August 22, 2006
Aaron Durley:
The hype for the 6-foot-8 Little Leaguer on the Arabian American team from Saudi Arabia is approaching "Snakes on a Plane" levels. See for yourself: 6 p.m. ET, ESPN2.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
MADDEN.  NATION.

"Virtual is the new reality."

That was the Quickie's kicker for the Lead Item last year on the release date of "Madden 06."

A year later, on the "blockbuster movie"-style release day of the '07 version, has anything changed?

If anything, anticipation feels even greater for Madden this season than last. (Not unrelated, anticipation feels greater for the upcoming fantasy season this season than ever before, too.)

It's the most clearly defined moment yet that there are now three well-defined parts to the NFL's New Fandom:

(1) Root for your favorite team.
(2) Manage your fantasy team.
(3) Play your Madden team.

Most striking about these components? It's one-third reality (fave), one-third fantasy (FFL) and one-third "virtual" (Madden).

But how many fans this season will spend way more time working on their fantasy team than they will following their "real" team?

And a growing subset will spend more time playing Madden than they will spend paying attention to either of the other two parts, particularly over the two-week lull between now and the kickoff to the season.

Between Madden's release today and the fantasy draft(s) inevitably consuming you this month, I was wrong that "virtual is the new reality."

When it comes to fans' "mindshare" -- their time, attention and energy -- there is simply no distinguishing between them anymore.

What is "reality"?
What is "fantasy"?
What is "virtual"?

Being a fan now means embracing all of them at once.

Yanks Sweep Sox
Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino gave an absolutely loaded quote to the New York Times in today's edition:

"[The Yankees] have depth and talent and balance and an approach and philosophy that are to be admired."

It was his gut reaction an hour after the Yankees completed their wild 5-game sweep at Fenway. And it is a direct swipe at Theo Epstein.

(Remember: The main point of Theo's meet-up with the media on Sunday was, "We are not the Yankees." Lucchino seem to take issue, if not disagree.)

Lucchino knows: The Red Sox's "long view" is the wrong view to compete with the Yankees. You'll never hear Brian Cashman hedge about success today at the expense of tomorrow, like Theo waxed Sunday.

Broom-game hero Cory Lidle is a perfect case study:

Theo sez: Won't trade future!
(Lidle was basically given away as a throw-in by the Phillies in the trade that sent Bobby Abreu to NY.)

Theo sez: Fiscal discipline!
(Lidle makes a relatively bargain-basement salary of $3.3 million. It's hard to buy excuses about spending from a guy in charge of a $120 million payroll.)

To his credit, Theo may have been focused on a "home run" trade-deadline deal for Roy Oswalt, but meanwhile, the Yankees swiped a 5th starter who would look awfully good right now on Boston's awfully lean staff.

If (or when) the Red Sox miss the playoffs, look back at that Lucchino quote as the foreshadowing of an offseason showdown for the soul of the team.

Verlander: ROY, Cy?
There are six weeks to go, but Justin Verlander should be AL Rookie of the Year over fizzling Papelbon and injured Liriano.

The only remaining question is whether Verlander deserves consideration for AL Cy Young, too, given his role as ace of the best team in baseball.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Hines Ward: Back in Steelers' practice for first time since 8/4
Toyota: Made its first official NASCAR on-track appearance
Boston Marathon: Start time for race moved up to 10 a.m.
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
T.O.: Planning for another MRI to screen his gimpy hammy?
LaVar Arrington: Kept out of practice (knee swell: uh-oh)
Chan Ho Park: Padres SP scratched Mon. (intestinal bleeding)
 
At best, he's probably running 3rd behind Santana and Halladay, but the fact that he's even in the conversation is huge.

Speaking of huge, he had another gem yesterday in his 15th W: 1 R in 7 IP vs. the rival White Sox (compare that to "Papelbust" vs. the Yankees).

Gibbons vs. Lilly
Fans knew Jays manager John Gibbons was feisty from the way he threatened to give ex-Jay Shea Hillenbrand a beat-down.

My favorite detail of Monday's tussle with his own pitcher, Ted Lilly, is that, reportedly, Gibbons initiated the clubhouse dustup...

...Yet Gibbons was the one who ended up with the bloody nose, which indicates Lilly got the best of Gibbons as they "worked things out."

Is this emotional basket-case manager really temperamentally suited to lead the Jays to success in the already tightly wound AL East?

MNF: Cowboys Roll
I don't buy that the Cowboys' QB controversy is over with Drew Bledsoe's effective start last night (12/16, 156 yards, 3/4 drives scored).

Fan-fave backup Tony Romo had another solid start, going 6/8 for 138 yards and scores on 3 of his 4 drives. (How many Dallas fans are secretly hoping for a Bledsoe injury to force Parcells' hand?)

Meanwhile, Reggie Bush was hardly scintillating in his national debut. He had 21 yards on 6 touches (rushing/receiving), but 20 on 2 plays.

