Friday, April 19, 2013

4/19 (Friday) Quickie

A brief diversion from following the insane story out of Boston:

*NBA Playoffs begin: As little drama as I can remember -- per my USA TODAY Sports column this morning, no one is beating the Heat, so I guess the excitement is watching everyone else knock each other off en route to Miami winning 16 games?

*NFL Schedule release: Once again, the NFL shows it rules -- the schedule release in and of itself is a big deal. Ravens at Broncos in Week 1 might be the highlight of the season.

*Michigan stars return: McGary and GRIII make Michigan one of the few non-Kentucky teams worth watching next season. (And, yeesh: The NBA Draft this year is awful.)

Have a safe and relaxing weekend.

-- D.S.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

4/17 (Wednesday) Quickie

RIP Pat Summerall, whose voice is the very definition of NFL broadcasting and whose partnership with John Madden offered the vision of NFL broadcasting that I remember most from growing up.

NBA regular-season finale: Lakers. If they beat the Rockets, they could end up 7th in the West. If they lose to the Rockets and the Jazz win, the Lakers are out of the playoffs. A must-follow.

Braves win 10th straight: Sheesh. And Justin Upton: Wow. I know I was touting Bryce Harper as the most must-see player in baseball a few weeks ago (most must-see player in sports, actually), but Upton has eclipsed him in the now.

Marcus Smart returning to Oklahoma State: He was a Top 3 NBA Draft pick in '13 and will instantly be a pre-season All-America for '13-14 and presumptive National Player of the Year. He won't have the breakthrough of Trey Burke, because he doesn't have the same supporting cast or media promotion. But he is the higher-upside NBA talent. Given the insane talent in next year's draft class, you would wonder if Smart will end up being picked lower than he would this year, but he is good enough that he will likely still end up in the Top 5.

Tracy McGrady signed by the Spurs: Amazing on multiple levels -- it's T-Mac (he hasn't been in the league all season); it's the Spurs (who make the savviest moves of any team); could the Spurs get McGrady a ring? How awesome would it be if he made a contribution? They clearly didn't bring him in to sit on the bench. McGrady is a throwback to another era in the NBA; here's to something wild happening with him during the playoffs, where he contributes meaningfully.

Stephen Curry is going to set the NBA record for 3s made in a season: Best pure shooter since...? (Let me take this moment to lament that my Wizards skipped taking Curry so that they could trade the No. 5 overall draft pick for Randy Foye and Mike Miller, which remains one of the biggest trade bilkings of the past decade, in any sport.)

I have not posted the past few days -- since Monday's tragedy in Boston -- and my thoughts have been with the victims, their families and anyone touched by what happened. The Yankees playing "Sweet Caroline" in honor of Boston was a nice

-- D.S.

Monday, April 15, 2013

4/15 (Adam Scott) Quickie

I love being proven wrong. I love changing my mind in the face of superior evidence. I love having my assumptions and presumptions challenged -- I might put up a fight, but I am open to yours.

I blithely throw around the concept that the only golf storyline anyone cares about is Tiger Woods. Well, the mania around 14-year-old Guan Tianlang proved that wrong.

And even after Saturday's insanity around Tiger's drop and subsequent two-stroke penalty, in the end, Tiger fell short and we were all captivated by Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera last night.

Scott's putt on 18 to put him briefly in the lead was incredible. Cabrera's answer was brilliant. The first playoff hole was tense. Following Cabrera's agonizingly close putt on the second playoff hole, Scott's close-out was clutch.

And so Scott had his first major -- more importantly, he exorcised the demons from his implosion at the British Open last year. Even more impressively, he exorcised Australia's legacy of Greg Norman's epic chokery at The Masters in 1996.

And perhaps most impressively of all, he made everyone forget about Tiger and forget that Tiger was supposed to be the be-all-end-all of the sport. He was a reminder that golf can captivate without Tiger.

Today's Morning Win column for USA TODAY Sports is a celebration of Scott's performance and how he left us all cheering nearly as loudly as he cheered for himself on that epic putt on 18.

Because I cannot learn my own lesson, I will maintain that losing Kobe deprives us of the most compelling storyline -- perhaps the only compelling storyline -- of the NBA Playoffs, which are going to be an exercise in "How few games will the Heat lose en route to the 16 wins needed for a repeat championship?" You better be ready to find drama in the middle rounds, as we figure out who will inevitably lose to Miami. That said: For a team like New York or Indiana, making it to the conference finals before losing is entirely a successful season. Does anyone actually give them a chance to beat the Heat? Come on.

-- D.S.