April 11, 2006
Maggie Dixon:
Late Army women's basketball coach will be given the honor of a burial at West Point, after a funeral is held in her hometown San Diego.
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:

There was a great debate in Monday's Morning Quickie chat (9 a.m. ET, Mon-Fri) about which player is more valuable: Derrek Lee or David Ortiz?

How timely: Ortiz just signed a 4-year deal worth a reported $13 million per season; Lee reportedly has a new deal for 5 years at $13 million per year.

No question, both players have proven worthy of the $13 million per year paydays. But if you had to choose, which guy is worth more?

The Case for Lee: Batted .335/.418/.662, with 46 HR, 120 runs scored and 107 RBI, along with 15 SB and Gold Glove-worthy work at 1B. Lee earned 37 Total Win Shares in 2005, second in MLB behind Albert Pujols.

The Case for Ortiz: Batted .300/.397/.604, with 47 HR, 119 runs scored and 148 RBI. Ortiz had an impressive 31 Total Win Shares, but that was only good for 9th overall. (Win Share stats via Hardball Times)

The Decision: Lee. Ortiz might enjoy a bigger reputation as "clutch," but the numbers value Lee higher, for both his offense and defense.

I don't buy the "If I Needed One At-Bat to Save My Life" stuff; teams pay $13 million per year for an entire season's work, not one at-bat. And save your 2004 crowing, Papi 'pologists; talk to me about 2005 ALDS Game 3, Bottom 7th, Red Sox down 1, when Papi put the "K" in El Duque.

Besides, Lee had his own championship moment in 2003 when he "clutched" the Marlins past the Cubs in the NLCS, then helped Florida to a World Series title (a year ahead of Boston). And Lee's team didn't need a four-game comeback to beat the Yankees.

(I point you to Baseball Prospectus' excellent new book, "Baseball Between the Numbers," for their particularly relevant chapter: "Is David Ortiz a Clutch Hitter?" I won't spoil the ending.)

Duke: No DNA Match
It's impossible to know what to think about the Duke lacrosse scandal anymore.

The players' lawyers took a triumphalist pose yesterday in announcing there was no DNA match. (Did you expect them to spin it any differently?)

The local DA insists that, DNA or no DNA, he thinks there's a case and he's going to continue to pursue it vigorously.

The local community has expressed shock, but not surprise -- only highlighting the cultural divisiveness of the case.

And Duke administrators pivoted to strongly push the "innocent until proven guilty" line, not the "we'll deal with this" line.

What are fans nationally, watching the story unfold, supposed to do? Perhaps only shake their heads at the increasing complications.

Even if there's no criminal case (let alone convictions) against the team members, several underlying root problems still remain. But will people be paying attention?

Mets-Nats, Rounds 4-6
Let's lay out a few rules as the Mets and Nats prepare to play a 3-game series in D.C. following last week's beanball battle in NYC:

• No biting.
• No spitting.
• No hair-pulling.
• No bats as weapons.
• No low blows.

And, of course: The first rule of Mets-Nats fight club is that you don't talk about Mets-Nats fight club.

Alexander Ovechkin: Only 6th NHL rookie to reach 100 pts
Nuggets: Clinch first div. title in 18 yrs (Melo: 28 pts)
Jeff Capel: Hot CBB coaching riser hired by Okla. from VCU
Daunte Culpepper: Hints he won't be ready for NFL opener
Yao: Breaks his foot vs. Jazz; season expected to be over
Masters TV ratings: Down 13% from Tiger's '05 playoff win
They could settle it quickly by putting Jose Guillen and Pedro Martinez in the UFC Octagon. Bet Pedro wouldn't be so tough without a ball in his hand to fling at 90 mph at batters' chins.

And speaking of chin music, Dick Cheney will be throwing out the first pitch. The joke opportunity is too easy; go ahead and fill in your own.

What Steroid Era?
If baseball players aren't using steroids or amphetamines anymore, the numbers, pleasantly, don't necessarily reflect it:

The overall batting average from the first week of the MLB season was the highest since expansion in 1961.

Home runs were up 10 percent over last year.

Home runs per game (2.49) were the highest since 2001, the peak of the Steroid Era, and runs per game (10.51) were the highest since 2000.

Taking it on faith that the players are clean, this is the best development that MLB could have asked for: 'roid-free scoring increases.

Of course, maybe it simply means that the pitching is getting worse. Or that it's taking pitchers more time to get into the groove of the season.

