Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Updated: August 9, 8:42 AM ET
Page 2 Quickie: August 8, 2006
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
Who is our Jerkiest Athlete?
It's too easy to say T.O.
Floyd Landis is a contender, but I suppose he's only trying to defend himself. Allegations of cheating don't necessarily mean "jerk."
The Bengals are making a strong push for the "Team Jerk" title, but it's impossible to separate individuals from the group-wide mess.
Donald Sterling? (Perhaps as "Jerkiest Owner." Think he escaped the doghouse with this past season's Clippers success? Better check DQ'd, below.)
No, as of today, the Biggest Jerk in Sports is Matt Leinart.
It's a title made all the more remarkable because a year ago today, he was the Biggest Stud in Sports: Defending Heisman winner, defending national champ, returned to college for the fun of his senior year.
A year later, he's the poster boy for all that's wrong in sports.
His return to USC was a dud: No Heisman (not even the best QB) and no national title. He even left a small NCAA scandal behind.
His draft stock plummeted, in a nationally televised green room debacle. He went from being a lock as the No. 1 pick in 2005 all the way to No. 10 in 2006.
And now, officially, he's the lone holdout among all NFL first-round draft picks. This is the worst position to be in of all.
Apparently, Leinart feels he's worth more money than his double-digit draft position. The Cards, to their fiscal credit, disagree.
The thing is: NO ONE has sympathy for the NFL rookie holdout. The offered money is too good -- and the camp reps WAY too valuable.
So what happened to the Golden Boy of 2005? Maybe it was all an act to begin with. All fans have to go on is how he's acting now.
(For contrast, see Broncos draftee Jay Cutler, one pick behind Leinart, who has already moved up to No. 2 on the Denver depth chart.)
Only a true jerk can screw up the "savior" status anointed by a group as desperate for something to hope for as hard-luck Cards fans.
It's all the more frustrating that Leinart can repair things so easily: Suck it up and sign a contract. Get into camp. Prove your value.
Because for now, Leinart is no Heisman hero. He's no national champ. He's no top draft pick. He's no media darling. He's no hotshot QB.
He's just a holdout: A jerk.
Insult + Injury = Twins Doom
The insult? Francisco Liriano was shellacked (again) by the Tigers, giving up four runs and a season-high 10 hits, giving him a 7.63 ERA against Detroit this season (compared to 1.39 vs. the rest of MLB).
The injury is
injury! He pitched so poorly because his elbow could be shot. Liriano says it "bothered me on every pitch" and that he's "scared." Which should scare the hell out of Twins fans.
More Bengals Problems
I've never heard of a modern NFL team going into actual training camp lockdown, but the Bengals are a good candidate.
I'm not talking metaphorical lockdown; I'm talking "Oz" lockdown. Because, at the rate they're going, all their players will be there anyway.
The latest: Guard Eric Steinbach was arrested over the weekend for boating under the influence.
As a Pro Bowl alternate last season, he's the most prominent Bengals player yet of the six-pack that has gotten into trouble this offseason.
If the Bengals were a college team, Marvin Lewis would have been fired by now. It's worth asking again: Does he have ANY control over his team?
NFL Commish Watch
Decision/coronation today? Possibly, but more likely it's going to happen tomorrow. Still, expect NFL COO Roger Goodell to get the job.
The only question: Will the owners flex their strength by voting him in on the first ballot -- or show him who's boss by dragging it out?
(Maybe the first thing Goodell could do is ask Bengals owner Mike Brown exactly what kind of operation he's running over there.)
Broncos Ring Bell
The Broncos named a Bell their starting running back, but it's not incumbent Tatum Bell: It's undrafted rookie Mike Bell.
Merely more evidence: Is there a more radioactive spot for fantasy football GMs than the Broncos' backfield?
The on-field results are undeniable, but it's such a toss-up which RB will earn them. Are you really willing to risk a couple of midround picks to put handcuffs on Bell and Bell?
(Can't wait to read what FFL guru Eric Karabell has to say about the implications of this development.)
