The Pulse: Dirk as a franchise player, MLB and the Cup
Welcome to The Pulse, the place to find out what the sports world is thinking. Every day on ESPN.com, SportsNation registers its opinion on a wide range of topics by casting votes and offering opinions. We'll collect the daily highlights and create a running file throughout the week to measure The Pulse of SportsNation on a wide variety of issues. Check this page every day for an update of what the 'Nation is saying.
1. Is Dirk Nowitzki the NBA's top franchise player?
2. Which AL team is a pretender?
3. Who will win the Stanley Cup finals?
The display led ESPN.com's Bill Simmons to say no one can guard Dirk right now. SportsNation disagrees somewhat, saying only Shaq and LeBron are tougher defensive matchups than Nowitzki but placing him ahead of Kobe and Kevin Garnett. Would SN build a franchise around Dallas' athletic 7-footer? One-fourth of the 'Nation would, but LeBron is the runaway leader on the list with better than 60 percent of the vote as the top franchise player in the NBA.
Franchise player or not, SportsNation overwhelmingly picks Dirk and his Mavericks to get past the Suns and into the NBA Finals.
32.8% Shaquille O'Neal
26.0% LeBron James
22% Dirk Nowitzki
15% Kobe Bryant
4% Kevin Garnett
62% LeBron James
41% Dwyane Wade
34% Kobe Bryant
30% Tim Duncan
26% Dirk Nowitzki
42% Mavericks in 6
37% Mavericks in 7
21% Suns in 7
I have always marveled at Dirk's outside game for a 7-footer. The big thing the past two seasons is that he is attacking the rim and posting up now. You have to give Avery a little credit for getting that out of him.
DC (Altoona, PA)
I would love to see LeBron and Dirk play a game of one-on-one.
Matt "The Intern" (Chicago)
Before we anoint Dirk the G.O.A.T., let's see what he does the rest of the playoffs and the next few years. He had a monster game at home where he got a million-and-one calls.
Mat (Scottsdale, AZ)
Mike & Mike were arguing over who they would take before Dirk if starting a team today. My picks: LeBron, Kobe, Wade, then Dirk
Mavericks and Heat would be the BEST. FINALS. EVER. For me, at least.
Most expected the Sox to be contenders in the AL East but virtually no one figured the Tigers would be postseason contenders under new manager Jim Leyland. You know, since they haven't had a winning season since 1993 and all. Despite beginning June with the best record in baseball, though, Detroit is getting little respect from fans across SportsNation, half of whom think the Tigers will be on the outside looking in come playoff time
14% Red Sox
8% White Sox
Forget the Pistons. TIGERS ARE BACK!
Dud: Maroth's injury for maybe causing the Tigers to come back to Earth.
Keith (Grand Rapids)
It's smoke and mirrors right now in Detroit. Leyland has made a difference, but they're still a year away, people.
William (New York)
The Detroit Tigers rallied in the 9th to keep from getting swept by the Yankees. It shows they are for real even if they lost four straight before that.
52% Edmonton Oilers
48% Carolina Hurricanes
You have to wonder if the 'Canes are spent. Oilers have been every bit for real in the playoffs and they bring a physical play to the Western Conference style that may be too much at both ends of the ice for Carolina. X-factor? I say it's the fact Edmonton has been in New York state this week, acclimating to the time difference and will be more ready for Game 1 than the 'Canes. They'll take that momentum and win in six.
Edmonton's been getting rusty for a few days, and while the 'Canes are beaten up right now they have at least been staying sharp. Carolina in seven thanks to home ice.
Well, maybe if a bunch of defensemen go down for the Oilers then the 'Canes will have a better shot. I think the Oilers are rolling right now. And they are physical and have timely scoring. I say Oilers in six. NO CUP IN THE SOUTH.
Any chance the Canes wear Hartford Whalers throwbacks in the finals? Let's be honest, that would be awesome.
1. Will you watch the Spelling Bee in prime time?
2. Who meets Edmonton in the Stanley Cup finals?
3. Can the Heat close out the Pistons?
Most of SportsNation plans on watching the Mavs-Suns game, followed by the Sabres-Hurricanes, the Spelling Bee and the softball World Series. However, the 'Nation might benefit from watching some of the Spelling Bee, as SN got only nine of 20 words correct on the 4th Annual SportsNation Spelling Bee.
59.5% Suns-Mavericks Game 5
25.5% Sabres-Hurricanes Game 7
11.3% Scripps National Spelling Bee
3.7% Women's College World Series
34.2% Court Philippe Chartrier
31.8% Court Phillippe Chartrier
17.2% Court Phillippe Chatrier
16.8% Correct Answer: Court Philippe Chatrier
32.7% Mikka Kiprusoff
24.7% Mikka Kipprusoff
24.7% Correct Answer: Miikka Kiprusoff
17.8% Miikka Kiprussoff
I got 12 out of 20 right on the ESPN Spelling Quiz. On the one hand, I'm ecstatic I did that well, on the other, I'm a little concerned that it may be my highlight of 2006.
