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.
Friday's Big Questions
1. Will anyone ever catch Joe DiMaggio?
2. Are you sick of the NFL schedule yet?
3. Is The Masters on your radar?
Have you paid your rent on time for 56 consecutive months? Returned your video rentals 56 consecutive times? Kept a New Year's resolution for 56 consecutive days?
It's not easy doing anything that many times in a row; just ask Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins.
Rollins' pursuit of Joe DiMaggio's record hitting streak came to an abrupt end at 38 consecutive games on Thursday, as Rollins couldn't reach safely against the Cardinals. With all the talk about Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, it's DiMaggio's record that is likely to last the longest. In fact, more than 70 percent of SportsNation voters don't expect their lifetime to include a hitter breaking DiMaggio's mark.
But if any player is going to challenge the mark, voters have almost no doubt it will be Seattle's Ichiro Suzuki. Set against fellow hit-machines Rollins, Derek Jeter, Michael Young and Johnny Damon, Ichiro attracted the most attention from SportsNation.
In other matters, not many voters are excited about what seems like 56 consecutive hours of coverage of the NFL schedule. A majority of voters claim to have spent less than 10 minutes pondering the games, which may explain some surprising picks in a few divisions.
71% Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak won't be broken in our lifetime.
60% Slow start for Phillies is a sign of things to come.
56% As a fan, spent less than 10 minutes on the new NFL schedule.
52% A team other than the Steelers will win AFC North.
51% The Patriots will win the AFC East.
43% Fans planning to watch at least the final round of The Masters this weekend.
Readers of Dan Shanoff's Morning Quickie hit on all topics Friday morning:
The great thing about The Masters is seeing guys like Ben Crenshaw find their way to the leaderboard in the early rounds.
Jamie (Auburn, Ind.)
Possible emotions affecting Tiger? He looked like the dominant Tiger at times, but definitely teetered on falling apart a couple of times. I hope all is well with his dad and it helps inspire a great run.
Jake (Virginia Beach)
Much of the cream has already risen to the top: Singh, Mickelson, Els. When Woods makes his charge, this could be the best final round EVER if all four can get/stay in contention.
Houston's schedule is brutal; their first six games are all against playoff teams or teams with winning records last year. Hello 0-6, Reggie.
Mat (Scottsdale, Ariz.)
Miami really only has one potential cold-weather game. I know they're more of a running team, but that couldn't possibly hurt a team that plays in Florida.
Andrew (Rhode Island)
I love the fact that my Bears go 11-5 and have the easiest schedule of all the NFL teams. The Bears are going to the Super Bowl!
Pete (New York)
Why do people always say someone has an easier schedule? We don't even know what "good" teams will suck and what "bad" teams will surprise us.
Messiah (New York)
Thursday's Big Questions
1. Who will win The Masters?
2. Which are the best games on the NFL schedule?
Even with the start of the grandest tournament in golf, the release of the NFL schedule, yes, just the schedule, was the story of the day on ESPN.com
Several marquee matchups dot the schedule including Terrell Owens and the Cowboys visiting the Eagles on October, 8. ESPN kicks off a new era of Monday Night Football with a doubleheader featuring Minnesota at Washington at 7 p.m. Eastern time followed by San Diego at Oakland at 10:15 p.m. The New Orleans Saints, forced out of their home by Hurricane Katrina last season, will return to the Superdome for a Monday night game Sept. 25 against Atlanta.
SportsNation weighed in soon after the schedule hit the site, proclaiming T.O's return to Philadelphia as the most intriguing matchup. As for the best Monday Night game, it's the Bengals and Colts on December 18.
But Thursday wasn't all pigskin. The best golfers in the world are in Augusta, Georgia for the start of The Masters. Tiger Woods, with the health of his father weighing on his mind, is shooting for his fifth green jacket. A whopping 66 percent of SportsNation thinks he will get it and 83 percent feel the recent changes to the course will only make his winning more likely.
83% Augusta National changes only increase Tiger Woods' advantage.
66% Woods will win the Masters.
54% Woods winning his fifth Masters will be the story of the week from Augusta.
90% Most anticipate their favorite team's schedule as opposed to marquee matchups or TV games.
54% Bengals vs. Colts on Dec. 18 is the best Monday Night Football matchup.
52% Cowboys at Eagles is most intriguing matchup on the NFL schedule.
Readers of Dan Shanoff's Morning Quickie hit on both topics Thursday morning:
Let's get to the real question: how many is Tiger gonna win by?
Every time I don't think Tiger will win it, he does (last year's Masters) and every time I do think he'll win he doesn't (last year's US Open)
Cara (New York)
Let me put it this way: I sorta like golf, I can watch bits of it on TV, but if Tiger wasn't playing I wouldn't even know the Masters was this weekend. And I wouldn't care when I learned I missed it.
