Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and offering opinions. We'll collect the daily highlights and create a running file throughout the week to measure The Pulse of SportsNation on a wide variety of issues. Check this page every day for an update of what the 'Nation is saying.
Friday's Big Questions
1. Should writers be forced to reveal their sources?
2. Should a poor relationship with an owner be enough to fire a manager?
3. Which teams will win the top NFL Week 3 battles?
The 'Nation feels Bonds committed perjury, but won't be charged with it.Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams, co-authors of Game of Shadows, have said all along they would rather go to prison than reveal their sources. It looks like that will happen now.
After Fainaru-Wada and Williams refused to cough up names by testifying, they were sentenced to a maximum of 18 months. SportsNation had mixed feelings about who is culpable in this situation:
I think turn-around is fair play. Send those money grubbing fools to jail. This was all about money, sensationalism, and greed, not journalist rights. They made a target out of Barry Bonds because it would sell, bottom line. The judge was absolutely correct to send them to the maximum term possible.
Eric (Los Angeles)
Only in America!!! This ruling is a disgrace. Only in a world turned upside down can two truth seekers be sentenced to jail while the real crimes are being committed by the cheaters who make millions playing a game and disgracing the fans, the record books and themselves in the process. These men should be commended; not punished.
Jake (New Jersey)
Reporters are not lawyers or priests who legally have the right of confidentiality. Maybe baseball and steroids seem a little silly, but the question becomes where do you draw the line? I am sure no one would be objecting if they were holding back sources on a murder trial. If everybody could be immune to questioning just by calling themselves a reporter where would we be?
I think this verdict is incredibly spiteful. As I see it, it's not the reporters that broke the law, it was the person who violated the sanctity of the grand jury. I support these gentlement 100 percent and applaud their willingness to stand by their principles. If any kind of fund is set up to cover their legal costs and/or expenses while they're in jail, I will be making a donation.
Here are some more of SportsNation's thoughts on the situation:
52% Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams should not give up their sources.
59% We will never find out who leaked the Grand Jury testimony of Bonds and others.
85% Bonds committed perjury when he said he didn't knowingly take steroids.
73% Bonds will never be charged with perjury.
Joe Girardi could be on another bench in '07.The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that there is "zero" chance that Joe Girardi will return to the Marlins bench next season. Girardi is a strong candidate for NL Manager of the Year, but apparently has rubbed too many in the organization the wrong way.
As a Cubs fan, I am glad the Marlins are getting rid of Girardi....bring him to Chicago!
I wouldn't cry over Girardi, he's going to get another job in no time.
If the Fish are dumb enough to let Girardi go, maybe they will trade the Red Sox back Hanley and Sanchez for Beckett and Lowell.
John (Portland, ME)
Is the poor owner/manager relationship in Florida enough to fire Joe Girardi?
SN says Warrick Dunn and the Falcons ruining the Saints' homecoming.After a .500 Week 1, SportsNation bounced back with a respectable 11-5 Week 2 in the Pick 'em. This week appeared to be very difficult on paper for the 'Nation to decide, with the exception of the Ravens over the Browns (94%) and Miami over Tennessee (88%). Here are some of the more surprising results, either in terms of percentage or the selection itself:
82% Chicago will win in Minnesota
82% Panthers will win 0-2 battle in Tampa
74% Atlanta will ruin Saints' homecoming
71% Indianapolis will stop Jacksonville
70% Bengals will drop Pittsburgh to 1-2
63% Seahawks will knock off the Giants
Thursday's Big Questions
1. How did the Yankees and Phillies both improve from their trade?
2. Will Justin Morneau beat out Derek Jeter in the AL MVP vote?
3. Will tabloid reports only help U.S. win back the Ryder Cup?
Could it be? Ryan Howard and the Phillies are sharing the yellow jersey in the Wild Card hunt.The Philadelphia Phillies pulled into a tie with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the Wild Card spot in the National League. This is pretty amazing considering that the team was thought to be giving up on the season when it traded Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle to the Yankees before the trade deadline less than seven weeks ago. Surprisingly, both teams have turned things around since that day, which hasn't been lost on SportsNation.