More NFL News: Gumbel Out? Paul Tagliabue and the NFL may not have liked what new NFL Network play-by-play guy Bryant Gumbel said about the league last week in an HBO "Real Sports" commentary.

Gumbel said Paul Tagliabue should show the NFL's new commissioner (Roger Goodell) "where he keeps Gene Upshaw's leash." Gumbel then said Upshaw was a "docile head of the players union"; he also said Upshaw was the commissioner's "personal pet." (So far, Upshaw has not commented.) But if the league can swallow it and not fire Gumbel before the season even starts, it'll go a long way toward earning credibility with fans.

LLWS: Foul!
"Smack-'Em Island?" LLWS organizers reprimanded the Staten Island player who yelled an obscenity on national TV.

They also slapped the knuckleheaded Staten Island coach who himself appeared to slap the kid after he spurted the curse.

It's hard to get too outraged about a 12-year-old kid dropping an F-bomb out of competitive enthusiasm.

But there's no room for a "physically enthusiastic" response from the so-called adult.

Tiger: Best Ever?
Sign of a good column: I'm still thinking about Gene Woj's argument that Tiger Woods is the greatest athlete of all time.

I love a bold superlative more than anyone, but -- as I pointed out Monday -- it's arguable Tiger isn't even the best athlete active today.

Here's Roger Federer's case:

*He's his sport's "best ever."
*Dominant in his own era.
*Racks up majors like Tiger.
*He's way more "athletic."
*Roger is SIX years younger.

When the reasoning applied for Tiger is applied to Federer, it's impossible (without a jingoistic blind spot) to give Woods a decisive edge.

I think I've figured out what rubs me the wrong way about the entire argument. It's the choice of superlative: "Athlete."

The key to any good superlative is to pick a "Best-[Blank]-Ever" word that is specific enough to clearly define the terms of debate.

"Athlete" is way too open to interpretation. If I had to refine it, I'd use "Greatest Sportsman Ever." Subtle but huge difference.

CFB '06 Preview
The Quickie's 2006 college football preview will run all week long.

Today: Heisman!

It's Brady Quinn's to lose. Then again, a lot of people were saying that about Matt Leinart last season (uh, some picked Bush).

It's the "Notre Dame bump," that phenomenon that if a Notre Dame player is any good, combined with a successful season, he is automatically the Heisman front-runner. Gack.

Quickie Heisman Watch:
1. Brady Quinn
Two words, Domers: Rick Mirer
2. Troy Smith
Will voters dis him like Vince Young?
3. Ted Ginn
The Bush to Smith's Leinart?
4. Adrian Peterson
Good luck without a QB, pal
5. Pat White
This season's trendy pick

Coming Wednesday: Top 5!

Quickie Closure
b>The final edition (ever) of the Daily Quickie will run on 8/31. Leading up, I'm doing some navel-gazing.

Today: "On This Date..."

After the first year of columns was compiled, a daily tradition for me was to go back and check out what I wrote on that same date. (It was going to be a regular Quickie feature, but I nixed the idea for lack of space.)

08/22/05: Remembering Herrion
Right on: AP CFB poll stinks!
Regret: Eli's elbow "concern"

08/22/04: No column (Weekend)

08/22/03: Big League
Right on: The LLWS rules!
Regret: Bonds is NL MVP

Only 7 new editions left!
Click here to react.

Willie McGinest:
He's griping because Junior Seau asked for (and got) McGinest's No. 55 jersey from the Patriots. Doesn't he know when you bolt the Pats' Mafia, you're dead to them?
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
Page 2 Index
CFB: Clemson
 
5 More Heisman Contenders
Kenny Irons
Auburn RB: Top '95 SEC rush yds
 
Michael Bush
L'ville RB: 23 TDs in '05
 
Brian Brohm
L'ville QB: Knee healed?
 
Marshawn Lynch
Cal RB a stud (Split carries?)
 
Derrick Williams
Penn St WR the next Ginn?
 

Tom Glavine: Back in a week? Shoulder won't need surgery, according to results of an angiogram Monday. (via NY Post)

NFL Trade Talk: The Falcons and Redskins are reportedly talking about a swap to bring RB T.J. Duckett to RB-thin D.C. (via ATL Journal-Const.)

Is deposed Arizona St. QB Sam Keller headed to Nebraska? He would be a huge coup for Bill Callahan's pass-first offense.

Did the Jets agree to a renegotiated contract with Curtis Martin that signals the end of the road for him with NY and in the NFL? (via NY Daily News)

Marion Jones says she was "shocked" at her positive drug test for performance enhancers. And I'm sure fans are shocked (shocked!) at her response.

New record! Florida sophomore golfer Billy Horschel set a USGA championship record with an 11-under 60 at the U.S. Amateur stroke-play qualifier.

Let's hope the latest report of a "done deal" between Al Harrington and the Pacers isn't just another tease. Stop toying with fan emotions!

Totally not related to sports, but the strangest story of the year might be the report about Osama Bin Laden's alleged obsession with Whitney Houston.



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