July 25, 2006
Jimmy Connors:
Tennis' old (old) bad boy brought in as the new coach of Andy Roddick, who has so little mojo right now that I'm sure even his new coach could beat him.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Have you heard about the huge White Sox trade that's going to fend off competitors and put Chicago back into the playoffs?


Wait a second. What the … ?!

The huge MacDougal move, of course, is Ken Williams' diversion as he plots this rumored deal with the Nats to get Alfonso Soriano.

In the game of (some)-limit hold 'em of the MLB trade deadline, this is called a "jock block."

What's a "jock block"?

Much like its analogue when you're out with your buddies and you've been hitting on someone and one of your friends swoops in at the last minute to steal the person away, the MLB "jock block" is offense as defense.

They take them so you can't have them.

The White Sox want Soriano so their top rival for the division title, the Tigers, can't get him. They want Sori so their top rival for the wild card, the Yankees, can't get him.

But last night's results added urgency -- and a new twist -- to an already tense lead-up to the trade deadline:

A loss to the Twins puts the White Sox only 2 games ahead of Minnesota for 2nd place in the AL Central (and in pole position for the AL wild card).

The Sox have lost 10 of 13; the Twins have won 32 of 40. The math is merciless:

The Tigers are running away with the division, leaving a 3-team scrum for the wild card among the Sox, Yankees and, suddenly, the Twins.

So, in addition to the Sox needing to trip up Detroit and fend off New York by blocking them from acquiring Soriano, they need to beat back the Twins by boosting their own offense by acquiring Soriano.

(And even if the White Sox can't get Sori, their hope is undoubtedly to drive up his price to weaken the playoff contender that does land him.)

For a defending champ fighting for its playoff life, the last-minute "jock block" might be an uncool move, but, as your buddy would tell you as he walks off with your prospect:

All's fair in hookups, barstool or baseball.

NFL Camping
No camps open today, but there are a bunch of great camp columns worth your time:

Clayton's 1st and 10
Gallo's Camp Questions
Whitlock's Truths

Fortunately for me, all three ignored my now-annual top NFL story line:

That, beyond their own team, most fans now only care about NFL training camp story lines as they relate to their fantasy draft strategy.

Ben Sheets: Activated after 3 months on DL, to start today
Jeff Francis: Rockies SP 2-hits the Cards at Coors. (Wow!)
Dunga: Brazil's '94 WC title team cap is new nat'l coach
Derrek Lee: Back on DL (15-day) with cont'd wrist problems
Robert Gallery: Raiders OT put on "unable to perform" list
Jose Guillen: '06-ending elbow surgery; end of road in D.C.?
USA Hoops Cuts
Coach K and Co. will cut a player or two today, then a few more before the World Championship in mid-August. But I'm ready to name my active roster of 12 right now, based on available players:

Cut! Battier, Hinrich, Morrison, Ridnour, Jamison.

Make the team:
PG: Paul
SG: Wade, Arenas, Johnson
(Def. Specialist: Bowen)
SF: LeBron, Carmelo
PF: Bosh, Howard
C: Brand, Miller, Amare

Unable to play: Kobe, Billups, Pierce, Redd, Redick, Odom, Marion.

CFB Media Daze: ACC
The ACC swiped the Big East's marquee teams, which was supposed to signal the vault of the ACC as a college football power -- and the end of the Big East as a legit BCS league.

Somewhere along the way, the signal was crossed: All of a sudden, the ACC looks like the BCS weak link; meanwhile, the Big East is the conference with the hot title contender (WVA) and legit top-10 team (Louisville).

The ACC has … FSU and Miami.
Again? Yawn.

By the way, want to hear a weird quote from yesterday that sums up why Miami football remains among the sketchiest in college football?

Coach Larry Coker, after two of his players were involved in a shooting incident this past weekend: "I don't really want our players to have firearms."

Hmm … ya think?!

NFL Commish Hunt
There is secretive, and then there is ludicrous:

The NFL revealed that it has narrowed its search for a commissioner to 11, but won't say who the contenders are. Come on: This is the NFL, not the NSA.

It's even more ridiculous, considering that most analysts think it's COO Roger Goodell's job to lose, with perhaps two other internal candidates (at most).

Who might the other 8 be? No one seems to be able to say for sure. Personally, I'd vote for any of the following Quickie favorites:

Mark Cuban, Francisco Liriano, John Clayton, Floyd Landis, Deadspin, Michael Davies, Vince Young and/or Paul Tagliabue.

"Trade-Rod" Cont'd
Brian Cashman has a message for me and everyone else who would like to push the idea that the Yankees should trade A-Rod:

"This is Alex's home. He's not going anywhere. It's just a created topic. That's all it is. It's not something being considered internally here. We are not moving him."

Tell us how you REALLY feel:

"There's a lot of runaway-train stuff. It's not something even being considered. He is not going anywhere, and that's that. I can't make it any clearer than that."

So: How about trying to sneak into the Soriano talks at the 11th hour in an A-Rod-for-Sori redux? Makes sense!

More MLB Notes:

Beckett wins AL-leading 13th: Much like NL wins leader Jason Marquis, Beckett seems to get handy run support to offset a high ERA (4.77).

In Beckett's winning starts, the Sox have averaged 6.8 runs per game; in his losing starts, the Sox have averaged 3.2.

Cool Stat of the Day: The Tigers are the first team since the 1891 Browns to score 5-plus runs in the 1st inning in 3 straight games (via Elias). Those Browns finished in 2nd place, but the Tigers have a season-high 7.5-game division lead.

Bonds Ball Auction
Bonds' 715 HR ball was put up for auction on eBay yesterday, and unless a flood of bids broke the system, as of this morning, there was only one measly bid, for a measly $10,000.

I'm no tchotchke person, but $10K for the ball to take over 2nd place on the all-time home run list seems like a bargain, no matter how much you hate the guy who hit it.

As much as anything, it's yet another data point about fan disinterest in all things Bonds.

Paul O'Neill
British jockey to be investigated after allegedly head-butting his horse. Although this doesn't qualify him for a medal from the ASPCA, he is now eligible for a World Cup MVP trophy.
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie Live
Page 2 Index
NFL Camping
Clayton's Top 5 Camp Story Lines
Daunte, Palmer, Big Ben?
QB Battles
In NYC: Chad or Pat?
RB Battles
Believe in T. Bell?
Rookie Coaches
Leader: Jets' Mangini
Oldie Coaches
Art, Herm, Dick back in

NFL Offseason: Of all the Pats' rookie signings yesterday, the most important will be K (and presumptive Adam V. replacement) Stephen Gostkowski.

NFL Camping: No teams start camping today. Check back tomorrow with a preview of the two teams starting camp tomorrow: the Rams and the Bears.

More Bonds: His lawyer makes a fair argument in wanting an investigation into the leak of Bonds' medical records. It was against the law …

If you're intrigued by the Italian soccer scandal, keep your eye on the news today, because the teams' appeals results are to be announced.

Perhaps joining fellow NFL owner Malcolm Glazer, Browns owner Randy Lerner is reportedly interested in buying EPL team Aston Villa.

I just read that Monopoly is getting rid of the paper money in favor of an electronic card. That just seems totally wrong.

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