Remember the debacle of that 19-point loss to Puerto Rico in 2004? It was the harbinger of the Athens disaster to come. Rematch tonight (11, ESPN2).
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
Because Oklahoma will plummet from preseason Top 5 rankings (and, in my opinion, out of the Top 25 altogether), let's give them a new Top 5:
Ranking the blame to be passed around for this season-wrecking debacle.
(1) Big Red Sports/Imports. College football summer jobs connected to boosters make construction work on the "Sopranos" look on the level.
To the Norman car dealership reportedly involved, the other OU boosters would like to see you out back.
(Fall car sales < OU wins)
(2) The "depth chart" at QB: Now it reads more like a carnival freak-show lineup:
*January juco transfer
Yeah, good luck with that.
(3) QB Rhett Bomar himself: You, my young friend, are a complete idiot. Adrian Peterson would like to shove his Heisman campaign
(4) Bob Stoops: I don't care how many players the OU coach has to supervise, the starting QB should be on a Lojack. And it's the coach's job to keep the boosters in check, particularly the ones employing said QB.
(5) Sooners fans: Maybe it was the outsized expectations that gave the QB a sense of entitlement that led him to make the decisions he did.
It's time to recalibrate: From an 8-4 "rebuilding" year with national-title aspirations to hoping the team can tread on the bowl-eligible side of .500.
Utley Streak: 34
Would Cards official scorer Mike Smith have changed his late-game call of a fielder's choice to a hit for any player?
Or does it factor in that the at-bat in question was potentially Chase Utley's final at-bat of the game, in the 8th inning, on an oh-fer night, with his hitting streak on the line?
Smith did change the call, and Utley's streak extended to 34 games, putting Utley with a hit-streak group that includes Sisler ('24 Browns), McQuinn ('38 Browns), Dom DiMaggio ('49 Red Sox) and Santiago ('87 Padres).
(You could argue that Utley made it a moot point in the 9th with a second, uncontroversial hit, but the scorer's ruling in the 8th undoubtedly took some pressure off in the 9th.)
By the way, for all you purist cranks out there who think that instant replay in baseball never will happen, did you know that baseball uses it now? (Absolutely: Smith used replays to correct his call.)
More power to him, and it reaffirmed the value of any replay system: To get the call right.
Red Sox Right Ship
Yesterday morning's panic yielded a day of positive developments for Red Sox fans:
Lopez replacing Varitek? If expensive, underused Orioles C Javy Lopez clears waivers today, it looks like he'll be traded to the Red Sox as a replacement for Boston's injured captain. Strong move for the Sox; Lopez would be an upgrade from Mirabelli.
On the field, who needs David Ortiz when you've got Mark Loretta? The All-Star 2B hit a 9th-inning, 2-out, bases-loaded walk-off double. Is a "Little Papi" nickname too condescending?
Meanwhile, the Yankees stayed a step ahead, and Chien-Ming Wang has emerged as the Yankees' ace of '06:
Wang held the Jays to 4 hits in 8 scoreless innings (18 shutout IP in a row), giving him his 5th straight start with a win and his 13th in 2006.
Dodgers Heat Up
2nd straight win over NL wild card-leading Reds (and 5th straight win overall) makes L.A.'s bold trade-deadline moves look prophetic rather than pie-in-the-sky.
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Detroit Tigers: Surpass win total from 2005
on Aug. 2|
Jim O'Brien: Ex-Ohio St. hoops coach wins $2.2M in lawsuit
"Coup de Boule": Zidane tribute song tops French charts
|... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'|
Rockies baseballs: Cirillo claims they're anti-juiced|
Boof Bonser: Liriano sub no 'Cisco (4 IP, 4 R). Oof!
Jeff Weaver: Yes, he still stinks (7 R, 8 H, 3.1 IP)
Suddenly, L.A. is only 3 GB Cincy for the wild-card lead and 3 GB San Diego for the NL West lead. If not for that 1-13 record after the All-Star break, the Dodgers would be a playoff lock. (Kruk disagrees.)
Lurie On T.O.
"I would not do it again," the Eagles owner said of signing T.O.
And, yet, I didn't see him (or any Eagles fans) complaining when T.O. was helping the Eagles break through to reach the Super Bowl 2 years ago.
It was always a devil's bargain, and no Philly fan is going to convince me that they think last season's pain wasn't worth the ride in '05.
T.O. already griping? Read between the lines from T.O. about his relationship with Drew Bledsoe and you can sense the foreshadowing for a problem down the line (perhaps as early as my over/under of Week 2?)
