Saturday, November 17, 2012

11/18 (Oregon! K-State! What???) Quickie

Good god, that's why we love college football. Nights like Saturday, where presumptions are obliterated.

Like: "Kansas State is too solid to lose a trap game at Baylor." They were decimated.

Like: "Well, even if: Oregon will never lose at home to Stanford." They were neutered.

And we are left with a world where Notre Dame is No. 1 -- but needing a win over arch-rival USC next Saturday night to play for the national title. A loss and they're out.

Meanwhile, all of a sudden, the Alabama-Georgia winner of the SEC title game (presumably Alabama) is into the national-title game.

Yes, one week after Alabama and the SEC were both presumed "done."

And I would cackle at the notion that we are a Notre Dame loss to USC and a Florida win over Florida State from Florida playing the Alabama-Georgia winner in the national-title game...

...Except (a) Notre Dame is winning and (b) Florida definitely is losing in Tallahassee to an FSU team motivated by the self-loathing of knowing they missed a shot at the national title game by losing to NC State AND denying their biggest rival a claim.

The thing is: This happens in college football ALL THE TIME. This isn't an exception. It is what affirms college football's regular season as the greatest in all of sports.

And why every Saturday in the fall is booked, noon to midnight. The most incredible things happen.

-- D.S.

Friday, November 16, 2012

11/16 (Friday) Quickie

I'm no fan of Notre Dame, although I acknowledge that college football is better when Notre Dame is competitive.

I love Chip Kelly and what he has done at Oregon (equal parts the offense and the marketing), but -- again -- I find it hard to root for the Ducks.

I am intrigued by Kansas State, but had a hard time actually rooting for them. Then I read the lead WSJ story on them today and it finally clicked for me:

Kansas State is the ultimate evolution of my beloved 1995 Northwestern Wildcats: Not flashy, just solidly effective in all phases.

(It doesn't hurt that of all the teams in the country, only Kansas State fans might lay claim to Northwestern's title of "most historically mocked college football program.")

And so that clarifies things for me, at least as it relates to picking among college football's Big Three: I'm riding with K-State, because they remind me of my favorite team of all time.


MLB: Cabrera tops Trout for AL MVP, as expected -- although it is kind of remarkable how overwhelming Cabrera's win was, almost like the BBWAA voters making a political statement about "those confounding stat-heads and their WARs." Isn't the real problem that we have allowed the BBWAA to "own" the "official" MLB awards?

Buster Posey wins NL MVP: Bet that's not his last.

CFB Weekend: Is it a trap game for Kansas State at Baylor? Yes. Is it a trap game for Oregon hosting Stanford? Not really. Is it a trap game for Notre Dame hosting Wake? No.

CFB Game of the Week: USC-UCLA for the Pac-12 South title? Eh. Does it really matter? The winner gets destroyed by Oregon anyway.

NFL: Anyone else think it's weird that recaps of the Bills' win over the Dolphins last night includes the idea that Miami was some kind of playoff contender? They were/are not.

NBA: With a win over the Spurs, is it finally time to take the (unbeaten!) Knicks seriously? No. The Knicks are fun when they are winning, but that's not the same as being a contender.

NASCAR: Brad Keselowski is your name to know. Barring a huge upset, he is going to be the Chase champ.

MLB Hot Stove: You don't really think that Bud Selig will pull a David Stern and revoke the Marlins' trade, do you? He already framed it as a reasonable baseball deal.

NHL: "Taking a break?" That's a euphemism for "If we don't get serious, the season is over."

Personal: Three months from today, I will turn 40. Anyone ever done P90X? I'm intrigued by the idea of spending the next 90 days whipping myself into some semblance of shape.

-- D.S.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

11/15 (Dickey) Quickie

RA Dickey is my favorite baseball story of the past decade -- and it's very possible that he is my favorite baseball story of all time.

It is hard to find something more compelling: The first knuckleball Cy winner. He's 38. As recently as two seasons ago, he was a cast-off (but was also a former 1st-round pick!) He went through enormous personal travails and came through it with the most thoughtful perspective of any athlete in sports.

You can admire him, sit and watch him in awe, cheer away -- the whole thing. I can't understand anyone who wouldn't root for him.

It is the most remarkable Cy Young victory -- probably MLB Award win, period -- in baseball history. Dickey is probably the most accessible athlete in sports -- the most easily relatable.

The award was a foregone conclusion. His season was not -- and it is one we will remember for a long time.


