March 1, 2004
Lord of the Rings:
11 nominations, 11 awards. That kind of top-to-bottom dominance reminds makes the 2004 Yankees' lineup look like the Mets.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
AT.  LARGESSE.

The revamped BCS has a payoff, but no playoff.

Spreading the wealth: Those pesky "mid-major" schools agree to stop griping so publicly in exchange for a fifth BCS bowl game open to any conference and ... wait for it ... increased revenue sharing (naturally).

Of course it's about the money: Especially because there are no guarantees in the proposal that a mid-major school will be among the two at-large teams that get picked for this fifth bowl. Unless required, a bowl's incentive remains to pick big-name teams with hefty fan bases and telegenic appeal.

Standing by my old suggestion: Embrace/market the fifth bowl as the "Cinderella Bowl," pitting a mid-major team against a traditional-conference powerhouse.

(I'm only trying to make lemonade here, because we're no closer to a definitive national champ.)

MLB P.R. Snafu
Textbook p.r. mismanagement by the MLB players union on the steroids story, capped by their reported disinterest in being part of an all-sports "steroids summit" being called by President Bush.

There's always got to be a villain. It should be the steroid-makers, but the union seems to be doing everything it can to assume the role of bad guy. Its lame "CBA!" excuse is too easily spun into a public perception of "they're hiding something."

The union can stonewall, but individual players themselves aren't that stupid: It's too easy for them too position themselves on the friendly side of this.
>br? John Smoltz's public call Sunday for more testing is a warning shot; under his cover, expect more players to sound off soon. (Then the union is really in trouble.)

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Tiger: Match Play W over D. Love, but will major follow?
Bailey/Portis: Broncos have scheduled Thursday press conf.
Seinfeld DVD: After holdout, all 4 stars are participating
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Nets: What bandwagon? Clobbered again by a West team
Maryland: In a bad bubble place, even discounting ACC sked
Blazers: Reportedly losing fans; whew: THERE'S a shocker
 
Payton Gripes
"Fits like a Glove?" Not in L.A. Gary Payton's 16 points last night in a Lakers blowout W over the Nets is just a Band-Aid on a gusher.

If he's frustrated now, how will he feel when the team morphs into the "Playoff Lakers" -- even more dominated by Kobe, Shaq and Phil?

It's GP's own fault: Like he didn't know what he was getting into in L.A. He could have gone to San Antonio for the same short money.

Who's No. 4?
Forget the NCAA Tournament's 64-team bubble; the more intriguing "bubble" is for that fourth No. 1 seed (the other three belonging to Stanford, St. Joe's and Duke).

Burst: Pitt, after a nationally televised home loss to Syracuse on Sunday.

Here's your No. 4: Either Kentucky or Mississippi State, whichever survives the SEC tournament. (See "Big 5" for more contenders.)

St. Joe's Watch
Two-point win over Rhode Island on Saturday sets up a completion of an unbeaten regular season at home on Tuesday night versus hapless St. Bonaventure.

But, 57-55? Just that kind of game to stick in your head when you fill out your NCAA Tournament bracket to justify that St. Joe's won't make it to the Sweet 16.

Coming tomorrow: Ranking St. Joe's against history.

Oscars Review
"Red Carpet" interviewers make the inane Super Bowl Media Day reporters look like Jim Lehrer.

More next-day talking points:
Hottie? Scarlett Johannsen
Hideous? Uma Thurman
Hunh? All that over-tanning

Nets coach
Lawrence Frank:

Old conventional wisdom: He can't be beat! New conventional wisdom: He can't beat the good teams!
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Page 2: Jim Caple's Oscars Quiz
Fantasy MLB: Top 200 players
IN: Top 25 MLB prospects
 
Ranking contenders
for fourth NCAA Tourney
No. 1 seed
Kentucky
5-2 vs. teams in Top 25
 
Mississippi State
No. 4 in RPI projection
 
Providence
Edge Pitt as Big East champ?
 
Wake Forest
9th-best sked strength
 
Gonzaga
Only on sentiment, not facts
 

Kobe case resumes today, with a hearing about introducing the accuser's sexual history into evidence. If this wasn't messy before ...

Terrell Owens blames the NFL and 49ers for his free-agency filing mistake. Sure, if "blame" means "No, wait: That's my own stupidity ..."

The Bills' deal to import QB-of-the-future Drew Henson is no lock; no way Houston lets him slide back in the draft ...

Warren Sapp says he wants to stay in Tampa -- but do the Bucs really want to pay the bucks to keep him? ...

Michigan H.S. Athletic Association wants Chris Webber's school to forfeit his 3 state titles, because C-Webb took money from a booster. They should ...

More Oscars: "Bringing your mom" might be all the rage, but NBA players have been showcasing their moms at the draft for years ...



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