Christian (High Point, NC)
Let's see ... There isn't enough pressure on the kids in the spelling bee. How can we make it worse? Let's see ... How about we put it on major network television. Maybe this year there will be more than one kid pass out in his chair. It's ridiculous that it is on ABC.
DC (Altoona, Pa.)
I fear the contestants will go all "T.O." on us with this increased exsposure. You know, posturing for the camera, mirrored sunglasses, refusing to spell certain words, situps while waiting for their turn to spell. It could get ugly.
Absolutely!! It is good to show these kids that being smart is cool!
In a society that idolizes sports, it is nice to see a network put a spotlight on an educational sport. Hopefully this leads to a growing push in education in this country.
Despite all the injuries, SportsNation still believes that Buffalo will win the Eastern Conference.
53% Buffalo Sabres
47% Carolina Hurricanes
Everybody root for Buffalo tonight. This squad is destined to bring the Cup home. Let's go Sabres.
Dougie Fresh (DC)
I love Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff, calling the Hurricanes arrogant. Get these guys off their game.
Does Carolina know there is a game 7 tonight or are they busy watching cars go around a track?
Steve(Garden City Park)
GO CANES! They are going to beat the Sabres tonight in Game 7 in Raleigh. Rutherford is finally getting some well deserved recognition with his snatching of Recchi, Cullen, Weight, and Cory Stillman. These players, as well as Eric Staal, and the captain Rod Brind'Amour have put together a magical season that no one in the Raleigh area could have expected or even dreamed of for that matter.
Ben (Winston-Salem, N.C)
63% Miami Heat in 6
30% Detroit Pistons in 7
7% Miami Heat in 7
If the Heat dont get it right tommorrow night it's OVER. No way anyone is beating Detroit in a game 7 at the Palace, no matter what the circumstances.
Increased pressure on Heat role players + Pistons still playing w/their backs against the wall + no great game yet from Sheed, Billups, Hamilton = game 7 in the D on Sunday
Last night's game was simply Detroit getting theirs at home. The game was tight until the last half of the fourth quarter AND Miami did miss their free throws. When this game returns to Miami it will be a Heat win. Game. Set. Match.
The Heat needed to do it in 5. Detroit is gaining momentum, and if they win game 6, they will win game 7 at home. All the pressure is back on Miami.
Brian (Newburyport, MA)
1. What impact will Roger Clemens have on the Astros' season?
2. Will the Detroit Pistons stay a title contender in the future?
Most of SportsNation is happy to see Clemens return, agreeing with his decision to resign with the Astros. The 'Nation also believes that this will be Clemens's last season, that he will be good but not great and that he's not worth the money for just four months.
However, the 'Nation does believe that with Roger in the rotation Houston will win the wild card, but without him, the Astros would have missed the playoffs.
38.4% Win NL wild card
37.5% Miss playoffs
10.1% Win World Series
7.0% Reach World Series
7.0% Win NL pennant
76.6% Miss playoffs
19.3% Win NL wild card
1.8% Win NL pennant
1.3% Win World Series
1.0% Reach World Series
1. Roger Clemens
2. Nolan Ryan
3. Sandy Koufax
4. Greg Maddux
5. Bob Gibson
My thoughts? Who cares? I have lost all respect for him over the last couple of years the way he's selfishly putting himself above any team that wanted to sign him. If he's a baseball player, he should be with the team during the entire season, or he shouldn't be paid for a season.
Lance Manion (Louisiana)
I feel it is great for the game and I'm excited to watch Roger pitch this season. That said, as a Red Sox fan I dearly wish he would have come back to Boston for a grand finale. In his interviews today he does sound as if he really did consider the Red Sox - and that reality makes it even more disappointing.
Matt (San Diego)
Who cares anymore. It's just like Favre. All of it makes me sick. You play with a team from beginning to end. Very selfish by Clemens. Greed is all it is.
Mike (North Olmsted, OH)
It's amazing to me that people think this is all about money. This isn't about money, it's about boredom. Roger is in great physical condition and he's been rotting on a couch the last few months going stir crazy. Baseball is all this guy knows, and if he still feels he can perform, then coming back is the right decision.
As a Cubs fan, I'm really unhappy that he re-upped with Houston. I think he will dominate again.
Roger made a really tough personal decision and I think it was a great one. A pitcher as great and competitive as he is needs to keep playing as long as he can at the level Clemens is on.
Ridiculous, two months of dragging this out and he is back where he was last season. Houston is going no where and he just basically took an extended vacation for himself only to come back and cash in for a few months work.
Mo (Philadelphia, PA)
With the sudden decline in the Pistons, everyone is asking what's wrong? With the Heat holding a commanding lead in the series, the blame game has already started in Detroit. But SportsNation believes that any blame tossed the direction of coach Flip Saunders is just people using him as a scapegoat. The 'Nation also believes that while this postseason has been filled with glitches, the Pistons will remain title contenders next season.
