April 14, 2006
Larry Brown:
It only SEEMS like coaching the Knicks finally drove Brown to the hospital. He reportedly left the Cavs arena for medical attention for acid reflux.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
DODGE.  BALL.

It could be a big weekend for Bonds-haters, potentially the biggest of the young season.

Start with the report on CNN that a federal grand jury is investigating whether Bonds committed perjury in his 2003 BALCO testimony.

Then there's this weekend: The treatment he gets tonight in the opener of a weekend series in L.A. might be the nastiest he gets all year.

There might not be a single group of baseball fans that loathes Barry more than Dodgers fans, who have been cursing Bonds since the mid-90s, booing when the rest of us were still "oohing."

There's a reason for their frustration, particularly recently:

In Bonds' last three seasons in Dodger Stadium (2002-04), he's hit 9 HR in 56 AB. That led to an "Anyone But Bonds" strategy:

The Dodgers walked him 47 times in those three seasons, including 21 walks in 2004, more than twice as many BBs than he had at-bats. And they walked him 17 times in SF; in 26 AB there, he still managed to clock 6 HR.

(It wasn't entirely unsuccessful: LA went 5-4 at home against SF that season, 5-5 in SF.)

So if 2004 was Bonds' last experience at Dodger Stadium, how will the fans handle him, given the history, the recent hoo-hah -- and his .188 start to this season, including the longest HR drought he's had to start a season since '98?

(It'll be almost as fascinating to see how the Dodgers' pitchers handle him. Bonds has already drawn 7 walks in 5 games this season. Maybe new LA GM Ned Colletti, formerly of the Giants, has a new strategy?)

But as with every other stop on the Giants' road schedule, the focus is on the fans and their reception for Bonds.

Folks in L.A. always have been about the big opening weekend. As L.A.'s "Daily Variety" might say: Bonds-bashers should have high hopes for boffo booing.

NBA East Watch
With four games to play, there are six teams jockeying for the 5th through 8th seeds in the East:

5. Washington 39-39 --
6. Indiana 38-40 (1 GB)
7. Milwaukee 38-40 (1 GB)
8. Chicago 37-41 (2 GB)
9. Philadelphia 37-41 (2 GB)
10. Orlando 35-44 (4.5 GB)

Remaining schedules:
WSH: @CHI, CLE, MIL, @DET
IND: MIN, @CHA, @TOR, ORL
MIL: @NY, ATL, DET, @WSH
CHI: WSH, @MIA, @ORL, TOR
PHI: @MIA, @ORL, NJ, @CHA
ORL: PHI, CHI, @IND

The most compelling game of the 16 is tonight's Wizards at Bulls. Chicago is battling for the 8th spot; Washington doesn't want to lose the 5th spot (6 plays NJ, 7 plays MIA, 8 plays DET)

Meanwhile, watch Orlando! The Magic beat the Spurs last night for their 7th straight win. They are still 2.5 GB Philly and Chicago, but end with games against both teams, along with a season finale at Indiana.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Alex Ovechkin: Becomes 2nd NHL rookie ever to 50G/100P
Jim Thome: 1st ChiSox player to hit 6 HR in 1st 9 games
Ed Nelson: UConn backup PF to test "Gates" route to NFL
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
White: USC RB avoiding workouts b/c of hammy tear
A's: Trendy preseason pick for AL champ swept in Minnesota
Kyle Busch: Latest Busch bro ticketed for reckless driving
 
LeBron for MVP
Whenever Steve Nash sits out a Suns game Phoenix loses, there's that great "Absence is Evidence" theory to promote his MVP candidacy.

The jury is still out on whether LeBron (out with an ankle sprain) gets the same treatment.

Without LeBron, the Cavs looked like they were headed to a home loss to the Knicks (which could have clinched James' MVP status for many of us).

But because of Larry Brown's sudden departure for the hospital (or maybe just because they're THAT bad), the Knicks blew the game.

