August 10, 2006
Justin Verlander:
Between Francisco Liriano's injury and Jonathan Papelbon's implosion, it's time to move MLB's co-leader for Ws into the lead for AL Rookie of the Year. (He pitches tomorrow.)
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Tom Friend can have the sympathetic angle to the latest twist to the Maurice Clarett story. I don't want it. I can't stomach it.

Of all of the freaky details from his latest arrest …

• Loaded gun under his legs?
• AK-47 sitting shotgun?
• Wearing bulletproof vest?
• Half-empty bottle of vodka?
• Stews in jail until trial?

Here's the scariest:

Clarett has a new daughter.

He told Friend that he's head-over-heels in love with her. As a new dad, I can relate. That detail almost makes him sympathetic. Almost.

(Maybe that's why Clarett's SUV was found with a CD of children's songs recorded by Ohio prison inmates. Whaaa?! Needless to say, you won't find that on iTunes. Let's just say they ain't the Wiggles.)

Clarett's new fatherhood makes this latest episode even worse; it morphs it from mockable for its sensationalized details into virtual child abuse.

If he's so in love with his new infant daughter (he gets so emotional that when he holds her he cries, he told Friend), how can he reconcile that with his latest monumental freak-out in judgment?

You don't need an AK-47 or a bulletproof vest to be a good father.

I'm willing to concede that perhaps Clarett felt he or his new baby were threatened by some as-yet-unproven menace (as relayed via Friend), but -- in his new, responsible role as a parent -- why not go to the cops, instead of fleeing from them?

Nothing in Clarett's sorry existence makes sense, but imploding his life just when he's expected to shepherd a new one is the most senseless of all.

MLB Hit List
Piazza is Pedro's daddy? Hits two HR off Pedro, giving him six in his career. Even got a curtain call from Mets fans after the first (but not the second). Mets fans got the last laugh, though, with a 4-3 win.

Dodgers' streak snapped at 11: They couldn't win them all, could they? The only question: Which Dodgers team is the real one? The one that lost 13 of 14 after the All-Star break, or the streaking winners of 11 of 12?

Reds close to two and a half behind the Cards, thanks to a wild walk-off two-run HR by David Ross in the bottom of the ninth. Tonight's fourth game in the series at Cincy is huge (they play three more in St. Louis next week).

Who else wants the "over" when talking about Francisco Liriano's 15-day trip to the DL?

(There's a karmic payoff for the Twins, however: Despite losing Liriano, they took over the AL wild-card lead with last night's win.)

Speaking of karma boomerangs, last night was Jonathan Papelbon's second blown save in as many chances: Sunday vs. the Rays and last night vs. the Royals, who put together a two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth.

Does Dusty Baker want out? "I have a choice too, you know. Both sides have a choice." Them's fighting words.

Roy Halladay: 14th W ties MLB lead (Schilling, V'lander)
Randy Johnson: Takes no-no into 7th (Yanks d. ChiSox 7-6)
D.C. United: 1-1 draw with Real Madrid in Seattle (66K fans)
Tedy Bruschi: Wrist surgery on Wed; preseason nixed ('06?)
Floyd Womack: Seahawks O-guard hurts hammy
Ohio St. TE Marcel Frost: Suspended for season (team rules)
Parcells Tweaks T.O.?
It's looking like a battle of wills between two of the NFL's biggest divas; Bill Parcells might be trying to show Terrell Owens who's boss.

The coach didn't list T.O. among the players not suiting up for the team's opener, even though T.O. hasn't practiced in more than a week and has brought in his own healing team.

(Owens, meanwhile, worked out lightly yesterday after the starters left the field, and tersely said his hamstring felt "better." Ticked off?)

NFL "Pre" Mania
Colts vs. Rams: The most intriguing subplot is the RBs.

For the Colts, it's a position battle to replace Edge James between vet Dominic Rhodes and rookie stud Joseph Addai.

For the Rams, a new coach means watching Steven Jackson for any foreshadowing he might get more than last year's 17 carries per game.

(Meanwhile, don't look for clues to the status of Dwight Freeney's shoulder; he's one of six Colts D starters who won't play in the game.)

Plus: Browns at Eagles. I'm betting Cleveland QB Charlie Frye plays more series than Donovan McNabb. Oh, just a hunch.

