August 15, 2006
LeBron James:
Leads Team USA with 23 points in 53-point romp over South Korea in final tune-up before the World Championship starts on Saturday.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
TONY.  TERRIFIC.

Stop griping, Tony:
You were terrific.

Tony Kornheiser's "MNF" debut was a huge success (as predicted by me, but certainly not by him).

He was so at ease, so quickly, I found myself waiting excitedly for his contributions. What's Tony going to say next? This is exactly what you want from an announcer.

Tony's breakthrough moment came early in the 2nd quarter:

Play-by-play man Mike Tirico said that Raiders offensive coordinator Tom Walsh was, as of last season, running a bed-and-breakfast. Tony found this hilarious. (And it is hilarious.)

Analyst Joe Theismann defended Walsh, going so far as to argue that Walsh -- who did a lot of scouting on the side -- was better prepared to re-enter the NFL than Joe Gibbs, back when Gibbs unretired.

Tony called Joe on this, much as many fans at home were probably doing to the screen that very moment. To his credit, Joe engaged Tony and gamely tried to defend his (very tough) position.

Without ripping him like he would, say, Wilbon on "PTI," Tony sealed his disagreement with a clever nudge of incredulity, and the trio moved on.

This is precisely the kind of topic -- the "off-the-ball" stuff -- where Tony will not only be at his best, but make "MNF" a must-see event. That one exchange was the announcing-team dynamic in as ideal a form as they could ask for.

All in all, Tony seemed and sounded very comfortable for a first-timer. I'm already ready to settle in with him for the season.

If this were his self-proclaimed self-destructive debut, he has a terrific future ahead this season.

Leinart Signs
Much like Stephen Colbert will begrudgingly take someone off his "Notice" list, I'm removing the "sports' biggest jerk" label from Matt Leinart now that he has reportedly signed with the Cardinals.

Now, he just has to prove he can thrive outside of his cushy USC "system," ballroom-dance as backup behind Kurt Warner and hook up with Arizona's sick WRs (rather than Paris Hilton).

What: I'm still treating him like a jerk? Bah, he can buy his way off the list, but he has to earn his way into positive coverage.

Portis' Return?
Clinton Portis' injury is remarkable for the way it wreaks havoc on reality and fantasy:

Reality: How will it affect the Redskins' chances? I keep hearing "possible" for him for Week 1, but who else is skeptical? Plus: Who knows how much it will be an issue throughout the season?

Fantasy: How will it affect FFL drafts? After the "Big 3" (LJ, "S-h-a-u-n," LT), Portis was in the mix at the No. 4 spot. As a 4th-pick GM, I would have taken Portis ... before.

Who do you take instead? Barber? Yawn. Edge? It's Arizona. One of the Auburn guys? Reaches at 4. (I'm still tempted: Portis said he had a similar injury in H.S. Look how that turned out...)

Moss Ticked Off
What is Oakland coach Art Shell's bigger problem?

That Randy Moss threw a tantrum (and his helmet) on the sideline after being pulled after making a single catch in the 2nd quarter?

Or that new QB Aaron Brooks is so freaking bad? (1/6, 16 yards, 2 sacks)

Answer: Brooks. Even Moss was ticked at Brooks after the QB missed Moss wide open in the end zone in the 1st quarter.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Nomar: HR, 3 RBI lead Dodgers to 16th W in last 17 games
Barbaro: Horse walks out of stall; little kids send notes?
Randy Lerner: Browns owner set to buy EPL's Aston Villa
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Gilbert Arenas: "Agent Zero" won't play at Worlds (groin)
I-Rod: Apologizes for Sunday tantrum; winning helps soothe
Ryan Howard: Received letter threatening to cripple him?!
 
MLB Rebounds
Tigers: No worries! What was yesterday's panic over the Tigers' 5-game losing streak about?

Tigers Nation undoubtedly breathed a little easier after Detroit beat the Red Sox 7-4 to end their '06-worst streak. As expected, the Tigers' starting pitching led the way: Nate Robertson gave up 3 R and 5 H in 6 IP.

(Meanwhile, speaking of panic, the Red Sox fell 2 GB the Yankees. With 2 games to go against the Tigers, is Boston looking past Detroit to the huge 5-game series with the Yankees this weekend?)

Today: Reds at Cards. The Cards simply have to be thankful to finally be out of Pittsburgh, where they were swept over the weekend.

But if the Reds win, they're in a virtual tie with the Cards. To start such a huge head-to-head series of division contenders, it's nice to have the aces throwing: Aaron Harang for the Reds and Chris Carpenter for the Cards.

Interesting stat: The Reds have a better record on the road (30-26) than at home (31-31).

