February 15, 2005
Hey, naysayers: Take that No. 3 ranking on Amazon's bestseller list and inject it where the sun don't shine. (I'll find you a stall and everything!) QUICKIE LIVE! 9-10 a.m.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

I thought baseball's steroids issue exposed a disconnect between the media (crisis!) and fans (yawn!), but it pales in comparison to the reaction to the end of the NHL season.

Media requiems are flowing ...

... Almost. As If. Fans. Care!

Here's a headline: "WE DON'T"

Guess what: The NHL's biggest problem isn't a financial impasse with the union, or even long-term solvency; it's irrelevancy with fans -- today, let alone in the future.

Fan cries of "Good riddance!" would actually be an improvement, because that implies fans care enough to mutter.

But the NHL doesn't even get that. It's ignored. A non-factor.

Silence from the rinks? Ha, that's NOTHING, compared to the silence from fans.

When MLB's "Roid Era" is historically deconstructed, a key question -- perhaps THE key question -- will be "What did MLB know, and when did they know it?"

The FBI told MLB 10 years ago that it had a chemistry problem, according to the NY Daily News. We'll be tracking, to see how MLB gets out of this one.

Meanwhile, in sunny Florida, where there's tons of beach to bury our heads ...

Call it the "Anti-NHL": On the other end of the interest spectrum, there's baseball, which is riding an 18-month wave of the most fan interest in a generation.

The first batch of pitchers and catchers report today, for three teams across the spending spectrum:

Yankees: As always, a circus.
This time, around Big Unit.

Reds: Pricey offseason.
Yielded a bolstered rotation.

Nats: D.C. gets MLB-mania!
"Expos in expansion clothing."

Coming Wednesday:
NL: ARI, CHI, "New Mets"

Jeter on Canseco
"I don't think it's a good thing, obviously, because it's bringing a bad light to the game," Jeter said. Thank you, Captain Sanctimony.

As opposed to, say, runaway salary-spending that destroys the competitive balance of baseball for a generation? Hmm: No comment from Derek about that.

I'd argue that payroll disparity is MUCH worse for baseball than steroids, which fans, the league

Savannah St: Finished a staggeringly perfect 0-28 in hoops
Nets: Land ageless PF Uncle Cliffy Robinson from Warriors
Coco: Terrier is the favorite to win B.I.S. at Westminster
Yankees execs Cashman/Levine: Fall guys for Giambi snafu?
MLB roid tests: New policy won't be ready today (3/1, exp.)
Rick Neuheisel: Weeps on stand in lawsuit against NCAA, UW
and teams have managed to live with -- blindly AND willfully -- for a decade.

(A recent SportsNation poll supports that: More than half of fans responding said "competitive balance" was a bigger problem for MLB's future than steroids.)

Vikings' Ownership
Like Angels owner Arte Moreno, will Reggie Fowler, the presumptive new Vikings owner and the NFL's first-ever African-American owner, similarly connect his ownership with his ethnicity?

To expand his team's fan base? To woo free agents? Or to affect other change in the NFL for minorities?

Or will he simply move the team, as some in Minneapolis are speculating. Let's take a page from the Moreno playbook; how about the "Las Vegas Vikings of Minnesota?"

Twins Keep Santana
Johan Santana had two years before free agency, at which point he could have broken the bank -- we're talking richest contract for a pitcher EVER -- with any of the teams in New York or SoCal.

But credit the Twins for stepping up today and giving him big-market value (4 yrs/$40 mil), a show of good faith that should make fans happy -- and keep Minny in division contention through the end of the decade.

College Hoops Watch
The end of the NFL season is the signal to finally take a look at the RPI (the top 25 is for suckers) and start ID'ing Final Four faves and Cinderella gems, affected as recently as last night.

Final Four "Power" Pretender
Kansas (RPI Ranking: No. 1?!)
Combine KU's humiliation at Villanova in January with last night's 2OT loss to Texas Tech, and that top-ranked RPI is a joke.

Final Four "Cindy" Contender
Utah (RPI Ranking: No. 17)
RPI rank matches last night's 17th straight W. PGs might rule March, but watch out for C Andrew Bogut (31/13 Monday), college's best big.

Weis Pep Rally
Charlie Weis' playbook's first page must read: "Win over the students."

The Notre Dame coach spoke with students on Monday, stressing the need for (Quickie fave) expectations management.

As in: "Have some."

Swimsuit Issue
Remember when this mattered? Of course, remember when it was your only outlet for hottie soft-soft-core skin?

Between the lad mags, cable TV and the Internet, it's just not that big of a deal anymore. Frankly, I've seen better on a pop-up ad in the last hour.

"But it's tastefully done!"

Hunh? What's THAT?

NHL Update
Oh, NOW the NHL union wants to accept a salary cap? Too little, too late. WAY too little ...

Jeff Garcia:
Released by Browns. New management team needs to find a QB ("Tim Couch is available" isn't an option!); Garcia needs to realize he's an NFL backup.
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie Live!
Vote: Hottest Female Athlete
Gammons on MLB
More CBB March Cinderellas
S. Illinois (RPI: 14)
Part of UNC-KU-ILL domino
Vermont (15)
Yes, you read RPI right
Pacific (25)
Pat Forde's favorite
Old Dominion (28)
Don't sleep on Colonial
Wichita St. (29)
Give 'em the Shocker!

Correction: Turns out the Yankees DID strike "steroids" from Giambi's contract, after earlier (strenuous) denials by team executives.

Speaking of college hoops, don't ignore big intraconference wins on the road, like Pitt's 68-64 W at Syracuse last night.

WNBA to name PGA exec Donna Orender as new commish. First job: Expand the fan base.

Peter Gammons has today's must read (see Q It Up), and I'll be waiting to hear his reaction to the NY media story about the FBI/MLB "reveal."

NHL might be ignored, but college hockey still has a limited appeal. Boston U. won famed Beanpot last night, 3-2 (OT) over Northeastern.

Voted for Page 2's Hottest Athlete yet? I'll say Nat Gulbis is still the favorite, but how 'bout Biba? (see Q It Up for a H2H).

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