December 1, 2005
Commander-in-Chief Trophy:
Originally believed to have been stolen a few days ago, the armed services' trophy was found in the storage room of a Navy dorm. (Oh, those crazy pranksters!)
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Two inter-connected dynamics are swirling in baseball right now.

The first is financial: In re-signing with their original teams, Paul Konerko and Brian Giles spurned the deep-pocket, mega-payroll talent-gobblers that contributed to the decade-long erosion of baseball's top-to-bottom fairness. Is this the start of a new trend? (See items 2 and 3 for more.)

The second is competitive: In spurning the Angels, Konerko forces them to move aggressively on their other plan to acquire a slugger to bat next to Vlad: Manny Ramirez.

How big is this? If you thought Manny made Ortiz more effective, wait until you see what he could do with an even better hitter in Vlad. On the other side, it forces the Red Sox into a defensive position to protect the heart of their order.

Maybe that involves getting solid hitting prospects from the Angels... or maybe they make a bolder move, as reported today by the New York Post:

Trading Manny to the Phillies for unhappy All-Star Bobby Abreu, which would instantly become the blockbuster deal of the offseason.

Abreu would provide more protection for Ortiz than any trade bait from the Angels; it would also keep Manny out of the Angels' lineup. Do the Red Sox really want to put him on a team that is a prime playoff rival?

All this because the midbudget White Sox were willing to pay up for their star -- and their star was willing to sacrifice playing in his hometown (on an arguably better team) in a comparable display of loyalty.

Konerko Stays Put
Did Jerry Reinsdorf not get the memo? Baseball owners are supposed to invest money in their team to attain a championship, not defend one.

Aren't champs supposed to, like, break apart under the weight of success? (Wait, maybe that's just the Marlins.)

But the White Sox rewarded their October hero with a mammoth 5-year, $60 million deal. Combined with the money they owe Konerko bat buddy Jim Thome, that would be two expensive eggs in one small basket.

Giles Stays, Too
It's refreshing to see MLB's financially average teams keep their most valuable free agents, rather than let the open-wallet, big-budget clubs gobble them up. But Konerko isn't the only example.

Despite having the median payroll in baseball, the Padres retained their 2005 MVP, Brian Giles, with a 3-year, $30 million offer. ($10 million per year average is nearly one-sixth of their 2005 payroll.)

The same kind of patience Giles displayed in drawing an MLB-best 119 walks (.423 OBP) paid off with a fair deal from a rising contender in the National League smart enough to keep their catalyst.

Duke Tops Indiana
I'm still not sold on Duke as the No. 1 team in the country right now. They're up there, but No. 1? I don't think so.

Marco Killingsworth: Breakout game (34/10) in loss to Duke
Suns: Beat Pacers to win 4th in row; Nash nets '05-high 31
Matt Leinart: Wins Unitas Award as CFB's top senior QB
Randolph Morris: Kentucky C ineligible (contact w/ agent)
University High: NCAA urges feds to look into sketchy HS
George Karl: Suspended 2 games by NBA for criticizing refs
For the third straight game, they barely held on to beat what have been, on paper, inferior teams. Again, shouldn't the No. 1 team in the country win like one?

Their depth continues to be an issue: Against a talented big man, like Indiana's Marco Killingsworth (34 pts, 15-20 FG), their vaunted frontcourt of Sheldon Williams and Josh McRoberts wasn't just abused, they were saddled with foul trouble that exposed Duke as a six-player team, especially without injured guard DeMarcus Nelson.

Lucky for fans, there's only one more top-25 poll that will come out with Duke as a sketchy No. 1 before they play No. 2 Texas a week from Saturday. Then the "Who's No. 1?" debate will be settled.

Chad Johnson Watch
As the NFL's reigning most creative TD celebrant (if not the most creative of all time), when Chad Johnson says he's got his best TD celebration ever planned for this weekend in Pittsburgh, it's the must-see action of the weekend.