*MLB MVP Awards: I'm all-in on Team Trout (over Team Cabrera). Cabrera is going to win MVP, and it's not like there haven't been absurd MLB award oversights in the past. It's just that you felt that with the increased influence of helpful "advanced" statistics, we wouldn't have such glaring problems anymore. Not giving Trout the MVP qualifies as glaring.

*Not everyone on the Jets hates Tim Tebow -- Shonn Greene is OK with trying something new at QB. (Ryan and Tanenbaum should be, too.)

*Clippers beat the Heat, decisively: It's a long (long, long) way from the first few weeks of the season until June. But qualify the Clips as a contender in the West with a ceiling of, say, getting to the conference finals.

*Magic isn't a fan of Jim Buss or the D'Antoni hiring: Eh. And?

*College Hoops: Florida clobbers Wisconsin. I'm a huge Florida basketball fan, but I am also very critical (self-critical?) of the team. And I found nothing not to love about what happened last night. All it did was affirm that the ceiling for this team is the Final Four, with the floor as a third straight trip to the Elite Eight. Erik Murphy is a match-up nightmare -- a stretch 4 who has the skills to work inside, too.

*The ACC and Orange Bowl's 12-year deal is only interesting for the reality of Notre Dame becoming a permanent resident in the Orange Bowl every year.

*If I'm Shabazz Muhammad, I'm dropping out of UCLA and working exclusively on getting ready for the NBA. He is a Top 3 lock for next year's draft -- why sweat playing 20 games at UCLA for an NCAA system intent on exploiting him?

*Really enjoying ESPN the Mag's "One Day, One Game" issue, even if Alabama's loss to A&M last week took a bit of the oomph out of it.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

11/14 (Marlins) Quickie

I have historically been largely supportive of the Marlins' strategy -- if you win two World Series titles, you can sort of do what you want.

However! The team crossed a line when it bilked Floridians for the money to pay for a new stadium, then dismantled the team last night.

Marlins fans have a right to be pissed. I'm not sure other fans around the country have as much of a right to gripe, but the stadium thing shocks the conscience.

Meanwhile: The Jays are very much a contender. The balance of power is so imbalanced toward the AL East -- the comparisons to the SEC are apt.

Consequently, it is time for MLB to seriously consider eliminating divisions, balancing the schedule and giving five playoff spots to the top five finishers in each league.

Duke beats Kentucky: Calipari is right -- Duke is a bunch of floppers. The only disappointment was the way he backed off his halftime accusation after the game was over.

MLB Awards: I vote for Verlander and Dickey for Cy.

(Meanwhile, Davey Johnson was an obvious pick. I would have liked to see a tie in the AL between Melvin and Showalter, but it's hard to knock the Melvin pick.)

NFL/Tebow: So the team -- or at least some portion of the team -- hates him so much that they're leaking to the media how much they hate him? I think they don't hate Tebow -- I think they hate the circus, which is more of a problem with the media than Tebow himself. By all accounts, he is a great teammate.

But it confirms two things: (1) Rex Ryan's inability to incorporate Tebow innovatively into the offense has turned into a major problem, and (2) the fundamental mistake the Jets (and Tebow, too) made in bringing him over. I think Tebow thought the Jets would use him more, not just make him serve as Woody Johnson's real-life toy collectible. Is there anyone who doesn't think that Tebow (and the Jets) would be so much better off if he was in Jacksonville?

-- D.S.

Monday, November 12, 2012

11/12 (Monday) Quickie

*Lakers hire Mike D'Antoni: Phil seemed like a lock, so this was a surprise. Still: I find D'Antoni way more intriguing than Jackson. Let's rev up Showtime 2.0.

*NFL Week 10: The Giants results is just a reminder that we know nothing... I'm going to keep saying "Don't put too much stock in the latest Texans win" right up until they win the Super Bowl, aren't I?... That has to be all for Mike Vick in Philly (Andy Reid, too), but does anyone really think Nick Foles is the answer?... Think there were a lot of formally acknowledged concussions yesterday (most notably: Vick, Jay Cutler, Alex Smith, Fred Jackson) -- now imagine how many there really are.

*BCS: No problem with K-State and Oregon as your 1-2 teams. (Sorry, ND: A distant third in the nominally reliable "eye test.") The reality is that even with a loss, Alabama would beat any of them, and don't think SEC execs aren't ticked that a dynastic championship run (not to mention domination of the BCS Top 10) by the conference carries no weight relative to "and-oh" records.

-- D.S.