Tiger's dominance is freaking beautiful for golf. It has brought so many fans to the game. I love watching history being written. I hope Tiger DESTROYS the field this week.
What gets me about all the hype on Tiger is that when he was changing his swing people were saying he was done, that he was already declining and whatnot. EVEN THE EXPERTS! Now, nothing but love. Gotta give the guy a TON of credit for making adjustments only he knew were necessary by completely changing his swing. Can you imagine MJ just deciding he's going to completely change his jumpshot after a couple championships?
Chris (Boston via Paris)
Personally, I'm looking forward to Bengals vs. Steelers because of the injury Carson Palmer suffered against the Steelers in the playoffs.
I would say Indianapolis at New England has to be the best matchup just for the added touch of Vinatieri kicking the game-winning field goal and Belichick and Co. kicking themselves for not signing him for $1 million more when they just got extra cap room due to the CBA.
I'm eyeing the Dolphins-Lions Thanksgiving game. If Joey Harrington signs with Miami I can see it now: Culpepper gets banged up and leaves the game. Joey comes in and leads a fourth-quarter game-winning drive with a 30-yard TD pass right over Dre Bly's head.
Wednesday's Big Questions
1. Will you watch Barry Bonds' TV show and should he have extra security?
2. Will Maryland repeat as NCAA women's basketball champions?
Barry Bonds is surely used to being heckled on the road. But things were turned up a notch on Opening Day in San Diego when a fan threw a neddle-less syringe at the Giants slugger as Bonds came off the field between innings.
The incident, along with fears about the potential steroids backlash Bonds will face all season, prompted Rev. Jesse Jackson to call on Major League Baseball to give Bonds "another level of security." A majority of SportsNation agrees with Jackson that Bonds needs additional protection as he approaches Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron on the all-time home run list.
There is considerably less support for Bonds' new reality series, "Bonds on Bonds". Seven out of ten 'Nation voters say they will not watch the show, which debuted Tuesday night, and they professed little sympathy for the emotions Bonds showed on the debut episode.
On the women's hoops front, more than half of SN thinks Maryland -- which featured two freshmen and two sophomores in this year's starting lineup -- will build on last night's comeback win over Duke and repeat as NCAA women's basketball champions.
70% Will not watch ESPN's reality show, "Bonds on Bonds."
57% Major League Baseball should provide extra security for Barry Bonds.
53% Maryland will repeat next year as NCAA women's basketball champions.
Readers of Dan Shanoff's Morning Quickie have little desire to see Bonds in a reality show:
Bonds on Bonds? BOOOOOOOO!!!
Missed (Bonds on Bonds). Will miss it again next week, too. And the week after that and the week after that. You get the point.
Did anyone throw a syringe at the TV?
Cara (New York)
I did not watch! I refuse to watch! I will never watch! Barry is the new T.O. and I can't be force fed anymore!
I actually watched and almost felt sorry for him. Then I remembered he makes $20 million a year, is a jerk and brought this upon himself.
Mat (Scottsdale, AZ)
Greatest. PR. Move. Ever. Actually, I found myself feeling for him last night before I remembered that he had creative control.
Caught the final two minutes in regulation and all of overtime in the Duke-Maryland game and I have to say, the point guard from Maryland has (figurative) stones of steel to take that three that tied the game.
Mike (Dorchester, MA)
Looks like choking is contagious in Duke basketball. Nice clutch free throwing shooting late in the game.
Tuesday's Big Questions
1. What to make of Florida's NCAA title and blowout win over UCLA
2. Who will win the women's NCAA basketball championship?
Three of the greatest weeks on the sports calendar came to an end last night with Florida's 73-57 win over UCLA in the NCAA Tournament's championship game, meaning it's time for SportsNation to consider what it all means.
In the eyes of the 'Nation, it seems the Final Four meant disappointment: well over half of SN said the lackluster semifinals and championship game were a drain on the overall quality of the tournament. A even larger majority would like to see Florida sophomore and Final Four Most Outstanding Player Joakim Noah back in Gainesville next season for another tournament run.
So how do these Gators stack up against other recent NCAA championship teams since 1996? Not so well, says the 'Nation. North Carolina's 2005 title team takes the top spot in the voting -- followed by '96 Kentucky, 2001 Duke, '99 Connecticut and '04 Connecticut -- while Noah and his teammates are well outside the top five.
What about the women's game, you ask? SportsNation likes Duke to take down Maryland for the women's hoops championship. And baseball? Aaron Miles of St. Louis tops SN's rankings of the top Opening Day performances by players with a new team.