How about that Abreu trade? Helped get the Yankees AND potentially the Phillies into the playoffs.
Hate to bring all of the MLB fans down but it's going to be a Subway Series again. This time my Mets win in 6!
Yes, it's so impressive that the Yankees keep winning with a payroll that DOUBLES any other team in the league, what a shocker they end up winning their division
Let's give props to those Fightin Phils! Tied for the Wild Card Lead. Wouldn't it be wonderful if they beat the Yankees? Then we'd have the A-Fraud and Abreu curses.
Sledge (Bham, AL)
Keith Law is not buying the Phillies' wild card run, but is giving the Yankees credit for their playoff streak, as he stated in chat today:
They're a decent club playing well at the right time, but I don't like their pitching and they have six games left against the Marlins, who are no pushovers and at least at the moment still have something tangible to play for. And yes, I think Hamels will be an effective 3rd/4th starter...but that doesn't mean I think he'll be one right now.
Is it really that special to win your 9th consecutive division title when you consistently have the largest payroll? Shouldn't it be newsworthy if the Yankees DON'T win it?
Mike (St. Louis)
Keith Law: Plenty of teams have spent big money and not won; the Mets, prior to this year, had run some pretty expensive teams out there and had little to show for it. So I think the Yanks deserve credit for getting reasonable returns on so many of their investments, and for starting to churn some talent out of their farm system (Wang, Cano, Cabrera).
The Justin Morneau MVP campaign is gaining steam with SportsNation.It sure is fun watching the 'Nation waffle over the MVP race on a daily basis.
Justin Morneau's strong week has vaulted him from 20 percent behind Derek Jeter on Monday, to six percent ahead of the Yankee shortstop today in the SportsNation MVP Tracker. There's a good chance the lead will change hands again in the near future, but it will be a lot of fun watching Morneau and Jeter play it out down the stretch.
Who is your AL MVP?
40% Justin Morneau
34% Derek Jeter
11% David Ortiz
8% Frank Thomas
7% Jermaine Dye
Both Rob Neyer and Keith Law addressed the MVP race in chat:
Do you think Jeter is going win the MVP this year?
Kelvin (New York)
Rob Neyer: I do, though according to Jayson Stark, Morneau's making a late push and might even be the frontrunner.
Not to overestimate the importance of OPS - but how can Jeter, who is 16th in the league and 3rd on his own team in OPS, be the MVP?
Derek (NYC) & Lou (Brooklyn)
Rob Neyer: You're ignoring his basestealing and his other running, and you're ignoring the fact that he plays shortstop. Or at least I think you are. I'm not saying he's the clear-cut choice. I'm saying he's the best choice.
Keith Law: Because OPS is not very useful? It underrates OBP, doesn't consider position, and doesn't include defense. To pick one metric that's handy, Jeter is second in the AL in VORP (Value Over Replacement Player – a single measure of offense, taking position into account), behind Hafner (who had a hell of a year, but will miss a lot of PT this month and provides no defensive value).
Much like David Banner, you don't want to make Tiger Woods mad.Earlier this week, Irish magazine The Dubliner characterized the wives of some of the U.S. Ryder Cup players in a headline: "Ryder Cup Filth". That was just the beginning of the many disparaging words the article had to say about the spouses of Chad Campbell, David Toms, Jim Furyk and most notably, Tiger Woods. SportsNation isn't sure whether this will new form of motivation will help or hurt the U.S. team:
It doesn't matter what they say to Tiger...Europe will win the Ryder Cup like they always do...has anyone seen our roster?
Shaun (Madison, WI)
Never anger a man of Tiger's means and power and ferocity.
Tiger will win every match in a blowout, but the U.S. will still lose.
ESPN.com golf editor Jason Sobel stopped by chat and offered his insight on how things will play out at the K Club.