Landis Media Blitz
Floyd Landis can appear on as many media outlets as he wants, but he is never going to shake the hit to his reputation.
Wait, does that mean he shouldn't even try? Perhaps: The more he campaigns on his own behalf, the more fans simply will want him to go away, anyway.
Meanwhile, the Tour of Elk Grove (outside Chicago) added insult to injury by dis-inviting him to its inaugural race this weekend.
(I see their point, but it's a mistake: Is there any other reason people would be interested in something called the "Tour of Elk Grove"?)
MLB Hit List
Dodgers win 10th straight: Getting Jeff Kent back from the DL (HR, 3 RBI) is like acquiring an All-Star in a post-trade deadline deal.
Cards pummel Reds, 13-1: Maybe Cincy was too distracted wondering how the Nats stuck them with damaged-goods relief pitcher Gary Majewski.
Livan Hernandez to D'backs: 'Zona put in a waivers claim, then gave up two decent minor league starting pitchers to get a major league starter for the stretch run.
Wow: How close was Joe Girardi to either quitting or being fired by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria on Sunday? Given that Girardi is my NL Manager of the Year, Loria would be crazy to alienate one of his team's best assets.
"Juice Box Night" for Jose Canseco when his minor league team visits Fullerton for a game on Thursday. Bad taste? Please: It's about time fans were able to have a laugh at baseball's steroids scandal.
Paul Lo Duca Scandal
If having his alleged adultery on the front page of the New York tabloids isn't bad enough, now Paul Lo Duca has to deal with worse:
The "second-day" effect of ripple coverage: The city's various papers are battling to see who can dig up the dishiest dirt.
If the New York Post broke yesterday's story about his wife's accusations of adultery, the New York Daily News raised the bar with details of an alleged gambling problem.
Lo Duca told the paper that all the bets were made legally, on horses (never on sports) and over the Internet (because you can't find ANY gateway to sports gambling there).
Adultery makes fans giggle; if you were a star pro athlete, I bet you'd think about it, too. But gambling makes everyone a wee bit uneasy
The MLB Comeback Player of the Year award ballot came out Monday for fans to vote on, and I'd look to the All-Star "Final Vote" for foreshadowing of the outcome:
In the NL, Nomar Garciaparra feels like a lock, just as he was in the "Final Vote." He has name recognition, plays in a big market (with a sizzling team) and has the stats to back it up in a great rebound year.
In the AL, I think it'll come down to two players: White Sox DH Jim Thome and the player he replaced, A's DH Frank Thomas.
Big Hurt's bounce-back is more remarkable, but given Chicago's success in marketing fan-vote campaigns, don't bet against a "Me for Thome" campaign.
After reading a report that future Hall of Fame running back Emmitt Smith will be on the new season of "Dancing with the Stars," I'm prepared to make the following claims:
Smith will outdo Kenny Mayne (which isn't hard, considering that Mayne was the first contestant eliminated in last season's "DWTS" premiere).
But Smith can't possibly top Jerry Rice, who was last season's runner-up (likely the greatest reality-show career of any NFLer ever).
ESPN.com's college football preview launched this week, including an interesting kickoff poll. See how your answers compare to mine:
1) State: None of above (WVA)
2) Hot: Notre Dame
3) Not: USC
4) Rotating QBs good? Fact
5) Hot seat: Lloyd Carr
6) Top Week 3 game: Mich/ND
7) AP's Heisman: Fiction
8) Bounce-back: Florida St.
9) Champ will have: Balance
10) No BCS trouble: Fiction
Tony K on MNF
I'm a little obsessed with Tony Kornheiser being on "Monday Night Football," particularly his mastery of managing expectations.
He had a short column in today's Washington Post reiterating his operating philosophy. Here's a representative snippet:
"I figure my job is to try to be entertaining and, frankly, how much better am I going to be at that because I know the name of the second-string left tackle?
"But I don't tell people that because then they would realize that they know more about football than I do and that I'm going to be a complete bomb."