Or maybe they're simply taking longer than hitters to adapt from their previous routine of gulping greenies to gulping Starbucks.

MLB Notes
Cards win "new Busch" opener: Apparently, it's a pitchers' park. Mark Mulder not only threw 8 solid innings (7H, 5K, 1BB), but the career .116 hitter also went 2-for-3 with a double and a HR.

(Be sure to check out Jerry Crasnick's review of the new stadium. Don't forget to click on the exclusive photo gallery, which is gorgeous.)

D-Rays lose, optimistically: Here's a sign that fans have bought into Stuart Sternberg's new ownership: The Rays sold out a game -- any game -- for only the 4th time in 9 seasons.

(And why wouldn't they? Sternberg has created arguably the most fan-friendly environment in the league, with reduced-price tickets, free parking and even the chance to bring your own food into the ballpark. It's the dream!)

So is Coco Crisp out for 10 days, as some reports say, or a month, as other reports say? (And does it really matter, if Adam Stern keeps playing well? He was 2/5 with 2 RBI in his first start Sunday.)

Who else is curious what "Bonds on Bonds" will talk about tonight? I mean, will the show focus on his limp start to the season?

NBA MVP Debate
Ric Bucher came up with a very clever way to capture the NBA's raging MVP debate in the most recent Daily Dime. Distinguishing variations of "Most Valuable":

From "Most Excellent" (Kobe) to "Most Indispensable" (Nash) to my favorite, "Most Dominant Player Down the Stretch on a Team That Finished Strong" (LeBron).

Because judging "value" is left to each individual voter -- and, as maddening as that is, that's supposedly part of the fun -- there's no consensus. Actually, here's the one thing you can count on:

With more than a half-dozen legit contenders (Nash, LeBron, Kobe, Billups, Dirk, Wade, Brand), most fans will probably be unhappy with the result, no matter who is picked.

Coming next week: The Quickie's NBA MVP pick.

Baby Names Search
New Quickie feature! As news items warrant, I'll analyze new celebrity baby names for sports (and personal) relevance.

Today's entry: Moses Martin

Celeb Parent: Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin

Sports Connection: If you or your kid hang with sports fans, there's only one "Moses" that people will think of, with a similarly alliterative flow: Moses Malone.

(Unless the baby is a bit of a screamer. In that case, maybe you'll be reminded of former UNLV power shouter Moses Scurry, who was kind of the Flavor Flav of those 1989-91 Runnin' Rebels. But if you named your baby after Moses Scurry, someone should call local child services.)

Benefits: Baby Moses will appreciate the value of rebounding; in a few years, they can send out birthday party invites that say "Fo', Fo', Fo'."

Analysis: Works for them. (Hey, I'm not going to argue with Gwyneth and the lead singer of Coldplay. It could have been "Orange.")

Applicability: Moses Shanoff?
"Es-Sh" linguistics is iffy.
No inspiration found here.

Leigh Steinberg:
Super-agent is fired by Matt Leinart. All that remains to be seen now is if Leinart will explain the move in his ESPN.com draft diary. Why wouldn't he?
Today on ESPN.com
Quickie: Live!
NBA Daily Dime
Page 2 Index
2005 MLB Win Shares Leaders
Albert Pujols (38)
Now he's worth A-Rod money
Derrek Lee (37)
Hmm: See Papi on this Top 5?
A. Rodriguez (37)
Makes combined $ of Papi and Lee
Brian Giles (35)
Surprised? 15 HR, 38 2B
M Ramirez/J Bay (34)
Bay's 5 tools are the key

NBA Playoff Race: 76ers pull a half-game ahead of the Bulls for the no-win East 8th spot with a W over the Wizards. AI has season-high 15 ast.

More NBA: Ron Artest thinks the Kings are a contender. We'll see: Sacto hosts a potential playoff preview vs. the Suns tonight at Arco.

Packers GM Ted Thompson insists Favre isn't holding up the team's plans by delaying his career decisions. They should call them the Puckers.

NBA jerseys and apparel will have a new logo on them: adidas, which will take over for Reebok's contract after taking over the company outright.

NFL hot stove: Remember when Peerless Price had a bright NFL future on the Bills? After bolting Buff, he returns, perhaps slightly more bitter for it.

The top girls prep hoops player, Georgia junior Maya Moore, has made an early decision: She'll play for UConn in the fall of 2007. Coup for Geno.

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