If my memory serves me right a fired up Tiger is not a fun Tiger to face, should the European squad be a little worried?
Brian (Madison, WI)
Jason Sobel: That is true, history says Tiger plays better when he's angry. But this isn't like Stephen Ames making comments about TW, then having to play against him. He is only mad at the Dubliner magazine, not any of the European players, so I'm not so sure it will translate on the course.
Jason, which player from the U.S team do you see coming up big as a sleeper pick to do well in both foursomes and singles on Sunday?
Chris (Buffalo, NY)
Jason Sobel: I've been struggling with this one for the last few weeks, but I think I'm sold on J.J. Henry. He's a bit older than some of the other rookies and has more experience. I don't think he'll feel as much pressure as some of the others.
And your prediction is?
JP (Lawrence, KS)
Jason Sobel: I'm taking the United States. Love the fact that they have the Woods/Furyk and Mickelson/DiMarco teams, the course will play to their strengths, the rookies will step up and this is finally the year Tiger puts up 4-5 points.
Wednesday's Big Question
How far did the Steelers fall in the power rankings?
Ben Roethlisberger hopes for a better effort Sunday against Cincinnati.Maybe Ben Roethlisberger came back too soon. Maybe he and the Steelers just ran into a wall called the Jacksonville defense.
What is clear, though, is that the Steelers need Big Ben if they're going to repeat as Super Bowl champions. And after being shut out on Monday Night Football in Jacksonville, SportsNation dropped them nine spots in the NFL Power Rankings. In fact, Jacksonville was the only team new to the top 10 this week, jumping from 11th to 6th with the impressive victory. There was only one other notable jump in the rankings - Chicago leapfrogged Baltimore and Seattle, moving from 6th to 3rd. Philadelphia, which was 9th after Week 1, was the only team to fall out of the top 10 after their fourth-quarter (and overtime) meltdown against the Giants.
SportsNation's NFL Top 10
1. Indianapolis Colts
2. Cincinnati Bengals
3. Chicago Bears
4. Seattle Seahawks
5. Baltimore Ravens
6. Jacksonville Jaguars
7. San Diego Chargers
8. Atlanta Falcons
9. New England Patriots
10. Pittsburgh Steelers
Chris Mortensen offered his thoughts on many of the top teams in the 'Nation's top 10 - and the Panthers, who were one of the preseason favorites - and predicted a couple of Sunday's biggest games in chat this morning:
Hey Mort, do you think anyone can stop Chicago if Grossman plays this well all year?
Chris Mortensen: Well, you know it's not going to be this easy all year. They have played the Packers and Lions. But if they can run the ball, he will be very effective. I didn't buy into the preseason criticism. We had to see more. That still may be true. Please note that even the elite QBs in this league have about four stinkers per year. But, as you know, that defense can make up for some of those games.
Hey Mort, I keep on reading how the San Diego Chargers have been impressive and are SB contenders, when they have played the Raiders and Titans, and that the Baltimore Ravens, who have played the Raiders and Bucs, are not there yet. What are your thoughts? Thanks.
Jay (Burke, VA)
Chris Mortensen: It's early. I thought the Ravens would be a playoff team and the Chargers would be right there, too. The only question I had about the Chargers was whether they would lose some games early in the year because of Philip Rivers' inexperience. They had two easy games. Now they have a bye, then comes the Ravens and Steelers - real tests.
When Steve Smith finally comes back, will he have the same speed and explosiveness? I have trouble believing that he will feel no ill-effects after hurting both hammies.
Chris Mortensen: I know that some of our former NFL guys, like Michael Irvin, think it could be an issue all season. I heard he was getting a second opinion this week.
Mort...who do you like in Seattle this weekend, Giants or Seahawks?
Cayne (Federal Way, WA)
Chris Mortensen: I think I like the Giants. Seattle's offense is sputtering the first two weeks and I'm not sure Deion Branch can jump-start it that quickly.
Mortimer...what are your thoughts on the Bengals-Steelers game? Is the Braham injury critical? Will Big Ben (and Co.) score points?
