March 1, 2006
Manny Ramirez:
Will he be at Red Sox camp today? On any other team, his antics would get ripped. Even Bonds showed up. But he gets his own rules -- "Manny being Manny."
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
LABOR.  PAINS.

I am rooting for the NFL labor battle between owners and players to continue on its perilous path to implosion.

Because it is impossible to pick a side if you are a fan.

The owners? They make so much money, it's hard to believe they are griping over a percentage point or two.

The players? No fan is ever going to be sympathetic to millionaires, who play 16 games a year, demanding more money.

No, I would like to see the owners and players throw away the most effective infrastructure in sports history, then see what they're left with.

"Capless in 2007" sounds kind of kinky, but it would certainly make for an interesting offseason next year: Would the richest owners simply bribe all of the great players?

Financial parity has been at the heart of the competitive parity that has driven the NFL's growth in popularity over the last decade. Eliminate that and watch the trend reverse itself.

I'm especially excited to see what happens if there's no college draft in 2008. The mock draft industry takes the biggest hit of all.

But if rookies could pick and choose their opportunities, finding the right opportunities rather than being shoe-horned into bad fits, that might actually be better for the game.

(I've always wanted to see a system where every player is a free agent after every season. Fantasy football has already become one of the driving forces in the sport among fans; why not make fantasy a reality?)

And I'd love to see the union decertify, which would almost inevitably lead to a mega-antitrust lawsuit that could very well bring the league to its knees.

In the short term, I encourage all of you to take a look at Len P's must-read about tomorrow's "Bloody Thursday" and the latest on the labor battle.

But "Bloody Thursday" will have nothing on "Bloody 2007, 2008 and Beyond" if the owners and players fail to recognize the real value of the system that made them the most dominant force in sports.

USA Hoops Oops
Ridnour: Yes. Iverson: No. USA Basketball might want to focus on the positives of its 22-player training-camp roster (broken by ESPN's Chris Sheridan), but this is the glaring choice everyone will focus on.

Given the passion that A.I. showed in Athens (rare within the team, and that includes bumbling coach Larry Brown), if he wants to be on the tryout roster, there's no reason to deny him -- certainly not for Luke Ridnour.

The rest of the camp roster is who you'd expect: Kobe, LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Marion, Arenas, Paul, Brand, Howard -- with a bunch of swingmen (Pierce, Anthony, Battier, Jamison, Howard and Johnson, among others) battling for a few remaining spots.

I'm not sure why Adam Morrison and J.J. Redick would get invites beyond their rock-star status as collegians this season (and Redick's relationship with USA's Coach K).

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Tim Hudson: Named Braves Opening Day starter (via Smoltz)
Pete Sampras: Un-retiring to play World Team Tennis. Whee!
Jason McElwain: Autistic hoopster gets Hollywood interest
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
South Florida: Boosters reportedly interested in Huggins
WBC: More dropouts: USA SP CC Sabathia rumored to be out
Manute Bol: Arrested, reported domestic violence dispute
 
It's the "Laettner Rule": The arbitrary decision that the year's best collegian should make the team out of some outdated notion of amateurism. If either Adam or J.J. were mere NBA rookies, not star college seniors, there's no way they'd make the cut.

NFL Combine Wrap
Big winners:
TE Vernon Davis: Next Gates?
WR Chad Jackson: Top 40 time
QB Jay Cutler: Leaps Leinart?

Big losers:
Vince Young: Not-so-Wonderlic
RB Brian Calhoun: Too slow?
Marcus Vick: Bad perception

Championship Week
Big South! 'Rizon! OH Valley! These not-even-mid-major conferences that start their tournaments before March even begins offer the first glimpse at the best kind of Madness:

The potential that one of the bottom-feeder teams could -- in theory -- absolutely spit the bit all season long, but string together four wins in a row and make the NCAA Tournament. Fair? Hardly. Fun? You bet!

So if you're looking for a rooting interest, try Charleston Southern, the 6th seed in the Big South conference, who upended 3rd-seeded Birmingham Southern for the biggest upset of the day.

