August 21, 2006
Tiger Woods:
Post-PGA title, is Tiger the best athlete ever? That's a bold claim, and I'm an Instant Historian. Gene Woj's argument is worth a look. See Q It Up.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

I will not count Boston out.

It is so tempting to proclaim the Red Sox's playoff chances kaput after 4 straight losses to the Yankees. It's an "Instant History" layup. I have to keep reminding mself:

I will not count Boston out.

Before jumping to the lazy conclusion that this weekend's whupping represents the virtual end of the Sox's season, I have to take a deep breath and remember what happened the last time I broke out that "it's over" thing following a Yankees walloping. So:

I will not count Boston out.

But what about the way the Yankees ran Jason Johnson out of the majors? Or the way Josh Beckett had his ugliest start ever? Or the team-record 3 straight games the Red Sox allowed 12 or more runs? Sorry:

I will not count Boston out.

And what about the way the Yankees neutered Papi's usual clutch hitting on Sunday night? Or the way the Red Sox mishandled using closer Papelbon, who in turn blew his Rookie of the Year chances? Yet:

I will not count Boston out.

What about going a season-high 5½ games behind, with a chance today to top the infamous 1978 Boston Massacre by losing five straight to the Yankees in a pennant-race stretch run? Still:

I will not count Boston out.

What about now being as many games behind the division leader as any runner-up in MLB outside of the sorry NL East? (And, adding injury to insult, 4 games behind the AL wild-card leader?) No:

I will not count Boston out.

What about Theo's impromptu press conference before Sunday's game, when he said, "We are not the Yankees" and -- if you read between his lines -- started to manage expectations for a failed, no-playoffs season. Seriously:

I will not count Boston out.

As the Quickie winds down to its final edition next week, you'd think that this would be my best chance (ever) to go for the easy analysis and get in a final dig on Red Sox Nation, a favorite target.

But, among other columnists on, I learned the hard way back in October 2004 that even the seemingly most insurmountable Yankees lead over the Red Sox cannot be dismissed as a done deal until it is a mathematical impossibility.

I will not count Boston out.

Umm ... yet.

Tiger: Yawn
Bo-ring! I can't be the only fan who found Sunday to be Tiger's least enjoyable major win of his career dozen.

After 12 major titles, it's not enough now that he wins; he has to do it with some semblance of Sunday competition.

These wins where it's not even close? It's not fun for the field, it's not fun for fans (at least the ones watching on TV).

And it didn't even look that fun for Tiger. On those last 9 holes on Sunday -- the outcome was never in doubt after those four birdies on the front 9 -- even Tiger looked pained with self-seriousness.

Dude, you're nearly 20 under and the nearest guy isn't within a half-dozen strokes. Lighten up.

Here's the lesson: Dominance isn't much fun without drama.

Tiger: Best Ever
Meanwhile, I've been mulling over Woj's "Best Athlete Ever" argument about Tiger. Give Woj credit: It's a very provocative debate-starter.

Woods is in the discussion, absolutely, but my question is this: Why now? Why not, say, after his British win? Or after passing Nicklaus' 18? It's hard to argue why this win puts him over the top.

However, it is arguable that Tiger isn't even the greatest athlete active today: You could make a very strong argument that Roger Federer, who Woj doesn't even acknowledge, is superior.

See Big 5, right, for more.

NFL Wknd Wrap
Matt Leinart debut? Eh. First drive led Cards 54 yards to end-of-half FG; 2nd half was a dud. Outplayed by former USC backup Matt Cassel.

Super Mario looks better: The '06 draft's overall No. 1 pick, Mario Williams, recorded a tackle for loss, batted down a pass and drew a couple of penalties for the Texans. He's not Julius Peppers just yet, but he's improving.

Roy Halladay: MLB-best 16th W; very quietly, a Cy season?
Alfonso Soriano: Only 3rd ever to have 4 "30/30" seasons
Evander Holyfield: Beats tomato can to win comeback fight
Carson Palmer: Says he's ready; Marvin Lewis won't commit
Tom Glavine: Blood clot in shoulder? (Out rest of season?)
Huston Street: A's closer put on 15-day DL (groin strain)
Fantasy Watch: Texans RB Vernand Morency: 2 TDs, 95 yds (11 car.); maybe it wasn't Wali "Bush Lite" Lundy but Houston's O schemes instead.

Favre bounces back: 16/22 for 134 yards and 2 TDs. It still doesn't look like his "most talented" team ever, but scoring helps.

Chad Johnson denied TD hoe-down: My question: Why did he even bother asking a ref for permission? Hard to be a rebel when your mantra is "may I?"

If the Bears had a semblance of an O, I'd pick them to win the NFC; it's even more impressive they'll make the playoffs without one.

Exhibit A why preseason records don't matter: The Raiders are 3-0. How many think that will translate to the regular season? Anyone?

Today's office argument: You can have the Seahawks and the Colts in Super Bowl XLI or pick any other two teams. Which option do you want?

AL Central: Wild
While the Red Sox tank against the Yankees, the AL Central is hopping:

The Tigers blew a 6-run lead to the Rangers to lose their 9th in 12 games. Compare Detroit's 5½-game lead in the division over Chicago to the Yankees' 5½-game lead over Boston: After a season of dominance, it feels much more tenuous.

