April 18, 2006
Robert Cheruiyot:
Set the men's course record in the Boston Marathon and paired with countrywoman Rita Jeptoo for the Kenyan sweep.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

If the Clippers were smart, they would tank tonight's game in Memphis (8 p.m. ET), forcing the Grizzlies into the NBA West's 5th seed and ensuring that, through losing, L.A. "wins" the 6th seed.

If the Clippers lose to the Grizzlies, Memphis clinches the 5-seed -- and a 1st-round playoff matchup with the Mavs, the 4th-seeded team in the conference (but really the 2nd-best team in the West).

Here's another incentive for the Clippers to lose and ensure they are the 6th-seeded team:

Because they have a better record than the 3rd-seeded Nuggets (who got the 3-seed simply for winning their division), the Clippers would have home-court advantage in the first-round of the playoffs, despite being the worse seed.

That sure beats "winning" the game tonight -- and losing home-court advantage in a 4/5 pairing with the Mavs.

So you can understand Sam Cassell's point in today's L.A. Times:

"We've got to be sixth to have the home court, and we'd like to have the home court, so then we need to finish sixth. It's that simple.

"You could say that isn't right, but life isn't right, and this is how the minds of the NBA made it with this alignment."

So don't blame the Clippers for laying down tonight and in their season finale vs. the Mavs. Or blame me for suggesting they tank.

It's simply playing by the rules that the NBA set up in its inane playoff system that awards its division winners the top three seeds, regardless of record.

Tank away, L.A.

Duke Players Arrested
There are now two names associated with the Duke lacrosse scandal: Reade Seligmann and Collin Finnerty reportedly were arrested early this morning and charged with rape, sexual offense and kidnapping (via the AP).

These details were leaked despite a sealed indictment, which had shielded the names of the specific players (and the charges brought against them) throughout yesterday and last night.

It's important to remember that the arrests are merely an indication that the DA offered enough evidence to a grand jury to return indictments; arrest is not proof of guilt.

MLB Wrap
Players of the Day: Pedro Martinez and Greg Maddux.

Pedro earned his 200th career W, leading the Mets to an MLB-best 10-2 record. Begs a question: Is "200" the new "300" for pitchers, in terms of the value of the wins versus other pitchers in their era? (Maybe "250?")

Maddux ran his record to 3-0, the first time since 1994 that he's started the season with three wins (which didn't even happen in his super-sick 1995 Cy year). In 8IP, he allowed only 3H, with 6K and 0BB.

Quote of the Day: "We stunk." Does Jim Leyland still smoke? Because after the Tigers' 10-2 loss to the Indians, I can only imagine that, given his classic smoker's voice, he gives a good tirade.

(But, naturally, Chris Shelton hit another home run, making that 9 in 13 games. He's like last year's Brian Roberts plus this year's Manny Ramirez. Plus three. No, really: Roberts had a surprising six HRs a year ago this week; Manny has none this year. Add 3 more, and you've got Shelton's 9.)

Patriot's Day: Red Sox win. Nothing will ingratiate newcomer Mark Loretta with Red Sox Nation more than a walk-off HR to end the annual Pats Day game that starts at 11 a.m. ET Still time to hit the bahs, Sully!

Al Pujols: Ties MLB record with HR in 4 straight PAs
Spurs: Clinch best West record, home-court adv. in p'offs
Sidney Crosby: Only 18, becomes youngest NHLer to 100 pts
Marlins: San Antonio gives 5/15 deadline for move decision
Steve McNair: Titans say they can legally lock him out
Knicks: Tie team season record for Ls (Play for 60 on Wed.)
Bonds Watch
Here's a handy rule of thumb for all the fans who will encounter Barry when the Giants play road games this season:

Boo all you want, but if you throw stuff on the field, you should be banned from baseball games for five years.

A fan in Phoenix was arrested last night for throwing an object at Bonds, allegedly a tube of muscle-pain reliever.

And don't think this arrested fan represents you, the average frustrated Bonds-hater:

His mom told the AP that his motivation was an autograph-snubbing Bonds gave him "10 or 15 years ago." Yikes. Holding a grudge much?

Is Larry Brown gone in New York?

If he is, the Knicks have covered their backside. They took out an insurance policy on Brown's 5-year, $50 million contract in case he resigned for health issues (even if he jumps to another team), according to a report in the New York Daily News.

(Does mental health count?)

It would be in the best interests of both Brown and the Knicks for them to exercise this option and end this failed experiment after this single brutal year.

There's no shame in that: It wasn't the fit that anyone thought it would be.

Morrison Going Pro
All-American Adam Morrison reportedly will announce later today that he's entering the NBA draft (via Seattle Times).

In this order, Morrison is best known for:

His scoring, his moustache, his diabetes, his crying before games are finished, his competitiveness and his 43-point assault on Michigan State in the best game of the college hoops regular season.