Pedro Hurt, Shelled
Don't push it, Mets! 14 games ahead in the NL East, the Mets have the luxury of not pushing Pedro's recovery from last night's right calf strain, which led to his being shelled for 6 runs in the 1st inning.

Put him on the DL, save him for October, do whatever it takes to be sure he's healthy for the postseason. Pushing any return in the short term seems excessive, given the cushion in the standings.

A-Rod Whine Watch
Injury no excuse? A-Rod followed up Monday's PR that "injury" caused his many errors with a denial that he was trying to make excuses:

"I don't ever have any excuses in anything I do. When I stink, I stink. When I'm good, I'm good." (An excuse about excuse-making? How "meta-Rod.")

Yesterday, he was a little of both, getting only one hit, but driving in the go-ahead run with a bases loaded sac fly in the 7th in a Yanks W.

Parcells on T.O.
The two sides of Tuna, seen as Parcells talks about T.O. missing his Nth day of practice.

Gentle: "I just have to give him the benefit of the doubt right now. I don't want to jeopardize him for the season."

Hostile: "We need to see something here pretty soon. That is the truth. Right now, he has missed a lot of work."

Edge: Hostile

LLWS Mania
Coaches throwing games? The hysterical story out of New England from Sunday's regional final is causing hysterics.

Read Garber's story for more, but here's the gist:

*One coach, leading the game in the final inning, had his pitcher try to intentionally walk the opposing team into tying so he could avoid a forfeit by getting an extra inning to fulfill a rule that every player must have an at-bat. (He had mistakenly left a player on the bench.)

*The other coach, figuring out what was going on, had his player intentionally strike out to force the forfeit. Even though his team was losing, they won the game -- and region -- automatically.

There is no moral high ground: Both coaches participated in their own version of "tanking." (Doesn't that cancel them out?)

But as embarrassing as that incident was, it pales in comparison to the annual shrieks of "But what about the children?!?!"

As usual, no matter how screwed up the adults are (and, in this, I'm counting both the coaches and the schoolmarm-ish analysts), the kids are way more resilient about the whole thing.

Dancing/Stars III
Emmitt Smith headlines a true sports angle* for the third season of "Dancing With the Stars."

But don't expect Emmitt to be the next Jerry Rice (though Smith obviously saw what success on DWTS2 did for Rice's rep -- well, not with NFL fans).

However, I retract when I said Emmitt will be this year's Mayne or Master P; my money's on Tucker Carlson to fill the role of "first booted."

(The other dancers: Jerry Springer, Joey Lawrence, Vivica Fox, Harry Hamlin, Willa Ford, Monique Coleman, Sara Evans and Shanna Moakler.)

And my pick to win it all?
Mario "AC Slater" Lopez

* I'm not reviving the argument over whether ballroom dancing is a sport. In the age of poker, you can't argue it's not.

Quickie News
Biggest. Announcement. Ever.: The final edition (yes, ever) of the Daily Quickie will be on Thursday, August 31.

But don't expect some maudlin, "Friends"-style countdown to oblivion. (No, it'll be a maudlin, Quickie-style countdown to oblivion.)

Check back each day between now and 8/31 for a look back at the best (and worst) of the nearly 1,000 editions since it launched in '03.

Taking a cue from Tony K. on "MNF," I'll also publish reader feedback. Send your comments here.

(And feel free to nominate your own superlative moment from Quickie history. Just search ESPN.com or, if you know the date, use yesterday's URL and change the date to find the specific day's inanity you want to highlight from the last 3-plus years.)

NCAA:
*SHAMEFULLY* denied Kansas DT Eric Butler's request for an extra year of eligibility after he missed '01 season for "paternity leave." (Sue 'em!)
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie Live
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Plotlines: RB Edition
Jay Cutler
Ready to start now?
 
Tarvaris Jackson
VY without the hype?
 
Vince Young
Flashed arm and legs
 
DJ Shockley
Fan fave in Atlanta
 
Matt Leinart
Time to prove yourself
 

Clarett Watch: As expected, cops in Columbus take issue with Clarett's lawyer's claim that he was roughed up after being arrested.

I know that Jerome Bettis was trying to make a TV splash saying this will be Cowher's last season in Pittsburgh, but the coach denies it.

The Jets are so desperate for RB help they traded for injury-prone Browns RB Lee Suggs, a non-factor in '05, but with 750 yds in 10 G in '04.

Reggie Bush's $10K fine from the NFL for wearing unauthorized adidas shoes on Saturday (obvious p.r. ploy) only makes his feet MORE valuable.

Is Russian hockey superstar Evgeny Malkin trying to defect to play in the US for the Penguins? How early-80's of him!

If you have an Insider account, Chris Broussard's blog entry from Friday about his 1-on-1 game against a 12-year-old is a must read.



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