January 11, 2006
Bruce Sutter:
Congratulations to the first baseball pitcher ever elected to the Hall of Fame who never started a game. A breakthrough for the relief speciality.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

Let's just start the debate now: Is there any reason Mark McGwire should not be a Hall of Famer in 2007?

"Hate the player, don't hate the game": As with Barry Bonds, you can loathe McGwire -- particularly his rep-ruining, rewrite-the-obit star turn in front of Congress last spring -- and still acknowledge his first-ballot Hall cred.

Even his fiercest critics can't produce a smidgen of evidence that even one of his home runs was tainted.

Everything else is conjecture that shouldn't -- and frankly can't -- impact his Hall worthiness. And I say that as someone who is no Mac fan.

And for any Hall voters to argue denying him entry in his first year as a "punishment" for someone who doesn't deserve the "honor" (then let him in during a subsequent year of eligibility), that's more evidence that the voters, not the candidates, are the Hall's biggest problem.

(Interesting follow-up SportsNation poll numbers: 69 percent of ESPN.com users don't think McGwire will be inducted next year, and 60 percent wouldn't vote for him if they had a vote.)

More on Sutter
Here's the line I'm sure every Major League Baseball player wants to see on his Hall of Fame plaque:

"They had to elect someone."

And yet that's the perception from ESPN.com users about Bruce Sutter. 67 percent of fans said he made it into the Hall of Fame out of voter inertia.

(To be fair, 68 percent said he was "worthy.")

What's most interesting is that he received less support from fans this year (21 percent) than in either 2005 (31 percent) or 2004 (25 percent).

Sutter was off the fans' radar, making him a rare Cooperstown inductee who also makes the Hall of Ho-Hum.

LenDale Going Pro
You could argue that without LenDale White, there would have been no Reggie Bush.

White was "Thunder," punishing defenses with inside runs, softening them up for Bush's "Lightning" strikes.

Tedy Bruschi: Not listed anywhere on Pats injury report
Grimm/Whisenhunt: Steelers' assistants hot interviewees
Michelle Wie: Goes against guys in the Sony on Thursday
Quincy Morgan: Steelers WR/KR out for playoffs (leg)
Nets: 10-game win streak snapped by Spurs in San Antonio
Mr. Blackwell: Annual list lacks zing. Spears? Olsen? Yawn
What's most impressive about White is that in part-time work, he had 1,300 yards (with a sick 6.6 yards-per-carry average) and a nation-leading 24 TDs (he also set the career TD record at USC ... in only 3 years).

He was the second-best running back on his own team -- and arguably the second-best running back in college football.

White probably will be remembered more for falling short on that fateful fourth-and-2 in the Rose Bowl than his sick second-string stats. And yet, White (not Bush) got the call when the Trojans went for that first down.

White never got the pub Bush did, but he will have a more successful NFL transition as a "traditional" running back.

Knicks: Whaat?!
Unbeaten in 2006! After reaching a new year's nadir with a bottom-feeding 7-21, the Knicks have won 4 straight, the latest a gritty win at Cleveland, where the Knicks came from behind in the 4th by holding the Cavs to 12 points (after allowing their usual sieve-like 28 in the 3rd) and holding LeBron to 1-6 FG shooting (after letting him score 32 through 3 quarters).

Apparently, their new year's resolution was to stop stinking.

Banish Bode?
Let me be clear: Anyone who skis drunk is acting like a moron. And woe to Bode Miller if an impressionable kid takes to the slopes buzzed off Bode's influence and ends up hurting himself.

But USA Skiing would have to be its own special kind of moronic to even consider banishing Bode from the U.S. team. Even before the "60 Minutes" interview, he was the hot U.S. athlete.

Now he's even more intriguing. And this sport needs all the help it can get. Remember: The Olympics are personality-driven.

Must-Read: Misery!
If you haven't seen it yet, David Schoenfield's list of the Top 25 most miserable moments in NFL history is a must-read.

Fans of teams like the Seahawks or Saints that haven't sniffed the Super Bowl probably find it hard to sympathize with fans of teams like the Bills or Eagles who made it but left their fans hanging moments from ecstasy.

I'd argue the letdown is more acute for fans close enough to touch the Super Bowl trophy, but I'd give an edge to fans suffering the dull, ceaseless, numbing pain that comes with not even coming close.

But Schoenfield nailed it with his No. 1 moment: No on-field problems can compete with the fan's ultimate misery: The owner moving a team out of town. (Jim Caple ranks the Browns as the No. 1 NFL "Misery" team.)

What's your most miserable moment as an NFL fan? Feel free to e-mail me below and vent. (Keep 'em short!) I'll post a sample tomorrow.

Boston College:
Rookie hazing continues for ACC newbie: Eagles drop their third straight league game (this time to N.C. St.) to remain winless in conference.
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
NFL Misery
Page 2 Index
Top 5 NFL Miseries
(via D. Schoenfield)
Browns, Colts bolt
Owners are the enemy
Norwood's shank
(Parcells overrated?)
Bolts draft Leaf
Worst draft pick ever?
Ricky cross-dresses
Defining career moment
"The Fumble"
Piling on, Browns fans

CBB Watch: Is Indiana legit as a Top 10 team? The Hoosiers get one of their toughest prove-it games of the season at Michigan State (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET)

More CBB: Maryland has beaten Duke 3 straight times. Think J.J. Redick isn't going to exact some payback tonight? (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET)

Penn St. LB Paul Posluszny will return as a senior, after suffering a knee injury in the Sugar Bowl. Might as well put his name on the Lombardi Award now.

NFL Job Watch: Vikings hire Bucs DB coach Mike Tomlin to be their defensive coordinator. (Coming tomorrow in the Quickie: More on Eric Mangini!)

More HOF '07: One more real test to see whether the voters are unqualified -- will they rightfully induct Ripken and Gwynn as unanimous picks?

Here's the forward-looking Marcus Vick dynamic that I think is most interesting: Will his off-field problems have any impact on his draft status?

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