Pennington not Jets starter? Eric Mangini insisted that, contrary to reports, no decision has been made yet on the Jets' QB situation. Not that that is a positive thing for Jets fans.
Brady backtracks on Branch: Perhaps his coach had some off-the-record words for Brady's on-the-record lobbying for the holdout WR. "I think it maybe has got overblown a little bit," Brady lamented.
Cowboys re-sign Roy Williams: No word about what portion of his 5-year, $25.2 million extension will be used to pay league fines for illegal tackles.
Priest Watch: What does it say about the health status of Priest Holmes that the Chiefs traded for vestigial Saints RB Michael Bennett?
More injuries: How much does a knee injury to RT Oliver Ross (out 3-10 weeks) set back the Cards' hopes of a playoff breakthrough?
NBA P'off Fix
The NBA's new playoff-seeding format gets it half-right, but still has a glaring problem.
Sure, it solves the humiliation when two teams from the same division have the top two records in a conference yet are seeded 1st and 4th, as the Spurs and Mavs were this year.
Now, sensibly enough, the team with the best record among division runners-up is seeded based on overall record, as high as 2nd.
But it doesn't go far enough, and all the NBA had to do was look at last year's playoff seedings beyond the top four to see it:
It is equally ludicrous to the Spurs-Mavs scenario that three teams seeded 5th, 6th and 7th (Grizzlies, Clippers, Lakers) had better records than the division champ seeded 3rd (Nuggets).
There's only one solution: Seed all 8 playoff teams by overall record.
"Division champ" is already meaningless; if a division champ has a worse record than its playoff opponent, it cedes home-court advantage.
So why continue with the farce of having a division champ automatically earn a playoff seed in the top four if their overall record doesn't support it?
X Games 12
I'm a little obsessed with the X Games' newest event, rally car racing.
Basically, two dudes get in a car that you could basically drive off of any dealership lot, then go plowing around an outdoor obstacle course.
One guy is the driver (the most notable is X legend Travis Pastrana, making the crossover from high-flying motorcycle freestyling to ground-bound auto pirouettes. Pastrana is the Bo Jackson of X sports.)
The other is the "co-driver," really the navigator. The wildest part is that most of the co-drivers aren't what you'd call athletes. They're more like "Goose" in Top Gun, the ultimate back-seat driver (sitting shotgun).
Given the street-legal cars and the idea of two guys driving together, one making hairpin turns and the other essentially commenting on it, it seems like the event casual extreme sports fans can most relate to.
X Games 12 starts on TV tonight at 9 (ESPN), but my must-see rally car event is Saturday at 3 (ABC), on a specially made short track.
Gamer: NCAA CFB '07
I could tell you that I enjoy EA's "NCAA College Football 2007" for its wildly obsessive attention to detail or realistic graphics or for satisfying my August jones for college football.
Perhaps in other years, but not this year's edition, which includes one small but critical detail:
In the game, the player can "major" in different things, most notably in "ESPN." As part of the major (as first reported to me by Quickie reader Brendan Lowell of Stoneham, Mass.), you take quizzes, and in one particular question (click here if you want to see it), here is what is displayed on the screen:
"What is the name of the feature on ESPN.com's Page 2 that gives a brief run-down of the previous day's events as well as a preview of the current day?"
Choice 1: Daily Quickie
Choice 2: Uni Watch
Choice 3: Fact or Fiction
Choice 4: 30 at 30
The correct response, of course, is Choice 1. And I'm trying to figure out how long the image can stay paused on my TV screen before burning in permanently.
Pistons center arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, assault and assault of a cop. Oh, and Davis got tasered. Meep.
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|Throw Mizzou and TAMU in, too|
Bednarik blasphemes: Asked if he was a Reggie White fan, Chuck said, "Not really.
At the time there was something about him that I just despised." Yikes.|
Floyd Landis fights back: Embattled cyclist hires high-profile lawyer, presumably to prepare a challenge to any new lab results.
It's a good moment for MLB owners when they can cancel their usual quarterly meeting because there are no urgent pieces of business to discuss.
The Sporting News ranked Chicago as 2006's top sports city, followed by Miami, Dallas, Detroit, NYC, Denver, Boston, L.A., Philly, Phoenix
Stanford Business School may have gotten a $105 million donation from Nike's Phil Knight, but it still ain't no HBS. (Uh, at least I *hope* not.)