59.9% Done this year but they will be back
23.5% Done this year and for the foreseeable future
16.6% Pistons will rebound and win the East this year
31.3% Saunders is a scapegoat
27.7% Lousy luck in having the team fall apart right now
14.0% Lousy development of bench
11.6% Saunders is the wrong guy for the job
9.9% Lousy coaching job
5.6% Lousy timing in following Larry Brown
The moment a team starts pointing fingers and squabling, they're done. The Pistons are doing that. They are done. They are giving up and trying to pass the blame, and especially with a team like the Pistons, where they're whole thing is the team function, when that breaks down, they're done.
Chris (Boston via Paris)
Heat close it out. Why, you ask? D-Wade. BEST. PLAYER. TODAY. Better than LeBron, better than Kobe, better than Steve Nash.
Normally, I would say that the Pistons show up and play with hearts of champions, but they haven't really played that way all playoffs. So I'm going with the Heat to close it out tonight and shock the home crowd.
I think Detroit has been exposed. The Cavs were supposed to be in a class below the Pistons and came within a rebound of eliminating them. The Heat were supposed to be on par with the Pistons, but have shown that *they* are the ones in a class above. The Pistons can't do anything but squabble and point fingers at this point.
Pistons win here and take the series. They have listenend to all the critics and now have the drive to win three straight games and take the series. They will drive up the intensity when they have to.
1. Is Barry Bonds No. 2 in your book?
2. Will Ricky Williams be a success in the CFL?
A vast majority of the 'Nation says Bonds will fall short of perhaps the most hallowed number in all of baseball, but where do voters rank Bonds among the all-time best sluggers? He's behind the big three of Ruth, Aaron and Willie Mays but ahead of other modern sluggers embroiled in the steroids controversy such as Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro.
And now that the home run record has been tarnished for many because of steriods, SN ranks Joe Dimaggio's record hitting streak as the most sacred record in the game.
1. Babe Ruth
2. Henry Aaron
3. Willie Mays
4. Barry Bonds
5. Frank Robinson
6. Reggie Jackson
7. Harmon Killebrew
8. Mark McGwire
9. Sammy Sosa
10. Rafael Palmeiro
1. Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak
2. Ted Williams' .406 average in 1941
3. Cal Ripken Jr.'s 2.632 consecutive games
4. Pete Rose's 4,256 career hits
5. Bob Gibson's 1.12 ERA in 1968
6. Nolan Ryan's 383 strikeouts in 1973
7. Hack Wilson's 191 RBI in 1930
8. Orel Hershiser's 59 consecutive scoreless innings
9. Denny McLain's 31 wins in 1968
10. Rickey Henderson's 130 stolen bases in 1982
Non-event for me. How can you celebrate a guy passing the NUMBER TWO guy on the list? Ruth is not the record holder and has not been for 30 years. When Bonds passes Aaron, then I will show some interest.
Kev Wash (Richmond, VA)
Ruth is the face of baseball because the media says so. No thanks. I didn't care because 714 isn't the record. I'll be excited when Bonds approaches 755.
Bonds should retire now that he is the left handed home run champ.
Jim (Dallas, TX)
The next Bonds watch will be 'When will he retire?', rather than, 'When will he reach 755?'
Congrats to Barry Bonds. Now that the Ruth chase is over, Bonds will relax and end up hitting .280, 26-30 home runs and 85 RBI. Not great, but not bad for a guy playing on one leg.
I love Barry but I am praying that there is not another Bonds Watch until he is within five home runs of Aaron. It only makes people hate him more!
Because Bonds has never tested positive there will never be an asterisk and he will hold a legitimate record. This was one of baseball's most cherished records and now its a joke. Real shame.
What will happen for Williams north of the border? SportsNation thinks Ricky will put up very good numbers for the Argos, with nearly three-fourths of voters looking for more than 1,00 yards from Williams. And while it has been pointed out that the CFL has no drug testing policy Williams is still subject to up to 10 random tests a month under the NFL policy since he hopes to return to the Dolphins, something SN thinks will happen.
35% Over 1,500
5% 0 to 499
Williams will have a great year and become a better receiver. You watch, the Dolphins will beating down his door after the CFL season.
Bryan (Windsor, Ontario)
Ricky will have a great year in Canada and everyone will say he's ready to come back to the NFL, but he'll stay in the CFL where the game is less physical and there's less pressure.
James (Brighton, MI)
Ricky will be a bust in Canada. Mark my words.
How about one of Ricky Williams' new Toronto Argonauts teammates saying of Ricky, in all seriousness, 'He's extremely disciplined.' Now THAT'S comedy.
Troy (Gainesville, FL)
CFL preseason games start this Friday!! Anyone else pumped? Niche sport? I know Ricky Williams is the new star in Toronto, but its still Eric Crouch's team. (I couldn't stop laughing while typing this!)
Brian (Newburyport, MA)
So, the CFL is filled with ex-NFLers and has no drug testing? I'm going to set up a pharmacy in Toronto.
Ephraim R. (Maple Shade, NJ)