In the biggest awards lock in sports this year, Hornets PG will be named NBA Rookie of the Year. (Will draft-night mockery Charlie Villanueva grab 2nd?)
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
It's a legitimate question about fan loathing:
Will ex-Phillies closer Billy Wagner get a rougher treatment from fans in Philadelphia today than Barry Bonds did over the weekend?
The backstory: Wagner bolted the Phillies as a free agent last winter for the divisional (and geographic) rival Mets, then added insult to injury on Sunday by ripping the team, his teammates and Phillies fans.
(The only guy in town who is less liked is the one in the outfield stands on Sunday night wearing that T.O. Cowboys jersey. Maybe.)
Does Wagner deserve a worse welcome than Bonds? Like Dante's rings of Hell, there are several levels of in-stadium fan vitriol, listed in order from least offensive to most jeer-worthy:
One-hit wonder: Briefly sensational national story means next available fans in road rotation must boo on behalf of fans everywhere. (Example: Kenny Rogers at last year's All-Star Game)
Fan who proposes on Jumbotron: Sure, we've all thought about it. But none but the foolish do it, say, in a city like Philly. (Example: Didn't that actually happen in Philly this weekend?)
Local kid gone bad: Player who grew up in the region, but returns as member of a rival team. (Example: Kobe at 2002 NBA All-Star Game in Philly)
Fan who misses giveaway gimmick: If they make this free throw between quarters, everyone in the arena wins a small size fries! ("Yay!") Then, the fan misses the shot awkwardly. ("Boo!")
Recent free-agency snub: Previous offseason's free agent chooses another team over yours. (Example: Rafael Furcal to Dodgers over Cubs)
National story: Specific player is jeered by fans everywhere for some perceived slight against the entire sport. (Example: Bonds)
Ex-pat: One-time team hero leaves town, not just for another team, but for a rival. No matter how they try to smooth it over, fans aren't happy. (Example: Johnny Damon at Fenway last week)
(Toss-up! Which "ex-pat" player is hated more: The one who left for the money as a free agent or the one who demanded a trade out of town?)
Blood rival: Any player wearing the jersey is booed simply for being on the hated other team. (Example: Red Sox at Yankee Stadium today)
Trash-talking ex-pat: One-time team contributor doesn't just leave town, doesn't just leave for a rival, but torches the relationship, either on the way out -- or in the days before his homecoming series. (Example: Wagner)
Don't disappoint, Philly fans!
(Got any other classic categories of stadium jeering targets? E-mail me here!)
NBA Semis Wrap
What does it say when the Clippers can shoot 59 percent and still lose to the Suns, even though Phoenix was the team coming off a Saturday night game and the Clips have been off for nearly a week?
Miami fans boo Heat in loss: And why shouldn't they? (Well, aside from the fact that it took them less than 10 minutes into the game to start in on it.) Don't let the fans' white unis fool you: They ain't happy.
||CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
|WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...|
Elton Brand: 40 points (18/22 FG) in the Clips loss to PHX|
Roy Halladay: Jays' ace throws CG 4-hitter, TOR d. ANA 4-1
Buffalo Sabres: Win in Ottawa (again) for 2-0 series lead
|... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'|
Richard Jefferson: Sprains ankle (questionable for Game 2)|
Greg Maddux: Loses 2nd straight after 5-0 start to '06
Devils: Give up tying goal with 10 sec to go; lose in OT
(Shaq isn't happy either: He was saddled with early foul trouble that limited him to 29 minutes and allowed the Nets to go wild early. O'Neal didn't talk to the media after the game. Has Shaq lost respect from the refs?)
Game 2s Tonight:
Mavs at Spurs: David Stern admitted scheduling Game 1 so close to the Spurs' first-round finale was a mistake. Who cares? The Spurs beat the Mavs anyway! No harm, no foul.
Cavs at Pistons: So Detroit will win by ... what: 10? 20?
(Meanwhile: David Stern also said yesterday that he thinks the NBA is going to move to a new playoff seeding system that ranks the top four teams in each conference by record, not by winning the division. It's about time!)
Bonds Back in '07?
Even though Bonds didn't play in Monday night's Giants win, you didn't think there wouldn't be some hot Bonds news, did you?
"I have every reason to believe Barry Bonds will be a professional baseball player in 2007," Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, told Newsday.
