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Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Page 2 Quickie: April 10, 2006

The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

It's time to stop making fun of Phil Mickelson's physique. The only boobs are the fans who still mock him.

Jokes about Mickelson's body type defined his early career. Even when Phil won the Masters in 2004, his first major title, he still looked physically awkward in victory, with his memorable jump-n-squat.

But just look to his body language Sunday, when he won his third title in 9 majors and joined the exclusive club of active multiple Masters champs:

Phil looked relaxed the entire way. He putted in that 2-footer on 18 to clinch the title and he offered the mild wave and confident smile of a guy who knew he was going to win.

So to everyone who got laughs out of mocking Mickelson's ample chestitude in the past, hope you enjoyed it, because now you'll have to find someone else in golf to pick on.

(Frankly, if anything, didn't Tiger's pecs looked sort of weirdly shaped this weekend? Sort of Tara Reid-ish. Maybe it was the cut of his shirt.)

Because we're not talking about Phil's physique anymore. Unless we're talking about how good he looks in his green jackets.

MLB: Week One
With the first week of the MLB season in the books, what better time than to offer Week One Awards -- if you're willing to extrapolate these over the next 24 weeks, they might just foreshadow the rest of the year.

AL MVP: Chris Shelton.
5 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R, .700 AVG

I'd call this the "Brian Roberts Award" for biggest early-season surprise, but too many fantasy gurus had been hyping Shelton for a breakout year, to their credit (and yours, if you picked him). He leads the AL in, well, basically everything.

AL Cy: Curt Schilling.
14 IP, 2 W, 9 K, 1.93 ERA

A week ago, the question was: Will Schilling look like Ace Curt of '04 or Hurt Curt of '05? For now, it's been answered: Ace. (And all that talk about moving Schilling to the pen? Gone, which rhymes with "Papelbon.")

NL MVP: Derrek Lee
3 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R, .462 AVG

His 2005 season is looking less like a "career high" and more like foreshadowing. That's why the Cubs are about to announce a deal extension worth a reported $13 mil per season. (Konerko who?)

NL Cy: Derrick Turnbow
4 G, 4 IP, 4 Saves, 0.00 ERA

MLB's feel-good story of the year week has been the Brewers, winners of 5 straight to start the season, all by comeback. Though the team's hot start ended with a shutout Sunday, Turnbow has been the rock.

Team of the Week: Indians
After losing the season opener to the rival White Sox, the Indians have ripped off 5 straight wins, with Jake Westbrook (2-0) beating Johan Santana and the Twins on Sunday. Nice improvement to 9-14 April in '05.

Favre's Future
Saturday's press conference with Brett Favre was just a big tease: "No change. I don't know, once again."

Gee, thanks for the update, Brett. So, once again, "no change" in the raging "me-first" story line that, by the week, continues to undercut the team Favre professes to care so much about.

Make up your mind already! Like trying to be the hero in 2005 and forcing throws that turned into game-imploding INTs, Favre continues to act in the best interests of ... Brett Favre.

But for a team that honors him a bit too much by letting him dictate (or manipulate) their entire offseason strategy, the Packers should assert themselves.

No matter what the team, the fans or the fawning media might think, Favre isn't bigger than the team. Yet the team, seemingly afraid of alienating those fans and media, continues to let Favre run roughshod over them.

Stop worrying that Favre will jump to another team. Stop worrying that you'll be labeled as "driving Favre out of the game." Keep in mind: It's his choice.

And it's time to make one.

Florida's Future

National champ Florida will start next season as the preseason No. 1, arguably the most loaded defending champ since Duke in 1992, when Duke put together the sport's last back-to-back titles.

The logic is simple: If Joakim Noah, Al Horford, Corey Brewer and Taurean Green could cruise to the national title as sophomores, what will they do as juniors, with all that championship experience and a year to grow?

The team also returns its fifth starter: Rising senior 3-point specialist Lee Humphrey -- along with his classmate, backup forward Chris Richard, an unsung hero of the Final Four -- and backup combo guard Walter Hodge; 95 percent of the team's scoring is coming back.

For those who dissed this Gators team as somehow less worthy than UNC's championship in '05, it's impossible not to notice that while those UNC underclassmen all bolted for the NBA ASAP, the Gators apparently have chosen to return, despite equally lofty draft status.

Why are they staying? To see how good they could really be. Imagine: They won the title, and they haven't even reached their potential. All they want is to enjoy the ride they just had one more time.

As a fan of another 2007 contender, you may not like that. But if that's not a goal worthy enough to make you respect them, just try to keep doubting them. They might just have to win another title to win you over.

Ricky's Last Shot?
If you were the NFL, and Ricky Williams showed up today to appeal his one-year suspension for a 4th violation of the league's drug policy, claiming that the positive test was some sort of error, what would you do?

(a) "And stay out!" It's not like this was his first violation; it was his fourth. And the proof is in the positive test, no matter what Ricky claims. What kind of message does it send to let him stay in?

(b) "Welcome back, Ricky!" Offer him a random retest (which he'd presumably pass), and let him know that if he blows this reprieve, he can expect the league to crush him for any future violations.

(c) "Forget" the meeting. I mean, teach him a real-world lesson about the perils of recreational drug use. Anyone seen the Doritos?

NBA Stretch Run
We're down to two scenarios: One intriguing and one not.

Intriguing: West top seed. In the most inane playoff policy in sports, the Spurs-Mavs division winner will be the top seed in the West; the runner-up will be 4th, despite having the second-best record.

The stakes are huge: Beyond the West's top seed, the winner gets home-court advantage in a potential conference semis between them that could prove to be the real West conference finals.

The teams split the season series, 2-2, each winning one at home and one on the road, most recently the Mavs' win at S.A. on Friday.

With five games to play, the Mavs are a game behind the Spurs, and the Spurs have the advantage in remaining schedule:


Not intriguing: East 8 seed. Sure, it's impressive the Bulls rallied from a mediocre first half to make a run for the 8th seed. But all they win is a trip out of the lottery -- and a first-round sweep from Detroit.

(The Bulls might actually avoid this fate and sneak into the East's 7th playoff spot. How? See DQ'd, below.)