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Monday, August 21, 2006
Page 2 Quickie: August 18, 2006


 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
FOUR.  DAZE.

Why is there a hysterical fascination with this 4-day, 5-game scrum between the Yankees and Red Sox?

It can't be because of any long-term impact on the standings; there are too many games left in the season.

(Even a highly unlikely Yankees sweep, which would put NY up 6½ games with six weeks to play, doesn't assure anything except prospects of a bigger Sox comeback.)

And it can't be because of some intrinsic passion across America for these two teams; if anything, the backlash outside the Northeast is palpable.

I think it's this, which unites bashers and fanboys alike: The tantalizing prospect that this rivalry's runner-up will miss the playoffs.

Without understatement, there isn't a more gleefully anticipated result in sports this season:

If the Red Sox miss the playoffs, the New England agita will be all-time comedy. If the Yankees miss the playoffs ... well, it's a national holiday.

Whichever the result, fans across the rest of the country get at least one of two hated heads on a pike, which is more than enough for now.

So you're allowed to enjoy the overdose of Yankees-Red Sox over the next four days, because no matter who loses, fans everywhere else will win.

PGA: Tiger vs. Phil
OK, did anyone really think that Tiger and Phil would turn Medinah into Thunderdome and start whaling on each other with irons between holes?

They've got bigger things to worry about than each other, like the logjam of 9 other players tied for 10th. If you're waiting for the catty claws to come out, it'll take a reunion on Sunday afternoon.

NFL Wknd Preview
Top story line: How many teams will ignore the cautionary tale of Clinton Portis? Check back Monday for the "Needless Injury Watch."

Friday

SD-CHI: While the Bears fiddle between Rex Grossman and Brian Griese, the Chargers' Philip Rivers is emerging as the Breakout QB of the Year.

DET-CLE: Who, exactly, are the Browns going to play at center for those four long quarters?

CIN-BUF: The Bills' QB competition is so stultifying, they might as well open it up to "American Idol" wannabes for a little cachet.

Saturday

ARI-NE: My favorite story line of the weekend! Matt Leinart takes on college backup, Matt Cassel. (Overheard: "Now I am the master!")

TEN-DEN: Vince Young's head-to-head with Bush was apples and oranges. What happens when VY is eclipsed by fellow rookie QB Jay Cutler?

NYJ-WSH: There might be half a decent running back between them.

MIN-PIT: Whom do you trust less with your car keys: Big Ben or Koren Robinson? Boooo! Hisssss! (Oh, come on: You were thinking it.)

HOU-STL: Yes, I called Texans 6th-round draftee Wali Lundy "Bush Light" after his versatile success last week. Don't dis me, Wali!

ATL-GB: When the Falcons play the Packers, how odd will it be that the two QBs who should be starting Week 1 are the 2nd-stringers?

CAR-JAX: Now, if the Jags can pin four 50-yard TD passes on Carolina's D, I might start to believe they are on to something down there in Jax.

Sunday

SEA-IND: Tony Dungy says "18-25 plays" for Peyton Manning and the Colts' 1st-team offense (I'll take that under for number of plays for "S-H-A-U-N").

OAK-SF: How much worse can it get for Aaron Brooks?

MLB Hit List
While everyone is watching the Yankees and Red Sox, the White Sox and Twins will play a series that has huge playoff impact, too: They're the top two contenders in the AL wild-card race.

(Frankly, it doesn't matter to the rest of America who wins; just as long as one of the two finishes ahead of the runner-up in the AL East.)

Angels-Rangers brawlers suspended: Was it really worth the supposedly TV-friendly brouhaha to lose a collective 27 games of action? I don't think so.

Can't buy into this overnight fad that the Giants are wild-card contenders, even though they're now just 4 games behind in the WC standings after sweeping the Padres (still 5 teams to pass).

Paul Lo Duca Watch: MLB sent PIs this week to look into the latest allegations of his gambling. Good for MLB, not for PLD (via NY Daily News).

War on Mother's Day? Bafflingly, a judge wouldn't dismiss the discrimination lawsuit an Angels fan filed when he didn't get a Mom's Day tote bag in May.

"Ever" of the Day: For the first time ever, there were two games on the same day in which each of the teams led off its half of the first inning with a home run (in Thursday's Yankees-Orioles and White Sox-Royals games).

USA Hoops (or Oops?)
It's trendy to argue that the USA Hoops team is back. Exhibition pummelings have only enhanced the position.

But I'm with bearish NBA Insider Chris Sheridan, who picks the U.S. to lose at the World Championship, which starts this weekend.

Sheridan picks up-and-coming Spain to beat reigning world-hoops king Argentina for the gold medal (U.S. 3rd), but I'm backing motivated Argentina to beat the U.S. in a thrilling final.

(A loss isn't devastating for the U.S. here. Maybe it'll even be motivating. Remember: This team was redesigned to win Olympic gold.)

Brady/BALCO: Nonissue?
Well, if Tom Brady says the BALCO story is a nonissue, then it's obviously a nonissue, right? That's how it's being treated.

I was instantly struck by one specific thought when I first heard about this Brady/BALCO story:

If it were T.O. and not Brady, it would have been a bloodbath yesterday, rather than the mild coverage it got.

Brady will get a pass because it does seem to be a nonstory, but also because he is -- more than any other player -- the NFL's Golden Boy (even Favre is a step below).

What is a Golden Boy? A guy so universally admired he becomes virtually untouchable with negative coverage (T.O. is the anti-G.B).

The natural follow-up: Where does Brady rank among all Golden Boys in sports? (See Big 5, right, for the answer.)

"Snakes" Meets Sports
Yesterday's Quickie lead item, which converted notable sports movie titles to their obvious "Snakes on a Plane" equivalent, got a great response from Quickie readers, who supplied their own ideas.

Here's a selection:

Bad Hockey Equals Good Golf

("Happy Gilmore")

Nathan Babbitt, Omaha

Dorks on Bikes

("Breaking Away")

Rich Miller, Dallas

Athletes Run in Slow Motion

("Chariots of Fire")

Austin Jayred, Chicago

Hobbit Plays ND Football

("Rudy")

Nate Clifford, Boston

Dr. J Plays for Pittsburgh

("Fish That Saved Pittsburgh")

Dave Fortay, D.C.

Shaq Can't Act

("Blue Chips")

Kevin, Ann Arbor

Blond Woman Coaches Football

("Wildcats")

Aaron, Harrisburg, PA

Dog Plays Basketball

("Air Bud")

Chris Holton, Chattanooga

Dog Eats Ball

("The Sandlot")

Joe, Lansing, MI

Angels in the Outfield

("Angels in the Outfield")

Antonio B., Yellowknife, NT

Tons more. Check back Monday!

Quickie Closure
The final edition (ever) of the Daily Quickie will run on 8/31. Leading up, I'm highlighting some superlatives.

01/17/05: Nastiest Rip.

In 130 words, I think I appropriately reflected the mood of fans everywhere the morning after Peyton Manning lost to the Pats in the playoffs:

"He's the solo equivalent of what the Eagles are as a team: A choker. A big-game patsy. Frankly, a loser." (That was a big hit in Gainesville.)

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