Chris Mortensen: Yeah, this is a great game. The Bengals are very beat up and losing Rich Braham (their center) hurts. It's amazing how many teams struggle when they lose their center. But, the key probably is Big Ben. He has to be sharper and Willie Parker has to run big again. I probably would give an edge to the Steelers for this one but it's a close call.
Mort - You still like the Bengals representing the AFC in the Super Bowl?
Chris Mortensen: I'd stick with that prediction, yes. But I always preface those picks with, "Of the really good teams in this league, tell me which one will be the healthiest?"
Tuesday's Big Questions
1. Does Oklahoma need to get over their bad breaks in Eugene?
2. How good are the Jaguars?
Bob Stoops had reason to differ with the officiating crew on Saturday.The anger from Saturday's poor officiating in the Oklahoma-Oregon game is still strong. So strong that there have been death threats and a letter from Oklahoma's president stating he wanted the crew suspended for the whole season and the game taken off the books. The Pac-10 did hand down a one-game suspension for the crew. SportsNation and Ivan Maisel sounded off on Tuesday:
The Sooners need to stop whining; Stoops better start worrying about Texas in a few weeks.
Justin (Kansas City)
The blown call in the Oregon/OU game has HUGE repercussions on the Sooners' season, recruiting, bowl games, Peterson's Heisman, and much more. If it were "just a game" I would understand, but it is clearly much more than that. The game was over until they handed opportunity after opportunity to Oregon. An apology and one-game suspension is a joke. How do you feel this should be handled? Does the NCAA have a responsibility to step in and correct the error?
Paul (Irvine, CA)
Ivan Maisel: OK, everybody with the pitchforks, line up behind Paul. The officials have been publicly reprimanded, humiliated, suspended and the replay official has received death threats from some very classy OU fans (Actually, most OU fans ARE classy). What else do you want? The NCAA doesn't handle officiating other than to make the rules. The conferences have their own crews.
Hi Ivan! Like all Sooner fans, I've been reading all the articles about the game last Saturday. It was nice to see even Oregon fans acknowledge what happened. The way I understand instant replay is that there's one guy and an assistant reviewing the play. Is this right? If it is, I think there needs to be 3 or 4 people reviewing and the majority rules on the call. Something needs to be changed because OU took one on the chin last year against Texas Tech because the replay didn't have the proper camera angle for the "so-called" winning touchdown. Your thoughts?
Ivan Maisel: Just what college football needs: another poll. Look, I understand OU fans are upset after two losses on bad calls in so short a time period. But no matter how many cameras you have, at the end of the day, a human being has to make the call. This Pac-10 guy laid an egg. Last year, it was a Big 12 guy. There's no conspiracies, and I don't know what the remedy is. But more guys huddling around the TV set is not it.
Ivan...the refs pulled the heart of the OU players with those calls. You're asking an awful lot of those players to get back up quickly...when the ref goes ahead and gives Oregon another call on that pass interference. They were stripped of their desire!
Ivan Maisel: The players have to suck it up. Bear Bryant used to give his players a great speech about how, 20 years down the road, when they've lost their job and their wife has left with the drummer, what were they going to do? Give up? You're going to get bad calls. If you stop to feel sorry for yourself, nobody will care. That especially goes for the University of Oklahoma president. What did he think that letter would accomplish, other than to throw raw meat to his constituents? He did not distinguish himself with that letter, and that's as nicely as I can put it.
How should the BCS handle the Oklahoma-Oregon game?
58% Count it
42% Disregard it
Byron Leftwich couldn't get the Jags into the end zone, but the offense controlled the ball on MNF.The Jacksonville Jaguars made the league take notice on Monday night, if they weren't already doing so. The Jags' defense dominated the defending Super Bowl champion Steelers in Ben Roethlisberger's return to action following an appendectomy two weeks prior. SportsNation and Matt Williamson discussed whether or not Roethlisberger should have played and how good the Jaguars really are:
I think there is no question Batch should have started last night.
