WNBA All-Star Game MVP led a star-minimized East that ALWAYS loses this game (0-for-6 coming in) to a surprise W over the West. (The NL could take a lesson!)
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
Jose Canseco: MLB Cop!
My first reaction to reading in today's New York Daily News that Jose Canseco wanted to join MLB's Mitchell Investigation was to LMAO.
My second reaction: Genius.
Amazingly, the most credible, productive, ethically honest person in this entire baseball steroids debacle has turned out to be Canseco.
• Bud Selig spends his All-Star Break insisting that baseball doesn't have an HGH problem, which would be laughable if it weren't so lamentable.
• Barry Bonds won't talk to Mitchell without immunity from the feds, which -- given his pending indictment (see next item) -- ain't happening.
• Raffy Palmeiro, during the congressional hearings last year, volunteered to lead a commission on steroids in baseball. That turned out super.
Through it all, Jose Canseco gets ripped, marginalized and outright dismissed for writing "Juiced," which turns out to be a poor man's "Game of Shadows," simply without the journalistic pedigree.
He's the only one willing to name names, at least outside the pathetic cover of grand-jury compulsion.
He volunteers to be part of the Mitchell group, which makes him the only current or former player to be proactive about it.
(And he would be the only one in the group with any real, uh, "hands-on" credibility with 'roids and 'roiders, suppliers and users.)
Look, it may sound ludicrous on its face, but to take one of the leading juicers of his era and turn him into a White Hat?
It's the most innovative, creative idea yet to come out of MLB's otherwise deflated steroid probe. At least credit Canseco for that.
And take him up on his offer.
Barry Bonds indicted? If it's going to happen, it's likely going to be today or next Thursday when the grand jury meets; after that, its term expires.
Bonds' ex-BFF told the feds that Bonds used 'roids, according to a report in the New York Times. But Bonds' lawyers say it's just sour grapes because of an old grudge between the two over Bonds' memorabilia business.
It's a moot point. I seriously doubt the feds are hanging their entire indictment on one poor schlub bitter about the autograph game.
The fascinating twist: Will fans care about an indictment? It will be huge news, though -- much like 715 -- it's not necessarily certain that fans match the media for rabid interest.
Whatever the reaction, the fact that the feds will hit Bonds for some combo of tax evasion or perjury is just a reminder to everyone that it's always about the cover-up, never about the crime.
LeBron, D-Wade Sign
I've hammered this topic over the last week, so I'm finally ready to deliver what will hopefully be the last word (followed by a moratorium until at least 2009, when speculation will heat up again):
I appreciate that LeBron has imploded the previous gold standard for "max" contracts to leverage the NBA's labor deal with his three-year contract with the plus-one option. (It was such a neat trick that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh yoinked it for themselves.)
What I continue not to get is why Cavs fans say they would have been mad if he had not signed an extension, yet gratefully accept it when he essentially signals his intention to seriously consider leaving in 2010.
Meanwhile, what an interesting contrast that Carmelo went for the more secure payday, taking the max 5-year, $80 million deal. Does he not believe his marketability is as high as LeBron's or Wade's?
||CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
|WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...|
Michelle Snow: WNBA rising star dunks in the All-Star Game|
Cyril Dessel: Climber blasts Pyrenees, earns TdF yellow
Kirk Hinrich: Added to U.S. national team, replacing Redick
|... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'|
MLB All-Star Game haters: Ratings bump biggest in 24 years|
Gary Gaetti: Astros (2nd-worst BA in NL) fire hitting coach
U.S. Soccer: Falls from 5th to 16th in FIFA world rankings
Big Ben Update
You can be a big critic of Big Ben and still get the chills when you read this from his "SportsCenter" interview:
"They told me that I was literally seconds, maybe a minute away from dying because I slit a vein or artery in my mouth or my throat and it was draining blood right into my stomach, and luckily the paramedic noticed it and stopped it or else I would have had too much blood in my stomach."
Danica in NASCAR?
Idiot Quote of the Month: Give it to IRL driver Ed Carpenter on Nashville radio, about Danica's chances for success in NASCAR:
"I mean, you know, especially if you catch her at the right time of the month, she might be trading plenty of paint out there. But I think she'll hold her own."
There's a compliment buried in that misogyny, right? And, in a nutshell, there's your average racing fan's attitude about Danica jumping to NASCAR.
To her credit, Danica took the comment extraordinarily well:
"That sounds like a good joke to me, it's pretty funny to me. No big deal."
How magnanimous of her! Good thing it wasn't the "right time of the month," right Ed?
MLB Trade Talk
With the All-Star Game behind us, the next big milestone is the July 31 trading deadline.
The Astros got a jump, trading two prospects to the D-Rays for Aubrey Huff (it seems he has been on the block for years).
