Friday, September 21, 2012

9/21 (Weekend) Quickie

So in my first full MLB season in DC, the Nats make the playoffs. Not bad...

CFB Weekend Watch: It's a mini "Separation Saturday" theme.
*Clemson-FSU: Winner still in national title hunt. Loser out.
*Kansas State-Oklahoma: Ditto.
If only they weren't on TV at the same time.

*Oregon-Arizona: Oregon will roll, but let's see how far Zona has come.
*Michigan-Notre Dame: Someone is getting exposed, and I'll say it's ND.

NFL Week 3 Storylines I like:
Game of the Week: Pats at Ravens (No, wait: Eagles at Cards???)
Must-win at home for the 0-2 Saints against the Chiefs? Yep.
Jets-Dolphins: They're both 1-1 -- is this a season-breaking game for winner/loser?
Watching Greg Schiano: Think he'll care about the Cowboys "mystique?" No way.
RG3 Mania: At home against the Bengals. Cam got roasted last night.

Last night: Giants pound Panthers. Bad week to start Cam Newton in fantasy.

MLB: Melky Cabrera pulls out of NL batting race. The right move, but it would have been fun to see him stay in and "win" the title.

CFB Last night: Boise 7, BYU 6. What the hell?

Enjoy your weekend. Usual college football hangover coming Sunday a.m.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

09/19 (Steve Sabol) Quickie

Here's what I think about the late, great Steve Sabol:

I think that he (and his dad, via NFL Films) had more of an impact on sports media -- and, consequently, sports fandom -- than any other single media figure in history.

More than Roone Arledge, whose idea to put the NFL in primetime was revolutionary. More than the ESPN founders. Certainly more than any athlete ever did.

His notion of filming the nascent NFL, then turning his access into an accessibility for fans -- all with a signature style (slow-motion, miked-up coaches, classical music, deep-baritone narrators) -- was revolutionary at the time. Then, uniquely, it stood the test of time.

NFL Films was simultaneously a historical record, a love letter and a gateway drug. It influenced countless fans, filmmakers, players and media.

Sabol leaves as marvelous of a legacy as anyone in sports or media ever has -- just head over to YouTube to enjoy it.

Condolences to his family, friends, colleagues and many many fans.

(Check out some great Sabol rememberances and reactions over at Quickish. The best one I've read is Joe Posnanski's homage to Sabol over at


*Yunel Escobar suspended three games: He seems more sorry he got punished than sorry he might have offended anyone -- otherwise, he wouldn't have done it in the first place.

*Ronaldo > Man City: That was pretty exciting.

*NFL vs. Refs: If you think things are coming to a head, you would be mis-reading the situation -- fans are not turning away from the game; they are watching it in ever-greater numbers. There is zero incentive for the NFL to settle, beyond the probabilistic analysis that with every game that goes by, they run the risk of some kind of epic failure by a replacement official that might actually dent the NFL brand. Even then, fans will still watch in ever-greater numbers. I suspect the real refs are ready to settle as soon as the NFL is willing to let them.

*Quote of the Day: "Maybe we don't call them student-athletes any longer and just refer to them as students." (Lead NCAA policy advisor in a memo to new incoming NCAA president Mark Emmert)

-- D.S.

09/18 (NFL Hangover) Quickie

Happy new year to my fellow MOT...

The biggest question coming out of last night's MNF game isn't whether the widely held preseason assumption that Peyton Manning was going to be just fine was exposed as empty -- although that is entirely on the table today -- but whether the atrocious work of the replacement refs finally pushes the NFL to make a deal with the locked-out standard-bearers. Let's hope so.

Meanwhile: Yes, Peyton Manning was/is plenty exposed. I think the default position should be "he can't," right up until he leads the Broncos to the Super Bowl -- as SI predicted.

Oh, and what the hell was Michael Turner thinking last night?

