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Thursday, August 31, 2006
Page 2 Quickie: August 30, 2006


 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
PICK.  'EM.

With just one day before the end of the Quickie's run, I've got a lot of ground to cover.

So, because I may not get a chance in real time, here are my predictions for big moments over the next sports year:

MLB: A'S WIN WORLD SERIES
After vanquishing the Yankees in the ALCS and the Mets in the World Series, the A's "Moneyball" system is finally granted legitimacy.

(Frank Thomas is named W.S. MVP after being snubbed for AL MVP by voters, who gift wrap the award to David Ortiz, after his season ends in August.)

More: Dontrelle Willis is traded to the Mets in the biggest move of the offseason; Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn make the Hall of Fame, but aren't unanimous picks, triggering fans to demand the HOF voting system be overhauled.

NFL: COLTS WIN SUPER BOWL
It turns out Adam Vinatieri WAS worth the money, as he kicks the Colts past the Pats in Foxborough for the AFC title, then wins Indy its long-awaited Super Bowl title. (Vinatieri NFL MVP? Why not?)

More: L.A. finally gets a new NFL franchise when the Chargers -- unable to make a stadium deal with San Diego -- move up the coast. Fans in L.A. react enthusiastically … for an hour.

CFB: SPLIT TITLE IMPLODES BCS
One-loss Auburn edges unbeaten Texas in the "official" BCS title game. One-loss Ohio State avenges its early-season BCS KO (at Texas) by thumping one-loss USC in the Rose Bowl; in BCS protest, the starry-(Buck)eyed media poll gives its title to Ohio State.

(Meanwhile, one-loss West Virginia cruises past ACC champ Florida State and prints up "REAL National Champ" T-shirts, just before WVA coach Rich Rodriguez is hired away to replace the retiring Bobby Bowden at FSU.)

Humiliated, the BCS turns its new, fifth BCS bowl into a "plus-one" title game in 2008 -- an empty solution if three worthy teams come out of the bowl season with one loss (as illustrated above).

NBA: SPURS TOP HEAT IN FINALS
LeBron edges Dwyane Wade for NBA MVP, but Tim Duncan gets the last laugh with his fourth ring in eight years, prompting a renaming of the last decade the "Duncan Dynasty."

More: Isiah improves on the Knicks' win total with Larry Brown, but is still fired after the team wins the draft lottery but turns the rights to the No. 1 pick over to the Bulls, who happily draft freshman All-American center Greg Oden.

CBB: GATORS REPEAT AS CHAMPS
Led by national player of the year Joakim Noah, Florida wins its second straight NCAA Tournament, beating freshman-heavy Ohio State in a rematch of the Gators' only loss of the season, at home to the Buckeyes in December.

More: O.J. Mayo rocks CBB by skipping college for shoe money.

NASCAR: CIVIL WAR!
In NASCAR's most-watched season of all time, "Chase for the Cup" domination by series rookie Toyota prompts hard-line NASCAR fans to revolt, triggering a "civil war" that threatens to fracture the sport after a group of owners and drivers create a rival, "all-American" circuit.

If my four-year prediction rate is any indicator, at least ONE of these things will definitely happen. Just don't ask me which.

Big Papi Update
David Ortiz was hospitalized in Boston for tests last night.

Fan priority No. 1: Stabilizing his condition to ensure he's able to return to the game safely.

Fan priority No. 2: Getting answers from medical experts as to why a player might have (or develop) an irregular heartbeat.

Sox impotent in L to A's: Without Ortiz, Manny and Wily Mo Pena (not to mention Varitek), Boston's lineup goes from scary to scary.

Howard Huge
Ryan Howard for NL MVP? If the Phillies win the NL wild card, Ryan Howard should be the NL MVP over Albert Pujols, Carlos Beltran and whoever else.

Howard tied a team record with his 48th HR (leads MLB). He extended his MLB-leading RBI total to 125. He is THE breakout star of the year in MLB.

See Big 5, right.

Delmon's Debut
Did the White Sox really plunk Delmon Young in his first MLB at-bat as punishment for being a mouthy minor leaguer?

If so, Rays manager Joe Maddon is right that it's Tampa's problem to deal with, not Ozzie Guillen's in his self-appointed role as MLB vigilante.

