Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Page 2 Quickie: July 24, 2006
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
In the last decade, at least two athletes have emerged as locks for spots on sports' Mount Rushmore of the new century: Tiger and Lance.
While Tiger spent Sunday reminding fans that there's no debate about who the greatest golfer of this generation is, the most compelling question yet about Lance emerged:
Did Landis eclipse Lance?
In other words: How does Floyd Landis' Tour de France title compare to any one within Lance Armstrong's dynasty?
Landis was more impressive:
(1) The guy is having hip-replacement surgery, because he can barely walk right now. He's going from winning the TdF to a new hip.
(2) His comeback last week from wearing the yellow jersey to being down 8 minutes to closing within striking distance of the leader was like nothing Armstrong ever accomplished on the TdF race course.
(Comparing it to the Red Sox losing Game 3, then winning those back-to-back Games 4 and 5 en route to the 2004 ALCS title is not crazy.)
Lance was more impressive:
(1) Lance came back from testicular cancer. Nobody is going to wear wristbands that say "Hip Strong."
(2) Lance had to ride against a much more competitive field (and destroyed them; he never needed a comeback).
The answer is: Landis can't compare to the totality of Lance's seven titles, but this was as impressive as any single one of Lance's wins.
Without Lance, cycling has all but dropped off the radar of U.S. fans, but given the pedestal we put Lance on, Landis' win deserves its due.
(But don't expect Landis to win the 2007 ESPY for "Best Male Athlete" like Lance did a week ago. That's as close to a lock as there is.)
This B.O. title was arguably the most satisfying of all of Tiger's major wins, given that it came in the wake of his most embarrassing major finish.
It was also his most emotional: Tiger's tears at the finish, wishing his father could be there to see him win, was the most public display of grief -- of any emotion -- he has ever shown.
It makes Tiger all the more human -- and root-worthy. Yet he was so clinical in his execution, ignoring his driver and picking apart the rest of the field.
Tiger was like Jules Winnfield at the end of "Pulp Fiction": Way more emotional than usual, but still a bad you-know-what when it counted.
(Meanwhile: When you're winning, wearing an all-yellow outfit is a cool call; when you're folding, you look like a ninny. Right, Sergio? Maybe being dazzled by his own fashion caused him to miss all those easy putts.)
MLB Hit List
Jered Weaver Mania: The younger Weaver brother is the first rookie in a quarter-century to win each of his first 7 starts.
(The last rookie to do it? Fernando Valenzuela, who went 8-0 in '81. Now that was a "mania" before "mania" became cliché.)
But don't forget 'Cisco! Liriano strikes out 10 (in 5 innings!) and the Twins tied a 1966 team record with 17 K's in a W over Cleveland.
Trade Talk: Why was Julio Lugo left out of yesterday's lineup? D-Rays SS destined for Jays? Mets? Red Sox? Meanwhile, it sounds like Abreu-to-Yankees ain't gonna happen.
Meanwhile, Soriano remains the big question, but he continues to insist that he wants to stay in D.C.
Beanball Update: Ozzie has every right to be ticked that Vicente Padilla hit one of his guys, but he shouldn't blame Jon Garland for not retaliating effectively enough.
Guillen should blame the ump for not tossing Padilla for hitting Alex Cintron, given Padilla's recent history of throwing at the Sox.
Berkman injured: It'll be tough for the already offensively challenged Astros to muster more runs without their All-Star RBI leader, who strained his groin on, naturally, an RBI double.
Giants land Shea Hillenbrand: Can't wait to see what kind of bulletin-board messages he leaves for Barry Bonds. "If the sinking ship don't fit, you must acquit!"
Quote of the Day: "How can a person make it this far in life being such a jerk?"
-- Carl Edwards on Tony Stewart
(Carl also said of Tony: "If it weren't for the respect of the sport and the people watching and his team, he'd be out there bleeding right now.")
Kurt Busch, who mostly stayed above Sunday's Pocono fray, had an astute take: "Covering drama is more exciting than covering the race anymore."
And that's what NASCAR risks devolving into while attracting more casual fans: A weekly series of incidents between drama queens.
The Yankees have less than a week to go before the MLB trade deadline, meaning they have less than a week to see if they can unload A-Rod, a prospect that once seemed ludicrous but is now painfully legit.
A week that started badly and continued embarrassingly finished on an appropriate note: 0-4 with 4 K's as a DH on Saturday, 0-4 on Sunday with 4 LOB.
Even Yankees coach Larry Bowa has said he thinks A-Rod's problems are in his head; while his trade value is still high, all but the most blinded Yankees loyalists can agree this is the time for the Yankees to unload him.
How about my idea from last week to deal him straight up (plus cash) to the Florida Marlins (and his friendly hometown Miami) for Miguel Cabrera? Not so crazy anymore.
(But Marlins manager Joe Girardi says, "I really believe we're done trading for the year." I guess that means Cabrera -- and Dontrelle Willis -- are staying.
More NFL Camping
All week long, I'll be providing the shallowest preview around for the daily kickoff to each team's training camp.
Today: Raiders (Napa, Calif.)
Biggest story line: Shell Game Can old/new coach Art Shell turn around a franchise in disarray?