Ben needed to play if they wanted to win, Batch would have been done by halftime
What are your thoughts on the game last night, and do you expect a similar carry over when my team plays Cincinnati this weekend? Should I have rested Big Ben another week?
B. Cowher (Pittsburgh)
Matt Williamson: Hard to say if Ben should have played or not. He didn't look bad, but also didn't have his usual timing or magic. What has to worry the Steelers' O is the lack of a running game and the WRs aren't making plays. The Steelers have faced two defenses that are very strong up the middle, which was brutal on Parker. All will be forgotten if Pittsburgh pulls out a win at home against the Bengals, who are really beat up.
Now Jags fans are saying they will kill the Colts because they beat the world champs last night! Do they realize the Colts will not run on 1st and 2nd down all game? Colts win by 10.
Brian (Richmond, VA)
I like a hard hitting defensive battle. It is like a pitchers duel in baseball...we do not see them enough.
I think it was more of the Jags defense playing really well as opposed to the Steelers stinking (aside from that last INT by Big Ben).
Is Big Ben secretly on the cover of Madden if you peel off Alexander? That guy crashes his bike, has his appendix blow up, and then gets really sick. What's next?
I think the Jags are the real deal. Defensively, they are solid and Leftwich is a solid QB. They will be trouble this year.
Mark (Portland, CT)
Monday's Big Questions
1. Which teams made the biggest noise on Separation Saturday?
2. Which teams are in the deepest holes after NFL Week 2?
Chad Henne and Michigan torched Notre Dame's secondary.Separation Saturday lived up to its billing, as some teams made huge statements with big victories, while others didn't reaction so well to the pressure. SportsNation did a fine job by going 5-2 in the seven games in which ranked teams faced each other, missing only Michigan's upset of Notre Dame and TCU's great defensive performance in stopping Texas Tech:
Remember our whole karma debate about Notre Dame? Apparently, Karma was wearing maize and blue this weekend.
OK, someone answer me this AP poll question. Clemson beats FSU and is ranked behind them with the same record, BC beat Clemson with a better record and is ranked behind both, make sense to anyone else?
The best was watching the Oregon-OU game on Sunday morning replay, and going, 'I know Oregon wins, but how?' Unbelievable....
Goodbye Brady Quinn. You won't see me in NY.
Heisman Trophy (Columbus)
I keep trying to kill Louisville's season and they just won't die.
The Grim Reaper (Lexington, KY)
Here is how SportsNation's Top 10 looks after the many significant games over the weekend:
1. Ohio State
5. West Virginia
NOTE: Notre Dame fell to 13th, right behind Oregon.
Eli Manning led a huge comeback on the road against the Eagles.NFL Week 2 was full fantasy fireworks. Eight quarterbacks with 300-yard passing days and 14 players eclipsing 100 yards receiving. The biggest win of the day came in Philly, where the Giants came back from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Eagles in overtime. SportsNation always has plenty to say on the NFL and Monday was no different:
Fins definitely looking like the team that will unseat the Pats. LOL!!!
Eli won that game for the Giants with no protection and no running game. I'm not annointing him anything yet, but that was a great game.
Did I really hear Sterling Sharpe call Alex Smith, Frank Gore and Antonio Bryant the "Big Three" last night?
I keep waiting for Joe Gibbs to pull off his mask and reveal that it's really Art Shell, Jr coaching that team.
Sarge (Overland Park, KS)
Can we have a moment of silence for the Detroit Lions' season? It only lasted two weeks. Usually it's 4.
Tom (Ann Arbor)
SportsNation also weighed in on when we can expect some things to happen for the first time in the 2006 NFL season:
77% Lions won't score 40 points in a game this season
54% Reggie Bush will score his first NFL touchdown this week vs. Atlanta
52% Texans won't win until Week 8 or later
44% Tennessee should start Vince Young at QB this week at Miami
43% Falcons will rush for at least 200 yards in their first four games