Week 2 Remainders:
*Greg Schiano's shenanigans: I appreciate flying in the face of NFL orthodoxy as much as anyone, but Schiano made a misstep on this one. (That said: Changing a culture is hard, and moves like this make it clear which way he wants the team to go -- but sometimes, "moves like this" are mis-steps.)

*Patriots schadenfreude: That was an excruciating way to lose, for a team that not only almost always wins at home, but seemingly had a gimme against a second- (or lower) tier team coming from West to East for a 1 p.m. start, which is the lock of locks. As it turns out, Aaron Hernandez is the Pats' MVP.

*RG3 Mania: That Josh Morgan thing was stupefyingly dumb. Let's just remember the "Cam Newton Principle" -- RG3 can be breathtakingly good, and yet the Redskins can still be a woeful team that maybe reaches 4 or 5 wins this season.


*The Pats are looking at Kellen Winslow? He's like a very poor man's version of Hernandez. Didn't Winslow fail his physical a few weeks ago? Pats looking a little desperate.

*Saints bountygate: As it turns out, yes, the players -- including Jonathan Vilma -- did have bounties out on players, like Favre. Hard to believe Gregg Williams would perjure himself to pin blame on Vilma.

*The best story of the weekend was the NFL assigning a replacement ref who is a Saints fan to be a part of the crew reffing the Saints game. I wish every sports media person had a profile attached to everything they wrote that included every team and athlete they're in the tank for.

-- D.S.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

This Week's BlogPoll Top 25 Ballot

The biggest question was how far to drop USC -- they probably deserved to drop more, but going by "resume," it's not a capital crime to lose close on the road to a Top 5 team.

We'll get a lot more clarity after next week, when Florida State and Clemson play -- the winner should expect to vault into the Top 4.

Sunday (CFB Hangover) Quickie

Stanford beating USC is one of the reasons I love college football. (Frankly, now in its fourth year, it has become a perennial tradition with more relevance/resonance than any other "rivalry" game.)

This year's edition was not so different than the rest: USC waltzes in with something along the lines of an entitlement it should win. Stanford proceeds to hammer them and ruin USC's season.

In this case, there was nothing less than a presumption that this USC team was a lock to finish the season as a top contender to play for the national title; at the very least, they would have a shot right up until the Pac-12 title game to make their case to play Alabama (or, say, Alabama-LSU winner).

But then USC's fundamental sizzle met Stanford's steak. Lane Kiffin was exposed (yet again) as a coaching lightweight. Matt Barkley lost his shot at the Heisman, for which he was the presumptive favorite and for which there is now a widly wide-open competition.

More than anything, it is a reminder of the glory that is the college football regular-season battle of attrition. There are so many assumptions made, but in the best years, they are tested -- and regularly proven false.

"USC will run the table until Oregon."
"Matt Barkley will win the Heisman."
"This Saturday seems like a slate full of obvious results."

We've still got "It's Alabama and everyone else."

But Saturday night was a wonderful reality check that we shouldn't take anything for granted. And tune in, because you never know what you're going to see.

A few other notes:

*USC may have been overrated and exposed, but Stanford has earned a spot in this week's Top 5.

*Florida is not as good as their ranking will be, but better than I thought they'd be. So there's that!

*Alabama. I mean...I know Arkansas is a mess, but still. Yikes. Yeesh. Holy cow.

*Michigan State was overrated, but it's time to give Notre Dame some credit.

*I love watching Oregon play, but there is no evidence that even if they destroy everyone along the way to 12-0, they won't get snapped in half by the SEC champ.

*Western Kentucky is the new Louisiana-Monroe.

*Virginia Tech is the same old September-chokey Virginia Tech.

*If I had to pick a new Heisman front-runner, it's Ohio State QB Braxton Miller, with the Mariota-Thomas hybrid at Oregon tied for 2nd.

*This afternoon's games were snoozers. The Stanford-USC result more than made up for it.

-- D.S.