October 17, 2005
Jake Plummer:
Two huge pass plays, two TDs, four more quarters without an INT (streak: 17) and one win over the defending champs and everyone's QB idol, Tom Brady.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

1917 *IS* the new 1918.

Or maybe 2005 is the new 1917?

What else could explain the retro pitching of the AL champion White Sox -- four starters throwing four complete games to win four straight.

Contreras, Buehrle, Garland and Garcia might as well be early-1900s ChiSox innings-eaters like Ed Walsh, Red Faber, Ted Lyons and Doc White.

But in the ESPN Era, it's unprecedented. (Come on: It's unprecedented in the last 50 years of MLB history.)

White Sox starters ARE pitching like it's 1917 -- chewing up innings as they ate up the Angels lineup. Modern analysts have no analogue.

Wait a second: No relievers?

No lefty-righty strategy?
No specialists?
No set-up guys??
No closers???

Hey, no worries.

Ozzie Guillen just chucked a half-century's worth of baseball conventional wisdom and left it to over-complicated Poindexters like Tony La Russa.

(Oh, the irony: Crazy La Russa getting tossed from his pivotal Game 4 in Houston, while Guillen serenely watched his team celebrate in Cali.)

When you think you've seen it all, that maybe baseball peaked with the Red Sox winning in 2004, something unique like this happens.

And even better: The unique chance to see something even MORE rare than a Red Sox championship: A White Sox championship.

They'll head into Saturday's World Series Game 1 with a rested bullpen. But, of course, it'll be a rested starting rotation, too.

Bullpen? Who needs a bullpen?

NLCS: Astros Up, 3-1
Is La Russa cracking under the pressure of yet another October failure?

His frustration over ump Phil Cuzzi's Texas-sized strike zone may have been justified, but in a tight game (and arguably must-win), La Russa blew it by getting tossed.

"Three Nights in August" may be his wistful ode to midseason managing prowess, but "Three Days in October" is where his rep should really be judged.

Today: The Cards' season rides on Cy guy Chris Carpenter; the Astros throw Andy Pettitte. St. Louis losing in 5 would be a huge upset.

Vikings: Fire Tice?
Oh, Mike Tice: I haven't seen someone this affected by a cruise since Katie met Tom. But unlike Katie, Tice is already dealing with a bunch of babies.

Not only was it obvious that Tice's Vikings were affected by their bye-week shipping shenanigans, but it's also obvious that he has no control.

Paul Konerko: Beltran-ish ALCS MVP free agent next month
Vikings security: NFL Commish tells Wilf to get law/order
Excuses for A-Rod: Reportedly was grieving death of uncle
Derrick Williams: Penn St super-frosh done for year (arm)
Joey Harrington: Home booing; time to try rookie Orlovsky?
NY Giants: Still can't figure out how to win after a bye
The team wouldn't respond to him even if he put on a jaunty captain's hat and told them to visualize the locker room as the "S.S. Happy Ending."

And that makes it obvious that he needs to be fired. Not after the season, as new owner Zygi Wilf seems willing to wait for; it's got to be NOW.

The franchise is an NFL embarrassment. And that was BEFORE they humiliated themselves in Chicago.

NFL Week 6 Wrap
Thoughts while pondering whether the Texans will EVER win a game ... and if they'll draft a QB (Leinart) or a RB (Bush).

Pats sick; Bruschi the cure?
I think fans will remember the Pats' season as "B.B." (Before Bruschi" and "A.B." (After Bruschi), with A.B. being a return to the top.

Ricky's Return: Total Dud.
5 carries, 8 yards? Managing expectations is one thing; setting the bar so low that anyone -- including fans -- could do better is another.

Maddox is No Roethlisberger.
Panic? Nah. With Big Ben (and Ward) back whenever, this will be a different team. Fans just have to hope this L doesn't come back to haunt them.

Tomlinson: Best RB Since ...?
Faulk? Sanders? Payton? I'd argue that LT is slicker than Marshall and more versatile than Barry. No RB has been as well-rounded since Walter.

Injury Update
How bad is Randy Moss' hammy?
Jake D shaken; Weinke clutch.
Simms ready to be Griese sub?
Where was Corey Dillon?

NFC Still a Yawner:
NY and Dallas played "Who Was LESS Ugly?" Carolina could barely top Detroit. Saints are inept (and, even then, Falcons were barely better).

MNF: Rams at Colts.
How wacky is this season? Well, we're all tuning in to see the Colts for their D, not their O. Freeney is the new Manning! (9, ABC)

BCS Mess, Round 1
The first edition of the BCS will be announced today, and expect argument when either Virginia Tech or Georgia is left out of the Top 3.

(Of course, the only title the No. 3 team wins in the BCS is "This year's Auburn.")

Quickie Top 10 Ballot:
1 USC | 2 Texas | 3 VA Tech
4 UGA | 5 Notre Dame | 6 Bama
7 UCLA | 8 Miami | 9 TX Tech
10 LSU (and NOT: FSU, PSU)

USC *IS* No 1
Indisputable? USC is No. 1. Saturday's dramatic win was the Trojans' best win of their 28-game streak, national title wins included.

Pete Carroll's call to go for the win (and risk loss) -- rather than kick the FG (and go to OT) -- is overlooked behind Matt Leinart's heroics, but should go down as one of the gutsiest play calls of the ESPN Era.

USC won like a champ should.

And Who's NOT No. 1?
Penn St: Karma payback for that last-minute win at Northwestern?

Florida St: UVA curse?

Alabama? They won, but without stud WR Prothro, they're obviously a less potent team.

Heisman Watch
It's Bush and a distant pack: But perhaps they should change the traditional statue pose to a replica of Reggie (illegally) shoving Leinart over the goal line for the winning score.

Wie DQ'd in Debut
Lost in the hoo-hah over Michelle Wie being retroactively DQ'ed from her pro debut after an illegal drop is that she was reportedly narc'ed on to officials by an Sports Illustrated reporter.

Meanwhile, it's hard to feel too badly for her (or mock her to much): After all, the endorsement checks are still clearing -- the No. 1 benefit of being a pro rather than an amateur.

Toronto Raptots:
Become the first NBA team to lose to an int'l team since '88 when they lost at home to Euro power Maccabi
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
P2: NFL Critics
Poll: White Sox
NFL Power Rankings
MNF should be showcase
Finally conquer Titans
But Pats nearly had it.
Huge W on road at PIT
Different team w/o Ben

Jason Collier, 28: With all the talk about Eddy Curry's heart problems, Collier's death takes on even more significance.

Here's to the Dodgers giving Terry Pendleton a serious shot at the manager job, unlike the shamefully vanilla search by others (say: Detroit).

Is NASCAR coming to ESPN? I'll have more to say when the announcement is official, but, as you can guess, I have a solid theory when it hits.

Who else is on my Heisman Watch List from Saturday? Leinart (obviously); Texas QB Vince Young (5 TDs); Minny RB Laurence Maroney (250+ yds)

Like that old-school ChiSox name-dropping? Rob Neyer's "Big Book of Baseball Lineups" and "Guide to Pitchers" are must-haves for any fan.

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