So without LeBron, the Cavs at home can beat the worst team in the league. But just barely.

Overcast Seattle
"Most Hard-Luck City in Sports?" The 2006 title has been clinched by Seattle, and the year isn't even one-third over.

First, the Seahawks are jerked over by the Super Bowl refs in February.

Then, the Washington Huskies endured some sketchy officiating calls in an OT loss to UConn in the NCAA Tournament last month.

Now, the Sonics might be headed out of town. David Stern sent the most ominous signal yet, saying Seattle is "not interested in having the NBA there."

What's next? The Mariners bolting for Vancouver or Portland? Seattle sports fans deserve the sympathies of fans everywhere.

(P.S.: Even the town's brightest sports star, Felix Hernandez, is tainted: Last night, he gave up 5 ER, 4 BB and 2 HR in just 4.2 IP in a no-decision against the Indians. The M's came back to win, though.)

Trading D-Train?
Buster Olney had a must-read blog entry yesterday about the scuttlebutt over the Marlins' likelihood of trading Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera. Basically, it's not "if," but "when."

That's totally aligned with the Marlins' strategy since they won the World Series in 2003. This past offseason, they slashed payroll to less than what Jason Giambi is making; they started 6 rookies on Opening Day.

But to trade their only two bonafide stars? Cabrera is arguably a Top 5 "Under-25" player; Willis is even more important: I argued last season that he, not Derek Jeter, is the most worthy "Face of Baseball."

But maybe it works out best for everyone if they're dealt: The Marlins continue to dump payroll and stockpile cheap (but talented) prospects. The two stars might land on a team where they're more appreciated.

Chris Paul Rules
Would you like to start an epic argument? Tell your buddies that Chris Paul is having the third-best rookie season EVER for a guard, behind The Big O and MJ. (Yes, ahead of Magic.)

Would you like to WIN that argument? The secret is "Player Efficiency Rating," and the only way you're going to get all the talking points you need to shock and amaze is by reading Hollinger's Insider analysis on it.

(Not to shill, but between the blogs like Olney's, Hollinger's NBA analysis, NFL Draft reports, and, obviously, access to Quickie chat transcripts, Insider is sizzling right now. See Q It Up to check it out.)

Week in Re/Preview
Last Week in Review:
*Masters: Stop mocking Lefty.
*D-Lee and Papi get p-a-i-d.
*Bonds: The Love-Hate Thing.
*Duke: No DNA match found.
*How's LeBron's ankle feel?

Next Week in Preview:
*NFL Draft subterfuge!
*MLBrawlWatch: D-Rays/BoSox!
*Larry Brown's season ends!
*Will NC St job be filled?
*2006 NBA Playoff preview!

Mavs:
Loss to Suns puts them 1.5 GB the Spurs for the NBA West's top seed with 2 games left (UTA, LAC). Not catching the Spurs means sliding to the 4-seed.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Insider
Page 2 Index
 
MLB's Top 5
Under Age 25
David Wright
New face of NYC baseball?
 
Miguel Cabrera
Makes less than $500K!
 
Felix Hernandez
But will he last to 25?
 
Dontrelle Willis
Where's the run support?
 
Rich Harden
New ace of the A's
 

Have you heard about this horrible story? A father has been accused of punching his 9-year-old for striking out in a youth-league game. Terrible. (via AP)

Mysterious death of Bama booster Logan Young is apparently resolved: Investigators say he died as a result of accidentally falling down stairs. (via AP)

Duke lacrosse update: In a recording released by Durham police, one of the first police officers to see the players' accuser the night of the party described her as "passed-out drunk." (via AP)

Sprint will stream the NFL Draft live on through its phone service. It could be the biggest moment yet in the short history of mobile programming.

Trivia: Who is the only other rookie in NHL history besides Ovechkin to notch 50 goals and 100 points? (Answer: Teemu Selanne)



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