Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Updated: August 31, 1:16 PM ET
Page 2 Quickie: August 31, 2006
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
Famous last words, right?
"It's. Over." The "Two Words" Quickie lead that stands out to me the most over nearly 1,000 columns filed:
Thursday, October 14, 2004.
The phrase was right there, smack in the middle of ESPN.com's front-page, top-story coverage of the Yankees going up 2-0 on the Red Sox. The 2004 ALCS was a done deal.
Instant History at its finest.
Whew: Worst. Guarantee. Ever.
(Or was it?)
Since the Quickie launched the first Monday of January 2003, staking out the "Instant History" beat looks like the best career move I could have made.
I'm hardly an extremist: The evolution of sports coverage -- of sports fandom -- since the Quickie launched is all about Instant History:
What happened JUST NOW is the MOST relevant to the argument.
It's besides the point that I approve of -- and obviously encourage -- that myopia. To me, it was always a reflection of what fans wanted -- and what I would want to read as a fan.
"Best. Column. Ever." If I say that, it's not because I actually think the Quickie is objectively the best column ever: wittiest, smartest, whatever (please).
But I got to write about anything (and everything), every day, often getting the first crack at an opinion of any columnist on the site. That's a thrill that kept the pace of writing daily (and quickly) so energizing.
The Quickie wasn't for everyone, but in format, style, tone, niche and sensibility, it was the best column I could have ever had the chance to write.
I'd rather avoid "It's Over" as my Quickie epitaph, because I don't think it accurately captures the last 4 years. (Plus, I'd like to exorcise my biggest prediction blunder.) So here goes:
Final Two Words: FUN. RUN.
U.S. Open: Agassi!
End of the road for Andre? I'm predicting elimination for Andre Agassi; start revving the engine of sentimental video footage.
Two reasons: (1) Back issues. He took a cortisone shot in his back DURING a tournament for the first time ever. (2) Marcos Baghdatis. The Open's 8th seed is no usual early-round patsy.
Upshot of Agassi's career? I keep going back to how many of his fawning fans hated him early in his career. Career reinvention rules.
"I feel pretty..." OK, so Andy Roddick can deny it all he wants, but if he ISN'T dating Maria Sharapova, he is an idiot.
Did you see her Wednesday night? Whew! She broke out the "little black dress" and officially grabbed the title of "Open Fashion Queen" from Serena Williams.
(Williams was no slouch, and she probably thought her intricate black-and-gold outfit would win the day. Now THAT'S a rivalry worth watching.)
The final week of the exhibition season is for answering the last, lingering questions, mostly this:
Which player will get hurt and wreck your fantasy season?
Will T.O. make his Dallas debut? (Honestly: Do you really care?)
Will Brett Favre's obvious frustrations with his team bubble over? ("We have a long ways to go, but a short time to do it.")
RB position battles: To replace Greg Jones in Jax? To back up Clinton Portis in D.C.? To break through in Chicago? To help the Colts reach their SB potential? To help the Jets and Texans win ... the chance to draft Adrian Peterson next April?
How much will Willie Parker play for the defending champs, now that he has that new 4Y/$13.6M deal? (5th-highest signing bonus on the team.)
One team's trash...: Which late roster cuts will turn into valuable pickups for other teams?
Toughest: Who's your pick? (I had Lewis edging out Urlacher.)
I couldn't be more excited about the new college football season (see Wednesday's Lead Item for my BCS-doomsday prediction), starting with tonight's dramatic Northwestern opener at Miami (OH).
Saturday, I'll be in Gainesville for the Gators' opener vs. Southern Miss, but the real game in Florida to watch will be Monday night's FSU-Miami game, which will KO one team from the BCS title picture in Week 1. (And I say it'll be "The U.")
(Because I won't be able to gloat Monday, it'd be just my luck to have Notre Dame and Brady Quinn poop the bed at GA Tech in prime time Saturday.)
MLB Hit List
Padres, Phils keep pace: Philly is .5 GB San Diego for the NL wild card; the Padres are zeroing in on trading for David Wells.
Ignore the gripes about the overall records of the teams in the NL WC race; who cares? The only standings detail that matters is "games behind."
Chien-Ming Wang: 16 wins. If you projected Wang in the Top 5 of AL Cy Young voting, please come collect your prize. Anyone? Anyone?
Schilling: 3K K's. Combine that (14th pitcher ever) with his 200-plus W's and, of course, his two huge World Series titles, and he's a Hall of Famer.
And, yet, even 3K bragging rights couldn't stop Boston's bloodletting right now. Latest: Swept by A's. This is a collapse of operatic magnitude.
(Even Papi's reported encouraging state of health is tempered by reports that young Sox pitching stud Jon Lester is undergoing tests for cancer.)
I'll admit I have a fetish for weird walk-off moments, so how about Aubrey Huff's walk-off groundout in Houston's 1-0 W over Milwaukee?
USA Hoops at Worlds
Why can't Johnny shoot?
You can give USA Hoops a new coach, a new roster and a new mentality, but you can't simply anoint the team with touch from the outside.
Good luck vs. those zones en route to a World title, let alone an Olympic gold. Team USA's 4 guards shot 10-for-47 vs. Greece's zone.
That stat makes it all the stranger that Gilbert Arenas claims in today's Washington Post that his groin injury was simply a convenient excuse for him to quit the tryouts, because he says he didn't think he was getting a fair shot.
(To think that Kirk Hinrich was always going to be Coach K's pick over Arenas is mind-imploding. But, be honest: Not unimaginable.)
Huge thanks to the brilliant (and infinitely patient) group of editors who help the column get published each morning:
David Schoenfield, Michael Philbrick, Kieran Darcy, Kevin Jackson, Michael Knisley, Jay Lovinger, Bruce Deckert, Bob Kelleter and all the "Page 1" and sport-section editors who have given it special attention.
(And thanks to SportsNation's Daniel Dodd, Graham Hays, Keith Lipscomb and Rico Longoria for their management of my chat every morning, plus that freaky "Danimation" audio clip.)
Special thanks to John Papanek, John Walsh, John Kosner and John Skipper for their support.
And, of course, the most massive of thanks to Larry Johnson for delivering the Quickie's provocative art every single day.
The biggest thanks go to you, the Quickie readers.
Thank you for making the column an instant hit. Thank you for sticking with it over the years. Thank you for reading every day. Thank you for writing in to respond to an item that provoked you, one way or the other.
Keep in touch!