Oh, and his skin color, which -- combined with his floppy hair, 6-foot-8 height and killer instinct -- has saddled him with comparisons to Larry Bird.

Morrison himself has rejected those, but they're a marketing bonanza for whichever team drafts him in the top 5, which is where he's expected to go, despite his weak defensive skills.

(It's much harder to market a player if he's given a more fair and less dynamic "he plays like..." comparison -- like, say, Glen Rice or Rashard Lewis.)

Thomas Going Pro
If you hadn't heard of Tyrus Thomas before a month ago, you figured out who he was after the high-flying freshman posterized Duke and Texas in back-to-back regional games, leading LSU to the Final Four.

Let's review:
Vs. Duke: 9 pts, 13 reb, 5 bl.
Vs. Texas: 21 pts, 13 reb, 3 bl.

It's really too bad that "shots affected by mere existence" isn't counted as an official stat. Thomas made Duke 1st-team All-America center and all-time great college shot-blocker Shelden Williams look flat-footed.

Thomas is a freak, athletically, and Chad Ford said he thinks half the teams in the lottery seriously would consider him for the No. 1 overall pick, with little chance he slips out of the top 5.

Gay Going Pro, Too
In the NBA, Rudy Gay will be the next Paul Pierce, except he'll be better defensively.

Critics wonder why Gay averaged "only" 15.2 ppg; remember, he was on a team that had two other shot-happy NBA-quality swingmen (Anderson and Brown), along with three other players who averaged double-figures in points.

If Gay played quietly, it was only because he didn't need to dominate; playing with a star-studded system, he still led the team in points and averaged 6.4 rpg.

Even in UConn's stunning upset loss to George Mason in the regional final, Gay was the only starter to shoot at least 50 percent from the field (8/16), which resulted in a team-high 20 points in a team-high 42 minutes.

Remember, nine teams passed on Pierce before the Celtics stole him. If Gay slips that far, he might add one more resemblance to Pierce.

NFL Draft Watch
Latest from the Fan Draft:

No. 10 (DET): S Michael Huff
Finally! Lions draft for D!
11 (ARI): OT Winston Justice
USC stud wowed at workouts.
12 (STL): Player TBD
Still time to vote!

Get a recap, and vote today for the Browns (9 a.m. ET), Ravens (noon ET) and Eagles (3 p.m. ET).

NBA Awards
Today: 6th Man and Defensive

Defensive: Ben Wallace. Bruce Bowen was due, but he has that rep among his peers for playing dirty, so it's hard to support him. Meanwhile, Wallace anchored the best defense in the East and finished in the top 10 in rebounds, blocks and steals per game.

6th Man: Mike Miller. Second-leading scorer (13.9 ppg) on the Grizzlies with the deepest rotation in the league. Won me over after his 41-point game last month against Denver. 41 points off the bench!

Wednesday: Rookie and Fans!

Celebri-Baby Watch
An irregular feature tracking the baby births among celebrities and sports figures.

Today's Parent: Eric Wedge (Manager, Cleveland Indians)

Baby: Ava Catherine

Analysis: "Ava" is great, part of the retro trend of names from our grandparents' era. (See "Ava Gardner.") What, like you were expecting him to name his first child "Pronk?" (Well, maybe Kid No. 2 if there's a World Series title between now and then.)

Applicability: "Ava Shanoff."
(Eh, maybe if we were having a girl, which we're not.)

Postscript: Wedge was ejected from Sunday's game vs. the Tigers, then skipped Monday's game to be with his wife and new daughter. Let's hope Ava inherits his feistiness (and family loyalty!).

Serena Williams:
Tennis' biggest star reportedly out for the rest of the season. (via The Guardian, UK)
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
NFL Draft: Vick
Page 2 Index
Ranking Reasons
To Tank
Playoff seeding
Avoid the better teams
Draft position
"Go O(den)-for-82!"
Injury protection
See NFL Week 16
Get a coach fired
"Lost the players" = tank
Was the season THAT bad?

Allen Iverson on his future: "I want to be a Sixer. It's all about if the organization wants me to be here. I haven't changed about wanting to be here."

NBA East: If the Bucks beat the Wizards tonight, there will be a four-way tie for 5th place heading into the season finales on Wednesday.

(Unlike in the NBA West, I highly recommend the Wiz win the game: 5th seed in the East plays the Cavs; 6th, 7th and 8th get the Nets, Heat and Pistons.)

More NBA Draft: While Tyrus Thomas is going pro, fellow LSU March sensation Glen "Big Baby" Davis will return to school for his junior year.

Warriors exec Chris Mullin confirmed that coach Mike Montgomery will return to coach the team next season. No guarantees on whether he lasts...

Congrats to Jason "J-Mac" McElwain, whose inspiring story about overcoming autism was picked up by a "Spider-Man" producer to be made into a film.

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