58% Disappointing Final Four diminished overall quality of tournament.
70% Joakim Noah should return to Florida for his junior season.
2005 North Carolina Best NCAA champ from 1996-2006.
No. 8 Where 2006 Florida ranks on that list.
58% Duke will win the women's NCAA basketball title.
44% Aaron Miles of St. Louis had the best MLB debut with his new team.
Readers of Dan Shanoff's Morning Quickie offered plenty of feedback on Florida and Opening Day:
I think I speak for Gator grads everywhere when I say congrats to Florida, 2006 Champs. I've never been so thrilled to be hung over at work in my life!
Vik (Fort Myers, FL)
Wait...there was a game yesterday? I thought they quit playing after five minutes! Boooooooooring!
Ben (Michigan City)
The really interesting thing will be to see if Noah sticks to his comments that the NBA game is boring and would prefer to stay in college. That, of course, was before the NBA agent free-for-all that will soon be knocking on his door.
This tournament will be known for the run by George Mason. Florida winning? I'll probably forget they won it in a month.
It is hard to tell just how good Florida was this year because there was no other dominant team to compare them too. I think last year's UNC team and even last year's Illinois team would beat the Gators by 10.
Chris Shelton gets the Tuffy Rhodes Memorial Trophy for two Opening Day homers.
Scott Rolen's game-capping grand slam was one of the best in-your-face moments in baseball, the intentional walk to load the bases followed by the slam. It's even better when it's by a former home-team star who is booed coming to the plate. Of course, Philly boos nearly everyone.
Phat Albert, off to another MVP Season
Michael (Linden, NJ)
Monday's Big Questions
1. Is this the year for my favorite baseball team?
2. Who will win the men's NCAA basketball championship?
Opening Day! NCAA basketball championship! What a day!
The Major League Baseball season may have started for real on Sunday night as the Chicago White Sox kicked off their title defense with a 10-4 win over Cleveland, but Monday marked the first full slate of baseball games as the 2006 season swung into action.
Every team, even the Devil Rays and Royals, have hope for the future. One team, the New York Yankees, is SportsNation's pick to win the World Series, and another, the St. Louis Cardinals, has the fan pick for NL MVP in Albert Pujols. Fantasy gurus are already jumping up and down as Pujols, the No. 2 most popular pick in ESPN fantasy games, hit two home runs against the Phillies in his first two at-bats.
As usual, SportsNation has weighed in with predictions on the season. In addition to picking division and awards winners, fans are also predicting that Barry Bonds will have "one or two hits but no home runs" in his season debut tonight. Just shy of 30 percent expect Bonds to hit a home run.
As for that other sporting event taking place tonight, you know, the men's NCAA basketball championship, SportsNation is siding with the UCLA Bruins to win national championship No. 12. Surprisingly, after more than 300,000 votes, there are still seven states that can't make up their mind.
62% Yankees will win the AL East.
67% White Sox will win the AL Central.
55% A's will win the AL West.
50% Braves will win the NL East.
76% Cardinals will win NL Central.
57% Dodgers will win the NL West.
31% Yankees will win the AL pennant.
40% Cardinals will win the NL pennant.
19% Yankees will win the World Series.
May 21, 2006 Average SN projection for Barry Bonds passing Babe Ruth
Sept. 24, 2006 Average SN projection for Bonds passing Hank Aaron
AL MVP pick Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
AL Rookie of the Year pick Kenji Johjima, Seattle Mariners
AL Cy Young pick Johan Santana, Minnesota Twins
NL MVP pick Albert Pujols
NL Rookie of the Year pick Prince Fielder, Milwaukee Brewers
NL Cy Young pick Roy Oswalt, Houston Astros
53% UCLA Bruins will beat Florida Gators to win men's basketball championship.
Readers of Dan Shanoff's Morning Quickie had plenty to say about Opening Day:
I never thought that Major League Baseball Opening Day would be the most interesting sports story of the day when college hoops still has to decide its champion. Awful Final Four.
The MLB season started. But more importantly, the fantasy baseball season started!!!
John (Portland, ME)
Big Unit vs. Zito in Oaktown. A preview of the ALCS already.
Jake Peavy vs Barry Bonds. Padres begin defense of the division crown with a nice mix of veterans and young talent. Oh yeah, and Barry doens't leave the yard as long as Peavy is on the mound. Mark it down!
Opening Day: the only day of the year when basically every staff ace is throwing on the same day. Makes it that much better to watch.
Scott Rolen returning to Philly. That's always fun.
Derek (Marietta, PA)
Did anyone even realize the baseball season actually started yesterday?
The Tribe is in trouble!! Big C.C. goes down and then Graves comes in?? Uh, excuse me? No pitching, I'm guessing.