March 16, 2005
Oakland:
Even though it doesn't affect your bracket, admit it: You picked Bama A&M, so your bracket unofficially tips off 0-1. (Bad sign.) Congrats, Golden Grizz.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
ROID.  POLL.

79 percent of MLB players say steroids contributed to baseball's record performances, according to a new USA Today survey.

Inside the key numbers:

How good is testing?
69 percent: Fine as is now
24 percent: Not strict enough

My conclusion: Don't let the players control testing reforms.

How many players use?
80 percent: Less than half
12 percent: Half or more

My conclusion: 80 percent of players should be ashamed.

Should records have asterisk?
26 percent: Yes asterisk!
62 percent: No asterisk.

My conclusion: Well, we know 26 percent who didn't use!

How about amphetamine use?
35 percent: Half or more(!)
53 percent: Less than half.

My conclusion: There's baseball's real epidemic.

Giambi Excused
The template has been set: If a player wants out of testifying before Congress, all he has to do is be a star witness for Justice Department investigations into steroid distribution.

Too bad he won't be there: He's a rare exhibit of an MLB player whose performance was obviously helped by steroids and admitted it (albeit not to fans or the media).

Thomas to testify: Talk about playing hurt! The Big Hurt will travel from Arizona to D.C. to testify Thursday, according to his trainer.

Chaney Done?
Temple ousted in NIT first-round, and coach John Chaney's career might be done, too.

It's not like he's going to have much say: School administrators will review his performance and dictate to him what his fate will be.

(Oh, who am I kidding? The Goon Thing is probably going to cost him his job. I'd be surprised if he was back next year.)

And yet, Gary Barnett is still working....

NASCAR Cheating
Some good ol' boys didn't get the memo: NASCAR's era of moonshine-guzzlin', yee-ha-whoopin' and stock-car-cheatin' is long-gone.

Integrity of the sport -- particularly at the Major Sport level (NFL, MLB, NBA, NCAA) -- is the most important part of a league's brand.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Heat: First team to earn p'off spot, on Wade buzzer-beater
Bengals running game: Agree to 5-year deal with RB Rudi J.
AI: Good news: 36 in Sixers W; Bad news: Chips thumb bone
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Notre Dame: Hard to gripe about Dance when you lose in NIT
Pittsburgh: Hoops team stuck in S. Dakota in travel snafu
BALCO case: Delayed while trainer works out plea deal?
 
Tuesday's suspensions of three crew chiefs for cheating probably didn't go far enough. NASCAR is the least transparent of any major sport.

"Cheating scandal" is enough to stop a sports' progress in its tracks, driving away sponsors and new fans alike. Just ask baseball.

XLIV in NYC!
You won't find a bigger "if" than the NFL's expected offer to have New York City host Super Bowl XLIV in 2010...

IF the city has its stadium. (Wait: The NFL isn't interested in playing in the Meadowlands in February? But why not?)

Mexico City Cards
Why did the NFL pick the Arizona Cardinals to play in the league's first-ever non-U.S. regular-season game, in Mexico City?

Conspiracy theories abound:
Cards need fans that badly.
Fun, young, exciting team!
Position as "Mexico's Team!"

Page 2 Invt'l
My real Final Four?

Topeka 2-seed Anna Benson
Racine 1-seed "Housewives"
Stockton 3-seed D.C. Nats
Rockford 10-seed Ron Artest

I'm all Danced out, so I turned my attention to the 4th Annual Page 2 Invitational Tournament, picking through a bracket of the year's biggest names and stories.

See Q It Up to vote, and decide between 8/9 Cream vs. Clear; 7/10 Trump vs. Martha; and the always-dangerous 5/12 Paris Hilton vs. 411. And so many, many others.

For the record: I've got Anna B. over "Cinde-Ron" Artest in my championship.

Quickie Challenge!
The hottest office pool in the country is the first-ever Daily/Morning Quickie Tournament Challenge group, and you're invited to join!

Only one day left to enter!

Group: Daily Quickie Readers
Password to join: None needed

(Already in another group? No worries! Use the "Create Another Entry" function; you get to play in up to five leagues!)

See Q It Up for a link, enter, then join me in the Morning Quickie every weekday from 9-10 a.m. ET on SportsNation to discuss/mock/gripe.

(And don't forget to get your complete NCAA rundown in the Tourney Quickie.)

Tourney-team academics:
42 of NCAA Tourney teams graduated less than half their players from 1994 to 1997. LSU didn't graduate anyone in that span. Old data, but damning.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Page 2 Invt'l
All-Name Team
Tourney Challenge
 
NCAA Tourney
"All-Name"
First Team
Leemire Goldwire
Charlotte Fr G (6.1 ppg)
 
Winsome Frazier
Miss. St Sr G (12.2 ppg)
 
Jahsha Bluntt
Del. St So G (13.8 ppg)
 
Pops Mensa-Bonsu
GW Jr F (12.6 ppg)
 
Kevin Pittsnogle
See Q It Up for more!
 

Kudos to the NFL, which is going to ban blind-side plays on "unsuspecting" players, like Sapp's hit on Clifton a few years ago.

Bonds reports he'll be at full strength in 3 to 4 weeks.

Jermaine O'Neal's shoulder may keep him out for the rest of the season, which would sink any remaining chances the Pacers had.

Shaq was playing agent for Phil Jackson last night, setting his market value at $15 million (with a GM role) and $20 mil if it's with the Lakers.

Tedy Bruschi is reportedly back in the hospital, where docs are looking at heart troubles. Wishing him a full recovery.

Looking for the best names in the Tournament? Or maybe scouting future baby names? See Q It Up for a link to my "All-Name" Teams.



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