(Meanwhile, maybe Young should be pitched around rather than pitched at: He hit a homer in his third at-bat. Whoa, he's gonna be good.

AL Wild: Flip-Flop
I know the AL wild card won't be decided until the White Sox and Twins play in the final week of the season …

… but the Twins don't need to look SO far ahead. What else could explain being blanked by KC? (Sox nudge ahead for the wild-card lead by half a game.)

Meanwhile, I should have had Jermaine Dye (HR, 4 RBI) on yesterday's AL MVP Watch List. If the White Sox win the wild card, put him in my top five.

(And, by the way, it's not ALL bad news for the Twins: A new local tax was approved, paving the way for a new open-air stadium.)

NL Wild: Reds out
Your new leader: San Diego, but only by half a game over sputtering Cincy and spunky Philly, with Florida a mere one and a half back.

I withdraw last week's support for the Reds as a likable playoff team. Who to root for more: The Phils or the Fish?

Last night, the Marlins won their ninth straight -- and this time they didn't even need Joe Girardi, who was home with his pregnant wife.

To be a playoff contender with a glorified Triple-A roster and a payroll the size of Mike Hampton's salary is nothing short of astonishing.

Meanwhile, the fact that the Phillies are in the race, despite seemingly having given up at the trade deadline, makes them unusually likable.

(The best part? They play each other 10 more times over the season's final month, including a possible playoff "play-in" the final weekend.)

NFL Notes
Chad Pennington was named the Jets' starting QB … at least, until they draft Brady Quinn next April.

J.P. Losman was named the Bills' starting QB … all together now … at least, until they draft Brady Quinn next April.

Yeah, good luck with that: The Eagles gave Todd Pinkston permission to seek a trade. (Heard he was close, but was scared of the contract.)

Dan Snyder backs Tom Cruise: I'm loving Snyder's dramatic leap into Hollywood. Cruise standing in for Santana Moss can't be far behind.

Last thought on the Panthers' 'roids scandal: If this was MLB or CFB and a title runner-up was busted like this, the outcry would be deafening.

It's as if 'roids in the NFL are SO "everyone-knows-it" pervasive that it simply doesn't move the needle. Astonishing degree of cynicism by us all.

T.O. practices. There, I said it. Can we just let the topic go now for the day? Please?

Nellie is back
Don Nelson's NBA return to coaching Golden State can only mean one thing: The return of the legendary "Run-TMC Offense":

Tim! Taft!
Mitch! Murphy!
Chris! Cabarkapa!

(Uh, wait a sec …)

Meanwhile, don't cry for exiled GSW coach Mike Montgomery: He's going to have his pick of high-level college hoops coaching jobs in April.

NFL '06 Preview
Predictions:

NFC Division Picks:
E: Giants; N: Bears;
S: Panthers; W: Seahawks;
WC: Vikings (N), Cards (W)
NFC Champs: Bears d. Panthers

AFC Division Picks:
E: Pats; N: Steelers;
S: Colts; W: Broncos;
WC: Bengals (S), Dolphins (E)
AFC Champs: Colts d. Pats

SB XLI: Colts d. Bears

MVP: Tom Brady
Rookie: Vernon Davis
Coach: Nick Saban

(Tuesday's Part 1: "Top 5s")

Reading Event Invite
Save the Date! Wed., 9/6: Celebrate the end of the Quickie and hear readings from three Quickie-favorite authors: Seth Mnookin, Jeff MacGregor and Warren St. John. I'll be hosting. (Happy Ending, 302 Broome St., NYC, 8 p.m.)

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

09/08/04: Best Spin-Off

On Sept. 8, 2004, ESPN.com launched a ground-breaking type of chat, turning the old "fans-ask/experts-answer" model on its head: An expert asks the questions, the fans supply the analysis.

The Morning Quickie was born. Having no idea how it would turn out, it turned into the most fun hour of my day. Users have become "regulars"; inside jokes established; as hoped, the fans have had their say, constantly impressing with their insight and humor.

One chat stands out: In November 2004, the Morning Quickie participants and I tried to conduct an entire chat in rhyme.

OK: Tomorrow is the LAST day!
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