More Goodell
Yesterday, I emphasized the challenges to new NFL commish Roger Goodell. (Namely, the pressure to not screw up a good thing.)

Today, why not be more cheery? Because there are plenty of cool opportunities that will come his way (besides avoiding a strike):

•Celebrate Saints' New Orleans return
• Consummate NFL's L.A. return
• Expand reach into new media
• Get Sunday Ticket on cable
• Make Arena the farm system
• Finally win that FFL title
• Super Bowl, uh, "L"

Fantasy, Cont'd
Perhaps I underplayed yesterday's big story about the court ruling that MLB player names and stats are free for anyone to use:

Considering that fantasy is the new backbone of all major sports, there's a LOT of money to be made -- or, in this case, NOT made.

One report pegged lost revenue for the leagues at $100 million over the next decade. Given the growing popularity of fantasy, I'd say that's low. It's already a $1.5 billion industry of 15 million fans.

(P.S.: MLB, of course, says it is going to appeal the ruling.)

Bomar Speaks
"I'm not a bad kid," the exiled Oklahoma QB Rhett Bomar told the New York Times. "I made a mistake and I have to live with it, but I own up to it."

(Well, technically, he only owned up to it after the team threw him out; presumably, he would have been happy to ignore it and play in '06.)

The most interesting detail? Bomar insisted that the $18K thrown around as his payout was wrong by nearly an order of magnitude.

Fan Banned?
If you were a die-hard fan of your team, what would be worse:

(a) A lifetime ban from seeing them play in person?

Or (b) A little jail time?

As usual, it depends: Is it the pokey for a day or two, or for a month or more? Would it be "Oz" or a "Club Fed?"

From the "ban" p.o.v., what are the chances you would miss a championship season? (In sports fandom, as in prison, "life" is an endless sentence.)

In the end, the risk of becoming Cellblock D's new towel boy would far outweigh never again being able to go to my favorite team's stadium.

(This entire hypothetical is based on the case of the 19-year-old Yankees fan who jumped from the upper deck onto the home-plate netting in 2005. A judge has banned him from Yankee Stadium for life.)

Summer Reading
Football Prospectus 2006: "Football Outsiders" keeps on getting better and better at statistical analysis that makes a fantastic complement to your more traditional season previews.

To their credit, they really boosted their fantasy offerings this season compared to last year's edition. There are the usual conventional wisdom-busting team-by-team analyses plus solid position-by-position player breakdowns.

The gold standard remains their proprietary "DVOA" (Defense-Adjusted Value over Average). I can't really explain it, but they more accurately predict playoff teams than anyone else, so they're doing something right.

Unser Brothers:
Al Sr. and Bobby arrested for not obeying police orders to leave the scene of a car-jacking chase (which ended up outside their property).
Today on
Quickie Live
Page 2 Index
College FB '06
AL Rookie of the Year Ballot (as of 8/10)
Justin Verlander
Ace of MLB's best team
Francisco Liriano
Get better soon, buddy!
Jonathan Papelbon
Pin Sox slide on him?
Kenji Johjima
Anti-"Japan rookie" bias?
Jered Weaver
3 NDs after hot 7-0 start

Paul Lo Duca Vice Watch: His gambling isn't limited to playing the ponies, as he claimed. According to the N.Y. Daily News, he also likes high-stakes poker.

WSOP Final Table: Jamie (Don't Call Me Ari) Gold is the popular chip leader, but Jackpot Jay told me to keep tabs on the skilled Allen Cunningham.

Isiah Thomas filed papers in court that denied the allegations that he sexually harassed a former Knicks employee. (Remember THAT story?)

Good news for sick USC WR Dwayne Jarrett: He won't be suspended for any games for paying subsidized rent while living with Matt Leinart last season.

This Eddie Johnson story is a horrifying one: The latest, Johnson (the one who played from 1977-87, not the more well-known one who is now a TV analyst for the Phoenix Suns) was denied bail after being arrested for sexually assaulting an 8-year-old girl.

When the Hornets see the reception the Saints get back in New Orleans, they'll definitely be more inclined to hold training camp there.

If you haven't been paying attention,'s College Football 2006 Preview coverage has been awesome. See "Q It Up" for a link.

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