Without straining, you can hear the distant sound of all those 2007 boos today.
Borris has a knack for hyperbole, adding: "In fact, if he were a DH, I think 1,000 home runs would be within his grasp."
The logical follow-up, of course, is which AL team would sign him to DH. Newsday's Jon Heyman suggested the Angels and A's. (But wouldn't you like to see the national freak-out if he considered the Yankees?)
Meanwhile, I got a ton of terrific responses to my call for a clever, standardized stadium chant for Bonds as he plays on the road this season. I'll compile them into a Top 10 for later this week.
Padres sizzling: San Diego has won 9 straight, its longest streak since 1999. The Padres are 2 games above .500 for the first time this year, and -- if last year is any indication -- have clinched the NL West.
Puckett ashes: Sad situation about Kirby Puckett's ashes. His kids want to keep them and have the support of his siblings. His fiancee says he told her he wanted them spread on an inner-city ball field.
Mets won't trade Milledge: You can forget those Zito-to-Mets (or Willis-to-Mets) rumors, if reports from the Mets' front office in today's Newsday are accurate. Yes, the outfielder could be that good.
"Shadows" writers subpoenaed: If the Valerie Plame case is any indication, the reporters and their newspaper (SF Chronicle) won't have much room to get out of grand-jury testimony (without threat of prison).
Big Ben: Big D
After Ben Wallace won his fourth NBA Defensive Player of the Year award in 5 years, it's arguable that Big Ben is the NBA's best defensive player of the ESPN Era:
He has now been named DPOY the most times since the award was created in the early '80s, tied with Dikembe Mutombo. But Wallace is more well-rounded than Deke, providing the rebounds and blocks expected of a dominant big man, but adding a Top 10 ranking in steals.
That shows off Wallace's versatility: Yesterday, analysts lauded him as being athletic enough to guard smaller, quicker players in addition to the usual post bangers.
NBA All-Defense, ESPN Era:
1. Ben Wallace
2. Dennis Rodman
3. Dikembe Mutombo
4. Ron Artest
5. Gary Payton
(Payton over Sidney Moncrief or Alvin Robertson or Michael Jordan as the only guard on my all-D team? Hey, come on: His nickname was "The Glove.")
Quickie Book Club
"The Big Book of Baseball Blunders": Here is what I suggest you do with the new book from ESPN.com's own Rob Neyer:
(1) Get a copy (and, as a paperback release, it's a bargain).
(2) Keep it handy in your bag, on your desk or in your bathroom.
(3) Take it with you to baseball games, bars, lunch with colleagues or anywhere else you'd like to provoke a fascinating baseball argument.
In examining the "why" behind some of the worst (and most perplexing) decisions in baseball history, Rob starts (and ends) some wild debates.
As with his Insider columns (but even more so), you will be an infinitely smarter (and more interesting) fan for reading Rob's analysis.
David Blaine Recap
7 minutes, 8 seconds. It wasn't the 9 minutes viewers were promised, but it looked impressive enough -- if he was hoaxing us with an illusion, it was a pretty good one, based on how awful he looked afterward.
I'm curious if any other viewers tested themselves: At one point, I tried to see how long I could hold my own breath. I managed to make it one stinking minute. (I do not suggest trying this.)
One day after he says he'll no longer play hurt, he's expected to be put on the DL today for his hand. Will miss the Red Sox series, among others.
|Today on ESPN.com|
|NBA Daily Dime|
|Page 2 Index|
|Most Hated Athletes |
|Sunday, Oct. 8 circled|
|"Boo!" is understatement|
|No love for hometown kid|
|Yes, there's THAT much hate|
|Everything the city isn't|
Duke Lacrosse Update: Blame the school's limited early response on the local cops? AP report says police told campus cops the story "will blow over."|
If Martha Burk thought that new Augusta National chairman Billy "Bring The" Payne was going to talk to her, she'd better think again.
For those of you looking to accessorize correctly for the World Cup, the U.S. team will be wearing its cool blue jerseys in the first two games.
Kelvin Sampson's contract at Indiana says he could be fired with no settlement if the violations at Oklahoma turn out to be bad enough.
The sports-themed music group of the year? "Gnarls Barkley" (Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse), who just came out with an extremely well-done album.