Huff started the 2006 season slow (3 HRs, 12 RBI in his first 40 games) but has improved lately (5 HRs, 16 RBI, .433 BA in his last 23 games).
Here's some double-take trivia about Huff I would never have guessed, despite (frustratingly) fantasy-owning him for the past two years:
He is one of five left-handed hitters to average 100-plus RBI over the last three seasons. (Name the others! See Odds and Ends for the answers.)
MLB Second Half
Buster Olney and Eric Neel asked (and answered) some big questions for the MLB second half yesterday.
I have one more question, which represents my pick for the biggest plotline of MLB's second half:
What happens when the AL East ends up with only one playoff team?
If the Red Sox win: George Steinbrenner implodes the Yankees, and the Jays are left wondering how much more they can spend and still fail?
Fans satisfied that the Yankees don't make the playoffs.
If the Yankees win: Red Sox (finally) move Papelbon from closer to starter; Jays still wondering what $100 million buys you anymore.
Fans lament that the Yankees make the playoffs.
If the Jays win: The Red Sox and Yankees offset their now-worthless payrolls by playing a best-of-9, competing against the World Series.
Fans rejoice that, indeed, all is right in the world.
Zinedine Zidane apologized ("to the children," of course. Isn't it always about the kids?). But read between the lines:
What he said: "Sometimes words are harder than blows. When he said it for the third time, I reacted."
What he meant: "Well, most words are harder than blows, but in the Hierarchy of Hard, I might admit that head butts to the sternum are harder than words."
What he said: "The reaction must be punished but if there had been no provocation there would have been no reaction."
What he meant: "Not my fault!"
NFL's All-$$$ Team
Best Team Money Can Buy: John Clayton delivered the most interesting NFL analysis you'll read all offseason.
He crammed 21 Pro Bowlers onto a 53-man roster using the NFL's standard $102 million salary cap.
I was trying to figure out who the biggest values were, and I let my criteria basically be the cheapest starters on his squad:
RG Chris Snee ($869K)
LG Eric Steinbach ($1M)
FS Bob Sanders ($697K)
ILB Lofa Tatupu ($800K)
OLB Lance Briggs ($900K)
Bonus Bargains! BACKUPS:
OG Richie Incognito ($418K)
RB Marion Barber ($423K)
QB Matt Schaub ($579K)
DT Darnell Dockett ($621K)
OT Michael Roos ($827K)
OK, so Vince Young didn't win five ESPYS, as I predicted yesterday.
He did win two: Best Championship Performance (individual) and Best Game (as the key player in the Rose Bowl).
Best Male Athlete went to Lance, which wasn't a surprise, given his Tour de France swan song (and role as ESPYS host).
Best Team went to the Steelers, a worthy choice, given their status as the first playoff 6-seed to ever win a Super Bowl.
(Best Male College Athlete went to Reggie Bush, mirroring the Heisman vote; I was sure that Young's Rose Bowl would affect that.)
Among other categories, Dwyane Wade won Best NBA Player, which is your real NBA MVP award (postseason results should count).
Can't wait to see the reception Jason McElwain got for winning Best Moment. (The ESPYS will be broadcast Sunday night at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.)
From pre-Olympics stud to ESPYS punch line. From Lance's monologue: "Bode Miller is here, totally sober. He only drinks when he races."
|Today on ESPN.com|
|Page 2 Index|
|Bruce Feldman's Preseason Top 5|
|This year's trendy pick|
|Troy Smith new Vince Young?|
|SEC cred plus good schedule|
|Prepare now for crazy hype|
|Champs must replace that QB|
NFL draft today! OK, so it's the supplemental draft. Is there a supplemental draft Mel Kiper? UVA LB Ahmed Brooks is the big name.|
At last year's John Deere, Michelle Wie missed the cut by only two strokes. A year wiser, she'll make The Zaharias Leap this week, I'm betting.
'06-07 NHL schedule released: The dates to circle? Dec. 11, Feb. 3., Feb. 18 and March 27. That's when Ovechkin's Caps play Crosby's Penguins.
U.S. Soccer will talk with coach Bruce Arena today about his future. Meanwhile, Germany's Juergen Klinsmann says of the U.S. job: "There is absolutely no interest on my side." Suuure.
NBA Summer: Best day yet for a rookie, as Brandon Roy of the Blazers scores rookie summer-high 35 in Vegas (teammate LaMarcus Aldridge scores 19, making for a nice combo).
You don't have to be a fan of WNBA hoops to appreciate that sick, must-see, no-look shovel pass from Seimone Augustus to Cappie Pondexter in the second quarter.
Trivia answer: The five lefty hitters who have averaged 100-plus RBI over the last three seasons are: David Ortiz, Carlos Delgado, Hideki Matsui, Bobby Abreu and Aubrey Huff.