Cactus League
There's no official opening day for spring training, but before every team takes the field tomorrow, the Rockies and the Cubs play today. Can't you feel the excitement?

(Over-under on the number of bad at-bats Juan Pierre gets before Cubs fans start griping: Two. Over-under on the number of jokes fans will make about Dusty Baker's handling of the pitching: Half-dozen.)

WBC Update
As if the WBC could provide any more fodder for the critics who mock it, ties will be allowed after the 14th inning.

(But that sure beats pitchers throwing their arms out if games go longer than that. Critics surely have to see the wisdom in this, right?)

NBA Draft: Who's No. 1?
NBA Lottery/Draft Generator: This week's NBA-related, productivity-killing toy.

Chad Ford has a must-read about the three contenders for the top spot: Adam Morrison, LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay. Here's enough to get you through a bar-stool debate:

Gay pros: Most potential
Gay cons: Too inconsistent
Intangible: Rocks high socks!

Aldridge pros: Next Bosh
Aldridge cons: Too skinny
Intangible: Great first name!

Morrison pros: Best scorer
Morrison cons: Too slow
Intangible: That 'stache!

Who's No. 1 will depend on which team gets the pick, obviously. If I was starting a team from scratch? Aldridge. Betting on most upside? Gay. Trying to sell jerseys and fill seats? Morrison.

(The other pick on everyone's mind is JJ Redick. Maybe he's the next Ray Allen. Maybe he's the next Trajan Langdon. But when the most popular comparison is Jeff Hornacek, you have to ask whether that's worth a top-10 pick.)

Related: SportsNation has some interesting polling data: (1) Morrison is the top choice as top prospect; (2) 73 percent of fans think Redick should be a lottery pick; (3) two-thirds of fans would rather have the top two picks this year than Greg Oden in 2007. (Crazy fools.)

Bonds is Funny
Take a look at the photo in the center of the Quickie today. Yes, that is Barry Bonds. He's dressed up like Paula Abdul for some sort of Giants hazing routine.

It's so disarming. We have come to expect Barry as dour, even snarling, and contemptuous of everyone around him (at least the media). This shows him as the playful teammate most have said he could be.

Bonds cannot offer this kind of self-deprecation and be the monster critics would have you think he is. I can think of quite a few sports columnists who take themselves so seriously they would neither try this nor find the humor in it. Ignore them.

For once, we can laugh at Barry (with Barry, really), instead of trying to find ways to rip him. If anything, this should earn Barry fans.

(See Big 5 for a list of great cross-dressing moments in sports and sports-related moments in movies.)

Isiah and Larry:
Get dreaded "vote of confidence" from Knicks owner James Dolan: "No one is getting fired. We're in this thing together." The most famous of last words.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Bracketology
Page 2 Index
 
Sports Cross-dressing
Ricky Williams
"Bride" ruined career
 
Dennis Rodman
Ugliest gal ever?
 
Barry Bonds
Makes a pretty Paula
 
Amanda Bynes
"She's the Man" hottie
 
Alpha Betas
Stan Gable and Crew
 

Colts paid to rename stadium "Lucas Oil Stadium." Apparently, "Choke Dome" couldn't generate the right amount of cash.

When new Raptors GM Bryan Colangelo says everyone gets a fresh start, does that include even Rafael Araujo? That's charitable of the new GM.

Washington State's Dick Bennett retires: Will be known less for mediocrity with Cougs than for unlikely run to the Final Four in 2000 with Wisconsin.

Bad news: Villanova won't get Curtis Sumpter in the lineup for the 2006 NCAA Tournament. Good news: They'll have him back all next year.

Bubble Watch: Put Seton Hall back in! Pirates beat Cincy, clinching spot in Big East Tourney. At 8-7, no .500 team in the league should get snub.

Did you catch "Murderball" last night on cable? Up for an Oscar (Best Doc), and it's one of the best sports movies ever made. Must-see, when you can.

Like the funny photo of Barry? Use the "Send" button at the bottom to forward it around to your friends. Let's hit the top of the "Most Sent" list!





SEND PRINT ARCHIVE EMAIL US
Sponsored Links
espn.com