason moves. Not sure what to tell you if you're a Barca fan, though....

-- D.S.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

*The Caps ousted the Bruins in a thrilling OT Game 7.
*The Nationals have the best record in the National League.
*The Wizards (the Wizards!) have won six straight (six!)
*The Redskins are drafting RG3 tonight.

Times have been lean for fans of DC sports teams. For one day, not today.

Picked a good moment to relocate here, apparently.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

04/25 (Pre-Draft) Quickie

It's the eve of the NFL Draft. With Luck and RG3 locked in to the top two picks, my three most intriguing storylines:

(1) What do the Vikings do at No. 3?
(2) Do the Dolphins reach for QB Ryan Tannehill at No. 8?
(3) Who takes a risk on uber-talented CB Janoris Jenkins?

Otherwise, I fully expect the Draft to dominate tomorrow, as everything NFL-related tends to dominate. (As for the league's attempts to keep draft picks off Twitter before the commissioner announces them at the podium: Good luck with that. Information wants to be free.)

More draft coverage at Quickish. Check it out!


*Metta World Peace suspended 7 games: Most folks seem to think this was appropriate. Seems right.

*Soccer: Chelsea pulls off a Champions League stunner, playing 10-v-11 against Barca at Camp Nou and not only winning in aggregate, but playing Barca to a standstill in the game itself.

*NHL: So excited for Caps-Bruins Game 7 tonight. And even if I'm not a fan of either team, tomorrow's Devils-Panthers Game 7 is must-see, too. (As is Rangers-Senators Game 7.)

*MLB Hero of the Night: Yu Darvish, with 8+ IP and 0 ER against the Yankees, with 10 Ks and only 2 BB. A signature game for the highly touted rookie.

*NBA: Tankmania! The Warriors out-tanking the Hornets means that the Wizards don't have to tank the final two games in order to maintain their hold on the No. 2 Lottery spot. Success!

*ICYMI, don't miss Lee Jenkins' SI cover story on LeBron.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

04/24 (Loomis) Quickie

Two words: Mickey. Loomis. "Loomis" is kind of a Dickensian name for an NFL GM with the league -- certainly the media -- bearing down on him over an alleged eavesdropping scheme. He vehemently denies it, but it's hard to imagine the news would get leaked if it wasn't at least truth-ish. What he probably needed to say was "I totally did that other bounty stuff, but I swear I didn't do this."

NFL Draft: The most interesting thing I read yesterday was the mock draft from NFL Films' Greg Cosell, who based his picks entirely on watching tape of the prospects (and, presumably, team need), with none of the troubling "scuttlebutt" (or disinformation) to sully his picks. That's how you end up with Janoris Jenkins in your Top 5. (Most interestingly, he grades RG3 higher than Luck.)

Meanwhile: RG3 got permission from the NFL to have "Griffin III" on his jersey nameplate. I'll bet his No. 10 Redskins jersey will be one of the Top 5 best-sellers in the league next year.

Tebow Watch: The Jets are going to use him on punt-protection, which drew some guffaws, but I think it's brilliant: Teams punt way too often as it is; Tebow gives the Jets a viable option to do something out of the punt formation besides punt, each and every time they line up to punt. That gives the return team something new to think about and an edge to the Jets.

CFB: Arkansas hires John L. Smith as temporary head coach while they figure out who they want to hire. Aside from screwing over Weber State, which had just hired JLS to be their head coach, it's a pretty brilliant move: Arkansas gets continuity from a previous assistant (one who has head-coaching experience), while setting up the understanding with him that it's a one-season gig; they can start recruiting his replacement immediately. (If you don't think that kind of head-start is important, ask Notre Dame how that went when Florida got a 6-week jump on them for Urban Meyer.) The New York Times' Pete Thamel was right: Arkansas is the most fascinating team in college football next season.

NBA: My Wizards have won four straight, and all I can think of is: "If they blow their previously locked-in No. 2 Lottery position...." Ah, don't you envy the life of a Wizards fan?

NHL: Rangers taking Senators to a Game 7. Nice pairing with the Caps taking the Bruins to a Game 7. Unfortunately, both are likely to end with the favorites escaping on home ice.

Nets say goodbye to New Jersey: As a die-hard fan of the borough of Brooklyn, I say Welcome.

Watch for: the perennial pre-draft rumor-mongering heading into the final 48 hours before the draft commences Thursday night.

-- D.S.

Monday, April 23, 2012

04/23 (Metta World WTF?) Quickie

Metta World Peace's elbow to the jaw of James Harden -- plus a concussion, naturally -- may or may not have been maliciously intended, but it sure seemed like more than an accident.

With MWP, you can never tell what is intended and what is incidental, and I hesitate to try to climb in his head to figure it out.

All you really need to know is that the 'bow drew massive outrage, and that outrage will likely lead to a massive suspension for MWP, into the playoffs.

(Frankly, the best idea I heard was suspending him a few more games than Harden will have to sit out -- the NBA is behind MLB, the NHL and the NFL when it comes to concussions. We'll see how long Harden is out. I'm presuming it will be less than Sidney Crosby but more than your typical NFL player.)


*NHL: Bruins force a Game 7. Dammit. As I'm all in on the Caps now, this was their shot. Even if the Caps won in Boston in Game 5, I really don't think they can win there in Game 7. The Caps weren't supposed to win this series -- they have given it just about as great of an effort as possible.

*The Rangers are playing the Yankees today, and it's worth asking whether the Rangers are the new Yankees (or, perhaps more accurately, the new Red Sox) -- loaded with talent on the mound and in the lineup, with a super-smart GM and an ownership group willing to spend a ton. A killer combo.

*Today is the Nets' final game in New Jersey. It has been an era marked mostly by laughable problems, with one small flurry of greatness (those Kidd-led Finals teams of the early part of the 2000s) and one horrible tragedy (the death of Drazen Petrovic). Otherwise, it is one of the most woeful franchises in sports -- I do believe things will turn around in Brooklyn, if only because even with a sub-par product, they will have the cachet of Brooklyn.

*It's NFL Draft week. With Luck and RG3 locked in to the first two picks, the next-biggest storyline is which QB-starved franchise picks Texas A& QB Ryan Tannehill. The presumption is that the Dolphins will take him at No. 8, with no teams willing to trade up with the Jaguars at No. 7 to swoop in and swipe him. He's just not worth it in the way RG3 was for Washington. (I need to write a little more about this, but my lifetime disinterest in the Redskins -- from actively disliking them, as a DC-area resident no less, to general apathy about them -- is put to the test, because I am a huge RG3 fan and can't wait to watch him up close.)

*BTW: The best player in the draft is Alabama's Trent Richardson, the best RB college football has produced since Adrian Peterson, and the first RB I have seen since Ron Dayne his freshman year at Wisconsin that made my eyes pop with his sheer power. "Franchise" RBs just aren't as valued as they were in years past -- that's the evolution of the game -- but for however many years he is active, Richardson will be fantastic.

*Some terrific reads from this past weekend. They have been collected on Quickish -- give them a read here.

-- D.S.