December 17, 2004
Kelly Perdew:
His militarism is a little too intense at times, but he steamrolled Jennifer on the "Apprentice 2" finale ... like Randy Johnson will steamroll the AL.
QUICKIE LIVE! 9-10 a.m.

 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
BIGGER.  UNIT.

Depending on how you feel about the Yankees, an imminent acquisition of Randy Johnson would be an Unfortunate Event to make Lemony Snicket wince with pain. (Or maybe just Red Sox fans.)

A tabloid editor's dream:
Big Unit in the Big Apple.

A Bronx cheer to R.S. Nation:
Our Unit is bigger than yours.

Bigger salary, bigger arm, bigger results: Johnson would be the Yankees' answer to Curt Schilling -- every bit as World Series clutch, even more the dominator.

A big, bad man -- a one-Unit wonder -- who can turn the Red Sox reign into a one-year wonder. Check out the top of a new-look New York rotation: Johnson, Pavano, Mussina... (shudder).

"A Series of Unfortunate Events?" Only if you're in the 2005 playoffs trying to avoid a starters' steamroll to a Yankees title.

NFL W15 Subplots
1. "Double Coverage": NFL football returns to Saturdays, including the "Prove It" Game of the Weekend: CAR (6-7) at ATL (10-3). Let's see if the Panthers are worthy of their SRO bandwagon. (8:30, ESPN)

2. Big Ben vs. Eli: No competition, actually. R'berger is capping arguably the best season for a rookie QB in NFL history; Manning is coming off arguably the worst game for a rookie QB in NFL history.

3. HFA Watch: While the AFC home-field race goes down to the wire, the Eagles can clinch NFC HFA with a win over the Cowboys. Then we can start talking about how they'll just choke it away anyway.

4. Peyton Pace: Can set the single-season TD record with 3, but must do it against the formidable Ravens D, featuring Ed Reed, the most exciting defensive player in the NFL. (Sunday, 8:30, ESPN)

5. Gripe about parity if you want, but isn't it better to see .500 teams battling for playoff spots in Week 15 than to slog through four games where neither team has anything to play for? (WAS/SF, HOU/CHI, NO/TB, TEN/OAK).

Hudson to Braves
Theo gets all the hype, but Atlanta's John Schuerholtz has to be among the most talented (and underrated) GMs in baseball. He continues to perennially reinvent a winner with bold moves.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
DePodesta: GM transforms LA Dodgers with NYC imports?
John Smoltz: New Braves starter signs 2-year deal with ATL
Sly Croom: Miss. St. Gator-slayer gets 1-yr ext (thru '08)
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Brian Urlacher: Likely finished for season (hamstring)
Dave Wannstedt to Pitt: Not interested; this ain't ND, guy
Todd Sauerbrun: If Carolina Ls, blame DUI-arrested punter
 
The NL coup of the winter: Trading for A's stud Tim Hudson, giving away good talent, but getting an All-Star (and Georgia kid) in return. No Russ Ortiz? No Jaret Wright? No problem.

And earlier this week, the Braves acquired All-Star closer Dan Kolb, sending John Smoltz back to the starting rotation (with a nice new two-year deal). Like I said: Bold moves.

Quickie Vocab
"Fear Goggles": When a team's prospects look so uncertain that a previously unwanted free-agent toss-away starts looking good.

Use it in a sentence: "Between the Pedro defection, Big Unit to NY(?), Wells signing fizzle, Hudson deal gone South, hyper-competitive market for AJ Burnett and overall rotation uncertainty, the Boston Red Sox's fear goggles make even Derek Lowe look desirable."

Beltre to Mariners
Seattle's Beltre-Sexson combo becomes a Top 3 "1-2 punch" in the AL, right up there with Boston's Ramirez-Ortiz and New York's Rodriguez-Sheffield. Comes with a huge health caveat, however.

BCS Reform
To its credit, the BCS would like polls to start in October and the final coaches' vote to be transparent. The media has push-back for a push-back date (why?!), while the shady coaches don't want anyone to see how big of a fraud their poll is.

Answer: Selection committee? One reported option is that the BCS stick it to both the media and the coaches and adopt a NCAA Tournament-style selection committee to pick the 1-vs-2 match-up.

Two advantages: (1) Undercuts the critics' gripe that the PCs are broken and the human polls are corrupted; (2) everyone is already comfortable with the "committee" system from the NCAA Tourney.

NBA All-Star Voting
If fan voting ended today, Kobe Bryant and Vince Carter would start for their conferences in the NBA All-Star Game. Nice to see that there's zero correlation between p.r. debacles and fan votes.

Vote notes: Shaq leads the East, but, as usual, Yao leads Shaq... Seeing Grant Hill as one of the top two vote-getters for East forward should restore everyone's faith in fan voting.

Ricky on "60 Min."
"It's their problem... It's not my problem anymore." Ricky Williams apparently missed "Charlie Brown Xmas" lesson that there's no time like the holidays for the soothing sounds of reconciliation.

NCAA 1-AA Title Game
Quick! Name the two teams playing in the 1-AA playoffs? (Can't answer it? So you BCS-bashers apparently care enough about the CFB-playoff issue to NOT care who's actually applying it.)

James Madison vs. Montana. And here's some life-of-the-party trivia for you: Both JMU's Duke Dog and UM's Monte are finalists in the Capital One Mascot Challenge. (Sat, 8, ESPN2)

DC City Council:
Asks MLB for extension to Dec. 31 deadline, so DC can find private funding for stadium (decent idea). Too little, too late: Peeved MLB ain't interested.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie Live!
Olney's MLB Grades
NFL 1st & 10
 
More NFL W15 Subplots
SEA (7-6) at NYJ (9-4)
Near-must-win for both
 
BUF (7-6) at CIN (6-7)
Too little too late for Bills?
 
DEN (8-5) at KC (5-8)
Trap game for Broncos' WC hopes
 
JAX (7-6) at GB (8-5)
Not in cold, Jags won't...
 
MIN (7-6) at DET (5-8)
Tice's job in jeopardy?
 

NFL W15 office-pool suggestions: PIT, WAS, CAR, HOU, BUF, SD, MIN, NYJ, PHI, DEN, TB, StL, GB, TEN, IND (SNF), NE (MNF)...

More NFL W15 subplots: SD at CLE (Should be another W for Bolts); StL at ARI (who *doesn't* want to see the Rams lose?)...

$165,000 for Boston's World Series Game 4 lineup card? Seems a wee bit excessive, even for the upper-income tier of Red Sox Nation...

Vegas, Portland and Norfolk are reportedly salivating at the thought of grabbing the Expo-Nats for 2005; 12K stadium-seating? No problem...

Prep QB Greg Paulus named H.S. football player of the year; too bad he's giving up football to play hoops for Duke...

Preseason, who would have guessed that the NBA Game of the Year would be 19-3 Phoenix at 18-4 Seattle (Fri, 10:30, ESPN)...



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