October 14, 2005
Romo on "60 Minutes":
Apparently, he's going to go on and talk about how he did steroids and HGH. Ooh, stop the presses. Hey, tough guy: How about naming names?
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

"UmpGate" remains THE hot story in sports. Latest is that ump Doug Eddings says he should have been more emphatic in his signals.

Ya think?

But the episode has morphed into a larger battle between baseball purists and progressives over one of the most hot-button topics in the sport:

Replay: For or against?

There has never been a better moment for MLB to finally implement long-overdue instant replay, and baseball can't afford NOT to use it.

Baseball traditionalists need to get over themselves; their hubris as "keepers of the game" is honorable, but misguided.

Isn't the most important thing of all to the integrity of the sport to get the call right?

"But human error is part of the game!" Where to begin debunking this myth? Do purists really want erroneous calls deciding championships?

"But it's too hard to implement!" No it's not. Just lay out very specifically how it's to be used, just like in football or basketball.

(And look at college football, which implemented replay across the country this season, to unbelievable success -- and fairer game play.)

Of course, even with replay, Eddings' call would have been "inconclusive," which under replay rules would default to the original call of E2.

Actually, credit A.J. Pierzynski for taking advantage of no replay, the gaping loophole in baseball's rules that lets wrong calls stand.

Now close that loophole.

Eddings Talks
"The only thing I'm down on myself is I should have sold it either way. I should have either said, 'No catch,' or, if I did have a catch, that he was out. Which I never said: 'He's out.'"

Is that a hedge?

"Sometimes, the things you see and sometimes the things you realize, you question yourself. That's why sometimes you don't do anything. That's why I didn't do anything, because I did see it."

Umm ...hunh?

"I felt, and still do, that the ball bounced."

That's his story, and he's stickin' to it.

Josh Paul, Day 2
Most fans agree (and even Eddings said) that Angels catcher Josh Paul should have simply made no assumptions and tagged out Pierzynski.

But the more I read about Paul, the more he sounds like one of the more thoughtful guys in baseball. He's even working on a book about catching strategy. (OK, maybe THAT'S suddenly going to need a serious edit.)

Unfortunately for Paul, baseball folklore doesn't distinguish between gentlemen and jerks, or the articulate and the boorish, when it comes to game-changing errors in the playoffs.

Jon Garland: ChiSox SP will start for 1st time since 10/1
Chris Burke: NLDS hero gets a triple, 2 RBI in Astros G2 W
Tedy Bruschi: Rumors swirling that he's ready for comeback
"Nancy and Tanya, the Opera": Someone please make it stop
LeBron: Star hospitalized with weird chest-muscle strain
Darko: Arrested for driving with a suspended license
NLCS: Astros Split
Clemens and Pettitte get way more glory, but Roy Oswalt is the postseason rock of Houston's Big Three.

"Split me in St. Louis": Oswalt was dominant (7 IP, 1 ER, 6 K, 5 H) in giving the Astros mo heading back to Houston for 3 games.

Weekend's X-factor? Rocket. With perhaps only one chance to start in the NLCS, Clemens is coming off his epic NLDS relief performance.

NFL Week 6
Questions, questions...

*How much of an impact will Ricky Williams have in his 2005 debut? And will Miami emerge from the weekend as the hottest team in Florida?

*Coming off their huge home win vs. the Bengals, can the Jaguars go on the road to Pittsburgh and take advantage of a gimpy Ben R'berger?

*Will the toughest opening 6-game schedule in NFL history force the Pats into a stumble in Denver?

*Will the Giants shake their annual fall allergy to winning that kicks in after bye weeks?

*Between Vinny Testaverde and Kelly Holcomb, which backup QB will string together a 2-game winning streak?

*Can the Bengals right the ship vs. the Titans? (And can you believe yet that we're talking about "righted ships" and Cincinnati?)

*Is it possible to spin Houston's oh-fer record as an "unprecedented opportunity for growth" as a reason to tune in to Sunday Night FB?

*Will the Vikings book one of those boat tours on the Chicago River while they're in town?

For more, see Big 5.

Vikings: Photos?!
There are ALWAYS pictures. Rumors may spark a scandal, but it's the photos that take it to Scandal.

So the latest report out of Minnesota's suddenly thriving boat-cruise beat is that there were snapshots taken of the Vikings players' (ahem) party.

Someone has a digital camera or disposable that the fine people at the local mall Fo-To-Mart kiosk are going to find interesting.

It's not "if" these shots are going to find their way to widespread "Google Image" searching; it's "when."

USC vs. Notre Dame
I have never rooted for Notre Dame in my life. Never. In fact, I rank them among my most loathed sports franchises.

And yet in this Game of the Year vs. the two-time defending champs, I'd love to see the Irish win. And I think they will.

Why? Two words: Charlie Weis. If there was ever a mind in college football who could use two weeks off to his advantage, it's him.

I don't think college football has ever seen a genius for offense like his, at least in a coach's first year at the college level.

Weis' offense will keep it close; the home-field advantage will kick in. This is the toughest game USC has played since its winning streak began.

More CFB Preview
What a feast at 3:30 p.m. ET:
(Picks in bold)

USC (1) at Notre Dame (9):
'Nuff said.

Penn St (8) at Michigan:
Dream season reaffirmed...
or SRO bandwagon collapses.

Florida (11) at LSU (10):
Loser's SEC title hopes over;
winner gets new momentum.

Colorado (24) at Texas (2):
Toughest league game 'Horns will play all season.

Midnight Madness
9 p.m. Madness, actually. (The NCAA allowed teams to tip off so fans are actually awake for the college hoops festivities.)

What better moment to unveil
my pre-preseason Final Four:
Duke | Nova | Zona | WVA

Doug Eddings:
Instantly infamous home-plate ump from ALCS Game 2 will never live his call down, if the Angels go on to lose the series. Baseball purists hold grudges.
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Second Guessing
NBA Ratings
More NFL W6 Subplots
LT needs more than 18 touches
More exposure for Skins
Baton Rouge HFA for Saints?
Don't expect 35 from Lions O

NFL Week 6 Office-Pool Picks: CHI, NYG, CAR, CIN, KC, NO, PIT, MIA, BAL, BUF, NE, SD, SEA (SNF), IND (MNF) (LW: 8-6, Season: 44-26)

I just read that Angels catcher Josh Paul is writing a book on catching strategy. Insert your own ironic comment here.

Michelle Wie teed off as a pro on Thursday: The key number isn't that she shot a 2-under, but that she is a gazillion dollars richer.

Steve Moore's lawsuit against Todd Bertuzzi was tossed by a Colorado judge on Thursday, who suggested Moore try Canadian courts. Moore should.

See "Q It Up": Settle in for the weekend with John Hollinger's NBA player rankings. They're an absolute must-read for any NBA fan.

Thanks to my Page 2 colleague Mike Philbrick for his outstanding fill-in work Thursday while I was out for religious observance.

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