His celebrations have become so anticipated, he's even dropping hints:

"The first time we played them, we all know we lost. We had some mistakes that we made early in the game. As far as I'm concerned, we have some things to iron out. The key word is: iron out. Everybody remember the key word: iron."

What could he have planned? Will he strip off his jersey and use the football to iron it? Will he have an ironing board tucked away behind the goalposts? Will he grab recently pressed shirts from a coconspirator in the stands? Tracking . . .

Bonds: USA! USA!
Am I the only one who thinks that Barry Bonds playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic is the most intriguing development of the baseball offseason?

Here's the genius of his strategy: The WBC will have Olympics-level drug testing; presuming Barry passes that (and why would he agree to play if he thought he would fail?), it'll be his strongest case yet that he's clean.

And he's playing "J-I-N-G-O." It's going to be very hard for his many critics to rip him for being a patriot and playing for his country's pride. There's going to be a "Support Our Players!" angle to all this.

BoSox Suing for Ball
When Doug Mientkiewicz agreed to let the Red Sox display the final-out ball from the 2004 World Series last winter, who else was sure he'd never see it again?

With the deadline looming to return the ball to him, naturally the team is suing to keep the ball, using the same logic they applied last winter when they tried to pry it from him: It's not his ball, just because he caught it.

It's a bit skeevy to litigate now, but it was skeevy for Doug to claim the ball was his in the first place. And he was the one who agreed to the deal that opened the door for this suit.

He'll get no sympathy from Red Sox Nation -- and very likely the same treatment from a judge.

Garcia to Start
Is anyone else astounded that a team as bad (and insignificant) as the Lions is getting so much attention this week?

First, Steve Mariucci is axed. (Meanwhile, everyone continues to wonder how team honcho Matt Millen has kept his job.)
National interest level: 5/10

Then, Dre Bly rips QB Joey Harrington in the media. (He apologized for that yesterday; if only Bly backtracked on receivers as deftly.)
National interest level: 7/10

Now, interim coach Dick Jauron has named Jeff Garcia the starter, benching Harrington and perhaps effectively ending his career in Detroit.
National interest level: 2/10

Average interest level: 4.6. Not bad for a team otherwise off the radar as one of the NFL's biggest duds of 2005.

Quickie Book Club
"Catch": Will Leitch has written the definitive sports fan coming-of-age novel. (Okay, there's an older woman plotline, too.) And it's out in paperback, which is a little easier on the wallet than my usual Book Club picks.

Paul Bryan:
Assistant football coach at San Pedro (Calif.) H.S. suspended from the team for a year after being caught on video moving a first-down marker. Not enough!
Today on
Quickie: Live!
Page 2 Index
P2 Hoops Tourney
Top CFB Senior QBs
Matt Leinart
NFL won't be as easy.
Jay Cutler
Better pro than Leinart?
Brett Basanez
Led N'western to a bowl
Brodie Croyle
Payoff for long career
Kellen Clemens
Ends with an injury

Bruins trade their best player and "C," Joe Thornton, to the Sharks (losers of 10 straight) for three players. Didn't Joe just sign a 3Y/$20M deal?

More MLB Hot Stove: As expected, RP Kyle Farnsworth is set to sign with the Yankees to become Mariano Rivera's new set-up guy.

NBA Insider stat guru John Hollinger agreed with my pick of an early-season MVP candidate from the Clippers. But I took Cassell, he likes Brand.

I'm still having a hard time getting my mind around the fact that the Cavs beating the Clippers is considered a huge win.

While Jeter toadies gasp at the thought of him playing center field, desperate free-agent Nomar says he'd switch positions to help a team.

You too can buy Kobe's tights to wear under shorts. First one to sport these at your weekly Y game gets a beat-down. (via Deadspin via YAY!Sports)

Don't forget to vote in Page 2's Great Hoops Tourney, down to a final matchup between UCLA and UNC. How can you not pick the Bruins? See Q It Up.

Sponsored Links