The White Sox, meanwhile, had a chance to pull within 4½ games of Detroit, but faced Johan Santana in Minnesota, where (after Sunday's win) he hasn't lost in 20 starts.

The White Sox and Tigers start a huuuge 4-game series today in Detroit, directly followed by 3 vs. Minnesota in Chicago.

The Twins are just a game behind the White Sox for the AL wild card and enjoy a day off today before 3 at Baltimore; they'll move a half-game closer to the wild-card lead or the division lead without doing anything.

(More good news for the Twins: Rookie ace Francisco Liriano could start rehabbish throws as early as tomorrow.)

"MNF": Saints-Cowboys
If it were just the NFL's return to Louisiana within a week of the anniversary of Katrina, it would be enough.

If it were just Reggie Bush's national TV debut, it would be enough.

If it were just Tony Kornheiser's second show after his impressive start, it would be enough.

But roll them all together -- plus the magnetism of Bill Parcells -- and it's enough to more than counterbalance the absence of T.O.

(What a power play by Parcells, to keep T.O. out of a nationally televised game you just know T.O. was dying to play in.)

Marion Jones Scandal
It keeps getting worse:

Tour de France Champ.

"World's Fastest Man."

Now: "Olympic Hero."

The best news about reports of Marion Jones' positive test for cheating? By Sunday, there was zero buzz about the story.

It appears the fans and media have reached a saturation point with our biggest stars' turning out to be cheaters. That's something to cheer.

USA Hoops
Let's see: The U.S. could beat Puerto Rico by 40-some in a warm-up exhibition, but only 11 when it counts (a 30-point differential).

So what's going to happen if they play Lithuania? (The U.S. beat them by only 4 in an exhibition.)

(OK, so clobbering China by 31 was a little more effective. But China ain't a Top 16, elimination-round team. Don't assume gold just yet.)

Weirdest Story
The Weekend's Weirdest Story: Did you hear about the 18-year-old Mets fan arrested for "impersonating a journalist" at Shea?

So what gave him away?
A few guesses:

*Asked nonobvious questions
*Wasn't angling for a TV deal
*Wasn't out of shape enough
*Didn't express any cynicism
*Some combo of all of those

CFB '06 Preview
The Quickie's 2006 college football preview will run all week long.

Today: Top Story Lines

1. Worst BCS mess ever?
I'm picking 4+ 1-loss teams
2. Sept. 9: Ohio St. at Texas
De facto national title game?
3. Notre Dame OD
When will the backlash start?
4. This year's 'Bama/Penn St.?
Clemson (East), AZ St. (West)
5. Fitzgerald at N'western
Youngest D1 coach by 5 years

Coming Tuesday: Heisman!

AP CFB Top 25
I could maybe forgive coaches who vote in their poll for Oklahoma at No. 5; ballots went in before the Rhett Bomar scandal.

So what's the media's excuse? Oklahoma at No. 10?!

To rank a team in the Top 10 that just lost its starting QB -- without even having seen them play -- is the reason preseason polls are a farce.

Ohio St. No. 1? See next item.

Quickie Closure
The final edition (ever) of the Daily Quickie will run on 8/31. Leading up, I'm highlighting some superlatives.

01/03/06: Best Trend-Spotting

Given Ohio State's preseason No. 1 ranking in virtually every major poll, do I get credit for (a) breaking the story or (b) starting the bandwagon by tabbing them 2006 No. 1 the morning after they won the Fiesta Bowl?

"Based on the way they flew past the Irish, QB Troy Smith and WR Ted Ginn will be the best pass-catch combo in college football -- the heirs to Leinart and Bush."

(Why am I so eager to point this one out? You should have seen the number of e-mails ripping me for that OSU-as-1 pick on Jan. 3.)

Only 8 new editions left!
Click here to react.

Jeremy Barfield:
In the most shocking story of the day, Jesse Barfield was put in the hospital after his son allegedly pushed him down a flight of stairs.
Today on
Quickie: Live!
Page 2 Index
Tiger: Best ever?
Best Athletes (Active)
Roger Federer
Deserves Tiger-esque cred
Tiger Woods
Let's call this "1A"
LeBron James
Given his age, skill set
Reggie Bush
Merely off of college work
Michael Phelps
Just set new WR in 200 IM

Jets trade for RB. OK, let's try this again: NY got Kevan Barlow from the 49ers. Pending that pesky physical, of course. Roulette for the Jets.

Speaking of teams with RB needs, is it possible that Stephen Davis could end up with the Eagles? The team is reportedly giving him a tryout.

CFB: Desert drama! Arizona St. has flip-flopped starting QBs, elevating Rudy Carpenter and demoting Sam Keller, who is likely to transfer out.

Bonds coming back? He says he'll put his family first in his decision making, but says 2006 struggles are from injuries he can come back from.

Jerry Rice will sign with the 49ers so he can retire as a member of the team; no word on whether he'll then unretire to join the WR-light Patriots.

Hoops Worlds: Watch out, U.S. jingoists -- Spain and Argentina look awfully good at the World Championship. Spain clocked Dirk's Germany team by 21.

What a thrill to hear that Peter Gammons was at the Red Sox-Yankees game on Saturday, watching from owner John Henry's box.

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